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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/6/11

The Debt Ceiling Debacle, S&P's Credit Downgrade and "Boobus Americanus"

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For that rare American possessing at least an ounce of brains, yesterday's New York Times/CBS News poll once again demonstrated that his fellow citizens are clowns who richly deserve the derision that much of the world now is heaping upon them. That poll, conducted in the wake of the "debt ceiling" debacle, tells us that a full 82 percent of Americans now disapprove of how the U.S. Congress is doing its job.

Unfortunately, the pollsters didn't ask Americans how well they perform their job as informed citizens. Neither did they ask Americans precisely when they became concerned or informed about the debt ceiling. Had they done so, they probably would have learned that the interest of Americans peaked only after they were scared stiff by the jackboot tactics and infantile theatrics of Tea Party Republicans. Only after repeated warnings by economists and other grown-ups about the potentially disastrous consequences of default did more and more Americans dimly realize that there is no responsible way to avoid raising the debt ceiling. After all, the full faith and credit of the United States -- and thus the interest rates that America and Americans pay -- rests upon the belief by markets around the world that the U. S. always pays its bills.

Thus, having endured an artificial and unnecessary crisis, seventy-two percent of Americans came to disapprove of the way that Republicans handled the matter. In fact, many of these Americans now believe (correctly) that it was the ideologically asinine intransigence of Tea Party Republicans that recklessly courted the economic disaster of default. Tea Party recklessness now appears to be the main reason behind the decision by Standard & Poors to downgrade America's credit rating from AAA to AA+.

Have you looked at the flotsam and jetsam that call themselves the Tea Party? They were virtually nonexistent during the eight years when the administration of George W. Bush massively burdened all Americans with debt by refusing to raise the revenue necessary to fund tax cuts for the rich, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a huge prescription drug program. In essence, President Bush charged all of these programs to a "BIG GOVERNMENT" credit card.

Nevertheless, the flotsam and jetsam that became the Tea Party found reason to coalesce after a black President of the United States was elected and pushed through an economic stimulus package (designed to combat the Great Recession unleashed during the last years of the Bush regime) and a fully funded health care reform law.

Fewer than half of these Tea Party yokels have earned a college degree and only a quarter earn over $100,000 per year. Thus, many might be viewed as failures on two generally accepted indicators of personal success.

Nevertheless, these spiteful busybody blockheads possess alarming hubris and, thus, actually believe that they and other (mostly white) Americans are capable of being self-sufficient, if only government would just get off their backs. Want to double over from laughter? Simply consider that two-thirds of these hypocritical dimwits nevertheless approve of Social Security and Medicare. Two government welfare programs? Self-sufficient, my ass!

Some seven dozen of Tea Party members have been elected to Congress. A few of their more willful know nothings -- like that boob, Michele Bachmann -- see no conflict between their denunciations of the taxes supporting welfare for the poor and the approval they give to taxes that pay for the farm and business subsidies they receive. Even worse, few of their feeble minded supporters even recognize the blatant hypocrisy of such Tea baggers.

How do these Tea Party numbskulls reconcile their hypocrisy? They don't. Instead, they occasionally let it be known that taxation for welfare is so repugnant today only because President Obama is diverting more of it to poor minorities and low class whites. Even if such bogus assertions were true, these white Tea Party scoundrels still would be conducting hateful race and class warfare --with the open support of Fox News, the editorial board of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, and Ayn Rand indoctrinated billionaire manipulators like the Koch brothers.

Ultimately, however, blame for the audacity with which Tea Party Republicans demonstrated their willingness to screw the poor, even at the expense of undermining America's credit rating, rests with the over polluted sea of morons who populate the United States. Morons? Yes, H. L. Mencken, the formidable autodidact, esteemed intellectual and, perhaps, most prominent American cultural figure of the 1920s and 30s, not only called Americans morons, but also a distinct type of human being, "Boobus americanus."

In light of recent events, both slurs seem quite appropriate. Simply consider what Mencken had to say about his fellow countrymen:

"Here the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head, and is thrown willy-nilly into a meager and exclusive aristocracy. And here, more than anywhere else that I know of or have heard of, the daily panorama of human existence, of private and communal folly -- the unending procession of governmental extortions and chicaneries, of commercial brigandages and throat- slittings, of theological buffooneries, of aesthetic ribaldries, of legal swindles and harlotries, of miscellaneous rogueries, villainies, imbecilities, grotesqueries, and extravagances -- is so inordinately gross and preposterous, so perfectly brought up to the highest conceivable amperage, so steadily enriched with the most fabulous daring and originality, that only a man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night, and to awake every morning with all the eager, unflagging expectation of a Sunday-school superintendent touring the Paris peep-shows." [H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series, Library of America, pp. 303-04]

Doesn't Mencken's description perfectly capture our recent debt ceiling debacle and explain S&P's decision to downgrade American credit?

Comparing the typical American to a "peasant long ground into the mud of his wallow," Mencken adds, he "has great practical cunning, but he is unable to see any further than the next farm. He likes money and knows how to amass property, but his cultural development is but little above that of domestic animals. He is intensely and cocksurely moral, but his morality and his self-interest are crudely identical. He is emotional and easy to scare, but his imagination cannot grasp an abstraction. He is a violent nationalist and patriot, but he admires rogues in office and always beats the tax collector if he can. He has immovable opinions about all of the great affairs of state, but nine-tenths of them are sheer imbecilities. He is violently jealous of what he conceives to be his rights, but brutally disregardful of the other fellow's. He is religious, but his religion is wholly devoid of beauty and dignity. This man, whether city or country bred, is the normal Americano -- the 100 per cent. Methodist, Odd Fellow, Ku Kluxer, and Know Nothing. He exists in all countries, but here alone he rules -- here alone his anthropoid fears and rages are accepted gravely as logical ideas, and dissent from them is punished as a sort of public offense." [Ibid, p. 311]

Why are such American morons to blame for the economic extortion attempted by Tea Party Republicans? Because, just three months ago (if you believe the poll conducted by Gallup in May 2011), a plurality of 47% of Americans opposed raising the debt ceiling. (As a persuasive indicator of their arrested mental development, fully 70 percent of Republicans opposed raising the debt ceiling, when polled in May.)

That's right, a plurality of America's morons opposed raising the debt ceiling just three months ago. Had they possessed the knowledge then that they gained after the debt ceiling debacle, the Tea Party's extortions might have been aborted and the S&P downgrade avoided.

Mencken was right. "The American people"are sheep. Worse, they are donkeys. Yet worse, to borrow from their own dialect, they are goats. They are thus constantly bamboozled and exploited by small minorities of their own number, by determined and ambitious individuals, and even by exterior groups. The business of victimizing them is a lucrative profession, an exact science and a lofty art." It's "combat between jackals and jackasses." [Mencken, Notes on Democracy p. 75 and p. 87]

In his book, Notes on Democracy, Mencken rhetorically asked: "What are the sources of " [the jackals'] power?" His answer: "They lie, obviously, in the gross weaknesses and knaveries of the common people -- in their inability to grasp any issues save the simplest and most banal, in their incurable tendency to fly into preposterous alarms, in their petty self-seeking and venality, in their instinctive envy and hatred of their superiors -- in brief, in their congenital incapacity for the elemental duties of citizens in a civilized state." [p.88]

Now simply recall our less than "exceptional" recent history: (1) our inability to resist a deliberately engineered stampede into a criminal war in Iraq, (2) our inability to demolish claims that 9/11 was an inside job, (3) our inability to resist our worst racist impulses, when scoundrels questioned the place of President Obama's birth and (4) our willingness to permit Tea Party jackals to nearly destroy our economy, but actually provoke a credit downgrade. Wasn't Mencken correct when he questioned the congenital incapacity of "Boobus americanus" to effectively manage his so-called sovereignty?

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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