(10AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
At some point in the educational process most people are taught in reverent tones about the Constitution, that is, what it contains and what one should think and how one should feel about it. In Washington, millions of awed tourists parade past this holy document preserved within argon gas. But the vast majority of Americans are never invited to critically examine the content of the Constitution, to ask what its basic assumptions are and to question the legitimacy of those assumptions…
…We have seen technical discussions within the popular mass media about how the Constitution, the physical document, is preserved. We-or, at any rate, I-have never seen in the mass media a penetrating debate concerning the possible creation of a new, better constitution.
In the hands of only the elite, the Constitution and the government based upon it are merely tools for self-service. Only a constitution in the hearts, minds, and hands of all of us can be considered to be a document that truly lives for us all…The Constitution’s very roots and foundation, its legitimacy, and its quality and utility should always be subject to expert and popular questions. We should not merely eternally reinterpret the current Constitution but actively seek ways to transcend it and move another evolutionary step as a society toward greater humanity and happiness.—Roger Rothenberger Beyond Plutocracy
Dystopia 23: Birthday
This body is different. This body feels as though it can not draw breath one more hour. But this is just how it feels. The body will go on until it is done.
You feel it building somewhere in the nether regions of this mind. A sense of dread and resignation accompanies the sensation. The feeling slowly increases to what you know is a crescendo of pain, although you do not feel the pain. Those sensors are disabled. You feel incredible pressure instead. Incomprehensible pressure. Pressure like pulling an infinite amount of G-force or having your whole body sucked down a tube that is too small. You think briefly of a black hole before the pressure becomes too great to think. You want to cry out for it to stop. You do cry out but not to stop the pressure only to allow your body to ride this wave of pain and pressure. It is a wordless, guttural noise that is half scream, half effort. You feel your body tearing and the end of the cry takes on a sharper more immediate note.
“That’s it Laissi, you’re almost there. Let it come, love.”
For the first time you are aware that there are others with you. They are holding you up in an almost sitting position. If it was not for them you would fall back supine because you have used up all your reserve. There simply is only strength to breathe and no more. You are done. You can’t do this thing. This thing that is required of you. You try to tell them. Tell them that you can’t, but before you can form the words the wave crests again and your body does not belong to you anymore. It belongs to no one. You inhabit a body that is ripping itself to shreds. This time your cry is more scream than grunt. The pain and tearing peak and suddenly there is relief as something gives way. You are sure that something in you is broken, permanently broken, but the others in the room are cheering. They are also telling you, you are not done.
For one moment you remember where you are and what is happening. You reach down between your legs with trembling fingers and feel the slippery wet hard ball but before you can really grasp the reality of it, the G-force starts again. More pain. More pressure. More ripping. But this time when the release comes you know it is done.
Now, the hands that are holding you let you fall back onto the cot. You pant trying to catch your breath as the others cheer and coo. You are temporarily forgotten and that is just fine. All you want is to rest, sleep. But then there is a slimy wet warm thing on your belly and the pain and exhaustion are gone as if my magic.
It is a boy. You and Jack have had a son. Joy and emptiness fill you at the same time. His father should be here. There is no telling what horrors his father will know today. You of all people have some idea, but best not to dwell there now. This one needs you now. Jack will need you later when they find him.
“Fabie.” you whisper taking in the sight of your new son. Your whole universe is now contained in the squirming crying wet bundle.
“A beautiful name Laissi.” Cece coos. She adjusts the corn husk pillows so that your head is somewhat raised. The little face looks up at you with grey-brown eyes. He opens and closes his mouth in a clearly pleading motion. You are transfixed by the sight but can not think what it means.
Cece guides your hands and the baby’s body so that now the length of the baby now crosses your abdomen and still you can not tear your eyes away from the cherub like face as it imitates a fish out of water. Cece understands. She has been here many times and she knows. She guides the baby’s mouth to your naked breast and he takes hold at once.
He draws the nipple into his mouth and the sensation is vaguely painful. The pain recedes into the background as an up-swelling of emotion and a sensuality take the foreground in your mind. It is not unlike the pain of loosing your virginity. There but not there. Vaguely remembered as unreal behind so many other more pleasant and more important things.
You stare at this little one and he gazes back at you. His hand tries to grasp the smooth dome of your breast but it is far too small. You know this little one is part of you already. That you will never think of yourself as just yourself again. All of the rest of your life will be spent to make this one’s life better and that is good. That is the way it should be. Your eyes fill with tears at the shear joy of knowing this purpose to your life.
And then the waves start again. Small at first, and you ignore them, but each becoming greater than the last. Cece sees your face and she knows, “That’s the afterbirth. It’s alright. It will come out soon.”
You let the pains take your body but you rest your eyes on your son. His vigorous suck has now become a mild vibration as his eyes slide shut and his attempts to grasp your breast become a caress. You smile down at his peaceful face and forget the pain that is squeezing your body.
The body will not be denied its final say, though, and soon the pain intrudes. Cece moves to take the sleeping Fabie, but you clutch him to you and look up accusingly at her intrusion. “Just for a moment, love, while the midwife takes your afterbirth.” She says. The pain hits you and you know she is right. She uses the tip of her finger to break the bond between you and your new son and with deft expert hands takes him without waking him. She stands with him in her arms behind the midwife so you can still see them and he continues to hold your attention.
But something about Cece’s stance is wrong. She is tense. You look up at her face and it is filled with concern. There is something wrong. All seems well, the baby is sleeping. You saw him yourself. He was healthy and whole. She is not staring at the baby. She is looking at you. Another wave of pain hits you and you grunt with the effort.
The midwife turns her head to her young apprentice, “Get Paje.” She says with simple direct authority. The girl’s eyes widen and her skin pales. She runs from the room. Now you know. You know that what ever is happening, it is not normal.
But before you can consider this, there is fierce pain in your lower belly. The midwife is standing between your legs and pushing down with the entire weight of her body on your stomach.
“I’m sorry dear.” She says.
You don’t care if she is sorry. She is killing you! You fight her hands which are covered with your blood with your own hands.
“Cece come here and hold her hands down.” The midwife orders.
Cece would never do any such thing, you think, but she has placed your son in his crib and is bending to the will of this woman. “No!” you have time to grunt but then you are fighting them both. The midwife’s hand continue to bury themselves in your solar plexus.
“Hold her!” The midwife barks as you fight your way free from Cece momentarily. If you were not so exhausted there is no way they could do this to you.
Paje enters the room and you hold your hand out to him, begging for his help. He has brought back the apprentice in one hand, and he holds one of his jars in the other.
He shoulders the midwife aside and she submits. “I’m sorry Laissi but you are bleeding badly. I need to make it stop.”
You can’t believe it. He is to join in on this torture too? Now you are fighting Cece on one side and the midwife on the other as the shaman dips his hand in the salve of the jar and quickly covers his skin to the elbow. What happens next takes you back to a cold dark room of horrors. You scream and buck your hips trying to get away from the intrusion but your strength has left you. Your lower half is on fire with what the Paje has put in you.
“I can’t get it.” His voice is strained and desperate. “It won’t come.” You can feel his clutching, grabbing hand inside of you. You try to scream again but it feels like there is not enough air in the room. In fact that is not enough light in the room. The shaman has finally removed his hand and you want to kick him away but you can not lift your legs. The room has grown cold and dark but you can still feel them holding your hands. There is a rushing wind sound in your ears but faintly above that sound you hear a voice.
“Laissi.” He calls to you.
And you cry out to him to come and find you. To save you from this horror. You cry out but the rushing sound in your ears drowns out your own voice and all you can hear is his voice.
You can not feel their hands on you any more. But there is new freedom here. You can move and so you move toward his voice to tell him what has happened. You are crying and desperately need his hand to comfort you.
Then there is only warmth and darkness and the feeling of his hand.
The Concepts Behind the Fiction:
1. Re-birthing Ourselves
Obama’s campaign slogan resonated with so many people because it was clear to almost everyone that change is indeed needed. I would tell you that the time when we could just tweek the system with a small change has long since past. Our system needs a real overhaul. We need complete re-birthing.
That kind of change seems dangerous to us. In the days of our distant ancestors, your parents survived because they were doing something right. You were more likely to survive if you followed their example. We have an ingrained aversion to big changes. They are dangerous.
However, doing nothing, “wait and see”, “let someone else take the first step” approach in our current situation is not safer. It only feels safer. The feeling is deceptive. Labor is fraught with risk and pain but if a baby needs to be born and doesn’t come out both the mother and the baby die.
As I have pointed out, over the last thirty years the GDP has doubled and likelihood is your income is about the same. More of you will die this year due to lack of health insurance and due to pollution in the air, water and land, due to various uses of oil. Peak oil and global warming are now inevitable. Yet we have been warned about these problems for decades and have been told what we can do about them…and we do nothing. We do not fix any of these problems because our leadership is broken. Very broken. Leaving it so, leads us in an ever tightening circle around the drain. And yet we are afraid to take the big steps towards real change that are clearly necessary.
So if we did take the big steps necessary, what would a totally different government look like? How much would we change? What would we keep? What would we modify?
2. Baby Steps
Without taking corporate moneys out of our government, none of the things we really need will get done. Though I don’t feel these changes go nearly far enough, it is a start. And a necessary one. If we do not free our Legislature from the grip of corporate money, no necessary change can happen and we are doomed to be corporate vassals until the end or our society…which is coming just around the corner.
Fix Congress First has a bipartisan bill to provide public funding of campaigns. The 2010 Fair Elections Now Act (S. 752 and H.R. 1826) would allow candidates to voluntarily join a clean election pool. Such a candidate would have to raise a large number of $100 or less contributions. Qualified candidates could then get large sums of federal money to finance their campaigns (primary and general election). They could continue to raise small $100 donation and the fund would match these donations.
The bill also limits what broadcasters can charge participating candidates. The fund is financed by fees on large government contractors and the sale of the broadcasting spectrum. Although they have a good deal of support in Congress for this bill, I fear that if the bill ever got to committee, it would die before a vote or it would be modified to the point of uselessness. If it did become law, the recent Supreme Court still might find a reason to overturn it. Never-the-less, it is still worth taking a look at. Here is Lawrence Lessig talking about the bill and why it is needed:
3. Modest Change
Move to Amend takes things a bit further. This group sprung up in the wake of the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to spend as much as they want on political speech because corporations are people too and money is speech. Since then the Chamber of Commerce is budgeting more than either major political party for the next election. Move to Amend wants to force Congress to amend the Constitution to declare that corporations are not people and that money is not free speech. Their poster child is seasoned corporate personhood activist, David Cobb.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) has a bill in Congress, right now, to amend to Constitution to restore Congress’ right to regulate corporate spending. She is working with Free Speech for People. People for the American Way and Public Citizen have joined the campaign.
Although I do think a change to the Constitution is necessary, I question whether this method would work. Congress are the exact people all the corporate money is aimed at. What are the odds that the exact people who were elected due to corporate funding, would vote to end corporate funding? They might amend the Constitution but it is likely to have loop holes in it or some other way for corporations to maintain their power.
If you doubt that corporate rule is that powerful yet, can I suggest a little Democracy School?
4. Change You Can Believe In
For the most part I think desperate times require desperate acts. Call a Convention wants to amend to Constitution without Congress. Can they do that? Well yes, but it has only been done once before…when the Constitution was written. You can see the leading suggestions for amending the Constitution if they are successful here. Sign in and make your own proposal.
I have been reading Beyond Plutocracy by Roger Rothenberger lately. I mentioned this book briefly a long time ago but started reading the whole thing recently and it is a truly bright and original idea. Such a bright idea would require an Article V Constitutional Convention to pass. The idea is to keep our government largely the way it is but add a forth branch of government called the Demos. This branch is a consensus building branch comprised of all adult American Citizens. The system would tally the electorates opinion on 12 key decisions constantly. The voter could change their vote at any time from multiple secure locations:
* Election of the president
*Election of senators
* Election of representatives
*Overall federal tax rate (which, over time, determines the size of the federal government)
* Division of the tax burden among three tax revenue sources: corporations and businesses, personal incomes, and inheritances
* Corporate and business tax scale
* Personal income tax scale
* Inheritance tax scale
* Hours in the work week
* Minimum wage
* Amount of federal debt or savings
* Portion of federal tax revenue for the military, health care, other entitlements, and all other government functions
All “advertising” for public offices would be done through the Demos system so no campaign money would be needed. There would be no term limit. A candidate served his people as long as he was first in the Demos. If he lost favor, he would be replaced with the person currently in favor.
The latter 9 issues are all economic control. The voter controls these issues by voting to increase, decrease the amount or to stay the same. This puts the purse strings for the government in the hands of the people. It prevents wars for profiteering from being fought because such a war could not be funded. Tax breaks for corporations at your expense. Not very likely. Double the GDP and keep minimum wage the same and increase the number of hours most of us work? That would be a hard sell if we all got to vote on it, wouldn’t it?
The 200 page, easy-to-read book goes into far more detail than I can here, but this is one of the best ideas I have come across in some time. Well worth your time to read.
5. Hail and Farewell
If you are a recurrent reader, you know that I am a fan of Unwelcome Guests and I mourned the loss of the show in February when Lyn Gerry inexplicably disappeared and the show podfaded. I am please to announce that the show has started broadcasting once again. It appears that Lyn, after 500 outstanding 2 hour shows, has decided to retire. Well who could blame her? She has handed the torch to Robin Upton who began broadcasting on 6/19/10.
So farewell Lyn and thank you for all your service. Your broadcasts were life changing for me and I owe you a debt of gratitude.
Hail to Robin Upton and good luck with the show. So far I am pleased with your shows although I must admit that the Brit accent takes a bit of getting used to.