Mitt Romney says America’s free market system is almost ceasing to exist! I shouted to my buddy who lives beneath the 101 freeway on Franklin. He was stretched out on a folded piece of cardboard. An apple core lay next to him. Romney’s got a clear sense of right and wrong, and he can sniff out any collectivism coming America’s way, I said.
“That must be the problem,” my buddy said, “because I haven’t been able to get a job since 2004. Wife left me. Everything turned south.” Pieces of apple were stuck in his beard. “I didn’t know it was a problem of a free market ceasing to exist. I thought it was because Wall Street crashed the economy. If I thought things were bad in 2004, they only got worse a few years later.”
You were wrong about Wall Street, I said. If only we would give those folks more room to breathe, then everybody would have a job.
I’d been walking to the 101 Coffee Shop on Franklin when I ran into my homeless friend. He’s the one who was recently scolded by a businessman for taking all the copies of LA Weekly out of the free bin. I’d never got my friend’s name, but we’d been spiritually molded after we fought off that suited control freak.
“Everybody calls me Johnny,” he said.
We shook hands. Mitt Romney announced he’s running for president today, I said. Big deal for the media. A lot of people like Romney. If your breath stinks like shit, he’ll find a way to mention how your breath smells like jasmine. If your hair looks awful, Romney will tell you he hasn’t seen such a beautiful do since he last looked in the mirror. On a more nefarious side, if you say you’re for national healthcare, he’ll say he was too, before Obama did it. If you say you’re for gay rights, well, so was he, for awhile. If you say you hate gay people, he’ll say hate is a strong word, but then he’ll wink at you.
You’ve had an abortion? Well, Romney’s had a very real dream about being a woman and having an abortion. He knows where you’re coming from. You were for the TARP bank bailout? Romney will tell so was he, before he was against it.
If you’re homeless, I continued, he’ll tell you he’s been there. If you say you’re from North Dakota, you can be sure Mitt’s eaten some high-grade pasta made from the wheat grown in that fine state. If you need to buy snake oil, no worries because out of strange coincidence, Mitt’s got some of it, and he happens to be selling it. You’re in luck, he’ll say, now I hope you’ve brought your wallet.
And then Sarah Palin came to New Hampshire and doused Romney’s big day.
“Sarah don’t play by the rules,” Johnny said, “but other than that I don’t know nothing about her.” He smiled. “And she don’t know anything about the Constitution neither,” he said. We walked North. We passed an LA Weekly bin, but Johnny passed it by. He was an avid reader, it turned out.
Well, I said, she hates all government mandates because freedom-loving Americans like her don’t want to be pinned down by government. They’d rather be choked and strangled and raped by multi-national corporations.
“The multi-national corporations started the Tea Party. Ain’t that Sarah’s party?” Johnny asked.
She heavily endorses them, it seems, and they seem to love her. But you’re right, the Koch Bros started a right-wing coalition called Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and a bunch of folks joined them thinking they were fighting big government, but in reality they have become pawns for big business, and the Koch Bros move the Tea Party around America like pawns on a chessboard.
We saw that in Wisconsin. Anybody who doesn’t support workers’ rights is an enemy of America, in my mind, and there was the Tea Party, making a lot of noise how workers shouldn’t be represented by unions, and shouldn’t receive a fair wage, and shouldn’t have collective bargaining rights. It’s Americans cutting the throats of Americans.
“It’s not like those workers in Wisconsin were living high on the hog,” Johnny said.
They were making a decent wage in America. And that’s hard to find these days. And now, thanks to the likes of Scott Walker, we’ve even abolished that. But we’ll let the free market come back again, and that’ll solve everything.
“The free market clearly plays by the rules,” Johnny said, winking at me.
You’re goddamn right they do. The multi-national corporations love the Tea Party. No government oversight means these corporate monsters can officially buy up the entire market, shoot anybody else in the back of the head who tries to even take a tiny corner of the market, and that’s good old Libertarianism for you.
“No government mandates?” Johnny said. “Sarah Palin must be crazy. What if somebody blew somebody else’s head off with a shotgun? What can Libertarianism do about that? Isn’t that why we have government mandates?”
It seems rather obvious to me, yes, I said. Exxon Mobile can blow off your head with a shotgun because you used your good old American ingenuity to build an engine that could drive four hundred miles off of a pound of grass clippings. Exxon Mobile, without any rules and being governed only by a free market, will stop you immediately. And what can you do about it. They have all the money in the world to stop you. And you’ve got very little to fight back.
Without government mandates, all real creativity coming from the most creative Americans would be squashed, and violently. There has to be a balance between government and the market. Without government oversight, nobody would defend the common man. And at the moment, with as much government oversight as we have, the common man still isn’t protected.
“And isn’t the Tea Party full of common men?”
Common, and some less-than-common men, but yes, they’d be some of the first Americans to lose under a Sarah Palin plan.
“And now Mitt Romney’s trying to cater to this crowd?”
He’s got to, if he wants to even have a shot at running against Obama. Obama is one of the most moderate Democrats out there, and there is nothing ‘˜left-wing’ about him. The free market working wonders for corporate America. Romney’s a complete psychopath if he really believes the free market is almost ceasing to exist. But, he doesn’t really believe that. He was just trying out phrases. He does that often when speaks into a microphone.
“Obama ain’t no left-winger, that’s for sure,” Johnny said. We went inside the 101 Coffee Shop. Danny DeVito sat in the far corner. He had three plates of steak and potatoes on the table in front of him. A huge white napkin was tucked into his collar.
Obama’s been great for big business. Wall Street is soaring. Corporate profits have had four quarters of being at an all-time high. The corporate tax rate is the lowest it’s been in 60 years. There has been no Wall Street regulation. No charges have been made against any bankers. Obama’s escalated the War on Terror. He’s ‘˜troop-surged’ Afghanistan. He’s been murdering civilians in Pakistan with predator drones like it’s part of his job as president to reduce the population of foreign nations. He extended the Bush tax cuts, even though he said he wouldn’t. On paper, Obama could almost run on the GOP ticket.
The only people really hurting are the middle class. What’s left of them.
Since Romney’s record is also somewhat moderate'”and slippery as hell'”he’s got to reach out to the reddest Americans. He’s got to somehow outdo the Bachmanns and Palins of the world. Even if they don’t run for president, he has to be the clear hard-right alternative to a very moderate president.
The servers gave my friend Johnny sour looks, like he shouldn’t be in this establishment. He did kind of smell, and neither of us had shaved in weeks. He’s with me, I said. We’re real Americans. We sat and looked through our menus.
You’ll help me find Lyle Shove-It? I asked him.
“I don’t see why not,” he said.
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