How the Grinch Stole America

Inspired by Ted Cruz’s reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor.

Every Who in America

Deserves healthcare,

But a faction of Republicans

Think that isn’t fair.

Boehner/Grinch

That faction hates Obama, his whole administration

They’ll be happy with nothing but psychic castration

of the Democratic party and all that they’ve worked for:

Especially entitlements that are aimed at the poor.

But healthcare, “Oh this comprehensive bill

That is the one thing we really must kill.

Even though it’s been watered down,

Negotiated and shredded,

And made into the law of the land where it’s headed!

No, we must stop it! And right in its tracks!

We’ll come up with a plan that’s light on the facts.

Fervent obstruction – that’s what we do!

Blatant destruction of all that is good.

And when it’s all over,

When the smoke clears,

When the Whos realize we’ve preyed on their fears,

We’ll make something up

And put it on Fox news.

We’ll all get behind Bachman and Cruz.”

It might be that Boehner’s head isn’t screwed on quite right.

Some say that his tan was sprayed on too bright

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his balls were two sizes too small.

But whatever the reason – his balls or his tan,

Boehner sat on the Hill without a plan.

And in came the Tea Party with crazy beliefs

To cave to the rich and to give no relief

To the people out there who got them elected

Who saw in Obama not Christ resurrected

But a man with dark skin who was their greatest threat

The biggest socialist that they’d ever met.

Whose father was Kenyan and who hid his college papers.

It was enough to give old Southern women the vapors.

But the worst part of all wasn’t the unprovable facts,

But the fact that this left-leaning commie was black.

That’s the one thing they hated – the blacks blacks blacks blacks.

They hated that more than corporate tax.

boehner

His legacy was healthcare, so they vowed to defeat it.

Personal responsibility was their idea! They felt so cheated.

So instead of supporting it as they had in the past

They vowed to kill it and with it, the middle class.

“Repeal it again!” they cried, (forty-two times)

And they took up their time, not preventing crimes,

By legislating the laws that focus on safety

Like restrictions on guns – no that would be crazy.

They took over the House and made it their business

To obstruct and destruct and to ask no forgiveness.

They were deaf to the voices of people who need it

Welfare recipients could all just go beat it.

No matter that the people, like Cindy Lou Who,

A girl without money, just like me and you.

Whose mother is sick and they aren’t insured.

Because if you’re poor in the US there isn’t a cure.

And Cindy Lou has been home all semester

Her Head Start program was lost in sequester.

Her mother can’t work because they can’t afford a sitter.

And the steady decline put her health in the shitter.

She always worked, paid her taxes, did her fair share,

And now, when she needs it, they wanna defund Obamacare?

“You have the right to pursue happiness –

Whatever that means.

But healthcare is not part of the American dream.”

But the law was held up by the highest court in the land,

And Ted Cruz, well he got up to take a stand,

A filibuster to defund it – and he was sober.

But it was all set to start in October.

His idea didn’t work, the wheels were in motion,

But Cruz is playing a long game, he wants his promotion.

They would take the whole government and shut it right down!

Boehner’s like, “This isn’t a game, I’m not fucking around.”

But it’s too little too late, it was out of his hands.

He was backed into a corner and gave into demands.

large

And Obamacare came,

And in all the confusion,

The Whos failed to see it was just a delusion

To keep them from seeing the hostile takeover

By those who wanted to give a makeover

To that old paper that started it all

That said that we should be governed for all

And not a small faction

That represents one percent

(A very small fraction)

And quiets dissent.

But when a small group plots against us

That’s called sedition.

Like a cancer, it’s a preexisting condition.

The tyrannical forces didn’t come from the left.

It was gotten in plain sight, it was a blatant theft.

It came without guns, it came without tanks,

It started when they deregulated the banks.

We opened the door for the Tea Party bigots

And now the current’s too strong to turn off the spigots.

We need is to issue some slips that are pink

To start over in Congress before the ship we’re on sinks.

What we need is what they call a market correction –

We need to remember in the midterm election.

The End

 

 

My 5 Favorite Political Videos

Some things never get old. Like fart jokes, French kissing and watching Hank Johnson ask stupid questions about Guam. Here’s good old reliable Hank and a few other gems.

#5 – Jones and Morgan. Alex Jones is pushing hard to chew up the remainder of his fifteen minutes. For those of us who enjoy a good conspiracy theory, Jones is a known quantity. But much of America was only recently introduced to him in this now-infamous appearance with Piers Morgan. I actually enjoy joining Jones on the crazy train every once in a while and, sometimes, I allow myself to go all in. There’s nothing wrong with a good conspiracy now and then. Besides, as the adage goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching…

#4 – Bachmann and Matthews. Jesus, I do love this woman. And her wife, Marcus. This was the video that propelled Bachmann into America’s consciousness. Bachmann begins the video attempting to poke fun at Chris Matthews but ultimately winds up treating us to a whole pot of bubbling crazy. Oh those eyes.

#3 – Damon on Palin. Full disclosure. I’m like really, really good friends with Matt Damon. At least that’s what I tell people. Actually we’ve never met, but I’m pretty sure we’d be awesome friends. In this interview, Damon says what’s on everyone’s mind after John McCain announces his choice of an Alaskan soccer mom as his Vice-Presidential running mate.

#2 – Stewart on Crossfire. The moment Jon Stewart became the most important political commentator of the modern era. And the moment Tucker Carlson’s career basically ended. Seriously, this was Stewart’s moment and he took it. Not only has Jon Stewart forever altered the media landscape and become the political voice of multiple generations, he has completely re-invented an entire genre of news. When we look back at this period in history, many years from now, we will recognize the turn of the millennium as the dawn of the “Stewart era.”

#1 – Hank Johnson. If you’ve never seen this video, you’re in for a serious treat. No setup, no buildup. It speaks for itself.

A Tale of Two Concords

concord: n. a state of agreement; harmony; union

“What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.”

 

So Michele Bachmann went to Concord, NH and mistook it for Concord, MA.  One could argue that if the shot was truly heard round the world, then it was, indeed, heard in Concord, NH.  Only, Concord, NH did not exist during the American Revolution.  Other than the name and New England setting, the two Concords have nothing much in common. Tony Concord, MA, home of the first military engagement of the Revolutionary War, has been taken over by bicyclists and counter-cultural devotees of Thoreau’s Walden Pond and Civil Disobedience.  Concord, NH, is the capital of the state that tells us to “Live Free or Die” on its license plates.  So the Tale of Two Concords is set on our Continental, Blue State/Red State Divide.  Mistaking the two Concords can be chalked up, as is so often the case with Congresswoman Bachmann, to wishful mystical thinking.

To be semi-fair, mistaken identification is fairly common.  Take the pic that accompanied my last post, “Doth We Protest too Little?  A remarkable number of intrepid readers, glancing at the e-blurb, mistook me for Mark Rudd, 60s radical.  Maybe it was the megaphone that misled.  “Is that you???” one long-term friend wrote.  “Still interminably outspoken,” a colleague commented, “and still the same head of gorgeous hair!”

Doppelgängers and look-alike comments have been such a persistent theme in my life that it provided the lead for one of my roman à clefs, Fly Me to the Moon:

All my life people have been telling me I look like someone else.

Once, on my way to a college interview, a cabby mistook me for Mark Rudd, student radical.  (We both sported shades and Kennedy hair, but that’s about it.)  For a teenager with a Che Guevara poster over his bed that was kind of cool.  Not so cool with the admissions folks, perhaps.  New York’s finest had only just flushed Rudd and his cohorts from a week’s long occupation of the college president’s office.  Maybe that’s why I wound up on the waiting list; maybe that’s why I’m still waiting.

During my hunkier years I got the likes of Tom Selleck and Sam Elliot a lot.  You guessed it; I’d grown a mustache.  When he was a Yankee, Dave Winfield popped up often enough for a snappy comeback: “Want to see my Louisville Slugger, baby?”  Most of the time it’s no big problem looking like a mythical tough guy.  Except for the occasional encounter such as the one down in the Caribbean when a sinewy Cruzan was certain I was Chuck Norris. (Yes, folks, the ‘stache was bushy and dirty blond.)  He wanted to work out with me; announced he was a black belt.

“What level?” I asked

“Third degree,” said he.

“Not high enough,” I shook my head.  “Catch me next time down.”

Lately, though, I’ve been getting obscure.  More and more, people are telling me I’m the spitting image of their brother, an old friend, somebody’s husband.  It’s enough to give a guy an identity crisis….

That’s just the way it is for me.  People keep figuring me for someone I’m not.  Which shouldn’t bother a Jack-of-all-trades.  Ask me for directions and I’m glad to oblige, no matter how menial or grand I’m taken for.  Guess I got that well-worn wisdom about me that says I should be good for a few answers….

####

Answers are a given on Jeopardy.  But offer a category like “POLITCAL AGENDAS”, give the answer as “Top priority for fixing U.S. economy”, and the correct question is questionable.  Do we go with, “What is cutting the deficit?” or “What is creating millions more jobs?”?  Again, it depends on what side of the faith-base/ reality-based Continental Divide one stands.  Try as it might, the neo-cortex just doesn’t get the limbic level and the limbic could care less.

We’re always fighting the last war, right?  And so it was with a former neighbor, a decade my senior, who e-mailed to rip me a new butt-hole after “Doth we Protest”:  “It is easier to attack than to build, easier to shout than to think. How much fun you all had…a sense of power at a young age. Jerry Rubin had his fun in Chicago. He grew his hair, spit on Cops, probably smoked weed and had a hell of a time. And later… not too much later, he joined the establishment, vest and all on Wall Street. When working on Wall Street I fantasized about meeting and punching him in the mouth.”  As Rubin was one of the early investors in Apple, he not only bequeathed Yippie street theatre to the Occupy Wall Street crowd, but the tools with which to project their footprint on to the larger stage.  What the Dickens?

It was the best of times for 1%, it was the worst of times for 99%, it had been the spring of hope but was now the winter of despair, in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on reenacting it.  Who knows?  Maybe the twain shall meet in what we’ll call the Reguilded Age.

 

Binge and Purge

Conservative, anti-environmental activists such as Michele Bachmann like to portray the EPA and other environmental regulatory bodies as proof of America’s increasingly hostile, dystopian government when in practice the very opposite is true.

Part V of The Season of Our Disconnect

Jon Huntsman, President Barack Obama’s former ambassador to China, broke away from the field of Republican presidential candidates in bellicose fashion this week. He chose to take on his opponents by slaying a sacred cow in today’s GOP by thumbing his nose at unconventional wisdom with the most scandalous pronouncement thus far in the campaign. If you are sensitive to radical ideas and harsh language, I urge you to stop reading now.

In a tweet to his followers, Jon Huntsman said: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

Crazy, indeed.  What’s next? Dinosaurs roamed the Earth?

Huntsman is reacting to the growing anti-environmental platform in American politics, a curious development in an even more curious nascent silly season. Sorry, Planet Earth. Due to the ongoing recession it is increasingly evident that the Earth-friendly platform will not be making an appearance this time around as our current president seems to favor the corporate interests of companies like Monsanto and Cargil; the opposition candidates… well… quite frankly it looks as though they just flat-out hate you.

For example, the winner of the ridiculously un-scientific Iowa Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann, has promised to shutter the Environmental Protection Agency on her first day in the White House. Rick Perry won’t close the EPA, but he’ll make gall-derned sure he castrates it like a bull calf to keep it from killing our jobs. Rick Santorum has said that because humans exhale carbon dioxide, regulating carbon emissions is therefore ludicrous. (No, I’m not making any of this up.) Most of the people running for president on the GOP ticket seem to believe that even though we are still the wealthiest nation on God’s greenish/brown Earth that environmental standards are holding us back. That maybe—just maybe—if we allowed ourselves to revert to pollution standards from the height of the Industrial Revolution, we would be better off. 

Mind you, although we haven’t lost our standing as the No. 1 economy on the planet, we do rank second behind China in carbon emissions. This loss of status has somehow translated into a sort of clarion call for deregulation activists who equate progress with the relaxation of environmental standards. Never mind the fact that on many days one would have trouble seeing clearly through the window of a building in Linfen, China, or that the Beijing government instituted “emergency air-quality measures” in the days leading up to the Summer Olympics.

Our narrow view on environmentalism has left everyone already suffocating from American ignorance and Chinese malfeasance nonplussed and defenseless. In his book Harmony, A New Way of Looking at the World, Prince Charles talks about his experience at the UN Conference in Copenhagen and the “all-out assault on the evidence base” of climate change, calling it “a deliberate attempt to dampen the justified concerns about the climate change threat.”

Presidential candidates who call for dismantling the EPA to help America reclaim its hegemony in destroying the atmosphere are nothing more than hucksters handing out licenses to operate toxic apothecaries stocked with volatile organic compounds. Conservative, anti-environmental activists such as Michele Bachmann like to portray the EPA and other environmental regulatory bodies as proof of America’s increasingly hostile, dystopian government when in practice the very opposite is true.

Ironically, common ground regarding the environment can be found in yet another profound area of intensely partisan disagreement: universal health care. It is in this debate that one can find room for both ardent anti-climate change deniers like Rick Perry and fervent environmental activists like Al Gore, whom Perry once supported. It’s far easier to agree that noxious emissions and pollutants increase the risk of disease and that a sick population is an expensive one to treat. Therefore, isn’t universal disease-prevention by regulating pollution a more efficient way for the market to deliver robust health care? Hell, there’s even room for Ron Paul under this tent.

Whether or not our society wakes up to the fact that we are indeed killing the planet and sacrificing human health along the way, there is an inevitable truth greater than all of us. Those who are most attuned to changes in weather patterns, the degradation of the world’s food supply, the rise of chronic health problems, and the rapid disappearance of clean water understand that humans will ultimately pay the price for our sins, not the Earth.

This is not the first time the Earth has been in such a precarious position. Moreover, there is mounting evidence of how she handles crises. We binge, she purges. The most succinct explanation of this phenomenon is from the great orator and environmentalist Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation. Rather than paraphrase, I’ll leave you with his sentiment:

“What if we choose to eradicate ourselves from this Earth, by whatever means? The Earth goes nowhere. And in time, it will regenerate, and all the lakes will be pristine. The rivers, the waters, the mountains, everything will be green again. It’ll be peaceful. There may not be people, but the Earth will regenerate. And you know why? Because the Earth has all the time in the world and we don’t.”

– Oren Lyons

The Fundamentals of Fundamentalism

The circumstances that promoted the rise of the evangelical Christian doctrine in the 1920s and ’30s bear a striking resemblance to our current situation.

The sight of so many conservative Christian presidential candidates attempting to out-holy one another during the GOP debate this past weekend was curious but not without precedent. The role of Christianity in the American political system predates the formation of the nation itself, with the more fundamentalist aspects playing a larger part during difficult economic periods. While it can be said that religion informed the political ideologies of the men who established the framework of our nation, fundamentalism was largely relegated to the fringes of American politics until the first part of the 20th Century.

The circumstances that promoted the rise of the evangelical Christian doctrine in the 1920s and ’30s bear a striking resemblance to our current situation and help to explain—as history often does—why right-wing religious views are influencing the social, political and economic platforms of the GOP candidates.

Prior to the Great Depression, the evangelical set were more like babbling mystics than an influential political force. Think Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker. The mainstream transformation came when successful, white Christian men who accumulated and maintained great wealth during this time were looking for absolution of the guilt they felt while their fellow countrymen fell upon hard times. Enter Abraham “Abram” Vereide, the man perhaps most responsible for the modern fundamentalist Christian movement in America.

Vereide was able to coalesce the successful strategies and teachings of other soul-surgeons and evangelists of his era. By rationalizing the financial success of his followers as the earthly manifestation of Christ’s will, he was able to mold a new Christian doctrine that recognized wealth, power and influence as deliberate and divine endowments. As it turned out, mass absolution and wider acceptance came in the form of Jesus Christ as seen through the lens of Bruce Barton’s bestselling book, The Man Nobody Knows.

Barton, who is more enduringly known as the second “B” in the ad agency BBD&O, which exists even today, published The Man Nobody Knows in 1925. It was an instant phenomenon. Barton’s Jesus was the ultimate winner, the consummate salesman. The book was a pocket guide to winning with Christ that helped extricate Christianity from purely religious constraints and bring it to a wider audience as only a professional adman could.

By 1933, when the nation was in the throes of the Depression, Vereide’s organization began to take shape. The political outgrowth of his movement was formalized in Seattle with the creation of the New Order of Cincinnatus. The parallels between the New Order and the Tea Party today are undeniable. Like the Tea Party, the New Order cherished free market ideals and conservative morality, and organized against taxes and big government.

Vereide’s followers heartily rebuked then-President Herbert Hoover for bailing out Wall Street bankers whom many Americans believed to be responsible for the stock market crash of 1929 just as the Tea Party chastised the Bush administration for doing the same with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Both groups found their footing, however, railing against the subsequent administrations for battling economic downturns with public works projects, specifically FDR’s New Deal and Obama’s Stimulus Package. Likewise they share similar views regarding social welfare programs, and were able to elect candidates to battle these reforms. Even the great adman Bruce Barton went on to secure a seat in Congress under the slogan “Repeal a Law a Day.”

Vereide’s organization lives on today through the efforts of a rather enigmatic figure named Douglas Coe, who took over the group upon Vereide’s death in 1969 and transformed it into one of the most influential and highly secretive organizations in the modern era. The only public recognition of the group known today simply as “The Family” is the National Prayer Breakfast held every year in Washington, where political and business leaders assemble to pay tribute to Douglas Coe’s cabal. Most of what transpired beyond the breakfast remained a complete mystery until Jeff Sharlet, a reporter and expert on religion, stumbled upon Coe’s secret world, which he unraveled in his 2008 book titled The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power and his 2010 follow-up C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy.

Sharlet painstakingly details the roots of fundamentalism in America and illustrates the many ways in which The Family’s perversion of Christianity as a doctrine of power has transformed modern political life in America. The ultimate testament to the work of The Family is fully on display in the platforms of candidates such as Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum—not to mention the political juggernaut waiting in the wings that is Sarah Palin. But before Bachmann there was Frank Buchman, founder of “Moral Re-Armament,” whose closeted reputation was more Marcus Bachmann than Michele, if you catch my drift. Before Palin there was Arthur Langlie, figurehead of the New Order of Cincinnatus, and before Perry there was Bruce Barton.

When placed in historical context, the great revelation of the Tea Party is that there’s nothing particularly innovative about it. As young as our nation is, we’re now old enough that everything old is new again. In Vereide’s time Vladimir Lenin was the Osama bin Laden of the day and Communism was today’s Islam. The rise of the German economy and the grand display of Nazism in the 1936 Olympics openly mocked America’s failing economy in the midst of the Depression just as China’s present-day ascension and the grand pageantry of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing taunted Americans during the Great Recession. And just as FDR became the bête noire of the New Order of Cincinnatus, so too is Barack Obama to the conservative, evangelical wing of the Tea Party.

What I find interesting about the parallels between our past and present circumstances is that there is room for both sides of the debate to find comfort. Christian fundamentalists can take heart in the notion that their wing of the Tea Party is an idea whose time has finally come while opponents of radical evangelicals may take solace in the fact that fundamentalism ebbs and flows with the vagaries of the economy. It’s simply a matter of perspective, or perhaps it’s a lack thereof.

Our Prime Yearning Years

The only true and good thing about Ayn Rand and objectivism (a fancy word for “that which screws the masses”) is that they’re both dead. Rand may have been a wonderful writer but objectivism is the Scientology of economic theory.

Part II of The Season of Our Disconnect (PART I)

Alan Greenspan
"Deregulation is fundamen... what's that dear? Oh yes, I would like some more pudding."

The haul from Hempstead Harbor was so big the first week it had reopened after being closed for more than 40 years of remediation that the axle on my friend Jimmy’s truck was bending slightly at the end of each day. He said the mood of the other diggers on the water was ebullient. Their boats were tightly locked together, with guys shouting to one another in celebration; it was a strange scene for men who typically toil in solitude to put food on their table by harvesting the ocean floor for food to put on our tables.

I caught up with Jimmy at the end of the first week, and he said, although he was physically exhausted, he wouldn’t trade the week for anything. According to him, the only disappointment was the complaints registered by local residents on the hill overlooking the water who were unhappy to discover their formerly too-toxic-to-fish harbor suddenly filled with small commercial vessels.

It seems the boats’ presence was less of an environmental and commercial triumph and more of a case of urban blight. Jimmy shrugged it off but his words stuck with me. He characterized the irate citizens’ reaction as both funny and sad, saying, “It’s amazing how people with millions of dollars are complaining about watching me scrape hundreds of dollars from the ocean floor.” Though nothing came of their complaints, it is another example highlighting our Season of Disconnect when class warfare seems to be erupting in every corner of our nation.

While politicians argue about the debt ceiling and preserving tax cuts, the big, slogging, hairy middle-class squeeze continues. Across the country people are either accepting the “new normal” or, worse, turning their pitchforks and torches on one another instead of storming the castle. Somehow we’ve lost sight of what brought us here and who is to blame for all of this—and there are some very real people and institutions to condemn.

Those who dare to protect “entitlements” are vilified by the free market despots in this nation who have taken hold of the seminal piece of misinformation that has infiltrated every meaningful discussion regarding the economy: that government is somehow corrupting the markets by attempting to inject any level of consumer protection into the financial system. Rays of common sense such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ impassioned plea to restore sanity to the markets and protect America’s working class shone brightly for a moment only to be snuffed by the likes of Michele Bachmann and her quixotic presidential campaign kickoff.

This is a woman who mistakenly believed discussions about pegging global markets to Chinese currency instead of the dollar meant that the Treasury was actually contemplating using Yuan as America’s official money. Beyond the usual mash-up of libertarian, conservative, objectivism ideals that comprise the Tea Party, Bachmann (of course) believes that climate change is a hoax, that anyone who supports healthcare is unpatriotic, and that the best way to protect Americans and the U.S. economy is to dismantle the agencies designed to protect Americans and the U.S. economy.

It’s this last point that is so troubling because it’s what people like Bachmann are gaining traction with. Even the former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, the most famous and powerful disciple of free market guru Ayn Rand, testified before Congress that his extreme laissez faire policy and “markets-will-cure-all” attitude were devastatingly wrong because they fail to recognize the most natural  fundamental force that comprises the capitalist economy: Greed. Don’t get me wrong. Greed is indeed an important component of capitalism as it is simply another name for competition. But it cannot go unchecked, as it will feed on itself and everything around it when unfettered by logical behavioral constraints.

To put it bluntly, Alan Greenspan was wrong and admitted as much. So were Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt and Treasury Secretary and White House economic advisor Larry Summers. So too were the men they served who facilitated their beliefs. Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush and now, Barack Obama, all of whom surrounded themselves with these free market hucksters and relied on the dearth of financial wherewithal in Congress while counting on the masses’ inability to understand the destructive potential of unregulated markets.

 

The only thing that is honest and true about Ayn Rand and her theory of objectivism is that they’re both dead. Ayn Rand was a wonderful writer. But in terms of her being considered a prophet of sorts, Rand’s theory of objectivism (a fancy word for “that which screws the masses”) is the Scientology of economic theory. And yet, one of history’s silliest figures is now gathering momentum with copies of Atlas Shrugged flying off Amazon’s virtual shelves and middle America wondering aloud, “Who is John Galt?!”

Forget John Galt. We need to start asking the question, “Who are we?” America is stuck in the largest identity crisis we have faced since the Civil War. The unmitigated and unwarranted assault on the middle class, the working poor and, yes, the poverty-stricken in this nation, must end. We begin by restoring authority to the regulatory agencies in our nation instead of simply requiring more bureaucratic paperwork for businesses already playing by the rules. Business owners know the difference between prudent regulation and the appearance of it.

On a level playing field it’s possible to get ahead while looking down on everyone else. It might even change the perspective of a person jaded enough to be offended by the view of men scraping shellfish from the ocean, no matter how far up the hill they live.

Divide and Conquer: Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act

Dorian Dale, inaugural contributor to JedMorey.com, takes on everyone from the Koch Brothers to Michelle Bachmann and offers “smash mouth” war advice – from Machiavelli to Clausewitz – to the clean energy freedom fighters.

Fukushima, mon amour, is in meltdown. In the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’, meanwhile, Americans are waging Bulb Wars.  How do you say ‘America Syndrome’ in Japanese?* The Japanese are fighting for their lives just as Americans are fake-fighting over “Freedom of Choice.”  Notorious B.I.G (Big Invasive Government) has set about to replace those good ol’ testicular, heat-reeking bulbs with the pigtailed, puny-power variety. 

Freedom of Choice is just another catch phrase for “You’re Being Had”.  Stall&bump…pocket picked.  Divert, subvert, ka-ching.  Bulb Wars is but the latest canard designed to distract, undermine and diminish you, fellow Americans. 

Among numerous provisions in the Energy independence and Security Act of 2007 was one setting standards for more efficient lighting.  Signed into law by President George W. Bush, the act also called for a gas mileage boost to 35mpg by 2020.  While Detroit couldn’t muster the muscle to blunt that upgrade, fossil fuelers in the Senate stripped out provisions that would have provided for renewable portfolio standards via elimination of $20+ billion in oil and gas subsidies.

Now the “Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act,” has been reintroduced by Rep. Michele “Minute Mom” Bachmann (R-MN) to strip incandescent provisos from the 2007 law.  What can we expect from the foxy, pitchbabe in response to Glenn Beck’s Bachmann fantasy “just you and me in the incandescent glow”? ‘Glenn, they’re gonna have to peel the incandescent bulb from my cold, dying fingers!’  

Never mind that section 321 of Public Law 110-140 does not, in fact, ban incandescent.  Ignore that the electronics industry has responded with a 30% more efficient incandescent in the meantime.  Facts get obfuscated by the fog-machines of these campaigns.  Refer all queries to the Rovian Rule: ‘Empires create their own reality.’

If playing lord and master doesn’t spin your world, what are you going to do?  Socratic reasoning falls largely on plugged ears in unreasonable times.  Maybe it’s time to equip yourself with more than moral outrage.  Consensus doesn’t cut it in a knife fight.  Wake up and smell the gunpowder.  If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.  Long enough, that is, to get their playbook then beat them at their own game.  It’s a war game in which there is an enemy, an Achilles heel that succumbs to assault providing plunder for further assault.

Make no mistake about it.  War is being waged over the future of this country.  If you’re outgunned and outspent, you best outsmart.

As politics is warfare by other means, kick off with von Clausewitz.  Considering insurgency?  Recon with Kilcullen.  For mastering manipulation, Machiavelli’s your man.  To control the great unwashed, it’s    divide and conquer as practiced by the British Raj.  If you’re uneasy at the very thought of contemplating war, maybe the Zen of Sun-Tzu is for you.  

Then there is the Smash-Mouth Playbook which, in, a nutshell, is ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’

Smash-Mouth is how the increasingly infamous and combative Koch Bros run it.  Charles and David Koch** are the twin-headed Monty Burns of the Dirty Economy.   Most recently, the Kochs bankrolled capture of the Wisconsin statehouse with and eye to killing collective bargaining and WalMarting more of middle-class America.  Plays were run to smash-mouth perfection.  

  • First, they targeted a vulnerable foil in publicly-employed teachers. 
  • Second, everyone was reminded of teacher privileges that draw double the benefits for half the work of hard-pressed taxpayers.  
  • Third, blame for all this largesse was hung on the socialistic credo of collective bargaining.  
  • In the dust-up, another union piggy bank got broken, exposing future targets to greater vulnerability. 

Hit, drive and desire. 

To review, here’s how Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust is run:

1)      Target vulnerability/ID threat. 

2)      Insert wedge/raise fear. 

3)      Hammer away/building momentum. 

Under dust-up, spread the field and grab collateral for more assault.

Even when smash-mouth does not chalk up a win, it does send an intimidating message.  Last fall, Koch strategy and money (drawn from their $45B fortune) were behind Proposition 23, designed to gut California’s iconic clean energy law.  This assault was the equivalent of the Sierra Club seeking closure of refineries in Texas.  And the Kochs don’t buy Peak Oil theory.  On the contrary, as Wikileaked Saudi cables revealed, oil&gas oligarchs are far more concerned about competitive threat to revenue streams posed by clean energy. 

Can the Kumbaya/consensus crowd countenance concepts of combat that are culturally counter-intuitive to them?  Hacktavists of Anonymous and Stuxnetting saboteurs pose stealthy, tactical promise, but who you gonna call?  Clearly, not all bad actors will succumb to Twitter revolutions.   God helps those who help themselves, fellow Americans.  For your first exercise in strategic smash-mouthing, Google “FHFA>Babylon”.  Break down FHFA, aka Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, into their constituent vulnerabilities, threat posed, means of assault and takeaway.  It you have what it takes to save our future, we’ll be in touch.

*Amerika shōkōgun

**In the spirit of full-disclosure, the reader should know that David Koch got Dale’s vote as the 1980 Libertarian candidate for vice president.

Guest Contributor Dorian Dale

President Obama State of the Union

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was as pitch perfect as the rebuttals were tone deaf. Incivility in our public discourse has been blamed for the great divide in our nation but the speech and the responses have proven that the greatest divide in America is the class divide. Not in the “haves” and the “have-nots” sense, but in the “high-brow” and “low-rent” meaning of the word “class.”

If you’re like most normal human beings, you pay very little attention to the trials and tribulations of politicians—especially if they’re not your representatives. But at the same time you’re missing out on some truly incredible political theater. No worries. The blessing and curse of the Internet is that every misstep, flaw and foible is read, viewed, Tweeted, shared, Dugg, liked, linked and Stumbled over and over for the world to see. Because most of you are busy, allow me to save you precious time by sharing with you America’s newest punch line: Michele Bachmann. If you haven’t done so already, Google her.

For a good laugh—or to throw up in your own mouth—watch her recent speech in Iowa where she declares that it’s high time we recognize the Founding Fathers for “working tirelessly” to end slavery. Yes, those “slave-owning-blacks-are-only-3/5ths human” Founding Fathers who died long before the Civil War. Tea Party activists and the pundits they adore love twisting history to match their own ridiculous vision of the world. Sorry, Sarah. Goodbye, Glenn. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is winning hearts and half-baked minds from sea to shining sea.

As the Tea Party’s official designee to rebut the State of the Union, she was awesome. Her speech starts off like an infomercial—as if she’s really selling tea—with Bachmann excitedly exclaiming, “The Tea Party is a dynamic force for good!” Then she spends a few minutes blaming President Obama for taxes, unemployment, the deficit, bed bugs in New York City hotels, shark attacks off the coast of Florida, death, pestilence, and the Kardashians. Then she closes by using a classic Tea Party device: inserting an historical non sequitur. In the closing seconds, between calls for lower taxes and reducing the national debt, she sandwiches in a reference to the famous flag-raising at Iwo Jima as the symbol of “America coming together to beat back a totalitarian aggressor.” Because, you know, that’s a lot like balancing a budget.

That’s why the Tea Party is so freaking awesome. Without offering any specifics, Tea Partiers get to call for government reform and spending reductions as long as they mention some notable figure or event from American history. The Tea Party is like your uncle who constantly mispronounces words and uses them incorrectly in sentences…but with conviction.

The official Republican response, calmly delivered by Wisconsin’s Rep. Paul Ryan, was cautious but critical. Ryan is being touted as a budget-focused policy wonk; presumably someone who can walk the line between hard-line Tea Partiers and old-school Boehner Republicans. But while he too avoided much of the acidic rhetoric and hyperbole that has colored the debate between Democrats and Republicans, he offered nothing in the way of specific reform. The grand idea of the Republican Party is to reduce the size of government, narrow the deficit and get the economy back on its feet through tax breaks.

But the tax breaks were already given. The expensive aspects of health-care reform are still three years away and the largest provisions of the bill—extending benefits to children and the elderly and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions—are actually extremely popular with the public. Moreover, the president spoke like a CEO during the address, and pushed Congress to reform tax loopholes and limit subsidies to oil companies so we can lower the corporate tax rate in America. He spoke about “winning the future” and the need to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world,” and lauded companies such as Google and Facebook.

Everyone was short on details, but coming legislation will tell Americans everything we need to know about the intentions of our elected officials. First, let’s play a little game. The following points came from either the State of the Union address by the president or the rebuttals from Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Paul Ryan. Circle whom you think the idea is attributed to:

1) “Take responsibility for our deficit and reform our government.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

2) “Lower the tax rate for the first time in 25 years without adding to the deficit.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

3) “Freeze annual domestic spending over the next five years.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

4) “Medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

5) “We must defeat determined enemies, wherever they are.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

6) “I call on all our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and ROTC.”

a. Obama b. Bachmann c. Ryan

If you answered Bachmann or Ryan for any of the above, you guessed wrong. These were the declarations of our president, a Democrat—the scourge of the nation, if you’re to believe the nonsense coming from the Tea Party. That’s the funny part about the debate in our country at the moment. We are aligned in so many ways and divided on only a few. That’s not to say that within those few points, there aren’t a couple of doozies. There are. But on many of the issues, our common ground is bigger than these jackals who prey on our fears want us to believe.

It’s impossible for any thinking person to agree with everything a sitting president believes and espouses. As such, it should also be impossible to disagree with every word that escapes his lips as well. I thought his State of the Union performance was light on detail but struck most of the right notes. He was informed, conciliatory and passionate. But what sets him apart from the field is class. And I like it.