Ted Nugent vs. Jon Stewart: Fumigating the Democrat Rats vs. Can’t we all Get Along?

There were lots of political rallies on Saturday, not just the big one on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The Rally to Restore Sanity / Hate of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert projected little in the way of politics from the stage, but did make a plea that people stop demonizing their political rivals and stop elevating exaggeration and hyperbole to the standard political rhetorical technique of American politics.

But the plea fell on deaf ears in some quarters. Musician Ted Nugent told his audience that Republicans were partly to blame that rats had taken over Washington, and he said he wanted to be the Orkin Man for the Democrats. He implied that Democrats are a party for hundreds of millions of welfare queens who won’t work for a living. The pampered star dismisses the tens of millions hard-working Americans who are paid a pittance and whose average income hasn’t increased significantly since 1970, and millions of whom have been put out of work by corrupt and greedy bankers.. Nugent the rock star, in contrast, “works hard.” Here is what Nugent told a Republican crowd in Charleston, West Virginia:

Here is a partial transcript:

‘ (JOINED IN PROGRESS) TED NUGENT, ENTERTAINER: With my children and my wife and my neighbors and my co-workers and my band and my crew and all my hunting buddies, the people at church, the people at school, now we’re talking about an army.

So here’s what we need to do, John. I see a bunch of people out there, and I bet you know a bunch of people. I bet you got friends and I bet you got buddies that go hunting with you and go bowling and go hanging out and barbecue with you that are as frustrated as you and they’re not here.

Go out into your lives, go back to work on Monday and go to church tomorrow and go trick-or-treating and don’t just give away candy, go hey, kid, who you voting for?

Each of you – I am convinced — I’m not in charge. I’m not the boss. But here’s the ugly fact. If each of you, your enthusiastic and you got flags waving and you look good and you got some attitude.

God bless the attitude. I love your attitude. I got some spirit going wild out there today. You’re really turning me on. But here’s how you will win, and if you don’t do this, you’ll lose and Nancy Pelosi will keep her puppet. Here’s how you fumigate the rats . . . If each of you don’t get an army of voters to get John Raese to go to Washington and fix it, if each of you don’t get all your friends, all your co-workers, all your neighbors, everybody in your life, you cannot relax between now and Tuesday. You might not even want to sleep. You might want to realize that it’s not good over bad. It’s good over evil.

Nugent’s rhetorical technique is to dehumanize his opponents. Pelosi does not have a political ally but a “puppet.” The Democratic representatives are not humans, but “rats.” He is talking about Al Franken, John Dingell, and Nancy Pelosi. They are rodents and ‘varmints.’ He even uses the language of mass murder against them. He calls for them to be ‘fumigated.’ That the Democratic Party is the party of urban ethnic minorities, of Italian and Polish Catholics, of Jews, of Latinos and African-Americans, and that Nugent was demonizing them before an all-white rally in West Virginia, underlines the ethnic tensions on which he was implicitly playing, and in that context his imagery of extermination is extremely smelly.

Nugent contrasts the vermin in Congress to an imagined organic community of hunters, church-goers, and bowlers, who must mobilize as an “army.” The use of fascist imagery, of solidarity-producing activities producing a martial commitment, is striking. Only about 4 percent of Americans hunt, and only ten percent fish. Less than a third regularly go to church. The organic army he is raising is clearly white, relatively well off, unusually religious, and able to afford rural estates. (Nugent was born and raised in old, white, industrial Detroit but now lives on a farm, from which he did a reality show for clueless city-slickers such as his teenaged self had been).

His flourish is to end on an ominous black and white note. The political battle, he says, is not a matter of choosing good over bad. It is good over evil.

Nugent is a horrible human being, perhaps not all there. He told a British journalist of Iraq in 2006, “Our failure has been not to Nagasaki them.”

This political season has been Nugent’s not Stewart’s. And while some Democrats have occasionally crossed a line, Nugent’s sort of cult-like discourse has been so common on the Republican side of the aisle that we have become inured to it. In fact, CNN broadcast Nugents remarks without comment, without recoiling from their moral ugliness or the danger this way of thinking poses to democracy.

The contrast with the Colbert/Stewart funfest at the Mall could not have been greater, at least as far as the stage went. I am told by someone who was present that the media largely missed how left-liberal the crowd was, with MoveOn.org and other such insignia very widespread. (I was also told that the organizers appear to have underestimated the size of the crowd that would turn out, which came to some 215,000, because they did not have speakers set up down the Mall, only toward the front. Thus, apparently tens of thousands who were present could not actually hear the below, concluding soliloquy by Stewart).

Stewart’s was a gentle ‘can’t we all get along’? plea. It at times seemed to echo Barack Obama’s increasingly naive-sounding 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention about the lack of difference between blue and red America.

I am sympathetic to Stewart’s amazement and disapproval of where political exaggerations in the hothouse petrie dish of 24/7 cable “news” may be taking us.

But with all due respect, I think Stewart’s statement mistook the problems as being solely ones of rhetorical imagery. The 80 percent in America have been royally screwed over for 40 years now. They’ve been deprived of a real share in our increasing national wealth, with wages and compensation having been kept down, in part by massive union-busting. They were robbed of whatever little progress they had made by corrupt or greedy unregulated bankers and financiers,who were mostly bailed out with the people’s money. The “tax cuts” of this century were actually a massive transfer of wealth to the ultra-wealthy. As a result of these transfers, the wealth of the 400 billionaires and the more hundreds of near-billionaires, has increased exponentially since the Reagan tax cuts. And, when the voting public finally seemed to have woken up to the scam, the Right wing deployed phony racial and cultural issues to rile up “whites” to make sure they are kept down and the great billionaire bank robbery can continue. At the same time, much of the wealth at the top derives from environmentally ruinous activities, such as exploitation of hydrocarbons or depleting the oceans of life, or mountain-top removal mining, or selling people cigarettes and other carcinogens, or mounting private security armies for deployment in the country’s ever-increasing war zones. The outcome, over the coming decades, of growing inequality and growing environmental degradation, could be catastrophic.

Me, I worry about whether the Republic can survive a situation in which 1 percent of the population has over 40% of the privately owned financial wealth, or in which they take home a sixth of the nation’s income every year. I worry about tens of millions of unemployed, thrown out of work by deregulation and high-level criminality, and millions more of the working poor barely making ends meet. I worry about the end of commercial fishing and the droughts and dust bowls of climate change. And I think those things are worth getting a little hot under the collar about, and that what politics is is a way of attributing positive and negative traits to political ideas and officials, and making these judgments accessible to the public through affect. I don’t think climate-change deniers, anti-science ignoramuses, or laissez-faire capitalists who screw up the economy and put millions out of work are “nice.” And while I do believe we have to convince them and their followers they are wrong with reasoned democratic discourse, I think some snark and outrage is entirely called for. The political implication of a Nugent-world, were it implemented, is extremely ugly and in fact just in the end wholly unacceptable.

Here are Stewart’s remarks:

And here is a transcript of his talk:

‘ And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity. If that’s okay – I know that there are boundaries for a comedian / pundit / talker guy, and I’m sure that I’ll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.

So, uh, what exactly was this? I can’t control what people think this was: I can only tell you my intentions.

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear–they are, and we do.

But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.

The country’s 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult–not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker–and, perhaps, eczema. And yet… I feel good. Strangely, calmly, good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us, through a funhouse mirror–and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin, and one eyeball.

So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable–why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?

We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don’t is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

But Americans don’t live here, or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done–not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

(Points to video screen, showing video of cars in traffic.) Look on the screen. This is where we are, this is who we are. These cars. That’s a schoolteacher who probably think his taxes are too high, he’s going to work. There’s another car, a woman with two small kids, can’t really think about anything else right now… A lady’s in the NRA, loves Oprah. There’s another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter; another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan.

But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief, and principles they hold dear–often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers’. And yet, these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze, one by one, into a mile-long, 30-foot-wide tunnel, carved underneath a mighty river.

And they do it, concession by concession: you go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. ‘Oh my God–is that an NRA sticker on your car?’ ‘Is that an Obama sticker on your car?’ It’s okay–you go, then I go.

And sure, at some point, there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder, and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare, and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst!

Because we know, instinctively, as a people, that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land.

Sometimes, it’s just New Jersey.’

22 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    Thank you for your recent educational and inspiring pieces on the imminent elections in the greater and lesser states of Lunacy.

    As I read a very catholic variety of sources I had a flash of insight by connecting what you have written, with some of the other sources I am reading, in particular Culture Shock by Kevin Sinclair.

    link to amazon.com

    As I read the desription of the haranguing of dissidents on Execution Hill, watched from Hong Kong, followed by their execution by firing squad I suddenly recognised the Tea Party (Mad Hatter) phenomenon as an old friend.

    I wonder if it may help your readers with a wider understanding of what we are seeing by reminding them of the Great Proletarian Cultual Revolution inspired by the great Mao Zhe Dong and the Gang of Four.

    The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution or simply the Cultural Revolution was a violent mass movement in the People’s Republic of China that started in 1966 and officially ended with Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. It resulted in social, political, and economic upheaval; widespread persecution; and the destruction of antiques, historical sites, and culture.

    It was launched by Mao Zedong, the chairman of the Communist Party of China, on May 16, 1966. He alleged that liberal bourgeois elements were permeating the party and society at large and that they wanted to restore capitalism. Mao insisted, in accordance with his theory of permanent revolution, that these elements should be removed through revolutionary violent class struggle by mobilizing China’s youth who, responding to his appeal, then formed Red Guard groups around the whole country.

    The movement subsequently spread into the military, urban workers, and the party leadership itself. It even took on extreme and surrealistic forms such as the (unsuccessful) attempt to change the meaning of the red traffic light to “go”.[1] Although Mao himself officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, its active phase lasted until the death of Lin Biao in a plane crash in 1971. The power struggles and political instability between 1969 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 are now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution.

    After Mao’s death in 1976, forces within the party that opposed the Cultural Revolution, led by Deng Xiaoping, gained prominence, and most of the political, economic, and educational reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were abandoned by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since. The people involved in instituting the policies of the Cultural Revolution were persecuted. In its official historical judgment of the Cultural Revolution in 1981, the Party assigned chief responsibility to Mao Zedong, but also laid significant blame on Lin Biao and the Gang of Four for causing its worst excesses.

    We well remember the Red Guards and the Little Red Book and their devastating effecton the Chinese economy.

    Wikipedia mentions

    Legacy

    The effects of the Cultural Revolution directly or indirectly touched essentially all of China’s population. During the Cultural Revolution, much economic activity was halted, with “revolution”, regardless of interpretation, being the primary objective of the country. The start of the Cultural Revolution brought huge numbers of Red Guards to Beijing, with all expenses paid by the government, and the railway system was in turmoil. Countless ancient buildings, artifacts, antiques, books, and paintings were destroyed by Red Guards. By December 1967, 350 million copies of Mao’s Quotations had been printed.[21]

    Elsewhere, the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution also brought the education system to a virtual halt. The university entrance exams were cancelled during this period, not to be restored until 1979 under Deng Xiaoping. Many intellectuals were sent to rural labour camps, and many of those who survived left China shortly after the revolution ended.[citation needed] Many survivors and observers[who?] suggest that almost anyone with skills over that of the average person was made the target of political “struggle” in some way. According to most Western observers as well as followers of Deng Xiaoping, this led to almost an entire generation of inadequately educated individuals. However, this varies depending on the region, and the measurement of literacy did not resurface until the 1980s.[22] Some counties in the Zhanjiang district, for example, had illiteracy rates as high as 41% some 20 years after the revolution. The leaders denied any illiteracy problems from the start. This effect was amplified by the elimination of qualified teachers—many of the districts were forced to rely upon chosen students to re-educate the next generation.[22]

    Mao Zedong Thought had become the central operative guide to all things in China. The authority of the Red Guards surpassed that of the army, local police authorities, and the law in general. China’s traditional arts and ideas were ignored, with praise for Mao being practiced in their place. People were encouraged to criticize cultural institutions and to question their parents and teachers, which had been strictly forbidden in Confucian culture. This was emphasized even more during the Anti-Lin Biao, Anti-Confucius Campaign. Slogans such as “Parents may love me, but not as much as Chairman Mao” were common.

    The Cultural Revolution also brought to the forefront numerous internal power struggles within the Communist party, many of which had little to do with the larger battles between Party leaders, but resulted instead from local factionalism and petty rivalries that were usually unrelated to the “revolution” itself. Because of the chaotic political environment, local governments lacked organization and stability, if they existed at all. Members of different factions often fought on the streets, and political assassination, particularly in rural-oriented provinces, was common. The masses spontaneously involved themselves in factions, and took part in open warfare against other factions. The ideology that drove these factions was vague and sometimes nonexistent, with the struggle for local authority being the only motivation for mass involvement.

    The symptoms are unmistakeable: The rejection of science in favour of mindless slogans. The rejection of the knowledge and experience of the highly educated and trained in favour of the voodoo economics and wacky social ideas put forward by floozies.

    Your only consolation is perhaps that it is not quite as extreme as Pol Pot’s experiment in Cambodia.

    We Europeans with our far more stable and developed societies and a wealth of history to point out to us the things that should be avoided can probably help by offering political asylum to the persecuted intelectuals (including tenured history professors) and bourgeois reactionaries, provided they can get over the borders without being spotted by the local cadres.

    So when the Thought Police knock on the door to urge you to “Vote Bimbo”, don’t panic. Start preparing your Escape Kit.

  2. Very well spoken Juan,

    The contrast between the Stewart/Colbert rally and the Nugent fearfest couldn’t be more stark. The corporate elitists are relying on this fear mongering to scare people into maintaining the status quo (or moving us backwards) even though, by doing so, the majority of these people will only be hurting themselves.

    Ever since Reagan began the disassembly of the American dream for the middle class, the upper 2% have manage to suck the wealth out of the lower 98%.

    And, they’re not about to give it back.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly everything you say about Ted. It would be difficult to come up hyperbole about his speech.

    I think Jon really missed it. David Brooks could have written the speech. In my opinion the main fault is confusing routine with substance. Yes, we do all the mundane things day-in day-out, but so do the poorest people in the poorest countries. Everywhere there is routine. The poorest might visit the the local trash heap every day to find some food, bath daily in filthy water, and live in a makeshift sheds, but among themselves there is continuity, they tell jokes, smile occasionally, and probably bitch less than we do (even with the local oil well leaking into their water).

    But politics is supposed to be about the substance of our routines, not simply their existence. And the Republican are not about that substance, the Democrats are (or are supposed to be). Rugged individualism does not provide clean water, safe food, and comfortable habitat. The guiding hand of competent government is needed do things like that.

  4. Can’t we all Get Along?

    Juan, I know that your heart is in the right place, but this is all just a little too precious.

    It is all very well for people who are in (what we might call) the military-industrial-media-academic complex, with their highly paid or long term tenured employment and cushy retirement and medical plans, to say “Can’t we all Get Along”, but how do you think that looks to people outside your comfortable world who have nothing, or who had something and then lost it?

    It’s true than very many of the “leaders and spokesmen” in the tea party are pretty deplorable. Some of them talk violence and perhaps the crowds are on the verge of riot. But how good an example has our own government set? They have been spawning a lot of violence overseas, and humiliation and violence at home with the abnegation of civil rights or even common decency and police beatings and killings. They can’t behave that way and then not expect that the populace at large might not pick up the same attitudes.

    I believe that a watershed turning point in American politics occurred with the “bailout” bill. The people were overwhelmingly opposed to it and they made their voice known. Their position was not unreasonable (The taxpayers should not have to bail out the very rich people who made the bad decisions. Let them go bankrupt. They won’t be missed.) Their views counted for absolutely nothing. That was when the political elites lost “the mandate of heaven.” You’re not going to get it back.

    Jon Stewart can talk about “little reasonable compromises we all make” but when does the government ever make “reasonable little compromises”? They do whatever they want, which is mostly enrich themselves, and tell the people to go jump. Name a top government official (one who is in a position to affect policy) who has suggested that we might significantly cut our trillion dollar overseas military empire? Only the people have to “make compromises” and I’m afraid that is way his statement will be read.

    The problem you have with the global climate change question is that the government has lied about everything else so why should people trust them on this? You might say it is academia and not the government, but academia is tightly tied to government. And it’s not that there is not a lot of money involved, including a whole new class of lucrative financial instruments. It’s true that this is a serious problem, and more broadly we are probably at the limits of growth and need new strategies. When the ruling elites behave as badly as they do, they can no longer even do good things.

    There are serious problems Juan and scolding the people who are hurting is not going to solve the problem. There are a few reasonable leaders out there that you and the media might give some access to, but you won’t because they might cut your budgets.

      • Juan,

        You beat me to it. I agree with the notion of ‘precious’-ness built into the cutesy slogans and sentimentality that filter out to those of us not present at the ‘rally to restore sanity.’

        With the class war raging all around us, there are those in the media not willing to intuit the domineering qualities being mastered by the Right today.

        Would Stewart have people show up to a class war armed with a copy of his (rather dull if droll) new book?

    • There is as much annual government spending to fund climate research as Americans spend on chewing gum, about $2 billion.

      Over the years this research has saved lives, helped agriculture and generally made us more secure and comfortable.

      Now, of course, when it suggests we need to strive to be a bit nobler than mere, ever-more-voracious “consumers” (i.e. drones of the advertising industry) we throw a massive snit, the howls of “personal responsibility” notwithstanding.

      That legislation to (appear to) address global warming (new financial instruments? not to mention nuclear and coal subsidies) is clearly faulty does NOT disprove the conclusions of climate scientists.

  5. There is definitely a serious cultural conflict underway in America, one with all the intrigue, complicity and–of late–covertness of a real war. The potential for lethality in this struggle is, at once, very present and unquantifiable. If I were a member of some minority–which, of course, most of us are in America–I would be extremely fearful.

  6. But….to the truly commited, true-believers, can the issue of whether the ends justify the means every crop up? When 15% of orthodox Jewish Israelis (OK, use your own numbers) can skew Israeli politics, and arguably that of domestic US politics, what does rationality have to do with things? The rational person just forks over his wallet/car/whatever, and files for insurance or prepares to move to Costa Rica. There always seems to be some sort of vanguard ready to have a disportionate impact on things, and thats what lies beneath all this stuff.

    The trouble with Stewart, and by definition Progressives, is that they are fundamentally rational, whose disposition is toward finding rational long-term solutions that people as a whole should be able to live (often even better) with. Shouldn’t be a tough appoach to sell. Even so-called “realists” who pose as classic conservatives, fall into this camp if they don’t go the ideological route. Of course, that alternative is awfully attractive for the lazy, or those who just cannot accept the notion that some problems are not fundamentally easy to solve “if we just quit holding all these go-darned meetings and go the job done” or “if we just obey the constitution”.

    Watching Glenn Beck the other day, it’s clear he (or his handlers/producers) have people reading blogs like this and tracking the Madow/Obermanns of the world. He has in an instant piroetted (sp?) from transparently John Birch/Lyndon LaRouche rhetoric, to that which seems designed to inflame class conflict (“you know, they think you’re stupid….”).

    And that really does seem to be where all this is heading, and the question becomes whether a full participatory democracy can work in an increasing complex world with an increasingly incompetent citizenry. Something to think about.

  7. Just watching the rally right now. Up at C-span. 215,ooo quite the crowd. Seemed to go well. Really like that Stewart mentioned leaving the place cleaner than they found it. Also like that Stewart said at the beginning that he was not there to make fun of people who have all ready been actively involved. As if the hundreds of thousands (millions nationwide, 30 million world wide) of people who were out on the streets before the illegal and immoral invasion. The people who marched, lobbied, petitioned their government to stop that bloody invasion have “busy lives” Acknowledging those who take the time to be involved, participate, lobby and protest what their government is doing.

    Really like the way they have people interviewing those in the crowd
    link to c-span.org

    “1 percent of the population has over 40% of the privately owned financial wealth”

    Needs to be repeated over and over again.

  8. Why on earth is Jon Stewart calling for sweet reason at a time like this?

    The top 1% isn’t listening to reason. Why should they? They got what they want. They like it this way. Unless someone makes them stop, they’ll just keep on going.

    You could make a logically foolproof, superbly researched, cogently argued case for a more equitable wealth distribution, as maximizing long-term utility for everyone. But so what? Mr. or Ms. 1% would pretend to listen, nod a bit, and then reply, “Fine. Whatever. See ya.”

    Sweet Reason only works when the interlocutors have some level of mutual respect. The top 1% currently has no respect whatsoever for the bottom 80%.

    According to the ethical values of the top 1%, success is what makes you respectable. If you’re not successful, you’re just a loser, and simply not worth taking seriously.

    If you’re not taken seriously, how can you employ Sweet Reason when discussing affairs with the top 1%? Answer: you can’t.

    It’s a great pity, but that’s the situation in the USA, and to only a slightly lesser degree, the entire Western world. Welcome back to most of history. It’s happening to you, in your time, in your land. It’s for real.

    The top 1% needs to get rationalized A strong and rapid correction is needed in your political marketplace.

    • Calling for “reason” after the crooks and liars have made off with the goods just smacks of naivety and/or collusion. Stewart brought thousands to Washington for what? A love in? A hug fest? He could have used the stage to demand jobs, health care (the real kind), and peace. Instead he recycled Obama’s bipartisanship garbage. And the media ate it up, in contrast to Ed Schultz’s rally for jobs and peace. So, maybe collusion is the winner. Garbage in, garbage out.

  9. Dear Professor :
    I think that the present malaise in American politics
    has a simple explanation .
    The USA has become a one party state .
    Democrat or Republican voters have no real choice .
    The best government money can buy -
    that’s a problem .
    The big problem is that too few American citizens have realized it .

  10. I agree with Ted in Toronto and I took a different message from Stewart’s comments.

    Yes, we have a right to be pissed. But being pissed doesn’t provide a true solution. 50% of one side can not ignore the opinions of 50% of the other side just because they don’t disagree. I can not invalidate the opinion of someone I disagree with – they can not invalidate mine.

    But to get any actual work done and provide solutions, two sides that disagree have to come to the the table EXPECTING to compromise. THAT’S what the Founding Fathers did. Not what the Republicans say they did/thought. Not what the Democrats said they did/thought. Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) were impressive because a disparate group of people with disparate interests came together and formed something together. Some of their compromises, we found very distasteful as history progressed. But they accomplished a hell of a lot more during their 13 years (Declaration of Independence – Constitution) than we did in the last ten. And they did it WITH rebellion and unrest.

    When you choose a Republic with many voices, compromise is part of the package. Only in Totalitarian regimes do you get one voice who is allowed to override others opinions and push a solution through.

  11. …The top 1% isn’t listening to reason. Why should they? They got what they want. They like it this way. Unless someone makes them stop, they’ll just keep on going.

    Alas, I don’t think it is possible to make them stop. They own the government. They own the media. They have the world’s greatest intelligence agencies, and the world’s most ruthless people backing them up.

    And as far as the border goes- if it gets that bad here, do you really think they will allow Canada to stay untouched?

    The border might be good for awhile, but friends, if you leave, I’d advise you to keep on going. Because if it gets that bad- and if there’s any money in it for the top 1%, it most assurredly will- America will suffer the same fate of every other hubristic Empire. In a nuclear world, that could get very bad indeed.

  12. I have had a very similar thought, but I just don’t see that happening. Maybe, I’m out of touch, but I just don’t. It saddens me, frankly.
    I read things about how China could manage to advance and yet still maintain an iron fisted oligarchy or whatever they are through the use of media and technology.
    It was just a disturbing thought until I got that of course they could manage that. It’s already being done here in an impressive way under a democractic republic no less.
    Granted, I think in some ways what is happening here is less a coherent conspiracy and more a confluence of pressures and abilities with human nature.

  13. Dr. Cole, you have said before real work doesn’t really get done at rallies but by those phone calls to your senators and congressmen. In any case, I went to the rally if for nothing else then to see who might show up on the guest list. There were so many people that a large majority, including myself were quite oblivious to the going-ons on the stage. Mostly were just walking amongst the crowd and having fun. The crowd was very diverse and mostly left-liberal. The attitude of the people at the rally was, as you described it, light-hearted. It was obvious from reading all the placards and signs that different people were holding where they stood on politics. In many ways the political views didn’t even represent the views of the current Democratic party. It was, in a way of putting, a place where Ralph Nader would have been ecstatic (if thats possible!!).

    I think, Jon could have made the focus on politics sharper if he wanted to but for everyone there, it wasn’t necessary to highlight it. Jon could have been a left-leaning version of Ted Nugent but he took the high road. Similar to his appearance on CNN in 2004 where he bashed them for their useless coverage of elections, he took shots at the same (some would say soft – NYT) target. In a way he is right. Holding magnifying lens to every detail about every politician is the only focus of all these 24hr news stations. No one has time to process any news. When there is nothing to report then they start reporting what a wannabe rocker from 1970 says at his concerts. The overall information added to the knowledge bank is zero. The media is responsible for making matters worse. These outlets are only reporting on the extremes, highlighting the sensitivities and promoting bickering in populations and politics. When young people turn to Jon and Colbert for ‘real’ news then we know something is not right with these so called news networks.

    In a country where taking potshots at your political opponents and their supporters has become the norm, someone has to stop and say this is just stupid. I think that its much more likely to be the ones left of the center then the ones on the right at this point in time. Politicians will do what they have done for centuries. We have to re-learn how to live with another point of view in this modern day an age where media is exactly trying to the opposite. May be this is naive, hippy, buy-from-whole-foods- kind of view but if there is one thing that was clear from the rally then it was that there are a lot of people who think this way.

  14. Declining empires have gone crazy on nostalgia before. See Kevin Phillips’ “American Theocracy” for some past examples.

    So now that we have blown the chance for America to rationally retrench from being an unsustainable superpower to a more natural stance as a great power, what will become of us? History says we will either lose a war and lose everything, or win a war by becoming an ally of a rising power, and end up as its satellite. But the US hardly has any allies left whose citizens agree with being our allies. As the American decline continues, the witchhunting will intensify at home and abroad. The goal of the Right: to find the scapegoat whose eradication will require permanent martial law.

  15. If you “believe” in democracy then you can read the results of the election as not reflecting anger so much as caution. The Democrats were handed all the levers of power for two years which is as close to tyranny as a democratic system allows. That tyranny was bestowed by the people in order to deal with a public emergency.
    As for predictions, it is right to expect D.C. to be crazytown for the next few years because it has always been crazytown. As for Obama, now he can deal directly with corporations through their congressional minions the Republicans.

  16. It is dangerous when a group of individuals is compared to rats. Hitler compared Jews to vermin during WWII. Ted Nugent is either ignorant of history or he is intentionally making villains of those who oppose his views.

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