Sunday, May 01, 2005


The GOP still seems to be enamored of their trope of the Democrats as the “nanny” party that tries to protect you from foolishly smoking, driving an SUV or eating mad cow tainted beef instead of letting you figure out these dangers for yourself. Whatever merits this image has, an even more accurate one for the GOP is the schoolyard bully.

As most of us can remember from grade school, the bully takes what he wants from the weak, (your lunch or homework) and gives nothing in return, destroys what he doesn’t understand (the book you were reading or model you brought for show and tell). This translates into cutting funding for schools, healthcare, and veterans to give tax cuts to the rich and defense contracts to their friends.

The bully focuses on the weak. In school, it is the small, shy goofy-looking kids. At home, the GOP used to do this by picking on blacks, which still works to some degree, and Latinos, which works in the Southwest, but as both groups are more accepted, they have moved on to smaller minorities, seemingly less able to fight back, gays and Muslims. They never directly attack someone who could kick their ass like the broad middle class. Instead, they throw spitballs at the back of the middle class’s head, and when they angrily turn to look, the bully points to one of their scapegoats: blacks, Latinos, gays, or those crazy Muslims.

In foreign policy, their victims is countries too small or weak to protect their natural resources, like Iraq, or their people, like Haiti or Central America.

The bully’s friends are other bullies like corporations who want to profit as much as possible by paying as little as possible to workers and countries they take raw materials from and religious leaders who produce nothing but fool the stupid into making them millionaires, berate their followers for sins like divorce that they have committed themselves, and convince them that poverty is the result of sin, contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

Some who are poor and weak worship the bully, not because he helps them in any way, but because they hope to become bullies themselves one day.

When the bully bothers to explain something, it doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t have to. The words are not what’s important, it’s the pounding you’ll get if you don’t do what the bully tells you. We have to privatize Social Security because it’s about to go broke. Does it matter that privatizing Social Security will accelerate drawing down the trust fund? You are some kind of communist or terrorist for even thinking that.

The bully has one set of rules for his friends and another for his victims. If a friend steals billions with shell corporations, he should be fined and forgiven. If a victim steals a slice of pizza, he should go to prison for life. A friend can have “youthful indiscretions” like drug use and adultery until 40 or so, and these should be covered up and smoothed over to prevent any discomfort. If a victim uses drugs, he should have his house and car taken away and be sent to prison to be raped every day until he is 40 or so. A friend can get tired of national guard service and decide to stop showing up. A victim will be hunted down and sent to prison or to patrol in a Humvee in Baghdad.

The one thing a bully fears is the other kids banding together and kicking his ass. He will do anything to stop this. On the playground, he will remind you that your new ally is a gimp, a nigger, or a fag. Actually, that’s exactly what the GOP will do too. But they will also attack the groups most likely to fight effectively like unions, journalists who ask tough questions, and politicians and parties who don’t admire or befriend the bully. In other countries, the corporate bully will go as far as to ban these groups and kill their members and even elected leaders, which seems a bit extreme when someone is just asking for fair wages for picking bananas, or a fair price for their country’s oil.

There is a difference between the schoolyard and the political schoolyard. In the adult world, there is no teacher watching the schoolyard to appeal to. There is just the bullies and the rest of us. Without that adult looming in the background, what would that bully have done to you? That is exactly what is happening to us now, and to the rest of the world because we haven’t put our bully in his place.

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