By Bob Dorn
I saw and read a note to The New York Times the other day that set me to thinking of kinda complicated politics.
Well, that is what that newspaper likes to engage in, and so probably do they all. They’ll say, “If this, then that, and, pretty soon… The Apocalypse. On the other hand…,” they’ll say. So we end up back in the muddled middle, our fondest hopes for reason and enlightenment lost in the give and take back.
If you want to know what the news business stands for, play The National Anthem, or ask who’s interested in an interview with Donald Trump. Keep it simple.
Truth? Truth in the industry has become a now-and-then preoccupation, rising and falling as do other preoccupations, like getting people to read a story, or to consider buying all-electric, self-driving 2-ton cars that happen to be advertised as part of sports coverage.
Still, no one is as cynical as today’s out and out conservative, who believes in family values and then supports separating immigrants from their children. Or he’ll (usually it’s a he) advocate hard work after he’s invested in robot technology that eliminates jobs for humans, or he’ll recommend homeschooling and send his own kids to prep schools and Yale.
I can’t understand how anyone could get a kick out of destroying meaning by saying one thing and doing its opposite. Maybe they’re not conscious that they’re losing credibility when they do that. The more extreme guy is the manager type who believes in stimulating chaos and disruption as a way to “get ahead in life” by grabbing the gold while everybody else below is biting and shooting each other.
But hypocrisy isn’t my target, not really.
One of the most pungent so-called conservative methods is actually a perversion (or, if you prefer, inversion) of classic liberal notions of what should lead us through life. So-called conservatives often will use the language and ethics of humane policies to rob progressives of their influence.
They’re stealing, in other words.
An example of this theft is the Commerce Department’s announcement that the upcoming gathering of America’s census will ask each of us if we are a citizen. Here’s The New York Times‘ March 28 explanation of why this is a bad idea:
“…the census count determines how many House seats each state gets. The census is also used to determine the allocation of more than $600 billion in federal spending, including Medicaid, food stamps and grants to schools. Asking about citizenship would reduce responses from immigrant families, which are already less likely than others to answer government surveys and are terrified by President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and statements.”
The part of this analysis that is most immediately threatening to this state and others is that business of determining who gets to vote for representation in Congress. There are a lot of California families who are housing legal and illegal members in their homes. Ask yourself if you would cooperate with the census taker if you knew some of your family members could well be deported as a result.
So… California would lose representation in Congress even though it’s way more populous than a state without a high number of new immigrants.
Yet the Commerce Department’s memo responding to that criticism, as quoted in the same day’s Washington Post, insists that the citizenship question “would help the government gather currently unavailable date on the population who are actually eligible to vote.” The department did not address the loss of federal aid to public schools and medical care based on flawed population counts.
Most of our national leadership is in the grips of a mad and mean”zero-sum” fanaticism based on the belief that there’s a limited amount of riches in this world and that therefore, the only way to measure one’s relative well-being is by working to see others lose what they have. So… if we throw starving and threatened Guatemalan immigrants from the country those really wealthy Americans — the 2% holding 99% of the country’s assets — can say they’re doing okay.
The current gun debate is another example of the right’s moon-bitten perversion of political speech.
Here’s a snotty letter chosen by The New York Times as representative of some of the most interesting letters it received last week, this one reacting to retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’ suggestion we throw out the Second Amendment about “a well-regulated militia” and its killer assault rifles:
Retired Justice Stevens confirms the need for conservative voices on the Supreme Court. He would change the second most important amendment based solely on his emotional lack of logic, not on history. The Second Amendment was created to guarantee the eternal freedom of the citizenry from an overreaching federal government. The same argument applies today, as history proves that one of the first steps for authoritarian governments is to remove firearms from their future serfs. Then comes free speech and religion. The founding fathers were much more wise than Stevens. — Jon Galt, Texas
The letter exploits heart-thumpers like freedom, and warns of “an overreaching federal government” or, for added horror, “authoritarian governments” that “remove firearms from their future serfs.”
Something about the name is familiar. Wasn’t John Galt the hero in Ayn Rand’s overheated celebration of pure capitalism and supremacy, Atlas Shrugged?
While we’re making America safer for democracy and capital I have a suggestion for gun freaks. Let’s bring back dueling.
We don’t have to make it mandatory. After all, that would mean a certain loss of freedom, in this case, the freedom not to have somebody shoot at you because of some perceived slight.
But… for those who get excited and shake their fists at you for moving your car into the lane they thought was their BMW’s by right, that BMW’s owner could contact you and offer the duel to settle this outrage.
Also, truly macho politicians could settle their differences at 40 paces and blow each other apart. They would be upholding a by-now near-sacred rite — the gun as equalizer. In this age of semi-automatic assault rifles, both of them could die.
A better idea might be to let Donald Trump and Joe Biden enter the ring and determine who gets to be President, WWF rules. But, given the power of the NRA today, that’s not likely. More likely, the duel might be marketed successfully as part of making America great again.
If that happens, just remember, when someone challenges you to that duel, you don’t have to agree to it. You may run the risk of seeming spineless but at least you will be alive (so long as Trump does not issue an executive order that you appear for the duel with his chosen substitutes, a fully armed white militia).