Posts Tagged 'Rick Perry'

Loonies On The Path ….

Remember the Pink Floyd tune, “Brain Damage”?

“And everyday the paperboy brings more.

  • Grant wealthy individuals more votes than the rest of us.
  • Tax the working poor at a higher rate than billionaires.
  • Put undocumented workers in jail for using public toilets.
  • Privatize Social Security, indeed, do away with all social safety nets.
  • Make teachers responsible for failing students.
  • Do away with health care.
  • Permit guns everywhere. South Carolina residents may now carry guns into restaurants. Wait for first shoot-out at a salad bar.

The lunatics are in my hall.”

  • In Chicago a Republican candidate for office told her base autism is punishment by the “almighty” for support of abortion and marriage equality.
  • In Texas, Republican Joe Barton, explained, as wind power is a “finite resource”, harnessing it “would slow the winds down” causing temperatures to go up.  You can’t make up stuff like this.
  • In Georgia a legislator equated women to cows and pigs when it comes to childbirth.

… if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes …”

  • Rick Santorum (Remember him?) declared that only “God” can mandate health care.
  • Republican governors led by none other than Mr. “Ooops” himself, Rick Perry, refused to implement Medicaid. As Rick put it, “I will not be a party to socialize health care.” It’s all about him isn’t it?
  • In Wisconsin a Catholic US Congressman criticized the Pope for speaking out against barbaric treatment of the poor and the “idolatry” of money.

 

The lunatic is on the grass.”

Day after day the news reports one outrageous assault after another against the social contract. Social body blows from politicians, billionaires, and the bankers who bankrupted thousands of small investors and savers with impunity. One of those bankers was recently rewarded with a multi-million dollar raise. Our Citizens United Supreme Court happily awarded a presidential election to the Republican candidate (They knew his Daddy.) and have granted political organizations status as human beings. The Court also decided that it’s perfectly OK for the police to strip search you for jay-walking. Drop your shorts America. Again – this stuff cannot be made up – it has happened, it is happening, and we are living with it. Let’s not even discuss Florida where it seems to be legal open season on black kids.

The lunatic is in my head.”

In light of all this it seems to me reasonable to ask what motivates people to act barbarically. Many of the politicians are self-identified “Christians” whom it is presumed are supposed to integrate the teachings of their deity into their own lives and actions. On evidence, however, nothing could be further from the truth. So, what’s going on here? Why would Paul Ryan object to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance? What moral authority informs his imagination?

Got to keep the loonies on the path.”

Human society has always oscillated between physical and moral challenges; between civilization and barbarity. This cycle has determined the course and ultimately, the fate of all societies. The entire thrust of social evolution we always hope has been about making a more secure, more equitable, and healthier world for more and more people. If that be the case, why the relentless assault on civilization and civilized behavior? Should we not be past that? Well, it seems obvious the barbarians have not gone away, they have not been truly assimilated, humanized, or integrated into the mainstream of human consciousness. The barbarians are still with us, it’s just that they now wear suits not animal skins.

James Davidson Hunter in, The Death of Character, said this: “History and philosophy both suggest to us that the flourishing of character rooted in elevated virtues is essential to justice in human affairs; its absence, a measure of corruption and a portent of social and political collapse, especially in a democracy. … Character matters, we believe, because without it, trust, justice, freedom, community, and stability are probably impossible.” Where lies the character of politicians who would deny school lunches to children? Many “great” societies have come and gone throughout history and when there have been great inequalities in the goods of life as Hunter has indicated, social collapse inevitably follows. What loyalty to the economic and social contract is expected when employees are reduced to poverty wages because entrepreneurs prefer to maximize profit? When employers prefer to provide information about welfare instead of paying a living wage, what are the possibilities?

Both Aristotle (Politics) and Plato (Laws) warned that too great a disparity in the goods of life lead to disruption of societies. We live in a time of unequal justice when people of color are still singled out for police abuse, when profit motives exceed any sense of economic justice defined as living wages, when the jobless are blamed for their joblessness by elected officials unconscionably neglecting to acknowledge that American jobs and industries have been relocated offshore to countries where a living wage is a fraction of what it is here. Can we escape this defection from civility? Probably not. So, everyday, when the paperboy or internet brings more news of lay-offs, food stamp cuts, denial of medical care and welfare for the disabled, disenfranchised, and the unemployed will “the dam break open many years too soon”? We’ll see.

The lunatics aren’t just on the grass – they’re in high places making decisions that determine the path and, ultimately, the fate of the country – our embattled democracy, our society. If Michelle Bachmann is correct declaring we are at the “end days” perhaps none of this matters. Perhaps the band was right, there’s someone in our heads, but it’s not us.

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

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/

Here’s The Plan, Stan….

Here’s The Plan, Stan.

What’s the plan? Well, here’s how we do it. First we make sure we cut as much from public school budgets as we can without actually closing them. Then we hire a bunch of consultants from out of state who have the right political credentials to pronounce that the schools are dysfunctional and must be privatized in order to “save” them.

This scenario reminds me of a television news report I watched during the Vietnam war. The correspondent was lying in a ditch with an Army officer as bullets and artillery rounds whistled overhead. Every once in a while a helicopter gunship would spray machine gun fire and at least two aircraft swooped in overhead and dropped napalm. All the ordnance was impacting on what appeared to be a tiny village in the near distance. The cameraman was reacting to the explosions as the camera and image jumped around. The correspondent and the officer were lying on their backs and the microphone was placed in the officer’s face with the question: “What’s going on here, what’s the plan?” The reply was cool, calm and entirely without irony as is to be expected from a combat hardened trooper: “Well, we’re going to have to destroy this village in order to save it.”

Here we are, in 2011, destroying public education in order to “save” it. That’s the plan, Stan. We are at it again. The Bush-initiated No Child Left Behind scam is working its magic and schools all over the US are flunking the test. Teachers in Atlanta, Georgia, have been caught cheating the test results to make it look as though their students were actually passing the national exams; 178 teachers and administrators were named in the report!  Florida is often held up as a place where students have improved but, in fact, their students still perform below national averages, so why is experience in Florida held up as a qualification to run a school system? Another question: Why is the charter school held up as a paragon? In Los Angeles the charter school faculty turnover rate is 50% per school year! One teacher described the situation thus; “By the time students graduated from my school, there was not a single teacher who had been there the whole time.” Then there are the demeaning lotteries for placement in charter schools, schools funded with public money. Watch the film “Waiting for Superman” online at http://www.waitingforsuperman.org/  to see how the charter school system works and then ask if you would want to place you child in this scene.

THE WAR ON PUBLIC EDUCATION

The working assumption here is that schools exist because society deems it important and necessary to educate children. And this is why schools should be left out of the political agenda where they seem now to occupy a central position. One has to wonder why someone like Jeb Bush would be touring the country advocating for policies that, in the end, will only damage the educational process. I have long wondered why political conservatives of a certain class (wealthy, privileged, politically influential) have such a fixation on schools and schooling. It is most certainly not because they have the welfare of children in mind. Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas, now a presidential possibility, is cutting $4 billion from the Texas school budget! In New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie attempted to cut $800 million from that state’s education budget but is being challenged by the courts and the story in Michigan is pretty much the same. Along with the usual budget cuts, Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Walker, encouraged by billionaires with no apparent connection to public education, has added disenfranchising teacher’s unions to the agenda.

When the same attacks are happening across the country one doesn’t have to be paranoid to question what the “real” agenda is. Here is a comment from the  BuzzFlash on the blog site Truthout on Friday 17 June 2011 from a reader named Mario:

“This is really an assault on the working class. A good education is the first step towards upward social mobility. An ignorant populace (the Republican dream) is one that is easier to control and convince.

The BuzzFlash editor, Mark Karlin, added:

This will result in a caste system that will create not a “free market,” but a relatively closed one. Wealth and economic well-being then become not a result of ingenuity, education and entrepreneurialism, but rather of family inheritance. This is also called a fossilized economy.

The Objectives – The Cruel Myth of Privatization.

The first and foremost objective of the school privatization activists will be the elimination of teachers unions. The next objective they will seek to achieve will be greater social control of students and the composition of school population by social class distinction. Poor kids will go to poor-kids schools and well-off -kids will go to well-off-kids schools. The net result will be even greater social polarization, even greater alienation and much less commitment to the whole of society – a parlous path to the future to say the least. The privatization of schools has more to do with greed than altruistic feelings about improving education for all. It is about social control as well.

Adding to this dismal vision of the future are billionaires hiring politicians and lawyers to lobby for privatizing public education. Why? Not because they want to improve education for the masses but because they smell a profit. What then if they are successful? What happens to those who cannot or will not pay? Kids who are barely educated now, who come from homes where parents are indifferent or discouraged will certainly be excluded. That scenario obviously becomes a portrait of disenfranchisement, disillusionment and, worst of all alienation. At least when kids are in school they are exposed to adults who are caring and invested in preparing young people for a life in society, imperfect though it may be. As a result of the press for privatization the US will find itself with an alienated underclass with no commitment to a common social contract. We will become a society that puts a price on everything and knows the value of nothing – especially people.

This essay also appears at: NMPolitics.net


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