Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Norky Gets Needled


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
Many folks.
Just an unhappy memory--
Butt of a thousand jokes.

A pledge he wrote when he was ten
Now dominates our Congressmen's
Vocation!
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!

7 comments:

Valerie said...

Well done, Deborah!

I am hearing it more and more - We can't rely on our politicians to straighten out the mess our country is in - We have to lead and the weakling politicians will follow.

Go nurses! You are showing the rest of us how it should be done!

Kat said...

Thanks Deborah!

Jay - Ottawa said...

Nurses with verses scorned the Norky.

A tip o the hat to Deb and her friends.

Valerie said...

It is really sad that the Right is so able to join together over a simplistic issue like paying fewer taxes and then force politicians representing their party to fall into line. What is wrong with the Left that we can't do the same? Why aren't their simple lines we can draw in the sand and agree upon? I understand that the world isn't black and white but it is a fact that Mitt Romney pays a lower percentage of tax than Deborah and you and me. It is a fact that Dick Cheney is enjoying a retirement and health care system payed for by you and me - a system they want to deny the rest of us. It is a fact that risky investments in the "investment" banking industry required bailouts and crashed our economy and they continue the same, if not worse, practices today.

And I don't mean to be preachy, but I don't understand when there is a REAL candidate out there who has a record of ethical politics, why those of us on the Left who are wringing our hands about a lack of leadership and integrity in our politicians won't dare to support that person.

No one else is going to come along at this late date. Our only hope is to get someone like Rocky on the ballot in each state and vote for him - At least we are making a small noise that alerts those in power that we aren't completely beaten! Get the Justice Party its 5% so it is entitled to matching funds and hopefully live to fight another day. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been wishing Ralph Nader – or someone like him – would pose some kind of challenge – give us an alternative to Obama. Well, here it is.
OK – I will shut up now – or at least FOR now!

Jay - Ottawa said...

@ Valerie and all

I too find it odd that liberals, progressives, dismayed conservatives, greens, purples and pinkos – whatever – aren’t drawn to a guy like Rocky Anderson. What’s not to like about the guy’s looks, record and platform in the Justice Party?

It’s not enough to call out, through tight analysis or wicked mockery, phonies like those who carry the banners for the two main parties. Take the next step, dammit. That doesn’t mean vote for dead heroes. Or nice guys who are – seriously, now -- too old to step into the Oval Office. Or people like Elizabeth Warren, whose attention is focused on another office and who lacks any political record. Or as a last desperate resort, mocking a civic process as well as the candidates, by writing in the name of Mickey Mouse or his moral equivalent.

Is there a subconscious dynamic that associates Third Parties with the Third Rails of subways? Say ‘Third Party’ ten times. If you don’t fall over dead, review the impact third parties have had, directly or indirectly, as late as 1992 with oddball Ross Perot. He scored big (almost 20% of the vote, the most since TR’s Bull Moose Party) even after Perot more or less pulled back on the reigns close to the finish line.

Anderson is not an oddball. In fact, he’s one of the very few who are neither stupid nor phony. That’s why the establishment and the MSM have frozen him out. He shames them. He scares them. He makes everybody else look bad. Google his website. Look at his record. Look at his platform.

Why is he still in the shadows? Two reasons: no corporate money to buy his way in; and too few Americans willing to promote him by word of mouth, which also works wonders, like money. People who bitch seriously on the negative side owe it to themselves to promote a candidate who is not only on their side with words but a serious fighter in the political ring. If enough of us were not afraid to say Rocky Anderson’s name over and over, he just might break through the wall of silence by the MSM.

At one time I thought the New Progressive Alliance (NPA) had the answer. Then what? Great screeds and platforms, but no candidate yet endorsed at this late date. The NPA reminds me of one of those great four masters straining at full sail with hot winds galore – but still securely tied to the dock. As for the Greens, there’s something odd going on. I’ve had some curious exchanges with them. Nader, once allied with them, has endorsed Rocky. One of our anonymous drop-ins a post or two ago left a link, which I also recommend. It’s a review of organizations and pseudo candidates, full of razzle dazzle glitter for the lefties, that are really fake fronts for this White House, this Democratic Party. They turn out to be just more kibbles and bits for the Yellow Dogs.

If you’re tired of war, tired of the 1%, tired of endless and bottomless betrayals by both wings of the Unity Party, and would like to trip up the corporate titans in their hubris, why not vote for, or at least write in -- Rocky Anderson? Vote for Mickey, and you’re voting for the 1%.

Zee said...

@Jay—Ottawa--

I think that you have found the perfect descriptor for me: “dismayed conservative.” I think I'll keep it.

Certainly, you have hit upon the single most important reason that a Rocky Anderson will never capture the public's attention: money.

Although financial supporters of Barack Obama have fallen away somewhat, I suspect that he is still on track to amass a $1B war chest before the first Tuesday of November rolls around:

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/56_98/obama-billion-204192-1.html

And who knows how much money Mittens will have amassed by that time, now that he is the Republican candidate-designate?

How can a Rocky Anderson ever hope to compete? Even if, eventually, Citizens United is reversed by a constitutional amendment, there will still be “brand-name recognition” issues for a third-party candidate in a country that has always subscribed to a two-party model, if only for voter convenience.

We Americans like things simple, whether they really are or aren't.

But beyond a shortage of campaign money, I have spent some time reviewing the platform of the Justice Party and learning about Rocky Anderson, and there certainly is much to admire about the man and the platform.

He has managed a large—and I would guess, generally conservative—city for two terms, and seems morally upstanding. He has a very diverse work and world experience which I really respect.

I certainly support his efforts to reform the financial sector, reduce the size of the military (somewhat), establish universal health care, repeal the Patriot Act, his social justice agenda, etc.

As a protest, I guess that I could pull the lever for him.

Still, there are many things that I worry about, or just plain object to regarding his platform.

Partly as a conservative and partly just as a 61-year-old retiree who is trying to make it through the balance of his life with some measure of comfort, security and, yes, pleasure, I wonder about what the Justice Party's platform is going to cost me personally, and the nation, generally. Is that so very wrong of me?

Nowhere do I see anything but glittering generalities. Where can I find out what this transformative program will cost me personally for the next 20 or so years—which, from an actuarial standpoint—is what I can hope for in longevity? A petty worry, I know, in the minds of many of you out there, but there it is.

I believe that this question about the Justice Party platform would be uppermost in the minds of most of the 80% or so of the electorate who are not Progressives.

The fact is that our government has become so needlessly huge and complex that no one —not the incumbent or any challenger—can really tell the electorate what her/his “plans” will cost the nation in advance. They make wildly optimistic guesses in order to get elected, and then just make it up as they go along; then we're stuck with whatever “pig in a poke” we bought.

The national dissatisfaction with ObamaCare is just the most recent example of “buyer's remorse” on the part of an electorate that was hoodwinked by the President and Congress.

Now, please understand that I'm not saying the “Unity Party” is any better than Rocky Anderson at telling us what their programs will cost us personally and nationally.

It's just that the Justice Party's absolute lack of fiscal detail happened to be the particular trigger that provoked this particular rant against a too-big, too-complex and too-incomprehensible government.

I do not share Grover Norquist's notion that the federal government should be reduced to a size small enough to drown in a bathtub. That's sheer nonsense, and Norquist is indeed, not a Conservative but a Nihilist.

But I do believe that there is a “right size” for government, that can and should be smaller than it currently is, so that the People can control the government, and not the other way around.

Valerie said...

@Zee

I think if the Justice Party stood a snowball's chance in hell of winning the election, your questions would be answered. Right now the Justice Party is just trying to get on the ballot in every state. They are a small group with a good platform. They haven't knocked out a fiscal, health care and international platform because these documents take TEAMS of lawyers and other specialists in the field to write. I think it is understandable that they are – at this point in time and in light of their limited resources – speaking in generalities.

I guess you have to go out on a limb and take a chance with your vote. The question you have to ask yourself is knowing Obama and Romney and knowing how they will spend your tax dollars and govern this country, do you want that or do you want an alternative? Unfortunately, it is not that Rocky is going to win, it is that maybe a protest vote can be strong enough to get a viable Third Party going in our country or at the very least, shake up the uni-party.

How has Rocky governed? He seems like a fair guy. Why would you assume he would be coming after your retirement?

The reality, Zee, is you might be more comfortable than most of us at Sardonicky but you aren't rich. Don't fool yourself into thinking that the benefits of the Neo-Republican way of running our country are going to trickle down to you. Right now they are squashing the Lower Middle Class and even the Middle, Middle Class but they will eventually run out of money and come after people in your financial tax bracket to pay for their way of life and governing. When huge corporations don't pay any taxes at all and the 1% are paying 15% at most, who do you think is going to bear the burden of paying for these wars, the growing police state, the highway system that will eventually deteriorate to the point that they will have to fix it and many more programs that benefit the rich? When they have impoverished people who used to pay a healthy portion of their income in taxes, that tax revenue will come from somewhere and your comfortable brethren will be next on the chopping block.

So, why not Rocky? It is not like you have a reasonable choice if you vote for either of the two major parties.