Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Grand Old Party Animal


 In my neighborhood rats are quite timid and though definitely there, are little seen. In my wanderings I've noticed that when these creatures become bold as squirrels and many in number, and the cats are correspondingly few, it is time to take prudent measures.
     In my wanderings I've also noticed certain elite urban country clubs. Though all are exclusive, in a way of speaking, they are of varied affluence. They occur in many neighborhoods in the cities and plains of our great world and are named according to local vernacular ie, Gentlemen's Societies, Daughters of the Confederacy, Associations for the Adancement of White People, Chambers of Commerce, Nationalism, Plutocracy, Fascism etc; Some have evolved out of elite but “moderate” organs, exploiting whatever respectability the former organization once held but instituting a more rigorous mission statement. Republican National Headquarters and local affliliates are a prime example of this latter group. Some might argue that the respectability associated with this party is quite meager, citing as they might, an earlier acronym used in one of their campaigns – CREEP, the Committee to Reelect the President – but I think most sober observers would admit to at least a noticeable tightening of the mission statement since those heady days.

      The Mafia is to the 1% as the Republicans are to the Democrats, that is, not exactly the same but similar. A high government official for example would sadly accept a medical professional's good faith failure to save a loved one whereas the gangster Don might use violence and threats, his primary vocational tools, to promote successful treatment and death to punish failure. But in matters of domination and control, it is perfectly accurate to compare, say a small business in the hood failing to pay “protection” money to the mob and a small country in the 1%'s government's self-declared “back yard” who attempts an alternative to “market forces”. This comparison is not apparent to the general population due to the government's employer, the 1%, who exercise disproportionate influence via their ownership of the mainstream media, their financing of political campaigns, their presence on the boards of our institutions and of course corporations. This control allows propagation of fairy tale narratives regarding the beneficient nature and superiority of the “homeland”, especially its foreign policy. The zealotry of the faction among the 1% which advocates more or less total domination has gradually come to the fore, starting most enthusiastically with Ronald Reagan's presidency, a hired gun if there ever was one. But he seems quaintly moderate by comparison to what has evolved since. This faction would mark Reagan's ascendency as the point where recovery began from the limitations imposed by the New Deal. The 1% hated Roosevelt and his programs in his time and their descendents inherited a determination to roll them back. 

     The Democratic party has responded to these forces generally by becoming “New Democrats”, ie, Bill Clinton, The “moderate” element in the GOP, pushed mostly aside, worried that the zealots were going too far. Not that they objected to the wealthy having it all on principle. No, their objection was pragmatic. They argued that a buffer was needed between the rulers and the rabble, a nice affluent middle class, the ones who vote and maintain a respectable illusion of democracy. If things get bad enough, they fear, the voters will start listening to the socialists. The zealots were having none of it and the appeal of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is one of the consequences.

      Stangnant wages, insecurity, unemployment... all conditions the 1% seem intent on normalizing for U.S. workers. A parallel condition ensues where, as Bernie Sanders points out, bankers swindle millions of people out of their pensions and savings and are, at worst, fined while someone who doesn't wear a three-piece suit spends serious time in prison for smoking marijuana. The National Security state breaks numerous laws spying on citizens, and the Department of Justice viciously goes after the whistle blower, Edward Snowden in this example, while the NSA lawbreakers continue business as usual, with promises to be nice. The perpetrators of an illegal, brutal and incredibly expensive invasion lie to congress and the people to justify it, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and creating chaos in the middle east. Their punishment? They are honored with high honorariam speaking engagements and consulted by the 1%-owned media for their “expertise.” Meanwhile a courageous Chelsea Manning exposes some of their murderous behavior and is rewarded with a brutal arrest and impossibly long prison term. Again, the candidacy of Bernie Sanders is one of the consequences of this hypocrisy. Was it Lincoln (or Dylan?) who said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.”