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What Would Ben Do?

July 3, 2011

And so the fourth of July has come, the celebration of the first declaration of war by the United States on the day of its founding in 1776. Americans in Boston had lobbed snow balls at British troops and the troops answered back with a volley of musket fire. Could that type of thing ever happen again?

Ray McGovern, retired CIA officer, was tackled and dragged to the ground by civil servants behaving like goons, for standing silently with his back to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she spoke. How far then are we from troops firing on American civilians?

The TSA recently pulled an elderly cancer patient out for a private screening at the airport because her wheelchair could not fit through the X-ray machine. Taken to a private location she was strip searched and even forced to remove her adult diaper. The old woman was released and eventually made her plane connection; her daughter however, did not. She was detained by the TSA on a charge of acting suspiciously. If your elderly mother had been stripped naked by government goons how do you suppose she acted suspiciously?

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the state of California could not legislate age limits on violent video games because it violated the game manufactures free speech rights. The court is effectively castrating legislative government and declaring Corporation Uber Allies. Warning labels on pesticides or cigarette packages or household products are all now violations of corporate free speech while your complaining loudly as your sick elderly mother is being strip searched by goons is considered acting suspiciously.

On July the fourth our ancestors raised the standard of revolution against the most powerful empire on the planet. That decision was taken after many deliberative attempts to mediate the crisis. Ben Franklin had traveled to London to discuss matters directly and was given short shrift by the members of Parliament. Franklin complained that the British had made fun of his colonial fashions and his American accent and he said of this trip, “I arrived here an Englishman and return home an American.” The King’s government would not take Ben’s colonial grievances seriously. The British government had turned a deaf ear to the needs of the American public and to Ben Franklin at least, that justified raising the standard of revolution.

As the Gaza flotilla prepared to sail, Israeli politician Tzipi Livni warned that the flotilla was a provocation, and that the organizers should instead work through the system. How exactly would they have gone about working through such a system? How long do you suppose it would have taken the Israeli government to issue permits for the flotilla to proceed to Gaza? Working through the system then becomes a euphemism for wait until hell freezes over. Under international law a naval blockade for the purpose of collective punishment is a war crime.

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the floodgates of corporate money in our election process as it turns the concept of free speech on its head. You may have as much free speech as you can purchase, government cannot legislate because its legislation will inhibit your free speech. You are subject to being stripped searched and you will be arrested for suspicious behavior if you complain.

In the year 2000, the Supreme Court overthrew the Constitutional government of the United States. The US Constitution states that elections are the sole province of the states themselves and not to be interfered with by the Federal government. How then are the people supposed to work for change within a system that is willing to subvert the rules of law to suit their needs? The court usurped the powers of the states and has now usurped even their legitimacy to govern at all.

Our founding fathers were never tackled, tasered, strip searched or water boarded, yet they raised the standard of revolution over the issue of taxation without representation. Early American government favored tariffs in international trade, they realized that if you allowed your markets to be flooded by cheap foreign goods it would destroy the domestic economy. Cheap foreign goods would bankrupt the treasury and deny American workers their jobs.

How then can modern politicians justify free trade? Thirty years of free trade has decimated the American economy. It has brought ruin to our cities, desolation to our small towns and poverty among its people unknown in this country for generations.

How then does a free and open political process with two opposing parties respond to the public over this plague which has brought us only unmitigated disaster? With bipartisan support of course, President Obama recently dropped labor rights language from his Colombian free trade legislation at the request of Congressional Republicans.

Since the mortgage crisis began, over ten million homes have been foreclosed, putting some forty million Americans out of their homes and into the streets. Nearly fourteen million American workers are officially unemployed; more than half of that number for more than twelve months. Millions more American workers labor part time in an economy where wages rise less than one percent annually while prices rise annually at three percent. How does the leadership of this great nation respond to such a crisis? The Republican Party’s answer is tax cuts and the Democratic Party’s answer is tax cuts as well. George Bush responded to the mortgage crisis by creating a program that let the banks decide which homeowners to rescue, and when Barack Obama was elected he ended the Bush mortgage program and instituted his own program which lets the banks decide which homeowners to rescue.

Since the day Barack Obama was elected to office, American labor unions have been under continuous assault. Obama has become the most anti-union president since Ronald Reagan. From Obama’s silence on card check legislation to Rahm Emanuel’s famous. “Fuck the UAW!” remark, Obama is as silent as the Sphinx on matters of workers right’s, silent about Wisconsin, silent about stolen elections.

The Republican Party coalesces around a clown college of possible candidates to run against Mr. Obama in 2012. A Congresswoman from Minnesota doesn’t know the difference between eradicating slavery and institutionalizing it and she believes the biblical creation story as more than just metaphor. Then there is a Doctor who believes that if you just do away with all government agencies and restrictions, then banks, big business and corporations can be trusted to do the right thing. Then there is the ex-governor of Minnesota who did away with state bridge inspections just ten months before the I-35 bridge collapsed, killing 13 citizens and injuring 145 while getting big government off their backs.

These Republicans are a motley collection for the sole reason that they are supposed to be. The two political parties have become conjoined twins in an ugly mutation of money and corporate power. Why on earth would they actually want to replace Barack Obama? Who else could form the “Cat Food Commission”[1] to propose solutions for solving the nation’s budget crisis with suggestions taken directly off the pages of the 2008 Republican national platform? Who else would begin budget negotiations with Republicans by announcing, “Everything is on the table” and who reaffirmed the Bush tax cuts by saying the Republicans had forced him to do it.

Yet these are our two American political choices. We could of course raise a third party, but to do so would require millions upon millions of dollars, money that ordinary working people, the unemployed, the outsourced, the students and the retired just don’t have. A third party candidate would have to vie for air time on the corporately controlled media, which would naturally scoff at any third party non corporate candidacy.

What would Ben Franklin do in such a case? Let’s take a look then at some of the offenses of the British crown which first inspired Ben Franklin and other American revolutionaries to take up arms against their government.

“He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.” – Replace “He” with “corporations” and this is a clear definition of our current Supreme Court.

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”[2] – New offices such as, The Department of Homeland Security, the TSA, the National Security Agency etc.

“He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.” “He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and acknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:” – The 2000 election, the Patriot act, and computer voting, just to name a few.

“For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us”; let’s change that to quartering large bodies of armed troops in foreign lands where they were never invited or wanted. For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states. Or consider the 911 commission; Blackwater; drone missile attacks; helicopter raids; coup d’états; the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush. “For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury”, or better still for depriving us of a trial at all!

“For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses” – Or transporting us overseas through rendition, not to be tried for pretended offenses, but to be tortured to coerce a confession for pretended offenses.

“For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:” Change the word “charters” to the word “unions” and see how that charge works.

“For suspending our own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.” This is precisely what the Supreme Court has done last week in its California decision. It usurped the right of the legislative branch of government to legislate. The court has made itself an unelected star chamber without review.

“He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” The BP oil spill ravaged the Gulf Coast as the government sided with the corporation to blunt the media and to blunt the claims of property damage. Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans as the government sat on its hands. Thanks to free trade programs, the prosperity of our cities has been destroyed, reducing them to ruins, forcing our people to compete against third world wage scales, contemptuously forcing our people out of their homes and into ever escalating poverty while the bankers responsible have been rewarded with bonuses for their crimes.

“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

We’ve been answered with, “The court rules in the case of Bush vs. Gore…, Saddam Hussein has weapons of Mass Destruction. “I’m the decider, heh, heh” Free trade is a fact of life, get over it! You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists, and so I have appointed a bipartisan commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.

So as I celebrate this Fourth of July I will drink a toast to the spirit of revolution. I drink to the resistance of tyranny around the world. A toast to the true patriots, in Greece and Iceland, Egypt, Bahrain, Ireland, Spain and Syria and where ever free peoples resist the rule of money and of tyranny.

“The most heroic word in all languages is revolution.”

Eugene C. Debs


David Glenn Cox is a staff writer for TLR and an award winning author and musician; he is the author of the novel, The Servants of Pilate.

[1] So nicknamed by its opponents due to its proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicaid.

[2] We hope everyone recognizes these and most of the subsequent quotes from our Declaration of Independence.


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One Response to What Would Ben Do?

  1. gmpierce on July 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm


    The article “What would Ben Do” is not up to your usual standard.

    The founding fathers were not tasered, but some of them were beaten and thrown into jail (with their families) and as I recall, at least one died of tuberculosis from that jailing.

    The comment about cheap foreign goods is a little off-key. It’s sort of true, but it misses most of what was really going on.:

    “they realized that if you allowed your markets to be flooded by cheap foreign goods it would destroy the domestic economy. Cheap foreign goods would bankrupt the treasury and deny American workers their jobs”.

    Actually we did not really HAVE a domestic economy. The British were very well organized and could produce most goods so cheaply there was no way an American factory could compete. No one could or would work in an America factory for what the factory could pay. Even prior to the revolution, a skilled craftsman would not create any products, it made more sense to use his knowledge and skills to buy and market British goods. The British liked it that way and they wanted the colonies to be a source of raw materials.

    The few cooperative factories in Massachusetts were shut down by our domestic aristocracy after Shays’ rebels were defeated.

    We didn’t get domestic manufacturing until Alexander Hamilton “borrowed” the designs for British looms. etc. and set up tariffs that allowed domestic factories to make a buck even if they were not economically viable.

    It’s not that big a deal, but it seems largely that I am surrounded by misinformation and some days it’s hard to take.

    Gerard Pierce

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