Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category
On the way to work today the bus got mired in traffic. Then I saw emergency lights ahead, the police were routing traffic into one lane. Getting closer I saw why. There was an injured kitten in the road, a half grown little stripey guy. One of the cops was standing so as to keep him in the shade. For some reason the sight just about to broke my heart, I cried on and off all day. So much sadness in the world, this just put me over the edge I guess. I hope the little guy made it.
I’ll be glad when the election is over. It’s been one of the uglier elections in my memory, if not the ugliest. I still honestly don’t give a crap who wins, both candidates have aspects that are so so creepy it makes my flesh crawl. Both candidates are a tool of the bankers, militarists, and energy cartel. Obama’s social policy window dressing is a bit better, but living in a theocracy might actually make Americans snap out of their revery. More on point, I think if Superman got elected, we’d still be hosed. America is like a stately old oak tree … completely rotted out inside. It looks majestic, but one of these days there will be a stiff breeze and down it goes. It’s not going to be pretty.
Obama. Barrack “kill list” Obama. I find it more than disturbing that the POTUS maintains a kill list, a list that can and has included Americans. It’s disturbing in and of itself, but that no one is upset about it is just plain scary. Nixon had an enemy’s list, and was excoriated for it; Obama has a kill list, and no one cares? People went wild over non-existent “death panels,” but don’t care that Obama has set himself up as a death panel of one? I am not reassured.
Then we have the rapist’s right’s party. Think about this: We have a Senate candidate Mourdock claiming that a rape pregnancy was a gift from God and couldn’t be aborted. He said he anguished over this question before coming to that conclusion. I’m a little unclear what he anguished over. He couldn’t have anguished over how he would feel if he were raped and impregnated, since that can’t happen to him. So he must have anguished over how he would feel if he raped and impregnated someone. And he concluded that whoever he, or any man, chooses to rape; if the woman is impregnated, she must bear the child. The rapist gets to choose, the raped victim doesn’t. Right. Romney endorsed this guy. Ryan holds similar view. This is crazy, a perversion of Christianity, and an example of rape culture. Again, not reassured.
I like Jill Stein, but nothing short of a miracle will get her in the White House. It might make a good science fiction story, or an unlikely Hollywood movie. I think they put Ron Paul back in cryogenic suspension, I don’t know where he went. Probably conveyed to media purgatory. There’s other stuff on ballots. I’m cynical about it all. The special interests have it locked up, even when they lose, they have the lawyers and the money to fix it. Legalized corruption on a scale never before seen in history. See, the USA is still number one! On the other hand, unlike so many people, I’m not going to freak out no matter who gets elected. Whoever gets elected has my support, at least initially. Whoever wins has an unholy mess to contend with, and the last thing America needs now is sore losers. My studied neutrality may only last to the acceptance speech, tomorrow is another day.
Lastly, so as not to be accused of excess negatively, can I envision an encouraging outcome on election day? Yes. Yes I can. I hope the winning candidate sees an injured kitten in the road, and his heart is softened and his mind is cleared, and he gives an acceptance speech that resonates with all Americans, and opens a dialog that begins to heal this fractured land. See, I can still dream.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. Not being used for profit, it’s just such a lovely image, I couldn’t resist. I got it from this site. It’s destruction from Hurricane Sandy. The image says a lot to me. Who is this woman? Where is she going?)
Here is my unscripted, unedited, sometimes patently offensive responses to the debate as it occurred. Apologies in advance, this is to reproduced to stimulate thought and discussion, not to get anyone’s knickers in a twist. And I was subsequently presented with reasonable argument and already changed my mind about one thing I said below, enjoy:
Debate started. 2 minutes of pure lies and BS by Romney. This will be fun.
Followed by two minutes of gibberish from Obama.
And now Mitt is promising to fix all the problems in the Middle East!
Lies and gibberish back and forth.
Israel is NOT our ally, tired of that lie.
Romney is going to wave a magic wand and turn Syria into our ally.
And now Obama is claiming Libya was a brilliant success. @@
How the hell did Americans get the idea that we get to decide who is running other countries? Worse, how the hell have they not noticed that this almost always makes things worse?
And Romney could have made things turn out better in Egypt, must be nice to have God like powers. And now he’s going to promote peace!
And now Romney is claiming our economy is the problem with our foreign policy, cheap shot.
Right, America is the “indispensable nation.” Dogmeat.
And Romney’s magic wand is going to work on the economy as well! He got in some teacher bashing, nice.
They ran out of “foreign policy” and are going on and on a about economic fantasies.
“Let me get back to foreign policy.” The moderator is pretending to have balls. They ignored him.
Lies and more lies about health care.
“You don’t balance your budget, you’re out of business.” I guess Romney wasn’t including Wall Street where if you don’t balance your budget, the government bails you out.
Arguing about military budget trivia when we are spending more money on our military than the rest of the world combined is surreal.
Right, Obama is going to help veterans. He forgot to do that during the past four years?
And now the comic book world where Iran attacks Israel. We are cooperating with Israel? Maybe. They return the favour by spying on us and influencing our politics. Some ally.
And now Obama’s bragging about destroying Iran’s economy. And apparently mixing up the real Iran with Hollywood Iran.
Neither of them seem to remember that Iran has China and Russia as friends, Putin has stated that an attack on Iran would be considered an attack on Russia.
Iran agreed to a deal a few years back that would have absolutely prevented them from developing nuclear weapons. The US put the kibosh on the deal. So we made this mess, and everything they are spewing about Iran’s nuclear program is lies. Lies, lies, lies.
Obama you LYING SACK OF SHIT. No matter WHAT Iran agrees to the USA will just make more demands.
Lies, lies, lies, lies. Romney will repeat the same lies though.
And now the mewling crap about American weakness and apologies overseas.
You are such a moron Romney, I think he actually believes that if he just puffs out his chest and acts tough other countries will magically roll over and do our bidding.
“Four years closer to a nuclear Iran.” No matter how many times Romney says it, it’s still a lie.
How terrible Obama feels about the tiny number of toy rockets fired at Israel, near children’s bedrooms even. When is he going to visit Pakistan and feel sorry for the hundreds of children our vastly more deadly missiles have killed?
Oh God, invoking 9/11. Um, we didn’t bring OBL to justice, we murdered him. There really is a difference.
“Move Pakistan in the right direction.” Romney has a vivid fantasy life, that’s for sure.
“Pakistan isn’t acting like an ally???? We’re fucking bombing them, what kind of ally does that make us?
Oh good, more flying death squads, Romney promises. News flash: The USA is more hated than India in Pakistan because of our drone strikes.
And now Obama is going to stop corruption, enforce women’s rights, and guarantee free enterprise and democracy in countries like Somalia and Yemen. He’s as delusional (or dishonest) as Romney.
Fortunately the moderator is making sure the debate is framed in the fantasy propaganda world that both sides are spewing, some debate.
“The world’s greatest security threat is a nuclear Iran.” Pure, unadulterated dogshit.
It’s all China’s fault. Romney is going to fix that too.
“You gotta play by the rules.” The US has ignored the rules since WW2, Snort.
And now they’re back on the auto industry, irrelevant lies and gibberish.
It’s like watching ten year olds “debate.”
Shoulda watched the Giants. At least there will be a clear winner and loser, and the rules will be followed.
Romney is going to save the middle class. Snort.
Romney’s concern for suffering Americans, Oh my.
“America as the hope of the Earth.” That’s beyond narcissistic, I think hubris is the word that applies.
It’s over, going to soak my brain in beer to get the taste of the candidates out of it.
Post debate: Obama fiddled to his base beautifully. Romney less so, but he didn’t eat his tie and he held his ground even when being pummeled; he played well in Peoria I expect. Both stayed safely within the America the Saviour fantasy script. I don’t really care who wins, I really meant it when I said this feels like when the Praetorian Guard auctioned off the Empire of Rome to the highest bidder. It didn’t really matter then who won the bidding, the forces already in motion weren’t going to be stayed by mortal man. Whoever wins this election reaps the whirlwind. That usually doesn’t end well.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I think this was Romney’s biggest gaffe. Today’s navy is a little bit larger than the one Obama got from Bush, so it was insane to think they could attack Obama on this. And Obama handled it brilliantly to boot. My absolute final say on the debate: All posture, no substance.)
Sigh. And the American electoral process just lurched downwards again. The next few months is just going to be a cacophony from the right about Obamacare. Can we talk about foreign policy, maybe jobs? I doubt it. Not that they were going to talk about relevant stuff much anyhow, but now it’s going to be so much worse. Once the sound of conservative’s heads exploding from the Supreme Court ruling dies away, they will rise from the dead and begin a howling like we have never heard before. On the plus side, pundits on all sides of the aisle will have a field day, and it’s a good bet people like Rush will outdo themselves in their efforts to demonize Obamacare.
OK, a few thoughts, hopefully adding up to a coherent conclusion. First of all, America’s health care system is a disaster. The numbers speak for themselves, on every metric one cares to examine, life expectancy, etc. … America comes in dead last among the developed countries. Even worse, we actually pay the most for this ghastly health care! France provides cradle-to-grave health care for everyone within its borders, including dental care. Health care that by almost any measure is considered some of the finest in the world, when a ambulance arrives in France, it has an actual doctor on board for God’s sake! And they provide this for about 11% of their GNP. The USA’s system? It costs about 16% of our GNP, and provides health care that is the shame of the developed world.
Of course the big objection that the Tea Party and ilk seem to have is something along the lines of “Forcing me to pay for my neighbor’s health care is socialism!” Aside from the lunacy of using ideology to support a social policy (a blog on that is in the works,) this is stupid because health care costs are distributed anyhow! When your neighbor down the street goes bankrupt from a sickness or injury, like about a million families a year, guess who the shorted creditors pass the loss onto? When your uninsured neighbor goes to the county hospital at public expense, whose taxes pay for it? When your sick neighbor misses work because of a treatable illness, guess who their employer’s lost productivity costs get passed on to? Everyone pays for the costs of sick members of society. Yet the Tea Partiers and their ilk would apparently rather have a system where they can pretend they aren’t paying for their neighbor’s health care, while simultaneously paying more than anyone else in the developed world. That’s nucking futz.
In the same vein one often sees the most egregious crap about foreign health care systems bandied about as if it were fact by the Tea Party crowd. One routinely hears that in Canada “People have to wait six months for a check-up” or “People have no choice about what doctor they see.” Sigh. Canada has a single payer system. That means you go to any damn health care provider you like, and the government pays the bill. Canada has a vast assortment of modern hospitals and doctors, just chose the one you like. Sometimes there is a wait for non-emergency procedures, but few if any complain. Be honest, wouldn’t having free health care of your choice for life be preferable to having to pay through the nose for health insurance, even if it meant having to wait a few months for some non-emergency services? Of course it’s the better option, which is why numerous completely democratic countries repeatedly elect governments that provide cradle-to-grave health care.
So what do I think of Obamacare? Many of its provisions seem like a step in the right direction to me. I’ve yet to hear any practical objections too it. Yes, it means some tax money will pay for health care for sick people. Um, you have a better use for tax money? That’s one of the things that amazes me about the Tea Partier’s objections, they have a problem with using tax money to help sick and injured people? Excuse me, but that sounds like one of the best possible uses for tax dollars. It beats the hell out of giving buckets of money to the people whose greed and gambling destroyed the economy, or using it to send soldiers to die on the far side of the world to defend corporate profits.
Granted it’s only a baby step in the right direction, towards a health care system where the only people profiting are the actual health care providers, not giant insurance companies that make their profits by denying coverage. How we ever even got to the point where huge corporations took over health care and turned it into a corporate gold mine is a testament to how far from a government “for the people” this country has gone. Still, it gives me hope in this age where the corporations have undue influence in government and the regulatory process that the people can still win a battle. There are plenty of sound reasons not to like Obama, but that the Republicans have thrown their lot in with the corporate death panel vampires that profit from sick Americans is disgusting. Shame on them.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I don’t know who to credit but I wish I did, it’s brilliant. For those who haven’t heard, CNN and Fox both initially reported that the Supreme Court had stuck down Obamacare, apparently because in their haste to get the news out they only read the very first page of the Supreme Court decision before hitting send. It’s based on the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline.)
Well, what can I say, I have not been practising due diligence in blogging the past week or two, so maybe lost weeks would be more accurate. Oh well, if the gentle reader had my life, they would understand. And at my age, upgrades are few and far between. In any event, notes in the margins so to speak.
I find it fascinating how the UN has morphed into an instrument for the west to simply install governments the west likes in the rest of the world. Granted it was always about preserving the world order (IE, white people running the world,) but at least they used to pretend that it was an organization about handling disputes between sovereign states. Not any more. Sovereign nation, what’s that?
The madness with Iran continues. Israeli media is reporting that preparations for an attack on Iran are underway. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the biggest impediments to peace in the modern world is a handful of nations, the US and Israel being foremost among them, having huge standing militaries. History shows that almost always (well, I can’t think of any exceptions) a huge standing military means that the military will eventually get involved in politics. And guess what policies a military might encourage? Endless war! And since the end of World War Two, that’s pretty much what the USA and Israel have done. And at this point their populations think it’s normal to be at war with everyone and surrounded by enemies. Sigh.
The Taliban spring offensive has begun. Or more accurately, spring has arrived in Afghanistan. They don’t call Afghanistan the graveyard of empires for nothing. Of course now a days the bodies are shipped home so that politicians can spew egregious self-serving nonsense while their families bury their dead. Sacrifice, duty, and the spiffy new propaganda for sending troops to the other side of the world to impose our will on people … we’re just defending our freedoms! How about freedom from senseless colonial wars, can we bring that one back? In a final bit of delicious irony irony what, the US has called the Taliban “cowards.” Right, people that are willing to fight the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen … are cowards. Snort.
I see Cheney has called President Obama’s presidency an “unmitigated disaster.” Of course he didn’t actually specify what he meant by that, since it would take an electron microscope to see the distance to the left of the Republicans that the Obama administration is. In fact the only thing “liberal” about the Obama administration is that Obama occasionally (and very occasionally these past few years ) says liberal things. More on point, it’s just disgusting that a smart man like Cheney is pandering to the tea party crowd and urging his fellow Americans to hate each other for their political beliefs. I’m beginning (beginning?) to think that modern American politics is just like the modern American media … there is no depth so low they won’t sink to to pander to the great unwashed masses.
In one little bit of good news (yes, it also takes an electron microscope to see the silver linings these days, I keep mine in standby mode,) some foreign leaders are calling on the USA to reconsider the War on Drugs. Since, you know, it’s been an unmitigated disaster. Will the USA respond to its allies concerns? Of course not, Obama was blowing up Pakistani women and children within weeks of taking office, so the idea that he gives a rats a** about our allies doesn’t pass the laugh test. Well, I mean our allies who are brown skinned nations, he at least pretends to be concerned about white nations.
So was this post a good cheery Monday morning post? Doug’s Darkworld, where it’s always the hour before dawn. Have a great week everyone!
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit etc. Credit and copyright: Universal Studios. It’s Ray Milland in the Academy Award winning 1945 movie “The Lost Weekend.” He has my sympathy.)
I’m going to start posting some timely comments on world events as they occur. These will likely be smaller than my regular posts, less polished, and more prone to factual errors. Please point out same when they occur. I’m doing this because the winds of change are blowing, and I want to stay somewhat current. And to get feedback on my thoughts of the evolving new world order as it unfolds, we are in for a ride in 2012 it looks like.
OK, Obama just announced a change in military spending and priorities. Fewer ground troops, more ships and planes, increased emphasis on East Asia (China’s neighborhood.) Obama is spinning this as some huge change in our military posture, it isn’t. Some will no doubt claim it is weakening America and our enemies will take advantage of us. No it isn’t, and no more than usual. What does it all mean?
I can only think of two things. One is that it’s a pretty obvious attempt to transfer more money to the armaments industry. We already have more ships and planes than we know what to do with, and Iraq and Afghanistan suffered form insufficient troops. Secondly, it’s an attempt to get the Chinese to react and increase their spending … which we could spin as a threat … and thus we increase “defense” spending again. We already spend more money on war than the rest of the world combined, but apparently we can always go higher.
Now, domestic pie-slicing concerns aside, is there anything else going on here? China doesn’t really pose much of a threat, a best they are working on the ability to defend themselves far more formidably if we want to go to war with them. (And they don’t have a history of imperial ambitions.) Our nuclear armed Navy and Air Force are still a mind numbingly bloated mass killing machine, it’s not like anyone is going to seriously go at it with them. The one down side to this I see, is this may encourage China to ally itself more closely with Russia, Iran, etc. Which could really be spun into a threat by Obama. See how this works?
And uglier, we segue to a more global idea, is the USA actually trying to start a bigger war? Judging from the hysteria being whipped up about Iran, I am not reassured. I’ll write about that soon.
(There will be no images in these current events posts. Hate em or enjoy em, please let me know.)
Well, no rapture. No surprise. It really is dismaying how people can believe prima facie nonsense in this day and age. It’s especially galling because so many Americans, especially the ones who fall for this kind of crap, have an especially high opinion of America and Americans. A country where tens of millions of people think the Earth is a few thousand years old or that evolution is “just a theory.” And don’t even get me started on people who think the Moon landings were hoaxed. Our educational system as once the envy of the world, it’s rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the world.
Moving right along, I think it’s clear at this point that Obama is going to get reelected. No one in their right mind is going to run against him, so its going to be a very amusing election. Especially the Republican primaries, a collection of, well, political suicide bombers like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich squaring it off. They might as well skip any actual pretense of debate and settle the issue mud wrestling. Hell, I’d pay to see Sarah and Newt go at it in a mud pit. On the plus side, I won’t have much to blog about since Obama’s inexorable progress will be painfully obvious to all. I wonder if peeps will be dancing in the streets the second time he gets elected? (Of course by then public displays of affection towards our Dear Leader may be mandatory.)
The economy still sucks. Tushima is still a disaster. The Gulf Oil Spill is still wreaking an unsung toll. Iraq is still a bloody mess, Afghanistan a repeat of Vietnam … without even the option of carpet bombing the Taliban’s cities because they don’t have any. Egypt is still a mess becasue Mubarak’s cronies throwing him and him alone to the wolves was not exactly the democratic revolution the people of Egypt struggled for and deserved. Libya is now effectively two states, with NATO bombing here and there. The totalitarian governments of Syria and Yemen are slaughtering people in the street, Syria’s may survive, Yemen’s is looking more doubtful. Bahrain is still a brutal mess. Pakistan gets more unstable every day. And the rest of the world is looking on and trying to stay out of the scrum … or see how they can benefit from it. See, more information about the state of the world in one paragraph than in an entire year of the New Yorker.
I wanted to mention Pakistan in a bit more depth. There’s been a lot of hostile talk about Pakistan in the USA, about how they aren’t a good ally, and they may have even known about OBL’s location. All possibly true. Then there’s reality. In reality, Pakistan is far more fractured and power is far more diffuse than in the USA. It takes a long time to forge a nation out of nothing, and Pakistan has had less than a century as a nation under conditions that make the United State’s infancy look like a romp in Disneyland. Secondly, aside from understanding what a mess Pakistan is, more importantly, they only joined the USA’s war against the Taliban because of threats and bribes. Pakistan was the Taliban’s best friend, for perfectly reasonable geopolitical reasons. So basically the USA is in the position of a bully who with a combination of threats and bribes forced Pakistan into a war not only against its best interests, but into a war against elements of its own society. To then blame the Pakistanis for being less than enthusiastic participants in the mess we made is, well, ignorant. We’re lucky they’ve cooperated as much as they have, we should be counting our blessings.
Lastly, as far as I can tell, the western cabal’s control of the mainstream media gets more pervasive and more subtle every day. Not that it was ever easy to figure out what was going on, but more and more huge numbers of people think they are tuned in … and they aren’t. This isn’t going to end well.
(The above image is being used legally under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Credit and copyright: Syriana2011. It’s an image of protesters in Damascus this spring. It’s obviously been photo shopped, since none of the thousands of Muslims in the image is engaged in violence.)
I’m sure almost every English speaking person heard that in their childhood, a mantra someone uses when someone has called them names. Of course if it was actually true, there would be no need to say so, the mere fact that such idioms exist is proof positive that words can most definitely hurt. Words can hurt, for good or for ill, they are one of the most powerful tools humans have for affecting how other people think and feel. Leaders don’t inspire crowds by drawing pictures or doing dances, most of the time they use words.
So I’ve been a little peeved at the amazing circumlocutions I am hearing from the right how the violent eliminationist rhetoric used by so many influential figures on the right is somehow irrelevant when someone actually acts out that violence. Yes, the Arizona shooter is a nut, no doubt about that, but since Obama got elected there have been half a dozen other nuts who also went out and shot people acting out right wing ideals, from shooting policemen out of fear of gun confiscation, to actual targeting liberals such as the fellow who shot up the Unitarian church. Granted this is a very small number of cases, but still, there is a pattern here. More on point, these shootings didn’t take place when Bush was in office, they took place after the whole Tea Party movement started and the rhetoric (not to mention actual guns) at political events reached new heights.
Do I think this is a major problem? Not yet, though it’s a major problem for those whose lives have been affected by this sort of violence. The fact that so many on the right are in complete denial about this though, that’s a problem. Let’s look at this. The right is constantly making the claim that liberal media and liberal educators are poisoning people’s minds. Some have even gone so far as to create Conservapedia, to counteract the alleged liberal bias of Wikipedia. So let’s see, all this liberal bias in the media is poisoning people’s minds … but all the vitriol, hate speech, and violent eliminationist rhetoric coming from talking heads on the right has no influence on people? While breathtaking hypocrisy is stock-in-trade for American politics, simultaneously ranting about the liberal media while denying that violent right wing rhetoric has any influence is about as hypocritical as it gets.
Moving right along in my random revisiting of the Arizona shooting, once again we have an incident that has been blown all out of proportion by the press and the politicians. President Obama even gave a speech at the memorial service. It was a stirring and inspiring speech by most accounts, but I’ve heard stirring speeches before and unless they are followed by action, I’m underwhelmed. It’s not like any effective gun control is possible in the USA, the conservatives have pretty much won that battle. And it’s not like people like the shooter are going to get more mental health resources available to them, again, the conservatives have worked hard to prevent spending on public health. Yes, I am not so subtly implying that aside from violent rhetoric, other conservative policies also contributed to this shooting.
Granted both sides used this incident to score political points. And I seriously doubt it will result in any changes in American politics one way tother. It’s just the story of the day. And despite the nonstop coverage in our so called Free Press, little of substance will be said. The Americans dying in our foreign wars for example, how much press do they get? And as a perceptive commenter pointed out on my last post, we are committing massacres like the Arizona shooting on almost a daily basis in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And this was a war the USA chose, the Taliban and the Pakistani tribesmen are only fighting back, we attacked them. This too isn’t likely to change any time soon, but like the endless conservative violent rhetoric, it’s going to come back and bite us in the ass again sooner or later.
Do we really want to inspire and incite another Timothy McVeigh or Osama bin Laden? Sometimes I wonder.
(The above image is a funeral after a drone strike in Afghanistan. It’s claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and its use here in no way interferes with the copyright holder’s commercial use of the image. Credit: NY Times. Pretty good bet many or most of those people don’t look too kindly on the people who killed their friends and relatives. Why are we fighting these people again? When is Obama going to give a speech explaining that? And in a final macabre note, on top of my Internet and computer problems, I tried to saw off my thumb on Monday. No, not on purpose. So that too is going to limit my on line and writing time, sigh.)
McCain Proposes Indefinite Detention Without Trial for Citizens … and Why I Still Think We Would All Be Better Off If He Had Won the Election
Still, this proposed law is scary. The whole concept is so foreign to the principles the country was founded upon that it’s like being in a bad dream and not being able to wake up. This proposed law basically turns the Constitution and the Bill of Rights into a piece of toilet paper and gives the President dictatorial powers to have anyone he likes locked up, permanently. I wonder if it has occurred to the good Senator that a future president could simply have Congress detained if the president was frustrated by them? I doubt it, Congress has so long gotten away with exempting themselves from their own laws that I don’t think it even crossed his mind. On the other hand, laws like this have made it onto the books before without people being locked up as a result. So who knows what this means, incipient fascist police state, or politicians pandering to the law and order sheep? It’s just one more piece in the puzzle, and there’s no box lid with a picture to see how it’s supposed to all turn out.
In any event, I’m more convinced than ever that we all would have been much better off if McCain had won the election. Well, maybe better off is not quite the word, but if McCain had won, there would still be hope. There would still be hope, because there’d still be an opposition movement to the “borrow and spend” and “war forever” insanity that is making a tiny number of people very very rich, while impoverishing the rest of us. I mean, Obama has not only continued Bush’s policies, in most cases he’s actually expanded on them. He really is the Manchurian candidate, though not in the silly way the Tea Partiers and such espouse, he’s no socialist or Muslim. He’s simply the complete political tool utterly craven to the rich and powerful who have been running the country as their own company town for the past few decades (at least.) Far from being an opposition party, the Democrats are now just the other face of the Republicans. Both are big business, big military, and big war supporters. For those of a literary bent, we are living in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and the pigs and the farmers just merged.
So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I don’t think this fall’s elections really mean a damn thing. Even if the Tea Partiers are swept into power, they will deviate as much from the course we are already on as Obama. Anyone who seriously thinks that any Republican or Democrat is going to shrink government and cut government spending is living in a dream world. Well, a propaganda world more precisely. A world where the rich are victims, and the poor and immigrants are the source of all our problems. A world where blowing up brown woman and children on the other side of the planet in droves isn’t even newsworthy, but some guy lights his pants on fire on a plane and it’s an existential threat to the USA. I have to admit I never ever thought when I was a a kid that I’d grow up and find myself living in a world that was sillier than the comic books I was reading.
Where this is all going is anyone’s guess. The current situation is frighteningly similar to Rome at its height. An empire basically grown too large to manage, and hollowed out at the core by corruption and greed. An empire that is surviving by debasing its currency and looting foreign lands. Neither is a good long term strategy for a nation or an empire, but boy, a tiny number of people get rich beyond imagining. Sooner or later it will all fall apart, maybe with a whimper, maybe with a bang. It’s the bang that scares me most. A single event in the US even remotely like 9/11 and the country will go cuckoo bananas. Literally. And sooner or later one of our ever increasing number of enemies, or even one of our “friends,” is going to pull it off. It’s inevitable, 9/11 wasn’t the first terrorist attack in the USA and it won’t be the last. It’s the first one though where a rudderless administration seized upon it to make terror mongering a structural part of US politics and society. Yes, now we’re stuck with 9/11 mania forever, thank you Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.
Lastly, while my assessment of the overall situation is bleak, it has to be balanced by the fact that throughout history, no matter what great events and catastrophes were raging, most people in most places managed to live out their lives. I dare to say that most cities in the Roman Empire are still cities today. I was reading the other day there’s one of the grand villas (palaces) built by a Roman emperor that’s still remarkably well preserved today, because a local village grew into it and used (and preserved) its buildings. I plan to live my life and enjoy the company of my friends and loved ones no matter what, as long as people do that, ultimately the bastards will never win.
(The above image of Diocletian’s Palace. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Credit and copyright: Rialfver at nl.wikipedia. If I was a better artist I’d create an image of the ruins of Washington being viewed by tourists 2,000 years from now. And I don’t mean any of this in a bad way, American simply fell prey to the same sorts of greed and corruption that have destroyed so many prior empires. It’s been a hell of a ride, and it’s not over yet by a long shot. Parts of the Roman Empire for example carried right on for a thousand years after the fall of Rome.)
Well, I tried to watch Obama’s speech on Iraq, but couldn’t do it. I read the text though, and was appalled. Frightened even. According to Obama, the Iraq War was a glorious and successful undertaking. Right. The above quote says it all, Iraq was at best an expensive miscalculation. Redefining it as some sort of glorious victory doesn’t change the facts. And it’s especially scary that this nonsense is coming from Obama, whose election was in many ways made possible by his opposition to the Iraq war and promise to pull out. And now the Iraq War has magically transformed into a “Mission Accomplished” moment for Obama? Is every future president now going to have a chance to declare “victory” in Iraq?
And just a quick fact review just so I’m not going off half-cocked:
1. There were no WMDs, as plenty of people pointed out beforehand.
2. The war cost staggeringly more than it was supposed to, with trillions to go even if we pulled out tomorrow.
3. Thousands of Americans are dead, thousands more are maimed, ten of thousands have life changing injuries and long term psychological damage. And the families and friends of each and every one of these is paying a price too.
4. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead (arguably hundreds of thousands,) millions are displaced, and by almost every measure the situation in Iraq is worse than before we invaded. Even oil production is still lower than it was under Saddam.
5. Terrorism and terrorists have been emboldened and created by the war, there was no “Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq,” and no suicide bombers before we invaded. Now it’s a hotbed of terror.
6. Iran’s position and influence in the region has been strengthened, Saddam was their worst enemy. Now Iran is for all practical purposes allied with their Shia brothers who are running Iraq. Maybe Iran should be declaring victory?
And this is success? To paraphrase Pyrrhus, another victory like this and we’re done for.
Moving right along, the economy. I posted it on twitter, and I recommend that people read it: Are We a Kleptocracy. It points out stuff that a lot of people should be frightened by, but aren’t. The rich have not only been getting richer for decades, the process has accelerated during the past few years. In fact the article makes the case that this might be the inevitable path that capitalism takes. Once the people with the capital have consolidated control over government and industry, they are going to do what the system is designed to do, accumulate even more capital. And in America there’s no effective opposition to this process, we are all being simply diverted by side issues. I liked this quote:
“Yet, if this is socialism, why are private health insurers the government’s go-to guys for healthcare coverage? If this is fascism, why haven’t the secret police rounded up tea partiers and progressive critics as well and sent them to the lager or the gulag?
Consider this: America is not now, nor has it often been, a hotbed of political radicalism. We have no substantial socialist or workers’ party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the corporate-friendly “Democrat” party here.) We have no substantial fascist party. (Unless you’re deluded, please don’t count the cartoonish “tea partiers” here; these predominantly white, graying, and fairly affluent Americans seem most worried that the jackbooted thugs will be coming for them.)”
— William Astore, Tomdispatch.com
So anyhow, that’s why I don’t comment much on current events any more. It’s all farce and there is little or no public debate. A friend said it decades ago, like the quote in the title that was said a century ago: “We live in a world where right is wrong and wrong its right.” People who think our leaders, left or right, give a flaming f**k about the working class, are deluded. “Populist” Sarah Palin raked in a cool 12$ million last year. Yeah, she’s a woman of the people.
As for Israel, same principle. Despite decades of very successful propaganda to the contrary, when Israel wants peace, there will be peace. The Palestinians are powerless and have no say in the subject. Like the USA, Israel talks peace but wages endless war. (Obama even had the gall to talk about achieving peace even as he was committing us to endless war!) The mock talks with Israel’s designated Palestinian “leaders” are just a further charade. The talks will fail and the dutiful western media will blame it all on the Palestinians.
I wasn’t really trying to make a point with these insane burblings, but the point I wandered across is this: The rise of modern propaganda in the past century and a half has really multiplied the power of leaders to manipulate the masses. And simultaneously made it possible for leaders to get totally out of touch with reality, and maintain support for disastrously failed policies far longer than would have been possible in the pre-propaganda world. And as an ugly counterpart of this, has encouraged powers that be to use farcical methods simply to avoid bad publicity. The Roman’s, hell, nineteenth century Americans, would be appalled (or amused) at our deciding to fight two major wars, but refusing to use the draft and refusing to send in the number of troops needed to get the job done … no matter what it took.
I’ll expand on that rant a little more some day, I’m still studying a lot of history just for fun. It’s amazing what stuff goes down and how people deal with it. I’ll likely mention the Batavia mutiny again, there’s still thoughts I didn’t get down on, well, electrons? Next week, another story that would make a great movie except for the same flaw that keeps the Batavia mutiny off the silver screen … grown men did all sorts of terrible things to women and children. Hard to fit that into the “war is glorious” or the “men are heroic” narrative that is so essential to modern American culture.
Have a great weekend everyone.
The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US cpyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is essential to illustrating the post. Credit and copyright: MPR Photo/Tom Crann. The quote in the title was said by William Dean Howells a century ago. I used the boot photo because before we invaded Iraq I had a dream where I was walking by an endless row of pairs of boots alongside a dusty road, and I was told they were the boots of the “dead Marines.” Well, seven years later and we’re still adding to that row of boots, all for, well, less than nothing.)