Independence Day


It has been nearly a month since I have sat down to jot here. As many bloggers understand, sometimes you just lose the spark.

So. What’s new and exciting?

Oh, yes. Somehow, Chief Justice Roberts (pictured at right) managed to save the Affordable Care Act. From the accounts available, it seems that even Roberts couldn’t bear the notion that his Supreme Court would be the institution that would stake this reasonable and moderate reform of our health care system in the heart.

By the way: I strongly recommend checking out this Reddit thread, a straightforward explanation of the Affordable Care Act.

Anyway, I’m meandering. This here’s Independence Day. And I think there are two things worth reading and ruminating on a day like today.

First is this little document called the Declaration of Independence. The second, and I think just as vital, honestly, is an excerpt from an American thinker named Thom Hartmann, who argues rather effectively I think that the Boston Tea Party wasn’t just a revolt against taxes, but rather, it was the first revolt against global corporatism.

I heard a guy just the other day repeat the oft-muttered charge that today, all we’re doing is remembering a bunch of rich white guys who did not want to pay their taxes. I take nobody seriously who ever utters this nonsense. When these guys signed this piece of paper, they put their fortunes and their lives in danger. You cannot and should not trivialize what the Declaration signers risked and what they accomplished, and, indeed, what remains in the ever-present danger of evaporating each and every day.

Independence. Let’s try to keep it.

Prudence Palin's Favorite Founder

I don’t want to write about Prudence Palin anymore. But the lady just keeps on walking into rakes.

She’s asked by Fox “News'” resident academic Glenn Beck, so, who’s your favorite Founder? Which reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George discuss their favorite explorer. She says:

You know…well, all of them because they came collectively together with so much diverse opinion and diversity in terms of belief but collectively they came together to form this union…and they were led by of course George Washington…so he’s got to rise to the top. Washington was the consumate statesman. He served. He returned power to the people. He didn’t want to be a king, he returned power to the people, then he went back to Mount Vernon, he went back to his farm.

I’m not making this up. See for yourself.

(Am I hearing right, or does Beck say “bullcrap” to her at some point?)

Her answer, for starters, belies the simplistic nature of Palin’s thinking. This is why the answers she gave Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson during the presidential campaign are so stunning—it’s because they are utterly revealing of just how the synapses connect behind those designer frames. If you set her answer to Beck right next to her answer to Couric regarding her foreign policy bona fides, there is a strikingly similar linguistic quality that’s hard to put a finger on:

We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right next to, they are right next to our state.

See the simplistic, black-and-white, and uninformed nature throughout the structure and syntax? It’s quite remarkable.

I think it’s clear, too, that Palin’s “all of them” is a stall for when she’s having trouble thinking on her feet. She doesn’t really favor “all” of the Founders; she doesn’t even know who 90 percent of them are (as nor do I, actually—we don’t tend to study all of those old guys in school, just the ones painted into heroism by history). But, it is interesting that, once Palin is done stalling, she lands upon a name that’s drilled into our heads from the time we’re like seven years old.

I mean, as founders go, Washington isn’t too bad. But you have to remember, Beck and Palin are visible leaders of a neo-media cult whose guiding principle is a blind and wholly inaccurate worship of these legendary superheros known as “the Founders,” in fact, Beck has staked part of his entire broadcast career on rubbing his own shit into Thomas Paine’s hair. I guess what surprises me is that they didn’t rehearse this softball question and that Palin didn’t have a bit more of an eclectic reply at the ready.

Though Washington was revered as a great military leader and a great presnit, he’s not the first one off the top of my head as a “Founder.” The man didn’t even get to sign the nation’s most basic founding document—he had been included in the Continental Congress as a delegate from Virginia, but he resigned to act as commander general of the Continental Army and therefore could not be a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

And let’s not pretend that Washington didn’t have his detractors at the time. He most certainly did. There was in fact a plot to remove him as general, an effort that included fellow “Founder” Benjamin Rush, among others. The Conway Cabal, led of course by an Irishman, was eventually exposed and therefore thwarted. Later in his life, Rush would express regret for his role in the matter, though this expression sounds to be to be a bit grudging:

[Washington] was the highly favored instrument whose patriotism and name contributed greatly to the establishment of the independence of the United States.

Yes, George Washington is surely a great historical figure. But his own record isn’t as cut and dried as Palin seems to imagine.

No, Prudence, if you’re trying to jettison the conception that you’re a dolt, you’ve got to do better than Washington. How about George Mason, whose refusal to sign the Constitution in part led to the creation of a Bill of Rights? Or Richard Henry Lee, whose motion in the Second Continental Congress caused the Declaration of Independence to be, um, declared?

Oh, you’d like him, Prudence:

To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.

Or, for hell’s sake, why not just go all the way and name the greatest Founder of them all? Jefferson? Ring a bell? And no, I do not mean George Jefferson…dolt. Or the most-quoted Founder, B. Franklin? No?

See, it’s great to think you’re leading a history cult that worships “the Founders” on the one hand. It’s even better to have some modicum of intellectual curiosity to bother to do a Google search or three or even to READ A DAMNED BOOK. (I suggest “What Would Jefferson Do” by Thom Hartmann for starters.)