Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
MacBeth, William Shakespeare
Shakespeare could have written these words to describe America’s deteriorating political culture. Spoken by three witches as they wait to deliver a message to Macbeth, it accurately captures the foul stink of ideas espoused and tactics employed by Tea Party candidates and the tacit acceptance of their supporters as fair rules of engagement. The repugnant swill served up by the Tea Party and the alarming rise of a growing citizenry eagerly lapping it up at the Party’s public demonstrations and civic events is a disturbing indication of America’s radical rightest shift. The concoction offered at the filthy troughs by Tea Party candidates is a mixture of demagoguery, character assassination, blatant lies, bigotry, intolerance and xenophobia. They shout Anti-Federalist slogans, denounce Obamacare and the “socialist president” living at the White House as a fascist dictator. Hoisting Don’t Tred on Me flags, while tramping about in costumes dressed like Minutemen, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and Hitlerian likenesses of Obama they would make for amusing political theater if it were not for the seriousness of the threat to democracy these misguided people pose.
The Tea Party articulates a steady stream of fear, loathing and mistrust. It effectively creates a fog of obfuscation to cloak the identity of its well financed backers allowing them to hide behind layers of opaque corporate structures. As of September 1, over $200 million was raised by Conservative groups to purchase issue oriented ads that attack liberals and support positions of conservative candidates. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, has raised approximately $65 million from anonymous backers and he is strategically deploying it in districts and campaigns to fuel the conservative juggernaut and regain the House and Senate for the GOP. This is the genie the Supreme Court unleashed with its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Its a genie that Karl Rove knows how to tame and use to do the bidding of his corporate masters. These funds do not include the amount of direct funds raised by candidates. In hotly contested campaigns like Nevada Senate election, Tea Party endorsed Sharron Angle has raised over $14 million during the third quarter alone. In Delaware Christine O’Donnell raised close to $3 million in the two and half weeks since winning the Republican primary. Big money from well financed backers are flowing into the political coffers of Tea Party candidates. Following the money trail will more likely then not lead to a well carpeted corporate headquarters belying the purported “populist” agenda of the Tea Party movement.
Teabaggers are the shock troops, the populist covers for powerful global institutions that are salivating to carve up and consume the distressed assets of America that are up for sale and available to the highest bidder. America has hospitals, shopping malls, auto manufacturers, bridges, water pipelines, toll roads, shipping ports, offshore oil leases, minerals begging to be liberated from National Park dungeons, vast public school networks, community banks, military contracts, natural gas waiting to be fracted loose, toll roads, lots of distressed mortgages and millions of foreclosed homes weighing like a lead sinker on banks balance sheet yearning to be turned into a liquid asset. These are the real prizes at stake in America’s election. The Tea Party’s professed love of liberty and the constitution is useful only in so far as its expressed in their unquestioned commitment to laissez-faire democracy. Get government out of the way, no regulations, no taxes, no protections, no minimum wages and no unions. This is the cornerstone and common mantra of conservatives that opens the door to monied interests to snap up unencumbered assets on the cheap without any restrictions. It is the continued plundering of America.
Our revulsion to the repugnant statements of Tea Party candidates makes one wonder if they are engaged in a deliberate attempt to heighten our antipathy to the political process. Christine O’Donnell now well known coy TV ad of “I’m not a witch.”; Tea Party congressional candidate from Ohio Rich Iott’s bumbled pronouncement, “I am not a Nazi”; New York Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s statement “I don’t want homosexuality taught in schools”; and Sharron Angle’s assertion that “We must oppose the Sharia Governments of Dearborn Michigan and Frankfort Texas” seem to be comedic inanities spoken by political demagogues playing to the lowest common denominator of their low information voting constituents. Unfortunately, I don’t find humor in a thug espousing his homophobia, a dimwitted shill advancing religious bigotry clothed as “righteous intolerance”, a US congressional candidate aggrandizing Nazism or a Sarah Palin wannabe obfuscating critical issues confronting this nation with the affectations of her ego. One must pause and ask why are these ideals emanating from the Tea Party movement. It clearly expresses an ideology that is antithetical to the constitution and represents a virulent political strain that threatens civil rights and personal liberty. Teabaggers supporting Paladino’s homophobia, smiling at O’Donnell’s witchery and winking at Iott’s Nazi fantasies detract attention from serious candidates offering political alternatives. A disturbing example is Laura Wells, the Green Party Gubernatorial candidate for California who was barred from participating in the political debate and was later arrested for trespassing at a post debate party. This is a hair on fire moment for America.
It is a huge mistake to dismiss these comedic political pawns as the current election cycle’s candidate du jour. Big money is laying big sums on the line to support and control these candidates. The Tea Party and the big hidden money of the GOP is casting a bewitching spell on the electorate. MacBeth’s regicide is small change compared to Karl Rove’s intent to deliver a deathblow to democracy. Rove is mixing a special Tea Party elixir just for the occasion.
“Double, double toil and trouble,”
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
You Tube Music Video: The Stangelings, Season of the Witch
Risk: democracy, constitution, elections
That day has arrived again. In a very real sense it is a day that has never left us. We remember our incomprehension of how benign jetliners could transform into vehicles of mass murder. We remember our astounded shock as we witnessed the compelling images of those trapped above the gaping mortal wounds of the WTC Towers cascade downward after a decisive leap of death. We remember the indomitable Towers crumbing into broiling clouds of toxic dust rumbling through the canyons of Wall Street engulfing the spires of Bankers Trust and Trinity’s dark steeple. We remember the confusion of the civic turmoil that erupted throughout the besieged city and the depths of terror that rang our soul from an unseen force of wanton power and ambivalent devastation. We remember the heroic bravery of first responders who gave the last full measure of their devotion in service to others. And we remember our shared egregious grief, the broken hearts and the traumatized families whose sense of loss will never fully dissipate.
For nine years we have weaved the bits of steel from the wreckage of that day into our national DNA. 9/11 has truly transfigured our nation and its people to a depth that we find difficult to comprehend or understand. We have entered two wars, ceded civil liberties and fed the beast of fear a diet of suspicion, mistrust and agonizing vulnerability. We have let this fear express itself as an emotional response that quickly acts to salve immediate pain with force of will then allow a more deliberate and considered course of action that fully expresses the resolve, fortitude and ideals of a free people.
We believe that the terrorists attacked us because they fear us. They fear a nation and a people that cherish freedom and prize liberty for all. The cornerstone of those liberties are the freedom to think, express, associate and worship according to the dictates of ones own conscience. No authority or government institution will abridge those freedoms nor compel any individual to associate, act, think or worship in a manner antithetical to their personal beliefs or values. Tyrants, despots and authoritarian governments compel belief and extract tribute of action by demanding conformity to ideology and submission to self serving authority. They idealize the use of force foregoing dialog and negotiation as a way to convey ideas and forge consensus.
The tool of terror is the way of tyrants. Terror compels the terrorized to acquiesce and submit to wanton authority at odds with personal liberty and freedom. Is not Pastor Terry Jones, “Burn a Quran Day” nothing more then a form of terror aimed at Muslims, a maligned and vulnerable minority? Why do many believe it is perfectly suitable to ascribe the status as “less then” for Muslims seeking to build the Park51 Mosque on the grounds that their religious affiliation excludes them from building a house of worship too close to the hallowed ground of the WTC? Prohibiting the rights of a people because of their religion is a Taliban like mindset that all lovers of freedom should abhor. The propagation of the belief that the construction of the Park51 Mosque is a monument intended to commemorate the martyrdom of terrorists is a vile lie and a pernicious attempt to advance a reactionary political agenda.
Can the United States extol religious bigotry by celebrating intolerance? Do we applaud compelled fealty and submission by profaning Holy Books and sacraments of religions and faith traditions that are not our own? Do we deny the full and equal rights of a group of citizens that are somehow deemed less then or not fully enfranchised to enjoy and exercise the protections of a full palate of constitutional freedoms? The United States cannot allow itself to sink into the morass of intolerance, bigotry and exclusion. It runs counter to the central ideals of a democratic republic and the very essence of what distinguishes the United States from the forces of terror that seek to destroy it.
Creating national emblems of fetishistic icons to express our grief is not the correct response to the 9/11 attacks. Chunks of steel from the downed towers, bits of damaged flags or falsely ascribing a sanctity to a two block radius around the WTC site turns grief into a fetish that will forever enslave the will and endlessly torment the soul. This nation cannot cling to its illness, it must restore and strengthen its democratic character by building alters to liberty through the practice of tolerance by jealously guarding and joyously celebrating civil liberties for all.
Let the burning of the Quran be an indictment of ignorance, bigotry and religious intolerance. Let the building of the Park51 Mosque be a monument to the strength and hope of a free people that proclaims America as a light to all nations.
Our prayers for peace, restoration and life affirming abundance to all affected by 9/11 remain steadfast.
You Tube Music Video: Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings
The deal is closed. American democracy has been sold. The US Constitution, discovered in a discount bin at a cheap dollar store at the Mall of America will now be fully privatized to serve the greater corporate interests of America. The deal will enable the global fraternity of capitalists to finally unlock and fully realize the hidden value of an unencumbered American dream. Profit-Us-Maximus will replace E Pluribus Unum as the national slogan. Undoubtedly it will appear on our national currency for the freedom of commercial interests and the uninhibited power of capital has triumphed. Commercial interests have trumped “we the people”. American liberty, a political currency once recognized as the worlds leading example of representative democracy has been severely devalued.
The Supreme Courts decision overturning laws that restrict corporate freedom of speech now allows corporations the unrestricted right to financially support candidates for public office. This paves the way for an installation of a more corporate friendly oligarchy to rule over the citizens of the worlds first and now defunct representative democracy. The courts ruling in the Citizens United vs. the US Federal Election Commission overturned existing laws that prohibited corporations from exercising free speech. The ruling now sanctifies the corporate purchase of air time to fund media campaigns that support or attack candidates running for public office. The wisdom behind the overturned law was to protect the interests of citizens from a corporations ability to use its considerable capital resources to finance and influence the election of political candidates favorable to their corporate interests. That law is yesterdays newspaper.
The decision opens the possibility that the governance of our nation, states and townships will be administered by elected officials financed and paid for by corporate largess proffered with the proviso to do their bidding. America risks becoming one giant company store. Once free citizens endowed with the protection and empowerment of a Constitution and a Bill of Rights will become beholden to the whims of corporate paternalism.
If your a shareholder in one of the corporations this is a bullish market event and your equity position has surely appreciated in value. The special dividend of political power born from purchased access to legislators will accrue favorable returns to investors in The United Corporate States of America. No longer will senators hail from the great state of Georgia or the Live Free or Die State of New Hampshire. It’ll be the senator from “Do No Harm” Google or “Have It Your Way” Burger King.
There will be a million unintended consequences resulting from this decision. How government administers and delivers services and how institutions fulfill their social mission will drastically alter. Institutions and functions that serve and support education, military, roads and infrastructure, health care, consumer and environmental regulations, labor protection laws and provision of social services will be transformed. The very nature of the liberal nation state will change.
This decision will create conditions for the privatization of governmental assets and institutional service structure to accelerate at mind numbing speed. The New Jersey Turnpike can now be sold to a private equity firm from China. Drilling and the exploitation of resources found on National Parks will proceed without prohibition. Public schools will be offered on a Dutch Auction hosted on e-bay; attracting the participation of a well capitalized confederation of publicly traded Charter Schools. The mission to acquire the listless brick and mortar carcass of a once venerated public school system will commence. The promise of the systems renewal with the breath of a new life fired by entrepreneurial zeal and taxpayer support will create a new Dow Jones Index constituent, Education Inc. Many functions of government will be downsized and outsourced to sophisticated data processing and business process companies. Military units will also be privatized, becoming mercenary divisions of corporate security firms. This will enlarge their market opportunities because they will no longer be beholden to exclusively serving the needs of a single client, the USA.
As Keith Olbermann pointed out in his Special Comment concerning the Supreme Court decision, the parallels with Dred Scott Decision are ironic. The decision ruled that Dred Scott was not a man, but merely a commodity to create wealth for a person with full rights of citizenship. Now corporations are blessed with all the rights and privileges of a person and the rising ascendancy of their power will soon supplant the interests of individuals. In so doing, the Supreme Court has once again proven itself to be an activist political tool to protect the interests of political and economic elites.
We can at least be thankful that the Supreme Courts decision allows us to dispense with the charade of participatory democracy. Rampant cynicism about the unfair influence of money on the political process has always been understood as a problem. This has undermined the people’s trust in the electoral process. It has eroded a collective sense of political enfranchisement. It has contributed to creating a pervading malaise of ambivalence within the electorate. The monied interests with fathomless pockets can now come out into the open and make their presence plain for all to see. It remains to be seen how this will alter the structure of K Street.
A new business model for how money is dispensed to politicians will need to be considered . Perhaps a new derivative called a PIMP, (Politician In My Pocket) should be considered. A PIMP Exchange could be set up in Washington DC. This future exchange would surely prosper and would propel Washington DC as the fast rising global financial center on the come. PIMP trading would be recognized as a fast growing emerging market. The trading in PIMPs would attract capital from all over the world and may even rise to supplant the future pits in Chicago as the place “where the world goes to manage risk.”
The PIMP Exchange will add that much needed transparency on how the political influence market is performing and what the going price is to buy and sell politicians. We should be grateful to the Supreme Court Decision that laid the judicial foundation that will finally shine light on this aspect of our political process. Now that its out in the open its all above board. No more under the table deals will be necessary. This ruling and the PIMP Exchange makes it very easy to follow the money. Perhaps legislation should be considered that require senators and congressmen to wear the corporate logos of their three largest sponsors. If a corporation wishes to remain anonymous feeling that the interests of their shareholders are better served they can continue to operate under the radar. A Generic Omnibus Politician In My Pocket or a (GO PIMP) will be designed specifically for this purpose.
The laissez faire approach to freedom of speech unfortunately confers all the power to those with the deepest pockets. “Politicians will be bought and sold by the gross”, according to Alan Grayson a congressman from Florida. Mr. Grayson is proposing legislation to protect citizens rights from being trampled by an avalanche of corporate money. The first amendment guarantees citizens that no one shall abridge or prohibit the free and open expression of ideas. Unfortunately money speaks the loudest and facilitates access to media channels and distribution. The free and open internet provides an individual little protection. The tussle in China between Google and the government is an instructive warning of what we can expect to occur as corporate control of the internet grows. It is an indication of a growing rift born from competitive postures of power capitalist institutions.
Our birthright of liberty was orphaned by a pervading cynicism and the seeming ambivalence of citizens who cared little for the rights democratic republics confer and understood less about the responsibilities required to guard them. The decision by the Supreme Court is a watershed event. Our political culture has changed. The United States model for governance is moving closer to the Chinese model of governance. The state capitalism of the United States is is a mirror image replication of the Chinese model. A ruling oligarchy of economic interests acting in concert with its hand picked governmental representatives is common to them both.
Did we awaken this morning to the sober realization that American’s best hope is a trust in a benevolent corporate paternalism? Can we believe that the rule of unencumbered enlightened capitalists is the way to realize the promises of a post scarce society? Can we still believe in the promise that innovation and social progress and our democratic impulses will continue to inform America’s historical evolution? Has America and the rest of the world arrived at a tipping point, a harbinger of a dystopian future where property right trumps human rights and the hard edges of economic deprivation, class marginalization and political disenfranchisement are ills that continue to infect society. We need a doctor. We need a strong antibiotic to cure this disease metastasizing in the body politic.
You Tube Music Video: Tennessee Ernie Ford: 16 Tons