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Joe Wilson and his Supporters Got Your Blood Up? Consider Therapeutic Satire.

Joe Wilson and his Supporters Got Your Blood Up?  Consider Therapeutic Satire.

Sometimes I envy those who don’t immerse themselves in the present vitriolic political back & forth.  There are times when I greatly enjoy it, and then there are those other times when my blood pressure spikes with every link clicked and post read.  This last week was one of the latter periods.  From GOP Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst to the shotgun blast of concentrated insanity on Sept. 12 in our nation’s capitol, the ugliness brought me to the point where I considered shopping for a portable defibrillator, just in case (way too expensive, by the way.)

Despite the unpleasant subject matter, there were some fantastic perspectives to be found last week.  Two, in particular, spoke to me, drawing upon history in their respective analysis of our present political predicament. First, Maureen Dowd, a columnist I haven’t always enjoyed, wrote some insightful commentary regarding the actions of Joe Wilson, published in the Sept. 13 New York Times:

…Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

[...]

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.

But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it…

Dowd supports her apprehensive view of the present political climate with pertinent insight from from Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who asserted,”A lot of these outbursts have to do with delegitimizing him as a president,”  and Professor Don Fowler from the University of South Carolina, who told Dowd, “A good many people in South Carolina really reject the notion that we’re part of the union.”

Definetly check out the whole post (HERE).  Her assessment that the right-wing’s present day display of hatred as a reactionary impulse born of centuries old prejudices is apt.  “Shades of John C. Calhoun,” as Dowd put it.

Her reference to Calhoun immediately reminded me of a Sept. 11 post by Mike Lux at OpenLeft.com:

…Calhoun was the South Carolina politician who fused a particularly extreme view of states’ rights with a patriarchal and violent conservatism. Calhoun argued that states could come and go into and out of the Union, whenever they wanted to; that they could secede from the Union at any time and for any reason; and that even if they stayed in the Union they could nullify any law they wanted, again at any time and for any reason. He was also violently opposed to the idea of democracy itself, say that they growing population of the North had no power whatsoever over slavery or any other thing the southern states chose to do, and in fact believed that the Bill or Rights only applied to what the federal government couldn’t do-that the states were free to eliminate freedom of speech and religion and other civil liberties. (In fact, most southern states had done exactly that by the time of the Civil War.)

…Calhoun’s states’ rights theories were used to justify Jim Crow in the South and oppose integration after the Civil War all the way into the 1960s. Today we are seeing Calhoun Conservatism spreading throughout the Republican party and the right wing movement. Joe Wilson’s thuggishness on Wednesday night and the conservative movement’s embrace of his action yesterday are just the latest examples…

Lux goes on to list other recent “highlights” akin to the “thuggishness” of Joe Wilson, including an excellent video segment from The Rachel Maddow Show, wherein Maddow analyzes the anti-government “9/12 movement.”  Lux’s conclusion is a sharper reflection of what Dowd would write two days later.  Lux concludes:

…Conservative Republicans, birthers, militiamen toting their assault weapons to town halls, Congressmen screaming insults at the top their lungs during a Presidential speech-they are united in wanting to refight the battles of the Civil War all over again, perhaps literally. These people are extremist to the core, and progressives have had to defeat their crazy political theories again and again in American history…

The above mentioned articles, both thoughtful in their analysis, offer a modicum of comfort in that there is historical proof that the misguided ramblings of “9/12″ protesters and bigoted congressmen have been defeated in the past; therefore, they can be put down again.  Yet, my blood pressure refused to abide.

Having to watch Rep. Wilson go from imparting halfhearted remorse for heckling his president on Wednesday, to becoming a full member of the GOP Society of Faux Victimhood by Monday, nearly ceased my pump.  Add to that the onslaught of images & video clips from the “9/12″ madness, and I’m surprised I survived the weekend.

Ordinarily, even the most egregious behavior of politicians & pundits doesn’t bother me that much.  I decided to step back, unplug for a while, and practice my breathing exercises in a effort to calm down, and after I did, it occurred to me that something was missing:  satire!

These right-wing displays are custom-made for satirical treatment.  The inherent irony of anti-government protesters chanting “No Public Option,” and Wilson’s assertion that he’s become the hapless subject of a partisan “witch-hunt” as a result of his own actions, are low hanging fruit for skilled satirists.  Thankfully, Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert, have returned from their vacations, and will be ready to pluck it.

As I write, their Sept. 14 treatments are being preserved by my DVR, from which I’ll use the recordings therapeutically to slow my rapid pulse.  Fortunately, satire isn’t the exclusive province of the Comedy Central duo.  If you are suffering the ill effects of the present national conversation, I encourage you to view this clip from Billionaires for Wealthcare, and bear witness to the healing power of satire.

(Opportunities to take action below the clip.)

If you want to tell Rep. Joe Wilson he should be ashamed of himself, you may do so, HERE.

Do you want to fight back against health-reform myths?  Click HERE to sign the AARP‘s petition.

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9/12 Protest Image from Flickr.com user: MeetTheCrazies (via CreativeCommons.org)

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167 comments

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12:25AM PDT on Sep 28, 2009

Hi Renee,

Indeed, the dang things are expensive. I'm wondering what costs more: sneaking into the country or getting out of it legally.

Kidding. I'll get with you offline (offblog?) and maybe we can devise a way of sharing opinions and beers.

Best,

C/JD

3:22PM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

Cindy, I would love to join you in Germany, especially during Octoberfest. However, I do not even have the money for a passport. Sounds quite silly, I know. I barely make ends meet now. That was quite generous of you and I do greatly appreciate the offer. I am a mother of a 9 year old who needs me. Talking politics with you over a few beers would be awesome.
You are quite fortunate to have what you do. I have always dreamed of that myself, unfortunately, things did not pan out as I had planned. I hold no malice towards anyone with money or towards anyone who worked their butts off earning it. I simply do not think that a government is a proper way of spreading wealth. Because the poor never get it, and what they do get, is not much and you would not believe the paper work and hoops you must go through to get barely enough to survive.
Like I have said before, I do have severe RA, it is a horrible auto immune disease that affects not just your joints but vital organs as well. If you think you have a better solution, I would like to hear it. Thank you,

11:20AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"Put your money where your mouth is Cindy."

I do, actually, put money where I think it will help (and my time). My contributions are political only, since I do not believe in charities (I fear we use them as a justification for not dealing with problems that I believe we should address as a society, vis a vis our government.). Plus, I've never griped about or sheltered myself in any way from taxes (I take no deductions, beyond the standard ... even during many years when I was in the top 5% of earners.)

But I'm not averse to individual help. Noone has ever approached me on the street asking for change who didn't get a $20 or better. But I'm not patting myself on the back. I'm fortunate, and indeed, use most of what I net after taxes for my personal benefit. The person who approaches me on the street no doubt walks a much tougher path than me. Were I a true sumaritan, I'd contribute much more than I do.

But hey, I'll be in Germany through late October. (on business) But I'll make you a deal. Get a passport and I'll cover your airfare. We could argue politics properly, with some German beers loosening our thoughts :^)

Seriously; it'd be enjoyable for me, if you can get away. PM me if interested.

Best,

-cindy

9:22AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"Ask the poor in Venezuela how that is working out for them."

Venezuela is a democracy and a capitalist free market. I was there during Chavez's last election, and the poor adore him. Which is why Chavez wins elections by a huge margin.

Because the rich in Venezuela (very thin liine at the top) have all the money, and pay little in tax due to limited if any social welfare programs, they're Chavez haters.

But the rub is, our rich are vastly richer than Venezuela's rich, since empowered citizens equal consumers who can buy stuff. The rich pay in, far more than "we" do, but they get back many times what they put in. The rich, here, know that, quite often. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, for example, both opposed Bush tax cuts.

-cindy

9:12AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"You would rather be arthritic than poor? What does that mean? "

It means I'd prefer to be in crippling pain in my later years than to be in crippling poverty which would affect my entire family, potentially for generations.

It's a lesser of two evils, as it relates to me, only. I meant nothing else by it.

-cindy

7:36AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

You would rather be arthritic than poor? What does that mean? Because I am both and apparently you do not know what Rheumatoid Arthritis is.
Since you are so worried about us poor and that we should all help each other.
Put your money where your mouth is Cindy. I told you I only made $5300 last year and I can verify everything that I have said. Try something different, since our wonderful government doesn't deem me disabled enough for the disability funds that I paid into for the last 31 years. Instead of waiting for the beauracy to work, skip the government. Give directly to those in need. Obviously you have money Cindy, you get to travel to Europe frequently. Where I travel no where. I could use a charitable donation. My 1996 Olds needs repairs, tires, muffler. Why not show me the compassion you claim to have. Email me, I will verify all that I told you, and give you my address. You can send me a check to help the poor and arthritic. Feeling compassion now for your fellow American Cindy. I hardly doubt it.

7:29AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

Cindy, I am very well familiar with Maslow's Heirachy. You know that people do not steal TV's for food. You know that. So please do not try that angle. I also understand the inner workings of poverty. It is not the government's role to reduce poverty unless you live in a communist or socialist state. Ask the poor in Venezuela how that is working out for them.
When I was talking about money being given to other countries, I was not talking about government money, I was talking about private sector money.
No developed country approaches American giving. For example, in 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians. Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans. These differences are not attributable to demographic characteristics such as education, income, age, sex, or marital status. On the contrary, if we look at two people who are identical in all these ways except that one is European and the other American, the probability is still far lower that the European will volunteer than the American.

http://www.american.com/archive/2008/march-april-magazine-contents/a-nation-of-givers/

1:10AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"We have so much poverty because our government takes care of so many who CHOOSE not to stay in school and get an education, who CHOOSE to get involved in gangs, drugs, and alcohol rather than become a working member of our society."

I mean no disrepect, Renee. Truly. But I haven't gotten the sense through the course of our conversations that you're overly knowledeable in the areas of economics or sociology. So if you're at all concerned about poverty in America, or elsewhere, I'd encourage you to research the subject.

You're very wrong in your belief, regardless of whether it seems plausible to you. ("plausible" is a tool of demagogues, and not a tool of those who seek what is true).

The dynamics of poverty is far more complex than you describe, or can even be explained here. And indeed, it's vastly more complex than can be condensed into a 2-minute harangue by a Tv or radio personality.

Poverty is cruel; it's a disease that spans generations. (I'd rather be arthritic than poor. But that's just me.)

I think people who are not victims of poverty have a responsibility to help those who are. That's what I believe.

-cindy

12:44AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"Tell me Cindy how that is not a compassionate society?
Europeans and other countries do not give as much as we do and that too is a fact. "

Our investment in foreign aid is actually pretty low on a per capita basis:

Country Per capita
government aid Per capita private giving
Australia 14¢ 3¢
Austria 18 2
Belgium 28 2
Canada 17 2
Denmark 64 1
Finland 24 1
France 25 1
Greece 7 0.1
Germany 18 3
Ireland 28 6
Italy 11 0.2
Japan 20¢ 0.4¢
Netherlands 57 4
New Zealand 8 1
Norway 102 24
Portugal 9 0.1
Spain 11 1
Sweden 61 1
Switzerland 35 7
United Kingdom 23 2
United States 13 5

Source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0930884.html

-cindy

12:32AM PDT on Sep 27, 2009

"Cindy, no one has a "need" to steal a tv. A TV is not a NEED. Food, water, clothing, and shelter is a need, not a TV."

Google Maslow's hierarchy of human needs. (TVs have more commercial value in the black market ... black as in unlawful, not ethnicity. It's a more certain path to food, etc.)

-cindy

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