Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it is my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other commentors, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)
Read this first: New York Times article: “Dark Money Helped Win the Senate”
Senator Elizabeth Warren shared this on her Facebook page on November 9, 2014. There was a lively comment thread, and one in particular stuck out for me. The commenter said: “We are becoming an oligarchy.”
This is my immediate response:
I hate to correct you, but we ARE an oligarchy already. Which, in its own way can be fought…oligarchies are based on money and the proponents worship the god Greed; this generally means a few (like 1%?) have the money to influence politics. Once the “rest of us” (the 99%) gathers enough momentum to fight back, the oligarchs are gone. (See Argentina and Juan Peron, although that was trading one evil for another…) The allegory of peasants with torches and pitchforks is well understood because it happened enough to be a part of our lexicon. (See France, Louis Seize and Marie Antoinette.)
HOWEVER…our situation may not be as simple because for one thing, we are a much larger nation than either of those two examples and to gain enough popular support for an overthrow is much harder. The main thing that concerns me is the theocracy that has arisen simultaneously–those in power who insist on ramming one particular religion’s beliefs down the throats of everyone else. Their beliefs make them arrogant, “knowing” that they are right and that it is their duty to “correct” the unbelievers.When you “know” something, when you “know” you are right…there is no compromise, there is no change possible.
When an oligarchy (whose god is Greed) combines with a theocracy (whose god tells them that they are right), we have an exponentially worse situation.
And we’re looking at it now, in our elected government–and I am not excusing the Democrats; they employ some of the same tactics but apparently not as well as the Republicans. And let’s admit it, the Dems are more willing to compromise, to work *together* for the progression of legislation. They still have an agenda of maintaining their positions; they are not exempt from the lure of Greed. (see: WV state legislator, who had been Dem, decided to switch parties and now is part of the lock the Republicans have gained in this election cycle.)
HOWEVER…as this article states, the Republicans are masters of “dark money” and hidden contributions, the happy recipients of money that guarantees their political careers. (I consider “political career” to be an oxymoron, since no one should make politics their career. They need to hold a “real” job for much more of their life than their time in the political arena. As opposed to Paul Ryan, for example, who lived off the “governmental teat” to go to college and specifically set out to be a politician. He’s never been anything else. Frankly, that’s lower than a used car salesmen for me in the areas of being trustworthy and having knowledge of my needs.)
Way too many of our politicians would fail the “Are you a psychopath” test. They absolutely exhibit psychopathic behavior, and on a fairly grand scale. Let’s take a step out of politics and into mental health for a moment. (from http://crime.about.com/od/serial/a/psychopaths.htm)
The following characteristics of a psychopath, defined by Hervery M. Cleckley in 1941 in the book “Mask of Sanity” include:
- Superficial charm and average intelligence.
- Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
- Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations.
- Untruthfulness and insincerity.
- Lack of remorse or shame.
- Antisocial behavior without apparent compunction.
- Poor judgement and failure to learn from experience.
- Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.
- General poverty in major affective reactions.
- Specific loss of insight.
- Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations.
- Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink, and sometimes without.
- Suicide threats rarely carried out.
- Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated.
- Failure to follow any life plan.
How many politicians do you know that consistently display at least 5 of those traits? I knew about most of them, but it was amusing to read “Sex life impersonal, trivial and poorly integrated”, based on all of the sex scandals we’ve seen go by of various politicians–state or Federal level.
So here we are, with our so-called democracy being run by people who have NO connection to other people, who are unreliable and insincere, who exhibit antisocial behavior without any remorse; they obviously show poor judgement (see over 500 bills that never made it anywhere because the House Republicans were determined to show the President that he couldn’t get things done; never mind how many of the country’s citizens were hurt by this failure). Now take that psychopathic personality and combine it with the worship of Greed and the theocratic stance of “I’m right, God tells me that every day, and I have to make sure that you’re following God’s laws whether you believe them or not…because I’m right”. Voila, you have the GOP, hands down winners for looking out for numero uno–and that’s not for the good of the country or the will of their constituents.
Leading the list of psychopathic demagogues would be the Koch brothers, David and Charles. Currently worth 42 BILLION dollars each, they could each spend a million dollars a day from now until the year 2129. And that’s only if they don’t get any more money during that time. That’s $41,666 per hour, or $694.44 per minute. How about $11.57 per second? Can you hold that number in your head? Imagine being able to buy 2 McDonalds’ 20 piece chicken nuggets meals (with large fries and large drink) and a parfait EVERY SINGLE SECOND of your life, for 115 YEARS. That’s 120 nugget meals and 60 parfaits every MINUTE. Which makes 7299 meals and 3600 parfaits in ONE HOUR.
And you can do this every hour, every day for ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS!!! (And your brother can do it as well. If he doesn’t, but lets you spend his money too, we’re talking 330 years.)
The reason I threw all those numbers at you is because I’m trying to give you some small way to understand that the Koch brothers are beyond rich, beyond stupid rich, right up into OBSCENELY rich. They have more money than they can ever spend–and they get more and more each year. Of course there are other people (Super PACs special interests, corporations, unions and other associations, or other individuals) who spend lots of money in politics, but we will limit ourselves to the Koch brothers for the purpose of this discussion.
The main reason I single them out is because David Koch actually ran for Vice President in 1980. (Note two separate links there; his name leads to the Wikipedia; the other is an article from the New York Times.) His Libertarian platform for that race is the basis for his (and his brother’s) current political activity. David describes his reason for leaving the Libertarian party: “The Libertarian Party is a great concept. I love the ideals, but it got too far off the deep end, and so I dropped out.”–and he became a Republican. “In 1985, the Kochs and a new adviser, Richard Fink, formed Citizens for a Sound Economy, a free enterprise-oriented group that evolved into Americans for Prosperity, the organization today led by David Koch that is the centerpiece of the brothers’ political activity. This year, it will spend a reported $125 million on the midterm elections, most of it aimed at defeating Democrats.” (from the New York Times article)
These two men have enough money to BUY our democratic procedure–and they obviously have–and then turn it into their own personal Kochlandia, the United States Of Koch Industries. Where they cannot donate openly as themselves, they give through a variety of groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, or any of the Super PACs that give money to those candidates who have essentially proved themselves…bribe-able. You think that the money is not reaching our elected representatives? Take a look at this, a list of the top 50 richest members of Congree — which only measures the increase in wealth in the past year. I’m sure that a fair amount of the increases occurred through totally legal means, like investments. So maybe instead of looking just at relative wealth, we need to find out which members of Congress go to the Koch Brothers’ annual “picnic”. To quote that article, “The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL).”
What do these two men, who together are worth more than 80 BILLION dollars (some sources say 100 billion), want from the nation’s government? How about tax laws that continue to favor the very rich with taxes that are very low, and sometimes even nil–or worse, with tax credits for various business, they can actually receive a (sizable) tax return. How about the dismantling and discarding of almost every Federal regulatory law? EPA, campaign donation limits, a corporation’s rights to be comparable to a human being (and citizen)? How about gutting almost every single social service (food stamps and welfare), as well as getting rid of Social Security? The list goes on and on–and every item is something that will benefit David and Charles, fuck the rest of the country.
It’s apparently irrelevant that they are old and will eventually (sooner rather than later) die–and then their greedy and selfish political policies (which would now be OUR LAWS) would continue to persist beyond their lifetime. They don’t care about what happens after they die–not even to their own children, who will inherit their wealth and will never have to worry about finding food, shelter or healthcare. The primary inconsistency with their agenda versus the reality of the USofA is that the Koch brothers have never had to worry about the basic needs for life. They don’t have a clue what it feels like to have to choose between paying rent and getting the car fixed, or needing medical care but unable to afford it–and any of the other myriad problems faced every single day by our citizens, in numbers that are too large to be ignored. David and Charles are the Supreme Oligarchs. They exhibit pretty much every trait of a psychopath, being out to get theirs and without a thought for anyone else. They will, and do, use their enormous wealth to ensure a country in which they can do whatever they want, without limits or censure.
All right, let’s take a look from the other side, using Senator Mitch McConnell as an example. From the Tampa Bay Times, PolitiFact section: (in regards to lobbyists’ donations) “With $281,301 in contributions from lobbyists, McConnell topped the list, followed closely by House Speaker John Boehner at $278,380. McConnell has also received another $50,000 from family members of lobbyists.” And from Open Secrets, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog website run by the Center for Responsive Politics, Mitch McConnell’s *personal* page on their site shows $21 million in campaign monies and lists all the non-constituent sources for those donations. There’s another website whose opening words are this: “After 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell only serves the interests of his big money donors and not Kentucky. Send him packing!”. (from Big Money Mitch) There is also plenty of sources that attest to the fact that much of his campaign money came from donors outside of his home state of Kentucky.
There’s even a whole page devoted to McConnell’s campaign finances, readable here. The Senator doesn’t even know his state university’s basketball team and used the wrong team in his big political, “I’m all about YOU, Kentucky” ad. All of this sort of suggests that Mitch is not only for sale, he is already bought and paid for. He has continually denied legislation that would harm his owners but benefit the rest of us, from even being brought to the floor for debate…or he filibusters those laws out of existence. (See an article here that talks about how incredibly UNproductive the 113th Congress was this year.)
I mentioned the theocracy that is also creeping up into the political scene. The people elected into any position that will give them the opportunity to make decisions that affect other’s rights are NOT elected to use that position to express their religious beliefs nor are they to make that decision based on their religious. Note the wording: “EXPRESS their religious beliefs, BASED ON their religious beliefs”.
Does this mean that they cannot hold religious beliefs? Oh Dreaded Cthulhu, of course NOT. They can have any religious belief they want, because freedom of religion is one of our Constitutional rights. They can go to their church/synagogue/temple/forest glade every day, bow to Mecca/Jerusalem/Los Angeles 5 times a day, wear nothing but handspun virgin silk underwear, blessed by their Grand Poobah; they can wear crosses or Stars of David or pentacles or dollar sign pendants. They can shave their head/never cut their hair/have a Little Dutch Boy bob. They can be elders/deacons/priests/pastors/missionaries/Sunday School teachers/Shamans/monks/nuns/Grand Poobahs. BUT (let me say that again: BUT) they CANNOT, absolutely and irrevocably, CANNOT use their religious beliefs (and practices) as way to limit anyone else’s Constitutional AND HUMAN rights.
Their very right to have those religious beliefs is founded from the exact same source as other people’s rights to have their own religious beliefs and ideas: the US Constitution. It’s all about the same political issues: human rights, whether it be a woman’s right to select her own choices for reproductive healthcare, or social services, or any of the other topics that come into the national spotlight and require some type of governmental action, such as creating legislation to enforce laws that address these human rights and provide for the common good. Anytime you have laws that make second class citizens out of any particular demographic, it’s wrong. Plain and simple wrong. To hide behind your religion and make those laws (see any law regarding the limiting of reproductive choices for women) is wrong and hypocritical.
Speaking of hypocrites, too many of our elected representatives “talk the talk” of being religious, will state that their religious views (and what God is telling them when he calls every night) is what guides them in their decision-making process when creating our laws. Let me repeat: your religion has NOTHING to do with OUR legislative process. It cannot influence your vote–or you MUST abstain, voting neither aye or nay on the bill at hand. But there’s no need to fear–these modern Pharisees, who boast loudly about how much money they give to their church, how often they teach Sunday School or how long they were gone on missionary work overseas, these false Christians don’t really believe all the religious stuff.
Remember, their first and best loved god is GREED. Combine that with the obvious psychopathic mind they all seem to carry and you’ve got someone who will use anything, any means, where nothing is sacred or out of bounds to be fodder in their attempts to control the American public, as decreed by their Corporate Overlords. This is what I mean when I said that we have an oligarchy with theocratic overtones. It’s not a truly religious attempt to remove the current government–but it’s a great smokescreen to confuse the non-believers and a great leash to maintain control over those who sincerely believe that God wants these people in Congress. And it’s that part of our population that stands to be the most astonished and infuriated when they finally wake up to the fact that they (and their God) were played as patsies in some wanna-be big shot’s run for public office.
Do you really need any more proof that the corporations and Big Money have corrupted our Congress and the legislative process? Do you need any more proof that we are, indeed and in every sense, an oligarchy? The democratic system is a false front to the hidden machinations and subterfuge that is overwhelming our legislative process–and is doing its damnedest to control the SCOTUS as well, so that any lawsuits brought against legislation will lost out at the highest level court of the USA. The “War on Women”, the disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters, the repeated denial of sufficient funds for programs that support social services, veterans, the elderly and so on (which are then pointed to as “failures” because they are not able to meet their assigned need with the shrinking amounts of money they are given–and “should just be gotten rid of”), are all a part of this psychopathic indifference to the greater good, the good of most, if not all, of the people. Who has time to care about hungry children and single mothers not having healthcare when you’ve got to be at the Koch’s big summer bash?
To all of those people who could have voted, but didn’t–I say “SHAME ON YOU”. YOU are the reason we’re looking at the GOP winning so many seats, so many positions within our government. To those of you in our country who get all of your news information from FOXNews, I say, “DOUBLE SHAME ON YOU”. Out of the thousands of words these talking heads (or the blond bimbos with CFM shoes and skirts that look more like a wide belt…) say, only 18%– EIGHTEEN per cent of it is true. That means that 82% of it is lies, damned lies and statistics. (Credit for that saying goes to Mark Twain.) By all the gods and sweet, dread Cthulhu, learn to think for yourself. Don’t believe what you are told by someone you don’t know (TV news “entertainment” shows); don’t believe what you are told by your pastor, minister, or reverend that involves politics because that is NOT their area of expertise.
And I would ask, although I’m pretty sure it’s a failing proposition, that all Christians who think God is telling them what to do when it comes time to vote, remember that this is a God who usually solved things through violence and murder–including the murder of his own son. Not exactly well informed on the current political scene and certainly not unbiased. Those who are seeking political office because “God told me that I would be in Congress, come out and vote to do His will” are whack jobs and need better medication. So who do you listen to? How about foreign news sources? Even if they don’t like us, they aren’t usually involved in the ongoing obfuscation and misdirection of the two parties and those who are running for office. How about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert–because we’ve reached the point where comedians provide more honest reporting than any of the so-called “news stations”?
Does your vote actually count any more? Yes it does–but we need a lot more of YOUSE VOTERS to get out and vote–for the candidate that is listening to your needs, the ideas you have about where our country should go and how to get us all there. We are an oligarchy and we need to work together, us peasants, and send them scattering through the night like the Kochroaches they are. As with many of my political essays, I end this one as usual, with this:
The Revolution is coming.
“We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”