Did you know that there are approximately 150,000 homeless military veterans in this country, men (and women) who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and the other conflicts we have been involved in over the past few decades? And that one of the areas of the federal budget the Tea Baggers can’t wait to slash is veterans’ programs?
Did you know that top Republican strategists want parents who can’t afford to pay for school lunches for their kids classified as “child abusers,” that Rush Limbaugh urged poor schoolchildren to “dumpster dive” if they didn’t get lunch at school, and that another prime target on the Tea Baggers’ list: federal funds to provide free school lunches for poor kids?
Did you know that mercenaries from private corporations are being paid ten times what patriotic citizen soldiers are for performing the exact same tasks in places like Afghanistan and Iraq? And that these same private thugs were deployed after the New Orleans hurricane to gun down black people from the inner city trying to flee to safety in the suburbs?
Did you know that one of the main items on the Tea Baggers’ future agenda is to do away with the Department of Education? Who needs schools, when ours are already ranked 18th in the world in math and science, and are falling even lower every year?
Did you know that the union-busting Governor of Wisconsin thinks that the Berlin Wall fell in 1988 as a direct consequence of Ronald Reagan’s firing of 15,000 air traffic controllers in 1981? Or that Sarah Palin thinks the Sputnik satellite program bankrupted the Soviet Union and caused the collapse of the Evil Empire?
Let’s go back a little further in time, to the 1930s. Does the name Major General Smedley Butler ring a bell? It should, but it has been mysteriously erased from our history books, even though Butler singlehandedly saved the United States from a fascist coup attempt organized by pro-Nazi Wall Street tycoons.
Butler was a legendary Marine hero, a veteran of combat in China, Nicaragua and World War One, and the only man in history to win two Congressional Medals of Honor. A lifelong Republican, he switched parties in the 1932 presidential race after President Hoover and Douglas MacArthur used brute force to break up a camp of jobless First World War veterans outside Washington, DC. In 1933, a pair of big business bagmen visited Butler at his family home in Ohio and invited him to head up a forcible ouster of Roosevelt, whom they regarded as a leftwing enemy of capitalism. They and their confederates had already met with fascist leaders in Europe, including the Nazis, and they had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance their plan, and they wanted Butler to open the next meeting of America’s war veterans with a speech claiming that FDR was insane and had to be forcibly removed from office. They had already ordered one-hundred-thousand rifles from Springfield Armory. It was the height of the Great Depression, and the plotters were confident they could raise an army of the unemployed and angry, pay and arm them, and seize control of the government, with some handpicked conservative Dixiecrat at the helm.
Butler pretended to go along with the plan, collected evidence about who the plotters were and what their plans were, and then went to Congress with what he had learned. Instead of going after the wealthy, powerful coup leaders, having them arrested for treason, and exposing the secret ties between America’s economic top dogs and the Nazis, the Congressmen made a secret deal in which the plotters agreed to give up their plans in return for a full pardon and the suppression of all the evidence. The disillusioned Butler returned to his home in Ohio and a quiet life of retirement.
The same powers who plotted with Hitler against their own nation’s democracy are still around today. Like their forbearers, they loathe the idea of popularly elected government, or any kind of control over what they like to call “the free market.” They break laws with impunity, they steal elections, they subvert the press, and now, it seems, they are on the verge of turning our Republic into a mob-ruled greedocracy in which politicians are bought and sold like Made in China Wal-Mart junk.
Just look at what’s happening locally. Ever since I moved here in 1973, visitors to Telluride have praised the same thing: that unlike other mountain resorts and vacation retreats, we have preserved our character, our unique combination of an authentic Old West community surrounded by vast expanses of pristine spectacular wilderness. Go through the local newspapers of the last four decades: they are full of letters to the editor from visitors begging us not to change, to keep our special-ness intact, to remain the only place of its kind in the world.
But now we have a regional Forest Service employee, supposedly here to help the community flourish while protecting the environment, in cahoots with get-rich-quick land speculators and second-rate ski company executives (if you think I’m being harsh, check out the past “achievements” of our present “ski lifts to nowhere” genius), pushing ludicrous and surreally wacko plans that would totally destroy our most precious asset and turn us into a third-rate miniature Summit County a million miles from nowhere.