(This the second installment in the Whiteman Chronicles. Whiteman is a conservative, middle-aged southerner of the Caucasian persuasion who picks up the check and plays by the rules and hopes his children will have a better life than he did. He almost voted for Obama in 2008 but went with the old guy out of respect for veterans. The angry reaction to that historic election troubled Whiteman. It was Old Dixie come back with Fergit Hell fixed bayonets and talk radio Rebel yells. Racism, denying it was racism, became fashionable again. There was even muttering of nullification, interposition and Secession. Whiteman, fundamentally a decent sort, had Klan and White League of Louisiana in his family tree. He knew the type.They included kin. But what began in 2010 frightened him. Being a son of the South, he knew what would come next.)
2031 A.D. They had taken their country back. Yessiree, they sure did. Whiteman sipped lukewarm peppermint tea on this sleety evening, looking at the fires in the distance. He shivered and thought to himself: “but they sure as hell didnʼt have to take mine.” It had been 20 years since a volcanic eruption of unfettered power, boundless greed, crowd frenzy, and the hallucinations of long dead Mayan astronomer priests began to brutally penetrate, probe, and kick the dream of America to reshape it into one of those dreadful SAW movies.
It had been 20 years since the Tea Party-fueled GOP won control of the House of Representatives, 18 years since the TP-GOP wrested rule from the Democrats in the Senate, 18 years since President Obama failed to win a second term, nine years since declaration of martial law, oh where does the time go? Whiteman thought. Over those two decades, the focused ferocity of the authoritarian right and flaccidity of the rest of us resulted in the Triumph of the Swill, The New Medievalism, the Civil War Remix, and endless hawking of Mayan Apocalypse and Biblical End Times. Mass hysteria penetrated all levels of society in 2012 lending a feverish sense of doom to the presidential campaign. A metaphorical astroid was heading for us and the superheated mediasphere made sure all of us were terrified and watching, watching, watching. The entire culture had apparently found a baggy of some old hippieʼs ʻshrooms and be trippinʼ. So Whiteman thought.
He thought a lot these days as he watched the columns of smoke rise over the city. The city had to disband its fire department when a fifth bond issue failed, throwing the city into default and junk bond status. Cities could no longer borrow nor were they allowed to raise revenue through taxes. The TP-GOP movement in state legislatures saw to that. No more money came from state or federal governments. That too was the work of the TP-GOP.
Concern for “out of control spending” had caused a collapse of fire and police protection, and an end to street lights, road maintenance and closing of all city parks and recreation with sale to the highest bidders, (usually Saudi, Chinese or Indian investor consortia who were building warehouses, golf courses, airports and gated communities on newly affordable American land).
The public good had become equated with public toilets. In the words of a University of Georgia friend, it was the time to let the big dawgs eat.
The smoke from the fires outside Whitemanʼs nearly iced over window was rising from fires at homes and businesses that couldnʼt afford the always escalating monthly fees of the LittleRedFireTruckProtectiveService Corp. At dawn the rising columns looked beautiful, intertwining orange/black spirals like offerings to heaven. But at the base of each, Whiteman knew, there was suffering, anguish, pain and even death. Such were the discontents of living with the unfettered free market. They took their country back all right.
Whiteman saw the TP-GOP win control of the House of Representatives in 2010 and two years later, take the trifecta when five of the 23 Senate Democrat up for reelection lost to Tea Party Republicans, giving them control of the Senate. To no oneʼs surprise, Barack Obama granted Kentucky Colonel McConnellʼs wish to became a one term president. His continuing concessions before the legislative battles were even joined led to mass desertions of his 2008 voter base. Obamaʼs legislative victories at the end of his second year were forgotten as the obstructionist fury of the TP-GOP blocked every single measure proposed by Obama or the Democrats. The gains of the past, from the 14th Amendment to Social Security to DADT, had become battles to be fought again and again.
President Obamaʼs 2012 reelection theme deteriorated from Hope, Progress and Change to “Reelect President Obama. Please.”
Few Dems were enthusiastic, but many more Republicans were passionately devoted to sending Obama back to the squalid slums of Chicago from whence he came, according to Glenn Beck.
Americaʼs roll to the right had paused for a moment at the end of 2010, then resumed its irresistible momentum. The “Christmas Miracle” of 2012 was more like the stern of the broken Titanic, miraculously righting itself after the break, then plunging into the icy dark of all eternity.
The agenda of the TP-GOP was clear from the very first day: to follow Grover Norquistʼs dictum to reduce government to a size where it could be dragged into the bathroom and drowned in the bathtub. It helps to paralyze your victim before drowning him. You generally fight when your head is being pushed under water. And so paralysis of government was the new business of the new Congress. The murder by drowning would follow.
The pieces for the collapse of the American democracy were in place by the end of 2010. The whole ghastly fandango kicked into high gear Jan. 3, 2011, when the TP- GOP sandbagged the House as every Republican-controlled key committee issued daily subpoenas to Cabinet members, staff, sitting Democratic congressmen, federal agency directors and even the First Ladyʼs appointments office.
There were so many investigative hearings that Congress ground to a crawl. Tons of photocopied documents were demanded. Nobody in the Executive Branch could get anything done before walking to another command performance before a panel of smirking, ill-informed, posturing TP-GOP sycophants. Their goal was paralyzing the beast,and the Democrats seemed unwilling or unable to do anything except walk around looking like a mule stunned by a whack on the head with a 2×4.
Over at the Senate, the newly reinforced TP-GOP Senators held every major piece of legislation hostage by the mere threat of filibuster until Bushʼs obscene tax cuts for the super rich were made permanent, universal deregulation and corporate ravishings of the public treasury were approved. In neither body of Congress was money ever allocated by the TP-GOP block to implement health care or Wall Street reform or improved food safety regulation or any initiative of the old Congress. All of the progressive parts of the Obama/Democratic list of achievements died over the next few months for lack of funding.
What was not obstructed was the wholesale abolition of regulations and oversight for the financial industry, oil and gas companies, the health care industry, and nuclear power plants (oops, thought Whiteman. That reactor meltdown in South Carolina which Chernobylized Augusta and poisoned Savannah proved that some regulation was probably a good idea).
If there was an ignition glow plug that sparked the gasoline fire of politics in 2012, it was those damn Mayan priest astronomers. The Popol Vuh, the Mayan/Olmec religious allegory of the creation and end of a series of 5,100 year cycles, said the Fourth Sheaf of Time would end on Dec. 21, 2012. Exactly what that meant was unclear. For millions of Americans already on the thin, crumbling edge of reality, the 2012 thing fit exactly with the “End Times” yammering of fundamentalist crowd-seeking religious personalities. The movie “2012” that came out in 2010 was endlessly replayed on all cable movie channels.It was hard to focus on the domestic and international issues of the day when the earth is constantly erupting like the crust on a cheap cherry pie and serious white men in suits pondered on just how the world would end, according to The Popol Vuh. Nobody paid the campaign much attention.
The “Twelvers” as they called themselves, went into full tilt apocalyptic boogie mode to prepare for the Second Coming/End Times/Apocalypse/Mayan celestial hoedown. They rented halls and convention centers and even sports stadiums to preach Armageddon Next Exit and the coming of sweet Jesus who would vaporize the wicked with celestial RPGs. The wicked always seemed to be Satanʼs usual spawn: Democrats, liberals, immigrants, the press, the ACLU, academics, hippies (?) and activist women. The Twelvers never seemed to lack money. Tens of millions of dollars kept materializing from nowhere. Twelver rallies, just as with “spontaneous” Tea Party gatherings in 2009-2010, were planned with military precision, Jumbotron screens and killer sound systems were erected by silent, purposeful men in black T-shirts. The Second Coming of Jesus wasnʼt as important to these anonymous tech teams as replacing a blown 90 amp fuse. These guys were pros and the professionally marketed rallies were Michael Jackson professional grade. It cost a small fortune to rig and gaff these rallies. Anonymous money flowed in from diamond encrusted spigots in 2012 to generate maximum social and political disruption. The Supreme Court decision in “United Citizens” opened the vaults for corporations to break the public good for private benefit. Karl Rove with Compass GPS, alongside FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express and OurCountry collected hundreds of millions of dollars from extremely wealthy, extremely rightwing donors (plus money from Chinese billionaires, Indian industrialists and Saudi oil sheiks) and spent it in attack ads without having to identify the money boys. Karl Rove showed the New Oligarchs how 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations could allow anonymous donors to pour unlimited cash in unmarked $100s into campaigns in the U.S. to guide the public debate, determine the publicʼs agenda, decide who Wolf Blitzerʼs next guest will be.
From the start of Reaganʼs presidency to the end of Bush Jr., the after tax income for the top one percent shot up 176 percent. But for one out of five persons at the bottom, after tax income whispered up just 6 percent.
But these figures paled when compared to the goodies showered on the private jet set after the TP-GOP took all of Congress and the Presidency.
The New Oligarchs would be running the United States from then on.