None Are So Blind, etc.

Writing for the right-wing American Spectator, Angelo M. Codevilla reveals that, somehow, America has come to be ruled by an elite. This elite strongly resembles the old and mostly nonexistent liberal elite that has long been the Right’s favorite boogyman (Codevilla makes not-very-veiled allusions to the public school system, identity politics and political correctness). However, this elite includes Republicans as well as Democrats.

The article is fascinating sort of in the way three-day-old road kill is fascinating. But yes, Angelo, there is an elite that is making the decisions for us, and making decisions I don’t like either. They don’t give a bleep about your best interest, or mine. But government is just a tool. Both parties are just tools. The “tea party” movement is just a tool. You are a tool, Codevilla. Wake up.

Codevilla writes,

What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government.

No, that is not what “distinguishes” them. Their power does not depend on government, although they’ve managed to turn government into a nice prop. And government works for them more than for us, which is why government is increasingly unresponsive to the real needs of Americans.

And I assure you, Codevilla, the real heads of the elite never worked a day in their lives for either the government or any non-profit do-gooder organization.

And, Codevilla, if you want to know how you became a tool, read Kevin Drum’s “GOP Fairy Tales.” The real elite get their way by selling lies to ordinary folks, who then will turn out and support whatever the elite wants. So just as the elite managed to convince many farmers they had been wiped out by the “estate tax” even though they couldn’t possibly have owed an estate tax — my suspicion is that they’d done badly in probate court and didn’t understand the difference — now they’re going to dig up small businessmen who will cry they will be ruined if the Bush tax cuts are not renewed, even though those small businessmen will not be impacted at all if the Bush tax cuts are not renewed.

Same old, same old.

14 thoughts on “None Are So Blind, etc.

  1. Yes, I read Codevilla’s piece earlier this morning. It was long, and frankly, tedious. He’s not exactly a scintillating writer.
    Some of his “City Mouse” v. “Country Mouse” rang true – just like certain things ring true in any Fairy Tale.
    The problem that he doesn’t really touch on, is that both of these mice have manipulated and used the government to get US, and keep us, in THIER
    Rube Goldberg could draw this cartoon in only a few frames. All it takes to trap us is a gullible and stupid public with short memories, a well honed message, and a complicit and timid media.

    • Yeah, Codevilla is like a fish who has just noticed the juicy worm is on a hook, but he has no clue who is really holding the rod. The people he identifies as the “elites” are just the hapless middlemen. Codevilla has some association with a rightie think tank called the Claremont Institute. And here are some of the Claremont Institute’s supporters:

      * Sarah Scaife Foundation
      * Roe Foundation
      * Armstrong Foundation
      * The Carthage Foundation
      * Philip M. McKenna Foundation
      * Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
      * Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation

      There’s your “ruling elite.” And Codevilla is on their payroll.

  2. maha,
    I notice that the “Koch”-suckers Foundation isn’t listed here.
    How could they have missed this opportunity? It’s not like them to miss out on any chance to spread Reich-wing propaganda.

  3. You can go back to the 1950s and no matter what the tax rate is the tax collected amounts to about 18% of GDP. If we are going to balance the budget it is going to be through cutting spending, not raising taxes.

    I am not sure the Tea Party movement is “just a tool”. They would like us to be for sure.

    It seems that you agree with Mr. Codevilla on some points, yet you mock him instead of having a common cause.

    • You can go back to the 1950s and no matter what the tax rate is the tax collected amounts to about 18% of GDP. If we are going to balance the budget it is going to be through cutting spending, not raising taxes.

      Non sequitur. Although federal taxes collected as a percentage of GDP has remained about the same over many years, the tax burden has shifted from corporate and excise taxes to payroll taxes. And the Bush Administration made sure the wealth of the wealthy is protected from taxation. So ordinary wage earners are paying a much bigger share of those taxes than they used to, which is a drag on the economy — less consumer spending, etc.

      BTW, this shift has been made possible by the support of ordinary working people. Politicians whip them into a frenzy over the awfulness of taxes, and they vote for politicians who promise to cut taxes. What the tools don’t notice is that their taxes aren’t the ones the politicians intend to cut. See “GOP Fairy Tales” by Kevin Drum for a more detailed explanation of how this works.

      BTW, trickle-down economics is a fantasy. The idea that cutting taxes on the wealthy will inspire them to start or expand businesses is nonsense, and we know it’s nonsense because corporations are sitting on a ton of cash right now they aren’t using to expand business. There is low demand for goods and services because the ordinary working stiffs don’t have cash to burn right now, even if they still have jobs. The way to grow the economy is to get more money into the hands of regular folks.

      Also, the single biggest reason we’re so much in the red right now are the Bush tax cuts, which have sapped far more out of revenue than everything the Obama Administration has initiated put together. If we had left taxes where they were during Bill Clinton’s second term (which saw a balanced budget and great job growth), we would still have a budget surplus now.

      I am not sure the Tea Party movement is “just a tool”.

      Oh, trust me, the Powers That Be have the Tea Party movement right where they want it. The movement helped to water down health care reform, which the real ruling elite did not want. They can still get the teabaggers worked up into a tizzy about taxes and “free markets” and the other causes dear to the ruling elite’s heart.

      It seems that you agree with Mr. Codevilla on some points, yet you mock him instead of having a common cause.

      I mock him because the people he identifies as the “ruling elite” are about as much a “ruling” elite as my ass. The real ruling elite are the same people who pay for Codevilla’s position at the Claremont Institute. He’s workin’ for ’em, in other words.

      The real “ruling elite” is an association of multinational corporations and financial institutions combined with some mega-wealthy family trusts that expertly use their money to manipulate public opinion so that the American public supports shafting itself. And this has been going on for many years.

  4. Ah, yes. The American Spectator: home of such stunning minds as Thomas Sowell, George Will, and Patrick Buchanan. Codevilla is in great company, if your goal is to be a subservient troll to oligarchy.

    I read the whole thing. It was a wholesale waste of valuable minutes of my life, so I feel compelled to say something concrete about it.

    (1) Nothing in Codevilla’s article is sourced, backed with inline evidence, or otherwise substantiated in an empirical manner. I suppose this is much as expected, considering several statements in it explicitly decry the influence of science. If you don’t believe that facts or evidence make any difference to being correct, why bother to find any to support your position?

    (2) Codevilla’s a priori reasoning is incoherent. It’s not merely that most of his points contradict obvious reality. Even if they didn’t, the conclusions he draws are not logically driven by the premises presented. For instance, his view on a self-perpetuating cyclical growth in government power and influence is meant to support a conclusion that government is destroying the quality of life for the American people. Yet he never explicitly proposes, defends, or even indirectly furthers a necessary premise of that conclusion — which is that government services and powers do more harm than good.

    (3) He sets up the entire existing system and structure of power in this country as a class war between “elites” and ordinary (or “country”) people, as he names them. Yet he never bothers to properly define either of these groups in a concrete manner that would actually inform or further the discussion. He merely engages in tribalist, status quo perpetuating class division and fear mongering about unspecified threats to the country people’s lives. He even breaks his own weak definitions. Despite the fact that he defined the “elites” as those who enter and support government, and further its goals whether directly or indirectly, he then goes out to exclude (carve out a special class) those of the “country” folk who enter government. Regardless of whether they support government or its goals, and regardless of whether they further its power structure.

    (4) The author repeatedly brings up points about God (the Christian God, who else) and private schooling. He’s suggesting, without stating properly, that public schools and other social campaigns to inform and educate the public are basically nothing more than social engineering and manipulation campaigns to further the interests of the elite. It’s true that a mild pacification effect exists in all group education run by a central authority. However, the extent of this impact is very dependent on the particular teachers and policies of the institution and is not a genuine general criticism of centralized education. The same effect that Codevilla decries occurs all the more so within religious and private schools, which do not have to compete for funding and donors from the broader public and which suffer far less (if any) backlash when they institute self-serving and self-perpetuating policies. Private schools, because they are not strictly regulated and are funded by private institutions and individuals, have far more leeway to create a segregated and ignorant population dedicated to serving the interests of the few over the many.

    (5) The author harps the same conservative ideology of tax cuts and crushing the federal government into oblivion. Now, one of two things necessarily result from that. Either you’re going to have to eliminate all federal government programs, or you’re going to run massive deficits. Such deficits would be far larger than the Bush deficits, even, and over the next decade would lead to untenable levels of inflation. So what he’s saying is, in effect, kill all government services. They’re worthless. Naturally, he never talks about what any of those services are or what they do, or whether some people might use or like those services.

    (6) He goes out of his way to ignore the role of taxes on controlling wealth and power among the genuine elites in finance and industry. He even explicitly denies that the wealthy might have the power in the country (might be the basis of the “elite”).

    (7) He never talks about the state of employment or jobs at all. He doesn’t talk about how ordinary people’s wages have stagnated and fallen over the course of implementing tax cuts and supply-side policy over the past three decades. He doesn’t care about facts, so why would he talk about this?

    (8) How is it that God will solve our problems, exactly? Explain that one before you bring God into the debate.

    (9) He willfully conflates the Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt progressives with today’s liberals. Of course, today’s “progressives” (liberals) have relatively little to do with those reformers of the late 19th and early 20th century. They don’t, for instance, support the prohibition of alcohol (or many other drugs, for that matter). They don’t, for the most part, believe in the occupation and reformation by force of other countries.

    Rather, today’s liberals are the descendants of the FDR school. You know, Franklin Delano Roosevelt — widely acknowledged as one of the best presidents in American history?

    Who is it, I wonder, that Codevilla sees as the president best embodying the modern conservative ideology? Reagan? Could we not have such bad jokes, please? What is it, really, that they think Reagan accomplished for the country? Other than arms control, which they oppose so vehemently now. And filling the pockets of the already rich and powerful elite in corporate America and private society…? Reagan and comrades sure did try to kill off government, and what is it that they think they have to show for it? America has suffered badly under the very sorts of policies they proposed and enacted — tax cuts for the rich, furthering the military industrial complex, increasing the influence of religion, and de-regulating corporations and the powerful.

    Those of us who care about the American people and their quality of life look at reality. At employment, wages, hours, worker safety, life expectancy, cost of living, quality of medical treatment, cleanliness of the environment and public spaces, level of education and knowledge, among other issues. Concern trolls and propagandists like Codevilla pontificate on and on for pages without addressing such issues at all. That is the difference, and I hope the American people realize it.

  5. I was reading this also yesterday. It’s nearly the same old tripe, but there is a modest twist that’s no accident. The old meme is updated to imply there is an advantage to voting for teabaggers since they are not part of the ‘elite’. It’s not explicit but it’s where the variant I read was going.

    We are still a ways out from the midterms but with the most recent batch of polls – Harry Reid is ahead of the teabagger in NV – McCain is ahead of the teabagger in AZ and Crist, in a tight race polls ahead of the teabagger in FL.

    Some of you may wonder if I have lost my mind. Crist and McCain are Republicans. (Crist is running as an independent.) These Senate races are the BIG THREE for the teabaggers. The GOP is going to make gains in the fall, but most of the TP candidates are so stupid, they are scarey. (Brown from MA has been an exception but I don’t expect he’s the norm.)

    We are going to be in for a bumpy ride if the voters will consistently reject the teabaggers. I predict domestic terrorism if they get slapped down hard – and if that ‘revolution’ happens, that will finally destroy credibility for the extreme right wing. That leaves the 2-party system intact with mostly moderate democrats working WITH mostly moderate republicans in Congress and getting imperfect things done instead of the institutional deadlock I expect for the next two and a half years – followed by violence when SP and the TPP are humiliated in 2012.

    That’s when the political direction for the next decade will be determined.

  6. And this is news to Codevilla? Since its absolute beginnings, America has been ruled by an elite and honestly they don’t change that much, regardless who’s in power. What’s wrong with the woman?

  7. As I recall Nixon was the first to introduce ‘elite’ into political discourse. As a man who always felt like an outsider he wanted desperately to be accepted by the old rich/uppercrust/bluebloods (synonyms for elite) – after leaving office he applied for residency in an old New York brownstone and was turned down which indicates what the bluebloods thought of him.

    The term as used today is derisive for sure but it seems to have become synonymous with ‘liberal,’ an invention not supported by any thesaurus I’ve ever seen. There are probably as many ‘conservative’ elites, if the term is used correctly, as there ‘liberal’ elites.

    When terms become political buzz words – like elite and socialist and liberal for that matter – they’re used simply to evoke an emotion while it’s doubtful that those using them have any idea what they actually mean, and infact probably hope that no one else does either.

  8. they’re used simply to evoke an emotion while it’s doubtful that those using them have any idea what they actually mean

    Exactly! Remember the paint job they gave John Kerry.. “a windsurfing liberal elite.” The picture that that description painted in my mind was: effeminate, aloof, and wealthy( no bond with me). As opposed to that manly man Bush who you could enjoy a beer with,and who would fight the hot Texas sun cutting brush in his leisure time. When men were men, aaaarrrggh!

    I never did get the “elite” designation.. When I was in the military I was assigned to an elite unit, and it always remained a mystery to me in how the elite factored in aside from some General speaking it into existence to bolster his own resume. I think part of the problem was my expectation and understanding of what elite means.

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  10. I couldn’t read Angelo’s article.. I tried to read it last night but I think I had too much sugar in my system and couldn’t concentrate. Every sentence I read was a struggle to relate it to the sentence that preceded it.. It seemed disjointed, and very hard to follow what Angelo was trying to say because he was all over the board with injecting examples of how elites are playing me for a sucker. I decided to have another go at reading it today after a good nights sleep..maybe I would be a little more alert and be able to understand what he was trying to convey.

    After having a second go at it I still couldn’t follow his writing. My thought is that he’s just not a good writer…at least for me. I just don’t enjoy writers that you have to struggle with their every word, and re-read every sentence to understand what they are trying to say. If you are going to bullshit someone with the written word you should make it real easy for them to swallow*, not disguise your bullshit with irrelevant incidents, vague concepts, and historical inaccuracies.

    *Bush on tax cuts…” After all, It’s your money”

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