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Ted Nugent is No Pussy (Riot)

It didn’t take a Secret Service visit this past spring to know (off-his) rocker Ted Nugent wasn’t really threatening President Obama when he declared he’d “either be dead or in jail by this time next year” if the President was re-elected.

Actually, it’s more likely next year Nugent will just be playing another gig at some rural county fair or casino, as he has done for years as a star attraction on the second-tier “oldies” circuit.

As for the dire prediction, Nugent, of course, was only parroting the standard paranoia of the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has a vested interest in seeing a vast liberal conspiracy at every turn against the right to bear arms. After all, nothing quite like the Second Amendment in constant peril to bring in donations for an organization that essentially functions as a promoter for gun manufacturers.

Everyone “Loves” Ted

But the NRA is not the only group to love Nugent. For their own reasons, many liberal Democrats also love over-the-top right-wing characters like Nugent. Their extremism and outright kookiness meshes nicely with those straining more than three years into his first term to still portray Obama as a “progressive.”

Nugent goes further. In his view Obama is a “Marxist,” even a “Maoist,” the leader of a “vile, evil, America-hating” administration. Obviously, this is arrested thought with the handcuffs on just a little too tight. Yet many grassroots Republicans, like Nugent, fueled by a degenerate talk radio and internet subculture of right wing chatter (where else do they get their ideas?) keep on with this nonsense. The latest fantasy is that Obama is just waiting until his second term, when he no longer has to worry about getting re-elected, to spring The Secret Agenda on the American people. This would be the radical, leftwing Marxist agenda that supposedly represents the “real Obama.”

One might ask why Obama the communist conspirator didn’t just strike early in his first term? Then he had an enthused and mobilized grassroots base, plus a Democratic majority in Congress. But instead of seizing the progressive moment he dampened it down, fixated on promoting the merits of “bipartisanship” with the curmudgeonly Republican right. He also populated his administration with Wall Street advisors like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and other intellects of the investor class, the very people responsible for the economic crisis. No word yet from Nugent on whether he considers Geithner the Deng Xiaoping of Wall Street politics?

It’s easy to mock his cartoonish politics, of course. Since the “jail or dead” prediction, Nugent in his July 5 Washington Times column called conservative Supreme Court Justice John Roberts a “traitor” for voting to uphold the Affordable Care Act, a law Nugent considers so heinous he wonders if it just might have been better if the South had won the Civil War. Likewise, Nugent the multimillionaire considers it his duty to make sure no ordinary soul gets a free ride on Medicare. “Medicare pays and pays and pays to keep people alive as long as possible,” declared the compassionate conservative in a Washington Times column (Nov. 10, 2010). “If the terminally ill individual or his family wants to keep him alive for as long as possible, then they should pay for it, not taxpayers.”

It gets worse. On the Trayvon Martin case, Nugent told the Texas Tribune (May 4, 2012), he was “not so sure” George Zimmerman’s murder of Martin was necessarily “a bad outcome.”

“George Zimmerman saved his life from a violent assault,” concludes forensics expert Nugent. Unfortunately, the media’s supposed “criminal abuse of First Amendment rights” misled the public to view Martin’s murder in the context of racism. In the Nugentonian universe, it is apparently of little matter that Martin was unarmed and engaged in no criminal activity when Zimmerman decided to follow and harass him.

The outright nonsense that floats through the political culture now is a sign of a society in decline. Unable to offer real answers to social problems, the far right discovers political phantoms and then ramps up the hatred and hysteria against its targeted enemies. In the music world another recent enrollee in the school of the intellectually challenged is Megadeath singer Dave Mustaine, who accuses Obama of “staging” the recent mass murder incidents in Colorado and Wisconsin for the sake of a pro-gun control agenda. Then there is country musician Hank Williams, Jr., who this week told a crowd at the Iowa State Fair that Obama is indeed a Muslim who “hates the U.S.”

As Bill Maher remarked on his HBO show Real Time (May 25)commenting on the far right’s disdain for Obama, “How can the same guy make these people think that America’s changed so completely, and yet make me think like it’s barely changed at all?”

“If Obama is a socialist, he’s a lousy one,” concluded Maher.

But the blatant stupidity of the far right is not alone enough to explain the present malaise. For that it also takes the more measured duplicity of the liberal political elite, which through the national Democratic Party offers its own rationalizations for propagating what is fundamentally the same path of endless war, social inequality, and austerity as celebrated by Republicans. Now all good Democrats are up in arms about Republican vice-presidential pick Paul Ryan’s anti-Medicare extremism, for example. But in a second term it will be the Obama Administration that, under the language of “tough choices,” dilutes the Medicare program. In fact, says the President’s bi-partisan deficit reduction committee, expect $50 billion a year or more in cuts to domestic spending programs for the next decade.

True to the End—Unfortunately

What a contrast Nugent’s blowhard right-wing rhetoric about “freedom” offers next to the courageous young women of the Russian band Pussy Riot, sentenced this past week to two years in prison for their pro-democracy, anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral. It seems like a fair guess that Nugent, despite all his macho posturing about war, guns, and putting criminals in their place, would never do anything on behalf of his beliefs that seriously threatens his personal freedom and wealth. Certainly if he were Russian, would he be using his concerts to denounce Putin’s dictatorial presidency as “a vile, Russia-hating” administration, waving an AK-47 around on stage threatening Putin to “suck on this”?

Indeed, for all his pro-gun rhetoric, the one time in his life when he might have been asked to actually use a weapon in a real conflict, in the Vietnam War era, Nugent reportedly went to notorious lengths to avoid being drafted. That in itself would be fine if he had opposed the Vietnam War, but he did not.

As a teenager in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the late 1960s, I remember Nugent’s Detroit-based band, The Amboy Dukes. As the band’s lead guitarist, Nugent had talent, as evidenced in such hits as “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” and more. For my taste, however, those talents over the years have been mostly wasted on a musical style that is loud, crude, and bombastic.

In this at least Ted Nugent the political thinker has remained true to himself.

Mark T. Harris is a Portland, Oregon-based writer. Website: www.Mark-T-Harris.com. Email: Mark@Mark-T-Harris.com.

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Mark T. Harris is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. He grew up a few blocks from the site of the old Lindlahr Sanitarium frequented by Eugene Debs in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst. However, none of the teachers in the local schools ever spoke a word about Debs or the clinic. He does remember Carl Sandburg’s Elmhurst home, which was torn down in the 1960s to build a parking lot. Email: Harris@writersvoice.org

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