|My Motto: To Rob the Poor and Give To the Rich!|
We are, of course, talking about Grover Norquist. The nurses and other demonstrators who gathered outside his Washington office today came armed not with hypodermics but with words, songs, signs and their sheer, vibrant physical presence. The occasion was Tax Day, that most dreaded of all days for Grover Norquist. The only days he hates worse than Tax Day are Christmas and every Wednesday. That's when the Social Security checks are direct-deposited in the bloated bank accounts of the old and sick. In Norquist's world, Mr. Potter is the hero of It's a Wonderful Life and freedom is defined as the slashing of the social safety net. For those of you who may not be familiar with Dorky Norky, he is the dour-looking little man who has uttered such gems as "our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub."
Norquist is the high priest of what is essentially a cult of Republicans, all of whom must sign his pledge to never raise taxes if they are elected to public office. Should they break their promise, he will destroy them. He is single-handedly responsible for Washington gridlock. No new taxes, no new programs, no government protection for our most vulnerable citizens. No jobs, no infrastructure spending, no new teachers. Cut, slash and burn. No, no, no. Norquistian is a synonym for nihilistic.
Thanks to Deborah Klaus, a D.C. registered nurse and poet who blogs as DreamsAmelia on the Shelved in Cyberspace site, for sending in some great photos and commentary on today's protest. Grover did not actually appear, she told me, to meet the people outside on 12th Street NW. He was probably curled up in a fetal position in a gold-plated bathtub deep in the noxious bowels of some undisclosed location. But one of those "patriot millionaires" did show up to protest -- Eric Schoenberg, a former schoolmate of Mitt Romney and current professor of behavioral economics at Columbia, he informed the protesters that where he comes from the bathtubs are the size of cars.... or in the case of the .0001% -- houses.
What the Tax Day protest crowd lacked in numbers, they more than made up in enthusiasm and creativity. The group even serenaded Grover (sung to the tune of Over the Rainbow):
Someday, Grover won't reign so--
We'll be free
To make wise budget choices
Based on sound policy.
Someday, Grover won't pain so
Just an unhappy memory--
Butt of a thousand jokes.
A pledge he wrote when he was ten
Now dominates our Congressmen's
The only oath that they should take
is for our flag and people's sake
To serve our nation!
Some say Grover's insane, though
if that's true,
Time we stopped letting Grover
Tell us all what to do!
As Deborah points out, just showing up to demonstrate for 40 minutes sends a message, making the oligarchs just a smidgen less confident in their everlasting power. If we have learned anything from Occupy Wall Street and other protests, it is that the rich and powerful have extremely thin skins. They do not like to be called names, they don't even like to be called rich. The latest ploy of inheritors of unearned, largely untaxed wealth is to call themselves "legacy families." Mitt and Ann Romney have been put on the defensive when confronted with their obscene riches and forced to whine that they don't "feel rich".
I'll let Deborah tell it in her own eloquent words:
People don't have to have elaborate education, think of themselves as "an activist" or be particularly "political" or aligned with any party, not Dem, Repub, OWS or Tea Party---they just have to put even a fraction of engagement into our democracy as they do filling up their car with a tank of gas, returning books to the library, shopping at the mall, or buying groceries---a modicum of thought to preserving democracy by protesting anti-democratic forces should be as intrinsic as a routine errand----but, sadly, it is not---and so, I am the first to admit, we get what we deserve: the best government money can buy. If we're too lazy to bar anti-democratic intruders at the door, then one has to expect an infinite parade of tyrants and opportunists at the helm of the state....
Those who say, well, I won't complain because I don't try are sadly mistaken about the nature of a society. The roof over their head is being defined by laws that favor the 5 largest banks in the U.S. over the individuals that inhabit them; the laws favor health insurance corporations over individuals who still may receive inadequate care or become bankrupt; the laws favor drug testing and packing private prison systems over something as trivial as immigration status while large corporations not only never go to jail but pollute and steal from the poor for the rich with all the back-slapping blessings of our elected officials....ad nauseum...
But the acceptance of corporations as more powerful than individuals, of debt as a way of life rather than unionizing for higher wages, seems to be a breaking of a treaty with the middle class that, inexplicably, so many seem willing to relinquish. One can look back on the decades-long history of westward expansion and broken treaties with Native Americans and can understand why Native American thought and politics do not dominate our society---they were outgunned and outnumbered, and consistently lied to and misled by our fledgling government. But it seems that the passivity of millions and millions of middle class may herald a similar fate where people will be written out of the Constitution, out of the courts, out of all laws, and only corporations will have any rights at all...it's not much fun to be a sheep being led to slaughter-- the bleating of a few is not going to delay the inevitable one iota--the whole herd has to revolt and run backwards....And here are more of Deborah's great photos and captions:
Our protest was so small, it only required one cop to maintain law and order!
(Who looks like he became distracted in political debate.....)
Brenda King, my colleague, nurse for 41 years! Why should nurses pay higher taxes than Wall St. traders? Brenda will be uninsured if she retires before she is eligible for medicare. She doesn't want any cuts to medicare or social security--she loves paying her taxes because it continues to help families just as her devotion to their lives as a nurse does.
This guy (Eric Schoenberg) was our "token rich guy" who told us he had a taxable income of $700,000 in 2005 and only paid 15% on it and wants to pay more. His immigrant grandparents always told him it was not their efforts alone, but the laws of the country they lived in that helped them to be so successful. Schoenberg is an expert in the psychology of money!
Thank you, Deborah! If Norky ever gets sick (er), I sincerely hope you and your group are assigned to cure whatever ails him. It'll be a long slog, but if anybody can do it, you can!
Happy Tax Day, everybody!