20 October 2016

A Nation of Our Own (for Ungagged 6)

A recent poll found that 23% of millennials in the USA would rather see a #GiantMeteor2016 hit the planet than either Trump or Clinton in office.  Of course, with either of the two major candidates, planetary extinction is still a possibility, especially with Clinton, whose statements on rebuilding America’s nuclear arsenal and repeated statements on the threat of Russia are eerily if unsurprisingly reminiscent of the bellicose rhetoric of her first political hero, Barry Goldwater.

For those of you who do not know, Barry Goldwater also introduced into the American national political arena in 1964 the dog-whistle racism which featured so prominently in the legislation, policy, and campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their allies in the 1990s.  Say what you will about the Clintons, they made it acceptable for white American suburban professionals to be white supremacist poor-shaming bigots again and to still call themselves “progressive”. 

Hillary calls herself a “progressive who gets things done”.  Let’s fact-check that statement by looking at the record of the Clinton administration, both acting directly and working through its allies in the U.S. Congress.  Although Bill held the office of President from 1993 to 2001 and made the final decisions in the administration, Hillary was his near-equal partner every step of the way.  It is therefore not unfair to ascribe to her the same blame or credit as Bill for its results. 

The Clinton administration rammed NAFTA through Congress, the first major international so-called free trade pact which devastated the working people of both the United States and Mexico and did not very much for those in Canada either.

It laid the groundwork for the mergers and acquisitions of the 1990s and 2000s, resulting in the current state of six gigantic corporations controlling America’s money supply.

It passed legislation eliminating higher education for prison inmates, prohibiting education assistance for felons, increasing money for new prisons, prohibiting felons from residing in public housing, giving money to states for keeping prisoners longer, supporting private prisons, and allowing for states to pass three-strikes laws.

It passed legislation easing regulations on creditors and making it more difficult for customers to sue firms for securities fraud.

It loosened supervisory regulations over financial institutions and lessened creditor liability to the significant disadvantage of clients and consumers.

It overruled all state laws regulating savings and loan credit activities.

It placed a lifetime limit on welfare benefits, devolved responsibility for welfare to the states, instituted a punitive, demeaning “workfare-for-welfare” program, and greatly restricted the food stamp program in addition to adding similar “work” for the people receiving those.

It deregulated telecommunications markets and broadcast media in a way that allowed mergers to take place that have led to just four corporations controlling all media in the country.

It defined marriage as between one man and one woman, which Hillary vehemently defended as late as 2014.

It attempted to privatize Social Security, but the effort was cut short by the Monica Lewinsky scandal and its aftermath.

It destroyed the remaining provisions of a Depression-era law that distinguished between investment banks and commercial banks, causing the wave of megamergers that lead to the crash of 2007.

It deregulated over-the-counter derivatives trading, opening the door to an explosion in unregulated securities, including the credit default swap.

It made it harder for consumers to get out of lender-required insurance accompanying mortgages.

It almost made it far harder for consumers (but not businesses) to discharge debts through declaration of bankruptcy.  However, Hillary, then running for Senate, convinced Bill to let it die through a pocket veto.  As Senator the very next year, Hillary voted in favor of the bill when it came up again, though it failed due to opposition from her fellow Democrats.  It passed in 2005.

To paraphrase Marx, if this is progressivism, all I can say is that I am not a progressive.

And none of this even begins to touch on her horrific record in regards to Latin America, North Africa, and Southwest Asia as Secretary of State.

Voting for Hillary places a seal of approval on all of the above.  Doing so with the intent of stopping Trump does not change that any more than Obama’s signing statement protesting the provision allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens without charge in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 changed the fact that he refused to veto like he did the bill allowing victims to sue Saudi Arabia over 9/11.

As paraphrased by activist Marty Jezer, storyteller Jean Shepherd said that creeping meatballism represents the passive acquiescence of people who surrender to the demands of the consumer culture and collaborate in their own manipulation.  Both major parties view the human members of the American electorate not as citizens but as consumers, the Democratic National Committee explicitly so as we now know from the Wikileaks of their emails which refer to “Hispanics”, their word not mine, as “brand-loyal consumers”. 

America is not a democracy but an oligarchy, one not of the people but of the 1%, not for the people but for the corporations, not by the people but by the paid servants of those corporations.  Under current conditions, voting in elections is nothing more than the means by which the people lend legitimacy to that oligarchy.  As long as American citizens keep playing the game of Republicans versus Democrats, they will always end with more of the same.

At the end of the 1983 movie War Games, which premiered the same year the USA and the USSR went to and remained at DefCon 2 worldwide for two weeks, Matthew Broderick’s character David Lightman has the computer Joshua, which has taken control of the entire American missle defense system, play itself in tic-tac-toe knowing that it will then extrapolate those results to the program it is currently running, “Global Thermonuclear War”.  After going through every possible scenario with all resulting in the destruction of the entire planet, the computer shuts down, then reboots, saying (to its inventor), “Interesting game, Professor Falken.  The only way to win is not to play”.

America desperately needs a third party, maybe even more than one.  No third party is ever going to have a chance on the national level if citizens do not vote for third parties.  Sure, if enough people vote third party this election, Trump may come to power.  For the United States, this may be a disaster, but for the world, Clinton will be far, far worse.

Recently, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Reporters Without Borders to Americans, rejected the offer of Big Pharma outlet Pfizer of one million pneumonia vaccines because accepting it would give that corporation cover for charging the outrageous fees it currently requires.  That takes courage, that takes character, that takes honor.  I ask those listening to do like Joshua the computer and extrapolate.  Build a third party, a party of the people, by the people, and for the people, even if it involves short-term setback and personal sacrifice.  Then maybe, just maybe, one day we will have something none of us have never had before: an actual democracy, a nation of our own.

Finally, I want to call out John Oliver for knowingly and deliberately misrepresenting the position of Green Party candidate Jill Stein on student debt and that of her running mate Ajamu Baraka on prisons.  Shame on you, John; your credibility is shot.

Thig ar latha.  Alba gu brath.

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