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Eyes Wide Shut | Political Waves

Sometimes it feels like we, the people, are just spitting into the wind. For reasons I cannot fathom, there are those who think that the way things are is the way things are supposed to be. They think out-of-control Wall Street is a necessary evil, that adventure capitalism is the only way to keep the boat afloat. They believe insurance companies are a necessary middleman dedicated to our wellbeing, leaving us to fight for our right to be victimized. They think militarism is still a way forward toward stability and power even as we borrow to invest in unnecessary wars. Maybe they aren't thinking at all, and that's the problem: they just don't want to know the reality of our situation.

An article in The Wall Street Journal this week floated the notion that the rich no longer need the working class to sustain them, because thanks to NAFTA, their money is invested and yielding profit overseas. This outsourced economy is the logical consequence of decades of stagnant wage growth -- essentially flat-lined since 1973 -- and constant erosion of the middle-class for more than a generation. Remember failed Democratic candidate John Edwards, who was wrong on so many levels? He was right on the one that counted: we live in two Americas, but few are willing to admit it. The rest are not only in a state of denial, but use every possible pretense to keep from recognizing the ugly truth about our political, military, financial and social systems.

For instance, documents examined recently by The Washington Post reveal a shadow government of more than 850,000 employees with top secret clearance overseeing our national interests. With neither public oversight nor fiscal accountability, homeland security has metastasized into a huge, unwieldy, ever-expanding secret government. The Washington Post tallied up "more than 1,200 government organizations and more than 1,900 private companies working on counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in some 10,000 locations across the U.S." Given this level of overkill, I'd have expected someone to sound the alarm on this as either blatantly un-American or overblown bureaucracy run amok. I didn't hear a peep.

In addition, Wikileaks has provided an unwholesome picture -- in 76,000 leaked documents -- of Afghani and American incompetence and cultural limitation during many years of war. The reports, which mainstream media and government dismiss as neither news nor secret, reveal American attempts to prop up an illusionary Afghani government to be as effective as herding cats. The record shows that our intention to root out Taliban and al Qaeda quickly dissolved into supporting thugs and coddling traffickers, giving us little to celebrate ethically or militarily. What is most disturbing about the Wikileaks revelation is that the flap about leaked state secrets didn't even phase us: we're so used to being lied to that we fully expect a truthful version of events to surface eventually, and we're so apathetic we can't even rouse ourselves to defend the whistleblower.

The news that BP has finally plugged the Deepwater Horizon leak brought no rousing cheer of relief. In fact, with over 200 million gallons -- five million barrels -- of oil dispersed into the underwater canyons of the Gulf, one of the first headlines was that the moratorium on drilling might be lifted early. Big business looks like a sure winner as oil workers in the delta demand employment in order to recover their way of life. The shrimpers and fisherfolk, the nature trails and rookeries, may not recover their way of life in this decade or the next, as if anyone actually cares. The fiction that the oil has disappeared all by itself is belied by this bit of film from barrier islands off Louisiana, which will elicit only a big yawn from those who just want their lives to return to 'normal' and the oil industry to business as usual.

The state of the economy occupies policy makers almost exclusively, particularly those in thrall to big business, corporate America, predatory capitalism, and worship of the gods of money. In that vein, movie producer Oliver Stone has made a sequel to Wall Street, the Michael Douglas vehicle that gave us Gordon Gekko and his mantra of the 1980s, 'Greed is good.' The new movie is called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Stone said of his Gekko character, who represents the evolution of finance over two decades: "In the film, Michael Douglas' character Gordon Gekko, points out a statistic: Finance companies account for 47 percent of corporate profits in American today. Back in the 1980s, I believe it was on the order of 15 percent. Usury has become America's largest industry. Greed is legal."

Greed is legal. More, it's encouraged. In fact, if you are the CEO of a company, you are required by law to put your investors' interests over that of the public. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, we will be blitzed by huge corporate money in this campaign season. In Minnesota, Target and Best Buy are pouring money into conservative candidates and facing the consequences; Minnesota has strong disclosure laws on the books which allow the public to track contributions. In Kentucky, a coal mining conglomerate is funding a group to oppose Democrats across the board. Business interests that prefer anonymity can fund third-party special interest groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's American Crossroads, flush with hundreds of millions to throw into the campaign. The DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would have required disclosure of donors, was voted down in the Senate this week. Commerce is an entity with gazillions; we can hardly hope to compete.

So I ask you, don't you want to know who pays for those obnoxious political ads that assault you during prime time? Don't you want to know what happened to all that oil? Don't you want to know why our military is bogged down in a barely civilized, narco-state halfway across the world? If the middle-class is no longer necessary to the moneyed, what is the real agenda of the Party of NO? This week, Republicans refused to support aid to states for first responders, teachers and Medicaid funding. Really? And they'll sleep well tonight? This entire period can define itself as Corporate America vs. The People. When we can face that truth, the choice is simple.

The sense of denial bordering on pathology gets a boost from the Saturn-Uranus-Pluto T-square, active through 2011. Cardinal signs have a reputation for building a wall of disinformation to defuse attacks against what they wish to preserve. Until the energy shifts, we must do what we can to be truthful, candid and clear-speaking about what we're looking at. Class war is as old as history; it is not ethical at its core, nor is it democratic. We're closing an era of authoritarian abuse and ushering in a time of collaboration and awareness. This is the adventure we came for. Keep your eyes wide open. The best is yet to come.

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