Well, the 2020 election season is starting to fire up, and here comes the predictable chorus saying the same thing we always hear.  When it comes to people who actually want to transform the system we live in–people who support things like a single payer health care system, a higher minimum wage, affordable college…

You want free stuff!

Lazy moochers.  You want a handout, don’t you?  You want to be given something for nothing.

Let me just stop this tired old song before it even gets started.  I’m not a moocher.  I’m certainly not lazy.  I drag myself out of bed and work my ass off every single day.  I don’t want a handout–I just want what I’m rightfully owed for my hard work.  A decent wage.  The ability to see the doctor if I’m sick.  A roof over my head.  Working people should be able to have access to these basics.

Conservatives twist this into the idea of class envy.  If you want these things, it must be because you’re envious of what other people have and want to take that away.  I don’t envy the rich their lifestyle.  I certainly don’t envy Donald his garish, gold-covered absurdity of an existence.  I’m not asking for what belongs to anybody else–I’m asking for what is already mine.  The fruit of my hard labor.

Most Americans I know are like that.  I’ve known a couple of people over the course of my life who I could genuinely describe as moochers, but they were a small minority.  The majority of people I know in this country work themselves to the point of burnout and exhaustion, and they get screwed over in return.  It amazes me that so many of these working class Americans still support Trump.  The man has done his best to weasel away even more from them–everything from overtime pay to the ability to file a workers compensation claim for an on-the-job injury, and he certainly hasn’t helped with the tax situation.  Yet they continue to love the guy who robs them of what little they have.

So no, I’m not interested in “free stuff.”  But hey, getting treated with some dignity by the country I’m investing my life and work into?  Now that actually sounds like a good deal….

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Dedicated to all the disappointed elves

She worked her magicks in the darkest recesses of a D.C. conference room, her navy blue pantsuit blending perfectly with the shadows.  Lady Hillary bent her head over a makeshift altar and chanted the incantations that would turn her into the Ruler of the Free World.

Just as she was halfway through her TPP spell, the door of the room flew open and a slim silhouette appeared.

She turned from the altar and sighed heavily.  Naturally, it was one of Bernie’s elves.  Many of them had by now acknowledged defeat and scurried back to their woodland communes to tend their tiny herb gardens, but a couple of die-hards here and there were still trying to mount attacks on her.

The Bernista had flowing locks and big, bright eyes.  She was followed into the room by her unicorn sidekick.  Lady Hillary glared at them with impatience.

“You’re never going to give up, are you?”

“It’s not too late!”  the elf proclaimed with a trembling voice.  She threw her hands up and wiggled her fingers in the air.  “I cast my positive vibrations upon you, oh dark one!  Acknowledge that you are not the rightful nominee!”

Lady Hillary cackled.  “Spare me this amateur stuff.  You do realize, of course, that I have persuaded the majority of those in the Democratic Party to vote for me.”

“It’s all lies and fraud!  It cannot be true.  Bernie is the chosen one for this time.  Did you not see the Goddess send down the little bird at his rally?  Do not question the bird!”

“Enough about that stupid bird already…well, never mind.”  Lady Hillary softened her tone. “Look, you and I both know that the only way to defeat the Donald is to make an alliance with me.  Be reasonable, my little one.  You want to believe in good witches, but that’s not how the world works.  Although I do so admire that pure heart of yours…I feel as if…I must have it…”  She reached out her hand toward the glowing center in the elf’s chest.

“Don’t touch me!” the elf squealed, backing away.

“Or what?  Your Bernie will save you?”

“Bernie will save everyone in Americaland.”

“Ha!  You think his wizardry is truly powerful enough to make all his promises come true?  He will have to raise taxes.”

A slight smile played upon the elf’s lips.  “Ah, but you do not know about our secret weapon. Our unicorns aren’t just adorable…they also fart money.”

“Is that so?”  Lady Hillary stared at the unicorn with great interest.

“I feel a little put on the spot,” the unicorn said.

The elf tilted her head.  “Now will you concede the battle?”

“Concede?”  Lady Hillary laughed.  “Clearly, you do not understand the kind of power you are dealing with here.”  As she said this, she expanded and grew in stature, until she towered over the Bernista.  “I am not merely the Democratic candidate for President.  I am also a crazy leftist and a sell-out Republican at the same time.  Simultaneously responsible for too much war and too much appeasement.  Too calculating and too loud.  Too easily influenced by corporations and by socialists.  I contain it all, the left and the right, the masculine and feminine, every policy and none of them.  I am the everything and nothing of politics.  Try to stand against me and you will be consumed by the void.”

The elf covered her face, but she was past saving.  Her bright eyes turned black–she had gazed into the heart of the political machine.  One more moment, and she vanished into a puff of glitter.  The unicorn pooped out a little pile of cash and fled.

Lady Hillary shook her head.  “Always the same with these creatures.  So much fire, so little strategy.  It’s a shame–this one was cute.”  She turned back to the altar.  “Ah, yes.  What should I do next?  Where is that spell to get Bernie’s endorsement?”

These days, the United States is frequently compared to the Roman empire. Usually the comparison is made by those warning about our demise, either because we’re militarily overstretched or too accepting of homosexuality as a part of our culture.

But as tempting as it is to imagine myself reclining on a luxurious feast couch and eating grapes–the truth is, we kind of suck at being an empire.

Take Iraq. It’s pretty obvious that it’s become a colony of ours. We can make noises about leaving, but let’s face it, we’re over there to stay. Well, the Romans were at least smart enough to claim taxes from the nations they conquered. We seem to be doing the opposite–I’ve been paying from my hard-earned money to build stuff in Iraq. Why? Our own infrastructure could certainly use the help.

What I’m saying is, let’s be honest about what we’re doing. Enough with the bullcrap about being a democratic society trying to bring our democratic ideas to Iraq. Does anybody really believe that Americans believe in that cause? So if I’m forced to be the evil invader, I should be accepting some kind of tribute right now from those we’ve conquered. I should be getting loot and booty from the place we’ve taken over. That’s how this sort of thing works. And if that’s not happening, then what the hell are we doing?

Ah, but of course, there are select people in my country who did, in fact, get to loot Iraq’s resources. The companies who walked away with huge profits from our overseas adventure. So perhaps, we are more talented at being an empire than I thought, and perhaps, I’m getting a painful lesson in what it’s like to be one of the little people in an empire–one of the little people who helps fund our military exploits, but doesn’t get to share in any of the spoils. Not even through lower gas prices. Okay, I get it.

So then, could we at least throw some good decadent parties?

Holy Ronald the Great, patron saint of laissez faire capitalism, help us preserve our conservative faith.  Help us remember what we believe in.

Save us from unrestrained government spending and the temptation to raise taxes.  Sure, you ran deficits and raised taxes, but you did it to defend us from the anti-American enemy.  And anything done to defend us from the anti-American enemy is sacred in our eyes, amen.

May your spirit inspire us to appear patriotic.  For we know that we will fall short of the glory of real patriotism in our deeds, but the virtue of appearing patriotic will redeem us.  Yea, our Democratic opponents will be accused of weakness when they walk the road of diplomacy, but we will be able to trade arms for hostages and still call ourselves true patriots for all eternity.

Rescue us from division and splintering, from multiple factions and an abundance of primary candidates.  Grant us unity, and do not permit us to have any doubts about our platform, nor to listen to deceitful suggestions that we should change it.  With your aid, we will live our lives in your image–with a cheerful indifference to the facts, joking about the things which we do not understand, knowing we will be right no matter what.

Above all else, we are gathered here in your name to worship and praise that most holy of holies, the Almighty Dollar.  May it ever increase and multiply.  Even as we are broke and struggling and crushed by the heel of great corporations, we remain steadfast in our belief that one day, you will bestow upon us the blessings of wealth, just as you have upon your other servants who tell us to vote Republican.  So we say, let the wealthy remain wealthy, today and tomorrow, now and forever, wealth without end.  Amen.

When you go on a journey, you discover that the world is full of dangerous people.  My life has been no different.  I’ve come far and faced off against many villains.

For example, when I was a child, I was told that evil American capitalists wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on me.  But then I moved to a different land and found out that it was, in fact, evil Russian Communists who wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on me.  That was confusing, but then things got even more complicated.

When I lived by the northern European seas, abortion and gay rights were considered good things, and anybody who opposed them was strange.  But when I lived in the American desert, I learned that abortion and homosexuality were sins, and anybody who supported them was immoral.  Now I live by the Pacific Ocean, and once again it’s those who are too religious and too traditional that are suspect.  I’m having a hard time keeping track of all this.  Maybe it would be easier for me to tell the good guys and the bad guys apart if I had stayed in one place and didn’t move around so much.

What makes it even harder is that so many people wear magical disguises and are not what they seem.  For instance, those who aren’t Christian aren’t really American, even though they pretend to be.  Just like those who aren’t Catholic aren’t really Polish.  Ah, but hold on–it’s not enough to know that someone is wearing the Christian label.  If they are liberal, they aren’t really Christian.  You see how tricky this gets.

Now I feel as if I’m living in a cursed time, because everyone is starting to look like an enemy.  The conservatives aren’t true patriots and neither are the progressives.  I’m supposed to be on the watch for thieves who will steal my money through taxes and robbers who will steal my work by paying me too little for it.  There are hawks who want to attack everyone and doves who want us to get attacked.  Gun nuts want to shoot me, but then again I hear that those who favor gun restrictions want to see me defenseless and shot.

So how do I move forward on my way when I’m surrounded by dragons?  Could it be?  Is it possible that I’m the only one who’s right and everybody else is wrong?  After all, many wise men and women around me are making this claim–that they are the only ones who hold the key to true knowledge.

Believing that those who think differently from you are monsters to be fought is one way to journey through this world.  I find the travelling lighter and easier when I don’t carry all that heavy weaponry with me, though.  The dragons are imaginary anyway–they’re just imperfect human beings, a lot like me–and our battles are unnecessary.

And no, it’s not about Snowden’s asylum in Russia.  Just wanted to note that President Obama has proposed lowering federal corporate taxes.  Because he’s SUCH A COMMIE.  Seriously, I can hear the North Korean military orchestra from here.

The President’s plan has been praised by groups representing large corporations, and criticized by small business owner organizations for being too skewed in favor of big business–a sure sign of socialism if I ever saw one.  There has been some bi-partisan support of the plan in Congress, but then…there is the response from the usual suspects.  The House Republicans are rejecting the proposal, because according to them the President is offering “nothing in the way of compromise”.

Well, this must be how Congress has managed to earn popularity ratings lower than the cyclospora stomach bug.  Yet again, the President offers a compromise, and the House insists it is not a compromise.  Because the only deal they would ever accept would be the President completely caving to the Tea Party agenda, which wouldn’t be a compromise at all.  So…oh, the irony…a very capitalist business tax proposal will likely go down in flames due to Republican opposition.  Now who’s the commie here again?

 

Here’s a great example of why the IRS scandal has opened up a huge can of tax-exempt worms.  One of the groups complaining about getting extra scrutiny is the Citizen Awareness Project of Colorado.

Well, here is what this same group was doing back in October of 2012:

Less than three weeks before Election Day, a new mystery group dropped nearly $1 million on an anti-Obama expenditure, according to records. Citizen Awareness Project appears to be a nonprofit organization. It reported the independent expenditure opposing President Barack Obama Thursday, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission.

The group helped make marketing materials for the Heritage Foundation, among other things.  Why *should* an organization like this be tax exempt, when it is so clearly political?  I don’t want groups whose main purpose is to support either liberal or conservative candidates to receive a tax exemption.  The main goal of a tax exempt nonprofit is supposed to be social welfare.  According to the above article, the treasurer of Citizen Awareness Project is a law clerk who specializes in election law.  This is not a group focusing on social welfare of any sort.

For an extra helping of what can only be viewed as strange sarcasm at this point, there are plenty of conservative postings from 2011 and 2012 complaining about the tax exempt status of Occupy Wall Street.  Yeah, it does seem ironic now, doesn’t it?

I think neither side should be able to get away with taking advantage of tax loopholes.  I’ve gotten used to the fact that we all have to live in the middle of a big, dirty political fight…but at least make the participants pay some taxes!