Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Personhood and Victimhood

Over the past couple of years, a movement has arisen in this country to endow embryos with certain entitlements, such as the so-called right to life. There has been a cry for a "personhood amendment." This measure argues that human life begins at fertilization as do certain constitutional entitlements. A big proponent of the bill is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and it has also received a nod from vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The Personhood Amendment was derailed by voters in Mississippi, and didn't even make it to the ballot in Colorado.

Similarly, in 2010, the Supreme Court gave corporations certain constitutional rights, including the right to free speech, in its historic Citizens United ruling. After all, as the Republican presidential nominee has said, "corporations are people, too."

The highest court awarded First Amendment rights to corporations, thus granting the kind of personhood proposed for fetuses to big business. Citizens United cleared the way for the nomination of a presidential candidate who is the embodiment of corporate personhood, Mitt Romney, who will ensure that big business has unfettered access to undisclosed campaign contributions, without federal oversight, for generations to come. If elected president, Mitt Romney will ensure not merely a corporation's right to free speech, but to privacy. Many say the democratic process itself, has fallen victim to this Supreme Court ruling, but more about victims later.

This week, as The Washington Post reports, a leaked videotape of Romney at a recent fundraiser surfaced and was published by Mother Jones reporter, David Corn, in which voters were treated to what Romney calls "off the cuff" remarks. Off the cliff is more like it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/leaked-videos-show-romney-dismissing-obama-supporters-as-entitled-victims/2012/09/17/5d49ca96-0113-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_story.html

In the space of little more than a minute, the former Msssachusetts' governor said that a staggering 47% of Americans don't pay taxes, are intent on taking what he terms government handouts, think that they're entitled to health care, food, housing and, most of all, that nearly half of those who would be his constituents were he to be elected president regard themselves as "victims."

This was a closed-door, invitation only event, Romney didn't expect his remarks to leave the room and, in a separate segment of the video, he joked that he would have had better odds of getting elected if his parents were Mexican instead of Americans living in Mexico.

Taken in context of these remarks, it is difficult not to think that Mr. Romney's notion of many Americans seeing themselves as "victims" can also suggest federal government efforts at reparations to African-Americans for slavery. It's not as if, as NPR reports, this would be the first time such a suggestion were made. http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/racism/010827.reparations.html

Isn't it ironic that a candidate who refuses to release more than one full year of tax returns has the audacity to call attention to who pays federal taxes, and how much.

Shortly after release of the video, Romney held a press conference in which he defended his remarks arguing that they were taken out of context, and that they were intended to explain his political strategy to donors. He implied that he was merely stating the obvious, and reminding his financiers who his base is.

Those of us who have been paying attention to the creeping cynicism about the Obama presidency, and that born again renegade group of John Birchers, aka the Tea Party, already know who Mr. Romney's base is. They are the folks who want to take food stamps away from children, Aid to Dependent Families away from single mothers, Medicaid away from the disabled, and ultimately tax social security.

They are the folks who would like us to think of unemployment, social security, and state disability insurance as government handouts and not money that is taken out of our paychecks whether we pay federal taxes or not. These are the folks who call it an "entitlement" when government money goes to the poor, and a federal subsidy designed to bolster business when government money goes to BP, Lockheed Martin, and WalMart.

Mr. Romney also said that he and the president have a different "approach" than he has with the implication being that their visions are essentially the same, and all that's different is their strategy. Indeed, he is quite wrong. Were he to take the oath of office in January, 2013, Mr. Romney would raise income taxes by $2,000 a year on working families. The president has lowered taxes on 95% of Americans. Were Romney to become president, and/or were his party to assume leadership in both houses of Congress, the defense budget would not shrink as it has under President Obama, but instead be raised exponentially.

And, more importantly, we'd have Archie Bunker in the White House, a guy who thinks that millions of unemployed are a bunch of bums lolling around in a perpetual state of victimhood, who sleep in with one eye open for their next government handout.

Defense contracts to Halliburton, XE, BP, Lockheed Martin, GE, et. al are not considered government handouts. These contractors are "entitled" to the millions funneled their way.

If you haven't watched that video yet, please do so. Listen closely to how the fellow who represents the Republicans best pick for president of the United States says the word "entitled." Listen to his inflection. Listen to it once, and then listen to it again. Whether you are a member of the 47% of Americans who do not pay federal taxes, including those retirees who are collecting social security, or not, as long as you're part of 98% of America, you will feel more than a pinch if the Democrats lose this important presidential and congressional election. If Romney wins, you'd better keep your hands on your wallet.

If he is elected in November, you may expect to see Mitt Romney dressed as Santa Claus in the White House this Christmas handing out bars of gold to CEO's of fortune 500 companies. Forget regulation, the banks and big business can again return to their crap game regulations be damned. Know that this is his "approach;" to turn the New Deal into the New Dealers.

Romney et al. put the rights of fetuses and corporations before the rights of working people.