Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Valediction—The Abyss: White I and Black We



Preface:  What It Is
“…the general public in the United States is largely depoliticized through the influence of corporations over schools, higher education, and other cultural apparatuses. The deadening of public values, civic consciousness, and critical citizenship are also the result of the work of anti-public intellectuals representing right-wing ideological and financial interests, a powerful corporate controlled media that are largely center-right, and a market-driven public pedagogy that reduces the obligations of citizenship to the endless consumption and discarding of commodities.  In addition, a pedagogy of historical, social, and racial amnesia is constructed and circulated through a highly popular celebrity culture and its counterpart in corporate-driven news, television, radio, and entertainment to produce a culture of stupidity, censorship, and diversionary spectacles.”  
—from The Plague of American Authoritarianism” by Henry A. Giroux at Truthdig  (http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_plague_of_american_authoritarianism_20150824)


Do you think the political circus we are currently witnessing tells us anything about the extent to which our center is not holding?  The so-called electorate seems so self-absorbed in their solipsism that they feel each candidate needs to speak to their personal fears.  No, they don’t fear as a group.  No, they don’t want as a group.  They fear and want alone.

I have said in previous posts that all the clamor about the need to accept and promote diversity is in fact creating divergency, that social media is the source of expression for our divergency and our self-absorption parading as a network of communication.  We have collapsed into pods of micro similitude, each shrinking as we become aware of each other’s unacceptability of each other’s personal standards and values.

Does America have a common vision?  To put the best face on it, our common vision is to exploit opportunities to be successful, measured by our wealth and our accumulations.  Besides that, our common vision embraces the great variety of spectacle that will satisfy our divergent “tastes.”  When you look at the seemingly endless list of TV channel offerings you get a very clear idea of this.  And you wonder at the variety of numbness it represents.

We are an insular people now.  Our nation is engaged in several military actions around the world, and we the members of that nation have merely a passing awareness of that phenomenon.  Most of us don’t care what happens.  We are apart, insular and divergent.  I have tried, and I can’t think of a single unifying principle of this nation.  Other than what I have mentioned in the previous paragraph, nothing in our minds rises above the level of our personal desires. What were once our ancient shibboleths, “freedom” and “democracy,” are now considered quaint at best and shamelessly utilitarian at worst.

In the center of this maelstrom are the irresolvable White “I” and Black “We” cultural values

Perhaps the best place to begin to understand the White “I” cultural values is to go back to Saul Bellow’s very prescient 1959 novel, Henderson the Rain King.  Superficially, middle aged Eugene Henderson would seem to be the iconic American, wealthy, married, living the good life in his accumulations.  And yet…
“ there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want!  It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it it got even stronger.  It only said one thing, I want, I want! 
And I would ask, “What do you want?”
But this was all it would ever tell me.  It never said a thing except I want, I want, I want!…Through fights and drunkenness and labor it went right on, in the country, in the city.  No purchase, no matter how expensive, would lessen it.  Then I would say, ‘Come on, tell me.  What’s the complaint, is it Lily [his wife] herself?  Do you want some nasty whore?  It has to be some lust?’  But this was no better a guess than the others.  The demand came louder, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want!  And I would cry, begging at last, ‘Oh, tell me then.  Tell me what you want!’   And finally I’d say, ‘Okay, then. One of these days, stupid.  You wait!’”
The wait ends when Henderson decides that perhaps the answer lies somewhere in Africa.  A profound choice in the context of my discussion, because what Henderson ultimately learns among the tribes of Africa is that the communal  voice, the collective agency is the solution to the irritating, irresolvable, isolated voice of individual agency, the “I” of “I want!”  Bellow resolves the plot of this novel by returning Henderson to his “after-all dear wife” and to an optimistic prospect.  He is back in America, no less isolated, but rather, with a clearer understanding of collective spirituality, isolated all the more.  

But this is small comfort to us readers having gone through all the religious and philosophical discussions between Henderson and the various representatives of the collective consciousness.  Henderson learns what has been erroneous about his consciousness by comparison, but he returns nonetheless to the isolation of the “I” agency in American culture.  
Fortunately for him, he has less than half his life to live there.

Before moving on to the collective agency, the “We” of Black American culture, I should note that Bellow’s progression through most of his important protagonists following Henderson (and including Augie March who preceded him), from Herzog to Artur Sammler to Von Humboldt Fleisher, the isolated self becomes increasingly removed spiritually from the culture that he finds himself in.  Each of these men, we learn, is seeking some sort of spiritual satisfaction, some sort of center in a culture which is becoming increasingly materialistic and absurdly meaningless, to the point where Humboldt ’s dissatisfying life yields to the self-satisfying life of material success in the character of his counterpart, Charlie Citrine.  

Perhaps the best stepping off point for a discussion of collective agency would be to quote from Henderson himself just before he departs for his journey of discovery:
“Next step: help may come from other human beings or—from a different quarter.  And between human beings there are only two alternatives, either brotherhood or crime.  And what makes the good such liars?…Evidently they believe there have to be crimes, and lying is the most useful crime, as it is on the behalf of good.  Well, when push comes to shove, I am for the good, all right, but I am very suspicious of them.”  Many volumes have been written about Bellow’s work, but the simple thing that stands out for me is his consistent and persistent central character and his search for a reliable core or absolute vision in American culture, which ultimately results in a dispiriting experience.

Despite the horrors and deprivations of much of what American Blacks have experienced over the centuries, their cultural vision has for the most part been inspiriting.  I discovered the I/We disparity when I came across an interview with Cornel West, discussing with Chris Hedges why there seems such a gulf—the abyss of my title, which I borrow from Jon Stewart—between White and Black mind sets.  West explained that because the Black experience from being yanked from Africa up to the present day has been beset by surviving the exigencies of oppression and injustice, they adapted the collective agency of Africa’s tribal experiences.  

I first discovered a discussion of this phenomenon in The Signifying Monkey by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  To put it very generally, what Whites see in the battles of rappers, or playin’ the dozens on neighborhood stoops, or the verbal duels or “snaps” in barbershops, or various other expressions of group competitiveness (among jazz musicians or break dancers) is what they would call very serious sarcastic or ironic attacks by individuals at individuals.  But what Blacks see is signifying, a calling out by a member of a group on another member of the group in front of the group.  This is meant to instill in the person being called out a sense of humility, the point being that no single member is more important, wiser, more spiritual than any other member.  The emphasis illustrates the difference between “I” and “We” consciousness.

Perhaps an even broader and stronger collective tradition is the shout out.  This was developed to a very fine point during slavery as a means of communicating collective agency, especially if a group action was imminent (so-called Negro spirituals and work songs).  This became a collective integrating influence as it was molded into gospel and jazz as well as various other 20th century art forms.  The clearest visual demonstration was in the graffiti or taggin’ of the 1960s and 70s, expressing collective solidarity and communicating survival (We’re still here!) between groups.  The mass transit systems in the desolated urban areas of that era served as the communication conduits of taggin’s collective agency.  Again, the consequence of all these traditions is to remind the group of its survival tradition of cohesiveness.

Our nation’s current experiences with law enforcement killing unarmed or helpless Blacks and the differing responses to these experiences in the White and Black communities, after all the years of lip service to integration or so-called post-racism, and all the violence associated with both communities, we still sadly empathize with Jon Stewart’s lament that we are “staring down into the abyss.”  The counterpointing banners and posters declaring, “Black Lives Matter!” and “All Lives Mater!” are pathetic signifiers of the abyss.  “Black Lives Matter!” is a call out, and “All Lives Matter!” is a cop out.  In our post-modern, neo-liberal fusion we are asserting the epitome of the individual and shunning the integrity of the collective.  After studying and writing about American culture for nearly 50 years, it seems to me that our dilemma widens and deepens each time our nation demonstrates a lack of unconditional trust in each community.  And I don’t see any change in that any time soon.


To all my faithful visitors,

despedida    farewell     au revoir     




Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "When a Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides" (final part)


When A Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides:
U.S. 1850-1861 – Iraq 2005? (final part…Quo Vadis, Iraq?  (FFT, 2005)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1,827 - 395 since the Jan. 05 “elections”
American military wounded in Iraq: 13,559 (official) 15,000-42,500 (est.)
Iraq body count: 23,317 (min.)   [for a specific accounting, see “Common Dreams”]

[If you truly want an idea of the complexity of the region we’re bringing “the light of freedom” to, I urge you to read The Orientalist by Tom Reiss.  The biography might be important to you if you’re interested in what being a popular writer was like in Europe, 1920-1935.  But what Reiss includes about the culture, politics and history of the people and the region is essential to our understanding of what’s going on now.]

In Part Three I looked at the ways postponing and “compromising” the cultural divides in the organization and “constitutionalizing” of the US led unremittingly toward civil war, the “irrepressible conflict”.   And so, as the operatives in Iraq hurry to fabricate a compromising constitution for a “nation” created by outsiders, full of cultural divides, I am drawn to the Latin philosophical inquiry, “Quo Vadis, Iraq?”  Where are you going, Iraq?

For anyone who pays any attention at all to Iraq’s daily hostile events, the absurdities involved in this compromising constitutional process must be clear.  The recent killing of a journalist who had just published an article exposing the Shiite corruption of the newly created police force in Basra clearly signals how attempts at truth and justice will be managed…with or without a constitution.  

The Kurds in Kirkuk have discovered a fundamentally sound way to negotiate their concerns over the oil rich lands in their region.  They simply refuse to sign any constitution that does not yield to them absolute autonomy ad infinitum.  Issue closed, sine die.

So, with Basra demonstrating de facto resistance to anything other than a Shia dominated regional authority, especially associated with their Iranian brethren, and the Kurds demonstrating what must be construed as nascent independent nationhood, what remains is the hapless, so-called “Sunni Triangle”, the seat of the constitutional fabricating.  It is also the seat of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, “the prime marja, or spiritual reference, for Shia Muslims everywhere.”  Let’s keep this in mind.  The “prime marja” of the majority population is situated in the heart of the Sunni minority population, the same people who, according to most official accounts, are wreaking havoc during the post-January “elections”, that marvelously media formulated display of militarily mitigated “freedom loving”.

What most people overlook about both the American colonists’ Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution is that they were grounded in British common law, especially the Magna Carta.   An essential problem facing the fabricators in Baghdad is that they can’t decide on what legal authority (secular? theological? a bowdlerized version of both?) in which to ground their constitution.   By what web of fantasy have the Crawford Cowboy, Karl Rogue and their drones possibly imagined any recognizable form of peace coming to those terror-stricken people?  Maybe if we drop a few more tons of depleted uranium munitions on them they’ll see “the light of freedom”.




Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "When A Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides" (part 2)


When A Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides:
US 1850-1861 – Iraq 2005?  (Part two, cultural divides and civil war)       (FFT, 2005)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1806 (another bloody milestone passed)
American military wounded in Iraq: 13,559 (official) 15000-42500 (est.)
Iraq body count: 23,209 (min.)   [for a specific accounting, see “Common Dreams”]

In Part Two, I discussed the regional civil wars that flared up because of cultural divides before, during and following the American “Revolution”.  These were small, and relatively easily controlled by the eastern power centers, because they were isolated within a region.  To put them in the Iraqi perspective, they compare to the Sunni/Shiite strife in and around Baghdad and Fallujah.  The trouble increases exponentially, as it already is in the efforts to write a constitution when cultural differences get poured into the mix, for example, like the Kurds in and around the oil fields in Kirkuk and the Shiites in and around the oil fields in Basra.  They hate and distrust each other almost as much as the Sunnis hate and distrust both of them!  (A quotation from an article in the NY Times today [8.3.05] indicates the troubles: “Faoud Masoon, the deputy chairman of Iraq's constitutional committee, said two of the most contentious points in the new charter - the future of the contested city of Kirkuk and the control of a number of Kurdish-populated enclaves in the north - would be largely put off for a future government to resolve [emphasis mine]…[and] Mr. Masoon said [they were] unable to reach a resolution on a handful of other issues…the question of whether to grant self-rule to regions other than the Kurdish areas, like the Shiite-dominated provinces of southern Iraq…no agreement on how oil revenues would be split between the central government and the areas where the oil is produced.”)


Let us, then, look at the newly minted US, having lived through various flare-ups for decades up to 1820.  The history of the annexation of Texas to the US is famous for the Mexican/American War (Remember the Alamo!) and Thoreau’s civil disobedience regarding that war.  Classrooms frequently overlook, however, the fact that both presidents who supported the annexation, Polk and Tyler, were…that’s right, Southerners! Their constituencies needed more land to burn up with their tobacco and cotton.  This whole business did not sit well with the Eastern Establishment…the former Federalists, who had become Whigs.  In 1820, these were the people who forced Jefferson’s Republicans (most of whom were southerners) to agree to the Missouri Compromise.   This initiated the headlong tumble towards civil war.   The details are important, but the headlines tell the story:  1828, the Tariff of Abominations (exorbitant tariffs on raw materials hit the South hard); 1832-33, Nullification Crisis (S. Carolina reacts and threatens to nullify Federal laws); 1837-45, (depression in England drastically reduces demand for cotton and other raw materials); 1846, the Wilmot Proviso (allows Texas to enter the US a slave state); Gold in California and 1850 Compromise (California enters US a free state and south gets first fugitive slave act [all citizens bound by law to return and/or report all fugitive slaves]); 1854-1860, steady drumbeat to war (Kansas-Nebraska Act revokes Missouri Compromise, meaning territories can determine slave or free status), Dred Scott decision (slaves not citizens so could not sue for freedom; federal government cannot determine the issue of free or slave); Panic of 1857 (global demand for grain decreases, banks and insurance companies fold); Election of 1860 (Southern Democrats walk out of convention).  All that remained was Fort Sumter.

That’s a long list.  The list demonstrates that from the start (actually back in my Part 2) these two disparate regions were separated by divides in their most fundamental social institutions.  The connections between slavery and economics are undeniable (some historians will even concede that the northern merchants’ and textile owners’ “humanitarian” impulse to rid the nation of slavery’s blight was colored by their desire for a pool of cheap labor).  But well beyond that obvious moral issue, the lifestyles, religious practices, roles of women, work ethic, legal systems…virtually all social institutions were diametrically opposed.  And that is why it began and remained as an “irrepressible conflict”.

I have spent so much time on this, because I hope that it will serve to disabuse anyone, especially readers from the US, that cultural differences are not only real, but they are also deterministic.  Having scanned the historical evidence of this in the US, it should be clear that any hope that the bogus constitutionalizing of disparate cultures contained within a single nation state—like Iraq— will point the way toward peaceful power sharing is dangerously naïve, the same kind of naïveté that leads to “nation building”.   The US and “Iraqi” blood soaked into the sands of this ancient land speak to the hubris in this kind of thinking, and more will flow especially after the US leaves.

Next time, I’ll look a little closer at these disparities in the hapless land of what the West called “Iraq”.





Monday, August 24, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "When A Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides"



When A Constitution Ignores Cultural Divides:
US 1850-1861 – Iraq 2005?  (Part One, a look at US Cultural Divides)
(FFT, 2005)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1,795
American military wounded in Iraq: 13,559 (official) 15000–42500 (est.)
Iraq body count: 23,140 (min.)  [for a specific accounting, see “Common Dreams”]

When you look at a map of the original 13 colonies of North America in 1750, you see that they all hug the coastline, and they all seem to have lost the western parts that they have today.   That fact is not a small matter.  The people in the western parts of the colonies had very different concerns from the people on the coastline, most of whom depended on the burgeoning mercantilist trade (including slavery, but more on that later) for their livelihood.  Most of these “interior people”, as they were thought of, relied heavily on an agrarian subsistence with some trading of whatever was left over.  Many of them were what I would call “communalists”, mostly associated with some minor form of sectarian Christianity (like the Moravians and Mennonites of western Pennsylvania); some of these agrarian people simply wanted to be rid of city life to live independently on the frontier, sometimes trapping for extra cash.

Needless to say, a deep divide existed between these groups at the time of the first significant resistance to British law (1763).  Such disparities led ultimately to several rebellions before and during the American “Revolution” (rebellion), actually small civil wars, like the Whiskey Rebellion (a.k.a., “Whiskey Insurrection” as in “insurgency”) and the conflicts in what became known as the Southwest Territory (what now includes western North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee).  What most histories of the period fail to acknowledge is that the disparities, while having to do with economics, had a great deal more to do with differences in culture.  James Fenimore Cooper knew this, and his character, Natty Bumpo, represented what we would call the “mind set” of the interior people, who could not stand the ways of the “civilized” easterners.  Much of the haggling during the First Continental Congress and during the resolutions to settle the final Constitution had to do with this; generally the power of eastern money resulted in offers the interior people “couldn’t refuse”.   But this didn’t bridge the cultural divide.  The antipathies between what are now the Left and Right Coasts and the “interior people” are alive and well today; they flare up in everything from religious fundamentalism to a nationalism associated with agrarian simplicity…you need look no farther than the “charm” associated with George W, Bush and his “plain spoken” simpleton persona.

But that divide is nothing compared to the North/South divide.  That cultural divide exposed (and still exposes) different social orders, different religious sentiments, different economics and different attitudes towards the land…in short, these were truly two different countries.   People like George Mason (of the Mason and Dixon Line) and Patrick Henry adhered to Jeffersonian “democracy”, people advocating the rights of the common person (Mason actually was more interested in advocating and affirming the plantation system) especially in Virginia and the other southern colonies.  The mercantilist interests, known as the Federalists, were led by Hamilton and advocated the rights of money and its power to enable the creation of a new nation.  Its culture adhered to the principles of growth under centralized interests representing the colonies.  The southern colonies saw themselves as autonomous entities loosely tied by common history, landed gentry, plantation culture…and the necessity of slavery.  Plantations were independent, paternalist societies within each colony, similar to fiefdoms, lorded over by “The Master”.  Their allegiance to the larger entity was based solely on the colony’s abetting the plantation culture (especially slavery and price controls).  

One thing not commonly noted in most U.S. history surveys is the relationship between the southern plantation system and westward expansion.  Cotton and tobacco farming on a grand scale rapidly exhausts soil nutrients, especially when the “planters” have no idea  of or regard for crop rotation.   Notice that Thomas Jefferson’s anti-Federalist, common man ideology was held in abeyance long enough to have federal money underwrite the Louisiana Purchase…for his fellow plantation owners.  The same can be said for the “acquisition” of the “Tejas” province of Mexico later in the 19th century, which became the next supplier of cotton and rice…and to become known as Texas.

We’ll look at how this gaping divide led ultimately to what became known as “the irrepressible conflict” and how all of this ought to be on the minds of Iraqis as well as the US as we contemplate the future of Iraq and all of the Near East under a hastily cobbled “constitution”.





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "When I Grow Down, I Will Be Just Like David Grosh"



When I Grow Down, I Will Be Just Like David Grosh   (FFT, 2004)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1,728
American military wounded in Iraq: 12,896 (official)  38,000 (est.)
Iraq body count: 22,434 (see the Lancet report)

When he got the call from Michael Scanlon (rhymes with “scam-‘em”) in 2001 asking him if he wanted to head an international corporation, in his testimony David Grosh said, "I was like, sure".  Later, when asked if he had any suspicions, he said he wasn’t “just out of the cotton patch” and realized that if it sounded too good to be true, it was.  How comforting to us all.  We learned from him that all he had to do was let “American International Center” use his first floor (and his address) in Rehoboth Beach, DE, and he got $2,500.  I guess for a self-actualized “beach person” (David’s words) that’s not a bad gig.   Based on what I saw in the photos and video, David looks like a shrugging kind of guy, the kind of person who used to say he “goes with the flow”.  He’s just the kind of person Mr. Scanlon and Jack Abramoff rely on for their scams.  The $2,500 was for the whole deal; anyone else from the cotton-patch group would have asked that amount per week.

And, by extension, he’s just the kind of person Karl Rove and his toadies rely on for their constituencies.  I’m not sure what the female version would be…maybe Ann Coulter with curly hair and a good dosage of xanax…she’s certainly sufficiently vacuous.  They’re picked from central casting as the attention-getters.  David has worked his lifetime mastering the schlemiel persona; Ann and her ilk play the nasty, gossipy fringe girl, the one who’s too plain or ugly or plain ugly to get the good dates so she rags on everyone else, but she really means no harm, only to serve.

We know them, and we’re certain that their ranks have grown.  I have an idea about that.  Their ranks have grown because they seek nothing more than validation and are ready to serve their validators…they recall the lines from Prufrock”, T. S. Eliot’s portrait of modern humanity:

“Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—“

Apart from being “obtuse” and an “easy tool” these people thrive on whatever attention gets thrown their way…whether in ridicule or faint praise.   Their ranks are swelling, because they form the basis in our times of the meaning of “politic”.  Whether David Grosh, Ann Coulter or the minions serving the beck and call of the massive, slushy, pudgy middle of the US political scene, including the apologetic media whores…they all mirror our lack of courage and integrity.  And the Roves and Abramoffs drool at the sight of them.






Saturday, August 22, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "Warning! Beware The Trained 'Disassemblers!'"


Warning! Beware The Trained “Disassemblers”!          (FFT, 2005)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1,661
American military wounded in Iraq: 12,350 (official)
Iraq body count: 21,940 (min.) - over 100,000 (see the Lancet report)

During his press conference today (5.31.05)—the best comedy anywhere on TV—our pretender president was asked what he thought of Amnesty International’s accusation that Guantanamo is the new gulag.  He claimed that the charge was “absurd”. (An interesting choice of words.  I wonder if he has ever looked it up.  It applies directly to the world he is creating for his citizenry. “The condition or state in which humans exist in a meaningless, irrational universe wherein people's lives have no purpose or meaning.”)  He went on to say (not in CNN’s report as cited) that “those people (i.e., the hundreds of detainees who have not been charged and who have no access to legal counsel or their families) are trained to disassemble.”  Sacre bleu!  Mon dieu!  Monty Python lives!  In the White House!  We have all been wondering why the oil pipelines in Iraq and the rest of the country’s infrastructure constantly collapse.  Now we know.  It’s the evil-doing disassemblers!

So far, none of the post press conference talking heads has called him on it.  But I’m certain it will make “Countdown” and “The Daily Show”.  To punctuate his comment he gave that frat guy sneering snicker we all know ad nauseum.  This then is prima face evidence that we are dealing with an Emperor’s New Clothes sitcom.  Keep in mind, this is a second term president who is hemorrhaging party loyalty just when he needs to muster some kind of a domestic agenda, and simultaneously is being flummoxed by virtually the entire international community, especially his foes, while his trade deficit skyrockets and the European community seems to realize finally that he could not care less what they are doing…even if he understood it.

In the same day’s news cycle we get word that “Deep Throat” (no, not the victimized, repentant Linda Lovelace) of Watergate fame has revealed himself…or so it would seem. W. Mark Felt, second in command at the FBI in 1970 (Imagine what that must have been like, having to order new white gloves and panties for J. Edgar!), seems to be getting ready to die.  It is what elderly folks (including me) do as they begin to hear the tread of the Grim Reaper: They try to set the record straight, clean off the lies and other deceits, etc.  Woodward and Bernstein are sticking to their bargain; they will not release the name until the person is dead.  It looks like the now famous journalism duo might have been scooped by their own subject.

None of this, of course, is important.  All the important stuff will be reported in detail by news outlets that are concerned about what is actually going on in the world, that know the difference between the actual and the virtual, between a press conference and a sitcom.





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Op. Re-posts: "Who’s Screwed?"



Who’s Screwed?                (FFT, 2005)

American military deaths in Iraq: 1,476
American military wounded in Iraq: 10,968 (official) 15,000–20,000 (est.)
Iraq body count: 16,036 (min.) 18,305 (max.)

The first, portentous answer is that our children are the major losers in the 2006 Bush budget.  As Molly Ivins puts it, Bush “really doesn't see any connection between government programs and helping people”.

“People” are US.  The demos (that’s you and me) count for very little.  We are pesky gnats, easily got rid of with the powerful hands of the increasingly unregulated corporations. In case you were wondering about those little surprises you get with your monthly credit card statements, the corporations are networked to assure their security at your expense: “Through a policy called ‘universal default,’ if you are late with a payment to someone else—say your mortgage company—your credit card company can raise your interest rates automatically because they feel you have become a riskier client. How do they know if you’ve been late on a car payment? They can now monitor, on a daily basis, your financial transactions and your credit rating”.  And there are other things as well.

The Bush administration’s long range, long term economic revolution aims at “starving the beast” (the beast: that’s you and me again).  Much has been said and written about the Bush “privatization” tool, both in Social Security and in the military, as in (private military companies, like Halliburton, Blackwater, ArmorGroup and Custer Battles) but less has been observed about the virtual elimination of social welfare programs (as in “provide…the general Welfare”).  The result is muted class warfare.  But this is not class warfare as Marx imagined, where the middle class (bourgeoisie) uses its financial might to silence the working class.  Post-modern class warfare targets the middle class…to paraphrase Willie Sutton, because that’s where the loose money is.  Moreover, with the middle class standing in their front yards marveling at their new SUV’s and their double and triple mortgaged homes, they leave their back doors open for the Bushies to raid the pantries where the sustenance is.

In case you’re always wondering if the government agencies are always bending and touching their toes for the mega-corporations, it’s because they are.

The US has 242 billionaires and 2,300,000 millionaires.  These are not populations that you and I think about very much.  But let’s think about them now.  A simple question: From where and how does their money flow?  Some of the answers are above.  Our children’s and grandchildren’s health and welfare, our trumpeted wars of global “freedom”, our surging credit card debt to sustain our desires at the expense of our needs…all feed the beast that really owns US.  And because It owns US, you know what that makes US.  As such, we’re truly not enjoying it; we’re just being screwed.