Police State: Yes or No?

One of my favorite commentators of American life, Ted Rall, recently wrote a column titled, "EVERYONE HATES THE COPS." Ted's point was "I can't point to a single positive experience I've ever had with a cop." He concedes that "No one should be less scared of cops than me. I'm white, clean-cut, middle-aged, invariably polite . . ." And goes on to say that, nevertheless, he's afraid of cops in practically every country in the world, especially Uzbekistan and the United States.

This subject came up for me when I recently watched Phillip Hoffman's "The Party's Over," his documentary about the 2000 election campaigns, conventions, and the final result of that moment when the charade of democracy in the United States formally ended. Recently, wingnuts have been comparing their violence-edged demonstrations at town hall meetings over health care to protests about the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. The kids and adults who protested those wars were met by cops, rubber bullets, teargas, and arrest. The wingnuts and their insurance company instigators are welcomed by the cops and their gun-toting behavior has been ignored by the press and the cops. There is no aspect of personal courage being displayed by the wingnuts, since they are in no danger from anyone but themselves.

On the other hand, watching the gross overreaction of the L.A. cops at the 2000 Democratic Convention and the outright lunacy of the Philadelphia police and national guard at the Republican Convention, anyone familiar with the degeneration of the United States since WWII has to wonder where and why we went so wrong. Peaceful protest from anything resembling the left in the US is always met with overwhelming violence, police lawlessness, and depraved and pitiful reporting from the major news outlets. When the wingnuts carry automatic weapons into the street to intimidate participants at the town hall meetings, it barely makes the editorial section and never makes it to television news.

Which brings me back to my point, "Everyone Hates the Cops." Of course, that's not true. Wingnuts love the cops, since they act as official bodyguards for the right. Corporations own the cops, so they gotta love 'em. The rest of us are afraid of the armed force whose unpredictable behavior was best described as "cops on the take can't take orders" by reporters covering the unleashed violence Chicago police let loose on Vietnam protesters in 1968.

That is a big problem, too. Every Latin American country has discovered that building a police force, including a military, based on serving the interests of the corrupt rich and powerful creates a system inclined to self-destruct. You put guns in the hands of characters who will follow any order, regardless of legality or morality, and you are sowing the seeds of your own destruction. We've probably past the point of no return, in the US, on this regard. Between the un-Constitutional "Commander in Chief" designation of the President and the century of corporate invasions disguised as acts of "national security" defense, the war decision-making process has been handed from civilian to corporate-military and, since they have the guns, that is probably irreversible.

I've always thought that critical jobs like policing, governing, and maintenance should be nationally drafted positions. I totally agree with Rall that, " the kind of person who would want to become a police officer is precisely the kind of person who should not be allowed to work as one." That goes for politician, bureaucrats, and highway maintenance among most of the nationally vital tasks. But it's too late for that sort of logic. What we're left with is the choice to keep out heads down and try to avoid the scrutiny of our corrupt police or join the wingnuts and take to the lawless streets.


Irrelevant Republicans

Sen. Jon Kyl, accurately called "the No. 2 Republican in the Senate" said, in a conference call with fellow wingnuts, "One of the concerns I have about the approach of the Democrats ... is an assumption that there has to be a national mandate on all insurers to do various things." That about sums up the Republican position on health care reform. Whatever is done, the last thing they want to do is insist that private insurers "do various things"; or anything except ration health care to their customers and make a shitpot full of money that they will distribute to their own executives and the politicians who are so securely stuffed into their pockets.

At last count, those corporate crooks were spending $40M/day buying politicians and spreading propaganda. Obviously, this golden goose is producing a good bit of spare change. Otherwise, these characters wouldn't have this kind of money to dump into convincing us that the godawful system we have couldn't be improved.

Turdballs like Senator Kyl (hence the "No. 2" designation) are against anything that resembles value-provided by the federal government to working class citizens. Fortunately for them, a substantial portion of working class citizens don't want anything of value for their tax money, either. As long as we're just dumping trillions of dollars into fake wars that profit oil companies and the military-industrial complex, they're happy as clams in a bucket. If someone is crazy enough to suggest that tax money might be used to benefit taxpayers, suddenly we're freaked out about "socialism." A few crazy fuckers are even making the jump from socialism to fascism, which demonstrates why "nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

Ah, the power of words with nonsensical definitions. Rush and Hannity calling someone else a fascist. Who'd have thought that would ever amount to anything more than a comedy routine?

Siding with Republican corporate spokespeople, these morons don't want to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against customers with pre-existing conditions (which is usually defined as anything expensive that might happen to an insured victim), equal and fair rate limits for all applicants, allowing the government to negotiate reasonable drug prices, or even the crazy idea that (like income taxes, Medicare, SS, and Unemployment insurance) if everyone kicks into the pot the individual cost becomes reasonable.

Pretty much, Kyl is saying that the corporate dope dealers, grossly misnamed "insurance companies," and the quacks running the nation's health care system shouldn't be inconvenienced by any sort of regulation. Of course, Kyl has a healthcare program that is provided by taxpayers, so why should he care? After "serving" (himself?) for five years, he's vested for life in that "socialized" system.

The only platform the Republicans currently possess is the desire to "make the President fail." As in the past, conservatives are willing to take the whole country down in their battle to stuff their own pockets with dope dealer money and ship jobs to foreign countries. They could care less about the brown-shirted morons who chant sheep-talk at town meetings and march around the meeting places with their AK-14's shouldered high and their automatic pistols holstered where everyone entering the meetings can see them. If anyone had any doubt as to the danger the right poses to democracy, these meetings ought to squash those thoughts.

But they won't, because America has become the Home of the Dumb and Dumber. The greatest fear the average citizen has is that someone much smarter might try to do something good for the country. They elect idiots like GeeWizz because he made them feel better about themselves. The worst possible political situation is a non-white President with an IQ in triple digits while the majority of the white population has bred itself down to the point that watching reality TV has become an intellectual pursuit.

In this environment, characters like Senator Kyl are doing exactly the right thing in doing nothing. It's the kind of action that Americans understand. Anything more complicated is "elitist intellectualism." The last thing we want is smart people thinking about solving problems.

Ted Rall recently wrote, Violence Works, Incrementalism Doesn't, where he described Americans as "one of the most gleefully anti-intellectual nations on earth." That about sums up the pathetic state of the union. That doesn't mean that we have to go backwards in time, though. Americans have been stupid often in our history. Sometimes leaders have to lead, even when the followers are wandering around like brainless chickens.

At least some Democrats are beginning to figure out how irrelevant Republicans are, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) said "I think that at some point everyone's going to see that the Republicans simply are not going to agree to any kind of healthcare reform that the insurance industry isn't supporting and that, reluctantly, we're going to have to do it without them." When it comes to doing anything other than As if that is different from the last 100 years of Republican inactivity.


Looking at the End

In Our Endangered Values, Jimmy Carter recently described what the Red Cross found in US torture camps in Pakistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The story is so vile, so unbelievable that it equals the horrors of Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, and all of the depraved, arrogant, sick dynasties of history. Truthout summarized only a bit of our actions against civilians, women, and children and you can read it for yourself here: http://www.truthout.org/080309X?n. There is no point in my trying to add anything to this.

While the crazy right is pretending that nothing can be done to rectify the crimes of Bush/Cheney ("the past is past" argument), they may be right. As the conservatives' best attempt to comprehend what was done, Sen. Lindsey Graham said, "The American public needs to understand, we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We're talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges."

"Some very serious charges?" What is more serious than "rape and murder?" If that doesn't move them to shame and action, they are immobile. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Not only did good men do nothing, but some knowingly did evil things.

This is so sick, so beyond humanity and reason, that it makes me believe we are done as a civilization. We're just waiting for the collapse. No society can survive this level of depravity. Once this kind of sickness sets in the culture is doomed to fail. And deserves to fail. I can't think of an example in history of a nation dipping so low and recovering. If you can, I'd appreciate the encouragement.

All through Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II's reign, I felt the decay of the general public accelerate. I feel the United States is just too damaged to continue now. It's just a matter of time and momentum before the collapse. We have proudly elected, twice, a President and Vice President who had no respect for the Constitution, the nation's laws, or our once proud history. We have raised children who became "soldiers" who committed these terrible acts. We have hired mercenaries and bureaucrats who administered crimes against humanity that can never be forgiven. The fantasies of the crazy religious right be damned, some crimes are unforgivable. Their own argument for capital punishment recognizes that fact. Once a human, and a culture, has stepped beyond a line of civilization there can be no redemption.

At the absolute minimum, Bush, Cheney, and their cast of international criminals should be subjected to a Nuremberg Trial before the world. But I'm not sure that if that trial resulted in that venal group hanging from scaffolds it would make a lick of difference in our nation's future. The fact that so many of us have degenerated into "conservatives" may be insurmountable. The ideals that created holy documents like our Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the many great moments in the United State's of America's history may have been overcome by eight years of non-stop, unlimited evil.