Friday, November 4, 2016

Where There's Disgust, There's Hope

With a new poll revealing that more than eight in ten voters are disgusted with politics, the big unanswered question is this: what in holy hell is up with that other 16-20 percent?  Are they on drugs?  More likely, they're in the same smug crowd as the top quintile of earners who've escaped the lasting depredations of the 2008 financial crisis. But that variable wasn't part of the polling agenda.

  You see, in corporate Thought Leader World, there's no such thing as the class war.

The 1,300 people contacted by the New York Times/CBS pollsters were asked only to divulge their party and candidate preferences, as well as to rate government performance and to voice their opinions on where the country and the "economy" are headed. They were even idiotically pressed about their feelings about Presidential Consort Michelle Obama.

 But were they ever queried about their own financial and employment status in order to determine whether widespread political disgust correlates with widespread precarity and depression? Of course not!  Because this poll, like so many others, was mainly designed to give the oligarchs who commissioned it a rough idea of how firm or tenuous their grasp on the governed is likely to be after Election Day.

The questions were designed, much as Hillary Clinton so generously explained to Wall Street bankers in one of her paid speeches, to help politicians coordinate their public positions with their private positions. After they pretend to feel the mass disgust, they then can choose to address it, ignore it, castigate it, or downplay it, depending on the situation and results of further polling and focus group testing.

So the latest poll is not especially good news for the ultra-wealthy donor class which runs the place. Judging from the results, they have much to fear, especially from those mythical, toothless, barbaric hordes of incipient Trump revolutionaries they've dreamed up, gathering even as we speak at the gates of their dream home-fortresses. If we won't vote out of love and admiration, then let us vote out of sheer terror.

The Times imparts the grimmest of grim news to the plutocrats:
In a grim preview of the discontent that may cloud at least the outset of the next president’s term, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are seen by a majority of voters as unlikely to bring the country back together after this bitter election season.
With more than eight in 10 voters saying the campaign has left them repulsed rather than excited, the rising toxicity threatens the ultimate victor. Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidate, and Mr. Trump, the Republican nominee, are seen as dishonest and viewed unfavorably by a majority of voters.
How transparent the New York Times is, characterizing the natural disgust of voters as "toxic" rather than representative of healthy, functioning intellects. If the candidates are only passively "seen as" dishonest, then perhaps the fault is in the voters themselves. Something must be wrong with them, or maybe it's just the optics or the narrative.

If I were a seriously wealthy mover or shaker, I would seriously consider goosing the jobless stats by hiring a disgusted down-and-outer as my personal food and beverage taster. Somebody has to protect my august self from all that populist poison threatening my cosseted way of life. I would even pay them three times the minimum wage, with all the benefits, including a no-deductible, no co-pay platinum Obamacare plan.

  Sadly for many movers and shakers and opinion-manufacturers, the mass disgust orchestrated by the timely release of Donald Trump's repugnant Access Hollywood tape has not been as long-lived and as beneficial to Hillary Clinton as her campaign might have hoped. Those revolting Trump voters have largely recovered from being revolted at his misogynistic language, and are now back to being revolted about the rotten state of either their own financial lives, or the troubles of their neighbors and relatives. And of course, some of them are indeed as genuinely racist and psychopathic as US imperialism itself.

People are mad and scared, but not about the things that the oligarchy would prefer them to be mad and scared about. Disgust at Trump's racism, sexism and xenophobia does not necessarily translate into support for Hillary Clinton's crony capitalism and unabashed war-mongering. There are too many varieties of loathing experience to even count.

But back to Times/CBS: Since timing is everything whenever plutocrats choose to take the pulse of the populace, the corporate media pollsters conveniently began calling people immediately upon the release of James Comey's shocking announcement that the FBI's investigation of the Clinton emails would continue.
Most voters who were contacted said they had heard about the development. More voters said they were aware of accusations that Mr. Trump had made unwanted sexual advances toward several women.
Yet about six in 10 voters over all said the 11th-hour disclosures about each candidate would make no real difference in their votes. However, more people said the allegations about Mr. Trump were likely to negatively affect their votes than those who said the new email developments would discourage them from voting for Mrs. Clinton.
The horror. Those damned voters care more about their own situations than they do about palace intrigues, and backbiting in high places. The proles made up their minds a long time ago that they couldn't stand whoever it was they couldn't stand. October Surprises apparently don't mean as much as they used to.

To the ruling class racketeers, the electorate are like a plague of locusts who come out of hibernation every four years, instead of a more reasonable 17. They raise a fearful cacophony for a very short time, and then presto-chango - all that's left to remember them by are their harmless, silent little husks.

But where there's disgust, there's always the hope that the whirring masses will stick around a bit longer than expected this cycle. Species do evolve, even suddenly and unexpectedly mutate every once in a great while. 

As far as the increasingly furious and paranoid media/political complex is concerned, disaffected voters of the right and left might not hail from the same ideological places, but they are eminently interchangeable when it comes to their denigration by rulers. Whether they're in a Basket of Deplorables, or whether they're Berniebro Basement Slackers, they're equally extremist and ignorant. If they refuse to vote as they're expected to vote, then it can only be blamed upon the one horrible thing guaranteed to send chills up the spines of oligarchs: Populism.

  As French philosopher Jacques Rancière has rightly pointed out, the Establishment is actually a cabal of democracy haters. Citizen-consumers -- the "formless and squawking horde" -- are periodically allowed to vote, but only so that oligarchies can give themselves renewed power and legitimacy. Therefore, the term "representative democracy" is an oxymoron for the ages.
"It is because democratic man is a being of excesses, an insatiable devourer of commodities, human rights and televisual spectacles, that the capitalist law of profit rules the planet," Rancière writes. "With politics forgotten, the word democracy thereby becomes a euphemism designating a system that one no longer wants to call by its name, and the name of the diabolical subject that appears in place of that effaced word: a composite subject where the individual subjected to this system of domination and the one who denounces it are amalgamated. To paint a robotic portrait of democratic man, the best thing to do is to combine these characteristics: the young idiotic consumer of popcorn, reality TV, safe sex, social security, the right to difference and anticapitalist or alterglobalist illusions. Thanks to him, the denouncers have what they need: the absolute culprit of an irremediable evil."
The system that nobody wants to call by its true name is, of course, Oligarchy.

And the consumer-citizens know it. Whether right or left, Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green or Socialist or Anarchist or Independent, we're getting sick and tired of being called idiots and extremists for daring to want decent lives. 

That 80+ percent disgust rate is actually cause for optimism. Those who govern or who strive to govern actually fear democracy as much as they hate it. Their constant refrain that job destruction and wage suppression and racist globalization are just like the weather, and that we'll all just have to get used to it and lower our expectations and share the sacrifice and bow down to market-based "solutions" simply doesn't fly any longer.

And what is true democracy, anyway, but the constant struggle to wrest a little power away from the oligarchs?


Jay–Ottawa said...

Where there's disgust, there's hope. Yes, indeed.

Disgust is not an emotional smog randomly arising from nowhere in particular to cloud judgment. The disgusted are always happy to point out the specific object of disgust, and curious researchers usually ask the reason for said disgust. Not only did the Times/CBC poll not ask where disgust clumped along the economic spectrum, it didn't ask people what in particular was so disgusting. Surely the disgusted are entitled to their basket of disgust.

As Karen indicated, those who are not disgusted yet are probably well-off and supporters of a status quo that gives them no cause for disgust. What is, is good, at least for about 20% of the population. They remain civil and are sure to vote for Hillary, who does not trouble the vomiting center in their brains. A strange civility also affects the tamed masses who grow more afraid than disgusted. The status quo they know, even though it is destroying them, is trusted more than the completely new deals they don't know. So they'll never make the grade as populists. The herd is the safest place for them, and the mainstream media works hard to keep that herd intact.

The voters who have been more disgusted than afraid for years are, in varying numbers, backing the last alternatives standing: Trump, Johnson, Stein and None of the Above. The people who back those candidates realize the status quo is a killer, so they push back or lash out, sometimes blindly. They realize there are accountable agents causing their pain. They also retain that part of their humanity that, upon sufficient provocation, gives license to resentment, anger and hate.

So then, two general groups of voters: those who make herd with the status quo no matter what, or those who have the capacity to reject the status quo that's killing them and their neighbors. Tell me what in particular disgusts you, if anything, and which of the above two groups you sympathize with more, and I'll have a pretty good idea of what you'll do next Tuesday.

Whatever, Hillary by a landslide.

Ste-vo said...

Jay-Ottawa. Well written. I don't think that is a fair and balanced request, living in Ottawa, which I assume is in Canada. You have what many of us would like in AmeriKa. I am planning, on Tuesday, writing in Bernie Sanders, because in Vermont, my single vote does not matter and I will suggest that my wife do the same thing. I drive around Addison and Rutland Counties, in the Champlain Valley where I live, and all I see are Trump/Pence signs. So that duo will sweep Rutland County for sure, Addison, probably not: Middlebury and Cornwall are where a lot of that 20% live. And Chittenden County, Burlington metro area, where almost 30% of the state's population live will go for HRC. We are actually going to elect a trust-baby farmer with a foot-long pony tail for LT. Governor. The Gov's race is a dead-heat, between the current Republican Lt. Governor, who all say is a nice guy and represent Vermont Values, whatever the hell they are, and her Democratic challenger, Sue Minter who represents, if elected, two more years of Peter Shumlin, who endorsed HRC the day after Bernie announced his candidacy. The pundits all said it was perhaps to put him in the running for a position in her cabinet! He has been an unmitigated disaster for the state. I will end by saying that that Times/CBS poll where the disgust level was quantified, did not contact me. I am beyond disgust.

Pearl said...

It is interesting but not surprising that as a supporter of progressive causes I am constantly receiving information about specific progressives now running for Congress with detailed information about their history along with major names (Bernie, Russ Feingold, etc.) urging voting and financial support for them. There are also progressive organizations doing the same which is also often on my e-mail site.

The point being of course that all the above information does not reach the public either via the internet or major newspapers. This is an important part of vital information about other choices for Congress that too many people know nothing about in this rigged election and why some people who should know better ignore those other possibilities. The progressive organizations are going all out for these choices of change and our own website, for example, does not have enough information to educate those tuning in for further information from the general public.

Karen Garcia said...


If you're "tuning in" here to get all the Congressional horse-race news that's fit to print, I'm afraid you're going to continue to be disappointed by this blog.

With all due respect, as I thought I'd explained quite recently, this site is not and never has been designed to function as Campaign Central for worthy Democratic candidates. I have neither the time nor the interest in this type of thing. I have, however, previously suggested that readers wanting to learn more about individual contests check out the excellent "Down With Tyranny" site on my Blogroll. A couple of their writers specialize in showcasing progressive candidates as part of the Blue America initiative. They have all kinds of details on policy positions and where to send money, etc.

I am the sole writer on Sardonicky, and thus I have to pick my battles. My specialty, if you can call it that, is deconstructing political propaganda and critiquing neoliberalism and the corporate media. I provide original content, or at least I try to. This is not an aggregation or clicktivist site, like so many others on the Internet. And it's not a full-time gig by any stretch.

If, however, you and other readers ever wish to share the information gleaned from emails and the like, re particular local or state candidates, please always feel free to educate us here in Comments.

Pearl said...

My point Karen, was not necessarily to list people running for office, but to emphasize the ISSUES they represent and perhaps I did not make myself clear. Those are issues that are missed via the media which others also complain about and I hope that knowing who might be running and why could incorporate that thought.
Jay's discussion above about the confusion of voters torn between different approaches to issues in their limited choices indicated the missing information that might be coming in on our e-mails from the progressive side which could be informative involving particular concerns as well which are never brought up in the main press.

We are overwhelmed by the she said he said political reports of limited people with limited agendas when there are other choices to be made and I would like to read more about the progressive point of view regarding particular problems and their possible solutions regardless of whom it is coming from. There is sparse lack of important knowledge in the media that needs clarification or knowledge coming from the progressive sphere which would not necessarily involve supporting particular people running for office.

Karen Garcia said...

OK, Pearl.

Please list some of the issues which you think getting are getting short shrift here, and I will my best to rectify things.

Some of the ones I have blogged about regularly over the past nearly six years include the anti-democratic consolidation of the mass media, health care in general and Obamacare in particular, climate change, the outsize influence of the military-industrial-surveillance complex, the corruption unleashed by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the human and financial costs of our forever wars, TPP and trade, drone policy, the war on whistle-blowers and the free press.... to name just several off the top of my head. When writing about such issues, and possible solutions (Medicare for All! Restoration of Glass-Steagall! Civil resistance and protest!) I have often included the viewpoints of officials and politicians... but do not necessarily make them the centerpiece of every post.

Again, please do share some of that vital info coming through in your emails with the rest of us. I am only one person, and can't possibly impart all the information that is available.

Pearl said...

Bernie Sanders Calls U.S. Prison Numbers An 'International Embarrassment'
CHICAGO -- Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pledged to make criminal justice reform a priority of his administra...

Read the entire article here:

Pearl said...

A Tear in the Fabric of America's Political Theater

An interview by Henry Giroux

Meredith NYC said... say the smug top quintile of earners... it made me think of this—there’s a great increase it seems in Times commenters very enthusiastic for Clinton. They ignore the negatives, or rationalize, and won’t hear a word against her. They keep referring to all her record of accomplishments, esp for women, children, the poor, but they never list any with actual results. They just repeat the atrocious Trump qualities and praise her.

Could they all be in the smug top quintile of earners? Do they have excellent health insurance for their families that they can afford? Are they not ever worried about another bank crash? Is their income and retirement secure? Do their kids not owe fortunes in tuition? Has their job not been offshored or replaced by a h1b import from Asia?

Were the people polled by NYT/CBS “ever queried about their own financial and employment status.”?

So a lot of centrist commenters who applaud Krugman and others as liberals, may want to appear as members of the well off classes, even if they are insecure. Liberalism is shunned by many for social status reasons. They want to identify with those above them in financial status---even in anonymous comments. Or they may automatically admire the 1 percent.

Karen Garcia said...



The comment threads on Times op-eds are a virtual incestuous amplification chamber.

What maddens me even more than the cloying support for Clinton is the snobbish attitude taken by many of the most highly rated commenters toward the stereotypical Trump voter. Only stupidity and racism and sexism could possibly explain people supporting Trump over the embattled Hillary -- the poverty and desperation of others rarely, if ever, factors in to the commentary of these Krugman clones. It's all about the right-wing oafish persecution of poor, quarter-billionaire Hillary and never about the oligarchy-manufactured social problems which have given Trump his big opening in the first place.

Speaking of sexism: while I have long been a critic of Maureen Dowd's obsession with the palace intrigue aspect of politics over actual policy, the liberal commenter-bashing of her whenever she takes on Democrats is, oddly enough, quite viciously sexist. "Send her back to the women's pages!" is the usual refrain - usually from a man, but often enough from women too. (I thought her last couple of pieces were actually pretty good.)

Meredith NYC said...


I must vent on The Times op ed page sexism...2 women and 9 men, in 2016. The ladies are in a separate category from the men. To me Dowd and Collins belong on some sort of political style/gossip section. Didn’t Collins actually write a book about women’s lib? But she’s so trivial....with her compulsive joking, no matter how serious the topic. Never says anything interesting, but she’s Cute.

Karen your daily essays are deeper, wider and more factual than anything these 2 write.

All the NYT men columnists are more serious, with a wider topic range, regardless which side they’re on, and don’t bother with Cute. (maybe Krugman sometimes, but he’s got at least some serious stuff to balance it with).

Yet, the Times does have other serious women writers with a wider range of knowledge and views, but not on op ed page, or regular columnists. What does that mean?

The Wash. Post has many more women columnists, and more serious and knowledgeable.

Guess the Times sees its op ed page as such high status (ha!) prestigious real estate, that it’s still a white male preserve. They replaced Bob Herbert with Blow for their sole black writer, to write about mostly ‘black issues'... or anti Trump, pro Hillary. But that may reinforce a racial divide, since the white columnists don’t write black issues much.

I caught a bit of Dowd on the Times Talk show on Cuny TV re the election. She seemed a bit out of place on a panel with NYT CEO Thompson, plus Mark Leibovich, Helene Cooper--Pentagon/ natl security, and Carl Hulse, mgmt editor of First Draft. Guess Dowd is there for provocative inside dope stuff. As soon as she talks, the conversation shifts to personalities/superficiality---maybe a welcome relief to some in the audience. Maybe they like ‘palace intrigue’ talk---they sure pay plenty for tickets to those 92 St Y talks.

There’s a great contrast, watching cspan, (with all the talk of sexism in our society,) I’m amazed at the constant parade of expert women with intellectual heft and expertise in a myriad of occupations, as authors, academics, lawyers, scientists, CEOs. And in high places as directors of various govt agencies and projects. They’re not in the news--many unkown to the public.

With sexism and gender equality is so much in the news, the Times imbalance will look even more strange once we get our 1st woman president. But Dowd and Collins may be at retirement age—with a comfy pension and excellent health care benefits, of course. Obamacare doesn’t affect them.

Elizabeth Adams said...

Like Karen, I am irritated by the blanket disgust directed at Trump supporters.

First of all, the duopoly has made it so that most people don't even know about third parties. It is a "given" that they must choose between Democrat or Republican. And because "patriotism" is also rammed down our throats, not voting isn't even considered as an option for many. Given that kind of choice, it is understandable why many would choose Trump, as he doesn't represent the status quo that HRC does.

I voted Green. I would never vote for Trump or Clinton. But I do not believe that Trump would cause the harm that Clinton has caused and will cause. And if I had to choose between a loud-mouthed buffoon and a war criminal to be the leader of my country, I would choose the one who hadn't murdered hundreds of thousands.

I also do not believe that the PTB would allow Trump the win. She was chosen in 2008 to be the president in 2016. The PTB have rigged it all, although I do not think they were expecting it to be such a sh*tshow.

whistleblower said...

re: the war on whistle-blowers
KG November 5, 2016 at 6:31 PM

Is there a "war on whistle-blowers", or a war on whistle-blowers who break the law under the guise of being a whistle-blower?

Notice I left out the "free press" part, because investigative reporting has been replaced by stenography, as the press-owners want, and is a separate issue from being a whistleblower.

Edward Snowden and other whistleblower law-breakers are featured in the documentary
War on Whistleblowers

Personally I believe in lawful whistleblowers, such as provided by the SEC’s Office of the Whistleblower under the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Whistleblower Program was created by Congress on July 21, 2010 in Section 922 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Jane Norberg has been named Chief of SEC Whistleblower Office following the departure of inaugural chief Sean McKessy.

Sean McKessy, Chief of Whistleblower Office, to Leave SEC

I believe there are other whistleblower programs, through various Office of Inspector Generals.

I post this information for people to become lawful whistleblowers, which is a civil duty.

Jay–Ottawa said...

@ whistleblower

Any account documenting the case of major whistleblowers who, after going through proper channels, did not suffer reprisals?

Is it the exception or the rule that whistleblowers suffer reprisals?

Does Dodd-Frank guarantee anonymity to whistleblowers to shield them from reprisals?

If Edward Snowden had taken the "lawful" route to reveal the illegalities he witnessed, would he have had an equal effect and escaped reprisals?

whistleblower said...

Obey the law to maintain the moral high-ground relative to the government.

Otherwise, have a legally cognizable defense, such as, inter alia, a constitutional challenge for "abridging the freedom of speech" for whistleblowing. The First Amendment (1791) states,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The answers to your questions may be found at the links I provided, or elsewhere. Google is a research tool.

Whistleblower protections are not perfect or inviolate. Corrupt government may still demand your life in retaliation. If you must die in service to your country, die with honor.

John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

"Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."