- Oscar Wilde
I was polishing the local bartop with my elbows the other day next to a naturalized Irishman who works as an electrician. He asked what I did for a living, and I winced a little before telling him, "I write politics," because I knew what was coming. As ever, when I let people know what I do while in the confines of a drinking establishment, I was immediately subjected to a sustained violation of The First Law Of The Bar: "Thou shalt not talk of religion or politics here."
Such moments are normally excruciating for me, pretty much entirely because the absolute last thing I want to do while nursing a whiskey and watching a ballgame is talk shop. This time, however, was different. My new friend regaled me with a succinct, accurate and scathing assessment of his adopted country - "Millions of people need work, the infrastructure of the country is falling down around our ears, but no one in power seems able or willing to put one and one together and solve two problems with one stroke," he railed at one point - before summing it all up with a single, perfect, devastating brick.
"America," he said, "has a war on drugs that doesn't work. It has a war on poverty that doesn't work. It has a war on crime that has only managed to fill its prisons. It has wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that didn't work. You want to fix everything that has gone wrong? There's only one answer: America must declare war on America."
My new friend did not pay for another drink the rest of the night.
Absolutely God damned right.
America must declare war on America, against the fusillade of divisive nonsense that passes for political discourse these days, provided with full corporate sponsorship by a small cabal of rich people via the "mainstream" news media they own from top to bottom. Americans must declare war on America, on the America this fortunate few would create with zeroes to the left of the decimal on their secret donation checks, on the America these reavers and traitors seek to make in their own corrupted, bloated image.
I have made this point time and time and time again, but it bears repeating once more: the single greatest strength the far right and their paymasters enjoy is their utter and complete lack of shame. They will say anything - literally anything - to gain an advantage in any debate, and be damned to whoever takes a screwing in the process.
A perfect example: on Wednesday, Rand Paul (R-KY), darling of teabagger nation and son of that walking farce of a fake Libertarian Ron Paul, blocked a vote on extending FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program until the Senate votes on legislation declaring that human life begins at conception. Forget all those people in Iowa and Florida who are swamping out their homes after being inundated with record rainfall. We need legislation on fetuses...but God help them if they're born, because these God-fearing Republicans don't give a fig for them once they've passed through the birth canal. Welcome to the planet, brat. You're on your own.
My friend at the bar was on fire over the massive infrastructure problems facing America right now, noting that more than 2,000 bridges are trembling on the edge of collapse in Massachusetts alone. Why has this incredibly important problem not been addressed? Adam Peck of ThinkProgress provided an answer last week:
With as many as 2.9 million new and existing jobs on the line, House Republicans are refusing to pass a transportation reauthorization bill, even after the Senate's version of the bill overwhelmingly passed through the upper chamber in a 74-22 bipartisan vote.
The deadline for new transportation funding is June 30, and if the calendar flips to July without a compromise, as many as 1.9 million workers could lose their jobs, at least temporarily. The Senate version of the bill, if adopted, would create an additional one million new jobs as well, according to Department of Transportation projections.
So why are House Republicans holding nearly three million jobs hostage? Because they want approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to be included in the bill. The State Department estimates that roughly 6,000 jobs would be created if the Keystone XL is approved, but as few as 20 of them will be permanent.
These are but two examples; there are dozens upon dozens more. Were I to list them all, I would singlehandedly cause a worldwide electron and ink shortage. Sufficed to say, where we are can best be explained by how we got here. On the eve of the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's Affordable Care Act, James Fallows of The Atlantic laid out how exactly we came to this sad and disgraceful state of affairs:
When you look at the sequence from Bush v. Gore, through Citizens United, to what seems to be coming on the health-care front; and you combine it with ongoing efforts in Florida and elsewhere to prevent voting from presumably Democratic blocs; and add that to the simply unprecedented abuse of the filibuster in the years since the Democrats won control of the Senate and then took the White House, you have what we'd identify as a kind of long-term coup if we saw it happening anywhere else.
You can try this at home. Pick a country and describe a sequence in which:
First, the (2000) presidential election is decided by five people, who don't even try to explain their choice in normal legal terms. Then the beneficiary of that decision appoints the next two members of the court, who present themselves for consideration as restrained, humble figures who care only about law rather than ideology. Once on the bench, for life, those two actively second-guess and re-do existing law, to advance the interests of the party that appointed them. Meanwhile their party's representatives in the Senate abuse procedural rules to an extent never previously seen to block legislation - and appointments, especially to the courts. And, when a major piece of legislation gets through, the party's majority on the Supreme Court prepares to negate it - even though the details of the plan were originally Republican proposals and even though the party's presidential nominee endorsed these concepts only a few years ago.
How would you describe a democracy where power was being shifted that way?
As if all this were not enough already, that small cabal who helped deliver us to this diseased and deranged estate has the perfect answer to all the problems before us: a plastic-fantastic fraud of a multi-millionaire, named after a kitchen utensil, who was against everything he stands for before he was for it before he was against it, who made his money killing American jobs, whose wife tries to connect with the common people by wearing $900 t-shirts on national television, and whose family claimed a $70,000 tax deduction for owning a doped-up horse.
America must declare war on America. You, me, and everyone we know with brain one in our heads and the best interests of the country at heart need to charge the ramparts, stand our post, and refuse to take even one step back.
The Supreme Court is rewriting the Constitution on the back of a corporate pay stub, Congress has made itself more useless than nipples on an ice cream cone, the President of the United States has decided he can kill where and who he wishes with a video game, and Colorado is on fire even as the "mainstream" news media gives respectful ear to a Republican presidential candidate who argues that firing firefighters is a bully idea and the answer to all that ails us.
To a great many people's surprise, a majority of the Supreme Court - led by Chief Justice Roberts, of all people - ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday morning. For many Americans, this was a big victory and a tremendous relief, but in truth, the law does not nearly go far enough. Senator Bernie Sanders said it best: "In my view, while the Affordable Care Act is an important step in the right direction and I am glad that the Supreme Court upheld it, we ultimately need to do better. If we are serious about providing high-quality, affordable healthcare as a right, not a privilege, the real solution to America's health care crisis is a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. Until then, we will remain the only major nation that does not provide health care for every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship."
This issue is one of a multitude facing this nation today, and there is only one way to get it done.
America must declare war on America.
Stand your post.