Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The People's Work" (Welcome to the Occupation, Part 2), now revised

Hey Folks,
The editor's at OpEd News kicked back my original submission of "The People's Work," calling for revisions. I looked, saw they were right, and have made dozens of changes. I would like my writing more if i did not make mistakes, but since i do, please take this apology and try this edit instead--mikel

"The People's Work" (Welcome to the Occupation, Part 2), now revised

"Listen to the Congress where we propagate confusion primitive and wild"

--Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe

UPDATE: In our last post, i quoted our soon-to-be former attorney general, outgoing AZ Democrat darling, and then-gubernatorial hopeful Terry Goddard, as laughing at the suggestion that, unlike the GOP's blatant support of its Tea Partiers, the Democratic Party appeared to distance itself from the agendas of its liberal base. When asked for an example, i pointed out the wide-ranging support for Prop 203, which he flippantly dismissed as a "pet issue." Prop 203, you may recall, aimed to regiment the legalization of highly regulated medical marijuana to cancer and glaucoma patients and the like. Goddard was afraid the image of supporting medical care for sick people would cost him votes and earn a label as "being out of touch with the mainstream."

Turns out that's exactly what he was. Eleven days after Goddard's concession speech, after nearly two weeks of vote counting, Prop 203 passed and became Arizona law by just over 4,000 votes. Goddard had lost by well over 200,000.

While it must be admitted that the national races offered an even wider range of embarrassments of Dems selling-out their most motivated supporters, liberal/progressives, and then getting their just due "shellacking," as the President so glumly put it, it is fun to note that in this reddest of states, health care for sick people, a liberal idea that most life-long politicians, such as Goddard himself, had scoffed at and condescended over, over the years, as "hippie crap," just got more votes than Goddard did. In fact, even in an election year with a supposed tidal wave of Right-Wing tsunamis in their respective tea pots, "weirdo weed" had the audacity to get itself elected, timid Terry did not.

The math is simple: Democrats didn't get the vote because they didn't earn it. I mean, if Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell are any measure of how messed up an opposition candidate has to be to not be able to defeat a Democrat, the brand has appallingly tainted itself. Thankfully the demographic that gets its news from Jon Stewart, knows a joke when they hear one brag about being a Constitutional scholar and then not recognize the first clause of the First Amendment.

Despite the roar of elephant trunks trumpeting their triumphs, this year's vote was not a powerful testimonial to Republican ideas. It was merely proof, again, that corporate sponsored advertising works with some consumers some of the time, but it can't make a wing-nut smell like a silk purse and won't mold an elder statesman out of a political jackass. Republicans did not win the hearts and minds of the American public. They may have rented a few votes; but i doubt they'll be able to keep them.

Don't be deluded by the Fox-megaphone right-sliding sound effect of hyperbole. All the GOP won was some ill-timed name recognition and brand identification with the upcoming CF certified FUBAR SNAFU our government shall become for the next two years. The stalemate on the left is still the stalemate on the right. And yep, the new boss is exactly the same as the old boss because it's going to be the exact same bunch of bossy bastards from just two years back, except now in Tea Party-monster mode.

This may be a bit unpleasant for the rest of us, but it's the prices we have to pay for the stalemate that profits our paymasters so. The only way our corporate criminals can possibly control their economy, maximize their profits, and minimize our interference is to make sure neither side gets ahead by too much in the tug-of-war tape-loop we call our political process. You know the old drill: you can move to the left, or you can move to the right, either one, as long as you don't move forward. If we did, it would ruin their whole delicate balance of expensive ineffectiveness.

For example, if the crazed religious right were to actually gain their fantasy level of control of our government to reek their vengeance, since vengeance is the main product they sell, it would make Rwanda look like a Disney-ride.

You could start with all the mass deportations they've been begging for, praying for, for decades. Ejecting whole families, anchor and all, on such a scale can only lead to inevitable mass miseries, martial law and more crime and, of course, higher prices. You are going to break a few eggs with that omelet. We're talking forcibly removing twelve million people from their homes all across the country, containing them for transport, then shipping them to parts unknown. When the Nazis tried this sort of thing we branded it a "Holocaust." The Right may want to label their final solution, "Keeping America Free." But the rich will simply call it "screwing with my #1 source of cheap docile labor" and just say no.

Then there's the "Reconstructionist"/"Wall Builder" crowds' wet dream of a theocratic fundamentalist "Christian" nation, and its unavoidable holy war against all infidels-- both foreign and domestic--who won't bow before their blood-god Yaweh.

Yeh-NO. Corporations have no souls and thus they need no saving. Besides, everybody knows the Religious Right don't want peace on earth and good will to all men. They want just what they've always wanted: a heavenly rapture for a select few of them, fire, brimstone and the gnashing of teeth for the rest of us.

As former evangelist, now skeptic, Frank Schaeffer details in his latest expose of the religious right, "How Republicans and Their Big Business Allies Duped Tens of Millions of Evangelicals into Voting for a Corporate Agenda," the hard line Christian right GOP base is as zealous about eliminating heretics and infidels as any "Talibani" burqua merchant they might want to waterboard. Here's a telling quote Schaeffer cops from leading conservative theologian David Chilton's manifesto, PARADISE RESTORED--A Biblical Theology of Dominion, “Our goal is a Christian world, made up of explicitly Christian nations. How could a Christian desire anything else?"

Well, excuse us, the other four billion people on the planet, but that sounds like a cue for an exit. Talk about mobilizing the world of enemies who already thought we hated Islam. And every other religion in every other country on earth. And, what of the terror such an edict would elicit right here at home? Though Christianity is still the number one self-identified religion by Americans, including untold millions who are actually too lazy to admit they don't believe in anything, including the need to believe. Which may be all well and good if that's the crowd one wants to get loud with. But about a quarter of Americans now claim to not be Christian. Including folks who are not Jewish or Muslim, fish, nor foul, and all of the folks who simply are, or simply are not. What are they going to do with all of us in our US?

Surely if i should fear suicide bombers who kneel on one kind of prayer rug, then i'm just as right to worry about the abortion-doctor murderers and their fan club, who simply kneel on differently patterned rags, or intone their respective adorations with slightly varied inflections, yet still head onto their own mayhem, singing glory to their god to be. As if we should see their work as holy. As if the choice of words said made a difference.

Of course, for some evangelicals, the potential for igniting an international America-centric hate-fest against our own brand of "Christianity [copyright 380 AD, patent pending]" IS the whole point. For those folks, this mess means messiah and this is all just a page in the Master's master-plan. Taking up the zealots' unfinished crusade against the Arab world seems like the quickest way to create their own sequel to a certain Jenkins-LaHaye series. For you, that may have been a fad best left behind, but for the religious right, it's their daily bread. Oh well, for the unraptured rest of us, it's the fabled lake of fire, while Christians get to enjoy box seats in a handy cloud-side perch to revel in our roasting and chirp, "I told you so!" for eternity, and ever and ever, amen.

Of course, that's just one voices amongst the many co-conspirators the Republicans have promised our next two years to. Don't forget the "never-met-a-tax-they-would-not-try-to-skip-out-on-&-then-insult-my-intelligence-by-calling-that-act-'patriotism,'" Libertarian voices in Tea Party chorus of the GOP's hallelujah symphony? These are the folks who call for no laws what so ever, except the ones they intend to place on a woman's body once they gain the power, to keep the "Christians [void where prohibited, some restrictions may apply]" quiet.

And the most important freedom for a liberty-loving Libertarian is freedom from taxes. This cabal intends to get you to want to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment and end all federal income tax, thus wiping out about 45% of the national revenue. So with no one paying taxes, not only could Grover Norquist finally drown the by-then-vestigial federal government in the bathtub of his choice, social services could also be slaughtered, leaving millions to starve, die of illness or homelessness.

If these "Tenther" types get their way, Social Security, like all other social services, will be sold to the highest bidder, and would then deliver the lowest-possible-cost services to only the oldest of survivors. See? Through the miracle of privatization, public sector responsibility gets deferred; and yet we still have to pay for half the service purchased at twice the price. That's the power of the market for you. Capitalists call this "competition" and "Ayn Rand-style idealism." The humans in the audience probably just cringe and hiss "heartless."

Abortions would be banned, faster than one could say "saline solution," swelling the population third world country style, further straining our resources and expanding the rolls of the poor. Businesses could rape the public with impunity, as they have tried to do every since the invention of money whenever a government will not stop them. And they would once again offer only the lowest wages and the highest of prices for the shoddiest of goods. Though at least there'd still be plenty of jails.

And don't even ask me to tell you what they'd do to gay people.

Oh yes, and everybody would have plenty of guns! If you cannot see the potential hazards to corporate profitability from such a doomsday scenario, you must have been cribbing your investment strategies from Meg Whitman.

On the other hand, if any handful of liberal "pet issues" should really, unimaginably, somehow actually rise to preeminence, then that would also be fiscally fatal to corporate interests, guaranteeing a monetary shift that would have to be measured in the trillions. Universal health care, ethical immigration and wage laws, corporate crime prosecution for Wall Street manipulations and robo-foreclosures, 9/11 truth, FEMA camps, dismantling the military- and/or the prison-industrial complexes, eliminating derivatives trading, mandating clean energy development and, most importantly, every poor man's fantasy--getting the rich guys to once again pay their due in taxes.

I'd even settle for a flat tax if they just paid theirs like the rest of us and didn't "capital gains" their way out of it. If they paid into social security, like the rest of us based on our whole income, instead of topping out around $107,000, even if you make millions. Tricky, huh? Of course, they know all the tricks. Their servants built in those loopholes, just for them to swim through. Now that they got away with building this government to be custom-designed to their liking, at our expense, the least they could do is pay for it, i say. Wait, did i say rich guys paying their share? Silly me.

So none of that stuff will ever happen.

That's why the rich generally prefer to buy their own Congress instead of using the ones the unwashed masses might accidentally pick for them. With the Citizens United case we got a speculum-eyed view of the birth of the upcoming kleptocracy. Now that the rich openly buy their servants, we'll see what happens when the Masters charge what Americans express. Not surprisingly, more and more these days, when the rich shop for their congressmen, they tend to stare in the mirror.

In a job market where the starting pay is $174,000, and then there's all those expense accounts to abuse, 44% of Congress are already millionaires and the average combined wealth is more than $660,000, with an average of well over a million apiece in the Senate. The Millionaire's Club has finally lived up to its name. In Boehner's speech declaring victory for their glorious revolution newly anointed Chairman John announced his plan for the new People's Republic of America. "People's agenda will be our agenda!" Boehner proclaimed. I guess we know which people he is referring to. His own.

As Michelle Bachmann brayed when asked on MSNBC about the message of election night, and it wasn't her long promised investigation of Congressional Democrats as "UnAmerican." No. She said the president has to learn to work "for all the American people, not just those who make under $250,000!" In other words, not just the 98% of the population she is not a part of. No wonder Congress has turned on Obama, or anyone else, that talk about taxing the rich. THEY ARE the rich. It all makes sense now.

Like the rich, their pet poker table, Wall Street, did just great this election year, paying out new "record bonuses," "earning" new record dollars freshly manufactured by the Federal Reserve and then loaned back to us from Chinese banks at still more interest. But don't worry folks, these derivative Wall Street dollars are not merely minted out of thin air. If the bank, or the government, ever needs to come calling for them, they'll just dig them out of your pockets. Hey, it's nothing personal, just those rich guys gotta eat.

The only consolation for liberals is that, despite their own recent abysmal performances, the Dems' badge of dishonor is still nowhere near as sleazy as the one the GOP leadership have earned through their own efforts over the past couple of decades, so i hope there's still hope for the next couple of decades. There is some suggestion the future of American values may continue to evolve for the better.

Even though the vast majority of younger voters of America (age 19-29) didn't even go to the polls this go-round, and the ones that did may not have treated the Dems like their BFFs at the polls, they did see right through Tea party trickery. Despite GOP braggartry about capturing younger minds, national exit polls show Dems outpolled Republicans by from as much as16%. Nineteen percent if you include third party voting as voting against GOP candidates.

Tea Party Republicans also did not engage well with women or minorities either. Palin propaganda to the contrary, this year will be the first year since 1978 fewer women will be in the newer session of Congress than in the one just past. I guess, being a bit bearish herself, Sarah Palin and her clones do not realize the majority of Americans don't actually want a "mama grizzly" waiting around to maul them when their back is turned. We've already got to bear enough Wall Street bull for that as it is.

There are also going to be fewer Blacks in Congress and none in the Senate. And, even though this round, the American people succumbed to the best costumed mock-patriotism money can buy and their own twin foibles of greed and racism, like some Lee Atwater style "Southern Strategy" on steroids, the GOP now has the Tea Party label to keep up with. And that flavor won't take long to leave a sour taste in most people's mouths.

Funny thing, those Tea Party "patriots" who claim to be such American History buffs think that it entitles them to wear knee pants in public and toot their own flute as a fashion statement, then censure Jefferson from Texas textbooks as insignificant. Those guys and their legion of propagandists always leave out the fact that Sam Adams and the original "patriot movement" were less a civilized tea party and more of a badass beer bash, a political philosophy based on justifying drunken rowdies rioting at the customs houses while rich smugglers like John Hancock parlayed their personal wealth into the politics of a nation. Sound familiar?

These same Tea Party historians also fail to mention the morning-after disaster the original Tea Party ideals turned out to be, after America emerged from the fog of war, stopped fighting against Britain, and began fighting amongst ourselves. No matter how much fun these rabble rousers had trashing their British tax masters, once the shooting stopped, the Articles of Confederation government these rebels forged for themselves failed so fantastically it had to be scrapped in less than seven years.

Sure, that's why we remember so little about the Articles of Confederation government and barely keep record of the twelve different guys that briefly were its president--because it sucked so bad it vacuumed itself off the pages of our American Heritage, the history we try to be proud of. In less time than it takes to say "Shay's Rebellion," America went from international inspiration to international embarrassment, a country that preferred to shoot its own soldiers than to pay its own bills.

Under the Articles of Confederation, by design, to ensure that each man might have his liberty, including the right to do wrong, the central government was supposed to be so weak it could never control the states the way England had controlled the colonies. Congress could not regulate trade, no matter what way people wanted to run their business. It could barely create laws, but had no power to enforce them. And best of all, as far as the states' rights crowd was concerned, the new federal government had no power to tax.

A Libertarian's dream, state sovereignty ruled the day. The states all vowed they would treat each other like friends; and friends don't need rules to control the behavior of "friends" right? And friends will always act like friends all the time, right? Wrong.

The businesses of the several states screwed each other over royally, and everyone else for that matter. Citizens labored under petty tyrants in their workplaces and petty tyrannies in their statehouses all across the land. Claiming outrageous taxes, state governments stripped the land and the very homes from returning Revolutionary War heroes to sell it to their real friends, the banks. These were the same Revolutionary War soldiers they had poorly supplied in the war that made our nation and then when that war was over (due to the "no federal taxes" loophole they wrote into the Articles for themselves) they refused to pay the soldiers who had fought for their freedom to own slaves. And these state governments even threw some of our returning soldiers in jail for failing to pay their outlandish state taxes which didn't even meet the interest on the loans we'd taken out to afford to fight our most recent war. And all the while they were claiming to be "Christians" as they did it.

Now if that doesn't have a familiar ring to it, then i'm just beating around the Bush.

But seriously, the chaos goes on. The states didn't treat each other any better either than the soldier who had fought to create them. Intensely independent entities, the states soon fell to throwing tariffs and insults at each other. The roots of later Civil War factionalism were well underway. Most states had had decades to develop sectional hatreds between each other. New England and the Old South depended and despised each other in equal measure. Think of a land where the states weren't at all united, but simply untied, and there is no spell-check that can fix that typo. You have to secure that kind of liberty yourself.

Each state served its own "needs" first, confederates be damned. Speaking of which, the Christian fanatical religious leaders of the time, Tea Partiers one and all, all bullied their own brethren beneath tales of sinners in the hands of an angry god, meanwhile condoning the accelerating annihilation of Indian societies; all the while condemning whole other states' populations as heretics worthy of excommunication because their brand of "Christianity" landed on the wrong side of the Reformation. See, the several states contended not only with their competing business interests, but also with a welter of contentious state religions. Remember, states like Rhode Island and Connecticut were made from good Christians trying to get away from the fanatical Puritans. And Maryland was the only place a Catholic was safe. So much for all that "god of love" business, huh?

And those righteous "Christian" citizens themselves were no bed of roses. Racist, sexist, classist, and violent, their god smiled on as they enslaved Blacks, beat their women like chattel, spent most of their time drunk, and despite declaring that all men are equal, did not even allow their own poor people to vote until 1824. Meanwhile they genocided their way across of a continent.

I don't know about you, but knowing these are the people who brought you the original "Tea Party" makes for a bitter brew. If these are the people Boehner has in mind when he pledges to do "we, the people's" business, it's small wonder their forbearers equally small-minded idea of small government fell apart. Untied things don't hold together very well.

I prefer a different sort of American "we." A "we, the people" who are looking to establish justice, secure some domestic tranquility, and even promote the general welfare. But if our country truly has goals like that, we have to be willing to call ideas like the Articles of Confederation "history." I am banking that the more "old-school" today's Tea Party tries to get, the more blatantly they attempt to institute their own brand of liberty and freedom, the quicker we, the people, will finally choose a form of more perfect union.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

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