Every time you turn on the TV it seems like young people are being sprayed in the face with pepper for exercising their freedom to speak out about corruption and injustice. Juxtaposed against these disturbing videos and photographs are images of smiling rich Republican Presidential wannabes approving of the pepper-spraying of our country's youth.
Today we watched the spectacle of Republican Presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, initially ignoring the spectacle of maced protesters and talking about the economy, proclaiming that if elected he will reduce the federal deficit by firing janitors in public schools and, in their place, pay the school children to clean the school classrooma and bathrooms. Is this guy for real?
This comes from a scoundrel who divorced his first wife while she lay dying of cancer in a hospital bed and, just recently, enjoyed a decadent cruise with his third wife aboard the luxury cruise ship Seaborn Odyssey. Vacationing with Seabourn is not like an El Cheapo $599-week-cruise on Carnival's "fun ships." It is about as elitist as it gets in the world of cruising. You can pay $20,000 to a foreign flagged cruise line which pays no U.S. income tax and receive a nice suite with cabin attendants from India, who are paid a salary of $50 a month (plus tips), to wait on you like you are the Greek God Neptune.
Speaking of Greek Gods, Newt rationalized his cruise earlier this summer through the Mediterranean by telling his supporters that the cruise was an "educational opportunity to learn about the Greek debt crisis." Dear Lord, what crap. The only problem, I suppose, is that his own campaign staffers were so disgusted with his antics that they quit in protest when he disappeared with his latest Mrs. Gingrich on the high seas for a couple of weeks.
But Newt is not to be troubled by the issue of abandonment, proof being that he abandoned his dedicated staffers just as easily as running out on his first dying wife only to return to the U.S. from his vacation and pick up a new group of Republic staffers to continue his I-know-I'm-going-to-lose-but-its-good-for-my-ego campaign.
While students are pepper sprayed for protesting against corporate greed, greedy Newt has lots of money to burn. It was recently revealed that he collected somewhere around $1,600,000 in consultation fees from Freddie Mac, the now defunct mortgage scam, while his think tank consulting/lobbying firm sucked some $37,000,000 from health care corporations scamming the public.
I suppose the final straw came for me today, which led me to throwing my remote control at the TV, when Newt supported the pepper-spraying of the "Occupy Portland" protesters, while gratuitously telling the protesters that they needed to "take a bath and get a job" - all to the amusement of a cheering FOX NEWS audience.
I suppose Newt is talking about 20-year-old Elizabeth Nichols, a young woman from Arkansas, who joined the protest movement in Portland in response to her parent's plight. As explained in the Atlantic Wire, Elizabeth's mom is housebound with multiple sclerosis. She joined the Occupy Wall Street movement because of her parents' dire situation. Her mother explained: "I have no medical care. I'm not eligible. My husband's disabled . . . We live on one disability check. No, we don't live. We exist."
If you have not seen the photo yet (credit Randy L. Rasmussen, photo above right), it is young Elizabeth who the cops blast in the mouth with a stream of pepper spray while she protested in Portland. The authorities then knocked her to the ground and hauled her off to jail for expressing her thoughts about the Gingrich-like corruption the public has endured in the banking and insurance industries of late.
Pepper spray is the new weapon of authority. Unlike the bullets at Kent State 40 years ago, pepper spray is an approved, recommended and widely used weapon. Campuses, cities, and corporations - which do not like to be on the receiving end of public criticism by protesters who won't go away - just need to draw a canister and spray with legal impunity.
On the University of California at Davis campus, riot policemen pepper-sprayed an entirely peaceful group of protesters (photo left) and then returned for a second dose, close up and personal, into the students faces as they sat peacefully and silently on the ground.
There is a certain insanity in the air.
When master charlatans like Newt Gingrich can propose firing school custodians, flout child labor laws and chuckle when the police spray peaceful young Americans exercising their freedom of speech not unlike how a pesticide crew sprays a yard to get rid of chinch bugs - something is terribly wrong.
The U.S. is a free country we tell our children. But when our kids leave home and our theoretical teachings are tested in the real world, they will learn that their individuals freedoms, if they choose to exercise them, will be challenged by thugs and elitist megalomaniacs who are just as eager to maintain the status quo as the worst despots from Iran to China.
As Aaron Neville sings on the Neville Brother's Sons & Daughters album "It's freedom of speech as long as you don't say too much."
Today if you express an unpopular point of view in public and rail against renegade corporations, insurance companies and banks, expect a good dosing of pepper spray. And while the riot police advance on your children on campuses next year, rest assured that President Gingrich will be vacationing with his most recent wife on a luxury cruise in the Mediterranean.
Don't miss this classic video on the Colbert Report on cruise passenger Gingrich: