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.
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!”
Tea baggers across the country have this bumper sticker on their gas guzzling SUVs. It asks who is John Galt? Being literate, we know that John Galt is the mysterious stranger of Ayn Rand’s epic piece of capitalist drivel, Atlas Shrugged. Rand, a Soviet refugee, brought PTSD to new heights when she declared that anybody who did not smoke is a communist, and accused tobacco researchers of treason. Despite this obviously Stalinist line of reasoning, Rand continues to be the darling of the libertarian right. Just who is John Galt?
Rand gets really cute in the name she gives her character. His first name is the most common in the English speaking world. That represents his populist roots. His last name Galt, sounds like a Anglo-Saxon surname, but it is also the alias used by the God Odin when he walked amongst humans. Odin was in the habit of handing doomed swords out to unsuspecting vikings, and when asked, Odin would say he was Galt. At that point the viking would know that he was completely and totally screwed. If he followed the course of common sense, dropped the sword, and ran like hell, he would earn the wrath of Odin. If he kept the sword, he would be led to a particularly tragic and heroic doom. So Galt is God Almighty, but a particularly sadistic and untrustworthy God who has no use for free will.
Now, what captains of industry do we know who are in the habit of giving out cursed gifts? I can think of two right off the top of my head: Henry Ford and Prescott Bush. Their support of Hitler and the Third Reich resulted in death, devastation, destruction, and the systematic murder of 10 million human beings. It ended in the deaths of many Nazi leaders; most dramatically in Joseph Goebbel’s murder of his innocent daughters. I think it is safe to assume that John Galt is somebody who thinks he’s God Almighty, and does not shrink at murder as a means to an end. As a God, Odin was a great fan of war and destruction, we can say that John Galt is a warmonger.
To understand why John Galt is such a bloodthirsty bastard, we need to look at the Odin myth a little more closely. Why did Odin, reputably the wisest of the Gods, have this compulsion to create death, destruction, and misery amongst the mortal population? He was serving a higher purpose, and one that only he in his wisdom could truly understand. The other gods had a partial understanding of that purpose, and mere humans could receive glimpses of that purpose. Only Odin could see the whole purpose, and he gave up an eye to do it. Like Odin, John Galt is the one eyed man in the land of the blind. The world depends on his vision so that it can keep on turning. This is why the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same rights as human beings. Captains of industry, CEOs, Chairmen of the board are all ubermench. It is only right that they have more power than us lesser mortals who are too humble to share in their great vision.
Next, you may ask, what is this great vision Galt cannot share with the rest of us mere mortals? Simply that there is a war coming up between the good guys and the bad guys. It will be the war to end all wars and humanity needs to be ready for it. Odin keep humanity in training by stirring up wars, and choosing the best of the slain to be his warriors when the final conflict happens. Our captains of industry, our John Galts, also see a great war coming, but instead of the Frost Giants, we’ll be fighting godless communists. No, that was two generations back. Instead of the Frost Giants, we’ll be fighting the drug cartels in South America. That really didn’t work out that well. This time, we will be fighting the Jihadists. True, they are a handful of extremists whom our forces chase around the Himalayas like it was a Keystone Kops movie, but they are the enemy that will destroy our way of life! We better get them before they get us.
Ultimately who is John Galt? He is a war mongering bastard who does not care how many people he has to have killed to achieve his goals. He is a captain of industry who knows better than the rest of us as to how we should run our lives. He is a man with such power that governments declares anybody who opposes him as the powers of darkness. John Galt is a man who kings and presidents listen to because in Galt’s mind he is always right. What historic figure fits this mold? There is only one, Joseph Stalin.
Stalin began as a peasant and worked himself up to the head of the Soviet Union through his own talents for murder and lack of ethics. Stalin was responsible for the deaths of millions, and used the needs of the state justification. Stalin was a strong man who commanded the resources of all of Mother Russia and a good chunk of Eastern Europe to boot. On top of everything else, the crazy bastard thought he was God. To this day, there are Russians who still support and apologize for Joe Stalin.
Ayn Rand took the Stalinist qualities that so scarred her as a child and deified them into her character of John Galt. Let’s bring things back to reality here. Who is John Galt? John Galt is a parasite who grew up in a privileged class and accepts these privileges as part of his due. You can also look at John Galt as Bill Cosby, a man who feels that he owes nobody anything because he paid his own way into the upper class. John Galt can be seen as National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who does not want the world to think that she got her job through affirmative action. After all, her grandfather paid blood to bring his family into the ruling class. George W. Bush is also John Galt. We all know that the draft was created for poor people, and not the son of the EXXON heir. John Galt is every politician in Washington who denies the majority of Americans jobs and health care.
John Galt is useless, because if John Galt was really all that talented, he could make it to the top in any economic system or society. This makes Galt just another one of Timmy Geithner’s Wall St. cronies, stealing money from honest tax payers. That’s who John Galt really is. Stop and remember, Stalin made it to the top by robbing banks.
I was very surprised to discover an article about Rand on Alternet today. (Okay, I admit it, my wife discovered it for me.) In this chilling article, we see that Rand was a serial killer groupie, and that her heroes was based on a sicko who strangled and dismembered a little girl. What does this say about the people who take her nonsense seriously. What’s worse, is that Alan Greenspan was one of her buddies.
Congress is looking for a scapegoat for the current financial crisis. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans. The Republicans want the voters to think that it’s the Democrats fault. They want the voters to forget that the Democrats have only been a majority for two years. The Republicans are also blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both the Democrats and the Republicans are blaming Allen Greenspan for everything. This is fair. After all, Greenspan served Bush the Elder, Bill Clinton, and The Shrub.
If Alan Greenspan was police chief on New York City, he would be standing in front of a City Commission explaining why street mugging has reached the point where the muggers are driving Mercedes. Poor Greenspan would have to hem and haw and explain that he was partially wrong for deregulating the anti-theft laws. Greenspan would elucidate by explaining that he assumed that self-interest would make the muggers regulate themselves. He never imagined that the muggers would allow themselves to get out of control the way they had. Greenspan would have to admit that he should have enforced some of the mugging laws.
Now let’s take a look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Neither company actually makes the loans. A representative from the Mac family doesn’t come to the customer’s house and take the application and the supporting documents. Somebody who works for a broker does that, or, in the case of a subprime lender, somebody who works for a registered corporation.
People who work in subprime are under constant pressure to sell, sell, sell. I remember working for Aames Home Loans during the stock market crash of 2000. The corporate office had every satellite office in California calling Oakland because the property values had risen so high. Those poor people were getting a call from Aames every ten minutes. Salespeople would intimidate a customer into signing and then quit as soon as the commission check cleared. I had one manager who was caught with a complete fraud kit. She had letterhead from several banks, phony pay stubs; everything needed to send phony documents to the underwriters. Once the loan went through and the three days passed, it was a legal contract and Aames could not rescind the loan, although they prosecuted the manager.
The same mentality dominates the prime loan industry. The idea was to get the loan no matter what. I once got fired from a brokerage for trying to kill a bad loan when the customers were hiding credit cards. The loan went through anyway. When no laws are being enforced, how are the Macs supposed to tell a good loan from a bad one? Tarot cards? To give them credit, The Macs turned down their share of bad loans. Yet considering that your average mortgage officer has to submit 15-25 files a week, and needs to fund 3-5 of them, the Macs cannot be blamed if one out of the three to five is a bad loan.
There is also another fact that is not being considered, which is that not all mortgages are bad when they are sold. A refinance or a second mortgage could be sold with all the honesty and good will on earth and could go bad for any number of reasons. The first mortgage meltdown occurred in April of 2007 after GM sent one of their plants to Mexico and the laid off American workers could no longer pay their mortgages. That was the domino that started this whole collapse. More loans have gone bad from outsourcing and unemployment than any other reason.
Which leaves us with the Democrats and the Republicans pointing the finger of blame at each other. Who elected these people in the first place. What does this say about the voters who elected Nancy Pelosi? These people claim to be liberals, but their favorite girl habitually gives Bush everything he wants and a bag of chips. What does this say about voters who supported Bill Clinton as he signed NAFTA into law and then tore our social safety net to pieces? A lot of people who cheered Clinton on are now homeless.
Maybe we, the American voters, are responsible for this mess for listening to ideology rather our own best interests. Perhaps this is our fault for looking at the surface of the issues rather than the substance. We, the voters, have consistently confused personal liberty with the corporate license to steal. We swallowed Greenspan’s idiocy about deregulation hook, line and sinker. The American voter welcomed Reagan with open arms because he promised us that deregulation would make us all richer. As Will Rogers once said, “we don’t always get the government we want, but we always get the government we deserve”.
You want to get out of this mess, start voting smarter. The SEC does not threaten your personal freedoms. If you paid a little more in taxes, the SEC may have been able to save your retirement account. The social safety net may have allowed you to save your job. Speaking of jobs, maybe if the American voter supported the labor unions, the U.S might still have a labor base. That way our currency would not be exclusively based on petroleum production.
It’s time to start ignoring politicians and demanding what we want. We want a secure economy. A single payer health system. More than anything else, we want a government that listens to us instead of dim-weeds like Allan Greenspan.
There is nothing more frightening to a fascist regime than education. When the Nazis took over Germany, it was intellectuals and not Jews who were the first to go to the camps. The Hitler Youth was quickly established to kill any spark of intellectual honesty that threatened to spring up in the German school system. Once the intellectuals were all busy learning about the joy that came from hard work and short rations, the road was clear to go after the Jews.
The American government has seen the dangers that come from a truly educated public. An educated public can raise their collective fists and swat a politician like a fly. Richard M. Nixon was an example of that happening. An educated youth is going to hear the war propaganda and tell the powers that be to go piss up a rope. That’s certainly what happened with the Viet Nam war. I would have to say that the American anti-Communist propaganda came around and bit them in the collective butts. Communist Russia was a poor and technologically backwards country that was presented as the enemy. Popular literature, TV and movies portrayed Russia as a technologically advanced super-power that could easily conquer the United States if we did not stay ahead of them. The U.S started a huge push for education. Our public schools improved the quality of education. Scholarships and grants were created to bring more people to college. America became the best educated country in the world.
This brought a plethora of technological wonders for American corporations to exploit. We created the computer, the VCR, and dozens of other toys that the American economy grew fat on. The fact that the public became educated was an unexpected side effect from the economic boost. Not all Americans became scientists working to make more profits for American corporations. Some became clergy, some philosophers, some social scientists, and still others were everyday workers who had been given the tools to use their own intelligence. The results were unexpected. European Americans could see the justice of Martin Luther King’s cause. The American public could judge Malcolm X’s arguments on their own merit. Mohammad Ali (who will always be “The Greatest” in my heart) was a college-educated boxer that appealed to an educated America. He popularized the anti-war movement and gave us our first slogan. Hell no, we won’t go. The American government found themselves with a crop of young people who refused to serve in Viet Nam and actually saw the reality of the war. It all culminated with Nixon, when the American people demanded his impeachment and got it.
The people behind Nixon had their butts kicked, but returned with Ronald Reagan as their front man. This time they came back smarter. They had a brand new philosophy of smaller government to hide behind. The first thing they did to demonstrate their dedication to smaller government was attack education. Not only did they eliminate millions of dollars in college grants and scholarships, but they began underfunding public schools. By the Nineties, public schools were being bought up by multinational corporations like Lockheed. By the Twenty first century, there were high school students who had no idea what the Second World War was all about.
Not content with destroying the American education system, the Neocons have continued to destroy any attempt at education through their support of the Christianoid right. The U.S Park Service hands out creationist propaganda rather than actual science. California was once the best educated state in the Union. Today it has Proposition 8 on the ballot. How far we have fallen from the days when the public rallied around Dr. King? It breaks my heart. Proposition 8 is the culmination of a 28 year attack on education.
Your Most Gracious Majesty,
It has surely come to your attention that once again, your North American Colonies caused another worldwide stock market crash. We realize this is the second time in eighty years that we have done this, and we are very embarrassed about it. We sincerely hope that it has not caused you any inconvenience. Our thanks to the Bank of England for lending us over 80 billion dollars to pull our economy out of a hole of our own digging. Please extend our kindest regards to your loyal subjects in the Bank of England. We would have been in a considerable amount of trouble without them.
As we are on the subject of embarrassing mistakes, we would like to make amends for a blunder we made about 230 years ago when we rebelled against His Majesty George III. In hindsight we understand this to have been a very bad idea. We were not capable of self rule in 1776, and we have failed to become competent in the last two and a third centuries. Perhaps we in the Colonies suffer from a form of cultural Attention Deficit Disorder. Maybe we suffer from massive brain damage due to our low air pollution standards. Whatever the reasons, we keep ruining things for the rest of the world.
It is not as if we deliberately keep destroying the world economy. We have the very best intentions. You see, our present leaders promised us prosperity. They told us an unregulated market would create a stronger economy. They promised us better paying jobs, the sun, the stars, and the pretty moon. They even told us an unregulated market would be best for the whole world. It seemed they were telling us the truth, until the Tech Bubble burst in 2000. Next came the mortgage meltdown, and now the stock market crash. We just can’t seem to do anything right.
Of course, one of the problems is the leaders we keep choosing. I am sure Your Majesty can tell us a few stories about Lyndon Johnson’s gallbladder and Richard Nixon’s drinking. I can just imagine how difficult it was for you to make small talk with poor Mr. Reagan. People with Alzheimer’s do ramble on so. Let us take this opportunity to apologize for young Mr. Bush. We do hope your roses have recovered from him landing his helicopter on them.
Looking at Europe, it seems like you have grown since the last great war. You have socialized medicine and and a minimum standard of living. Meanwhile the United States keeps falling back to 1929. Your World Court has guaranteed civil rights for gays, lesbians, and trans people, but American gays still fear for their lives in many parts of the country. Your subjects enjoy all these benefits, and yet you have the prosperity to save the failing American economy.
There is no doubt about it. We Americans are not capable of self rule. We should not even let ourselves out of our homes without a keeper. Your Most Gracious Majesty, we most humbly beg you to save us from ourselves and take us back as a crown colony. We are most terribly sorry about the misunderstanding in 1776. We will officially change its name from the Revolutionary War to the Failed Rebellion. We will posthumously try Ben Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson for treason and symbolically hang them in the Washington Mall, which will be renamed the Cornwallis Memorial Park. We will rename Washington, DC “Arnold” after Benedict Arnold, and place a statue of him on the White House Lawn. The White House will be renamed the Lord Governor’s Residence. We will even pay for the tea we so rudely dropped into Boston Harbor.
Please take us back. We’re sorry. We’ll be good. We’ll never do it again.
The American Colonists
I was only nineteen years old when I met Karl Hess. I was attending Lebanon Valley College in 1977. It was a sleepy little Methodist college that ignored the Sixties. The college prided itself on being out of touch with the rest of the world. I was one of the few people on campus who had even heard of Karl Hess. Hess’ income tax strike had been heavily promoted by Hugh Hefner and Playboy magazine. At nineteen, it never occurred to me that Hefner had a vested interest in eliminating the income tax. I was unaware that eliminating the income tax was one of the rallying cries of Barry Goldwater’s racist right. Goldwater had stopped being a political force when I was still in grade school. All I saw was Hess’ as one lone hero standing up to the government. That is why I avoided writing my theology essay, and went to see the man who was striking a blow for truth, justice, and the American way through income tax evasion.
I never thought to wonder why Hess had not been incarcerated for tax evasion. He claimed that he was fighting it in court, and that he was living on barter so the IRS would not take his money. I mentioned this to my father, a retired Treasury Agent, and my father said that sounded somewhat unlikely. Thirty one years later, I have to agree with my Dad. My years of experience in sales, marketing, and public relations tell me that Hess was full of shit. If he was avoiding his income taxes, he had some powerful influence behind him. Otherwise the IRS would have taken much more direct action to collect their money, such as confiscating his land in West Virginia or jailing him.
Karl Hess was a man of great personal presence. He looked like a mountain man. He was tall and broad shouldered, with the heavy muscles of a laborer. I could easily picture him in the role of wagon train captain or one of the Green Mountain Boys of the American Revolution. Today I recognize this as a deliberate affectation.
Hess was the first truly polished professional speaker I ever encountered. As Barry Goldwater’s speech writer, he had been in the political arena for years and knew all the tricks of public speaking. Later he was an image consultant for the Black Panthers, the SDS, and a Mafia Don. He knew all the little tricks for coming across as sincere. He knew the power of testimonials and storytelling. Years later, working in Public Relations, I came to recognized the professional tricks he had played on us.
Even more brilliant than his approach was the brilliance of his message. Just as the German fascists wed the rhetoric of their socialists adversaries with Mussolini’s fascism to create “National Socialism”, Hess mixed the rhetoric of Sixties radicals with fascism and created what I call “National Anarchism”. He based his ideas on the rhetoric of the SDS. Hess even ripped off the SDS’s name for themselves. He called his movement “The New Left”. The name was the only thing “left” about Hess’s movement. The rest was pure fascism. Like the SDS, Hess emphasized the Constitution and the need for all sides to come together for consensus.
Then Hess split off into Naziville. I will give him this much: he knew his audience. He knew that if he tried to confuse the Constitution with the Federalist Papers, he would have been stone cold busted. So he limited himself to where the Federalist Papers and Constitution agreed and ignored the parts of the Constitution that would have tripped him up. He painted a picture of American history that never existed. It was a history where Alexander Hamilton didn’t create the Whiskey tas never enacted, and the American economy was never bolstered by British-owned monopolies. The Protestant Work Ethic assured all Americans prosperity, so long as we got rid of all those pesky, unnecessary ecological and financial regulations.
Most telling was his point that the federal government was unnecessary. In Hess’ fantasy world, bigotry and prejudice were not that bad. Jim Crow gave African Americans the space to create their own culture, so why have civil rights laws? Why have ecological protection, when the Free Market would starve out polluters? Most telling was his stand on federal financial regulations. Why bother with them, when the free market would adjust itself just like Adam Smith promised? Hess made each point with a telling reference to the Federalist Papers or the Constitution. He adeptly emphasized the parts of the Constitution that backed up his point while avoiding the entire second section and several amendments.
Three years after Hess’s college campus tour, Ronald Reagan and Neoconservatism took over our nation. That was Hess’s true purpose. It did not matter to Hess that his college tour did not pack the lecture halls. Hess was out to find true believers. His job was to prepare college campuses for the Reagan campaign. A majority of Hess’s New Left moved into the Reagan camp, because Reagan’s message of small government and free market capitalism was the same as Hess’s. They were both reiterations of Goldwater Conservatism. The defection of Hess’s New Left shattered the Old Left so there was no effective counter movement against Neoconservatism. Both the New Left and the Right were spouting Goldwater rhetoric. Hess’s New Left was a brilliant public relations maneuver, that paved the way for the mortgage crises.
Who can blame America for falling for this garbage? When I was nineteen years old, I fell for it hook, line, and, sinker. At nineteen, I was really impressed. I was so impressed that I accepted Hess’s invitation and had coffee with him after his lecture. The night I spent talking about Life, The Universe, and Everything with Karl Hess was one of the shining moments of my youth. Hess had reached me at a primal level. He adroitly manipulated my emotions through appeals to the beloved myths of elementary school. In Hess’ world, Washington never told a lie, Lincoln freed the slaves, and the free market was ordained by God. For years I was hurt because he never returned my cards and letters. Today I realize that he was there to do a job. He did it very well. The corporations were able to rape the American public once again thanks to Karl Hess and the New Left.