As wildfires burn in British Columbia and rage in California, now is a good time to contemplate one of the nastiest results of the collision — collusion? — of the corporatist’s insatiable love of profit and the neoliberal’s deification of small government.
Both of these stances zero in on the same fundamental target: taxation, in all of its forms. Not just direct taxes, graduated or not, but also those “extra” costs of doing business forced on industry by government regulation. The target is the same, for more than anything else the corporatist hates the loss of potential profit, and more than anything else the neoliberal hates the intrusion of “big government” into the marketplace.
Why is now such a good time to consider the consequences of this unholy alliance of the economic elite and the politicians it has purchased? Just look at the under-reported results.
Apparently, Jeb Bush now is urging Americans to work longer hours to help the economy. It seems that working Americans aren’t spending enough, which means that corporations aren’t making enough money. Financial disaster looms!
Talk about blaming the victims! First you gut the earning power of the working classes, then you scold them for not having the full-time, living wage jobs that fuel spending across the economy.
Confederate battle flags unfurled at state capitals. Ten Commandments monuments in courthouses. Swastika tattoos on the forearms of skinheads.
It’s pretty easy to dislike and descry totems like these, isn’t it?
The first is a sad remnant of not just a lost war but a morally bankrupt way of life, one based on the false presumption of the inherent inequality of different iterations of our single species. The second enforces the desire to impose the majority mythology on the personal, social, and political lives of everyone, believer or not. And the last is nothing else than a declaration of ignorance, hatred, and violence.
This week, with Canada Day on the Tuesday and U. S. Independence Day on Saturday, one question begs to be asked: How about adding the Maple Leaf and the Star Spangled Banner? Do they belong on the same list of evil influences as the others?
Most people will say no, and many will find the very question offensive, if not nonsensical.
At the core of the right’s self-serving reactions to the Charleston massacre is one truth that’s so obvious that it must be its blinding clarity that keeps conservatives from seeing it. America’s racism is so deeply engrained in the culture that to many people it has become invisible.
How else to comprehend explanations like Mike Huckabee’s, that a young, male white supremacist’s slaughter of nine black churchgoers is most importantly another secularist attack on Americans’ right to pray? Or the NRA’s loathsome cry for — what else? — more guns, so that those targeted churchgoers could have gone all O.K. Corral on the perp’s ass?
This mass murder — no, it’s not an “incident” or an “event” — highlights how hard it is for some white people to admit the widespread reality of racism. No, it hasn’t gone away. And ignoring it won’t make it go away. Continue reading
The reactionary remnant of movie hero Clint Eastwood was at it again recently, boasting that if Michael Moore had arrived uninvited at Eastwood’s home, the way that Moore famously did at the home of Charlton Heston, Eastwood would have shot him.
Eastwood didn’t talk about having his gun pried from his “cold, dead hands,” but his bravado was clearly part of the misunderstanding of history that underlies much of the mindset — and too much of the rhetoric — of the Tea Party and its sympathizers.
It’s too bad that very few of these uber-patriots will hear of, much less read, a meticulously researched, absolutely persuasive book — Robert J. Spitzer’s Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights (Oxford, May 2015).
The reactions to the arrest-related death of Freddie King in Baltimore are as varied as you’d expect. Some of them defy comprehension, while others show careful, clear thought.
It’s not easy to excuse arsonists and looters, but it is possible to understand them. You try living with the profound weight of both poverty and racism, day after day, year after year. At best, your outrage overflows when a Freddie King dies, and you join a street protest that you know, deep down, will do little other than give your more violent impulses a non-violent outlet. At worst, you’ve been shortchanged so often and in so many ways that you never experienced the self-respect that would have restrained the mindlessness of the mob you’ve joined. Sometimes, when a scream of outrage isn’t enough, there just isn’t any other way to let the injustice out than an act of rage. I’m not condoning it, mind you, but I do have to try to understand it.
The reactions of some of our public actors are no easier to condone, but they are harder to understand. Just a few of them will give us a sense of the range of these outrageous responses.
Republican presidential wannabes parade before billionaire Sheldon Adelson to shout out mandatory uncritical solidarity with Israel. Then it’s back to Iowa to begin the crucial fight to win, not the nomination itself, but the endorsement of the Koch brothers.
Meanwhile, the current Democratic president fights off the progressive wing that nominated and then worked zealously to elect him, fighting to ensure that the secret Asian trade deal stays secret until it is blasted through a sympathetic Republican congress on a no-amendments-allowed, “fast track” vote.
Jeb Bush plans to “outsource” most of his campaign to a “private” PAC, in what looks at first to be a strange move to distance himself from control of his own push for the White House.
Hillary Clinton keeps as low a profile as a presumptive nominee can, hoping to ride out both the trade deal debate (“take no position, lose no supporters” seems to be her tactic here) and the Clinton Foundation contributions-for-favours stink (maybe now we know why those “private” e-mails had to go away).
What’s going on here? Is there some sort of connecting theme? Of course there is.
Money. Lots of money. Continue reading
Need more proof that the Republicans in the U. S. Congress are really, really, out of touch with the lives of most Americans?
The Huffington Post reports that the House of Representative has voted to repeal the 100-year old estate tax — best viewed as a retro-payment for the government protections, infrastructure, and (in some cases) subsidies that have helped the 0.2% of the population who would ever have to pay the tax to acquire (and in the case of inherited riches, retain) so much wealth in the first place.
This blog has been more or less suspended for quite some time now, but no more. There’s too much going on in the world to continue to sit back and write book reviews, which is what I’ve been doing on my other blog for the last two years.
Several years ago, I wrote a Remembrance/Veterans Day post in which I expressed admiration for the aged veterans of WWII, people whom I came to know through sharing a cardio-fit group with them.
Although my own father had been a combat vet in that war, he and I never spoke about it. When I was young, he was still too traumatized to talk about the war. And when I grew older, he and I had a distancing conflict over my decision during the Vietnam occupation to refuse induction and leave the U.S. permanently. It was through my years on the next recumbent bike to survivors of my father’s war that I came most fully to appreciate their humble but crucial parts in preserving Western democracy, in what is rightly called the last war to ensure freedom.
So it is with a large dose of respect and sympathy for the individuals whom this day honours that on this Remembrance Day I have to agree in large part with David Masciotra’s provocative and hugely controversial Salon article, “You don’t protect my freedom: Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy.”