Outrage Queens

If You Don't Let Them Repeal Obamacare, They're Going to Kill This Orangutan

Outrage Queens

RANDY NEUGEBAUER, JOHN BOEHNER, AND TIM GRIFFIN Fuming at a park ranger, frightened of teabaggers, farting idiocy on Twitter.

+ Enlarge this Image
ORANGUTAN This guy’s a goner.

There's this story I heard once from a homeless veteran I'll call James. He had a pinched face and a smoky voice and huge, square glasses and the kind of wicked alcoholism that accelerated from zero to knife-fight in about half a sip of beer. I was working the night shift in a coffee shop, and James, who at the time was sober and taking a computer programming class, was keeping me company. He told me about this thing he used to do, back in Vietnam.

On those days when he didn't have to be anywhere, James would go out into the jungle. His friends used to go into town to pick up some prostitutes, but James was in one of his religious phases, and so he didn't tag along. Instead, he'd hollow out a coconut, put his gold watch inside of it, and leave it on the jungle floor. Then he'd go hide, and wait. If he was lucky, an orangutan would come along and notice the watch gleaming inside the coconut. It would reach inside to see what the shiny thing was. James would fashion the hole in such a way that an open hand could get into the coconut, but a closed fist was too big to get out. The orangutan couldn't figure this out, and it didn't want to let go of the shiny thing, so its hand would be stuck inside.

The orangutan couldn't seem to make the connection between its hand being stuck and letting go of the watch. Those two problems—the stuck hand and the wanting the thing inside the coconut—were hurtling forward through its ape brain on parallel tracks, and they seemed unsolvable. And so the orangutan started to get agitated. It was at that point that James would jump out of the shadows, he told me, and quickly beat the confused orangutan to death with the butt of his gun.

James clearly loved telling the story, and I loved it, too: It seemed to have so many meanings. If we're the orangutan in the story, we don't understand that the simple solution to our predicament would be obvious if we could just let go of the thing we want. If we're James in the story, we're unknowingly acting out the cruelty and the pointlessness of the Vietnam War on a tiny scale, for recreation, even as the larger war is playing out all around us. I've been thinking a lot about James's story since the government shut down on October 1. I'll tell you why in a minute. But first, I want to talk about the internet.

The internet is an engine powered by outrage. You sit at your desk dying to escape from your job, and so you visit one of your favorite blogs, or Twitter. What do you find there? Posts written solely with the intent of making you feel outraged, because outrage is the cheapest way to get a response out of a human being. A celebrity rubbed her clothed ass into another celebrity's clothed groin. Outrageous! Some Christian busybody banned a book that you love from a school library because of a sexual reference. How dare she? This person is arguing that a sports team name might be racist toward Native Americans. Time to leave a comment complaining about the political correctness police! And, say, why isn't there a White History Month, anyway?

It now takes so much to outrage the American public into action that we're really unshockable. That's why America keeps cutting itself, in the hopes that it'll feel something.

Don't believe me? Let's look at the last week's worth of events. On October 1, congressional Republicans decided to shut the government down. Let's put it another way: The party controlling half of one of our three branches of government has decided to hold the entire nation's well-being hostage. So-called "nonessential" government services, which include food and shelter for impoverished mothers and children, treatments for kids with cancer, educational aid, and the front lines of scientific research, are closed until further notice. Also closed: more than half of health and human services, all food inspection, the Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA. The NSA is still spying on you during the shutdown, but because of the shutdown, you can't file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what they know. Oh well. At least the plush congressional gyms—featuring saunas, swimming pools, a steam room, and paddleball courts—are still open, so poor Paul Ryan won't have to skip leg day.

Republicans say they're doing this because they want Obamacare repealed. They've voted 41 times to repeal Obamacare. Never mind that Obamacare was voted into law by Congress, signed into law by President Barack Obama, and approved by the Supreme Court, meaning it's survived every one of the checks and balances that the founding fathers wrote into the Constitution. Never mind that President Obama won—twice! Never mind that health-care costs are choking America to death, and so any sort of a solution—even one as essentially conservative as Obamacare, which Mitt Romney basically wrote—is necessary to save the middle and lower classes of this country. This is apparently a dictatorship, and the dictators of half of one-third of the government don't want it. So they'll stop the whole fucking show until they get their way.

In another time, maybe before CNN punctured our skulls with its fangs and feasted on our outrage glands, we'd be protesting in the streets. As it is, if anyone's even paying attention, they're observing this whole thing like it's a game, where the "team" with the most "points" wins the "news cycle," whatever the fuck that is. And it won't be over until enough Republicans cave to reality and decide to end the shutdown.

Or, no wait. Based on just about everyone's count, there are enough Republican votes to end the shutdown. But Speaker of the House John Boehner refuses to bring it to a vote, because he's scared of the anti-government Tea Party Republicans. In lieu of winning in real life, Republicans have cornered the market on outrage. It's not a bad instinct, because outrage is still the currency by which you can most easily seize the public's attention. Every time they make a public appearance, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are trying to crest a wave of outrage that they can parlay into a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

They're not alone. Two days after voting for the shutdown, Texas congressman Randy Neugebauer tried to lead a group of teabaggy veterans into the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, but it was closed, because the WWII Memorial is a federal park. When a Park Service employee tried to stop Congressman Neugebauer, whose American flag on a dowel stuck into his breast pocket gave him the appearance of a burger served in a TGI Fridays on the Fourth of July, he lost his shit on her: "How do you look at them... and deny them access?" Neugebauer said, indicating the veterans. High on the fumes of his own hypocritical outrage, he added, "The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves."

The employee responded, "I'm not ashamed."

Neugebauer replied, "You should be."

Those fumes must be some good shit. These guys are in a daze. After Indiana congressman Marlin Stutzman told the Washington Examiner that his fellow Republicans in Congress are "not going to be disrespected" by President Obama and the Democrats, he elaborated, bizarrely, "We have to get something out of this [shutdown], and I don't know what that even is."

Then, of course, there's Arkansas congressman Tim Griffin, whose response to the car chase and shoot-out at the White House and the Capitol on October 3 was to hole up in his congressional coat closet, presumably pissing himself, while tweeting hypocritical outrage: "Stop the violent rhetoric President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. #Disgusting." The NRA-loving Griffin, who has voted against gun-control legislation at every opportunity, later explained that he "tweeted out of emotion" when he tried to blame the shooting on Democrats who wanted to keep the government open. Meanwhile, the Capitol police who put their lives on the line to protect the congressmen were working without any promise of being paid.

At least President Obama—who has had, let's face it, a terrible year—hasn't played along with the outrage game. He and congressional Democrats haven't taken any of this bait; they've smartly decided to let Republicans flame out on their own. Obama's shutdown press conference on Tuesday was exhaustive in length, confident in tone, and dense with facts. In other words, it was just the sort of thing that makes modern Republicans shriek and arch their backs.

On Sunday, Boehner threatened to extend the government shutdown into next week's debt limit increase vote. The last time House Republicans fought with President Obama over the debt ceiling, our financial standing internationally took a beating, our credit rating got the shiv, and the economy lagged. A one-two dickslap of the shutdown followed by (or, worse yet, running concurrently with) a debt-ceiling battle could plunge us back into a recession.

Of course, shutdowns can't last forever. Maybe even now, as you're reading this sentence, the shutdown is over. When it ends, cable's talking heads will distribute "points" to each "side" based on public perception. Polls will be taken. Wrists will be slapped. Victory speeches will be given. But the shutdown isn't even the real story. The truth is so much worse.

The real story is that the teabaggers have already won. This shutdown thing is just the fart joke to keep you from noticing the heist going on in the background. On the very first day of the shutdown, Derek Thompson revealed in the Atlantic that our perception of "normal" has been fundamentally shifted to the right. The budget that the Senate and the House are fighting over? It's almost 20 percent smaller than the budget President Obama proposed five years ago, or the one that Democrats proposed four years ago. Hell, the Senate's budget is actually 10 percent smaller than the budget that Paul Ryan proposed three years ago, the one that Democrats swore up and down was going to transform America into an Ayn Rand–y hellscape of libertarianism. In the last five years, Republicans have successfully starved the government to death.

The top 1 percent of all earners in the United States earned 19.3 percent of all household income in the US last year. That's the highest economic disparity this country has seen in one hundred years. The 1 percent has recovered from the Great Recession of 2008, while everyone else has pretty much given up ever seeing that kind of prosperity ever again. The American dream—a fair wage, a decent retirement, a sturdy safety net—has slowly been robbed from us. And now that we have a shot at getting some reasonably (or at least slightly less insanely) priced health care in online exchanges without fear of preexisting conditions barring us from insurance, the Republican Congress is threatening to burn the whole fucking popsicle stand to the ground.

You know what we should be fighting for right now, if we lived in a country with any sense of justice? A single-payer health plan. How would we fund that? The same way we'd fund all those social services programs that would help single mothers get good educations. The same way we'd provide outreach for people in need of mental health care, rather than waiting for them to blow out a synapse and drive a car at the White House with a screaming 1-year-old child in the backseat so we can just shoot them to death.

How would we do all that? By taxing the fuck out of the rich.

The Waltons, America's richest family, are worth more than a hundred billion dollars. This is a failure of capitalism. Nobody needs a hundred billion dollars. Nobody is worth a hundred billion dollars. Nobody works a hundred billion dollars harder than someone who makes minimum wage. It's impossible. It's wrong. It's evil. The Walton family are bad citizens. They're un-American.

I'm not talking here about class war or revolution. I'm talking about the American way. When he was president, Dwight Eisenhower pushed the tax rate for the richest Americans down to 91 percent. If Eisenhower- era tax rates were still in effect, the Waltons would still have nine billion dollars, and we'd have government-funded health care like the rest of the civilized world.

After this shutdown, you tell me who's won and who's lost.

And the thing about that orangutan story James told me? Yeah, that was obviously bullshit. There are no orangutans in Vietnam, or any large primates other than humans. I knew the story was bullshit when he told me, but I didn't challenge it. It was a good story, and he told it well. We both knew it was a lie, but so what?

People tell stories for two reasons: Either they're trying to convince you of something, or they're trying to convince themselves of something. So either James did some awful things in Vietnam and he was trying to smooth his past over by turning it into a still-batshit-but-somewhat-more-socially-acceptable story about beating an orangutan to death, or he was trying to shock me into thinking he was a badass motherfucker who did crazy-awesome stuff all the time. Maybe both.

I've been thinking of the story so much lately because James reminds me of the Republicans, trying desperately to tap into America's chewed-up outrage receptors in the hopes of getting a reaction. Maybe they desperately want to convince themselves that they're pure and good warriors for truth. Or maybe they want us to think they're crazy sons of bitches who'll nuke everything so we won't cross them again. Maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle.

No matter what really happened in Vietnam, the truth about James is that a couple weeks later, he showed up at my coffee shop with formaldehyde breath and bloodshot eyes one morning at 7 a.m., asking for 20 bucks. He was kicked out of the veterans' shelter, he said, because they were all a bunch of assholes. When I refused, he told me to go fuck myself and then he just stood there swearing at me until I told him I'd call the cops. He left. I never saw him again. I'd like to think he eventually got clean, but every cell in my body knows that's not what happened to James. He'd made his decision about the way his life was going to go long before I'd met him—just like the teabaggers who really don't care who they hurt on their way out and down.

As for the analogy: The shutdown isn't the orangutan. The American people aren't the watch. The shutdown is making me think of James's story because the shutdown is serving the same purpose as James's story. Republicans think the shutdown is the story they're telling to explain why government is evil. Democrats think the shutdown is the story they're telling to explain why Republicans are crazy. But really it's the story we're all telling ourselves to keep from seeing that the whole fucking thing—our internet-based, outrage-fueled, 1-percent-favoring society—has burst into flames and rolled over onto its side. If we can't outrage ourselves anymore, at least we can keep distracting ourselves with lies for a little bit longer. recommended


Comments (72) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Posted by Centrists Rule the World today on October 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM · Report this
Man, I would really like to slap the smug off that Ted Cruz asshole's face these days. I thought the GOP '12 crop of presidential candidates was a late flowering of right-wing crazy, but it seems in retrospect to have been the springtime buds of a forest of idiocracy.

At least with Rove and Cheney, you got the feeling there was a mastermind at work. Evil, but still... brilliantly so. This Tea Party crew has gone past denying scientific principles such as global warming and evolution, moving on to denying core principles of government, economics, and cause and effect.

I have lost hours and hours just taking in the scope of idiocy available on the internet, and hate-reading the tide of popular ignorant opinion out there. We seem to be a nation of racist trolls at this point. Michelle Bachmann seems to be welcoming the End Days in anticipation of her heavenly reward -- I'm anticipating a more secular apocalypse and not sure if this country even deserves to be saved.
Posted by druiddude on October 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM · Report this
Godzilla1916 3
Excellent piece of writing Mr. Constant, thanks.
Posted by Godzilla1916 on October 9, 2013 at 10:59 AM · Report this
I assumed that the 'orangutan' was John Boner, and the 'shiny watch' was a brand new tube of sunless bronzer skin cream.

I guess I was wrong. But it still seems like the orange-hued primate/Speaker of the House is pretty spooked by the Tea Baggers assembled outside his office door. How'd they get those pitchforks and torches past Security?
Posted by ctmcmull on October 9, 2013 at 12:45 PM · Report this
I'll tell you what I think of Republicans. I think they are the worst human beings on the planet. I think they are the worst human beings I have ever heard of, read of, or been able to imagine. Also, this: http://void-dance.tumblr.com/post/635642…
Posted by Ted End on October 9, 2013 at 12:47 PM · Report this
You are not talking about class war, but that's what it is right now. It's just fought by the propertied class.
Posted by pete zafunghi on October 9, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
@ 6 - Isn't it always?
Posted by brent.b on October 9, 2013 at 2:17 PM · Report this
Orangutans are not found in Vietnam. Just cause a dunk tells you a story doesn't mean it's true.
Posted by he has also has a bridge to sell you on October 9, 2013 at 5:07 PM · Report this
ballard dude 9
@8 reading comprehension? Paul actually does make that observation. You gotta read the whole thing.
Posted by ballard dude on October 9, 2013 at 8:00 PM · Report this
Damn that was awesome. I feel outraged.
Posted by Pr0gressive on October 10, 2013 at 12:36 AM · Report this
11 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
You'll believe anything Paul... there are no orangutans in Vietnam!
Posted by Use that health insurance to get your head checked on October 10, 2013 at 7:18 AM · Report this
I agree with all this except for one thing -- we need to "raise taxes" on the comfortable and upper middle class also. I do taxes for a living, and I am seeing some egregiously low taxes being paid on capital gains and dividends by the middle class. $50,000 in TAXABLE INCOME with zero taxes being paid? Wrong wrong wrong. But if your $50,000 income is pension or wages, then you pay hefty.

Repeal the low capital gains taxes and let the middle class pay more. You only have that kind of income if you have assets, and if you have those kind of assets you can pay a bit of taxes.

Obama did a terrible terrible terrible thing when he let the Republicans "force" him to not let the capital gains tax rates expire. We lost the America we love back then.
Posted by bareboards on October 10, 2013 at 7:21 AM · Report this
@8 beat me to it. Hate to piss on your parade, but last I checked Borneo and Sumatra weren't in Vietnam.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on October 10, 2013 at 7:31 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 15
First of all, I have completely eliminated CNN, Faux News and others from my life. I get my news from The Stranger and BBC. I don't let myself get cranked up on bullshit, especially Republican bullshit. The Chamber of Commerce, that bastion of Republican pandering, is warning Republicans of their behavior, so there's that. But you know what? I'm perfectly willing to let them do their worst. Really, let them have the destruction they crave. I don't give a shit. And that's the attitude we should take. It's their rich pals that will get the shock of their lives.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on October 10, 2013 at 7:34 AM · Report this
@14, @8 Got through the article, Constant got it, nevermind.
Posted by carnivorous chicken on October 10, 2013 at 7:37 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 17
The simple solution to our predicament would be to shoot John Boehner in his spray-tanned, drunken face.

Unfortunately, that's not on the table thanks to our namby-pamby laws against murdering people who richly deserve it.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 10, 2013 at 7:54 AM · Report this

Comparing members of a political party to a primate?

Now you sound like one of the racist pro-Zimmerman commenters frequenting the boards at MyNorthwest.com
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on October 10, 2013 at 8:08 AM · Report this
The more insightful, whether they be erudite or more plain-spoken, articles I read on our current predicament, the more depressed I get.

This is right up there with the Bill Moyers segment that was posted the other day.

I do wish, though, that we could talk a bit about the mechanism by which the public has been shifted so far into the camp of the right-wingers. It's not entirely intrinsic. It's been carefully cultivated and organized, using mass media in very clever ways. It started several years back, when someone started distributing daily talking points to Republican Party figures. Whether Roger Ailes is the originator or a recipient, it hardly matters, but it explains why Fox News and Republican elected figures are frequently in verbal lockstep. The phrase "vast right-wing conspiracy" sounded nuts when we first heard it, but the degree to which their propaganda is organized does speak to something similar.

Obviously, those Americans who have been cynically manipulated aren't the least bit aware of it. The rest of the corporate-owned media probably aren't directly complicit, but they're doing so little to oppose the propaganda that it makes one wonder: if they're not part of it, then why are they afraid to say something?
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 10, 2013 at 8:23 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 20
@9, If @8 read the whole thing, he wouldn't be able to bask in all the smugness.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on October 10, 2013 at 8:29 AM · Report this
@17 You'd better hope nothing happens to him. Whoever they replace him with would likely be a hard line Teahadi of the first degree. That's the largest cohesive faction within the Republican caucus, that's the only type of candidate they'd support, and if the party picks their Speaker in caucus and acts in unity on the floor of the House, that's what we'd get.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 10, 2013 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Indighost 22
I don't really agree with the depressed defeatism of this article. But I just wanted to point something out:


-Without context: A beautiful and majestic animal, one of our closest relatives, deserving of millions of dollars' worth of protection.

-As a metaphor: A dirty ape. A method to insult people you hate.
Posted by Indighost on October 10, 2013 at 8:37 AM · Report this
Probably one of the better pieces I've read in The Stranger in awhile.

Ironic, since The Stranger and the SLOG are fueled by Internet rage from the left.
Posted by CPN on October 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM · Report this
weejee 24
Great piece,but have one bit from having spent a year in Vietnam like "James," I never saw any wild orangutangs while in Vietnam. The Wiki confirms that - they are only in Indonesia. Still, great article.
Posted by weejee on October 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM · Report this
watchout5 25
We should tax wealth before we tax labor. We should find a better middle ground than no wealth taxed and labor taxed to death. Most of my labor shouldn't be taxable. My business transactions should be.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on October 10, 2013 at 9:14 AM · Report this
@24 So great you couldn't read the whole thing.
Posted by MikeB on October 10, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Nice to know so many outspoken folks don't actually get all of the context before pointing out, after the author did, that orangutans are not inhabitants of Vietnam. Bravo, you cunning half-assers.

This article has helped make me feel sane, albeit depressed, about our current predicament. Feels like strong incentive to start focusing on visiting other countries.
Posted by erly on October 10, 2013 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Okay. I've heard enough. What I'd like to do is start you on Paxil, 20 mg 2 X / day.

Hunter Thompson hyperbole will get you anywhere. Or everywhere. Or something. That last graf sounds so much >_< like Hunter.

One of the things I haven't seen in articles like this is actual budget numbers, references (links) to actual proposed legislation. I get that some pre-digestion needs to occur, but geez sometimes I wish news was a little more like a research paper.
Posted by slagondrayer on October 10, 2013 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Okay. I've heard enough. What I'd like to do is start you on Paxil, 20 mg 2 X / day.

Hunter Thompson hyperbole will get you anywhere. Or everywhere. Or something. That last graf sounds so much >_< like Hunter.

One of the things I haven't seen in articles like this is actual budget numbers, references (links) to actual proposed legislation. I get that some pre-digestion needs to occur, but geez sometimes I wish news was a little more like a research paper.
Posted by slagondrayer on October 10, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this
@25 The rich are able to manipulate their income to look like whatever gets taxed least, or not at all. Profits become qualified dividends. Pay becomes retained interest, and hence long-term capital gains. Corporate income becomes expenses payable to a tax-remote entity in another jurisdiction.

Back in the "good old days," medieval Europe, the King taxed, not income, but the holdings of his royal underlings. (They, in turn, got to fleece their commoners to keep up their dukedoms, or whatever.)

A 10% tax on the holdings of the Waltons would yield a hell of lot more than a 90% tax on their annual income.

Anyway, such a scheme is called a "Personal Property Tax," and would apply to an individual's worldwide holdings of cash, stocks, bonds, art, commodities, yachts, jewelry, etc. It's a nice dream, but it's pretty hard to fully enforce without a combination of an army of intrusive investigators and those medieval executions the King used against his tax evading nobility to help keep the rest honest.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 10, 2013 at 10:37 AM · Report this
The most obvious point about that entire "Vietnam vet"/orangutan story is that yet another douchey stooge (in this case barista Paul Constant) believes every drunk who claims to be a combat vet.

An honest-to-god combat vet doesn't walk up to any stranger (especially not a douchey one, like Paulie) and proudly proclaim himself to be one. Or wrestle orangs, for that matter.

Plenty of relocated douchetards have told me they were combat vets (especially of the Vietnam variety) and when I began questioning them as to the locations of their tours of duty, and other specifics, quickly found them to be fraudsters, much like John Boehner and George Weasel Bush!

The most egregious case was that douchetard who used to panhandle and refer to himself as "sarge" -- and was far too young to have ever served in Army Airborne during Vietnam.

Only a Constant type would fall for such claptrap!

On a more important note, it appears that this shutdown is being mostly financed by the Koch family, whereas the previous shutdown, and Gingrich's "Contract on America," was financed by the du Pont family, the Mellon family (Richard Mellon Scaife and Chris Mellon) and the Koch family.
Posted by sgt_doom on October 10, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
gtk 32
hahahaa. you are all so funny, can't wait for the ACA house of cards to come crashing down around your poor lib heads.
Posted by gtk on October 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM · Report this
@32 Speaking as a "lib," I'd kind of like to see it fail, too. That way we can maybe get a real National Health System, like normal countries. But, if it's going to fail, it has to fail fair and square, to prove to the Heritage Foundation and the original GOP Romneycare advocates that it's an insufficient plan, that allowing the insurance companies to keep their control over the industry is not cost-effective, either from a national budget perspective, or a personal expense one.

Simply sabotaging it, either by defunding portions of it, discouraging participation, or hampering efforts to implement it, doesn't prove a damned thing.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 10, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
@17 Scawny Kayaker: I share your frustration. Why don't we just tax then kill the GOP and Tea Party all fucking ready? It's beginning to sound like the U.S, if not the world, is in for one hell of an ugly, bloody, and violent revolution against the criminally rich.
At least we can boycott Wal*Mart and McDonald's in the meantime (isn't the thought of eating "pink slime" passing as fast food hamburger repellant enough??). Paul's right---NOBODY is worth $100 billion dollars!
The Koches, Waltons and DuPonts are obviously chortling all the way to their Wall Street banks.
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 10, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
Hey, good writing, but apocryphal gorilla story. Repeated often with different animals. See: Where the Red Fern Grows + raccoons.
Posted by Milton on October 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM · Report this
The irony of Sgt "David Ickes was Right" Doom calling anyone gullible is pretty delicious.
Posted by FonsieScheme on October 10, 2013 at 1:43 PM · Report this
Oh my god, I have read the first four paragraphs and I am now so excited to tell the world that there are no orangutans in Vietnam that I have boldly leapt over the article and all of the comments and landed here, where I will drop some knowledge on you, reader, about the fauna of Vietnam, which is clearly the point of this article anyway! Boom. Nailed it.
Posted by pemulis on October 10, 2013 at 2:32 PM · Report this
treefort 38
An excellent piece with solid points. Thanks, Paul.

The teabaggers are the ones keeping us from making progress (and actually dragging us backwards) on all of these goals. So yeah, I'm outraged. We are long overdue for a single payer system.

The Walton's have $3 for every other person in the US. That's entirely too much hoarding of money. Fuck those guys.
Posted by treefort on October 10, 2013 at 3:10 PM · Report this
@33 *hat tip*
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on October 10, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Seems like a lot of people didn't read the entire article. It's funny, because I wondered if there was a bit of collusion in this clown show so we wouldn't see when Ryan guts SSI and Medicare. If he gets caught he can blame it on Ted, who actually looks like Hollywood cast him for a scapegoat politician. I may just be calling stupidity conspiracy but it looks suspicious.
Posted by Sourpuss on October 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM · Report this
41 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
Even though there are no orangutans in Viet Nam, this James fellow is the exact kind of
Nam vet that should receive public health assistance- I would be willing to chip in for the euthanasia drugs.
Posted by Thee intestines on October 11, 2013 at 6:58 PM · Report this
We're all orangutan's now.
Posted by bleep on October 11, 2013 at 9:18 PM · Report this
Glad he admitted the story was bullshit. The orangutan story was lifted from "Where the red fern grows" and it involved racoons, not orangutans. I wonder if the "Viet Nam Vet" in the article even existed, or was manufactured just for the analogy.
Posted by Jim Nasium on October 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM · Report this
America Explained

( the real economy - - - A.L.E.C. and the government shutdown/default - - - Koch brothers and the multinationals )

Occasionally, Simon Johnson gets it right. Johnson is the former IMF stooge, and presently MIT economics professor and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute.***

Johnson has correctly stated that the five top banks make up the majority of America's GDP, or GDP activity!

According to O.C.C. reports, the banksters do this because they control $90 trillion worth of credit derivatives. Now credit derivatives are those wonderful debt-based instruments which the Federal Reserve has been purchasing from the banksters by the billions, under their various Quantitative Easing programs (QEI, QEII, QE . . . .).

Those items they purchase are referred to as "toxic assets" (i.e., junk paper). So on Monday they are credit derivatives, and on Wednesday they are toxic --- or is it the other way around?

Ergo, the majority of America's GDP is based upon valid credit derivatives' activity, or junk paper, dependent upon whomever is doing their valuation at the moment.

This is what the talking heads refer to as Wall Street, or fantasy finance.

Main Street is when actual goods and services are produced: Main Street has been dismantled over the past forty years and replaced with fantasy finance --- which apparently owns the vast majority of our politicians!

The organization, A.L.E.C., or the American Legislature Exchange Council, is responsible for financing the shutdown, and possible default, of the American government. A.L.E.C., in turn, is financed by the Koch brothers and various major corporations, such as ExxonMobil and Google.

Obviously, these entities have and will profit from the shutdown (massive high-speed [HFT] financial manipulation and speculation of Treasury futures, shorting the spread on the stock market, etc., etc.).

Should a default at the federal level occur, the repercussions at the city and municipal level across America would be enormous, as so many cities have entered into various types of swaps with Wall Street (the interest rate swap being one of the more popular ones). Possible outcomes would be mass bankruptcies declared by a large number of cities --- a major excuse for the privatization of those cities --- something which has already occurred in Michigan, California, Georgia and Indiana!

All that which has just been described doesn't just happen --- but occurs from diligent planning and activity.

President Obama's Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare) benefits Wall Street --- it is to the private health insurance sector exactly what Clinton's Telecommunications Act of 1996 was to the consolidation of the American CorporateMedia. That consolidation yielded two major actions (aside for unified national censorship of any actual news content): the reinstitution of AT&T, and the "right" of the media to fictionalize the news, thanks to several federal lawsuits brought to court by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

One can only fearfully imagine what the consolidation of the national health insurance giants will portend?

Economics has traditionally served two purposes: to confuse and bewilder people as to why a select few own everything, while the majority own little or nothing, and to redirect people's attention away from the fact that all financial systems are rigged!

Simon Johnson won't be explaining that to the American public!

***Peterson Institute: founded by Peter G. Peterson and David Rockefeller, it is dedicated to ending Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, the offshoring of all American jobs, and adherence to the WTO's Financial Services Agreement. Peter G. Peterson's latest stunt was the creation of a pro-austerity organization with the New America Foundation.

Suggested links:







Suggested reading:

The Invention of Capitalism, by Michael Perelman

The Surplus American, by Charles Derber and Yale Magrass

Wealth, Power and the Crisis in Laissez Faire Capitalism, by Donald Gibson

Extreme Money, by Satyajit Das

All About Derivatives, by Michael Durbin
Posted by sgt_doom on October 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM · Report this
I wouldn't be bothered if those so-called humans got grassy knolled . . . --- http://www.jfk50.org
Posted by 5th Columnist on October 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM · Report this
As an older guy, I'm deeply saddened by the current direction our Govt. has gone. I won't bore you with my memories of simpler times but it seems to me that if we refocus our energy to simplify our lives and spend less time on our cellphones and social media and talk more, some progress could be made to improve our lives.
Posted by longwayhome on October 12, 2013 at 8:23 PM · Report this
Fish Wrench Asteroid 48
@32 Please, I beg you. Ask yourself. Really ask yourself. Look deep. Stare into the mirror if you have to. Go on a meditation retreat. Just stop and ask yourself. Ask hard. Ask yourself one, and just one question:

"What would it take to change my opinion?"

If the answer is: 'nothing', You need to go away. Leave. Stop. Just stop. You are intellectually dead, and have nothing to contribute to any community discussion of any kind.

I think your answer to the question above is 'nothing' because you're literally wishing your fellow Americans suffer from unnecessary sickness, bankruptcy, and death for the sake of the profits of insurance companies.

The other reason I think that nothing will change your mind is that there are literally dozens of aspects of Obamacare that are objectively better for America than the previous system, and you'd have to be willfully ignorant to ignore them.

Good luck to you.
Posted by Fish Wrench Asteroid on October 13, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷✷Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to home tab for Registration

Posted by jordy on October 13, 2013 at 12:08 PM · Report this
I find it disturbing that so many of us actually believe that there's this huge divide between the so called "left" and "right". In my own discussions with people of many political and non political persuasions, I have found that most folks tend to agree on a few major points. It's odd to see that media driven rhetoric, both liberal and conservative seems to utterly control the narrative, the talking points and the truths as we see them. Lets call a truce and find some common ground amongst all the "political extremists" of the "other side". Has anyone thought to ask why it is that no matter who is in office, which party is in control or which way the supreme court rules, it always seems like it ends up hurting the most vulnerable people in question? Why is that? I think where we see a trend we see a pattern. Let's focus on what we can agree on. Let me outrage some of you buy saying that the heart of a liberal and that of a libertarian have one main thing in common. A healthy disrespect for authority. Heck, if you put these two parties together you may as well call it anarchy. Here's a set of questions to ask yourselves and your political polar opposites. Yes or No:
1) If left to it's own devices, do you think government can be trusted?
2) Does the government have any business telling people what they can or can not do, if said activity does not infringe upon the rights of others?
3) Is it right to take away the rights of the MANY because of the actions of the ignorant, irresponsible, greedy, power-hungry, violent, crazy FEW?
I hope you will all go out and seek one of your political opposites, or someone from any strata in between, and try to find that common ground that I have found most people have. We are not so divided, we are just being lead to think we are. If we ever discover that simple fact we might all realize that our rights can never be taken away, that our freedoms are absolute, and that the only purpose for government is to protect the rights of individuals against the tyranny of the many. Things can be ok, we just need to call bullshit when and where we see it, no matter what the politics.
Posted by Top Rankin' on October 13, 2013 at 2:09 PM · Report this
seandr 51
The internet is an engine powered by outrage.

Yes. The examples you give, however, suggest you are unaware that your own publication is also in the business of peddling outrage.

Not that there aren't things to be outraged about. Still, the fixation reminds me of an old (and valid, in my opinion) critique of television news that it presents a distorted reflection of the world as being overrun with violence, mayhem, and pedophiles.
Posted by seandr on October 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM · Report this
Hey, I posted a retraction! (@16)
Posted by carnivorous chicken on October 13, 2013 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Yes, I read your entire story, even said good writing. I'm one of your fans, at least I was until the mugging. All I did was make a comment about an oft repeated urban legend. Didn't have anything else to add that wasn't already said. Then you call me out in public for that? Sort of a bully move there. Real nice, amigo.

Posted by Milton on October 13, 2013 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Wow, Paul. Great piece of writing. I've forwarded it to many people.
Posted by crone on October 13, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Report this
OK, girlfriend says I should have worded it this way:
"In reference to the ...story". I know you knew it was bullshit. But damn, man, you called me out in a harsh way when all I was doing was making a quick post using bad syntax to mark the history of an urban legend reference. Ouch. I will now go sulk away. A bazillion apologies.
Posted by Milton on October 13, 2013 at 6:33 PM · Report this
You've got to admit though Paul, taking 25 or more paragraphs to correct that storyline is a long time to wait. Better to set up your knowledge of the truth right away so as to unburden your reader's angst that you might be so ignorant of this fact and promoting misinformation or geographical ignorance. It was more like a trick, but you lost some of your readers. Many times when I come across blatant disregard for history, geography, science or something in my bailiwick, I just bail on the article doubting the writer's knowledge or motive.
Posted by No Offense on October 13, 2013 at 7:50 PM · Report this
gttrgst 57
@56 If you had only bailed on this one before commenting. Feel free to add your face to complete Mt. Rushmore at the top of this page. Please direct me to your 25 or more paragraph anything in that magic place where angst will never burden my eye-path.
Posted by gttrgst on October 13, 2013 at 8:55 PM · Report this
@56, I recommend, then, that you never read Life of Pi, nor watch the movie.
Posted by Bored@School on October 13, 2013 at 11:31 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 59
@56: "taking 25 or more paragraphs to correct that storyline is a long time to wait


Many times when I come across blatant disregard for history, geography, science or something in my bailiwick, I just bail on the article doubting the writer's knowledge or motive"

Are you just ranting to defend your proud love of lazy skimming? Because that's all this appears to be.
Posted by undead ayn rand on October 14, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Actually posting this from Vietnam.

Your story was lazy, bad writing. I agree with your politics, but your elocution is pathetic.
Posted by Hello from Ha Noi on October 14, 2013 at 9:16 AM · Report this
Allyn 61
I had heard a similar story during my teenaged years in church. It was more like "How to catch a monkey" with a walnut in a box. The analogy was about how sin traps us, usually told alongside the boiling a frog story, that you don't notice its effects until it's too late.

This version was a little more savage, so points to the poor drunken vet for making it a far more interesting story.

And like anything by Paul, good article.
Posted by Allyn on October 14, 2013 at 10:02 AM · Report this
@36, the PonsieSchemer, I wasn't actually familiar with David Ickes until I read a verbal attack on him by Niall Ferguson in his forward to one of his two-volume puff pieces on the Rothschild family (truly atrocious and historically inaccurate piffle).

In looking up Ickes writings, I found much of what he said, on the economic side, to be factual, but was put off by the "lizard people" stuff (although the psychopathic greedheads certainly resemble lizards!).

Just as I would disagree with much of that religionist, Alex Jones, and don't follow him, he does appear right on certain aspects of the global financial scene.

You would do well to read my latter rant (America Explained), you might actually learn something, assuming you are capable of learning anything......


(The revisionist take on President Kennedy, that last authentic Democrat to occupy the White House, is that he was a mediocre president!

A-frigging-mazing! The guy who gave us the Internet, the NASA space program with untold technological achievements stemming from it --- advances in digital electronics, computer technology, microelectronics, polymer chemistry, materials science, global communications, satellite communications, remote earth resources sensing technology, biomedical engineering, etc., etc., etc. The first US president to deny foreign aid to seven dictators who refused to move towards democracy, as opposed to the Eisenhower Administration, which financed the overthrowing of democratically elected governments of Iran, Guatemala, etc., and the following Johnson Administration, which helped financed the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Brazil [Operation Brother Sam]. The president who proposed radical land reform throughout Latin America in his Alliance For Progress program, later revised and compromised after his assassination, and so, so many other radical actions and proposals of the Kennedy Administration!)
Posted by sgt_doom on October 14, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Knat 63
@31: That's the longest version of a "no true Scotsman" fallacy I've ever seen. Well done, I suppose...?

Still no progress on that project you launched back in January to leave SLOG forever, huh? Too bad.
Posted by Knat on October 14, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
64 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
65 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
I am honestly ready to go pee on the 1%.
Posted by auntie grizelda on October 14, 2013 at 7:53 PM · Report this
Camembert 67
Christopher Allen Horton,


Posted by Camembert on October 14, 2013 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Thank you, Cam. Did you understand what chris was trying to get across? Went over my head.
Posted by longwayhome on October 15, 2013 at 7:48 PM · Report this
69 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
The dismantlement strategy goes deep...Boehner changed House rules to give only Eric Cantor the right to call up a bill for vote. Link to video from the House: http://www.upworthy.com/congress-did-som…
Posted by sumofsea on October 16, 2013 at 8:33 AM · Report this
Well done,-a very good,excellent article on what is going on in U.S.,
Great writing,too.
Posted by cholo on October 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
The orangutan has a home but...
What Does Homeless Look Like?
I don’t use drugs or alcohol. I don’t rob, steal or cheat. I am not the beggar holding up homemade placards on the busy streets. I didn’t live under the Davidson Street Bridge but I too, have been evicted from my home and now when I call you it is from my Obama phone.
I own designer shoes, clothes, and purses. I am polished and professional. I have a college education. I have travelled across the country working in my chosen occupation. I am a great communicator. I carry my resume` in a leather portfolio yet when you stand next to me in the elevator and we smile and exchange pleasantries I get off on the next floor so that I may apply for public assistance.
After you interview me for a job, I visit a Pantry for food. I pawn my expensive jewelry for bus fare, toiletries and the rare treat off the Value Menu. I have bathed in public restrooms. I have slept in Emergency Room lobbies. I have cried myself asleep with one eye open to protect myself and my remaining property.
What does homeless look like? Who do you see when you pass by me on the city streets? I am not disheveled or haggard if and when we meet. I am now a jobless woman trying to get back on my feet. So don’t become confused about what you see just because I am not pushing all my belongings in a shopping cart down the street.
I am the new face of homeless! It is I! It is me! The college educated woman broken and lonely trying to get back on my feet!

Posted by sfelder http://www.ivytech.edu on October 19, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this

Add a comment