Tuesday, November 29, 2011

100th Post, Writer's Block, and Janeane Garofalo

   The Midwest Atheist blog has reached its 100th post! Where's the cake?

   In other news, I'm feeling a bit of a writer's block. I do have some drafts in the works, but I'm just not feeling "it." And I'm running out of ideas for topics. If anyone wants to send me suggestions, that would be cool.

   Otherwise, I leave you with a clip from last week of Janeane Garofalo on "Countdown." (The clip does not start at the beginning of the segment, so checkout the transcript below for the rest.)

DAVID SHUSTER: If the right wing is good at one thing, it is creating attack lines. They usually have no basis in fact, but are catchy and scary.

In our number-one story — the latest right-wing attack on President Obama appears to be a retread. No, not the "Obama is a secret Muslim" line, but painting the Obamas as arugula-eating elitists who — more than anything — are "uppity."

It was in 2008 that then-candidate Obama said Americans were bitter over the American government's failures to fix the economic situation. The right-wing response, led by their candidate John McCain, was to paint the interracial child of a single mother as elitist. But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, the right wing is using its leftovers and bringing that attack line back. The re-launch of the attack started last week, when Rick Perry brought his fledgling campaign to Sean Hannity to discuss the out-of-context sound of Obama calling the government "lazy."

(Excerpt from video clip) SEAN HANNITY: This is not the first time that he's gone after the American people. What does it reveal to you about his mindset and his thinking?

(Excerpt from video clip) RICK PERRY: It reveals to me that he grew up in a privileged way. He never had to really work for anything

SHUSTER: Of course, in 2008 the elitist attack failed. So this time around, the right wing decided to paint the whole Obama family as elitist. Enter Rush Limbaugh. He took it upon himself to explain the NASCAR fan's disrespectful reaction to the first lady from over the weekend.

(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: NASCAR people, the rest of us, we do not like being told — "steak and arugula." We do not like being told that we can only eat what's in her garden. We don't like being told what to eat. We don't like being told how much to exercise. They understand it's a little bit of uppity-ism.

SHUSTER: Maybe Rush is right. There is nothing more "uppity" than the first lady of a nation with a growing obesity epidemic encouraging people to exercise and eat right. Who needs to do that when an obese person can simply pay a Florida-based weight loss center to feed them low-calorie foods and supplements to help them lose 90 pounds? Why encourage every citizen to display self-control when you can just pay a company to lose the weight for you. Right, Rush?

Let's bring in comedian and friend of the show, Janeane Garofalo. Janeane, thanks for your time tonight. For putting up with that line.

JANEANE GAROFALO: Thank you for having me.

SHUSTER: This idea of the Obamas being uppity and privileged — coming from a party that has the likes of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich running for the nomination — do they not have a mirror?

GAROFALO: Well, what he means, I think, by "privileged" — Rick Perry is saying that — what he's really saying is that he did not have to work for what he got. It's affirmative action. He — he was the beneficiary of all of these liberal, social engineering. He didn't deserve to get into the schools he got into. He doesn't deserve to be where he is. He's — you know, that's what he means by privileged. And when he also talks about pretending Obama said Americans were lazy. He is picking that word, again, because that's a conservative meme — the welfare mothers and they want handouts and people, you know what I mean, poor people are lazy and they want the government to do things for them.

SHUSTER: Except when the poor people are conservatives or Republicans?

GAROFALO: Oh, it's always a double standard when it's conservatives and so forth.

But uppity is — it's the hack-est — you know what I mean, the most obvious thing and that's why Rush Limbaugh says it — but how dare a black woman, no less, tell people to eat healthy and to show up at NASCAR, which is the bastion of real America. It's just one of those things where, as usual, the conservative movement of the Republican Party — because their pool of applicants, if you will, is shrinking as modernity sets in and time moves on and more and more people in our culture and society become more enlightened and become more forward thinking — they have less and less people who are going to be Republican and conservative and that old chestnut, Libertarian, which is really nothing more than a conservative. So, they have to do things like use divisive language or —

SHUSTER: But why do it in such a way that's so reminiscent of 2008, when it didn't work?

GAROFALO: What have they got? What other material — it's a hack medium. You have to get some new material. The thing is — it always works on a certain segment of the population. If you are trying to appeal to the worst in us — quite literally the worst in us — and trying go to the limbic brain of anxiety, fear, intolerance, hatred, bitterness, ignorance —you have to just use these very simple, as they say, dog-whistle words and things to get to them.

SHUSTER: How does it work, then, for Father of the Year Joe Walsh? He recently called the Occupy protesters un-American, among other things.


SHUSTER: Is the GOP that far into the pockets of the banks that protesting the banks is some how protesting America in Joe Walsh's world?

GAROFALO: They have to pretend that's the case. This is a party of "Freedom fries." Do you remember "Freedom fries" and "Freedom toast?" Two of the more embarrassing things that have ever happened in this country — at the commissary, post 9-11. That you could not say French toast and French fries. And I believe French toast is from Belgium — or French fries are from Belgium and French toast, I think, is from Buffalo, New York originally.

Be that as it may — and Michele Bachmann wanted that American test — how American are you? It's just so silly, it infantilizes us all. And unfortunately, the mainstream media is quite willing to help them to this. Quite willing to let these things slide. But they do love a black man like Herman Cain and Michael Steele and — is it Ron Christie? — any of these pundits who pretend we are in a post-racial society. They like that kind of black person.

SHUSTER: What kind of reaction would we get, or what would the right — how would they react — if the pepper spraying at UC Davis had been on tea party ralliers?

GAROFALO: Oh, my God! Well, pepper spray would be banned, first and foremost. And if you think about it, the tea party — many of them claim to be armed? Right? — they were very pridefully saying, "I have my gun at this health-care town hall," or "I am not armed this time." They had signs that would say that.

So, how is linking arms on a college campus an act of aggression, but saying you have a gun and you are willing to use it and it's time to secede into revolution and you don't recognize this government as legitimate? How is that not seen as some type of aggressive thing? It's one of those things that, again, it is just so silly, and it makes you feel like you are the crazy one when you see these things.

But the double standard that exists for the tea party, which is not, by the way, a grassroots movement that is concerned with deficits and government expansion. They are an Astroturfed, fully funded by the Koch brothers and Freedom Works and supported by Fox News — they are a group -- they are a subset of the Republican Party, primarily motivated by racial intolerance.

SHUSTER: Well, Janeane Garofalo it's always a pleasure to have you here to talk about these fun issues.

GAROFALO: Is there not more? Can we talk about how to kill a turkey? There are better ways to kill a turkey. Let's drag it behind a car.

SHUSTER: Thanks, Janeane, we appreciate it.

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