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David Swanson

David Swanson is a longtime peace and justice activist and author of 'War Is a Lie'

December 8th, 2011 11:52 PM

Try Not to Think of a Newt

The current President and Congress are destroying our Constitutional rights, our planet's climate, and the vestiges of a social safety net, and you are obsessing over a freak show of self-hating homosexuals and anti-intellectual intellectuals jumping through hoops in a corporate media circus with Ringmaster Donald Trump. Is this a good use of your time?

The "Bush tax cuts" are still called that, while Bush has been gone for years. The corporate trade agreements are rolling through at a pace Bush couldn’t have managed. While Social Security was protected by anti-Bush agitation, it now has its neck on a chopping block and the progressive position is that the taxes that pay for it should be cut — rather than expanded to apply equally to large incomes. President Obama has repeatedly blocked serious global efforts to address climate change. And you're concerned about which Republican buffoon doesn't know the difference between Iraq and Iran, or which other one thinks the United States has an embassy in Iran. Are you kidding me?

President Obama, the United States Congress, and the Federal Reserve are united in their generosity toward Wall Street and the war machine — both financial generosity and the equally generous provision of immunity from legal prosecution. In the Bush era we were locked in free-speech cages, and we raised hell about it. Now we're locked in jails, beaten, tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and otherwise brutally assaulted, and . . . wait! Look over there! Is that a presidential candidate who wants to publicly declare his desire to secretly murder Iranians? How outrageous!

For the love of everything decent, the current president is right now murdering Iranians, and it's not very secret. What in the hell is the matter with you people?

Illegality is over, says Harold Koh ("the good John Yoo"). This is the same guy who claims massive slaughter by bombing of foreign nations is neither war nor an act of hostility as long as no significant number of U.S. citizens die immediately in the process.

How can illegality be over, when the crimes have not been prosecuted and have in fact been legalized? The current Department of Justice, at the direction of President Obama, has radically expanded claims of state secrets and made greater use of the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. The current president has formalized, legalized, systematized, and normalized warrantless spying, lawless imprisonment (Bagram is booming!), prisoner abuse, assassination (including of members of the 5% of humanity we're supposed to care about), war making in direct violation of the will of Congress (Cf. Libya), and the radically expanded use of drones to do much of this dirty work. And you want me to care that some house-broken elephant who's been trained to parrot platitudes is in favor of child labor? Really?

It is not pleasant to face, but our children are done for if we proceed down either of the paths you are obsessing over the choice between. Behind curtain A is increased plutocratic militarization. Behind curtain B is the same damn thing. It's an evil choice. Choose which of your children should be shot. This one. No, wait. This one. It is not a choice we have time to dignify with our attention. It is not something we should waste 10 months of inaction and misdirected resources on.

We must do what has finally, finally, finally been begun. We must occupy public space. We must move the entire culture. We must reshape this society. We must drag both political parties and everybody in them and the majority of the population which has long since grown sick up to the eye balls of both of them, we must drag everyone kicking and screaming to a better place, to a place where we do not choose between putting 65% or 62% of discretionary federal spending into war preparation without an enemy in sight. What kind of a range of options is that?

This government will halt the foreclosures only after we have halted the forclosures. This government will forgive student debt only after we have blocked its payment. This government will regulate Wall Street only after we have divested from it. And this government will stop dumping our hard-earned pay into wars we don't want and cannot survive only when we have made that path (that running of the gauntlet of K Street's opposition) easier for every type of misrepresentative than continuing on the current trajectory.

Self-government is not a spectator sport. Elections are not reality shows. There is much more at stake than a soap opera. The first step, and it is a more difficult step than sleeping in a tent in the ice cold rain, is to cease giving a damn what some individual who is stripping away your rights and the fruits of your labors really feels in his heart of hearts. Stop it. We do not have the time. Politicians who make speeches opposing everything they do must be pushed to match action to words, not treated as if words speak more loudly than actions. That attitude is what leads us to focus on what a gaggle of misfits with no power and less wisdom have to say about each other, just because they're on the teevee screen.

Get serious. Get independent. Get principled. And stay nonviolent toward everything in the world except your television.

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