From BRUCE ANDERSON
Editor/Publisher, Anderson Valley Advertiser
[Bruce Anderson published this a couple of weeks ago in the AVA and online, and the Ukiah Daily Journal just got around to printing it as a Letter to the Editor this week. Bruce identifies himself here as "Mendocino County’s sole uncloseted socialist" and together with Richard Johnson, who claims himself as "the one true green" they are apparently the left-wing's only local representatives. We must have a vast wasteland of nothing but liberals, centrists, teapartiers, conservatives and right-wing nuts around here. Of course, we have a lot more greens than just Richard starting with Dan Hamburg. And I know one of our local elected politicians who is definitely a socialist, but I don't know if he has "come out" or not. At least the right-wing nuts think he's one and that's a badge he wears proudly, as well he should.
The only nationally elected politician I have any respect for at all is Senator Bernie Sanders, the only declared socialist in Congress, but that doesn't make me a socialist. I'm registered as an independent, and as a small-town small business person I'm a small-c capitalist, i.e., small is beautiful. For me it's about scale. Capitalism goes bad when it gets big, ugly, and monopolizes, and it needs regulations to tame it... and here I agree with Bruce: It's now broken loose and will kill us all. We now need a big dose of socialism to bring these current greedy capitalists to heel, and if that's a badge on me, I'd wear it proudly too. How about you? Meanwhile, Bruce writes about the local vocal wingnuts in all their wretched glory... and please see Sean Re's comment/link below. -DS]
MARK ALBRECHT AND JOHN HENDRICKS do tag-team political comment for the Sunday Ukiah Daily Journal. The two of them comprise “SOS-USA, dedicated to promoting the conservative point of view in Ukiah.” Every week, as Ukiah yawns right on past their crude opinions, Albrecht and Hendricks warn their indifferent neighbors about the threat of “socialism.” I don’t know these two wise men of the rural right, but as Mendocino County’s sole uncloseted socialist I guess it’s left to me to honk back at them.
WHEN I THINK UKIAH conservatives, or think about conservatives generally, I think of plump-pink white guys in their middle to late years, the kind of pudgy blunderbusses you meet at outback Chamber of Commerce lunches or “private industry councils.” They’ve got secure incomes, and they probably inherited a nice bundle besides. The wolf has never visited their door, let alone camped there. They were born on third base and think they hit a triple, but in the truly competitive context they claim they yearn for they’d be unlikely to survive. Unfettered capitalism isn’t a game won by dummies, but unfettered capitalism always needs gofers, hence Albrecht and Hendricks.
HENDRICKS KICKED OFF Sunday’s screed with the transparently false statement that “Obama is a socialist.” Hendricks cites as his Obama-as-socialist source a ghost-written book by David Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh’s learning-disabled little brother.
OBAMA IS NOT a socialist. To take only one of Obama’s non-socialisms, a socialist would have nationalized the banks in 2008, not rewarded their owners with massive payouts of public money for pulling off the grandest theft in the history of theft.
BECAUSE THE OPINIONS of Albrecht and Hendricks are not based on any known political reality, and because they know even less about socialism in any of its many well-documented manifestations than they do about American history, their opinions, although prevalent among the nastier sectors of the untutored, are worthless. Boring, too, because they can’t write.
BUT THESE UKIAH HONKS, and right on up through their soul bros: Hannitty, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Sissy Savage, mega-nut Glen Beck, and the rest of the corporate-funded charlatans who’ve turned political reality on its head, rave on about Obama as if Obama is somehow hostile to the Destruction Agenda. Look at the guy’s record: two hot wars going simultaneously; continued tax breaks for the very rich; phony health care reform to accommodate the insurance companies; a blank check for Wall Street, and so on. This isn’t socialism, and even to be compelled to say it isn’t socialism shows us how far into lunacy the honk-heads have managed to shove the political discussion.
THIS HENDRICKS character parlays his Obama-is-a-socialist fantasy into a generalized attack on another non-existent entity, the American left. “The left wing is not American. It is quite the contrary — anti-American.” (As an American and a leftwinger, if Hendricks honked that one in my face I’d just have to pop him one.) But there isn’t a left wing in America. The left was all the way dead by 1975, but without it we’d still have little kids working in coal mines and grams and gramps sure as hell wouldn’t be getting their meager social security checks the rightwing is now committed to taking away from them.
LOOKING AROUND our fair, fat land I don’t see any organized hostility to free enterprise, least of all from the Obama administration. But hostility to, or at least suspicion of capitalism defines “leftwing.” If you think capitalism can be modified to provide for everyone, you’re a liberal, not a leftwinger. At a minimum, a leftwinger believes that unless capitalism is strictly regulated it will kill us all. It is presently unregulated and it is presently killing us all, as anyone with eyes to see can see.
LOOMING CATASTROPHES ASIDE, I’ll bet most Americans, most of that 70% the pollsters cite as believing “America is headed in the wrong direction,” would agree with this socialist that there’s got to be a vast revision of basic national priorities, beginning with a very big tax on incomes greater than $250,000 and a huge roll back of the military’s blank draw on the national treasury. These two reforms alone would give U.S. enough money for a single-payer health system, a federal jobs program, adequate funding to revive a failed public education system, and accomplish it all without touching the outback piggy banks of nascent national socialists like Albrecht and Hendricks. And America would be a much happier, far less violent place into the bargain.
I THINK JOHN STEINBECK pretty much defined the Albrecht -Hendrick demographic back in 1969: “America suffers from a subtle and deadly illness. Immorality doesn’t describe it, nor does lack of integrity or dishonesty. What’s been lost are the rules — rules concerning life, limb, and property, rules governing deportment, manners, conduct, and rules defining dishonesty, dishonor, misconduct, and crime. Americans are like highly bred, trained, and specialized bird dogs cooped up in a kennel rather than allowed to hunt. In a short time the dogs become quarrelsome, fat, lazy, cowardly, dirty, and utterly disreputable and worthless, and all because their purpose is gone and with it rules and disciplines that once made them beautiful and good.”