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Apr. 14 2009 - 11:58 am | 4,118 views | 17 recommendations | 76 comments

The peasant mentality lives on in America

Glenn Beck's Christmas Road Show

It took a good long while for news of the Teabag movement to penetrate the periphery of my consciousness — I kept hearing things about it and dismissing them, sure that the whole business was some kind of joke. Like a Daily Show invention, say. It pains me to say this as an American, but we are the only people on earth dumb enough to use a nationwide campaign of “teabag parties” as a form of mass protest, in the middle of a real economic crisis.

What’s next? The Great Dirty Sanchez-In of 2010? A Million Man Felch? (Insert Rusty Trombone joke here).

This must be a terrible time to be a right-winger. A vicious paradox has been thrust upon the once-ascendant conservatives. On the one hand they are out of power, and so must necessarily rail against the Obama administration. On the other hand they have to vilify, as dangerous anticapitalist activity, the grass-roots protests against the Geithner bailouts and the excess of companies like AIG. That leaves them with no recourse but to dream up wholesale lunacies along the lines of Glenn Beck’s recent “Fascism With a Happy Face” rants, which link the protesting “populists” and the Obama adminstration somehow and imagine them as one single nefarious, connected, ongoing effort to install a totalitarian regime.

This is not a simple rhetorical accomplishment. It requires serious mental gymnastics to describe the Obama administration — particularly the Obama administration of recent weeks, which has given away billions to Wall Street and bent over backwards to avoid nationalization and pursue a policy that  preserves the private for-profit status of the bailed-out banks — as a militaristic dictatorship of anti-wealth, anti-private property forces. You have to somehow explain the Geithner/Paulson decisions to hand over trillions of taxpayer dollars to the rich bankers as the formal policy expression of progressive rage against the rich. Not easy. In order to pull off this argument, in fact, you have to grease the wheels with a lot of apocalyptic language and imagery, invoking as Beck did massive pictures of Stalin and Orwell and Mussolini (side by side with shots of Geithner, Obama and Bernanke), scenes of workers storming the Winter Palace interspersed with anti-AIG protests, etc. — and then maybe you have to add a crazy new twist, like switching from complaints of “socialism” to warnings of “fascism.” Rhetorically, this is the equivalent of trying to paint a picture by hurling huge handfuls of paint at the canvas. It’s desperate, last-ditch-ish behavior.

It’s been strange and kind of depressing to watch the conservative drift in this direction. In a way, actually, the Glenn Beck show has been drearily fascinating of late. It’s not often that we get to watch someone go insane on national television; trapped in an echo chamber of his own spiraling egomania, with apparently no one at his network willing to pull the plug and put him out of his misery, Beck has lately gone from being a mildly annoying media dingbat to a self-imagined messiah who looks like he’s shouldering more and more of the burdens of Christ with each passing day. And because he’s stepping into a vacuum of conservative leadership — there’s no one else out there who is offering real red meat to the winger crowd — he’s begun to attract not professional help but apostles, in the form of Chuck Norris (who believes we have to prepare for armed revolution and may prepare a run for “president of Texas”) and pinhead Midwestern congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, a woman who is looking more and more like George Foreman to Sarah Palin’s Joe Frazier in the Heavyweight Championship of Stupid. Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!

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This new Holy Trinity of right-wing basket cases has been pushing all sorts of crazy hallucinations of late, from Bachmann warning that the Americorps program would eventually be turned into a regime of forced re-education for American youth, to Beck’s meanderings about Obama creating FEMA-run concentration camps to warehouse conservative dissidents, to Norris and Beck stirring up talk of secessionist movements. And a lot of people are having fun with this, because, well, it’s funny. It’s like a Farrelly Brothers version of right-wing political agitation. But it’s also kind of sad.

After all, the reason the winger crowd can’t find a way to be coherently angry right now is because this country has no healthy avenues for genuine populist outrage. It never has. The setup always goes the other way: when the excesses of business interests and their political proteges in Washington leave the regular guy broke and screwed, the response is always for the lower and middle classes to split down the middle and find reasons to get pissed off not at their greedy bosses but at each other. That’s why even people like Beck’s audience, who I’d wager are mostly lower-income people, can’t imagine themselves protesting against the Wall Street barons who in actuality are the ones who fucked them over. Beck pointedly compared the AIG protesters to Bolsheviks: “[The Communists] basically said ‘Eat the rich, they did this to you, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” He then said the AIG and G20 protesters were identical: “It’s a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find ‘em, get ‘em, kill ‘em!’” Beck has an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.

But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated.


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  1. collapse expand

    Peasants, indeed. I first realized how bad we American’s had gotten at sticking it to the man when I lived in Paris for a few years. The French were always striking, shutting down the subways, shutting down the buses, letting the garbage decay on the curb. It made for a real pain in the ass when I was trying to get to work, but I admired the spirit behind it.

    Meanwhile, in America, what’s our classic move when we’re upset? We march on Washington. We appeal to the very people screwing us, asking them nicely to please stop screwing us. It implicitly acknowledges (or reaffirms) that power is Washington’s to give and take away. Parisians don’t politely ask for their rights back. They take them back by shutting down the whole goddamn city.

    My theory was that it was because France was on it’s fifth republic since 1789, and had harbored a few Napoleons and World Wars in the meantime. At this point, and at great cost, they know better than to trust the powers that be to police themselves or to act in anyone’s best interest but their own.

    We, meanwhile, have repeated to ourselves so many times the concept of inalienable rights, as framed by our founding documents, it’s as though we’ve come to conflate the government designed to protect them with the god who granted them.

    France has its own problems. Pluralism there is a joke (just ask the millions of Arabs), and people hold protests over working 35 hour weeks, or paying a few bucks a year in higher education fees. As a result, they haven’t produced anything culturally relevant (fashion notwithstanding, but who cares?) since the Nouvelle Vague. There are dangers in making government your bitch, like the French have. But we’ve let it get the other way around, which, to my mind, is worse.

    We could use a little genuine revolutionary spirit. I’m so pissed off these days I don’t even know where to start. But, you’re right, teabagging doesn’t quite cut it.

    • collapse expand

      It is so heartwarming to hear admiration of the French people. Right now, Diane Feinstein has introduced a bill to irradiate more foods. Stings on farmers selling raw milk is going on across the nation and in my own city, Springfield, Missouri (lock ‘em up..throw away the key!). In Springfield, the Bechard family is a model for making small farms work…plus supplying real milk to people like me, who refuse to drink pasteurized milk. Want an idea for small business stimulus? Support small farms to supply “real food”, not frankenstein foods” to the cities. Corporations, like Monsanto in St. Louis,Missouri have taken control of land-grant colleges and are now getting free labor and labs for proprietary research that comes from our tax supported universities. If the Bechards were in France and this happened, the farmers would get on their tractors and shut down traffic…as they have done before. The Bechards were selling raw milk to people like myself and, on once a month, would bring their jellies, soaps and other handmade items to sell. Americans have been so brainwashed that they are docile and lay down for the corporate rapists. Although the helath departments set up the stings, the issue is not health…it is corporate farms and corporate foods supply. Control the food supply and control the people. Who needs armies? Combine the seed and plant corporate ownership with HAARP (weather control..read Begich) and tomorrow the world! Read GRAIN website out of Spain or organic consumer.org to learn more about this. The control and adulteration of our food and water supply (wells used for generations are now “owned” and locals denied water access) is a silent menace that is not appreciated or publicized.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Funny. And Austin, I totally agree. You know, the reaction to President Obama recently bowing to the Saudi King actually surprised me. I’m not sure why I’m surprised anymore; I should stop letting that happen. But it brought out once again the mythology of American superiority that so many Americans seem to embrace with both arms. I think there’s something in that embrace that works against protest, let along anything remotely resembling revolution. Americans, in my opinion (it’s impossible to generalize about us but I’ll do it anyway), are freaking gullible. And I also think a lot of it comes down to sheer size. How many Europes would fit inside our borders? There’s something seemingly impossible about it, when it comes to action. And even more, to our absent safety net. Sure we could take off time from work to protest, or quit, but we’re 2 weeks from the street, so… better not risk it.

  3. collapse expand

    Hear, hear. That whole American “Don’t tread on me” refrain is all myth – especially when it comes to the bossman.

    Though I think a lot of our anti-worker policies have to do with our shitty “winner take all” electoral system and its extreme bias towards incumbents, which creates an increased likelihood of corrupt politicians captured by business interests. Proportional representation has been a pet cause of Hendrick Hertzberg’s for a while, and I have to agree it would go a long way towards fixing our broken body politic.

  4. collapse expand

    It requires serious mental gymnastics to describe the Obama administration — particularly the Obama administration of recent weeks, which has given away billions to Wall Street and bent over backwards to avoid nationalization and pursue a policy that preserves the private for-profit status of the bailed-out banks — as a militaristic dictatorship of anti-wealth, anti-private property forces.

    Not really. Dismissing the Wagoner, dictating product lines and corporate mergers… That’s pretty unusual move for a sitting president outside of war-time…or…er…outside of Overseas Contingency Operations time.

    I’m not worried though. The ministry of truth will clarify everything soon enough.

  5. collapse expand

    I can’t wait for the next round of Republican protests where they all wear pearl necklaces.

  6. collapse expand

    “Sure we could take off time from work to protest, or quit, but we’re 2 weeks from the street, so… better not risk it.”

    And that’s how they have us trapped and under their thumbs. As long as they can bring great ruin to our lives by punishing us for acting in our own interest, they can do whatever they want and we are helpless to stop them.

    That is why they fight against us having universal medicine and other social safety nets. They want our families’ lives and wellbeing to be dependent on our jobs so we dare not risk our jobs by defying the powers that be.

    Currently, the only ones who dare protest are seen as those who don’t have jobs and aren’t responsible. The losers and the ones who don’t care about society are the only ones who do serious protesting. Those people are very easy to sideline.

    There is a big chunk of powerful people who want to keep us as peasants, stuck, clinging to jobs we hate, forced to obey awful bosses and corporations, all for the sake of not letting our loved ones, or at least ourselves, starve/go bankrupt.

    They have us right where they want us, and it is indeed an ugly sight.

  7. collapse expand

    Best use of ‘googly eyes’ I’ve seen in a good while.

    While watching our local Fox affiliate the other night (for the weather, just the weather) i was horrified momentarily by the anchor’s breathless excitement of the big grassyroots teabaggery to come.

    I wrote them a letter pointing out that Not All their viewers are idiots but at the same time i wondered if maybe they are .

    Thanks Matt, I needed to laugh about this.

  8. collapse expand

    Don’t forget that other kind that makes the peasants bug-eyed with manufactured rage, the educated. Nothing gets to them than those who have the audacity to better themselves with an education. And the more exclusive, the more, rigorous, dare I say, the more elite, the worse!

  9. collapse expand

    For her PhD. my British aunt investigated why poor people voted Tory (eng. eqv. of Republican). The conclusion she reached was snobbery. Poor people felt that by associating themselves with the mega-wealthy, somehow it would rub off on them. An act of desperation.

  10. collapse expand

    I’m pretty sure this guy doesn’t know what the verb “teabag” even means. These guys literally have no idea how funny this is.

    • collapse expand

      And I cannot believe how a serious issue like an engineered world economic crisis (which is severely impacting billion of people in terms of their standard of living) is relegated by you and others to the act of dragging my fucking sack across someones face.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  11. collapse expand

    I think Taibbi hit the nail on the head here. This is a nation of peasants who hate themselves for being peasants. Yet they idolize those who would keep them down, and rail against any sort of reform that might hurt their masters.
    The level of crazy is only going to rise, at least for a while. There is a strange disconnect in the mind of the modern American conservative, and since their “conservative” leaders have failed to dish out anything except more laws, taxes, and debt, it’s starting to hurt.
    In their world, it’s perfectly moral and legal to force taxpayers to spend billions and more on bailing out banks(including millions in undeserved bonuses,) mass murder for oil, supporting a ridiculously huge and active military, or imprisoning millions of people for victimless crimes(they even drop the states’ rights arguments if drugs or sex are involved,) but if you dare suggest that we could raise the quality of life or increase liberty for all, or use government resources to hold the powerful accountable, suddenly it’s Teabag Time!
    I think the only thing that keeps more right-wingers from trying to actually revolt is that they are so well brainwashed into worshipping Law & Order for the masses, and so enamored of authoritarian government thuggery, that they can’t stand to be seen as “radicals.”
    It’s sad and funny-I think the “teabaggers” are right about taxes-we all pay too much for the over-militarized, fearmongering nanny/police state we get in return-yet how many of them will demand less spending in the military, law enforcement, or pork spending for poorer red states? They are only too happy to take “liberal” California and East Coast money to pay for more wars and more cops to enforce more bad laws.

  12. collapse expand

    Typical moron stuck in a false left/right paradigm cracking stupid ass jokes while the whole the country burns down around us. I cannot decide who I would rather see tarred and feathered, partisans on either side, the author or glenn beck.

    It is long since past time to put aside such divisive bullshit and do the one thing that can stop this situation from happening again: smash both political ideologies and the parties associated therewith.

    Ignore the cartel of international bankers imploding the economy by design in order to bring in a one world currency, ignore the obvious puppet president and a congress so corrupt it seems like its weekly trying to set new record for selling out the future of the american system. Just make stupid fucking jokes about how people, irrespective of party affiliation are openly opposing the federal reserve system and the unconstitutional income tax system enforced at gun point which pays for the debt servicing of the currency issued to our government by that cartel of privately owned banks.

    What a bunch of adolescent fucking imbeciles I see these days, turning every serious issue into chaos by muddying the waters. Its like no matter what happens some fucking moron can just say “internet is srs bzns” or the like as if the entire world was /b/, everyone laughs like a fucking clown on nitrous and the entire idea gets buried under a mountain of meaningless pop culture.

  13. collapse expand

    fuck the typos its midnight, im tired and im sick of this idiotic shit.

    you titter away like fucking schoolgirls while the work of a century of better people than you will ever be is consigned to the ashbin of history while you make dick jokes.

    real fucking nice.

    Its a day we can all be proud of as the state of modern journalism and political debate in america achieves ever resounding heights of rigorous intrigue.

  14. collapse expand

    It’s hard to believe that there is going to be anything more juvenile coming out of the Left – and then somebody just has to one-up the last mental patient.

    For a group of guys (virtually all of them) in the media spending the last 48 hours talking about teabagging, you all sure do sound very familiar and comfortable with it. In fact, a fair number of you look like you are frequenting establishments where one finds a teabagging partner for the weekend.

    But you all ought to be excited with the thought that millions more Americans are now suddenly accepting of your perversions since you are in the party which has no moral standards beyond losing an election. And as people who celebrated that $800B Cleveland Steamer taken on the deficit, you really ought to windex those panes in your glass houses.

    But let’s at least be honest about something since there are people here pretending to be journalists. Participants in todays events are talking about Tea Parties. Leftists in the media and on the 8:45am CAP conference call are the ones talking about teabagging. That so many of you giggle like frat boys when you do it doesn’t make it any more endearing.

    Keep your deviant behavior to yourselves. And if you can’t, well, at least don’t pretend that you are practicing journalism while you are doing it.

    And say goodbye to Speaker Ratchet and Dingy Harry. When 1994 comes back in 2010, you’ll be able to look back at all your gay humor with nostalgia and not much else.

    • collapse expand

      Hey BP — two things.

      One, it wasn’t us who came up with the “Tea Bag” thing. All across America yesterday, protesters threw tea bags in rivers and lakes; they wore tea bags on their hats; they even sent tea bags in the mail to their congressmen, a move that worked beautifully until it inspired terror alerts. When the send-a-tea-bag thing backfired, conservative congressmen instructed protesters to simply send notes in the mail that contained the written word, “Tea Bag.” And people actually did that: thousands sent notes that offered Obama a “Tea Bag.” So don’t even think about laying this off on all the people who are laughing. Y’all walked right into this one.

      Secondly: that you would find something intrinsically perverted about teabagging says a lot about you. In the right circumstance and setting, it can be a beautiful, highly giving act. Certainly it is an act that expresses supreme trust. It is also fine exercise, working the thighs and quadriceps. We can certainly disagree about the underlying politics, but there is no reason that the act of teabagging itself — an innocent bystander in these proceedings — needs to be slandered in this argument.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  15. collapse expand

    As a Texan, it pained me to see that crowd in San Antonio eat up his misinterpretation of William Travis’s infamous line in the sand.

    If they were really thinking it through, they’d know that they just cheerfully agreed to join forces with Glenn Beck and commit themselves to certain death in pursuit of a principle. Which is actually a more terrifying thought than that the crowd is stupid.

  16. collapse expand

    Great article. Your peasant mentality was first brought to my attention when I lived in Alabama in the early ’90s. We called it plantation mentality and it even went into the business world. There were “leaders” who felt perfectly comfortable telling us what to buy, where to worship, how to vote, etc…Plantation owners in their own myopic eyes…

  17. collapse expand

    So, I shouldn’t be mad at the government for the things the government does? I should just blindly accept that they’re acting in my best interest and not their own? Why should I question where 1.5 trillion tax dollars have been sent when the people who passed it didn’t even bother to look? I should be a good peasant and never question my betters in the government.

    This isn’t about rich vs. poor. This is about the state vs. the people. I don’t care how much or how little money a person has — the state should never trample the rights of the individual. The AIG bonus fiasco is a perfect example. The Dems (I think it was Chris Dodd), specifically exempted the upcoming AIG bonuses from the restrictions imposed in the stimulus bill. When it comes out that AIG paid the bonuses, rather than take the embarassment, the dems pretended they didn’t know about it and held hearings (one of their favorite pantomimes), and scolded the executives for doing what the Congress told them to do. Then they pass this punitive 90% tax on the bonus that they authorized.

    It’s hard to garner sympathy for someone who gets a million dollar bonus, but the Dems managed to do it with their hypocritical, irresponsible, and outright deceptive actions.

  18. collapse expand

    I’m just wondering where the outrage was last year before Nov and the years before that. I don’t recall any protests by the right against the very same policies that we seem to be following now, other than some people have the unmitigated audacity to demand a little transparency in the great treasury heist.

    To be totally consistant the signs should have said:

    * No to extended unemployment benefits
    * No to financial transparency (wait! FASB did agree with that)
    * Yes to fraud
    * Yes to Bail-outs

    At least they would have been consistent.

    Just to be fair: I noticed that the left, who went crazy over TARP last year, seem ok with it this year. Sure there is some splintering among people who are comfortable with math and people who aren’t , but over-all people feel that Geithner has a handle on it for a very simple reason; he’s not Paulson. Like the Bush years, a line up of respected academics and working economists are coming out against the plan and like the Bush years the experts are ignored. What do they know?

    No one really understands it anyway. I’ve had people admit it to me. “It’s a left brain thing, ya know?” Getting robbed is a left brain thing? I saw a popular DailkKos diarist go down in flames defending Citibank in a diary that slipped quickly off the diary rolls. That was a head scratcher.

    I used to go to Kos quite a bit. Not so much now since I see the site’s resident economics expert telling people that credit default swaps and mortgage securitization buried in CDOs are just fine. (they weren’t last year)
    There just needs to be some tinkering. Eh?

    Kinda like Nukes just need some tinkering and they’ll be perfectly acceptable as area denial weapons. You know, use em in place of fire hoses at riots.

    So in all fairness , myself included, the entire country seems to be confused.

    I’m suing for whiplash. I just don’t know who.
    I’m a peasant.

  19. collapse expand

    Austin C & Matt T, you both make world class & to-the-bone observations…..what a pity…..[& I say that in a heartfelt/friendly way; I support the content of your messages.] You have global vision and the perspicacity to be REAL activists, but sadly, there are 2 types of ppl: those who TALK about it, and those who DO it.

    We [and I include myself in this lament] sit on our butts typing outrageous truths and getting to verbal bottom-lines, and when we are done, we unconsciously feel vindicated just enough to keep us from ever actually DOING anything about the problems we see. We collect our minimum-wage psychic income from the plethora of eloquently penned complaints & feel we have made the world a better place and are “working” for social justice.

    Why do we act like this? The knife of our education system, from elementary school “social studies” days forward carves schemata in young brains about “being a person” or a “citizen”. Wanna really get to the deep bottom of things??? Borrow a 3rd or 4th grade soc.studies text, from a neighbor kid and read a couple of chapters about early USA history. FYI, just a little background info before digging in: The story about building America is breathtakingly beautiful and shamefully ugly also; The words you read should include victories and defeats, heroism and disgrace, blood, tears, and triumphs over insurmountable odds. But, guess what, you’ll find nothing like that in this book. The text will be…. some version of “political correctness” and so watered-down that when kids grow up, they won’t recognize the America they were told they’d be running someday. And that, Virginia, is how you got your brain!

    Do ya think that textbook [et al.] are part some kind of system, designed to “keep us in our place”? Is it possible that a systematic squelch on the best parts of the human spirit could explain why the hell ppl. would invent these *smirks* teabag movements….”To Fight Injustice” …. AND, if I daresay…. why so many others, with the same agenda, “To Fight Injustice”, join the digital “teaparties” and blogg, blogg, blogg, blah, blah. We’re doing what we’ve been hardwired to do. Tough love: In 200 years, will they read about the brave and glorious bloggification pioneers whose tireless vigilance saved the planet? Will we be briefly mentioned in a short sentence with/ separated by a comma from/….. the teabaggers?

    Building a good country is hard work; Inventing good things takes vision and courage. When you aren’t feeling up to the task, well, at least you can have a teaparty and it will make you feel better…..or tired from all the effort. Either way, the system wins.

    It’s not rhetoric … this system thing…..follow the education pendulum for a few years as it swings back and forth [and I mean follow the money and the rules and laws, textbook approvals and all the other rah-rah concerning education]. Depending on who are the gatekeepers-du-jour, and IF you are really paying attention, maybe you’ll notice that some of the gatekeepers don’t ACT as if they really care if Johnny learns to read. They make much noise about it; We pretend we know enough about the subject to have an opinion; We add to the noise…..

    You might observe some of the gatekeeper- system-enforcers making big fat laws that throw schools into chaos, while providing no proven benefit for the little ones, spend ka-billions on unresearched programs that…Uh Oh!!!….8 yrs. down the road…..the reading scores are not really better….but, AT LEAST, everyone was very busy for the past 8 years, too busy to mess with the gatekeeper agenda, or to notice that someone else is eating our lunch.

    Optimum outcome for some gatekeepers might be for Johnny to read/write well enough to fill out the form for induction into the armed services….but not quite well enough for him to “become a nuisance”. If Johnny could read and think a little better, he could become a risk to the system. What if he became an informed consumer and decided to READ the NCLB laws, to make sure he’s getting bang for his buck, knowing how costly is a good education….and a bad one costs even more. [This is a digression, but, I don't get it! No one buys rotten apples; they check their fruit before selecting it and paying for it, right?] So, in the interest of becoming an informed consumer and a good citizen, Johnny reads the whole gawdawful NCLB laws, all the way to the end and he finds the nasty little hidden future armed services agenda attached to NCLB focus kids…..OH YES! Read it, and weep…….and maybe understand exactly why Johnny’s path to fluency has been systematically designed to fail. Can’t have him reading THAT.

    Shame on us is all I can say. We let it happen. Just voting isn’t enough and we are not ever done; we have to keep our eye on the ball. [The education piece is just one microcosm within the whole system.]

    I hope you read what gggriff wrote, because he described effects of the system perfectly. Ppl. become paralyzed with fear, frustration and guilt – key pieces for the system ’s continuity….because no change equals no change. Change requires effort and is therefore painful. Ppl don’t typically change UNTIL the status quo becomes MORE painful than changing the system.

    Austin C observed Parisian strategy for dealing with the system. Ironic, isn’t it, that the French ppl originally learned that from us…in fact, so inspired by our American Revolution and the American spirit that they….well, you know the story about the Statue of Liberty, I am sure. We need to re-learn our own strategy; It works.

    Austin C and Matt T, you are fabulous writers with just the right mix of reporting, passion and wit. I wish you could use that talent to author some decent kids’ social studies books because all the current ones suck. I think you’d do a bang-up job of it!


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    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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