I promised an introduction to my cellmate Teabagger Bob.

(Actually, I doubt that he’s a real Teabagger. I think he’s just a guy who listens to Fox News.)

Bob is a very hard worker. He spends most of the day shouting into the telephone about various arcana of the business, in a penetrating, querulous New York accent. He clearly feels a great sense of urgency about doing the job and getting it right, and a lot of concern that he’s the one who will be blamed if there’s a snafu.

But every so often he gets into a big political wrangle with the two Russians who sit next to him, who are also very right-wing but clearly think Bob is a madman. And this is when I get a window into poor Bob’s tormented mind.

I don’t participate; I just listen. This is a spiritual exercise I recommend unreservedly.

Bob’s political outlook can pretty much be summed up as fear of freeloaders. Bob is convinced that the country is full of idle folk who are living high on the hog at his expense.

None of it makes any sense, of course, and Bob doesn’t have a fact in his head. Indeed, he believes, and asserts as incontestable truth, things that five minutes of Googling would demonstrate are chimerical. My liberal friends are to this extent right about the Bobs of the world; their thinking is not ‘fact-based’. (Of course, neither are my friends’,  or mine, or anybody’s; but that’s another post.)

I don’t know whether Bob has really overcome much adversity or not, though he clearly thinks he has. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s a self-serving myth — who was it that said every American wants to believe he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands? But certainly, there’s plenty of sorrow and adversity in every life, even the most privileged.

Bob’s view of the world is emotionally driven — but then, so is mine; I can’t throw any stones on that score. The difference, of course, is in the emotions, and in the narrative we each construct of our lives.

Bob wants to believe that he has prevailed, partly because he’s virtuous — hard work, of course, being an unquestioned virtue in overworked Amurrica — and partly because he’s tough.

Me, I think I’ve been lucky. I know I’m not virtuous — particularly when it comes to work — and I’m about as tough as a suckling pig.

Bob and I are both under the harrow. Fear is distressingly audible in his voice as he natters on the phone. Of course I’m scared too. But I’m a fatalist, and Bob is a striver.

Bob has really internalized the boss’ expectations.  And of course, what you get is what you tend to pass on. He is in effect acting like a boss to all these imaginary freeloaders who surround him. Get tough! Cut the bums off! I’ve got a job; they should get a job!

Me, I just wonder how to get on the gravy train myself.

And sometimes I wonder a bit about what the world would be like if everybody, from birth, had a modest seat on the gravy train. In this happy fantasy world of mine, the energetic and motivated could upgrade to second class, if they cared enough(*), but everybody, striver or slacker, would arrive at the grave having lived in decent comfort.

Would Bob like that unpunitive world? He wouldn’t like the idea of it, as he now is; but I bet he could get used to it. I bet we all could.

Bob has made it clear that he’s going to vote for Rombama rather than Obromney. Since facts don’t play any role in Bob’s thinking on this subject, it’s clear that he just likes the Rombama story better.

But the competing stories are the only things that distinguish the two contenders. In the fact-based world, they’re quite difficult to tell apart. So really, who can blame Bob for preferring a more congenial story?

My liberal friends fret about how to enlighten the Bobs of the world. They’re always coming up with arguments, and facts, to show the Bobs how deluded they are.

My theory: if you want Bob to vote for you, offer him something. Bob may be crazy, but he’s not stupid.

At the moment neither contender is offering anything but a story — or no, that’s not true; Rombama is offering lower taxes. Of course he doesn’t mean it, but still, nobody likes taxes.


(*) There wouldn’t be any first class. And there certainly wouldn’t be any business class.

17 thoughts on “East-woodie

  1. I didn’t know much about Rastafarianism until I recently saw a documentary on Marley. From my understanding, the basic idea is: get high, be kind, love one another. Sounds about right to me. And if they happen to believe that some guy who ran Ethopia is the Second Coming of Youknowwho? Well, I can’t think of a better idea.

    The older I get, the more tedious I find the punitive. But the more I kind of tune them out, or am just vaguely amused by them. They do, however, bear the unpleasant burden of their own judgment of others.

  2. Maybe punitiveness is caused by a gene; who knows. But there’s no reason the rest of have to participate in the structures the punitive create.

  3. Met a guy once. He’d grown up under Soviet whateverism, and shared a nostalgia for the days when people of all levels of accomplishment would mingle regularly in the same bread line.

    Of course this all begged the question of why he had STRIVED so hard to emigrate to the US so he could engage me in conversation involving how embarrassed I should be as a Merkan. I mean, seriously, all I did was get born here.

  4. I don’t know whether Bob has really overcome much adversity or not, though he clearly thinks he has.

    I came across a similar personality type recently, and it transpired that he had been a “difficult child” all the way to flunking out of a good school after his first year thereby ending up at a NATO barrack in Mitteleuropa. The experience straightened out to the extent that he’s a model appartichtik now who is similarly unpersuaded by “facts” readily disproven by 30 seconds of googling and who feels superior by pooh-poohing those backward types in the darker part of town or in civil strife hit Middle East states.

  5. Y’know, I’d just love to live in a non-punitive world, except there’s so goddamn’ many people deserving of punishment.

    When I try to think of all the people I know of who could use a sawed-off pool cue across their shins, I always lose count.

  6. I did not know that the workplace was so stressful nowadays — I mean, I knew some companies want young people who can be squeezed for all they’re worth. But I thought the new model was the somehow independent contractor type: you go changing jobs frequently always striving, we’ll say, to better your return, whether financially or mentally-emotionally. And that many work places are compatible with this model. No one really expects your heart & soul to belong to the company! If you hate the office setting, and can’t stand authority (over you), one possibility is the traveling salesman type. I was kind of that type sometimes: on some occasion a hotshot boss would read the riot act, I felt my ears burning, but sat quietly, and when it was all over did my thing. You just have to decide what’s important to you. Yeah, I loved to be out driving in the Canadian outback, lots of time for thinking.

  7. re: Rombama rather than Obromney

    re: My theory: if you want Bob to vote for you, offer him something. Bob may be crazy, but he’s not stupid.

    re: At the moment neither contender is offering anything but a story

    You write well – concise, interesting, funny. You insights are amazing! Your partially written manuscript is awesome – why the f#@k won’t you finish it? 🙂 It’s as every bit pertinent today as when you started it.

    Anyway, I’ve come to ask you to put up a link to a word file of your book. Either that or allow me to share (in newsgroups, comment sections, etc.) the word file of your book that I’ve created -always with a link back to your website, of course.

    Please kindly reply. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the kind words of course. I’m disinclined to put in any more work on it at the moment, though maybe someday…. But feel free to use it any way you like. With a link, naturally.

  8. From ABC tv:
    Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the candidate “disagrees with Richard Mourdock, and Mr.Mourdock’s comments do not reflect Gov. Romney’s views.”

    Except in Indiana.

  9. I’m back in San Francisco to visit my dad for a few weeks and I’m so sick of getting lectured by friends and family about the wonders of Obie. I now wish my friends and family were all Republicans! I actually do have a few Cali Republican friends who are not nutty Tea Baggers and know better not to discuss politics with me but this liberal crowd is truly nauseating. How can you guys possibly stand it? Every encounter involves a “hopefully Obie will win again or we’re doomed” statement. Needless to say, I can’t keep my trap shut and a benign gathering with them turns into a heated debate. As they say in Quebec, Libérez nous des Libéraux!

  10. ”Liberate us from the Liberals”

    Don’t you think they are useful – or at least that’s what a [SWP] Leninist used to argue when I would point to the hypocrisy.

  11. The Leninist comrade must have been on crack! What use do these folks have other than perpetuating a broken system? Plus, they act so smug and above the benighted plebs. They think they’re so cultured and refined because they believe in abortion rights and gay marriage but in reality, they don’t lift a finger to do shit for either causes. Such “safe causes” give them an air of superiority while preaching to the choir in their cocktail parties.

  12. There is really not much of a choice between the two candidates. Obama has morphed into Bush..and Romney has never met a drone or war he does not love.

    Among other things since becoming president, Barack Obama has:

    Signed the NDAA into law – making it legal to assassinate Americans w/o charge or trial.

    Initiated, and personally oversees a ‘Secret Kill List’.

    Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.

    Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.

    Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.

    Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.

    Maintained a presence in Iraq even after “ending” the war.

    Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.

    Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries.

    Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia.

    Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia.

    Opened a military base in Chile.

    Touted nuclear power, even after the disaster in Japan.

    Opened up deepwater oil drilling, even after the BP disaster.

    Did a TV commercial promoting “clean coal”.

    Defended body scans and pat-downs at airports.

    Signed the Patriot Act extension into law.

    Deported a modern-record 1.5 million immigrants.

    Continued Bush’s rendition program.



    “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the
    oppressed.” –Steve Biko

  13. Hi MJS- sorry about the boat by the way but more so Im really sorry you’re working.

    Someone who is an employee and republican always makes me laugh. On the chart of accounts we’re called expenses. Of course if someone is a racist and/ or hates gays or something then i understand being an ideolog. Then you dont need fact just caffeine and anger.

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