This is Columbus Day. I just heard that there is a movement to change this holiday to Native American’s Day. Sounds like a good idea to me.
That made me think about a couple of things going on right now. For one, one of our three parties is holding their annual “Values Voter Summit” this weekend. For another, I was thinking about how this government shutdown and looming debt ceiling fiasco might affect my grand uncle who currently lives in a veteran’s facility.
While I was pondering that, I thought about my uncle and how he has changed his ‘value system’. At one time, he was an iconoclast, a beatnik of sorts, but one with an education from Columbia, an exceptional talent for golf, and what I would call a health-nut’s approach to diet and medical issues. He was also I believe an FDR Democrat for most of his life.
That is, until about thirteen years ago when he began listening to Fox News and reading the Wall Street Journal instead of the New York Times, as he had done before. He had also been, previous to this time, a great reader of the Christian Science Monitor, being a Christ Scientist himself.
My SO then pointed me toward this article:
I think every American should read it and see the documentary. If you want to know why we are in the pickle we are in, this piece should give you most of what you need to know. Fareed Zakaria also addressed it in his Sunday am broadcast on CNN.
My Uncle’s experience is exactly like the author and filmaker’s dad. As he got older and spent more time alone in his house (after my Grand Aunt died) my GU would turn on the TV in the morning and watch Fox News all day long. How he got started on that particular channel, I would guess came from him reading the Wall Street Journal — the views in the WSJ were echoed on Fox only this time they were delivered with more anger, stronger language, more hyperbole, exaggeration and venom. That resonates with older, white men (and others). My GU went from being an upbeat, cheerful rather entertaining eccentric, to an angry, ranting, one-topic hater. He blames everything on that ‘sneaky Obama’. Much the same way some men used to rail against Clinton, calling him ‘slick Willy’. Where do you think they got these slogans?
This patriotic holiday, honoring a man whose fame should be awarded more rightly to Amerigo Vespucci or Leif Erickson, coinciding deliberately as it does with the VV Summit really crystallizes for me the catastrophe that is brewing this particular week. Thursday, the 17th draws nearer and nearer and our so-called patriots in Washington simply cannot give in and admit they were very, disastrously, cruelly wrong to do what they have done. They cannot man up and fix this thing before they put all of us through another week of this gut-wrench and others in desperate financial straits: all those people who depend on government for their businesses, day care, help with food, military pay, the list goes on and on and on.
But there in Washington are a smug group of people who have decided they have a lock on values. Really? What values would those be? Gay bashing? Vaginal probes? Ethnocentrism? Unequal pay for women? Indifference to inner city children who might need a leg up in school, the kind pre-school programs offer? People who think every citizen, including children should taught how to use semiautomatic rifles, with 100 round drums? A group of men and women who accuse the President of the United States of being a secret Mao Mao from Kenya, a Muslim who wants to subjugate America to Africa, a communist who is coming to get all the guns and then intern us in secret camps to be tortured? The people who spit bile at the mere mention of universal health care that will cover those who even though they are working hard and long hours, cannot afford even one illness in any member of their family before facing complete ruin. Fiscal responsibility, really? Four trillion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans by the Bush administration, two trillion in unfunded, needless wars, and how many trillion in a Part D drug giveaway to big Pharma. They value that but not giving starving people a temporary helping hand? Are these their so called values?
What is ‘conservative’ about their reckless behavior? These are radicals, not conservatives.
The Tea Party is also holding a rally, led by Ted Cruz, at the White House, some of them waving Confederate Flags. This wasn’t just an isolated incident. One speaker from a Tea Party outside group told the crowd to “demand that this president leave town […] put the Quran down, to get up off his knees, and to figuratively come out with his hands up.” This is appalling.
People like this profess to follow Jesus Christ yet care more about ‘sticking it to the Democrats’ (their exact words) than they do about bringing down the entire world’s economy. So great is their avarice and animus that they can see nothing else, just this one goal: destroy Obama and return the country to the turn of the 20th century. Back when poor children worked in factories, when women had no rights and no say, when you could deny people of color human decency, a certain segment of society ruled the world and no one questioned them. When robber barons and their corporations could run roughshod over anyone who stood in their way. When the great idol of capitalism meant no restraints, no oversight, no moderation.
These modern day Gordon Geckos are meeting and patting each other on the back for being the ‘values’ standard bearers. And they drag in their wake a coterie, a flotilla of angry white people, like my GU, who right now, as he fulminates against our government, is sheltered under its protection. They commit extortion with impunity and have the nerve to accuse anyone who will not accede to their blackmail of being unfair or unwilling to negotiate (they are the ones who made compromise a dirty word, by the way).
How dare these people call themselves patriots? They bear very little resemblance to the men and women who founded this country other than rebelliousness, insurgency, and some bigotry (that could be partially excused in the cultural context of the 18th century, certainly not the 21st). They use hatred and name calling that is beneath the dignity of intelligent adults. They should be ashamed of their behavior, but they are too clueless to realize they have been used, their inner demons have been carefully cultivated by the likes of Ed Meese and Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh and Sandy Rios and they delude themselves that this appalling, destructive conduct shows courage and intelligence. Instead it reveals them to be sheeple.
In another coincidence, yesterday I watched my DVRd episode that Anthony Bourdain did on Noma restaurant in Copenhagen. The focus of the show was that world class restaurant and its extraordinary menu, that changes every single day. But during the program, the chef said, that Denmark has repeatedly been voted the happiest place on earth. Yes, apparently a largely socialist country in a very limited space and frigid climate has a lot of very happy people. Why? Many reasons including excellent and free education and health care, among others. The Danes subscribe to the enlightened notion that modern society thrives when people have a floor to their suffering and a ceiling to their excess. In Denmark, all basic needs are met. Rather than socialism, it sounds more like the Garden of Eden, to me. That was the original welfare environment, remember? And how many of the tea partiers are happy. Judging from their behavior, not many, I would wager.
To that I say: get out of your own way and in so doing, out of ours. I am sick of you interfering with the serious tasks that need handling in this country by the people we all put in those congressional seats. And lets put more women in our government. Maybe that alone would help quell this misery.
I think it is quite appropriate that a person like Columbus is the excuse under which these people are celebrating. Find a good description of what Christopher Columbus really stood for and instructed his men to do when he landed in this clean, new world, that already had a group of people living quite contentedly here. I think the people at that summit would welcome Mr. Columbus into their fold quite easily. They seem to have similar values.