Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vying for the "Cojones Vote"

"Let them eat cake," Marie Antoinette once famously said of the unwashed masses whose lives were less fortunate than hers. Today we have the latest incarnation of that philosophy (minus the white wig), in the persona of presidential candidate Rick Perry--said to be capturing the "cojones vote" with his more candid approach to the disempowered underclass: "Let them Die." Cake, after all, is for sissies.

Applause audibly ramps up at Republican rallies and debates when Perry boasts about his record while governor of Texas for having had 235 criminals executed, and vetoing a bill that would have exempted the mentally ill from Death Row. His audiences love it when Perry says things like "Anyone convicted of murder in the Lone Star State faces 'the ultimate justice.' " So does this guy have balls made of human molars, or what? When bulbous fingers rise up in a victory "V" around Perry, the question rolling around on other people's lips is, "What about he of the watery spine? Is Obama ballsy enough to be president?"

Last week, the consensus seemed to be, "Yes, finally!" as pundits from David Brooks to Paul Krugman to Thomas Friedman all breathed a big sigh of relief and rallied round the President. On Thursday, Obama had actually shown some fire in the belly when addressing Congress on television and presenting his new American Jobs bill. The President seemed angry enough to launch an attack on the Republican solution to the economic crisis: "The only thing we can do to restore prosperity [according to them] is just dismantle the government, refund everybody's money, and let everyone write their own rules and tell everyone they're on their own." But, Obama added, "That's not who we are. That's not the story of America."

It may not be who we have been in the past, but it is definitely who we are becoming. Obama may have shown more toughness this past week, but he still seems unwilling to acknowledge the depth of the forces aligned against him--not just an intransigeant G.O.P. (who in Maureen Dowd's words, "wants to eat him alive"), but also the relentless damage to the economy being done by a constant stream of natural disasters. Disaster relief funds will run out in two weeks, and while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to pass a $6 billion emergency disaster relief bill in the Senate, his counterpart Mitch McConnell has already announced his unwillingness to "pass this bill now," as the president exhorted Congress to do, declaring the Republicans' lack of interest in any short-term relief. "No one believes," he said, "that this package will do any kind of long-term, have any kind of long-term stimulative effect on our country."

Meanwhile many states are broke, and new statistics just released show that an additional 2.6 million people landed in poverty last year, bringing the total to 46.2 million--the highest number since the government started tracking poverty in the 1950s. FEMA estimates that states have been hit with over $36 billion in disaster damages. The Census Bureau credits Social Security with keeping nearly 14 million seniors out of poverty in 2010--which must be the reason Rick Perry describes it as a monstrous lie, a Ponzi scheme, and a failure.

I had to take a little media fast this past weekend, because I couldn't front up to reliving the 9/11 attacks all over again, but Obama, unfazed, attended all the ceremonies--hailing American resilience, claiming the ensuing decade has proven that America does not give in to fear and has emerged stronger after the attacks. Stronger? Really? Personally, I was more in agreement with Kathleen Parker, who took a different tack in her column, claiming that the real legacy of 9/11 was a sort of emotional breakdown in the sense of who we are.

"Simply put," she wrote, "[9/11] damaged our collective soul and seems to have released a free-ranging hysteria that has contaminated our interactions ever since...[and has] caused us to go temporarily insane." The moral panic she describes rings more true to me than anything the president said. However, as she also rightly points out, no president can afford publicly to speak of such things--so maybe she'll be right that journalists could actually acquire a new sense of purpose by ponying up to the job instead. But I'm not holding my breath.

It is, of course, possible to argue that there was a kind of bittersweet unity in the aftermath of the attacks, but that singular joining of hearts and minds soon dissolved over the decade into what Nancy Gibbs refers to in Time magazine as "pitiless cage fights." Yow! In his essay on 9/11 in The New Yorker, George Packer also takes a dim view of the decade that followed the attacks. For all the talk about unity and a new sense of purpose, he argues, the attacks did nothing to unify the country--which was already entrenched in two politically opposed camps with the moderates in the Republican party barely surviving. Today that division is so extremely hardened that the very possibility of a common national narrative has been destroyed. Today. we live in mutually hostile and unintelligible, red and blue, partisan universes.

With what has to be a Pulitzer prize-winning comment, I will let Thomas Friedman have the last word on this, our sorry plight: "Our cupboard is bare, and the only thing we have in surplus is political venom. Indeed, if political venom could be turned into a transportation fuel, we'd be energy independent today! Alas, it's just venom, and it's weakening us--along with everything else we've done to sap our national vitality."


Anonymous said...

Great idea, Suzi: Exempt mentally ill murderers from the death penalty.

Maybe you can exempt their next victim from being dead?

It's not cojones, Suzi, just true compassion, not the fake kind you issue from the safety of your ivory tower.

Why do you hate so much?

Marcia said...

um, anonymous did you read this whole essay? Would you posit that Andrea Yates, the abused, post partum depressive who killed her five children would serve justice best by dying at rick perry's compassionate hand?

Suzi, the best thing about post 911 were the few weeks of cancelled airline flights. The sky was quiet and the only lights above were stars. for what mr. slimebag is up to.

Anonymous said...

Not without the facts, I wouldn't. Justice is not the only purpose of the criminal system of laws. Protecting the public is also a powerful point. Being mentally ill is not a sufficient reason to leave a practicing murderer alive to kill again, is it?

PS - The rest of the essay was an unoriginal rehash of other haters and a waste of time, but I did read it all. Hating is an exhausting activity and Suzi seems addicted to it.

Ignoring reason, Suzi attacks Perry's Ponzi Scheme rubric because some folks have been saved from poverty (is that like jobs created or saved?). However, Suzi totally ignores the fact that it cannot continue as it now is. She also ignores the fact that President Obama is hastening that failure by cutting in half payments into the fund and advocating cutting it even more. Is he trying to save SS or pandering for votes?

Why would an intelligent woman ignore the truth in order to attack someone?

KVS said...

Social Security is NOT in trouble. This is one of those unfortunate lies perpetrated by the Right to do away with a program they never supported from the beginning. Social Security can pay out ALL existing benefits for the next 30 years, and there are simple fixes to help it stay strong indefinitely into the future. One solution would be to raise the maximum level of income for which you are required to pay into the system. That limit, currently at $106,000, is obviously too low and based on a period of time that is long gone.

Since the harshest elements of the Republican Party have been unleashed, it seems clear they are now desperate to dismantle the entire New Deal as well as the Great Society, which include program that have helped Americans live a dignified life for decades.

The uneducated and misinformed voters in this country better wake up lest they find themselves living by the side of the road under a tarp, as they still do in India.

Anonymous said...

KVS, if SS is not in trouble, why are you suggesting ways to give it more revenue? Hmmm. Because it cannot continue as it is now with early participants being paid with funds raised from later ones.

Funds that should be used for those 30 years you mention are now being hijacked by our President to buy votes. Those funds are simply not going to be available to pay benefits. This is not "pretend." Look at your paycheck; 30% smaller SS deductions. And he proposes to decrease the employer match by the same amount. Try running those numbers.

Only a Republican Congress has any chance of saving Social Security (and Medicare) from this incompetent and flighty administration's policies.

Anonymous said...

Ok so here comes another point of view...and I ask that everyone look for someone they know who has had a friend murdered by an insane person. Got one?
I am not sure it's as simple as getting rid of dangerous people so much as the very idea that killing is wrong. Period. Especially in Virginia. Idk if Va has killed anyone lately but I do believe their rules around killing people is NOT Cool.

I myself have had a loved one killed by a drunk driver.
But anyway.. Virginia laws re death penalty deserve a dose of Virgil's wise attention. Am I wrong to think that Virginia kills people even if they have dna proof of their innocence.... It's some moronic rule about timelines or more appropriately deadlines for producing evidence.
Now THAT's as f* up as it gets.

I know well educated people who simply don't care.
They are busy stuffing their faces with food.
I know people who have loved ones murdered. The man was insane yes. Not a serial killer but an insane killer.
So friends, there is a better way. I wouldn't want to kill someone for any reason.
That's just me. But the people who like kill for fun.... maybe I might make an exception.

Are you insane to believe all this critique is useful Mrs Gablik?
It seems you must read a lot of newpapers. Aside from this death penalty rule in Va.... what does all this talk about it doing?

Really? what good is the critical eye like the one Mrs Gablik seems to have could be put to use. Maybe in her community where feeding poor people might take the edge off.

Sure this may be a hijack of her well thought out blob... and finally someone has the nerve to challenge her.
Whoever he is he seems rather much a challege for her to debate.
Still its expensive all the time and energy spent criticizing political tsunamis.

Can she write from the heart without quoting some other writer?
Thanks whoever you are to address all hypocrits in their ivory towers.

Apathy is evil. Reading the paper is not enough. Dear.

They have a way of looking down their nose and acting as if they care. Throw a dog a bone woman and get real.
Lot of good all this blobbbing you do is..... oh so helpful. Try doing something real