Posts Tagged ‘rightwing nutjobs’

It used to make me crazy that votes cast by uninformed citizens carried as much weight as those cast by folks who at least cared enough to learn something about the candidates and issues on the ballot.  It seemed unfair that a person with no historical reference, someone who couldn’t be bothered to read – or even watch – the news had every bit as much influence in the voting booth as someone who could name one of his state’s senators, knew that the Gettysburg Address was not part of the Constitution and was pretty darned sure we did not fight North Vietnam during World War Two.

There oughta be a voting test, I thought.  Kinda like a DMV driving test—a short, maybe 10-question exam, that would separate the civic numbskulls from the not-numbskulls. Score 7 out of 10, and you get your ballot.  Simple.

But there was a problem. Who would design the test? The temptation to skew the test toward one ideological direction or other is too great to leave the job to some overzealous or corruptible employee of the Registrar of Voters.  In other words, we would have to select the proper test by public referendum—putting us right back where we started. Damn. Democracy is messy.

Eventually, I realized that it really didn’t matter anyway. All the votes based on criteria, like “Hey, this candidate has the same first name as my second cousin” and “Wow, this proposition’s number is my wife’s lucky lotto number!” would cancel each other out, leaving the more reasoned votes to battle for the direction of our glorious democracy.

Or so I thought.

Rebels Without a Clue

How was I to know that fear, anger, a wrecked economy and a rightwing TV network would one day marshal those once unconcerned voters into a potent “throw the bums out” voting bloc called “The Tea Party?”

Though it appears the Tea Party-ers’ new passion for politics has not compelled them to become any more informed than they were before joining the movement, don’t worry; Fox News tells them everything they need to know in short, easy-to-parrot catchphrases. So, instead of directing their anger toward the poodle politicians who continue to sell Americans’ health and standard of living to the highest corporate bidders, they blame Obama, a president who has at least shown some inclination–timid though it may be–to rein in the robber-barons of the insurance, energy, healthcare and banking industries.

Chumped

As the Tea Party screams about socialism and Big Government’s intrusion into the private sector, guess who sits back in their $15,000 ostrich leather recliners, gleefully rubbing their hands together like Snidely Whiplash, salivating in anticipation of the next Tea Party victory—the board members of the very corporations whose gambling, outsourcing and greed created the Great American Mess in the first place; that’s who. Bravely marching on, waving their “Obama is a Communist Nazi” signs, the Tea Party-ers have no idea that they’re actually being led down a Stars and Stripes-festooned chute to a fiscal slaughtering pen.

It’s not that Tea Party candidates or members are any smarter or dumber than your average extremist, war-happy, nativist, homophobic, rightwing Republican. It’s just that I would have hoped a sweet, home-grown candidate like the Tea Party’s newest champion, Christine O’Donnell, might at least see economic matters a bit differently than Establishment Republicans, whose ideas of personal adversity run toward catastrophes like late limo drivers and overcooked chateau briand.

Unlike the upper-crust Republicans who populate Capitol Hill, O’Donnell is a working gal who, like so many Americans, has personally felt the sharp pain of financial insolvency. You’d think that at some point while trying to dig herself out of  IRS liens and threatened home foreclosures, Ms. O’Donnell would have noticed how dramatically the deck has been stacked against working Americans by large  corporations and their handmaidens in Congress. That in her darkest moment of despair she would have been struck by a blinding flash of understanding that a gambled-away economy, stagnant wages, unaffordable healthcare and a disappearing middle class are not the results of over-sized government, but of corporate avarice and power run amok; that Big Government isn’t the problem…Owned Government is.

The Loopy Bunch

“Throw the bums out,” has been the rallying cry of a disgruntled electorate since the founding of our democracy. Members of the Tea Party movement, however, have added  their own unique codicil: “Throw the bums out and replace them with people who are as clueless as we are.”

Case in point: Tea Party favorite and Republican nominee for the New York gubernatorial race, Carl Paladino.  Sure, he’s unbalanced and looks like he could spontaneously combust at any moment, but he also appears to be unbelievably stupid. Did he not see the cameras and lights when he threatened to “take out” New York Post reporter Fredric Dicker? Did he not realize that he would come off looking like a temperamental maître d’ doing a really bad Goodfellas routine? And of all the news organizations on the planet to go after, which does Paladino choose? Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post–trumpet of the Rabid Right, and friend to Paladino’s campaign…until Paladino went thug on them, that is.

In Kentucky there’s the Tea Party-approved,  tousle-haired Rand Paul, publicly voicing his opposition to both the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, while O’Donnell’s past dabblings in witchcraft, and rejection of evolution and masturbation continue to provide insight into the early development of a Tea Party great.

Good lord, I wouldn’t trust these people to park my car!

The Tea Party movement could be a blessing, though. It is already causing wide-spread panic throughout the Republican Party, which is always a good thing. GOP leaders are now forced to answer two difficult questions,  “Do we sign on with these loons and risk losing the few sane people we have left, or do we ignore them and pray that their amazing facility for self-destruction quickly slides them back under the rock?” The first strategy would surely strike terror in the hearts of many Independents, driving them back to the Democrats; but strategy #2 might cause the Crazed Right to stay home on election day — an interesting dilemma.

The Tea Party movement also serves as a kind of national bellwether. If my countrymen are crazy enough to put that crew into Congress, where their votes could actually influence what goes on in my country and my life, I’ll know that it’s time to move to Greenland.


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Why can’t the right come up with a likable talk show host or pundit? Sensible folks generally do their best to avoid loud, boorish and obnoxious people, but in the world of Fox News and the imbroglio we call talk radio, it is exactly those types who live in ratings rapture.

Being an ACLU card-carrying, “public option”-supporting liberal makes me a bit biased, of course, but it also compels me to try and find at least a spark of goodness in everyone–that’s what we good Libs do.  Believe me, this is no easy task when confronted with such raging dysfunction as:

  1. Bill O’Reilly (bullying, loud-mouthed narcissist)
  2. Grover Norquist, (aura of self-importance and nastiness that would make Il Duce blush)
  3. William Bennett (classic “do as I say, not as I do” moralist)
  4. Anne Coulter (psycho-sexual mess / borderline sociopath)
  5. Sarah Palin (chronic synaptic misfire / finds reality to be optional)
  6. Rush Limbaugh (same problems as O’Reilly–only less subtle)

[For propriety’s sake, I am purposely leaving Glenn Beck out of this because his disorders appear to be far more serious than the garden-variety personality problems suffered by his colleagues]

Any one of these six listed blowhards could clear out a dinner party before the entree was served.  And, if they all happened to be guests at the party, something akin to The Lord of the Flies would surely break out — the entree ultimately consisting of each other.

Where are the Loons of the Left?

To be fair, I’m sure we have a few famous progressives with personality problems, as well.  But, they must do a better job at keeping them in check because, try as I might, I can’t come up with a left-leaning host or pundit with a temperament even approaching the bad-natured, mean spirit of  O’Reilly, Coulter and Limbaugh.  Even when Michael Moore goes predator, there is almost always an underlying decency and good humor about him–the Charlton Heston interview notwithstanding.

Imagine Rachel Maddow doing Bill O’Reilly’s  “Fuck it, we’ll do it liiive!” song and dance. Doesn’t compute, does it?  Or, how about Ed Schultz urging all good Democrats to begin roughing up Republicans, as Coulter once suggested – in the reverse, of course – on the Lou Dobbs Show.  Or, imagine Keith Olbermann displaying the astonishing insensitivity to suggest that a tax hike is comparable to the Holocaust, as Grover Norquist did in an NPR interview.

This may be why the Left has such a hard time competing with the Right on talk radio.  Like trout and babies, American audiences love things that wiggle.  And nothing wiggles more than mindless, incendiary statements like Limbaugh’s “I hope Obama fails,” or the endless list of 50,000-watt Neanderthals shouting, “The ‘Democrat’ Party [check out “How the ‘Democrat’ Party Lost its ‘ic'”]  is a bunch of America-hating, communist-Nazi-sissies!”

We demand our wiggles, and because Jerry Springer can’t be on twenty-four hours a day, we look for them elsewhere.

The Genesis of Jerkdom

What exactly is it about the Right that gives them such a leg-up on the Left in the jerk department?  Sure, some of the loud, obnoxious stuff is phony, P.T. Barnum-style pimping for ratings and book sales, but a lot of it seems to be genuine, heartfelt ugliness.

If Freud was right, the Limbaughs and Coulters of the world were doomed to be jerks by the age of six.  What sent them down the rightward path is anybody’s guess — their parents, perhaps.  Maybe they were poisoned by an influential teacher or classmate during high school or by reading “The Fountainhead” one too many times.

Or could it be that a worldview based on militarism, nativism and the marginalization of the poor and minorities just feels like home to a bullying, narcissistic loudmouth?