• Week of 14.12.2013
• Week of 14.12.2013
• Week of 13.10.2013 | “SEND IN THE CLOWNS”
WHILE WRITING this I received an invitation to Washington. At the end of the message, this: “in case of a federal government shutdown, the event will be canceled.” All these years later, I was left thinking, could it be 1995? Only, Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America is now Ted Cruz’s Contract on America, the intervening years providing sources of irony as well as of discouragement. Mostly however discouragement, as I notice that the Continuing Resolution is a continuous thing, alright, but more like an irresolution.
MUCH HAS BEEN made this week of President Obama’s deference to the Bibles of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., on which he has sworn his oaths inaugurating a second presidential term. Cornel West, who has taken especial affront to Barack Obama’s exploitation of King’s “prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry,” has for months now referred to the present Oval Office occupant as a Rockefeller Republican in blackface.
OF THE MANY, tedious American delusions, perhaps the most insistent and counter-factual materialist superstition is the daft creed that America is a classless society. How useful then for so many citizens to chuck this nonsense and have at it in the open October air, and in the precise manner that Karl Marx identified as the very engine of historical development: the struggle between the haves and the have-nots. Or, as the Wall Street Occupation puts it, the struggle of the ninety-nine have-not percent against the has-it one.
Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview was six years in the future when real-life tycoons, the Koch brothers Charles and David, were found guilty of drinking their milkshake from federal government and Indian reserve lands. To call them “oilmen” is to bring them down somewhat: the Koch (Coke, not Kotch) brothers have business dealings in chemicals, lumber, minerals, ranching, pulp and paper, fertilizers, polymers, finance, investments, and commodity trading, as well as in the refinement and distribution of petroleum products. Among the five wealthiest Americans, the Kochs control America’s second-largest privately-held company. It was Koch brother Bill who issued the charge of stealing against Koch Industries, for which service he was awarded one-third of the 2001 $25 million settlement. Well, as they say, money goes where money is. David and Charles in 1983 had bought out the shares of brothers Bill and Frederick for $1.1 billion, so a windfall probably wasn’t the issue. Other considerations appear to make the Koch family tick as well. Continue reading The Koch Brothers: Drinking Your Milkshake
Today in Tupelo, a news agency reported the following words of Elizabeth Smith.
I’m so hurt about what’s going on in our country. It’s hurt my heart. I was so patriotic as a child. It makes me cry cause I have grandchildren coming up they’re not going to have what I had.
What Ms Smith has, and what she presumes her grandchildren will have not, is uniquely American: the world’s most expensive and most technologically advanced health care system — a system which bids millions of uninsured citizens Best of Luck (while still outspending all other countries per capita to get inferior outcomes) and which manages furthermore to bring into co-habitation the inefficiencies both of the public and private spheres, with few of either’s advantages.
Well, never mind that. Let’s cry with Ms Smith and her fellow Tea Party protesters over the forthcoming triumph of more efficient, universal, single-payer insurance. Let’s tear our garments and roll in the dust, our spirits broken by the diminished corpulence of the country’s 1,300 private insurers, whose profit hungry bureaucrats, CEOs, and investors devour thirty percent of every health care dollar.
I am able to respect a difference of opinion when it is informed by intelligence and principle. But concerning the health care debate, isn’t it rather time for the J’accuse which will dissect these Tea Party Neanderthals? No: worse even than that, for their tropes are not simply unintelligent or under-developed. They are plump with the malevolent blue veins of racist innuendo and other bigotry.
It takes a certain vileness of character, for example, to introduce into a health care debate the immoral cuteism “Obama-Bin-Lyin” or the birther charge that the President is a Kenyan Stalinist. Or to de-historicize the proper noun Nazi, as if it could ever be a respectable synonym for over-reaching government. The Tea Party protestors are not morally serious, but their fear and loathing of all that is foreign or in any way different are genuine. They appear to know nothing of the cultures, histories, or health care systems of the world beyond, nor to care to. Enough for them are ahistorical and closed-minded prejudices — that the Founding Fathers were a uniform cast of pious Christian evangelicals, that America has nothing to learn from the rest of the world, and that a wink toward the foreign pedigree of anything is sufficient to render it contemptible. This is the deeper rot beneath this xenophobic movement’s willful abuses of language, and those of us familiar with the Germany of the 20s and 30s know rot when we see it. For these are not the unfortunate mischaracterizations of ill-informed bumpkins. The people who level these charges know precisely what they mean to say, and their filth ought therefore to be given none of the benefits of doubt.
They are hateful people, and civilized folks everywhere ought to be saying so.