Posts Tagged 'Grover Norquist'

Infantile Analysis: Some Thoughts on Simplistic Right-Wing Thinking

An article in the Nov. 20 New York Times detailed the genesis of Grover Norquist’s  creation, Americans for Tax Reform. Grover claims to have invented the idea when he was 12 years old, and that explains a lot about him and his ideas. Norquist’s post-election comment about Romney’s “poopy-head” behavior offers further insight into a quintessential conservative mind or, rather, its equivalent of “mind,” And even more to a text-book case of arrested development. What we have is a 56-year-old body containing a 12 year old mind.

No matter the complexity of any problem, the right-wing responses from Ronald Regan to Grover Norquist to the Tea Party glide over the surface without ever touching down on planet Reality. In fact this wishful state of mind resonates with fairy tales and visions of life in La-La-Land where poverty and sickness do not happen to “good” people but only to the lazy and dissolute. Reality for these delusionistas is Welfare Queens tooling about in Caddies and the chronically unemployed looking for gifts and hand-outs from the hard-working members of society, which category, by the way, does not included themselves. And it is amazingly easy to convince some middle-class people who are themselves living not far from the edge that those who have fallen off have done so through their own fault—because this is what they want and need to believe.

It isn’t easy for some middle-class and Tea-Party people to acknowledge that fate can deal a cruel hand to hard-working people like them. The precariousness of their own situation and the capricious nature of fate frightens them; they live in denial.  The antics and peccadilloes of the wealthy are taken in stride while behavior of the lower-classes is taken as the cause of their dire circumstances and illustrative of their poor character. Politicians, show-business celebrities, billionaires, and even generals engage in rent-seeking and licentious behavior with near impunity, but woe unto the welfare mother who needs food stamps. There is no, “There but by the grace of circumstance go I.” The personal perceptual moat is guarded by the three horsemen of denial, delusion, and dreaded fear of their mountain of debt.

Fear, like the guardians of the circles of Hell, censors rational thought and distorts perception. It is the power of this fear that is constantly exploited by those who manipulate the economy, as for instance in the buying and selling of the questionable mortgages that led to the great economic crash we have just endured. Greed drives the economy at the highest levels and does not limit itself to economics but politics and notoriety as well. Just think for a moment about the antics of Donald Trump and you’ll get the idea. Greed is, in fact, the engine of a great deal of what goes on in the society at large.

Greed takes many forms, from material goods to power, and operates in every realm of human activity. Consider the following example of political greed: “We need an ambassador who has the trust of the president and the Secretary of State,” John McCain said on the Senate floor in defense of John Bolton. (Remember him?) Then McCain went on to say, “… elections have consequences, and one consequence of President Bush’s re-election is that he has the right to appoint officials of his choice.”  “The president”, McCain said, “has a right to put into place the team that he believes will serve him best.”

Contrast this with McCain’s position vis-à-vis President Obama’s probable choice for Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice. Since McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, a gift that keeps on giving, as his running mate in the 2008 elections and his behavior from that time forward, I wonder about McCain’s ethical foundations. In this instance of greed for power, nowhere is to be found a clearer example of blatant use of double standards and a fundamental belief that the American public is composed entirely of idiots with 15-minute attention spans. McCain and Norquist share a dismissive view of the public, of the society at large and a lust to control the social narrative at everyone else’s expense.

The American Taliban

The recent news story (7/9/12) about the Taliban executing a young Afghan woman was revolting. The woman was shown in the accompanying video seated on the ground as the executioner fired his Kalashnikov nine times into her back. Aside from the abject cowardliness of the executioner and his colleagues, there was a crowd of about 100 villagers sitting on a nearby hillside cheering. No matter what her offense, it was a brutal event. A person’s life was taken in a direct and brutish manner, a despicable violation of human decency and civilized behavior.

In the US we don’t drag people into the streets and shoot them (yet). What we do is deny them health care, unemployment benefits, food stamps, living wages, and access to the political process on an equal footing with the wealthy via the Citizens United decision.

In the state of mind that is the State of Texas there are some 6.2 million people without health insurance. The Republican governor, Rick Perry, has rejected expansion of Medicaid and the creation of a health care insurance exchange. Consider that those 6.2 million people represent nearly a quarter of the population of Texas. This brings to mind the cheering at a Republican primary debate last year when a candidate explained that an ill person with no health insurance could die. Brutish, inhumane, and uncivilized behavior? You bet it is.

Texas Republicans recently revealed a key plank of their platform for the upcoming elections, their opposition to teaching critical thinking skills in public schools. This is unsurprising of course when your purpose is to create a stupidized general population that will go along with denying health care to poor people and other similar dehumanizing policies. What we have here is a Republican Tea Party agenda to de-legitimize the idea of community—to undermine and ultimately destroy the civil society. Following the Texas model, they want to create a gun-toting, everyone-for-themselves, don’t-tread-on-me world. They, like the Taliban, are anti-social, un-American, and they are dangerous sociopaths.

While philosophers like Max Weber and Marcel Gauchet thought that religion was the main influence on the development of Western social contracts, that influence is now distorted and deformed; it has become a weapon. The new religious influences on the social contract are exemplified by popular Christian preachers with national audiences, one of whom, in the solemn presence of Republican Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, screamed that all immigrants should be sent back to where they came from. The other called for a national policy to create internment camps for homosexuals. Catholic bishops have been stiffed by US Congressmen professing the same faith as theirs because bishops forfeited their moral authority covering for child-abusing priests. Religion is no longer the humanizing influence it once was and has become, more than ever, polarizing, compartmentalizing, and more importantly, hypocritical.

Women are also under attack. Georgia Republican state legislator, Terry England, supported a bill to force women to carry a still-born or dying fetus to term because cows and pigs do, he said, so why not women. Tea Party activists cheering at the death of the elderly and the infirm, represent the new social contract. The Republican conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court that defines corporations as people with equal rights as human beings rends the fabric of rationality as well as the social contract. Money talks in America, and if you don’t have it you are mute, and your constitutional rights, just like your mortgage, have been foreclosed by big money. If you are not rich you exist to provide votes for whichever party can scare you the most about your fellow Americans. Capitalist cannibalism and nihilism are the new social contract replacing community, shared values, and common interest. Trade unions are being marginalized by politicians, business interests and their own inability to see a bigger picture than their internecine politics. In the mid-1950s close to 40 percent of American workers were covered by union contracts; today only 12 percent are. In the recent gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin union members voted against the union-endorsed candidate.

Public-sector unions are being attacked and eviscerated, not just by Republican governors but by Democrats as well. Eleven Democrat governors are blaming public-sector unions for budget deficits, demanding wage and benefit concessions. In all of that, neither the governors nor the affected unions have effectively pointed out the predatory role of big banks and the recession they caused. At this moment in time, corporate profits are at an all-time high and wages, calculated as a percent of the economy, are at an all-time low.

In Colorado Springs, the location of recent wildfires, public employees had been laid off or their jobs eliminated by elected officials who took Grover Norquist’s no new taxes pledge and rejected property tax increases. With the ranks of firefighters and police reduced, the city had 39 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer policemen to face the crisis. A few years ago the city even had to turn off a third of the town’s street lights. Many homes that weren’t consumed by the fire were looted or vandalized and dozens of automobiles broken into. The classic irony is that in the aftermath the city has shamelessly applied for Federal grants and aid. Where’s Grover? Maybe he has some ideas on how to reconcile this contradiction.

In the past few days it was revealed that traders at JPMorgan-Chase lost approximately $5.8 billion in bad gambles. How many firemen, cops, teachers, health clinics, and other more humane possibilities would that bundle have paid for? In the meantime the Republican Taliban, with public support, are going after the poor and disadvantaged; they are rampant and smelling victory.

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