(Photo: Ann Althouse)
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
Can you feel the intoxicating whiff of anarchy and open rebellion in the air? It's OK to admit it. The prospect of chaos is exciting to most of us, we who find it a little harder each morning to get out of bed and face a world locked up in its own stupidity and mean-spiritedness.
On January 28th, I wrote,
The world is indeed changing and not necessarily for the worst. I see the Tunisian, Egyptian and Yemenese protesters, I remember the protesters in Iran, Mexico and Kenya and I see hope that the eternal flame of the human demand of freedom is far from extinguished. In the meantime, I wait and wonder when the day will come when the United States finally gets meaningfully involved in a worldwide cause that's even larger than national corporate interests.
Well, it can't be said that public union workers in Wisconsin are getting "meaningfully involved in a worldwide cause". Their focus is necessarily parochial. But it's a start. Or, as Tobin Harshaw asks in today's NY Times, is this "Cairo in the Midwest?"
Indeed, it seems as if Wisconsin is tearing itself apart in masochistic self-recrimination for voting out a liberal stalwart like Russ Feingold while voting in a right wing lunatic like Scott Walker as their new Governor. Personally, I can't understand the sticker shock. It's not as if Republican vampires such as Walker and Chris Christie, who's leading his own war against teachers in New Jersey, got elected by wooing public unions. And, as the old Watergate-era political saw goes, "follow the money" if you want an idea of what these lunatics will do once they take their greasy paws off the Bible. But don't believe me: Listen to what Andy Kroll of MoJo says:
Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited (PDF) Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill. In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power. (Walker also opposes the state's Clean Energy Job Act, which would compel the state to increase its use of alternative energy.) At this moment—even with the Wisconsin uprising unresolved—the Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.
Inexplicably popular Republican gargoyles such as Ann Althouse, a Wisconsin native, have already swooped down on the protesters and gleefully painted them with the wide liberal hypocrite brush simply because they were protesting the draconian policies of their new right wing governor. Althouse's main piece of evidence for this shocking revelation of hypocrisy stems from a couple of ill-advised yet not altogether inaccurate Hitler signs at the protests. One would think that Althouse, technically a law professor, would have a little sympathy for her fellow educators and their concerns about having their collective bargaining rights arbitrarily stripped from them in a rash wave of "emergency legislation."
Althouse apparently never thought to ask any of the protesters in Wisconsin if they were Republican voters and just assumed they were all pot-smoking Feingold lapdogs. But then again, this is the same Ann Althouse who'd achieved fame by hallucinating the word "nigger" in a child's pajamas in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad and speculated that Jose Padilla was made to wear goggles so he wouldn't blink coded messages to his cohorts in al Qaida. (Why this neolithically stupid, stupid woman continues to get massive linkage in the NY Times, the Daily Dish and elsewhere is a mystery that perhaps only fellow space and oxygen thief Sarah Palin can answer.)
"Do not remember that I steered us into the iceberg. But here's an anchor since we're using all the life preservers."
The Republican Two Step consists of taking one step back, then another one waaay back into the Middle Ages, especially as regards public and private unions. The conservative agenda is as transparent as the slime they leave in their wake: To wreck the economy then take away an organized and united voice, hence collective bargaining, and to pay these people what they think they deserve, which is peanuts. This Irwin Allen-style legislation has, of course, a veneer of fiscal responsibility, the one eerily repeated by the Obama administration: Shared Sacrifice.
But the shared sacrifice called for by Kennedy in his inaugural and the shared sacrifice called for by Obama, and all the Republicans who've also nodded and winked to Wall St., the Koch Brothers and Goldman Sachs, are two entirely different things. Ronald Reagan just wanted America to go back to the 50's, minus the 90% tax rate. The Young Guns of the GOP, led by Christie, Walker, et. al. want to do better than that: They want to set America back to the 20's and beyond, to a time when there were no unions, no child labor laws, no woman's suffrage, a bygone day and age typified by duels and public executions. In short, the Republican agenda is to weaken this country by outsourcing as many jobs as possible, leaving behind a workforce of latter-day serfs with no say as to workplace safety, wages, job security, health care, pensions or any negotiation powers whatsoever. If that sounds like an oversimplification, then take a look around you and then tell me what the logical outcome, the nth degree would be were all this disaster economics to get more than a toe-hold in this country.
The mainstream media, typically, get it wrong when covering the riots in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, etc. The one thing it consistently gets wrong by omission is telling us not only why so many countries in northern Africa and the Middle East are erupting but in drawing a necessary corollary:
The rioters and protesters, who are invariably referred to by the MSM as "anti-government" as if they're wild-eyed, simple-minded, bomb-throwing anarchists with no interest in democracy, are rioting for reasons other than a thirst for a democratic process. They're also rioting over scare jobs, scarce money, scarce necessities such as food and clean, potable drinking water.
We're not at the point where we start rioting over food and clean water but where the people of Tunisia and Egypt are now is where right wing nation killers like Walker and Christie want to put us. You want to look at our future under Republican governance, look no further than the theocratic police states of the third world of North Africa and the Middle East, a Third World that has an even smaller middle class than us, in which the poor live practically side by side with royalty and oligarchs like Mubarak.
So if we're going to protest with our long-lost, estranged brothers and sisters in north Africa and the Middle East, I'd say better now than later, before we, too, are reduced to throwing rocks and desperately hoping for the best. We still have a long way to go since we bundle up and stave off the cold with hot cups of Vanilla Chai from the corner Dunkin' Donuts and get back home before the next American Idol. But it's a start.