James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wisconsin: Overwhelming ironies

It's impossible to think of another situation so utterly bathed in irony as the battle in and about the attack on unions by Wisconsin's Tea Party millionaire governor, Scott Walker, and other Republicans of his ilk.

That is, bathed in irony and wrapped in hypocrisy.

Damned near everyone involved, certainly almost every Republican in any way involved, should be covering his or her head in shame.

Yet the situation presents us with the first faint glimmer of hope for an awakened American public that we've seen in years.

First, there is Walker, whose office was pretty much purchased for him by big-polluting scofflaws David and Charles Koch. Walker just gave away tax breaks to his state's super rich that almost equal the amount of money he is trying now to take from his state's employees. And he says the savings from pay, pensions, health care and such are an absolute necessity if Wisconsin is to avoid bankruptcy.

Got that? The already fabulously rich were handed still more wealth, for no reason whatever other than Walker believes in oligarchy, and what they were given must be taken away from people who work for a living. Irony. Hypocrisy on a monumental scale.

Now think of Tunisia, Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, where people are fighting and, in many cases, dying to gain basic human and political rights, while in this country our super-rich are doing their considerable best to take all political power from the hands of the people and are abetted in that by many of the people whose rights they are stomping on.

Then there are President Barack Obama and a rapidly growing host of Democratic politicians from all over the country who are “speaking out” (as the corporate media put it) to denounce the attack of Walker and fellow Wisconsin Republicans on their state employees.

Most of those same Democrats, recently aided by that same president, have been busily helping Republicans gut unions and slash the income and living standards of working Americans for decades.

They still are busy as north country beavers working on legislation and policies to make poor and middles class Americans pay for the crimes of big-money bankers and brokers. Meanwhile those same big-money people -- the ones who almost brought down the American economy and did cost the American people billions of dollars and countless jobs -- wallow in multi-million dollar annual bonuses like Scrooge McDuck wallowing in his money bin.

Goldman Sachs defrauded the public and crashed the economy? Let's hire those guys for the Obama administration and, in the meantime, do away with government programs that allow middle class Americans to buy homes. Huh Mr. President? That'll show 'em.

Irony. Hypocrisy almost beyond comprehension.

The plain truth is that the Democratic wing of the Corporate Party does care about unions – as sources of campaign organizing and contributions. And it needs the union contributions more now because corporations need the Democrat sham party less since the Roberts Extreme Court allowed them to buy elections almost directly.

But the Democrats want tame unions. They have no choice but to speak in favor of the demonstrators in Madison, but they're undoubtedly pretty worried about those demonstrators.

If the Wisconsin union folks should somehow manage to make Little Caesar Walker back down to substantial degree, they may well inspire similar insurrections elsewhere, and insurrections are notoriously difficult to control. The unions could, possibly, decide to become a power unto themselves, backing politicians who actually support them and fight for their needs, rather than just backing any pol who decides to put on a Democrat team jersey. Wouldn't that be ironic?

And then there is the powerful irony of seeing some Republicans and “conservatives” cheering popular uprisings in the Arab world and, just days or hours later, decrying the uprising of American workers who have had enough of being screwed over.

Of course, the boobs who believe Glenn Beck and the rest of the Fox liars won't get caught in that particular irony and hypocrisy. That's because they're already drowning in the hypocrisy of decrying those Arab efforts at grabbing freedom. They've been told by Fox, and so they believe, that all Arabs are Islamic fanatics out to destroy the West and that, therefore, we should be sending in our military, if necessary, to uphold the right of vicious dictators -- “our friends” -- to murder, torture and otherwise repress their own people.

I'm not sure that “I'm an utter damned fool” is a whole lot better than “I'm a hypocrite.”

But other “conservatives” are in that ironic, hypocritical corner, cheering efforts for freedom in democracy in the Middle East and decrying it at home.

I hope that somewhere along the way those Wisconsinites -– and the working people of Ohio, and Indiana and New Jersey and elsewhere -- start backing politicians, including our corporation-loving president, into corners and demanding much, much more from them. It's time they -- we -- told the pols that it is not enough to mouth meaningless phrases designed to appease working people while avoiding any offense to the corporate elite.

The folks in Wisconsin should say a hearty thanks to the 14 Democrats who walked out of the Legislature, and add “Now do more.”


I strongly recommend this column from the New York Times by one of the three honest economists in the United States (well, maybe four or even five):


And this one: