Sunday, September 04, 2011

Here's Tea In Your Eye

(originally published at OpEdNews)

Once again, I’ve indirectly been accused of hating America. My ilk was included in the accusation. I can’t control my ilk, but I sure as hell don’t hate America. Those making such accusations don’t know what the hell America is.

I’ve been asked what’s better than capitalism, if capitalism is so bad? I’ve been asked if I know from experience of any other nation in which there is so much freedom. “What works better than our form of government?” Finally, and I thought that this wasn’t used anymore, it’s been suggested if I find a better place in which to live with more democracy and more freedom, I should move there.

Much to the chagrin of those who want to shrink government small enough to just be able to “fit in your bedroom”, a wonderful line once used in the concluded TV series The West Wing, the government of The FUSA utilizes capitalism and socialism.

I worked for a Fortune 500 global mega-corporation for 25 years. I started as a lowly operating technician back in 1972 and became an Operations Supervisor in 1988. As an Operations Supervisor, I was on the team that did the hiring for the plant site at which I worked.

Before I go into the specifics of that hiring process, I remember that, when affirmative action was introduced in the 60s and busing was initiated to basically force Caucasians and African Americans to look at each other as human beings, news reports showed White people shouting “Go back to Africa!” to the Black students getting off the school busses. Obviously, these people never learned that most of the ancestors of those Black people didn’t choose to come to America. Ignorance isn’t only bliss, it’s hatred as well.    
                      
I can remember another unbelievable scene during which Caucasians were yelling, “Go back to Africa!” to Black people. In the fall of 1962, President Kennedy ordered 3,000 federal troops to escort James Meredith to school. Meredith had been trying to attend The University of Mississippi for some time. He was twice denied entrance, simply because he was African American. Once again, the government, who cannot, I admit, legislate morality, at least forced a majority of human beings to allow another human being to attend college.

In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Caucasian bus driver James Blake noticed the unthinkable. White men were standing while an arrogant young Black woman had the gall to remain seated. It took until 1955, almost one hundred years after the enslaving of African Americans became illegal, for an honest to goodness on the books law be to enacted behind which White people like Blake cowered. Who ultimately supported Rosa Parks? The court system of the United States of America, a branch of the US government. I suspect that today’s teabagger fearing SCOTUS would have ruled in favor of Mr. Crowe. Strangely enough, Clarence Thomas would very likely have given into Mr. Crowe. There are some things that I shall never understand.

Africans were inhumanely and savagely stuffed into vessels and forced to “emigrate” to this continent starting in 1619. 1619! Descendents of Africans lived on this land for 336 years before the government of the United States of America insisted that they be treated like the human beings that they are. Although the government was slow, in the end, after protests and demonstrations, aided by an almost truly free press, the unconscionable treatment of a large segment of American society was brought to the attention of the American public.

336 years later, a woman was finally able to remain in a seat on a bus.

It took 343 years for descendents of African “immigrants” to be able to attend the public school of their choosing.

It took 346 years for Blacks to gain the unfettered right to vote in the United States. The right was gained by the 1965 Civil Rights Act, an act of the government of The United States. Today, agents of the private sector, which include the knee jerking teabaggers, want that Act overturned.

Africans weren’t here as slaves in 1492. Women were here, though. It took women 428 years to gain the right to vote. Again, it was a law, an amendment to The Constitution of The United States of America passed by the US government that forced those who didn’t believe women had enough intelligence to vote to stand aside and let women vote.

What kind of Constitutional amendments do teabaggers what to see passed? They want the sixteenth amendment overturned. The sixteenth amendment helps keep our nation strong by levying an income tax. They’ve also got their eyes on the seventeenth amendment, which allows US senators to be elected directly by the people. Apparently this is too much freedom for some teabaggers who would overturn the seventeenth amendment so that state legislatures would appoint US senators.

It took a miniscule 284 years for white, land owning males to gain all of the above rights and the only criteria for that to happen was the birth of a nation.

The detour I just took is relevant to the first experience I had as a member of the hiring team at the plant site for which I worked. Shortly after I became an Operations Supervisor, the hiring team met. I showed up a little late for that meeting. I walked into the conference room. There was grumbling.

The Operations Supervisors of the other two production plants on site, as well as the equivalent manager in the maintenance department and the Human Resources manager, all white men, were bitching because the Plant Manager, another Caucasian male, said we were being “forced” to hire Blacks, but they didn’t refer to them as Blacks (I’m merely reporting what I witnessed). They referred to them as “niggers” so that they could ensure one another that they were all on the same level and that level was higher, for some reason, than the “niggers” that they were about to interview.

We were also being asked to consider Hispanics. They referred to the Hispanics as spics. One member of the hiring team referred to the Hispanics as “gibbering idiots”.

Finally, we were being “forced” to give women a chance to show that they could do jobs previously done by men only. They referred to women as “god damned split-tails”.

For those of us who either thought or still think that name calling is the enterprise of second grade children, this exhibition of the scholarly use of the English language did/would change your mind instantly. The voice inflection was reminiscent of the sounds that would have been made by those very same second graders if recess had been cancelled for the day.

For me, this was a surreal moment. I had no idea that, in 1988, this was still going on. Not only was it still happening, but it was happening in the open, in the official conference room where a hiring team for one of the largest manufacturing corporations was meeting. It may not have been captured in the minutes of the meeting, but it was every bit a part of that meeting.

Sometime after that meeting, I rewarded a Black pipefitter with small bonus for going “above and beyond” to get the plant in which I was a supervisor up and running under an emergency situation. An hour later, my telephone rang. It was the maintenance supervisor. He asked, “What are you, Mike, some kind of nigger-lover?”

This was in the “blue”, liberal state of Connecticut.

This happened 33 years after Black Americans were legally allowed to sit in any seat on any public transport system in any state, 26 years after Black Americans were legally allowed to attend any public school in any state and 23 years after the government of the US finally got serious about outlawing the games that were being played in parts of the nation to keep African Americans away from the polls. I look back today and see future teabagger recruits.

We’re having work done in our home. A contractor looked the job over last week so that he could give us an estimate. He said he’d get back to us. He said he’d bring his partner next time. He said, “Don’t worry, my partner’s White.”

This is in the “blue” liberal state of California. I’m not sure if the man was “assuring” us that his partner wasn’t African American or Hispanic, but does it matter?

Though it should be obvious that the above examples of prejudice are wrong, I fear that those examples aren’t as isolated and unusual as they should be in 2011. In fact, as much as so called conservatives hated Bill Clinton, there were no large, nationally televised teabagger protests during his administration.

One might conclude that the above examples present proof that the laws that were passed by the government didn’t work. One might say that all people should be given an equal chance to succeed, but not all people who are in the position to help people succeed should be required to do so. The government mustn’t discriminate in favor of or against people based upon the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnicity or other personal characteristics, according to some teabaggers, but the government shouldn’t interfere with a business owner if that business owner doesn’t like those who are adorned in black or brown skin.

This is the private sector that so many teabaggers, not the least of whom is the Paul family, claim would be all too happy to be self regulating. Employers in the private sector range form multinational, Fortune 500 mega-corporations to local small contractors.

The small contractor will obviously never hire non whites.

The corporation mentioned several times herein may never have hired African Americans, Hispanics or women if it wasn’t for previous laws passed by the federal government. If a teabagger asks why the government of The FUSA is so “large and bureaucratic”, that teabagger needs to be reminded that the federal government needs resources to do what the private sector won’t do unless it’s forced and what the states are too chicken shit to do.

Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice would never have become Secretary of State if the government hadn’t previously passed certain laws.

The private sector is now running the country. I call it The Corporacracy, although the word Corporatocracy is used more frequently. I’ve been calling it The Corporacracy for quite some time.

The federal minimum wage was $5.15 per hour in the United States until Congress raised it to $5.85 in 2007, $6.55 in 2008 and to $7.25 in 2009, where in now stands.

The Chief Executive Officer of the corporation for which I worked was compensated with $21,337,757 last year. In comparison, the $7.25 an hour minimum wage equals a yearly salary of $15080 which is $6970 below the poverty line and 7/10,000 of the CEOs compensation. This should make the teabaggers happy. There are plenty of Americans there that aren’t being protected.

“Get up off your ass and get a job” won’t cut it today nor did it ever cut it. In the 235 years of this nation’s existence, it’s been only during a relatively short time that employment was such that all people had to do was to “get up off their asses and get a job”. I refer to White people here since, as recently as 1988, a multinational Fortune 500 mega-corporation complained about hiring Black folks, Hispanics or women.

I’ve lived under a better government than this. That government was right here in The Former United States of America. It wasn’t a democratically elected Socialist government that would make equality a meaningful word in this country. It was, however, a government that didn’t mind governing, at least a little bit.

Unfortunately, it liked to govern so much that it tried governing Vietnam.

Unlike the clueless teabaggers, I want a government that governs. If I have to be taxed to help the less fortunate, so be it. The private sector would let those who they don’t hire begin relying on “churches” to keep them alive. If you believe, you get a reprieve.

I want a government that recognizes greed when it sees it and controls it to the best of its ability. It can’t cure the illness, but it can control the consequences. I also want a government that isn’t, itself, afflicted with the disease.

I want a government that’s ready to defend this nation, but keeps the troops home when this nation is not under attack. If this nation is under attack, I want a government that fights those who are attacking us and no one else. Most governments don’t go around putting out fires that don’t exist.

Controlling greed and ending war and poverty are not mutually exclusive. For those who are teabaggers because they’re so enamored of The Constitution, I think that those things fall comfortably under Preamble, the reason why, The Constitution was written:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”


To friendship,
Michael

“Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.” - Rebecca West

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Friday, September 02, 2011

Teabaggers; Children of the Sixties?

(originally published at OpEdNews)

Before I get into the real purpose of writing this article, I’d like to express my admiration for Bill Maher. Maher is constantly corrected by conservatives when he refers to members of the Frankensteinien movement called The Tea Party Movement as teabaggers. Teabagging, as some of you may know, refers to an activity, usually done as a prank among college age males. It’s rude, crude and mocks certain parts of the anatomy. Those in the Teaparty Movement long ago pointed to the fact that calling them teabaggers was politically incorrect and an insult.

In 2010, President Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law. Besides very wrongly referring to this bill as promoting socialism, those who oppose it have called it “Obamacare” since its inception and refuse to refer to it by its official title. They use this so called colloquialism because the sound of it could cause the president’s name to sound seedy.

Maher says that he will continue to call members of the Tea Party Movement “teabaggers” until people stop referring to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as Obamacare. I think it’s a fairly even trade. In fact I’d like to add that, even though some may not agree with the ideology of one of the two parts of our corporate party, they should stop referring to it as “The Democrat Party”. It is and has always been “The Democratic Party”.

Although many teabaggers belong to the generation who showed the courage and will to protest against inequity in the 1960s and early ‘70s, they revile that courage and will by appearing as though they’re using the same methodology to support that which people protested against 35 or 45 years ago. And this pisses me off.

In the 1960s and early ‘70s, people gathered in large crowds in protest to what the US government was doing. Most of those people were called Hippies, a word that was very often preceded by the pejorative “dirty”.

What people have been protesting recently, subsidized by some of the wealthiest people in the world and promoted by the likes of Michelle Bachman and former Texas governor Rick Perry, is the fact that the president is taking our rights away. They never really elucidate any specific rights that have been taken away from the average American. They have warned that, if given the opportunity to cut their medical bills by up to 30%, the America we used to know and love would turn into the 1960s Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In the 1960s and early ‘70s, people came out in droves as well. They protested the use of Jim Crowe laws which kept people of color from exercising their right as Americans to vote in American elections. African American people, who were the main target, were not welcomed to sit in restaurants of their choice to eat a meal. People used the argument that states could make laws denying rights to certain people. The people who marched in the ‘60s wanted to stop this injustice, already in progress, to use television jargon.

Recent protesters, although every bit as angry as those in the 60s, don’t really have a chant, at least not one that I’d heard. I guess I’ve heard, “Kill the bill.” This, of course, refers to the government’s intention to intercede on behalf of American citizens to give them a chance to save 30% or more on their medical bills. Although The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law, any meaningful health care bill was, indeed, killed. 

Teabaggers are still free to hand health insurance companies millions of dollars of which 70% goes towards covering some, but not all, medical expenses. It seems to follow that members of the teabaggers will “pay any price, bear any burden”, to quote John F. Kennedy, for health care insurance as long as it isn’t provided by the American government. They obviously take Ronald Reagan’s famous 1986 quote, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help” very seriously. Lest we forget, Reagan was the leader of one of the three branches of government when he made that statement.

There was a war in progress in the 60s. It was based upon the lie that small North Vietnamese boats presented an untenable danger to two American destroyers. Many people didn’t want to send our young soldiers to Southeast Asia to fight an enemy which was born and raised in the jungles of Vietnam. Most of these people were young people. Military conscription was still in place and many young men who had plans for their futures began to fear that those plans would never come to fruition. The lie about the Gulf of Tonkin attacks gave the military/industrial complex a reason to convince the American government that Communism, a misnomer for the so called governance of any nation state, past or present, was a threat to the American way of life. Americans were told that the Communist government of North Vietnam had to be stopped in its quest to make Vietnam whole, as that wholeness would be under the power of a Communist government. Just like The Regime which ruled The FUSA (The Formerly United States of America) from 2001 until 2009 frightened Americans into initially supporting the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, in 1968, President Johnson said, “If we allow Vietnam to fall, tomorrow we’ll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week in San Francisco.”

While they were marching, many of the protestors chanted their displeasure of what was going on at that very moment with slogans such as, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” They were frightened because there was a war in progress and there also was a draft in place and they didn’t want to be drafted to go to Vietnam to fight in a war that was basically unwinnable. They didn’t want the government to hurt them.
As stated a few paragraphs up, however, they did want the government to step in and provide justice for those who were oppressed in the land in which they lived.

Granted, there are two wars in progress today – well, one’s called an occupation. Both are illegal if one is to take what The Constitution of the United States says about The FUSA seriously. Neither the war turned occupation in Iraq nor the war in Afghanistan were ever declared as such by Congress, which has the sole power to do so.

Many remind us that, just as Congress gave LBJ The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964, Congress gave Front Man George W. Bush The Authorization for use of Military Force Against Iraq in 2001. In neither document does Congress declare war against anyone; nation state or street gang. Basically, both documents say to the president, “Looks bad, man. Do what you have to do to make it go away.”

We still call the action in Vietnam The Vietnam War and we called the invasion of Iraq in 2003 The War In Iraq. Wars can only be declared by Congress and in neither case did that happen.

The illegal, undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are something very specific. They were happening when the Tea Party Movement was “launched” and are still in progress in spite of the lie recently told to us by President Barack Obama. They have ruined lives and families, not only of American soldiers, but of Iraqis and Afghanis.

Yet, with all of the anger boiling over at the teabagger protests, none of it seems to be aimed at the two wars in progress. “In progress” are very important words when it comes to protests.

The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movements were in progress when people protested in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Other than the two wars, the only thing that has been in progress since the Tea Party movements began have been the Tea Party protests.

It’s true that people have lost jobs and the deficit is sky high, but that was true in 2008. From the middle of 2001 until January of 2009, hundreds of thousands of jobs were being shed per month. That was in progress at that time, yet no Tea Party protests of note were taking place.

The US deficit began to rise in 2001. The Tea Party wanted to stop the “out of control spending” of President Obama and the Democratic Congress. They even promised to use impeachment, if necessary.

The teabaggers have claimed that Americans are losing their freedoms, but can point to no specific freedom which has been lost.

They complain about taxes, yet ride along government built and government maintained interstate highways to get to their protests. They possibly fly to those protests in jets protected, in part, by the federally operated Department of Homeland Security and, in part, by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Some have brought guns to their rallies to protest that their guns have been taken from them.

The protests of the 60s were brought on by the culmination of unjust treatment of people within the borders of what was then The United States or the growing deaths of young men who were being forcefully given the choice to go to the jungles of Southeast Asia or to jail. They were organic in nature. Speakers were not paid performers, but angry members of the protests. They were protesting the fact that the president and the Congress were not protecting them in the spirit of The Constitution. They were not legislating in accordance to the Constitution, especially the 14th Amendment. States were, indeed, making laws which abridged “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States”. They were also depriving people “of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”; and they were still attempting to deny people within their jurisdictions “the equal protection of the laws.”

If one reads the Constitution, one will note that most of the articles and amendments spell out ways in which citizens of America should be protected, either from the federal government or from the state government. The Constitution is not a document which lists ways in which state governments would be protected from the federal government and it certainly is not a list of ways to deny rights to citizens - human being citizens, that is.

It’s for this reason that the teabaggers, in their attempt to utilize a tool which was used earlier by those who marched in favor of equality and peace and in favor of government intervention to implement equality and peace, have defiled that tool.

While the protestors of the 60s were complaining that the government was not doing enough to “promote the general welfare”, one reason given for writing The Constitution, at their protests, teabaggers complain that the government should stop trying to “promote the general welfare”.

There were states that, in the 1960s, were using what were called Jim Crowe laws to justify squelching the rights of African Americans to go into places into which anyone who was not African American could go, like privately owned restaurants, and interfering with the rights of many, especially African Americans, to vote. Today, teabaggers are protesting in favor of the rights of private business owners to decide not to hire people whose skin or ethnicity is not what they’d like them to be and to increase the difficulty in voting that they feel should be faced by certain segments of American society, especially African Americans and people of Hispanic decent.

To paraphrase Rand Paul, Republican Senator from Kentucky, the government has no right to force restaurant owners to serve Black customers if the restaurant owners don’t want to serve Black customers. Paul claims that, when people learn that a certain restaurant is practicing this kind of racism, people will stop frequenting the restaurant and the restaurant will fail.

First of all, any restaurant that was still in business in the 1960s which was allowed, via Jim Crowe laws, to deny service to African Americans was still in business because their customers either didn’t mind that African Americans were not served or they outright liked the idea. These restaurants remained in business because it was obvious that their customer base was OK with their segregationist policies.

Secondly, in speaking of restaurants, while the suggestion made by Rand Paul is absurd, it, at least, has some potential to work. When speaking of voting, would Paul have suggested that people would no longer vote in Kentucky if Kentucky used unethical methods to keeps African Americans and Hispanics from voting? As unlikely as the restaurant scenario would be, the voting scenario would prove entirely absurd.

Yet, allowing states to make it difficult for Hispanics or Blacks to vote is a “state’s right” in which the federal government should not be concerned in the eyes of teabaggers.

Most articles and amendments to The Constitution of The United States were written for the benefit of its citizens and, more specifically, to ensure that none of its citizens were excluded from participating in American governance. Granted, the founders lived in a time when some human beings weren’t even considered as such. In the beginning, voting was the exclusive right of white males who owned property. The fact that James Adams, the second president of The United States, served only one term, was one piece of evidence that even white male land owners didn’t believe in an exclusionary version of representative democracy. Adams, if given the latitude, may have introduced a monarchy into the United States. At any rate, he would have done nothing to open up participation to all citizens of The United States.

We didn’t see many posters bearing quotes and/or images of John Adams during the protests of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Those protests supported a more open, more transparent and less violent society.

Teabaggers’ protests, although they may at times look like the protests of 35-45 years ago, have almost nothing in common with those past protests. Teabaggerss’ protests are subsidized by the very kinds of people that the protests of the 60s and 70s targeted. Teabaggers want to allow states to close their societies if that’s what states want to do. Teabaggers want to protect the rights of the very wealthy, although many on the level of those who do the protesting don’t believe that truth. Teabaggers don’t want the wealthy so called “job creators” taxed or regulated because the “job creators” will not create jobs. Teabaggers have not looked at recent history and seen that the tax cuts that the “job creators” were given by The Regime, otherwise known as the Bush Administration, did many things, but they did not help create jobs. In fact, job loss was prolific during those eight years.

Nonetheless, teabaggers have hijacked the spirit of the protests which took place in the 60s and early 70s while rallying against the substance of the earlier protests. They’ve insulted what were real grass roots protests which favored the rights of all people of all colors and all ethnicities. The wealthy greedheads who started this present teabagger movement have appealed to the darker side of human nature and we should cut them absolutely no slack. Those who participate in the rallies and protests should also be cut no slack as they are, apparently, either racist enough to agree with their masters or too unaware of what’s going on to be taken seriously.
Power to the people!

To friendship,
Michael

“At the feast of ego everyone leaves hungry.” – Anonymous

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