The following was written in early February of 2009 in response to the horrific post-campaign propaganda that was still going around about President Obama and the whitewashing of the entirety of the Bush terms in office at the time. It was as though conservatives had just started to pretend that the previous decade was an illusion, or didn’t count – and that the current President who had spent only a few weeks in office was to blame for the rotten state of affairs in the world. In response to conservative screeds in the form of a “Sunday School Lesson” at the time, here is a story presented in lecture format by a professor as narrator.
Welcome students, please take your seat.
My name is Professor Joe, and I’ll be teaching this class. Let’s jump right in.
It came to pass in the United States of America that a minority of mildly paranoid right-wing neoconservatives found their ideology suddenly out of favor. “We must blame the loss of morality!” shouted the captains of politic responsible for the admitted torture of their fellow man. “America has chosen a new President who offers Hope and Change in the place of Fear and War!” they cried, hands held high and still bloodied from the four thousand dead soldiers sent to die in a war without end. “He has no experience!” they screamed in unison, while somewhere a filing cabinet sits with an unclassified version of Texas Air National Guard attendance sheets remains undisturbed. “A brother to terrorists! A Muslim and a terrorist!” they shrieked, with the exception of retired General Oliver North. A handshake between Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein left conspicuously off-air.
But the people didn’t buy it. You see, students, by this point they had considerable time to think. The crisis of 9/11 that had traumatized our country and enabled the opportunists to pass the Patriot Act and eventually invade Iraq had begun to dull in the minds of the citizenry. When you are afraid, the human response is instinctual – to give up whatever it takes to feel secure. The lords of conservatism know this, and did their absolute best to pump America full of as much fear as possible. But, friends, fear works like a drug. You need more and more of it to get the same effect, and eventually it wears off over time. Despite the repeat invocations of September 11th by the Great Darkness that swept the land these past eight years, bit by bit, the people began to wake.
All of a sudden, the country realized that the income gap had grown substantially. The richer got so much richer and the poorer got so much poorer. The guy in charge had actually reduced taxes on the richest 1% of the people in America, who were not coincidentally his owners. Deregulation had built a trap into the economy which was headed for destruction, and more people in the country were without health insurance than ever before. Two bungled wars in faraway lands, one without purpose and the other without plan, and the United States took the biggest hit on the international stage of diplomacy since the founding of our country.
“Just because he can’t talk good don’t mean he ain’t smart!” most who had voted for the idiot retorted. Whether or not our children is learning, misunderestimating putting food on people’s families, fish and humans coexisting peacefully and remarkable war on the evildoers in the form of a “crusade” – these mind-boggling statements so non-chalantly uttered by the man in the cowboy hat absent a brain. And yet, the spoiled Admiral’s Son and Wolf-Killer Beauty Queen took to the road in a bus to proclaim the damnation of our nation at the hands of a socialist Islamic plot by domestic terrorists who hate America. Pulling the microphone back from the insane woman in the crowd incited to cries of “TREASON!” it was declared that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. The man who was tortured for our country caved to the cowboy on allowing our country to torture.
Along this road, a Joe who is not a Joe who is a Plumber who is not a Plumber asked why the candidate of Hope and Change would tax his imaginary income more. “Do you make more than $250,000 a year, sir?” And the Joe who is not a Joe who is a Plumber who is not a Plumber could not respond, because he did not make that much a year, and would not make that much a year. If he had made that much a year, he, like the rest of the country, could expect a return to the tax rate as it was under Clinton, our most prosperous economic time in recent history.
“Isn’t that Marxist?” Fox News reporter and wife of GOP Media News Consultant inquired to the toothy man who rode the Amtrak to work. Now, students, who among you can define a redistribution of wealth? Is this necessarily a bad thing? For extra credit, a five paragraph essay on how every single tax system since the dawn of time has been a “redistribution of wealth”. For double points, work in the following quote by Teddy Roosevelt – “The man of great wealth owes a particular obligation to the state, because he derives special advantages from the mere existence of government.”
But back to our story. At this point, a citizen asked “With no foreign relations experience and having zero military experience or knowledge, how will you deal with radical terrorists?” My apologies, students, but no one actually asked that. See, anyone who was paying attention would note that our current President at the time, who also had no military experience and no foreign relations knowledge, had so catastrophically screwed things up on a global scale. From molesting the shoulders of the German Prime Minister, to saying “Goodbye from the worlds top polluter!” at G8 conferenece, to appointing the most hated diplomat in the country as U.N. Ambassador, the man in the cowboy hat seemed to loathe the very concept of other nations.
At some point, the schizophrenic folks in charge began to lose the ability to differentiate between terrorist, Islamic, and enemy of the state. In their mind, Kim Jong Il was a terrorist, and may even be Islamic! The concept of opening diplomatic talks with North Korea or Iran (as opposed to outright bombing/invading them) is abhorrent to the neoconservative ideology. Diplomacy after all else has failed is the moving motto of the man in the cowboy hat.
The candidate of Hope and Change said “I shall give 95% of you lower taxes!” Then one solitary voice said “But 40% of us don’t pay ANY taxes!”. No one was able to see that the voice had come from a 2-month old infant, counted alongside other children ages 1-18, retirees ages 65 and over, mothers with infants who stay at home, the rising number of unemployed and a multitude of mid-western farmers who pay no taxes but instead receive a healthy subsidy from the government. Of this 40% of Americans, indeed, none pay federal tax. Though they do pay sales tax, excise tax, and other tax. “Statistics are fun!” shouted the same baby, as the man in the cowboy hat’s approval rating fell to single digits.
Then the candidate of Hope and Change said “I will fix the healthcare system and raise the minimum wage!” The response from the nation’s hospital sick and dying was a belated “Hooray!” and the least among us in the fast food restaurants and minimum wage jobs yearned to see their quality of life improve, if only a little. “I will penalize employers who ship jobs overseas!” the candidate of Hope and Change said, mindful of the wholesale outsourcing of the previous administration’s economic policies. 15% of the people now without jobs strained in patience to hear these words, as the unemployment rate crept ominously towards the 20’s and the talking TV heads bandied about the differences between “Recession” and “Depression”.
“I will address the global warming crisis by encouraging new energy technologies and green solutions!” the candidate of Hope and Change proclaimed. But a filter installed by the previous administration who’s position on global warming was that “The jury is still out.” sadly translated this into “I will bankrupt the coal industry and raise all of your electricity rates!”. Luckily for the country, the man who should have been in charge that the man in the cowboy hat stole from was still around, and his words of warning rang like a dark oracle in the caverns of our places of government.
Grinning and relaxed, his last half-year a breezy vacation after another, the man in the cowboy hat acquiesced to the Lord of the Treasury’s request that he be given all the gold in the land to “fix” the problems the friends of the Admiral’s Son created through deregulation. Previously a guardian creature of glass, Steagall, had kept such horrors and cyclical turmoil at bay, but rules don’t matter when those in power make them and break them as they please. Strings on the gold wouldn’t matter one bit, there was a comfortable ranch to be had for the man in the cowboy hat. The banks of the land sent the man in the cowboy hat a thank you card for the TARP he had given them.
The candidate of Hope and Change had inherited a cavalcade of disasters, wars and crises from the man in the cowboy hat. Not least of these were the folks at the border, eager for a better future and willing to cross a river to get to it. With little left in the syringe full of fear, the neocons did their best to rattle the cage of every xenophobic gun-toting maniac in the land, championed by a Dobbs to coat the reprehensible behavior in a fine shell of intellectualism. But the hate, couched in patriotism, would ultimately cost them. As anti-immigration fervor reached its height, new political ideologies were forged and an entire bloc of conservative border voters defected, beginning an uncontrollable cascade of losses for the party of the man in the cowboy hat in the southwest of the country.
The neocons screamed “They come to our country illegally!” having never witnessed the true breadth and depth, canyon-sized holes filled with red tape and a bureaucratic nightmare of Orwellian proportions – entire industries spawned from the nuances of process errors in obtaining legal immigration to the country whose policy at Ellis Island for the better part of the few centuries of its existence was ‘If you can get here, you can live here.’ The Statue of Liberty, closed indefinitely due to potential terrorist threat and a perpetual Orange Alert, cries with silent lips “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”
She doesn’t speak of defrauding social security, drained education, free lunches, free medical care, guaranteed housing and bilingual signs – storied monsters of neocon nightmares. These are impractical falsehoods drummed up to tap those last few drops of Fear into the vein. The threat of a job lost to a Jose or a Rodrigo, illusory at best, caricatures of an economic microcosm at worst. But fear begins to run dry. The autonomic system cannot absorb anymore and the neocons begin to struggle for mere relevance as a political entity. The architects fire off everything left in the gun, anything they have, for the love of god, the ship is sinking!
With this, we see the return of the Red Scare. Socialism, Communism, and Fascism lobbed interchangeably at any given program or policy implemented by the now President of Hope and Change. Despite existing at ideological poles counter to one another, the Socialism, Communism, Fascism trio resonate with an increasingly smaller contingent of the population – the easily confused white suburban male. It is in him that all hope lies for the last vestiges of the neoconservative movement. A misused symbol of a tea bag, a wholly strange and befuddling emulation of a party in Boston that had markedly nothing to do with the planned protests, and the appointment of a black party chairman for no other reason than “Hey, let’s try a black guy. It worked for them.”
But to Hannity, and Boss Limbaugh, and Rove, and Cheney, Rummy and Heckuvajob Brownie, Bachmann, Coulter and Palin, and of course the man in the cowboy hat, their vision of a homeland rife with corporate corruption – an oligarchy drenched in oil and blood would soon be over. Their plans to annihilate the United States of America may have even worked, as we find ourselves still at the bottom of the darkest economic outlook with disaster looming on all sides. North Korea has the bomb, Pakistan has failed as a nation state, Iraq remains a vibrant vacation hotspot for would-be martyrs, and Iran continues to work on enriching weapons grade uranium. Our nation’s infrastructure is in shambles, our financial systems and what’s left of our industries are on the brink of cascade failure, tent cities of homeless and unemployed are popping up near urban centers quickly emptying of corporations finding it too difficult to employ workers in a country where health care costs remain prohibitive due to insurance companies and HMO’s.
But if you ask the Admiral’s Son, or the man in the cowboy hat, or anyone who is a servant to the Media Lord Murdoch… it would be best for everyone if we didn’t look towards the past. Or too much at the present.