Dystopia 23: Birthday

(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:

Lessig Talk

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.

Cobb Talk

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.

Demonstration of What Demos voting would be like

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.