Reality Bites

Listening to the Ed Schultz Show today on the radio at work, I was enjoying the discussion brought forth by substitute host Norman Goldman, when he opened the show by asking listeners, “What do you want from your government, and how would you like to pay for it?”  The question was drawn from the debate about health care, but he asked it in a broader way, inviting listeners to address the larger question of government as a provider of benefits, a regulator, and a force for good or ill.  When the teabaggers started showing up, things really got interesting, and I was left to wonder whether their overlords had sent them on assignment yet again even as I marveled at the effectiveness of the Mighty Righty Wurlitzer to convince a lot of people that things aren’t as they appear to normal people, and how diabolically successful the regressive policies of the past several years have been to make people angry about all the wrong things.

First up among the suspiciously numerous teabaggers of the day was a gentleman with a thick outer-borough NY accent; let’s just call him Archie from Queens.  He was against taxes, all right, and everything from the tolls of the Port Authority to Social Security taxes for his employees were already nefariously conspiring, to his mind, to take 60% of his earnings.  Referring to the imagined cost of a public option on health care, he said, “What do dey want now,  80 puhcent?”  The sad thing, which must bring a smile to any Economic Royalist still capable of fogging a mirror, is that Archie had a point, albeit not the one he intended: the huge increase in payroll taxes pushed through under Reagan, coupled with the relatively higher tax rates everyone pays so that the rich aren’t “punished,” small business owners, particularly in places like New York, have taken an ever larger share of the load, and see no benefit from it, since the money is hurriedly pissed away on wars, more tax cuts for the rich, and crony capitalism for the largest corporations.  Archie sees government as the problem, which it now effectively is, unless you’re Halliburton.  Paul Krugman once referred to the strategy set forth by the Wall Street Journal a few years back; tax the little guys they disingenuously called the “Lucky Duckies,” more heavily, and they would soon be as virulently anti-tax as Steve Forbes and Rush Limbaugh, put together.  Mission Accomplished.

More disturbingly, but admittedly more comically, along came Karen from Michigan.  In a breathless, twangy diatribe that was equal parts Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, only preachier if such a thing were possible, she said “I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for the murder of innocent babies….  Planned Parenthood makes millions of dollars off abortion…” and every other teabaggy thing a girl could free associate until the ordinarily quite civil Norm, who had clearly spotted her a mile away, finally interrupted to ask if she had supported the Iraq War, since she was so obviously against the slaughter of innocents.  Speaking more rapidly, angrily, and confidently than ever, she expectorated, “Yes I did because they attacked us first.”  So, she believes that a non-profit outfit like Planned Parenthood was “getting rich,” from government money, something Blackwater would never, ever do, natch, and Iraq had it coming because, well, just because.  Norm immediately pointed out that no one involved in the decision to invade Iraq, with the possible exception of Dick Cheney, still believed that, and basically tore her to shreds, pointing out that the government did a lot of things of which he did not approve, but paying taxes was not like ordering things from a Chinese menu, and finally in frustration saying, “Please, Karen.  Read a newspaper.”  But Karen no doubt hung up triumphant; being debunked by the liberal media is to her, like being awarded a Bush Medal of Freedom.  The more you’re told you’re wrong, the more right you must be.

Back when off-duty prostitute and White House correspondent Jeff Gannon (sic) was pumping up Bush for his imminent “triumph” to be paid for with the political capital (sic) from his 2004 landslide (sic), that is, handing Social Security over to the banksters, he plaintively asked Bush how he could deal with recalcitrant Democrats, who were so hopelessly “divorced from reality.”

How, indeed.


  1. They can’t read, but we can. Here’s exactly how bad it is, courtesy of Thomas Palley:

    America’s Exhausted Paradigm: Macroeconomic Causes of the Financial Crisis and Great Recession.

    If this isn’t the first chapter in a new Book of Revelations, I’m the Queen of the May. By the time we get to the last chapter, all that’ll be left of the teabaggers will be their clothes. Rapture for them, roasted rats and war with pointed sticks for the rest of us.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Great article: it covers (admittedly a bit too exhaustively for cocktail hour, but I made it through..)
      the “heads we win, tails you lose economy that has prevailed since Reagan. As I’ve said before, “Sex and the City” was many things, but it wasn’t an economic treatise.

  2. Jim White says:

    Hi Hag,

    I heard most of that show on the road today. What struck me about Archie is that it sure sounded to me like he felt like ALL of the funds coming into his company were HIS and the Medicare and payroll taxes he was paying on his employees were taking money out of his pocket. I’ll bet this guy screws his employees out of every penny he can.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I have no doubt of that. I’m glad you’re listening, too. Have you noticed a lot more teabaggers lately? I’ve been listening to KPOJ (my local affiliate) a lot more carefully just now, since I’m alone at my site and painting, which is not noisy enough to drown things out, but still it seems like the ‘baggers are unusually busy. The reasonable-sounding ones prick up my ears the most…

      • Jim White says:

        I listen when I have my satellite radio on and there’s nobody else riding with me. If my wife is with me, she’s usually working and talk disrupts that and of course the kids insist on music. I had the luxury of an 8 hour drive by myself today to pick up my youngest from summer camp, so I had Sirius Left on all day, except for Lynn Samuels. Sorry, that’s one cocktailhag I just can’t handle.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I’m not aware of that member of the sorority… I must have passed out early the night I had an opportunity to blackball her. I get to listen most days, but construction is too loud for nuance, and often even keeping track of the discussion… When I do get to listen, it’s usually the most boring days, so it’s a godsend.

  3. Karen M says:

    I’m just on a short break from a marathon viewing of “The Barchester Chronicles” a series by Anthony Trollope about Victorian times, and yet, so topical and timely today. Trollope really knew how to write about Class. And patronage, and corruption, and betrayal, and greed. You name. I find him much more readable than Dickens. Watchable, too.

    William, I am trying not to laugh while picturing you as Queen of the May. I know you meant it ironically, more than humorously, but still…

    I’ve never heard the Ed Schultz show. Perhaps I should try to find it online.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s at either Or at for the whole lineup we get here, if you’re interested. I’m a huge fan of Thom Hartmann, who broadcasts right from here in Little Beirut, right before Ed. You should check it out, Karen.

      • rmp says:

        I watched a Portlander on PBS News Hour last night who was speaking for the National Automobile Dealers Association who lives in Portland and there was a great view of your great city in the background. He did an excellent job of explaining how great the Clunker’s program was working and why the $2 billion more will keep this wonderful program going.

        Dealers, Detroit Look for Boost With ‘Clunkers’ Extension

        The PON spent a lot of time telling everyone how bad this program was and even after it was working so well, but when it came time to vote for another two billion, many Repugs voted for it. Can’t lose votes just because of the need to follow the PON mantra.

    • Well, Queen of the May may be just a bit ambitious. With enough work, I suppose I could make a credible Joan Crawford, but only with the help of the prosthetics department, dim light, and enough security to keep the hoi polloi at the proper distance. :-)

      • Karen M says:

        Oh, no! I didn’t meant to imply you were too ambitious; I was just enjoying the joke.

      • Karen M says:

        btw, speaking of Joan Crawford, have you ever seen “The Women?” The older version with Norma Shearer, not the new remake. A very young Joan Crawford is featured in it… as the other woman, of course.

        And, ‘Hag, there’s a fashion show right in the middle of the film. In color, too. Nothing gratuitous, though, it fits into the narrative.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Of course I’ve seen “The Women,” about 50 times. That scene where Joan Crawford is talking to Steven on the phone from behind the perfume counter is one of the funniest in cinema history. “Why don’t you borrow the quintuplets for the evening?”

          • Karen M says:

            It is, without a doubt, one of my favorite movies of all time. Of course, a woman wrote it. ;~)

          • cocktailhag says:

            Ah, the infamous Clare Boothe Luce, a Republician of the first order, but smart. Not like they make them today. The bathtub scene is pretty great, too, especially when the little girl says, correctly, “I think this bathroom is perfectly ridiculous.”

          • Karen M says:

            Yeah, I love that bathtub scene, too. The whole thing works, but that’s because of the dialogue, and the subtexts and the POV.

            Have you seen the remake yet? I haven’t… I’m hoping it goes to NetFlix InstantView so I can see it without another $ exchange.

          • cocktailhag says:

            I think some things should never be remade, and I also heard it was a stinker. Who could have the purity (and gorgeous profile) of Norma Shearer, the hilarious maliciousness of Rosalind Russell, or prtray a conniving reptile better than Joan Crawford? I think you should spare yourself the disappointment.

  4. dirigo says:

    Yeah! YEAH !!!

    Well it looks like the gummint is setting up to coerce a lot of guys out of their frosted over beer reefers in the playroom.

    This is far worse than anything the Commies ever dreamed up!

  5. heru-ur says:

    Hi Hag,

    I’ll be signing off for a while as far as leaving a comment goes, but I do hope to catch a few of your posts over the next few months.

    I would like to leave you with a little news item from the world of science that fits the title of this blog post of yours, even if the topic is different that what you had in mind.

    “Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages – solar and earth wobble – CO2 not main driver”

    I have followed this debate since my first science class in the 70s. I was always a ‘the sun is the driver’ guy.

    I’ll try to look in today at any response, but I am off to the doctor’s office and may end up elsewhere for a while.


    • rmp says:

      That sounds like a pretty serious medical condition. All the best to you on the most favorable outcome that can be expected. I will miss your posts on UT and here.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Hey, Heru… I’ll miss your comments; and I hope everything turns out ok, I guess, since I’m not entirely sure what you’re hinting at, but if anything is seriously wrong my thoughts are with you and I’m hoping for the best. Stay in touch, please.

      • heru-ur says:

        The early reports were nerve damage of some kind effecting the lower legs. Another problem is a continual “tingly” sensation in the area above the left eye. Then mix in very high blood pressure.

        All problems are caused by, or made worse by, my lack of exercise after a bike accident messed up a knee.

        Glenn went on vacation, my vacation is over Monday, and I need to do more meditation and exercise. So, I’ll keep it to myself more.

        Thanks for your concern, but I am apparently just experiencing the effects of living nearly 60 years. I did not mean to cause concern, I just did not want you to think I was “mad” or something and just disappear off the radar screen. I’ll read your wonderful writing when time allows, but I may or may not be able to reply.

        My wife is insistent that I not engage in debate until the blood pressure drops out of the “danger” zone. I guess she has a point, even though I am hardly ever “angry” and actually have fun with the little disagreements — except when the name calling starts. (and yes, I am as bad as anyone for engaging in the food-fights)

        I am going to Mount Dora today, it is an odd little town in central Florida with old buildings and little shops and great restaurants. The wife loves it. After that, I’ll peep at UT and see how those addicted to Glenn react to sudden withdrawal.

        I guess I’ll have to plug this place again for the new comers — better than UT often in my opinion.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Thanks for filling me in, Heru; and I’m glad that your wife is looking after you. It’s big news to me that there’s anything called a “Mt” in Florida, but being a lifelong urban dweller, I’m sure that I’d like it. Email me if that would be less blood pressure raising; I have a whole host of things I’d like to discuss with you about health, in a more private forum. Best wishes as always… T

          • heru-ur says:

            I might do that, but that would require me knowing your e-mail address. I looked around the blog but did not see it.

            Mt. Dora is on the “backbone” or high ridge in the center of the state. It is barely hill country to one from the Appalachian Mountain chain, but it is “mountain” to these very flat landers.

            And boy, you stay up late or get up early one. That first response came before dawn here in the east!

            Oh, and by the way Tony, my name is Joseph. I was named after the patron saint of the working man.

        • Karen M says:

          Laugh if you will, H, but knitting has been shown to be very beneficial for the blood pressure…

          …and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a renowned writer on knitting humor (aka The Yarn Harlot, see her blog) gave a talk once in which she claimed the benefits of knitting to be similar to those of meditating monks. In particular, she mentioned theta waves, and an increased ability to make interesting connections.

          I believe there are even some scholarly papers written on the benefits, though you probably have to search for something more like “repetitive movements” or something like that.

          Just think of it as another form of making knots…