Posts Tagged 'Tea Party Patriots'

Can We Change Human Nature?

“So what do you suggest for a “solution”?”

The above was a response from a thoughtful person who had read my last essay on politics, “Rough Times Ahead.” A fair question and my answer is thus:

My dear friend, it beats me. I have no ideal solutions solving problems such as general dishonesty and lack of basic humanity among social and political leaders and the general public. Changing human nature sounds to me like the only sufficient and necessary course of action, but is that even a possibility? Human nature, it seems to me, is hell bent on destroying what’s left of the social contract, a culture of “me firsters.”

I recently watched Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, “testifying” before the Senate Banking Committee about the $2 billion loss his company racked up on a hedge fund crap-shoot. You’ll remember Dimon, he’s the guy who last year gave the NYPD a $2 million tip for keeping the #occupywallstreet demonstrators away from his condominium door. As cynical as I confess I am, I wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed. Senators Corker of Idaho, DeMint of South Carolina, Johans of Nebraska and Mike Crapo of Idaho gushed and smarmed, stopping just short of stepping off their dais to kiss Dimon’s ass. Dimon smiled approvingly, wallowing in the Olympian tributes to his financial prowess, and the warm encomiums. I later learned that these senators, Republicans all, were beneficiaries of very generous donations to the Republican PAC from Dimon’s company.

What does the foregoing say about human nature and, at the very least, the nature and character of those senators and the voters who elect and re-elect them? What do we do about these kinds of people? Run them out of office comes to mind, but how do you do that when most voters are uninformed and want to stay that way? As long as Senator Blowhard can claim to be pursuing welfare cheats, deporting illegal immigrants, stopping healthcare reform, and bringing jobs and prosperity to their district, everyone is happy. Why are we stirring things up by talking about integrity, honesty and the social contract? Salute the flag, my friend, and be happy, join in, the 4th of July is upon us. Let’s all be Yankee Doodle Dandies!

Can we change human nature? What can you say to a crowd of middle-class whites, mostly Tea Party activists and predominantly Christian, who cheered when a presidential candidate told them a poor person would probably die from a medical emergency without national health insurance? This is a view, by the way, supported by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, also a Catholic, who opposes the health care reforms promoted by President Obama. Scalia you might remember also approved of an innocent man being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. The author of an article about the health care case now before the Supreme Court, Ilyse Hogue,  titled her essay, “Healthcare and Scalia’s Broken Moral Compass.” I have news for you, Ilyse, Scalia doesn’t have a moral compass, and how can you fix that? If readers really want a thrill, I suggest you read the Comments section following her article to see what your fellow Americans think about health care for everyone.

<http://www.thenation.com/blog/168452/healthcare_and_scalias_broken_moral_compass >

What can you say to Rep. Paul Ryan who wants to cut medical benefits for injured and disabled veterans and who, along with Speaker of the House John Boehner—both Catholics by the way—“respectfully disagree” with a Catholic bishop who said it is not very Jesus-like to let poor people starve. Of course, had they chanted the doctrine of not allowing family-planning or equal rights for homosexuals they could have been on their way to sainthood. Hey, it’s all negotiable, it’s all fungible, just ask the nuns who are being reined in for being uppity, for promoting “radical feminist themes.” What can be done about all of this dystopian and sociopathic behavior and attitude? Where do we start? You tell me.

We certainly can’t tell the Pope. He has his hands full with a major banking fraud scandal in Rome and child molestation around the globe. Preachers are telling their flocks homosexuals should be interned in special camps and food dropped in from aircraft and immigrants removed from the country. Getting your chaplain card punched doesn’t seem to be an option these days. I’m not even going to deal with the attack on public education funded by neo-liberal right-wing billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and the Koch boys, who see privatized schools as profit centers and indoctrination camps. They also see needy seedy politicians as fair game, whose PACs are open for business.

Where do we start? For openers I suggest we start with ourselves and strive to engage and ultimately occupy the narrative. It’s going to be a long uphill slog to save public education from the profit mongers, to save public health, to save a public space where people can talk with each other in a civil manner. It’s going to be a long uphill slog to reverse the Citizens United weapon unleashed against our democracy by the current Supreme Court and it must be done.

We must constantly and consistently expose the divisiveness of those who place profit and personal gain over the common good in all areas of life, be they corporations, government, labor unions, professional organizations, anywhere and everywhere. Our civil society, our Democracy, and representative government are at risk, and if they are to be preserved it will require hard and persistent effort. That, in my opinion, is what we must do no matter the odds, no matter how long it takes, and no matter the price.

I hope you find this helpful.

 

The Devolving American State

Why isn’t the Tea Party up in arms over the emerging American Police State? For all their tri-corner hats, knickers, white knee socks and tub thumping about freedom how is it that they are tolerating the pervasive surveillance being conducted against, most ostensibly, the occupy protesters. Are they being cowardly in the face of blatant Fascist government behavior, are they convinced they are not being watched, or perhaps they are a party to the crackdown being more in line with mainstream government policy than they are willing to admit to? In any case, as long as it’s happening to someone else perhaps the Tea Party feels safe and secure. The Tea Party activists have no understanding of the original Tea Party whose protest was against taxation without representation. This isn’t about costumes, however fetching, but about principles and a rudimentary understanding of history: it’s about community and basic humanity.

In case you aren’t aware there is in place a comprehensive system of coordinated police activity across the country via the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) compliments of the Obama administration. The DHS maintains what they call a National Operations Center which according to the agency is, “the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management.” The information gathered through local police departments, the FBI, the CIA, the US military, and other law enforcement agencies exists to monitor what you do when you exercise your rights as an American to protest. That is to say every American’s constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully for social justice without being tracked on the “domestic situational awareness” radar.

One must ask if the folks who brought this into being and run it are actually Americans or are they some sort of uber-agents, beyond the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Have these agents ever taken a civics class in high school. Might it be that they have modeled their agencies and their methods after the Gestapo, Stasi, and the KGB. These were state sponsored organizations designed for the same purposes concerned mainly with social control of a country’s own citizens exercising their rights and were, in their time, highly effective in controlling the public via “domestic situational management”. In Russia today there is resurgence of KGB behavior, now called the FSB but essentially the same organization – a rose by any other name is still a rose – in the past month has harassed and arrested Russian citizens for – Guess what? – protesting unfair and corrupt elections and a lack of social justice; in American terms, “domestic incident management”.

The arc of social evolution is like an old LP that stuck in a couple of grooves playing the same few notes over and over again until the needle is lifted and placed somewhere else. Socially we seem to ratchet from 1950s McCarthyism in one form or another to democracy in one form or another to plutocracy in one form or another and then back again. What is consistent is that people slide into and away from freedom to bondage. Today’s bondage consists of debt and unemployment. The debt represented by student loans is by far the most cynical trapping of an entire generation in a modern Dickensian debtor’s prison of limited possibilities and dystopian future. Young people and their families invested in a future that was taken away from them by big banks and big business. The banking and mortgage industry colossus just recently demonstrated how little was learned from the financial crisis we all bailed them out of a short while ago. How much was learned by J. P. Morgan from that financial collapse one wonders when their CEO, Jamie Dimon recently announced a $2 billion “mistake”. You’ll remember Jamie, he’s the guy who personally gave the New York City cops a couple of million bucks last winter as a tip presumably for keeping the #occupy people away from his high-rise condo. Great guy! Great city! Great cops – New York’s finest they say.

On May 18th, 35,948 American citizens around the US were arrested  45 of which were for protesting American NATO membership.  Takes me back to the “good old days” of the Vietnam and Selma protests. Did we really think things were going to be changed, that the social contract as expressed in the Constitution had been reaffirmed and enforced especially now by a president whose presidency rests on protestors who endured the beatings and killings of the civil rights era? In the current May 28th, 2012 issue of Newsweek magazine is a story on American veterans who are committing suicide at the rate of 18 a day. That’s right, 18 American veterans are taking their own lives every day. If some deranged individuals were roaming the United States killing 18 people a day it would be in headlines across the country and reported as carnage. Where is the Tea Party Patriot’s outrage over the matter of 18 American veterans taking their own lives daily, where is their opprobrium or is it just the taxes they must pay to be members of the society that matters to them? Where is the American conscience? Do we still have one or are we devolving into country without a conscience?

This essay first appeared at: The Light of New Mexico


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