(O'Rourke) - The View From the Couch: Labor Day 

Workers of our world are uniting on the unemployment lines these days, since the rate of unemployment has nearly reached 10% and counting, while not counting those discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work. In a useful article in the Sunday Times' magazine, Paul Krugman points out that full employment for the country's freshwater economists is 4.5 percent unemployed. Discussing the current situation with a friend, she pointed out a new prejudice against aliens, illegal or not, is no longer that they are taking my job, but why aren't they hungrier than I am? It seems to be an example of the old saw that those who are used to juggling adversity are better off than those who aren't. In Northern Indiana, at least, the Mexican immigrants who have been arriving in the last couple of decades will continue to take the worst and most temporary work in order to bring in something, anything, whereas native citizens still want real jobs, or what passes for real jobs, these days. The right-wingers should take comfort that the best immigration policy, from their point of view, is a deep recession, since that will slow down in-migration and speed up out-migration.

But this kind of scapegoating, of finding some group to complain about, continues nationally, a lot of it aimed at our president, aided and abetted by Fox News, radio cranks, and the general right-wing media megaphone. The latest example is the ruckus about President Obama's upcoming (tomorrow) school children address. This is the upgrade to kissing babies on the campaign trail. But, the anti-Obama dead-enders, escorted by their media co-conspirators, are objecting to his talk and the suggested assignment that went along with it. Obama's people are stumbling now and then, not doing him any favors, and the assignment part should have bothered someone. It remains a mystery why at least one member of the Obama team didn't alert the new administration to what the anti-health reform folks were going to do. Hillary Clinton, at least, knew what was coming, why didn't the rest of them know? Not in Secretary of State Clinton's portfolio? The right wing got rid of Anthony "Van" Jones, another Black Like Me appointment in the Obama administration, though Jones was supposed to do post-racial green work. It was taken for granted that Obama would fill his administration with accomplished people of color, but he didn't seem to appreciate the least deviation from orthodoxy would bring down right wing wrath upon them.

Nonetheless, the question is, Why is this wrath so effective? In Washington D.C., those who work in Congress identify themselves by one word, either Majority, or Minority. Meaning who you work for. Well, the Republican minority seems to have tied up the Democrat majority like skinny rodeo riders can take down and tie up fat steers.

During the presidential campaign being overtly racist wasn't a good PR tactic. The whole world was watching, more or less, and most Republicans had to pull their punches and give at least lip service to the wonderfulness of not being prejudiced. Or anti-black. The press would latch onto any show of overt racism and pounce. During presidential campaigns, paradoxically, the media takes the high road. The horse race aspect cancels out other concerns. No one talks during the race about what horses are shot up with what chemicals. But now the racism that was barely submerged during the campaign has reared up with many proxies.

The birther people couldn't complain during the presidential campaign about that, since the only candidate that wasn't born in the United States of America was John McCain. But the birther people are the most transparent. They are concerned with Obama's birth, birth as a half black person, a Kenyan at that. So, it arises as a "movement" even though during the campaign the whole notion was moot, to say the least. During a president's term one expects a loyal opposition, but this is the disloyal opposition at work. News has become a mix of the selective and regional; it is not focused on one thing as it is during a presidential campaign. It is easier to manipulate the few into the many, now. So the birthers march onstage, the national stage, thanks to Fox News. And syndicated national talkers such as Rush Limbaugh. And so do the rest of the dead-enders' concerns, including demonstrating how a handful can make the president's speech to school children a national issue. And show how to get rid of a mid-level appointment to the administration like Jones. And this primal dislike of Obama is more virulent now, since it was suppressed during the presidential campaign. It's the bigger bounce-back effect, often seen in medicine when treatment stops. And, speaking of health care, you can see what the minority has done to the majority on that. Happy Labor Day.

Correction: An earlier entry I did on Michael Vick originally stated that Vick stomped on a fellow opposing football player. It was Vick's brother, Marcus, who also played at Virginia Tech, who did that. Michael only stomped on dogs.

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William O'Rourke

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