Tag Archives: America

All men are created equal

I’m an avid reader, as you may have gathered. My favorite reading pastime is science fiction short stories, I came upon a collection edited by Phillip Dick the other day — scifi stories from the 30s through the 60s. One of them, in particular, annoyed the hell out of me.

“The Highest Treason,” by one Randall Garrett, was published in 1961. It’s premise is an America that has grown soft. How, you may ask? Well, it appears that social programs — those aimed to help the poor and needy — were the culprit. That and some idea that “all men are created equal” means that everyone is the same and no one is better than anyone else at anything.

I was only 4 in 1961, so I can’t speak with any authority on what was happening at that particular time to make Randall Garrett think such things. Except maybe for the blazing success of the New Deal. We all know how that pissed off conservatives, so I’m thinking that Randall may have been one of those, at least as far as secular matters are concerned. He was ordained in an offshoot of the Roman Catholic Church that was a tad more liberal than those guys, plus he was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which recreates medieval society.

Anyway, Garrett’s story really bugged me. There was a space war going on, and the aliens were winning because they didn’t believe that they were all created equal. Hierarchies existed. On earth, however, the unions had created a system wherein you just stayed in your job and didn’t rock the boat and eventually you became the boss, not because you deserved it, but because you did your time.

Now, I think seniority is a valuable element in promotions and such. But so is merit. The two must be balanced — but not in Garrett’s America. One or the other.

That’s a problem we have now. One or the other, liberal or conservative, progressive or reactionary, Democrat or Republican, socialism or capitalism. There can be no blend, no meeting of the minds. And it’s nearly always the conservative mind that makes this so.

That’s to be expected, of course. It’s the very nature of conservatives to seek the limit or block change, growth or even an expansion of ideas. There’s just no way for them to conceive of allowing any progressive thought to enter the picture.

Look at Congress. Republicans in the House of Representatives now have this idea that they will not vote for anything that Democrats support. House Speaker John Boehner was overheard telling House freshmen to “keep up the rhetoric,” meaning the lies. Bipartisanship? Nah. Don’t need it. The plan is to pass a bill with only their stuff in it and get the Senate to pass it too. They just might.

It’s awfully frustrating, when it’s so very clear the direction we need to go, and the people we keep electing to take us there can’t see it. They fancy themselves leaders, but I’m reminded of something Roslynn Carter once said: “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

We have so few great leaders, and those we do have are primarily working on a small scale — why on earth would they want to run for office and be forced to play the idiotic games that politicians play?

Other countries have had great leaders in recent memory. Nelson Mandela comes to mind. And some day, we’ll get our own Mandela.

At least, I hope so. I’d rather we didn’t get the hero of Randall Garrett’s book, who joined the aliens and waged a brutal campaign against Earth that ended the “softness” and brought all the brutality and violence out again. I’d rather have a hero who can bring people together rather than reinforce the “us vs. them” mentality.

All men (and women) are created equal. It’s the minutiae of their lives that make differences, that create diversity.

The end of days

There is no political solution to the mess we’re in.

I’ve said it. Outloud. There’s not a political solution for us. None whatsoever. So all this partisan posturing a lot of wasted energy. But it won’t stop, because our “leaders” won’t accept that there is no political solution. They can’t. It would be like an evangelical coming to terms with there being no god. Not gonna happen.

America is in decline, precisely because of the political nonsense we’ve been subjected to for years, decades now. It’s not yet settled how we’ll eventually fall, and, ironically enough, it will be the choices our clueless leaders make that determine our fate.

Will we decline gracefully, like Britain, shrinking to a solidly contained unit that still battles on, but no longer the major player on the world stage it once was? Or will we crash and burn like an arrogant Rome, utterly certain of its own invincibility right up until the bitter end?

That’s the reason our political debate still has merit. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the British path is far better than the Roman one.

Funny, isn’t it, after the Revolution and all that came after it, that the United Kingdom is on much firmer ground now than we are, and still with a monarchy (of sorts).

Of course the UK still has its problems, political and otherwise. But it no longer sees itself as an empire, a shining beacon to the rest of the world. Not even David Cameron, the conservative prime minister, lays claim to that conceit.

Quite unlike our own conservatives, who, actually, believe America is declining but can’t see that it’s their own castles in the sand that are slowly deteriorating. Instead, the conservarati blame liberals and progressives for what ails us.

Pity that. It’s a rotten shame that the very fools who led us into this mess may well be the ones to whom we hand over the reigns so they can finish the job they started.

I know, I know, our so-called liberal president and congress (at least according to the conservarati) can’t tell their own asses from the holes in the ground left by the conservatives for the past 30 years. We progressives are rightly frustrated, angry even.

But if you think for one moment … y’know, never mind. I was going to give you that tired old screed about voting for the Democrats even though they’re fucking traitors and cowards, but just this moment I’ve changed my mind. Go ahead. If you want to stay home in November to show those fucktards a thing or two, go ahead. Vote for the other guy, even. But do so with your eyes open — the Republican Congress we get in 2011 will be the worst we’ve ever seen. And Obama will have no choice but to go along with them, just like Clinton in 1995, if he hopes to win in 2012.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • At least some repeal of the health care legislation, if not all.
  • At least some repeal of the financial reform legislation, if not all.
  • More Congressional hearings on “scandals” than you can possibly imagine.
  • More good people driven from their jobs because of the conservarati noise machine than ever in the history of this country.
  • Less protections for those who need it most.
  • More spying, more torture and no attempt to hide it.
  • Less regulation on business.
  • No enforcement on regulations already in effect.
  • Drilling in ANWR.
  • More offshore deepwater drilling.
  • No money for innovation and invention.
  • More war.
  • Less civility.
  • More hate.
  • An anti-gay marriage Constitutional amendment.
  • A hogtied Justice Department.
  • More tax cuts for the rich.

And that’s just what the national GOP has told us about. To really prepare for the coming … ah, I almost said “holocaust,” and even though it’s a perfectly legitimate word that is capitalized when referring to what the Nazis did, in America we’re not allowed to use real words to describe what the conservarati do. So, to really prepare for the coming conservative majority, you need to look at the state and local level. Fortunately for us, Tana Ganeva at AlterNet has already done that. Make that part of your recommended reading list. It reads like a Glenn Beck show featuring Michelle Bachmann, Tony Perkins and the conspiracy theorist down the street who has concrete barricades in front of his house.
Among the things these Teapublicans want is for the United States to withdraw from all U.N. treaties (along the way to withdrawing from the United Nations completely and kicking the organization out of the country), including the ones protecting children from things like abuse and being used as soldiers.

As Ganeva says at the end of the article, just how long do you think it will be before Eric Cantor and John Boehner bring this shit to a national platform? Think carefully before you answer, and look carefully at the direction the Grand Old Party is moving.

Remember that these are the people who think that the country can afford $700 billion in tax cuts for the rich but can’t afford $33 million for unemployment. These are the people who deny that the BP oil spill is a catastrophe and that we’re in an economic crisis. These are the people who want a year-long moratorium on regulation, on their way to a permanent moratorium. These are the people who want an offset for that $33 million for unemployment, during an economic crisis, but won’t even consider any of that offset coming from the $70 billion war machine, which we all know is one of the most corrupt and messed up systems in the world.

And no wonder. It’s run by these very same people and their friends.

If you understand all that, then you have my blessing to help them return to power. Maybe that’s what we need, to really hit bottom. Unfortunately, it’s gonna mean more innocent people lose their jobs, get sick and can’t get health care, die. But that’s OK, isn’t it? It won’t affect you, will it?

Will it?

It’ll affect all of us. You know that, I know that. The question to ask ourselves is whether that’s really what we want — to see America become the ugly, corporate-run monstrosity the conservatives want it to be — and no, it’s not quite there yet, but it will be, and soon, if we let the Republicans take Congress.

Either way, 2012 will be the defining moment of this country. If we let them take charge again, and they do what they say they’ll do, they’ll be tarred and feathered and run out of Washington on a rail in 2012. And they’ll be welcomed by the armed bands they’ve encouraged to be ready for a second civil war.

But if we stop them, America’s decline and fall will soften to something more bearable, more comprehensible. We’ll be on our way to assuming a more equitable place in the world, and we will survive it.

I don’t need to run a bunch of quotes from the crazies here to remind you. But I do need to remind you that we must take them seriously. I was visiting my parental units in their rural abode a couple of weeks ago. Political ads were all over the television, and they all boiled down to “I believe in god, vote for me.” That’s enough for the folks around there — for some of ‘em, anyway. But even my “I-voted-for-Bush-twice” parents can’t stomach those ads. They’re voting for the guy who said simply that we live in troubled times, he’s led both a company and a city in troubled times and that’s what we need now. I don’t blame ‘em. I’d vote for him too over the other guys, even though he’s a Republican too.

But elections and voting won’t fix the mess we’re in. That’s gonna take a long hard look at who we are and what we want. We progressives need to start and persuade the others to follow us. It’s happened before.

At the turn of the last century, the people voted in the same kind of “love god, love business, love the rich” politicians we have now. Thirty years later, they took a mighty turn toward the progressive. The conservarati, angry and shagrined, have been fighting it ever since.

It’s time now to put them out of their misery.

The fall of the American empire

This country is fucked up, man. I’ve seen a lot in my rather lengthy years here, and I’ve never seen it like this. I know, I know, there’s some song out there that says something about “Every generation thinks it’s the last,” or some such. I hate that fucking song. And yeah, we’ve been pretty fucked up before. The Civil War comes to mind. But tell me when we’ve ever before had this harmonic convergence of stupidity, cowardice, cruelty, corruption, hatred, lies and obstruction. You can’t do it, because we’ve never had it.

And that’s just Congress. Never mind the corporations, the Tea Party, the militias, the states, religion and, of course, the people who create those monstrosities.

Maybe it has something to do with the bird we picked to symbolize our greatness, the bald eagle. Magnificent bird, but awfully lazy. They won’t leave their evening roost sites, usually on cliffsides, if there’s not enough wind because they’d rather not flap those enormous wings. And they’d much rather whack you over the head with those wings and steal the fish you just caught than catch one themselves. Ben Franklin was right about the wild turkey. Not a very attractive bird, true, but industrious and not a mugger.

Something needs to happen, and soon, before we end up crushed and broken like the Roman Empire, shattered into tiny pieces and living in a modern version of the Dark Ages.

But what the hell can we do? We elect people we think will do the right thing, and as soon as they get into office they become the same old politicians. And why not? They know which side of the bread has the butter, man, and it ain’t us.

So on this July 4, Independence Day, maybe we oughta be thinking about what kind of country we want.

Now, I know what kind of country I’d like to live in, and I’ll bet it’s pretty similar to the one you envision. But there’s an awful lot of folks out there who don’t share our dreams and hopes. But maybe they would, if only they could cut through the bullshit and understand the truth about who we are and where we come from.

Online, we largely talk to ourselves. While it’s good to know there are others as distressed as we are about the current state of affairs, we get nowhere in terms of making change happen. So start talking. Talk to your family, your friends, your coworkers. Let them see how you feel about things, not your strident ideological viewpoint, because they really don’t give a good goddamn about that. They only care about how they feel, which is why the Teapublican conservarati are so fucking successful. They play on feelings — on the scariest of feelings. But most of what the conservarati want us to fear is made up shit, or maybe exaggerated shit at best.

I don’t want to live in a world where I’m terrified to leave my house or frightened of a terrorist attack that is bound to strike where I am at that time or the coming takeover of our government by a hostile enemy. I know that bad things could happen at any time, and I know that the hostile enemy that is trying to take over our government is the very group that pretends to be the only ones who can save us. That’s a common movie plot, people. We oughta be able to recognize it by now — and that includes your family, friends and coworkers.

Michael Steele, the Republicans’ attempt to prove they aren’t a bunch of racist bastards, is a freaking idiot. And a liar. Or maybe he really believes his lies, I don’t know what’s in that guy’s head. He said last week that Afghanistan was the “war of Obama’s choosing,” that “this is not something United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”

Christ, Steele, on what fucking planet? And yet, my friends, can you even imagine how many people out there now believes exactly that.

Steele forgot, apparently, that it was George W. Bush who started that war after 9/11. Of course, Bush too quickly forgot about it, preferring instead to wage a real war of choice in Iraq. Just a few short months after he started that war, loudly declaring we’d smoke al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden out of the caves where they hid, he was telling reporters he didn’t think much about bin Laden, that bin Laden didn’t concern him. Of course not. He was working on what had been his plan all along — the invasion of Iraq.

Is that the kind of country we want? Where our leaders can’t make up their minds what the fuck they’re doing and blatantly lie about it?

Do we want a country where the party with the majority in Congress repeatedly caves to the minority on important issues they were elected to address? I know I didn’t cast my ballot for Barack Obama in 2008 so we could still keep prisoners at Gitmo who have not been charged and probably tortured, or conduct electronic surveillance on anybody we choose, American citizen or no, just because.

I don’t want a country, in fact, whose people think torture is OK. Waterboarding. It wasn’t an unknown technique when we suddenly learned we were doing it. It has a long and ugly history, and for that entire history it’s been labeled torture. Right up until George W. Bush admitted we did it. Then suddenly it was just a “harsh interrogation technique that some consider torture.” Really? Fuck that. Waterboarding is torture.

Actually, watching our government implode is torture. Watching Teapublicans get everything they fucking want in a bill and still refuse to vote for it is torture.

These guys started out Obama’s administration saying they wanted it to fail. They’re doing a great job of making sure that happens. Is that the kind of country we want? I don’t think so.

And it’s only gonna get worse, I tell you. We’re on a rapid slide to a catastrophic failure, and we’re getting awfully close to the point of no return. Think it’s bad now? Put the Republicans back in power in Congress. Or elect more Blue Dog corporate slave Democrats. See what happens then.

The Republicans want a government that caters to the rich, that makes them more powerful than they need to be. They don’t give a shit about you and me, and they especially don’t give a shit about the poor or anybody not white. Except Michael Steele, apparently, and maybe Alberto Gonzales.

That’s why they go on and on about socialism and Nazism and terrorists and Muslims and immigrants. It’s why they destroyed ACORN. It’s why they’re doing everything they can to save BP and nothing to save the Gulf Coast.

And a lot of people who are not completely destitute or unemployed buy into their crap. Know why? Because they still cling to something that was never true — that elusive American Dream of someday being one of the rich guys.

Not gonna happen for most, because what they don’t understand is that to become one of those guys you have to sell your soul, or not have one to begin with.

I don’t want to live in a soulless country. It sounds to much like late Victorian England, with debtors prisons and despicable orphanages and health care provided by Jack the Ripper types if you can get it at all.

No, I want a country that cares about its people, not its profits. I want a country that sees despair and bends to lift it, that educates its children in the ways of science and history, that encourages innovation and invention and gives those children the means to create.

Instead, though, we have a country that devalues education, cuts funding and then wonders why China is leaping ahead of us economically.

We have a country that values killing people more than it values saving lives by keeping our own infrastructure in good repair.

Some Republican last week lamented that our economy was going the way of the Roman Empire, blaming Obama and Democrats for that, naturally. He was half right. Our economy is collapsing, but it’s 30 years of conservative fuckery that’s cutting the legs out from under it.

How quickly we forget. Obama entered his presidency in the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and Republicans have screwed up every single thing he’s tried to fix it.

It was going to be a long, hard road anyway, but now it’s gotten longer and perhaps impossible to travel.

I’m angry as hell at the Republicans for that, and angry too at Obama and the Democrats for letting them do it, for not countering their scary rhetoric.

So if they’re not gonna do it, we have to. Not just to ourselves, but to everyone. It’s our last chance to turn this ship of state around. It’s hard work, and it will take a long, long time.

But the alternative is just too painful to even imagine.