I met him in Philadelphia, which is a city I rarely visited. However, my wife and I attended the first Midatlantic Green Party Conference in June of 1985. I had only been back in the states for less than a year. I just finished an 18 month gig as a ship’s cook. Having no job options during the Reagan years, I let the state pay my way through accounting school. My wife was always politically active and attending the conference was her idea of getting away for a weekend. Being newly married, I readily agreed. It was either that or spend the weekend alone with my stepson.
That conference began my love/hate relationship with the Green Party. I love the principles it was founded on, and I love the idea of belonging to the movement that caused real change in Europe. The hate part started after I discovered how deeply the black market had been involved in early Green politics, and how so many of today’s party members are bat shit crazy. Quite frankly, Cynthia McKinney scares the living crap out of me.
But I was talking about the first Green Conference in 1985. I was only 27 years old and incredibly naive. Politically I was would have to say I was a libertarian socialist. The libertarian part began at the age of 19. I was one of a handful of students to attend Karl Hess’ lecture at Lebanon Valley College. Hess was such a polished public speaker that he left me a true believer. The Socialist came in when I was 21 and attending Rutgers University. Dr. Stephen E. Bronner was beginning his career there. I credit Steve as being the man who taught me how to think, and he started me in my off and on association with the DSA.
At the time, the DSA was still catching up with the ecological crises, I thought the Greens might be a more profitable outlet for my energies. During that three day conference, I felt as if I had come home. Everybody seemed to hold the same contradictory view of politics I entertained. It never occurred to me that it was this very contradiction between libertarianism and socialism that invited the black market to settle in and make itself at home.
The irony is I fell into the black market crowd right out the gate. My wife, in all innocence, got in contact with this girl in Easton PA who was also going to the conference. That’s how we ended up traveling from Easton PA to the state capitol on the Rainbow Bus.
Being part of the New York punk scene, I heard rumors of the Rainbow Bus, and even knew some members of the Youth International Party. I went to a couple of parties at Number 9 Bleeker St. They were so frightening in their intensity, I would wake up determined to live a life of abstinence and holy charity. The resolution would last until the next Friday.
So imagine my delight when I got to introduce my new bride to Aron Kay, the man who hit Ronald Reagan with a banana cream pie. The banana was symbolic of Reagan’s banana republic politics. Then was Bruno, a person I lost track of and wish I hadn’t. He did a workshop on computers and networking that introduced me to a new idea called the internet. Then, of course, there was Dana Beal. Dana was the absolute commissar of YIP and controlled his minions through the pound of pot he always carried in a double ziplock. A year later, a big guy named Ozzy and I would be hunting Beal through the Lower East Side with the intent of beating the crap out of him. At the time, Beal was sizing me up for minionhood so he did his best to charm me.
Another character we met at the conference was Jack Herrer, the same guy they named a genetically modified pot plant after. At the time, it never occurred to me why a guy from Oregon would be at the Midatlantic Green conference. Today I know it was to promote his pot business. The truth about Herrer is the idea of legal marijuana scared the bejesus out of him. He was making too much money growing it and shipping it to Beal who sold it in Manhattan. They were involved with the Green Party to grow their network and to maintain a legal defense of police persecution in case of busts. At the time, I hated Herrer for hitting on my wife right in front of me. Yes, he was that damned low. It was a good thing he was doing time in South Carolina a year later, otherwise Ozzy and I would have been out looking for him, too.
But I digress, this was about Abbie Hoffman. Abbie was there, too. He was with the sincere Quakers, peace activists, ecologists, German Green Party representatives, The Committee of Correspondence and others who made the conference a success. Hoffman was our superstar. If I knew what I know now, I would have laughed my butt off at the way Beal and Herrer kissed Abbie’s ass. Beal was instrumental in having Abby and Jerry ejected from YIP, but that day they acted like Wayne and Garth with Alice Cooper.
Abbie was more than a gentleman, he was one of nature’s royalty. I don’t know if he held any ill will towards Beal, because he did not let it show. He took their adulation with quiet aplomb and mingled with the organizers. He joined us in the kitchen to help prepare dinner. That’s when I introduced myself and shook his hand. I mentioned that I was an accounting student and that seemed to amuse him.
It’s hard to believe that 27 years passed and the conference I swore I would never forget is so vague. Eric Sternglass was there, and I remember his lecture on acid rain. John Judge was there as well. Along with some rather painful conspiracy theories, he was also the man who outed the Eastern Service Workers as a cult. Abbie’s speech was the last event of the conference. He spoke on his best subject, organizing, and I wish I had a transcript. I would send it to every member of Occupy I could find. They need to read it, learn it, and live it.
His message was to never take on a fight you cannot win. It demoralizes the troops and robs the movement’s energy. Today I look at the pathetic state of the left, and realize how right he was. We haven’t had anything resembling a definitive win since Nixon was impeached. The false success of having Obama elected has faded into the ashes of being had.
A couple of years later, I was at an Abbie led protest and watched him get people arguing over who got to lie under the bulldozers. Hoffman was a natural leader who brought out the best in people. I heard that in his lecture, when he explained why he used sports analogies in his rallies. By using a language everybody could relate to, he got the message through and raised enthusiasm for the cause. Most importantly, he stressed the need to keep things simple. It is easier to win against a single issue than to clog things up with extraneous goals.
Now that I think of it, we owe the organizers of that conference a tremendous debt. They were the people who funded Abbie Hoffman so he could lead the fight against nuclear reactors. Were it not for them, the crises that is still happening in Japan could have happened here. Abby put an end to US nuclear reactor proliferation. His victories lasted until the election of the current moron-in-chief, who is trying to gear up the nuclear madness again.
I am proud to say that I was a part of Abbie’s fight, and I kept on fighting after the Greens and I parted ways. The New York leadership took the moderatorship away from Dana Beal a few years after that first conference, and my wife and I had the misfortune of being known as YIPsters,and we got caught in the purge. For years we were ignored by most of the party, but I didn’t care. I was one of Abbie’s people and didn’t need them.
The day after Abbie’s lecture, we all gathered to sign the Midatlantic Charter before going home. Abby stood next to me when it was my turn to sign. I wrote it big, so Ronald Reagan could see it without his glasses. That made Abbie laugh so hard we became friends and stayed in touch until he died. We met at several other conferences, and he helped my family get home after Beal and Herrer arranged to have my wife, son, and I stranded in Erie PA.
The last time I saw Abbie, We had just “dumped the pump” on the Fork’s river. At the time, I owned a book store in Allentown PA. Three days before he died, we had coffee in my back room, making plans for my shop to become a meeting and recruiting center. It was never to happen. He died when we needed him most. I have to argue with both the suicide and murder conspiracy people. It was an accidental overdose. There is no doubt in my mind.
When Abbie Hoffman died, the left died with him. We haven’t had a significant victory since The Pump got dumped. Just as religion took over the right, it took over the left in the form of the New Age movement. To my shame, I have to accept my own responsibility in promoting that bullshit. In retrospect, I have to wonder what it was I was thinking. The concept of consensus as opposed to democratic leadership has poleaxed the American left. Today the vocally mentally ill have driven out the sane people, and it all started with the foolish idea we didn’t need leaders.
The need for new leadership is made manifest by the OWS movement, which is becoming a clusterfuck before our eyes. That last demonstration in Oakland was pathetic. The cops provoked a reaction because less than ten percent of the demonstrators have non-violence training. Nobody protested with Abby without non-violence training. The police were never able to provoke us. That is an important reason why we won and OWS is getting its asses handed to them. We need to find the strength to start enforcing the limits and taking the mic away from the crazies. Somebody has to have the responsibility to prioritize and choose which of the many issues facing us needs to be addressed first, and keep addressing it until it stops being an issue. Then choose which issue we move on to next. So far, Democracy has proven to be the best way to choose and to replace leaders. I think it’s time to go back to what works.
When the Fascists rose to power in Europe, they did so by demonizing their opponents. In Spain, they were against intellectuals educating the peasants as it was anti-Catholic. In Germany, they worked on centuries of bigotry by promoting the International Jewish Conspiracy. Mussolini did things differently. His fascism welded bigotry and anti-intellectualism to progressive ideas like a minimum wage and women’s suffrage. While the Germans and the Spanish made fascists out of their right wings, the Italians made fascists out of their left wing.
The American government propaganda machine managed to take the anti-intellectualism of Franco, the bigotry of Hitler, and the pseudo-progressive chauvinism of Mussolini and apply them to both the left and the right wing. The anti-intellectualism is promoted by conspiracy theories. The bigotry is promoted by applying conspiracy theories to different ethnic and political groups. The chauvinism comes in with both sides convincing themselves that they are the only side with the answers.
Conspiracy theory is the idea that science is lying if it does not conform to preconceived notions. For instance, conservative Christians insist that evolution is a conspiracy as it denies special creation. The Truthers insist that relativity is a conspiracy as it disproves their notion that the government rigged the towers with bombs. We are seeing anti-intellectualism at its worst on the left as well as the right.
Both sides of the political spectrum are applying conspiracy theories to different ethnic and political groups. In the case of the conservatives, the targets of hatred are Gays. They will tell you they have nothing against homosexuals (hate the sin, love the sinner, and the rest of that rot.) They will tell you that they are against the “homosexual agenda”. Thanks to conspiracy reasoning, they see the LGBT community demanding equal rights and acceptance as a direct attack on their conservative values. Gays are then demonized along with others who supports gay rights.
On the other hand, the left is scapegoating Jews. Just like their counterparts on the right, people on the left will tell you they have nothing against Jews, they are just against Zionism. These stalwart champions of human rights have no more idea of what Zionism is than Michelle Bachman knows what it is to be a lesbian. All they know is that Noam Chomsky is against it, which is good enough for them. That statement sums up what Bachman’s followers know about homosexuality. The left is as delusional as the right now that the Truthers have jumped in with their mad accusation of the Mossad and bombs in the tower.
Chauvinism is the result of both sides so wrapped up in their different conspiracies that reason becomes impossible. Elements on the left are out to protect America from the International Jewish Conspiracy, blaming Israel for everything from September 11th to Obama’s adopting Bush’s idiot wars. The right is blaming the homosexual agenda for high taxes and unemployment. Neither side can be spoken to. The result is the descendents of the same people who took control of this country in 1790 are in control of it today, and continue to rob us blind as the right tries to save us from homosexuality and the left from creeping Zionism.
The Right had their Tea Party where they promoted their anti-intellectualism and bigotry. Now the Left has their Occupation Movement where there are as many signs promoting Jew hatred as there are signs demanding the demise of Wall St. In Oakland, I have seen so many signs calling for the end of the Jewish Banking Conspiracy, I just gave up on it.
Any real revolution in this country has to do two things. The first is The Occupation has to get it’s shit together. This means that the wing-nuts have to go. The Truthers/anti-Zionists are as aggressive as Born Again Christians. They will drive out anybody who does not believe in their paranoid fantasies. I watched them do this to the peace movement. They will do the same to the Occupation. The second thing is creating a reasonable agenda that people on the right can at least discuss. I have seen this on the Las Angeles Occupation website. They have adopted an agenda that include basic rights like food, shelter, education, and Medical care. So far, Los Angeles and Berkeley are the only two Occupations supporting basic human rights. Other Occupations are being too divisive in their antisemitism and determination that the Jewish bankers be punished. Unless the other Occupations catch up to Los Angeles and Berkeley, we are going to end up like Egypt and our fundamentalist religious military will take over.
And if you don’t think this can happen here in America, think again. The military is already dominated by Born Again Christians. The Air Force is the worst, and they have access to nukes. Rick Perry, in his latest round of idiocy, is calling for an end to civilian management of the military. This is the one thing separating us from a fascist dictatorship. It doesn’t matter if Perry becomes president or not, if Wall St. wants an end to civilian management, Wall St. is going to get it. After all, Wall St. actually runs this country and its propaganda mill. Besides, a military dictatorship is the usual way an imperialist nation ends.
After long and careful consideration, I will not be supporting the Occupation Movement unless those two criteria are met. My energy is going to keeping my family and me alive for the next ten years of military rule. Unless Americans abandon conspiracies for reason, this is all we have to look forward to.
People who know me will be shocked that I have rejoined the Green Party. I had major personal problems with some of the early organizers. They are no longer with the Greens, and the party has grown beyond them. I have grown up a little bit too. For many years I have supported the DSA, but the DSA will not give up the idea that the Democrats can be radicalized. Since it hasn’t happened after 30 years of trying, we run into Einstein’s definition of insanity. We keep doing the same things the same way and expect different results. There are many other parties I can join or support, but none of them have the national network that the Greens built in under 30 years. The Green Party is America’s best chance to end Corporate control of our government. I would be a fool to hold onto a twenty five year old grudge.
During the last twenty five years, the Democrats silently supported everything the Republicans wanted. If you check the Project Vote Smart web site you can see that the Democrats voted for all the financial reforms that led to our economic collapse. It was Bill Clinton who allowed outsourcing when he had a Democratic majority in Congress. Under Bush the Democrats supported both illegal wars, Homeland Security, and illegal wiretapping. Under Obama, the Democrats have allowed the illegal existence of Guantanamo and continue to toss gay rights under a bus.
Obama could not have expanded the illegal Afghanistan war into Pakistan if he did not have the support of the Democrat majority. I am appalled at the Democratic voters who embraced both illegal wars after Obama took office. The wars are no more legal under Obama and it is still murder when a Democrat gives the orders. Despite all the cheering from Democratic pundits, our tax money is going to pay for the mercenaries holding Iraq.
To add insult onto injury, there is the passage of the so called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”, which is more properly called the “Screw Over the Disabled and Elderly for Fun and Corporate Profits Act”. The Democratic pundits and true believers tout this as a leftist victory. In reality, this piece of crap legislation reduces the quality of Medicare. It allows economic discrimination, and it does not do anything to make care affordable. True, the insurance companies have to accept people with preexisting conditions, but there is no limit to premiums.
You cannot fool all of the people all of the time, and this is true for the people who voted Democrat last election. Poor people have caught wise to the health care reform. Environmentalists are appalled that he protected BP instead of prosecuting them. Anti-war activists call him “The Obamanation” for his drone tactics. The Democrats have lost their core supporters. Few are going to vote third party this coming election and most are staying home.
In 2008, the Democrats attracted liberal and progressive voters with vague promises of hope and change. We are not even getting that during the 2010 midterms. We are being threatened with the Tea Party instead. What will happen if the Tea Party wins? Will the Tea Party start killing innocent women and children with drones? Maybe they will go to court to reinstate DADT? Should we be afraid that they might put more people in Guantanamo? Wait, the Democrats have already done this. Unless you are afraid that Christine O’Donnell is going to cast a spell on you, I see no reason to be afraid of the Tea Party. They will vote according to Wall Street just like the Democrats.
When pushed into a corner, the Democrats will say that we only have two choices, them or the Republicans. If this is true, why was Green gubernatorial candidate Lauren Wells arrested at the California debate last week? It’s because both parties are afraid of the Green Party. The Greens have made tremendous progress on the local level. Richmond and Fairfax California are just two of the cities with a Green majority on their city councils. Greens can be found amongst aldermen, school board members, and there are even a few Green mayors. There are Greens in state legislatures. The Democrats are telling still another lie when they say there are only two choices. If the Greens can be elected in local and state governments, they can be elected to national offices as well.
The Commercial Bubble will burst any day now. With the banks and Wall St. teetering on the edge of collapse there will never be a better time to support a truly progressive party. Don’t let Democratic lies depress you into staying home this coming election day. Don’t let Tea Party Paranoia scare you into voting for the corporatist Democrats. Please join me in voting Green this election. It will shock the hell out of Wall Street, and it will be a first step in creating a better future.
Once upon a time, I associated tea parties with little girls and teddy bears sitting on little chairs around a tiny table. That cute little image has been permanently ruined by a bunch of raging morons marching around with tea bags hanging off their hats. Tea Parties are now associated with bullies tossing dollar bills at a sick man. What’s worse is that now tea parties are associated with screaming racism.
Things became absolutely surreal when the left wing press started calling the Tea Party, populist. When I first saw this on an Alternet article, I could not believe what I was reading. The Tea Party is no more populist than Goldman Sachs or the Democratic Party. The Tea Party is an AstroTurf movement organized by the same Wall Street crooks who tanked the economy. The Tea Party is nothing but a smoke screen. Sean Hannity and our darling Sarah Palin are using time honored advertising techniques to whip the right wing true believers into a lynch mob. The stupid, the bigoted, the ignorant, and the arrogant are frightened. The economy has tanked, their retirements are in jeopardy, their mortgages are foreclosing. Their health care is inadequate. Credit card limits are dropping. Rather than organizing against the Wall Street criminals who caused it, they are organizing against their fellow victims. The poor, the minorities, the educated, and the progressive are all targets of Tea Bagger rage instead of the real cause of their problems.
Populism and populists movements have never been middle class. They have never had the support of Wall Street talking heads. Throughout American history they have been poor people’s movements. When the middle class gets involved it is for reasons of personal ethics, as illustrated by the Abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. The earliest recorded American populists were the Regulators. In the days before the Rapture was created, a large group of religious non-conformists got together to use government as a means of establishing the Millennium. Poor farmers, freed slaves, and wealthy plantation owners joined together to establish just laws that included abolition, progressive taxation, land ownership for tenant farmers, and free elections.
While the Regulators were finally wiped out in the Whiskey Rebellion, Populism lived on through the Abolition movement. Abolition was a movement that never died and still exists today. Despite attempts by the libertarians and John Birchers to rehabilitate the South, slavery was one of the main reasons the South tried to leave the Union. Abolitionists simply did not give a fiddler’s damn about state rights. Slavery was an abomination and the Abolitionists were out to end it. Like their Regulator grandfathers, the Abolitionists were using the power of the Federal Government to end a monstrous injustice.
Jump forward a few decades and look at the beginnings of the labor movement in the United States. I cannot think of a better example of a Populist Movement. The beginnings of the labor movement can be found in the churches. Free Methodists, Western Baptists, Congregationalists, and even Catholics were amongst the leaders of the early American unions. While there was a socialist labor movement going on in Europe, it had very little to do with the American movement until the beginning of the twentieth century. While the American press was yelling “anarchism” during the 19th Century, the unions were anything but. They were organized by their churches and they were not calling for the end of the American government. Rather they were demanding their voices in the American government. They were demanding that the government oversee safety standards, collective bargaining, and that the rich be taxed the same as the poor.
Here is another reason that the Tea party is not populist. Populist movements were never anti-tax. They knew that government did not happen by magic. All the populist movements from The Regulators to the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s knew full well that it was going to take tax money to make their dreams come true. The difference is that the populists were demanding that the rich be taxed the same as the poor. The income tax was a populist movement. The entire idea behind the income tax is that the corporations pay as well as the poor. “I’m a taxpayer and I have my rights” would mean the same to the poor as well as the rich.
Populism are movements that demand that special privileges become universal privileges. Nothing demonstrates this more than the Civil Rights Movement. Abolition neither died nor went to sleep after the civil war. Citizens of African descent continued to live in conditions little better than slavery. Jim Crow simply rubbed salt into the wounds. Separate can never be equal. Dr. King demanded that the vast resources of the US government be used to correct this injustice. Part of the correction that Dr. King demanded was that more tax money be placed into education and affirmative action.
That’s right, libertarians. Dr. King was behind affirmative action. I know this is not true in your fairy tale world of George Washington meets John Galt, but in the real world, Dr. King demanded affirmative action. The reaction of the bigots was to run around screaming “states rights” while turning the fire hoses on peaceful protesters. I mean really, what relevance do states rights have in the 21st Century? It was an idea that made sense in the 18th Century when it took weeks to travel from Philadelphia to New York by land. By the 19th Century such inventions as the telegraph and the railroads made states rights irrelevant. The civil war showed the practical limits of states rights.
The entire purpose of the Constitution was to establish a national tax base, place the armed forces under one command, and to establish a uniform code of law. Under the Constitution, the DEA has every right to come into California and close dispensaries. We may not agree with what they are doing, and I feel it is just wrong. However, it is constitutional and we are not going to accomplish anything by ignoring that unfortunate fact.
During the Whiskey Rebellion, George Washington sent tax collectors and marshals into Pennsylvania to enforce federal law over states rights. The president was made into the commander and chief of the armed forces. Under the Constitution, the state militias were called out to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. The militias of Pennsylvania were called up and those who did not support the Federal Government, were declared outlaw.
So there is nothing populist in the Tea Party movement. First of all, populist movements don’t really care about the Constitution. Quite often, like the income tax and women suffrage, populist movements demand changes in the Constitution. Populist movement are not anti-taxation but demand a fair tax burden and a fair distribution of tax money. But most telling of all, populist movements are all about justice and equality. The Tea Party exists to protect white middle class privilege.
It is fear of change more than anything else that inspires the Tea Party and other libertarian organizations. They live in a fantasy world where the western expansion is still happening and free market capitalism still works. Once again, Wall Street has proven the sham of the free market. Rather than accept this, the Tea Party has dived into a never ending pool of denial, and they have Fox News and Libertarian Radio to egg them on. If the Tea Party was reacting to reality, they would be preparing to dip Rush and Sean into a vat of tar and cover them with feathers.
Nothing exemplifies the American oppression of minorities more than the Tea Party. They cannot see beyond the color of the president’s skin. They ignore the fact that each of them pay more in taxes than Rush Limbaugh, and focus on the fact that minorities demand equality. Like the bigots in Alabama and like Barry Goldwater, they concentrate on non-existent states’ rights and ignore the basic racism of their arguments. They cry over being denied the special privileges enjoyed by Wall Street insiders. Rather than get angry with White Privilege Wall Street, they get angry at a non-existent “Gangsta Government”, demand a return to a Constitution that only exists in their imaginations, and they get ready to kill liberals.
The Tea Party Populist? It is to laugh.
Scott Adams wrote a few cartoons where his character Dogbert had a taser, and he used it on everybody who annoyed him. Sometimes I wish I lived in that world. That way the next time somebody quotes Benjamin Franklin out of context, I can zap him with the taser until smoke pours out his ears. Maybe then people will learn that they will never win a point by quoting somebody out of context. Ben Franklin was speaking of standing armies when he said, “he who would sacrifice a little bit of liberty for a little bit of security, will lose both and deserve neither.” Franklin was against standing armies while other delegates to the Constitutional Convention were very much in favor of them. Like all of Franklin’s other Constitutional ideas, it was ignored.
In the last few years I have seen that quote applied to such diverse matters as cameras at stop-lights, the enforcement of libel laws, September 11th conspiracies, breaking the media monopolies, health care, weapons of mass destruction, cell phones, and the income tax. Not once has anybody applied that quote to standing armies. It has become the all purpose response when there is no other argument. When shown proof that cameras at stop-lights reduce traffic fatalities, out comes the quote. When presented with an idea that journalistic standards and ethics be enforced again, there is always the quote. I have no idea what Franklin would say about national health, but I hardly think he would equate it with standing armies. Suggesting that September 11th conspiracists should take their medications becomes a threat to liberty. The quote has become an internet meme which has completely lost any meaning. It is another way of covering your ears and singing, “la la la, I can’t hear you.”
Nor has this become the sole example of quoting out of context. Recently Glenn Beck has been trotting out Thomas Paine in support of the tea baggers. Paine was part of a social movement called the Populists. He advocated a progressive tax on wealth, welfare, subsidized farm loans, and representative democracy. He even declared health to be a basic human right. It just goes to show you that any point can be won if the person being quoted is dead. Paine was an anti-federalist who strongly advocated for the original American Confederacy of 1780-1790. Upon his return to the United States in 1802, he lived in obscurity for seven years and his funeral was ignored. Once he was dead, he immediately became the darling of the nation. Great monuments were built in his honor, and Common Sense has been quoted out of context by public school teachers for over a century.
In a recent interview, former pro-wrestler turned politician, Jesse Ventura, criticized the Democrats and the Republicans for not working together. I will be the first to admit it when Ventura says something intelligent. It happens so rarely. Then Ventura had to ruin it by quoting the founding fathers out of context. He said that George Washington, John Adams and others warned us against the dangers of political parties. If I lived in Scott Adams’ world, I would zap Ventura with my taser until lightning came out of his nose. The founders liked the two party system just fine. It was the many political parties being formed in England they were scared of. Different factions were creating their own political parties and having them elected to Parliament. In order to get anything done, the different factions had to work together to create a compromise. This is the foundation of Parliamentary Democracy. The delegates, Ministers of Parliament, Congresspeople, whatever you want to call them, directly represent their constituents and get them the best deal possible. That was what our founding fathers were worried about. They wanted to make sure their people stayed on top.
The Constitution represents a naked power grab by a faction in government whom we now call the Federalists. Had the revolution not happened, George Washington would have been jailed by Britain for his shady land deals. Alexander Hamilton was very well connected to the American and British financial industry. He and his relative by marriage, Robert Morris, worked together on a bond scam that defrauded the Revolutionary enlisted soldiers of their back pay. Even the leader of the anti-federalist movement, Thomas Jefferson, was a wealthy landowner as well as a slave owner who held his own children as property. These were not people who particularly cared about the rights of other people. When Jefferson became president, he continued the Federalist system and liked it.
Our Federalist founders created a system which imitated the British court of the time. Our president has the exact same powers as the Constitutional Monarch. He is the head of the army, disperses funds, oversees the execution of the law, industry, diplomacy, etc, through his cabinet. Originally the Senate was appointed by the state governments. There are no term limits for the Supreme Court, and British common law gives any American judge the same power as a British duke. Alexander Hamilton created a taxation system where the wealthy were barely taxed and the poor and lower middle class maintained most of the tax burden. Washington selected his cabinet from industrialists and landowners. You did not find Patrick Henry or Herman Husband amongst his closest advisers. To this day the cabinet is selected from the wealthy to serve the interests of the wealthy, and the Supreme Court Justices are selected by their loyalty to the monied interests.
Due process in law has always been at the whim of our government. Four years after the Constitution was ratified, Washington’s Attorney General declared that the Constitution did not apply to anyone accused of rebelling against the United States. Suspects in the Whiskey Rebellion were arrested without warrant. They were paraded down Market Street in Philadelphia as traitors, and tossed into an unheated cell without food or light. This was a precedent John Yoo turned to in his torture memos. In a foreshadowing of Guantanamo, all twenty men were found not guilty, even though the judges gave instructions to enter a verdict of guilty. Over the years due process has also been denied to freed slaves, European immigrants, and anyone else without the funds to buy due process.
Those tea baggers, and anarchist libertarians who talk about freedom within the Constitution have no idea what they are talking about. The United States was never a representative democracy. Our president is chosen by the electoral college, so I don’t even know why we bother with the popular vote. It’s all show anyway. Our Congress and Senate are representatives of military industrial complex, just as our federalist founders wanted it. There has never been a time when the wealthy paid their share in taxes, and a poor man has rarely won against a rich man in court. That is how our legal system is set up. The Bill of Rights was a major concession won by the few populist delegates to the Constitutional Convention, but even the Bill of Rights is interpreted through the Supreme Court, which historically championed Jim Crow.
When Libertarians prattle on about a return to the Constitution, I wish I was Dogbert so I can tase them until they do the Monster Mash. The America they talk about never existed in the real world. Maybe if they walked through a wardrobe and traveled through Narnia, Aslan might direct them to it. We are living in the exact America the Federalists wanted. A return to the Constitution is only going to cement corporate control over this country. If we want to change the country, we need to look to the future. Trying to return to the past never works. The clock never ticks backwards, and trying to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions only makes things worse. Look at what happened to Germany when they tried it.
(Author’s note. The original head photo was John Adams. This composite sketch was lent to me courtesy of http://wethepeoplegame.com/ and Bob Snizek. They hold all legal rights to it.)
His hair was unkempt for it had not been brushed in years. His clothes were tattered and mended; they were meant for farm work and not for addressing the members of the Pennsylvania Assembly. Yet he stood before the assembled leaders of colonial Pennsylvania and he preached fire and brimstone. He called down the wrath of God upon the crowned heads of Europe and the land speculators in New York. He preached the New Jerusalem on the American Continent. His America was one that Superman would be proud of for it was founded on Truth and Justice. Staring at his audience, no, his congregation, with eyes of fire, he preached the damnation of slaveholders, and condemned those who abused the natives to eternal hellfire. When he was finished, his audience rose to applaud their hero. His name was Herman Husband. His detractors called him the Mad Man of the Mountains, but his fellow members of the Pennsylvania assembly called him a man of God.
Born to a wealthy family in Maryland, Husband got religion from working for his tavern keeper uncle. That same uncle also taught him the value of hard work. Those lessons were so well learned that young Herman could not readjust to the frivolous life of a Maryland plantation owner’s son. He found their vapid imitation of British court life sinful, and he could not abide slavery. He soon moved away and bought his own plantation. He left the Anglican Church, which he felt was the home of the antichrist, and joined the Quakers. Proving that there was no fanatic quite like a convert, Husband became the most dedicated of Quakers. Forsaking all vanity, he refused to brush his hair and wore only work clothes. Even though his plantation and business interests made him a very wealthy man, he lived as frugally as a pauper. Despite his frugality and his uncompromising religious beliefs, his children adored him, and all three of his wives felt he was the world’s greatest mate.
His first wife gladly converted to the Society of Friends, his second wife joined him in exile when the Quaker elders banished him, and his third wife and all his children helped him escape when King George had a price on his head. Husband refused to compromise when it came to religion. It was his firm belief that God spoke to each and every human being regardless of race or gender. When he criticized the Quaker elders for forbidding revelation contrary to Quaker doctrine, the elders banished him. Husband could care less. His church was the invisible church on the right hand of God. No earthly authority had the right to tell him he wasn’t one of the elect.
Husband joined with fellow banished Quakers, angry Baptists, defrocked Methodists, and other heretics who became what is known as the Regulators. They did not earn that name for their religious beliefs. On the contrary, religion was the most unregulated thing about them. To them, accepting Jesus as their lord and savior automatically made them the equals of any popes or bishops. They could not care less about historic inaccuracies in the Bible. To them, the book was a divination tool. The will of God was revealed through relating the Bible stories to the modern world. It mattered not to them that there was no historic Moses, the Ten Commandments were still God’s own truth.
While the Regulators could not agree on dogma or ritual, they did agree on politics. Amazingly, the Regulators were in total agreement that God wanted a progressive tax on wealth. It also came to a surprise to George Washington that God hated land speculators and wanted title given to the people who actually developed the land. Alexander Hamilton was not amused to hear that God demanded low interest loans to farmers. Imagine Thomas Jefferson’s outrage when he discovered that the Almighty not only wanted him to free his slaves, but to pay reparations for the indignities of being owned. The Regulators also felt that Africans and Native Americans had equal rights in the eyes of God and both should enjoy full civil rights on earth.
The name Regulators came from their belief that good government was government that protected the rights of the poor from the depredations of the wealthy. Laws should be passed to assure everybody of equal opportunities, and that everybody had an equal voice in government. Back when George Washington was still having tea with the Royal Governor of Virginia, and John Adams was campaigning for a British peerage, the Regulators were calling for an America free of European tyranny. The King was not happy, nor were the governors of Maryland and Virginia. It was not long before the Regulators became an illegal organization and Herman Husband fled into the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Husband the fugitive came to settle in the Allegheny Mountains. Known only as the Quaker, he worked amongst the the trappers and hunters who settled around Pittsburgh. Eventually he built a homestead where his wife and children joined him. His neighbors respected him not just as a farmer but as a preacher. He shared his vision of the American West as a new Jerusalem, and his dream of welcoming the reign of Christ through establishing just laws. In those days before the Rapture became dogma, Christians believed that the reign of Christ could be brought into existence through the efforts of human beings. Husband had a vision of the New Jerusalem ruled through a complex legislature based on strict term limits. His neighbors so loved his vision that they elected him to the Pennsylvania legislature twice.
There was no greater champion of the American Revolution than Herman Husband. To him, George Washington was a latter day Joshua, bringing down the walls of the British Jericho. Later, Husband would be shocked and dismayed by his hero. Not only was Washington an absentee land owner in Husband’s own beloved Alleghenies, but Washington’s presidency was a repudiation of everything Husband lived and worked for. The grand old man of the Regulators saw the Constitution as a work of Satan, and a means for the rich to exploit and abuse the poor. Having the general who led the revolution as the first president under that Satanic document almost shattered Husband’s belief in God.
Almost, but not quite. Despite the unfair taxation that exploited his neighbors, and laws that protected land speculators from prosecution from their tenants, Husband continued to believe. He continued to preach his New Jerusalem based on the equality of man. He continued to preach a progressive tax against wealth, civil rights for all, and an end to the damnable institution of slavery. When his neighbors rebelled against the Federal Government over Hamilton’s Whiskey Tax, which provided the likes of George Washington with a lucrative monopoly, Herman Husband was the first to join in.
He was also to be the first of many to be arrested without due process and the only one to be prosecuted for the crime of sedition. There were many Federalists who heard him preach against a government that forced hard working farmers off their land, and imposing taxes that sent working men into the poor house. Worse of all, he preached against slavery, and in the early days of the US government, that was a constitutional violation. Out of the 28 people to be prosecuted for the Whiskey Rebellion, Herman Husband was one of two to be found guilty. The rest were found not guilty despite judge’s orders to enter a guilty verdict. Washington, adroit politician that he was, pardoned him so he would not become a martyr to the anti Federalist cause. The pardon didn’t come a minute too soon. Herman Husband contracted pneumonia from being kept in an unheated cell in December and died soon after being released.
Poor Herman Husband never lived to see his American Jerusalem and was betrayed by the very heroes he prayed for. The religious movement he helped to found transmuted into today’s religious right. The social movement he helped start continued after his death, and later influenced such thinkers as Karl Marx and Charles Dickens. I find it funny that the only founding father I have any affection for was the great-grandfather of today’s born again movement. If there was any Christian who truly deserved heaven, it was Herman Husband, because it was he and not Washington or Jefferson, and especially not Hamilton, who embodied the American spirit of Liberty and Equality. Only Herman Husband embodied the best qualities of the religious and of the socialist. May his memory be restored as an example to us all.
Sixteen protesters and 25 cops showed up at the John Yoo Torture Memos protest on Feb 11th. There were only sixteen protesters. It took 25 cops to protect Yoo from us. One of us was using a wheel chair. Another of us was 76 years old. I have a bad back and my wife and I both have arthritis. That effectively left 12 potential rioters against 25 armed peace officers. I suppose it was worth the taxpayer’s money so John Yoo would feel safe from us. Wait, I’m wrong. One of my wife’s friends from her Code Pink group is also disabled and sat in a camp chair. Another was wearing a fifty pound John Yoo bobble head. So there were effectively 10 potential rioters against 25 armed cops. It’s a good thing that some of them were from the SWAT team.
To the officers’ credit, they were the most professional police force on earth. They took their job damned seriously. If there was going to be an actual attempt to harm Yoo, they were ready. They were also smart enough to know that we constituted no danger. Also to their credit, they stood up for our First Amendment rights. They did not force us to disperse. They did not force us into a “Free Speech Zone” two miles away. Traffic flow and liability were their main concerns. They saw to it that traffic flowed smoothly and that John Yoo would have to go past us in order to leave.
It doesn’t look good for Dr. Yoo. Britain is giving its infamous MI5 security agency a public reaming for the torture of British citizens in Guantanamo. Yes, Virginia, there are people named Mohamad who are British Citizens, and England is pissed. It looks as if secret documents are going to be made public as MI5 agents are tried for not informing their government.
Meanwhile Dick Cheney is working his motormouth on television. Cheney confirmed that Yoo co-wrote the Torture Memos to rationalize the use of torture. Cheney wanted torture so Yoo told him what he wanted to hear. What’s worse, what is the absolute bitter end, is that Cheney also admitted to ordering three people tortured.
He ordered three people tortured? Who was he to order three people tortured? Hell, since when can the vice president order anything except a pizza? What happened to the days when one brother goes to sea while his other brother becomes vice-president, and nobody ever hears from either of them again? Since when does the vice president order anybody tortured? Not only is Big Mouth Cheney admitting to torturing people, but he’s admitting that the executive office ignores the constitution. The vice presidency is traditionally the golden road to political obscurity. I wonder if it was John Yoo who told Cheney he had the right to order people tortured?
So Yoo must know that the jig is up. He knows that he can run and cannot hide. If he had a brain in his head he would be fleeing to Argentina about now. He is being sued by somebody who was wrongfully tortured in Guantanamo. MI5 is being placed on public trial for allowing British Citizens to be tortured. Now his former boss is spilling the beans to the press. Even Holder’s gutless Justice Department is saying he showed “poor judgment.” The weasel is completely and totally screwed, and now he is just wiggling around trying to justify his actions.
I hoped to post a link to his book tour, so people could find out where he is going to be speaking, and stage their own protests. Guess what? He didn’t publish his itinerary. John Yoo is conducting the country’s first clandestine book signing tour. He has become a man of mystery. Nobody knows where he will show up next. Today a country club in Taos New Mexico. Tomorrow a luncheon with the Young Republicans in Chicago. Each time he strikes, he leaves his autograph in a few of his books, which justifies torture by rationalizing the high handed presidents of the past. Like Waldo, it takes highly developed powers of observation to find him. If you do find him and are going to hold a protest, I will be glad to send you the songs and chants Code Pink has been using. It’ll make him feel at home.
Yoo complains that all this protesting is intimidating him. Why? Is he afraid we’re going to waterboard him? Is he afraid that we are going to pull him off the street and hide him in an undisclosed location? Of course not. Unlike Yoo, we believe in rule by law. We are demanding due process for Yoo, which is more than the people he is responsible for torturing get. This is why UC Berkeley will not disclose where he is lecturing. This is why his book tour is being treated like a ninja assault. This is why he hid on his way out of the Poplar Creek Golf Club.
I was standing at a funny angle so I saw him when he left the golf club. He got into a green SUV with tinted windows. A blond woman was at the wheel. Before they reached the exit, he hunkered down in the front seat so we could not see him. I knew he was in that vehicle, so I shouted “John Yoo is a wuss!”