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Sep 05 2005

Kill The Poor

Trentlottsvacationhouse

Blogular vituperations on the subject of Bush’s astounding and ceaseless displays of incompetence–the least of which is his unsettling yearning for a seat on professional racist Trent Lott’s front porch–have been many and spectacular. But are they justified?

Now, now, keep your shirt on. I’m not saying Bush isn’t a moroon stumblebum. But what if, as a commenter at Ezra Klein chillingly suggests, Bush’s seeming stumblebummery isn’t the result of anything so mild and comical as mere incompetence? What if it is, in fact, the quintessence of ideology? I allude to an ideology summarized poetically in a bygone century by prescient punk militant Jello Biafra: "Kill kill kill kill kill the poor."

Should you ruminate on the hypothesis for five minutes, which is what I did because I had an extra five minutes, it will dawn on your astute young mind that there can be no other explanation for the enormity of the post-hurricane denouement than the manifestation of a deeply entrenched kill-the-poor ideology. What appears to be the federal government’s epic indifference to the continued suffering of disaster victims suggests in actuality some fairly acrobatic and precise machinations of ruthlessness. I submit that such flawlessly executed ruthlessness could never have been realized by the mere ineptitude of a figurehead president and a couple of moron cabinet secretaries. If this administration were as clumsy as the liberal bloggers are saying it is, Al Gore, or at least John Kerry, would be president right now, and Americans would know the difference between Saddam and Osama, and between science and baloney.

I’m no forensic political scientist, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to poke through the record and come up with evidence to suggest that the Bush corporatocratic philosophy traditionally has looked less than favorably on the poor, to the extent that it really doesn’t mind killing them. In fact, I should think that the more herculean task would be to unearth any evidence at all to the contrary. It’s not like they even try to hide it. El Bushito unapologetically sends kids from his own nation’s poor families to kill and be killed by poor people overseas, while his wife–yes, I am currently obsessed with her–coolly elucidates similar views when she acknowledges that the poor necessarily snuff it at disproportionate rates because they’re, you know, poor.

If it is not, in fact, the policy of the current administration to exact revenge on the poor for the hideous crime of poverty, it would be an exception to a rule as old as patriarchy itself. This kill-the-poor M.O. has been favored by aristocracies since the first Sumerian stashed away his first bushel of spelt, declared it a surplus, realized with a start that he was the first rich dude in history, and lost no time initiating a rampage around Ur forcibly informing everybody else he was their king by order of the invisible, anthropomorphic, rich-dude-lovin’ gods. And that they were now, you know, poor. And that’s just the way it was gonna be.

31 comments

2 pings

  1. deja pseu

    B-b-b-but, if we kill the poor, who will wash the dishes and change the sheets???

  2. Sara

    I tend to think that the administration’s attitude toward the poor is less malicious than willfully ignorant and criminally negligent. When you spend your life surrounded by people who will never tell you no, and your definition of working harder is telling other people to work harder, you are going to have a very, very unrealistic picture of how things work in the world. Unreality-based, as it were.

  3. Fred

    Now, now, keep your shirt on. I’m not saying Bush isn’t a moroon stumblebum. But what if, as a commenter at Ezra Klein chillingly suggests, Bush’s seeming stumblebummery isn’t the result of anything so mild and comical as mere incompetence? What if it is, in fact, the quintessence of ideology? I allude to an ideology summarized poetically in a bygone century by prescient punk militant Jello Biafra: “Kill kill kill kill kill the poor.”

    Jeepers! You really think so?

    You think that an arrogant little puke Richie Rich punkass maybe isn’t as dumb as he pretends (in order to attract the Cletus vote) and actually has a carefully planned agenda for world domination by his fat cat cronies?

    Well, glad to see that you’re catching on, sister. See, it can be beneficial to take a break from foaming at the mouth over all males and seeing that it’s just some jerks that are creating all of our troubles.

  4. Twisty

    Sayonara, Fred. You begin to bore me.

  5. rhondda

    I think you are right Twisty. If you look at some of the right wing blogs, their contempt for the poor is clear. On the left, I am seeing do goodism. I am not saying don’t help by the way. Just that the left tend to patronize the poor which can be just as oppressive as out and out hate, only more subtle. I read one blog by a volunteer who went on and on about how it felt to be of help and how grateful the people were. The poor know if you don’t show gratitude, you will get the cold shoulder next time. When I was a social worker, the people who said fuck you to me were the ones I liked the best. We got through the nicey games right away and could find solutions that were theirs and not mine.

  6. Twisty

    I tend to think that the administration’s attitude toward the poor is less malicious than willfully ignorant and criminally negligent.

    But aren’t “willfully ignorant” and “criminally negligent,” particularly when you’re talking about the supposedly democratically-elected government of a supposedly civilized country, pretty much the definition of “malicious”?

    Not that it matters, though; the ruling class’s intent, or lack theroef, can be of but little consolation to the displaced, and of no consequence to the dead.

  7. ripley

    I’ve been thinking this for a while.. especially reading about how folks in the Superdome were not allowed to leave. this is different from a death camp how, exactly?

    let alone an evacuation “plan” that is nothing more than “find your own way out” and the poor and ill be damned. Can’t really get more explicit than that.

    As I read somewhere else, this is also a success of the right wing plan to make government fully ineffective, as well as kill the poor.

  8. ehj2

    Impeach Bush Now.

    The world is watching and our naked hands are covered in the blood of our fellow citizens. Nothing can wash this off or cover this up. This stain will never go away. The cost of what is happening now is not calculable.

    Five years ago America suffered the hubris of invincibility. Now the largest economy in the world calls Asia “banker” for $2 billion a day; the largest military in the world is hunkered down in sand and actually losing to determined teenagers in pajamas with $50 rifles; and a hurricane we saw coming years in advance just gutted a strategic glistening jewel on the Gulf of Mexico and ripped out our national heart with a rusty knife on public television.

    We can say that 19 men (Saudi’s not Iraqi’s) and a half a carton of cheap boxcutters did this. We can pretend that the loss of two beautiful buildings in my beloved New York gutted America. (Beautiful blue New York … where once walked Titans of Democratic Thought.) We can pretend that we were too busy to notice what was happening, that the deterioration around us in the quality of our culture and reverence for each other was unstoppable.

    Or we can face the truth and acknowledge we did this. Brick by brick. Lie by Lie. Instance of greed built upon hills and mountains of greed.

    The horrible music of death roars across the planet and through me like burning wind and I can’t make it stop. My bones are on fire. I can’t weep any more and I can’t stop. Even the whispering of the wind in the grasses and the leaves of the trees fling back at me in a million small taunting voices the truth of what we have done.

    The sky will not cover me up.

    Oh, God.

    What have we done to our pure dream that we promised to pour out as healing water upon the world? Who can listen to us now, anywhere in the world, on human rights? We just wrote off one of our own cities like a factory farm of diseased animals. Who can listen to us now, anywhere in the world, on how to run a nation? Did we truly once know?

    Our government is now revealed as a Potemkin village, a savaged husk, an embarrassing sham, suitable for no role more strenuous than parroting the new national myth, “self-reliance.”

    As the dark storm clouds gather the world looks for leadership. And more and more it is clear that America will not be providing that leadership. Pitiless “Self Reliance” is just another phrase for “Every country for itself.” No message is more destabilizing. And the world gets the message; global arms sales in 2004 were $37 billion, with the bulk (33.4%) of weapons contracts executed by the United States. Yes. The world gets the message.

    I did this. I didn’t do enough to stop it.

    /e

  9. antelope

    Twisty – could you find a link to the Laura Bush quote somewhere? I dunno why, but you’ve filled me with this overwhelming urge to drop my jaw over the mindnumbing stupidity of someone BESIDES the moroon stumblebum himself and so I simply must to see what she had to say.

  10. Twisty

    Hey Antelope, here ya go. I’m working on finding a transcript of her whole boring speech.

  11. antelope

    Ms. Laura Bush:

    What about the people still stuck in New Orleans? Bush was asked about the fact that most of them are poor and black. That’s just the way it is, she said. “This is what happens when there’s a natural disaster of this scope,” Bush said. “The poorer people are usually in the neighborhoods that are the lowest or the most exposed or the most vulnerable. Their housing is the most vulnerable to natural disaster. And that is just always what happens.”

    To which I sez – except in the case of the California mudslides last year, because the most dangerous areas also had the best views. I do believe the wealthy fools who built mcmansions on them thar hills got aid right quick. No?

    I try to stay informed, but in cases like this it really is hard to keep up without a tv.

  12. StealthBadger

    I believe it as well. The problem is that the system is built around not recognizing that particular motivation, and making it very hard to prove in anyone. So unless someone comes up with a memo saying “Let’s wait another day, we’ll have fewer of them to fish out,” all I can do is blame the money, blame the politicians that the money bought, and blame the people that the politicians appointed.

    Laying this at the doorstep of a gender/race/class issue that the country is fighting hard not to recognize, I think will be easier for the historians who are looking at it afterwards, and I hope I’ll still be alive to kick the first one in the teeth who says “but we’re nothing like that now.” First and foremost is to get these dangerously insane people away from sharp objects, and right now command authority and responsibility is the only legal language that can make that happen without a full-blown revolution. Next comes “promote the general welfare,” a long forgotten concept to address the paid-for Congresscritters (such as Mr. Zell Miller, the Senator from Coca-Cola. I know there are LOTS of others, but he’s my favorite example). Perhaps a serious legal challenge to “corporate personhood” if we all eat our Wheaties.

    I actually despair for the system, which has overcome so many flaws through the struggle of the abused, and yet gained so many more through greed, and even reinforced some of the deepest ones.

  13. Amanda Marcotte

    Nothing like someone who thinks he’s superior to the XXer’s amongst us lecturing us on unjust hierarchies.

  14. StealthBadger

    *shrugs* If that sounded like that, I apologize. It wasn’t meant as lecturing.

    If that’s what you believe, that I feel superior, then nothing I can say will change that. Prolly should have kept my mouth shut anyway.

    See y’all elsewhere, perhaps.

  15. Anonymous

    Hey, guess who said this: Fuck ‘em all, let ‘em die, that’s my slogan!
    (a) George W. Bush;
    (b) Tupak Shakur;
    If you guessed (b), you listen to rap.
    If you guessed (a) you’ve been listening to the news.

  16. mcmc

    Eat eat eat eat eat the rich!

  17. Tony Patti

    The equanimity of the conservatives in America at watching the suffering of those less fortunate is a religious belief of the highest and most sacred sort, handed down by the architects of protestantism, like Calvin. It’s called predestinarianism, and it means that God foresaw all sins before the fall of Eve, and that we are all blessed or condemned by destinies determined before the fall.

    The poor deserve their fate because they are unworthy of better, and the rich deserve their fate because they are the elect. So Laura Bush knows that God wants all those poor people to die, and why waste a single tear for anyone but maybe the unborn babies?

  18. J.A.

    I would add this to Twisty’s narrative, from Alexander Cockburn:

    “There are all sorts of bargains the rich and the powerful in any society make with the poor. But one way or another,­ through bread, circuses, the dole, the promise that Anyone Can Make It, there’s the offer of a deal: Don’t make trouble: we’ll take care of you. Empires collapse when the offer, the ‘marginal rate of return,’ becomes empty: we won’t take care of you. Or, we can’t take care of you. We don’t need you and we’re not frightened of you.

    We’re at that point here. Malthus, a Christian, proposed locating the surplus poor next to unhealthy marshes, in the hope they would get sick and die. How much of a difference is there between that and the ‘emergency preparedness’ and evacuation procedures before, during and after Katrina?”

  19. Anonymous

    And this is brilliant. Read the testimony of Jenny Sachs, British tourist:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4214746.stm

  20. robin

    In regards to the Badger/Amanda exchange – most of of us are a member of a group that has greater advantages than at least one other group. Are we able to walk and move our limbs? Are we able to have coherant social discourse? Can we trust our senses to give us a reasonable mapping of our immediate environment? Are we living in a house instead of on the street? Are we not enslaved? Do we have any autonomy whatsoever? If we can answer yes to any of these questions, than we are blessed with much more than many are, whether we are black, white, male, female, poor, rich.. I don’t think that belonging to a historically “privileged” group should disqualify us from being involved in a conversation about power inequities. We all should all aspire to empathy, and respect the voices of those who tell the stories of life experiences that we can only imagine.
    I hope we won’t damn our fellow humans for simply belonging to a group with more power. That is the simply beginning of the story, not the end.

  21. Wordlackey

    You are sooo right, Ms. Faster! I think it’s pretty self-evident that the Buford-in-Chief is not quite as stupid as he pretends. And the malice toward the poor is not an ignorant and clueless by-product but a focused policy.

    This works at home and abroad. I’m of the strong opinion that, consciously or unconsciously, our government is nurturing policies which will lead to continual destabilization and depopulation of Africa in order to more freely exploit the resources of the continent. US AIDS aid is an excellent example, helped along by some lovely despots. To those who think I’m wa-a-ay out on the edge on this, look a little closer at some of the more fetid eddies of US history and government policy.

    This is why I don’t think this cohort of Neocons are merely wrongheaded. I sincerely believe they are evil. There’s little use in arguing with most of them; that assumes they give a damn about logic or ethics. No, I don’t think they should be taken out and shot (tho I swear that sounds more attractive every day.) But I no longer expect the remotest sign of honor from them. I’m just naive enough to think there can be *some* honor in politics. Go ahead, laugh! Yet I remain hopeful (not about the current crew, of course).

  22. Christopher

    My exhibit no. 1 in the Bush is incompetant argument is the Iraq war.

    Not only have we failed at humanitarian goals like freeing people from tyranny, we’ve failed at everything else, too. We don’t have an alied state that will let us keep a military presence in the middle east. We don’t have good control over Iraqi oil production. The thing is, I think that a competant leader could have gotten himself those things by now.

    So, not only has Iraq failed from a moral perspective, it’s failed to really be in Bush’s self-interest (Or so I think. Feel free to tell me otherwise).

    My dad’s theory is that the Bush administration is good at one thing only: spin (Or, more colloquially, lying their asses off).

    He worries that, since they’re starting now to fail at spinning, that they have reason to think that they don’t need spin anymore; that they’re planning to do something radical in future, like declare martial law or make Bush president for life.

    Now, normally, I would laugh that off, but then I remember that Bush is going to be President for three more years. Isn’t that amazing? It feels like he’s already managed to do eight years worth of damage to our country. It makes me shudder to imagine how much further down the sewer he’ll be able to take us in the next three years.

  23. Masterfraud

    Thanks for this post! I have been thinking a lot about this, since I’m currently reading Agamben’s Homo Sacer. He talks about the power of the State being grounded in the capability of killing, in the elimination of bare life, sacred life, the homo sacer. We cannot escape the State, as it completes its ownership of our lives in our very birth as citizens, subjects, of it. Think here of how the Germans had to denationalize the Jews in the 1930′s before shipping them to camps. Think here of Israelis blazing their way into Lebanon (ghetto vs. frontier). Anyway, you write well. Glad to have run across your blog!

  24. peacebug

    writer Christopher’s dad “worries that, since they’re starting now to fail at spinning, that they have reason to think that they don’t need spin anymore; that they’re planning to do something radical in future, like declare martial law or make Bush president for life.”

    yep – I’m of the same mind. The Bushiites are setting the stage for some *really* radical action. Witness the stealing of the presidency in 2000 via the supreme court, the purchase of the second term via obeisance to the religious zealots and military-industrial complex; add to that mix a general public malaise allowing the administration to get away with blatant lies and the enervation of the so-called independent media; and now, with two high court vacancies to fill, Bush can dream BIG dreams while he bikes around his “ranch.” And with friends like his, he can rest assured his will be done.

    It’s baffling how often people vote against their best interests. And while I’m pretty worn down by the scheming and machinations of the party I deplore and the fact that they’re getting away with it, maybe things will soon get to be so-o-o bad that folks will begin to wake up and call for change.

  25. Finn

    The fallback message I’m already hearing from conservative types is an acknowledgement of some ineptitude from Bush, but it’s too late, he’s elected, now let’s look toward ’08.

    For the sake of knowing the enemy, I watched some Fox news coverage over the weekend. A quick and unscientific comparison (me flipping the remote) of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox seemed to reveal that Fox spent the most non-NewOrleans news time on Rehnquist’s passing. CNN hardly mentioned it most of the day, but did do some piece on it later. MSNBC mentioned it in passing but did little else.

    What this reveals, to me, is that conservatives elected Bush for a reason, to do their bidding. Whether he’s successful as a humanitarian in times of need is something they will sweep under a bureaucratic rug (the way they swept aside his dangerously slow reaction to 9-11).

    So long as they get their judges.

  26. Steph

    Feed the homeless to the hungry?

    I still think Bush is an idiot, but he’s like all those popular rich boys, used by less popular but smarter boys to promote their neocon agenda, of which kill the poor is just a part. Since those folks are unelected they don’t have to “pay” for their since at the ballot box and they can work for the next popular boy that gets elected.

    It makes it sound conspiratal, but I still don’t think Bush is the “brains” behind the operation, though I think the operation is running as planned. Sigh.

  27. Twisty

    Christopher, you say tomato and I say pomodoro. My sly little point is this: if the Bush administration’s motto isn’t “kill the poor” they’re nevertheless doing a damn fine impression of it.

  28. Ancrene Wiseass

    “I did this. I didn’t do enough to stop it.”

    That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling, ehj2. To self-indulgently quote myself from my blog:

    “Here’s the thing: If we’d been more aware, less frightened, and more on the ball as a citizenry before, I don’t think the NOLA nightmare would’ve happened in the first place.

    Remember the rallying cry of “Don’t let the terrorists win?” Well, honestly, I think they won this round. They scared us into re-electing a dangerous incompetent during our time of need because he looks convincing in a flight suit and can reduce complex issues to the comforting, easy dichotomies of melodrama. What happened in NOLA is only part of the fallout.

    We can’t afford not to pay attention to what this government is doing anymore. It hasn’t proven itself worthy of our trust, and we need to hold it to account. Because we’re accountable, too: we elected it.”

    I wish I knew what to do other than send money, blog about it, and write to some politicians. I wish I could go save some people. I wish I could sock Bush right in the eye.

  29. ae

    This kill-the-poor M.O. has been favored by aristocracies since the first Sumerian stashed away his first bushel of spelt, declared it a surplus, realized with a start that he was the first rich dude in history, and lost no time initiating a rampage around Ur forcibly informing everybody else he was their king by order of the invisible, anthropomorphic, rich-dude-lovin’ gods. And that they were now, you know, poor. And that’s just the way it was gonna be.

    Twisty, I must have you! You must be mine!

    I cannot pitch my puptent in the camp that holds that Dim Son is any sort of sentient being, let alone mastermind (bwaaahahahaha!!), but I am happy to concur that his puppeteers talk a good folksy game while scheming to High Heaven. No one who’s ever even glanced in Ch*ney’s direction, for instance, could think that ghoul’s up to anything but fomenting unrest to increase returns on all his oil services-related holdings. “F*ck the poor” is just the cost of doing business for these assholes, not that they’re not happy to race- and class-bait and f*ck the poor “as needed.”

  30. Anonymous

    Peacebug said, “It’s baffling how often people vote against their best interests. And while I’m pretty worn down by the scheming and machinations of the party I deplore and the fact that they’re getting away with it, maybe things will soon get to be so-o-o bad that folks will begin to wake up and call for change.”

    I think people do this out of a sort of twisted altruism. The trick is to find an issue that really has no effect on your constituents. You convince them that gays or blacks or women are going to hurt them and their families, and, yes, we will be cutting school funding, but think what’ll happen if the gays/women/blacks/atheists get power? All of society will crumble! Isn’t it worth giving up a little bit to prevent the fall of society?

  31. Eric

    Speaking of contempt for the poor, take a gander at the Bill O’Reilly portion of this:

    http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/KF/0509/movies/blame_game.mov

  1. CatchingFlies

    Intent–Ideology–Power?

    I think PZ [and now TwistyFaster] is on to something here. I’m feeling the same fed-uped-ness and want to scream it from the rooftops. Remember folks, we’ve got three years and five months of this crap left: The Republican agenda

  2. StealthBadger.net

    Socially Approved Grief

    The Newshounds are instructive as always. Not only because the writers watch so carefully, and work so hard to be accurate… but because the trolls are worth ten trips to wrong-wing weblogs as far as tactical reconnaissance. Be warned, the…

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