Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hustlers and the Idiot Swarm

A Carolina Parrothead Review
Like some portent of coming revelations, former senator Fred Thompson popped up on National Public Radio for an interview last Saturday morning a few hours before Reverend Manny’s book “Hustlers and the Idiot Swarm” arrived at my house. The “good” senator from the unquestionably great state of Tennessee was being asked about a political commercial he has been appearing in recently challenging the wisdom of letting the Bush tax cuts expire in the light of a sluggish economy.

I have seen the commercial and on it Fred’s husky voice tinged with a strong dose of down home country flavor easily brings back memories of elderly men gathering around an old roll-top soda cooler in a roadside general store talking politics, the weather, and crazy wives. It’s easy to imagine Fred as some grizzled county judge for whom the assembled gentleman look to for guidance on complicated matters such as when to plant the next corn crop or if it was going to be an early fall.

In the commercial Fred, using that voice and looking all official, appears to be in some office complete with desk and decorative American flag explaining to us how Bush’s tax cuts jump started the economy during the 2001-2002 recession. The gigantic and glaring omissions Mr. Law and Order left out was that Bush inherited a sizable federal surplus from that nasty Bill Clinton fella and that Bush’s following budgets doubled the national debt on their own long before Mr. Obama darken the hallways of Congress much to the chagrin of conservatives.

As I was running my early Saturday morning errands and listening to NPR the hackneyed actor and failed presidential candidate was asked to delve deeper into why the sky would fall if Bush’s tax cuts were not extended. My mind spun off into a fourth spatial dimension as Fred talked about how the federal deficit was an evil creature out to cook young children over an open fire then consume their tender flesh. But then, spinning neatly around began making the point that Bush’s tax cuts were needed so the richest one to two percent of the country would feel safe to invest their money and single handedly save us all from ruin. After all, he said, they do the big investing and take the biggest risks implying they should garner the biggest rewards.

Now this was not some puffball piece and the NPR guy got after Fred asking, well if you can’t cut the deficit by increasing taxes what would you do Mr. Bigshot?

Fred clearly drew on all his reserves of down home charm by saying in a nice way that cutting expected Social Security payments and raising the retirement age would be a big thing as well as cutting Medicare. In short, the working class would have to suck it up and take the hit for the country while the rich worked their financial magic. Being that my 401k, a major element of any possible retirement, was a tiny part of the two-trillion implosion of the stock and bond markets as financial wizards played their games Social Security increased its importance to me in my diminishing hope of living out my golden years fishing on some beach. To have the good senator essentially say I was shit out of luck and could not dependably plan on Social Security while his buddies toughed it out on their yachts and summer homes in the south of France about made my head explode.

That brings us to Reverend Manny and his book which explains how the working class keeps getting the shaft all through history while the rich swear up and down they are doing us a favor. In the first few pages of the book Manny asks,”All I’m asking is, does it seem like we are getting a fair shake for our sacrifices?” (page 7)

Given the pretentious rant I have already offered in this post I would easily and with enthusiasm say hell no! It’s not just retirement accounts, it’s the working and middle class being offered up as sacrificial lambs on the ornate alter of capitalism with business types worshipping profit above all else. We are talked down to like little children as smiling business people explain that sending the good paying jobs overseas allows consumers a greater variety of cheap products made in slave labor conditions. It’s those same cheap products that come back to haunt us when they poison our children because they are contaminated with toxic chemicals and covered in lead based paint.

Manny then asks another question, “Why do so few people in America organize for better systems?” (page 7)

He points out that the wealthy and powerful folks market their political ideas to us through religious figures, politicians, fake news broadcasts, corporate sponsored think tanks full of fake academics, and several other propagandistic avenues that ultimately turn a democratic system against itself. I’d have to throw in as well a healthy dose of basic and willful ignorance along with a large segment of simply not giving a damn, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Which brings me to: “In America, a great bulk of the political population has become little more than a reactive paranoid swarm, under the rhetorical, cultural, and political control of a few ideological strongmen.” (page 12)

Well, guess what group of little shits with delusions of godhood he is talking about and don’t limit yourself to just males. There are more than a couple of whacked out females who make a living spreading the corporate sponsored manure.

One of my favorite parts was how Manny took apart the classical American Dream, one being the Horatio Alger version where some kid, born to extreme poverty, becomes some sort of gazillionaire through hard work and persistence and the other being the suburbanite version.

Pigging backing on the Horatio myth, back in the 19th century a dude named Russell Conwell promoted the idea that if you don’t make it rich in America it is because in some fashion you are immoral. (page 26-27) It is curious how this idea has popped up again with several Teabagger candidates having cows saying something to effect that the unemployed in 2010 just want that free money from unemployment benefits. Never mind that when this crap started to be spoken out loud by them economists agreed that we have five people going after one job in this current economic downturn.

The second part jumping on my favorite people, the suburbanites, pretty much describes the warm fuzzies I get around them. These people who spend so much time cocooned in their McMansions doing their best to ignore the world freak out whenever the subject of tax increases are brought up. One fool I had the misfortune to talk with felt he should not be subject to school supporting property taxes since his kids had long since become adults.

In later chapters we get a history lesson the various shitheads that helped establish and work desperately to maintain a hold of the American consciousness. (page 46) Including a segment on the religious types who push their brand of Christianity robbing it of the compassion and forgiveness I was taught as a child by my grandparents. (page 103)

I could go one for several more pages giving hints on how Manny has detailed the criminal schemes that promote hate and ignorance both here in this country and around the world. Instead I will close saying that while I do not agree with his conclusions 100% there is very little daylight between our positions. A great many in this country have willingly sold their souls believing the lifestyle they have can be perpetuated indefinitely. Through ignorance and fear we are forfeiting those least able to deal with the hardships that keep most of us comfortable and safe.

Manny ends the book on a hopeful note saying that there are things that can be done. But honestly I am uncertain at best, for decades we have sown the wind with our actions and I believe there will come a time when we will reap the whirlwind. The funny thing is the idiot swarm, long since devoid of any ability of critical thought, will more than likely see no defect in themselves but in everyone else. I highly recommend you buy the book and decide for yourselves.

You can order the book at his website: Reverend Manny and The Twilight Empire.


Rhiannon said...

What you wrote in this post reminds of exactly what I was trying to say in my recent post near the last part of the post..what I wrote...but I just said it a lot more simple than your articulate words did...but I did try to get the same point across.

I still have hope just never know BB...keep the faith...or at least pray for a miracled..:>

Peace...or as star trech always said "may the force be with you"..or was that the other sci fi movie?..I always forget..oh well.


Rhiannon said...

God my typos suck..and they are getting worse...too much stress going on in my life I think...once again sorry about that..

Tim said...

Ahh nice to see The Revs book here.
Took me back a little, I thought I was in the wrong house for a second.

Reverend said...

wow, thank you so much for sharing a bit of my book and your reaction.. just happy to be adding to our arsenal...

Can't say thank you enough for the kind words and support.

One Love, One Struggle,
--Reverend Manny

TRUTH 101 said...

ntil a rich guy buys a majow "news" service and propagandizes 24/7 for the left we may be watching our coplete transformation to fuedal society in the next two generations Beach Bum.

Keep on truckin cause frankly dude, I'm getting frustrated at the general publics willingness to swallow the load of right wing cum. They've been convinced it's "good for them."

Randal Graves said...

Saw the post title in my reader and was expecting Hustler. Hmph.

Manny's not wrong, but the only thing that can be done is

1)torches and pitchforks en masse OR


Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Double b, I've been researching this whole "do tax-cuts pay for themselves?" question for quite some time. To say that it's been a frustrating process is absolutely understating it. When, however, I saw Mr. Greenspan on a recent episode of "Meet the Press", it suddenly got a lot clearer for me. When David Gregory asked the former Fed chairman, "so, do tax-cuts pay for themselves?", Greenspan responded by saying, "They do not.".....I mean, you can say what you want about him but, clearly, the guy is one whole hell of better source than Limbaugh, Hannity, etc..

Liberality said...

Another thing that I think is that with all the pollution and chemicals in our environment people cannot think well or reason properly ;D

Did you here about the newest superbugs that are spreading around the world and that cannot be cured with antibiotics? I think we are in for some dark days indeed. I hope like hell I'm wrong!

Beach Bum said...

Rhia: Don't worry about the typos, this is the comment section.

Tim: It was a really good read, puts a lot of thing is order.

Reverend: No problem, keep it coming.

Truth: Me too my friend and I have not given up on the idea of leaving the country. In fact, if anyone from outside the US reads this and has a job opening email me. please.

Randal: Yeah, I see apocalypse as the most likely outcome.

Will: I even heard tonight that 30%of the current deficit would disappear overnight if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. but I expect Obama will cave in.

Liberality: Yes, I have read and seen and read a few reports. WHO declared the H1M1 panademic over but I expect another withing a few years.

Marja said...

Sounds familiar In NZ we are getting tax cuts as well but the ones who will benefit the most are the top earners Nothing has changed.

TomCat said...

The Bush Tax cuts stimulated the economy to the point of collapse.

Extending them for the top 2% would cost $36 billion the first year. This might result in a loss of $18 billion in economic activity, because tax cuts for the rich return at a 0.5/1 ratio. Infrastructure spending returns economic activity at a 6/1 ratio. So if we take that $36 billion and spend it on infrastructure we will get $108 billion in economic activity, a net gain of $90 billion.

To expose Thompson's biggest lie, the rich are not investing their money in activities that create US jogs. They are investing it in Wall Street speculation and in activities that create jobs in the Asian wage-slave markets.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Liberality, the MAIN reason for the development of antibiotic resistant drugs is, believe it or not, the poultry industry. Factory farming includes giving in large quantities and prophylactically antibiotics to chickens and turkeys. Yep. It's just one of the many things that this industry is doing to help annihilate the planet. Frank Perdue? The hell with Frank Perdue.

Beach Bum said...

Marja: Its scary how the rich all over the world are getting way with so much. But like you said, nothing really changes.

Tomcat: I hope I was sarcastic enough with what I wrote about Thompson. I really don't like that guy, I'm not even crazy about his acting.

Will: I read something recently about proof of young girls reaching puberty far earlier than normal. I blame antibiotics and hormones on that as well. We are really doing some funny experiments on everyone.

Jack Jodell said...

GREAT POST, Beach Bum! That sounds like a fabulous book that really tells it like it is. Fred Thompson is a liar and a sleazebag, and so is that phony organization he is spokesperson in that commercial he's in. I cut to the chase and refute every one of his lies in my latest post, "FRED THOMPSON IS LYING TO YOU!" You and I are definitely on the same page here, Beach!

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

We used to have chickens and turkeys in this country, double b. We don't anymore. We have freaks of nature instead. These birds cannot walk, breed on their own (it's all about artificial insemination these days), or even stand most of the time. And we as a society are eating these sick birds. Yeah, "funny experiments" sizes it up pretty nicely.

Beach Bum said...

Jack: Thanks about the post and Thompson turns my stomach.

Will: I have seen some of those mega-turkeys and its scary.

gringo jack said...

Hey, Beach Bum. I enjoy your posts very much. It does seem to me that you appreciate free thinkers and varied opinions. As a recovering Republican, I have spent the last 10 years reformulating my opinions about the nature of government. I have what may appear on the surface to be an opposing viewpoint to this blog post and your stance in general. Even worse, I am going to quote the Bible. Bear with me. I think you may like where I'm headed.
1 Samuel 8:10-17 (copied from

8:10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 8:11 He said, “Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you: He will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot. 8:12 He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, 10 as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment. 8:13 He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers. 8:14 He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants. 8:15 He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators 11 and his servants. 8:16 He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use. 8:17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants.

I would venture to propose that the United States - and most of the world - are on track to become an oligarchy. No, I'm not freaking out about The New World Order. I would venture to say that our government is entirely co-opted by corporate interests. But, I'm afraid that covers BOTH left and right sides of the aisle. It is my opinion that the general nature of government is evil (as so beautifully described in the passage from 1 Samuel.) Let's take President Obama. I understood that he was going to remove troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, I saw some puff pieces that said this was the case, but it turns out they're leaving 50,000 troops there (I forget the term... "a residual force" something bullshitty like that.) As well, I expected President Obama to challenge the Patriot Act. He did not. He signed it, word for word. I am not attacking President Obama. Well, yes I am. He is part of the machine, just like the rest of them. Why are we in a deficit? Why are we talking about taxes, at all? The war machine keeps rolling, that's why. Somehow, "government" became the all-consuming power in our lives. How did this happen? We are very far from where the framers of our country began, I believe. I am disgusted by Republican and Democrat tactis, alike. Repubs have begun to pander to the religious right, while Dems continue to grease the "working man." Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY is looking out for the working man. That's as much a farce as "family values."
Well. I've had my say. I'm interested to hear what you may think.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

Well darlin' ... you convinced me. I went on over and purchased a copy. Ta for the heads up! Great blog too. Ta.

Beach Bum said...

Gringo Jack: I agree, we seem to be edging closer and closer to a corporate oligarchy with both political parties having long since sold out. I voted for Obama and felt real good about the guy but I have come to the realization that at best he is boxed in by the current corrupt system and at worst a willing player.

You are right, no one is looking out for the working folks. Its funny really we can't all flip hamburgers at McDonald's or stock shelves at Wal-Mart but plenty of the usual suspects still talk the "benefits" of unrestricted free trade and globalization with the middle class believing it. All the while their comfortable positions are not so slowly eroding away.

For those reasons I have grave concerns about the future of the country and is the reason I have a strong interest in leaving the country.

Gwen: I glad, and Manny will greatly appreciate it.