Thursday, May 19, 2011

You Can Trust Sunspot Johnson

(My latest Letter to the Editor of the Eau Claire paper:)

I’m glad to see that Senator Ron Johnson is proving himself trustworthy.

The oil industry poured $89,600 into his campaign coffers, and he did exactly what they paid him to do. He voted to continue the $21 billion in subsidies that our government hands out to the oil companies every year.

In a time of great concern over our Federal deficits, this was a truly courageous act. Not every senator could be trusted to push aside the interests of the people who elected him in order to keep faith with the ultra-rich oil companies who bought him.

I’m sure Ron’s willingness to impose cuts to services that benefit ordinary people in order to shift even more wealth to the giant corporations will continue to be well-rewarded.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Wisconsin has Taught Me This Spring

The American political scene is very much in flux. It is not Schroedinger's Cat, but Schroedinger's Litter. There are so many variables in play, so many potential ways for each of the players to jump, so many unforeseeable influences, that one cannot predict with any accuracy just what might happen. That said, I think that we are entering the End Times--of capitalism, at least. Whether they manage to take the rest of us with them through environmental destruction is the pin upon which the hinge of destiny swings. One path leads to Mordor, the other leads to the healing of the earth and our species. We must either recognize the great evil of unfettered "free markets" and take steps to curb them, or we perish. When framed in specific terms, these propositions have the sympathy of the general public. Most of them know who is destroying them, but they see few options.

The problem is that our current mechanisms for choosing leaders are proving totally susceptible to tampering from massively moneyed interests. Much of this tampering is entirely legal. Fox News can provide free air time and favorable coverage to their pool of indoctrinated teabaggers; corporations can pour unrestricted amounts of cash into negative ads in any race; the “liberal mainstream media” sit poised to take out any “far-left” candidate--anyone who scares the Masters of the Universe. Dean’s scream. Kucinich’s UFO. Earthtone Al.

What I learned in Wisconsin is that there is a way to circumvent the death grasp that the Right has on the collective throat of the media.

Last November Wisconsin fell under the evil spell of psychologically sophisticated propaganda developed and financed by the usual big-money suspects on the national scene. Beguiled by this smooth propaganda, some independents and weak Democrats stayed home and others went off to the polls to “throw ‘em all out, dammit.” “Sunspot” Johnson, a moneyed plastic-factory lunatic and adherent to crackpot notions about global warming, defeated Russ Feingold, and Walker ascended to the throne.

Then came the events of February 2011, and a significant portion of the state suddenly awoke from the trance. And, once awake, we started taking action, unlike other places that were comparably threatened by the corporatist agenda.

What made the difference? Well, first, we had the example of Egypt. But so did Americans in other parts of the country who were also under seige from the Masters.

I think the difference was that we had Democrats who behaved like Democrats. Where in other places there were no solid public figures around which to organize, and in whom one could have faith, we had our heroes. And soon we had many more heroes. The cops and firemen who joined us; the farmers who paraded their tractors around the square; the whole damn world got into the act, as so poignantly memorialized by the chalkboard at Ian’s Pizza on which they recorded all the states and countries who ordered food for the protestors.

The Fab 14 headed out of state and bought time. Now, I will tell you that some of those Dems were a little blue-doggish in my previous judgment, but when it all hit the fan, they stayed together and supported each other.

Our Secretary of State (last of the La Follettes) refused to certify and publish the bill after the Republicans had “passed” it under questionable circumstances. This bought more time.

The lines were clear. The Democrats did not waver, did not hedge, did not compromise with an illegal process. People by the tens and hundreds of thousands united. I just heard that more than half a million Cheeseheads participated in the Madison demonstrations at some time or another. I can believe it. Two nights ago at a Democratic fund-raiser dinner in Chippewa falls, guest speaker and Fab-14 Senator John Erpenback asked the crowd how many had been in Madison. More than half the crowd raised their hands. Chippewa falls is nearly 200 miles from Madison, by the way.

Our politicians did not stand behind us. They stood with us. And they are going out with us to collect signatures. They are showing up all over the state with their sleeves rolled up, making personal contact with people. They appear ready to go anywhere and talk to any group. Literally thousands of signature-gatherers are going around door-to-door, talking to people and educating them. People who didn’t know how to use Facebook and Twitter are now suddenly fully plugged in to the worldwide cerebral cortex. The state is alive, awake, and about to cast off the foul disease that crept upon it.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little reality-based minds.

Give up consistency, give up rationality, give up the shackles of logic, and all things become possible to you.

You can balance the Federal budget by cutting taxes on the rich and create jobs by busting unions.

You can deny the poor the basic necessities of life, secure in your knowledge that you are doing the work of the Lord.

You can run an oil-based economy forever because oil is a renewable resource and there are no harmful consequences to burning it.

You can call your opponents “enemies” and “traitors” and advocate their assassination and rest assured that you have no responsibility when someone acts on your word.

You can take from others whatever it pleases you to take, and do to them whatever it pleases you to do, knowing that you are merely helping the Lord to carry out His will on those who deserve no better.

You can subject your enemies to pain, torture and death, knowing full well that you have the Lord’s blessing because they are also His enemies.

And finally, if you have any mild twinges of fear for your soul, at the end of your days you can utter certain magical phrases and all will be forgiven--if, indeed, there is actually anything to be forgiven in one who has lived such an exemplary life as yours has been.