Thursday, August 26, 2010


Mark Twain said that a patriot is, “the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.” Anyone who is paying a modicum of attention to the world around them today will understand this statement clearly. We have patriots by the bushel, the barrel and the gross spread across this land like maggots on a corpse. They thump the Bible, wave the flag and wipe their backsides with the Constitution all in the name of America – their America, God’s America, American Exceptionalism and America the Beautiful.

It is all so hideously insane, so brutally hypocritical. I refer now to the geniuses who want to dismantle the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution after spending months insisting that as purists and patriots they needed to defend the Constitution from healthcare reform. Apparently enfranchising sick children who heretofore have been denied insurance coverage under the pre-existing condition rule would undermine the Republic to such an extent that Jefferson, Washington and Franklin would rise from their graves and make haste to the Nation’s Capitol with muskets blazing. However, the dismantling of the Fourteenth Amendment to invalidate the idea that children born in this country are citizens is the patriotic duty of every Constitutional purist. After all people come to this country and have children just to exploit and annoy us. What arrogance – what stupidity.

The most obscene thing that I have witnessed in recent years (believe me that is saying something) is the dance macabre in New York over the Muslim community center. My fellow citizens are jumping up and down like spoiled, dim-witted children in a candy shop because, of course, Glen Beck and Sarah Palin told them that all Muslims are responsible for 9/11. Perhaps I have missed something here, but even though all of the men who flew the planes into the Trade Towers and the Pentagon were Muslim they were also Saudi Arabian. Seems to me that the Right was conspicuously quiet when Bush went walking through the Saudi streets hand in hand with the King sometime after that miserable day in September.

It boils down to this, we seem to need someone to hate in this country. My father was an Italian. When he was a boy it was him – the dirty Diego, the thieving Wop anarchist. The mob mentality, the rage and hatred grew to such an outrageous state that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts had no trouble rigging a trial and executing two Italian men, Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, for a crime they didn’t commit. Papa said that it was almost like their blood was the only thing that could quench the thirst of hatred. He also believed that men like Al Capone grew out of that hate. No one ever called Al a Wop and lived to tell about it.

Hatred is in my estimation a degenerative and progressive disease of the mind. While the hater is despicable and disgusting the real monster is the hate monger who stirs it up and feeds off of it for political or financial gain. The fat white men with messianic complexes, the aging beauty queens who couldn’t make it as governor, the Washington hack who will say anything to get reelected are the real threats to the Constitution, the Republic and the America my father wanted so much to believe in.

True patriots stand against the hate making it unfashionable and unprofitable. Eventually they strip the parasites that live on it of their authority and power. Once this is done their slavish followers slink back into the abyss - they always have.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Devil is in the Pantry

Some days ago my husband directed me to an article, “Federal workers earning double their private counterparts, "in USA Today’s online publication. The first link below will take you to the article. The assertion in USA Today’s piece is based upon information gleaned from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a part of the US Department of Commerce. By way of rebuttal Colleen Kelley, National President of the NTEU (National Treasury Employees Union) who is mentioned in the article, stated in a message to her membership that according to “the Bureau of Labor Statistics federal employees are paid an average of 22% less than their private sector counterparts.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics is part of the Department of Labor.

The first question that occurred to me about the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ findings was had they taken into consideration bonuses and stock options in the private sector – if not why not? The author of the article, Dennis Cauchon, seems oblivious to the fact that private sector salaries and other forms of compensation are the exclusive domain of private sector employers. Since greed became the family value of choice in this country those employers have made it a practice to work hard and pay cheap. I can’t see how this is the government’s issue. On a personal note I have been married for twenty years to a government employee. He is an old hippie who, in the manner of old hippies, has spent most of his career handing out food stamps. My husband is not over paid nor are any of his colleagues.

I can’t help but wonder if this assault on government employees with uncertain data isn’t a backdoor attack on the Federal Government itself by the usual government hating wingnuts on the right. They have always been with us, but the modern day hater is disproportionately inspired by the poster child for the bewildered, Ronald Reagan. His famous assertion that government is the problem and not the solution for society’s ills has provided cover for countless megalomaniacs eyeing the institutions of government the way Carrion birds eye a corpse. Reagan never did explain why he spent millions of dollars rising to the top of the government he hated so much. Just as his disciples can’t explain why they resist term limits to suck on the government’s tit year after year hoping to die in office. Odd behavior indeed for people who dislike government on principle.

Regardless of its purpose Cauchon’s article has certainly been well received by the right. It is championed by the Cato Institute and Representative Eric Cantor, Republican from Virginia. The Cato Institute is a Libertarian, often Conservative, think tank. Eric Cantor is a an appendage of the Conservative Right who hates President Obama almost as much as he fears the American people ever taking hold of their power.

Cantor’s yearly salary is $174,000 according to Legistorm (second link below) not including his excellent health care and lavish retirement benefits. This chump is a member of a Congress that as of this writing has a 19% approval rating per Gallup. Exactly who is overpaid?

The dirty little secret here is that this doesn’t have a damn thing to do with salaries. Government haters notwithstanding, this is about dividing and conquering the nearly shattered Middle Class. The public sector is set against the private. The private sector is set against the public, and everybody is beating up on the cops and the firefighters. This is a sadistic circle jerk, a foul experiment in human degradation stemming from a ferocious infection preying upon our social order and body politic. Said another way, many of the people in Congress who swear they love and are sworn to serve the American people do neither.

This Congress and others before it have sold our government to corporations in exchange for campaign contributions. They embezzled our social security and are now trying to take what little is left away from us. They have prostituted, propagandized, politicized, and polluted every sacred thing in this country, up to and including the Constitution. They play fast and loose with the truth then deny responsibility. All of this is the product of a systemic corruption enabled by a corporation controlled and gullible media working methodically to further encumber the prosperity, hopes and dreams of the Middle Class. We are being made expendable in the interests of profit, power and politics.

It is high time to put a stop to all this crap. The Middle Class must organize. We must take a page out of the labor movement’s book, stand together and raise holy hell. Scare the devil out of the pantry, as my wise Celtic grandmother used to say.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

When I was a kid I watched the McCarthy hearings with my parents on our old black and white TV. Almost no one had color in those days. During the course of the hearings my father told me that if his father had known such crap would go on in the U.S. he would never have left Italy.

Joseph McCarthy was a Republican ideology, elected to the Senate by the people of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. In my estimation he was a liar, a fraud, a narcissist, and a grandstanding political opportunist. In league with malignant power brokers like J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn, McCarthy used the formidable authority of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Congressional subpoena power to ruin countless lives and careers with the stain of Communism.

Out of the work of this malevolent trinity evolved the infamous Hollywood Blacklist. The link at the end of this piece takes you to an article about the Blacklist followed by the names of those who made the list from 1947 to 1950. It is stunning. These men and women were actors, writers, producers, directors, and they were punished for refusing to name their friends as communists, refusing to confess to being part of a conspiracy that didn’t exist and/or refusing to admit to being members of the Communist Party. It is not an accident that people like McCarthy, political thugs and tyrants, burn books and go after the creative soul of a people. A society that can’t dream loses the ability to see the future and is trapped in the past.

McCarthy couldn’t prove a damn thing and never demonstrated the existence of a Communist cell or a plot. He never proved that anyone was a Communist. Still in all, the accusation was enough - as it seems to be today - and a goodly number of these people never worked again. No one would hire them in this country. Certainly not that bunch of sniveling limp dicks in Hollywood.

Proof notwithstanding some of the blacklisted artists eventually went to jail for Contempt of Congress, as if that Congress was not beneath contempt. One of these was my favorite writer - Samuel Dashiell Hammett. The nearly Shakespearean irony of this is that Hammett created a purely American detective genera that owed nothing to the British or the European. He was the father of the Hardboiled Detective and had one of those American voices that won the world over with its outspoken clarity and truth. There isn’t a fictional detective of stage, screen or television that doesn’t owe something to Hammett’s Sam Spade and the Continental Op. Nonetheless, the sub-literate Senator from Wisconsin tossed him in jail because he refused to name his colleagues in the Civil Rights Congress as Communists. He was released prematurely after the subcutaneous emphysema he contracted in the trenches of WWI flared sending him home near death.

When McCarthy decided that he had put enough hurt on Hollywood he turned his attention to the Department of the Army. That was a mistake. First, because it brought Eisenhower off the golf course and out of coma. Secondly, because it put him into direct conflict with a little man who had a cherub’s face and a will of iron. His name was Joseph N. Welch, the attorney for the Department of the Army who on June 9, 1954 ripped McCarthy’s legs out from under him with two questions: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Welch then refused to speak further to McCarthy or to call anymore witnesses. The gallery erupted in applause. My father tapped me on the shoulder and said, “He’s done.”

He was done, and HUAC began a slow and painful decline into oblivion. In 1969 its name was changed to “House Committee on Internal Security.” In 1975 the Committee was abolished, all functions handed over to Judiciary.

Since the McCarthy impersonators are legion today we must ask ourselves, in a country that is forever ranting about Liberty, Freedom, and the Rights of the Individual how does a McCarthy - or a Glen Beck or Andrew Breitbart for that matter -crawl up out of the primordial slime of depravity and become so empowered as to damage or destroy everything he sees? We need only look around us for the answer. To begin with we have a profound cowardice in our Federal Government from the Capitol to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave as they did at the height of McCarthy’s red baiting. Just as then no one is willing to stand up and fight back against the Palins, Bachmanns, Hannitys, and all the other modern day McCarthys who level unfounded accusations of racism, communism, socialism and anything else they can wrap their small minds around. Like their predecessor they don’t need proof or even facts. They just need a microphone. That is where the corporate media comes in - following them around like hungry dogs, tail between their legs yapping for the first bite of the next morsel. Finally there are all the people in this country who, as Chris Carter had a character in the "X-Files" say, have an almost insatiable appetite for bogus revelation. It would seem that if they are told something salacious enough and told over and over again they believe it.

The liars and frauds copying McCarthy’s crimes revere him. Perhaps it is because he showed them an easy path to power. Clearly they share his disrespect, distrust, and loathing for the American people. Like McCarthy they pander to bigotry and greed. They use fear and cruelty to redefine realty in their own image. They seem to consider free thinking and anyone who talks back un-American. Maybe that is why when they insist that their antigovernment, antihuman, anti-compassion Christian movement is organic no one counters, “So is bullshit.”