Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Walls Have Oys

If I were a true-blue conspiracy theorist, I'd be mightily upset right about now. And it's not about something that could be considered “national news”; no, rather it's actually “state news” -- and I depart from my usual national (or global) emphasis to report it nonetheless... even though, on an average day, anything having to do with the state government of Pennsylvania is about as scintillating as clothes dryer lint. But on this occasion, there are national – yea, global – implications... so I don't feel that I'm lowering my standards by reporting it. And it is, after all, the talk of Harrisburg (which is the state capital of Pennsylvania, for those of you in Rio Linda).

It seems that a private contractor hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security – and did you know that every state has its own DHS? I sure didn't – has been issuing “bulletins”, for many months now, warning government agencies, police forces, and “the private sector” as to the potential of various activist groups for provoking, inciting, or performing terrorist acts. Among the suspects are: gay and lesbian groups, G-20 protesters, Marcellus shale activists, Quakers (they might actually have a point in that case), tea partiers, anti-war demonstrators, environmental activists, animal rights advocates, tax protesters, gun owners, advocates of public education reform, and anti-abortion groups. (It would almost be easier to list the kinds of groups that _weren't_ included!) And of course the groups in question, once they found out that they were on the “watch list” for terrorism, immediately responded with indignation, dismay, the threat of lawsuits, and what not. And in response, the state government has awakened from its customary slumbers and has started to hold “hearings” on the matter. The result, so far, is that no one seems to know who hired this outfit or why – and, as I'm sure you've already guessed, it was on the basis of a no-bid, sole-source contract. For all anyone knows (or admits knowing), these people just, one day, up and started gathering data on the honest, hard-working citizens of Pennsylvania... and then reporting it to anyone who they thought might be interested. No authority, no accountability, no nuthin'. Just like the Soviet Union.

But here's what would have my “conspiracy detector” screeching like a Geiger counter at Chernobyl. The private firm in question is headed up by two individuals – one a “former policeman from York (Pa.)" named Michael Perelman (now how big a demographic do you think he represents?) -- and the other "a former Israeli police captain" named Aaron Richman. And it “has offices in Washington and Jerusalem”.

So what does it all mean? Is it all just a coincidence that, even though our foreign policy is securely in the hands of Israel, there is an Israeli connection to an outfit performing (supposed) domestic counter-terrorism work? And what's remarkable is that the media, while appearing to exert no effort to conceal this connection, have been completely silent as to its implications. But what are those implications? Well... as I said, if I were a conspiracy theorist, I would, first, see what those various “potential terrorist” groups have in common. They do seem to be arrayed across the political spectrum, it's true – but there are some themes, like anti-war and anti-big government. True, each of the groups will tend to be either one or the other – but none of them is both pro-war and pro-big government (as far as I know). And what does being against war and/or big government have to do with terrorism? Nothing whatsoever, except that anyone who is against any government policy these days is most conveniently labeled a “potential terrorist” for reasons which should be obvious. That way, they can be tracked, and, as needed, harassed or even detained. Always remember that the Patriot Act is intended to protect real patriots -- that is, people who always agree with everything the government says and does. Everyone else is automatically under suspicion.

So far, so good. But then why the Israeli connection? Well, who has the most to gain from the U.S. being in a state of perpetual war against Islam? And, in turn, who has the most to gain from the gradual slide of the U.S. into totalitarianism – which insures, among other things, that its perpetual war against Islam will remain unopposed by anyone with any power or influence? Why, Israel, of course! They have far more to gain from the U.S. being in a state of perpetual war than the average U.S. citizen does – or any U.S. politician, for that matter. Who profits from our modern-day crusade against the Islamic/Arab world? The usual suspects – the arms makers, the neocons, the Evangelicals, the Israeli lobby, and Israel itself. And, therefore, who has the most to lose if any of the anti-war and/or anti-big government protest/activist groups gain a foothold? The same people, of course. So it would make perfect sense if an Israel-based outfit was in a position of “helping” state and local governments police U.S. citizenry, to make certain no one wandered too far off the reservation without suffering the consequences.

Another way of putting it is that an Israeli outfit would be doing for us (which means, for various governmental bodies) what we do for our puppets in Iraq and Afghanistan – basically, protecting them from the wrath of their own citizens (and protecting their interests at the same time).

So if our domestic watchdogs – first and foremost being the FBI and the intelligence agencies – are not quite up to the job, our “eternal allies” will step in and fill the gap. That's the implication. Or it would be... if only I were a conspiracy theorist in good standing. But really – by the cold, clear light of morning it will become clear that this is just all a coincidence, and that these guys are just trying to make an honest living by protecting Americans from genuine threats. Surely they can't be taking orders from Jerusalem as to which American political groups are dangerous and threaten their interests. I mean... surely they can't have penetrated that far into our power structure. Right?

One good thing about this story – and the reason why it refuses to just vanish with the next news cycle – is the sheer number and diversity of the groups that were being spied and reported on. Just about everyone in Pennsylvania who is not a brain-dead straight-line voter is going to have a bone to pick with at least one of these revelations – which is, I'm sure, why the state government has decided to pursue the matter rather than just let it wither on the vine as usual. Not that this means anything will come of it – but it will, at least, take a bit longer to disappear down the memory hole. A few people will persist in wondering why one of our “allies” deems it necessary to spy on, and police, American citizens. Well, I mean, if they're better conspiracy theorists than I am.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In the Mahmoud

“Out of the mouths of babes...”, as the saying goes – or, in this case, of the president of Iran, who is fast becoming a kind of contrarian, underground hero for voicing opinions that are otherwise silenced on the world stage. His specialty seems to be bearding the lion in its den – in the present case the U.N., which is, despite all the huffing and puffing by the likes of John Bolton, basically a puppet theater set up on the east side of Manhattan by the U.S. Government for its own amusement. To all the calls to “get the U.S. out of the U.N.”, the reply should be, “but the U.N. _is_ the U.S. Without the U.S. the U.N. would not exist, nor would it need to.”

But setting aside that species of common sense for the time being, how about the latest salvo from Ahmadinejad, just blocks (OK, miles) from Ground Zero? According to an AP summary article, he provided three possible scenarios for the 9/11 attacks:

(1) A “powerful and complex terrorist group” penetrated U.S. intelligence and defenses. (This would be the official story, except for the “powerful and complex” part. Remember, these were guys with box cutters, right? And they didn't really "penetrate" anything; they just "slipped through". There's a big difference, don'tcha know.)

(2) “... some segments within the U.S. Government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view.” (This is the point at which the U.S. delegation walked out in a huff – not on their own initiative, you may be assured, but by explicit instructions from the gnomes in the White House.)

(3) The attack was the work of “a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation.” (This is, of course, the leading scenario among “conspiracy theorists”, but certainly not the only one, and there are countless variations on each scenario.)

Well, of course walking out in a pout whenever we hear things we don't like is standard procedure at the U.N. Clearly, no one is worried that by doing so they might miss something – like a “key vote” of some sort. (And BTW, did the Israeli delegation walk out? Not that I'm aware. They hang tough.) But another interpretation is that Mahmoud hit a nerve. It's hard to say who's more “paranoid” these days – the conspiracy theorists or the anti-conspiracy theorists. Certainly the latter are more thin-skinned and easily offended – and what makes it remarkable is that we are dealing with an entirely different administration than the one that was in power at the time of 9/11. Or are we? That is, of course, another point I have dealt with exhaustively – that there is really only one Regime, and therefore only one administration, which just keeps rolling along no matter which party is nominally in power. So things that would have offended Bush & Co. are just as offensive to Obama & Co., because all are equally guilty and all have the same things to lose if the truth were ever to come out. This notion on the part of each party that the other party is “evil” is nothing more than playacting – it's a schoolyard game played by a bunch of pygmies who are all working for the same master, but who squabble over pathetic perks of power and fame. They are like piglets vying for the top teat when, in fact, all the teats provide the same nourishment – or, in this case, poison.

And needless to say, despite the juvenile exertions of the U.S. delegation, there are millions – perhaps tens of millions – of Americans who agree with Ahmadinejad on one or more points. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, throw an apple core out any car window and you're going to hit someone who believes the U.S. Government was deeply involved in the attacks – not just in the aftermath but in the actual events. And this is not because Americans are natural-born conspiracy theorists; far from it. Americans are notorious the world over, and historically, for their touching, naïve belief in government as a source of not only security but of truth. So to generate this much skepticism, the official explanation of an event must have been at least as outrageous as the event itself... added to which, our system is showing much more rot and corruption on a daily basis than it did in November of 1963, for example. And in a funny kind of way, Americans are tougher now – at least tougher-minded. After the JFK assassination, we turned, as a nation, into infantile, quivering, fear-wracked blobs of protoplasm. All anyone wanted was an explanation – any explanation, no matter how wildly improbable – for what had happened, which was “unthinkable” in any case. And this is, of course, the time-honored technique of tyrannies down through history – do the unthinkable, tell the big lie, and sure enough, no one will think – everyone's brains will be short-circuited. So now we have an “economic crisis” that is barely “thinkable” if you accept the conventional wisdom... but unthinkable if you start really thinking about it. Which means that the “unthinkable” explanation – i.e. the real one – will never be seriously considered. Likewise, when it came to anything but the “lone nut with a gun” behind the JFK assassination, the public turned into that trio of monkeys... and when it came to 9/11, we developed a case of mass denial, which was just what the powers that be had in mind. So it takes a “clown” like Ahmadinejad to peek behind the curtain and point out that there is most definitely “a there there”. Actually, I would rather think of him as a court jester – you know, the guy who... well, really, the only guy who could tell the truth without getting his head cut off. This was a valuable commodity in days of old; too bad the position has remained vacant in Washington for way too long, and it's too bad it takes a scruffy little guy from halfway around the world to fill the position on a temporary basis -- and in a place of ill-repute like the U.N. to boot.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nattering Nabobs (and Others)

Herewith, a few "bullets" and comments, based on various current headlines and articles in the mainstream media -- which occasionally allow the truth to slip out unnoticed:

“TARP chief bails as program wraps up.” I'm assuming that he's already enrolled in the witness protection program...

Oh, and by the way, TARP and similar programs are now being characterized as "taxpayer investments”. Well, fine, then. When can I expect my dividend check?

Quoth Raul Castro: “We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working.” Gosh, did he forget about the European Union? And about the U.S.?

From my home-town newspaper, a citizen describes a derelict building: “Once the roof structure is gone, it's like a box,” he said. “With heavy snows, it could implode in or out.” Um... I'd like to see something implode “out”, wouldn't you?

Columnist John Browne points out that government economic stimulus packages “can be justified only if a government's secret agenda is to erode an economy and reduce it to state control.” Hmmm...

Quoth General Petraeus: “You have to recognize that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting... This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives.” We used to lock people like this up in insane asylums – now we put them in charge of wars.

The mayor of Moscow has called homosexuals “satanic” -- and guess what, he hasn't been recalled. Which proves, for better or worse, that there is more freedom of speech in Russia than in the U.S.

“Iranian leader blames capitalism for poverty.” Sounds like he's been doing some reading in Catholic social teaching. I think the Church needs to open a dialog with this guy.

“According to security software maker F-Secure Corp., the shortest [computer] virus so far was just 22 characters long.” That's about the size of George W. Bush's genome.

“The Defense Department declined to comment immediately after the vote [on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”], in an effort to be cautious in the face of the controversy surrounding it.” Which is another way of saying they're waiting to see which side is going to win, at which point they'll jump right up and claim that, indeed, that is the position they've always had and continue to support. Funny how “civilian control” so often makes political slaves and cowards out of our military...

Pat Buchanan points out that American blacks have, by and large, been left on the church steps by the Obama administration. Well sure – who needs a bunch of people with no economic clout who can't even be relied on to vote? Plus, as I've pointed out before, the American system requires a permanent underclass – that's just the way things are set up. And Obama is securely a part of that system. (Plus, let's not forget, he's “not really black”. At least that's what all the “black leadership” said about him during the 2008 campaign.)

And on a related topic, George Will quotes Prof. Nathan Glazer, who “considers it a 'paradox' that the election of Barack Obama 'coincided with the almost complete disappearance from American public life of discussion of the black condition and what public policy might do to improve it'.” Well, as I've said before, this is a variation on the fact that the “homeless” always magically disappear whenever a Democrat becomes president, and just as magically reappear the minute a Republican does. You see, there are always victim groups waiting in the wings to be marched out to give everyone a case of liberal guilt when the greedy Republicans are in charge – because, as we all, know, they are cold and indifferent to the plight of the poor and/or homeless and/or black – and all this talk about “compassionate conservatism” is a total sham. The Democrats, on the other hand, have such awesome humanitarian powers that they can, in an instant, eliminate poverty and discrimination and homelessness – as long as they are kept in office, that is. So don't you dare ever vote them out of office, because, if you do, all these troublesome groups will reappear overnight and once again lie heavily on your conscience.

An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites “could drag U.S. into war”. It wouldn't if we didn't want to be dragged...

A political leader in Japan characterized Americans as “simple-minded”, and said, “I like Americans, but they are somewhat monocellular.” Wow – he obviously watches way too much American television (especially news programming).

“Children tossing grenades make it difficult to trust the villagers [in Afghanistan].” Yeah – this is obviously not your grandfather's war. Just forget about the Hershey bars...

The growth rate of Pentagon spending “is expected to slow to 1 percent as the wars wind down”. That's adjusting for inflation. But 1% growth is still growth. The leadership is silent as to why our defense establishment needs to enjoy continual growth even in the unlikely event we get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will, according to Bloomberg News, be “an independent agency housed at the Federal Reserve.” Um, yeah... sort of like having a VD clinic in a brothel. Lots of luck getting anything of value out of that agency...

From the always-quotable Pat Buchanan: “To the Republican establishment, tea party people are field hands.” I couldn't have put it better myself – although I have tried.

And a quote from Pope Benedict XVI: “Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection.” We all know what those “self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms” are – they're the things, like the games and circuses of old, that distract us and keep us from pondering our loss of true liberty.

One Slave, One Vote

It's a dreary prospect we're facing in a few short weeks – either we elect, or re-elect, “the people who got us into this mess in the first place”, or we elect or re-elect the people who are doing everything they can to get us out of this mess – and, as a result, are creating an even bigger mess. This is, of course, assuming the American public has been thoroughly inoculated against considering third parties – Libertarian, Constitution, what not – that might actually have some answers, and constructive solutions. So basically, as the dog returneth to his vomit, so will the American citizen return to his folly – i.e., the folly of supporting one of two indistinguishable parties (or one-half of the ruling party, however you want to think of it). And one can say, well, if that defines the limit of their vision, then surely they deserve whatever comes out of it – which is perfectly true, but one must also take into account the fact that the American public is, by and large, grossly deceived, misled, and lied to at every turn. Consider, for example, the “mainstream media”, AKA “the voice of the ruling elite”. This is where most people get most, if not all, of their information on political matters – and if they don't exercise around-the-clock skepticism, it's no wonder they march to the polls with a bunch of propaganda-based delusions churning around in their heads. Take anyone who uses the term “cut and run”, for example – his brain has already been captured; he's one of the pod people. Or, how about that term we strangely seem to hear less of nowadays -- “Islamofascism”? You show me someone who uses that term in anything but a satirical way, and I'll show you someone who has been turned into a gibbering idiot by the media – which means, by the administration – which means, by the ruling elite. And of course the ultimate shibboleth (I use the term advisedly) when it comes to foreign affairs is an individual's opinion about Israel – and the beauty of this is that it is probably the one issue which features the largest gap between what people are willing to say and their real feelings. (A much bigger gap than the race issue, for certain!) But this in its own right is a sign of total dominance by the ruling elite and those who manipulate the language. When else in history has the majority of the population of any nation been willing to sacrifice that nation's interests, as well as their own, in the service of another nation – and not even a nearby one, but one halfway around the world? And one that, moreover, shows us more signs of hostility than of friendship? As I've said before, I consider this an unprecedented event in all of human history... and yet it's happening, on daily basis, right under our noses, and no one can do anything about it because the majority have bought in to the delusion – or if not bought in, are too intimidated to speak out against it.

Thus, the American public – the voters – are, in effect, captives. They march off to the polls with their heads full of delusions, propaganda, and mostly fear... and vote accordingly. And the result of their vote is heralded as a “mandate”, when all it is is a tale told by an idiot – or by a few million idiots. It would be much healthier, and more honest, to simply do away with elections altogether – do away with the ritual, the fetish, the pretense – and admit that we have become a nation of captives, or slaves, who are of value only insofar as they serve the purposes of the non-elected ruling elite. But this would never do, because it's that very delusion that serves as an anaesthetic of sorts to keep people numb and ignorant as to the games the power elite are playing. And we know this is the main point when we see how the establishment reacts on those rare occasions when some of the citizenry start to wander off the reservation – and I'm not talking about third-party members here, who are easily labeled as “cranks”. I'm talking about the “tea partiers” -- and despite the media's stereotype of them as inbred, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging bigots, they are probably just about as “normal” or “average” a group of people as has hit the streets during our lifetime. And this in itself is significant. Since when has a demographic that one might have described, up until recently, as the ultimate in “contented” Americans decided to take up arms (or at least protest signs) and risk being put on the FBI's and DHS's lists of “suspected terrorists”? Thing must be in awfully bad shape for that to have happened – and, sure enough, the tea party line is that things are, indeed, in bad enough shape for the middle middle class to get up off their couches and do something. The problem is that this “something”, while it seems impressive to the participants, and seems to be driving the media up the wall, does not really amount to much, and in the long run will be, at best, remembered as the final, last gasp of a popular delusion – namely, that we have a government of, by, and for the people. Like a terminally ill patient who has one last burst of energy and clarity, the heretofore-silent majority has had the scales fall at least partially from their eyes and are voicing their indignation – but it's too late. They're already on the train to the extermination camps, and all the clarity in the world isn't going to stop, or even slow, the process. And the ruling elite sits on their thrones (in Washington, New York, Brussels, the Hague, Zurich, Tel Aviv, etc.) in complete serenity, viewing the scene with contempt, but even more with amusement. They look at the tea party rallies the way one would look at an anthill – it seems big and important to the ants, but we know better.

But then the question arises, if that is the case why do the media even bother to spend every moment deriding and defaming the “tea parties”? Well – for one thing, that is what they do; they have been trained to it from birth. And for another thing, it is slightly more convenient for the ruling elite not to have too many people up in arms, taking off work, marching on Washington, and what not. It's inefficient, don't you know – you can't have the petite bourgeois jumping out of its box every five minutes, because it is still, unfortunately, their labor that is the lifeblood of the economic system. If the ruling elite could get along with no middle class at all, they would, believe me – and this process is well underway, as we can see... but it has a long way to go. The main thing at this point is to preserve middle-class attitudes, even among slaves. It's not so much a matter of standard of living as of attitude; this is something that totalitarian governments have known for nigh unto a hundred years now. The proletariat are much too volatile and non-dependable, so you can't count on them in the long run. (Plus so many of them are just plain lazy -- there, I said it.) They're good cannon fodder for revolution and “social change”, but they don't have what it takes to hold a system together. In particular, you can't count on them to support "revolution within the form". For that, you need a thoroughly-brainwashed “bourgeoisie-in-spirit”, even if their actual resources are not significantly better than those of the proletariat. And this model is not theoretical – far from it! It was put into meticulous practice by the Soviets, and with considerable success. (Note that more radical regimes, like China, Cambodia, Cuba, and North Korea, did away with the middle class altogether – economically, socially, and attitudinally – but that turned out to be a self-defeating move in every instance, as far as I can tell.)

So we have before us a society – a system – that exhibits what I consider the most important aspect of Orwell's “1984” society, but one that has been almost totally neglected in discussions of that work – namely a middle class sustained by illusion (and delusion), a coldly realistic ruling elite, and a proletariat that has its memes but is, overall, much less deluded than the middle class. You want to find someone who “tells it like it is” -- forget the suburbs, go into the inner city. There is where the truth lies, in all its wretched glory. And this is why – among many other reasons – the establishment has such a hard time convincing the “proles” to vote – because they have at least a glimpse of the truth... enough of one to understand that the era of “the people” is long gone – assuming it ever existed.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Electoral Dysfunction: Take Two

If I had to write a generic campaign statement for any Democratic candidate, it would be: “Elect me so I can keep fixing the horrible mess the Republicans got us into.” OK, that's clear enough... includes both hope and change... et cetera. But the generic statement for the Republicans is a bit tougher. One possibility is, “Elect me so we can go back to the Bush policies.” Um... I don't think that's gonna fly. It isn't just Democratic propaganda that has Bush leading us to the brink of disaster; he really did – or, rather, he led us not to the brink but over the cliff. Well then, how about “Elect me so I can stop the Democrats from fixing the horrible mess my party got us into.” Um... no. OK, then how about this -- “Elect me so I can fix the horrible mess my party got us into, but in a different way than the Democrats (unspecified).” Implication – there's a better way of fixing things than the Democrat policies, which are not fixing things at all. That's a valid point, but what would cause anyone to think the Republicans have a better idea? Did any of them ever talk back to Bush? Or to whoever was really in charge? And most of the Democrat “fixes” were initiated under Bush anyway – the main contribution of the Democrats has been to attach rocket boosters to them. The Democrats are, in other words, Republicans on amphetamines – so it becomes not a matter of “what” but “how fast”... and I suppose a cynic would prefer the Democrats since their policies will bring the whole system down faster that the Republicans would. And this is a valid point too, except that it's been tried before, with no success. The only thing that “public opinion” has had a significant effect on in my memory is the war in Vietnam – and even then, it was less about war per se than about the draft. We found out how much Democrats hate war when Clinton started mucking around in Serbia... and now that Obama is securely entrenched in Iraq and Afghanistan we can be even more certain.

So what I'm saying is that, “tea parties” notwithstanding, the Republicans don't really have a coherent platform this time around; most of what they say amounts to “We're less awful that the Democrats.” Right. That'll win you a lot of votes. I mean, you can't say that you're against fixing things – especially things that started going wrong under Bush. But then if you turn around and claim that you would be better at fixing those things than the Democrats are, people are just going to laugh. And frankly, a year and a half really isn't all that much time to fix The Greatest Economic Crisis Since The Depression (so-called)... and I suspect that most people are willing to cut the Democrats a bit more slack. After all, it took the Republicans eight years to screw things up, etc. And frankly, did any of the “tea partiers”, AKA “normal people”, vote Democratic in 2008? Highly doubtful. Which means, basically, that the bulk of Obama's support then still exists now – except for the far left, who might just stay home (because who else are they going to vote for? Lyndon LaRouche?)... and the “Anyone But McCain” crowd who might now have morphed into the “Anyone But The Democrats” crowd, since they are, basically, disillusioned with government in general (and rightly so). And yes, it does make sense to always vote against incumbents – a sort of grass-roots version of term limits. The original concept of American government did not entail a class of career politicians – people who were otherwise productive would serve their time, and then return to their customary pursuits, and government would be, in a sense, ever-new and characterized by, if you will, “creative destruction”, AKA “turbulence”. But instead, we have a Senate that resembles nothing so much as a mausoleum, and a House of Representatives that looks like Pee-wee's Playhouse (but without the humor). Only the presidency has been blessed with term limits, after a mighty struggle with the forces of monarchism under FDR – but the fact that we elect a king every eight years, who can be dethroned and replaced halfway through his eight-year term... this leads me to question the amount of power an American president really has, as opposed to figurehead status. One day you can be on top of the world, and the next day you can be nothing... a has-been, a lame duck – while still in office! And then see what happens when you retire; that's, if anything, even worse. I have to grant both Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter credit in that they're among the more creative ex-presidents we have had; they're actually making what appears (to the gullible) to be a contribution. Most of the others have clambered up a wall, sunk into a picture frame, and there they sit for the rest of their days (and beyond).

But I have saved the best for last, as is my wont. And that has to do with the attitudes of the two major parties toward the “tea parties”. And again, the Democratic position is quite simple and clear-cut – the “tea partiers” are, to a man (or woman), right-wing nut cases, bigots, racists, “haters”, homophobes, sexists (including the women), reactionaries, and... wow, it's a good thing they don't have any real power! But in the best totalitarian fashion, this is not enough for the Washington establishment or the media – the tea partiers have to be derided and defamed at all times, lest their twisted ideas spread even further. They have to be made the out-group, the pariahs, the Jonahs, the enemy of all that is good and humanistic and enlightened – of polite society, 2010-style, in other words. And once this is accomplished, they have to be hounded out of existence, starting with "public opinion" and then morphing into various subtle and not-so-subtle sanctions by the government. But all of this is relatively easy to do – you just start calling names, and who has the time or energy to contradict you? And can the tea partiers prove they're not racists, for example? No? Well then, that's proof that they are. Et cetera.

But here's the rub. The Republicans don't know what to do with, or about, the tea partiers, and they are showing signs of extreme discomfort. (I think of it as on the same level as a guy whose ex-girlfriend shows up at his wedding with a baby in her arms.) For one thing, there is a substantial overlap between the tea party demographic and a large part of the Republican base. And guess what, both groups describe themselves as “conservative”, so what's not to like? Well... for one thing, much of what the tea partiers are criticizing can be laid at the feet of the Republicans just as readily as the Democrats – although you won't normally hear this mentioned at a tea party rally. This country did not turn to state socialism on Inauguration Day 2009 – although to hear Glenn Beck, you'd think it had. The roots of our current crisis go back many decades, and the most the Republicans have ever managed to do is slow down the process a bit... and, of late, they haven't even done that. You make me a list of totalitarian symptoms that this nation suffers from, and I'll divide it right down the middle between Democrat and Republican administrations, in terms of when it originated. And how much faith, after all, can people have in a party that has said or implied, over and over again, that “We're almost as good as the Democrats”? (Almost as compassionate, almost as tolerant, almost as humanistic, etc.) The Republicans are, basically, drowning in a pool of their own mediocrity and cowardice – which is why any encounter with the tea partiers leaves them feeling fearful and guilty. Fearful because the tea partiers are at least saying the right words about the right things (even if they leave some things out) – and that means big trouble for the Republican establishment, for whom “complacent” is a gross understatement. And guilty because the tea partiers are, most of the time, talking like real conservatives and not like neocons – i.e. wolves in sheep's clothing who mouth conservative words on the domestic front while pursuing empire overseas. And those words they mouth on the domestic front result in little or no action – because, guess what, they don't really believe in them. They're just using them to drag the “values” crowd along; problem is, the “values” crowd has started to wander off the reservation and form tea parties. And as I have said, their positions are inconsistent and fatally flawed – which means there is no real future in the movement. But they can constitute a considerable inconvenience in the short run, as they seem to be doing in various places around the country, judging by primary results.

But then one has to reflect, if the Republicans have, at least temporarily, lost a good chunk of their base, doesn't this benefit the Democrats? And of course it does, and the Democrats know it, and so do the Republicans – and so do the tea partiers, but they don't care, because they are trying to make a point, and they may realize, on some level, that they are no worse off under the Democrats than they were under the Republicans. They are, in other words, engaged in their own version of creative destruction, which, I guess, is what third parties always do. They try to pull, or sway, or push, one of the major parties in a certain direction, but what they mostly accomplish is a temporary shift in vocabulary, after which things go back to business as usual. The tea partiers have, in fact, taught the Republicans a few new words... but they will be promptly forgotten as soon as the votes are counted. But this is not to say that the major parties are incapable of change. The Republicans are more collectivist than ever at this point... and the Democrats are more totally the captives of the financial interests than ever. So in this sense, they have merged into a single entity, and I challenge anyone to show me a significant difference – not in words but in action. This is why the hand-off from Bush to Obama was so seamless; you'd have thought they were in the same party... which, the way I see it, they were. Obama even kept the same secretary of defense! Catch Carter doing that after he took over from Ford. So really, it's time to forget about these labels, and about “red” and “blue”. The only distinction that makes any sense is, is one for liberty or not? And the tea partiers seem to be, but, as I've said, they are fatally compromised by their zeal for the American Empire. So in that sense, the major parties and the tea partiers are all in the same boat – they all want big government, and the differences are those of priorities, i.e. what the big government of their dreams should do first.

The remaining question is, what happens after the election? Well, as I said, nothing of any importance is going to change, either on the domestic side or the foreign policy side; each of those is a monolith of established, immovable programs, which means that any changes that are made will be trivial and at the margins – and certainly not worth all the debate that will undoubtedly go into them. Now, as to the parties, the Democrats will retain their base, consisting primarily of unions, government employees, “minorities” (which is more a state of mind than a statement of fact), and tax receivers. Fortunately for the Democrats, when you add up those demographics, you wind up with a majority of voters – so their fortunes seem secure for a long time to come. Now, as for the Republicans... well, first let's go back to the “tea partiers”. None of these people is a true radical – by which I mean, when the going gets tough they'll head for home... for the TV, the rec room, the soccer field, and the ol' fishin' hole. They don't have the inclination to tough it out in an unheated garret all winter long the way guys like Lenin did – and they're not about to take to the streets if there's a chance of real blood being shed. They will never, in other words, risk their lives or their fortunes. They are, in this sense, “summertime soldiers” -- and I'm not saying I blame them; it's just the way things are. They are, after all, “bourgeois”. The rich and powerful don't take risks; they don't have to. And the proles have nothing to lose. It's only the middle class that is required to live in a state of fear – because they have everything to lose (or so they think). And actually, I give them credit – for finally speaking up, after all these years... but it's too late; their threshold of outrage was way too high. All the true radicals in this country are still either with the Democrats (but very uneasily) or with the libertarians or paleocon organizations; you will not find a single one among the Republicans, or the tea partiers.

So what, after all, will become of the tea partiers after this election? Will they still be around in 2012? Well, how long did the “Republican Revolution” last? I rest my case. Bill Clinton was, after all, re-elected a mere two years later. These mid-first-term elections are invariably an occasion on which to express buyer's remorse – except that, eventually, people start to realize that it doesn't make any difference whom you vote for; the system is set up to operate completely independently of the whims, impulses, and desires of the electorate (and when you consider what some of those entail, it's small wonder that things have evolved to this point). But it wouldn't do to be too simplistic about this; I suspect a lot of the fate of the tea parties will hinge on how “their” candidates do in November. If, as seems likely, most of them lose, then the movement will be cheerfully discredited by both major parties, and it will be a return to business as usual. If a substantial number should win, they will still be a tiny minority in Congress and in state houses, and are unlikely to stir things up very much. So in either case this pseudo-third party called “the tea party” will itself split, even as it now threatens to split the Republicans; half of them will slouch back into the Republican fold after having been duly chastised, and the other half will resume their status as “independents”, i.e. “powerless and proud of it”. Third parties, or pseudo-third parties, as an effective political force, don't tend to last very long; one election cycle is about the limit. And it's not that they don't have good ideas; they're usually the only people around with _any_ ideas. It's just that major parties = power (or an illusion thereof) without principles, and third parties = principles without power... and most Americans, sadly, prefer the former – if they have any preference at all.

So in that sense, the current moral stagnation is a self-inflicted wound. Sure, it was aided and abetted by our “leaders” over the years, but they were, after all, allowed to run roughshod with nary a peep of protest from the citizenry. So now, with Americans in a weakened state both morally and economically, the powers that be – having long-since consolidated their power – are moving in for the kill... for the “final solution to the bourgeoisie problem” as I call it. They have, in their cross-hairs, everything the middle class holds dear, basically – except the American Empire, which is something nearly everyone agrees on. So for their good foot-soldiering in the cause of empire, the ruling elite is rewarding the middle class with, first, demoralization, then impoverishment, then extinction. So that's the thanks we get! But it does illustrate, to those with a very long-term historical perspective, the notion that the rise and prospering of the middle class was, in fact, a relatively unique event in history, made possible by a unique combination of events. The baseline for humanity, however – which we are rapidly returning to – seems to be the ancient system of a ruling elite and a vast array of slaves. And even our vaunted middle class is living a life of slavery in most respects; no one should be fooled by a few superficial “freedoms” and material comforts. Just see what happens when the scales fall from a few people's eyes and they start to see – however dimly – how the matrix works. Then you get “tea parties”, and the Regime goes into red alert – this, of all things, is the one thing that cannot be tolerated or allowed to stand. In the classic totalitarian model, no one cares what the proles think, because they don't think, by and large. But the middle class – ah! As Orwell so presciently pointed out, that's where the “hearts and minds” have to be won – or if not won, then crushed by fear and anesthetized by propaganda and delusion. Seen in this light, our present-day political process is succeeding admirably. If one can forget about individual politicians – faces and personalities, lies and promises – and focus on the big picture, we see that the system is working precisely as intended... and with greater efficiency with each passing day. Individual politicians don't count any more than individual citizens do – less, in a way, since their life cycle is blessedly short in most cases; they are set up as servants to the Regime... used... exploited... then discarded. That, at least, is some consolation – that their lot is, in a way, more to be pitied than our own.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Electoral Dysfunction

I just love the fact that politicians are frantically trying to define a “stance” in anticipation of the fall elections. Problem is, every time one pol thinks he or she has a stance, someone on the other side shifts, and then they go back to square one. It's like what happens along the line of scrimmage just before the snap. Shift, shift, dart, jostle, false start, etc. Look at Boehner, for instance – he's for tax cuts, which really means for leaving the tax rates alone, but he can live without some of them as long as he gets others, and... which demographic is he most afraid of? Which demographic is Obama most afraid of, for that matter? He keeps sweet-talking the middle class, which he obviously despises, while at the same time doing everything in his power to exterminate it. And the proletariat? They've apparently been left behind in the dust. For one thing, they don't vote – at least not in the same numbers as the middles. And, guess what, there are still more middle class people in this country than any other single group. So Obama has to steel himself, control his urge to become violently ill, and address a bunch of soccer moms and back-yard-BBQ dads on the lawn of some tacky suburban house outside Washington, DC. Oh, the humiliation! Is this the price one pays for (alleged) power? I think Nelson Rockefeller had an easier time scarfing down Coney Island hot dogs and Broadway blintzes than Obama has talking to the bourgeoisie.

Plus, Obama has already left his hard-core leftist supporters behind in his zeal to be a good and faithful servant to the powers that be (Wall Street and the international financial cartel) – and some of them have even taken notice! But what can they do? And the “tea partiers” know that he is about as good for them as a case of dengue fever... so all he has left, really, is the traditional “rainbow coalition” of tax receivers, rent seekers, and race hustlers – and even they aren't showing all that much enthusiasm. For one thing, the widespread expectation was that the minute Obama got into office, he would cut them all a fat check and start providing free medical care. Yeah, that's really what a lot of them thought! But things didn't quite work out that way. First he had to bail out the banks, big business, and the financial sector... and make sure that all those golden parachutes stayed golden, and didn't turn to lead. And he did this with remarkable success, by the way... which is why Wall Street is strangely silent going into this election, as to whom they might prefer as a candidate, or which party they might favor. Small business owners, of course, see Obama & Co. as a plague like unto the Huns, and rightly so. But you see, their problem is that (1) they're members of the bourgeoisie; (2) they're not organized into an effective lobby or pressure group; (3) they're not used to bribing or blackmailing politicians, the way the big boys are; (4) they don't have the international connections; (5) they tend to be, and vote, “conservative”; and – worst of all – (6) they represent traditional American values, as opposed to state socialism or collectivism. All of which adds up to their having a very large target painted on them. You see, they are, in this day and age, an anachronism – a holdover from an earlier time. Nowadays, the future lies in being a member of one of two classes – the serf class or the controller class. A serf is secure because – at least so far – he is needed as either labor, cannon fodder, or a member of a victim group. A member of the controller class is secure because... well, because they're in charge, OK? But the middle class is a blight on the controllers' otherwise pure view of the world – which is why they have to be brought to heel, demoralized, and ultimately eliminated. And this is why the “tea parties” have caused such consternation among the ruling elite and their media servants – because the bourgeoisie are not going gentle into that good night (of oblivion); rather, they are raging against the dying of liberty. And their rage, as I have pointed out, is marked with futility, since they at the same time hold onto impossible dreams of empire and American exceptionalism – and you cannot have those without also tolerating overpowering and intimidating government at all levels. So their protestations are doomed to defeat – even if they had any residual power, which they don't. (I hope I don't need to mention that the “power of the ballot box”, so-called, has long since been neutralized by the Regime. No matter who you're voting for, you're always voting for their candidate.)

And guess what, even Democrat programs that were supposed to win over “the people” aren't all that popular – starting with ObamaCare. The public schools are still an intractable disaster, despite “No Child Left Behind”, which was a Bush program anyway, so it's highly suspect... and nothing that might really help the working classes is up for consideration. The unions form an aristocracy of sorts, but they are a small minority of the work force. Right now we're in a state of suspense waiting for one or both of the inevitable disasters to occur – massive inflation and more massive taxation. But so far the powers that be are holding off, waiting until the American people and the American economy are firmly in their grip – then it will be time to reap the grim harvest. Every dollar (or yuan, whatever) that the administration borrows becomes part of a very large hammer aimed at the heads of all Americans – except those who are in on the game, of course. They are above it all... and their assaults on the rest of us could be seen as treason, except for the fact that the government is in on it. “If treason prosper, none dare call it treason” -- this should be the official motto of the combined Republican and Democratic parties. But that would require much more honesty than they possess.

And speaking of the Republicans, they think they're going to ride to victory in November based on their hard-hitting critiques of Obama & Co. Problem is – Obama is at least half right when he says that he inherited all his problems from the Bush administration. He did inherit most of them, and has created a few more out of thin air... and he has certainly done nothing to alleviate the ones he inherited... but none of that matters, as long as you can put the right person or people on the blame line. And the Republicans' argument starts to wear a bit thin based not only on this but on the fact they they continue to tacitly support the twin wars, which are the single biggest detractor from our prosperity and fiscal sanity. So really, they have no good arguments for overthrowing Obama & Co. and re-installing themselves – because nothing would change, except maybe for the increased possibility that we would start a war with Iran, and that's all we need at this point. It seems that the Republicans' evil has finally overtaken their stupidity... even though their stupidity is still a major driving force in everything they say and do. The Democrats are at least master politicians – masters of deception, propaganda, and doling out verbal and conceptual whiplash. Their one disadvantage is that they are constantly forced to act in direct contradiction to their “traditional” liberal values – but I guess when you're a relativist to the core, that sort of thing doesn't cause as much pain as it might to someone with real principles.

So the run-up to the elections is characterized by a flagrant and scandalous show of spin-doctoring, flip-flopping, and general inanity. Everything in Washington suddenly has to be done either before the elections, just in time for the elections, or put off until after the elections. And yet this transparent power-at-any-price choreography doesn't seem to scandalize the general public in the least; they have come to expect it, and, in fact, the smart ones try to take advantage of it. And each faction hopes that they will be the ones to tip the balance – which means that they will be “owed” something by whoever wins. Again, all politics, no principle. The sad truth is, even if both houses of Congress go over to the Republicans, nothing significant is going to change, since the two parties long since agreed to stop differing on substantive issues, and fight all their bogus battles at the margins, over trivia. The two-party system has become a one-party system, and Job One for everybody is keeping it that way. Even the “tea parties”, that seem to have everyone so upset, have been fatally compromised by their zeal for the American Empire... and there is no one else out there who is rocking the boat. So this election, despite all the heated rhetoric, is fated to be an exercise in blandness and inanity, no matter how it comes out. And when it finally dawns on people that our situation is truly hopeless, they will lose interest in politics altogether – which is exactly what those in charge want.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the Eve of Destruction

As 9-11 + 9 years approaches, we're whirling about in a tempest in a teapot caused by a small Florida church and the response by a 4-star general... all of which, if you used it as a plot device in a satirical movie, would be denounced as too wildly improbable to even make good satire. And yet there it is – along with President Obama's repeated claims that his policies are good for both the middle class and small business (even though they are designed to destroy both)... and that it's selfish of people to want their taxes lowered below a confiscatory rate that would cause revolutions in most countries... and that government-run health care will be cheaper than that mean-spirited old private-sector stuff... and so on. In any case, it's very clever how he's stealing the thunder of so many Republicans and/or “conservatives” on so many issues... and the issues that remain are ones that the Republicans and/or “conservatives” won't come anywhere near – like the twin wars, which they seem to have forgotten even exist. They've gone down the memory hole, kind of like the homeless always do whenever a Democrat is elected president. Suddenly, the homeless disappear from sight (or at least from the sight of the media), and don't reappear until a Republican takes over... and then we find out that they were there all along, but somehow, magically, invisible. Well, as long as Obama is in office, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be invisible to the Republicans – i.e., they will continue to be supported but they will somehow be completely separated from the administration in people's minds. As far as the Republicans are concerned, when it comes to the wars, Bush is still president -- and, in a way, they're right.

Maybe the true talent of both Republicans and Democrats is that they can make problems appear and disappear at will... which is perfectly justifiable considering that the vast majority of what are called “problems” or “issues” in our society are ones that the average citizen has never experienced – at least not directly – and, if the media didn't tell him they were problems, he wouldn't even know they existed. They are like some rare disease that only comes to one's attention when you see a collection can on the counter at the 7-11 -- “Help support little Timmy Slackowicki's brave fight against fractial luminosis” -- whatever on earth that is. It's probably just a fancier term for plantar warts. And so it is with government programs – they exist to solve “problems” that are barely on radar for most people, or that may not exist at all. Think of all the new mystery diseases and “epidemics” that are constantly bubbling up, then forgotten within a few months. And all the “threats to the environment” -- which, if they were all real, would have dealt the environment a death blow decades ago. And how about the “economic crisis” and all of its marvelous, ever-evolving facets? And then Obama gets offended when the average citizen retreats to his basement with an armful of freeze-dried food and curls up on the floor in a fetal position; that's exactly what the “State of Fear” is designed to accomplish! -- a citizenry that is petrified... afraid of its own shadow. Not panic-stricken, mind you – that's much too messy, too hard to control. No one wants middle-class riots (as if!) -- I mean, the “tea parties” and Glenn Beck rallies have the establishment freaked out as it is. No, the administration can't spend every waking hour sounding the tocsin and waving the white flag of despair and capitulation, then get offended when people take it seriously. Either there's hope or there isn't; don't expect people to fall for all the “nuance” that Obama represents, when the sum total of his public pronouncements on any given day leaves the average citizen uncertain as to whether to open a bottle of champagne or jump off a cliff. If you want to keep people off balance and perpetually stressed out, then you should be ready to accept the consequences – if not, then move over and let someone else take command for a while.

But in the midst of it all, there is hope – not for things improving, but at least for some things to remain amusing enough to distract us from the rest. Out of a luxurious selection, I offer the following:

0 Hillary Clinton is now calling the drug wars in Mexico an “insurgency” -- which implies that the drug lords are trying to take over the Mexican government. This is patently not the case; for one thing, why would they want to take that drastic a pay cut? And it's much better to keep the current government in place, but get free rein through the usual means of bribery, threats, intimidation, and blackmail. I mean... that's how a lot of things get done up here; why can't Mexico follow our lead? But actually, I suspect that Hillary's stylings are a way to get us involved militarily down there – I mean, after all, we hate insurgency wherever and whenever it takes place, right? Especially when it's against a government that, basically, exists to do our bidding (or vice versa). Yeah... it's gonna be the Opium Wars all over again, except in reverse. And we'll be propping up a government most of which is on the take from the other side. The good news is that we can transplant our Afghanistan strategy intact into Mexico; we won't have to change a thing.

o On the other hand, knowing Hillary, I'll bet she could fight the insurgency single-handed, Wonder Woman-style. Or at the very least, with Janet Reno as her sidekick. Now that would be TV worth watching!

o Among the many things I'm glad I lived long enough to see, toward the top of the list is Fidel Castro's recent admission that the Cuban economic system no longer works. (He remains silent as to whether it ever did.) Hey, you know – regrets delayed are better than no regrets at all. Who knew that sanity might set in at his advanced age? But what it means is that we have entered a strange new through-the-looking-glass era where many American politicians and academicians are now to the political left of Fidel Castro. They're the ones who still believe that communism would have worked out just fine if only “we” had given it a chance. But actually, we did give it a chance; we fought World War II to make the world safe for communism – at least that's how it turned out. And in the process, we gave the Soviet Union the boost it needed to last another 45 years. And then we helped China turn communist. And it still didn't work! I guess they should have known better than to ask for our help.

o And speaking of Cuba – the AP article points out that “the state controls well more than 90 percent of the economy, paying workers salaries of about $20 a month in return for free health care and education, and nearly free transportation and housing. At least a portion of every citizen's food needs are sold to them through ration books at heavily subsidized prices.” Sound familiar? Why, it's none other than Obama's long-term economic plan for America – for you and me. But now here's Fidel saying it doesn't work. Maybe now Obama knows how Trotsky felt...

o And what's this about Rahm Emanuel wanting to be mayor of Chicago? Well, I must say, they deserve each other... and Chicago can hardly be worse off. What amazes me is that a place that's that corrupt can remain so productive and energetic. Someone needs to look into this – it might yield up a model we can export to Iraq and Afghanistan.

o This is rich. The Department of Transportation “doesn’t have the authority to change in-flight peanut policies” out of consideration for those with peanut allergies. Now, let's see... the government can take over banks, investment firms, auto companies, and mortgage companies... it can take over the health-care system... but it can't regulate peanuts on airplanes? I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Enemy Within

These are the times that try men's ability to keep from breaking out in hysterical laughter. It seems that the “firstest” thing on the mind of Gen. David Petraeus, commander of all U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan (but, more importantly, a contender for the title of “Superman”), is – guess what – the doings of a small Evangelical church in Florida. Yes, the mighty four-star general is quaking in his combat boots about said church's plans to burn a large pile of Qurans on the anniversary of 9-11... because it “could cause significant problems” for our troops – not only those in Afghanistan, but those anywhere in the Islamic world. Saith the general, “It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan.”

Now... sit back, relax, and ponder this for a moment. A church in Florida is about to endanger our overall effort in Afghanistan? Can it be that any organization, not to mention a church, has that much power... that much leverage over world events? When's the last time the doings of any church, anywhere, got the attention of a four-star general? But let's let him speak. The intended Bonfire of the Qurans “is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems – not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.” (I assume that by “engaged” he's referring to things like bombing wedding parties.)

Now think about this; deconstruct it, if you will. The Taliban “uses” “actions” like this to – what? Work up even more outrage and hostility toward the U.S. and our wars on Islamic soil? So... the mere fact of our being there is not enough, nor is the fact of our destroying great swaths of the countries in question and killing countless of their inhabitants... nor the fact that we are considered infidels, and to be trespassing on holy ground. No, that's not enough for the Taliban... but that church in Florida! Ah, that will really tip the balance. That will turn the Taliban from the laid-back, devil-may-care kinds of guys they are into real, honest-to-goodness, hard-core militants! And it might even convince some of the local populace in those places to side with the radicals. And! It might sharpen their aim when they attack our troops. And it might make their suicide bombings more... suicidal. Or something.

See how ridiculous this is? And of course, the question that is thoroughly begged by the general is, why on earth are we over in those crapholes in the first place? That is what is putting our troops in danger – the fact that they're there at all. Whatever happens in a church in Florida is not going to add one jot or tittle to the hopelessness and absurdity that our troops are already facing on a daily basis... or to the hostility, or militancy, of the people we have made our enemies.

But you see, that's the standard procedure in these cases. Our “leaders” put our troops in harm's way, then when anyone objects or starts rocking the boat (however small) they are accused of “not supporting the troops”, and contributing to the danger they are facing. Why, when you get right down to it, they might as well be on the other side! Yes, that church in Florida might, in fact, be a Taliban front organization, engaged in provocateur activity. Hey, it could happen, right?

Another notable nuance to all this is that “it was a rare example of a military commander taking a position on a domestic political matter.” Very true... and it proves that it was absolutely not Petraeus' idea. These guys get orders from the White House, or the State Department, that “you vill comment on ze following matter in ze following way” -- and heaven help them if they refuse. (Remember what happend to McChrystal?) So the military gets called on to do the politicians' dirty work – not on a daily basis, but whenever and wherever it really counts.

And another thing. Who is that has been drumming up hostility toward Islam ever since 9-11? Who comes up with meaningless terms like “Islamofascism”? Why, it's the United States government, of course! The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were styled as “crusades” by George Bush – until he was corrected by his handlers. But it didn't matter, because that's the way the people over there saw it, and continue to see it to this day. What the “enemy” really thinks is much more important than what we think they ought to think... but we never seem to learn that. We were going over there to separate the wheat from the chaff... the good guys from the bad guys... and we find out, over and over again, that those distinctions are mainly in our imagination, and don't correspond to reality. Plus – as is well known throughout history (you know – that thing our leaders never study) – there is a strange tendency for people to unite against a common enemy when the situation calls for it... and, like it or not, we are the common enemy. The citizens of those countries know that, sooner or later, we'll have to leave... and they will be left to their own devices, and with each other... at which point the sectarian struggles can be resumed in earnest. But until then, it's all about getting us out of their faces. And what some church in Florida has to do with it is... well, it doesn't, and only a lunatic would think it did. And this is not to say that the "Arab street" won't erupt in outrage... but they erupt in outrage every other day, and hardly need this as an excuse. The most it can do is reinforce their idea that we are fighting a religious war... but they already believe that (and so do many of us).

And – by the way -- “this just in” -- Attorney General Eric Holder has now joined the fray -- and that, in my opinion, puts the final “Obama administration idiot seal of approval” on the matter. Saith the attorney general: “No one should have to live and pray in fear.” (Tell it to the Branch Davidians!) Holder has this almost magical ability to be on the wrong side of every issue, and to say precisely the wrong thing at precisely the right time (er, that is... oh, you know what I mean). And the beauty of all of this is that if Petraeus winds up in trouble in Afghanistan next week, he can blame it all on a small church in Florida! These people are, truly, masters of the art of distraction. (And what a power trip those Florida churchgoers must be on at this point!)

And throughout it all, there is this exercise in denial by the government. Not only does the Islamic world believe that we have declared war on Islam, but many people and organizations on the domestic front also believe that we have... or that we ought to... or that we should be honest about it and admit it. And this includes population segments like the Evangelicals, who have been consistently the most supportive of the wars of any group in the country. (And a significant subset of the Evangelicals -- lest we forget -- is the vast army of American mercenaries fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also believe they are on a crusade – no matter how much this is denied by the leadership.) So... the most supportive people have gone ahead and decided to burn a few Qurans. And this is a bad thing? I mean, either we're fighting wars over there are we aren't... and if we are, then what possible difference is an event like this going to make? You would think the administration would be glad to have this kind of support.

Problem is, the support is from all the wrong people – the “Bible and gun clingers”. They may agree with the administration on the need for perpetual war, but there is nothing else of significance they agree on. At least under Bush there was a bit of cohesion and consistency to the administration's “conservative” position – but with Obama fighting wars he never made, well... the anachronisms are enough to confuse anyone, not to mention a gaggle of Bible-belt types in Florida. A president they despise is fighting wars they like... and in his book, his most fervent supporters (in the war department) are the people he despises the most.

And that's not the only problem between these strange bedfellows. The Quran burning will “inflame the Muslim world” -- as if it weren't inflamed enough already! Can there possibly be any more hostility over there than there already is? Petraeus seems to think so, but, frankly, I'm skeptical. I think, as I said before, the administration is setting up a scapegoat – not unlike what happened toward the end of the conflict in Vietnam, when “if it weren't for all those damn hippie protesters” we could have won. Sure, right. The country could not have been any more demoralized at that point than it already was – hippies or no hippies. And our problems in Iraq and Afghanistan could hardly be worse, or more intractable... but no one in the administration wants to admit this, so they are all piling on some insignificant church in Florida.

And will this, by the way, have any impact on the loyalty of the Evangelicals to the twin wars? I doubt it. After all, Bush & Co. never wavered, and I'm sure they see Obama & Co. having custody of the wars as a temporary irritant. Put the Republicans back in and we'll teach those ragheads a damn good lesson!

I guess the problem, as someone memorably pointed out a while back, is that we are "a country of (East) Indians governed by Swedes". The "plain people" of the U.S. tend to think of things in terms of principle... of absolutes, whereas our rulers are all profoundly relativistic in their thinking and in their actions. The plain people think, well, if we're at war with Islam then let's be at war with Islam, dammit! No shilly-shallying around. But the administration persists in making fine distinctions that not only do our citizens not understand, but they go totally over the head of everyone else on earth as well -- especially Muslims. What if a foreign power came over here and started sorting out all American citizens into "good guy" and "bad guy" categories? How many people would agree with the categorization or with the criteria? Isn't it much more likely that we would all unite to throw out the invaders... then go back to happily cutting each other's throats? This is the way it is in the Islamic world. Leave them to their own sectarian strife, civil wars, and squabbles, and they're happy... but send troops in and start dropping bombs in order to impose "peace", and you'll get anything but.

And then we have our military, which tends to think of things in terms of black and white, because they're trained that way. On the battlefield, there are people you fight with, and people you fight against... and that pretty much covers it. And how humiliating it must be when an officer attains to four-star rank with a major command and all of a sudden has to become a "diplomat" and a relativist, and leave all of this training and military mind set behind. This is the situation Petraeus finds himself in, and he is now busy making enemies of a significant piece of the American citizenry... those people he has, in effect, declared to be the enemy within.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bloody Well Right!

Well, that didn't take long. A mere week after all American combat troops left Iraq, we have American troops engaged in combat in Iraq. Whoa, didn't see that coming! Well of course, this so-called “withdrawal” of combat troops was just the latest con in the ongoing con game called “the war in Iraq”. Anyone with half a brain could tell you that if you have any American troops in Iraq – for any reason – sooner or later they're going to find themselves under attack, at which point they will instantly become – at least temporarily – combat troops. (A similar observation was made years ago, by the way, concerning women in combat. While putting women into direct combat roles is still contrary to regulations, it became clear that putting women into a war zone was the equivalent of putting them into direct combat – and that's where the issue stands... as a “creatively gray” area.)

The point is, when you have a war that's a hoax in its entirety, there's not too much you can do to make it worse; you can only add to the grotesqueness. And none of it represents “progress” -- only a kind of trivial morphing from Perpetual War 1.0 to Perpetual War 1.1. Having fewer Americans killed per unit time in Iraq is a good thing, of course... but I don't detect any drop in expenditures, probably because there hasn't been one. Once the decision is made to spend a certain amount in a certain place, that's pretty much the end of the story... for years, or decades. To spend one dollar less is beyond the capability of Congress... but spending billions more is the easiest thing imaginable to get approved. I love the fact that, on the domestic side, Congress strains at gnats when it comes to budgeting and appropriations, but on the foreign/military side funding bills sail along “like shit through a goose”, as a former boss of mine used to say. And this only reflects our ongoing national priorities, which have been more or less unchanged since 1940 or so – namely, empire-building and military operations above all, and if there's anything left over for the citizenry, well OK, but they always have to be ready to “make sacrifices”. You know, the way the North Koreans have to make sacrifices so Kim Jong-Il has his steady supply of brandy.

But speaking of “leaders”... Tony Blair has come out with the predictably mealy-mouthed and self-serving memoir, and at a recent book signing in Dublin (of all places!) he got thoroughly “egged” and targeted with shoes, in the best Iraqi fashion. Now... given that the Irish hate the Brits, and particularly British prime ministers, just on principal... most of the energy behind this protest seemed to be based on Blair's record as a “war prime minister”. And this is not too hard to credit, given that he came off pretty much as Bush's lap dog... and since Bush was other people's lap dog, what did that make Blair? The lap dog of a lap dog? That's the most humiliating position any human being has been in recently... except for when Biden went to Israel. So in any case, Blair, being part of the so-called “coalition of the willing”, went off to war with bands playing and banners flying... and he has yet to this day to realize that he was thoroughly duped. He has no regrets! And that, it seems to me, says more than anything else about his competence as a leader (not to mention his intelligence).

But “here's a howdy-do”, to quote Gilbert and Sullivan: There have been serious inquiries within Britain as to the rationale for their involvement in the war. Do we see anything comparable on this side of the Atlantic, vis-a-vis George Bush, and now Barack Obama? No. On this recent occasion, Blair was called a “butcher” and a “war criminal”. Protesters chanted that he has “blood on his hands”. One protester attempted to make a citizen's arrest! Now... where do we find anything like this level of energy directed at George Bush? Or Obama, for that matter? To quote Robert Byrd: “Where is the outrage?” It seems that the American public is totally cowed on this issue – there are the occasional mumblings and murmurings, but when it comes to taking the next logical steps, no voices are heard – certainly not in Congress, and not among the general public... and not even in the paleocon or libertarian media. Has anyone petitioned the World Court to put Bush on trial? Not to my knowledge.

I think one reason is that it was fairly clear from the beginning that Bush was nothing but a tool... a figurehead... an empty suit... and that much better minds than his were at the helm and directing our efforts towards war. So in the back of people's minds, they may see Bush as more of a victim than a perpetrator -- or at least as a more or less helpless dupe. The Brits, on the other hand, don't seem to want to grant Blair any of the same consideration. Could it be that, over there, they actually expect leaders to lead? Gracious! It's a good thing we've gotten over that sort of nonsense.

Another disincentive could be the fact that both of the wars Bush started are still going on – thanks to his successor. Thus the total co-opting of the political class has been accomplished, in that the Republicans support the wars because a Republican president started them, and the Democrats support the wars because a Democratic president is continuing them. It is, truly, a brilliant piece of political maneuvering by the Regime – to basically shut down all meaningful protest, and leave it up to the “lunatic fringe”. Even the “tea partiers” are strangely silent about the two wars – yes, they are being run by a president whom they despise, but on the other hand, after so many years of “supporting the troops”, they're not about to “cut and run” at this point.

See, this is the way it is in American politics, and why it makes much more sense to talk about the Regime than about political parties. The Regime wants war; it wants this country bogged down in perpetual wars, and it wants it economically stressed, and preferably bankrupted, by wars. Compared to this overpowering agenda, political parties mean nothing... and the “tea party” movement is already fatally compromised by their unwillingness to come out unambiguously against the twin wars. Only the libertarians and paleocons (most, if not all) can hold their heads high – the rest are all abject slaves.

But at least a few people over in the British Isles have the courage to tell it like it is about one of the more despicable characters in the entire folly... and to take it to the streets. The “tea partiers” think they're so brave... but, in fact, none of what they say is of the slightest concern to the Regime. Now, if they tried actually coming out against the wars... but that's just not going to happen. They could take the example of the brave Dubliners... or they can keep doing what they are doing, which is to allow themselves to get distracted by the pseudo-issues that the Regime drags in front of them as a distraction. Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin should forget about “Times Square mosques”, and even about illegal immigration. None of it matters as long as the American empire continues to grow at the expense of not only American citizens but the rest of the world as well – but if you challenge them on the empire issue, you suddenly find out that they're not all that opposed to big government after all... as long as it does the things they like, and not the things they don't like.