Monday, October 7, 2013

I Pray that They'll Pay

“Elections alone aren’t going to change the path America is on. Organized revolt, massive civil action and economic boycotts at the very least would be the beginning of a perpetual commitment to protecting public governance from private takeover. Our system is a farce. Every candidate that can assume a position of any real power is vetted by corporate power. To believe otherwise is to be ignorant and live in a fantasy world. Americans that continue to invest in this fraud only empower it.”

I ran across these words, taken from The Frank Factor’s website, while surfing the net for the latest on the federal government shutdown (click here to read, “At Least the Giants Didn’t Shut Down the NFL,” October 2, 2013) that’s monopolizing the news these days. Not only are between 800,000 and one million federal employees currently furloughed (or like the Capitol police, are working but not getting paid until the shutdown is over), but the ripple effects are scary:
  • Head Start programs are leaving out thousands of children.
  • Federal courts could shut down soon.
  • Defense contractors are furloughing workers.
  • If Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling — which is tied, unfortunately, to this clusterf*ck — by October 17, predictions for the fallout in the financial markets are catastrophic.
  • Veterans Administration’s pension, education and job training programs could be suspended.
  • Consumer confidence could be impacted by an extended shutdown — right when we’re entering the critical holiday shopping season.
  • About 70 percent of the intelligence community’s civilian workforce has been furloughed.
Nothing like having fewer folks working to identify terrorists to make us infidels feel safer, huh?

I also ran across an interesting piece by Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum. Read what he points out in “The Shutdown in Ten Infuriating Sentences” about what’s really happening and who’s responsible:

At its core, the dispute over the budget and the debt ceiling isn't complicated at all. But it is full of misconceptions and urban myths. Here are the 10 facts worth remembering past all the obfuscation:

1. Democrats have already agreed to fund the government at Republican levels.

2. Despite what you might have heard, there have only been two serious government shutdowns in recent history, and both were the result of Republican ultimatums.

3. Democrats in the Senate have been begging the House to negotiate over the budget for the past six months, but Republicans have refused.

4. That's because Republicans wanted to wait until they had either a government shutdown or a debt ceiling breach as leverage, something they've been very clear about all along.

5. Republicans keep talking about compromise, but they've offered nothing in return for agreeing to their demands — except to keep the government intact if they get their way.

6. The public is very strongly opposed to using a government shutdown to stop Obamacare.

7. Contrary to Republican claims, the deficit is not increasing — it peaked in 2009 and has been dropping ever since, declining by $200 billion last year with another $450 billion drop projected this year.

8. A long government shutdown is likely to seriously hurt economic growth, with a monthlong shutdown projected to slash GDP in the fourth quarter by 1 percentage point and reduce employment by over a million jobs.

9. No, Democrats have not used debt ceiling hostage-taking in the past to force presidents to accept their political agenda.

10. This whole dispute is about the Republican Party fighting to make sure the working poor don't have access to affordable health care.

I was chatting in Facebook yesterday with my friend Michelle, a Canadian who said she didn’t understand why it’s so terrible to implement universal health care, especially in a country that claims to be so Christian and compassionate. She even quoted scripture:

“The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” ~ Matthew 25:40

People who benefit from the status quo always oppose change, I responded, and greed always trumps compassion. (I didn’t share my opinion that religion is a tool of manipulation rather than a system of beliefs for many conservative politicians.)

We agreed that an uprising here is actually likely.

Anita and I have talked about this a few times. We think the late, great George Carlin was right when he said that the one percent doesn’t want a population of people capable of critical thinking; well-informed, well-educated Americans who are united in the knowledge that we’re getting the shaft aren’t going to help the rich get richer. They want us to remain content with rising unemployment, substandard schools, a crumbling infrastructure, unresponsive police, corporate greed and political corruption.

They want us just smart enough to run their machines and mow their lawns. They want us distracted and divided. As long as they can pay politicians to grant their every wish, send their kids to private schools, keep the middle class occupied and preoccupied and are safe in their gated communities, the struggles that result from their myopic machinations are of no concern to them.

Since I highly doubt that David and Charles Koch — the billionaire brothers who fund the Tea Party and impact our collective future about as positively as a pair of oily pimples impact a prom queen’s face — read “What’s the Diehl?,” I’ll point to them as prime examples of the type of contemptible scourge to whom Carlin was referring. (Click here and here to read more about these pitiful phalli.)

I’m not sure that a true revolution could take place here. Look at the ridicule with which Occupy Wall Street activists were met when they tried to protest class warfare. (Click here for a post about that movement.) I watched the Green Revolution that took place in Iran in 2009 closely — when Iranians took to the streets to protest alleged rigged voting that led to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election — and was distressed to learn that 150 people were reportedly killed by the regime (including Neda Agha-Soltan) and countless others were arrested, jailed, raped and tortured.

I paid attention to the “Arab Spring,” the revolutions and demonstrations that have taken place over the past three years in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Jordan, Algeria and elsewhere to protest inflation and unemployment, human rights abuses, Authoritarianism and corruption. I’ve written about Russian protests in 2011 (click here) and the dire situation in Syria right now, where people of all ages are risking their lives and standing up to their own brutal, tyrannical government (click here and here and here).

As inspiring as those occurrences were and are — as much as I like envisioning Americans having the gumption to get off our couches, take to the streets and yell, nonviolently, that we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore — I’m afraid of two things: 1) that there would be violence and bloodshed, and 2) that the majority of us would remain inside, watching Long Island Medium and drinking Long Island Iced Tea.

Want to know what’s really revolting? The clueless contempt that GOP politicians have for those forced to abide by their rules and decisions. Consider Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-Nebraska) response when asked if he would relinquish his paycheck for the shutdown’s duration:

“I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

How about the response that Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina) gave to the same question? She said, “I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line.”

Wow. Talk about short-sighted and self-absorbed.

As I was writing this post, I received an e-mail message trumpeting the fact that 24 recent polls found Democrats “have a very real chance to take back the House in the wake of the government shutdown” and urging me to pitch in $3 to “make sure Republicans pay for their recklessness.”

I pray that they’ll pay.

“If democracy means anything, it means that if you are outvoted, you accept the results and prepare for the next election. Republicans are refusing to do that. It shows contempt for the democratic process.” ~ Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

Sources: Mother Jones, The Frank Factor,,


  1. What a phenomenal post. Do you feel as frustrated as I do when you try to share this information with conservatives? If your experiences are like mine, it's almost like trying to talk to Zombies. I'm so tired of the Obama bashing. Have you ever read "What's the Matter with Kansas?" Thanks for this post. At least I know I'm not crazy.

  2. The saddest thing you said, that I totally agree with, is that American's are too damn lazy/selfish/afraid/whatever to take to the streets and protest the government shut down and the blatant extortion that is taking place by some of our elected officials. It is shameful but it should be illegal.

  3. Great post. I've been reading, "A Team Of Rivals" again and I can't help but see the parallels between the southerners of 1860 and the Tea Party/Republicans of today. The rhetoric is eerily similar...actually it's almost exactly the same as it is today. Back then the southern states were saying that, “the slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.” As is quite evident, the Federal Government is not only their enemy, but they have actively been trying to topple it for the last five years. They openly run on the promise of dismantling the government, and do everything they can to achieve that goal. These are domestic terrorists and should be treated as such...but that, of course, isn't going to happen.

  4. I'm not a religious person, and the biblical quote was just an opportunity to use the scriptures that are held in such reverence to make a point.
    Canada had the same things happen when Tommy Douglas tried to implement universal health care in Canada. The Doctors striked and Tommy was labelled a Communist.

  5. There's an excellent poem you ought to read Patrick, that I believe is a very critical take on America. It's here and called 'The Castaways or Vote for Caliban!!!' It's a sense of loss of individuality that all emigrants to the US must have had which got subverted or lost in the inevitable rush to be like the rich in the old country. We need to dream again, and we need dreamers everywhere.