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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gimme Shelter

What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it’s the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

It’s the early 1960’s.

Bill Stockton and his wife Grace are having a few people over. 

It’s a typical evening in Leave It To Beaver Land.

It’s not a party party, it’s a cocktail party – the kind of thing that white people back then thought other white people did once or twice a month. It’s like something you’d seen in a 1950’s cigarette commercial or on the back cover of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

They’re all good friends, this gathering. They’d do anything for each other.  They grew up together, went to school together, go to the same church, live in the same neighborhood. Some of them are relatives, like Bill’s brother-in-law, Frank, who is married to Grace’s unnamed sister. Bill himself is a doctor, he delivered their children and treats their families when they get sick. Everybody is happy and courteous and friendly. 

Talk eventually turns to Bill’s hobby.

It seems Bill Stockton spends his evenings working on a basement fallout shelter, which is not a particularly odd thing to do given the state of their world, but unusual enough that his guests have a good chuckle at his expense. They, of course, have done nothing to prepare for a future that they all expect to fall from the sky any day now – other than throw dinner parties and stand around smoking Pall Malls while talking about the evil commies who want their stuff.  Everybody is worried about the future, but they think Bill’s solution, while obviously a pragmatic acceptance of the world as it exists, is nevertheless foolish and they chide him for wasting money that they think could be better spent elsewhere (presumably on more dinner parties and cartons of cigarettes ).

Except, just then, the radio announces unidentified objects headed towards America from low earth orbit!

Of course, it can only be the long feared communists, the bastards are finally making their move! 

Atomic devastation is only moments away.  Panic ensues. Bill tells his friends to go home and seek shelter. But there’s no time. So instead they want Bill to take them into his shelter.  Bill points out that the shelter can only hold three, there is only enough food and air for him, Grace, and their young son. It’s simply not practical or even feasible to try and put everybody into the refuge, in fact trying to do so will certainly kill them all from suffocation even if the Soviet missiles don’t get them.

Of course Bill’s friends should have planned ahead, they should have prepared for the coming crisis (or maybe elected those who would have avoided it altogether, but I digress). Instead they now face a disaster of their own making. Bill offers his basement as a refuge to his friends and relatives, saying that he’ll do the best he can for them after the initial attack is over but he’s got to do what’s right for his own wife and son. Bill’s friends will have none of it, of course, and accuse him of lying and much, much worse.

Reason is stripped away and replaced with rage and panicked desperation.

Bill and his immediate family retreat to the shelter and lock themselves in. 

His friends are incensed.

Led by Frank, they attempt to batter down the shelter’s door and, as tensions swiftly mount, it’s obvious that somebody is going to die…

 

Ever spend an entire Saturday in your sweats, parked on the couch watching a Twilight Zone marathon?

No? That’s too bad, because it was a great show. The entire series was just released on high definition DVD, if you’re looking to get me a Christmas present, that would be a good place to start.

Now, for those of you who don’t recognize the description above, it’s from the episode entitled The Shelter, which first aired in 1961. The Shelter was written by Rod Serling himself and was one of only four episodes without any science fiction or fantasy elements. Instead it was based entirely on the very real events and common fears of the time – which is what makes it such a memorable and terrifying story.

What brings this up?

Well, you know, sometimes I wonder if we’re not living in a Twilight Zone episode of our own.

The Republican Party has now surrendered its principles and is in full retreat!

So laments rightwing activist and conservative fundraiser Brent Bozell.  Last month Bozell warned conservatives that he would aggressively punish any republican who has the temerity to put the good of the nation over loyalty to the Republican Party and the puppet masters who control it.

Bozell, along with the usual motley cast of conservative hardliners, party hacks, flacks, and the fearful rich, are incensed by Speaker of the House John Boehner’s counter proposal to President Obama regarding a way to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff:

Should America assume that Representative John Boehner et. al. have been misleading the country for more than two years now? It would appear so. It would be impossible to count the times and ways Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy and so many others have told America that tax hikes would kill jobs and cripple the economy. Lo and behold, that’s just what they’ve proposed, $800 billion of them.

Just like guests at Bill Stockton’s tea party, conservatives have spent the last four years standing around smoking and scaring the hell out of each other with fevered rumors of some imagined communist invasion.  And now that the crisis they helped create is here, well, they’re banging on the door in panic and clamoring for the head of the only guy in their party pragmatic enough to acknowledge reality.

Bozell wants to make good on his threat to terminate any conservative who dares think about raising taxes on the wealthy.

All the party organs should be cut off [from party funding]. The only people who should be funded are those conservatives who don't break their word, and the primary opponents of the ones who do.

You’ve got to boggle at hardliners like Brent Bozell and Grover Norquist. 

To them, the world is strictly black and white.

There’s us and them and nothing in between.

That’s how it is, and that’s how it will always be. 

Their limited worldview allows for no deviation, no acknowledgement of the fluid and dynamic and changing nature of reality.  They extracted a promise from republicans two, five, ten, fifteen years ago – and they intend to stick to it no matter how conditions change around them. 

It’s one thing to promise not to raise taxes at the end of the Clinton administration, with a budget surplus in the bank. It’s another thing entirely to hold to that position after ten years of war bought on credit and an economic collapse brought to you by Bozell’s contributors, a bunch of staggeringly rich Wall Street types who no matter how rich they get are somehow never rich enough – all of which has left the country deep in the red. 

Conservative economic logic says that if taxes on the wealthy and businesses are kept low then they’ll create jobs in return, which in turn will create more of the middle class, who can then be taxed to make up the difference in revenue. 

In other words, we shouldn’t tax (rich) people more, we should have more (poor)people pay taxes. 

This sounds workable in theory. 

And it is, sort of, as far as it goes.

Especially if you convince people that a whole bunch of parasites are sucking off the system at the expense of the middle class and that keeping taxes low on the wealthy will somehow, magically, make these alleged lazy people suddenly get off their duffs and dance. The way to sell it is to convince people that taxes stay low for everybody as long as there are lots of people paying taxes.

And again, this sounds workable in theory.

There’s just one problem with that.

In reality, it doesn’t actually work.

And it sure as hell hasn’t for the last two decades, Q.E.D.

The only way this works is if everybody plays by the same rules.  What happens in reality is that businesses and the rich end up with all the power, then they find ways to maximize their profits and minimize the amount of taxes they pay – and they do that by paying off politicians to create loopholes in the tax and business codes which then allows them to ship jobs overseas, avoid paying living wages and reasonable benefits to the poor and middleclass, and in some cases avoid paying taxes themselves altogether.

And they do it through people just like Brent Bozell.

Bozell damned well knows this, he goes on to say:

They aren’t taxes, no siree. They are ‘revenue,’ and ‘loopholes’ that are closed – which also begs the question: if these are loopholes, why were they open? Closing loopholes is always a malarkey adventure. If Loopholes are open, why didn’t they close them before?

They didn’t close them before because the people Bozell gets his money from don’t want them closed.

And in fact, they paid good money to have them created in the first place.

And that’s the truly ironic part, right there.

Because if they don’t compromise, if they don’t allow John Boehner room to maneuver, if they don’t accept some increase, then the very crisis that they themselves created will bring down their pet Speaker and automatically raise their taxes anyway in a deal that they themselves also created

See, the problem with taking hostages and threatening to shoot them is this: hostages are only a bargaining chip if the opposition doesn’t shoot them first.

Conservatives created this crisis – or the wealthy puppet masters behind the GOP did anyway, through tools just like Brent Bozell and Grover Norquist. 

Conservatives created the fiscal cliff.  They created it when they placed non-binding promises to lobbyists like Norquist and Bozell above their sworn legal obligation to their constituents.

They created it when they placed the staggering avarice of a greedy few above the nation itself.

They created it when they  failed to do the job they were elected to do, when they obstructed every option, when they refused to compromise, when they decided to make Obama “a one term president” instead of acknowledging the will of the people they claim to represent.

They created it when they placed politics above pragmatism.

People like John Boehner created this false crisis.

People like John Boehner created this climate of fear and hatred and now they’ll have to reap the bitter harvest that they’ve sown.

See, for certain folks, the path to power is through fear.  Fear of secret communists and imaginary Nazis, fear of usurpers, fear of government, fear of the other, fear of minorities, fear of invasion, fear of aliens, fear of the different, fear of war, fear of peace, fear of science, fear of God and some ridiculous made-up bullshit nonsense about an anti-Christ, fear of the dirty unwashed, fear of the poor, fear of the hungry, fear of death, fear of lost status and power, fear of decline and emasculation, fear of the end of the world. 

They fan the flames of fear – and then have the gall to act surprised when the fearful flock to their beacon.

And they feed on each other, amplifying the fear until it is all consuming.

They do it because it’s easy.

It’s far easier to make people afraid than it is to give them hope, to inspire, to lead.

Fear is always easier.

But the problem, you see, is this: power built on fear makes for a precarious perch.

People like John Boehner created this crisis by turning President Obama into a fanatical Whitey-hatin’ Anti-American Black Power Christian Muslim Kenyan Nazi Socialist Communist Baby Killing Satanic Gay Cannibal Demon who wields the Magic Negro Ray of Planet Destroying Doom.

People just like John Boehner created such a fantastical bogeyman that there is now no way, no way, for them compromise with that same bogeyman without admitting that they were wrong, that they just made it all up, that they were just using the stupid and the ignorant and the fearful to bolster their own power.

In order to avert a disaster of their own making, they must now meet the newly reelected president at least halfway.

And that’s the one thing they simply cannot do, because for them, for the simpleminded that they’ve made fearful, that’s a deal with the Devil.

They are almost literally hoist on their own petard.

They cannot admit error, because the belief system they created doesn’t admit error.

No more so than Harold Camping could admit that his prophesies of the pending rapture were just so much crazy fearful bullshit that he himself just completely made up to scare people into giving him money. Just like the TV evangelists keep predicting their own End Times so the gullible and the fearfully ignorant will send them a check. Just like the psychics and gleeful doomsayers predicting the end of the world later this month. Just like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent and Hank Williams Jr. and all the rest of them.

Ask yourself this, when was the last time you heard any of these people speak of anything but fear?

When have they ever been anything but afraid?

Sarah Palin yesterday on Fox News is a perfect example:

Well, I guess I shouldn’t call politicians names, so I apologize for calling the wobbly ones wusses. Because that distracts from the point that has to be made and the point is that we are a bankrupt country. So I say, Republicans, go back to what the planks in your platform represent. It represents reining in government, putting back the power and the responsibility in the individual, not in the state, not in government. Again, that gets us towards socialism. What goes beyond socialism … is communism! I know I’m going to get slammed for speaking so bluntly about what’s going on here, but that’s exactly what is going on. A very scary proposal was recently revealed by [Treasury Secretary] Geithner essentially saying, ‘Let the president have free rein on raising the debt ceiling to whatever level he wants it.’ That’s a very scary thought because Barack Obama is a socialist.

Socialists! Communists! Federal Reserve! Oh noes! It’s scary!

These people created this crisis, they created it out of fear with malice aforethought, and in their fear they unleashed the ravenous cannibal horde and now any conservative who breaks ranks will be ripped to bloody gobbets.

The monster they themselves created will eat them alive and screaming.

 

Of course, anybody who’s ever seen The Twilight Zone could have told them how this was going to work out.

 

You see, at the end of The Shelter, Frank and the mob break down the fallout shelter door with an improvised battering ram and just as they are about to kill Bill Stockton and take his refuge for themselves (which is now doorless and therefor no shelter at all), the radio announces that it had all been a false alarm.

The incoming objects were just harmless satellites.

The communists weren’t invading after all.

The world wasn’t about to end. 

There never was any real danger, the entire thing was a big mistake created entirely from blind panic and irrational fear.

Chagrined and embarrassed by their behavior, Bill’s neighbors and friends apologize.

One by one they leave the basement and return to their homes.

The day after, well, you know they will try to act like nothing happened, but Bill Stockton is left to wonder if they haven’t all already destroyed themselves anyway.

 

No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone

113 comments:

  1. You all have to wait at least 30 minutes after I post a new essay to report typos and errors. I not how much that vexes you, but I'm fixing it. I'm fixing it right now because I know how you people are.

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    1. Sigh.

      I know how much that vexes you and etc. Goddamn it.

      Delete
    2. We love you anyway.

      Delete
    3. LMAO - you know you'll go grey a lot quicker if you take these typos too much to heart.

      Delete
    4. You are still missing a 'to' up towards the top. "They, of course, have done nothing to prepare for a future that they all expect fall from the sky any day now"

      Delete
    5. Don't you just HATE it when that happens, Jim? I not I do.

      Delete
    6. Look, some of us are proofreaders by profession, cursed with an eye that cannot unsee errors, and unselfishly avid to share the fruits of our labors with the deserving, whether they deserve the public wet-noodling or not.

      Especially if we can quietly chuckle at the really good ones.

      Sucks, eh? But you'll just have to live with the consequences of a literate readership.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. I aspire to spend a saturday in my sweats watching Twilight Zone... the sad thing is, if he were still here, he couldn't put that on today.

    Oh, its the nazi's fault too ;)

    [had a few grammar errors of my own to correct...]

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  4. Jim, you hit another one out of the ballpark. Just today I did read that the all powerfful Acorn helped steal the election. Too bad that it hasn't been around for a while, but facts and the boogeyman don't get along too well in GOP circles...

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  5. [Federal Reserve Chairman]Geithner . . . Geithner is Secretary of the Treasury. Bernanke is Fed Reserve Chair.

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  6. Love the title....back to finish reading.

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    1. Two random thoughts inspired by this read:
      1. I must see the Stones again when they tour.
      2. I am thankful that even though we have slow t.v. in our house, we can now watch the Twilight Zone.
      3. The episode with the huge spider in the elevator shaft will now play through my head for the remainder of the night.....
      Yeah, I know, 3.....

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    2. 'Where is it written that a trilogy only has four books?' Adams

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  7. The lower classes don't pay enough in taxes because the upper class is keeping most of the money and the lower classes don't make enough to pay taxes in the first place. Nah. Can't be it.

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  8. It seems logical to the R party to save money by punishing everyone by raising medicare age to 67...this of course makes everyone who depends on health insurance from being employed work two more year. And of course working two more years means more is paid in taxes in that time period. However, by working two more years, social security is paid at a higher rate. Working through the long term consequences never seemed to be a strong point with these goofballs.

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    1. They're way ahead of you. They want to screw you over with Social Security by delaying the minimum age for that as well.

      Delete
  9. I am 58. The Twilight Zone has been off the air for many years, but the power of certain episodes is still so strong. I remember this episode. Powerful stuff. Thanks for jogging my memory.

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    1. I loved the episode where the woman was being terrorized by the little space aliens, and she's fighting them off and we're rooting for her to kick their measly butts - and then at the end it turns out that the little guys in the space suits are us - they're people - and God only knows what she is. Kinda like the republicans, who think they are fighting some strange alien threat, but it's US they're fighting, and THEY'VE turned into a monster.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I know what you mean! I even got my kids into the show, after discussing many episodes with them over the years. They tell me I'll probably remember them as my own memories after I get senile... lol.

      Perfect analogy, Mr Write. Thanks again.

      bd

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    3. Crap. 'Mr. Wright'.

      bd

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    4. How about Mr. Right? It's one of those days, isn't it?

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    5. heh heh, you really can't go wrong, can you? They all fit ;)

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    6. And then there was the episode of the guy who loved to read, and kept being thwarted in his efforts to, till there came a nuclear holocaust that wiped out all the obstacles but that he survived, so that when, in searching through the ruins left from the bombs, he stumbled upon a library full of BOOKS! he was so thrilled....

      And then he broke his glasses.

      As a glasses-wearing nerdy teenager who adored books, boy, did that ever hit home.

      Delete
  10. This has been the problem for a while, Jim. The right wingers have portrayed themselves-- and some may honestly believe it-- as taking their orders directly from their god. Obviously, then, anyone who disagrees must be taking orders from Satan, and you certainly don't compromise with Satan.

    Democrats don't believe this BS and are willing-- sometimes too willing-- to compromise, but that's no good if, as some GOP yahoo claimed, "Bipartisanship means the Democrats coming around to the Republican way of thinking."

    I don't see a way out except for the voters to get fed up and turn enough rigid Republicans out of office to get some actual work done, but the GOP has got the House districts so gerrymandered that they've got that chamber sewn up even when, as just happened, more people vote for Dems.

    And while we're at it, who is Grover Norquist and why do they all kiss his ass? No voters have elected him to anything that I know about.

    Another fine column-- please keep your voice of sanity going.

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    1. People who vote against rights for the disabled are not getting orders from a Christian God. I think you are right that the voters will vote them out - they have lost - all races except pure white, women, youth, and now the disabled. Time they worked out how to give unborn children the vote.

      Delete
    2. As I have stated before.. the so called Christian Right is bent on doing the devils work! Fear, hatred, greed, Idol worshiping and divisiveness!

      Delete
  11. Sarah Palin. Oy vey. *headdesk* That daffy broad is still running around calling people "socialists," when she hasn't the first foggiest clue what a socialist is. Are we 100% sure she didn't mean to say, "socialite"?

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    1. Oh, you know, "socialisim" is when the government gives everybody money. Like when Sarah Palin sent a $1200 check to every single Alaskan -- even toddlers, even babies (including me -- Thanks, Gov!).

      This was above and beyond the Permanent Fund Dividend check we already receive each year. This was just a check from the state treasury to Alaskans.

      That's what socialism means.

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    2. The funny thing was that those filthy socialist dollars spent exactly the same as free market money. In fact, if you closed your eyes, you couldn't tell the difference. At least the conservatives in the Wasilla Wal-Mart sure seemed to think so. Odd, that.

      Delete
  12. Sir, the fact you used the Twilight Zone raised your coolness factor to 11 on the dial.

    Also, this line amuses me to no end: "the Magic Negro Ray of Planet Destroying Doom."

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    1. Well sure, who wouldn't want a magic negro ray of planet destroying doom?

      Seriously, man, I've got that on my Christmas list.

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    2. Jim, I'm holding out for a Transmogrifier.

      Delete
  13. Awesome post. The Twilight Zone always scared the bejeesus out of me.

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  14. God, I remember that episode. Scary stuff. That has to parallel a biblical parable, but I'm lost to name it.

    I tune in to the Right Wing rant, just to be aware, and I hear this ad for a book about "Obama's third term" opointing himself king, and circumcising the constitution and WTF?

    Good Grief...these people will hate themselves to death on this crap.

    Scot in MI

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    1. Yeah, people have been sending me links to various conspiracy sites regarding Obama's nefarious secret plan to grab a third term.

      What the hell do we call these nuts? Thirders? Termers? Idiots?

      I think I'll let this one ripen for a while and see if it's worth turning into a blog post. At the moment I don't have much to add other than, really? That's all you've got? Fuck.

      Delete
    2. Idiots. Perfectly good word, let's use it.

      BTW, a petard is/was a small mine-type explosive. Given that the french word for fart is peter, Cecil Adams at The Straight Dope posits that it wasn't exactly Little Boy. So, one is hoist by or with one's petard, but never on.

      Keep it up, sir. I am very thankful for your clarity and humor.

      Delete
    3. Well see, I know. However every single time I use the phrase "hoist on his own petard" a dozen folks write to tell me I should have said "Hoisted" or "hung" or so on and so forth. So this time I figured I'd just do it their way and avoid the issue.

      Obviously that was the correct choice.

      Sigh.

      Delete
    4. I checked out the website advertised on the Glen Beck show about Obama's third term. Just another place to buy financial advice. Funny thing was the narration was almost identical to something that was up a while ago about the massive financial crash that was coming soon. Fear is apparently good for selling a lot of stuff.

      Delete
    5. Sorry bad yogi, I was responding to my fellow anonymi above, but somehow it jumped down to here when I posted it.

      Delete
  15. A friend's letters to Boehner:

    "The Fiscal Cliff will shatter the Regressive Party. Compared to you, Wiley Coyote is Einstein. You should brush up on basic arithmetic."

    And:

    "Your incestuous constituents may keep you in office until your tiny lard-laden heart gives out, but you will preside over fewer and fewer Senate Regressives, until you are as insignificant as a flea on an elephant's butt.

    Go ahead and charge right off that fiscal cliff. None of the rest of us will miss you."

    I write to him too, although with a slightly less abrasive tone. I do find her inspiring.

    Mudpiemaker

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    1. Boehner is Majority House Majority leader, his asshole buddy the Senate Minority leader is Mitch McConnell. Otherwise I agree very much with the general sentiments.

      Lindy
      aka Hippie in the Hollar

      Delete
  16. Oh. My. Gawd.

    They lose, resoundingly, and then proceed to escalate the situation. And Palin, sheesh!

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  17. "If only someone would cut my taxes, I would hire a few people to work for me & make me some more money. But you know, if I am going to have to pay taxes on it, I really don't want to make a profit"
    I hear people say that all the time.
    Really.
    I do

    Bruce.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You should probably find some less abysmally stupid people to hang around.

      Delete
  18. "If only someone would cut my taxes, I would hire a few people to work for me & make me some more money. But you know, if I am going to have to pay taxes on it, I really don't want to make a profit"
    I hear people say that all the time.
    Really.
    I do

    Bruce.

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    1. Sorry for the double post. Damn tablet is acting up.
      Bruce

      Delete
  19. Well, I seem to be too late to the party this time to call out any typos (or get a seat in the shelter), so I'm reduced to commenting on content.

    I know you didn't directly mention the Senate's failure to ratify the disability treaty today, but THAT'S all about fear too. In this case, a bogus boogeyman ginned up by the Home School crowd about the UN coming to steal our autistic children and turn them into some kind of marching socialist Kenyan child army.

    So fear of the fear-mongers lead 38 Republican Senators today to act in a way that literally made me ashamed to be an American in the eyes of the world.

    I'm getting too old for this shit.

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    1. And it was very sad that Bob Dole went back to the Senate chamber in a wheelchair to speak FOR the treaty. But nah, there were 38 senators that didn't even believe him.

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    2. You have to remember "dole" is a cituzan, and only to be heard or seen, when needed to raise money for the Koch party.

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    3. It may have had something other than fear as a motivation. Money.
      http://freethoughtblogs.com/nearearthobject/2012/12/05/my-own-conspiracy-theory-about-the-disability-treaty/

      Delete
    4. I think the word "Dole" frightened them. After all dole is a freebie.

      NaluGirl

      Delete
  20. "...[I]n their fear they unleashed the ravenous cannibal horde and now any conservative who breaks ranks will be ripped to bloody gobbets.
    "The monster they themselves created will eat them alive and screaming.
    "Of course, anybody who’s ever seen The Twilight Zone could have told them how this was going to work out."

    Or Firefly or Serenity. "If they take the ship, they'll rape us to death, eat our flesh, and sew our skins into their clothing. And, if we're very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order."

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    1. That's my business card:

      Jim Wright
      Writer, Raconteur, Scalawag, Reaver
      I'll rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skin into my clothes, and if you're very, very lucky I'll do it in that order.

      The back says: Will reave for live flesh

      What? Trust me, people hang on to that card.

      Delete
    2. Jim... I want one, and I promise to hang on to it... LOL

      No... seriously!

      Delete
  21. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/12/03/buddhist-scholar-says-norquist-pledge-is-treason-goes-viral-video/

    From religion prof.

    May ba a case for sedition, not sure about legal case for treason.

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  22. I was so incensed when I heard about Grover Norquist that I felt that the Senators and Representatives had to be breaking their oath to take his oath. So I looked it up. The current oath was enacted in 1884:

    I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

    I am not sure, does the Norquist pledge violate the terms of their oath?

    Speaking of Republican made crises, I said that the reason The-Powers- Behind-the-Scene nominated McCain and Palin was because they were not a winnable pair. The Republicans did not want to win the election but couldn't possibly admit that to the world. Because whoever and whichever party had the presidency would be held responsible for the ugly years of recovery from the financial melt down. The Republicans really managed to shift a bunch of the bad feeling onto their own shoulders.

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    1. Please read Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and tell me where it says "Never raise taxes."

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    2. Well, since raising taxes is a function of congress, and since they have sworn not to perform that function, it seems to me that to take the Grover Pledge is to resign from congress.

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    3. My point to a TEA!

      Delete
  23. When federal income tax was first introduced, only the richest 18% of the country paid any at all. And we sure as hell weren't 'communist' in 1918. In fact the division between the rich few and the poor many was at about the same level then it is now. Which is nothing short of scandalous. Welcome to yesterday.

    Taxes are the price we pay for civilization. As Warren Buffet keeps saying, the country ticks along nicely if we collect at least 18.5 % of GDP in taxes, and spend an amount equal to no more than 21% of GDP as we go. That has always been sustainable and a formula for prosperity.

    Now we are collecting only about 16% and still spending around 21% and that's the entire extent of the problem. The wingnuts can ululate all they want about socialism and communism, but in the end they are nothing but greedy dicks, and whores and butt boys for greedy dicks.

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    1. I see taxes as the cost for enjoying the benefits of living in America. The conservative right wing have no problem tithing to their churches, just look at the sums Romney gave his church. But paying toward the upkeep of their country is morally wrong???????

      The poor may not pay FEDERAL INCOME taxes, but they certainly pay all sorts of local and state taxes and fees.

      If anyone is getting a FREE ride in this country, it is the very rich!

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    2. Well it's not free, exactly. Romney's circa 14% of a couple of million, for instance, is nothing to sneeze at. That's a large check to write no matter who you are. But if they are going to vacuum up the lion's share of the national income, which they certainly are doing, then they have to pay the lion's share of the tax. Or civil life breaks down.

      Or else we could do what we used to do, which was spread the national income around more generally. In 1968 something like 72% of the population paid federal income tax, but of course 1968 was the year, in constant dollars, when minimum wage was the highest ever.

      They can either pay more tax, or spread the cream around. What they can't do, what the country cannot allow them to do, is keep all the cream and NOT pay tax on it. Which is what is happening now.

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    3. Ululate?! What a great word!! MTC

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  24. Once again Jim you've hit it on the thumb! Ouch that hurts. What is that saying...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Well now they can add socialist, world destroying, magical, negro, death, Nazi ray. Oh and communists.

    You know the reason I swear so much is fuck you!

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    1. Iron Bess, that is my new mantra. Fear is the only thing in the conservative playbook right now. Fear of, OMG Nazi- commie-muslim deathray wielders(!) The Fiscal Bluff(?) Screw them and whatever they rode in on. I'm listening to the 'Stones', and wondering if elephant heads can be removed from dark and stinky places or if they like it there.

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  25. Jim...I enjoy your typos...and misspellings...which seem to be part of the post...I'm a "fat finger" typoist my sytelf.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Good comment, might be the best I've read all day.

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  26. Merriam-Webster today announced the two most looked-up words for 2012 were ' socialism' and 'capitalism'. Could it be that the buzzword fearmongering actually resulted in a little bit of public education?

    Bruce

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    1. One irony of all this is that it wasn't socialism or communism that people were really worried about back in the sixties; it was the Soviet Union. Since that no longer exists, the right has had to transmogrify the enemy into abstract communism and, since that is an absurdity in modern western culture, they have to settle for "socialism" which, they imagine, is what you call it anytime government actually governs.

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  27. The GOP has been the party of FEAR at least since Reagan used fear of communism in his campaign for President. Listening to Reagan, you expected an invasion any day. A large segment of American voters buy into this fear!! It feeds them into thinking that a multitude of forces - political, social etc - are out there to destroy them. It is easier for the GOP to promote fear than actual develop ideas and policies.

    This is the party that is so fearful of a UN Treaty to promote the rights of the disable based on an American law. These senators actually believe that this treaty will somehow taking over their ability to care for their children - totally ignoring who would enforce such a thing.

    The GOP is not just a party of frighten old white men - it is a party fast becoming isolationist, except to invade an oil rich country,

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  28. "... a fanatical Whitey-hatin’ Anti-American Black Power Christian Muslim Kenyan Nazi Socialist Communist Baby Killing Satanic Gay Cannibal Demon who wields the Magic Negro Ray of Planet Destroying Doom."
    Wow Jim !!!
    I don't think even Mr Serling could have conjured up a monster of those proportions. Are you sure Orange Johnny is that creative ???
    Thanks for adding to my sleepless nights. (I checked under the bed, but it's probably invisible too)

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    1. Hey there bearsense, that's the one that doubled me over and caused uncontrollable laughing with snorting. J.W. has that effect on me. Don't you just love that brain?

      Lucky for me I get to watch The Twilight Zone every night at 10:00, on network t.v. I've never had cable.
      This episode was on not too long ago.

      Wright on, again!

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  29. Thank you very much for your insight. I enjoy your essays; I agree with you completely.

    I just wish they were read by someone that would take action.

    My best to you.

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    1. Wonder if Begich would read this blog? Might be interesting to send it to him. Doubt Lisa or Don would. But what could it hurt if we forwarded it to all three of them. Jim Wright, do you have any objections to that?

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    2. Take action? That's you, Mike, and you to everyone reading this. Write your Senators and Congresscritters. Do you have to agree with me or Mike or Jim? No, not really. You'd be smarter to do so ;) but whatever it is, make your opinion known. The dumb as a bag of hammers Tea Baggers sure do. Do you really want their words to be the last ones influencing the people passing laws?

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  30. I'm a product of the 60's. Twighlight Zone shaped more of my psychi than I care to admit. I remember the bomb shelter episode - probably because my parent's were the cocktail party types and their neighbors were building bomb shelters while I had to practice getting under my desk and kissing my ass goodbye. The other episode I really remember is the space crew that ends up in an alien zoo.

    As far as this fiscal cliff goes. When the President put that piece of legislation into action I said, Uh, huh - he's playing 3 dimensional chess and the GOP is playing checkers. I've been enjoying watching the twisting and turning by the GOP as this month progresses.

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  31. Twighlight Zone. Great stuff. I used to have nightmares about some of those episodes.

    "Tax increases". What we are really talking about is mostly the expiration of ill advised "temporary" tax breaks, not tax increases. Plot US govt revenues vs outlays by year and you can see the effect of Reagan's and GW Bush's tax cuts in depressing revenue for several years. Then it continued on the same slope but now below the line of expenditures. If you cut and paste the revenue line to eliminate the effect of those two tax cuts, you see that there would have been deficits from the recession and the stimulus but little else way back to about middle of Pres. Reagan's administration. This graph from the Heritage Fdn (not known for their liberal slant, so it's a good one to illustrate the point) shows it pretty well:
    http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/growth-federal-spending-revenue

    Oddly enough it isn't what they were trying to show but you can see it clearly. The Republican argument is that after the tax cuts, tax receipts rose to higher levels. True as far as it goes, however, not before depressing revenue. You can't get that lost money back.

    I'm preaching to the choir no doubt. :-)

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  32. MK, that episode has haunted me for YEARS! Literally. Please please please tell me the episode title and year if you can? I need to see it again.

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    1. The Elevator, episode 1.39 of The New Twilight Zone series. First aired january 31, 1986. Written by Ray Bradbury.

      First season episode of the rebooted series, not the original series. Was notable because it starred Stephen Geoffreys who played "Evil Ed" in the original Fright Night and then spent a decade making gay porn movies. He went on talk shows and did interviews about his career choices, which didn't exactly help him get any further legit roles. It was a bit of a controversy for the series.

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  33. Jim wrote --

    "Bozell damned well knows this, he goes on to say:

    "They aren’t taxes, no siree. They are ‘revenue,’ and ‘loopholes’ that are closed – which also begs the question: if these are loopholes, why were they open? Closing loopholes is always a malarkey adventure. If Loopholes are open, why didn’t they close them before?

    "They didn’t close them before because the people Bozell gets his money from don’t want them closed.

    "And in fact, they paid good money to have them created in the first place."

    Bozell is being disingenuous at best and blatantly hypocritcal at worst. If this truly represents his ability to reason/argue, he is a consumate fool.

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  34. You got it exactly Wright, Jim. There is no "fiscal cliff" unless you are a GOP lemming. But do you also mean to imply that Obama is NOT a commie-islamofascist?

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  35. Well, I think you have... fear. They are terrified of anyone who is real, instead of rich. It must have killed Romney to shake the hands of us filthy working people... think of the gallons of sanitizers he must have used.

    I an not sure there is much we can do with this pseudo-religious church goers, who never heard of sheltering the poor... heck, they do not even care about service men and women. What kind of people voted them back into office?

    There is one thing we can do and that is disengage. Get out of debt, learn to do things ourselves, trade services for services. Grow your own food... hey it will avoid GMO's, which will give you cancer and plop you back in the system, with lousy health care. Learn to do without, until you can pay cash. It is not that hard. I did it all. At 67, growing most of my own food, no debt for the past 20 years... as a gal, I even painted my own home, twice.

    WE give them power by being helpless and needing the system so much. They are soul-less. I am sick of it all, listening to men talk about ending food stamps, when most of that goes to feed hungry children. Jim as it right, they are rotten to the core and eaten away by fear. They would not be so rottenly callous, if it were not from fear. I have noticed that many rich people are possessed with the fear of not having enough. For them there is never enough.

    So, there is no reasoning with these heart dead men. The Lakota speak of needing to move from the head to the heart... and there is the whole problem... there is no heart in these people and the head grows nothing but fear.

    But, each of us, can change how WE LIVE ! We have no control over these heart dead people... we can change how we go about our life. The talk is interesting, but as individual people empowered to change our life.. we can do it and perhaps change the hearts of others... but till then, Jim is brilliant and as usual correct.

    Fear will eat a person alive... it is eating out their souls... Sorry, I am not witty.... or brilliant in my response, but I am sincere!

    Mom of a Cairn Woof Pack

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    1. Love your sincerity Mom Cairn Woof, All those things that you do are just basic things that we should all do. I would like to think that if enough of us can change what we do; we will "turn the herd."

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  36. Mr. Wright, I love your work, and I hate to be picky, but it will need editing before it is published (which I so hope will happen). I have been an editor and a teacher, so I cannot miss the mistakes. I do try, because I don't want this to get in the way of your magnificent thoughts. That said, in this sentence, "They, of course, have done nothing to prepare for a future that they all expect fall from the sky any day now," you need something in front of "fall." Either a "to" or a "will" or some other helping verb.
    Also, "and they do that by paying off politicians to create loopholes in the tax and business codes which then allows them to ship jobs overseas" 'Loopholes' is plural; loopholes 'allow' the scumbags to ship jobs overseas.
    Keep writing. I so look forward to every new Stonekettle post. Martha

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    1. Martha, that is what we are here for, to help Jim with his editing. He's very good and thankful for our help.

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    2. As I've said elsewhere, I should write for conservatives. They have much lower grammatical standards.

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    3. Conservatives have standards? Any at all? Huh. *thinks back to Romney/Ryan and McCain/Palin and Bush/Cheney and Bush/Qayle* Learn something new every day. This is why I read the comments as well as your blog, Jim.

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    4. Jim,

      As usual, another great job. Twilight Zone is such a great description of where I feel I find myself when listening to these conservative talking heads from the GOP hold forth. What I don't understand is how they do not recognise where they themselves have taken us...

      I think Martha may have jumped a little too far in making her grammatical corrections however, at least as regarding her second one....

      Also, "and they do that by paying off politicians to create loopholes in the tax and business codes which then allows them to ship jobs overseas" 'Loopholes' is plural; loopholes 'allow' the scumbags to ship jobs overseas.

      I think "allows" is the appropriate verb to agree with the singular "by paying off politicians" -- the "to create loopholes" is a dependent clause hanging from the earlier "paying off politicians" .

      Nothing like a grammatical discussion in the comments at Stonekettle Station to get the grey cells going!

      If you would put out a collection plate, I for one would be glad to contribute to your purchase of the Twilight Zone set...

      With best regards, shipmate,

      Old Navy Comm O

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    5. Old Navy Comm O: You are right. Jim's oroginal sentence stands. I stand corrected. Martha

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  37. You just got a new fan! I had never heard of your site, and my husband just happened to read this piece to me while I was laid up at home with Captain Trips. You are a FANTASTIC writer - I loved every word! Now to read all the back issues and find the cat pictures.
    Best,
    Dewey

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    1. You are a FANTASTIC writer

      Dewey is my new favorite.

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  38. More Cat Pictures. Now!

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  39. Hi Jim - Excellent post. I have thought for a long time that the Repubs have been traveling down that Twilight Zone highway, leading themselves toward a disbelieving but self inflicted immolation. Unfortunately, they seem intent on taking all the rest of us along with them.

    I'm watching PBS Newshour and they just had a clip of Eric Cantor (R- Sanctimonious Asshole) with a look of distress on his mug while speaking dispairingly about Obama's unwillingness to just talk with the Repubs and agree on everything that Boner and Co demand. These GOP dickheads have perfected the act of looking wounded and fearful of America's future, while spouting the most ridiculous lobbyist generated talking points as fair and reasonable compromise positions.

    I'd like to see the Magic Negro Ray (or a Louisville Slugger) used on these assholes whenever they step up to the mike. Cantor, Boner, McCain, McConnell and Co all could benefit from some facial rearrangement to wipe the smugness and entitlement out of their souls.

    One last thing. If PBS or NPR are supposed to be so damn "LIBRUL", why do they feature Republican taking heads in their "news" at a 2 to 1 ratio to Democrats when interviewing gov't figures? They just finished their Fiscal Cliff piece with a long diatribe by Sen. Bob Corker (R - Squealikeapig), with no opposing view. What a fucking joke of "fair and reasonable" news coverage by public media. Tommy D

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  40. The term 'fright wingers' has been making the rounds lately on a few of the more liberal forums I have been on recently. So your article is nothing if not timely.

    FDR was correct when he said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. The modern day right wing is the embodiment of that statement.

    I have a few episodes of Twilight Zone that I love. The one with William Shatner and the strange being on the wing of the plane called Nightmare at 20000 feet.

    Another called 'The Masks' where a group of relatives of a soon to be deceased person are required to wear frightening masks for a number of hours in order to receive their inheritance. In the end their faces are transformed into the shapes of the masks.

    I was also a fan of the Outer Limits a Twilight Zone knock off show that has many good episodes.

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  41. I've said it before and I'll say it again. These guys (the GOP) are dealing with a guy (POTUS) who plays chess, not checkers (think previous GOP prez). He hasn't whined, he hasn't blustered, he's left the braggadocia at home. He set these guys up, and he's going to let them hang themselves. And while they are twisting in the wind, he's going to walk in with an armful of tax cuts for the middle class, and secure himself as possibly one of the best diplomatic strategists this country has seen in a long time. And boy, don't we need it . . . MTC

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    1. Yep, I saw that 3 dimensional chess board being set up when the Frightwingers (hattip above commenter) wouldn't work on the budget or the debt ceiling.

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  42. 94 comments (so far), and it pains me there is still no thought given for the dear sister, unnamed as she is all these many years. The poor second child never gets her due.

    Issues? Me?


    All seriousness aside, thanks for another terrific piece of prose.

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  43. Just found you and your work today. I am in love. Seriously, dude - I wanna be Jim Wright when I grow up. I think I occasionally come up with a well crafted rant, but I am nowhere near your league. Come to think of it, no one probably is. You need an additional box to check at the bottom of each piece: Laughed so hard I pissed myself. Twice!
    Michael.E.McClendon
    Perhaps I am dense, but why not a Comment as: FB?

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  44. I think Mitch McConnell had a remarkable Twilight Zone moment today. Offering a motion, then speaking against said motion. Any Parliamentarians out there? Is that possible? Martha

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    1. My favorite part was how it shocked Claire McCaskill (acting senate president) so much that she made an off-the-cuff remark about whiplash before her brain could remind her she wasn't supposed to say such things.

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  45. The Twilight Zone is the perfect metaphor for the fear-mongering fright-wingers.

    Did you know that Rod Serling was a decorated WWII paratrooper? Better still, he was a demo man (with the 511th PIR, 11th Abn Div). He saw plenty of action (was wounded several times) and his combat experiences provided rich fodder for his haunting tales.

    A Jew who converted to Unitarianism, Serling is the perfect foil for the jingoistic uber-Christian Teapublicans. Though rightfully proud of his military service, Serling championed liberal social causes and became an outspoken anti-war activist (particularly during the Vietnam protest years). Rod Serling is proof positive that you don't have to be a conservative WASP to be a patriotic American.

    Serling is quoted as having said that "the ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in; becoming narcissistic." How appropriate...

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  46. So, nothing to fear.

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  47. >> "Republicans took their seats and when the roll was called they unzipped their flies and pissed on Bob Dole."

    What vivid imagery. You sure have a way with words Jim.

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