Politics postsSaturday February 06, 2016
That Idiotic Frank Underwood Meme
A friend posted this on Facebook the other day:
She leans right, I lean left, and we had the following FB conversation:
Me: Frank Underwood (pictured) succeeds by lying, manipulating, threatening and killing. Is that the message this meme wanted to convey?
She: Didn't make it so I can't speak to author's intent. I prefer to take the words at face value.
Me: If you want the meme to mean something, you have to earn it. This is just sloppy.
She: Think you may be over analyzing it a bit.
So if she didn't make the meme, who did? Ted Nugent, it turns out. Or it came from his FB page. So,yeah, not overanalyzing. It's an anti-entitlement message, which means it's anti-Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. It's saying: If you don't succeed, you only have yourself to blame.
It made me think of a story I'd just read in Jane Mayer's book, “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right,” which everyone should be reading. I mean everyone. It's the most infuriating read ever.
The story is about a man named Donald “Bull” Carlson, who began to work at the Koch Refining Company in Rosemount, Minn., in 1974. He often worked 12- and 16-hour days, scrubbing out huge storage tanks that had been filled with leaded gasoline. He vacuumed up fuel spills. Sometimes vapors from the storage tanks were so powerful they blew his helmet off.
In 1995, Carlson became too sick to work any longer at the refinery. When he obtained his company medical records, he and his wife were shocked by what they read.
In the late 1970s, OSHA had issued regulations requiring companies whose workers were exposed to benzene to offer annual blood tests, and to retest, and notify workers if any abnormalities were found. Companies were also required to refer employees with abnormal results to medical specialists. Koch Refining Company had offered the annual blood tests as legally required, and Carlson had dutifully taken advantage of the regular screening. But what he discovered was that even though his tests had shown increasingly serious, abnormal blood cell counts beginning in 1990, as well as in 1992 and 1993, the company had not mentioned it to him until 1994. Charles Koch had disparaged government regulations as “socialistic.” From his standpoint, the regulatory state that had grown out of the Progressive Era was an illegitimate encroachment on free enterprise and a roadblock to initiative and profitability. But while such theories might appeal to the company's owners, the reality was quite different for many of their tens of thousands of employees.
Carlson continued working for another year but grew weaker, needing transfusions of three to five pints of blood a week. Finally, in the summer of 1995, he grew too sick to work at all. At that point, his wife recalls, “they let him go. Six-months' pay is what they gave him. It was basically his accumulated sick pay.” Carlson argued that his illness was job related, but Koch Refining denied this claim, refusing to pay him workers' compensation, which would have covered his medical bills and continued dependency benefits for his wife and their teenage daughter.
In February 1997, twenty-three years after he joined Koch Industries, Donald Carlson died of leukemia. He was fifty-three. He and his wife had been married thirty-one years. “Almost the worst part,” she said, was that “he died thinking he'd let us down financially.” She added, “My husband was the sort of man who truly believed that if you worked hard and did a good job, you would be rewarded.”
The story made me think of Boxer, the strong, loyal horse in George Orwell's “Animal Farm,” who works hard to make the farm succeed, and who is rewarded by the pigs when he's old by being shipped off to the glue factory. The pigs in “Animal Farm” are communists, of course, but it's a leftist critique of communism. The point being that in the end, the pigs are just as bad as the other human farmers; they're just as bad as capitalists like the Koch brothers.
So Ted Nugent's sloppy Frank Underwood meme is more apt than he realizes. Want something? Earn it by being a ruthless sonofabitch. Earn it by being a horrible human being. It's so much easier to get ahead if you don't give a fuck about anyone else.
Speaking of: Ted Nuget has some authentic autographed memorabilia he'd like to sell you.
Can We Make Sense of Trump?
“A Republican presidential candidate might run on Willie Horton and opposing same-sex marriage, but after being elected, he was expected to turn to reducing the top tax rate and deregulating business. Cultural appeal was the means, and economics the ends. What conservatives fear is that Trump might upend that delicate, unstated system by turning the means into the ends.”
-- Jonathan Chait, “The Trump Party vs. The Republican Party,” New York Magazine
“I think that people who base their political appeal on stirring up the latent anger of, let's just say, for shorthand's sake, what Richard Nixon called the ”silent majority,“ know that they're riding a tiger. [Nixon, Reagan, George W. Bush] always resisted the urge to go full demagogue. I think they understood that if they did so, it would have very scary consequences. There was always this boundary of responsibility ...
”For a lot of these people growing up, the experience of Europe, and World War II, and fascism, was a living memory. I think there was this kind of understanding that civilization can often be precarious. I think people knew that, and people saw that, and as ugly as some of these folks could be, whether it was Ronald Reagan going after welfare queens, or Richard Nixon calling anti-war protesters “bums,” or George W. Bush basically engineering a conspiracy to get us into a war in Iraq, there was a certain kind of disciplining, an internal disciplining. I think that anyone who plays the game of American politics at that level knows this can be a very ugly country, that a lot of anger courses barely beneath the surface. ... I think that Donald Trump is the first front-runner in the Republican Party to throw that kind of caution to the wind.“
-- Rick Perlstein, ”Is This the End of the GOP As We Know It?" on Slate
Palin Endorses, Trump Grimaces
The funniest thing to me about Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump is the pained expression on Trump's face as she rambles through her grab bag of idiot ideas:
No man was less sure of being feted. You can't spell Palin without pain.
- Stephen Colbert does his own, brilliantly rambling, stream-of-consciousness version of Palinism.
- The Washington Post's Tom Toles on the man Sarah Palin is leaving behind.
- Trump's lines if Palin had endorsed someone else.
- That New York Daily News cover.
From Raf Sanches' and David Lawler's piece on the fall of Sarah Palin, which was published in The Telegraph just a year ago: Jan. 30, 2015:
Mrs Palin made similar indications [about running for president] before the 2012 election but never actually jumped off the sidelines. It's a trick that gets a bit of buzz the first few times but eventually you end up as irrelevant as Donald Trump, another serial presidential wannabe.
Those were the days, my friend.
'A Dark Side to the American Populace' or Where Have You Gone, John McCain?
Ed Harris as John McCain: recreating the last moment the GOP tried to tamp down the 'dark side of the American populace.'
Last night, P and I watched “Game Change,” Jay Roach's 2012 HBO movie on the unlikely rise of Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, with Julianne Moore as Palin, Ed Harris as John McCain and Woody Harrelson excellent as McCain's campaign manager Steve Schmidt. Sarah Paulson, recently so good in “Carol,” is also excellent as a senior advisor, Nicolle Wallace, initially proud that a woman will be the GOP's VP choice, then concerned, then horrified.
As are we, watching. Each revelation of how much Palin doesn't know is stunning. The reason why North and South Korea are two countries. Which countries made up the Axis and which the Allies during WWII. The fact that the Queen isn't the head of the British government. If the press had been allowed to vet Palin the way the McCain campaign didn't—if there had been more than the Charlie Rose and Katie Couric interviews—the McCain campaign would've been torn to shreds. Deservedly.
But what truly stands out is a line McCain says near the end. It's October, things are going poorly, and his team, particularly Rick Davis (Peter MacNichol), urges McCain to use the two big guns left in the arsenal:
- Rev. Wright
- Bill Ayers
McCain refuses on the first, acquiesces on the second. His refusal on the first is the result, in part, of the push-polling Karl Rove and the Bush campaign did to him in the 2000 South Carolina primary, implying that he had a black child out of wedlock rather than an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. But Davis keeps pushing. The Bush campaign lied, he says, but Rev. Wright said what he said. To which McCain responds:
That may be true. But there's a dark side to the American populace. Some people win elections by tapping into it. I'm not one of those people.
Later, we get that moment at a campaign rally when a woman calls Obama “an Arab,” and McCain takes the microphone back, and reminds her, and the rest of the crowd, that Obama is “a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have some disagreements with on fundamental issues.” That's also startling. It may be the last moment anyone in the GOP tried to tamp down that type of ignorance and hatred. Ever since, and from multiple sources—including Palin, Limbaugh, all of right-wing radio, all of FOX News, and now the current GOP candidates, led, of course, by Donald Trump—they've not only been tapping into the dark side of the American populace; they've been poking it, prodding it, enraging it.
The movie is four years old now, and it made me wonder whatever happened to Sarah Palin. It also made me think: Where have you gone, John McCain?