The Tea Party, the Real Bandits, Empire and Obamacare

I’ve got this libertarian ex-pat friend who lives in Austria. He moved for personal reasons, not because he doesn’t love the US. Recently, we’ve been having an email discussion, some of which is pertinent to what is in the headlines today. I’d like to share it with you.

The discussion began with him sending me a link,

“tell me what you think about this dude.  it affects all of us.  more importantly, look at who was quoted.  this is not partisan, just like me…”

 

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_OBAMA_PRESS_FREEDOM?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-10-10-10-02-45

For those of you who don’t want to follow the link, or read the long article, it is about President Obama’s treatment of the press and whistleblowers. After reading the article I followed up his email with this reply,

“I think a lot of it comes down to what is in the best interest of the empire vs. what is in the best interest of the country. Hands down Obama is the most imperial president yet. Under him various agencies have been at work all over the globe in order to expand an already nascent empire into something with reach, and teeth.

“The thing is freedom of information is in the best interest of the country. It can be in the best interest of the empire, but it can also be against it. The empire exists in order to further the interests of the US. The paradox exists that freedom of the press gets squelched. Maybe the larger problem is the lack of a national debate over whether we want an empire? Possibly that is a moot point, as going without would leave such a power gap that our existence might be threatened. In that case, maybe the debate ought to be over what kind of an empire we want, as well as what actually constitutes the borders of it so that it can be determined for certain what is within and without the boundaries of acceptance?

 

“Don’t you just love how a whistleblower is now only somebody who can provide them with good PR. They keep telling potential whistleblowers that they are making it safer and safer to come out, and yet their track record is quite the opposite. I can recall hearing several radio or internet stories of whistleblowers over recent years where they eventually got screwed. I can’t recall specifics, but I can recall thinking that after experiencing the stories. I think this also extends into private corporate life. They are supposed to be protected there as well, but often get canned or demoted or otherwise penalized after enough time goes by that the so-called watchdogs are no longer paying attention. It’s too difficult to tell if this is because the administration means well, but lacks the heart to follow up, or if they are simply responding to public pressure with superficial orchestrations that are bound to fail in the long run for lack of support.”

Not liking anything to do with the idea of empire my friend shot back with this reply,

“well…  i would have to counter that the very terms “president” and “emperor” are mutually exclusive, meaning that there is no such thing as an “imperial president”.  the pledge says “to the republic for which it stands” not “the empire”.  an empire rules over people without their consent so there is no “kind” of empire over which to ponder.  a republic allows freedom and an empire is always despotic.  if there is benevolent empire in history please show which one was.  now that being said, yes the US is displaying the characteristics of an empire but it lacks one thing:  an emperor.  so what is the system if it is not an empire and not a republic?  as i have said before it is an oligarchical plutocracy, and acts only in the interest of those who are in the clique.  certainly it is despotic and it cowers when any light is shined on it.  it is and should be shy to be exposed because it is masquerading as a republic, throwing the word democracy here and there, all lies dude.

“so what should the role of the president be?  he should preside, not rule but he does neither.  what he does is serve the plutocracy in exactly the same ways every president has for more than 100 years with the exception of probably president kennedy and you know what that got him.  now you don’t like it when i pick on obama but i don’t give any cover to his predecessors either.  did you know that bush 43 did not come to the meeting in davos, switzerland?   do you know why???  it is because the swiss told him that if he came into their country he would be immediately arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity and taken directly to the hague!  these people are indeed criminals, obama included.  as he points his finger at assad for chemical weapons that he probably never used, obama is bombing women and children with depleted uranium or in the case of fallujah, white phosphorus.  40 years later children are still being born with birth defects in nam from agent orange, these are totally against the convention outlawing chemical weapons and the US should be the very last government to lecture anyone against their use.  it is the height of hypocrisy.

“so the question in everyone’s mind should never be what kind of empire we would want, it should how do we reclaim the republic.  the resources we would need should be paid for, not taken.  if the oligarchs played fair there would be no need to worry about any threats to the existence of the country because americans would work for what they need instead of stealing it.  any perceived threat to the existence of the country should begin and end with a physical invasion of our territory, not cheap petrol.”when he won in 2008 nader said of obama that his choice would be, “…whether he’s going to be uncle sam for the people of this country, or uncle tom for the giant corporations.”  so how do you think it worked out?”at any rate it seems that the people are beginning to wake up now that vets can’t be honored at their memorials and that folks can’t make trips to the national parks.  at best this shutdown will be a hurdle for the very fragile “recovery'” of the economy or at the worst it will be another coffin nail for it.”

To which I sent this earlier today,

“I think your ideal for the US closely matches that of Jefferson, not bad company. I figured you would come down on the side of the Republic. You sound like those early presidents, I think Jefferson amongst them, who argued for not having much of a standing army or a central bank. They didn’t want to become involved with the rest of the world in such a complicated way that a standing army of much size was necessary. Eventually, the arguments of the day overcame their point of view.

“Eventually Alexander Hamilton, a favorite of mine, argued for a central bank. Eventually the thinking of Madison, the co-writer of the Federalist Papers, became more influential in the thinking of the country, as those works began to be cited in things like Supreme Court decisions. Eventually Andrew Jackson was elected president and assumed that a standing army of merit was necessary to at least slaughter Indians. That being said, there has always been a strong element of ‘keep it simple’ in this country. We are strongest, really, when that mentality is one with our larger and more aggressive self. It was subsumed to manifest destiny, and the slaughter of Indians. It was subsumed to fighting fascism, and then communism, but not to the same degree. I think we are having problems with that today as well. We have become decidedly less civil in our discourse, and less tolerant of those in the minority with divergent opinions. At the same time, scratch your head, we are very advanced socially, accepting groups and people who we would have ostracized as a society not too many decades ago. The trouble is that ‘keep it simple’ has become associated with those who once held down the groups and people who are now in the ascendant. That attitude was never any kind of foundation for what those people had to overcome, but it has suffered nonetheless in the wake of our advances.

“Today we seem unable to talk to each other when it comes to this divide. Those claiming advances are not able to discuss their reasoning, are not able to convince and therefore bring along with them that part of society they have traditionally been able to when making such advances. It has gotten so bad that you hear well meaning people say things like the civil rights legislation passed under Johnson ought to be repealed. If those people thought about it they would stop saying that, but this is not a time for thought. Instead, this is a time of reaction. Everyone is reacting out of confused and abused ideology to the point of feeling that winning is more important than reasoning. They must win or they feel they will die. It isn’t that serious, but their basic ideals of a more simple America seem to be on the line. Why doesn’t anybody listen?

“I’ve heard people say that the Republican Party may be about to crack up over this budget impasse. Maybe not strictly over the impasse, but that it reveals the internal problems that threaten their breakup. The ‘Tea Party’ is really digging in its heels, or we are meant to look that way for an explanation. I think there are a lot of business interests active in this as well. If Obamacare works then for the first time since the labor movement was strong workers in this country will be able to leave a job without having to consider their healthcare coverage in the decision. Worse, for business at least, the ability to offer people more money in healthcare benefits, which don’t get taxed, while not offering them a commensurate boost in real wages, which do get taxed, will come under threat. The foundation for the trouble we are in with personal debt might unravel. The smokescreen that causes people not to be unhappy about their lack of an increase in real pay could be passing. People may demand higher pay. They may not, therefore, need to borrow as much as the banking sector has gotten used to. Also, the huge healthcare industry is not sure at all if they will be able to sustain their outsized to the rate of inflation growth. These all are lobbying hard against Obamacare. They may push the argument until it causes us to go over the cliff. They may plan on doing so and then blaming, like those who argued for extermination of the Indians did, those who just want to keep things simple.”

The country is definitely in a tussle over the arguments leading to the continuing resolution and borrowing limit impasse. I think the things my friend and I discussed here have something to do with it. Obviously the arguments go beyond what we’ve said here, but I think we are close to the kernel of what is really going on. While my friend would probably argue for some kind of conspiracy behind what the Republicans are doing. I tend not to agree. I think that it is the result of how we have set up our representative democracy. We have given more power to those who are either more organized or have more money. Individuals are not powerful by themselves, alone in our system. Individuals are powerful in our system when they join a group. In our system money can speak as loudly as any group. Groups, though they may sometimes have a hard time, can eventually listen and understand other groups, circumstances, or people. Money has a hard time understanding anything that does not have the making or keeping of money at heart. There is a reason Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. We are very close as a country to finding out what that reason was. Can we get there before our ability to also use money as a tool, the petro dollar and world reserve currency status for instance, is either destroyed or severely abrogated? I tend to look upon times like these just as I look upon election seasons, as storms. There is no telling how high the tide will go, nor how violent the winds will become. We only know that after it passes the landscape will be changed.

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