Sunday, October 14, 2012

2016: Obama’s America—The Ultimate Conservative Election-year Agitprop


Dinesh D’Souza really hit it out of the ballpark with this one.  D'Souza's 2016: Obama’s America (based on his 2010 book, The Roots of Obama's Rage) is the highest grossing political documentary of all time after Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.  It is also a bit like crack cocaine for Red America…almost makes up for its 28 percent fresh rating among critics on rotten tomatoes (lib film critics are totally in the tank for Obama).




Given the timing of its release, D’Souza’s documentary is clearly intended to drive frightened conservatives to the polls to vote for Romney.  To this end, the movie paints a dire picture of what Obama will have done to the country by 2016 if he is re-elected (thus the title).  The message: the very future of our country depends on getting Obama out of office.

This is by no means the first conservative agitprop timed for the presidential elections.  In 2008, the Very Scary Film Aimed to Get Out the Conservative Vote was Hillary: the Movie, which the FEC blocked on the grounds that it violated the McCain-Feingold Act regulating political issue ads in the run-up to elections.  SCOTUS buffs will remember it less for its cinematic value than for the Supreme Court ruling that came out of it that lifted virtually all limits on corporate campaign finance.  Unfortunately, the makers of the movie bet on the wrong horse—it would be Barack Obama, not Hillary Clinton, who would go on to win the democratic nomination.

But back to D’Souza.

For the uninitiated, D’Souza is a right-wing “scholar”/pundit/activist, and now university president, who has made a lucrative career peddling questionable theses such as the notion that racism is really not all that bad in America, a country in which opportunities abound for all—as long as you apply a little gumption and elbow grease.  How does D’Souza know this? Because he is from the god-forsaken country of India, where there are apparently few opportunities for disadvantaged kids to get ahead.  In the movie, we are led to believe that young D'Souza emerged from the slums of India (in reality, his father was a Proctor & Proctor executive and he had a privileged upbringing, attending expensive private schools) to study in America where he would go on to achieve all of his dreams.  According to D'Souza, Americans do not know how good they have it here—they are spoiled crybabies who don’t take responsibility for their own lives.  His trademark message:  complain-y libs, entitled feminists, and welfare-coddled minorities should shut their pie-holes because they have it so much better in America than people in all the other generically crappy countries.

But I digress. In Obama's America, 2016 is the date of the “end of America as we know it”; indeed, it will be the end of the American Empire, if we go by the very last scene of the movie.  (Note: this would be a Very Bad Thing because “if [America] is an empire at all, it is an empire of [very good!] ideas”)

D’Souza returns to this argument again and again: America is the very best country in the world.  His proof: all the crappy countries that exist around the world (cf. India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya).  D’Souza’s world seems to consist only of America (the best), America wannabes that follow the capitalist model (South Korea, Taiwan, etc.), socialist countries spending themselves into the ground (Sweden, Greece), and countries in Africa and Asia that went down the route of socialism and reaped the awful consequences.

No wonder it is frustrating for D’Souza to see American libs criticizing America…they don’t know what they have!  At one point, he surveys the slums of Jakarta, marveling that poor people in America have it so much better than any of these poor schmucks.

Obama’s America puts forward the following cracked-out proof:

(1)  Obama’s Kenyan father was an avowed anti-colonialist, having opposed British rule in Kenya;

(2)  Because his father left before he was born, Obama struggled with daddy issues throughout his early life, causing him angst and internal conflict;

(3)  In the meantime, Obama was primed for radicalization having been raised in an anti-American environment, surrounded by feminists, communists and leftist radical terrorists (he had a class with anti-Israeli EDWARD SAID; he once knew domestic terrorist BILL AYRES; his pastor for twenty years was America-hating black radical JEREMIAH WRIGHT);

(4)  When Obama’s father passes on prematurely, Obama reconciles his ambivalence toward his father by going to his grave in Kenya, where he has the epiphany that he will live out his principles;

(5)  What are Obama’s principles? Since he apparently has none of his own, he resolves his lifelong daddy issues by adopting his FATHER’S ANTI-COLONIAL PRINCIPLES. How do we know this?  Because Obama’s autobiography is entitled “Dreams FROM my Father” rather than “Dreams of my Father.”

(6)  Aha!

(7)  Now an avowed anti-colonialist (??), Obama resolves to destroy the world’s last remaining imperial power—America!—by weakening the United States.  How will he do this? Why, from the inside, by becoming PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES….mwah ha ha ha….It is all part of his dastardly MASTER PLAN to bring the country DOWN from WITHIN by pretending to be FOR America, while all the time plotting its demise!!!

(8)  Mwah hahahahaha….

(9)  But how to convince the foolish white people to elect a committed anti-colonialist to the highest office in the land?  Why, by utilizing his greatest tool—his BLACK SKIN.  Yes, it turns out that black people have the magical ability to get white people to like them, even love them, so long as the black person in question pretends that he believes that they are NOT RACIST.  It turns out that white people are so eager to appear not racist that they will do anything for the said black person who manipulates them in this way—EVEN ELECTING HIM PRESIDENT.

(This logic, by the way, sheds light on Mitt Romney’s baffling assertion in the “47 percent” video that his election chances would be greatly helped if he were Latino.  Huh? Yes, I’m sure that millions of Hispanics would agree that it is very easy for them to become president :S)

Back to Obama’s dastardly plot.

Having gained the presidency in 2008, Obama is now free to pursue his scheme to destroy America.  Mwah ha ha ha:

Step 1: do nothing to prevent Iran and other hostile countries from getting nuclear weapons.

Step 2: commit America to total nuclear disarmament.

Step 3: prohibit energy companies from drilling for oil and gas off America’s shores, while helping other countries (like Venezuela!) to drill off THEIR shores.

Step 4: drive the United States off the fiscal cliff through profligate fiscal stimulus packages and BUDGET-BUSTING OBAMACARE.

Egads!

What is Obama’s ultimate anti-colonial goal? To wreck America’s wealth and power, obliterate the economy, sell the country for scrap to China, and allow the world’s poorest countries to pick over America’s bones.

The future of the country is LITERALLY IN THE BALANCE.  Unless salt-of-the-earth REAL Americans head for the polls in droves to vote for the nice white venture capitalist with the preternaturally square jaw.

(Phew.  That was close…America is saved for another day.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Tea-publicans: People on the Dole Complaining about People on the Dole

It has been nearly a month since the now-famous tape was leaked in which GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, speaking at a Republican fundraiser, casually dismissed 47 percent of Americans who would never vote for him because they were on the government dole.

Romney reacted to the leak at first by doubling down on the sentiment revealed in the tape.  As the damage began to mount, however, he demurred that his comments had not been "elegantly stated" and has since gone into full backpedal mode, declaring his 47 percent comment "completely wrong."

Throughout the ruckus, Romney retained a commanding lead with the (disproportionately elderly) conservative base.  Indeed, Romney has a near 10 point lead among seniors, who draw on the two most generous government entitlements--Social Security and Medicare and are unlikely to pay federal income taxes.

Why did seniors not feel betrayed by Romney's 47 percent remark?  Simply: they do not believe that Romney was talking about them.

A personal anecdote might serve to illustrate.

During my trip home this summer, I had a rather strange conversation with an elderly relative.  It began with him observing (apropos of nothing) that Obama “hasn’t done anything [during his presidency]” and presumably did not deserve to be re-elected.  A silence ensued while I debated whether to respond, and if so how.  I finally noted that there was that whole Obamacare thing, so it’s not really fair to say Obama has done nothing.  My relative, however, didn’t see the need for reform because his health care (Medicare) is fine.  I countered that there were a lot of other Americans who did not have Medicare or affordable private insurance, which is what Obamacare was for.

His response: "Well, we just can’t take care of everybody…there are just too many people."  

What really stuck in his craw, however, was policemen and firefighters who worked for just a few years and then retired on disability.  For a few seconds I was speechless... “but you retired early on disability!”   Indeed, he has been on disability benefits from a government job for literally decades.

Another Tea-publican relative is active-duty military, but passionately opposed to the federal government.  At one point, he even claimed that federal income taxes (which pay for his salary and benefits) were unconstitutional and tantamount to theft.

These are perfect illustrations of the kind of narcissism that makes up the Tea Party/conservative movement.  Matt Taibbi said it best after conducting research on the movement: “they are full of shit.” 
In his book, he related a conversation he had with an elderly conservative couple who were leaving a Palin rally.

"I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control."
"OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?"
"Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life."
I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?"
Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!
"Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?"
"Well," he says, "there's a lot of people on welfare who don't deserve it. Too many people are living off the government."
"But," I protest, "you live off the government. And have been your whole life!"
"Yeah," he says, "but I don't make very much."
Perfect illustration of the Tea Party mindset.  It’s not welfare if the money is going to them.


The pie chart above, courtesy of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Centre, breaks down Romney's 47 percent of non-income taxpayers.  The biggest proportion is senior citizens (44 percent).  This is followed by those who benefit from credits for children and the working poor (30 percent).  Only 6 percent are on government programs for the poor--the storied "parasites."

It isn’t just elderly Teapublicans who are guilty of rank hypocrisy.  In fact, the bulk of government welfare goes to the very “job creators” and “producers” that the conservative movement extolls.

Welfare recipients include bankers who believe that they are  “job-creators” and “producers” despite having been saved by a massive federal bailout and periodic infusions of cash as the Fed buys up their worthless toxic assets (a practice known as quantitative easing).  Just this month, the Feds announced a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) that will pump virtually unlimited amounts of money into the banks until the labor market "improves substantially."  

Military contractors owe their profits and outsized salaries to American taxpayers, as the Defense Department funnels taxpayer money to businesses whose primary purpose is to make weapons for the military.     As Mike Lofgren points out in his blogpost, it is no accident that 7 of the 10 richest counties in the United States are inWashington D.C

Welfare recipients also include farmers and agribusinesses who rake in billions in farm subsidies--straight from taxpayer pockets.  American farmers receive fully three times the benefits that European farmers receive.  Then there are health care providers (hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, doctors) who earn a giant chunk of their income from state and federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. (Libertarian Rand Paul was forced to admit that Medicare and Medicaid paid for many of the patients he treated in his optometry practice). 

Who else is on the government dole?

A great many of the shrillest Republican politicians and pundits who complain about having to support the have-nots.  Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s family has received a quarter of a million dollars in federal farm subsidies from 1995 to 2007, and her husband Marcus has earned more than 100K in Medicaid payments for patients treated in his counseling practice.   Ayn Rand Acolyte and current VP pick, Paul Ryan, put himself through school with the Social Security survivor benefits he received as a minor after his father died.  In fact, Ayn Rand herself—penniless in her final years—received Medicare and Social Security payments under her married name, Ann O’Connor. 

Hell, Mitt Romney’s own father benefitted from welfare assistance when his impoverished family fled to the U.S. after the Mexican revolution (according to Mitt Romney’s own mother).

Remember: it isn't welfare if they themselves are the beneficiaries.  As Timothy Noah put it in the Atlantic:

"Tea Partiers aren't against government benefits.  They're against government benefits for other people. They just dress it up in antigovernment rhetoric and convince themselves that Medicare and Social Security benefits are different because they've already paid for them through payroll taxes (when in fact beneficiaries take out far more than they put in."

George Carlin perhaps said it best: “Have you ever noticed how other people’s stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?”  If you cannot see this in yourself, well, maybe you are a (Tea/Re) publican.