Not that you asked, but the book my co-blogger and I wrote, Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” in the Age of Pseudocracy is available on Kindle now.
One of two most famous quotations from Grover Norquist, who is not only famous for being famous (thank you, Woody Allen, who popularized Daniel Boorstin’s thinking in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America) but also powerful for being powerful, is . . .
“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” http://www.rightwingwatch.org/ content/americans-for-tax-reform
[This quotation competes with a variant on Mr. Norquist’s witticism: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” http://www.npr.org/templates/ story/story.php?storyId=1123439]
If I interpret his waggery correctly, Mr. Norquist wants to murder the American government. I’m certain that persons of a moderate political persuasion would think (do think) such a statement is extreme. Mr. Norquist is in the news again, and being criticized, because the Super Committee is about to report and because he met with some “Patriotic Millionaires” who want to increase the tax-rate for millionaires. Apparently one of these millionaires told Norquist that if he wants to live in a country with no government and no taxes, Somalia is available. Money speaking truth to power? Hmmm. [See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/ 11/17/patriotic-millionaires-grover-norquist-somalia_n_1098473.html]
But what I have not heard or read is a critique that suggests that either version of Mr. Norquist’s famous quotation is unpatriotic, treasonous, or anarchically radical. If a member of one of the “Occupy” groups were to say, “I want to kill the U.S. government,” imagine how “news”-droners on Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC would react to the quotation. But because Norquist’s language is couched in the acceptable nest that Reagan built–government is bad–Norquist is given something close to a free pass. Reagan’s operation was pretty good at creating the empty signifier into which people could pour their frustrations and thoughtless reactions; hence “big government,” which Reagan pronounced “big gubment.” Of course, Reagan rightly counted on the fact that his followers wouldn’t notice how much he swelled the Pentagon’s budget, for example. Or the country’s deficit. Imagine that! You reduce revenue by cutting taxes, and the deficit increases. Why, it’s like quitting your job but still using your credit cards. Louis in Casablanca would be “shocked.”
At any (tax) rate, it is potentially amusing to realize that an “Occupy” event intended in part to suggest that the super-wealthy should pay more taxes is portrayed as radical or disruptive while the expressed desire to kill the American government is portrayed as “conservative.” So it goes in the pseudocracy.
For similar “wit” from Mr. Norquist, cringe at http://thinkexist.com/ quotes/grover_norquist/. Mr. Norquist personifies the sort of bombast that has become acceptable to some citizens and some media. Indeed, Mr. Norquist passes for a pundit in some circles.
From the Fox News site I have learned that “White House Summit Fails To Yield Deal As Shutdown Approaches.”
What is the summit of the White House? How does a summit yield a deal or anything else? Is a shut-down approaching, or are “our” representatives approaching a shutdown?
I also learned the meeting (“summit”) was one with “high stakes” and that people spoke of “hammering out” a “deal.” Someone also said that “we’ve narrowed the issues considerably.” Maybe the issues are only one inch across now.
They are exploring “how deep[ly] to cut” and “what to ax” and whether to pass a stop-gap budget, presumably one that stops a gap full of narrow issues on a summit with an ax (or a scalpel) and a hammer and high stakes.
I learned that “meanwhile, the day-to-day functions of the government . . . were hanging in the balance.” I don’t know what that means, functions hanging in the balance. Good grief.
I learned that “lawmakers appeared to be caught in a political perfect storm.” What a horrid metaphor, for it makes it seem as if natural forces beyond the lawmakers’ control had visited the lawmakers all at once, when in fact most of the lawmakers are more predisposed to bicker, to stall, to play zero-sum games, to pose, to speak to empty chambers, etc., than they are to pass a budget in a timely, thoughtful, mature way.