Thursday, October 07, 2010

America: Potential vs. Reality

The idea hit me just the other day like a thunderclap. This country's best days are years behind it. As a matter of fact (and I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you) the good old U-S of A is broken and I fear it is now beyond fixing. America has been destroyed and the damage is more-than-likely irreparable. And were we to take that first step on the long road to recovery, such an effort would take decades - maybe even a century. Let's face it: America is finished. It's toast. Kaput. In the shit house. Dead as a doornail. Wrecked and raped. Warped and ruined. Up the creek without a freakin' paddle. Over and out. Trampled and stomped. Bumped and bashed. Mortally wounded. Utterly fucked. Totally trashed. Screwed, blued and tattooed. EVERYBODY SING!

The old gray mare she ain't what she used to be
Ain't what she used to be
Ain't what she used to be....

This country's future will be an insatiable nostalgia for its distant past. Thirty straight years of political dysfunction and corruption has rendered this once-great nation impotent, a shadow of what we once were - and the potential of what we could have become. We might have been a virtual paradise. In fact, once upon a time we came pretty damned close! But it's over. You understand that, right? It's all over now, baby blue.

This ain't your father's America.

It's time to wind up the ma
squerade
Just make your mind up - the piper must be paid
The party's over
It's all over, my friend

You won't even want to find yourself unfortunate enough to share a hemisphere with this place twenty-five years from today - I guarantee it. Given the average longevity of men in my family, I will probably not live to see the sociological catastrophe that will be America in 2035. Lucky me!
The next ten years will see an historical first: American refugees. Brace yourselves, Canada. And remember that we're not particularly fond of warm beer, okay?.

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: A reader from Canada named Brandon indignantly (but gently) informs me that Canada likes their beer frigid as well. In his own words: "C'mon! We're the frozen tundra! Where would we even get warm beer?" Point conceded, Brandon. My bad. Thanks for keeping me on my toes, pal.]

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."

William Shakespeare

Edward R. M
urrow used that quote from Julius Caesar at the conclusion of a 1954 broadcast about Joe McCarthy. He was trying to explain how a drunken demagogue like the Wisconsin senator could have found success in a political system crafted by the likes of Jefferson and Adams. Perhaps Murrow was being generous. Perhaps the man's essential optimism forbade him from facing the obvious. Let us face some nasty and irreversible facts, shall we? Americans are pretty dumb. The evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable.

November 4
will mark the thirtieth anniversary of the day that Weeda Peeple sent a senile, dirty old dingbat named Ronald Reagan to the White House. Despite the damage his administration did to this country's social and economic infrastructure, he is still held in high esteem by most of us. Yesterday on MSNBC's Morning Joe, the eminent historian Douglas Brinkley cited Reagan as one of America's "great" presidents - right up there with Washington, Lincoln and the two Roosevelts. Amazing. If someone as smart as Brinkley still doesn't get it, it's doubtful that the vast majority of Americans are going to get it any time soon. They probably never will; hence our downfall.

"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth cencentrated in the hands of the few, but we can't have both."

Justice Louis Brandeis

Twenty-six days from today (if current trends continue) these imbecilic Americans will bang yet another nail into the slowly-closing coffin of their economic security by handing the legislative branch of our government back to Reagan's ideological heirs - the same jackals and jackasses - bitches and bastards - who are responsible for the mess we're in today....and our downward spiral will only continue.

Is this a great country, or what?

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net

SUGGESTED READING:

Armed Madhouse
By Greg Palast

59 Comments:

At 6:37 AM, Blogger guy said...

Sure seems that way Tom...

I wont give up hope tho... Things are just getting interesting.

If you think about it, the last 10 years have been complete shit and I haven't lived very long but I have lived long enough to know it does eventually get better. Kind of like the "rock bottom" a smack addict hits before recovering. Or they OD and die...

Unfortunately Glenn Beck makes a complete s*** interventionist. Now he's got the evangelical revivalist BS going... We all know where that got us last time with 2Xs Jr. Bush.

What we really need is our own revival. Why have we become so damn passive whilst the "silent majority" is screaming their faces off? The true majority in America is moderate, which is now "liberal"... So the majority is in fact progressive by TP standard.

Ive never voted in my life... OK I voted once, when I turned 18. I was never interested in politics until the last few years. I'm making every "liberal" friend, family, casual acquaintance get the F out and vote! So if it makes you feel any better I'm voting for the first time in 10 years!

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger Donna said...

I often say that I'm glad to be as old as I am (66) because I don't want to be around in fifty years.

 
At 9:52 AM, Blogger PCS said...

What saddens me is the complete disdain for higher education these days. Going to college makes one an elitist. Go in any hospital these days and see what our physicians look like. We need to hire Indians and Pakistanis to staff our hospitals. Go in any medical research lab and look at our post-docs - Japanese and Chinese. Let me make it clear that these doctors and PhD's are highly trained and capable. We should hope and pray that they will stay in the USA and become citizens, because for some reason, we can't seem to find enough American citizens that are interested in becoming scientists. Why should they bother? Evolution is only a theory, vaccinations are not needed, and Climate change research is a conspiracy. I weep for our country.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Awwww Tom, I knew this day was coming. I've stayed quiet because I didn't want to squash yours or anyone else's hope but I've felt the truth of this for a while now. I figured "well, when Tom Degan starts sayin' it, then it's time to hunker down and in for the shit storm. I don't know where we'll be in 20 years. All we can do is keep watch for others who are in sync with our beliefs and build community with those people. My mom used to tell great stories about the depression when she was a young wife with 3 little kids. The women up and down her block would meet halfway and figure out what was for supper. They'd share and swap food until each woman had something adequate for her family that night. That's how we're gonna make it this time, too.
Love ya hon,
Mary

 
At 10:57 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

Canada, huh ?? I doubt they want millions of Amerikan political refugees. Maybe the best course of action is to stop paying taxes as an act of civil disobedience. The justification for this is the failure of consideration for the social contract on the part of the establishment. They have built numerous prisons but I don't think there is room for 200 million political prisoners !! Without the tax revenue the establishment will run out of money. The wealthy ruling class will then have to borrow from themselves to keep their sick game going. They would likely take their wealth and go elsewhere than pony any money up to keep a society going that has no one left for them to exploit !! The ONLY other choice is violent revolution which is equivalent to a mass suicide. If we hit the establishment in the wallet that might have some impact. Otherwise as Tom says we are totally fucked.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

Tom, you have certainly hit the nail on the head. Some 20 - 30 years ago I foolishly thought we were "making progress" becoming more open minded, accepting, intelligent, if you will, but increasingly we are seeing a dumbing down with the inmates running the insane asylum.

For years, I have never been able to understand the adulation given Reagan. I thought he was a fake and a phony then and time has done nothing to change my opinion. He was truly the beginning of America's decline.

Donna, I am with you and two years ahead of you (68). I have said for years that I am glad to be as old as I am so that I will not be around to see what a sorry mess this country becomes.

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous boltok said...

"imbecilic Americans"

Beyond self perception, what qualifies the author to make this assertion?

T-26

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

boltok.....I think it's the fact that the country has gone to shit. That's a result of imbeciles allowing themselves to be brainwashed and sold a bill of goods by the establishment. I WISH I was as old as some of the other commenters. I'm afraid I am going to be around long enough to see the shit hit the fan.

 
At 3:15 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

It always amuses me to hear people say Reagan was a 'great' President. Most of them are too young to remember, or incapable of remembering, how during his first campaign especially, the evening news started EVERY night with someone from his campaign saying, "What Mr. Reagan meant to to say......"

Since then, it's gotten so bad, politicians don't even seem to make a real effort to explain the stupid things they say. When some idiot talks about privatizing Social Security right after the largest collapse of the stock market since the Great Depression, the Village Idiots yell, 'damn right!' When another one says unemployment is so high because people prefer collecting unemployment INSURANCE (I know, they actually refer to it as 'Welfare'), once again, the morons shout their approval.

Our only hope is that the loud and stupid don't represent a majority. We won't have to wait too long to find out, at least.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger Ellis D., Esq. said...

The " moral majority " were not a true majority and look at all the damage they caused in Amerika !!!

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger Nance said...

Gosh, buddy, what took you so long? I've been in mourning for a year. Not that you're slow, Tom...not by a long shot. Maybe, like me, you've been unconsciously reluctant to spell it out so plainly in broad daylight; I sometimes think I should spare my kids and grandkids the news and I can hardly bring myself to imagine it all for them. If they are as smart as I think they are, they'll be among the first American immigrants. Actually, I think many of the rich and famous have already jumped ship for Europe.

 
At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Brandon said...

As a Canadian I take offence to this!

We don't drink warm beer up here, that's England. C'mon, we're the frozen tundra, where would we even get warm beer?

Also, what you guys call beer is mildly flavoured water that might get a Canadian drunk were he (or she) to manage to consume 40 or 50 in a half hour.

Best work on your tolerance before seeking asylum up here!

;)

 
At 7:20 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Brandon! You got me, pal! My brother Pete who lives in Toronto also pointed this out to me. I usually correct these things when they are pointed out to me but - this time at least - I'm going to let my ignorance stand as a reminder to me to keep on my toes.

Thanks for pointing that out.

All the best,

Tom Degan

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

PS, Brandon - I used to live in Canada. As John Lennon once sang, "I should have known better."

 
At 8:09 PM, Blogger Bennett said...

I'm in agreement with many of the comments here. My only problem is that at the age of 47 I went and had a child, who's now 4 years old.

The only things that make it feel any better is knowing 1) I'm in upstate Vermont, and 2) My wife still has and uses her Canadian passport.

If things go all to hell in the next 20 years, my son should be able to slip north, even if I'm not around to help him.

Sad post Tom, but oh so true.

 
At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Standing on the outside looking in all you have said has been apparent for a while.
The greatest problem as far as I can see is the constitution and how its used. Without it there wouldnt be all the arguments about who could do this and who cant do that but rather the laws framed by your congress could of grown as society has grown. Unfortunately that hasn't been possible due to the corporations that have been created.
As far as the basic US citizen has been concerned the US is the greatest ciivlisation in world history and that blindness is the archilles heel and all countries have good and bad but the blindness has papered over the bad until it is too late. In writing this I know there will people who consider that these words are a personal attack but it's not meant in that regard.
BUT and I do belive this of the US it is a resilient society and will eventually bounce back and that will invovle a lot of pain and all any of you can do in my humble opinion is try and change one little thing at a time. Good Luck All.

 
At 5:48 AM, Blogger Catharine said...

Okay, look... when I said in a comment here a week or so back that America was finished, Tom Degan, I expected you to talk me out of it.

Sooo,WTF? If our faux-relationship is going to work at all, you're going to have to pick up on those non-verbal, between-the-lines clues... like when I ask you, "Does this blog template make me look fat?" Ya know... like that.

Seriously, though... I came to that conclusion a while ago. It was when we elected a black man to the White House, and white people went publicly, unabashedly, unapologetically crazy... not cute crazy, in a Sofia-from-Golden-Girls kinda way, but rather scary crazy, in a white-sheets-burning-crosses-on-the-lawn, David Dukes kinda way.

But you and I start from fundamentally different places, I think. I will tell you that history tells us that the idea that America is basically a good country, founded by good folks, for good reasons, is a myth. Not necessarily a bad myth. But a myth nonetheless. Our country was founded by slave-owning, disenfranchised curmudgeonly malcontents who had gotten used to be left alone and would have happily continued being a British colony, were it not for that damned fool Stamp Act.

It just so happens that, in the process of saying "Suck it, George 3", they drafted this document... this flawed, brilliant, shining, amazing, infuriating, incongruous little piece of paper that came to be known as the Constitution. Miraculously (or intentionally), it was flexible and amendable, so that it allowed us to try and change the country from the reality of its sexist, racist, fearful, xenophobic, petty, stingy roots into the glowing myth that Americans love to portray as themselves -- good-hearted, freedom-loving, egalitarian, genius Wunderkinds who invented -- among other things -- dirt and Teflon.

The thing is... we are those things... ALL those things... the good and the bad. We did invent Teflon. And though we didn't invent dirt, we found 1000 new ways to improve it, shift it or augment it to make our lives a little better for a while. We ended slavery and Jim Crow. We created Social Security and Medicare to take care of older people because they needed us, and they'd earned it. We created one of the best public education systems in the world, one that extended to affordable universities and colleges, too. We tossed out the part of the Constitution that recognized a black man as only 3/5ths of a man, and corrected the oversight that failed to grant women the vote. We put a man on the goddamned, everlovin' moon, for cripes' sake. We became our absolute best selves. We became the myth, at least for a while.

But maintaining a myth, when that's not your true nature, and when you forget who you really were to start with, is nigh impossible. The truth will out. And it has outed. The truth is here, it's queer, and now we have to deal with it. We aren't the greatest country on Earth anymore. Am I grateful (being a woman, especially) that I was born here, and not -- say -- Afghanistan? You betcha, by golly. But if I'd been born in Oslo, I'd probably be much better off right about now -- certainly with regard to student loan debt.

Still, England once thought that it would always be the ruling empire. Like us, they were sure they'd never take a back seat to anyone. The empire fell, and these days, England is just a little country (albeit, an influential one, with great television, public healthcare and pretty cool accents). But it's still here. There'll always be an England. I don't think that would be a bad place for us to be. Humbled. Scaled down. Taken to task. Taught a thing or two about what playing second fiddle really means, especially in a Chinese orchestra. There'll always be an America. Just not -- as you said -- our fathers' America.

~Amanda~

 
At 6:08 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Great comment, Amanda! That's one that should be etched in stone!

Folks, please check out her blog, "The Catharine Chronicles. It's great. Here's a link:

http://www.thecatharinechronicles.com/

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Speaking as a Brit, I have to concur with Catherine/Ammanda's post above.

There are various themes in this piece (Tom's) on which I'd like to expound and reply; ditto Amanda's reply; so allow me to gather my thoughts and I'll come back to it - with sources.

Lastly, seeing as you chaps and chappesses are facing the mid-terms, I would encourage each and every one of you to go out and vote! If you aint willing to vote, you lose the right to bitch about it when the guys you didn't want in take the Congress, and then enact all manner of backwards-looking legislation (like trying to repeal your much needed healthcare reform bill).

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Catharine said...

Thanks for the link, Tom. Now I have to go post, since I've been neglecting the Chron since August. Which is for the best, since I'm about to start teaching a workshop on how to break writers' block. I guess I'd better go put my money where my mouth is.

And thanks for giving me a place to vent what I've been feeling for so long.

Oh, and, by the way... Does my new blog template make me look fat?

:)

~A~

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Interesting how we both feel our country is in trouble but for completely different reasons, Tom. :)

I believe that we have a chance in November to at least stop the slide, maybe level out a bit. The emergence of the Tea Party movement has helped to get the peoples' voices in play again, and if it's not a simple flash in the pan we should be able to get somewhere good with it.

I'll have my fingers crossed on November 2nd for sure, and a few groans from your side of the sociopolitical world won't make me sad either. :)

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Avram Mirsky said...

Y'know Tom, it is dumbness or is it delusion (and is there a difference)? We are marching towards Idiocracy (that is after we pass through the destructiveness of our current corporatocracy), and though I won't be here either, I fear for my children.

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Avram Mirsky said...

Oh yes, Atom Shmasher. The likes of Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller, Rand Paul and Sarah Palin REALLY fuel my optimism for a better America.

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Avram Mirsky said...

If you want to see what we're up against, go here, but don't bother posting a comment as this guy immediately removes any dissenting comment (have you ever noticed that it's only rightwing bloggers who do that?). I am saddened that a fellow Todd Rundgren fan could be so delusional.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

"Avram Mirsky said...
Oh yes, Atom Shmasher. The likes of Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller, Rand Paul and Sarah Palin REALLY fuel my optimism for a better America."

And what don't you like about each one? I'm not saying they're perfect, hell no, but what's a specific characteristic that bothers you about each one?

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Avram Mirsky said...

Atom, my friend, if you have to ask, you can never understand.

 
At 7:48 PM, Blogger PCS said...

Christine O'Donnell - chronic liar
Joe Miller - hypocrite
Rand Paul - bigot
Sarah Palin - ignorant

 
At 10:31 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Avram-

Twaddle.

PCS-

What's Miller been hypocrtical about?

 
At 11:14 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Atom Smasher said...
"What's Miller been hypocrtical about?"

OOO! OOO! I have that one!

Although Mr. Miller claims that unemployment insurance is 'unconstitutional', he didn't think it was too unconstitutional to let his wife make a claim when she was laid off. After working for him.

Does that qualify as hypocrisy?

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/06/1859633/alaska-gop-candidate-millers-wife.html

I like this game. Your turn.

 
At 3:32 AM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Bill-

I honestly don't know. If you disagree with the law of the land but allow it to function because it is indeed, the law of the land, is that hypocrisy?

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Tom Degan's Daily Rant "My brother Pete who lives in Toronto also pointed this out to me."
Pete? In Toronto? I know him!

Atom Smasher "The emergence of the Tea Party movement has helped to get the peoples' voices in play again, and if it's not a simple flash in the pan we should be able to get somewhere good with it."
Well, if by "peoples' voices" you mean the Social Conservatives…
What the left needs to do is bring back Populism (precious few Dems have it). Yes, it tends to bring along an anti-intellectual streak, but an actual Populism of regular people that fight for regular people (William Jennings Bryan might be widely lampooned now, but when he fought for farmers, it wasn't for Monsanto. He's remembered for his stance on evolution, but he should be remembered for his rabblerousing), rather than the faux-populism on the Right that fights for Big Business (see "Tax Cuts!" and "Small Government!") and against Unpopular Minorities (see "Take Our Country Back!" and "Ground Zero Mosque!")…will have a hell of a time trying to get funding. You've got an uphill battle.
On the plus side, if you fail, after the Right has marginalized the Left, Mexicans, Muslims, gays, uppity broads, etc to the point that the FEMA camps are actually used for nefarious purposes (and, even as a boogeyman "Liberals!" has lost its power), some douche in the top 2% will say "Let them eat cake" and all hell will break loose. Just try to keep out of the ensuing crossfire and you'll be okay.

"I honestly don't know. If you disagree with the law of the land but allow it to function because it is indeed, the law of the land, is that hypocrisy?"
If you protest outside Planned Parenthood on Monday, get an abortion on Tuesday, and protest again on Wednesday…

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

"I honestly don't know. If you disagree with the law of the land but allow it to function because it is indeed, the law of the land, is that hypocrisy?"

Miller didn't have the option to 'allow' or disallow it to be 'the law of the land', BUT he did have the option of following his b3eliefs, or profiting financially. He's a hypocrite.

 
At 3:39 PM, Blogger PCS said...

Miller is anti-government yet he seemed to have no problem accepting agriculture subsidies, low income hunting and fishing licenses in Alaska, and unemployment benefits (his wife) which he believes are unconstitutional. Miller bashes "government run" health care but had no problem accepting medicaid benefits.

It's funny that the TEA party candidates all seem to agree that the US Constitution grants American citizens too many rights.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Modusoperandi said...
"Well, if by "peoples' voices" you mean the Social Conservatives"

Actually the Tea Party groups are all sourced in FISCAL conservatism, not social.

As far as Miller is concerned, I just don't see the issues being brought up as relevant.

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Atom Smasher said...
"As far as Miller is concerned, I just don't see the issues being brought up as relevant."

First, it's 'twaddle' that Miller is a hypocrite, then when it's proven, it's irrelevant.
Obviously, the real irrelevancy here is Atom Smasher's opinion.

 
At 1:33 AM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

No Bill, what was twaddle was this:

"Avram Mirsky said...
Atom, my friend, if you have to ask, you can never understand."

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "Actually the Tea Party groups are all sourced in FISCAL conservatism, not social."
Sure they are (technically, they're sourced in Astroturf™, a Freedomworks Company & wholy owned subsidiary of GOP/FoxNews Inc). In any event, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore (Note: Madness not in effect during Republican administrations)" isn't legitimate protest. It's tribalism disguised as activism.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Modus-

If Bush had set 2 trillion dollars on fire after the economy had just been blown into space the same people would be saying the same things. They're just as unhappy with spendy and intrusive Repubs as they are with spendy and intrusive Dems.

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

The truth about the Tea Party is it's mostly just a redirection of the same tired old 'Moral Majority' argument.
Nothing's really new, it's just the same old people (and their ideological heirs)spouting the same paranoid xenophobic hysteria they always have.
They're just as racist, just as ignorant, and just as convinced of the moral certitude as ever.

 
At 4:40 AM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Bill-

So the fact that they started as tax and spending and Constitutionality protests, have grown as such, and are pushing candidates that they feel are responsive to that agenda means nothing to you?

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

While it MAY have started as an honest movement of "tax and spending and Constitutionality protests", it was quickly appropriated by cynical big money intent on manipulating the fear and paranoia of the 'single issue, low information' (their own words) conservative voter.

If it was truly about lower taxes and spending, why isn't there an ongoing attempt to educate and inform its members about what small amounts of good news there is bout the economy? Obama's first full budget deficit was 8% lower than Bush's last one, the car companies paid back the loans that preserved a lot of manufacturing jobs, not only for their workers, but in the related industries, a good 40% of the cost of the stimulus package was tax cuts aimed at the middle class, TARP went from 'costing' over $700 billion dollars to probably costing at most $50 billion, and in the end, might actually show a profit.
I'm not saying it's all good news by any definition, but there are positive things happening, and it's not in the interests of Dick Armey's group, or the Koch brothers to tell people the truth, it serves their interests to keep the people they're cynically using for their own ends afraid and angry.

 
At 2:51 PM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Bill, what you don't seem to get is that even if I choose not to dispute any of your facts (comments section inappropriate for that IMO), NOTHING you list is "good news" or "positive", at all, to a fiscal conservative.

NONE OF IT.

It's like me telling a true pacifist "but look, we killed 55% fewer people via collateral damage with our Predator drone strikes this year" or whatever. I'd be completely missing his point.

 
At 3:11 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

So what you're saying (and I guess I should infer you think you're speaking for ALL 'fiscal conservatives') that this an all or nothing situation, there can't be anything like a good trend or positive news.

That sounds kind of simplistic and childish. Minus the 'kind of' part.

 
At 6:58 PM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "Modus- If Bush had set 2 trillion dollars on fire after the economy had just been blown into space the same people would be saying the same things. They're just as unhappy with spendy and intrusive Repubs as they are with spendy and intrusive Dems."
No they aren't. Do you remember the public display of outrage around the passing of TARP? There wasn't. The genesis of Teabaggery didn't happen until Santelli's "unscripted" and "grassroots" rant. The Teabaggers, in other words, didn't get started on the giant package of TARP for bank, they got started on the comparatively small package that was for homeowners. That's the opposite of "small government" Populism. That's "small government for thee, not for me", and that sums up pretty well the Teabagger stance ("Keep the government out of my medicare/social security!"). How about the outrage over unfunded Medicare D? Nope. Off-the-books wars in two countries? Nope. The deficit-fueling "temporary" tax cuts? Nope.
They're for cutting everywhere that is not Defense and is not something they use. That leaves pretty much nothing, annually, leaving faux-outrage over things like TARP (which, as poor as its oversight is, appears to have worked. Far from perfect, obviously), the Stimulus (which was too small, but having it was still better than not having it), the GM bailout (which was a pittance, and would, under a Republican administration, been hailed as "Saving American jobs"), etc.
Make no mistake, they do have legitimate gripes. Over the last thirty years, they've watched the middle class get washed away. They've financed a lifestyle they can't afford built on a house that, thanks to the popping bubble, is no longer worth even what's left on its mortgage. They've seen public schools, already at a disadvantage, get stripped to the bone. They've seen their roads become potholes. They've watch the Steel Belt rust, and states like Michigan now have a full 20% of the state budget go to the DoC (this is from 2003-4, it's gone up since then), and the status of their Public Defender funding is a travesty). They've seen response times of fire and police departments increase as their budgets decreased. They've seen America been hollowed out…by the very same people who fund their faux-populism! Instead, they rise up in outrage, blame the Mexicans (while enjoying the cheap produce, chicken, childcare and construction provided by them), ACORN (whose only crime was to help people who, surprisingly, won't vote for the party that's gained so much by race-baiting them), the "mainstream media" (which is more concerned with profit and access than it is about pushing the wingnut bogeyman version of Liberalism), "liberal values"/"activist judges"/etc (as though the Constitution is meant to apply to only the Popular Majority, and as though gay families don't have "family values"), "big government" (except for a smattering of big L Libertarians, everybody is for big government. The only difference is one side tries to use it to aid the least of us while the other wants it just small enough to fit in your uterus and just big enough to make foreigners explode), etc. Again, they do have legitimate gripes. Gripes which only surface when their Tribe isn't in charge. Gripes that, inevitably, get focused on the wrong people.

 
At 6:59 PM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "NOTHING you list is 'good news' or 'positive', at all, to a fiscal conservative."
"Slowly digging out of the mess" is good news. "Slowly digging out of the mess…and, oh, by the way, we've brought in strong regulation with solid oversight so that Wall Street can't bubble the economy into bankruptcy, then hold its shattered corpse hostage" would be better news, but we can't have it all. Instead we get to, as Democrats inevitably do (moreso when faced with an opposition party that's more concerned with getting its majority back than rational governance), nibble around the edges.
The Teabaggers are against regulation, not realizing just how interlinked everything is in a modern economy (where, oh I don't know, a run on banks would crash the whole place), and they're against bailouts. Correction, they're against bailouts now.
Are you starting to see why we respect them so little?

Bill_in_DE "While it MAY have started as an honest movement of 'tax and spending and Constitutionality protests'...
It did. But that was Ron Paul (with his audience of few). Ron Paul is not a Teabagger (he's against the War on Drugs and he's an isolationist, for two). While Ron has some kooky ideas, he, unlike the Teabaggers, tends to know what he's talking about.

 
At 1:58 AM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Bill-

I think I'm probably more able to speak for large numbers of fiscal conservatives than you are. All, of course not. But I'm not trying to win an argument, I'm trying to point out that the basis for your conclusion is inherently flawed.

Modus-

As with Bill above, I'm a little closer in ideology and opinion to the Tea Party than perhaps you are. I "get" how, where, and why it started and what it's trying to accomplish. Dismissing me outright isn't going to make it go away.

Why is it that I believe the Kos guys, the Huffpo guys, and even the Democratic Underground guys when they say why they believe what they believe and what they want, but few liberal/lefties I know can make the same statement about me or my ilk?

I *believe* someone like Mike Malloy hates conservative Republicans, I *believe* Thomm Hartman thinks all of our modern problems started with Reagan, and I *believe* Robert Kennedy Jr. thinks we're destroying the planet.

Why can't you believe that something as simple as "stop spending our gorram money!" is really what the people saying it mean? Why?

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

I didn't try to speak for fiscal conservatives, and I wouldn't even want to. But the Tea Party professes to, and they're doing an extremely poor job of it.

If they're truly a "grassroots' movement of people who honestly want to reduce the deficit and lower government spending for the good of the country, then that should be their focus. Instead, it's an aimless collection of misfits who have never met an anti-Democrat, anti-Liberal, anti-Obama conspiracy theory it didn't like.

Don't even try to pretend there is any message purity involved, the Tea Party is a joke. If it was a serious movement, people like Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Christine O'Donnell, and Carl Paladino wouldn't be taken seriously by anyone.

Like it or not, a capitalist economy is a competition, and as with any competition, there are winners and there are losers. The 'fiscal conservative' approach seems to be a Malthusian ideal that the losers (those who for whatever reason, can't compete financially with the majority)should be abandoned by the rest of society.

Most reasonable people can see the outcome of living in a society where failing to be competitive financially is tantamount to a capital offense, and make the conscious decision to see that doesn't happen, but the 'fiscal conservatives' think a society without a safety net for those of our fellow citizens who need our help is somehow more 'beneficial'. The question is, to who?

 
At 4:33 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Bill, you stated, “but the 'fiscal conservatives' think a society without a safety net for those of our fellow citizens who need our help is somehow more 'beneficial'.”

No, I think you are confusing or mixing categories. The belief in a free market economy is not mutually exclusive of a wisely regulated economy, nor is it exclusive of providing for the welfare of those who truly need it. That’s not to say that there aren’t cruel, greedy people who don’t care – there are. But, there are also many of us who see the free market as the best (not perfect) model for economic growth to generally benefit society – and, at the same time, appreciate well-thought-out regulation and expect to give of our time and money (both public and private) to help the less fortunate.

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

I'm not saying there aren't plenty of people on both sides that think the way you do, Harley. What I'm saying is that only on the Right do you see people who say the only reason we have high unemployment is because unemployment insurance exists, that the old and disabled should invest in the stock market to support themselves, and while they're at it, they should buy health insurance from companies that will take their premiums for years, only to drop them as soon as they get ill.

I'm also NOT saying people don't have a right to say that if that's what they believe, but it truly discourages me to know that not only do some of these people already hold office, but they're actually being challenged by people (within their own party) who think they don't go far enough.

 
At 7:03 PM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "Why can't you believe that something as simple as 'stop spending our gorram money!' is really what the people saying it mean? Why?"
Because it's not. It's "stop spending our gorram money (now)!". It's "Stop spending our gorram money (now)!" (plus "We're against spending, even deficit-neutral or relatively neutral spending, if it goes to somebody other than us!", generally shortened to "Death panels!" or, more simply "SOCIALISM!!!"). It's not "Cut the deficit!", it's "Cut the deficit (at everybody's expense but mine/at everybody below me on the economic ladder's expense)!"
Again, that's not legitimate dissent. That's Tribalism.

"Dismissing me outright isn't going to make it go away."
I'm not dismissing you outright. There are legitimate gripes. They're missing those completely (like proper regulation to help mediate Wall Street's excesses or to minimize offshoring and rent seeking by Big Business) in exchange for a cartoon nightmare given to them by fools like Beck and cynical manipulators like Limbaugh and Palin, rallied by FoxNews and funded by Big Coal and (during Healthcare Reform) Big Insurance.
If anything, they're getting far more deference than the anti-war demonstrators got, just a few years before. Getting mocked for ignorance, demagoguery and ugly nativism is less bad than being called "unamerican!", "unpatriotic!" or "traitor!" for not wanting to throw away American blood & treasure for a lie.

Harley A. "But, there are also many of us who see the free market as the best (not perfect) model for economic growth to generally benefit society – and, at the same time, appreciate well-thought-out regulation and expect to give of our time and money (both public and private) to help the less fortunate."
If you can fit that on a sign, I, and America, would muchly appreciate seeing it at the next Tea Party rally. It would certainly be more rational than the, effectively, "Mine!", "This man is an island!" & "I was born on Third and I think I hit a triple!" signs they've got now.

 
At 2:04 AM, Blogger Atom Smasher said...

Bill_in_DE said...
"I didn't try to speak for fiscal conservatives, and I wouldn't even want to. But the Tea Party professes to, and they're doing an extremely poor job of it. "

But if you're neither qualified nor interested in speaking for fiscal conservatives, how can you be authoritative on how well or how poorly the Tea Party fares in that arena?

Modusoperandi said...
"Atom Smasher "Why can't you believe that something as simple as 'stop spending our gorram money!' is really what the people saying it mean? Why?"
"Because it's not.
-snip for space-

"It's not "Cut the deficit!", it's "Cut the deficit (at everybody's expense but mine/at everybody below me on the economic ladder's expense)!"
Again, that's not legitimate dissent. That's Tribalism."

Even in the bits I snipped out I'm not seeing the connection, all I'm seeing is a lot of things you've simply made up.

If I lay claim to being a Tea Party "fellow traveler", let's say, how do YOU know what I'm willing to spend less on, or why?

I'll ask you a question: Is there ANY Federal spending you feel can be cut?

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

Carl Trueman states my feelings aptly...

“One of the most depressing things about the current season of political stumping in the USA is the mindless nature of so much of the discourse. The recent sight of the unbearably self-important and ill-informed Bill O'Reilly and the overwheeningly self-righteous and equally ignorant Whoopi Goldberg squaring off in a TV spat about as realistic and spontaneous as a Hulk Hogan smackdown just about says it all. The most popular TV pundit of the Right, who yet cannot define `socialism,' versus the advocate for women's rights who does not regard the drugging, and forcible and perverted sexual violation of a thirteen year old girl as `rape.' If ever we needed a microcosmic demonstration of all that is wrong with left and right, those two say it all: it is all about empty posturing, extreme slogans, and, above all, entertainment.”

That is the sad truth. Our problem is less that there is disagreement and more that, in our entertainment driven culture, we no longer have the ability to reasonably argue and debate – the medium no longer exists.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Bill_in_DE said...

Atom Smasher said..
"But if you're neither qualified nor interested in speaking for fiscal conservatives, how can you be authoritative on how well or how poorly the Tea Party fares in that arena?"

Maybe because I don't have the requisite self-importance to speak for an entire group, and just tried to be 'authoritative' when expressing my personal opinion?

The Tea Party might have started out as a small group with good intentions, but in their desperate rush to be seen as a credible political movement, they lost any focus they might have once had, and any validity as a 'grassroots' movement when they started taking corporate money from groups like Americans for Prosperity (Dick Armey's group) and the different various groups that are funded by the Koch brothers, along with their embrace of the kooks in the birther movement, and the nuts who actually believed in 'death panels' during the debate over the Health Care Bill.

Now they're backing any random mental case who happens to appear from a distance to espouse their values, and continue to back and defend them even after it's become sadly obvious to anyone watching from the outside that they're not qualified to be trusted with a driver's license, much less public office.

 
At 3:22 AM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "Even in the bits I snipped out I'm not seeing the connection, all I'm seeing is a lot of things you've simply made up."
Really? I have to assume you just woke up from an eight year long coma. From 2001-2008 the consistent message from the Right was "Obey". From 2009 up it changed to "Dissent". It was interesting watching dissent turn from treason to patriotism. Granted, I am a foreigner, so you all look nuts to me.

"If I lay claim to being a Tea Party 'fellow traveler', let's say, how do YOU know what I'm willing to spend less on, or why?"
That depends. Are you one of the rational ones that never appear on camera or in interviews, or are you running for office?

"I'll ask you a question: Is there ANY Federal spending you feel can be cut?"
Defense. And even reasonable cuts to that won't get you anywhere close.
Corporate welfare/rent-seeking/etc. A little closer.
War on Drugs. It doesn't work, it's expensive, it puts the least of us in jail. Less of it puts more everywhere else.
Bush's "temporary tax cuts". Down to, say, a hundred grand a year. Closer.
De-Haliburtonification. It isn't a word, but it should be. $600 a day, followed by a series of subcontractors taking their cut, ending with a Pakistani doing the job for $5/hr is not a good use for money, not to mention the (I hope) minority of armed contractors who treat Iraq/Afghanistan as a free-fire zone.
DHC. Unless things have changed since I last paid attention, it's an orgy of politically-connected companies suckling madly at the public teat. In exchange, Nowhere Idaho gets cameras and body armor and fliers get security theatre. In the very least, reorg and make it more than just a Piggy Bank for Fear.
Also, try this. It's a fun and easy way to pretend we have, or will get, anything resembling rational government. I got 58% without being particularly douchey (and without picking anything which I didn't understand).

 
At 3:25 AM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Atom Smasher "Even in the bits I snipped out I'm not seeing the connection, all I'm seeing is a lot of things you've simply made up."
Really? I have to assume you just woke up from an eight year long coma. From 2001-2008 the consistent message from the Right was "Obey". From 2009 up it changed to "Dissent". It was interesting watching dissent turn from treason to patriotism. Granted, I am a foreigner, so you all look nuts to me.

"If I lay claim to being a Tea Party 'fellow traveler', let's say, how do YOU know what I'm willing to spend less on, or why?"
That depends. Are you one of the rational ones that never appear on camera or in interviews, or are you running for office?

"I'll ask you a question: Is there ANY Federal spending you feel can be cut?"
Defense. And even reasonable cuts to that won't get you anywhere close.
Corporate welfare/rent-seeking/etc. A little closer.
War on Drugs. It doesn't work, it's expensive, it puts the least of us in jail. Less of it puts more everywhere else.
Bush's "temporary tax cuts". Down to, say, a hundred grand a year. Closer.
De-Haliburtonification. It isn't a word, but it should be. $600 a day, followed by a series of subcontractors taking their cut, ending with a Pakistani doing the job for $5/hr is not a good use for money, not to mention the (I hope) minority of armed contractors who treat Iraq/Afghanistan as a free-fire zone. Oversight would help. We don't know where tonnes of the money goes (literally, in the case of the pallets that disappeared).
DHC. Unless things have changed since I last paid attention, it's an orgy of politically-connected companies suckling madly at the public teat. In exchange, Nowhere Idaho gets cameras and body armor and fliers get security theatre. In the very least, reorg (with, again, that buggaboo, "oversight") and make it more than just a Piggy Bank for Fear.
Also, try this. It's a fun and easy way to pretend we have, or will get, anything resembling rational government. I got 58% without being particularly douchey. I does!

 
At 3:26 AM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Crap.
First, that appeared twice, which is too many!
Second, "DHC" should be "DHS".

 
At 9:06 AM, Anonymous marje said...

Dear Tom
Thanks for giving me a 'home' in this jungle that america has become. Your posters('cept one wingnut) reflect the agony i have been feeling at seeing my adopted country fall to the robber barons and immediate gratification media soundbite affected ignoranti.

I feel better knowing you and your ranters share my frustration and we have a place to express it without being 'moderated' into silence. Well done, Tom. Keep up the good work.

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

WELCOME ABOARD, MARJE!

And thank you so much for the kind words. They were a nice thing to greet the day with.

All the best,

Tom Degan

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Monique said...

I couldn't agree with you more on your assessment of the situation, Tom. I believe I will be one of those American refugees. Anyone out there want to offer me asylum?

 

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