Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! It's All About the Turkeys

Wishing you all a great Thanksgiving!  No blog here today, but I'm sharing a few others from my other blog, Constant Commoner.

This one is about a celebrity chef in Detroit who gave a recipe for turkey to the Detroit Free Press.  I called it "The Only Turkey is the Recipe".

This one I did last night.  It's called "On The Day When Turkeys Don't Give Thanks".

And this one I wrote this morning while watching the Macy's Detroit Parade.  Warning:  It's a bit of a downer.  But it could be uplifting if things go right. . .

See you after the Holiday, when it's back to business.  Stay safe and don't forget those who don't have as much to celebrate.  Sharing is a good thing any day of the year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Kowalski

Hamtramck is a tiny city completely surrounded by big Detroit.  It has almost nothing in common with Motown except that they're both temporarily under the thumb of appointed, not elected, emergency managers. 

As with Detroit, Hamtramck's EM has far-reaching and unassailable dictatorial powers.  Hamtramck, like Detroit, is broke, and, according to the emergency managers in both towns, the only way to save them is to sell off all valuable assets--even those that make these towns what they are.

In Detroit, that could be (and very well might be) the venerable, world class Art Institute, but tiny Hamtramck has no such booty.  What they do have is a lovely community garden, thanks to a five-year adopt-a-lot agreement put in place by the mayor in 2011, giving the community necessary protection, along with an incentive to keep those gardens--now called Hamtown Farms--going.

Photo credit:  Hamtown Farms
  But strange as it may seem to those of us who see more value in the community garden part than in the worth of vacant lots, Cathy Square, Hamtramck's EM and resident carpetbagger (in place since way back in June), decided on her own that since the Kowalski Sausage Company next door wanted the garden lots for themselves, (and since a lawsuit restricting the sale of city-owned lots had ended) she should just go ahead and sell them.

Since Hamtown Farms had already invested over $40,000 into their gardens, based on lot prices in the area they thought an offer of $2500 for five lots would be fair.  Kowalski countered with $3000, a mere $500 more. Hamtown Farms saw the writing on the wall and thought that was the end.

When citizens got wind of the potential sale and caused a bit of a stink, mainly because those five city lots sat empty for over 30 years before they were rescued and turned into gardens, Ms. Square was miffed.  Okay, then, she said.  Not worth the hassle. I've made the decision to put them up for auction, instead.  So before anybody could ask, Isn't that, like, still selling them? the bids were opened.

After a protracted bidding war, Hamtown Farms ended up with the winning bids on three of the five lots, but at almost 10 times their original offer.   Kowalski paid $11,000 for the lot with the planted trees, a loss that saddens those who had been nurturing those trees.

But thanks to donors and an Indiegogo fund drive, it looks like Hamtown Farms will get to keep their gardens.

No thanks to Kowalski Sausage.  Whatever happened to public relations, particularly when you're a Polish sausage maker in what was once a traditionally Polish city? The Emergency Manager decreed that all vacant lots in Hamtramck must be sold, so surely there were others nearby that would have suited them just as well.

Considering how much more those lots ended up selling for (far more per lot than any other in the city), you have to wonder what happened there?  Kowalski could have bought two or three lots for what they paid for that single treed lot in the Gardens.  Why were they so stuck on that one?  And what are they going to do with it?
Even more puzzling, why were those particular lots targeted by the EM, when initially they weren't worth that much money and have become such a happy part of the community?  There's no figuring out those bottom-liners.  That's because they're all about the bottom line.  The wants and needs of the people will always take a back seat until they've finished them.  And when they're finished with them they'll be gone.

I live for the day when the lawsuits against Emergency Managers in Michigan are settled and won.  Last November, as everyone but Gov. Snyder seems to remember, the people of Michigan voted down the Governor's plan for Emergency Managers, but his administration sidestepped the will of the people and installed them, anyway.

Hamtramck's EM won't have the kind of clout that Detroit's EM, Kevyn Orr has, but going after a successful community garden where empty lots once stood and making them pay exorbitant rates in order to keep it, tells me all I need to know about where Cathy Square is coming from--and where she's headed.

If I lived in Hamtramck, I wouldn't take my eyes off of her for even a second.

(Big H/T to Eclectablog for bringing this story to light.  For a  PBS video clip about Hamtown Farms, go here.  If you would like to donate to Hamtown Farms, go here.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

On that Day We Lost JFK

On that day I was up in my sewing room, away from the TV.  My four-year-old son was napping, and my 7-year-old daughter was in school. My husband was at work.   It was early afternoon.

I heard the back door open and before I could start to the stairs, I could hear my neighbor, Gwen, shouting something, sobbing. I thought something must have happened to her mother, who had been ailing.  By the time I got to her she could barely speak.  "They shot the president!  They shot Kennedy!"

I turned on the TV and we sat watching, hoping, both of us, that he would be okay. This kind of thing just didn't happen--not in our country, not to this president. We didn't know, of course, that the top of his head had been blown off.

But then Walter Cronkite, fighting back tears, announced that our president was dead.

A while later, long before school was supposed to be out, my second-grader ran into the house.  She was terrified.  When the school staff heard the news they made the decision to send the kids home, but they also decided to leave it to the parents to tell the little kids what had happened.  My daughter remembers seeing her teacher cry; she remembers running the three blocks home with a bunch of scared, crying kids, and then running into the house, only to find her mom a hysterical mess.

Soon after our daughter came home, my husband arrived.  The news came over the PA system and within minutes everyone had shut down their projects and left for home.

The next few days were lost to anything other than being glued to the TV.  Our horror had to take a back seat to trying to calm two little kids, to reminding them they were safe, assuring them that nothing would happen to them, but at the same time we could not turn away from the television set.  So when our children saw President Kennedy's two sad little children being led through the funeral procession, what they saw and understood, throughout all this, was that somebody's daddy had been killed.

AP Photo

 In those early days the rumors flew.  The mafia, along with Jack Ruby, was behind it. (The theory was that he killed Oswald to silence him.)  Castro was behind it. Johnson hated Kennedy and he was behind it.  Oswald's wife, Marina, a Russian by birth, knew something she wasn't telling.  Nobody could comprehend that one lone gunman could have caused such chaos and grief.

And 50 years later, there are many who still wonder.  (I'm not one of them, for what it's worth.)  But today, a half-century removed,this day is set aside not just to reckon with John Kennedy's death but to look back at his time as president.  His was a presidency like no other.

He was the first to give photographers such unencumbered entry into his day-to-day life.  He was the first to allow movie cameras into the Oval Office, and because he did, we were able to watch him handle and agonize over crises, to accept his mistakes, to see him interact so intimately with his aides, with his children, and with U.S and world leaders.  Television allowed us a kind of unprecedented intimacy we couldn't even imagine with the presidents before him.

But on November 22, 1963, it was network television that riveted us, that forced us to witness the most painful event in contemporary presidential history.  And today, 50 years later, because television was there, we're riveted again by watching that raw horror and the sad aftermath as if it were only yesterday. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Walmart, the Benevolent Provides Bins for Low-Wage Employees Food Drive

Everybody knows the Walton family, the people who put the "Wal" in "Walmart", is the richest family in America.  They're so rich you would have to pile up more than 40% of the wealth in the entire United States to even be on the same level.  If each member of the family lived to be a thousand years old, they couldn't even begin to spend all of their fortune.  So asking them to pay their employees a living wage and a few measly benefits is like asking them to give up, say, 1/10,000th of their fortune.  (Don't quote me on that; you know me and math.)

But I'm ever the optimist, so I put these questions to them:

Q:  Why won't you Waltons listen to reason and start paying your employees--um, Associates--a livable wage?  It would barely eat into your profits, and people would like you better.

A:  We don't wanna.

Q:  Why not?

A:  Cuz

So there you have it.  I tried.

But someone at a Canton,Ohio Walmart must have gotten wind of our concerns because something new and wonderful has appeared in their employee area:

Photo credit:  Cleveland Plain Dealer

 As you can see, the bins in which poor Walmart employees can donate food items so that other poor Walmart employees might enjoy Thanksgiving dinner are brand new!  These are not moldy old bins that might have held who knows what kind of gross, horrible stuff.  Oh, no! They're clean and nice and, if you're into that sort of bin thing, fall-fashionable.  They are lined up purple and orange, purple and orange, purple and orange.  Like that.

But wouldn't you know?  Some employees walked in there, read that sign, took one look at those lovely color-coordinated bins, and took offense.

[A]n employee at the Canton store wasn't feeling that Walmart was looking out for her when she went to her locker more than two weeks ago and discovered the food drive containers. To her, the gesture was proof the company acknowledged many of its employees were struggling, but also proof it was not willing to substantively address their plight.
The employee said she didn't want to use her name for fear of being fired. In a dozen years working at the company, she had never seen a food drive for employees, which she described as "demoralizing" and "kind of depressing". 
 Strikes against Walmart are planned for Monday in both Dayton and Cincinnati.  I reached out to the Waltons for some clarification, but all I've received so far is this terse comment:

"No comment."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Protecting Wolves by Throwing Them to the Wolves?

Yesterday I wrote about Opening Day for Michigan’s deer hunting season.  But yesterday was also opening day for a hunting season not seen in Michigan for almost 50 years.  Despite pushback from many different organizations, and petitions set up on a whole lot of petition sites, our grand Poobahs in Pure Michigan caved once again to special interests and instituted a hunting season for wolves.

Yes, wolves.

Gray-Wolf-7 There was a time not so long ago (pre-1965) that our wolf population was zero, and we didn’t like that.  Other states had wolves; why didn’t we?  So in 1965 we gave wolves legal protection in our state. How we got the word out to the wolves, I don’t know, but over the years a few of them began to straggle in.

In 1974, after only six confirmed sightings in nearly a decade, we decided something had to be done.  Four wolves were captured in wolf-heavy Minnesota and plunked down in the Huron Mountains in the Upper Peninsula. Within eight months they had all been killed.  (Nobody ‘fessed up.  Surprise.)  None of them reproduced. (See Gray Wolf timeline here.)

Sadness at the DNR.  They wanted a wolf population in the U.P.  With the help of the Michigan Wildlife Fund (See below) and other protections, including habitat enhancements, wolves finally began to appear in greater numbers.

The population expanded (Woo Hoo!), but with the expansion came more and more incidences of predation.  The wolves were killing livestock and pets and were spotted too close for comfort near human population centers.  Once their numbers grew to more than 400 the DNR began to see them as a liability and not an asset.

Could there have been any other outcome?  The Upper Peninsula isn’t a zoo or a preserve.  Wolves will be wolves.  But this was excellent news for the hunting interests out there salivating, hoping against hope that wolf numbers would continue to explode and that Canis lupus would keep that wolfish behavior going.

They have long been making plans for the inevitable wolf hunt.

And yesterday it happened.

In the Detroit Free Press:
Engadine Feed & Supply store owner Dick Pershinske said he looks forward to entering the woods Friday for Michigan’s historic, first-ever wolf hunt.
“I’m an avid hunter, so this is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often,” he said today. “It may be the last hunt, too, if the environmentalists get their way.”
As hunters excitedly prepared for the hunt this afternoon, the mood was far more somber about 300 miles to the south in Mt. Pleasant, where the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe planned a candlelight vigil for the animal so iconic in their tribal heritage.
“The gray wolf is significant to our culture,” said tribal spokesman Frank Cloutier. “It’s a part of our creation story, very significant to who we are and what we believe.”
The hunt calls for a maximum of 43 wolves to be harvested in three designated zones of the Upper Peninsula. It is slated to run from dawn Friday through Dec. 31 or whenever the target number is reached. Michigan has sold 1,200 licenses for the hunt.
Ah, there it is:  Twelve hundred licenses sold when a mere 43 wolves can be killed.  ($100 for residents; $500 for non-residents)

It’s not about culling predators (which wolves most certainly are, but they knew that in the 1970s when they were encouraging the population.)  Farmers and homeowners already have the right to shoot predators, including wolves, on their property.

It’s not about feeding families (nobody eats wolf).

For the state, it’s all about giving hunters a new sport.  It’s all about the money.  Not only the uptick in license fees, but in years ahead the kill limit will increase and Michigan will benefit as one of only a handful of Midwestern states allowing wolf hunting.  The economic run-off could be big.

In Michigan we can pay extra for license plates that will aid our favorite organizations.  We have one with a picture of a loon, for example, that aids the Michigan Non-game Wildlife Fund.  We can also check off a box for the same fund on our Michigan Income Tax forms.
From the MWF page:
Since 1983, over $10 million has been raised for these important management efforts through voluntary check-off contributions on the state income tax form, sales of specialty license plates, and by direct donations. Six million of that $10 [million] dollars has been placed in a permanent trust, and interest from that trust will continue to support threatened and endangered species well into the future.

The Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund is responsible for:
  • restoring Trumpeter swans to their historic wetland areas;
  • reintroducing the Peregrine falcon;
  • implementing the Michigan Frog and Toad Survey;
  • helping the wolf population through monitoring and education;
  • establishing over 120 watchable wildlife viewing sites;
  • relocating osprey to expand their range in Michigan;
  • surveying abandoned mines to protect bat wintering sites;
  • identifying rare plant sites; and
So now that they’ve decided our once threatened and endangered wolves are out of the woods, where will the wolf money go?  Will the DNR keep “helping” the wolf population they so purposefully worked to expand, now that the crew in Lansing has caved to the hunting special interests and reclassified the wolf as fair game?

Note, too, that not a single dollar of the money going toward wolf protection came from hunters’ license fees, even though they’re the ones who’ll now benefit from all that TLC.  The general population donated all of it, thinking it would actually go toward protection and education.  Nobody ever mentioned wolf-hunting.

John Barnes at MLive quotes Bob Graves, one of the Upper Peninsula hunters yesterday (My emphasis below, because, yes, they really say this crap out loud.  I’ve heard it, or something like it, more times than I care to count):
“Yes, I’ll take the pelt, but that’s not why. It’s not (being) here to put a trophy on the wall, it’s to experience the outdoors, and to hunt a majestic animal, a beautiful animal.
There is another reason too, adds [Mark] Bird, 62[, of Kent City]. “This might be Michigan’s only wolf hunt. It might be just once in a lifetime opportunity.”
So that’s it.  There’s talk of putting the issue on the ballot in 2014, but, even with enough signatures, and even with an iron-clad “no” vote, there’s no guarantee our current Koch-based administration won’t just ignore the will of the people.  They’ve done it before.

( Iggy Pop’s letter to Governor Snyder.  Go, Iggy!)

As of this writing, three wolves have been taken.  The DNR keeps track and so can we.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf.  In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep hill shot is always confusing. when our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.  I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes-- something known only to her and the mountain.  I was young then, full of trigger itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters paradise.  But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

NOTE:  A big Thank You to Chris Savage at Eclectablog for choosing this post as a Guest Post for his website today.  Check it out!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Run, Bambi, Run! Man Is In The Woods

Today marks the opening of hunting season here in Michigan’s north woods.  The schools are closed in most upper state communities, including ours.

Opening Day is an annual holiday for the kids, even though only a small percentage of them will be out in the woods with guns. For many of them, today will be their initiation in deer camp, and it’s a day they’ve been waiting for all year.   I don’t quite know when it started but I do know that up here it’s one of those holidays that is so sacrosanct nobody questions it.


 I chose to live where I live, knowing I would be the odd woman out when it came to hunting and killing animals.  I’ve lived here for enough years now to have grown used to the fact that almost everybody I know here either hunts or looks forward to the benefits of the hunt.


  I haven’t become complacent about it, but I do know it’s more complicated than a simple wish to make it stop.  Up here, where unemployment measures in double digits and people are noticeably poor, I’ve come to recognize that a deer kill means  food for a struggling family.

And who am I, a meat-eater myself, to turn up my nose? As long as we’re into eating meat, animals must die in order to keep our freezers full.  I try not to think about that, hypocritical as that may be, but it’s a fact, isn’t it?

But hunting for sport is different.

deer in yard small

With hunting as sport, meat in the freezer is a byproduct of the main event, which is killing for the sheer thrill of killing.  No matter how the industry tries to mainstream it, they can’t get away from the fact that there’s nothing sporting about much of what we call “hunting.”

Hunting no longer means tracking your prey.  It means sitting and waiting, often in a comfortable covered deer blind or tree stand.  The folks up here stake out their territory and begin building bait piles weeks ahead of opening day, in order to make the deer feel comfortable enough so that they’ll stick around until the day the shooting begins.


Around this time every store and gas station takes to selling 30 to 50 pound bags of corn, carrots, and sugar beets.  Deer feed.  Big white blocks of salt lick are stacked alongside the feed.  Artificial musk and urine scent can be sprayed on the bushes and trees surrounding the covered, camouflaged stand from which the hunter “hunts”.   There are deer calls and deer decoys. There are sprays to kill human scent.  Camouflage clothing is not just big business, it’s an up north fashion trend.

Motion sensor trail cameras catch deer on the move, even at night.

trail cam deer 11 2012

Hunting rifles have become high-tech, with state-of-the-art scopes that see in the dark and at long distances.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if they can see around trees, too.)

The most shameful thing that can happen to a hunter during hunting season these days is to come home empty-handed.  If the hunter doesn’t come home with at least one carcass, a quick look in the mirror will pinpoint who is to blame.  Every aid known to man is at their disposal.    The deer will come.  What it takes after that is simply to aim and shoot  Aim.  And shoot.

By the way, when we go for our walk today (and every day through hunting season), this is what I’ll be wearing:


Note:  All photos in this piece belong to me.  If you want to reprint please ask permission first.  Thanks.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning the Gettysburg Address - A Ken Burns Project

 Filmmaker Ken Burns has embarked on a new venture--this one based solely on Abraham Lincoln's magnificent speech at the consecration of the Civil War battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, PA.  Lincoln's address, on November 19, 1863, took just over two minutes to deliver,unusually short for any time, for any president, but those few words were so poetic, so powerful, it lives on as our best known, best loved presidential speech. 

Burns began working with a group of students at the Greenwood School in Putney, VT–most of them afflicted with autism and other learning disorders, including ADHD–after learning that on every anniversary of Lincoln’s famous speech, each of the kids memorized and then took turns reciting Lincoln’s famous speech.  To celebrate the upcoming 150th anniversary of the president’s address, he decided to film the students’ recitations.

From there he began to think large--no surprise--and thought it would be great if all Americans would memorize the speech, make a video of their recitation, and send it to him to include on the website he'd set up called, "Learn the Address".

Every living president and dozens of well-known Americans have already participated, and all of their entries are on the website.  They're all there and they're all inspiring, but one of my favorites is the one by Gabby Giffords and friends.

I don't know how to do it myself or I might try it, but if you know how and want to do it, make a video of your reading or recitation of Lincoln's stirring speech and follow these submission instructions.  Then, if you read it here first, please send me a link so we can see it, too. 

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

 But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

 It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Obamacare Rollout was Bad. The Fallout is Even Worse. But the Plan Just Might Work.

 The ACA rollout is a mess.  I mean, really--only six people were able to sign up on the website the very first day?  Insane. 

But what did we expect?  They're saying the website doormen woefully underestimated the numbers of drive-bys and joiners on that first day.  It's rumored they only planned for 250,000 visitors.   After all the fuss about Obamacare, they actually thought a mere quarter-million curiosity-seekers would line up to get inside?  On any given day on YouTube the antics of a single adorable kitten can get more than 250,000 hits.

This is Obamacare, O ye gentle incompetents over there at HHS.  What were you thinking?  You've got a few million people out there breathlessly awaiting the day you admit defeat and shut the whole thing down.  Many of those same people are in positions of power.  The spotlight is on them every time you screw up.  They get to call you names and then, if you fail or even falter, they get to say "Told you so."

They're already saying you're pushing a plan that will never work, that it's a scam, that it's the devil's work.  To their minds it's settled, then.  Obamacare is a scourge and it needs to be eradicated from the face of the earth.

The hitch in all this is that they're not obligated to come up with something else to take its place.  Nobody expects that.  Their one and only role is to find the nearest public stage and read from their "Eviscerate Obamacare!" scripts.  And where are you in all this?  You're in the wings setting up their scenes and feeding them their lines.

Republicans, to a person, worked overtime for years to stop any hint of a public health care plan.  Even one as watered down as Obamacare is a danger to them and their monied interests.  But in spite of their hopes and plans for interference-free health care practices and profits, the unimaginable has happened: The Affordable Care Act, a frail shadow of its original promise but a threat nonetheless, is now the law of the land.  Now all these frantic losers are left with is a chance to work overtime to make sure it doesn't succeed.

The U.S Supreme Court gifted the opposition with yet another roadblock:  Individual states now have a choice and can opt out of portions of Obamacare--including the Medicaid options.  They'll have the extra advantage of letting the Fed (that's us) pay for anything they don't want to be a part of.  Talk about a prescription for failure.  I'm guessing they're ecstatic about it.

The Essential Wendell Potter, former CIGNA CEO turned whistleblower, makes it no secret that what we need in this country is universal health care.  He's not happy with the ACA rollout disaster, for several reasons, including this one:
"HHS wasted valuable time trying to persuade more states to operate their own exchanges. Officials apparently deluded themselves into thinking that even some of the red states could be persuaded that it would be in their best interests to have a state-run exchange than one run by the federal government. In hindsight, those officials wasted months in which time and resources could have been devoted to making sure the federal exchange would work on Oct. 1. HHS officials should have realized from the beginning that Republican governors and state legislators had no incentive for Obamacare to work. There wasn't a chance that they would operate their own exchanges if doing so might enhance the chances that Obamacare would be perceived as a success. "
 No kidding. Texas, anyone?  Potter has been on this since the beginning, exploring the depths to which the opposition will go in order to kill the dreaded Obamacare.  It's not a pretty picture.  (More from him here and here.)

We have to keep reminding ourselves that this is just the beginning.  Universal health care is in the infant stages; there will be falls and failures all over the place until we get it right.  Outside of Medicare and military care, we've never been anywhere close to the kind of public options we're heading for now.  Some of it will work, but some won't.  We'll adjust.  And we'll never want to go back.

The powers opposing this first step won't ever adjust, either.  They'll fight this to the end and beyond.  (They can't help it; it's in their DNA.) We have to make sure they'll lose.  But first we have to make sure we have the weapons to fight them.  That would mean--you ready for this?--a health insurance program that works the way it was promised.

Nobody ever won a battle by handing ammunition to the enemy.


Also posted at Alan Colmes' Liberaland.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Why Do we Plebians keep blaming the Super-rich? Because, Dammit, They're to Blame

We're an odd bunch, we Americans.  We've had a hate-hate relationship with the very rich for as long as we've existed as a country, but damn their golden hides, we can't stop taking care of them.

After all these years we've become used to sparring with the super-rich over how much they get to keep and how much they should share.  They want to keep it all.  We want them to behave like responsible citizens, and they don't think they should have to.

It's a long-standing battle, but it was infinitely fairer when they needed us as much as we needed them.  Most of them built their fortunes while still being Americans in America, by being major forces in the building of the strongest, richest country in the world. Now there is almost nothing American about the major corporatists, but we still insist on treating them as if they were a part of us.  We can't help ourselves.  We cling to our nationalism, to our sense of superiority, and even after decades of sliding downhill, of watching our resources leave our shores for parts unknown, we can't believe our industry, our infrastructure, our wealth, is gone.  We refuse, in fact, to believe it, even though our roads, our bridges, our buildings, our very way of life is crumbling around us.

We are slow to learn.  It's one of our least likable traits. As our factories and our mills closed, one by one, we heard over and over that we would be stronger as a nation if we adjusted to becoming a service economy.  Many of us knew a scam when we saw one, and protested mightily.  Others kept harping about buggy whips or some such. 

A service economy meant only one thing:  The many would be serving the few, with no real rewards for the many. If we stopped building things, we would be dependent on other less stable economies for our goods.  We would lose an entire sector of workers without making provisions for a new kind of labor.  If wages went down--or became non-existent--our tax base would shrivel, as well.

So what did we do?  We went along.  We rewarded the super-rich, those vainglorious bastards who shipped our jobs and our wealth out of the country, not just by cutting their taxes to bare bones, but by treating them as whole-cloth Americans while they turned their backs on us and refused to do anything more for our country than live here.

We really should have known better, but once again, we've let big money nearly destroy us.  They've grown stronger, thanks to us, and now they've invaded our lives, right down to choosing the politicians most likely to let the super-rich maintain the status quo.

These are not the Rockefellers or the Vanderbilts--the money people who, ruthless and greedy as they were, hauled us into the industrial age and built this country, brick by brick.  They wanted it all, too, but at least they knew to keep it within our shores. They weren't above buying politicians in their day, but their power only went so far.  They were rich but their riches didn't own us for decades on end.

Now it does.  It buys politicians and courts and it buys silence.  It buys respect where respect is not deserved.  And we're growing poorer and shabbier every day.  We're a shadow of our former selves while the stockpiles of the very rich have grown beyond their wildest dreams--and our wildest imaginations.

They don't need us.  They don't want us.  And as long as we keep insisting that everything's gonna be all right, the super-rich will be alive and doing exceedingly well in America.

As for the rest of us--we'll be exactly where they want us.

(Read the article in Truthout that prompted this. It's an issue that needs to be up front and on our minds come the next election cycle. If we stop blaming them we'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.)

Note:  Cross-posted at Dagblog and Alan Colmes' Liberaland.  Featured on Crooks and Liars MBRU. Appreciate it!)