Jack Rabbit's Journal
Hometown: Sacramento Valley, California
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 42,389
Hometown: Sacramento Valley, California
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 42,389
It seems a laudable goal to destroy ISIS in the Middle East. ISIS may be an unintended consequence of a failed US policy, and it is a brutal, genocidal view of the future.
It seems an equally laudable goal to achieve energy independence. Unfortunately, "Drill, baby, drill" is a slogan that is proposed by those who would perpetuate the problem. What we need to be energy independent is to be able to make policy independent of fossil fuel corporations.
Let's not lose track of our priorities. We, as Americans, wish to become "energy independent." Going into the Middle East to secure a supply of oil is bad policy. Going to war to secure foreign oil is not being energy independent. It wasn't in 2003, it isn't in 2014.
Neither is it energy independent to tax homeowners for putting up solar panels.
Why is it that Republican party donors grin widely when McCain and Graham demand a bloody, aggressive policy in the Middle East? Why is it that Republican party donors, through ALEC, pushed through the solar panel in Oklahoma? Why is it that the Koch brothers are ground zero for the global-warming-is-a-hoax hoax?
I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it's pretty clear there a conspiracy here. Why should that be a surprise even to people like me, who thinks that Oswald killed Kennedy all by himself and that Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida operatives were responsible for the September 11 attacks?
The questions we should be asking concern whether what the President is proposing good policy. We've allowed one president to overthrow a bloody tyrant in the Middle East in order to gain control over oil and it didn't work out too well. What we got was a power vacuum being filled Baghdadi the rabble rouser, an even bloodier tyrant than Saddam. Yet, because we have not become energy independent, but instead allow those who are most interested in perpetuating the dominance of fossil fuel based energy to dictate energy and foreign policy to what is supposed to be a government by the people, not the oligarchs, here we are again. Let's go overthrow a tyrant in the Middle East so that they'll not brutalize the people they rule and install a new puppet government that will allow the west to control their natural resources.
The oligarchs' imperialist war against Iraq was a colossal failure, but they are determined to do again and again until we get it right. That's right, they want us to get it right for their benefit. They expect our children and grandchildren to die in Middle Eastern oil fields to secure a supply of oil for them to sell. To make sure they can sell it, they'll strangle any nascent technology that might eventually supplant it in the cradle, for instance, by taxing its use.
Not only do the oligarchs want to stifle the development of renewable energy industry, but they insist on a new, dirtier and more dangerous technology: fracking. Of course, if we don't like that, then there's always nuclear power. Chernobyl, anyone? Fukushima? Does their business plan really involve the destruction of planet Earth?
I see a common enemy here besides ISIS.
Can we help Middle Eastern regimes destroy ISIS and at the same time limit the influence of our own fossil fuel industries? Those energy corporations insist that we keep them on life support with imperialist wars, taxpayer funded subsidies and bailouts and assistance stifling the growth of new and cleaner energy industry.
It should be the avowed policy of the US government to supplant fossil fuel with renewable energy by the middle of this century. We should have no higher priority. If the Messrs. Koch, Mr. Tillerson, Mr. Blankenship, the Dukes of North Carolina and others want to keep their corporations viable, they can diversify, invest in renewable energy and help that industry grow. If not, we should do whatever it takes to grow renewable energy industries, including direct taxpayer funding to develop the industry as a completely public enterprise. Yes, that is socialism. To paraphrase Patrick Henry, let us make the most of it.
If the government proves unresponsive, then We, the People, independent of the government must make the policy. We will not fight in the oil industry's imperialist wars. We will not pay taxes (did he just propose a tax strike?) to keep the fossil fuel industries on life support or to prosecute wars for their benefit. If the government at any level passes legislation to stifle the growth of renewable energy, such as a tax on solar panels, then put up the solar panels and don't pay the tax. General strikes should also be employed, although they are illegal under the infamous Taft-Hartley Act. Yes, this is a campaign of civil disobedience. Be prepared to go to jail, be prepared for worse than that. We have an idea what the oligarchs have in store for us under their oligarchy. We are fighting not only for our survival, but the survival of planet Earth.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Thu Sep 11, 2014, 01:40 PM (6 replies)
My view of the world is through the lens of Rousseau, specifically his dichotomy of the natural and social orders of things.
Our species is not cursed with original sin, as Christian doctrine holds, but there is certainly no evidence of the opposite, perhaps we should call it original virtue, which seems good for selling overpriced paperbacks in a new age bookstore, but little else. Since I've mention Ayn Rand, an overrated hack novelist and quack philosopher, her ideas about human nature are closer to the Christian doctrine of original sin, except that she thinks that the emotions and behavior Christians enumerate as sins are virtues.
To give that lady her due, however, greed and selfishness do fill a positive role, along with some of our more aggressive traits that get out of hand too often. If we were created by a god, then it created us, like it created every other species, to survive for at least for time on this planet while it is still inhabitable.
Nevertheless, Ms Rand's view of human nature is at best a half truth. Her heroes are "born without the ability to feel others." Such a person usually ends up committing criminal acts, like a serial killer. If her novels don't ring true to most of us, that is the reason: her heroes aren't like most of us, and we don't hold them up as people to be admired. That ability to feel others is as much a natural part of us as greed, selfishness and aggressive behavior. Primitive humans live in groups and hunt in packs. A human with no ability to feel others would not survive very long in a state of nature. He would be a lone hunter. No one would do his hunting for him or look after his health if he were laid up for a while with the flu or if he catches a cold that digresses into pneumonia. He might pass on his genes if he can find a mate who's as sick as he is, as happens in Ms Rand's novels such as, for instance, with Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged.
While it is true that we can be characterized as being greedy and selfish, there is a reason we don't often think that those are part of our better nature. Humans are also, by nature, a social animal. By nature, we reach out to our fellow humans. One can call that empathy. It's a good word for it, although I think empathy means something more, something less clinical or academic, but something warmer. If we didn't do that, we would have become extinct long ago. A slow runner (compared to a hungry leopard) and poor tree climber (compared to a frightened monkey) had to have something else going for it in order to have been as successful as we have been. A good part of this might have been that magnificent brain of ours.
Do I hear the Objectivists chortling? Do they really think a lone human hunter could have survived in a state of nature more than a winter or two by himself and his brain? No, he would not have. He would not have lived long enough to become a hunter. Most of human cerebral development takes place outside the womb, after birth. Our childhood comprises about the first 20% of our life span. It is necessary for our survival to the age of puberty that we be nurtured by other, older humans. Again, it is natural for humans to live in groups. If it were not, few of us would survive childhood and the likelihood we would be extinct by now would be rather high. Therefore, we have the family, the village, the tribe, the community, or if one wishes to use some more general term, society. Human society cannot be separated from our nature. It is part of us.
True, it comes at a cost, such as limitations on individual freedom. Part of that limitation is what we call morality, that is, the rules by which we agree to live in a particular group. Believers in the Abrahamic god assert that morality comes from their god. I don't agree with them. People who have never heard of that particular god still live in groups that have rules by which they live. A society could not function well if we allowed any individual to resolve a dispute with another by killing him. Nobody needs a god to furnish a prophet with a stone tablet saying so in order to know this. Even Pharaoh, who most certainly did not believe in the Abrahamic god, enforced laws prohibiting murder and theft.
Morality, in my view, grows out of a social pragmatism growing, in turn, from our natural need to live in groups. I don't think that need is the same thing as empathy, but it is related to it. Empathy is something like an elaboration on that need. We don't really need empathy for survival, but it makes the world a more pleasant place.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Thu Aug 21, 2014, 05:03 PM (1 replies)
I think it is perfectly possible for a police state to allow some, even most, citizens to make the observation that it is a police state. One may even make the observation while not condemning the state, e.g., "Thank God this is a police state; the police should have free reign to do what is necessary to protect law-abiding citizens from criminal elements."
The sticking point is that "free reign to do what is necessary" clause. In a real police state, "what is necessary" is interpreted in a way to mean "excessive." What is excessive? In the specific case at hand, it is when the police -- or a neighborhood watchman -- treat any young black man as a criminal suspect. It should have been a wake up call that some thirty years ago when patrolman stopped a young black male driving a car only to find out the "suspect" was television star LaVar Burton. That incident only raised some nervous laughter -- it was clear that Mr. Burton was stopped only because he fit an overly broad profile of a criminal and, beyond the inconvenience of having to explain to an officer that he was only his own business, didn't suffer any harm -- but there was still something wrong with that picture. We knew that this happened all the time, but the only reason we heard about this instance is that the young man randomly stopped was a Hollywood celebrity.
I don't believe the patrolman who stopped LaVar Burton had any specific crime that he was investigating, but in the time that it happened to now I may have forgotten a detail or two. In much less time, I can't recall any specific crime for which Trayvon Martin was suspected when he was killed by a neighborhood watchman or last week when Michael Brown was killed by a uniformed police officer. Messrs. Burton, Martin and Brown were not suspected of any crime; they were suspected because they were simply being.
Now consider this: is there any one here who thinks that officer who killed Michael Brown won't walk, assuming that he is even brought to trial? More than that, is there any one here is isn't expecting a barrage from the right wing claiming that Michael Brown was a thug who got what he deserved? Some of us might like to think that the Koch brothers or other right wing oligarchs are manipulating that sentiment, and perhaps that is partly true. Scapegoating young blacks helps keeps the masses divided, making it less likely the masses will come together to oppose them. Let's not get to conspiratorial in our thinking. Much of the ugly right wing sentiment will be spontaneous. The Koch brothers were not around when the KKK was founded.
The elements at work here are scapegoating, oligarchs who finds that scapegoating useful to maintaining their own power and police officers who are instructed to believe that a whole class of individuals are thugs and should be treated as such. The police officers come from the same general population as George Zimmerman and his defenders. Of course, so do you and I, my fellow DUers. Don't get too proud. If one's survival defended on a career and one's career depended on doing as one is told and one is told to treat any young black man as a criminal suspect, then even one who is not inclined to that kind of scapegoating will damned sure act as if he is.
That's how police states are made.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Wed Aug 13, 2014, 02:42 PM (1 replies)
Steve Leser, a greatly respected member of this community known for his courageous forays into the enemy territory of FoxNews, said on another thread today that to refer to the Bush administration officials and other neoconservatives as having been "blinded by hubris" when invading is to ascribe to them good intentions. Mr. Leser does not believe that these had any good intentions.
This leaves me a little bone to pick with Mr. Leser, although it merely over the semantics of the matter than anything else.
I agree that the Bushies had no good intentions when they went into Iraq. They knew that they didn't know that Saddam possessed a biochemical arsenal -- I guess that's what Rumsfeld would call a "known unknown" -- but they didn't really care whether or not he did. For them, WMDs or a "reconstituted" nuclear program was just a talking point. It was the sizzle that would sell the steak. This was a war for Iraq's resources, plain and simple.
Talk of democratizing the Middle East was ridiculous on its face. An administration that seized power in America after losing a presidential election was going to spread democracy to the unwashed masses of the Middle East? A bigger concern was -- and remains -- re-establishing democracy in America. The talk of democracy from fascists informed by the droppings of Leo Strauss was just another empty talking point aimed at deceiving masses of American citizens. The neoconservatives had no intention of spreading democracy to the Middle East or anywhere else. The neoconservatives didn't believe in democracy. While theyt weren't spreading it abroad they were busy contracting it at home.
The occupation of Iraq was from the start an imperialist enterprise. First there was direct rule from an American proconsul who, after misruling the colony for about a year, turned over power to a puppet regime. In the end the mission was accomplished. The puppet regime that settled in Baghdad signed over Iraq's oil fields to developers based in Houston and the development would be financed with money from Wall Street.
Now it's all falling apart.
What has this to do with hubris? The only thing needed to qualify this as hubris is that the Bushies thought they could get away it. They actually thought that it was possible to stabilize Iraq as an American colony, and that this colony would be called a nation and bear the burden taking loans from Wall Street by way of the World Bank so that western petroleum companies could reap the profits from the development of Iraq's oil fields.
The ancient Greeks who gave us the word hubris used that word to describe the quality of a mere mortal who tries to defy the gods and assume power that is reserved for them. While we no longer believe in Zeus or Apollo, many of us still believe in some anthropomorphic God who has the powers of the Olympic gods and even those of us who don't believe in any gods at all still recognize some mysterious power that directs the forces of nature or of history without regard to the will of any mortal. When some mortal thinks he has that power, then that mortal possesses not power but hubris. His intention may be to construct a paradise on earth, even if getting there involves the slaughter of European Jews or the starvation of Ukrainian farmers, or if the intention may simply be the grand theft of another nation's natural resources for its own sake.
The gods would punish a hubristic mortal in an act called nemesis. Oedipus thought he could defy the prophecy of the oracles who foretold that he would kill his father and marry his mother by running away from home. What he didn't know was that he was adopted and he proceeded to fulfill the prophesy in ways that left him ignorant of its fulfillment. The nemesis came when all was brought to light; his wife/mother, Iocasta, hanged herself and Oedipus, in his anguish, gouged out his eyes.
The nemesis that the gods inflict on modern American elitists like the best and brightest who blundered into Vietnam and the neoconservatives who even more willfully sent American troops into Iraq come from two manifestations. First, there is the almost natural response of an invaded population to resist occupation. In the wake of the US invasion of Iraq, the one thing that Sunnis and Shiites could agree on was that American forces should be expelled from Iraq. The American elites who planned and executed the invasion were left to frantically search for an Iraqi government composed of Iraqis who would bend their will. Since this could only be legitimized with popular elections, the American elites were left to deal with Shiite leaders who spent time in exile during Saddam's reign of terror living in Iran. That's not exactly what Dick Cheney had in mind when he tortured detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere in order to get them to talk about a biochemical arsenal that wasn't there so he could include it in the National Intelligence Estimate in order to justify the invasion.
In Vietnam, the very forces that the American elitists poured so much blood and treasure to prevent from gaining power marched into Saigon, the seat of the US-compliant government, and triumphantly renamed it Ho Chi Minh City, after the George Washington of Indochina whom the elitists opposed. That was a moment of nemesis. In Iraq, the elitists watch helplessly as Sunni fundamentalist terrorists are poised to take over Baghdad. Personally, I take no joy in their triumph. Those who liked Saddam will love ISIS. This, too, is a moment of nemesis.
The second source of nemesis directed at the American elites comes from the American people. Here, I obviously don't mean the American elites who invade other countries in order to place foreign resources under the control of American business elites, but people like you and me who vote in elections, always with the hope that our candidate will win and that this time, maybe this time, our candidate actually represent us and not those American elites who the bill for his (or her) campaign.
Unlike American elitists, the common people of America are democrats (note the small d) and democrats do not make very good imperialists. While the US has often been only a procedural democracy, and sometimes when under the sway of a demagogue like Joe McCarthy not even that, America has always been a cultural democracy. Don't let any paid stooge of American elitists on hate radio tell you that it is only a mere republic; America is a democracy. Democracy is what Tocqueville wrote about when he came to America to study the American prison system in the 1830s; that's why he called his book Democracy in America. This is the democracy that is the subject of Walt Whitman's bold and robust free verse. Woody Guthrie sang about it during the Depression; Bob Dylan lamented its weakness and hoped for its revival during the Cold War. That is the America of the Underground Railroad, the labor movement (including the Wobblies), Ida Tarbell, Crazy Horse, the Suffragettes, the Bonus Army, the Freedom Riders of the Mississippi Summer, the mass protests against the wars against Vietnam and Iraq and against the political domination of reactionary corporate elitists. This is the America that had no desire to own slaves or kill the natives. This is the America that had no desire to tell the Vietnamese people who shall or shall not govern them. This is the America that has no desire to steal oil from the Iraqi people, but would prefer to sit down with the Iraqis and negotiate a fair price for it and do that until we develop renewable energy after which we will need no fossil fuel ever again.
The American elitists have come up against the democratic America twice in recent history and were twice forced to back down. We heard last week the death throes of the imperialists of 2002 as they pleaded with us over the air waves to allow them to send our children and grandchildren back to Iraq in 2014. They were greeted with nemesis in the form of mockery. One said that re-invading Iraq was the right thing to, even if polls showed that 90% of the American people were opposed. Did that guy once say that he wanted to spread democracy to Iraq? Can you believe that?
The unfortunate thing is that nemesis was not allowed to more effectively purge the hubris of the elitists. They have not been sufficiently punished for their sins, or they would have had to make their pleas to spill more and more blood in Iraq from behind the walls of federal penitentiaries. President Obama deserves credit for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, but he and his do-nothing Attorney General must also accept the blame for not prosecuting Bush administration war criminals.
However, the American elitists are guilty of more hubris than just imperialism in Iraq. There is yet more hubris. They think they can make an end run around democracy by setting up a kangaroo court staffed by corporate lawyers with the power to fine a government that exceeds, in their judgment, a maximum level of regulation. Again, America is culturally democratic. I do not believe Americans will surrender their right to legislate commercial regulation to those whose short term interests will drive them accept only light regulation and then like they're making a major concession to the people of the world for that.
The day of reckoning for that is yet to come.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Mon Jun 23, 2014, 04:04 PM (3 replies)
The old left/right paradigm is a distraction that is preventing us from finding solutions to real problems.
When we call for power to the people, some smart ass framed inside an idiot box comes along and asks us if we want take power from government or corporations. If we want to take power, then it must be because we fear the power of either the government or the corporations. "Which is it?" he asks.
Somebody among us, who are calling for power to the people, takes the bait he has just given us. "We fear corporate power," he says. "Corporations have the power to tell us what we want like we can't make up our own minds. They can buy the outlets of information, like television stations, and tell us only what they want us to know and then urge us to buy cars that run on fossil feul that pollutes the environment and then tell us that use of fossil fuel is harmless. They can't fool me, but there are a lot of people they do fool all of the time." He rails against how corporation use mass communications as a tool to control what we think. He is completely oblivious to the fact that the smart ass is speaking to him from inside an idiot box.
"No, no, no," says another protester. "We must fear the power of the government. The government tells us what to do. It knows what we're doing because their spies are watching us and listening to us all the time. Then they tell us the enemy is out to get us and we must go to war. They tell us that we must go to war to protect our own freedom and to spread the blessings of liberty to our enemy, and once he experiences the wonders and benefits of freedom, they won't be out enemies any more. But that's all bullshit. The wars don't bring any freedom to our enemy and the government just starts telling them what to and to pay taxes so it can keep telling them what to do, just like they do to us."
"Yes," said the first protester, "but the only reason the government sends us to war is so the corporations can force open the enemy's markets so it can sell crap over there that kills them and then take their natural resources for themselves. The root of the problem is corporate power, and that must be feared more than government power."
Some of the protesters said they agreed with the protester who said corporate power is the problem and others said they agreed with the man who said government power is the problem. Soon they were screaming and shouting at each other. Then they were hitting and kicking each other.
There was among the protesters a very sick man who couldn't stand all the noise and excitement. He went back to his car and soon returned to the protest grounds with an AR15 and several large banana clips with sixty rounds each. Then he started firing his AR15 into the crowd. He killed the protesters who didn't like corporations and protesters who didn't like government. He killed men and women, young and old. He didn't care who he shot. All the time he was shooting into the protesters he laughed and laughed. He laughed like a mad jackal.
"What do we do? What do we do?" cried a woman with two children looking for a place to hide.
"Well," said the smart ass from inside the idiot box. "It looks like you have a real problem here. Well, you know what I always say? The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. So, some of you and some other good guys need to rush over to Harry's Gun and Ammo store just down the street and get something to take this bad guy out."
As the crazy man started shooting his sixth clip of sixty rounds into the crowd, the woman and her children ran off in the direction of Harry's Gun and Ammo. The smart ass in the idiot box surveyed the scene, looking serenely at the chaos and panic.
"Well, Coyote," he whispered to himself, "you did it again. Mission accomplished."
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Thu Jun 12, 2014, 01:23 PM (2 replies)
Open letter to Mr. Wayne LaPierre
I take note that Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, stated in a open letter to the parents of the victims of the Isla Vista shooting last week that "Your dead kids don't trump my constitutional rights."
He is wrong. It's time to change this discussion.
Once upon a time, the NRA supported the concept of background checks. Since you came on the scene, the NRA has become an extremist organization bereft of common sense. Criminals having guns and lunatics shooting up schools, churches or movie theaters is not a reasonable price to pay for the freedom to own a gun. Period.
What's that you're saying, Mr. LaPierre? The only thing that stops a bod guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun? That is an argument so stupid only a high-priced attorney could think of it. That argument would sound a lot better if it didn't come from some jackass who called federal agents "jackbooted government thugs" following a standoff with an armed cult whose leader thought he had a god-given right to fuck any twelve or fourteen-year-old girl who made his prick stiff. You clearly don't know the difference between a good guy and a bad guy.
We have allowed people like you and Mr. Wurzelbacher and other gun worshipers to frame the conversation about Waco for too long. Federal agents on the scene may have botched the operation and made it end far worse than it should have, but they had every right and good cause to be there. They were the good guys with guns. Some of them were killed or wounded by armed cult members. I don't know if a background check would have been helpful in this particular situation, but it couldn't have hurt.
Oh, you have something else to say, Mr. LaPierre? The Supreme Court has ruled that the right to bear arms is an individual right? So they have. They have also ruled that corporations are people and money is speech. That is the Supreme Court you're talking about, isn't it? The Roberts Court is bought and paid for, just like Congress, just like the Justice Department, just like the Pentagon, just like any other department or agency of the executive branch whose regulators come from the industry that they regulate and then return to it after gutting the regulations, spending billions on hardware that the military doesn't need or want, or failing to prosecute crooked businessmen. We know the federal government is corrupt. We also know that it is you and people like you who have corrupted it and still don't think it can ever be corrupt enough.
It makes absolutely no sense to promote a freedom that destroys so much. I've raised two children. Although neither is any longer a child, if anybody who belongs in prison or a state hospital with a gun did something to either of them that might have been prevented with a simple background check, I would react just as Richard Martinez has. You, Mr, LaPierre, and the "rudderless politicians" of whom Mr. Martinez speaks have worked in concert to deprive too many parents of their children. The blood of those children is on your hands and those politicians' hands. The least you and they can do is sit down and shut up while more public spirited people, humanists rather than corporatists, set things right and pass reasonable measures to prevent a criminal or a mentally ill person from possessing a gun.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Tue May 27, 2014, 02:35 PM (14 replies)
The most obvious feature of the Russia/Ukraine conflict is a former empire is attempting to reassert authority over what was once a subject nation under that empire. Naturally, the former subject nation is resisting.
That is a recipe to bring ultranationalist thugs out from under the rocks. So we have Russian ultranationalist thugs going into Ukraine and demanding Ukrainians get "on their knees" and Ukrainian ultranationalist thugs burning the Russian ultranationalists out of occupied government buildings. Is anybody surprised? If one side tries to play victim to the other side's fascists then the other side will points to the other side's fascists and proclaims "we are the victims of your fascists." That kind of dialogue only serves the interests of those who benefit from conflict.
This isn't a B-western. Stop looking at it like one. It's a Dostoyevsky novel.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Sat May 10, 2014, 01:14 PM (3 replies)
Am I the only one here who doubts that all, or even most, climate change deniers really think that climate science is a hoax?
The pattern of the dissemination of the climate-science-is-a-hoax hoax fits the pattern of other corporate fights against science in the past. Does any one think that tobacco company executives really believed that there was no linkage between cigarette smoking and heart or respiratory disease? They may have sent their lawyers to argue that in court, but that was part of a long term strategy aimed at delaying government regulations to discourage tobacco use.
In Episode 7 of Cosmos, Dr. Niel deGrasse Tyson takes his viewers through the petroleum industry's fight against scientists researching environmental harm from use of lead in gasoline.
I invite you to watch episode 7 and consider the similarities between this and corporate sponsored war on climate science. There's a reason that climate change deniers are funded by environmental polluters who manufacture fossil fuel.
On a video in this forum several weeks ago, a thoroughly brainwashed right wing caller got hold of Sam Seder for a general discussion of the world according to the Koch brothers. The caller warned that people should not trust scientists from the US government or the United Nations, but should rely on information from "private scientists." Does he mean the scientists who work for the industries who push the products being studied and found to be harmful by government scientists. Surely, that man was joking.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Thu May 8, 2014, 12:35 PM (15 replies)
Many on the right like to make the American Revolution out to be a tax revolt. British taxes on the colonies weren't the only grievance the colonists had against Britain, but it was no small part of the colonies' irritation the King and parliament.
Today's right goes on to complain about "taxes, taxes, taxes" as if taxation is in and of itself a form of tyranny. The worst way to characterize the levying of taxes in general is that it is a necessary evil. Turn everything over to the free market and people won't benefit from public services if they live in unprofitable areas. No one should expect mail delivery, garbage collection or to be able to send his children to school if one lives in some remote backwater area. Don't expect police protection if you live in a neighborhood without the funds to support it, which sounds like the kind of neighborhood that has a high crime rate in the first place. A neighborhood like that is likely to get a cop on the beat like George Zimmerman. Of course, libertarians who think this is a bright vision of the American of tomorrow will answer the critique that such a vision is flawed with "well, nothing's perfect." I agree, so I would rather keep the imperfect system we already have where everyone gets mail delivery, everyone gets his trash collected, everyone gets fire and police protection (and the expectation that the local cop is better trained than George Zimmerman) and all children go to school. The proper question is whether taxpayers are getting enough bang for their buck, not whether taxes are an unnecessary government intrusion into our lives.
Let's not let the Koch brothers and their allies rewrite history. The colonists weren't complaining about British taxes per se. They said, "taxation without representation is tyranny." American colonists had no representation in parliament, yet parliament used the colonies as an ATM machine. The colonists didn't seem to complain about it, but that's because there was no MP from Virginia or Pennsylvania to raise a stink in London and suggest to their fellow MPs that they get the money by taxing the the landed aristocracy.
Since eighteenth century transportation made it impractical for the colonists to send representatives to parliament, the colonists demanded independence and, having achieved that, set up their own governments with their own system of taxation and let voters choose their own representatives. At first, voters were wealthy white males, but soon the franchise was extended to all white males, then to males who weren't necessarily white and in 1919 to women.
America is a democracy, perhaps not always in the political sense but always in a cultural sense. Democracy is what Walt Whitman praised in free verse and what Woody Guthrie and later Bob Dylan celebrated in song. Democracy is what Martin Luther King marched for and willing went to jail many times. Democracy was in the blood of the labor movement, fighting for a decent wage and safe working conditions. Those who claim America is not a democracy but a mere republic are just wrong, and we are not going to let them take it away from us.
Today, the Koch brothers, through their organization, ALEC, have crafted model legislation and sent it to the states to deny poor people the right to voting by requiring they show ID before voting. The ID required by this legislation is usually not a drivers' license but something more expensive and tailored to be biased to Republican voters. For example, in Texas it is valid to show one's firearms permit for voting, covering gun owners, which studies show to be a predominantly Republican voters; on the other hand, a college student body card is not valid for the same purpose. College students are a predominantly Democratic demographic. In this way, the state of Texas is deliberately barring Democrats from the polling place in greater numbers than Republicans.
During the past decade there have been proposals from the right to continue and expend tax cuts for the wealthy and pay for it with higher taxes on the poor and middle class. If the poor, who are more likely to vote for Democats, are barred from the polls in greater number than others, and then have their taxes raised to benefit the rich, then how is this not taxation without representation?
It's bad enough to claim that the rich are "job creators" when after 30-plus years of Reaganomics there is only one job being offered for every three unemployed Americans. The rich certainly haven't earned a tax cut from the government nor, for that matter, a pay raise or a bonus from the board of directors. But even if the economy were in better shape than it is, barring the poor from participation in the process of choosing elected representatives and raising their taxes to cover the shortfall from revenue lost by cutting the taxes of the wealthiest Americans is simply outrageous.
Taxation without representation is still tyranny. We, the people, should revolt against it, just as the colonists did 240 years ago.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Sun Apr 20, 2014, 06:27 PM (6 replies)
You are basing you assertion that Nacchio is crooked by citing a conviction engineered by the Bush Administration Justice Department that happened after he refused to allow the NSA to get information about his customers for nefarious purposes.
Remember, please, that the Bushies played hardball, didn't play fair and, for them, the Constitution was just a piece of paper -- as in toilet paper. This was a Justice Department that fired US Attorneys who did not pursue trumped up charges against Democrats and kept on those that did. It was that Justice Department that engineered the railroading of Don Siegelman. That's only the most high profile case of many.
I resent your characterization of "Firebaggers" hating CEOs indiscriminately "unless those CEOs are crooks." I suppose you think Pretty Boy Lloyd and Legs Dimon are upright, outstanding citizens. I suppose you think Dave and Charlie Koch are positive influences on American politics. When I talk about CEOs, I'm usually taking about the Wall Street Bankers who crashed the world economy, were bailed out by the taxpayers and haven't changed the way they do business or right wing billionaires who want to destroy American democracy. That covers a quite a few more people than the aforementioned, but they are giving all business people, even honest ones, a bad name. If we can bring capitalism back to a state where it is regulated to prevent capitalists from abusing to their employees, polluting the environment, defrauding their customers or buying the people's representatives in state or federal governments, then I'll be very happy. Our problem is simply that we do not have a functioning economic system of any kind. If you want to know what an unregulated free market looks like, ask the kid on the corner dealing dope or his customers about it.
Perhaps Nacchio really belongs in the slammer, but I wouldn't take the result of a case of a man who crossed the Bushies and was prosecuted by a Bush-appointed US Attorney who survived the Frat Boy's mid-term purge at face value. Anyone who would has no claim to being a member of any reality based community.
Posted by Jack Rabbit | Sat Apr 5, 2014, 03:50 PM (0 replies)