State Of Disgrace – Will The Volatile Rhetoric STOP?

Posted in General by TBartine on September 30, 2009 No Comments yet

Increasingly, I am hearing grumbles from both liberal and conservative camps…regarding the DISMAL state of the American “conversation.”  It appears, at least from my utterly, and admittedly, unscientific eavesdropping…people are actually, FINALLY growing weary of the heightened rhetoric, loaded with violent innuendo…and discernibly lacking in facts.  The problem is: they just aren’t tired enough yet to really reject it.  They are still entertained by Glenn Beck’s disingenuous ranting…they are still charmed by Sarah Palin’s vacuous speeches…they are still believing what their elected officials are telling them, even when it contradicts all logic and common sense.

Well…if you are one of those people who is just not quite disgusted enough by the current state of affairs, here are some very recent news items to help you along:

1 – ENOUGH HYPOCRISY TO GO AROUND: Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee discussed Senator Rockefeller’s amendment to add a public option to the bill.  While it was nearly a foregone conclusion that the amendment would not pass (in fact, four Democrats voted against it)…the discussion leading up to the vote was shameful.  Senator Grassley (R-IA) showed his usual disdain for factual information, citing studies from the conservatively biased Heritage Foundation, as well as a study by the Lewin Group…which is WHOLLY owned by a large health insurance company (it is worth note that he disregards all of the credible studies, including the one done by the Congressional Budget Office).  He joined the chorus of GOP lawmakers who openly admitted that their argument, that the public option would lead to a government takeover of health insurance…was a “slippery slope.”  Of course, this shows (once again) that these politicians don’t know that a “slippery slope” is a type of LOGICAL FALLACY…an indefensible argument, not supported by reason.  And they are openly admitting this.  The second part of their argument is that “government run programs are bad“….but then when confronted with their hypocrisy regarding the government-run Medicare program, they don’t want any of its costs cut, and they say that Medicare is different because Medicare is POPULAR.  Then, they have the nerve to boisterously object to Representative Alan Grayson’s statement on  Tuesday that the GOP health care plan suggests “don’t get sick“…and if you do, “die quickly.“  This, while just last week, Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested to a constituent that her sick family member (who had no insurance and needed surgery) sell everything she own, so she will be poor enough to get on a government program…and then seek charity.  So why are the GOP making such empty and ridiculous arguments?  Why are the Democrats even too spineless to conform to their own principles?  Simple…they are all bought and paid for:

2 – THE “OBAMA YOUTH” FAUX CONSPIRACY: The latest fake outrage?  A group of school children are on tape singing a song about helping their country and President Obama…for African-American History Month…and the lyrics were sent home to parents ahead of time and nobody objected.  So how does FOX News and the rest of the right-wing media respond?  Of course…they decry it as the worst kind of indoctrination, and go as far as to vehemently claim that this never happened (and never would have happened) under the Bush administration.  Except…it did.  There is a clip circulating of Bush with children…praising him for his handling of the Katrina disaster.  That’s right: it’s kids praising Bush…and over one of his biggest, most thorough SCREW-UPS of his presidency.  Here’s the coverage from Countdown with Keith Olbermann (contains all the clips):

3 – DEMONIZING YOUR ENEMY 101: Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) speaking to a right-wing conference at the inanely titled “How To Take Back America” conference, told the assembled crowd: “Obama’s first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers’ money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries.  Now, I got to tell you, if a president will do that, there’s almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn’t be shocked that he does all these other insane things. A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can’t do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity.“  Frank says that OBAMA does insane things?  What about a sitting congressman referring to the President and Commander in Chief of his country as “an enemy of humanity?“  How is THAT reasonable or sane?  At the same conference, considerable time was also given to the threat of the “gay agenda,” the “fascist agenda,” and the “communist agenda,” making it a veritable cornucopia of issues best categorized as “things to scare uneducated rubes, entrenched bigots, and homophobes.

4 – SCAREMONGERING FOR DUMMIES: Meanwhile, the sick comedy team of Liz and Dick Cheney, would still like to tell you that Obama is making you less safe, that he is going to put terrorists in your neighborhood, and that he is going to let the terrorists kill you.  Even the generals are calling this “nonsense” and “scaremongering.”  Retired General David Maddox, former Army commander-in-chief for Europe, said:  “Some of the fear issues that are being raised in this are really unfortunate. It gets people excited about things they shouldn’t be excited about and impedes doing what is critical to this country. Get that damn symbol off the table.  We take a setback every time somebody, whether it’s the vice president or his daughter comes out and says the things that they say…We have to get out there again and just keep pounding.

5 – POLITICS MINUS ETHICS: Remember hearing about the census worker found dead in Kentucky?  Hanging from a tree, bound and gagged, with the word “FED” written on his chest?  No doubt murdered as the result of the litany of “Census Conspiracy Theories” being peddled by Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and others of the right-wing fringe?  Well the local authorities…still haven’t ruled out suicide or accidental death.  Now, Kentucky officials may not be the brightest on the planet…but I’m certain that even they don’t think this happened “accidentally,” or that the substitute teacher/cancer survivor/census worker did it to HIMSELF.  No…they are mere petty politicians…who don’t want to admit that the chickens are coming home to roost…that the violent, inflammatory hate speech emitting out of the GOP and the right-wing media has finally claimed its first, and most obvious victim.  The man’s son calls it “shameful“…but it is even worse than that.

6 – MORE CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST: What is all the outrage and incendiary language producing?  Besides dead census workers?  Incidents like this:  Facebook, the social networking site, has had to disable the “polling” function because someone posted a poll asking if the president “should be killed.“  It’s a simple-to-understand social phenomenon, that has occurred at other times in history (for those willing to learn from history):  violent language, talk of killing political enemies, proclaiming the end of America, labeling opponents as the enemies of humanity, calling for armed insurrection…it invariably leads to public, violent ideation, threats, and eventually…actions.  The Secret Service is investigating because, once again, threats against the president (even if made in jest) are ILLEGAL.

7 – YES, SADLY, MORE CHICKENS: Need other examples of where this is headed?  Newsmax’s columnist John Perry wrote a piece this week…OPENLY CALLING for an armed uprising against the government.  Perry wrote: “Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars.“  Newsmax would later pull the article…and at the same time attempted to lamely justify the piece saying that the author was only “describing” the scenario…not “advocating” it.  This semantic word-play should only serve as further cause for our disgust…and I would, as I did in the previous item, remind readers that “free speech” is not without constraints, and inciting armed insurrection against the government is CLEARLY illegal.

8 – PRIORITIES, SHMIORITIES: What does Michael Steele, chairmen of the Republican National Committee, think of the rhetoric, and the threats and violence it’s spawning?  Steele says in response to calls to tone down the level of discourse: “Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this…To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I’m sorry, but if you’re going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position.  [They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we’re going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn’t have this kind of conversation.“  See what he did there?  It’s how the conservatives are responding to ALL criticism.  When it was suggested that SOME of the people adamantly protesting the president MIGHT be harboring racist sentiments, the right-wing responded, “They’re saying that ALL people who criticize the president are racists!“  And now, that many are saying that the current level of unreasonable, inciting language by SOME could POSSIBLY lead to violence, the right-wing responds, “They’re saying all people who criticize the president are going to cause an assassination!“  It’s a childish, pat response to an argument…that they are going to lose.  It’s worth noting that the cause that Steele DOES think is worth fighting…is denouncing Obama for taking ONE DAY to travel to Copenhagen to try to get the Olympics to be held in Chicago.  That’s right…Steele, thinks it’s important to attack the president for trying to bring the Olympics (with all the business and prestige that accompanies the event) to an American city.  Not health care…not the increasingly violent tone of American political discourse…not Afghanistan…the OLYMPICS.

9 – JUST ASK BRISTOL: Teens know that “abstinence programs” are a joke.  Studies show that the government, under the Bush administration, spent MOUNTAINS of our money funding these programs…to NO EFFECTEven Texas…the number one recipient of “abstinence program” funds, is now changing their program to a more comprehensive sex education program…because under “abstinence” their teen birth rate stayed the third highest in the nation and they have the highest percentage of teen mothers giving birth more than once. So…it makes ZERO sense that the Senate just approved restoring the $50 million a year of federal funding to “abstinence-only programs.“  That is…it makes zero sense until I tell you it was the Senate Finance Committee led by Max Baucus, the same committee to produce the only health care reform bill out of five currently in Congress that has neither a public option, nor true reform…and that would net billions more in profits for the health care industry.  Suddenly, it all becomes clear how this happened…

10 - AY, DIOS MIO! The Republican Party has failed miserably despite its attempts since the election to attract minority voters.  Its latest efforts related to Hispanic Heritage Month, won’t help very much.  It’s bad enough that the party’s leaders regularly spout anti-immigrant, xenophobic, anti-Hispanic propaganda…but when their press release (in Spanish) to the Hispanic community is literally FILLED with spelling, grammatical, and translation errors, well, it certainly doesn’t make them look very “in touch” with the Hispanic people.  I mean seriously…if they had even had ONE Spanish-speaking person JUST LOOK AT the release…they could have avoided this.  The ad they put out…was in some ways even more insulting, since they failed to deem any prominent non-conservative Hispanics worthy of mention.  You would think they would at least have give some time to Sonia Sotomayor…yeesh.

I read pieces like these and my first thought is, “I wonder if they are ashamed…I wonder if they are embarrassed,” and then I realize that since the behavior of our elected officials, our media, and our fellow citizens reflects on me…that I am embarrassed.  We all should be, because it is only by our permission that people such as these are given power, are given a voice.  And until we revoke the power and the pulpit from those who we do not wish to represent us…it is we who are equally at fault.