Thomas Paine:

“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Democratic Capitalism as an Oxymoron

Detecting a neocon crapshoot with our futures

      I am not an economist. I have never taken even one course in economics. I do, however, have a highly sensitive, built-in crap detector, and, after having lived through 40 years of laissez-fair, “free” market, trickle-down Reaganomics, and spending a great deal of my free time reading about politics, the antenna on my detector is quivering like mad.
      I wrote an email to the real deal recently, the Chair of the Economics department at a local university. His response was reassuring. He said, “I expect that the financial meltdown will be prevented from getting worse.”
      Okay...that sounded good. But then McCain bailed out of the debates; then the Republicans bailed out of the bailout...then Paul Krugman said, this morning on DemocracyNow!, it’s looking “scary.” So, I am beginning to wonder what’s next.
      This question arises: would a complete meltdown of our entire economy really be a bad thing in the screwy mind of the neo-con? Think about 9-11. Didn’t that disaster lead to the fulfillment of many of their wildest dreams?
      Consider how this historic tidbit, from Greg Palast about Chile, economic collapse, and Pinochet, rings familiar: Palast

      It was fascinating to hear G.W. Bush refer to “democratic capitalism,” as the “best system ever devised.” I mean, considering the reality of American life today, where union membership has reached an all-time low; where Congress, increasingly indebted to corporate support and influenced by lobbyists pushing corporate interests, chooses again and again to ignore the interests of ordinary citizens in favor of corporate America; where the will of the people —expressed on the streets during the Democratic and Republican conventions, with calls for impeachment, an end to torture and the war in Iraq and Afganistan, healthcare, a living wage and all manner of progressive changes— was ignored by the corporate media and denied constitutional rights —of speech, peaceable assembly to petition the “government for a redress of grievances”— by unidentified riot police who looked and acted like police-state goons; where, if you’re “the people,” ordinary citizens trying not to go bankrupt, well, you’re on your own, as Obama says about Bush’s “ownership” society; but, if you’re Wall Street —corporate America— well, hey, here’s 750 billion dollars for you! You know what I mean. So, isn’t the notion of “democratic” capitalism an oxymoron? Just how much influence do we demos have, anyway?
      No. Better terms would be totalitarian capitalism, given that our previous mixed economy is moving closer and closer to a condition of absolute intolerance of regulation and democratic controls on industry (thus, you have the Republicans bailing out of the bailout because they want more(!) de-regulation); or fascistic capitalism, given that corporations and government are nearly completely merged, i.e. gone fascist.

      Here’s what I wrote to the chairman of the economics department: “I don't share your confidence that the ‘financial meltdown won't get any worse,’ however. For a long time now I've been watching the de-regulation trend —laissez-faire, "trickle-down" Reaganomics— and those who have been doing their best to destroy the New Deal and everything good about it; and this current crisis seems totally consistent with their anti-democratic desires. The next thing, after they add this next hundreds of billions to the government's already huge debt, will be to say, Oh so sorry, we're going to have to privatize Social Security now, i.e., destroy it— the funds are gone...oops!" I mean, it's all so obvious. So, that's what I mean by ‘worse;’ and, it would be unbearably worse for me, since I am living off my Social Security benefits now.”

      I hope I am wrong and he is right. Let’s see if McCain suspends his campaign entirely, when the bailout completely fails. It wouldn’t surprise me, given his weird threat not to attend the debate tonight, if that’s not a hint of things to come. Will Bush’s sudden fear-mongering over the economy morph into an excuse to delay the election, when he can make a case that the economy is in collapse?
      Just connecting the dots...but remaining hopeful that these are merely the natural, though unfounded, fears that trickle down during times like these.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The One True Maverick

...which cannot be said of McCain or Palin

      Let’s get one thing straight: The only true maverick running for president this year is Ralph Nader.
      How do we know Nader is the maverick and not just another opportunistic politician (McCain and Palin) trying to con the American people and corrupting the language in the process, or some nut-case, waving his arms from the sidelines? Well, aside from his life-long record of system-bucking battles against entrenched wrongs on behalf of you and me, consider his exclusion from the debates; consider how he is reviled not only by conservatives —his natural enemies— but by Democrats as well, those who, in a better world, would cherish him as kin and as the most steadfast advocate and hero of their ideals, you know, democratic ideals and principles, those little things the Dems left behind, like wussies in accordance with power, corruption and corporate allegiance?
      See, that’s the thing about mavericks—they’re outside the mainstream. McCain and Palin? Hello, there’s nothing outside about them: McCain has voted to support Bush policy 90% of the time; has been a constant nurturer of the conservative “nanny state,” of “free” market, laissez-faire, totalitarian capitalism, i.e., those good ol’ powers that be; Palin fulfills both the authoritarian leader and follower mold, which, by definition makes her a blue blood of conformity and allowed her to fit in quite easily at her former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God Church, where they talk in “tongues,” that is, babble in bull doo-doo. No. To describe either McCain or Palin as a maverick is not only to put lipstick on that metaphorical pig; it is to give it a complete make-over and a nose job to boot.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Why Voters Should Not Trust John McCain’s Word on Anything

“Well, it’s quite simple,” said Condi Rice today in her testimony before the Senate Ethics Committee. “You see, he was forever telling us that this...

...was eight inches.”


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fun Encounters at the Post Office

The satisfactions of not biting my tongue

      The woman in line ahead of me at the post office said to her two children, “Stop it. Stand still, or I’m going to pinch you hard.”
      I noticed the woman had some sort of Christian literature to send; I noticed the hard expression on her face; I noticed how her children’s faces went from happy innocence, as they giggled and jostled each other, to fear and foreboding after their mother’s threat.
      Then I heard her respond to something one of them had asked: “No...” she answered harshly, as she stepped away from the line to go up to the counter, “...that wouldn’t be Christian!”
      “...and neither is pinching your children,” I said. The timing was perfect. She heard me but didn’t have a chance to hit me over the head, like she probably does to her children behind closed doors.
      Many parents think they own their children and think nobody has a right interfere with their parenting. The are wrong; children belong to themselves first, but because abused children grow up either to be problems to themselves or to society, you and I have a right to correct parents, when parents abuse their children in our presence. In fact, not to speak up is a way of condoning abuse.

      After I reached the counter and my package was being processed, somewhere during the lively conversation I was having with the postal clerk, I heard myself say, “thank goodness for FDR and Social Security!” This seemed to strike a simpatico chord with the clerk, who then leaned forward to whisper a tidbit from his own political mind: “Can you believe women voters are so stupid they would vote for a woman, simply because she’s a woman?!” Well, I tried to tell him it was all media lies, that mainstream women aren’t going to vote for what I call the McCain/Palin-Comparison ticket, but he was on a roll— “What a pack of idiots, eh?”
      The fallacy here, the one the media tend to use, is the notion of the pack. The real idiots are the ones who say, “The American people...” this or that. Or, “Women want...” this or that. “White males...” vote this way or that. I don’t think you can generalize in that way. I think there is far less homogeneity out there, and people are way more complex and individual than that. Having said as much, I will now contradict myself by saying right-wing conservatives do tend to behave as a pack, whereas liberals do not. As Jim Hightower once said, “Trying to organize Democrats is like trying to load frogs into a wheelbarrow.”
      What do you think?


Sunday, September 7, 2008

St.Paul, The Little City that Could ....Be Fascist

If your police look and act like
militarized, American-style jackboots,
you just might be a police state

      Given the assaults the City of St. Paul perpetrated against the Bill of Rights and the Constitution during this week's Republican National Convention, I could complain at length, reminding city officials of their sworn duty to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, that is, America. However, they know these things, and, they don’t care. Clearly, they planned from the start to engage in political repression; they had every intention of violating the Constitution and continuing to do so, regardless of the consequences, which they knew would be minimal—the city had made a deal with the Republican Party prior to the convention, one that rendered the city immune from lawsuits, to the tune of $10,000,000, the amount the Republicans were willing to cover for whatever lawsuits were incurred over Republican-approved, civil-liberties violations by the police.
      Thus we saw the city attorneys, the mayor and the police chief employing a twisted logic in arresting, charging and detaining journalists, photographers, protesters and those who were on the streets of St. Paul to bear witness and hold the city to its responsibility to protect civil liberty in a free society; that is why we saw the law in St. Paul represented by American-style jackboots, bearing nunchucks, clubs, assault rifles, tasers; dropping concussion grenades(!), smoke bombs, and all manner and means of repressing speech and dissent; that is why we heard first-hand testimony by victims of police who engaged in torture behind closed prison doors and in public, where the police apparently thought they had permission to bully political activists. Clearly, the city was guilty, and they planned on denying their guilt and pretending to be concerned about "terrorism," when it is America's movement toward a Pinochet-style dictatorship they defended.

      I would be happy if anyone can prove me wrong. If the charges are dropped against Amy Goodman and any and all journalists or peaceful protesters, who did nothing but exercise their Constitutional rights, and we never again see such a brutal demonstration of militarized police in an American city, I will say, “Sorry, I was wrong.” I will be happy to say it. However, I see dark clouds forming— incrementally, the American people have been programmed to accept the militarization of our police and the normalization of attacks against and violations of our civil liberties, and so the authoritarians are secure in the assumption that the American people won’t make a stink. Just take a look at the program “Cops,” if you doubt it. House raids by SWAT teams, SWAT, which was originally intended for “high-risk operations that fall outside of the abilities of regular patrol officers,” have become the norm, as is seen regularly on TruTv, MSNBC and elsewhere. This should be stopped. The use of SWAT teams against civilian demonstrators should be stopped too, now that we see just how creepy and terrorizing it is; but it won’t be. I think the signs are clear: we are here, now—the fascist state has arrived, and there’s no turning back.
      Some say the behavior of the police in St. Paul and Denver seemed like practice for something worse to come—soon. I would not be at all surprised. The Bush administration and the Republicans, with Democratic help, have pulled off every criminal thing they could think of, without consequence. What’s to stop them now from postponing the election and installing their version of the Third Reich, that is, a third term for the Bush dictatorship?
      It doesn’t hurt to repeat myself, and these days it is even more important to remind people that the other side of the coin of paranoia is naiveté. Let’s not be naive—government of, by, and for corporations —fascism— is our reality, and that oppressive reality will stop at nothing to have its way.
      Bless their souls, the ACLU is busy with lawsuits over these things. That wonderful organization needs our help now, more than ever.