Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Analyzing a Viral Op-Ed: "I'm Tired of . . ."

I've seen different versions of the following essay, which is attribute to one Robert Hall, and which is sometimes referred to as a "viral op-ed"; it certainly seems to be popular in right-wing cyberspace. I thought I'd take the time to analyze it, and then maybe I'll fashion (a much shorter) response--later.  The piece, with my comments (in bold following each section):

I'm  tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic.  I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn  it.   
The rhetorical model is established here: the person is not really "tired" but exasperated, and he asserts that he is being told things, but one wants to ask, "by whom, exactly?"  Yes, national and state governments take money and then spend it on things like inspecting food, building and maintaining interstate highways, funding a military that is more expensive than all other nations' militaries combined, enforcing labor-laws, gathering intelligence, providing emergency assistance after national disasters, and so on.  To assert that one is being told about this seems silly; the government has always worked this way.  "People too lazy to earn it"? Really? What percentage of the 10% out of work are "too lazy"?  Later the person identifies himself as a Christian. Isn't part of Christianity the willingness to help others in need, partly because of the spiritual gifts the helper gets from the helped?

I'm  tired
of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes."  Sure, if they  lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help.  But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.   
Much too skewed. One may argue with the decision to keep banks afloat after the bubble burst, but the evidence seems to suggest that if they weren't kept afloat, a consequence would have been Depression, not recession.  Also, some people may have bought what they couldn't afford, but many were trapped in adjustable loans that weren't fully explained. One may go ahead and try to blame Congress, but why only "left-wing" Congress?  Fannie and Freddie weren't the main problem and were less of a problem than de-regulation, which is a right-wing obsession but not really a "conservative" one; if you are conservative, you are prudent, and prudence dictates that where there is a lot of money, there will be cheating, so it's best to have someone watching things.  Also, no one was told he or she had to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." We were told that some of our tax money had to be used to prop up large financial institutions--run by wealthy people who are "too lazy" or too craven not to cheat. Also, TARP was a Bush plan, not that of left-wing critters. Also, most of the TARP money has been paid back, and the GM strategy helped recover a major manufacturing unit that employs many people who are not, in fact, too lazy to work.
I'm  tired
of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros, and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the  opportunities America  offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of Zimbabwe, the  freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Christian people of  Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela  . 
Ad hominem. Attack a symbolic man, Michael Moore, but not his ideas. I'd like to suggest that the deception of "trickle-down" economics and the refusal even to discuss cutting the military budget are as harmful to the economy as anything.  No organization attempts to protect free speech more than the ACLU (you could look it up, as Casey Stengel used to say), but the ACLU is of course much loathed by "conservatives" who aren't conservative. I'm sorry--I see almost no intolerance toward Christian people in the U.S. (I'm a Catholic.) I see lots of intolerance toward non-Christian beliefs, and I see a desire to make the U.S. government officially Christian: look at the influence of Focus on the Family, the Moral Majority, etc.  Let's flip the scenario: "I'm tired of being told how bad government is by rich people like the Bushes who spend their lives in government."

I'm  tired
 of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives, and  daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because  the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to.
Christians murder their relatives and rape and intrude on the personal lives of women all the time, but I assume this man doesn't ascribe their misdeeds to Christianity.  And there are the glaring examples of slave-holding Christians (among them our founding fathers), of Christian members of the terrorist organization, the KKK, and of Tim McVeigh.  And do the math: what percentage of the total number of Muslims worldwide are terrorists?  Less than 1 per cent, no doubt. Any religion is only as peaceful as each of its followers. Bush, a Methodist, attacked Iraq without provocation, or with what has been documented as fabricated provocation.  Was this a Christian act? And don't confuse the question with "we're better off without Saddam Hussein": that is a separate question.  Is torture "Christian"?   I  think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.  I just wish our black President was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing, all-intrusive federal government.   
The first part is condescending. "Condi" Rice supported an unprovoked war and illegal, immoral torture. Name one way in which Obama has been more intrusive than previous presidents. He didn't compose the intrusive Patriot Act. The FBI, CIA, and NSA were there before he was. His attorney general has done nothing--not one thing--to jeopardize "gun rights." Unlike several right-wing politicians, he didn't have thugs beat up dissenters at his campaign rallies. Identify one concrete example of how Obama has been more intrusive than Clinton, Bush I and II, Reagan, Nixon. "Arrogantly" is a tip-off.  It carries the whiff of "uppity."  Obama is more arrogant than Bush II?  Please.
I'm tired
 of a news media that thinks Bush's fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama's, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of  Bush's military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever.  Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News?  Get a clue.  I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.   Red herring. Most of the inaugural expenses for any president come from private sources. Well, at least Kerry had a 'war record.' Why didn't Bush II ever fly in Viet Nam?  This is not a rhetorical question. Palin wasn't slammed for being inexperienced. She was slammed for saying she could see Russia from Alaska and for not being able to cite one magazine she read (etc.) Also, she quit as governor.
I'm  tired
of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.   
I'm sorry, but if you pay somebody something for a product, that money then belongs to that someone. If you don't want to buy Saudi Arabian oil, then ban American oil companies from doing business there. And/or support the development of alternative energy sources.  It's not out of "tolerance" that we buy the oil; it's out of a need to fill our gas-tanks. Please.
I'm  tired
of being told I must lower my living standard to fight man-made global warming, which no one is allowed to discuss or debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs.  We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live.  Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Albert Gore's, and if  you're greener than Gore, you're green enough.   People are allowed to discuss and debate the issue all the time, as in this op-ed. Also, the Republican House has decided to disband the committee on global warming, so precisely who is shutting down debate here? Gore = ad hominem. And ironically, the person has followed his complaint about Saudia Arabian oil with an attack on an issue that has spurred the U.S. at least to consider non-petrol energy sources.
I'm tired
 of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do.  Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off?  I  don't think gay people choose to  be gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs.  And I'm tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.   
I don't know anyone who's been harrassed for not "tryinig" marijuana, but I'm willing to try to belief this man has. Precisely who has told this man that he must support drug-treatment? Most treatment places are not-for-profit (501-C-3) or private and for-profit. True, some state and municipal agencies dispense methadone, but that seems like money well spent, considering the heroin addiction costs states and cities even more money. I smell another red herring here.
I'm tired
of illegal aliens being called "undocumented  workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or a life of crime. What's next?  Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"?  And, no, I'm not against Hispanics. Most of  them are Catholic, and it's been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion.  I'm willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn't have a criminal record, and who is  self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our  military ... Those are the citizens we need.   
"Undocumented worker" is a more precise term than "illegal alien." They're not aliens. They're human beings. If you want to play the euphemism game, how about linking warrantless wire-taps to something called a "Patriot Act." What is un-Constitutional is, arguably, unpatriotic. Or how about Fox News and "fair and balanced"?  Or how about the famous "mission accomplished"? Nonetheless, I fully support the argument for "fast-tracking" some people from other countries. . . . And by the way, weren't Catholics among the original "illegal aliens" who invaded "the New World"? Did the Aztecs put the Spanish on a fast-track for citizenship?
I'm tired
 of latte liberals and self-absorbed journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than  themselves.  Do bad things happen in war? You bet.  Do our troops sometimes misbehave?  Sure.  Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are? Not even close. So here's the deal. I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William  Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the  blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes.  British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and  handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.   
This is a good place to assert the both/and vs. either/or argument. All torture is bad; both "American" and "Muslim" (so-called) torture are bad: so why pit them against each other? I don't know one journalist, liberal or otherwise, who wasn't appalled by what happened to Pearl, a journalist. All torture rooms are bad, so close all the ones you have control over. At some point, all troops in all wars commit atrocities.  Want to trade insults? I'll match your "latte liberal" with your liquored-up Vice President who never served in the armed forces and who shot his friend in the face with a shotgun.  Chicken-hawks? Try Bush II, Rumsfeld, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly.
I'm  tired
of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party  has a corner on corruption.  Read the papers; bums are bipartisan.  And I'm tired of people telling me that we need bipartisanship.  I live in Illinois, where the " Illinois  Combine" of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years.  Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet.   I just don't believe he's been told that one party has a corner on virtue. Bums are not necessarily bipartisan, but they do come from both  (all) parties: on that we can agree. Well, if one is sick of one party dominating, why wouldn't one be in favor of bipartisanship? It's only logical. 
I'm  tired
 of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and  politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught.  I'm tired of people with a sense  of entitlement, rich or middle-class or poor.   Well, I suspect we're all tired of hearing about such mistakes, except when we make such mistakes. It's that cast-the-first-stone thing. Also, the rhetoric of this piece springs from an entitled viewpoint that licenses the speaker to assert that he's "tired."  I'm tired of his being tired. And wasn't once purpose of the Constitution to set out rights and privileges to which some are entitled (but not African Americans, who were relegated to slavery and 3/5ths humanity in the original Article One of the Constitution. You could look it up.
Speaking  of poor, I'm tired
 of hearing people with air-conditioned homes,  plasma color TVs and two cars called poor.  The majority of Americans didn't have these things in 1970, but we didn't know we were "poor."  The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the tax dollars flowing to their causes.   Well, plasma TV wasn't available in 1970, so I have to grant that point. Personally, I miss the days when we could get just one channel in black-and-white in the Sierra Nevada. I will assert, however, that one may BOTH live in poverty AND have an air-conditioner. (And have a job, I might add: the working-poor.)  I don't know what he means by "poverty pimps." I do know what a lobbyist pimp, an insurance-corporation pimp, and a tobacco-company pimp are, however, and many have served in Congress (from both parties).
I'm  real tired
of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame  the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.   
Yes,  I'm damn tired.  But I'm also glad to be 63.  Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making for the rest of us.  I'm just sorry for my young, beautiful granddaughter.   I'm tired of "conservatives" who claim to be against government but serve in it, who claim to want to reduce the deficit but then reduce in the influx of money from people who can afford to pay taxes (millionaires and billionaires), who don't allow themselves to be investigated for corruption (Cheney/Enron) or for shooting a friend in the face with a shotgun. And who are "these people"?  We have seen the enemy, and he or she is us. In a bipartisan way, let's agree to close the chasm between rich and poor, to make health-insurance not-for-profit, to make sure the government has to get a warrant before tapping a phone, to stop rendition and torture, and to stop the race-baiting rhetoric of TV and radio "talkers."
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