Associated Press image
The vast majority of those who claim that crypto-fascist presidential wannabe Marco Rubio didn’t get enough attention to the content of his recent speech on live national television probably haven’t actually listened to or read his entire speech (which you can do here). Having read every word of Rubio’s speech, and having compared it to reality, I can say that he’s damned fucking lucky that the water bottle got all of the attention.
Associated Press editor Liz Sidoti wrote a column that she (or Yahoo! News) titled “Our Collective Obsession with the Trivial” that is about as original and insightful as was Repugnican Tea Party Sen. Marco Rubio’s speech that she insinuates was overlooked because of the “trivial.”
Every once in a while we pseudo-chastise ourselves about not being serious enough — but then we jump right back into the “trivial” anyway. Let’s face it: We’re never serious about getting serious. And so the vast majority of us who chastise others about not being serious enough, but focusing too much upon the “trivial,” are hypocrites.
Sidoti — who, ironically, is part of the problem that she whines about (the problem of the mass media’s propagation of “trivia”) — begins her column:
Persistently high unemployment. A sluggish economy. Debt. Deficit. Obesity. Fundamental disputes over guns, immigration and the climate. A to-do list that would exhaust even the most vigorous multi-tasker. A meteor in Russia, even.
Yet what created one of the buzziest brouhahas in America last week? Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s inopportune sip of water on live TV.
Enormous challenges pack the nation’s plate, but this country just can’t seem to get enough of the small stuff….
One hopes that we can multi-task, since we’re (even further) fucked if we can’t.
Yes, issues such as unemployment and a sluggish economy, the federal budget deficit (caused in no small part because of runaway so-called “defense” spending by the traitors who comprise the military-industrial-corporate complex), obesity, and global warming persist, although, of course, not all of our so-called “problems” actually are problems; what we so thoughtlessly label (like lemmings) as “progress,” such as indefinite economic expansion — such as the construction of even more strip malls and fast-food chain restaurants and chain stores — often if not usually only contributes to the further degradation of the planet and to the further threats to the future welfare of Homo sapiens and to countless other species and to perhaps even all life on planet Earth. (Indeed, our idea of “economic expansion,” which widely is considered to be “good,” is predicated upon the ideas that the planet has magically infinite resources and that ever-increasing population growth, which slowly is killing us all, is good.)
But those (like AP editor Liz Sidoti) who claim that we’re ignoring the Big Issues and focusing too much on Marco Rubio’s lying-induced-dehydration-related fucktardation on live national television aren’t seriously looking at the content of Marco Rubio’s speech either.
Rubio’s speech — the Repugnican Party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday – was just more trickle-down bullshit (what’s trickling down on us is the plutocrats’ urine), just more right-wing platitudes, just more feel-good, propagandistic, “Go U-S-A! We’re No. 1!” pap that is right out of the 1950s or before.
If you don’t believe me, read Rubio’s speech yourself, but know that in his speech the man-serpent Rubio lied through his venom-dripping fangs right out of the fucking gate. Here is the beginning of his speech:
Good evening. I’m Marco Rubio. I’m blessed to represent Florida in the United States Senate. Let me begin by congratulating President Obama on the start of his second term. [Right...] Tonight, I have the honor of responding to his State of the Union address on behalf of my fellow Republicans. And I am especially honored to be addressing our brave men and women serving in the armed forces and in diplomatic posts around the world. You may be thousands of miles away, but you are always in our prayers. [Fuck our teachers, nurses and others who work hard every day -- it's only if you're in the military that your job counts, you see.]
The State of the Union address is always a reminder of how unique America is. For much of human history, most people were trapped in stagnant societies, where a tiny minority always stayed on top, and no one else even had a chance. [Because it's certainly not that way in the United States today, with a tiny plutocratic minority on top of the socioeconomically struggling masses, is it?]
But America is exceptional because we believe that every life, at every stage, is precious, and that everyone everywhere has a God-given right to go as far as their talents and hard work will take them. [Not content with just delivering the "American exceptionalism" propagandistic bullshit, the dim bulb Rubio even felt the need to actually use the adjective "exceptional."]
Like most Americans, for me this ideal is personal. My parents immigrated here in pursuit of the opportunity to improve their life and give their children the chance at an even better one. They made it to the middle class, my dad working as a bartender and my mother as a cashier and a maid. I didn’t inherit any money from them. But I inherited something far better – the real opportunity to accomplish my dreams. [Gotta love this pro-immigrant rhetoric from the same party that for years now has been attacking brown-skinned immigrants from south of the border, immigrants who have just wanted a better life.]
This opportunity – to make it to the middle class or beyond no matter where you start out in life – it isn’t bestowed on us from Washington. It comes from a vibrant free economy where people can risk their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who in turn invest or spend the money they make, helping others start a business and create jobs….*
This is the tired old “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” rhetoric that the right wing just won’t stop spewing. Mom-and-pop businesses for the most part are a thing of the past, having been replaced by the Walmarts with which they just cannot compete long, long ago, yet the Repugnican Tea Party traitors bloviate as though we still live in the days of Mayberry, when, if you wanted to start your own small business and thrive, you could.
In stark contrast to the pretty, red-white-and-blue, Thomas-Kinkade-and-Paul-Harvey-like portrait that right-wing punk Marco Rubio paints of the “exceptional” United States of America, Nobel-Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz just this past weekend posted an opinion piece in the New York Times titled “Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth.”
Whether Stiglitz wrote his piece at least partially in response to the thirsty Rubio’s pack of lies I’m not sure, but in his piece Stiglitz wrote (bold-faced items are my own emphasis, and the links are Stiglitz’s):
…Today, the United States has less equality of opportunity than almost any other advanced industrial country. Study after study has exposed the myth that America is a land of opportunity. This is especially tragic: While Americans may differ on the desirability of equality of outcomes, there is near-universal consensus that inequality of opportunity is indefensible. The Pew Research Center has found that some 90 percent of Americans believe that the government should do everything it can to ensure equality of opportunity. [Rubio and his anti-government ilk actually claim that we should leave it up to the plutocrats to ensure equality of opportunity, because isn't that what the plutocrats are all about -- socioeconomic equality? (It's always a great idea to put the foxes in charge of the chickens, isn't it?)]
Perhaps a hundred years ago, America might have rightly claimed to have been the land of opportunity, or at least a land where there was more opportunity than elsewhere. But not for at least a quarter of a century [has that been the case]. Horatio Alger-style rags-to-riches stories were not a deliberate hoax, but given how they’ve lulled us into a sense of complacency, they might as well have been.
It’s not that social mobility is impossible, but that the upwardly mobile American is becoming a statistical oddity. According to research from the Brookings Institution, only 58 percent of Americans born into the bottom fifth of income earners move out of that category, and just 6 percent born into the bottom fifth move into the top. Economic mobility in the United States is lower than in most of Europe and lower than in all of Scandinavia.…
Stiglitz also notes that “the life prospects of an American are more dependent on the income and education of his [or her] parents than in almost any other advanced country for which there is data.”
That blows Marco Rubio and his “exceptional,” red-white-and-blue bullshit right out of the fucking water of which he so badly wants a swig, doesn’t it? Where is the punk Marco Rubio’s Nobel Prize in economics?
And it’s not just that Rubio is a pandering fucking liar who long ago decided to parrot the right wing’s feel-good lies for his own personal and political gain.
It’s that these lies are harmful because they induce individuals to believe that if they just can’t make it in this vicious, dog-eat-dog, everyone-for-him-and-herself American economy, in which the insane income gap between the haves and the have-nots rivals the gap that we saw back in the 1920s, then there is something wrong with them.
In the right-wing worldview, it’s always the individual who is at fault – never the fucked-up system, which always gets off scot-free. The Thomas Kinkade landscape, even though it’s wholly made up and captures nothing of reality, is always just fine; it’s always the individual who is the failure.
So yes, there is plenty about the content of Marco Rubio’s speech to not only find fault with, but to find to be fairly terrifying, since the lying, pandering Rubio obviously is an ambitious asshole.
So let’s dispense with the myth that Marco Rubio’s wonderful speech was overlooked by the fact that he bizarrely acted as though he wasn’t on live national television, that he bizarrely acted as though if he just pretended that we couldn’t see him do something on live national TV, then we couldn’t. His apparent mindset of juvenile and magical thinking, in which he creates reality, could be a whole other blog post (and might be one day, but not today).
Marco Rubio, like the other dumb punks in the Repugnican Tea Party who have been hailed as the party’s “future,” such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Pretty Boy Paul Ryan (who, like Rubio, was parched during his vice presidential debate with Joe Biden, who kicked his punk ass), is only finding out that his flimsy facade won’t withstand the scrutiny of the national spotlight. That’s his fault, not ours.
And I agree wholeheartedly: It’s not about the little water bottle that Marco Rubio grabbed during a live national television address.
It’s about the fact that no one who asserts that we still live in a time that, if it ever existed at all, ceased to exist decades ago, is fit to lead.
You can lead only if you are planted firmly in the present and in the problems of the present — not if you’re still stuck in an episode of “Leave It to Beaver” or “The Andy Griffith Show.”
*Again, Rubio’s full speech is here. I find most of it not worth regurging here, as most of it is the same, tired old anti-government, pro-fox-and-anti-chicken and anti-fair-taxation (let’s let the rich and their corporations off from paying a fair share of taxes, since then they’ll just give their tax savings to the rest of us, right?) rhetoric that the right wing has been spewing out for some decades now.
But I do find Rubio’s “solution” to the problem of massive student loan debt interesting. In his little speech he said:
“When I finished school, I owed over $100,000 in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt. We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they’re taking out.”
That’s it. That’s his “solution.”
Rubio won’t say that treating our college students like cash cows to be milked for decades after they graduate with their often-worthless-in-this-economy degrees is wrong.
He certainly won’t advocate that we, say, divert some of the billions and billions of dollars from the bloated-beyond-belief U.S. military budget — which is just a way for greedy fucking traitors to loot the U.S. treasury under such guises as “national defense” and “national security” — and use it to at least help our college students (say, perhaps, those who earned the better grades in high school) to pay for college.
No — Rubio’s “solution” is to “give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they’re taking out.” Not to save them from the student-loan sharks, you see, but to just tell them about them.
Meanwhile, under Rubio’s “vision,” the student-loan sharks remain free to savage our students, and the student-loan sharks remain the only source of funding that is available to many if not most of those who want to go to college.
This is leadership?
This is what Joseph Stiglitz, on the other hand, has to say about education and student-loan debt in the U.S. in his New York Times piece:
…Probably the most important reason for lack of equality of opportunity is education: both its quantity and quality. After World War II, Europe made a major effort to democratize its education systems. We did, too, with the G.I. Bill, which extended higher education to Americans across the economic spectrum.
But then we changed, in several ways. While racial segregation decreased, economic segregation increased. After 1980, the poor grew poorer, the middle stagnated, and the top did better and better. [Indeed, the current yawning gap between the rich and the rest of us started under Ronald Reagan, due to his pro-rich, right-wing policies.] Disparities widened between those living in poor localities and those living in rich suburbs — or rich enough to send their kids to private schools. A result was a widening gap in educational performance — the achievement gap between rich and poor kids born in 2001 was 30 to 40 percent larger than it was for those born 25 years earlier, the Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon found. …
Unless current trends in education are reversed, the situation is likely to get even worse. In some cases it seems as if policy has actually been designed to reduce opportunity: government support for many state schools has been steadily gutted over the last few decades — and especially in the last few years. Meanwhile, students are crushed by giant student loan debts that are almost impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy. This is happening at the same time that a college education is more important than ever for getting a good job.
Young people from families of modest means face a Catch-22: without a college education, they are condemned to a life of poor prospects; with a college education, they may be condemned to a lifetime of living at the brink. And increasingly even a college degree isn’t enough; one needs either a graduate degree or a series of (often unpaid) internships.
Those at the top have the connections and social capital to get those opportunities. Those in the middle and bottom don’t. The point is that no one makes it on his or her own. And those at the top get more help from their families than do those lower down on the ladder. Government should help to level the playing field.
Americans are coming to realize that their cherished narrative of social and economic mobility is a myth. Grand deceptions of this magnitude are hard to maintain for long — and the country has already been through a couple of decades of self-deception.
Without substantial policy changes, our self-image, and the image we project to the world, will diminish — and so will our economic standing and stability. Inequality of outcomes and inequality of opportunity reinforce each other — and contribute to economic weakness, as Alan B. Krueger, a Princeton economist and the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has emphasized. We have an economic, and not only moral, interest in saving the American dream. …