Why Obama Is Only A Failed Centrist President

January 7, 2013

Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson [our last transformational President] in the Oval Office, leaning on a chair, March 10, 1964. (Arnold Newman, White House Press Office via Wikipedia). In public domain.

Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson [our last transformational President] in the Oval Office, leaning on a chair, March 10, 1964. (Arnold Newman, White House Press Office via Wikipedia). In public domain.

I don’t say what I have to say about President Barack Obama lightly. But in light of the recent “fiscal cliff deal”  and the negotiations process that preceded it, I’ve now become convinced that Obama will be seen as a pretty good president. Period. Obama hasn’t been a unique president, despite his race or relatively humble beginnings. Obama is hardly a great president, either. Nor will Obama be a transformational president. If anything, Obama falls right in line with every American president since the election of Richard Nixon in 1968.

Photo of living presidents with then President-Elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office, January 7, 2009. (http://npr.org).

Photo of living presidents with then President-Elect Barack Obama in the Oval Office, January 7, 2009. (http://npr.org).

The fact is, Obama is a centrist president, beholden to the military-industrial complex, prison-industrial complex, Wall Street and corporate interests, just like Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 before him. That Obama is Black and intellectual in his approach matters little in terms of actual policies or in the path that he and his administration have taken toward incremental policies and half-baked compromises. Based on some of Obama’s policies, I could even make the argument that the President is a borderline neo-conservative, although I don’t think you can generalize this argument to every policy.

This has been an argument I’ve made in my US History courses over the past couple of years. When I’ve raised the idea that Nixon was a liberal Republican, that President Bill Clinton was a neo-con (see the repeal of Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 and TANF welfare reform in 1996 as but two examples), and that Obama is hardly a liberal at all, my students have collectively gasped. How dare I say that Nixon was more liberal than Clinton, that Obama is somewhere between a centrist and a neo-con!

But then I’ve worked with them through discussion to talk about the major domestic and foreign policy agendas of the past seven presidents in comparison to our current president. On so many issues, from the US relationship with Israel to the War on Drugs, from welfare reform to financial deregulation, from a re-escalation of the Vietnam War to the surge in Afghanistan, there hasn’t been a nanometer of space of difference in executive branch decision-making. Whether the people in these positions of power have been Nixon and Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter and Cyrus Vance, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, or Obama and Hillary Clinton.

So I’ve had my students work through parts of Obama’s agenda. The surge and gradual drawing down of US military forces in Afghanistan, in which part of their role is nation-building. “How is that any different from Bush 43?,” I’ve asked. The historic Affordable Care Act, a so-called universal health care bill that fails to cover 20 million Americans and works through complex networks of government subsidies and private insurers, a neo-con plan that failed as an alternative to single-payer under Clinton in 1994. “How is this really a liberal or progressive idea?,” I’ve asked. The continuing War on Drugs, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the highest rates of deportation of undocumented immigrants ever. “But yeah, Obama’s a liberal!,” I’ve said sarcastically in concluding this discussion with my students.

Some folks, like the reformed neo-con Bruce Bartlett, have compared the Democratic Party of recent years to the liberal Republicans of yesteryear. Bartlett, though, has stopped short of calling Democrats centrist neo-cons, which is in fact a much more apt description. Bartlett also stopped short in time, as he argued that the tipping point for the Democratic Party’s movement from left-of-center to right-of-center began with President Clinton in the 1990s. But that’s incorrect. The tipping point began when the Democratic Party’s New Deal coalition of labor unions and blue-collar Whites, Southern whites, Catholics and Blacks fell apart as part of a backlash against President Lyndon Johnson’s support of the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty in the late-1960s.

Photo of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon at the  Ronald Reagan Presidential Library dedication, Simi Valley, CA, November 4, 1991. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times).

Photo of Presidents George H.W. Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library dedication, Simi Valley, CA, November 4, 1991. (Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times).

Most Americans, though, don’t have the knowledge or luxury of taking a long view of history and their lives in attempting to put Obama in context. The media’s constant coverage of every trumped-up, imagined or real crisis hardly helps matters, either. They assume on behalf of the public the idea that there are two equal and opposite sides to every issue and every argument, which means most journalists failed geometry in high school. As a result, most Americans believe that Obama’s a liberal because the media consistently makes the false claim that all Democrats are liberals and that a Black guy with a Harvard law degree who used to be a community organizer must be a liberal.

How is a budget cutting agenda that puts Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare on the table as entitlements (and not a paid-for weak social safety net) a liberal idea or policy agenda? How is coming out reluctantly in favor of gay marriage some great progressive stance, comparable to President Kennedy’s speech in favor of civil rights in 1963? How is consistently giving into oligarchic conservatives by pushing hard for a meager tax increase on the most privileged members of our nation — the people who benefited the most from 40 years of policies that have greatly increased the gap between rich and poor — part of a liberal strategy? It isn’t and they aren’t.

Obama being three steps to Congress’ left on gay marriage and a tax increase is an incredibly weak counterargument to the fact that he’s a centrist. And a failed one at that, as his centrism has been based on garnering bipartisan support of weak legislation in terms of socioeconomic appropriations and strong legislation in terms of defense and Big Brother-esque laws. Obama has pushed climate change, long-term unemployment and underemployment, social mobility and real education reform either off his presidential agenda or into the hands of the private sector.

Thank you, but no, Obama’s a centrist, not a liberal. If you want to see a liberal policymaker in action, the nearest place to go these days is Ottawa, not Washington.

Emancipation and Compromise

January 1, 2013

Statuary by the US Capitol, Washington, DC, December 25, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

Statuary by the US Capitol, Washington, DC, December 25, 2012. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP).

Today marks 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln issued an order as Commander-in-Chief that granted freedom to slaves in territories that remained in rebellion against the Union. It enabled Lincoln to become know as the Great Emancipation, and paved the road for the passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery in the US, nearly three years later. This is a great thing to remember on this New Years Day, and yet, the Emancipation Proclamation exemplifies flaws in the political tactics of our leaders.

We seldom see real, lasting changes in our nation. Our Founding Fathers wrote our very Constitution with the expressed purpose of protecting “life, liberty, and property,” specifically the property of rich White male slaveowners and merchants. Lincoln used his office to strip the Southern one-percenters of the Civil War period of the one thing that was central to their “way of life,” the liberty of owning African slaves, of treating humans as property.

But even Lincoln’s proclamation was as much political posturing as it was an order on the road to emancipation and abolition. It would take the bulk of 1863, 1864 and 1865 to bring enough of the Confederate states under Union Army control to make emancipation a reality for three out of four million slaves. Border states and areas already under Union Army would only be forced to free the other one million slaves with the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865. This wasn’t exactly a great compromise, especially for the slaves and for abolitionists.

Fast-forward a century and a half to our tumultuous Congress and jelly boned White House. They’re fighting over tax cuts that should’ve never been enacted in ’01, or expanded in ’03. The cuts should’ve expired two years ago instead of fourteen hours ago. The compromise that the Senate passed at 2 am today is weaker than the Emancipation Proclamation. At least Lincoln knew that he had an Army and Navy that could enforce it over time. In the case of President Barack Obama, Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, the compromise deal is worth about as much as Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time” Munich Agreement with Hitler in September 1938, and led indirectly to World War II less than a year later.

"Kicking the can down the road" cartoon, September 23, 2012. (Clay Bennett/ Chattanooga Times Free Press).

“Kicking the can down the road” cartoon, September 23, 2012. (Clay Bennett/ Chattanooga Times Free Press).

The media loves to say that “both sides need to compromise to make a deal.” President Obama loves to say that “no side can get a hundred percent of what they want.” Let’s follow this line of thought by looking at the compromises that led to the Civil War and Lincoln’s proclamation. Here’s seventy-six years of compromise (starting with the US Constitution):

  • Kicking can of end of US participation in international slave trade to 1808;
  • African slaves (not term used) equated to three-fifths of a person for political representation purposes;
  • Missouri Compromise of 1819 (creating distinction between slave and free states at the 36°30′ parallel);
  • Gag Resolution (forbade Congress from debating anti-slavery bills on the floor of the House and (essentially) the Senate between 1836 and 1844);
  • The Compromise of 1850, which tore up the Missouri Compromise, opening up new territories for slavery’s expansion, while allowing California into the Union as a free state; and
  • Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) officially declared policy of “popular sovereignty,” that each territory in its petition for statehood could determine to be a state that allowed or did not allow slavery.

Years of compromise led to increasing violence to protect or destroy slavery (including “Bleeding Kansas” and John Brown’s Harper’s Ferry raid in 1859), and of course, to the Civil War. So while Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was itself a compromise, it might as well have been an ultimatum compared to the previous seven decades of inaction and negotiation.

Emancipation Proclamation reproduction, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center,  Cincinnati, OH, (photo taken November 15, 2009). (Wikipedia). In public domain.

Emancipation Proclamation reproduction, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, OH, (photo taken November 15, 2009). (Wikipedia). In public domain.

Not that taxes, spending and the social safety net are the same as slavery. But after nearly four decades of declining social mobility, expanding economic inequality and every conceivable break in favor of the wealthy and corporations, isn’t it time to stop compromising our lives and our children’s lives?

Unless we consider the reality that Congress is only doing what its greedy Civil War-era predecessors did a century and a half ago. That the White House is too beholden to moneyed interests to stand for anything that truly helps ordinary Americans. That it will take something far more serious than the Great Recession (or even something potentially as violent as the Civil War) to make this group finally find religion.

My Beef With Cory Booker’s Food Stamps Experiment

December 5, 2012

Cory Booker at the 2011 Time 100 Gala, April 27, 2011. (David Shankbone via Wikipedia). Released to public domain via  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

Cory Booker at the 2011 Time 100 Gala, April 27, 2011. (David Shankbone via Wikipedia). Released to public domain via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

I like Cory Booker. I worked with someone at Academy for Educational Development in the mid-00s who told me stories about Booker while she knew him at Stanford and her contact with him over the years. I’ve admired his work in Newark, for the most part, and the fact that he’s been a personable, in-your-face Twitter-accessible mayor who has fought hard for his city over the past decade.

But this week-long “I feel your pain” publicity stunt through living on $30 in food stamps (the SNAP program) seems a bad idea at best, and just plain disingenuous otherwise. Booker’s argument has been the need to raise awareness of how difficult it is to live on food stamps for the most impoverished of us, in Newark or anywhere else in the US. After being critical of Booker’s slumming it via food stamps on Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I received this response from Booker through tech guru and Princeton doctoral candidate Omar Wasow:

“@decollins1969 @corybooker said you can’t love your neighbor if you don’t understand them & you can’t understand w/out shared experience”

Really? I didn’t know that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been homeless, old and sick and out of work before ramming through the Social Security Act of 1935! Or that Lyndon Johnson had been a sharecropper or beaten up for marching to Selma before pushing through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965!

President Bill Clinton (in context of "I feel your pain" quote), July 23, 2009. (http://dailybail.com).

President Bill Clinton (in context of “I feel your pain” quote), July 23, 2009. (http://dailybail.com).

What worries me, though, more than anything else, is how messiah-like this tweet sounds. It would be a different story if so many politicians and journalists hadn’t run this experiment before (see my post “Slumming Lords Spinning Stories Out Of Suffering” from October ’10). It would be even more different if this experiment really opened up a dialogue on the paltry social safety net and deep poverty. Not to mention the working poor and the millions from the struggling middle class who have fallen into poverty since the start of the Great Recession more than four years ago.

But as someone who’s had way more than one week or one month’s worth of experience with poverty, WIC, welfare checks, case workers with Westchester County Department of Social Services, and of course, food stamps, I actually find these attempts to walk in the shoes of my youth — among millions of others who’ve lived in welfare poverty — insulting on so many levels (see my posts “The Five Sense of Poverty,” “Hunger,” and “Shopping at C-Town“).
Here’s what I lived with between ages twelve and seventeen (October ’82 through August ’87). As the second-oldest child and only other sane person in a household of six, then seven, then eight persons (including my four younger siblings, born between ’79 and ’84), I had many adult responsibilities. I negotiated over the phone with Con Edison and NYNEX/Bell Atlantic when we fell behind on the heat bill or the telephone bill. I walked my mom’s $275 rent check (often three weeks late in ’82 and ’83) over to the super’s office for payment, and usually was at the receiving end of verbal insults and threats for being late.
I went to Waldbaum’s, C-Town and other grocery stores almost every day after school, sometimes three times in one evening (because my mom often forgot items). I also washed clothes with my older brother Darren once a week, watched over my siblings, cooked about one out of every five meals from ’84 until I went off to college in ’87.
Lab mice "Avatars" implanted with cancer to treat cancer, October 5, 2012. (http://danisfoundation.org).

Lab mice “Avatars” implanted with cancer to treat cancer, October 5, 2012. (http://danisfoundation.org).

This is the short list. In doing all of this, especially once we went on welfare in April ’83 (after the birth of my now deceased sister Sarai), I learned a lot about how little Americans thought of the poor, and how little the federal government thought of people like me and my family. The average budget for my mom to raise a family of six kids with a consistently unemployed and wayward idiot (now late) stepfather was a monthly welfare check of $558, $75 in food stamps, and about $50 in WIC benefits.
Even in the best months, it meant a week to ten days with little or no food in the house. Great Northern beans and rice, $5 spaghetti and meat sauce dinners, and days without was a typical month. Unless, of course, my weekly weekend excursions to track down my father Jimme in Mount Vernon, the Bronx and sometimes in Midtown Manhattan at his favorite watering holes yielded enough extra funds to keep me, Darren and my family in food and clean clothes during the leaner times each month at 616.

So, you see Cory Booker, your publicity endeavor really teaches us little about the realities of poverty, hunger and nutrition for the poorest among us, whether in Newark, Mount Vernon, New York or the rest of the US. (Except that you have no experience stretching a dollar). Your food stamps experiment will do what it always does – get the media’s attention. But to understand the embarrassment, the cold stares, the harshness of what I went through and millions like me are going through now? One week and $30 isn’t even close to good enough.

The Quest For Work, Past and Present

August 21, 2012

Down and out on New York pier, 1935, June 2009. (Lewis W. Hine via FDR Presidential Library). In public domain.

Election ’12 should be about how to generate more jobs and how to grow the economy. Sadly, it hasn’t been about these issues, and given the toxic political and cultural climate, it will not be about jobs or the economy when this cycle ends on November 6.

I’ve seen this horror movie of economic downturns and mini-depressions in American society and in my own life now three times in the past thirty-five years. Each time, I’ve been better prepared, more informed, more able to ride out the storm. And each time, I’ve seen the ugly side of what we call the United States of America, a place that has and will continue to punish the unemployed and underemployed for problems beyond their control. Especially if they were and are women, young, over forty, of color, and among the poor.

In the period between ’79 and ’83, when the effective inflation rate for that four-year period was more than thirty-five percent, when we experienced a double-dip recession, when interest rates reached 22.5 percent. My mother’s meager income of $12,000 in ’79 didn’t keep up, even as it reached $15,000 in ’82. We were late with our rent at 616 by an average of three weeks each month and didn’t have food in the apartment the last ten days of any month, going back to October ’81. Things were so bad that my mother, a supervisor in Mount Vernon Hospital’s dietary department, brought food home from the hospital kitchen for us to eat for dinner several times each month.

“Negro Women,” Earle, Arkansas, July 1936, August 21, 2012. (Dorothea Lange via Library of Congress/http://libinfo.uark.edu). In public domain.

The good news was, Mount Vernon Hospital’s employees went on strike for higher wages and increased job security in mid-July ’82. The bad news was, although Mom was a sixteen-year veteran, nearly fifteen of those as a dietary department supervisor, Mom never joined the union. She didn’t want to pay “them bloodsuckers” dues, and said that she “couldn’t afford them” anyway.

I can only imagine how much spit and venom Mom faced on her way to work every day for three weeks. Considering our money situation, which I knew because I checked the mail and looked at our bills every day, picketing and getting union benefits might have been better than working. It wasn’t as if there was food in the house to eat anyway. As much as I enjoyed Mount Vernon Hospital’s Boston Cream Pie, I thought that picketing for a better wage was the way to go.

Soon after I started eighth grade, the other shoe dropped. Mom, so insistent on not joining Mount Vernon
Hospital’s union, was the odd woman out. The hospital’s concession of five percent increases per year over three years left them looking to cut costs. The only personnel left vulnerable were non-union service workers and their supervisors. My Mom had been cut to half-time by her boss Mrs. Hunce. Mom was screwed, but it was a screwing partly of her own making. It was the beginning of a two-decade-long period of welfare, underemployment, unemployment welfare-to-work, with an associate’s degree along the way. So much for hard work leading to prosperity!

I’ve gone through my own periods of unemployment and underemployment over the years. The most severe one for me was between June and September ’97, right after I finished my PhD. It was the first time in four years I hadn’t had work or a fellowship to rely on, and it was brutal. I did interviews with Teachers College and Slippery Rock University for tenure-track positions in education foundations, only to finish second for one job, and to see the folks at Slippery Rock cancel the other search. In the latter case, I think that they felt uncomfortable hiring someone of my age — twenty-seven — and my, um, ilk (read race here).

What made it worse was the fact that I couldn’t simply apply for any old job. I did actually try, too. McDonald’s, UPS, FedEx, Barnes & Noble, among others. I couldn’t even get Food Stamps in July, because my income threshold for March, April and May ’97 — $1,200 per month — was too high. And because I technically was a student for tax purposes my last two semesters at Carnegie Mellon — even though I was adjunct professor teaching history courses — I didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits either.

Shuttered Homestead steel mill, 1989, August 21, 2012. (Jet Lowe/Historical American Engineering Record). In public domain.

I had to omit the fact that I had a PhD to get a part-time job at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, which began after Labor Day ’97. I ended up teaching as an adjunct professor at Duquesne University’s College of Education the following year. Still, my income level did not return to where it was my last year of graduate school until June ’99, when I’d accepted a position with Presidential Classroom in the DC area.

I am nowhere near those times of being considered or treated as a statistic, marginalized in media and in politics as being lazy, shiftless, not smart or hard-working enough. But as a person who teaches near full-time and has more than occasional consulting work, I know how precarious and temporary work can be.

Ironic, then, that the people making decisions that have put people like me and my Mom in terrible financial straits have never missed a meal or not paid a bill because they were choosing between heat and not making phone calls. That most Americans regardless of party affiliation shun the poor, unemployed and underemployed is a shame and a pitiful example of how we really don’t pull together during tough times.

These attitudes are why rugged individualism and hard work aren’t enough to get and hold a job. An education, a real social safety net, even regulation of the job market, would help level the playing field for millions. Or, maybe some of us should learn Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Arabic or Portuguese and move to where the jobs really are.

An Open Letter to Paul Ryan (from “Uncle” Jack Ryan)

May 5, 2012

Dear Nephew:

It is with great respect in which I write you this letter. I know that it will be viewed on a national stage. All with the hope of embarrassing you to no end.

You were once my favorite nephew, Paul. I had so much hope for your future. That you’d establish yourself as a man representing the people. All of the people. Not just someone’s bullshit political agenda. I didn’t help you get into politics so that you could sign up for this. Your budget proposals are a travesty. Your comments about the president and your colleagues are repulsive. You, Paul, are a disgrace to everything I’ve stood for for the past 40 years!

What are your excuses for taking from the poor and giving to the rich? Deficits, debt, big government? No. These are problems created by you and your cronies, by men who dishonored the highest of offices to take food off of ordinary people’s tables. I worked for some of those men. I’m ashamed to see that you’ve become one of them, you sick son of a bitch!

I know that you have your mother and that brother of mine fooled with your claptrap right-wing ideas about government entitlements, trickle-down economics and sacrosanct military spending. Don’t even think about playing that game with me. I will not let you dishonor this country by pretending you have an ideology that cares about ordinary people.

You know, it’s been my experience that sometimes things happen in the heat of the moments. You do or say things that you haven’t had time to process. Like with me and those IRA terrorists all those years ago. “I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking” was my excuse. It might’ve been just that simple, yes. At least for me. But not for you. You’ve turned my favorite saying “it is wise to study the ways of ones adversary” into an abomination. You’re ideas will bankrupt the country, just as you have bankrupted yourself.

Of course, Paul, you say, “No, no, no!” You say, “Uncle Jack, it’s not about hurting people. It’s about preserving America’s future, making America great again.” That’s bullshit! All of your ideas are about discarding ordinary people, because somehow, a government that helps ordinary people is evil. This time, I say no, no no! Paul, you try to make every issue black and white, including the budget. Well, it’s not black and white Paul. There’s right and wrong! Nephew, you are clearly wrong.

I once worked for a president who tried to throw me and every person who worked for him under a bus. Just like you’re trying to do with 300 million Americans. He tried to convince me to do “the ol’ Potomac two-step.” I said to him, “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I don’t dance.” You Paul, are an expert dancer, but I’m not dancing with you, either.

With Tough Love,
Uncle Jack

For the Love of a Lockout & an Impasse

July 30, 2011

DeMaurice Smith watches as Colts player Jeff Saturday gives Patriots owner Bob Kraft a much-needed hug, July 25, 2011. (Source/NESN).

For the past few weeks, we’ve watched an NFL lockout and the political theater of a debt ceiling impasse play out in Washington, DC. Both have captured so much of the media’s attention that when an explosion occurred in Oslo, Norway on July 22, it initially ran as a ticker report on MSNBC and CNN (thank God for the BBC, then). It’s been Goodell v. Smith, POTUS v Boehner for most of May, June and July.

At least until Monday afternoon. When the decertified NFLPA unanimously agreed to continue the practice of compromising away their collective bargaining power to create significantly better employment conditions and even better pay for all of its players in order to make some money now for a chosen few. But none of that mattered. Everyone was giddy over the start of “real football” again. With wall-to-wall coverage on every cable sports channel, as well as not-so-insignificant attention on cable news. Players were hugging owners. And there were reports of a Washington Redskins trainer jumping into the arms of an ESPN 980 beat reporter on Tuesday after their facilities opened. Our long, 133-day national nightmare was over.

Well, not really. Not with the US Government three days away from defaulting on $14.3 trillion in debt

Boehner, Pelosi and President Obama in same room, The White House, December 9, 2009. (Source/Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images).

because Rep. John Boehner — another cheap Cincinnati-area, rich White guy — wants a balanced budget amendment and cuts to what remains of our New Deal and Great Society era social safety net.

For many, it appears that President Obama is all but ready to give him many of these cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Provided that there isn’t a balanced budget amendment component in the plan. Even the idea of raising taxes on those who’ve robbed our nation blind and want to keep their riches has been given short shrift by Congress and by our news media.

What makes this situation as shitty as it sounds is the fact that this argument is occurring in what is officially a double-dip Great Recession and the most sluggish recovery in the US since the 1930s. Republicans think they’ve figured out a way to corner the President and the Democrats while simultaneously holding up principles they never had during the ’80s and the ’00s. President Obama’s been stomping around like he has an ace up his sleeve, but refuses to clue the public in on what he plans to do by August 2 if his repeated attempts at so-called bipartisanship fall apart with our struggling economy.

This is a serious situation, and it does have parallels with the NFL lockout. In both cases, billionaires have leadership in their pockets to keep the masses from getting a nanometer of what they need and want. In the case of most NFL players, who get pounded over and over again for a median salary of $325,000 a year, better pay, much better working and safety conditions, and better collective bargaining conditions. In the case of most Americans, some sense of economic stability, government responsibility and affluent Americans and greedy corporations paying their fair share in taxes.

But this is where the similarities end. The fact is, many an American tuned out the stalemate on Capitol Hill the moment Rich Eisen asked, “Are you ready for football?” Monday afternoon on the NFL Network. I mean, who cares that social welfare in this country, fairly meager to begin with, will be slashed severely? While the military-industrial complex and the Pentagon get a budget level that’s higher than over ninety percent of the economies in the world? Who cares that if the federal government doesn’t pay its bill, millions will be out of work, and the unemployment and other monies we all receive will be worth less, and could become worthless?

Herd of sheep, July 30, 2011. (Source/zerohedge.com)

None of that’s important in our world of idiot, imperialistic, and secretly greedy Americans. “Give me football, give me football!,” is our cry. Let’s complain about Kevin Kolb’s contract with the Arizona Cardinals, and not Boehner’s contract on America. Let’s decry a standoff between billionaires v. hundred-thousand-aires. But remain as silent as tranquilized sheep while Congress and the President take our futures into the event horizon of a black hole. Is the mantra of it only takes hard work to become rich in America so strong that people who aren’t don’t know when the shepherd’s about to slit their throats? Yeah, I think so.


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