Getting More Than Even

This past week, public television presented a 2 hour documentary on Pete Seeger’s life.  For anyone who enjoys “folk music”, it was a special treat to see folk music history replayed.  For those who are weary of uncontrolled government, there was something for you too.

Seeger’s life was about people and unfortunately included a special group of “little people”.

“Little people” does not refer to the young or to those small in stature.  Rather, “little people” might better be called bullies.  This class of bullies possess relatively powerful jobs who use their power for petty personal objectives.

Seeger’s “little people” contact came with the House Un-american Activities Committee.  It is true that Seeger had been a member of the Communist Party, but it was also true he was someone against war, pollution, Fascism, and poverty.  The “little people” in Congress (and in television management) were only to happy to label Seeger a subversive and black list him.

Even though it was clear from the evidence that Seeger had not and was not working for the overthrow of the US government, he was to be made an example.  To HUAC members, pay back and “getting more than even” was the black list.  That struck at the other person’s pocket book.

During the television tribute, Bruce Springsteen commented that today we think HUAC and resulting black listing is in the past and could not take place today.  Springteen warned that retribution  is a human condition and remains just below the surface even today.  Really?

Sure.  Just ask former Vice President Dick Cheney or Governor Chris Christie.

The outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame was a blatant “pay back” with an extra helping of “getting more than even” action from the highest level of the American Government.  Plame’s husband, Joe Wilson had written an op-ed article exposing the falsehood of charges that Iraq was trying to acquire Uranium yellow cake.  The White House was trying to use this allegation to support its intentions to invade Iraq.  By outing Plame, an undercover agent, Cheney hurt Plame’s ability to make a living.

Governor Christie is currently caught up in a mess and maybe abuse of power targeted to support his personal ambitions.  Christie subordinates sought to “pay back” and “get more than even” with political opponents who would not play ball with his administration.  In one case, subordinates closed three lanes on the George Washington Bridge essential shutting down access from Fort Lee, New Jersey.  The victims were, of course, residents of Fort Lee but the real target is alleged to have been the Fort Lee Mayor who declined to endorse the reelection of Governor Christie.  Hmmm.

One needs step back in order to connect these dots.  HUAC, the Iraq War, and Governor Christie’s second term election seemed purposeful and well intended activities by supporters.  What each failed to recognize was there were valid opposing views and just people who held those views.

These “pay back and get more than even” behaviors certainly can reveal bully-like character flaws, but is that all?

No, there was something else they all had in common.  Each of these had at its core the reelection of its participants and allies, and the continued flow of government contracts to thier supporters.  While bully behavior is to be condemned, we should not lose sight that there are even greater motivations than just being a bully to want to “get more than even”.

Do you think term limits, full campaign donor disclosures, and an investigative press might help?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Democratic Party, Dick Cheney, Iraq War, Politics, Republican Party

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