You could say that my mind is elsewhere right now what with selling my home and trying to survive the huge amount dental work that will go on throughout this month. You could say that I'm not paying my usual amount of attention to doings in Washington. But I don't think so.
I think the bit of distance my personal busy-ness gives me has created a new clarity uncluttered by the daily minutiae and maneuvering of Congress and the administration – a chance to see the big picture better.
And here's what I think: they are all hateful and corrupt.
There is so much rotten business going on with all federal elected (and not a few appointed) officials that it is impossible to keep track of it all (which may be what they're counting on.)
Two events (among others) this week illustrate my point:
One: Jim Bunning – one senator out of a hundred – prevented a vote that stopped unemployment checks to millions of people, furloughed 2,000 Department of Transportation employees without pay, shut down millions of dollars in highway payments to states and triggered an immediate cut of 21 percent in Medicare payments to physicians.
This Senate rule, allowing one member to halt forward movement, is the dumbest thing I've ever heard in a democratic republic. The Senate could change it, but they each want to retain the power for single-handed tyranny, at the expense of every citizen, so they won't change it.
Two: An administration official quit to become a lobbyist. He had signed an agreement when he hired on agreeing to not lobby the administration for two years after leaving his post. So, he says, he will lobby Congress instead. This is the essence of following the letter of a contract and not the spirit. It is as wrong as anything can be.
And it's like that every day in Washington on every issue: individual advantage to the powerful over the good of the nation.
What also stands out – someone, finally, needs to say this – is how deeply mean and nasty Republicans are. Undoubtedly there are Democrats who match them, but as a group over a long period of time, Republicans win the mean-and-nasty award – it is embedded in their political soul.
They don't want bank regulation that would ease the burden on citizens and help prevent future meltdowns because it would likely reduce Wall Street executives' obscene paychecks - and donations to their perpetual campaigns.
They don't want health care for everyone. Let's say what that really means: they believe it is fine for hundreds of thousands of people to die every year for lack of care as long as the health industry continues to rake in astronomical profits.
They want to kill Social Security and Medicare. That means they don't care that millions of future elders will become homeless and die in the streets for lack of income and health care.
They don't want climate change regulation. That means that even if Earth's rising temperature were not man-made, they believe it is fine to keep adding toxic waste to the air, land and water which will continue to sicken and kill millions of citizens, animals, plants and, eventually, humanity itself.
They want to lower (already low) taxes on corporations and the top one percent of earners who together control more than 70 percent of the wealth in the U.S. That means they are actively interested in turning 99 percent of American workers and families into serfs.
(On that last point, they like to tout “trickle-down economics” - the idea that if you give the wealthy and corporations more money through lower taxes, they will spend more on business development providing more jobs and money for we peons. That started under President Reagan and has failed; the rich keep their extra money and this is the direct cause of the current gap – the widest in history - between the haves and the have-nots.)
And they lie. Every day they lie. And some number of uninformed Americans believe their lies which helps perpetuate the hateful and corrupt status quo. The most common and pervasive lie during this 111th Congress is that government-run social programs are, by definition, inefficient and will bankrupt the country. In fact, Social Security and Medicare are the most efficiently run of all big enterprises - government and private.
If there were Medicare for All, a single payer system, the price and risk would be spread across all 309 million Americans making it affordable, as it is in all advanced countries worldwide. But don't blame just the Republicans for denying this obvious solution: President Obama and a good number of Democrats are equally to blame.
Why are our leaders so mean and nasty? Because they are one and the same with the corporate elite bent on hoarding all of the planet's wealth for themselves. Our government is wholly owned by corporations and now that globalization is all but complete, they don't even need to worry about who among impoverished Americans will buy their expensive widgets to maintain their lavish lifestyles; the entire world is their customer base.
To remedy the people's agony, some say vote them all out. But no one wins an election without corporate money. (Something like 90 percent of elections are won by the candidate who spends the most money.) So we would just get the next generation of hateful legislators. This is the reason election reform will never happen, nor will the single private company that owns all electronic voting machines be divested of its no-paper-trail control over elections.
I have no answers. I just know that while I withdraw a bit from daily politics to concentrate on my tiny, little, personal world of home selling and teeth for awhile, the big picture looks nastier and meaner than when I get bogged down in the daily details.
For more information with a lot of the facts and details I have not bothered to track down for today's emotional diatribe, I urge you to read The Economic Elite vs. The People of the United States by David DeGraw published at AmpedStatus .
In six parts, it is long and it is worth your time to understand clearly how screwed we are. DeGraw does offer solutions at the end, but I wonder if they are too many and too complex to create a substantive movement.