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A Liberal Cause That Some Conservatives Are Finally Fighting For:  Fairness

by Charlie Barber | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | August 19th, 2020

“The problem for white, liberal males in positions of responsibility in the 1960s (and later), whether at universities, banks, law offices, small businesses and corporations, or legislatures was that the intellectual arteries of their colleagues were clogged by racism, a racism driven by fears, phobias, and long-standing ignorance and prejudice.” - Charles M. Barber, Judge Aaron Jaffe: Reforming Illinois, Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2016

“…if history is any guide, a change in demographics might have less of a material effect on the dominant (white) caste than imagined…as in South Africa, there would be no reason to believe that economic, social, and, in America, political dominance would not still remain in the hands of those who have held it for the entirely of the country’s history.” – Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, 2020

“…blacks (in 1960s Chicago) never escaped the ghetto, they only expanded it. It is a migration pattern which has hurt both whites and blacks. Whites sold houses for a loss and abandoned streets where many lived for decades. Blacks, even after paying inflated prices for the housing, suffered other hardships…‘Redlining,’ the policy by which insurance companies denied coverage to entire geographical locations, deterred bank loans…neighborhoods which had been all white became all black within a decade.” - David Fremon, Chicago Ward By Ward, 1988

“‘This is a different kind of a negotiation,’ (House) Speaker (Nancy Pelosi) said. ‘This isn’t just about dollars. It is about values.’ The (Msnbc) host then had the nerve to ask if the Speaker overplayed her hand. That is too often the problem with the media…They are (not) among the suffering…And because of that…,politicians that need to be pressured suffer no consequences for their…evil doings…Pelosi made it clear one is not overplaying one’s hand when negotiating on real basic needs. The reporter should be asking what will it take to stop a party like the GOP to stop inflicting harm, sometimes death to the American citizenry.” – Egberto Willies, Community/Daily Kos, 8/7/20

“…during the Reagan administration, with…full cooperation of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, we ushered in the era of ‘borrow and spend,’ with Republicans abandoning their tradition of ‘sound finance’ for the ‘voodoo economics’ delusion that tax cuts paid for themselves. Big peacetime deficits have been the norm ever since…We are in a bad situation, but one into which we have chosen to put ourselves, election after election.” - Edward Lotterman, Bismarck Tribune, 8/9/20

“In Thirty Four years (1934-1968) Ronald Reagan has traveled from a time when almost everyone he knew was dead broke to a time when he knows almost nobody who is poor…And yet he is a kind man; the coldness comes simply from lack of imagination…For touching a people who want to forget ugly problems, no politician equals the one who has already forgotten them himself.” - Murray Kempton

“Privatizing dogma embraces Covid-19, and Americans die like the 3 million Ukrainian peasants in the Stalin State ordered hunger famine of 1932-33. Stalin blamed victims because he was committed to a collectivizing dogma and, as a sociopath, was incapable of admitting error. Will the American death toll reach one million in 2020-21, due to Trump’s (Grover Norquist’s, Karl Rove’s, the Koch Brothers’, Neocon, Neoliberal) privatizing dogma, and flunkies willing to serve a sociopath, incapable of admitting error and blaming the victims?” - Chicago Dog

At a college reunion breakfast in May 2000, a well-heeled classmate sneered at me about an overheard opinion of mine: “Oh you’re one of those liberals!” I replied: “Yeah I’m a liberal. Ya want to fight about it?” Since I can’t fight my way out of a paper bag, my response surprised me as much as him. His response (Woah!) was, of course, dismissive. He didn’t have time for even verbal combat, in which, I would tell him that he should be paying more taxes, and so should I.

I was particularly touchy about fair taxes in an unfair America at that time, because, a few months before I had seen and heard America’s hypocrisies on that matter, while a member of the inner circle in Chicago, of the Bill Bradley campaign for President. The Chair was former Senator Adlai Stevenson III, a Democratic colleague of my friends and political associates, Judge Aaron Jaffe and former Deputy Mayor under Mayor Harold Washington, Mike Holewinski. Illinois State Treasurer Pat Quinn, later Governor, and I went back to anti-Daley machine days when I was organizing with my university students in 1971-72. Black Chicago was represented by Ricky “Hollywood” Hendon from Chicago’s West Side, more dramatically impoverished by traditional American racist political economics than sections of the South Side, which nurtured Barack and Michelle Obama. White Chicago was represented by Bill Lipinski, a Southwest side ally of all-powerful Illinois House Speaker, Mike Madigan.

Ricky Hendon was pissed off, and for good reason. The (eventual Democratic nominee for President, Vice President) Al Gore people had come into black Chicago telling folks they should be grateful to him and Bill Clinton for all good things they had done for blacks during Clinton’s Presidency (Yeah right! Like getting rid of welfare, without a jobs program to replace it). Ricky wasn’t sure Bradley would be any better, given the resistance of Democrats as well as Republicans to his role (along with Senator Joe Biden, among others) in favor of equitable taxation, amid a successful rollback in 1986 of Reagan tax breaks that had blown a hole in the Federal Deficit ceiling (see Birnbaum/Murray, Showdown at Gucci Gulch, 1987). Ricky was right about that -- no fault of “Dollar Bill,” the nasty label used by rich folks to defame his taxing audacity. The relief of well-heeled Democrat lawyers in Chicago was later expressed to me later on by one who said that, with Al Gore and George Bush facing off in November, his bottom line wouldn’t suffer “either way,” as long as Bill Bradley was not in the White House.

My role on the Bradley Chicago committee was modest. I was there to help introduce his charming, German-born, wife, Ernestine Schlant, to a German community in Chicago that had delivered for Senator Paul Simon and Mayor Harold Washington in the 1980’s. Professor Schlant was a big hit, not only on local German media, but also Polish media, as those groups had been getting along for generations in Chicago, and rather well in Europe since Willy Brandt’s West German chancellorship in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. It was an “ethnic surprise” awaiting Al Gore in the March Primary that never materialized, with Bradley’s failure in the Iowa Caucuses and through February.

In my opinion, one of the Bradley campaign’s biggest mistakes, among many, was to not use his NBA Championship chops (New York Knicks, 1970, 1973), and its obvious, populist appeal with black and white communities alike. Because of a pilot math and reading program my University had sanctioned, I was in touch with black educational and recreational institutions on the near South and West Sides, right near the home of the Chicago Bulls. My contacts there were fascinated with the idea of Candidate Bradley, shooting buckets with teammates like Walt Frazier and Willis Reed, and beaming the results via political commercials into sports crazed Iowa. Bradley himself had been willing to do this for fundraisers, but his East Coast staff could not be bothered with it for low income Chicago neighborhoods. As a nondescript, white liberal dude I wasn’t surprised, but as an experienced advance man, I was appalled at the cluelessness of the Bradley campaign in New Jersey -- until the Gore campaign outdid them in incompetence in the Fall. Chicago’s proximity to Iowa was not obvious until Barack Obama used it in 2008.

With Vice President Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate on August 11, 2020, however, I finally believe that, better late than never, white, liberal, male Democrats are sharing power with black, and, especially, female leaders at the highest levels of American power, where they have long belonged. This should have happened sooner, but it didn’t. I decided to do a delayed, damage assessment with my KGB animal friends.

High Plains Reader: Dear friends: In 1983, Real Live Lena was working for the U.S.D.A. in Wyoming and urged by the Reagan administration to make loans to farmers that she knew they wouldn’t be able to pay off, once the moratorium on loan default expired after the 1984 election.

Putin: You’re surprised? That’s what shills in the executive branch usually do for filthy rich to garner votes from suckers. Then their Congressional allies write tax breaks for their buddies in Wall Street to make them even richer, and keep funding the war racket. Reagan was putting huge billions into a missile buildup, and military expansion that favored private contractors, all on your dime. Soviet Communism was on its last legs, but only Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev, some Lutheran Pastors in East Germany, and George Kennan, prime architect of American Cold War policy and his liberal allies in the Nuclear Freeze Movement were willing to deal with it.

HPR: Reagan expanded costs of government by stocking offices like Real Live Lena’s with fancier furniture, and created patronage positions for donor/flunkies. When folks got mad at such waste, Republicans blamed career civil service making it work, instead of career pay-rollers who made it expensive. Meanwhile, the Pay-roller-in-chief, Reagan, attacked employees who deserved praise for real work; just like Trump now attacks Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is saving American lives, and supports his (Un)postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, who is destroying them.

Rasputin: Of course! Costly patronage scams and a fog of lies made specious Republican Party arguments for cutting social programs more plausible. These guys weren’t dumb, just insensitive to human needs. They’ve been getting away with it for 4 decades. Their game wasn’t really exposed until Trump’s blatant inhumanity was revealed by Covid-19, and America’s historic inhumanity towards people of color was finally exposed in graphic, undeniable, detail by the wanton killings of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor. Thanks to cell phone photography, white Americans have decided they no longer wish to be known as “Lynchings ‘R Us.”

Mr. Swamp Fox: Now, long time GOP operative, Stuart Stevens, admits the “compassionate Conservative” thing was all a lie, except to myopic souls like himself. Guys like Dick Cheney (Bush I & II); Lee Atwater (Reagan, Bush I), and Nixon knew all along that it was all about white power. A divided country on race, gender, and class issues, was their only hope to hang on to it. “Mr. Conservative” himself, William F. Buckley Jr., was a devoted believer, like TR and Woodrow Wilson, in the “natural inferiority” of people of color. Such remorse explains 4 major Republicans endorsing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the 2020 Democratic Convention.

Lena: Despite his cynicism (or because of it), Nixon was smart enough to deliver real policy initiatives in favor of empowerment of Native Americans, black small businesses, environmental initiatives (Earth Day), détente with Russia and China--quite a list. Unfortunately, personal, class hatred of the Kennedys, racial and anti-Semitic bigotries, and contempt for rule of law and constitutional “regular order,” turned his Presidency into a tragedy; and gave Democrats another lease on political viability to pursue their illusive liberal goals of wedding social and economic justice to power. The lease was all too short: four steps forward, three steps back.

Omar Khayyam: Treasonous conduct of Trump’s dallying with Vladimir Putin was preceded by Reagan’s sanctioning of Oliver North’s actions in Iran-Contra, and the promising Presidency of Jimmy Carter, major milestones in black empowerment (judicial appointments) and the addressing of climate change, among other accomplishments, were cut short by one term and the inauguration of 40 years of the “greed is good” era of Ronald Reagan.

Ms. Recovering Republican Lap Dog: Reagan’s success, despite lack of substantive sincerity, played on Americans being spiritually worn out from exertions of World War II, 30+ years of Cold War, and the material costs and hypocrisies of colonial wars and disastrous interventions (Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Chile, and East Timor, etc.), all in the name of “liberty.” Materialism, “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll,” and blind eyes to continued race and gender injustice were easy ways out from the burdens of “Leader of the Free World.”

Schickelgruber: The despair of legitimate veterans of Afghanistan and the Iraq Wars, mixed with soldiers of fortune like Erik Prince, and private guardians of war profiteering corporations like Dick Cheney’s Haliburton, mirrors the disillusion of German World War I veterans who formed the Freikorps from 1918-1923. R.G.L. Waite’s Vanguard of Nazism documents how these same men emerged as leaders in Hitler’s Sturmabteilung (Storm Troopers) and his and Heinrich Himmler’s SS (Schutzstaffel) that organized mass murder during the Third Reich.

Putin: While many disabled veterans of America’s wars overseas find their critical medicines held up in the Postal Service by President Trump’s war on democracy; callused cadres of an unmarked American Freikorps, carry out Trump’s war on your southern border and in Bend, Oregon against brown people in particular, and the rest of you in general.

Rasputin: Trump’s knee capping of the Post Office could kill American democracy. His knee capping of testing, tracing and the CDC already is killing more Americans than needed to die from Covid-19. All to keep him in the White House and out of the slammer. Stalin would have made Trump a Commissar in Ukraine in 1932 -- before having him shot for incompetence. Vlad Putin might do something subtler, in 2021. He’d let his puppet run “Trump Tower: Siberia.”

Kim Dog Un: With a lease on those North Korea beaches the Donald wants to develop!

HPR: Streams of trickle down economics under Trump feed rivers of polarizing politics. The label of “citizen” for white man Trump becomes the libel of “birtherism” for candidates Obama and Harris. Yet the Trump “racist, misogynist reality show” has roots in Reaganomics and privatizing dogma. A country song parody from 1982 reveals the cynicism in President Reagan’s showmanship. It showed that, no matter how much Reagan may have fooled himself into thinking he was serving the American people; he was fooling Americans even more successfully out of their standards of living and well being. The price for Reagan’s resounding electoral success as a Pied Piper, continues to plague the generations he burdened with baloney:

Reaganomics………………………………………………………………………………………….…..Chicago Dog

I’ve been Learnin’ Reaganomics; Even though it seems like Greek to me;
It’s just like reading in the comics; And all I gotta do is act naturally.

I’m told I should dig voodoo economics; From Keynes it’s really quite a switch.
It’s just like reading in the comics; Except you only laugh if you are rich.

“Welfare cheats” get so much less enjoyment; Ronnie will not tolerate such slobs
But his sharp words don’t generate employment; The Laffer Curve has anything but jobs.

To work – the wealthy’s wealth must trickle, down to all the rest of us below;
But Reaganomics often can be fickle; and cut off even such a meager flow.

The military budget still gets bigger; making planes and missiles that can’t fly;
But I am worried Ron will pull the trigger; Just to keep his “macho” riding high.

Yes, I’ve been learnin’ Reaganomics; From Hollywood’s great gift to you and me;
He plays a bloody fool for all the country; And all he has to do is act naturally.

HPR: The parody wasn’t meant to be funny; just a way to ease the pain of minority liberals who knew how big the “con” was in Republican conservatism. Now that the most dynamic critic of Trumpism, ex-Republican operative Steve Schmidt, is reminding us of how “illiberal” Trump Republicans really are, it’s a new ballgame. Folks who thought “Republican conservatism” was “real,” now realize it was conservative Founding Fathers who gave us the Constitution in order to preserve and protect liberal values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that are still worth fighting and voting for -- this time with everyone on board, not just white guys.

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