Tag Archives: The Crisis

The (New) American Crisis.

American patriot Thomas Paine served in George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to General Nathanael Greene. In the desperate winter of ’76, the war was going badly — and Washington’s valiant, weary, and ill-equipped troops were in retreat.

The revolutionary cause was in dire jeopardy, when Paine took up his pen to rally his nascent nation’s flagging spirits.

Realizing that “it was necessary that the country should be strongly animated,” Paine wrote a series of popular pamphlets collectively titled The American Crisis. The first of these broadsides was published on December 23, 1776 – and General Washington found it so inspiring that he had it read to his soldiers at Valley Forge.

Today, as we suffer through this trumped-up Debt Ceiling crisis, it is once again “necessary that the country should be strongly animated.”

Therefore, with apologies to Thomas Paine…

These are the times that try Progressive’s souls. Some summer Liberals and sunshine Democrats will, in this crisis, shrink from their core values; but he that stands by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid now, deserves the love and thanks of every working man and woman in America.

The GOP-Tea Party, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. The Grand Debt Ceiling Bargain we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is Tax Fairness – with increases on the Wealthy, Big Business and Wall Street only — that gives Shared Sacrifice any real meaning.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon The Common Good; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as The Full Faith and Credit of The United States should not be highly rated by Standard & Poor’s. (Though such a Downgrade looks increasingly possible.)

The GOP, with Fox News to enforce its Bullshit, has declared that they have a right (not only NOT to TAX) but “to BIND all working people in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” to economic slavery, for so unlimited an economic power can belong only to George Bush’s God of Prosperity, the Koch Brothers, Republicans, Millionaires and Billionaires.

We have none to blame but ourselves, but no great deal is lost yet. All that Boehner, McConnell and Cantor have been doing for these past few months is rather a Ravage than a Conquest. They have over-reached and will be quickly repulsed by the voters. By 2012, with a little resolution on the part of working class Americans – resulting in a Democratic landslide — we will soon recover.

I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up the American People to Economic Destruction by Tea Party Fools and GOP Corporatist Greed, or leave President Obama and the Democrats to perish who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of Default by every decent method which wisdom could invent.

Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that The Almighty has relinquished the Government of The United States, and given us up to the madness of small-minded religious zealots like Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds McConnell, Boehner and Cantor can hold Americans over an economic barrel.

‘Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic (like this artificial Debt Ceiling Crisis) will sometimes run through a country. Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their peculiar advantage is that they are the touchstones of sincerity (Democrats) and hypocrisy (Republicans), and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. They sift out the hidden thoughts of Conservatives, and hold them up in public to the world.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our negotiations with the GOP; suffice it for the present to say, that the Democratic Party and President Obama, though greatly harassed and fatigued, bore these Debt Limit negotiations with a manly and bipartisan spirit. All their wishes centered in one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive the Republicans out come the Election of 2012.

I have been tender in raising the cry against the Tea Party radicals, and have used numberless arguments to show their danger, but it will not do to sacrifice our country either to their folly or their baseness. The Time of Decision is now arrived, in which either Tea Party Republicans or Democrats must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall.

And what is a Tea Party Republican? Good God! What is he? I should not be afraid to stand with a hundred brave, steadfast Democratic Union Men against a thousand Tea Partiers. Every GOP-Tea Party member is a dupe or a coward; for servile, slavish, and corporate-interested fear is the foundation of Tea Partyism; and a man under such misguided influence, though he may be selfish and confused, can never be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between American Liberals and Conservatives, let us reason the matter together: FOX News is as much rejected by reality as the American cause is injured by FOX News. Rupert “Phone Hacker” Murdoch and his Corporate Paymasters expect you to take up arms and flock to their standard. Your opinions are of no use to The Right, unless you support them without thinking, for ’tis Zombies, and not Thinking Men, that they want.

I once felt that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against the mean principles that are held by the Republicans. “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have prosperity.” But today, let every Progressive American awaken to his duty. For though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to flare, the embers can never expire.

I call not upon a few, but upon all Progressives: not on this Blue State or that Purple State, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the heat of the summer of 2011, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it.

If President Obama and the Congress cannot avoid the ignominy of National Default, it matters not where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil will reach you all. The far and the near, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike.

The blood of Democratic children will curse their cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the whole, and made them happy. I love the Liberal that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little GOP minds to shrink; but the Progressive whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto Election Day.

Let them call me Liberal and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to GOP politicians who are stupid, stubborn, worthless and brutish — and fleeing with tax-cutting, budget-slashing terror from the orphan, the widow, and the unemployed of America.

There are cases that cannot be overdone by language, and there are persons who see not the full extent of the evil that threatens them. It is the madness of folly to expect statesmanship from Republicans who have refused to do political and social justice. The GOP’s first object is, partly by threats and partly by false promises, to fleece the American people before agreeing to pay their lawful debts.

I see no real cause for fear. I know our situation well, and can see the way out of it. The sign of fear has not been seen in our Liberal Camp. Our new Progressive Democratic Army is recruiting fast, and we shall be able to open the 2012 Campaign with tens of millions of voters, well educated and mobilized.

By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils — a ravaged country — crumbling cities — infrastructure without repair, and a shrinking Middle Class without hope — our homes turned into foreclosures, and our children to provide for, whose American Dream will be less than our own. Look on this picture and weep over it! And if there yet remains one thoughtless FOX viewer who believes it not, let him suffer the consequences unlamented.

Awake, Senate Democrats! Arise, President Obama! The GOP is mercifully inviting you to barbarous destruction (in a bipartisan fashion, of course), and men must be either rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the vapors of imagination; I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.

Let the Bush Tax Cuts expire! Cut the Pentagon’s bloated budget! Let Medicare negotiate deals with the Drug Companies! Collect a fair share of taxes from Corporations and Wall Street Financiers that have reaped such an ungodly percentage of our National Treasure! Leave Social Security and our National Health alone! Do these things, and the blessings of Prosperity will be upon our Nation once again.

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Common Cents

I’m not as good a student of the American Revolution as I’d like to be, but what I do know about the founding of our nation — the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Federalist Papers, the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and, yes, the Boston Tea Party — makes it all the more infuriating when I hear the intellectually bankrupt, morally confused, and hopelessly misinformed, misguided, and myopic blather of today’s self-styled Tea Party activists.

Bankrolled by right wing think tanks aligned with corporate interests, former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s fabricated Tea Party pretends to be a grass roots movement – and the mainstream media (also controlled by multinational corporate masters) plays right along. Good-looking empty-headed figureheads like quit-term Governor Sarah Palin and GOP Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann help gin up anti-Washington fervor among an eclectic collection of the frustrated, frightened, and fanatical. (And more than a few racists who just don’t cotton to a black man in the White House.)

These new Tea Party “patriots” appropriate American Revolutionary iconography and add their own individual touches of Libertarian orthodoxy, anti-tax “drown government in the bathtub” zealotry, neo-Know Nothing nativism, New World Order conspiracy theory, and a gun-worshipping, survivalist militia mentality. It’s a toxic and combustible mix, stirred up by those who seek to divide the American body politic into opposing camps – and enlist struggling working people in a righteous war against their own best interests.

As we approach the critical mid-term elections of 2010, these are once again “times that try men’s souls”. Where is Thomas Paine when we need him?

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated…” Thomas Paine

If Paine, the influential Revolutionary patriot and pamphleteer, were living today he would, no doubt, be a blogger. After all, there aren’t that many time slots available on MSNBC. (Though I’m sure Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would have Tom on as a guest.) If he were alive in this moment of crisis, Paine would certainly be rallying his fellow citizens to battle against the real enemy they face: the steady, stealthy loss of their 234-year old democracy to the selfish, greedy, power-grabbing interests of multinational corporations.

Paine would tell these misguided Tea Party tools that their elected government isn’t their enemy. Our representative government is what stands between us and the rapacious depredations of a corporate oligarchy that’s been amassing money and power at a clip not seen since the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons. Our common fight isn’t against Big Government, which protects our water, food and air — and provides a host of other services and protections that individual Americans cannot provide on their own. Rather, we must be vigilant about the rise of corporate personhood and power. The man who wrote “Common Sense” would tell us to be wary of big money. It’s time for “Common Cents”.

In his classic 1776 pamphlet, “Common Sense”, Tom Paine made the patriot’s case against the authority of a royal monarchy. Today, an elite royal monarchy rules from the boardrooms of mega-corporations solely devoted to profit as they offshore American jobs, lend money to hard-pressed wage earners at usurious rates, gamble our pensions away on risky market speculation in the hope of a fat bonus, and continue to pollute our environment — unless they get caught by those pesky government people and their “anti-business” regulations. Educated and aroused by the plain, inspiring language of Thomas Paine, a new generation of American patriots might finally hear the alarm that should have been sounded from sea to shining sea on that fateful day, January 21, 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case.

In their landmark 5-4 decision in the case of Citizens United v The Federal Election Commission, the right-leaning Supreme Court led by Chief Justice and corporate shill, John Roberts, held that the First Amendment protects the right of corporations to plow unlimited funds into independent political broadcasts during candidate elections. Thus, the sluice gates were opened to a torrent of dirty money to flood the airwaves with attack ads, sponsored by big money interests.

Do you think your $5 and $10 contributions to your favorite Congressional candidate can compete with the millions that Target or BP can spend to slime your candidate if he opposes building a shopping mall on your local forest preserve — or if he’s fighting against Big Oil’s right to pollute your shoreline with minimal environmental protections?

In deciding that corporations have the same free speech rights as human individuals – that corporations are, in essence, persons with the same inalienable rights as you and me – the five “conservative” Justices conveniently overlooked the fact that corporations are granted their existence by We the People through licenses issued by our government. As Bill Cosby used to tell his kids on TV, “I brought you in – and I can take you out!” Corporations aren’t persons. We the People grant them license to do business – and we can limit what they’re allowed to do under that license. That’s what the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act attempted to codify in the area of corporate contributions to political campaigns. Alas, the Citizens United decision blew McCain-Feingold to smithereens.

Siding with the corporate elite against the interests of average American people, the Roberts Court has paved the way for Big Money to buy our elections. You’ll hear a lot of screaming on Faux News and in the Right Wing echo chamber about how the Supremes have also allowed those dreaded labor unions to buy elections. But seriously folks, who’s got more money to spend — Citibank, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs — or a labor union? It’s not even close…

And our faux populist friends in the GOP, Faux News and Right Wing Talk Radio – the same blowhards who pretend to support the interests of hard-working, pro-American Tea Party members – don’t even care if foreign companies can buy our elections. Explain to me, my “conservative” friends, why wax-figure Mitch McConnell and teary-eyed, tanning bed addict John Boehner are opposing legislation that would prevent foreign companies from pumping money into U.S. elections? And why would these same GOP leaders be against public disclosure of who is paying how much for all these campaign ads? Don’t We the People have an inalienable right to know who’s behind these million-dollar ad buys?

Tom Paine would have these companies’ names posted on the commons for all true patriots to see.

I’ll end with a final word on the pernicious doctrine of Corporate Personhood: this dubious notion that a corporation is a person entitled to basic human rights. The fact is – corporations are entities created by government (AKA We the People), and thus, can be limited by government (AKA We the People). So, given that the John Roberts-led Supreme Court is so confused (read “bought and paid for”), perhaps we must amend the U.S. Constitution to make it clear that only human beings (We the People) are “persons” with constitutional rights.

It’s We the People vs. Big Money. That’s the battle that is going on right now. And whether or not you’re disappointed that the Obama administration has been progressive enough, try to imagine if McConnell and Boehner crawl back into power. Try to imagine if Dick Armey’s absurd, unenlightened Tea Party is able to set the political agenda for the next six years. Are you ready for the ascendancy of Queen Sarah and her corporate overlords? (Okay, maybe I exaggerate. Maybe.)

Get out the vote this November.

And when your “conservative” friends say something snarky about President Obama or Senator Al Franken or our progressive agenda — smack them down with inarguable facts and the force of your well-reasoned opinion.

And call on the timeless words of Tom Paine

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman…What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated…”

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