Sugar Sugar: Sugar Daddy’s Sugar Coating, Sugar Pipes… this post is all about sugar: the cloying and the sickeningly sweet that makes a fine icing over our national politics.
First up for the sugar fix – a bona fide whistle blowing mindblower that exposes the viciously arcane – where the true threat of secrecy resides. It should come as no surprise that this dissembling democracy-buster has the name FREEDOM written all over it, and it’s all packaged tight in LIBERTY.
It should come as no surprise that the ringmasters of this clandestine circus are none other than America’s own Libertarian Aristocracy. It should come as no surprise that in the center ring of this ghastly political theater are America’s favorite untitled nobility, the zenith of American Aristocracy, quite literally brothers in arms – the Lord Kochs: Sir Charles and Sir David.
How does the Libertarian Aristocracy shape the way we view the world, and subsequently how we respond to the empirical needs of the day? As it turns out, substantially so and insidiously so. Let’s take a look-see and see what we can see, see, see at this 3-ring circus:
The “Koch brothers’ secret bank,” which is what the website calls the Virginia-based group, whose formal name is Freedom Partners, is the glue that has been holding together the right-wing pantheon of pro-corporate, anti-regulatory, anti-Obama, anti-labor front groups that are against everything from healthcare reform to labor unions to financial market reform to progressive taxation.
Ring #2 (emphasis mine):
“The group has about 200 donors, each paying at least $100,000 in annual dues,” Politico reported, saying Freedom Partners would soon be filing papers with the IRS disclosing its existence. “It raised $256 million in the year after its creation in November 2011, the [IRS] document shows. And it made grants of $236 million—meaning a totally unknown group was the largest sugar daddy for conservative groups in the last election, second in total spending only to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which together spent about $300 million.”
The fact that secretive right-wingers could amass and spend a quarter-billion dollars in a presidential election cycle and go undetected under federal campaign finance law is an astounding indictment of the American electoral system, revealing that all the laws intending to inform the public about who is slinging political mud are meaningless. The mockery goes even further when considering the section of the federal tax code the group is operating under: 501(c)6. That designation is for trade associations, which lets the group conceal its donors.
Ring #1: That piebald circus tent in which all species of dialogic nastiness are contained
What does this luscious list of sweet schemes tell us? First, it tells us how to identify political culture by distinguishing between altruism and cannibalism. What other term than altruism has the Libertarian Aristocracy spat with more contempt? Taxes maybe, but we’ll get to that. Cannibalism is the eating of one’s own kind; in the ritualistic sense – in order to acquire the power of the one who is consumed. Altruism is the deep concern for the welfare of others that often results in sacrifice. It is this distinction that separates Libertarian Anti-Democracy and faux-populism from its authentic opposite: a republican democracy reliant upon the founding communitarian ideal of We the People as a society of individuals who are interdependent upon one another.
First on the list of oppositional concepts noted above is opposition to healthcare reform. Significantly, this piece exposes the Libertarian Aristocracy for what they are: cannibalistic political war mongers. The health care reform in question is the Affordable Care Act. Though legislatively enacted under Democratic leadership; the architecture of the ACA is a market-driven model, conceived by the Heritage Foundation – a Conservative-Libertarian think-tank. So, despite the ACA being of its own Conservative-Libertarian flesh, the Conservative-Libertarian war machine will destroy and consume its own substance solely for purposes of ascending power. In every sense this effort is ethically antithetical to the democratic spirit of altruism – concern for the welfare of others.
That antithesis is layered – one layer being quite literally the health and very lives of fellow Americans, the second layer being the legislative belligerence executed by Conservative-Libertarian politicians. The third layer is the layer of blurred distinction and evil irony. The Affordable Care Act is a Conservative, market-based initiative which should be replaced, but with a national public-centered, health-centered initiative where the welfare of American’s very lives are not subject to the free market. The clear and truest distinction between the Libertarian ideal and the Progressive ideal is long-term transition from the Affordable Care Act to socialized medicine – something akin to the derailed public option or medicare for all.
Second on the list of all that the American Aristocracy opposes is labor unions. Here we have the issue of economic democracy at full tilt. The ascendancy of the private sector into the economic lives of all Americans and the decline of unionization in America are inversely proportional but directly related; moreover the mechanism of direct causation is the Libertarian Aristocracy. Only with a vigorously and comprehensively redesigned union environment for the workplace can economic democracy be secure. It is also here where the distinction must be made between the populist and the elite. Libertarian faux-populism will drive home the notion that education and intellectualism comprise the elite. False. The Libertarian Aristocracy with its clustered few corrupting the legislative-electoral processes and systemically directing all the economic gains to their precious few — these are the true elite.
One way to understand this piece of the puzzle is to understand the conservative brain. Avi Tuschman recently released a Chris Mooney-esque study of the conservative brain suggesting it differs physiologically from the liberal brain in one key respect: its predilection for viewing the world as dangerous and therefore competitive. Here too, is the source for the NRA-manufactured “fear of all others” culture that undermines the founding ideals of “We the People.” The Progressive counterweight, of course, is mutuality and trust in each other as a common citizenry, but as crucial: trust in public policy and in governance.
Third on the list of oppositional schemes is Wall Street Reform. The maxim “What’s good for Wall Street is good for Main Street” couldn’t be any more wrong-headed. That maxim is the mantra of so-called job creators who have thwarted economic democracy via financialization and entrepreneurship. As with undermining healthcare and labor unions, favoring Wall Street is a phenomenon that occurs on both sides of the aisle, often blurring the difference between the American Aristocracy and the Privateer and NeoLiberal wings of the Democratic Party – the latter being the force that has attempted to redefine Progressivism to mean something antithetical to its intent.
The roots of Progressivism lie in the Gilded Age with the resistance to Wall Street and the financialization of the economy where We the People were beholden for our livelihoods to robber barons and in Jefferson’s words “stock-jobbers.” This paradigm of narrowing the economy from its broader base was precisely the phenomenon Democratic-Republicans like Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Paine resisted. Preserving the diverse sectors of economic livelihoods figured prominently in devising the Constitution.
Last on the list, of course, is Progressive taxation. Herein rests the most critical recognition for We the People. The grand pooh-bah meme of the Libertarian Aristocracy is the Anti-Tax Lie – the idea that taxation itself is to be reviled and tax levels are always to be kept at a minimum. It is so ingrained that it is the single most difficult value of the Libertarian Aristocracy to undo. But undo it we must. If we do not, the representatives of We the People will forever be positioned to lure and lull with the promise of lower taxes. And if our elected representatives do promise lower taxes they will have to deliver on that promise.
This is the dreadful dynamic we now face and it is dire. That momentum has resulted in lower taxation levels than ever before in history. With those successively lower taxes year after year after, we have slowly but surely “starved the beast” to use the Libertarian Aristocratic parlance. Unfortunately the beast is We the People. When We the People despise our own life-blood (taxation) we deliberately deprive ourselves of the democratic nutrient which provides for our mutual, egalitarian existence. The very role of government per the Constitution is to tax and spend in order to sustain the welfare and happiness of every individual citizen in America. When We the People are denied that life-blood either through starvation (inadequate) taxation or hemorrhage (inappropriate distribution) We the People cannot be sustained.
Tuschman provides another interesting glimpse into the hideous drift toward conservatism and taxation:
Differing perceptions of human nature may divide the left from the right on economic issues as well. Evolutionary economist Paul H. Rubin of Emory University has suggested that “preferences regarding altruism” translate into different fiscal policies. Rubin means that liberals (who perceive human nature as more cooperative) favor greater income redistribution than conservatives (who seek to reduce taxes).
The distinction Tuschman makes is clear, but perhaps too binary. The again… perhaps not. Like everything else, binary has its proper place. The value and appropriate role of taxation is just that proper place. No nuance is necessary when we speak of taxation. Reducing taxes favors limited, competitive, and privileged interests. Progressive taxation favors We the People as a whole.
Now for the grand finale (and a little extra sugar)
Ring #2: The Strong-Man of the Circus; Money is the Muscle of the Libertarian Aristocracy
The Greatest Show on Earth brought to you by America’s Sugar Daddy Tag Team: Koch and Rove. Sponsored by their secret bank patriotically termed Freedom Partners:
“An Arlington, Va.-based conservative group, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone in politics, raised and spent $250 million in 2012 to shape political and policy debate nationwide.
The group, Freedom Partners, and its president, Marc Short, serve as an outlet for the ideas and funds of the mysterious Koch brothers, cutting checks as large as $63 million to groups promoting conservative causes, according to an IRS document to be filed shortly.
The 38-page IRS filing amounts to the Rosetta Stone of the vast web of conservative groups — some prominent, some obscure — that spend time, money and resources to influence public debate, especially over Obamacare.”
In layman’s terms, of course, this is known as political warfare.
“The fact that secretive right-wingers could amass and spend a quarter-billion dollars in a presidential election cycle and go undetected under federal campaign finance law is an astounding indictment of the American electoral system, revealing that all the laws intending to inform the public about who is slinging political mud are meaningless. The mockery goes even further when considering the section of the federal tax code the group is operating under: 501(c)6. That designation is for trade associations, which lets the group conceal its donors.”
And that says it all. How many teaspoons of sugar will it take to get that down?
Since the Rove & Koch Ads will likely be making their way into Wisconsin again perhaps now would be a time to keep mindful that an effort to influence how we view the world has been undertaken and will likely continue.
And one last link on the matter:
A slightly different angle, but one that speaks directly to political warfare.
Here’s a little added sugar, odd and fantastical:
But let’s not lose our taste for Sugar Sugar or the circus spirit. If we did, we’d never have the sweetness of the Archies:
And while we focus our attention on curbing the corrupting influence of the fabulously wealthy, let’s not lose the luxurious. If we did, we’d never have had Incomparable Eartha Kitt. Now THERE’S a finale: