As the Bush Supreme Court shifts ever more power to the rich, this new study argues that we live in more of an oligarchy than a democracy. What do the patriots among us think of that?
And speaking of patriotism, there is a certain irony in the brand of patriot who loves his country but hates funding its military and its schools and its infrastructure . . . hates funding its safety net and the debt incurred fighting wars it never should have entered and tax cuts for the wealthy it could not afford to enact.*
Which brings me to this spot-on New York Times op-ed you may have read by Timothy Egan, with regard to the heavily-armed “patriots” who stared down the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada last week. (Harry Reid calls them “domestic terrorists.”)
Deadbeat on the Range
Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.
Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.
So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat. Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.
Oops. Friday’s item on the school answering machine, though still fun, was too good to be true, after all.
*A special irony, perhaps, in the wealthy patriot who thinks the tax cuts for billionheirs were not deep enough — who loves having a spotless toilet in his five-star hotel room, but hates that the maid who cleaned it is “given” Medicaid and a minimum wage. She is a “taker.” He is a victim of big government.