Feb 3, 2006

At least Three More Years of Darkness: Groundhog Says

Protection Against Mind Manipulation?
I know most Americans didn’t watch the President’s speech the other day, and those who did thought this guy isn’t doing much to improve the lives of the “average person.” I was playing the... drinking game, whereas I had to imbibe some alcohol every time Bush said his favorite phrases, terror, 911, freedom, democracy, to protect, etc. It was a trip let me tell you, yet, no amount of drinking can take the edge off the painful experience I go through every time I hear this man speak. It’s not his “nukelar” vocabulary—especially when he talks unscripted—but it’s the realization that our country is led by a bunch of selfish people. I’m not sure to what extend their incompetence stems from the lack of sense and sensibility, but it doesn’t really matter.

I always recommend George
Orwell’s books, like, Animal Farm, and, 1984. Although he wrote many decades ago, his themes have been very relevant today as well the past. In Animal Farm he shows us how a society can be organized, theoretically on merit and need, but in reality the elite is “more equal” than the rest. In 1984, he shows us how a totalitarian regime operates by using the politics of fear, the crushing of individuality, the spying, repressive conformity, the leader-knows-best, the re-writing of history, and Newspeak (when words have lost their true meaning as applied to reality).

So, we have a few people who are “better than others,” not by ability, but by ascribed status. This inner circle usualy has disdain for most of the commoners because the latter are easily deceived, especially when their emotional buttons are pressed; they further demonstrate their ignorance by voting against their own interests. The myth of socio-economic mobility is holding well, because who has time to check the facts? Have we realized that the actual income for 90% of Americans [yes, it includes YOU], when adjusted for inflation, has fallen in the last 25 years? Or, that the gap between the super-rich and the rest has grown exponentially in the same period? People like to hear about tax cuts, but how many people really know that we’re giving even more to those who already have lots, and we’re doing it by increasing our national debt, and by cutting services the rich don’t need/use but are essential for the “other” Americans? “We are not doing it, they are!” is often the retort. But I don’t buy it! We elected “them”; they act on our behalf though not in our best interest.

Hurricane Katrina gave us ample warning and when it struck it blew away the emperor’s clothes; those make-believe clothes that had been woven with much fanfare for four years, since 9-11.They needed more powers to protect us they said; we gave them such. They want even more, and have argued the Nixonian line, “when the President does it, it’s not illegal.” Meanwhile, the expanded bureaucracy suffers not from quantity but quality. For example, Horse playing is a good enough qualification to be hired as FEMA director. [OK, he did bring lots of money to Republican coffers too]. The remaining fig leaf cover was blown away too when Congress returned from its summer vacation, few days after the Katrina disaster, and the Republicans' first concern was to push a bill to revoke the estate tax! It’s the one I call, “the Paris Hilton gift,” since it benefits the children of the supper rich (less than 1% of Americans).
Double Talk, a.k.a, Newspeak
So, we have presidential declarations about this and that, but when they are compared to presidential policy they fall short or never materialize. Newspeak is “in”. He talks about the “Clean Air Act” and we get more pollution. He talks about “No Child Left Behind” and we have less education (most of it federally unfunded), especially in science. He talks about oil dependence on the Middle East [currently only 13% of our needs] and that he wants to cut this by 75% in 20 years, but his Energy Secretary just came out to say, “don’t take this figure literally.” Who really has the time to pay close attention to his energy bill anyway? Who notices his cuts in programs like biofuel, alternative & renewable energy? How about conservation, CAFE standards and environmental policy? The additional $70 billion he asked for the war effort when combined with the past and future expenditures for the Iraq war could have been spent on programs to make America less dependent on oil. That’s a debt I’d welcome, and whose payoff would be far greater and more universal in the benefits distribution.

The wealthy Romans—the ones who had power—felt a duty to keep the masses entertained, so they arranged for gore fests in the Coliseum. Our present day emperor, his senate, and the other patricians, act in like manner. OK, the carnage is kept overseas, where our legionnaires are vanquishing the barbarians, but the national myths are well fed and promoted. We are a remarkable country indeed, but we’re rapidly losing ground. We may have the best health care system in the world, but the question is how many Americans have access to it. Of course the capitalist system is a system of inequality (and this isn’t necessarily bad), but that’s why we have a government to make sense of it and not let it run amok. Personally, I don’t find it meaningful to say, “between Bill Gates and me we have a gigantic fortune!

Those in power would like us to feel superior and content. In the abstract, we do compare favorably to the best countries out there. We can say we spend twice as much on healthcare per person than others but we are the only advanced country that doesn’t have universal health care coverage—with more than 45 million Americans uninsured. Don’t they count? Where’s the compassionate conservatism? Who's worthy of compassion? I find it shocking that we’re
28th in infant mortality and, although climbing, life expectancy in the US is much lower than other countries. For the wealth and abilities we have at our disposal, we aren't doing as well as we should, and, most importantly, we aren't giving our children the best we can.

I’m offended by Newspeak too. They say one thing, they mean & do the opposite. The President talks to us like we’re like little children; well, maybe we are, but I’m fed up by the dumbing down. What’s up with the President’s anti-intellectualism and anti-scientific stance? Is he trying to be folksy, or is he a wolf in sheep's clothing? He had a chance (via ascribed status) to attend a first-rate school—not that he did much with this opportunity, but he didn’t have to. He came from a privileged family [a "dynasty" according to the very Republican Kevin Phillips--read his books] with connections to money and power. But, most Americans aren’t that fortunate. Yet, the President and his Praetorians in Congress don’t believe in using the power of the government to improve the lives and chances of the “average person.” Maybe they are the new Kalvinists [they believed that only some persons were “chosen” by birth, and there was nothing one could do to jump ship; Martin Luther and the Reformation attempted to change this]

It’s obvious that those in privileged positions are always afraid of the “masses.” In the fashion of a Machiavellian advice, keep the masses entertained; feed those masses myths & fear and they’ll leave you alone. They might even cheer you up. They might even buy into the idea that what you’ve got you deserve because you are special! Above all, you don’t want to give them the means to wake up, so you make it difficult for them to get a higher education by cutting billions in student aid/loans. Rip, rape, and burn as much as you can, for you don’t have to feel the ill effects of your actions; besides, the benefits are so great today that even if the ..unthinkable happens, you'll have more than enough to last several generations of your kin. Go ahead, and while at it, cancel the ..winter in the Northeast. Who needs it?

I believe that the quality of our politics is a reflection of the people involved. Further, that there is a strong correlation between the citizens’ level of education and the quality of their politics. Politics is what we do, from the family unit [like choosing to watch 12 hours of football on Thanksgiving as a distraction to family disfunction] to the national level. The question is how we use politics to better our lives, for the maximum benefit & for the greater number of people. Did I mention that our government made cuts in education for the first time in 10 years? At least “freedom is on the march” they tell us. Do you feel as free today as before? Come on, be honest, there is nothing to be afraid of (unless you're not a citizen, in which case please go away as I don't want any problems with the Fatherland Security Apparatus).

27 comments:

Rumbux said...

That drinking game explains why it took you a couple days after Shrub's speech to post... Great points though.

ps. why not all posts don't allow comments?

Anne said...

I don't know if I'm pessimistic or optimistic about the future of our country. I'll probably have a better idea after November and whether we restore some check and balances into the system.

Andros said...

It wasn't the drinking game. Somehow the reality keeps me sober...
Also wanted to see what the groundhog would say...

Seriously though, I'm fed up with the Newspeak and with the wrong national priorities this regime has been pushing...

I don't believe there is a silver bullet to kill the beast, so we must move incrementally. However, haven't seen many steps in the right direction...on the contrary too many steps by the right in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andros said...

Point: like the previous post, I don't like garbage in my private domain... so I delete inappropriate posts. But, often I don't have the time to monitor the postings, so unfortunately, I turn off the comments section.

Any troll can post here and can disagree with the author or other comments, but he has to have decorum! Personal attacks and other irrelevancies are scrapped here.

There are plenty of other blogs for a troll to express his vitriolic, deleterious utterings...

troglodyte said...

Yeah, they have plenty of company and venue in the likes of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, etc.

anderson said...

This president has one of the lowest approval ratings, especially so soon into his second term. But, I still find it amazing that some 35-40% or Americans still like this guy. Like you said, the quality of our politics depends on the people involved.

Fortunately, the majority still can turn things around, starting this mid-term election... We'll see. Now, don't remind me about the long tenures of the Cons on SCOTUS...

Kelly said...

There are more revelations regarding the disaster before/during/after Katrina. Chertoff (the Homeboy in charge) should resign. He never realized the magnitute of the disaster and never took charge of the situation. Brown of FEMA was incompetent but he's not the only only responsible.

By the way did you know that he was kept on the payroll as a consultant after he "resigned" from FEMA?

As an American I felt shame seeing "the other American" as it was shown to the world during Katrina..... If you didn't know, you'd think the pictures had come from a Third World country.

Andros said...

This gov. has been one of the most secretive in the last several decades; it has classified twice as many documents as "top secret"... most of these docs are for ordinary policies. I wouldn't be surprise if they kept Brownie as a consultant to shield him and the relevant communications under "executive privilege"... They've tried this before, like with the energy panels under Cheney, etc.

The fact remains that this administration doesn't care about incompetence, but only about loyalty to the emperor. That's why incompetent people are promoted, given medals, etc, etc...
Some of them are, Rice, Bremer, Tenet...

Dave said...

This is a wreck of a fiscal policy. I've read Kevin Phillips's books and I know many other REpublicans who are disgusted with Bush & co.

Unfortunately power not only corrupts but makes it harder for dissent within the party in power. I predict that when the Repubs lose power, there's going to be a big struggle for the direction of the party. Many, like me, want to take control back from the neocons and the religious nuts.

Sam said...

I'm afraid that as long as the Repubs have control of the Senate (won't change this election cycle, so maybe in 2-4 years) and a good chance for winning the presidency in 2008, they'll fall in line and squash dissent.

druid said...

this speech had very low ratings; and bush hasn't gotten much traction from it

i like the inference to newspeak... orwell is a classic

by the way, how come we didn't see cindy sheehan's and the other republican wife being thrown out of the chambers before bush's speech simply because they wore a "political" t-shirt?

i know the capitol police apologized later but heck....

blue jasmine said...

i'm not sure whether the dems should let the game come to them or be more agressive right now....

i mean, this year is going to be full of scandals & investigations, so maybe they should sit back and enjoy... i'm afraid that the dems may blow it if they start talking about general incoherent policies...

andrianne said...

Speaking of healthcare, this gov. has cut funds to VA hospitals, and has cut Medicaid & Medicare benefits.

While in the cutting mode, they reduced/eliminated programs for pre-K, first responders, alternative energy sources, science, and whatever would make our country more competitive.

Tim Kaine in his response to Bush's speech said that the role of the gov is to help the people, not the few and the big corporations, but the rest of us. The gov should deliver results when natural disasters hit, results in better education, and above all should be responsible agent of our national wealth.

How effective has this government been? Think that for a second.... and then get up and do something about it... take your country back!

mac said...

yeah, but you have to ask if without security you can have all the goodies we all want..

frank said...

yeah, but you have to ask if they play the fear card to make you do things...

as for security, do you feel more secure today?

has our foreign policy made Americans more or less secure?

and, you have to ask, what we stand for? are we a nation of laws or of mperial power?

i hear that many regimes have not used torture on everyone... some people were put securely away for many years.. they were quite safe from terrorism...

"those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither" Ben Franklin

elizabeth said...

...Newspeak.. I like your thinking... we should all be trained to "translate" media. If NYC public schools taught "Newspeak" as a language that had to be interpreted and translated, and young citizens learned to see the complexities that are left out in "Newspeak" we would be moving in the right direction.

Teletubby said...

Kevin Phillips came to my attention when papa Bush was in office because Phillips had written a book about the shift of the Republican party to the top economic elite, and how it had redistributed the national wealth. Very interesting.

Adams said...

I tell you many of our compatriots live in a fantacy world. They believe that one day they'll be rich and they don't want the government to come in and take their money... That's why they think the so-called "death tax" should be repealed, eventhough it only affects some 1% of the people. And, at that bracket, anyone can live very nicely with the rest of their mega fortunes, even after taxation!

geeshus said...

Of course there is compassion here... It's just that some people are indeed better than others! Look at Jesus. He was better than others! Why shouldn't he go to heaven, first and above all others?

Some people never get it!
I was like them once, until I found beer!

Like Marie Antoinette said, "let them eat cake"

Vesti said...

and, Eddie Izzard said,
"Cake or death?" "what is your choice?"....

Mmmmm, let me think...

George washington iii said...

The Bushies want to have science as a target to mobilize the idiots who believe the earth was created in 6 days and it's only a few thousand years old... Those who believe that evolution didn't take place (after all, Moses had everything he needed in his Ark), and those who (like so many others throughout history) that these are the end of times!

What do you expect from an un-educated populace? Idiocy and superstition!

Anonymous said...

Why can't we all get along?

new politico said...

We can't get along because...

Politics is the authoritative allocation of values to society through the distribution and use of power!

pindar said...

Yes, and that's why elites perpetuate themselves, though in theory the people can change things in a democracy, but they buy into myths and are oppressed by culture... so change is very slow...

Conservatism is the brand of those people who are afraid of change, because their identity is based on the "true & tried".... who knows what change might bring.... it's dangerous!

Oh, and the "authoritative allocation of values to society" tends to favor a particular class.... guess which one?

The myth--like the "American dream"--may mean different things to different people, but it gives hope to the havenots and the aspiring....

great post by the way....

Samantha said...

Of course they want to cut funds from education.... I mean the real, secular education, because if you asked them, they'd be happy with the other kind, that of indoctrination...

School vouchers anyone?

The point about the quality of our politics depends on the quality of the people (I'd add their intelligence) is clearly demonstrated, and thanks for bringing it up.
At some point we should have a discussion about who bears responsibility for what's happening in this country... Can't just blame those in power... we put them there!

bubba said...

Sure we can blame THEM.... they deceived us; they lie to us; they are corrupt!

On the other hand, can you blame Bush, er, a blind man for wrecking your car when you gave him your keys in the first place??????!!!