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A fair for all and no fare to anybody!

12:53 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Geauga County Fair - Midway

Labor Day weekend is also the weekend of the Geauga County Fair which is held at the Burton Village Fair Grounds.  Having been held there for near 200 years  it contains all the traditional fair events such as tractor pulls and various shows and judging.

This was the first time I attended the fair since I was a kid of 13. The fair needless to say has changed quite a bit since then in a lot of ways but has remained the same in other ways. Larger that that it was with 3 midway areas containing the expected “Fair Food” and game booths where if you are very lucky, you might win some cheesy prize. Skill has nothing to do with it.

The typical exhibits of agricultural prowess of the young and not so young, cows and chickens and sheep and goats. As well as vegetables and baking and of course – since this is north eastern Ohio  – maple products.

I was to meet my cousin there who drove up from NC and was staying at a B&B in the town. So began my drive pout there from Garfield Heights where I current live.  About 45 minutes plus or minus traffic.  The trip out east to the fair is along the main drag through town, state road 87. Which begins as Chargin Blvd and ends up as Kinsman Road.  I pass through and area that contains the upscale equivalent of a strip mall will all the usual upscale chain stores. Even though it’s a Sunday, it is packed with cars of the expected type. BMWs and Hummers and Lexus etc. and then trough upscale exo-burbs. The usual haunts of the nouveau riche and the the current incarnation of the bourgeoisie.

Wagon Judging Contest - Geauga Fair

Then down past the Chagrin River and finally into Geauga County  initially Russel township the Newbury and finally Burton.     The area has grown of course but not as much as one would think since 1963 when my family originally left. More residential and more light industry, which looks to support the area more than anything else.  Some additional retail but mostly replacement of the retail that was there in years gone by.

I meet my cousin and her brother’s widow and we walked through the town to that fair grounds which is on the other side of the square and one main street. The main street which used to have a TV/Radio store, 5 and 10, drug store and grocery now has mostly upscale type arts and grafts shops, a local equivalent to a Starbucks and small shops of that nature.

Most of the family farms have gone except for the Amish and a few others that are more seriously run.  It is nearly completely white and staunchly conservative. Not the squirrelly tea party kind but  conservative. Maybe anti-liberal would come closer.

Pretty much the way of most of non-metro Ohio.  Like Portage,  Trumbull, Summit – etc.   Now this part of Geauga Country is more of the upscale professional type.  In the past it had a lot of blue collar workers and middle class support personal who worked in Cleveland or sometimes the outer burbs but nearly all of that has gone.  The residents even though they are on technological par with everyone else are still ideologically in the Eisenhower era.   And in their own particular world.

So when I read articles like Chris Hedges current piece and those of a similar tone here and elsewhere, I wonder how they will explain the necessity of an major economic and/or political change to the people here and those who were engaged in consumer masturbation at the strip mall I passed.  Since their lives seem to be just fine and have little concern or interest in what is going on in Cleveland or Youngstown or Chicago or Miami or Atlanta.

As I wondered the fair grounds and looked at the exhibits and smelled the fried food and animals and such, I felt like I had some how accidentally entered some part of the Shire. Where Wall Street and minorities and sweat shops were comfortably far off  and therefore legendary.

The Mind of A Conservative

6:09 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

We tend to throw around a lot of diatribe concerning conservatives these days. But lets us examine who or what we are actually dealing with. David Roberts in Grist does a pretty good break down in his current piece.

Yesterday I sketched the sort of personality type most likely to identify as conservative: those who prefer stability to change, order to complexity, familiarity to novelty, and conformity to creativity. This sort of personality type is drawn to clear lines separating in-groups from out-groups, highly aware of social hierarchies, suspicious of change, and strongly inclined toward system justification, i.e., seeing the prevailing socioeconomic regime as worthy and desirable

I often think that the actions and rhetoric of today’s conservative politicians are easier to make sense of at this level, the level of temperament and worldview, than at the level of stated principles and policy proposals. Seeing through this lens can help make sense of a lot of stuff that otherwise looks hypocritical or absurd. In particular, it can help make sense of the political fight over climate change and clean energy.

Now what sort of personality does the author attribute to today’s conservative ? Read the rest of this entry →

The Tea Party Caucus – The Demographics

4:40 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

According to this article in Salon and the charts below the vast majority of the Tea Party Caucus comes from the West and the South.

The mainstream media have completely missed the story, by portraying the Tea Party movement in ideological rather than regional terms. Whether by accident or design, the public faces of the Tea Party in the House are Midwesterners — Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann and Joe Walsh of Illinois. But while there may be Tea Party sympathizers throughout the country, in the House of Representatives the Tea Party faction that has used the debt ceiling issue to plunge the nation into crisis is overwhelmingly 

Southern in its origins:


The four states with the most Tea Party representatives in Congress are all former members of the Confederate States of America. The states with the greatest number of members of the House Tea Party caucus are Texas (12), Florida (7), Louisiana (5) and Georgia (5). While California is in fifth place with four House Tea Party members, the sixth, seventh and eighth places on the list are taken by two former Southern slave states, South Carolina and Tennessee, and a border state, Missouri, each with three members of the congressional Tea Party caucus.

So what we have is in reality the same old Dixiecrats of George Wallace fame but with a different name. With the exact same agenda they have had all along.

The Dixiecrat platform, which Lott is so proud his state supported, proclaimed: “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race.” Thurmond, who at the time was South Carolina’s governor, expounded at the party’s convention: “I want to tell you that there’s not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.” Newsweek describes the campaign as “one of the nastiest, openly racial campaigns of modern times.”

A firestorm of criticism caused Lott to apologize for the comments. But his past actions speak louder than his purported regrets.

At a 1980 campaign rally for GOP presidential nominee Ronald Reagan in Mississippi, then-congressman Lott gushed about Thurmond: “You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today.” In fact, Lott helped convince Reagan to kick off the presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That city was famous for only one thing: being the place where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.

If you look at the southern representatives voting pattern you will see this.

Here is how the League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that favors Southern secession from what it describes alternately as “the yankee empire” and “the South-busting American regime,” describes the South’s pattern of voting in Congress in recent years (note the author’s British spelling of “favour” — Noah Webster, who tried to Americanize spelling, was a Yankee):

Another stark Southern – US split occurred when the Senate voted on President Clinton’s impeachment verdict. The whole Senate voted to acquit Clinton on both impeachment charges while Southern Senators voted two-thirds in favour [sic] of convicting Clinton of obstruction of justice (18 to 8). If the South had been in charge, President Bill “the Lecher” Clinton would have been the first president in U.S. history to have been removed from office by impeachment.

Election

If the South had had its way, however, Clinton would not even have been elected in the first place. In both 1992 and 1996 the South voted for the Republican nominee for President, i.e., the candidate generally perceived to be more conservative (regardless of the reality).

Taxes

On tax policy, the South almost always votes for lower taxes, and is sometimes overridden by the US congress. In 1998 the thirteen State South voted by the required two-thirds margin for a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of both houses of congress to raise taxes. Southerners voted in favour [sic] of this constitutional amendment 90 to 41. In the full House the amendment failed by 238 to 186 opposed, far short of the constitutionally required two-thirds margin.

Religious Freedom

Also in 1998, Southern Representatives voted by the requisite two-thirds “super majority” to submit to the States the Religious Freedom Constitutional Amendment. It would have guaranteed an individual’s right to pray and recognize his religious beliefs on public property, including schools. The house of representatives [sic] as a whole rejected this amendment by a vote of 224 in favour to 203 opposed, falling miserably short of the necessary two-thirds margin.

States’ Rights

In 1997 Senator Hutchinson of Arkansas offered an amendment to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts and transfer its fiscal 1998 funding directly to the States. The South voted for this State Rights proposal by the ample margin of 17 to 9, whereas the full Senate rejected this affirmation of the rights and duties of the States by the almost equally strong margin of 63 against to only 36 for.

In light of this recent history, it is clear that the origins of the debt ceiling crisis are to be sought, not in generic American conservatism, but in idiosyncratic Southern conservatism. The goal, the methods and the passion of the Tea Party in the House are all characteristic of the radical Southern right.

The Tea Party Caucus are just the same old White Southern Racists.  So it’s not surprising that McConnell wants Obama out of the White House and that a Republican would refer to him as a tar baby.

 

The Tea Party Conservatives – A Study in Irrationality

8:14 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

He who does not trust enough, will not be trusted. – Lao Tzu

We have heard and read a lot concerning the so called Tea Party conservatives. From vituperative language to questions about their mental stability to their motives. I do not think that anyone has actually looked too deeply into to this particular group though.

Just look at this data. Over half are men, own guns, are very religious, have has at least some education beyond high school and over 45 years of age. And nearly completely non-Hispanic white. And nearly all hate and fear the federal government.

Look at the charts. Guns, religion, age and the government. This is NOT about money and never really has been. It’s about CONTROL. Conservatives have always been control freaks but these people are off the scale.  According to Dave Masco they are viewed as Rich Bullies who are very insecure.

Tea Party viewed as rich bullies who want it their way

According to the New York Times/CBS News poll, “the Tea Party movement burst onto the scene a year ago in protest of the economic stimulus package and its supporters have vowed to purge the Republican Party of officials they consider not sufficiently conservative and to block the Democratic agenda on the economy, the environment and health care.”

At the same time, the poll noted how the Tea Party supporters’ have “fierce animosity toward Washington, and the president in particular, is rooted in deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.”

Also, the poll showed that the overwhelming majority of Tea Party supporters say President Obama “does not share the values most Americans live by and that he does not understand the problems of people like themselves. More than half say the policies of the administration favor the poor, and 25 percent think that the administration favors blacks over whites — compared with 11 percent of the general public.”

The poll is shocking in its findings that Tea Party members “are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.”

But I think it also goes deeper than that. They fear government in their lives in any way shape or form because they fear the government.  They hate the idea of government providing anything because they fear and hate any dependence on it.  It’s absolutely about loosing what little control they feel they have over their lives.  They do not trust the government and most likely do not even trust themselves.   And they feel victimized and paranoid.  So the tea part is very supportive of the military and the wars in general. just no “Obama’s Wars”.

I do wish however that I could find an even more detailed view oh those who consider themselves staunch tea-party conservatives.  Whether they are overly concerned with personal security. That they are more likely to have guns would suggest this.  Whether they are more likely to be self employed or have a small or smaller business.  The religious factor suggests a deep seated fear of the future and their anti-gay stance shows to me that they are very sexually insecure as well.

Their statements and willingness to destroy an economy that is already causing them financial distress appears to be irrational.  People who react almost totally emotionally will be irrational since emotions nearly always block out any rational thought.  As Bill Cosby once observed – Scared children are very difficult to get along with. I would like to add angry children as well.

 

The Morphing of The Amercan Right. From Burke and Buckley to Baptists and Falwell

1:32 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen


While discussing the general state of affairs in this country in chat the other night, I was given a link to an article in Salon by Michael Lind on The American Right. A kind of later 20th century history of sorts that is rather insightful, at least to me.  According to Lind, conservatism in the US was not originally enmeshed with fundamentalist religion as it is now. Here is what he says on the matter.

Following World War II, the American right was a miscellany of marginal, embittered subcultures — anti-New Dealers, isolationists, paranoid anticommunists, anti-semites and white supremacists. Russell Kirk and others associated with William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review sought to Americanize a version of high-toned British Burkean conservatism. While the eighteenth century British parliamentarian was embraced by conservatives for his opposition to the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, a champion of the rights of Britain’s Indian, Irish and American subjects, could also be claimed by liberals like Yale Law School’s Alexander Bickel, who preferred gradual, cautious reform to radical social experimentation. In its liberal as in its conservative forms, Burkeanism disdains reaction and radicalism alike, and favors change in lesser things when necessary to maintain the continuity of more fundamental institutions and values.

The religious equivalent of Burkean politics is orthodoxy, not fundamentalism. Orthodoxy means the continuity of a tradition, as interpreted by an authoritative body of experts, such as priests, rabbis or mullahs. The term “fundamentalism” originated in the early twentieth century as a description of reactionary evangelical Protestants in the U.S. who rejected liberal Protestantism and modern evolutionary science and insisted on the inerrancy of the Bible. The phrase is nowadays applied indiscriminately and often inaccurately to various religious movements, some of which, in the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim traditions are better described as ultra-orthodox. 

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