David Brian Stone Sr., of Clayton, Mich,; David Brian Stone Jr., of Adrian, Mich,; Jacob Ward, of Huron, Ohio; Tina Mae Stone; from bottom left, Michael David Meeks, of Manchester, Mich.; Kristopher T. Sickles, of Sandusky, Ohio; Joshua John Clough, of Blissfield, Mich.; and Thomas William Piatek, of Whiting, Ind., arrested and charged with various crimes to conspire to kill police officers in a plan to incite a “war against the government”.
The other seven people named in the indictment were Mr. Stone’s wife, Tina Stone, 44; his other son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Michigan; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Michigan; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Michigan; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Indiana, Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.
In these days from whichever end of the political spectrum, there is perhaps only one thing which would gain a consensus from most Americans and that is that Americans, in general, are angry and unhappy. Depending on which part of the cultural spectrum you inquired with, the responses would shift wildly from one matter to another.
From the very vocal right side of the scale, with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as unofficial spokesmen, and Republican leaders from Palin to McCain to Boehner following closely behind, the argument is that the nation has been hijacked by socialist traitors, or Nazis (as if there were no difference between these two), that the Congressional majority of Democrats is behaving in a dictatorial manner, ramrodding legislation onto the law books against the American public’s will, etc. Usually the above sentiments are also larded with something about Christianity, or God, or about doing things against American tradition. The old red white and blue stuff. As usual with this side of the spectrum there are often deep contradictions, as in the shouts to keep the government’s hands off of Medicare, or support for the death penalty from the same parties who are against abortion, or a seemingly willful failure to acknowledge factual realities: that under so-called “small government” conservatives, such as Reagan or Bush II, the Federal government (and its debts) were greatly enlarged, as was it’s intrusiveness into the citizen’s life (The Patriot Act). The most current manifestation of these sentiments are the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.
Following the passage of Obama’s “health-care reform” bill, Ms Palin kept up the metaphorical fire and told her followers not to give up, but to “reload.” For the all-white-men pictured below, goading on an anti-bill demonstration below the halls of Congress, there must be a special pleasure in knowing that Sarah is carrying their water, masking a bit the old white guys (and the old white women) nature of the Tea Party. That demonstration was accompanied with anti-black and anti-gay epithets (and spit) and betrayed a fundamental racism of this movement, which of course denies it – just as, apparently under the guidance of of Beck and company, the followers adamantly deny that there were any racist or homophobic acts, claiming no such evidence was ever video-taped, even though far more than ample evidence is available in a few clicks to You Tube, if not on Fox.
The alleged “center” of America is also angry – about mortgage foreclosures, loss of jobs, shrunken 401-K’s, insecurity about “Social Security” and medical benefits, and the evident future trajectory which points downwards rather than, American dream-style, upwards. Their anger is variously directed at the government, the Wall street bailout, the auto-industry bail-out, “globalization” which shifted jobs abroad, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a broad range of other problems, including the Tea Party item of immigration. Some have signed up with the Tea party gang, others have started their own calmer and re-actively ill-named Coffee party, while others have signaled a desire for some amorphous 3rd party. Fittingly for a purported “center” there is confusion and a lack of clarity, a tendency to reach out to both left and right. I would assess this to a sense of self-responsibility in which all problems are not always the cause of someone else, but rather also a result of one’s own choices. People took the bait and lived on credit cards, bought houses for a million dollars that they couldn’t really afford, sent their children to 40K a year colleges on loans and otherwise bought the American shopping mall ethos. Ah, but the bankers were so friendly, and they followed President Bush’s post 9/11 patriotic exhortation and shopped. Until they dropped, along with the whole leveraged-on-fictions economy. $5 latte cappucinos and all. These people are angry with themselves, with the banks and corporations (which they work/ed for), with their blind acceptance of the government’s approval of NAFTA and other “globalizing” efforts, with Sam Walton, with the whole diminished plywood boarded small-town America which resulted. They know they are not blameless, but like most humans they’d rather look for a scapegoat other than themselves. Hence the confusion. I would guess the great majority of these so-called centrists voted for Obama, though many now question just what he represents – Wall Street? the large corporate interests? more war? Meanwhile the job is dicey, eviction is around the corner, and the future looks grim.
For those on the left of the spectrum there is a mixed sense of betrayal – that the Obama they supported is in fact a corporate centrist, that he has surrounded himself with Wall Street insiders, and that in his focus on consensus he has emasculated the political energies which propelled him into office. In the same moment there is the frustration of projecting to the imminent future which appears to offer only the choice between a corporate centrist and All-American fascists, a choice unpalatable to those to the left. The sense is that one has been tricked. Many of Obama’s qualities seem proper, yet again and again, his actions seem to tilt toward the right-central: failure to close Guantanamo, the Wall Street bail-out, the small jobs-stimulus program, failure to genuinely withdraw from Iraq, the continuing war in Afghanistan, the muddled process and end result of the health-care reform bill, the failure to confront the military-industrial complex. All of these seem to suggest that either the room for maneuver in the American political system does not allow for such measures (at risk of a “magic bullet”) or that Obama himself is in fact a centrist, and was perhaps brought in as a means to mollify the large “liberal” component of the American political body.
Collectively the body of America is soured – from which ever element of the spectrum, there is deep discontent. On the right there are those with guns as well as wealth, and a mass media which is in the total control of wealthy interests and seems to have no compunctions about stirring up their down-scale armed compatriots. In the center are the usual go-along-to-get-along sorts suddenly stranded by circumstances, uncomprehending as to how their “dream” could have evaporated so suddenly, the easy-going plastic reality of just yesterday turning into a mountain of debt and possible homelessness. They are vulnerable to persuasions of the worst sort, from right or left. On the left is a bitter aftertaste of disappointment from the euphoria of a mere year and months ago, the champion of “hope” morphed into a far too pragmatic compromiser on seeming matters of principle, with his clutch of “realist” advisers seeming to cave to the interests of money and power at a moment’s notice.
With the right goading their erstwhile “troops” to action – reload, “kill” the bill – and the center equivocating, and the left disenchanted with their once-champion, the nation seems to quiver on the edge, awaiting the next step, anticipating the worst.
The recent past – not to mention the not-so-long-ago of the 1960’s, raises the spectre of the usual paranoid style of American politics, from the magic bullet of the Kennedy assassination in 1963 on to the mysterious collapse of WTC Building #7 (not to mention the architecturally and structurally dubious collapse of WTC buildings # 1 & 2, along with the bizarre behavior of the Bush government afterward) – suggests the coming years are likely to resurrect for the current generation something of the past which many nostalgically recall, or too young to know the reality, dream of as something that it was not. There may have been the Beatles and “love love love” but there was also something quite different.