Monday, September 03, 2007
Don't Be Discouraged by Yul Nivver, Spouting "You'll Never" -- American History Teaches That Yul Nivver is Nearly Always Wrong!
"The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, March 4, 1933
Optimists are winning and pessimists are losing. Opinion polls show Democrats winning the White House next year.
Our American Founders originated the idea of "future preference": as expressed by our Georgetown University History Professor Carroll Quigley (whom Bill Clinton quoted in his 1992 acceptance speech), Americans believe that we can make a better future for future generations. Ours was the first nation in world history to have this idea, which distinguishes Americans from all of history's rotten, corrupt monarchies.
But Americans' core beliefs, including "future preference," have been shaken and challenged by tatterdemalion President George W. Bush's regime and their wrecking crew approach to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, limited government and the rule of law. They hire lobbyists to engage in sneak attacks on all of America's great progressive victories, including President Theodore Roosevelt's legacy of antitrust laws and his Square Deal as well as the New Deal, Fair Deal and Great Society. The intentional wrongs and grievous errors of Bush and his wrecking crew are as innumerable as the molecules of water in the oceans.
Unlike our Founders, Bush and his cofelon- copilot, VP Cheney, just don't like average people.
They never met a big corporation or a wealthy person they didn't cater to and serve amiably. They share the view of Hobbes and other "nattering nabobs of negativism" -- a misanthropic hatred of humankind. They steep the Nation in their morally bankrupt pessimism, empower cartels like Big Oil and Halliburton, and fight all things progressive. Like the National Association of Manufacturers, they fight every decent legislative proposal every offered.
In St. Augustine, Bush's confreres are the haters who are using words like "bums" and "vagrants" to describe the homeless people. "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me" said Jesus Christ. As to homelessness, "There but for the grace of God go you."
Of course, homelessness is exacerbated by human greed and cynical Reagan policies of attacking Social Security disability claimants and employers' "outsourcing," "downsizing," NAFTA and "globalization." Globaloney has caused pain and suffering for our people.
The true "bums" are those who cause that misery, just as in our city the "bums" are people like City Manager WILLIAM B. HARRISS, who put the contents of the old city dump into our Old City Reservoir, kicked the artists and entertainers off of St. George Street, empowered tree-killing, wetland-killing speculators like ROBERT MICHAEL GRAUBARD. HARRISS smirks at reformers, thinking he will always have five Commissioners' votes in his hip pocket and the names of 300 Republicans who will call anytime things don't go HARRISS' way.
Instead of working for a Living Wage and other measures to grow the economy and solve poverty, some cynics in our Nation's Oldest (European-founded) City seek to cadge votes the old-fashioned way - - by marginalizing poor people here in St. Augustine. As President Bill Clinton once said, "they're themming us to death." The notion of marginalizing homeless poor people -- and calling them "bums" -- is akin to the fascist political tactics that led to the concentration camps in Germany and the killing fields in Cambodia.
The owners and controllers are constantly struggling to divert our attention from the crimes of Big Oil and other monopolists and oligopolists (note the Federal Trade Commission just completed a coverup of oil company pricegouging, which won't be adequately covered by the news media due to President Bush's surprise trip to Iraq earlier today).
The discouragers have their own vocabulary to keep people passive, starting at an early age. They tell children, "you can't fight City Hall," even though our American Founders disagreed with such hierarchical concepts. They also frequently discourage people with the negative construct "You'll Never!"
"You'll Never" is the doom-and-gloom killer of dreams, the discourager of reforms and the denier of truth.
Imagine this "You'll Never" construct with human form and a name -- let's call him "Yul Nivver" (perhaps he looks a bit like the late Yul Brenner, who played the angry absolute monarch of Siam in the play and movie of "The King and I.:").
Like the King of Siam played so well by Yul Brenner, Yul Nivver is a "cognitive miser."
Yul Nivver "knows not that he knows not that he knows not."
Yul Nivver is the sour- apple teacher who says to a high schooler, "you'll never" get into a first-rate college or become a musician -- he's the misogynist who discourages women students from pursuing their dreams.
Yul Nivver is the cynic who says to grownups, "you'll never" overthrow a corrupt political regime, whether at home or abroad.
Yul Nivver is the gnome who says to Americans, "you'll never" reform health care -- though every other Western nation has followed the example of Bismarck's Germany (in the 1880s) and provided decent health care for all citizens. (See the obnoxious letter from Dr. James Grimes in the St. Augustine Record, reprinted below).
Yul Nivver is a know- it-all who sews unhappiness.
Yul Nivver is an anti- literate energumen who wants to bring everyone down to his level of fear and gloominess.
Perhaps Yul Nivver is clinically depressed and wants everyone else to be depressed with him.
Yul Nivver doesn't think very much. That's because Yul Nivver doesn't read too much. Mostly, Yul Nivver watches FOX News. Yul Nivver emotes, always with negative emotions.
In short, Yul Nivver is no fun to be around.
Invoking George Bernard Shaw, Senator Robert Kennedy said, "some [people] see things as they are and say why. I see things that never were and say, 'why not?'" Deep down, Yul Nivver likes things as they are, because he always and everywhere discourages reform, disparages reformers, and prattles on about what is "politically do- able," as if his termagant's tunnel- vision must limit everyone else's imagination, forever.
Yul Nivver is a killjoy and a mocker and a meddler. Yul Nivver is against Gay rights, hates Gay marriage and wants everyone to be miserable, like him.
Too many politicians these days are of the Yul Nivver variety -- people who supported Bush, Cheney and Idaho Senator Larry Craig. In 2008, send these satraps to well- deserved retirement.
If anyone heeded Yul Nivver, Americans would never have declared independence, abolished slavery, ended racial segregation or liberated women and Gays. .
If Yul Nivver were taken seriously, Americans would never have defeated Nazism and Communism and Apartheid.
If Yul Nivver were taken seriously, there would be no autos with safety glass, seatbelts or airbags.
If Yul Nivver were taken seriously, there would still be major coal mine disasters killing hundreds of miners at a time.
If Yul Nivver were taken seriously, Americans would not have stopped tobacco companies from marketing their products to children, for generations raised watching Bette Davis and other move stars smoke, part of the corrupt Hollywood system of "product placements" dismantled by the tobacco settlement. (Tobacco killed the actor Yul Brenner, who filmed a TV commercial before he died).
If Americans heeded Yul Nivver, we wouldn't have abolished child labor, sweatshops and Yellow Dog contracts; there would be no National Labor Relations Act, no minimum wage laws, no eight hour day, no laws protecting workers safety, no free democratic trade unions and no laws against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and education. On this Labor Day, we remember Yul Nivver and know that we've defeated him, again and again -- it's part of our civilization that progressives unite and defeat tyrants all the time.
If Yul Nivver were in control, there would be no environmental laws and no Foreign Corrupt Practices Act making it a crime for American corporations to bribe foreign officials.
In 1981, I was editor of a small weekly newspaper in East Tennessee, the Appalachian Observer. Local residents had seven generations of ancestors. Time had tormented their beautiful mountains, with stripmining, political corruption and environmental pollution from Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plants. Cynicism abounded.
Yul Nivver was there. Yul Nivver said we'd never eject a crooked school superintendent, imprison a crooked Sheriff, or expose the pollution by the Department of Energy and Union Carbide in Oak Ridge.
Yul Nivver was wrong on all three counts.
We did it. Working together, our newspaper and local activists transformed the place. A referendum was passed for election of the school superintendent, sending 13-year veteran school dictator PAUL EUGENE BOSTIC, SR. to well- deserved retirement. Activists encouraged Sheriff's deputies to blow the whistle to the FBI and U.S. Attorney, helping send corrupt Sheriff DENNIS O. TROTTER to federal prison (entrenched Trotter was twice Tennessee Sheriff of the Year). Activists helped win declassification of long-secret pollution, exposing the largest mercury pollution event in world history -- bigger than Minimata in Japan -- helping spur cleanup of U.S. nuclear weapons plants everywhere.
Again, Yul Nivver was wrong on all three counts.
In 2005, our City of St. Augustine City Commissioners voted 3-2 to reject Rainbow flags on our Bridge of Lions -- kicking Gays and Lesbians in the teeth for the third time -- though every other local group was allowed to fly their flags to promote and commemorate history. After the City's May 23, 2005 vote, Yul Nivver made his inevitable appearance: "You'll never" get a federal court to overturn the City's decision, Yul Nivver said. On June 7, 2005, two weeks to the day later, U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams, Jr. ordered the Rainbow flags to fly. The Rainbow flags flew from June 8-13, 2005, proving Yul Nivver wrong, once again.
Foreign-funded real estate speculators are ruining our beautiful seaside community. I've drafted a proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Highway (below). Four out of five County Commissioners -- and former St. Augustine Mayor GEORGE GARDNER -- like the idea. Inevitably, Yul Nivver has already weighed in. Though his mother Maureen Boles supports the idea, crabbed St. Augustine Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. has said he doesn't want to "federalize" historic preservation. Yul Nivver has said there will be no national park, seashore and scenic highway like those elsewhere in our land, inflicting a too- modest vision for the 500th anniversary of Florida (2013) and the 450th birthday of St. Augustine (2015).
In 1944, my mother heard FDR speak in Philadelphia: as FDR said, "I'm an old campaigner, and I love a good fight."
Yul Nivver doesn't have a chance, folks, because hope and history are on our side.
Meanwhile, St. Johns County is currently considering a proposed charter form of government. Yul Nivver demands, raising his voice, that citizens "have to" adopt a poorly-drafted charter, in hopes of amending it later. The proposed Charter has an anti-discrimination provision that doesn't include all of the Title VII Civil Rights Act factors, and pointedly excludes Gays and Lesbians from its protection.
The Charter excludes the Sheriff and other "constitutional officers" from any of its reform provisions. The badly-drafted Charter is not even "half a loaf." It is a tribute to the power of centralized power.
If the charter is not amended, reject the demands of Yul Nivver, who "knows not that he knows not that he knows not." If the Charter is not rewritten, it can and will be defeated. Passing it in its current form would be rather like building an imperfect house, one with no roof, no plumbing and no electric wiring, on the basis that you can fix it later. That's like what United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis would call "pie in the sky in the sweet bye-and-bye."
Next year is the time to fight corruption, not by half-measures or by being mealy-mouthed, but by talking sense to the people of our city, county, state and nation.
Hapless cronies must be thrown out of office, on their uncaring ears.
Next year, work on converting Yul Nivver to progressive causes -- Bush's bigotry and incompetence will help melt Yul Nivver's heart, just like the King of Siam yielded at the end of "The King and I," on his deathbed signalling his son that absolutism doesn't work. Show Yul Nivver the way and the wave of the future.
As Robert Kennedy said in South Africa, "it is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal or stands up for the rights of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples create a current that can wipe out the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
It is up to us. What do you reckon?