It is in the nature of time to alter our understanding of the past. What follows was refracted through a lens separated from us by endless crises in our annus horribilis of 2011. But it is eerily contemporary, n’est-ce pas?
The Civil Cold War
July 6, 2011
The only difference is that nobody’s shooting: the secessionism is the same. Just ask the citizens of Minnesota.
The free “Right Wing Doonesbury” doesn’t even bother with humor on July 1.
“When the just say ‘no’”??!?
Paranoid marxo-nazi fantasies are “just”???
But forget the idiocy of an unfunny comic strip predicated on “attractive young adults” lolling around in their underwear and mouthing Right wing hate. Turn the telescope around and look at the eyes that, increasingly, find this swill “funny” or “meaningful” or even ironic.
Across the land, acts of institutional secession are breaking out — essentially under the cover of the “Republican Party” but, seemingly, more aligned with the Kochian version of “Libertarianism” — an illusory “freedom” from all regulations, taxes and obligations that come with self governance.
You know: the fundamental “goodness” of the true Individualist Industrialist John-Galt-Superman is more than sufficient (with the aid of the Invisible Hand, of course) to eradicate all crime and social evils. Ethics alone will ensure the Integrity of the Markets and Big Government wants to take your guns away.
The problem with this is how eerily it parallels the cry of the last serious Secessionists, 150 years ago.
You wanna talk about “redistribution of wealth”? The largest single (in real dollar terms, and not fake dollar terms) in American history was the freeing of the slaves, which were then counted as the single greatest capital asset in the land, far outstripping railroads and mines, manufacturing and shipping.
But, as the Council of Conservative Citizens reported on their website, Lincoln was a homosexual, a communist and an “American Lenin.”
The fellow who wrote that essay — “The American Lenin,” by L. Neil Smith – just happens to be among the founders of the modern Libertarian Party.*
(* See “Welcome Back to the Civil War,” 12 April 2011)
There is too much evidence to belabor the point, you know about the Minnesota government shutdown — OVER FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND! — and the current threat of throwing the Federal Government into default that’s at the core of the current hostage situation (We the People being the hostages) … and their eerie similarity.
And we know that the core issue at the center of the Republican position is the fundamentally insane IDEOLOGICAL proposition that taxes can NEVER be raised.
We seem to forget that the Boston Tea Party cry was NOT “No Taxation!” but, rather, “No taxation without REPRESENTATION.”
Well, we HAVE representation, or, at least, the closest that we’re likely to see in moral form, coil unshuffled and all.
None against taxation per se. Against NON-representation.
But even the Founding Fathers recognized the fundamental social necessity of taxation, and of collective action.
Odd, that even in a supposedly “infinite” lands and resources America (or as the Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain character — played by Jeff Daniels — says in the film Gettysburg: “It’s not about the land. There’s always more land.”), even with supposedly infinite possibilities, no one seriously suggested ZERO taxes whatsoever. It was understood that there were higher social purposes than mere commerce.
But Grover Norquist (whose organization was originally started as an “astroturf” bunch operating out of the West Wing of the Reagan White House) has implacably and assiduously spread the inflexible doctrine of no taxes, with the intent of slowly ratcheting all taxes down to zero. “Taxation is theft!” the new libertarian screams, as did “Judge” Napolitano on Faux Business’ “Freedom Watch.”
from “In Which We Use Our New Word,” 7 February 2011
The path, however, is clear: a widespread series of individual strikes by politicians and legislative caucuses, what they would abhor if we called it a “wildcat strike,” but probably wouldn’t appreciate the accurate description: non-violent secession.
Fundamentally, the State of Kansas (or, rather, the “pro-life” fanatics controlling the state government, including former Über-conservative Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, Scourge of Pornography, now state Governor) has, with a nod and a wink, seceded from the Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, pretending through law to skirt the clear meaning of the famous 1973 ruling by de facto making abortion illegal in Kansas.
Note that no statutes were passed designed to make it more difficult to assassinate the dwindling-into-miniscule number of abortion medical personnel in the state. Hmmm.
Hoping for another Dred Scott? Certainly.
Let us prey.
I said long ago that where the first American Civil War was supposedly fought for “States Rights” and abolition, the second would be fought over States Rights and abortion.
Odd that “Bleeding Kansas” is, again, the center of the most extreme reactions to the burning issues of the Day — as it was in the days of John Brown.
And, kiddies, when people are ready to kill over imaginary babies, the possibility of rational and reasonable settlement of differences is a far country never to be espied.
We see it in Arizona, in Georgia, and others who would arrogate the Federal government’s authority to police our borders. We see it in every individual act of secession, the fundamental assertion that politicians and ideologues have the Individual Right to set aside the results of elections, the most primal form of secession that exists.
Dead Americans at Antietam
Self-governance doesn’t work without free and fair elections. (The legislatures have attacked the former, while the Supreme Court took care of the latter in Bush v. Gore.)
But we AGREE in advance to bow to the “will of the people.”
That’s those guys who START out the Constitution ‘We the People.”
When elections are undermined, so is governance. When elections are ignored, self-governance is abolished.
When that is trampled under foot, it is a form of treason against the very philosophical and real underpinnings of the entire Republic.
There are no checks and balances: there are only the unbalanced, fueled by a seemingly infinite and definitely invisible series of checks.
(Thanks, once again, to the Alter Boys of Supremes for Citizens United!)
To feel truly depressed, take a look at:
Saturday 2 July 2011
by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout | News Analysis
There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship – the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded….
What follows is a fairly dry listing of fourteen separate logical fallacies. But what is truly disheartening is in the comments, where the SELFSAME fallacies are dumped into the conversation to quell actual conversation by at least one very industrious troll. It’s the old story about how the farmer got the infamously stubborn mule to plow.
“The first thing you do, is you get a two by four.”
“Why do you need that?”
“Well,” says the old farmer, “FIRST you got to get that mule’s attention ….”
However, in this case (and don’t try this at home, Readers), even a two by four wouldn’t break through. Fourteen fallacies met with two dozen variations OF those fallacies. Where is there a middle ground? I assure you, on “Rightie” sites, all contrarian and trollish Greco-Roman wrestling never happens. Such comments are scrubbed.
The SECOND most boring competition in human experience
Which is the dilemma we all now face: On the moderate and liberal side, no conversation is possible, because either hyper-sensitive “taking offense on behalf of others” prigs stifle it, or very persistent GOP trolls derail it. On the conservative side — with very few exceptions — only Comments Vich Haff Followed Der Party Line Are Permitted.
Actual conversation exists virtually nowhere, and open bigotry and name-calling are so ubiquitous that they are hardly worth mention anymore. They are part of the background noise and no one can remember a time when our national dialogue was more civil. (And those who can hardly remember a time when dialogue has been LESS civil.)
I’ve said this before, but I should reiterate here: the Republican Party after Bush is split along several lines, but, to win in 2011, the Kochian Tea Party/Libertarian wing needs to make common cause with the Dominionist/Christian Conservative wing, if they are to have any chance of prevailing, as the old “Reagan Coalition” has pretty much shattered. This is not oxymoronic: Foster Freiss proves that both sentiments can reside comfortably in one skin.
Which brings us, by commodious vicus of recirculation to Rick Perry of Texas and conspirons — who was the first national figure to publicly raise the possibility of secession.
If they could sell him, they can market anybody.
It probably isn’t an accident that Perry is being run down the catwalk like the latest supermodel, to see if he is the promised Uniter of the very dissimilar wings of the GOP.
Perry is as looney-libertarian as it’s possible to get, which is why they’re trotting him out as a “Super Christian” at various Religio-Politico mega-church events.
Otherwise, you have the hard-core atheistic greed of the Randians pitted against the selfless committment to sacrificing all for Imaginary Babies and New Testament Law of the Dominionists, and that’s a train wreck that even Casey Jones would bail on.
The fundamental oxymoron of the current GOP p0sitioning is in the attempt at unification of wings of an absolutist refuse-to-compromise party. And, perhaps, Rick Perry can fill the role of Jesus Galt, or, perhaps, John H. Christ.
But the secession is real, and — no false equivalences, please — almost exclusively confined to putative Republicans.
And now, ex-Grand Wizard and professional White Power lunatic David Duke is going to enter the Presidential sweeps (as he did in 1992). Heck his website still reprints Pat Buchanan and Bay Buchanan op-eds, with no protest from either piece of field artillery.
Which perhaps gives us an idea of just how big a tent the present-day Grand Old Party is.
A long, long way from its homosexual, communist roots.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.