Thucky and Me, Our Magical Year (Part 5)

[Fifth in a six-part series]

[Previous parts in series: Thucky and Me, Our Magical Year (Part 1); Thucky and Me, Our Magical Year (Part 2); Thucky and Me, Our Magical Year (Part 3); Thucky and Me, Our Magical Year (Part 4)]

Thucky’s Racism, Elitism, and Psychopathology

With full knowledge of who Thucky was, I decided to engage in some amateur psychoanalysis with him. For the most part, he was quite a willing patient, generally willing to engage in the comment section of each post. He also was commenting like a madman on all my tax and inequality related posts. Those comments often helped with the “research.”

At this point, there was a complete disconnect between me and our readers. I felt bad, but I didn’t see a way around it. The readers, quite understandably, were thinking “why is he spending so much time writing about some moron blog troll?” Their comments are starting to reflect this annoyance. At the same time, I’m thinking “Wow, I’m going one-on-one with one of the highest elected officials in the state, and he’s an absolute mental midget. How long can I keep this going and how far off the rails will he go?” In the featured post below, I tried to justify my focus on Thucky without revealing his identity, but I doubt many of our readers were buying it. Eventually, the disconnect came to a head, in a friendly way, and actually added some levity to the outing process (not that the process was short on levity, but I was happy to have more). More on that in the next installment.

The psychoanalysis plays out primarily in three posts, Thing Two About Thucky; Thucky: Textbook Case of a Neo-Religious Conservative; and Things Three Through Thirty-Three About Thucky.

In the first of those posts, I wanted to establish that Thucky was a religious dude. I of course knew this to be the case, but I had to reach that result without revealing my inside knowledge. Upon reflection, I realized that the Thuckster’s blind reliance on conservative economists, even though he didn’t have the intellectual depth to evaluate their work, was a reflection of his faith:

So, I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess that Thucky’s a religious dude. I have no specific knowledge here. I’ve not seen any references to his faith, although there may be some in the comments he posts to posts of my colleagues.

But here’s the thing. Thucky idolizes the conservative economists he cites. But he’s demonstrated over and over again here that he doesn’t have the intellectual wherewithal to understand how they reach their conclusions, or to test their logic with any real rigor.

So, how does Thucky “know” the supply-siders he worships are right, despite all the evidence to the contrary? How does he disregard plain logic presented to him that undermines his supply-side view? Because he has religion, and that allows him to have faith that his supply-side heroes are not leading him astray.

I’ll skip to the last of the three posts, which in part confirmed an earlier “guess” I had made that Thucky as not your average blog troll. This should have been an unmistakable hint to ole Thuck that I knew who he was and that he should refrain from further commenting, but he continued blithely on for months afterwards.

 

But I digress. The thing about Thucky for this post is that I think he actually is in a position of some authority and/or has had significant financial success. I say that because of the way he speaks of ordinary people in America. He’s clueless. He thinks that the more hours people work, the better off they’ll be. It’s uncannily reminiscent of the exchange between David Brooks and Matt Taibbi from some time back, when Brooks, like Thucky, demonstrated complete cluelessness about what it’s like to actually “work.” Taibbi:

“I would give just about anything to sit David Brooks down in front of some single mother somewhere who’s pulling two shitty minimum-wage jobs just to be able to afford a pair of $19 Mossimo sneakers at Target for her kid, and have him tell her, with a straight face, that her main problem is that she doesn’t work as hard as Jamie Dimon.

Only a person who has never actually held a real job could say something like this. There is, of course, a huge difference between working 80 hours a week in a profession that you love and which promises you vast financial rewards, and working 80 hours a week digging ditches for a septic-tank company, or listening to impatient assholes scream at you at some airport ticket counter all day long, or even teaching disinterested, uncontrollable kids in some crappy school district with metal detectors on every door.

Most of the work in this world completely sucks balls and the only reward most people get for their work is just barely enough money to survive, if that. The 95% of people out there who spend all day long shoveling the dogshit of life for subsistence wages are basically keeping things running just well enough so that David Brooks, me and the rest of that lucky 5% of mostly college-educated yuppies can live embarrassingly rewarding and interesting lives in which society throws gobs of money at us for pushing ideas around on paper (frequently, not even good ideas) and taking mutual-admiration-society business lunches in London and Paris and Las Vegas with our overpaid peers.

Brooks is right that most of the people in that 5% bracket log heavy hours, but where he’s wrong is in failing to recognize that most of us have enough shame to know that what we do for a living isn’t really working. I pull absolutely insane hours in my current profession, to the point of having almost no social life at all, but I know better than to call what I do for a living work. I was on a demolition crew when I was much younger, the kind of job where you have to wear a dust mask all day long, carry buckets full of concrete, and then spend all night picking fiberglass shards out of your forearms from ripping insulation out of the wall.

If I had to do even five hours of that work today I’d bawl my fucking eyes out for a month straight. I’m not complaining about my current good luck at all, but I would wet myself with shame if I ever heard it said that I work even half as hard as the average diner waitress.”

When you read someone who writes clinically about work, you know hasn’t had to do the work most Americans have no choice but to do in order to scrape by. Thucky epitomizes this mentality. He speaks of the Gilded Age as if it were a magical time, because of the rate of economic growth. But it’s lost on him that the majority of Americans lived miserable lives, toiling in sweatshops for 60 hours per week or more, with no workplace safety laws.

He abhors the laws and regulations that were enacted to protect American workers, because he thinks they slow economic growth, casually disregarding tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire that those regulations were designed to address. Why the disregard? Because those young women who died in New York a century ago during the Gilded age are just numbers to Thucky and his crowd. Their humanity just doesn’t register with him.

He comments about America’s success compared to Europe, because American workers log more hours. Of course they do, because their pay sucks so bad they have to in order to hang on. Their European counterparts live longer, healthier, happier lives. But that’s utterly lost on Thucky.

Not your average blog troll. No indeed.

I changed the order here, because it is the second post where the bulk of the psychoanalysis takes place. This was one of my favorites, so I’ve copied it in full below. For those who didn’t catch it the first time, hope you like it.

Thucky: Textbook Case of a Neo-Religious Conservative

One of our readers and frequent commenters, Bess, suggested that we just ignore ole Thuckarooskie. That would be the conventional approach. But I actually think we may be on to something, so let’s not stop just yet.

In Thing Two About Thucky, I guessed that the Thuckster is a religious dude, based on his conservatism and his blind faith in the economists he reveres. Turns out I likely nailed it, because he would have been the first to tell me if I had not.

Upon further reflection and discovery (Thucky gives us new insights into his pathology on a regular basis), I realize the religious aspect of him is tied far more closely to his persona than I first surmised.

The economists Thucky cites are not the only humans to whom he ascribes God-like qualities. He speaks of the “titans of industry” and the so-called “job creators” with similar reverence. In a recent comment, he actually defended the wealth accumulation of both Cornelius Vanderbilt and Sam Walton. By all appearances, Thucky is so enamored of Sam Walton that he thinks it okay that his bratty great-grandchildren live in opulence because of old Sam’s great deeds.

To Thucky, imposing stiff taxes on folks like Sam Walton and Cornelius Vanderbilt would be blasphemy. He wants to lower the capital gains tax rate to a measly five percent. Yet he rarely speaks out against taxes that apply to little people, such as sales taxes and employment taxes.

So what’s going on here? Follow me after the jump.

Very religious people tend to have authoritarian mentalities. So do right-wing conservatives. John Dean writes about this in Conservatives Without Conscience. Dean explains that there actually are two types of authoritarian mindsets, one associated with the masses (the follower mentality) and one associated with the leaders (the leader mentality).

The followers, the research shows, are especially submissive to established authority and aggressive towards others when they perceive such behavior to be sanctioned by established authorities. The authorities can be parents, employers, governmental officials, religious leaders, or others in a position of perceived authority. Authoritarian followers, Dean explains, are “intolerant of those who criticize their authorities, because they believe those authorities to be unassailably correct.” Furthermore, “targets of right-wing authoritarian aggression are typically people perceived as being unconventional, like homosexuals.”

Some other characteristics of authoritarian followers:

Religion tends to influence their attitude towards sex

They embrace the ideal of the traditional family

Their thinking is more likely based on what authorities have told them rather than in their own critical judgment, causing their beliefs to be filled with inconsistencies

They are hostile towards so many minorities they seem to be equal-opportunity bigots, yet they are generally unaware of their prejudices.

What about the leaders? They exhibit what’s known as “social dominance orientation.” As Dean explains, they are “people who seize every opportunity to lead, and who enjoy having power over others.” They see the world as a competitive jungle, in which only the fittest survive. They tend to reject notions of equality, believing that “natural forces inevitably govern the worth of individuals and that people should have to earn their place in society.”

The follower mindset and leader mindset are not mutually exclusive. Dean describes those who exhibit both mindsets together as “double highs,” because they score highly on the respective tests for both the leader and the follower mentality. More on double highs later.

Now, consider the impact of authoritarian personalities on religious dogma.

First, we’ve seen the development of Prosperity Gospel. In a nutshell, Prosperity Gospel is a bastardized form of Christianity, rooted in Calvinism, the central tenet of which is that God rewards those God favors most with material wealth. Sort of the opposite of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, which taught that “You cannot serve both God and money” and, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

In hindsight, looking through the mindset of the authoritarian leader mentality, the development of Prosperity Gospel was inevitable.

Now, consider what the confluence of supply-side economics, the authoritarian mindset, and Prosperity Gospel bring us. We get a doctrine, which I call “neo-religious conservatism,” that says the wealthy are God’s favored people who have behaved as God wished. They should not be subject to high taxes. The rest of us, the slothful masses, should bear the burden of taxation. Thus, we have the authoritarian religious masses, the folks who fill the mega-churches, blindly believing that we can’t tax the wealthy, even though they themselves will never have a pot to pee in. In other words, some of inequality’s worst victims act as it’s most staunch defenders.

Finally, consider our friend Thucky. Thucky is a textbook example of the neo-religious conservative mindset. Does he exhibit ultra-religious tendencies. Well, besides what I pointed out in prior posts, consider this gem of a comment:

It was Charles Darwin, hero of the left, who named the Germans the master race, not Adolph Hitler. His theory wasn’t natural selection but the domination and differentiation of the “favoured races.” Thus was born Eugenics and the moral permission to feed 3 million Jews into the furnaces and 3 million babies into the abortion mills. Darwin specifically gave approval to the eradication of Jews and Africans.

Now, check out how he scores on some of the traits of the authoritarian follower mindset:

Embracing the ideal of the traditional family? Consider this one, in the wake of the Newtown tragedy:

Divorce is more common killers are much more likely to come from fractured homes. More wealth easier to buy a gun.

Thuck’s reaction to the tragedy was to blame gun violence on divorce. I’d say he shows that trait.

How about being an equal opportunity bigot, yet being unaware of his own prejudices? Check out these pearls of wisdom:

People aren’t as anxious to work anymore. The flat screen tv, a beer from the fridge,, cheap movies from netflixs. Why do that bothersome thing called work.

Really? Really? Bilingual voting, thats what this controversy is about? People who can’t understand English being able to determine our leaders?

The evidence never made it to trial. Results go to motivation and constitutionality. Saving over 100 lives a year, the lives of 70 kids, saving the economic lifes of over 20,000 families by keeping the famiky car from being stolen, has a presumption of constitutionality, asking people for their papers has no presumption. Arpaio obviously targeted crime correctly given his results, not hispanics. Thats why low income hispanics support his work, they are the victims of brown on brown violence and they were the huge beneficiaries. Half the childrens lives saved were hispanic. [Contending that Arpaio did not engage in racial profiling]

Murders in Maricopa county are down 50% in the last five years. Auto thefts are down 50%. DUI fatalities are down 50%. Thirty of those DUI fatality reductions are Hispanic children. As are most of the murders and car thefts saving Hispanic victims. Arpaio saved Hispanic families. A story untold. [Also in defense of Arpaio]

Not convinced yet? How about this?

As for Huppenthal hating public education and hispanics, that’s not going to wash. Huppenthal grew up in south Tucson, all of his friends were Hispanics. He was the only Caucasian in his social group. Jimmy Ortega, Manny Gonzales, Luis Rodriguez, Charlie Praciado, Marcelino Lucero. Just because he won’t support the “we hate Whitey” curriculum of extreme Chicano activists doesn’t mean he can’t do well among Hispanics.

How about thinking being guided by what authorities tell him, not by critical thinking? I’ve covered that one ad nauseum in prior posts.

So, Thucky demonstrates the authoritarian follower mindset.

But that alone wouldn’t be all that remarkable. After all, the flock at megachurches, and many Catholics, fit this description.

What makes Thucky special is that he demonstrates the authoritarian leader mindset as well.

They are “people who seize every opportunity to lead, and who enjoy having power over others.” They see the world as a competitive jungle, in which only the fittest survive. They tend to reject notions of equality, believing that “natural forces inevitably govern the worth of individuals and that people should have to earn their place in society.”

We don’t know enough yet about Thucky to comment on the first sentence of the description, but the rest of the description fits Thucky like a glove. Moreover, Thucky demonstrates a trait that distinguishes double highs from ordinary authoritarian leaders — religiosity.

So, by all appearances, Thucky may be a “double high” authoritarian. These folks, Dean, explains, are the most dangerous. They are essentially sociopathic. Bill Frist, once considered presidential timber by the right, was a double high. He also purchased animals from shelters and conducted experiments on them. Double high authoritarians see the world through the lens of themselves in charge. Thus, they believe in submission to authority, because they believe others should submit to them.

Here’s Dean summarizing Bob Altmeyer’s observations about double highs:

Altmeyer observed that if Double Highs were “in control of a school prayer, or anti-homosexual, or anti-immigration, or anti-feminist, or anti-abortion, or anti-gun-control movement – not to mention a military force,” they could pose a serious threat. This not only because of their own ideology and nature, but because “they lead people who are uninclined to think for themselves” – submissive, gullible right-wing authoritarian followers, who “are brimming with self-righteousness and zeal, and are fain to give dictatorship a chance.

That brings us full circle to where I started this post, Bess’s suggestion that we just ignore the Thuckmeister, as we would any troll (Dang, for example). My analysis, however, tells me that Thucky is no ordinary troll. He exhibits the worst of the worst of the authoritarian, neo-religious mindset. It’s a mindset we want to be able to recognize whenever we encounter it. To be forewarned, as they say, is to be forearmed.

[Note to readers: The next part in the series will be the last. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the ride.]

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