Friday, August 31, 2012

On Lying Plutocrats Buying Elections to End Liberty and Justice for All as We Know Them

Empowered by the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision, our right-wing friends are busily working overtime again this election year – hating, lying, misleading, misrepresenting, inflaming, spreading “fear and smear.” The 0.1% are spending billions of dollars of corporate cash to buy our elections.

They resemble holograms of 1930s caricatures of “vulture capitalism” of whom FDR famously said, “I welcome their hatred.”

Study smarmy screeds written by soreheads – sore winners, or sore losers? You've seen them for years, emitted by nattering negative “aginners,” always against someone or something, always demonizing. Many are inspired by Ann Coulter. (Like the Baptist lady said about the Devil, “she's no slouch.”)

With each passing year, do rightists get goofier, angrier, more unhinged and more narcissistic? They mock democracy, advocate theocracy, and vilify working people.

As recently retired St. Johns County, Florida Commission Chairman Mark Miner said about a controversial local hate site operator and Republican fundraiser and PR chair, Michael Gold (Historic City News), they “spew venom.”

They are always itching for a fight. They go out of their way to taunt, demean and debase honorable citizens and officials and cheapen public debate.

In pure puerility, they are unmatched.

Ill-behaved brutes and bullies spoke before our St. Johns County Commission on November 1, 2011 and called my mentor Robin Nadeau (d. 1/6/2012) and those of us supporting a St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore,, “Communists” and “Nazis,” comparing us to Hitler and Goebbels.

moderate Republican County Commissioners, discussing the National Park and Seashore for the first time in 72 years, were afraid, voting no, while refusing to enforce their own civility rule against the libelous loudmouth Tea Party bullies.

These pitiful National Park-haters are what Scott Peck calls “people of the lie” and what F. Buckley, Jr. would call “anti-literate energumen.”

They are poor tortured souls, in the spirit of the ideological perversions of the Koch family-founded John Birch Society, which actually called Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Franklin Roosevelt “Communists.” (Buckley's rightist National Review magazine rightly denounced the John Birch Society; it also fired Ann Coulter for bigotry – some misguided local rightists worship both of them and solemnly call President Barack Obama a Kenyan and a “Communist.” On St. George Street, you can see these McCarthyites wearing ersatz, inauthentic Colonial garb and brandishing a “big red sign,” with which they pose with amused and annoyed tourists: “Obama is a Communist.”

Local Obama-hating Tea Partiers here in St. Augustine recently hosted a John Birch Society speaker to denounce civil rights laws, Those laws were enacted to enforce our Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. But Angry Tea Partiers never have a happy day, apparently. They want to turn back the clock and erase more than 140 years of American progress.

They can only ululate when talking about our country and its future.

They run down our economy and some pointedly refuse to hire new workers until 2013. They want to steal elections at any cost. They want to shrink government to where it is “just small enough to fit in your bedroom.”

You see, the 0.1% wants you to “Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid“ of government -- unless it is granting them favors or giving them money, like the four generations of Republican VP nominee-designate Paul Ryan's family who grew rich from government contracts.

Robert Kennedy said that “government belongs wherever there are people in distress who cannot help themselves, or wherever evil need an adversary.”

President Ronald Reagan helped end the Soviet's “Evil Empire” and Cold War, using the levers of power – government (military spending) was the solution, bankrupting the Soviet Union, which could not match our defense budget. We won. Yet President Reagan said that “government is the problem.” He was half-right and half-wrong.

Government is a tool. It is not our enemy.

Like a hammer used instead of a screwdriver, government can create problems when it is the wrong tool – when it overreaches, as when it reaches out to crush someone or oppress people's rights. Think Tuskegee, Alabama syphilis experiments. Think Bull Conner fire-hosing black people in Birmingham, Alabama, Think Waco. Think nuclear weapons plants poisoning workers and waterways. Think corporate-operated government nuclear labs experimenting unethically on unsuspecting patients with plutonium inoculations and radionuclide vitamins. Think CIA assassination plots. It all happened. It was wrong.

Think Vietnam. Think “War on Drugs.” We lost both.

Think retaliation against ethical resisters (whistleblowers). It's wrong.

But the simple palpitating truth of the matter is that Governments often solve problems. That's why our Founders created so many of them, leaving us their wisdom and owner's manuals in our Declaration of Independence, and in our federal and state Constitutions and Bills of Rights.

They wrote in the Virginia and Tennessee Constitutions that, “Government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance to arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”

Government can often solve problems relatively swiftly.

Think about the hole in the Earth's ozone layer and the Cuyahoga River on fire – government regulation of CFCs and water pollution solved those problems. We won.

Think about the race to the Moon. We won.

Think about Hitler, a genocidal maniac. Hitler would have conquered the world were it not for government employees like all of those putative “Communists” (FDR, Eisenhower, my father and 12.5 million Americans in uniform, and millions more in war industries) -- who ended Hitler's “Evil Empire” – and successive generations who won the Cold War. We won.

Left to their own devices, piratical corporations like Texaco Oil would have continued doing business with Hitler (Senator Harry Truman called it “treason”). But Government listened to the people, not corporate Quislings. Our Government gave the orders, corporations filled and followed them, and soon there were enough weapons to stop three “Evil Empires” (Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy and Tojo's Japan). We won.

Think about “Jim Crow” segregation. In the last 40 years, have you ever seen a “Colored Water Fountain” sign (outside of a museum)? We won.

Why? Thank God for for liberal Republicans in Congress, 1861-1969, without whom there would be no civil rights laws. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson predicted that civil rights would make Southern whites vote Republican. Nixon's “Southern Strategy” made it happen.

Today's Republican Party has expelled the liberals, using liberal as an epithet, as we saw in the 2012 Republican Presidential Primaries and again in our county Republican primary.

Today's rightists have a bad case of “Ideologues' Amnesia”: they say they want “state's rights” but forget that many state and local governments were the problem – they created and enforced segregation laws while lynchings, shootings, bombings, beatings, illegal arrests and lawlessness proliferated.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 48 years ago, St. Augustine, Florida was the “most lawless” city in America. Where once our City violated human rights, today we honor them, with two civil rights monuments in our Slave Market Square in a City were civil rights are increasingly respected and not neglected.

It takes a village. It takes a free country, one where the genius of a free people has ruled and survived.

Our freedom is at risk.

We can survive and overcome the Citizens United case, which freed corporations to buy elections. We survived and overcame the Supreme Court's Dred Scot and Plessy v. Ferguson decisions, which said African-Americans had no rights.

It is up to us.

Our federal government first ended Nazism in the 1940s. Then we ended segregation in our military, then everywhere in the 1940s to 1960s. In the 1980s and 1990s, we helped end Communism. Three cheers for our country!

As JFK said,”here on Earth, God's work must truly be our own.”

Thank God for our Federal Gummint. Let's hope to reform it so that it can continue to protect you and your grandchildren, protect our environment, create National Parks – and defeat polluters, price-fixers, corporativists, organized crime, crooks, racists, “Evil Empires” and war criminals, too.

What do you reckon?

Ed Slavin

Box 3084

St. Augustine,Florida 32085