I've been on the road for the last couple of weeks... but! Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, and the occasional newspaper, and “talk radio” (where one can tune it in, which means not in the Pennsylvania mountains), I've managed to keep up with at least some of the current news. The most striking thing, perhaps, was the “here I come to save the day” combined voice of both parties when the “catastrophe” of a “default” on the national debt was “narrowly averted”. Wow – the old-time movie serials had nothing on these guys. And what's funny is that, even while the debate was raging, the conventional wisdom was very gradually turning in the direction of some vague realization that the entire “debt limit crisis” was, basically, a hoax. One point was that the president really doesn't need Congress's permission to raise the national debt ceiling – so the process of obtaining that permission is really a “sign-on” exercise designed to spread the blame for whatever might happen as a result – kind of like asking Congress's permission to go to war after the fact. “But you voted for it!” (Remember LBJ and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution? He carried a copy of it around in his coat pocket until his last day in office, just to wave in the face of any hapless Congressman who started having second thoughts.) Another uncomfortable truth is that even if the president did need Congress's permission, he could have just gone ahead and done it anyway – as he and his predecessors have done in other contexts so many times of late. Truly, the best thing for Congress to do would be to just retire and go home, and thereby admit that the presidency has become a dictatorship. But of course said dictator – whoever it is – has no real power either; he's no more than a front man/figurehead/empty suit, a puppet for the people who are really in charge. But I guess it would be impolite to do, or say, anything in public to make that point, so Congress continues to dither away – and let's admit, they get paid handsomely for pretending to legislate.
But then, the minute that crisis had passed, an interesting thing happened. Within 24 hours – when we were supposed to be taking a much-needed breather – we had the humiliating spectacle of a major rating agency slapping us in the face on the reliability of our treasury obligations. So there are no “breaks” any longer; we are now in 24-7-365 crisis mode – what Rush Limbaugh calls “the daily apocalypse” -- and this is just another notch upward in the escalation of our State of Fear. Which is, in turn, another notch upward in the absolute, undeniable need for overwhelmingly-large government, since if there is a perpetual crisis, then there must be a perpetual infrastructure to “manage” that crisis.
But all is not lost, because... well actually, all _is_ lost, because the Republicans don't have any more answers than the Democrats do; in fact, they're every bit as culpable as the Democrats for the situation we're in. The sole exception, as usual, is Ron Paul, and the contortions the mainstream media – including the “conservative” media – go through to ignore him have become grotesque and absurd. They post the results from the Iowa Straw Poll, then proceed to discuss them without the slightest mention of Dr. Paul. But this is good, in a way, because it shows just how petrified they all are that not only is he right, but a substantial number of people agree with him. And please note that they don't have the same Dracula-looking-into-a-mirror reaction to the “tea partiers” -- yes, the liberal media despise and mock them, but they see them as harmless ignoramuses at best... and the “conservative media” give them a fair shake most of the time, even though they are rocking the conservative boat a bit. But Ron Paul is considered beyond the pale by both sides; as was said of another politician some time back, “nobody likes him but the people”. And this, in turn, proves Dr. Paul's wisdom in remaining within the Republican fold – albeit as a black sheep. He gets a level of visibility as a Republican that a Libertarian Party candidate – or an independent – can only dream of. And, he gets to beard the so-called conservative lions in their own den, successfully calling them out on their hypocrisy time and time again, in debates and elsewhere.
And really, despite all of the campaign rhetoric, it should be obvious to Ron Paul, if not to his supporters, that he has absolutely no chance of being nominated, no matter how many polls or even primaries he wins. His position is radically anti-Regime, and while the Regime tolerates him they will continue, as always, to pick and choose which candidates “qualify” according to their criteria – and he most assuredly does not. The current non-negotiable criterion is that the candidate must support, unhesitatingly, the Perpetual Warfare State. Domestic policy is a relatively small matter to the Regime; it's noise level, basically. They couldn't care less about health care or jobless benefits or unemployment; what counts is that the United States remains the arsenal of... well, not really democracy any longer, more like a religious war against Islam. And please note, we could have picked a fight with the Islamic world decades earlier than we did, except that the Cold War was going on, and that pretty much satisfied everyone – the neocons, the armament makers, etc. But even that was a hoax, at least to some extent – I won't go into all the reasons now, but suffice it to say that there were communist sympathizers in the government the entire time; it didn't stop with Eisenhower. So throughout the Cold War, the government was divided against itself, in effect. Part of it engaged in a war of nerves, along with many proxy wars as well as real ones, against communism, and another part was doing all it could to pave the way for... well, maybe not a complete communist takeover of the U.S., but certainly a socialist takeover (to which must be added “mission accomplished” at this point). Then we had a brief “vacation from history”, which happened to coincide with the Clinton administration, during which the powers that be scurried around frantically trying to find, and define, the Next Big Thing, and they decided that a war on Islam would fill the bill. And lucky for them, the man who replaced Bill Clinton in the White House was our Idiot King, AKA President Pinhead, who would go along with, and defend, any scheme the neocons and their allies could devise. And thus began the next Great Crusade, which the Islamic world rightly sees as a mortal threat, and to which it responds accordingly.
And that brings me to another point, which is this: Why is it that the minute anyone over here breathes a word about withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, we see an immediate escalation of “terrorist” activities in those two marvelous, sun-drenched countries? I mean, the reaction time for this can be measured in hours, in some cases. What's going on here? Well, of course we can assume that the “terrorists” keep up with all the latest news, including the musings and mutterings of the president, Congress, and the Pentagon. So they respond by sending out another platoon of suicide bombers, and that makes everyone over here “reconsider” the question of troop withdrawals. I mean, are we paying them to do that just so we can have an excuse to stay over there indefinitely? Sometimes it seems that way. After all, we did ship guns into Mexico in order to keep the “War on Drugs” going. (Oh – that was a mistake, you say? We need to talk.)
But this opens up another topic – one way too huge to deal with properly right now. But basically, it revolves around the question of what is it, precisely, that the “terrorists” want – in the short run and in the long run? And what do they think, in their inscrutable Islamic minds, they are accomplishing with all these bombings, which have far more impact on the local populace than they do on us or our troops? See, I can understand the kind of “terrorism” that is, allegedly, responsible for 9/11 – that's a way of punishing another nation, and its people, for intruding into the lives and affairs of the faithful. And from that, we can speculate on what “domestic terrorism” is designed to do. It could be to punish the puppet regimes of Iraq and Afghanistan – but even then, it is seldom the leadership that is impacted. Or, it could be to punish the people of those countries for supporting those regimes, or at least for failing to overthrow them. Or it could be a way to drive us out when we see what a mess we've made of things – but that clearly doesn't work, since the more attacks that occur, the more likely we are to stay. This is not, after all, Beirut in 1983 – and it's not even Vietnam in 1975. You can't punish us enough to make us leave – not any longer. In this sense, our foreign policy has degenerated into a kind of masochism. We enter into unwinnable wars and then “double down” with every new setback. This, as much as any other trend, seems to point to a kind of national suicide on our part – and maybe that's exactly what it is. Maybe we sense that the American Experiment has failed, or has at least run its course and is no longer worth defending... but we are too brainwashed and delusional to voluntarily give way and walk off stage, so we have to immolate ourselves instead. And if so, it would not be the first time in history that something of this sort has occurred. Empires do, in fact, have a tendency to self-destruct over time, more often even than being conquered. They overextend, weaken, degenerate, and become anemic (morally, economically, militarily), and are eventually replaced. How many voluntarily pull back to within more modest boundaries? The British and French did to some extent, but we forget that they were also driven out of many places, which had a negative impact on morale and thus accelerated the process.
But let's get back to “terrorism” for a moment. Clearly, what they are doing at this point, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, is only strengthening our resolve. Not only is it not forcing us to leave, it's forcing us to invest even more resources. So is that what they really want, despite all that they claim? Well, there is certainly something to be said, from their point of view, for the process of attrition. These wars have cost us a stupendous amount of money, and our economy will never recover – unless a race of aliens comes down and dumps a cubic mile of gold bullion in our laps. So we have suffered economic attrition, attrition of morale, attrition of world leadership, and a sharp increase in totalitarian-type activities on the part of the government – all of which could be considered pieces of a “victory” on the part of the Islamists. They have, in other words, caused a significant change in the U.S. on every level, and a permanent one at that – greater, perhaps, than even the New Deal, which was, in my opinion, the greatest single change event up to now (with the Civil War being a close second). And in doing so, they have – to their way of thinking – exposed our flaws and our hypocrisy. So that in itself is a victory as well.
Secondly, they have humiliated us simply by holding us captive in the burning sands of the Middle East, and not allowing us to enjoy a victory or even a semblance of one. And this is not unprecedented either, since the Korean War was fought to a draw and we lost in Vietnam. But apparently, we still didn't learn our lesson, so now the Islamists have taken over the job of teaching America a damn good lesson. The problem is, that lesson has only impressed a small minority; the administration and Congress are unteachable on this point, as is the majority of the voters.
So one could argue that – again, despite what they say – they really want us to stay over there (wherever “there” is)... until we're soundly defeated, or soundly humiliated, or forced to retreat and become “isolationists”, and leave the field to them – which means self-determination for them and a baleful future for Israel. Israel, of course, is a major driver in all of this – not the only driver, but perhaps the critical one. And I suppose one could argue that it has been in their interest, up to now, to use us as a source of cannon fodder. But in the very long run, it might not make much difference. After all, no empire lasts forever, and as we go, so goes Israel – that much is crystal clear. No one else on earth is going to stand up for them the way we do – not even the E.U. If we disappeared tomorrow, Israel would have about a week to live. It could set off its 300-odd nukes, but the Islamic world is a very big place, and even 300 nukes aren't going to kill them all. And what happens then? This, I believe, will be the ultimate fate of Israel... but as far as the American Experiment goes, it could have gone on for a while longer if it weren't for all the present follies. But again, we have that ambivalence... that death wish. And if you look around the world, there are plenty of people who would not mind a bit if we simply dried up and blew away. Oh, China would be somewhat inconvenienced since they're holding all that U.S. debt – but then we have to ask, why did they buy it all to begin with? Because it was a good investment? More likely to give themselves leverage – and with us out of the picture, they too will be able to say “mission accomplished”. And the Russians? Those folks whom we “defeated” in the Cold War? They're biding their time. Their star will rise again – or so they believe.
And, lest we forget, there are plenty of people among our “friends and allies”, especially in Europe, who would not mind seeing us taken down a few pegs. We are already subject to their whims when it comes to international finance... we are already defending them against who-knows-what with our own troops... and all that remains is for us to be reduced to a second-rate power, at which point they will attain to the top rung – or so they think. (But you'll notice they hedge their bets by staying on friendly terms with China – friendlier than our terms with China, at least.)
No, I really do think that we are seeing the passing of an era – but that passing is being made as painful as possible, and not just by “terrorists” and our “friendly enemies” around the world, but by our own leaders and politicians. But even they only represent, ultimately, the “will of the people”, if by that we include all the Utopian delusions, Puritan obsessions, and fear that we have suffered from ever since the Republic was founded. It's not that our politicians are so much worse than the rest of us, even though that often seems to be the case; it's more that they have taken our madness further – they have clarified it... purified it... reduced it to obvious absurdity. They bring our heart's desire to the surface, and translate it into real programs, real laws, and real wars. If we react with horror, puzzlement, and indignation, we should first look into our own inner selves to find that distorted energy that fuels all of their follies. If they are destroying this country, its because we allow them to.