Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Rising Cost of Idiocy

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The dumbing down of America began with Ronald Reagan who made idiots feel good about being idiots. Reagan proved that not only was intelligence not required to be President, it might even be a handicap.

Reagan proved that any politician ignoring the 'idiot' voting block [the GOP] imperils his/her political future. Thus, Sarah Palin, who became an expert on Russia by observing its coast line from across the Bering Strait, is assured a growing constituency: the legion of idiots! She is the poster bimbo of idiocy! Its champion!

'Dumbing down' implies that the US still has a way to go before bottoming out! But that observation smacks of intelligence and may safely be ignored. The real idiot i.e, a GOP idiot, does not know where the f_ck we are or how we got there and is not smart enough to care! The word 'idiot' summons up images of Ronald Reagan and, more recently, George W. Bush. Unlike Bush, Reagan had essential Presidential skills. He could read cue cards. Bush could not or did not read! Reagan taught the GOP that how you say something is much more important than what is said. Bush, by contrast, was challenged to speak. 

Reagan spouted racist crap about a welfare 'grandma' who drove a Cadillac. There was no such person. It was Reagan's kindly, grandfatherly head nod that sold it. Bush, by contrast, said: "Who cares what you think?"Had a smart person told that story, he would have been pilloried as a bald-faced liar. The story was untrue but Reagan's telling of it was not only tolerated by most of us but embraced by the increasingly stupid and psychotic GOP.  

Because of that and numerous other whoppers, the GOP was thus set free to roll out their every whopper. Reagan had taken the GOP into new and unexplored territory. Think of it: there was no whopper so outrageous, no lie so egregious, no bullshit theory so incredible that it could not be sold with help from a focus group, a head nod and a smarmy, 'grandfatherly' smile.  

Reagan's idiocy became an insurmountable political advantage, an advantage that would --one day --give us George W. Bush. Reagan was not evil, they said; he was just senile! Give him a break! With this bit of GOP-logic, we should all be thankful. We are --after all --still alive. The US survived eight years in a which a senile idiot might have plunged us into nuclear war. When he thought his microphone was off, he 'reported' that he had just ordered a nuclear strike on Russia. 

The US was as close to nuclear armageddon as during the Cuban missile crisis or the little publicized incident in which the Soviet Union mistook a research launch for a MIRV heading their way. Someone had forgotten to notify them. The hero was Yeltsin who wisely waited for confirmation before launching a counter-strike that would have obliterated the US. Indeed, there is a price to be paid for idiocy, and one day we will pay it.

Others have noticed what has been called the 'dumbing down' of America. Bill Maher decried the trend; blogger Tom Degan responded: 

"We weren't always like this. Inert. In 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law and 11 months later seniors were receiving benefits. During World War II, virtually overnight FDR had auto companies making tanks and planes only. In one eight year period, America went from JFK's ridiculous dream of landing a man on the moon, to actually landing a man on the moon."While I admire Bill Maher a great deal, I am forced to take issue here.

This pitiful America of which he speaks is very real - of that there can be little doubt to anyone who has bothered to pay attention. But like a lot of people on the Left (I am sorry to say) he totally ignores - whether by accident or design - the undeniable advantages of living in the America of the first decade of the twenty-first century.For example:I never finished High School. In fact I dropped out at the very beginning of my Junior year. In spite of this unfortunate fact, the I.Q. of my country has dropped to such a horrifying degree in the last thirty years, whenever I arrive at a gathering of, say, two or three-hundred people, I am reasonably confident that I am the smartest person in the room.Do you have any idea how utterly cool that is? Lighten up, Bill.

--Tom Degan, the Rant

The mass media must accept responsibility for often making idiocy cute, quaint, cool, or funny. Idiocy is none of those things. Idiocy is a clear and present danger. Idiots will impoverish us all if an idiot has not plunged us into a nuclear holocaust in the meantime.

Karl Marx applied Hegel's dialectic to economics and concluded that 'capitalism' would die of its own inconsistencies i.e, idiocies! Lately, it is only dyed-in-the-wool wingnuts who are blind to the inherent 'contradictions' that have now brought the world to the brink of yet another great depression.

Karl Marx was absolutely correct with regard to the class struggle which he believed followed inexorably from the division of the world into 'capital' vs 'labor'. Bush's America is the LAB study that proves Marx to have been absolutely correct on this point. Never has the the US been so divided. Just one percent of the US population owns more than about 95 percent of us combined. I have REAMS of official stats from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Commerce Dept-BEA, and various think tanks and University Studies which PROVE --beyond any refutation --that following EVERY GOP tax cut, this increasingly tiny elite was enriched. If the trend continues, the ruling 1 percent will become just one half of one percent owning more than about 99 percent of the rest of the population. No nation can sustain that kind of inequality unless by the application of coercion and dictatorship incomprehensible to Americans.

Tax cuts for the wealthy --we are told --will stimulate investment and thus jobs. The official stats prove that that has never, EVER happened. Rather, windfall tax cuts wind up in offshore tax havens and other 'shelters' which HAVE NEVER INCREASED US jobs nor have they helped, in any way whatsoever, to diversify the US economy. 'Tax havens' --available only to the very, very privileged --are just one reason supply side or 'trickle down theory' has never worked and will never work. It was all a PR campaign, a focus group approved strategem --not a legitimate or valid economic theory. There is a name given the outflow of monies from an economy: contraction. Contraction of the money supply is not merely the cause of 'depression', it is the very definition of it.

The GOP rank and file told us that while US industries had all but vanished during the Reagan nightmare years, HI TECH and US expertise would save us. It didn't! IT is done in India and China. Steel is produced in Japan. Cars, it seems, are produced everywhere BUT in the US. The US boasts the world's largest NEGATIVE Current Account Balance; China --the world's largest POSITIVE Current Account Balance. Being at the bottom of that list tells me that if the US produces anything at all these days, the rest of the world does not buy it.  

China  literally 'owns' us. It is China primarily that props up the buck so that the impoverished US can buy Chinese made stuff at Wal-Mart. How smart is that? Was it intelligence that got us into this mess --or was it GOP idiocy? Don't answer; that is a rhetorical device!

Clearly, the Reaganite goppers --idiots to a person --lied to us and got away with it because we had become the bigger idiots for their cut backs in education, their domination of the mind-numbing media, the assaults made on logic and common sense. We are idiots for getting stuck with the tab run up by the idiots in power. Bottom line: idiocy is no longer an option. Get Smart!

Intrepid writer, communications expert and guest columnist Doug Drenkow observes:

As I read the -- surprised and surprising -- reactions to Pres. Obama's receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, I am reminded of something that happened ten years or so ago, when my father was still alive. I was complaining about one thing or another that then-Pres. Clinton had done. Dad, who had first voted for FDR and had years later become very embittered by Pres. Nixon -- in other words, he had seen and lived through the best and worst that our nation had to offer -- told me something I'll never forget: "A leader can't control everything. He has to work with what he's got. So he can't make everything right overnight. And he'll make some mistakes, too; he's only human. But the thing to watch is the direction he's taking us. It might be slower than you'd like, but are things generally headed the right way or not? That's how you judge a leader."

By the way, that was part of my dad giving his approval of Pres. Clinton's actions, in general and in particular for his achieving the first growth in real (inflation-adjusted) wages for American working people in a great many years. In awarding the Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee cited Pres. Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Against the background noise of insane but persistent cries from the "birthers," Pres. Obama fulfilled his campaign pledge and spoke to the world's billion Muslims shortly after attaining office, to reassure them that -- despite what the bin Ladens (and some of the "crusaders" in our nation) say -- Americans want peace in the world, including with Islamic peoples. That was indeed "extraordinary." (Can one image Pres. Obama's predecessor making the same speech or impact?)

And yes, Pres. Obama has inherited wars in the heart of the Islamic world. But I believe he is doing everything humanly possible to not fight a "dumb war" -- as he said in his famous speech opposing intervention in Iraq -- while securing the safety of Americans, and others, in uniform and at home. He is drawing down our forces in Iraq, and even somewhat faster than had originally been thought possible, while trying to retain some sense of stability in the "Pottery Barn" we broke.

The strategy he is formulating for Afghanistan is admirably being based first and foremost upon helping everyday Afghan people stabilize their own economic and political situation (despite the apparent corruption of their leaders), which unavoidably requires security -- by our forces for now and by Afghan forces being trained -- as to protect otherwise defenseless humanitarian assistance. At the same time, American drones, special ops, and other forces are as surgically as possible disrupting and destroying al Qaeda command and control centers, leaders, and networks, now based primarily in Pakistan, which of course poses dicey problems and limitations of its own. There is no easy fix.

Whether or not we agree with his decisions, I think all of us should appreciate that Pres. Obama and his national security team, including Secretary of State Clinton, are doing their very best to be responsible, for all concerned. Remember, our allowing al Qaeda to have a safe haven previously cost us dearly, and led to the situations we are in now. Preventing further disaster prevents further war. Pres. Obama's efforts to curb nuclear proliferation are also being cited for his receiving the Peace Prize.

Every day the catastrophic potential of this threat becomes more real, as nuclear materials and technology are being disseminated and developed at an increasing rate, by nations and groups that openly and clandestinely threaten us and our allies. Pres. Obama's working with all parties -- including making agreements already with Russian Pres. Medvedev and holding the first (tentatively promising) talks between our nation and Iran in decades -- is a mark of good faith on the part of the American people in the world, after years of our -- disastrously -- "going it alone."

Pres. Obama is trying to regain -- re-earn -- for America the international good will that the previous administration squandered in the wake of 9/11. Pres. Obama has dispatched George Mitchell, who helped make the peace in Northern Ireland, to help make the peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, another conflict that has persisted stubbornly for decades, and that inflames and complicates all the other issues in the Middle and Near East. Like Al Gore (and unlike the previous administration), Pres. Obama has taken leadership and agreed to cooperation in alleviating global climate change, another problem too big for one nation to solve alone.

And finally, remember that Pres. Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen ... cooperation between peoples" does not just apply to international efforts. Like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Pres. Obama I believe has won the Peace Prize for his leadership in helping make peace between people of different races -- and every other description -- here in our country, where such differences have long divided us and thus weakened us, socially, economically, and morally. America is more at peace with itself because of Pres. Obama's leadership -- and really, for what he represents to so many of us. The Peace Prize often helps give impetus to international movements that are gaining momentum, such as the fight against Global Warming. As Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said of Pres. Obama's award: "He got the prize because he has been able to change the international climate. ... Some people say, and I understand it, isn't it premature? Too early? Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now. It is now that we have the opportunity to respond -- all of us."

It is obvious that Pres. Obama represents a new face, ethnically and figuratively, of America -- the most powerful nation -- to the world: a vision of hope through working together with, not against, one another. And that indeed is the only road that leads to peace. Pres. Obama says he is "humbled" by the Prize; I am proud of the honor he has brought to America. And I'm sure my dad is smiling down on us all.

--Doug Drenkow, Communications Consultant, Columnist

In another time, before we were 'dumbed down', someone winning the Nobel Prize would be lauded for his/her achievement. Not so, today! Since 1980, the US has entered a world on the other side of the looking glass. Idiocy is preferred over intelligence; screw ups are 'cool' and real achievement just means you're a nerd.

We used to hear a lot about 'values' from the party that now flouts every 'value' worth having,  affirming or  nourishing. If the media --Fox and CNN particularly --seem shallow, obnoxious, stupid, it's because they are but mirrors held up to this cowardly retreat from excellence.

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