by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
May 27, 2010
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Have you noticed that Tea Baggers and anti-government activists seem to be worrying about all the wrong things?
President Obama's birthplace? Really? He could have been found as a baby floating in the reeds in a basket and it wouldn't matter now. He's firmly ensconced as president, and just as firmly overwhelmed by his job. Meanwhile, the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
The Louisiana wetlands are disappearing because of a huge, ever-flowing plume of crude - something we once worshipped as a precious resource, but are now watching spill into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of upwards of 5,000 barrels a day. This disaster, which is threatening one of the world's richest ecologies is now about to hitch a ride on the Gulf Stream up the Florida coast.
Where's the outrage over that, Mr. and Mrs. Tea Bagger?
Then, we might be in for a remake of the popular television show "M*A*S*H." Why? Because North Korea appears to have torpedoed a South Korean patrol vessel on March 26, leaving 46 sailors dead or unaccounted for. In retaliation, South Korea has said it will cut off most trade with North Korea.
North Korea denies it sunk the ship and warned that any attempt to punish it could lead to "all-out war." North Korea has been testing delivery systems for nuclear weapons. Feeling any outrage yet?
Then there's the European economy. Greece has already imploded because its government, in collusion with large multinational financial companies (Yes, Goldman Sachs again), has looted the till.
"The right-wing government of Kostas Karamanlis, which preceded the current government of George Papandreou, did what the Republicans did under George W. Bush," writes author Chris Hedges this week. "They looted taxpayer funds to enrich their corporate masters and bankrupt the country... They used mass propaganda to make the population afraid of terrorists and surrender civil liberties, including habeas corpus. And while Bush and Karamanlis, along with the corporate criminal class they abetted, live in unparalleled luxury, ordinary working men and women are told they must endure even more pain and suffering to make amends. It is feudal rape."
Ireland, Spain and Portugal are on the waiting list. Outcry, anyone?
Hedges wants to believe that "there has to be a point when even the American public - which still believes the fairy tale that personal will power and positive thinking will lead to success - will realize it has been had."
But that's not true. Not when so many angry Tea Baggers are saluting Rand Paul's win in the Kentucky Republican U.S. Senate primary.
Paul, filled with anti-government rage, is supporting the company which caused the oil spill and says the government has no right to tell any business what to do. MoveOn jumped on this statement in an e-mail appropriately headed "'Whites Only' Lunch Counters?" They go on to note that "on Saturday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell joined Rand Paul at a rally and unequivocally endorsed him."
Then there's my new hero, Rep. Alan Grayson, the Florida congressman who introduced a bill in the House called "The War is Making You Poor Act," designed to make us ever more aware that America has been flushing its wealth down the toilets of fear and violence since the beginning of the Second World War. (He quotes Eisenhower's warning about the "military-industrial complex" as an inspiration.)
"The purpose of this bill," wrote Grayson last week, "is to connect the dots, and to show people in a real and concrete way the cost of these endless wars... War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore... The costs of the war have been rendered invisible. There's no draft. Instead, we take the most vulnerable elements of our population, and give them a choice between unemployment and missile fodder. Government deficits conceal the need to pay in cash for the war. We put the cost of both guns and butter on our Chinese credit card."
Oddly enough, this bill, which demands that the Pentagon live within its budgeted means, cancels next year's $159 billion budget allocation for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. and gives everyone a $35,000 income tax credit (couples get $70,000), is being supported by Rand Paul's father, Texas congressman Ron Paul.
The libertarian fantasy that the world would be run better if there wasn't government is just that, a fantasy. Men and women aren't angels. They don't always act rationally and out of enlightened self-interest. That's why there are traffic lights, at least a cursory inspection of our food before it goes into the supermarket and a testing of that pill before Grandma takes it.
Tea Baggers and their ilk are right to be furious. We should all be furious. The disappearing jobs, the foreclosures, the crumbling of the social contract, the tanking global economy, the oil spill, North Korea - there is much to be fearful about.
But worrying about where Obama was born, or hating all Muslims and immigrants? Seems like a waste of time to me.
Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a journalist and columnist. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.