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Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Glenn Greenwald recently noted, as have so many others including yours truly, that the very people who are taking to the streets and who’d filtered into Town Hall meetings and failed miserably to clog the streets of Washington, DC are the very same people who’ve been victimized by the very same entities who’ve been bailed out by TARP and will be bailed out again by the coalescing health care “reform.”

Greenwald, in his typically elegant if humorless way, states that these teabaggers, astroturfers, 9/12ers, tenthers, deathers and birthers are plainly being manipulated by the very forces that have been victimizing them regarding health care, their bank balances, credit cards and every other deregulated industry under the sun. Yet they persist on blaming for everything the people who are the least powerful, the silent majority comprised of hard-working, middle income to poverty level Americans who didn’t sell worthless and risky derivatives, make reckless and ill-advised loans, set up $50 billion Ponzi schemes or increase the cost of health care 131% over the last decade.

David Neiwert, perhaps frightened of alienating these people who made up his community while he grew up in Idaho, has been careful not to label these people as stupid but rather as tragically misinformed. Yet how can one continue making excuses for a class of right wing reactionaries who continually take the wrong side of issues into which they’re coerced to take part while being laughed at by corporate titans pointing down at them from Ivory Tower penthouses? Indeed, I think even the usually discriminating and erudite Neiwert would be hard-pressed to delineate the difference between errant stupidity and perennial ignorance. At one point does one naturally and organically morph into the other and how, exactly, can the two remain mutually exclusive?

And, taking Frank Luntz’s, Dick Armey’s, Mark Williams’ and Glenn Beck’s cues, astroturf town hall disrupters were busy trying to portray the most powerless as the ones who were flooding Capitol Hill with 3300 lobbyists and $1.4 million daily in lobbyist expenses as “the Others”, as if they were some dangerously exotic castaways or indigenous people on Lost. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “the Others.”

We keep calling the TARP a “bailout” but that’s an oversimplification. The first $125 billion in TARP funds went to banks whether or not they needed, wanted or asked for the money. Many smaller banks were forced to take TARP money by order of Hank Paulson’s Treasury Dept. and were furthermore forced to sell to the government often-bottomed out stock, giving these actual troubled banks 100 cents on the dollar and receiving perhaps two thirds on the dividends. As stated, many of the banks who’ve received taxpayer dollars weren’t in need of bailing out at all.

As the Vanity Fair article authors caution, what they found out during their exhaustive investigation into where the TARP money actually went was merely dipping a toe into the black, bottomless pool that will perhaps never be cleared. Hundreds of billions of disclosed taxpayer dollars were almost literally shoveled at the feet of banking executives whether or not they requested the money. There were no clearly defined objectives outside of what Congress had stipulated and then Hank Paulson completely ignored those objectives and directives for the public good and said, basically, “Take the money, run and just keep saying, ‘No comment.’”

Within no time flat we were hearing stories about banks trying to buy $50 million corporate jets, $440,000 dollar luxury retreats and higher executive salaries and bonuses than ever before. In short, Paulson and Bernanke threw trillions at executives and then expected with a straight face for them to not act like college freshmen getting their first student loan checks.

The only difference between the so-called bailout of Wall Street and what’s looming on the health care horizon is that we’re not talking about taxpayer dollars but what could prove to be $12,000-$14,000 directly out of our pockets every year if corporate ventriloquist dummies like Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi, who’s suddenly not so committed to the public option, anymore, have their way. Furthermore, it’s looking more and more as if a wishy-washy Barack Obama may be the only thing standing between us and a Baucus-proposed $3800 fine for those Americans who “refuse” to buy health coverage.

Yet never once has this been reviled as it should be by those who are even more vocal in their opposition to the health care bill than liberals who should be screaming even more loudly about the abandonment of a single payer system and even a public option while making an “individual mandate” a near-certainty.

I’m sorry, Mr. Neiwert. If your “misinformed” people can’t see who’s manipulating them year after year, if they can’t see who’s victimizing them, if they can’t even spell properly, if they can’t even hold their signs right side up, if they keep blaming their most powerless and voiceless fellow countrymen for something that Congress is trying its best to ram down all our throats and if they keep making the same mistakes by letting their adrenal glands and larynxes do their thinking for them, even if it means fomenting a needless class warfare that Republicans keep hoarsely insisting doesn't exist, then that meets my definition of stupid.

Unfortunately, the obviously bought-and-sold members of Congress and the current occupant of the Oval Office are hardly showing any more intelligence or compassion, especially on the right side of the aisle. What was once the Party of Lincoln is now the Party of Stuart Best, a comically clueless character on a 14 year-old episode of Murphy Brown who, like Tom Tancredo and Arnold Schwarzenegger, took money from every interest group on the planet without first finding out what they represented and what they wanted out of him.

Essentially, Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” sums up government intervention in the clip below:

And, like the staff and patrons in the restaurant, heaven forbid that we should call arrogant, rude gluttony for what it is. It’s just easier to make excuses to leave and dive behind potted plants to avoid the unpleasantness, to instead blame the busboy and dishwasher for the tsunami of vomit to come.
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