Belaboring the Obvious

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Zeroes...

... is my now-permanent moniker for the last decade. It's numerically accurate, mostly, and it's a reasonable approximation of the zeitgeist that decade induced.

We were barely into it when the dot-com bubble popped, which zeroed out a lot of people's savings and not a few of their dreams. Then the Supreme Court zeroed out the 14th Amendment and put a whole lotta zeroes in the White House, including the Zero-in-Chief.

Then, in order to prove what Reagan had said, that government can't help people, the entire national security establishment sat on its collective thumbs as hijacked planes flew into buildings. Help? Nada. Zip. Zero.

Then, in a panic, the Congress and the White House sliced and diced the Bill of Rights with the USA Patriot Act, pretty much zeroing out the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments.

Then, Congress once again ceded authority to make war to the President, which kind of zeroed out that part of Art. 1, Sec. 8, of the Constitution. Then they went to work on zeroing out the contents of the Treasury.

Then, the news media unquestioningly reported every lie the Zeroes' administration told them in order to start yet another war, which resulted in the First Amendment being divided by zero and causing the free press to crash. The error was then compounded by the press fixation on Paris Hilton, a vacuous young heiress with zero redeeming qualities, but whose last name suggested that she had a lot of zeroes in her bank accounts. This press obsession was only interrupted by news of Britney Spears, a pop culture creation of zero talent, who said of President Zero, "Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens," which just might prove that, for both subject and object, lack of curiosity is not the impediment it is for us mere mortals.

Secretary of Defense Donald Zero told the soldiers to buck up and live without armor plating, President Zero's national security adviser, Kindasleezza Zero intimated more Ground Zeroes could come "in the form of a mushroom cloud," and Secretary of State Colin Zero put on the performance of his career at the United Nations, saying that there was zero chance that the propaganda he was slathering on with a trowel could be wrong, which caused the network zeroes to work themselves up into a flag-waving war frenzy.

And on and on the decade went--two more corporate crony zeroes on the Supreme Court, a hurricane that zeroed in on one of the country's oldest cities, a tragedy compounded by weak levees which failed and turned the 9th Ward of New Orleans into a killing zone. And Republicans, once again proving that government won't do a fuckin' thing for you, used the calamity to turn the state hard right and white by zeroing in on every poor black person they could find and shipping them off to hell and gone in a modern-day rerun of the Trail of Tears.

And the wars dragged on, the money spigot to America's corporations turned full on, as every vulture capitalist in the country zeroed in on every no-bid, cost-plus contract that President Zero could dream up, while Vice-President Zero's corporate benefactors were raking in big bucks for turning soldiers' showers into abattoirs and soldiers' drinking water supplies into germ warfare factories.

Then the banks began to zero out the accounts of millions of home buyers, and then employers began to do the same with their jobs, so Congress, in its wisdom, gave the banks and the employers lots of taxpayer money with very, very few strings attached, which accomplished very, very little except to replenish the coffers of the moral zeroes on Wall Street.

Then Presidential hopeful and whiner par excellence, John McCain, gave us one of the biggest zeroes of them all, Scary Sarah Palin, whose deficiencies have to measured in term less than zero, or maybe in imaginary numbers. and we can't seem to rid ourselves of her still.

Did things look up because a fresh face with a line of patter that sounded good won the Presidency? Well, so it seemed, until he took the oath of office and decided to take up golf with the fatcats that had crucified the economy and kissed so many plump, white, rich asses on the Business Roundtable that we had to check the Constitution twice to see if such behavior was required under Article II, and, guess what? They still aren't happy.

And the wars dragged on. Guantanamo lingered, like untreated impetigo on the ass of human rights, and so did all the assaults on civil rights that President Zero's legal zeroes had pulled out of their asses. Warrantless spying, FBI national security letters, infiltration of peace groups and misuse of the material assistance to terrorists statute proceeded apace.

The banksters began to defraud the courts in foreclosure proceedings, and used the government's HAMP program to force those foreclosures. Real unemployment/underemployment continued to hover around 20%, while President Neo-Zero pressed for new "free trade" treaties that would ensure that the job-bloodletting would continue. President Neo-Zero sold out on the health care bill, and financial reform, and raising taxes on the obscenely wealthy.

By the end of the decade, it seemed as if the robber barons had finally won, the government that, for a time, saw its role as keeping the barbarians outside the gates of civil society had finally thrown down its weapons and invited the invaders in and told them to help themselves. And still, the orcs on Wall Street whined that it wasn't enough... we were supposed to stroke their egos, too.

It would be one thing to say that the Zeroes are finally over and done with, and good riddance, but, the Teens are fast shaping up to be not more of the same, but worse. Congress and the state houses, thanks to the biggest bunch of zeroes yet organized, the Tea Partiers, are now filled to the brim with corporate shills, crackpots, outright thieves and fourteen different varieties of madmen and madwomen, mental defectives, flim-flammers and feebs.

The country is in the grip of a kind of institutional insanity, overburdened by a national security apparatus and a fevered, flailing imperial ambition that is taking big swipes at both the Treasury and the Constitution, under the near-total control of an artificial aristocracy based on wealth, and the proper reaction is to be sick at heart about it, because the simple truth is that in a society that aspires (however much in vain) to wealth more than to democracy, the small-d democrat is an anachronism.

It's not going to end well.

And the wars drag on.


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