Watch and listen to the following and tell me if you think this sounds like A) a serious, major-party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Nevada or B) Dadaist performance art, a parody of the worst possible candidate in the history of electoral politics extending her middle finger to voters and practically daring them to vote for her.

This is like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross running for the Senate. "You're all spoiled, lazy assholes. Jobs are for closers. What's my name? Fuck you, that's my name." Angle is telling voters in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation – take that, Michigan! – that the root of the problem lies in their slothfulness and sense of entitlement. "Spoiled", that's what they are.

Let's investigate those claims, momentarily suspending disbelief and pretending that someone like Angle would choose her words based on readily available data.

Nevada's unemployment program is unremarkable, calculating benefits using the same "High Quarter" method employed (see what I did there?) by the majority of states. Using the most recent data I could find, a report from February 2010, the 2009 average weekly benefit ($305) and average duration of benefit (16 weeks) were both within 1% of the national average.

$305 weekly would be $7.62/hr assuming a standard 40 hour work week. The minimum wage is set by state law in Nevada at $7.55. At 40 hours that would produce $302 before taxes. So the unemployment benefits spoiling the hell out of Nevadans paid a premium of $3 over minimum wage – for about four months. On July 1 the minimum wage increases to $8.26 in Nevada, meaning that unemployment will pay the equivalent of about $30 per week less than what the most feebly compensated hourly workers will make.

In other words, unemployment benefits in Nevada do pretty much what they are intended to do: provide short term, subsistence level income for people who have been involuntarily separated from their jobs. Perhaps Sharron Angle should be prepared to tell us the proper level at which benefits should be set in order to properly encourage people to work. Perhaps a maximum benefit of $100 per week, paid in a moldy onion sack full of quarters placed atop a tall, greased flagpole, would provide the right incentive. If the issue is that the dole and menial jobs pay essentially the same, why are we supposed to jump to the conclusion that the welfare state is too generous? It is far more relevant to ask why all of these jobs our elected officials are telling us to take pay wages that barely cross the poverty line.

"Logic" like Angle's takes me back to my childhood, to lectures from brainwashed Reaganites about how poor people were just lazy and the problem was that welfare paid them a six-figure salary to sit on their asses enjoying their big screen TVs and bouncing cars and all those other silly things that negroes like (All unemployed people were black). It has been a while since we've been blessed with a politician sufficiently disconnected from reality to make this argument in the middle of a double-dip recession in a state with the highest unemployment rate in the country. We should bottle Sharron Angle – to preserve her special essence, not to deprive her of oxygen. We need to keep her talking, as she appears to be another gift that will keep on giving.

38 thoughts on “MARCEL DUCHAMP vs. HARRY REID”

  • OliverWendelHolmslice says:

    I heard she also called Christian fundamentalists a "bunch of closet fags" and told gun owners to "stop over-compensating for their tiny dicks". Seriously though, how could you fuck up worse than making fun of your own unemployed constituents during a recession???

  • Somehow the loss of employment must be equated with the loss of franchise, at least in her mind. Or do the jobless simply refrain from voting out of shame for not contributing to the greater wealth of their overlords? Really, a low-church Protestant (and career substitute teacher) should know better.

  • In Australia this gets trotted out regularly. It doesn't have to resonate with the unemployed as the gt 90% who are either working or don't need would rather blame the unlucky than admit that it is only luck that they got employed by sonebody who hasn't gone unfer yet.
    It is one of the things that get me boiling mad which is why I don't get invited to dinner parties.

  • Perhaps we could get Angle do do a duet with Joan Swirsky, who has penned what is at once both the most insane bit of Time-Cube level nuttery I've seen in a long time and an awesome summation of wingnut belief, all wrapped up in one juicy post.

    The two of them together would be priceless. Roll cameras.

  • @justme: Thanks for that link, that was priceless.

    You know, when I went through school, we were taught about the McCarthy years. How this man would go around shouting about how communists were destroying America, and how the country as a whole was gripped tightly by The Red Scare.

    Well, we haven't quite gotten to the level of blacklisting actors yet — though I suspect some people already have, personally — but I keep hearing cries of "Communist!" thrown around more and more from the right these days. Wasn't it Michelle Bachman who uttered that several congresspeople should be investigated for such anti-American and/or communist leanings?

    I never thought I'd actually *live* through McCarthyism 2.0, but by all appearances we're heading that way. It's surreal; I listen to talk radio here in Georgia because AM750 happens to have the most awesome traffic and weather around, but when they switch back over to the sqwawk boxes it's like these people are still trying to fight the cold war. It is absolutely bizarre.

  • Crazy for Urban Planning says:

    "when they switch back over to the sqwawk boxes it's like these people are still trying to fight the cold war. It is absolutely bizarre."

    The reason is its worked so darn well, remember Reid has been characterized as some sort of fire breathing socialist by these squawk boxes effortlessly and by now he could well lose to this dingbat.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    Yeah, well, gird your loins. Come November, you're likely to see one of the finest collections of flipper-limbed squidheads, genetically deficient bluntskulls, and drooling meatslappers as ever defiled the houses of Congress. We will be needing a new collective noun for it.

  • Monkey Business says:

    Let me just throw this out there for a second.

    About two years ago, I was let go from my job. I was working and living in Chicago, I applied for benefits, and got the maximum allowed. Chicago, being one of the more expensive cities in the country, allocated me approximately $600, every two weeks. That amount was less than 40% of my previous income. It represented a profound and significant lifestyle shift.

    I spent a year out of work. A year listening to my friends and family complain that I wasn't working. Assuming that any job I applied to would be happy to have me. Being forced to ask for applications to jobs I knew I wasn't going to get, because I was either massively overqualified or underqualified for them. Having comfortably employed people complain that I was spending "their" tax dollars.

    Being unemployed, especially when you're young and all your friends still have jobs, is hell. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    Actually, I take that back. I would wish it on this woman, and every other scummy politician that thinks that being broke and out of work is some kind of picnic. Let them spend a few months on minimum wage and see how quickly their lives start to fall apart.

    I begrudge no one on Unemployment Benefits. When I say this crazy woman can die in a fire, I mean I literally hope she is engulfed and consumed in flames.

  • Perhaps this *is* best understood as a Duchamp-like gesture; since the GOP has the agency to declare a candidate as legitimate, it is so, and no one can say otherwise.

    To paraphrase: Ceci n'est pas une candidate serioux.

  • Hearing people say "the unemployed just don't want to work" makes me want to bang my head against the wall, or more appropriately, bang the speaker's head against the wall. There are MILLIONS of jobs (I've seen estimates of anywhere from 3 million to 8 million) that have just disappeared since early 2008. THAT'S why those people aren't working. The vast majority of them would damn sure rather be going to work and pulling in a paycheck, but there's nowhere to give them one!

    In an economic boom, when employers are complaining of a labor shortage and upward pressure on wages, it's possible to make the argument that anyone who isn't working is unemplyed by choice.

    In today's economic climate, where a huge number of jobs no longer exist, to say something like that is a deliberate act of burying one's head in the sand and saying "screw you" to those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    It's pretty crazy viewing this stuff from the lens of a European social state where, between cash benefits and things like housing and health insurance that get comped, being unemployed (for an utterly unrestricted amount of time) is vastly more lucrative that doing a minimum-wage job, or even a reasonably well-paid job. Germany has had unemployment pegged around 7 percent for years and years, an immigration culture clash that makes Arizona look like Minnesota, and any mention of ANY of these sorts of issues is totally, absolutely taboo in politics (though not so much in society at large).

    Meanwhile, in the US, which has a welfare state that is most politely described as "ungenerous", we get these fanatics who want to tear the whole thing down. Crazy.

  • I can't understand how anyone could have this attitude towards the unemployed in the midst of the worst recession in our lifetimes. There are 15 Million people out of work at the moment and that fact that you have a job still is mostly due to luck. The sheer lack of compassion on the right is mind bogglingly short sighted.

    Unemployment benefits came out of the depression when it was well known that people were literally starving after being laid off. (Read John Steinbeck's "Starvation under the orange trees" for a description.) Entire communities crumbled and the resulting downward pressure on wages further depressed the economy. What these freemarketers fail to recognize is that the social safety net (as meager as it is) actually maintains the status quo in this country. Capitalism is allowed to exist as it does because there is some sense of protection is your position is "downsized."

    Having some sort of support while between jobs also keeps wages up for those who are still employed by removing complete desperation from the equation. Imagine that there is someone who used to make $80K/year who is suddenly so desperate for income that they'll take the same job for $20K/year. It's far too tempting for employers to can their current staff to hire at far lower wages. Trust me, it happens already. Without unemployment benefits, the entire economy is endangered.

    Meanwhile, congress is deciding not to extend unemployment benefits in spite of the fact that unemployment is "officially" still over 9%. I'm not sure how denying the most basic and essential protections of government is sound political, moral or ethical judgement.

    @ MonkeyBusiness – I second your call to set this woman on fire.

  • You know, on the one hand, I want her to succeed. I want to see her views taken to their logical conclusion.

    Because that, in all its horror, might finally wake the American public up. The only reason our particular flavor of capitalism has survived this long is because we have externalized its consequences. People love their low, low prices at Walmart — because the people actually making those products for pennies a day are in other countries. If America was forced to witness its own citizens working for the wages that our economy demands of the labor workers, there would be no debate about so-called "entitlement" programs.

    The wealthy political class that advocates it would simply cease to exist. Make actual Americans work shit jobs for pennies a day, and you will see social upheaval on a scale this nation has never witnessed.

  • I was un-employed (except for a few temp pick up jobs) from 2002 – 2006 as part of the Corporate Shoot the Boomer Program. Got a few more years in at a much reduced rate til 2009. No, I didn't displace a higher dollar employee. I qualify as involuntarily semi-retired.

    Someone schooled in Psych may be able to hang a label on the attitude.

    I think it is a human defensive reaction when something bad happens to someone else to "blame the victim." If I blame the person as being deficient in intelligence or character and I reflect on my own wonderfulness (I am so smart and of sturdy character) then I am reasonably sure that it won't happen to me. Of course, this totally ignores 'Sh!t Happens'


  • bb in GA

    How do you still hold Republican values? Can you explain how, after being one of the cast-offs that you still think the free market solves all problems?

  • I have to wonder if any of these jackoffs have ever even been on unemployment. I mean, among my peer group (which is mostly white collar, mostly middle class) almost everyone has been through a hard period of unemployment. And only one of them actually enjoyed life as a lucky ducky, and only because he had a job lined up and knew it was only a matter of weeks before he got back to work.

    I fear that more and more politicians have never experienced these things, and don't have the empathy to understand them in the absence of personal experience.

    In short, the little people are well and truly screwed.

  • Although I agree with everything all of you have written, and vigorously detest this crazy woman, I wish you would refrain from calls for violence against her. It puts you in the same category as the wingnuts "targeting" liberals with bullseyes and thinly veiled encouragement to assault and murder. Don't put yourselves in that company.

  • Saying "our elected officials have never been on unemployment" is a red herring. Politicians shouldn't even have to have experienced hardship to understand it. It's a good bet that FDR never had to worry about where his next meal was coming from.

  • Mayya – I misspoke. I meant to say that I hope she realizes the error of her ways and understands that self-immolation is the only way to absolution.

  • nunya:

    When I started working for the Big Mama back in 1970 I never bought into the Corp Rah Rah – We Are Fam-uh-lee. Although I developed lifelong relationships with several of my co-workers, I always made my decisions based on mine and my family's best economic/social interests – not the Company's. I always assumed that the Company would do the same back in their direction too.

    They paid me on time, every time, and the checks were all good. When they said they didn't need me any more, we were even. They owed me nothing and have lived up to their defined benefit pension program – so far.

    Because I knew what the "rules" were up-front, I harbor no bitterness. My Shoot the Boomer comment was my smart-ass attempt to be smart-assed.

    I guess it really is wrong to call me an R. I am more of a Libertarian-Conservative or Conservative-Libertarian who tolerates some Rs better than I do most Ds.

    I am familiar enough with man's nature to not believe in L'aissez-faire capitalism. While I might give you the shirt off my back, I damn sure will fight you over it if you come at me with force to take it away 'cause you got a better plan.

    Not a brag, but I speak as one who walks the talk on giving my money and time for others. (And yes, there are many others who do much, much more)


  • Next time someone gives you a hard time about your unemployment check tell them, " I paid into the bitch for x amount of years and now, through no fault of my own, I need it, fuck you very much!"
    You are not using their " tax dollars" ( whatever that means) you are utilizing your own.

  • bb,

    Fair enough. Sounds like you got a 29 year run with a defined benefits pension. Now imagine your career consisted of 2-4 years of employment followed by shitcanning, followed by 3-6 months of unemployment followed by a crappier job at lower pay played out until you retire at 70 without a pension and have to take a job as a greeter at Walmart to keep the lights on.

    There's no question the boomers who are still working are taking a hit but it doesn't compare to the experience for your kids' generation. They are vastly lower than they were 30 years ago.

    As to the libertarian thing, how far do you take it?

    Although we don't see eye to eye on much, I appreciate your opinion. Sometimes you're downright hilarious if not a walking stereotype of Southern political discourse.


  • Isn't conservative-libertarian just a label for Republicans who are embarrassed to be called Republicans, because while the have some faint urgings of empathy, they just can't get over the hump to actually caring about anyone outside their inner circle

  • Bill:

    I don't know if your "selfish" round was shotgun or rifle.

    But I think your are stereotyping some. Most of the people in my "inner circle" are givers, both of their time and money for non-political, benevolent works to help those who life has shat upon and those who have made piss poor decisions.

    I'm a board member, friend, contributor, and worker bee for a ministry for homeless, drug-addicted, and ex-offender men who want a shot at starting over.

    We are mostly privately funded (applying for some United Way money this year) and we also develop good work habits in our Program members. We have even applied for Fed $, but didn't make the cut. So I guess I'm a very practical Libertarian :-)


  • bb,

    Thanks for your service to your fellow man. I appreciate the effort.

    Now, can you explain to me again how those that didn't utterly screw up their lives deserve to rot after being laid off?

  • Nunya:

    No one (in that context) deserves to rot.

    As you can tell, I'm biased towards private charity. I guess my second choice would be public works administered at the most local level possible. An important part of that program would be a sunset provision since Federal entities seem to be the closest thing to eternal life we get to see on this earth.

    Another challenge is to find areas of the economy that are underserved so that the public works don't crowd out private initiative.

    I have observed, first hand, that in the absence of sickness or profound disability, it is destructive of character to provide a long term living for someone without providing them the opportunity to contribute their talents to the process. At the same time, we are not interested in babies suffering because of the shortcomings of their parents.

    This is old wisdom not original to me.


  • Jeremy Powers says:

    For the past six months, the Tea Baggers have been clammoring to be heard. Now that we hear them, we realize they have noting worth listening to.

  • Bob Hopeless says:

    She's not alone. Pissing on the unemployed is a new Republican meme. Don't ask me why…shouldn't they be weeping for the poor unemployed, since it's all Obama's fault anyway?

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