Keep the Change

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.

— Alvin Toffler, Future Shock

Each time it appears that Republicans can’t get any nastier, any more bereft of morality, they wrap themselves in the flag, grab their guns and Bibles, and manage once again to hit the bottom of the ethical barrel. A good example is Ben Smith’s recent startling revelation in, which exposed the dirty tricks Republican National Committee (RNC) operatives were planning to play, not only on Democrats in the upcoming elections — but on their own donors. Smith writes:

Manipulating donors with crude caricatures and playing on their fears is hardly unique to Republicans or to the RNC — Democrats raised millions off George W. Bush in similar terms — but rarely is it practiced in such cartoonish terms.

One page, headed “The Evil Empire,” pictures Obama as the Joker from Batman, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid are depicted as Cruella DeVille and Scooby Doo, respectively.

Ruh-Roh. I can’t help it — that’s good for a grin, albeit a ghoulish one. And the “tchochkes,” or swag, such as T-shirts, tote bags, baseball caps, and other useless crap they planned to give to their donors in exchange for big bucks made some of us laugh out loud.

But that’s just the funny part. The far more frightening aspect is the lengths the rabid radical right — not just the Republican Party — is willing to go in order to destroy President Obama and the “socialist commies” who elected him. They are very open about it; proud to be the “Party of No,” and brag about burying Obama under a burning health-care pyre. Nearly a year ago, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint gloated — “this health-care issue is D-Day for freedom in America…If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

Former Bush speech writer David Frum admitted to MSNBC’s Ed Shultz on his March 18 show that negotiation has never been on the Republican’s health-care table. Frum said…

It’s critical for everybody, and not just the president. It’s critical for us on the Republican side, too. If this thing passes, there is going to be an accountability moment on the Republican side. We had a choice, do we negotiate and try to get some of our values in the bill? Or do we go for total defeat of the president and bet everything on that?

I was one of those who said negotiate. That advice was rejected. We went for total defeat of the president. If he prevails, it is going to be a shutout of Republican views in one of the most important pieces of legislation ever passed in the United States.

Some are disillusioned with Obama because they feel he has not been forthcoming with his promise of change. They do not seem to realize that, for more than a decade, change in this nation has been overwhelming. Since the Kafkaesque mutation of the Republican establishment, whose metamorphosis into a destructive force was sudden as a result of five right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court stopping the Florida recount in December 2000 and handing the presidency to one of their own even though his opponent won the national popular vote by more than a half million ballots, the change within the Republican party has been nothing less than frenetic.

This is no longer about politics, where opposing sides butt heads, twist arms and kick ass until they manage to agree on legislation that will benefit American citizens on both sides of the aisle. It is not, as Frum said, about merely defeating this president. It is about destroying him; about weaving a noose for him out of lies and dirty tricks; about sending a message to future generations of African Americans that the “White” House means just that.

If you doubt that the right-wing crusade is about race, you are either so oblivious of the past that you see nothing unusual about the present — or you haven’t been to a Tea Party lately. At Tea Parties across the nation, Obama is not only portrayed in hideous caricatures as the Joker, but as others such as Adolf Hitler, Karl Marx, and Osama bin Laden.

Initially, the Tea Party movement was started by Congressman Ron Paul to appeal to Americans who were frustrated and fed-up with such things as taxes and wars, but it was immediately co-opted by right-wing think tanks and by Fox News whose target-eyed pundits brayed 24/7 about a massive “white culture” crusade taking over the nation. Racist hatemongers joined the party, especially Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and,in no time at all, had David Duke, a “white nationalist” and former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, looking like a rank amateur.

These guys aren’t crazy — okay, maybe they are — but they know exactly what they’re doing. They learned from eight years of K-K-Karl Rove and Dick Cheney that fear and hate are the two easiest emotions to work with. Stir in a generous helping of rage, and entire cultures can be manipulated into a frenzy. And, when those emotions feed on racism, a gathering can be turned into a mob, which can then be whipped into a destructive, extremist riot.

In the Spring 2010 Intelligence Report published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Mark Potok examines the “Rage on the Right.” He writes:

Since the installation of Barack Obama, right-wing extremists have murdered six law enforcement officers. Racist skinheads and others have been arrested in alleged plots to assassinate the nation’s first black president. One man from Brockton, Mass. — who told police he had learned on white supremacist websites that a genocide was under way against whites — is charged with murdering two black people and planning to kill as many Jews as possible on the day after Obama’s inauguration. Most recently, a rash of individuals with anti-government, survivalist or racist views have been arrested in a series of bomb cases.

As the movement has exploded, so has the reach of its ideas, aided and abetted by commentators and politicians in the ostensible mainstream. While in the 1990s, the movement got good reviews from a few lawmakers and talk-radio hosts, some of its central ideas today are being plugged by people with far larger audiences like FOX News’ Glenn Beck and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn). Beck, for instance, re-popularized a key Patriot conspiracy theory — the charge that FEMA is secretly running concentration camps — before finally “debunking” it.

Last year also experienced levels of cross-pollination between different sectors of the radical right not seen in years. Nativist activists increasingly adopted the ideas of the Patriots; racist rants against Obama and others coursed through the Patriot movement; and conspiracy theories involving the government appeared in all kinds of right-wing venues.

The SPLC also reports that just in the first year of the Obama presidency, “an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump.”

We are falling apart. We have lost our sense of decency, our sense of direction. The past is overtaking us, and will soon be our future. We are surrounded by increasingly violent gun-toting “Patriots” who are eager to water the Tree of Liberty with the blood of loony liberals, Commies, and Socialists — starting with their Black President who, according to the mad dogs on the right, is determined to destroy the freedoms of loyal Americans.

Are we going to stand here, suffering from change shock — too much change in too short a period of time — and do nothing? It’s tempting, but as Chris Hedges warns,

To give up acts of resistance is spiritual and intellectual death. It is to surrender to the dehumanizing ideology of totalitarian capitalism. Acts of resistance keep alive another narrative, sustain our integrity and empower others, who we may never meet, to stand up and carry the flame we pass to them. No act of resistance is useless. … But we will have to resist and then find the faith that resistance is worthwhile, for we will not immediately alter the awful configuration of power. And in this long,long war a community to sustain us, emotionally and materially, will be the key to a life of defiance. As long as we are willing to defy these forces we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow.

I agree. We must resist — in order to stop the right-wing’s race to destruction before it’s too late — and to change the shock of our children’s future.

Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Sheila, or visit Sheila's website.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on March 24th, 2010 at 11:54am #

    And the time is Now.

  2. Don Hawkins said on March 24th, 2010 at 12:01pm #

    I feel a little better after reading this

  3. Don Hawkins said on March 24th, 2010 at 12:11pm #

    The Avatar director was equally unsparing in his comments about those who don’t accept global warming as fact. “That’s right,” Cameron said. “I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads.”

    Turning more serious, he added: “Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.” movieline

    Damn how come I didn’t think of that, “got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.” Simple and to the point brilliant.

  4. Melissa said on March 24th, 2010 at 12:17pm #

    I would also share with readers, and the author, that for citizens who wish to participate in the democratic process in Republican territory they must PAY TO PLAY. Seriously. Caucus is free, but if you are a delegate, every convention costs you money to get in, and the cost increases with every level and every convention. No money, no participation in your Republic.

    They get really squirmy and authoritarian when one pays in pennies and nickels as well.

    But, is anyone surprised that they rake average citizens for $ and wish to squash dissent? Hmph.


  5. Danny Ray said on March 24th, 2010 at 2:18pm #

    Sorry Melissa, This was on a fact sheet I was sent for the 2008 convention.

    Is there a fee for attending the convention?
    Although there is no fee to attend the convention itself or to be a delegate, alternate or guest to the 2008 Republican National Convention, all travel and other expenses must be covered by each attending individual. Delegates and their guests will be able to purchase RPOF special event passes entitling passholders to attend all RPOF special events held in conjunction with the convention, such as the Florida delegation breakfast and Florida Victory party. Although final pricing has not been determined at this time, the RPOF estimates that special event passes will cost approximately $250 for delegates and $350 for guests

    I am surprised you are alwaysright on the money,

    And to answer the question everyone here is asking in their heads, Yes I was there.

  6. Melissa said on March 24th, 2010 at 2:51pm #

    Danny Ray! Thank you!

    I am getting ripped off at my local conventions then!

    They ARE charging delegates for participating in MN. @!$% BPOE, Senate District and state are all requiring entrance fees.

    Time to ruffle some feathers up the hierarchy and with the A.G. me thinks. Any other suggestions?

    I was at RNC too, but outside with the Peace Flag surrounded and hounded by the black-clad intimidators.

    Peace, Resistance, Hope,

  7. Melissa said on March 24th, 2010 at 2:53pm #

    I’m paying in all pennies in April, no gift of nickel this time. – And demanding an explanation.

  8. Danny Ray said on March 24th, 2010 at 3:28pm #

    Did you go to the site, That was Floriduh,

    Glad to see you were there, That is whats makes this America.

  9. beverly said on March 25th, 2010 at 7:28pm #

    Will the madness ever end? Another hand wringing, feckless Lefty article bemoaning the mean old Republicans’ and Tea Baggers’ assault on poor whittle ole defenseless Obama.

    You guys lay awake nights worrying about right wing racist conspiracies against Obama. Obama doesn’t give a jack shit damn about you or the downtrodden masses you supposedly care about. If he did, his cabinet wouldn’t be full of jack booted Zionist Nazis, free trade labor haters, warmongering imperialists, and Wall Street water carriers who should be in jail. Check out his latest claim to greatness – the healthcare bill. Read this week’s Black Agenda Report. Bruce Dixon’s lead story about that sham is ample evidence to show Lefties shouldn’t waste one minute worrying about right wing attacks on Obama – they should stay up nights worrying about Obama’s attacks on the people.

    Yes change in this nation has been overwhelming – overwhelmingly negative. The writer fails to admit said bad change has come at the hands of BOTH rogue political parties. Which party led the charge to enact NAFTA? Dismantle financial regulations like Glass Steagall which has contributed mightily to our current financial meltdown? Which party gained a majority in the midterms a few years back but still voted yea for every bill that continued war in Iraq – and continues war in Afghanistan – under same false pretenses as when the wars were started? Drug and insurance company honchos practically wrote the current health care bill (see Bruce Dixon’s Black Agenda Report article this week). This type of dominating corporate influence is seen regardless of a Republican or Democratic administration. A democratic White House is currently shredding the Constitution and civil liberties and supporting coups to install “corporate friendly” regimes in Latin America and Africa just like its evildoing predecessors. So to excuse Obama’s fecklessness and complicity because “the Republicans left such a big mess” is absurd.

    Yes, oh yes, we are falling apart and have lost our sense of decency and direction. But blaming racist Republicans and Tea Partiers won’t remedy the situation. Instead of railing against the racist opposition, you need to be railing against the Democrats and Obama for their complicity the nation’s demise. The silence and cowardice of the Left has allowed groups like the Tea Party to hog the spotlight and conversation. Until the Left develops a spine and stands up for something other than feel-good rhetoric and politically correct behavior toward the White House Messiah, we’ll continue on a path of destruction – caused not only by Republicans but by ready, willing, and able Democrats too.

  10. Deadbeat said on March 25th, 2010 at 8:06pm #

    Beverly writes …

    Until the Left develops a spine and stands up for something other than feel-good rhetoric and politically correct behavior toward the White House Messiah, we’ll continue on a path of destruction – caused not only by Republicans but by ready, willing, and able Democrats too.

    This is absolutely correct. It was the Left that opened the door for Obama because of its inability to coalesce behind the anti-war movement and the Nader campaign in 2004. In fact the “Left” was instrumental it the weakening of the anti-war movement especially when as it raised issues of Zionist influence in the war on Iraq and away from the “War for Oil (TM)” and “corporate” explanation of all things Middle East.

    My guess is that the “Left” likes it this way and to continue to run people around in circles. The Left has also moved away from Marxist analysis of the economic system and has not offered any real form of resistance. In fact the Right has been more on the mark on issues and even has displayed a backbone of resistance. Regardless of the deadly outcome of Joe Stack’s actions it was still an act of defiance.

    The Left won’t even advance a plan that would win hearts and minds — such as debt repudiation and the ideas advanced by the Left — coffee party and New Deal 2.0 and other such Liberal bromides amount to a waste of time and energy and remedies nothing. Since there is no real resistance coming from the Left, no real anti-capitalist rhetoric, the elites fear NOTHING.

    It’s a real pathetic state of affairs. And the fear of Republicans, IMO, is just a canard that enables these so-called Left pundits to sell books. It’s all a sham.

  11. Jonas Rand said on March 25th, 2010 at 9:54pm #

    Obama is not a socialist, and the people who voted for him were deceived by the media. The Republicans or Tea Party folks who say he is a socialist are fear-mongers. They are insulting socialism by equating it with the tactics of a sly warmonger who happens to possess the serpentine art of deceiving people into believing he stands for change, when he stands for exactly the opposite. Many of the people who defended him were very much anti-war and anti-imperialistic. Those that did, and are paying attention, are now regretting their misinformed choice. Anyone who is still defending him is either not paying attention to his policies and their resemblance to Bush’s, or not a leftist at all. I am tired of articles like this, using Republican fear-mongering as an excuse to support Obama, by some kind of “enemy of my enemy is my friend” reasoning. Obama is closer to the Tea Party than any actual socialist or communist is.

  12. Jonas Rand said on March 25th, 2010 at 9:59pm #

    Oh, and citing the Southern Poverty Law Center to support this argument, that Obama should be supported as a sign of standing against the Republicans is shameful. The argument promoted by this article is the same argument promoted by voters who wish to “vote against” a mainstream right-wing candidate by voting for his hundred-million-dollar-campaign opponent.

    Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans should be supported by the Left. Obama is a conservative president.

  13. mary said on March 26th, 2010 at 2:23am #

    Well said Sheila Samples.

    John Pilger has produced one of his best here too and has expressed this greatest evil well.

    Obama and The Age of Permanent War
    By John Pilger

    ‘Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa.’

  14. mjosef said on March 26th, 2010 at 2:42am #

    Fine and strong stuff from Beverly, without a doubt, basically an echo of my thoughts, but one caution – “we have lost our sense of decency and direction” – that is definitely not how I see it. There was no Golden Age of porch whittlin’ and lookin’ after yer neighbors’ kids in Leave it To Beaver America. 1950’s America was a fascist, religious holy war state, and we have been on a war and conquest rampage since BEFORE our founding. Obama is just the latest iteration of that self-ennobling conservative religious war-machine corporate surveillance fossil-fuel extracting industrial elite. Anderson and Clayton’s “The Dominion of War” might cure you of this tendency to bathe America’s past in complimentary terms.
    One person, of all our roster of pantheon-eligible Americans, emerges with integrity unscathed and intact – Eugene V. Debs. Or am I too credulous on that score too?

  15. Don Hawkins said on March 26th, 2010 at 4:16am #

    Did anybody see Rep. Michele Bachmann one of the repeal and replace thinkers on Fox last night? The Hannity Show the wise one and before him on Glenn Beck Glenn was on the floor praying to God one I guess and telling people calm at peace sort of and Bachmann said the tea party people are not toothless hillbilly’s but just regular folk. Still pitting one side against the other are we. Could we possibly start using reason and knowledge bring some truths to the front well no not good for business and heck the game is just so much fun to play well when the you know what hit’s the fan those toothless hillbilly’s who know how to live poor or on very little and do real work or not will be in much better shape to survive than the over dressed fool’s we see now who seem to be getting more nut’s by the day. Repeal and replace such clever fool’s on the third planet from the Sun. The illusion is not working as well as it once did so what might be the next step? The last time we went to West Virginia we stopped in front of a green field and on one corner of that field was a very small house with smoke coming from the wood stove inside toothless hillbilly’s and if asked the question repeal and replace we just might hear nice cup of coffee game of checkers something stronger.

  16. Don Hawkins said on March 26th, 2010 at 7:23am #

    It appears the Sun is now above the horizon let’s see how she goes on the third planet from that Sun figure of speech so to speak. “The Northwest Passage is now open for the first time in a few years and for the low low price of just $299 see what the Earth hasn’t seen in 2.1 million years call call now”.

  17. Don Hawkins said on March 26th, 2010 at 7:25am #|htmlws-main-n|dl1|link3|

    Make that what the Earth has never seen.

  18. Don Hawkins said on March 26th, 2010 at 7:38am #

    New from James Hansen

  19. Don Hawkins said on March 26th, 2010 at 7:41am #

    Also new from James Hansen on Clarification re Civil Resistance.

  20. beverly said on March 26th, 2010 at 6:09pm #

    You are so very correct mjosef!

    There has never been a Golden Age of decency and direction in this country. A few instances where doing what’s right prevailed – after eons of oppression and injustice – but no sustained time of such. MLK said the US was the biggest purveyor of violence in the world and that fact hasn’t changed one bit. I’d also like to add we are at the top of the list in committing human rights violations, either directly or indirectly.