My wife Carlene and I hiked from Tahoe City to Page Meadows this past week. We had a wonderful nearly 10 mile hike and saw a beautiful blond-phase black bear cub and later a Western Tanager (which is special to me) flitting from branch to branch in an aspen stand made magical by trees bent and twisted by heavy snows. On the walk I thought about history and how many have forgotten, never knew or were told it wrong and how that is impacting us as a nation.
|Ring Around the Rosie circa 1665.|
|Posted on Facebook by iconic singer and song writer Janis Ian.|
In reality these moves and other related actions like the Inquisition-styled Congressional hearings did little to make us a better nation or better people. These were ugly times that turned American against American and in a move that would make a Jiu Jitsu master envious turned manufactured paranoia into an arms race and an ever escalating defense budget that has not skipped a beat since.
Now that the Red Menace has passed and the Wall has come down perhaps it is time for us to remember that the slogan of our country was originally the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum or Out of Many, One. This was the uniting and inclusive message of our Founding Fathers before political extremists elected to go with the more divisive one. The time of coming together should be and has to be now.
|“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.|
Many of us have made suggestions of how to dig ourselves out of our current situation and move us back towards a more American pathway. These range from term limits and reversing the Citizens United decision to returning the marginal tax on higher incomes to its 1950s level and setting limits on corporate CEO compensation (see above). I’ll throw another idea in the bin, perhaps we should just tax hypocrisy?
What if we financially penalized all American flag pin wearing elected officials who act in ways that are contrary to the founding principles of our country? We could have a fine for elected officials enabling corporations to draft legislation for their benefit such as those currently working with ALEC. Another fine could be for fighting to break down the barrier between church and state like being an active member of or supporting the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) or similar efforts. Fines could also be assessed to those flying in corporate jets and going on junkets when they should be spending time talking with and helping their constituents. And we could add to all of this a general fine for forwarding policies which are divisive and drive us apart rather than bring us together.
But the hypocrisy tax should not stop at elected officials, it should also be applied to those who enrich themselves in the name of religions that are built around looking after the poor and infirmed of society(1,2,3). It should also apply to the media particularly outlets that claim to be truthful and unbiased while fibbing their way through news programs with transparent political casts. And the rich too would earn fines for receiving tax breaks for creating non-profit organizations bent on creating an environment where they can become richer still (these are really investments not donations).
|Rep. Joe Barton AKA Smokey Joe|
“…solemnly swears or affirms they will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Arizona and defend the U.S. and Arizona against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and states they will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of their office.” Excerpt from the Loyalty Oath of Office section Arizona Secretary of State website.
|Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen sporting her American Flag pin.|
|Cliven Bundy at left and Rand Paul on right.|
And then there is Rand Paul who recently met with Cliven Bundy (1,2,3) a man who has stated publicly that he does not recognize the federal government while carrying a copy of the US Constitution in his pocket. For more than twenty years this individual has grazed his cattle illegally on federal lands. He and his father paid lease fees to the federal authorities but when our lands become so degraded that they could no longer support native wildlife and the leases were lawfully discontinued, Mr. Bundy suddenly didn’t recognize the federal government’s authority. Bundy went to court and lost repeatedly. Bundy’s story and his relationship to the federal government has much in common with a child’s tale of imaginary friends who are there to accept blame and shield one from personal responsibility for their actions. But this isn’t about Bundy but rather about Mr. Paul.
"The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States." The Property Clause from the US Constitution.Here again we have an elected official who has sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution and the laws of our nation which include the Property Clause (see here for analysis of federal land ownership). As a candidate for president you have to make many, many choices in terms of who to meet with out of a pool of a couple of hundred million eligible voters. The same is true of issues. With Bundy and the issue of turning over federal lands to the states Senator Paul has: 1) elected to meet with an extremist who has violated the law and flaunted federal authority (authority which the Senator swore to defend and uphold); 2) chosen to ignore the Property Clause of the US Constitution as well as the federal laws related to the establishment of the State of Nevada including that state’s Constitution; and 3) disregarded all the longstanding ownership rights of those not living in Nevada who contributed through blood, sweat or money to the winning and purchase of those lands.
|General Taylor at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.|
I wish that these were isolated instances but they are not for everywhere we turn we see examples like a candidate who attacked the President on “birther” grounds and now asks us to ignore the baggage in his own natal backyard or a commentator (nee politician) who espouses patriotism and family-based morality who did not finish her own term and will soon welcome her second out-of-wedlock grandchild. Toss in offspring driving drunk or torturing animals, serial plagiarism and political parties—both real and imaginary—that seemed to spring wholly from the spare change of bored and greedy billionaires (1,2,3) and we all have reason to worry. At some point we should probably ask: Is this really the best we have?
|Excellent and appropriate image of what we are dealing with from the Coffee Party Movement.|