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There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion Paperback – August 19, 1998
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From the Back Cover
Revised, and with a New Introduction by the Author
"I am an agitator, and an agitator is the center post in a washing machine that gets the dirt out." --Jim Hightower
Hightower is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore! He's also funny as hell, and in this book he focuses his sharp Texas wit, populist passion, and native smarts on America's political, economic, scientific, and media establishments. In "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos," Hightower shows not only what's wrong, but also how to fix it, offering specific solutions and calling for a new political movement of working families and the poor to "take America back from the bankers and bosses, the big shots and bastards."
About the Author
Jim Hightower is a political spark plug who has spent 25 years battling Washington and Wall Street on behalf of working families, consumers, environmentalists, small businesses and just plain folk. He confesses that he has been a practicing politician, serving two terms as Texas' elected agriculture commisioner. In addition to his popular radio broadcasts, his speechifying and all-around agitating, he publishes the biweekly political newsletter The Hightower Lowdown. His previous bestseller was There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos.
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Though "Armadillos" is an older book, published in 1997, it is still valid today. And those of you who think he's swinging too hard at Pres. Bush will enjoy watching his energy focused on Clinton, who was Pres then.
This is what I mean when I say Jim Hightower is not necessarily anti-Bush; he is anti corporateering and pro working-citizens. He will aim his sights at anyone, regardless of partisan politics, and expose their greedy, pork-filled underbellies.
"Armadillos" is divided into five basic sections; Class War, The Media, Pollution, and Politics.
In Corporateworld, Hightower exposes such big-money deceptions as Corporatized Medicine. While we sit back and debate whether or not socialized medicine is a worthwhile route, the HMO's and Corporations have taken over our health care to line their own pockets and serve no one but themselves. Also note his timeline comparisons to the old Robber Barons, and the similarities of today's working place. And watch out NAFTA, Hightower is on to you!
In Class War, Hightower emphasizes the growing chasm between the filthy rich and the working-class right here in America. Fortunately, anything this top heavy must eventually topple over, especially when their supporting base becomes unstable. (translate to unhappy and no longer willing to hold them up) Of particular note in this chapter is Hightower's revisiting the origins of our holiday, Labor Day; by itself this makes the chapter Class War shine.
In The Media, Hightower exposes the media bias long before "Out-foxed" was ever made. Anyone remember the 1994 "Telecommunications Deregulation" bill that was supposed to create more competition in the telephone and cable choices we everyday citizens have? How many choices do you have now? If you are like me, there is One Mega-Monster provider that services your area and that is that. I still have no choice and I'm paying 10 times what I used to.
Pollution is the best chapter in the book. Here, Hightower charges in, no holes barred, and shows up the corporate greed, incompetent government agencies, and fat-belly back scratchings that are keeping this country polluted and compromising our health everyday. From meat-packing to organochlorines, no polluter is safe. I have recently read a very disturbing book called "Slaughterhouse" by Gail Eisnitz, and here in "Armadillos" Hightower proves that what Ms. Eisnitz exposed has been going on for a very long time.
Taking a huge risk here, Hightower even stands up against the "feel good" events such as the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How dare he attack such a noble and gentle association? Because the sole funding source of BCAM is Zeneca Group, a huge multibillion-dollar corporation named in a 1990 lawsuit for dumping DDT and PCB's into Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors. What, you say? Zeneca produces cancer causing, chlorine based pesticides, most of which are dumped into our environment, then has the nerve to tell us women that its our "fatty diets" or our "lifestyles" causing our illnesses. To put icing on top of this putrescent cake, Zeneca also owns a pharmaceutical company that produces a treatment drug for breast cancer. Give it to `em, then charge `em to try and cure it.
During the next BCAM campaign, watch to see if any mention is made to organochlorines and their links to cancer. You won't find any.
The last chapter, Politics, sounds more volatile but is actually a gentle sliding out of the book. Making more and more sense, Hightower warns us that instead of being so partisan, we need to question the ethics of each and every candidate, especially where their monetary interests are.
"Armadillos" is still in tune with the problems of this country, and what I really like about him is that he points out ways for the reader to fight back, so you are not left all riled up with no comb in your hand.
His humor is both sharp and refreshing, and he infuses it heavily into his written works, making palatable even the most horrible of subjects. One of my favorite ideas of his is the Candidate Stickers; just like racecar drivers wear patches and stickers showing their sponsors, so should our politicians. Hightower paints a very funny picture of a debate with sticker-covered candidates, the only part that is not so funny is that while we argue party against party, the candidates are wearing the same corporate logos on their 1K suits.
Hightower uses extensive reference to real occurances here, naming bills and corporations, providing dates, and showcasing the organizations that are making a difference. This is a great book for those just becoming politically aware, and for old veterans of the partisan wars alike. Hightower's witty prose and down-home humor actually make politics a fun read. Enjoy!
It is however an interesting attempt to forge a new notion of leftism. The reality of the party system is that most countries, which have single member constituencies have two party systems. Each party has a certain core of support and to gain electoral office the competition is over the middle range of voters. This leads to notions of parties being similar or having similar policies. Left wing parties have traditionally identified themselves by not having any substantive difference but by adopting certain issues to develop a veneer of being caring.
Hightower is critical of this, and he is critical of the American Democratic Party. He suggests that what is happening is that by phrasing policy in a narrow guise of rights rhetoric the Democrats are losing support of their traditional constituency which is basically keen on economic issues. He suggests that the drift to the right in US politics is because of working class or potential Democrat supporters drifting out of the system.
He further suggests that the "new left" not only has lost its constituency but it fails to try to reach potential voters. His section on the media is one of the more interesting in the book. He argues that the main way ideas are spread in modern America is through talk back radio. Talk back however is something that the right dominates because the left will not touch it. They are afraid to enter into dialogue with common people.
Hightower argues that the future of the left must be to develop "populist" policies which are aimed at the welfare of the vast majority of ordinary Americans. He also argues that the message should be sold in a way that resembles the old grass roots political campaigns of the past rather than the carefully scripted media events of today.
A book which is interesting, always amusing and raises some real issues of interest about politics in all countries.