Daddy TeaBagger Weeps: My Tea Party Turned Corporate Whore! (how spoiling the Boomers broke America)

Which is what I’ve been suggesting for some time now.

Boomers, on the whole, just don’t get it. Because, sadly, they never really “got” it in the first place. From the moment their collective purchasing power was recognized way back in the 50’s, every speck of an idea rising from that generational cohort has been microscopically scrutinized in order to figure out how it can be sold to the public at large. They are the Co-opted Generation, brought to you by the makers of Pepsi. “It’s the Herd Mentality that’s GOOD. And so GOOD for you tm“.

If they had been self-aware enough to take control of their own message, they could have actually have been a force to be reckoned with. But having been raised in a bubble that catered to their every whim, they assumed all that corporate fawning meant Power and Money were actually in agreement with their ideals. The sad reality: Corporations were using the 900 lb gorilla as a social and economic wedge; handily stripping out the substance and selling the pre-packaged, easily digestible product to the public at large. And if the rest of the country didn’t like it, the collective ire of a massive generational cohort would rain down fire upon your head.

So we end up with McDonald’s. Because kids on long trips don’t like eating unfamiliar food in unfamiliar places. ad infinitum

Once the pattern was established, it was easily and handily manipulated – for profit of course. And as time went on, it became increasingly easy to steer groups with special interests into their own intellectual cul-de-sacs. After all, wasn’t every egoistic whim they ever had worth exploring in deep navel gazing, cash-costing detail, regardless of the price to society at large?

Whittling away the generational mass, fracturing it, was a simple thing really. By their late 20’s most people’s interests and life path have gelled somewhat. They are no longer a “puppy-pile” of mate-seeking, group-thinking, exploratory youth.

At that point, it was just a matter of seeing the broad trends within the cohort and nudging them a little farther along the path. And this is less conspiratorial than it sounds. Because, bottom line, it’s always been about the Benjamins.

It was the Corporate sycophants in politics who saw the possibilities of using those differences for both corporate and political ends. They married Richard Nixon’s ground breaking political strategy of “us disenfranchised slobs” vs. the “elites” to the Corporate consumer group micro-marketing.

Minor personal digression: Ol’ Dicky Nixon was not attractive, he was not from a wealthy or politically connected family and he was not charismatic. But was incredibly intelligent. And most importantly, he was a political shark. He never stopped moving and he was a vicious bastard when crossed. In the end, I loathed him a bit less and respected him a bit more because of these things. But only a bit.

Fast Forward: Tea Party. The perfect blend of the Boomer ethos of “ME, ME, ME and to hell with how it affects other people” wedded to a political platform, funded by Corporate dollars.

Here’s the interview with Daddy TeaBagger “himself “. And since he’s not a Corporatist, unlike 99% of Washington, he’s pretty pissed that his brainchild has been Frankenfurtered to keep boot-licking Corporate butt-monkeys in power.

“In short, The Tea Party was and is about the the corruption of American Politics and the blatant and outrageous theft from all Americans that has resulted. It is about personal responsibility and enforcement of the law against those who have robbed, financially ****d and pillaged the nation.”

Ahem….. Excuse me. That’s “WAS.” No longer “IS”. Welcome to the real world, where you and what you want are irrelevant. Enjoy your stay. And please remember: It’s a Class War and the Rich are winning.

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The Pea Pickers Dilemma or (handy clickable Gen Y title) The Epic Fail of American Politicians

This morning, I spent the coolest part of the day harvesting green peas off the vine. As an activity, pea picking is incredibly repetitious.

Black-eyed Susans and Green Peas

It is neither physically nor mentally taxing enough to fully engage my interest.  And so, as often happens in these instances where my body is engaged but my mind is free to play, I began to ponder.

What I began to ponder was a charming turn of phrase used when someone expresses utter disbelief at another’s foolhardy actions. “Are you out of your pea picking mind?” I suspect this might have it’s origins as a Southern phrase, much like it’s cousin: “Are you out of your cotton picking mind?” The implication, in both instances, is that pea pickers and cotton pickers are less than, shall we say, astute.

I understand that. By way of contrast, harvesting something wild, like blackberries, requires a broad and overarching attention in order to gather small fruit on unsteady terrain, while avoiding thorns, spiders and snakes (not necessarily in that order). Compared to blackberries, picking peas is simple. You stand in a level row, you see a green pod hanging in front of you, you pick, you drop it in the bucket, you see another pod. You pick. Simple. Unthinking. Repetitive.

Pea Pickers, then, would be the domesticated cousins of the Wild Berry Pickers. Over the years, we’ve bred all the uncertainty, pain and danger from the enterprise of picking peas. As a result, picking peas requires much less mental and physical stamina, much less engagement in the process, than gathering from the wild. Therefore, simpletons are able to do it. And so, the logic suggests, that makes your average pea picker a simpleton.

There is an obvious presumptive flaw in this line of thinking. But as a metaphor for a foolish person doing mindless task, calling someone a pea picker has the potential to be a fair assessment. So hold that thought, we will revisit our pea picker in a few moments.

Let me briefly turn your attention to George F. Will, political columnist for the Washington Post. George Will falls, rather definitively, to the conservative side of the political spectrum. And while I admire him for his occasional ability to admit his most grievous mistakes, George Will and I have only agreed on 2 things in the past 30 years.

The 2nd thing we agreed on was a comment he made during the Inaugural Parade commemorating George W. Bush’s 2nd term in office.

The limousine carrying the President and First Lady was traveling along the parade route with secret service and a uniformed guard detail, on foot, beside the vehicle.

As you may recall, the security for this event was unprecedented. For the first time ever, spectators had 10 foot fencing between them and the parade route. There were “free speech” areas, cordoned off to keep protestors from impinging on the happy occasion.

Mr. Will was a guest commentator on one of the broadcast television networks along with the usual broadcast news anchors. As the events unfolded, the television people nattered on, filling air time as we watched the car progress along the route. At one point, the President’s limousine inexplicably sped up to the point that the security detail had to jog along side the car to keep formation. One of the news anchors made some comment about why they might be moving more quickly when George Will said, apropos of nothing: “It looks like a Banana Republic.”

There was dead silence in the studio, then a quick cut to commercial.

The first thing George Will and I agreed on was in the early 90’s. He had written commenting on a friend of his in northern Virginia, who worked with his hands making custom pajamas for a discerning clientele.

Using his friend as an example, Mr. Will explained that he was of the opinion that those living inside the beltway were entirely disconnected from the daily realities of American life. They didn’t have real jobs. Many of them hadn’t had real jobs in decades. They didn’t make things. Therefore, they didn’t understand the complex and intricate process of seeing an idea through from beginning to end; from thread to cloth to product. Or the ramifications of failing to understand and acknowledge each part as it relates to the whole.

He suggested instead, that a life of signing and pushing around individual pieces of paper, disconnected from a knowable outcome during the day, coupled with a life of political socializing and leisure during the night had created a culture that could not comprehend the realities a majority of Americans face. Obviously, I’m paraphrasing here, but in George Will’s opinion: Making piles of paper, only to send those piles to other people to makes other piles of paper, was no way to understand the needs of your constituents.

Politicians, bureaucrats and their faithful, well-meaning wonks are doing work that is well-defined; bounded by bureaucratic process and laid out in neat rows. There is very little uneven footing. They do not stumble upon tearing thorns. And what snakes and spiders creep there are easily spotted and, unlike their wilder cousins, just as easily negotiated with.

Something happens to those fledgling politicians after they leave the nested security of the small towns that elected them. There is some fundamental shift as they are domesticated by money and power. They forget, or most likely they never knew, what life is like in the midst of briars and mud and need and want.

They also forget who picks their peas; who puts the food on their tables. In their re-negotiated world-view pea pickers, mindless drones of an agrarian age, become part of an indistinguishable mass of humanity that exists out there. They are unknown, and so become unknowable.

To those unknowns outside the security of the beltway, one vote by an ethical politician can keep a multi-national corporation from killing an ecosystem. One vote can save the source of a multi-generational local business or it can allow ruination on an unprecedented scale.

Politicians from the Gulf States who failed to vote against those corporations with no vested interest in the local communities, voted against their own constituents by default. And any politician who chooses without thinking, who mindlessly grasps the low hanging fruits in front of him rather than considering the consequences, has failed those who put him in office.

Deciding the fate of people’s lives was never intended to be easy. It was never intended as a pea picker’s job. But it has become just that; too easy and much too safe. Politicians have become too insulated from the consequences of self-interested choices. They have been allowed the self-indulgent mindlessness of simpletons. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Americans in the wilds outside the beltway, are forced to scrounge in the briars; competing with coyotes and snakes for what we can gather before the hard rains come.

(This commentary was published in the Grant City Times Tribune during the week of July 7th)

There’s some good news!!!! (and then there’s the news we don’t actually care about)

Hey, it’s a party! The richest, shiniest 400 families in America have gotten 5 times richer in the past 15 years!!!!

And OMG BONUS!!!! Their tax rates fell to the lowest rate EVAR!!! Couldn’t you just die??!!!!

Sources: Tax.com NY Times WSWS.org

WHEEEEE!!!! LOOK AT THAT INCOME RISE!!!!

Incomes Go Up!

YAYYYY!!!!! GO AWAY BAD TAXES!!!!!!

Taxes Go Down!

Total income for our top earners was $138 billion in 2007.  That’s up  $263 million from the previous year. They got an increase of 31%!!!  Yayyyy!!!!  they deserve it.

But how much did the shiny 400 pay in taxes? A mere $23 billion. Isn’t that JUST SUPER?!!!!!!!

Our top 400 Awesome Rich People made more in 2007 than the yearly output of most of the world’s countries; rivaling the GDP of Chile .

If the shiny 400 had paid their 2007 taxes (even at the 1995 rate) the resulting $18.4 billion would have covered California’s entire 2010 budget shortfall. Aren’t you just so proud?

Bill Clinton’s administration started the report back in the day to let us ROOT! ROOT! ROOT! for our rich. But the Grumbledy Meanies in the Bush administration shut it down. Leaving us without any way to know how super and shiny our rich people really, truly are.

And guess what! The wealthiest 1% took 2/3rds of ALL the income generated between 2002 and 2007.  But, ya know what? I think they deserve it.

They took 90% whole percent!!! But they deserve it.

Some Economy Guys named Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez  said income for the top 1 percent grew 10 times faster than that of the bottom 90 percent.

10 TIMES FASTER!!!!!!!!

And don’t we all think that’s just FANTASTIC?!!!

Okay, okay, not be a Debbie Downer, but I did promise that other news (we don’t really care about anyway)

It seems the whiny old states think they might have needed those tax dollars. Pouty Pusses.

Center for Budget and Policy

Those Silly Little Recession Numbers

Current.org
As states cut back their budgets, governors are targeting public broadcasting along with other educational and arts programs. Some stations could face a total funding loss.

But really who needs that stuff anyway? That’s all just local musicians and news and artists. We don’t need to know what they are doing, as long as the rich can get richer. Right?

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
At least 44 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted budget cuts that will affect services for children, the elderly, the disabled, and families, as well as the quality of education and access to higher education.

Look, I know it’s tough. But if you are old or disabled, you are going to die soon anyway. And frankly that might be a blessing, because you aren’t pretty to look at in that condition either.

But if you are young and uneducated, the rich are always looking for somebody to trim hedges or cut the grass, you’ll get by. Heck, I bet you could get Timmy out of daycare and the SUPER SHINY RICH could put him to work in a trice!!!

Little fingers like Timmy has are just perfect for making those big expensive wool rugs the rich like to hang on their walls. It takes patience though, so tell Timmy to work steady or there will be no gruel for dinner. Wait…… that’s right. The rule is one meal a day.

Bonus!!!! Timmy won’t have to eat gruel for dinner, cause there’s no dinner!!!! Yay!!!!!!

Don’t we just owe the Rich EVERYTHING?

One could just SWOON…..

Swooning

Swooning

Found Poem: Winter in the Collapse

It’s winter. The ground is as hard as an investment banker’s soul.

An evocative trouvaille. But, in my opinion, it needs a little oomphf.

So I reworked it a little. For your consideration:

It’s winter.
The ground is cold and hard.
An investment banker’s soul.

Original poem entitled: What did you expect, job growth? found at Democratic Underground Stock Market Watch by Po_d Mainiac

Hard Times Across America

The first story is from early in the year. As you can see from the subsequent items, things did not improve over the summer.

6 out of 10 people are living paycheck to paycheck

1 in 8 using food stamps

Hunger in US at 14 year high

Having grown up in a single parent household, I understand the stresses of putting off necessary things until payday. And for that reason, I am glad to see that people are utilizing the services that their tax dollars have paid for over the years.

As I was growing up, my mother would not consider accepting “welfare” under any circumstances. Suffering the many stigmas of poverty, the further humiliation of stooping to ask for “welfare” was beyond what my mother could accept. But there were times when more food or something a little more varied than Fried Fatback Biscuits for dinner would have been looked on as a positive thing.

But to offer a fair and balanced view (and actually do it with a straight face), I’ll include this quote from the Hunger story:

“Very few of these people are hungry,” said Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they lose jobs, they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it’s a far cry from a hunger crisis.”

Down the road, a problematic convergence is coming into view. More unemployed means less taxes paid. More unemployed also means more people utilizing the system paid for with tax dollars.

A few brave souls have proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, who seem to be the only ones benefitting from Reagan’s deregulation orgy of the 80’s. I was glad to see a War Tax put on the table by House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey.

If they limit the taxation to those who have supported the war(s) or those who have profited from them, I’d get myself elected just so I could see it passed.

In the Midst of the Health Care Debate and the H1N1 Vaccine Crisis

“The modern “heresy” that medical care (as it is traditionally conceived) is generally unrelated to improvements in the health of populations (as distinct from individuals) is still dismissed as unthinkable in much the same way as the so-called heresies of former times. And this is despite a long history of support in popular and scientific writings as well as from able minds in a variety of disciplines.”

The Questionable Contribution of Medical Measures to the Decline of Mortality in the United States in the Twentieth Century

by John B. McKinlay; Sonja M. McKinlay

Published in 1977 in the Milbank Memorial Quarterly, Vol. 55, No.3. pp. 405-428

In this study, the McKinlays explore a steep decline in the top 10 communicable diseases. (Tuberculosis, Scarlet Fever, Influenza, Pneumonia, Diptheria, Whooping Cough, Measels, Smallpox, Typhoid, Poliomyelitis) This unified decline occurred over a period of about 100 years from 1900 to 1973 . Even the most virulent of these diseases were near their currently flat expression when science developed the means to mass produce vaccines in the years leading up to 1949.

Male and Female Mortality Rates Since 1900

As this chart from the paper shows, the decline in mortality from 1900 to the 1970’s for both males and females was markedly dramatic.

They compare this decline in mortality to similar declines in the communicable diseases listed previously.

Decline in Communicable Diseases since 1900

Decline in Communicable Diseases since 1900

Decline in Communicable Diseases Since 1900 pt. 2

And also included is a graph charting causes of death from the early 1900’s in comparison to the years just prior to this paper’s publication.

Changes in Causes of Mortality since 1900

Changes in Causes of Mortality since 1900

Which leads to the authors’ conclusion:

In general, medical measures (both chemotherapeutic andprophylactic) appear to have contributed little to the overall decline in mortality in the United States since about 1900-having in many instances been introduced several decades after a marked decline had already set in and having no detectable influence in most instances. More specifically, with reference to those five conditions (influenza, pneumonia, diphtheria, whooping cough, and poliomyelitis) for which the decline in mortality appears substantial after the point of intervention-and on the unlikely assumption that all of this decline is attributable to the intervention-it is estimated that at most 3.5 percent of the total decline in mortality since 1900 could beascribed to medical measures introduced for the diseases considered here.

This graph shows the diseases and their declines in comparison:

Compilation Graph

Compilation Graph

I would imagine that even the average lay reader, on viewing this graph of the mass decline, can easily imagine each disease effortlessly reaching current levels without the advent of commonly available vaccines. But if vaccines are not responsible for the dramatic decline in mortality, how else can it be explained?

It is widely known that a sea change in patient survival came after more stringent practices regarding hygiene and sterility of spaces and implements used in medical procedures were undertaken for both patient and physician. And as medicine and science progressed in their research of communicable disease and underlying factors that allowed them to spread. Along the way researchers and doctors also began to understand the things that create health.

Massive public campaigns, programs and projects were implemented. For instance swamps were drained to reduce breeding grounds for mosquitoes. And a broad swath of society, from low to high, were educated about cleanliness and hygiene.

From the CDC’s website:

In 1900 in some U.S. cities, up to 30% of infants died before reaching their first birthday (1). Efforts to reduce infant mortality focused on improving environmental and living conditions in urban areas (1). Urban environmental interventions (e.g., sewage and refuse disposal and safe drinking water) played key roles in reducing infant mortality. Rising standards of living, including improvements in economic and education levels of families, helped to promote health. Declining fertility rates also contributed to reductions in infant mortality through longer spacing of children, smaller family size, and better nutritional status of mothers and infants (1). Milk pasteurization, first adopted in Chicago in 1908, contributed to the control of milkborne diseases (e.g., gastrointestinal infections) from contaminated milk supplies.

Refrigeration became commonly available. That and other household inventions like window screens, indoor plumbing, and strategies to deal with outhouse placement in relation to well placement and other improvements made possible by gains in real income.

Because, according to the McKinlay’s paper:

With the appearance of his book, Who Shall Live? (1974), Fuchs, a health economist, contributed to the resurgence of interest in the relative contribution of medical care to the modern decline in mortality in the United States. He believes there has been an unprecedented improvement in health in the United States since about the middle of the eighteenth century, associated primarily with a rise in real income.

In light of a number of similar reports, which have been ignored or overlooked questions about vaccines begin to center on efficacy versus the potential for harm. There are those “skeptics” who are quick to label any such questions as the “heresy” described by the McKinlays’. One would hope, at this point, they might review the widely accepted definition of skepticism as one of continuing exploration. There are no concrete truths in science, only evolving theories that should, in the best of all possible worlds, be continuously re-examined and re-tested.

We should also consider similar themes of hygiene in relation to income levels through the lens of such ideas as: mandated control of working conditions, food preparation and storage, statutes for safe drinking water and the establishment of agencies dealing specifically with issues of public health. Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle can act as a literary touchstone for the ideas presented here.

Now is the time for us to ask ourselves: Would the money spent on the now all-but-neutered health care bill be used more effectively by developing jobs for the populace so that real income levels rise for those most affected by the downturn? Would a combination of public health education and income increases work to reduce the current spate of common causes of death as it did in the first half of the last century even though the cause of mortality has changed? I think we need to take a broader view of what has worked in the past, as it is evident that medicating the problems will not solve them now any more than it did then.

Rolling Stone: Sick and Wrong

How Washington is Screwing Up Health Care Reform

Let’s start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It’s become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment — a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn’t be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

From the Independent: The Brutal Truth about American Healthcare

This link to the Independent follows a makeshift medical center set up in an arena.

Thousands of people lined up for basic healthcare services. Maybe all the folks disrupting town hall meetings have health care they are happy with. They should consider themselves lucky. And consider that not everyone has the advantages they take for granted.

I often wonder where their sense of Christian goodness fits in with their views on helping those among the least of them.

Matthew 25:40 And the King will make answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

2004 Study Shows Universal Coverage Could Save Enough to Pay for All (and then some).

Link to TradeWatch.org PDF

“A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and
Public Citizen published in the January issue of the International
Journal of Health Services finds that health care bureaucracy last year cost
the United States $399.4 billion. The study estimates that national health
insurance (NHI) could save at least $286 billion annually on paperwork,
enough to cover all of the uninsured and to provide full prescription drug
coverage for everyone in the United States.

The study was based on the most comprehensive analysis to date of
health administration spending, including data on the administrative
costs of health insurers, employers’ health benefit programs, hospitals,
nursing homes, home care agencies, physicians and other practitioners in
the United States and Canada. The authors found that bureaucracy
accounts for at least 31 percent of total U.S. health spending compared
to 16.7 percent in Canada. They also found that administration has
grown far faster in the United States than in Canada.”

From the Guardian: Whistleblower tells of America’s hidden nightmare for its sick poor

Insurance vs. Health Care in America

Excerpted:

Wendell Potter can remember exactly when he took the first steps on his journey to becoming a whistleblower and turning against one of the most powerful industries in America.

It was July 2007 and Potter, a senior executive at giant US healthcare firm Cigna, was visiting relatives in the poverty-ridden mountain districts of northeast Tennessee. He saw an advert in a local paper for a touring free medical clinic at a fairground just across the state border in Wise County, Virginia.

Potter, who had worked at Cigna for 15 years, decided to check it out. What he saw appalled him. Hundreds of desperate people, most without any medical insurance, descended on the clinic from out of the hills. People queued in long lines to have the most basic medical procedures carried out free of charge. Some had driven more than 200 miles from Georgia. Many were treated in the open air. Potter took pictures of patients lying on trolleys on rain-soaked pavements.

For Potter it was a dreadful realisation that healthcare in America had failed millions of poor, sick people and that he, and the industry he worked for, did not care about the human cost of their relentless search for profits. “It was over-powering. It was just more than I could possibly have imagined could be happening in America,” he told the Observer