The Blame Game

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson was on Thom Hartmann today, and in a brief but quite unconventional interview that included caller questions, he made some profound points about our current political situation, which were as enlightening as they were depressing.  Responding to a question about the glaring obviousness of the corrupting influence of money on the political system that the health care “debate” has exposed, wherein Washington openly has operated directly against the wishes of overwhelming majorities of Americans, he went a step further.  He said, and I paraphrase because I was running a chop saw all day, that for politicians like DeMint, Coburn, Liberman et al, it wasn’t even the money.  They’re just that way.  Everything, literally everything bad that happens to people is their own fault, and they should suffer.  Religious men all, they believe in an avenging God for others, and bask in the glory of their power and influence as evidence that they are the Chosen Ones who get to decide these things.

It’s a win- win for them, really.  As luck would have it, all the policies based on punishment, coercion, and violence that they are naturally inclined to favor are, as luck would have it, extremely costly, and entire industries have grown fat and happy  salving this type of Big Daddy worldview: prisons, weapons, “security,” environmental exploitation, wars and such are far more lucrative than, say, day care centers, schools, and libraries, so one could say that the Market has spoken.  Harming others is where the money is; helping them is for losers.  Thus emerges a politics where everyone who is ever ripped off, sick, uninsured, hungry, unemployed, foreclosed upon, or just plain killed, “had it coming,”  like the ladies in Kander and Ebb’s “Cell Block Tango” said.

It’s a neat trick, really.  Using it, a $23 trillion bank collapse can be blamed on a few minorities buying homes, terrorism can be blamed on our hated freedoms, which can then be promptly taken away, and deficits can be blamed on the tiny slice of our budget actually spent on on people in need; then after making sure that the worthless heirs of rich people are taken care of in perpetuity, the pampered Villagers can call it a day.  God and the Market, which are of course the same thing, have already made their choice; there’s nothing left to do but to get everybody on board.

Unfortunately, this edifice is built on the idea that somebody either unborn or certainly not in one’s social circle will eventually pay for it all; since these types of politicians are notorious for selling billion-dollar favors for fractions of pennies on the dollar, there’s always the worry that the punchbowl will run dry.  And when you set out to jail the poor, pauperize working people, take away the security  of the middle class, and turn seniors into Wal-Mart greeters, you’re left with not much of a tax base or consumer economy to support the rich in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed.  Enter politics, to fix that problem.

Those of us who “deserve it” must once again buck up and put our noses to the grindstone so Goldman Sachs and United Health can keep the private plane industry in business and also make sure Rush Limbaugh stays supplied with drugs, and the maids to obtain them.  For them, the suffering of others isn’t either a bug or a feature, but just a mathematical necessity, so they do what they do and say what they say for pretty good reasons, or it seems to them, anyway.

What’s much more puzzling is why such mendacity in pursuit of personal gain isn’t more widely recognized, and Thom Hartmann summed it up a day or so before fairly succinctly…  The enslavement of everyone but the rich and well-connected couldn’t have happened without the Media’s conscious or unconscious creation of a new American supermajority, the “low information voter,”  and worse, half of the pathetically small percentage of “high-information voters” are, thanks to that same Media, working with false information.  Death panels.  Hitler.  Stalin.  I could go on all evening, but a cursory foray into the widely  publicized rantings of the teabaggers would do the same thing..

There’s plenty of blame to go around, of course, but our government and media have laid it in the least likely of places.   Once upon a time, Dick Cheney himself said that “deficits don’t matter,” to nary a peep of disagreement, because if the essential truth that statement contained .  To him, they don’t.


  1. sysprog says:

    So does it do any good to have people like Alan Grayson INSIDE the Democratic Party? Well maybe it’s necessary, but is it sufficient? Obviously not. Something else is needed. Maybe a progressive third party (or a bunch of third parties) could make Rahm and his Dems scared of losing their “base.”

    In 1936, FDR was confident of Democratic Party votes, but was worried about and was actively courting various third parties (like the Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota) and unaffiliated progressive independents. And FDR definitely saw the old Progressive Party as a threat, and said so.

    Later, on April 28, 1938, Wisconsin’s Governor Phil (*) La Follette announced the expansion of the old Progressive Party into a new nationwide party to be called the “National Progressives of America.”

    (*) son of “Fightin’ Bob” and brother of U.S. Senator Bob Jr.

    The very next day, on April 29, 1938, FDR made a speech to his fellow Democratic Party members. FDR didn’t actually mention the La Follette family having just made headlines, but it was on everybody’s mind.

    So, FDR told the Democrats to consider doing some trustbusting (though he also said that he was against “ill-considered ‘trustbusting”.)

    FDR said:

    “Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is fascism—ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any other controlling private power.”

    The second truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living. Both lessons hit home. Among us today a concentration of private power without equal in history is growing.”


    “No man of good faith will misinterpret these proposals. . . . [The program] is not intended as the beginning of any ill-considered ‘trustbusting’ activity which lacks proper consideration for economic results. It is a program to preserve private enterprise for profit by keeping it free enough to be able to utilize all our resources of capital and labor at a profit.”

    It wasn’t any kind of socialist manifesto, nor stridently anticorporate, but definitely in favor of leashing and taming the corporations.

    So, credible threats against Democrats can work, or once did.

    But there might be some self-sacrifice involved. Trying to organize that national party helped to kill Phil La Follette’s political career. He pretty much disappeared after that, and so did his party.

    • sysprog says:


      I shouldn’t have said “old” Progressive Party.

      Phil and his brother started the Wisconsin Progressive Party (WPP) in 1934, splitting off what had been the progressive wing (the La Follette wing) of the Wisconsin GOP.

      They tried to nationalize the WPP into the NPA in 1938, when the WPP was only four years old.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Back in those days, there were far fewer low information voters, and a much more diverse and widely consumed political media. If Obama made a speech like that the entire media would erupt in feigned horror, and Rove, the Cheney family,, et al would immediately be trotted out to gasp, whine, faint, and threaten on cue. Look what happens to Dean, whose every utterance is greeted like a fart in church the lie gets halfway around the world (only halfway, as Copenhagen has shown us quite vividly…) before the truth can even find its boots, let alone get them on. FOX and Rush GIVE away their content to achieve saturation levels, and that investment never stops paying out.
      An FDR could never exist, much less succeed, in today’s environment.

  2. Jim White says:

    Pointing out the “religious” justifications for the “they had it coming” argument is a truly courageous act by Grayson, given the prevalence of conservative religions in his district. What I find astounding, though, is that you were able to listen to such horribly depressing analysis while running power equipment–and appear to have emerged alive and still in possession of enough functioning digits to peck out a post. I doubt that I could accomplish that one.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Actually, Grayson didn’t mention religion; that was the Hag talking. He only spoke of the Blame Game, but quite accurately, to my mind.
      Chop saws aren’t nearly as dangerous, in my experience, as screwdrivers and other seemingly innocuous hand tools. The roar of the motor breeds wariness and respect, even as it drowns out talk radio intermittently. Perhaps the incomparable Paul Daniel Ash put it best at UT a long time ago, when he said something about putting his dick in a blender. Something about a roaring machine designed to chop things up makes you keep the vulnerable stuff close to home.

  3. The Heel says:

    If this was just a satire show it would be strangely amusing and grotesque.
    Unfortunately does my beautiful mind (to borrow a line from dipshit’s Mom) get bothered with 75 year old baggers at the local grocery store. It turns my stomach to receive the inevitable question by the conditioned geezer if I need help out. Out of respect for the poor soul, of course I kindly decline but I think to myself – isn’t it rather you who needs help out, here? Then I smile sadly and walk to my car praying that I either die early or become rich, because in this country everything else ain’t fun.

    I sometimes dream of making documentary movies to point out such absurdities and bloopers of society. This is one of my favorite ones. I would like to interview those greeters and baggers. Let them tell the stories of their lives. What on earth did they do to deserve this punishment by god/the market?
    When I can afford to spend my time making such films, I will one time take one of them up on their offer and have that poor old fuck haul my heavy bags to the car. After all that is what the market forces seem to have in mind and god fearing me can’t possibly go up against them….

    • cocktailhag says:

      The worst part is that those geezers probably go home and watch FOX. Next time buy several cases of beer, some watermelons and a few large sacks of potatoes and hand ‘em to the old coot. That’s the free market at work.

    • Jim White says:

      Sounds like you’re talking about my dad. He didn’t quite finish college but made a very good living in the 70′s in sales of custom applications of hydraulic power equipment. Just before he became disabled from chronic lung disease, his last job was stocking the shelves in an Eckerd’s Drug store. This situation for older workers has been going on for a long time–he died ten years ago this month.

      • cocktailhag says:

        My mother went back to work after retirement, too, because even after teaching for almost 30 years, she needed the money. My father, on the other hand, who is a rabid righty, enjoys a leisurely retirement from his gummint position as DA, and complains about the VA, where he gets his free health care. Sometimes I kiss the ground that they divorced when I was so young.

  4. rmp says:

    The ignorant electorate is mostly that way because of our educational system. While I was out with my grandsons on a sledding hill across from my house, I met a mother from Ukraine and a father from Romania both from different families. The father talked about his American counterparts where he works and the difference in educational approach in America and Romania. He is an engineer who works in information systems.

    He said he went to school from 8am to 4pm six days a week and everyone studied very hard. He says that he learned to think and understand mathematical concepts and Americans learned steps. So when something unusual comes up in computer work or math, they get lost very easily because they have never learned the concepts.

    Our schools don’t teach children to think for themselves or to even understand that they are responsible for their own learning and not some book containing step by step instruction or master teachers.

    So these ignorant followers have no concept of independence or wanting to decide what is right or wrong for themselves. They were socialized to be obedient followers and their anger stems from their feeling of frustration and for solace they seek blame.

    • cocktailhag says:

      One thing I’ve noticed about people educated in other countries is that they are a lot smarter than average. I was constantly appalled when I worked at various companies and no one in the building could write a proper letter. “Editor in Chief” always became my subtitle, whatever my actual job was, because I was too embarrassed to let semiliterate tripe go out the door.
      I worked with a great set designer back in the day, and he told me to always assume that someone in the audience would be smarter than me, and catch a mistake or anachronism I hadn’t noticed, and their enjoyment of the play would be reduced. He admonished me to research, research, and research for historical, regional, and other details that just had to be right.
      That was over twenty years ago, and I wonder if it’s even true anymore.

      • Our society is suffering from diminished capacity. Ask the heel — he must feel sometimes as though he’s been exiled to Mars. The American people are still extraordinarily diverse, but the only way to know that is to stay off the interstates, and stick out your thumb, not the sort of thing that anyone in his right mind would ordinarily do.

        That diversity doesn’t count, of course, or more accurately, isn’t counted. Still, Hag dearest, if you do fuck something up in your set designs — white Lucky Strike packages in 1938, say, or seamless stockings on a WAC jeep driver in Old Blighty — that’s a mere cosmetic sin compared to the amnesia of a public which has forgotten that in 1940, socialists were far more popular in the United States than Republicans were.