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.