Plutocracy Rules

hunter s thompsonCitizens United and the Wisconsin Election

“This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it – that we are really just a nation of two-hundred and twenty-million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern….is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.” –Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

When Hunter Thompson killed himself in the late winter of 2005, I could never bring myself to write about it. Although his greatest work was years behind him I couldn’t bring myself to accept the fact that he was gone forever.

It is said that he was so depressed about the reelection of George W. Bush three months earlier that he had convinced himself – rightly – that the America he loved so much was gone forever; that its promise had been rendered ashes in the wind. At the time I had not yet reached the state of such utter despair. Although I remarked at the time America had figuratively pointed a loaded pistol at its head and pulled the trigger, in my heart I lulled myself into thinking that the wound would not prove fatal.

I was as wrong as I’ve ever been in my life. On February 20, 2005, Doctor Gonzo pointed a pistol at his head and pulled the trigger. There was nothing figurative about it.

When Hunter Thompson committed suicide I couldn’t understand it. I understand now.

The fallout of the Supreme Court’s hideous Citizens United vs FEC decision from January of last year was on display last night in Wisconsin for all the world to behold. In spite of the public outrage toward Governor Walker’s attack on the rights of public workers, Karl Rove and company were able to pump at least forty million dollars into the recall effort. The result was predictable. There are enough fools in that state who were attracted to the pretty bells and sweet-sounding whistles. This morning the Wisconsin statehouse remains in the hands of plutocracy’s whores. Thanks to the Supremes, most of the people/corporations who donated to that campaign will forever remain anonymous.

Six seats were being contested by the people of Wisconsin. The Democrats needed three in order to regain control from the stooges of Corporate America. In the end they were only able to take back two. The Citizens United ruling has done its damage.

I’m thinking about my cousin Amy Clements this morning. She’s a resident of Wisconsin and is a card-carrying participant in the Madison Revolution. She also became a parent for the first time last year. She is the proud mommy of a little boy named Theo. That’s the two of them in the photograph on the left. A few hours ago she posted this prayerful thought on her Facebook page:

“Please O Please O Please let tonight be the beginning of the demise of Scott Walker’s regime”.

What can I tell you, cousin? At least you folks in Madison put up a good fight. Corporate dominance of America is instilled too deeply in its collective nervous system. It’s going to take time – possibly even decades – for the American people to wake up and get their civic shit together. Scotty Walker is facing a recall of his own come January but now I’m not too optimistic about that happening. This doesn’t mean that the forces of darkness should be deceived into thinking that the Madison Revolution is dead. Far from it. Like little Theo, the movement is only in its infancy. Get the hell out of the way.

“Every GOP administration since 1952 has let the Military-Industrial Complex loot the Treasury and plunge the nation into debt on the excuse of a wartime economic emergency. Richard Nixon comes quickly to mind, along with Ronald Reagan and his ridiculous ‘trickle-down’ theory of U.S. economic policy. If the Rich get Richer, the theory goes, before long their pots will overflow and somehow ‘trickle down’ to the poor, who would rather eat scraps off the Bush family plates than eat nothing at all. Republicans have never approved of democracy, and they never will. It goes back to pre-industrial America, when only white male property owners could vote.”

Hunter Thompson

You haven’t read about America until you’ve read Hunter Thompson. He believed in this country’s promise to his very core. In all that I’ve read of his work, I don’t recall him ever quoting the Gettysburg Address. And yet I have to believe that when Lincoln spoke of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, it marked his soul. In the end, confronted by the stark reality that America’s promise had been destroyed forever, he ended his life.

This country has been sold down the river to the highest corporate bidder. What used to be seen as a beacon of hope and enlightenment to the rest of the world has devolved into a fucking ideological cesspool so disturbing it’s next-to impossible to put it into words – and the American people jumped headfirst into the muck smiling with both eyes wide-opened. Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

What the people need to understand – and what is hardly mentioned – is that we are no longer living in a democracy. This is a plutocratic dictatorship. Think I’m exaggerating? Munch on this juicy delight:

They have looted the national treasure at taxpayer expense in order to bail out corrupt financial institutions that have spent decades raping this economy. At the same time they are trying to do away with Social Security, Medicaid, and public education. And all the while the witless American people are too distracted by their neat high tech toys to notice or give a damn.

Are you pissed yet?

In the meantime our downward spiral will only continue. This is as it should be. A people moronic enough to squander the treasure of their once-great nation as they have been doing for the past thirty-one years deserves everything that happens to them. There is an indescribable joy – call it “schadenfreude” if you must – in watching people who are losing their homes and pensions while simultaneously complaining about “those goddamned liberals”.

It’s quite a funny thing to witness. As America continues to slide into the depths of destruction and despair, I can console myself with the knowledge that there will be no shortage of entertainment value in its decline – for me at least. Life will still be beautiful, thank you very much.

Tom Degan


  1. Jack Black says

    I cried when we lost Hunter Thompson, and it breaks my heart to watch what Bush I, II and now Bush III (Obama) are doing to this fledgling democracy that had so much potential. But our nation’s problems are not as simple as liberal=good, right wing=stupid/bad. The fact is that liberals can be as stupid as wingers. Look at how easily Obama snookered us into thinking he was on our side against the corporations that are killing our middle class. Talk about voting against our own interests! Our president is calmly and methodically implementing Republican policies that increase wealth redistribution from common Americans to the super rich.

    Sadly, the masters of the universe have figured out that if they can buy themselves a Democrat, the liberals might not resist the Republican policies being enacted. Hence, we have Obama eager to dismantle Social Security so his Wall Street buddies can “manage our retirement investments” instead. Obama’s willing to degrade public education by encouraging vouchers that will increase funds to his rich theocratic friends that profit from megachurches and religious manipulation of the public. We’re now in three wars, versus Bush’s two, but the college student obamabots haven’t noticed because it’s our guy now who’s allowing war profiteering and oil price manipulation. Whoops.

    At the same time they are trying to do away with Social Security, Medicaid, and public education. And all the while the witless American people are too distracted by their neat high tech toys to notice or give a damn.

    Yup, it’s hard to criticize the guy you put into office, right?

    There is an indescribable joy… in watching people who are losing their homes and pensions while simultaneously complaining about “those goddamned liberals”.

    Tom, it’s not just the wingers who are losing homes and pensions, it’s all of us. And liberals ARE a big part of the problem. Liberals just voted Obama into office, who proceeded to bail out the banksters instead of helping homeowners. But even looking at progressive policies enacted before our stealth Republican president took over, you have to admit, most of them are full of scammers who would improve their lives if they really had to.
    Yes, many right wingers are easily misled into voting against their interests. But wouldn’t that characterization precisely describe the left’s inane support of our stealth Republican president? We gave Obama a huge mandate with majorities in both the US House and Senate, but now with our Democrats’ ongoing damage to the economy, we apparently voted against the interests of ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and who knows how many more generations that will now have to struggle to extricate themselves from this economic morass we’ve been led into. Why aren’t Democrats up in arms?

    You want to know why the recalls didn’t work in Wisconsin? Because it’s not as simple as the liberals’ mantra of “unions=good, wingers/tea-partiers=stupid.” The reason moderate Democrats and independents aren’t up in arms over the government’s union busting tactics is because the public is angry at PUBLIC EMPLOYEES continuing to benefit from theft by taxes with union negotiated agreements that protect government employees even when the rest of us are taking a beating with cutbacks, job losses and/or underemployment. People who are struggling look around and see others who still have great jobs, thanks to unfair over-taxation. Property values are plummeting, yet the government employees that assesses your house still makes the same salary, while refusing to reduce your real estate tax burden. State employees still have great jobs with great benefits, while the rest of us have to support those jobs with our income tax. In Wisconsin, the issue was pegged as an “us vs. them” taxpayers against those gov’ment employees who don’t have to experience the pain the rest of us are going through. (In reality, many have shared the pain with non-government workers, but your taxes still haven’t gone down, have they?)

    Why have we created welfare systems that encourage intergenerational welfare? Why shouldn’t a right wing business owner be angry that he’s losing 35% of his earnings in taxes, while his neighbors are getting free rent for years and years (Section 8), free HEAP payments for heat and air conditioning, free food, and even free money! Shouldn’t progressives develop policies and programs that help people improve their lives, not just live off others? All that gets us is a bunch of angry people voting for Republicans to keep the bleeding heart liberals’ hands off their checkbook.

    I can live with the left being tricked by Obama 2008 with his soaring rhetoric about saving our country, but it’s going to be painful to see the same people get fooled again by Obama’s 2012 lies. He’s now deeply imbedded in the plutocracy that’s destroying our country. Hunter Thompson must be rolling over in his grave.

  2. says

    Please don’t mistake the ever-shifting corporate veils for the plutocrats themselves.

    Furthermore, mass electoral “democracy” is inherently fraudulent: What does the average citizen know about the real character, integrity or competence of any candidate? and what does that tell you about such elections, and such “democracy”?

    And the two-party-system has always been a two-plutocratic-party system; read Foord, and reflect that for the early half of its development and use any legislation that passed in its home country had to pass a House of _Lords_ (and then check out the relative wealths of the Members of the House of Commons, as well as the property-requirements for the franchise) . . . .

    Our best bet right now for justice for what’s been done to us all by the plutocracy over the last several decades is offered by the opportunity given us by the plutocracy’s greatest crime yet, the Oil Bubble of 2006-8, which deliberately wrecked the economy of the world, in an of war, a war-crime, and a crime against all humanity, which can be addressed through an International Military Tribunal, and for the prosecution of such attack and crime there is no statute of limitations:

    BTW, heard about the Oil Bubble lately in the media?

  3. Joe Weinstein says

    Why should the Citizens United decision mean anythying at all? The two main reasons seem to be that, under our once-progressive but now obsolete constitution, in our political system: (1) We turn over public decision-making over many topics and for long terms to a few people chosen in massive popularity-contest elections; and (2) in any given election, one extra uninformed whimsical vote is enough to make the difference, so that one guy wins and the others all lose in winner-take-all, As a result, in order to get a lot of decisions to go your way (regardless of their merit), it suffices that you buy up enough ignorant votes.

    The Citizens United syndrome will not begin to change until at least a perceptive minority of progressive and educated citizens (1) reject the legitimacy of such an outmoded republican elitist concept of alleged ‘democracy’; and (2) moreover note that there is a feasible superior more reasoned alternative (suggested by the best features of Athenian democracy): Make public decisions by use of many short-term decision-making teams, each making just a few decisions, each required to follow and document use of reasoned decision-making procedures, and each chosen from among all willing participating citizens by rotation or random selection.

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