Posts Tagged 'American Taliban'

The American Taliban – a denouement.

There is much more to say about what the American Taliban has done so far and will continue to do to undermine and destroy the American social contract. However, I think now it is time for me to let events speak for themselves, as I believe the plot, if not the ultimate course of events, has been made clear. The recent expose of Mitt Romney’s feelings about his fellow Americans who weren’t born with his silver spoon in their mouths pretty much tells the story. That his remarks were well received by a private audience of high-rollers who paid $50,000 a piece to hear his remarks tells another story. What remains to be seen is whether or not average American voters understand the depth and import of Romney’s put down of them. Together these stories spell out a difficult and interesting future for the United States.

I have received emails from Romney supporters depicting the president in racist terms, spouting a litany of untrue accusations that seem to be the stuff of their disaffection. I was sent a link to the web site of an apparently deranged “artist” who has made a depiction of Obama standing on the Constitution while all previous Republican presidents stand behind him aghast. Throughout the disparaging accompanying narration denouncing Obama for destroying the Constitution not one, not one single example was offered to illustrate the accusation. In all of my years, and that would be 74 of them, have I ever seen anything like this. I can even recall the anti-Catholic campaign against John Kennedy and thought, at the time, it was disgusting, but nothing before or since has prepared me for this campaign.

I have come to the conclusion that this presidential campaign is about two things, race and class. If Obama were a white man nothing resembling this sordid rhetoric would be happening. While I am not a great Obama fan myself I despise the gutter politics being carried out by the American Taliban-headed Republicans with the tacit support of Romney.  Further, for a political rent-seeker to characterize nearly half of the American population as lazy charity seekers goes beyond civility, as does the suggestion that seriously ill people go to emergency rooms for care. It is, frankly, stupid. Anyone who has lived a normal life in this country knows that hospital emergency rooms are overflowing with indigents, and this jerk wants to make it public policy? But then what would you expect from someone who had his face made up to look darker skinned for a pandering interview in which he would appear more appealing to Hispanics?

In a rather blatant bit of hypocrisy, Romney has recently suggested that teachers’ unions should not be allowed to contribute to the Democratic Party. He has no problem however with billionaires contributing to a billionaire Republican at $50,000 a plate private “dinners” where he “takes the gloves off” and bad-mouths everyone but his wealthy contributors. Romney’s next best idea is that people without health insurance can go to hospital emergency rooms for treatment when they are ill is on a par with his suggestion that jet airliners should have operable windows in flight. This is how one gets a case of “romnoids,” a condition similar to cognitive dissonance caused by the stress of listening to someone talking out of both sides of their mouth.

The original Taliban is a loosely organized association of religious and political fanatics who destroy anything in their path to political and social domination. They make no distinctions between participants and non-participants, civilians and military, religious and secular, adults or children. They destroy whatever chances to be in their path. The American Taliban, funded by the wealthiest people in the US, is no different except for their lack of guns, explosives, and suicide bombers—they are out to destroy the American social contract and everything that goes with it, including Big Bird.  What do the American Taliban think they are leaving in the wake of this campaign of filth and lies?

Make no mistake about it, there are many Americas, and not all of their inhabitants see democracy in the same light.

The American Taliban – Part 5

The Political Utility of Poverty – Part 1

Put simply, if poverty wasn’t useful it wouldn’t exist. And what then  is its perceived value? Social control.

Consider: One American family who inherited a vast national retail chain, hold wealth equal to the entire bottom 30% of American society. Their stores, which do not pay local income taxes, sell to generally low income Americans  low cost goods mostly made overseas by Third World people earning poverty wages. This family donates millions of dollars to groups seeking, among other things, to privatize public education.

The other side of the coin: As of March 2012, 24 million Americans could not find a full-time job and have been characterized by American Taliban politicians as lazy, unmotivated, and unwilling to work and whose benefits and entitlements should be cut or eliminated. It is estimated that 46 million Americans live below the poverty line and 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger including 17 million children. These numbers apparently represent the American “exceptionalism” politicians are crowing about because they are not duplicated elsewhere in the Western world.  How does this work for you?

Strapped and fearful, middle-class people aren’t about to make waves; they have jobs, albeit low paying jobs and getting lower, to protect, mortgages to pay, medical insurance to pay for, credit card debt to service, and very little in the way of savings to fall back on should things go amiss. Middle-class people are trapped into a politically conservative mind-set because it is believed to be, at the very least, protective of their fragile status quo. In Wisconsin in the gubernatorial recall election earlier this year union members and their families voted for the candidate who vowed to shut down unions. Say what? Were these people fearful of losing what they have, were they delusional? Whatever else that might have motivated them they seemed to believe that voting as they did better protected their interests. The key word in this being “believe”.

Poor people on the other hand are dangerous politically because they believe they have nothing much to lose and so will be inclined to vote for candidates inclined to improve their lot hence the strategy to take away their power to vote, to disenfranchise them. Passing voter ID laws is a weapon of social control that deliberately targets  that segment of society who are more inclined to vote for socially liberal rather than American Taliban candidates. The Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania legislature, Mike Turzi, unashamedly boasted of accomplishing exactly that when a law requiring voter ID was passed in that state.

All social organization is predicated on beliefs; it is mutual beliefs that bind its members to it. All functioning societies, primitive or sophisticated, are and have been established on beliefs. Beliefs are thus the foundation stones of human association and the attendant social contracts. No shared beliefs no social contract is a hard and fast rule. To be civilized a society requires personal commitment to behavior which promotes the common good even if not all are direct beneficiaries as in the exercise of charity. Perceived fairness may be the most binding dynamic of a social contract. As John Rawls defined it in “A Theory of Justice” ,”… inequalities within a society must work to benefit the least advantaged.” In order for people to believe in and thus commit to the social contract they must believe it to be fair and it must benefit a broad social spectrum including the least advantaged.

If the bonds of belief are broken and social agreements violated a collective good no longer exists, the social contract is dissolved and so follows the society itself. The subordination and commitment of individuals to that society and its social order devolves into alienation followed by anarchy. When the number of people with nothing to lose reaches critical mass social control shifts from the personal commitments of individuals to the social order to social control via coercion and condign measures by a self-designated elite – that consequence, as has been demonstrated throughout history, is inevitable.

The smaller the portion of a society a state represents the greater the force required to maintain control. Based on the current militarization of police forces around the country and the incessant universal monitoring and covert spying on everyone (Yes, everyone- including you dear reader.) by federal agents someone somewhere has thought about these consequences. Social control replaces and trumps the social contract whenever the status quo is threatened. Correspondingly the greater the mass of those disenfranchised from the social order becomes the greater their potential force and threat. Exponentially higher levels of control as in the form of a police state must follow resulting in higher levels of resentment and resistance. One only has to watch news videos of police in action, as at the Occupy Oakland demonstrations this year, to see this is already happening. Local police departments have been given millions of tax dollars to “upgrade” their gear with military equipment to deal with anticipated future protests. The two forces, threat and control, will inevitably circle each other until one destroys the other or the destruction is mutual. Chaos ensues. Those who would conspire to demean, devalue, and destroy the civil society are playing with a Promethean Fire of grave consequence.

Poverty can no longer be acceptable if we are to have a viable society and that is not just financial poverty but spiritual poverty and opportunity poverty as well. Young people cannot graduate from college thousands of dollars in debt with no expectation but being hounded by debt collectors for the rest of their lives or menial jobs just short of servitude. Historically no amount of state sponsored suppression of an under-class majority has succeeded – those who ignore the lessons of history are bound to repeat them and poverty may prove not to be so useful as once believed.

The American Taliban

The recent news story (7/9/12) about the Taliban executing a young Afghan woman was revolting. The woman was shown in the accompanying video seated on the ground as the executioner fired his Kalashnikov nine times into her back. Aside from the abject cowardliness of the executioner and his colleagues, there was a crowd of about 100 villagers sitting on a nearby hillside cheering. No matter what her offense, it was a brutal event. A person’s life was taken in a direct and brutish manner, a despicable violation of human decency and civilized behavior.

In the US we don’t drag people into the streets and shoot them (yet). What we do is deny them health care, unemployment benefits, food stamps, living wages, and access to the political process on an equal footing with the wealthy via the Citizens United decision.

In the state of mind that is the State of Texas there are some 6.2 million people without health insurance. The Republican governor, Rick Perry, has rejected expansion of Medicaid and the creation of a health care insurance exchange. Consider that those 6.2 million people represent nearly a quarter of the population of Texas. This brings to mind the cheering at a Republican primary debate last year when a candidate explained that an ill person with no health insurance could die. Brutish, inhumane, and uncivilized behavior? You bet it is.

Texas Republicans recently revealed a key plank of their platform for the upcoming elections, their opposition to teaching critical thinking skills in public schools. This is unsurprising of course when your purpose is to create a stupidized general population that will go along with denying health care to poor people and other similar dehumanizing policies. What we have here is a Republican Tea Party agenda to de-legitimize the idea of community—to undermine and ultimately destroy the civil society. Following the Texas model, they want to create a gun-toting, everyone-for-themselves, don’t-tread-on-me world. They, like the Taliban, are anti-social, un-American, and they are dangerous sociopaths.

While philosophers like Max Weber and Marcel Gauchet thought that religion was the main influence on the development of Western social contracts, that influence is now distorted and deformed; it has become a weapon. The new religious influences on the social contract are exemplified by popular Christian preachers with national audiences, one of whom, in the solemn presence of Republican Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, screamed that all immigrants should be sent back to where they came from. The other called for a national policy to create internment camps for homosexuals. Catholic bishops have been stiffed by US Congressmen professing the same faith as theirs because bishops forfeited their moral authority covering for child-abusing priests. Religion is no longer the humanizing influence it once was and has become, more than ever, polarizing, compartmentalizing, and more importantly, hypocritical.

Women are also under attack. Georgia Republican state legislator, Terry England, supported a bill to force women to carry a still-born or dying fetus to term because cows and pigs do, he said, so why not women. Tea Party activists cheering at the death of the elderly and the infirm, represent the new social contract. The Republican conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court that defines corporations as people with equal rights as human beings rends the fabric of rationality as well as the social contract. Money talks in America, and if you don’t have it you are mute, and your constitutional rights, just like your mortgage, have been foreclosed by big money. If you are not rich you exist to provide votes for whichever party can scare you the most about your fellow Americans. Capitalist cannibalism and nihilism are the new social contract replacing community, shared values, and common interest. Trade unions are being marginalized by politicians, business interests and their own inability to see a bigger picture than their internecine politics. In the mid-1950s close to 40 percent of American workers were covered by union contracts; today only 12 percent are. In the recent gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin union members voted against the union-endorsed candidate.

Public-sector unions are being attacked and eviscerated, not just by Republican governors but by Democrats as well. Eleven Democrat governors are blaming public-sector unions for budget deficits, demanding wage and benefit concessions. In all of that, neither the governors nor the affected unions have effectively pointed out the predatory role of big banks and the recession they caused. At this moment in time, corporate profits are at an all-time high and wages, calculated as a percent of the economy, are at an all-time low.

In Colorado Springs, the location of recent wildfires, public employees had been laid off or their jobs eliminated by elected officials who took Grover Norquist’s no new taxes pledge and rejected property tax increases. With the ranks of firefighters and police reduced, the city had 39 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer policemen to face the crisis. A few years ago the city even had to turn off a third of the town’s street lights. Many homes that weren’t consumed by the fire were looted or vandalized and dozens of automobiles broken into. The classic irony is that in the aftermath the city has shamelessly applied for Federal grants and aid. Where’s Grover? Maybe he has some ideas on how to reconcile this contradiction.

In the past few days it was revealed that traders at JPMorgan-Chase lost approximately $5.8 billion in bad gambles. How many firemen, cops, teachers, health clinics, and other more humane possibilities would that bundle have paid for? In the meantime the Republican Taliban, with public support, are going after the poor and disadvantaged; they are rampant and smelling victory.

This post first appeared at: http://www.grass-roots-press.com/


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