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The Expansionist
Saturday, September 18, 2010
 
Self-Defeating Liberals. I am really ticked off by the current Congressional election cycle, not so much at the GOP as at the POP (the Democratic "Party of Pussies" — tho most of my kitties are nowhere near as timid as Democrats are, but will actually fite if threatened). There are many self-confuting and self-defeating "ideas" out among Democrats. Let's take two, as examples.
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(1) The pretense is now heard that voters will not favor a hard-and-fast Democratic insistence on letting the Bushian tax breaks for the rich and super-rich expire, but that voters are SO stupid and SO deluded by the propaganda of the Radical Right that they will think that seeing the budget deficit balloon by $700 BILLION over the next decade in order to give the rich a tax break is a good thing. NO. Democrats are entirely wrong in avoiding the populist "soak the rich" class war that has heretofore been fought on only one side, BY the rich against The Rest of Us. Why can't Democrats point out that the Richpublicans have been fiting a "Soak the Poor and Middle Class" war, and fite back? How many votes do the rich have? How many votes do the middle class and poor have? The answers to these questions show why Democrats who refuse to "soak the rich" are FOOLS.
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Yes, the Republican Party, prostrate servants of the rich, pretend that the rich are the "engine of the economy", and you "can't" raise taxes on even the SUPER-rich without injuring the economy. This is the latest version of the Radical Right "trickle-down" scam, Reagan's "voodoo economics" — two terms that Democrats need to resurrect for the current political dialog, and in a hurry, since both are truly apt. Why are Democrats so reticent to take on the rich? Is it because they are fundamentally corrupted by the power of money in this disgusting age, in which servants of the rich on the Supreme Court have ruled, utterly dishonestly, that money is speech? That ruling, by the way, can be reversed by a simple act of Congress that at once restores McCain-Feingold AND adds that no judge may review that legislation, on pain of death.
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The Supreme Court doesn't have any power except what it is given. If we take away misused powers, the Court has no recourse but to fuss and rant impotently. The Supreme Court has no army, no police force, no power whatsoever to enforce its bizarre and ridiculous decisions. The Executive Branch, however, does have an army, and police forces, that can arrest any judge who rises in insurrection against the duly constituted legal authority of the Congress and President in enacting legislation in accordance with the process mandated by the Constitution — the only condition to the full effectiveness of legislation that the Constitution itself put upon the legislative powers of the Congress and President, acting together, or Congress alone, acting over the head of the President by overriding a veto. The Constitution gives NO role to the Supreme Court in passing or vetoing legislation. The Supreme Court is not a third house of Congress; it is not co-President as regards vetoing legislation. The Constitution gives the Supreme Court NO role in legislation, so the Congress and President must act together to STRIP the Supreme Court of the power it SEIZED, unconstitutionally, to void laws passed by Congress (and, usually, the President). Congress and/or the President CAN do so, thru simple legislation, not a Constitutional amendment, by writing into any legislation it wishes that no judge may review or attempt to void that legislative act, on pain of death by hanging — a new and improved sense for "hanging judge".
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Democrats, given their enormous majorities in both Houses of the present Congress, and control of the White House, could have passed comprehensive campaign-finance legislation to provide full public financing of campaigns, with rigid spending limits. That legislation could, again, have included a final provision that no court may review or void that legislation, on pain of death. But they didn't, and won't. Nor will they pass universal-voting legislation, as to require everyone to vote. Because they are content to beg from the rich and their lobbyists who contribute to campaigns, and they don't WANT just-everybody to vote, because then they would have to consider everybody's best interests, and they don't want to do that. They prefer to pander to the audiences they know and understand, rather than speak to the disaffected they don't know, or understand at all, because they've never voted before. And so we continue to pretend to have a democracy, even tho only half of eligible voters vote, even in the heaviest turnouts, so only a minority on the order of one-FOURTH of the potential electorate controls the Government. That is NOT democracy. The first step to giving us true democracy is to admit that what we have now is MINORITY government, not democracy (majority rule) at all. In the immortal words of Dr. Phil, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."
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People presently in office are TERRIFIED of the idea of elections in which everyone is required to vote AND in which a binding "None of the Above" vote would defeat everyone named on the ballot and require a second-round vote with ALL new candidates. At present, all a candidate needs is to be perceived as "least worst" by however many voters as do turn out, despite their disgust with The System. Voters are presently expected to vote negatively, against the worst candidate, rather than positively, for someone they can actually believe in. But if "None of the Above" were on the ballot, and everybody had to turn out, how many of the people now in office do you think would be returned to office? 90%, 50%, 7%? Who knows? Certainly the people now in office have no desire to find out.
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If the poor and disaffected, who now stay home in droves, instead came out in droves, The System would be shaken to its core. And the candidate, or party, that ran on "If we soak the rich, we can afford everything we ought, as a Nation, to be doing — EVERYTHING!", would win HUGE majorities, so great that they could ram thru any program they wanted. Even with our present despicable system that is practically designed to keep most people home, especially in midterm elections, if the Democrats ran on the stance that "The only reason we keep hearing that we 'can't afford' to do this, that, and the other is that the Republicans won't let us raise taxes on the obscenely rich — NOT the middle class, and certainly not on the poor, but on the rich and super-rich", Democrats would not merely preserve their present wide majorities but DEMOLISH the Republican Party as an effective Opposition.
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Might Democrats really be afraid of having a "bulletproof" majority? Might they fear that an effective Party of the Opposition is the only thing that keeps them listening to their "better angels", and without it, they would do terrible and abusive things that would ruin society? We should not have in Congress or any other position of public trust, people whose behavior is controlled not by their own conscience, but only by effective political opposition. If you are afraid of your demons within, don't go into politics. If you are already IN politics and scared of your demons within, resign. Tell people that fear of your own worst instincts is your reason for retiring from public life, and insist that only someone who is fundamentally decent and well-controlled should replace you.
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(2) The other issue I wish to raise today in connection with things Democrats do now and will forever keep them from having the power to do the truly good things that this Nation needs done, is Puerto Rico statehood. We have a HUGE imperialist scandal that everybody who cares about human rights and wrongs knows about but which is never presented to the American public. Puerto Rico was taken as "spoils of war" from Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898. It has been held in colonial subjection, by the one country, born of mistreated colonies, that should never, ever, have had colonies, for 112 years — and counting. Right alongside the Colony of Puerto Rico ("Commonwealth" is the lying euphemism that is actually used in politics) is the Colony of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico has about 4 MILLION residents who are SECOND-CLASS citizens of the United States. They are not allowed to vote for President, nor send voting representatives to Congress, either house.
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PR (the convenient, and fully respectful, postal abbreviation, like NJ) has one delegate ("Resident Commissioner", not "Representative") in the House of Representatives, who can vote in committee but not on the floor. If Puerto Rico were a State, it would be entitled to two Senators and between 6 and 7 VOTING members in the House of Representatives. The Virgin Islands has another 109,000 U.S. citizens who are also denied the right to vote for President or Congress. Add that 109,000 figure into a combined State of Puerto Rico (and the Virgin Islands, tho the name would probably not include "Virgin Islands"), and Puerto Rico would be entitled to 7 Representatives in the House.
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How important are two votes in the U.S. Senate and 7 in the House? HUGELY. And everyone expects that the bulk of a State of Puerto Rico's elected members of both houses would be Democrats. So Democrats, who are scared sh*less that Republicans will retake at least one House of Congress, must be agitating to admit Puerto Rico as a State, right? Wrong. NO ONE in the Democratic leadership has even TALKED about ending Puerto Rico's colonial subjection and bringing it into the Union as the 51st State.
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You see, some people are so good, so unselfish, that they project onto others feelings they don't really have. Since Democrats are glad to be citizens of their own country, they project onto Puerto Ricans the 'understanding' — but actually MISunderstanding — that of course they would want to be citizens of their own, independent country. They have accepted the notion disingenuously (manipulatively) foisted upon Americans by independentistas that Puerto Ricans see Puerto Rico as their "country", in the sense that mainlanders see the United States as THEIR "country". Never mind that the words "pais" and "country" both have various meanings, and that in Spanish "pais" means more like "homeland" than "nation-state", so "mi pais" may NOT mean what we mean in English by "my country".
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This is an interesting bit of Them-against-Us trickery whereby people who are our fellow-citizens are turned into foreigners.
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Whereas we might assume that fellow-citizens who are denied the right to vote for President and Congress would OF COURSE want the vote, if Puerto Ricans are recast as foreigners who aspire to their own "pais" — whatever that might mean — we will on the contrary assume that they do NOT want to vote in OUR "country" but in their own "country": an independent Puerto Rico. Independentistas will not disabuse mainlanders of that delusion. I will.
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Are some Puerto Ricans afraid that statehood would lead to the inevitable extinguishment of Puerto Rican culture? Sure. Are they right to fear that? Depends on whether you see all human cultures that interact with others as inevitably influenced by other cultures, or if you think it is possible for a small culture to put itself into a mason jar and preserve itself exactly as it was 100 years ago, or 50, or 25, or now. Or whether you accept that worthy cultures will survive in some form despite intense interaction with others. For instance, when I was born, 65 years ago in New Jersey, the Deep South was segregated; no one in the bulk of the Nation had ever heard of a taco, much less a chimichanga, or the word "machismo"; there was no such thing as "Gay Pride" (a term I put forth in 1970), but homosexuality was "The love that dare not speak its name"; terms like "nigger", "spic", "wop", and "dago" were commonplace and unapologized-for (NJ is heavily Italian); American cities were predominantly white; etc., etc., etc. Now, the town I first lived in is over 36% Korean, Super Bowl parties feature taco chips and salsa (there was no Super Bowl when I was young); the bulk of Chinese restaurants are takeout only rather than sitdown family restaurants with menus that featured Column A and Column B; etc., etc., etc. The U.S. is, in short hugely different, culturally, now from what it was in late 1944, when I was born, or 1950, when I was in school and very aware of things around me. But no one but the Radical Right sees the culture of the United States as having been destroyed, and even most of the Radical Right thinks what has happened up till now is OK, but they oppose what they fear is ABOUT to happen.
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So, will the culture of Puerto Rico proper change under the impact of Statehood, especially statehood in which dominantly English-speaking Virgin Islanders participate in the state legislature? Of course. Will young Puerto Ricans see the change, or just accept it as the way things are?
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More to the point, how does colonial status protect Puerto Rican culture from the currents of transnational culture, ALL of which are dominated by the United States? The language of the WORLD culture now emerging is not, after all, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, or Swahili, but English — American-accented English. Resilient cultures accept the good, reject the bad, and thrive.
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There is even a more fundamental question that I have never heard anyone discuss, about Puerto Rico or even Quebec, another area the U.S. might very usefully annex as a state: does the culture depend on the language? or can a culture change languages and still be seen as surviving?
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That is, there are aspects of culture like the kinds of housing people live in, religion they practice, the cultural attitude toward extended family as against nuclear family, the cars people drive, the music they listen to, the food they eat, clothing they wear, sports they watch or participate in, jobs they work at, and leisure-time activities they participate in (TV, Internet activities, texting, dancing) that have little to do with language. Scrabble in Spanish is still Scrabble, and salsa or merengue music with English lyrics is still salsa or merengue.
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In any case, Democrats by and large have NOT become ardent advocates of statehood for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, even tho a joint 51st State would completely remove the condemnation of the U.S. as a colonial overlord in the Caribbean (the Pacific, however, would retain some U.S. colonies) by the United Nations — and by ourselves, in the case of Americans who are appalled that we who should never have had colonies in fact not only DO have colonies, but that one of them (PR) is the oldest colony on Earth. Why is that?
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Well, you see, there are a lot of Democrats who feel guilty about Puerto Rico's colonial condition, and think that it would be better for the people of Puerto Rico if they were an independent country. Not better for the United States, which you would think should be the first consideration of members of Congress and the President, but better for the people of Puerto Rico. But would it?
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Puerto Rico is a small, overcrowded island (3,459 square miles, smaller than Connecticut but larger than Delaware, which would make it the 49th of 51 states). It was, in the period for 50 years after the U.S. takeover, regarded as the hellhole of the Caribbean.
"What I found appalled me," John Gunther wrote, in Inside Latin America (1941 [43 years into U.S. rule]), about his visit to Puerto Rico. "I saw native villages steaming with filth — villages dirtier than any I ever saw in the most squalid parts of China . . . . I saw children bitten by disease and on the verge of starvation, in slum dwellings — if you can call them dwellings — that make the hovels of Calcutta look healthy by comparison." Gunther reported that more than half of Puerto Rican children of school age didn't go to school, that the island had the highest infant-mortality rate in the world, and that it was the second most densely populated place on earth, after Java.
What reason have we to assume that in independence, cut loose from U.S. aid of many types, from food stamps for individuals to Department of Transportation highway funds for the island's government, and, critically, from U.S. disaster-area designation after a hurricane, would be not just self-supporting but also prosperous? No reason whatsoever. But Puerto Ricans would rather be poor but proud as an independent country rather than prosperous but part of the United States, right? Wrong.
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Wikipedia reports that:
The [independence] party has elected some legislative candidates, but has yet to win more than a few percentage points of the vote in gubernatorial elections (2.04% in 2008) or the legislative elections (4.5-5% of the island-wide legislative vote in 2008).
In short, Puerto Rico independence is much more popular among mainlanders of Puerto Rican ancestry — who would not have to live with any of the adverse consequences that independence would assuredly bring — and among naive American Liberals who think that Puerto Ricans would have to value independence over prosperity and personal liberty (Latin America is not an area congenial to liberal democracy), than it is among Puerto Ricans on the island themselves.
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I was reviewing tonite a presentation I put up many years ago, and revised in 1999, about bringing Mexico into the Union as perhaps 10 states, when I thought to write to a Liberal U.S. Congressman, Luis Gutierrez, about Puerto Rico statehood. Gutierrez is of Puerto Rican ancestry but, like so many naive mainlanders, thinks Puerto Rico should be independent, even tho islanders themselves don't want independence. So I sent him this short message via feedback form at his Congressional website.
I have seen you a number of times on MSNBC's COUNTDOWN but never heard you address the need to end the colonial status of Puerto Rico and increase Hispanic representation in Congress by two Senators and several Representatives. In this time when gridlock keeps the Nation from marching forward, surely it is imperative that the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico finally do their duty by joining the good fite for all the right things in Congress. YOU need to give up the teenage-naive ideal of independence for Puerto Rico, and admit that PR is too small and too poor to fend for itself, esp. in its Hurricane Alley location. Instead, you must lead the fite to bring the relative few Hispanic members of Congress -- including only ONE Senator (from my state, NJ), representing 1% of the Senate, for 16% of the Nation's population, whereas a State of Puerto Rico (with the U.S. Virgin Islands incorporated therein) would give the Senate TWO -- into agreement that we canNOT dispense with 4 million Latino votes [oops: s/b 2.5M or 3M, since not all 4M Puerto Ricans are of legal age] in this time when the worst forces in the Nation are making a powerplay to bring down the Obama Administration and return us to the 1950s. THINK for a minute. How ELSE can we increase Latino voters by over 2 MILLION in a single year?
Hispanics are now 16% of the U.S. population, and are represented by ONE Senator, who represents 1% of the Senate, since it presently has 100 members. If Puerto Rico were made a State, Senator Menendez would be joined/outnumbered by the Senators from Puerto Rico, and instead of 16% of the Nation being represented by 1% of the Senate, that 16% would be represented by 3%. That is plainly still inadequate, but Latino representation in the U.S. Senate would be tripled simply by making Puerto Rico a state.
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So why isn't anyone in the Democratic leadership talking about bringing Puerto Rico into the Union? We don't have to sit around waiting to be asked by the island's political leadership. What are Democrats, teenage girls sitting on one side of a middle-school gymnasium waiting to be asked to dance? Find your balls and make Puerto Rico a state. That state, which could destroy two colonies (PR, VI) in one statehood bill, could serve as the core of a wider Caribbean state to be formed from the bits and pieces of the British empire in the Caribbean and Atlantic, from Trinidad thru Jamaica to the British Virgin Islands and on thru the Bahamas to Bermuda.
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There are other ways the Democrats in particular and Liberals more generally could change the United States permanently for the good thru national expansion. Can we all agree that it is a terrible thing that the regressive South plays a powerful part in national politics, but only because it is a large part of the electoral vote for both President and Congress? We CAN reduce the South's relative weight by admitting more states, of more Liberal disposition.
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I mentioned, above, admitting Mexico as perhaps 10 states. We could also admit Canada as 7 states. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said, on the occasion of President Obama's visit to Canada shortly after taking office, that if there were ever a time to try to annex Canada, this would be it. (I almost never watch her show, tho I did hear that comment. I do regularly watch Keith Olbermann, whose biting and entertaining show precedes hers.) There are many other places the U.S. could annex, to the entire world's benefit: the United Kingdom as 5 states, the Philippines as 3 states, Taiwan as 1 state, reunited Ireland as 1 state, Australia and New Zealand as 6 states, and so forth. Republicans would have to recast themselves as a party of moderation in order to survive as a significant force in national politics in a larger Union, and stop seeing themselves as captive to the most reactionary forces in the Deep South. Everybody would win, including a planet that depends upon enlitened policy pronouncements from and actual practice by the United States.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,421 — for Israel.)



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