Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sometime in the ‘80s, I read that the infant mortality rate on the South Side of Chicago rivaled that of 3rd World countries. With Reagan’s drive to cut spending promoting the social good, I quipped to my late, beloved Republican dad, “Reagan wants to turn America into a 3rd World country.”

In 1996, when Clinton was starting to build a budget surplus, and Dole was campaigning on the theme of cutting taxes, I said to my dad, “A fiscal conservative would vote for the Democrats.”

In 2000, when Bush was campaigning on tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts, and Nader was running around wooing progressives away from the centrist Gore, I went around raving, “Bush wants to trash the economy.” The Clinton budget surplus had made repairing the social safety net a plausible possibility, the idea of which clearly drove Republicans bananas; the Clinton-era prosperity had also seen an increase in real wages and union participation, both ideas also driving Republicans bananas.

In the 2004 campaign, Bush made his link to 3rd World oligarchic ideology explicit: He campaigned on the elimination of taxes on interest, capital gains, dividends, and inheritance; in other words, only work would be taxed, while income from ownership would not. As I said at the time, that’s neo-feudalism, baby. Fortunately, Bush didn’t get this part of his agenda enacted.

Bush’s new proposed no-strings, no-oversight, blank-check, $700,000,000,000 bail-out for failed investment and banking firms is another attempt at the continued neo-feudal 3rd-World-ization of the U.S. Let’s tax the 98% to bail out the 2%. Let’s let the 2% get off scot-free.

Of course, Katrina laid the 3rd-World conditions, which pertain to significant sectors of the U.S., bare already.

* * *

The Republican Party bought a $10 million dollar insurance policy for the St. Paul police, protecting them against brutality lawsuits resulting from their actions during the Republican Convention. They bought this policy shortly after New York City lost lawsuits brought be people who were brutalized by the police during the 2004 Republican Convention.

Suppressing dissent is illegal.

But the Republicans had to have it done.

And they were willing to pay for it.

I was in San Francisco during the Democratic Convention in 1984. A peace-activist group led tours of the financial district during the days of the convention. The tour consisted of a man or a woman leading a group of 2 or 3 dozen people, repeating this formula as they passed different offices:

“This is building A; corporation B has offices here; they build weapons system C; they give D amount of money to the Republican Party and E amount of money to the Democratic Party.”

As I recall, in every case they gave more money to the Republican Party, but lots to the Democrats too.

One day in a parking lot across from the convention, half a dozen punk bands gave a free concert. I don’t remember all of the bands, but MDC and the Dead Kennedys played two of the best sets I have ever seen in my life.

MDC’s singer was a cheerful man built like a football player with a mohawk. At one point a skinny mohawked teenager climbed onstage and grabbed the microphone in the middle of a song, taking over the lead vocals -- he had the lyrics down. The singer put his arm around the lad, and mouthed the words off-mike, acting the words out with his free hand, happy as could be. At another time a middle-aged drunk climbed onstage, grabbed the mike, and started bellowing blues. As the band kicked a groove behind him, the frontman led a bunch of skinny teenage lads onstage, and they paraded around in a circle, dancing around the impromptu singer. It was beautiful, memorable, inspiring.

The three white members of Dead Kennedys came out in Ku Klux Klan hoods, with smiley faces painted at the tops of the cones, with crosses for eyes. Sometime through the set lead singer Jello Biafra tour off his hood to reveal a stage-blood-streaked Reagan mask; and as he leapt around the stage like a man possessed, rage-spitting his lyrics, it was sight to behold. During one song stage divers pushed Biafra offstage -- perhaps inadvertently but probably not -- and Biafra disappeared from view, never missing a syllable as he continued his spew, until the crowd lifted him back onto the stage. When the song was over, Biafra was pissed. A great show.

Between sets, while bands were unplugging to make room for the next, a rabble rouser would try to rile up the crowd.

“The SFPD illegally arrested the peace tour of the Financial District today! After the Dead Kennedys” -- they were the headliners, playing last -- “After the Dead Kennedys, we’re all going to march to the Hall of Justice and demand that they be set free!”

And so that’s what happened -- but not exactly. A few thousand people marched after the Dead Kennedys, but instead of the 75 or so people who had been arrested being set free, another 260 or so people got arrested. Most of the new arrestees got sprung that night, but the original 75 didn’t get out until the next day.

As in St. Paul, no charges were brought.

When I got back home to Michigan a week later, I expected there to be a buzz about 335 people being arrested in one day for no reason. Nope. No buzz. Nobody had heard a thing about it. The news organizations had failed to report it. Suppressed themselves.

Because of the internet, this is no longer possible, so when Amy Goodman got arrested in St. Paul for no reason, people around the world heard about it that night.

The Republican Party put up the money for the St. Paul Police to clamp down.

In a real 3rd World country, I suppose, the brutalized and suppressed would have no recourse in the courts to their illegal arrests, and taking out insurance against the likelihood of police brutality would not be necessary.

-- photo from the Boston Globe.

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?