Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Today In "The People of the Land": Kentucky Moonshine


Like direct-to-video Asylum Production knockoffs of films that once made money for a major studio --
("Almighty Thor", "The Da Vinci Treasure", "Atlantic Rim", "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies", "The Day the Earth Stopped", "Age of the Hobbits", "Princess of Mars", "Pirates of Treasure Island", etc.)
-- apparently we will be treated long, lazy "Hillbilly Elegy" knockoffs of the wit and wisdom of the Just Plain God-Fearin' White Country Folk who voted for Donald Trump.

In major metropolitan newspapers.

Masquerading as "journalism".  

From now until the feds hose the last flaming gobbets of the Failed Trump Administrations off of the nation's pavement.

‘I feel like this is the last shot’: A Kentucky family greets the Trump era.
This shameless, rube-on-the-street gold-bricking is made even easier when the rubes come right up to you and eat out of your hand like chipmunks in America's soon-to-be privatized national parks:
“If we pass a souvenir stand, do you all want some memorabilia?” she asked her boys, as they walked in front of the U.S. Capitol. It was two days before the inauguration, and the family had just arrived in Washington. “Maybe a Make America Great Again hat?”

They’d never bought any Trump memorabilia, but now seemed time to commit. “I’d take one,” Henry said...
Here comes the journalism!
What Suzie Razmus was sure of: how she loved her husband and their three sons. How she was devoted to her faith and her community. How Shane, 13, really needed to eat more breakfast. How that inane “Pen-Pineapple­Apple-Pen” song got stuck in her head every time Henry, 17, sang it. How the low, green mountains surrounding Corbin, Ky., could be breathtaking to newcomers but banal to lifelong residents, which is why, every morning when she drove to the movie theater her family owned and operated, she worked hard not to take the view for granted.
...

Past the Capitol, on the Mall, speakers were rehearsing for the swearing-in.

“We live in a challenging and tumultuous world,” a voice boomed into a microphone. “But the American people always rise to the occasion.”

“That’s right, we do,” Suzie said to herself as she marshaled the boys into a museum. “We definitely do.”...
And here comes the wish-list:
The small changes she wanted: deregulation, which would hopefully bring back coal and manufacturing jobs, which would hopefully bring back railroad jobs, which would hopefully help the drug problem because, as Suzie believed, people “were not meant to have too much time on their hands.”
The Razmus family wants the 1950s back. Or, more specifically, they want their 1950s back.   Well, golly, I want stuff too.  I want John Lennon and George Harrison to rise from the dead for a Beatles reunion concert, and I want every men's store in America to carry XLT merch, but I'd settle for a decent full-time job doing what I do well.  

However what I am not willing to do is wade chin-deep through a rising tide of reckless bullshit and grotesque racism in order to vote for a lying con man who promises to make my dreams come true...while praying to Almighty God every god damn step of the way.

Which is what sets me apart from the Razmuses 

And speaking of racism, while the Razmuses may not know much, one thing they're damn sure of is that they resent people thinking that they're racists:
“It bothers me,” Greg said at breakfast, “that because we supported Trump, we get lumped in as racists, or bad people.”
Because they're not racists.  They're just perfectly willing to ignore Trump's racism, and lies, and sexual predation, and criminality, and the long puppet strings that lead back to the Kremlin, and his xenophobia, and the fact that a whole lot of their neighbors will lose their health insurance under his regime, and did I mention all the fucking lies he tells every time he opens his mouth?

Just Plain God-Fearin' White Country Folk, perfectly willing to close their eyes to all of that and more because The Bastard President promised to bring their 1950s back.
...
When it was over, they made their way back through the crowds, walking until they ended up at a quiet Greek restaurant.

“Let’s celebrate,” she said, deciding to order a glass of wine with her lunch. “Trump is here. He’s our president now.”

“If what he said comes true, we’ll be all right,” Greg said. “We’ll all be all right.”
...
Pure, Kentucky magical thinking moonshine, which will be delivered over and over again via a major media outlet near you, from now until the fiery end of the Failed Trump Administration.

And if this display of Just Plain God-Fearin' White Country Folk delusion feels depressingly familiar, I would call your attention back to the Year of Our Lord 2007.

The wheels had come completely off of the Failed Bush Administration.  The Just Plain God-Fearin' White Bush Regime Dead-Enders were dug in like ticks, knee-walking blind-drunk on Jebus, bathtub patriotism, rabidly defending the rapidly collapsing lies of their Dear Leader. And "journalists" were slowly waking up from their long, long nap and timidly going abroad in the land to discover what the fuck had gone so drastically wrong.

This is me writing a decade ago.  It's a long post, so scroll on past if you feel like it.  But the striking similarities between the deluded, credulous-chump mindset of the Right during the Last Days of Bush and the First Days of Trump -- and the staggering failure of the media to report honestly on any of it --- should be setting off alarm bells in every newspaper editor's office from coast to coast.

But it won't because, as we all know, human history only began on January 20, 2009 when ACORN and the New Black Panther Party stole the election for a Communist Kenyan Usurper.  And with that, ladies and gentlemen, for you own safety, please keep your hands and feet inside the car, as we travel back to the Land of the Free Before Time!!!

Why balance is bullshit.

Pictured here is Mike Ites and his son, both, serving with the Iowa National Guard in Iraq.

What and how he thinks should scare you.

From 60 Minutes, May 27, 2007 (emphasis added)
VO: Down the road in Wellsburg, at the Ites home, it is a father and son, Mike and Josh, who are shipping out together.

"I feel that God led me to do this job," says Mike Ites, who has been on the job 20 years, and is a fulltime guardsman.

At the time of the interview, Ites was 49 years old and was going on his first combat deployment to Iraq.

"What are your thoughts about the war in Iraq? What does it mean to you?" Pelley asks.

"Well, I believe that I'd rather be in their country keeping them turned down or from coming to America. What they did on 9/11 is a travesty," Mike Ites says.

"You draw a line from 9/11 through Iraq to the present day?" Pelley asks.

"I do," he replies.
Later in the segment (and transcribed by me, so any errors are my own):
VO: Mike Ites and his son Josh used to be on the same page.

Pelley: I have the sense here that you guys don’t see eye-to-eye on the war.

Mike Ites: That would be a true statement.

Pelley: There’s a difference of opinion. Josh, c’mon, tell me what you’re thinking.

Josh: I just feel we will be here a long time. And it’s gonna take a lot more time than what people think back home to fix what’s going on over here. From what I see, they don’t want us here.

Pelley: Mike? You disagree with that?

Mike Ites: Yeah. I believe that we’re supposed to be over here. Progress is being made. If you go back to 9/11 and what the people did there, and when the President asked “Do you want me to go after these people?”, the whole United State stood up in unison and said “Yes we do.” He says “This is going to be long and drawn out. Are you really sure you’re really going to stand with me.” And they said “Yes we will.”

Mike Ites: Well now some aren’t. Because the American People are a Gimme People, and Give it to me Now.

Pelley: You’re a little bit angry that the folks at home have turned against the war.

Mike Ites: You could say that

Pelley: More than a little bit.

Mike Ites: Well as I said, I believe in what we’re doing.
Of course per the Wingnut handbook, being “angry” means that anything Mike Ites says or thinks is automatically not credible.

Or is anger only a bridge too far when it comes to Liberals?

Conservative hypocrites simultaneously invent (Anyone who screamed for Clinton’s blood over trivia was just a Good American who Loved the Rule of Law) and violate (Anyone who even faintly questions any of the myriad grossly illegal, mendacious, sleazy, imbecilic or simply evil things Dear Leader Dubya has done is “deranged” and hates America) so many ridiculous “rules” about who gets to be in the Good American Clubhouse that that it's hard to keep track anymore.

Anyway, for those of you kids out there thinking of becoming Big Time Journalists, you might be asking yourself, “If I were Scott Pelley, what is the next question I would ask Mr. Ites?"

A friendly, roundabout question, like “Did you take a Big Bus or a Little Bus to Iraq?”

A medical question, like “Have you perhaps sustained head trauma that has severely damaged your higher reasoning centers?”

A blunt question, like, “Where in the wide, wide world of sports did you ever get ahold of such a stupid fucking idea?”

None of which Scott Pelley even came close to asking, which is a shame, because there is no room left for polite, stilted, Broderian-fainting-couch reportage on the likes of Mr. Ites anymore.

Which itself is terribly sad because I’m quite sure he’s a churchgoing, family-centric, straight-arrow guy. Raised nice kids. Worked hard his whole life. Good neighbor who’d lend you his chain saw and show you how not to lose a finger using it.

And that he volunteers to stand between me and harm is damned noble.

No kidding, which is why it is so sad that his indefensibly idiotic opinions render all of these good points irrelevant.

2004 was a watershed year for a lot of people I know. Myself included. 2004 didn’t “radicalize” us in any sense – most of the people I’m thinking about haven’t changed their politics much in the last decade or so – but it “volatilized” us.

Or maybe “volumnized”.

We started using the word “fuck” a lot more, and a lot more loudly. As in “What the fuck are these morons thinking? Can’t they fucking read? Can’t they fucking rub two facts together and get anything but baffled? Oh, and who the fuck are these undecided freaks who, three weeks before the most important fucking vote of this generation, cannot make up their fucking minds?”

Like that.

It was when legions of us finally looked the Mike Ites’ of this country square in the face and realized that being polite and forgiving and Christian and tolerant and coolly rational to the generation of Red Staters who learned everything they know from suckling on the Limbaugh/Falwell teat had completely failed.

To borrow 3.5 tasty paragraphs from Christopher Hayes' terrific review of a sinister book entitled "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies" from here: (emphasis added)
For Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University and author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, the minimum wage is an iconic example of the economically backwards policies favored by the foolish masses. “In theory,” he writes, “democracy is a bulwark against socially harmful policies, but in practice it gives them safe harbor.” Examining this “paradox” takes up the rest of the book, but his explanation is pretty simple: Voters are crazy.

The Myth of the Rational Voter is best understood in the context of a long-standing academic debate over whether democracy works. It’s a question that has two related, but distinct, sub-components: Do democracies produce optimal policies for its citizens? And do democracies produce policies that accurately reflect the will of the majority?

The most sanguine observers say “yes” on both counts. But given that surveys consistently show that voters are distressingly ignorant about both the rudiments of policy (whether we spend more on foreign aid or social security) and politics (how many senators each state has), it’s a difficult case to make

It’s tempting to dismiss Caplan’s thesis out of hand, because it’s so self-consciously “provocative” and because he’s translating an old discredited anti-democratic argument into the jargon of econocentric elite-speak. But if you support democracy, you must confront the fact that voters can often be stunningly under-informed and that majoritarianism run amok can lead to persecution, hatred and injustice. Reading Caplan’s book, then, is both bracing and necessary because it forces the reader to stare into the abyss—an abyss the author seems only too happy to jump into.
Mike Ites is the abyss into which the election of 2004 made so many of us stare.

Into the eyes of someone whose opinion is wrong. Simply, lethally, utterly wrong. And who is dug into that opinion so deep – who is so morally and psychologically invested in the lies his Dear Leader has told him to dance him off the cliff – that he cannot change his mind.

He dare not change his mind.

Instead he finds an entire, well-financed fascist propaganda infrastructure more than happy to keep spoon-feeding him comforting deception.

That the real problem is “…the American People are a Gimme People”.

The real problem that some Americans are not Blindly Loyal enough to the Dear Leader.

The real problem is the Dirty Hippies.

The real problem is the Liberal Press who won’t print all of that Good News from Iraq.

No, Mr. Ites, the Real Problem is that Iraq and the Iraqis had nothing, nothing, nothing to do with 9/11.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Ninguna. Nihilo.

The Real Problem is that your Dear Leader lied to you. Repeatedly. Knowingly. Premeditatedly.

The Real Problem is that your Dear Leader built an entire Bullshit Bridge between the casus belli he got on 9/11 and the war he and his Neocon vultures wanted, and then cold-bloodedly pimped your grief, your fear and your patriotism to stampede you across it.

The Real Problem is that you and millions like you aren’t strong enough to face the truly terrifying truth that most of what you believe about the wider world is bullshit, and the people you trusted to lead your country are liars.

That men you trusted made you a chump.

A heavily-armed patsy, in the wrong country, for the wrong reason, killing the wrong people on the orders of treacherous cowards and thugs who have used you as cannon fodder for their Imperial ambitions, and for whom you no doubt proudly voted.

Twice.

The Real Problem is that, in the name of Holy Balance, journalists treat the patently and dangerously delusional adherents of Cult of Dubya as if their opinions were worthy of discussion.

Except what Mr. Ites still dogmatically believes in this Year of Our Lord 2007 -– that we are in Iraq because “What they did on 9/11 is a travesty" -- is not a matter of opinion, any more than a fanatical insistence on the flatness of the Earth, the falseness of the Holocaust, or a 6,000 B.C. “Born On” date for Creation are matters of opinion.

These are matters of historical and scientific fact, and those who insist otherwise do not have opinions.

They have delusions.

And when one’s delusions have been calculatedly stoked and weaponized by evil men, have been marched into the wrong fucking country, have caused the death of tens of thousands, the mutilation and suffering of hundreds of thousands, the displacement of millions, at the projected cost of trillions of dollars, then your wingnut fantasies no longer get to be elided over as merely creepy and eccentric.

Because now your delusions come with one of the biggest fucking price tags in American history. One that we will be paying down for generations to come.

Which is why those delusions no longer deserve anyone’s respectful attention, or any cravenly obsequious treatment by journalists in the name of “balance”.

The Real Problem is simply that journalists don’t have the nerve to ask the True Believers of the Cult of Dubya simple questions about their radical, ruinous and unshakable beliefs.

The Real Problem is that people who believe as Mr. Ites does are dangerously irrational, and the people who make a fat living propping up Mr. Ites’ dangerously irrational beliefs are depraved scum.

For the last thirty years many of us on the Left remained politely and tolerantly silent on these subjects we should have been loud and rude and demanded to know why dangerous, stupid, racist or crazy people keep getting treated with deference by the Lords of the Media?

Why people who are always wrong all the time about everything keep getting invited back into the national spotlight to share more of their idiotic insights, and people who have a track record of actually getting it right about Bush, Iraq and a hundred other thing are treated like kooks?

Why, when your country has been handed over to perverts and fascists by imbeciles and Christopaths, your press has collapsed into a pile of toadying hair, you treasury has been pissed away by criminals and your military hobbled by cowards and fanatics, it is somehow beyond the fucking pale to get angry about it?

The reason we are in Iraq, Mr. Ites, isn’t that it was necessary to “be in their country keeping them turned down or from coming to America”.

No one in Iraq had any intention of attacking us.

The reason we are in Iraq, Mr. Ites, is because of millions of ignorant, fear-addled, Gospel-According-To-Rush, revenge-hungry, Bush-worshipping fools and the media that caters to them.

In other words, the reason we are in Iraq, Mr. Ites, is you.

And what 2004 changed is that, no matter what, you can forget about us ever politely skirting around that ugly fact again.

Ten years ago I wrote that.

Ten years ago and 7,000 posts ago and the offers from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Esquire, etc. have yet to come pouring in.

Funny old world.  

11 comments:

bowtiejack said...

Good stuff. Thanks.
As someone said, "Stuff goes on until it doesn't." Still waiting for that "doesn't".

What are we 4? 5? days into this mess and, as bad as they are, MSM and "journalists" are using terms like "no evidence", "falsehood" , and "not the facts"? And hopefully tiptoeing up on "lies" and "lying".

Unknown said...

Praying over their waffles kinda says it all

dinthebeast said...

Alternative facts indeed.

-Doug in Oakland

trgahan said...

Funny thing she should mention railroads and coal....aside for the job losses being one of automation and NOT regulation ....during the recent "coal boom" brought on by the W administration's energy policy the railroads worked the coal industry to jack their profits.

See, the shipping agreements basically stated IF the rail road had cars and line available for shipping then the mine had to provide the coal or pay "non-delivery" fees. So 2004-2010 railroads expanded their sidings and bough extra cars to force the mine to either shovel coal regardless of market demand or pay for the "idle cars."

The fall out of the economic crash brought this house of cards down, hard...and left mines and power plants with enormous stockpiles of mined coal with nowhere to go (U.S. domestic coal use peaked in 2005) most of which is now burning (yes a pile of coal can light itself on fire).

Anyway, it always flabbergasts me that people who want to make a living off this stuff don't spend even 10 minutes a day understanding it as business.


Karen Rea said...

I do hope the Ikes family and children rely on the ACA for their health needs. And when the most basic needs of life are ripped out from under them and they cannot afford the "Oh, so much better Republican plan", I would like them to go back to "60 Minutes", some with oxygen tubes in their noses, and expand on their theory of "dependence and handouts" on the Feds, you lazy bums you.

That Mitch McConnell comes from a state with one of the most successful implementations of Obamacare (Thanks to the previous Democratic governor) just warms the cockles of my heart. Could the love of Obamacare in his state do him in? Could Obamacare be his Waterloo? Oh, would that it were.

Jimbo said...

trgahan: Not to mention the mountains of toxic coal ash that have to be stored until they break out of their confinements and pollute miles and miles of drinking water and fisheries downstream. Utilities would much rather use natural gas and renewables. The market has already determined that coal is on the way out.

trgahan said...

I'd also like to see if I am the only one noticing that America's response to the current drug problem the Ikes acknowledge in their rural white community isn't the same as America's response to the Crack Epidemic in the 1980's and 1990's?

I mean, if knock and block, search and seizure law suspensions (before Greenwald cared), militarized police, three strike rules, and mandatory minimums worked in inner city America, why not rural Kentucky today?

I wonder what is the difference between our Government's approach between the two?

Miskatonic said...

The frustrating thing is that I remember reading this the first time. What I remember is the feeling of coming through on the other end. The perverse sense of satisfaction of knowing that the lunacy of the Bush Administration was no longer being sold so effectively and was finally being pushed back on. I guess relief had set in but because it was that time period had been what opened my eyes a sense of dread had never taken hold. No where near the sense of dread I felt after election day. But reading this also reminds me that every tunnel ends and that there really is another side. So for that, thank you. You and Bluegal really have been educators & providers of hope for me for quite sometime.

THANK YOU.

Randle Aubrey said...

So we're back to local color writing, eh? I suppose it's only natural; if we're going to turn the clock back one hundred years, might as well bring the yellow journalism right along with it.

dinthebeast said...

They tried to turn part of the old Oakland Army Base into a coal terminal to ship coal from Utah overseas but we said no.
Actually I think what we said was "Fuck no."

-Doug in Oakland

jim said...

So many Razmuses - Good Germans one & all.