Saturday, September 25, 2010

The house is rockin, still I gotta go in

It has been a somewhat hellish weekend so far, but unfortunately, can't blog about any of it. (If you're my friend, send me a Facebook message and I will be more than happy to vent privately!) I'll just say: apartment living has its definite drawbacks, as I have previously written in this space. (And I will leave the rest to your feverish imaginations.)

This afternoon, went down to the Grand Opening of the new Yoga place. Now, why did I drive to the old Yoga place? ((sigh)) Not paying any fucking attention ... see aforementioned description of hellish weekend. Obviously, if it's a GRAND OPENING (duh!) it's a NEW place... but I was momentarily confused since it's the 6th anniversary of the old place, too, and they were doing special events there as well.

So I finally get to the new place, just in time for them to be all done. :(
My personal yoga instructor-friend was finished, and yes, I want my FRIEND, please. It's not a lot to ask! (If I ever move to a large city, I will miss knowing everyone in town!) So, drove home and waited for more shit to hit the fan, as it undoubtedly will.

I practiced breathing while I drove, so that should count for something.

Decided to share some recent favorite reads:

:: The Tea Party's anarchist streak, by Jacob Weisberg in Newsweek:

What’s distinctive about the Tea Party is its anarchist streak—its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns.

In this sense, you might think of the Tea Party as the right’s version of the 1960s New Left. It’s a community of likeminded people coming together to assert their individualism and subvert the established order. But where the New Left was young and looked forward to a new Aquarian age, the Tea Party is old and looks backward to a capitalist-constitutionalist paradise that, needless to say, never existed. The strongest note in its tannic brew is nostalgia. Tea Partiers are constantly talking about “restoring honor,” getting back to America’s roots, and “taking back” their country.

How far back to take it back is one of the questions that divides the movement. The tricorn-hat brigade holds the most extreme libertarian view: a constitutional fundamentalism that would limit the federal government to the exercise of enumerated powers. The Roanoke Tea Party, for example, proposes a Freedom for Virginians Act, which would empower the state to invalidate laws it deems unconstitutional. It’s been settled business that you can’t do this since the Supreme Court decided McCullough v. Maryland in 1819, but never mind. [Glenn] Beck, a century more modern, feeds his audience quack history that says the fall from grace was the progressive era, when Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson introduced socialism into the American bloodstream.

Other than nostalgia, the strongest emotion at Tea Parties is resentment, defined as placing blame for one’s woes on those either above or below you in the social hierarchy. This finds expression as hostility toward a variety of elites: the “liberal” media, “career” politicians, “so-called” experts, and sometimes even the hoariest of populist targets, Wall Street bankers. These groups stand accused of promoting the interest of the poor, minorities, and immigrants—or in the case of the financiers, the very rich—against those of middle-class taxpayers.

Anti-elitism is hardly a fresh theme for Republicans. But here too, the Tea Partiers take it to a new level. The most radical statement of individualism is choosing your own reality, and to some in the Tea Party, the very fact that experts believe something is sufficient to disprove it. The media’s insistence that Barack Obama was born in the United States, or that he is a Christian rather than a Muslim, merely fuels their belief to the contrary. Other touchstones include the view that Obama has a secret plan to deprive Americans of their guns, that global warming is a leftist hoax, and that—according to Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell—there’s more evidence for creationism than for evolution.
As I said in my piece on GOING ROGUE, the mainstream media's trashing of the Tea Party just continually backfires, and I think that is a good analysis of why it does.

:: Gleen Greenwald takes this a bit further in his Salon piece on Christine O'Donnell (Tea Party candidate for Senate; surprise-winner of the recent Delaware primary) and the outright classism in the mainstream media's attacks.

For example, Karl Rove mounted his platform to detail O'Donnell's lifetime of financial difficulties and why that means she is not a good candidate. On the contrary, as Greenwald writes, that might be her only characteristic that most people could readily identity with:
Most people are not like Rove's political patron, George W. Bush, who was born into extreme family wealth. O'Donnell's financial difficulties, which Rove [described in detail on TV], and [was] implicitly condemning, are far from unusual for ordinary Americans. In 2009 alone, there were 2.8 million home foreclosures. Contrary to what Rove is trying to imply, an inability to pay one's college tuition bills or a struggle with taxes are neither rare nor signs of moral turpitude. Those are common problems for a country whose middle class is eroding as the rich-poor gap rapidly widens. If the kinds of financial struggles O'Donnell has experienced are disqualifying from high political office, then we will simply have an even more intensified version of the oligarchy which our political system has become.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion, at least for me, that, claims to the contrary notwithstanding, much of the discomfort and disgust triggered by these Tea Party candidates has little to do with their ideology. After all, are most of them radically different than the right-wing extremists Karl Rove has spent his career promoting and exploiting? Hardly. Much of the patronizing derision and scorn heaped on people like Christine O'Donnell have very little to do with their substantive views -- since when did right-wing extremism place one beyond the pale? -- and much more to do with the fact they're so . . . unruly and unwashed. To members of the establishment and the ruling class (like Rove), these are the kinds of people -- who struggle with tuition bills and have their homes foreclosed -- who belong in Walmarts, community colleges, low-paying jobs, and voting booths on command, not in the august United States Senate.

You want to know why it's so unusual for a U.S. Senate candidate to have what Rove scorned as "the checkered background" of O'Donnell, by which he means a series of financial troubles? In his interview with me earlier this week, Sen. Russ Feingold said exactly why. It's not because those financial difficulties are rare among Americans. This is why:
It's not a new thing; it's been going on for a couple of decades. If you look even in the Senate, I'm one of the very few people in there who doesn't have a net worth over a million dollars; my net worth is under half a million dollars, after all these years.
And as poor as Russ Feingold is relative to his colleagues in the Senate, he's still a Harvard Law School graduate who owns his own home and has earned in excess of $100,000 as a U.S. Senator for the last 18 years. People with unpaid Farleigh Dickinson tuition bills and home foreclosures just aren't in the U.S. Senate. And there are a lot of people -- those who see nothing wrong with the U.S. Senate as a millionaire's club and as an entitlement gift of dynastic succession -- who want to keep it that way.

And this ethos is hardly confined to admission requirements for the Senate, but extends to the entire Versailles on the Potomac generally. The Washington ruling class is embodied by the vile image of millionaire TV personality Andrea Mitchell, wife of Alan Greenspan, going on GE-owned MSNBC and announcing that it's time for ordinary Americans to "sacrifice" by giving up Social Security benefits (that she, of course, doesn't need). All sorts of right-wing extremism is tolerated and even revered in Beltway culture provided it comes from the Right People. A Washington political/media culture that rolls out the red carpet for every extremist Bush official is now suddenly offended by these Tea Partiers' extremist views? Please. What's most frowned upon is the inclusion in their circles of those Who Do Not Belong. Hence, the noses turning upward at Christine O'Donnell's lower-middle-class struggles and ordinariness as though they disqualify her for high office. If anything, one could make the case that those struggles are her most appealing -- perhaps her only appealing -- quality.

These socio-economic biases have been evident for many years. Bill Clinton's arrival in Washington caused similar tongue-clucking reactions because, notwithstanding his Yale and Oxford pedigree, he was from a lower-middle-class background, raised by a single working mother, vested with a Southern drawl, and exuding all sorts of cultural signifiers perceived as uncouth. Much of the contempt originally provoked by Sarah Palin was driven by many of the same cultural biases. As I wrote at the time, the one (and only) attribute of Palin which I found appealing, even admirable, when she first arrived on the national scene was that she came from such a modest background and was entirely self-made (Obama's lack of family connections and self-made ascension was also, in my view, one of the very few meaningful differences between him and Hillary Clinton). So much of the derision over Palin had nothing to do with her views or even alleged lack of intelligence -- George Bush, to use just one example, was every bit as radical and probably not as smart -- but it was because she hadn't been groomed to speak and act as a member in good standing of the elite class.

I'm not defending Palin or O'Donnell; they both hold views, most views, which I find repellent. But it's hard not to notice the double standard which treats quite respectfully many politicians with the right lineage who espouse views every bit as radical. This is the kind of condescension that causes Sarah Palin's anti-elitism screeds to resonate and to channel genuine resentments.
Amen, amen! Preach it! (I sorta said the same thing, not nearly as well, here.)

And what do you think of the Tea Party's rising popularity and the reasons for it?

~*~

Today's blog post title comes from my favorite Cheap Trick song.

Now, ladies and gents, this is how it is supposed to sound.

The house is rockin (with domestic problems) - Cheap Trick

<

My world is in a spin, you wanna come on in?

3 comments:

D. said...

Keep up the good work!

(Let me try again tomorrow; I have an Out of Brain error)

white rabbit said...

The problem with the so called anarchists/libertarians of the right is that, albeit that they raise prima facie reasonable questions about the nature and potential dangers of statism (although many of their answers are wholly unreasonable) they have no critique of markets and finance capital, which are at least as capable of being engines of oppression as the state and usually work hand in glove with said state.

Anonymous said...

*love* greenwald link thx-