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Sunday, August 16, 2009

And if God forbid one of these Limbaugh/Beck/Palin-inspired kooks succeeds, then what?
Posted by Jill | 6:38 AM
Will we hear Rush Limbaugh claim he's "just an entertainer"? Will Glenn beck cackle and re-enact it on his TV show? Will Sarah Palin say "That's what happens when you hate freedom"? That's probably likely. In a sane world, these lunatics would stand back and start to realize what they're doing. But we don't live in a sane world. We live in a nation of people who have been told for decades that they have the world's highest standard of living because God wants it that way; that they're ENTITLED to it. Only now they don't anymore. Now the country they live in looks more like it did in 1913 than in the 1990s, which was the last time right-wing hate groups decided to kick up their heels because a Democrat was in the White House.

What we're seeing in the teabaggers and deathers and birthers and other new and old devotés of the right-wing lunatic fringe is the death rattle of the dream that middle- and working-class white guys have had since Ronald Reagan -- that it is hard work which gets you into the Rich White Guys club, not arbitrary factors like who you know and what schools you can get into as a legacy and what you inherit from your father. It's ironic that the Republican Party, a group which has ALWAYS been about rich white guys, became the party of choice for these people, simply because they couldn't bear the thought of dark-skinned people getting a piece of the pie.

Of course now that one of those dark-skinned people is President, they're all going nuts. He's really a Kenyan. He wants to kill white people. He wants to raise my taxes even though I'm only making $20,000/year. Funny how cheaply these people were bought during the Bush years, when a $300 advance on a tax refund made them think that the scion of Yale and Kennebunkport was on their side, that he was one of them just because he bought what was essentially a movie set in Crawford Texas and walked around there with a chain saw and a cowboy hat. How easily they sold their souls.

The irony is that the programs they hold dear, like Medicare and Social Security and public schools and roads that don't dissolve into sinkholes and federal aid when hurricanes strike are all the province of Democrats. And it is to the Democratic Party's eternal shame that it has been unable to remind people of this, choosing instead to work within the framing of the lunatic right that has increasingly dominated the Republican Party.

But now we have small but vocal and potentially violent people being egged on by rich white talk radio hosts who get paid up to hundreds of millions of dollars to pour gasoline on the fires of these people's hatred of minorities, hatred of change, hatred of women, hatred of where they see their country going, heedless of who it was that got us here before January 20, 2009. And now it's all the Secret Service can do to keep this President away from the bullet that these lunatics would be very happy to pump into a man they feel doesn't deserve to be President because his pigmentation is unseemly:
"It's certainly a scary time," said former FBI agent Brad Garrett, now an ABC News consultant. Garrett said the Secret Service "cannot afford to pass on anyone," and he believes "they really do fear that something could happen to [Obama]."

Garrett said statements like one recently made by controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh comparing a logo for the White House plan to a Nazi symbol "legitimizes people who are on the edge to go do something or say something."

"And if you go and take a look at this, you will find that the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo," Limbaugh said.

Later, someone painted a swastika outside the office of Congressman David Scott of Georgia, one of Obama's supporters.

While officials told ABC News that the President's daily threat matrix has yet to reflect a sharp increase in threats, White House officials privately admit deep concern and have told the Secret Service to keep security tight, even if Obama objects.

We can only hope that the Secret Service at least has the organizational memory, if not the personal one, of how even its best efforts failed to keep another young president safe 46 years ago in a state dominated by racist lunatics of the sort we see far too much of today in the coverage of thuggishness at Congressional town halls. As Frank Rich writes today, 2009 is starting to look an awful lot like the 1963 of this season's Mad Men:
In the world of television, “Mad Men” is notorious for drawing great press and modest audiences. This could be the season when the viewers catch up, in part because the show is catching up to the level of anxiety we feel in 2009. In the first two seasons, the series was promoted with the slogan “Where the Truth Lies.” This year, it’s “The World’s Gone Mad.” The ad hyping the season premiere depicts the impeccably dressed Don Draper, the agency executive played by Jon Hamm, sitting in his office calmly smoking a Lucky Strike as floodwater rises to his waist.

To be underwater — well, many Americans know what that’s like right now. But we are also at that 1963-like pivot point of our history, with a new young president unlike any we’ve seen before, and with the promise of a new frontier whose boundaries are a mystery. Something is happening here, as Bob Dylan framed this mood the last time around, but you don’t know what it is. We feel Don Draper’s disorientation as his once rock-solid ’50s America starts to be swept away. We recognize his fear that the world could go mad.

It’s through this prism we might re-examine the raucous town hall eruptions this month. Even if they are inflated by activist organizations and cable-TV overexposure, they still cannot be dismissed entirely as made-for-media phenomena made-to-measure to fill the August news vacuum. Nor are they necessarily about health care. The twisted distortions about “death panels” and federal conspiracies “to pull the plug on grandma” are just too unhinged from the reality of any actual legislation. These bogus fears are psychological proxies for bigger traumas.

“It’s the economy, the facts that millions of people have lost their jobs and millions of others are afraid of losing theirs,” theorizes one heckled senator, Arlen Specter. That’s surely part of it. So is fear of more home foreclosures and credit card bankruptcies. So is fear of China, whose economic ascension stands in stark contrast to the collapse of traditional American industries from automobiles to newspapers. So is fear of Barack Obama, whose political ascension dramatizes the coming demographic order that will relegate whites to the American minority. In our uncharted new frontier, even the most reliable fixture for a half-century of American public life, the Kennedy family, is crumbling.

These anxieties coalesce in various permutations right, left and center. In most cases they don’t surface in the explosions we’re seeing at these town hall meetings but in the kind of quiet desperation that afflicts Don Draper and his cohort in “Mad Men.” But this summer’s explosions are also in keeping with 1963.

The political rage at the young, liberal Kennedy administration in some quarters that year was rabid and ominous. When Adlai Stevenson, then ambassador to the United Nations, spoke in Dallas that October, jeering zealots spat on him and struck him with a picketer’s placard. Stevenson advised Kennedy against traveling there. Dallas rushed to draft a new city ordinance restricting protesters’ movements at lawful assemblies and passed it on Nov. 18. We need not watch “Mad Men” to learn how that turned out.

We've already had a guy turn up at an Obama town hall packing a loaded gun. Funny how when nonviolent, unarmed protesters against the Iraq War were rounded up and penned up a mile away from wherever George W. Bush happened to be so he didn't have to see them, the same people squawking about "freedom" now were utterly silent. Apparently their notion of freedom has little to to with free speech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and more to do with retaining the right to carry a loaded gun to a Presidential appearance, presumably so as to get in a good shot if the opportunity rises.

In the world of the right-wing, nonviolent protest = bad. Packing heat and wearing a T-shirt advocating spilling blood to a Presidential appearance = good.

And all we can do in the middle of this madness is to just hope no one gets hurt.

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Anonymous jb said...
It's easy to forecast what will happen when somebody gets shot by one of the nuts: He will be described as solely responsible for his own actions, even if there's evidence he's been mainlining LimBeck for years, the media will refuse to make any connection to LimBeck's rhetoric, and the neither the Repugs nor their media mouthpieces will pay any institutional price for it.

(Whereas if someone had taken a shot at Bush, Keith Olbermann would have been disappeared off the street within half a day.)

I have lost all hope that the rise of the teabaggers can be stopped short of outright fascism.

Blogger SeDress said...
""And if you go and take a look at this, you will find that the Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo," Limbaugh said."
I wonder if anyone has pointed out to Rush the fact that the Obama logo incorporates the symbol of the Hippocratic oath? Which makes it terribly apparent that our entire medical system has been taken over by the Nazis! That's why we have to have death panels! It's not socialism, it's the return of fascism!
(sorry for all the !!, but that's what happens to my brain when I try to think like a dittohead).