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Ritalin would bring an end to blogging

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, September 30, 2010 15:35 EDT
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Many of the ideas I get from blogging are due strictly to what is probably a low-grade, undiagnosed form of ADD. I’m constantly jumping back and forth between Google Reader, Twitter, and whatever long form articles I’ve pulled up to read. Seriously, if I want to just buckle down and read something, I often just put physical obstacles between myself and jumping around—like bring a book on the subway, where there isn’t any wifi access anyway. Or lay down in the living room with a cat firmly placed on my lap so I can’t reach for anything but my book or magazine.

But for blogging, hopping around works. For instance, I hopped between this Matt Taibbi article on the Tea Crackers and this blog post from Digby. It was such a great mix that I’ll just point out the pertinent information to you, and frankly at this point I’m not sure long-form analysis is even necessary.

First, from Taibbi’s article:

But this spring, when confronted with the idea of reducing Medicare payments to doctors like himself — half of his patients are on Medicare — [Rand Paul] balked. This candidate, a man ostensibly so against government power in all its forms that he wants to gut the Americans With Disabilities Act and abolish the departments of Education and Energy, was unwilling to reduce his own government compensation, for a very logical reason. “Physicians,” he said, “should be allowed to make a comfortable living.”

Then the quote that Digby pulls from the NY Times:

“We as Republicans need to realize that you can’t just cut off the welfare queen and balance the budget,” says Rand Paul, a Senate candidate in Kentucky….

Then Taibbi’s article:

[Teabaggers] are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill “cracker babies,” support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

From another link of Digby’s, this time to a blogger covering an email forward that is burning through Tea Crackerdom. It’s a letter that a doctor wrote to President Obama, though I should put “supposedly” there, as apparently there are many versions. This is one version of the forward that is getting all these totally-not-racists fired up:

During my last night’s shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone. Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid. She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.

What I particularly enjoyed in this version of the letter is singling out a gold tooth as evidence that someone is living high on the hog via government largess. Gold teeth are associated with poverty for a very practical reason—they’re cheaper than porcelain veneers, and of course having to have dental interventions at a young age is associated in general with the poorer health associated with poverty. But in this instance, the letter writer wants to have it both ways. He wants to invoke the class associations of gold teeth—that you’re lower class if you have them—but he wants to imply that gold teeth are somehow a sign of someone who is swimming in cash by invoking the gold=wealth association. But I’ll bet that even if all these things he whips out as indicators of someone being spoiled—tattoos, gold caps, tennis shoes, cigarettes, a cell phone, a ring tone, and beer once a week—were purchased in the course of a year, the total is still probably way less than a single visit to the ER.
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Update: There was some discussion about the urban legend status of this letter in comments. By quoting this letter, I was in no way, shape, or form trying to imply that the contents within were true. On the contrary, I was trying to use it as an example of one of the many thousands of email forwards sent around right wing America that are a second tier form of media that’s under-discussed but probably more indicative of everyday views than what you hear on Glenn Beck.

So, out of curiosity, I looked the letter up on Snopes. It turns out that it was correctly attributed, and that the man who wrote it really is a doctor. The letter was written as a letter to the editor of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger. However, as the letter got passed around—as usually happens in these cases—some details were added, in this case the detail about the shoes. But it’s mostly the same.

My feeling about this is that Dr. Jones did see the patient he described—someone carrying a cell phone who has a lot of tattoos and smokes a pack a day is hardly an unusual person—and he is an unsympathetic, uncaring asshole and I feel very bad for her and all other patients that have to deal with him. It’s interesting that he doesn’t mention what her medical emergency was that brought her to ER, which strikes me as a deliberate oversight on his part to avoid drumming up any sympathy for this person he’s trying to demonize. The description makes her sound young, so I’m guessing she had an accident unrelated to any of her “choices” that he disapproves of. God forbid you realize what happened to her could happen to any of us.

It sucks, but doctors can be right wing, shit-for-brains assholes, too. This one happened to be all those things and capable of writing an email that teabaggers across the nation really enjoy forwarding.
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But as Taibbi’s article demonstrates, this isn’t a crowd that’s good with logic. So one more quote from him, to give all this some shape:

That’s because the Tea Party doesn’t really care about issues — it’s about something deep down and psychological, something that can’t be answered by political compromise or fundamental changes in policy. At root, the Tea Party is nothing more than a them-versus-us thing.

“Them” is, as I’ve noted, a particularly large and diverse group. But at this point,anyone who think that race isn’t a major factor in who gets put in the demonized “them” is fooling themselves.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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