Requiem for “The Dream”

August 24, 2011

Yesterday was the official unveiling of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C. For those of you who have read my blogs before, you know that I feel that Rev. King was a monumental figure in American history and he earned his place among Washington and Jefferson. He was a modern day Isaiah, a prophet who spoke of the need to overcome hatred, violence and greed.

It was a historical moment when President Obama was elected, but maybe it was more of a symbolic achievement, and it has only served to divert us from looking at the real measure of our society’s progress.  In the context of “The Dream”, what would Dr. King see today?

Instead of one unnecessary war, we are fighting three. In fact, war has become institutionalized in our society with the never-ending “war on terror”. His observation that we were becoming as a Nation the greatest perpetrator of violence in the World has only become more obvious.

Rev. King called poverty another form of “violence”. After decades of declining poverty rates, poverty among Americans began to increase under President Bush and has actually accelerated under President Obama. More children are born into poverty today than since the 1960s. The disparity of incomes among all Americans has increased to obscene levels, especially between minorities and Caucasian Americans. Since the Bush Presidency, the net wealth of white Americans has declined 16%, among Latinos and Blacks it has declined nearly 40%.

In America today the greed of the super-rich has become insatiable and inculcated into the very fabric of our Government. Funding for programs to help people in need is being eliminated, while programs to enrich the already rich are increasing. The attack on Organized Labor signals the final dismantling of any opportunity for poor Americans to rise to the middle class or beyond. America is becoming a 3rd world society of have and have-nots.

Hatred has once again become acceptable in our society. For example, hatred of Muslims has become acceptable for far too many Americans when laws are passed to restrict the practice of their religion or the construction of Mosques go unchallenged. Even the President of the United States is subject to suspicion and hatred because his name “sounds” Muslim.

I am glad that the King Memorial exists and bears witness on the Mall, but it is sad that his voice remains like one “calling from the wilderness”.

Tea Party Revolution

August 16, 2011

This week in Ames, Iowa all 10 GOP candidates raised their hands to affirm that they would reject a budget plan that raised government revenues by $1 for every $10 of reduced spending. I thought the question was intended to be ludicrous, but it took on a rather ominous connotation with the uniformly absurd response of the Republicans on stage and the applause they received from their audience.

The issue of refusing to raise taxes is not about solving the budget problem. The only time since the 1960s that the budget was balanced and a surplus was generated was when President Clinton raised taxes as well as reduced expenditures. Virtually every economist has agreed that increased revenue is essential. It’s not about creating jobs either, because the only history of the relationship between taxes and jobs growth since the Clinton surplus has been exactly the opposite of what Conservatives claim – the more taxes have been lowered, the less jobs have been created.

So if there is no rational economic argument for refusing to raise taxes as well as reduce spending, in what reality does the Tea Party exist? Tea Party radicals reject reality in favor if ideology. They refuse to allow any increase in revenues because their real agenda is not economic, it is political: they believe that they can destroy the US Government by starving it of tax revenues. They equate less government with more liberties, a proposition that is not entirely without merit, except when carried to their extremes.

These are the kind of liberties the Tea Party would produce for us: the freedom to not have a response from Police or Fire Departments; the freedom to drive on dirt roads instead of highways; the freedom to lose our life savings by unregulated banks; the freedom to drink polluted water and breathe polluted air; the freedom to allow corporations to run the government… well, maybe you get the idea.

That’s what makes the response of the 10 GOP candidates so ominous: they buy into the idea of destroying the government to save us all. Our credit was downgraded because S&P 500 believed that the politics of debt reduction would sabotage any debt reduction. This is just a preview of what those radicals have in mind for the good old USA.

Lessons of Wisconsin

August 11, 2011

The recall elections in Wisconsin are over and the politico-media complex is sure to use the event to spin propaganda and advertizing profits for days to come. (The politico-media complex is the equivalent of the military-industrial complex in terms of a self-perpetuating profit maker and, also in terms of its destructive potential). Before Fox News and MSNBC go off spinning and advertizing, here’s my take on what it all means.

One significant lesson is that attacking labor and education is a lightening-rod for the Progressive base. Labor unions (what is left of them) were a funding and organizational force, but the Wisconsin recalls were a real grass roots movement. Before the right wing goes off on how much Unions funded the recalls, consider this: 80% of the money used in the elections (an estimated $25 million of the $31 million) were contributed by out of State entities and most of that money went to Republican candidates.  In this sense, the animation of the Progressive base was a clear victory.

Another lesson learned is that Right Wing efforts to buy or steal elections is continuing. Fake Democratic candidates were funded by Republicans to run against real Democrats in the primaries in an attempt to deceive voters and deplete funds. Votes cast in some Republican districts were withheld by until results from Democratic-leaning districts were announced. This is an important lesson to learn because there is a concerted effort by Republican State Legislatures to suppress the vote in the next Federal elections, and secret Corporate donations are already pouring into the next Presidential Campaign.

Finally, Republican office-holders know the real significance of these recalls. It is extremely rare for a recall election to be held, let alone to be successful. There have been only 20 recorded State recalls in the entire 235 year history of the country and of those that were successful, the incumbents had committed a crime or scandal. The fact that 2 Senators from Republican Districts were defeated for policy reasons is scaring the daylights out of other Republicans.

Chicken Little

August 6, 2011

I suspect that many of you are getting just as tired of the doomsday scenarios coming from the political-media complex as I am. The exhausting experience of the debt ceiling “crisis” and now the “world economy is about to collapse” themes are intended to capture our attention and keep us there. Politicians want power and the media want an audience, thus the offspring of the military-industrial complex: the political-media complex.
Just as the military-industrial complex was spawned by the immoral quest for money at the expense of humanity and animated primarily by generating fear, so it is with the political-media complex: fear is its lifeblood. It’s all about fear, creating a crisis driven by fear. And it’s all an illusion. Every week they come up with another reason to be afraid: terrorists, economy, deficits, floods, recalls, etc., etc., etc.
Fear can be a powerful force; it can take your soul. It can cause lunatics to be elected to Congress; it can cause people to accept violations of their Constitutional rights. I see fear all the time in the courtroom among jurors afraid to do justice for the victim of medical malpractice – the fear that somehow or other any compensation to a victim will affect their own insurance premiums or access to medical care. I see lawyers afraid to go to trial negotiate paltry settlements. I see lawyers too afraid to speak out against the corruption of our justice system by Big Business.
Not me. As FDR famously stated: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”