Scams

Setting:

FOX restaurant, somewhere in a red state

Mr FOXwatcher
Morning

FOXbot
Morning

Mr FOXwatcher
What have you got, then?

FOXbot
Well, there’s Muslim and Benghazi; Muslim Kenya and Benghazi; Muslim and scams; Muslim, Benghazi and scams; Muslim, Benghazi, Kenya and scams; scams, Benghazi, Kenya and scams; scams, Muslim, scams, scams, Benghazi and scams; scams, scams, scams, Muslim and scams; scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, socialism, scams, scams, scams and scams; or a series of discussions featuring four conservatives to every liberal moderated by someone who hasn’t had a clue about anything that’s ever happened since 1987 and scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Have you got anything without scams in it?

FOXbot
Well, there’s scams Muslim Kenya and scams, that’s not got much scams in it.

Mrs FOXwatcher
I don’t want any scams!

Mr FOXwatcher
Why can’t she have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya?

Mrs FOXwatcher
That’s got scams in it!

Mr FOXwatcher
Not as much as scams, Muslim, Kenya and scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Look, could I have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya without the scams?

FOXbot
Uuuuuuggggh!

Mrs FOXwatcher
What d’you mean, uuugggh? I don’t like scams!

Vikings
(singing) Scams, scams, scams, scams, scams … scams, scams, scams, scams … lovely scams, wonderful scams …

FOXbot
Shut up. Shut up! Shut up! You can’t have Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya without the scams.

Mrs FOXwatcher
Why not?

FOXbot
No, it wouldn’t be Muslim, Benghazi, scams and Kenya, would it?

Mrs FOXwatcher
I don’t like scams!

Mr FOXwatcher
Don’t make a fuss, dear. I’ll have your scams. I love ’em. I’m having scams, scams, scams, scams, scams socialism, scams, scams and scams.

FOXbot
Socialism is off.

Mr FOXwatcher
Well can I have scams instead?

FOXbot
You mean scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams, scams?

Mr FOXwatcher
Yes.

FOXbot
Arrggh!

And so on and so on and so on…

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RIP Bartcop

Terry Coppage, known to many of us as “Bartcop“, was one of the original bloggers, doing it before the term was even coined. He was a boisterous, unapologetic supporter of liberal causes and an opponent of everything the right wing has done to us over the years. Sadly, since the professional left has no conception of the idea that you need to support people like Bart, he did most of his work while struggling to keep his rent and bills paid, but it never lessened his enthusiasm for what he did, nor ruined his love of life, particularly drinking Chinaco and playing poker.

The original title of his blog was “Rush Limbaugh Lying Nazi Whore”, so in that vein let me present this, this song was obviously done many years ago (you can tell by the references), but it was very cleverly put together, as that’s really Rush’s voice, carefully edited. The music video was done much later.

An excerpt from Bartcop from way back in 1996 is perhaps the best example of how he dealt with issues of the day:

I have a satellite dish. I caught some audio of Dole after the show. The caterer brought some food in. “Bob Dole wants a diet Coke,” he said. “Bob Dole wants a Hot Dog!”

Someone, maybe a kid serving the food, asked Dole if he wanted mustard on his Hot Dog.

Bob Dole said: “Well, I feel that’s it’s my view that mustard is certainly one of the options we’re looking at. We’re looking at a number of options, actually. There’s lot of condiments… ketchup, for instance. Some like it, some don’t….

That’s not up to the federal government to decide. Those decisions are best made locally …the states. Some people talk about relish, relish… is…

Cheese! Lot of cheese lovers in America….. Perhaps we’ll go with mustard, but we haven’t made a final determination on that, haven’t decided… It might come down to a situation where we have some ketchup and some mustard…we’ll know soon…”

Mrs. Dole interrupted and said:

“Bob Dole has always supported mustard on Hot Dogs. Bob Dole has been, and continues to be pro-mustard. Mustard has a friend in Bob Dole.”

Rest In Peace, Terry, you are already missed.

Here are some other links remembering Bart

Raw Story

Democratic Underground

Crooks & Liars

Smirking Chimp

And Another Thing

America And The Lessons Of The 21st Century

I think that when the USSR finally fell, as it would have eventually regardless of what we did, IMO, the US felt vindicated, being the only remaining “superpower”, but not so much for reasons of democracy and self-rule, but for reasons of economics: Capitalism had crushed Communism. But Capitalism, left to itself, can also crush democratic self-rule, because the nature of unregulated capitalism is for wealth to flow upwards.

But the neoconservatives, the ones who foisted Afghanistan and Iraq on us, never understood how big a role “soft power” played in defeating Communism. They assume American military might alone did it, but they are wrong, just as the USSR was wrong in thinking they could use military force to get their way.

What the USSR couldn’t give people is a sense of fun, being happy for the sake of being happy. There could never be a Beatles in Russia because the State was entirely preoccupied with preserving its own power above all else, and as we saw, once enough people got fed up with the whole thing, the system fell apart. Not that what replaced it is much better.

Capitalism has the same problem, which by the way is why Liberalism, Socialism and Communism came into being in the first place. “Work ’till you die” for the benefit of a very few wealthy people is no foundation on which to build a society. We learned this lesson before, it seems it’s one we will have to keep learning over and over again.

Which is why, of course, I’m a liberal. I love the good things that capitalism brings us, I love the variety of products, I love the idea of being part of a system that not only protects my political rights, but makes those rights meaningful by giving me the economic freedom to make my own choices. But left to itself, capitalism will strip those freedoms away bit by bit so that a few people, whose only skill is the acquisition and retention of wealth, can dominate us both politically and economically. What’s happening in West Virginia now is a perfect example of that, a state government colluding with a private company that is casually poisoning its own citizens for the sake of profits, and sadly, they still have the support of many of those citizens who have been made to believe that economic freedom is the only freedom that exists, and that money is the only meaningful measurement of success. Propaganda, unfortunately, works all too well. Maybe that’s changing, we’ll see.

Starvation As Policy

Times are tough in the US. Everyone seems to know that but as always seems to be the case we can’t agree on the cause of it or how we can fix it. I have my own ideas, of course, and I’ll get to those in a moment, but I wanted first to discuss the larger issue in the context of this article from Bloomberg concerning the long-term unemployed, particularly this paragraph:

The view that desperation will force the unemployed to get a job, which seems to drive Republican opposition to extending federal benefits, just isn’t supported by the data. And that’s leaving aside the moral problems with starvation as a policy strategy. Moreover, the long-term unemployed who have lost benefits have especially little chance of finding work, research from economist Rand Ghayad shows.

Starvation as a policy strategy. That’s a very frightening statement, especially when it applies to what is still a major political party in the US, a party that has the power to make and influence policy, and whose ideology has, in fact, been the primary political force over the last thirty years or so. I would very much prefer not to believe that the politicians and their financial backers who support this idea of “kicking the poors”, as Atrios would say, is something good for society, or that they would rather those of us (like myself) who have found themselves locked out of the job market would just get it over with and die rather than be a burden on everyone else, but it’s hard not to reach that conclusion.

In keeping with the tone of this blog, it should be clear to everyone that what we have now simply doesn’t work, that deregulation and “austerity”, that an economy -no, a society– built entirely on the idea that the acquisition and retention of wealth and power is the primary purpose of said society, does nothing more than make everyone, rich and poor alike, miserable. Why should we want to live in such a world? Why do we work so hard to make things difficult? Why, when a poor person who is struggling sees someone making more money and has better benefits, thinks not “how can I improve my life?” but “how can I bring that person down to my level?” Further, why do we idolize and make celebrities of people whose only skill is having been born rich: whose incompetence is hidden by the vast sums of money that have because of birth or connections? I don’t have an answer to any of those questions, but I don’t think the why is necessary, what’s necessary is to change that.

You would think that we would have learned this lesson by now, that there really is no such thing as a “free” market, left to itself it can be as oppressive as any Communist dictatorship. It should be painfully obvious that the private sector alone is incapable of providing full employment: it takes a combination of public and private sector employment for things to work better, and a strong social safety net so that those who fall through the cracks for whatever reason need not suffer. But I think that type of economy, which dominated the US from the inception of the New Deal until the so-called “Reagan Revolution”, is long gone and not coming back, at least I doubt it will in my lifetime. It seems to me that the reason it won’t is because we’ve lost the sense of outrage that was what brought about the New Deal to begin with.

For the record, I don’t have a problem with the rich or with the idea of wealth to begin with. I am perfectly happy to let Donald Trump and Paris Hilton live their lives and do what they do, whether they become celebrities or not, it’s really not my business. Even the Koch brothers, whose influence on our government is, I believe, damaging and dangerous, have a right to be happy and live lives of luxury, whether they earned their money or not. I’m not one who cares to make those sort of judgements.

But the problem is that people like the Koch brothers, and like Mitt Romney, are never satisfied with the amount of money they have. They could own the Earth and still it wouldn’t be enough, and the impression I get is that it doesn’t matter to any of them how much the rest of us have to suffer because of their greed. I see it as a sickness, and again, I don’t have an answer as to why they think the way they do. But we have a right to stand up to them, to make sure that while they play their little games and pretend to be Masters Of The Universe, the rest of us can still lead happy, financially secure lives. And I’m sure most people in my economic sphere would agree with me.