Calvin Coolidge, Put Together

Rich people say the darnedest things, and they have for time immemorial, but only recently they have been encouraged to do so free of ridicule on national television.  During the Health Care Summit today, (h/t CNN helpfully cut away to have the certifiably cuckoo creationist Ben Stein come on the air and proudly say this:

You asked one of the most brilliant questions I have ever heard anyone ask on TV, which is why are so many Republicans against more government interference in the health care system, and so many Democrats in favor of it? And the answer is much higher percentage of Republicans are taxpayers than Democrats and the Republicans are the people paying for it, and the Democrats are the people receiving it. So that has a lot to explain there.

There are a tremendous number of wealthy Democrats and wealthy Republicans, but as a general matter, Republicans as a group pay income tax at a much higher rate than Democrats, and I think that has a lot to do with everything. They also have a much higher rate, and are paying members of the insurance pools, and they realize that the insurance premiums are going up so that people who otherwise would not get insurance are going to get insurance and it has a lot to do with the fact that Republicans are a different group of people than Democrats.

In “Singing in the Rain,”  the villainous silent movie star Lina Lamont, whose stupidity, classlessness, and lack of talent were spelling her doom when talking pictures came along, put it better, “You can’t do this to me!  I make more money than..  Calvin Coolidge!  (after a beat)  ”Put together!”  In a clueless and ignorant reprise of Lina’s line, which made it all the funnier for me, a lumpy and untalented Hollywood grotesquerie named Bruce Willis, said, “I paid more in taxes last year than Bill Clinton will make in his whole life.”  This statement wasn’t intended to be funny, either.  What a difference forty years makes.

Time was, absurdly undeserving rich people like  Bruce and Ben knew better than to open their traps and flatly admit what they were: sociopathic dunderheads so blinded by their fat salaries that they thought, against all evidence, that they were about eleventy million times better than other people (in this case a majority of their fellow citizens) and as such ought to be calling the shots.  Poor Lina was evidently born too early; today she could have her own show on FOX, where saying to her adoring fans that she was happy to be “bringing some joy into your humdrum lives,” would be eaten up faster than the last wing on the platter at Hooter’s.   Lina’s grasp of economics was a tad better than Stein’s though;  she at least knew that her fans worked for a living (hence the “humdrum”) or they couldn’t afford to buy tickets to her movies.  Stein, who used to write a column for the NYT, can proudly be even dumber than Lina these days, and nonetheless get on TV.

You see, today it’s been somehow pounded into the softer skulls here in America that all Democrats are on welfare, paid for by the “successful,” who are of course Republicans.  Huh?  Never mind that the paltry sums spent on any social programs here give us developing world-grade health outcomes, homelessness, and a relatively desperate class of working poor,  but keep in mind that the Republicans are the party that doesn’t believe in either evolution or climate change, and it’s pretty hard to believe that this bunch is capable of supporting us all, even if they tried.  Yet you hear it endlessly; just today an “independent” called Thom Hartmann to patiently explain his principled opposition to paying any more for health care if his hard-earned dollars might benefit some poor, fat, chainsmoking slob who deserved to die anyway.   How do you argue with that?  The right has had astonishing success selling social Darwinism to a crowd that is mighty suspicious of the Galapagos kind.

On some level, you have to hand it to them; vulgarity and pathological self-centeredness are not only cool again, but they’re now superior. We’ve come a long way, Baby.


  1. retzilian says:

    Ben Stein jumped the shark a long time ago. I still can’t believe any Jewish or Gay man would be part of this Republican party, but there ya go.

    Ben Stein has always had a wide streak of chauvinism in that tacky, noveau-riche kind of way. He’s probably the son of some poor cobbler who lived on the lower east side. I’ll have to go look it up. Dimes to donuts, he’s from poverty….they are always the worst kind of snobs! It’s shame, honey. SHAME. They are ashamed of their upbringing, their parents, their ancestors.

    Let me go look up Stein’s bio. BRB

  2. retzilian says:

    Ok, well his dad was in government and he grew up in Washington DC, so my profile is inaccurate. Heh. If he was a spouse murrrderer or a serial killer, I’d be more accurate.

    Anyhoo, this might shed some light on his contempt for the lower class – his first gig was as a poverty lawyer.

    Here is some of his “expert” financial advice:

    Stein famously proclaimed in the beginning of the subprime mortgage crisis that the foreclosure problem would “blow over and the people who buy now, in due time, will be glad they did,” the economy was “still very strong,” and the “smart money” was “now trying to buy — not sell — as much distressed merchandise” in mortgages as possible.

    Check out more at Wiki:

    Stein is a blithering idiot. I rest my case.

  3. As for Jewish sagacity, I have to say that not every Jew, in the days when we looked to them for moral authority, was an Einstein, Freud, or Marx. There was always a balance, though, and more often than not it came out in a very acerbic humor, which I have to imagine was even more acerbic, and humorous, in the original Yiddish. Here’s one a friend of mine — a treasure-house of such humor — once told me:

    Ben Hecht, in the midst of a dressing down by Sam Goldwyn for his imagined failures as a screenwriter, waited for a pause in the flood, and then said, very quietly: Don’t shake your finger at ME; I remember when there was a thimble on it.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’ve heard that story; little wonder that those who made their money in the needle trades strove so hard to send their children into the professions.

      • There was a time when most people, however successful in economic terms, remembered where they came from. The moral disease which produces a Ben Stein seems to be both progressive and cumulative. A Glenn Back would be hard to imagine in a culture where working class intellectual wasn’t an oxymoron. The odd thing, of course, was that for a time, we actually had such a culture.

  4. retzilian says:

    David Effing Brooks rubbed his crystal ball and decided after watching yesterday’s summit that there would be no HCR this year. This is good news since he, like Kristol (and I’m resisting all bad puns this morning) is almost always WRONG.

    What I found funny was that the comment section was closed after only 14 comments. And this article appeared TODAY. Hmmmm. What a pussy.

    • cocktailhag says:

      My unopened NYT sits on the table; nice to hear I have that to look forward to.

      • harpie says:

        Ha! I have to talk myself into even taking it out of that bright blue bag…but eventually always do, because those bags come in very handy for so many things. Luckily, the news carrier usually uses two for each paper…he must know we have two dogs.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Would shit by any other name smell so? I did get around to reading Brooks on the bus; can you believe that guy gets paid to write such crap, over and over?

  5. dirigo says:

    Ask a teabagger, or a “tenther,” or Tom where we’re really going if we don’t get off the ideological merry-go-round and invest in our people and their health, our education system, and our economy.

    For all these people with their pop gun rhetoric and crackpot ideas, how will the middle class be saved?

    Ideological rants offer no solution, whether right or left.

    • Thanks for the very informative link Dirigo. Andrew Marshall paints a dreary but realistic picture of how we got to where we are. Fortunately, he ended his essay with some glimmer of hope:

      “There never was a story of more woe, than that of human kind, and their monied foe.

      Truly, the people of the world do need a new world order, but not one determined and constructed by and for those who have created the past failed world orders. It must be a world order directed and determined by the people of the world, not the powerful. But to do this, the people must take back the power.”

      BTW, this entire CH post and comment section is very informative. Isn’t it refreshing not having to deal with the inane issues of dickheadtom?

      • dirigo says:

        Steven, if the issues and problems are, as presented in the above referenced article (passed on to me by RMP), really about salvaging what’s left of the country’s actual “Main Street” economy, and with that, some semblance of a “middle class,” or in fact the sovereignty of the country (think of China selling off all of our bad notes), this continuing frippery, on the level of ideological Dodge ‘Em, is thoroughly useless.

        I’m troubled by another big shoe dropping, which is mentioned in the article, and that is the real fallout from a collapse of commercial real estate and the jobs which will be lost. This has been reported – as a warning – a fair amount since the first of the year, and well before that.

        It’s the rise of the zombie glass towers, looming ahead.

        Yet, as an example of the brain-dead pols and their posturing, we have Jim Bunning, the Republican senator from Kentucky, last night blocking an employment benefits extension for 1.2 million. Bunning claimed he didn’t want to pay for the extension by adding to the deficit, but instead pushed to cover it with stimulus funds.

        Except that Bunning, the former bean-baller for the Tigers, succumbed to a Queen Antoinette “Let ‘em eat cake” moment when he blurted out: “Tough shit” for those out of work, while snarking that he was stuck in the senate chamber, haggling about the extension, thus missing the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game. Tsk, tsk. Poor boy.

        Hats off to one of the nation’s most dedicated public servants.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That was a depressing read, Dirigo. It constantly amazes me that supposed “populists” buy into the elite agenda so easily. Ain’t psychology grand?

  6. retzilian says:

    Don’t you know, extending unemployment creates HOBOS?

  7. dirigo says:

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, a era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed.”

    – Abraham Lincoln

  8. nailheadtom says:

    “The attitude of the public toward the “common criminal” begs an obvious question. What possible reason do you have to complain of the actions of these criminals when you support or even advocate criminal actions on so much larger a scale?

    There is a lesson in all of this for libertarians. If we are to successfully present our views to a large audience, we must learn from the fact that ordinary people routinely support robbery and other crimes committed by the state, but stand aghast when they observe the same crimes being committed by “common criminals” (who are actually the more uncommon kind). Advocates for a society of law must endeavor to draw attention to the contradiction inherent in this attitude.

    We must draw attention to the parallels between the “public policies” of the state and the acts of “common criminals.” We must learn to present statist policies to the public for what they are — criminality writ large. And we must learn to convince people that their support for these policies is support for crime.

    In doing this, it is not enough to talk about free-market this and deregulation that. To do so is to fight the battle on the statists’ turf, by presenting the issue as a clash of competing “public policies.” But the actual battle, the real issue at the root of the political debates, is not about choosing between this policy or that — it is about choosing between committing crimes and not committing crimes.

    In fact, what is called “the free market” is just the absence of socially sanctioned theft, assault, robbery, etc., in the context of the relevant market. What is called “deregulation” is actually just the removal of policies allowing socially sanctioned trespasses against person and property. What is called “decentralization of power” is actually just the breaking down of one big criminal agency into lots of smaller competing criminal agencies, with the goal of ultimately making them small enough and competitive enough (with each other) for us to escape from their clutches altogether.

    At root, the libertarian position is very simple and must be communicated in this way. It holds that people should not be allowed to commit crimes against one another. All of the talk about free markets versus market intervention, capitalism versus socialism, regulation versus deregulation, and so on, is just a disguised way of presenting the basic dichotomy between a society of criminals and a society of law. This is the essence of the battle.”
    Ben O’Neill

    • cocktailhag says:

      Who’s committing the “crime” Tom? Like any cop, you see who has the merchandise, then come to your conclusion. When the government takes my money and uses it to kill, spy, and make an ass of itself, I’m just as pissed off about it as you are. When the government spends money that makes life here better for all of us, I feel differently. These efforts are also a lot cheaper than wars and such, since there isn’t any Dick Cheney or Erik Prince involved.
      What you’re advocating simply means that a global financial elite luridly enriches itself at a substantial cost to everyone else, which to me is the worst and least justifiable form of welfare.

      • Libertarians want to perfect us, so that they can feel comfortable. When we reject their notions of perfectability, and go on about our business, they curse us.

        The reason is simple enough. We’ve steadfastly refused to indulge them in their indifference to our common humanity. For a libertarian, that’s the greatest crime imaginable. There’s no hope for them. They’ll always be a minority, and they’ll always believe that they’re the ones who are misunderstood.

        It’s sad, but as long as what they call a philosophy is actually a personality disorder, we can’t help them. Best to let them stand on street corners and shout. Unless you’re a therapist, talking to them is always a mistake.

    • dirigo says:

      I take it you’re not a crook, Tom. Maybe a crock, but not a crook certainly.

      ” … essence of the battle.”

      While you’re at it, please tell us, in your own words, what you know about battle, or any aspect of war. I’d bet not much.

    • Speaking of the lunatic fringe, David Sirota wrote an op-ed in the Oregonian today entitled “It is happening here.” It’s a factual account of Glenn Beck’s antics at CPAC:

      He followed up later with a summary of some of the hate mail he’s received from Beck disciples confirming Sirota’s belief in “American Idiocracy:”

      Who are these people?

      • cocktailhag says:

        I read that Sirota article, and also a bunch of readers’ understandably incensed responses to some drivel Victor Davis Hanson evidently wrote while I was in LA. Is it any wonder the Oregonian is circling the drain? It routinely presents these perspectives as equal.

  9. Hello Cocktail Hag,

    Such an ordinary, oft-used topic of “class” warfare on the rich, but once again you have the lucidity of mind to say something unique. And, such talent has absolutely got me running in place lately trying to keep up! I’m learning I have envy issues.

    I should say at least for the first time on-line, how happy I am about any version of modern health care reform that is actually going to happen. I would be mistaken if all I did was felt saddened in the past for not qualifying (I could pay probably $1,000 out of $5,0000 necessary for insurance for two), without rejoicing at this time about the new reform!

    Coming up to age 50, and I don’t know jack about hospitals, except for the rare stiches that didn’t really take place at hospital – the taller buildings I believe. I wonder how it’s going to be? Just paying deductibles? Any advice anyone? You know, it seems like it is a learned skill to prostrate yourself in one of those rooms. Do you got to get nurses to come around to your way of thinking? I don’t know.

    When Obama recently says 10 million self-employed can’t wait, he seems to be talking to me, curiously. I’ve never been addressed personally by government (sure, I appreciate driving on the roads though, etc.)

    As I wrote weeks ago, I knew reconciliation would happen, and that may be the first thing I predicted at this distance from Washington. All those who poo-pooed HCR, around the time of Mass debacle, should have something to say for themselves now publicly.

    I hope this isn’t too far off the subject of your blog. Truth is I just really wanted to say what I had to say, and this is as worthy a place as any I know of, thank you. But again, if you want to rant about how forthcoming Republican-types are being, you may be mistaken not to mention how useful that is also. For example, I used to walk into big residential additions sort of excited about how many switch banks I could volunteer, you know what I mean? Those jobs were the hardest to collect/finish. Maybe it’s just me?

    Take care, and maybe soon I’ll stop thanking you for your generosity, but not yet.

    How about running into a bigger job, like a re-wire that would take weeks? That would be worth a trip to the west coast.

    p.s. Can you hint what the blog name means, but you don’t got to?

    • cocktailhag says:

      I wish I shared your optimism about HCR, although admittedly it’s looked a bit brighter just lately. I’m a self-employed 45 year old with a pretty big preexisting condition, and haven’t had insurance for years. Luckily, I hardly ever get sick. (knock on wood…) I did get my first real exposure to the health care system when my mother was dying in 2008; the amount of bureaucracy and expenses, large and small, even for someone with “Cadillac” insurance was flat out contemptible. Half of the time, and probably half of the square footage, in any hospital is dedicated to making sure somebody gets paid. Why people call this the best health care system in the world I can’t fathom.
      As for big jobs, I do a new power service or something big only once a year or so, and none are currently on the horizon, but you never know. You’ll be the first to hear. (Check out the latest blog for a writeup of the project I just finished…. we did move the power service there from the rear, where it blocked the view, to the front)
      As for the blog name, it comes from when I was working in a fancy restaurant in the late 70′s, and there were lots of whisky-voiced middle aged and older women who almost still looked good in the low light there, and they invariably drank a lot and left good tips (or their husbands did…). Being a teenager at the time, I called them “cocktail hags,” because I always knew to send one of our scantily-clad cocktail waitresses to their table as soon as I poured their water. I’d slide ‘em an ashtray, too. which would soon need changing. They were my favorite customers… still are.

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