Criminalize-Prosecute-Incarcerate, the American Way

how

Are Americans Just More Depraved?

In reality, they probably aren’t but it would seem so. According to Drug Policy.org, with less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States houses almost 25% of the world’s prison inhabitants. In relation to their populations the US is the country with the most prisoners in the world. That’s more than Russia, more than China, more than Iran…

But if Americans are not five times as evil as the rest of humanity, why are so many of them in jail? It’s a long story, a veritable trail of tears, with its roots in some of the country’s most hallowed traditions: ultra-conservatism, racism, religion and the lust for power and profit. The MacGuffin has always been drugs.

 

In the Beginning Was J. Edgar Hoover

 

The story begins in the 1930s with one of the most incombustible, most powerful–and most iniquitous– public servants in American history, J. Edgar Hoover. His biographer, Anthony Summers, sums him up nicely:

J. Edgar Hoover was a phenomenon. The first Director of the FBI, he remained in office for 48 years, from his appointment after the First World War to his death in 1972, achieving fame and extraordinary power. For public consumption when he died, President Richard Nixon eulogised him as: “One of the giants… a national symbol of courage, patriotism and granite-like honesty and integrity.” He ordered flags to fly at half-mast and that Hoover’s body lie in state in the Capitol. In private, on hearing that he had died, Nixon had responded merely: “Jesus Christ! That old cocksucker!”

Bill Clinton, who as president in 1993 was mulling over whom to appoint as FBI Director, thought the reports of Hoover’s cross-dressing were hilarious. “It’s going to be hard,” he grinned during a speech at a press function, “to fill J Edgar Hoover’s… pumps.”

Harry S Truman wrote during his presidency: “We want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail… Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.” When Hoover died and FBI agents went to his office to requisition his personal files–including the damning dossiers he had on the Who’s Who of Washington, D.C.– they found that his “indispensable” secretary, Helen Gandy, had burned them all.

Just Good Friends

Hoover1

Much is made of Hoover’s supposed homosexuality, a question which would be irrelevant today if it were not for Hoover’s vicious persecution of homosexuals. The circumstantial evidence weighs heavily. Washington Post journalist, Kenneth Ackerman, writes in 2011:

If Hoover did have a gay relationship, most likely it was with his longtime FBI associate director, Clyde Tolson, another lifelong bachelor — but even this is disputed. Hoover and Tolson worked together more than 40 years. They traveled on vacation and official business, rode to work together, shared lunch nearly every day at Washington’s Mayflower hotel and sometimes even wore matching suits. Hoover, at his death, left Tolson most of his estate. Their relationship, by all appearances, was stable, discreet and long-lasting. But what they did physically behind closed doors, if anything, they kept between them.

Hoover’s biographer, Anthony Summers, offers this on the subject:

Hoover for a while consulted Marshall de Ruffin, a Washington psychiatrist who became president of the Washington Psychiatric Society. De Ruffin’s widow Monteen recalled learning from her husband that his distinguished patient was “definitely troubled by homosexuality”. After several sessions, however, “Hoover got very paranoid about anyone finding out he was a homosexual, and got scared.” As if to compensate, Hoover lashed out at and sought to expose other homosexuals. For years he had his agents infiltrate and monitor homosexual-rights groups, while he sounded off publicly about “sex deviates in government service”.

It was one of Hoover’s lieutenants, Harry J. Anslinger, who helped elaborate and then executed Hoover’s drug policies. Alexandra Chasin, who wrote Anslinger’s biography, calls her book, Assassin of Youth, describing him:

Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from its establishment in 1930 until his retirement in 1962, Harry J. Anslinger is the United States’ little known first drug czar. Anslinger was a profligate propagandist with a flair for demonizing racial and  immigrant groups and perhaps best known for his zealous pursuit of harsh drug penalties and his particular animus for marijuana users.

To Become Famous and Influential in Washington You Need an Enemy

Drugs, thanks to an essentially baseless wave of hysteria generated by Hoover and Anslinger, became the American public enemy number one, subject to a set of draconian laws that distorted the drug issue. Ironically, the “issue” had a simple solution: regulate them in the same manner that alcohol had been regulated. What prevented that from happening? Two principal factors, which should never have been permitted to intervene: fanatical law-enforcement fervor and fundamentalist religion. Heroin and marijuana were sinful.

American law enforcement’s approach to mind-altering drugs, since the 1930s, has had a far-reaching influence on other societal issues, such as health, penology, race relations and, of course, business. The prohibition of drugs, like that of alcohol, gave rise to fabulous illicit business opportunities. Drug regulation would also have gone a long way towards solving that problem, though nobody thought of that at the time. Though alcohol was eventually re-cast as a controlled–and taxed–substance, drugs remained on the banned –and severely castigated–list.

From the beginning Anslinger associated drug use, race and music. He was quoted as saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men. There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

Nixon Resuscitates the War on Drugs for His Own Ends

Forty years after Anslinger’s first onslaught President Nixon declared in June 1971 his own “war on drugs.” He dramatically increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants.

A top Nixon aide, John Ehrlichman–a former Eagle Scout who later would become a key figure in the Watergate scandal, for which he was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and served a year and a half in prison–later told the truth:

You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Nixon relegated marijuana to Schedule One, the most repressed category of drugs. For a few years after that American white kids got a taste of the treatment the black ones had been experiencing for four decades. In 1972, the commission unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession and distribution of marijuana for personal use. Nixon ignored the report and rejected its recommendations.

Drugs Are the Pretext, African-American Citizens the Victims

Today, even as marijuana is slowly being legalized around the country, Americans still have not shaken off the racist and xenophobic foundations of their appetite for the severe punishment of drug offenders. According to Deborah Small, Executive Director of Break the Chains, the growth of the merciless incarceration culture is due in part to the overly harsh consequences of drug convictions. More than 1.6 million people are arrested, prosecuted, incarcerated, placed under criminal justice supervision and/or deported each year on drug-law violations. But mass incarceration is just one part of the repressive system of criminalization, aggravated by the war on drugs.

Small enumerates some of the side effects of over-zealous prosecution of the law:

“Mass incarceration is one outcome of the culture of criminalization. Criminalization includes the expansion of law enforcement and the surveillance state to a broad range of activities and settings: zero tolerance policies in schools that steer children into the criminal justice system; welfare policies that punish poor mothers and force them to work outside of the home; employment practices that require workers to compromise their basic civil liberties as a prerequisite for a job; immigration policies that stigmatize and humiliate people while making it difficult for them to access essential services like health care and housing.”

In October, 2016 Human Rights Watch and the ACLU issued a 196-page report, “Every 25 Seconds: The Human Toll of Criminalizing Drug Use in the United States.” The report concludes that zealous enforcement of drug possession laws causes unjustifiable harm to individuals and communities across the United States. The consequences include separation of families; exclusion of people from job opportunities, welfare assistance, public housing, and voting; and lifetime discrimination. While more people are arrested for simple drug possession in the US than for any other crime, criminal justice initiatives rarely question whether drug use should be criminalized at all.

This brief video produced by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU bears terrifying witness to the criminalization-prosecution-incarceration abuses in the United States.

A Drug Policy Alliance statement issued on November 17, 2016, expresses concern about racial minorities being deprived of their voting rights:

Because of felony disenfranchisement, over two million Black people could not vote in last week’s week election, in large part because of the drug war and other reprehensible policies that purposefully target Black communities. Check out this powerful video on felony disenfranchisement from our partner, Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, and read more here: http://bit.ly/2gn67Ql.

 

Incarceration Rates Skyrocketed in the 1980s 

us_incarceration_timeline-clean-fixed-timescale-svg_-400x267

Drug Policy. org offers us A Brief History of the Drug War, from Ronald Reagan’s promotion of a long period of skyrocketing rates of incarceration, largely thanks to his unprecedented expansion of the drug war, until Obama’s more progressive drug initiatives–which are now being countermanded by Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has made it clear that he does not support the right of states to legalize marijuana, and believes “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

In the late 1980s, political hysteria about drugs led to the passage of draconian penalties in Congress and state legislatures that rapidly increased the prison population. In 1985, the proportion of Americans polled who saw drug abuse as the nation’s “number one problem” was just 2-6 percent. The figure grew through the remainder of the 1980s until, in September 1989, it reached a remarkable 64 percent – one of the most intense fixations by the American public on any issue in polling history.

Thoughtco.com on Mandatory Drug Sentencing Laws

Mandatory drug sentencing laws came about in the 1980s at the height of the War on Drugs. The seizure of 3,906 pounds of cocaine, valued then at over $100 million wholesale, from a Miami International Airport hangar on March 9, 1982, brought about the public’s awareness of the Medellin Cartel, Colombian drug traffickers working together,  and changed U.S. law enforcement’s approach towards the drug trade. Lawmakers began to vote more money for law enforcement and began to create stiffer penalties for not only drug dealers, but for drug users.

Today the criminalization-prosecution-incarceration assault on American citizens continues, with 700,000 people arrested for marijuana offenses each year and almost 500,000 people still behind bars for nothing more than a drug law violation.

Drug Policy.org concludes their article, “We look forward to a future where drug policies are shaped by science and compassion rather than political hysteria.”

 

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for liking, commenting and sharing.

 

 

Democracy Ain’t What It Used to Be

shell-game_narrow

Wikipedia: The shell game (also known as thimblerig, three shells and a pea, the old army game) is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is almost always a confidence trick used to perpetrate fraud.

A Burning Bush on the Way to the Dentist’s Office

One day I’m walking to the dentist’s office  and I notice the bold bronze letters glowing over the door of a Granada University building: “Facultad de Sociología y Ciencias Políticas.” That was when it finally hit me. The traditional base elements of democratic politics–idealism, honesty, goodwill, life, liberty and the pursuit of the happiness of the citizenry–have been substituted for sociologized “political science.” The essence of western democracy has been downgraded to pandering to the lowest common voter, by means of numbers, statistics and opinion polls. The modern political model, which the United States has exported all over the world, calling it “democracy,” is no longer about noble ideas and the struggle for human rights, equality and citizen well-being.  It’s about opportunism, not idealism, as the leaders of the Free World would have you believe.

Abraham Lincoln would not recognize his country’s governors.

Beware the American Political-Science Shell Game

The unique objective of this political-science shell game is winning elections, and at that the Americans are masters. Winning political power is the end that justifies all means. Elected officials adhere to largely-irrelevant agendas designed for them by election-manipulation specialists turned out by political science/sociology departments, well armed with polling techniques and statistical sleight of hand. Though these agendas are generally financed nowadays by corporate sponsors and sold to voters as programs to benefit the society, the truth is that they are designed uniquely to win and exercise power.

Let’s Not Forget the Ethical Aspect

Where do ethics or idealism enter into the equation? They don’t. What enters into the equation is expediency and adherence to a pre-determined ideological agenda. That’s the desired end. Whether or not the program benefits the voters in any way is irrelevant. The bottom line is that the United States government has become not a democracy but a scam. The irony of this chilling state of affairs is that it was achieved through entirely legal means. What is meant by “legal,” anyway? It means “in accordance with the law.” Who makes the federal laws in the United States of America? The United States Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate. There, you see, it’s not that complicated, after all. They bake it and they eat it.

There Must Have Been Nobler Times, No?

I was so naive that I used to believe that there was a time when politics was about brilliant and noble men (There weren’t many women in politics in those days.) who had ideas and ideals and wanted to promote them for the good of society. To find that time you had to go quite a ways back, maybe to Lincoln or Washington. Or maybe even farther back. Washington, let’s not forget, was the richest man in the colonies, thanks to his wife, Martha’s extensive land–and slave–holdings in Virginia.

I would still like to believe that there was a time when there was an element of decency in American politics, some remnant of consideration for the commonweal. Maybe Franklin D. Roosevelt embodied some of that. But I’m still not sure. What I do know for certain is that contemporary American politics–and by extension most of the rest of the world’s “democracies”–is bereft of any hint of idealism. Anybody who believes otherwise is a dupe. Today’s aspirant to public office doesn’t need ideals. All he needs are some powerful corporate sponsors, the ability to read a script and a team of political scientists/sociologists. (As for “the ability to read…” President Trump has shown us that not even that is absolutely essential. And it explains why the incumbent president so frequently wanders off script.) A connection to an established political organization can also be useful, as demonstrated by President Truman, a middle-American mediocrity who was placed in the vice-presidency and then the presidency in 1948 by the Missouri Democratic Party boss, Tom Pendergast.)

What do the candidate’s sociologists do? They design and run polls to determine scientifically what it is that voters want, no matter how banal or counterproductive those desires may be. The candidate has no need to introduce to the voters any higher ideas or projects for their intellectual or moral uplift. His mission is just to promise–if not always to deliver–them the pre-digested kibble of advanced consumer society, flavored with the standard seasonings of facile patriotism, self-interest, fear and good old-time religion.

America’s Uniqueness Lies in the Misuse of Powerful Innovations

Now there is a new twist on this already convoluted system. It’s called “big data.” Thanks to sophisticated systems of collecting and analyzing citizens’ tastes, likes, friends, purchases, credit ratings, manias, affiliations and associations, political fixers don’t
even need to run polls. They just gather up all the available data on virtually everybody and sift it, categorize it, quantify it and create campaign propaganda based on the results. These political ads, adversarial videos and campaign strategies, applied in exact
doses on all available media, including, of course, Internet, permit astute political teams to win elections handily, with no concern for values, good or evil, ideas, programs, citizen wellbeing nor any other nonsense of that nature. Citizens are not considered human beings. They’re just chips on the table. The bottom line is that today’s American democracy is pure marketing. It’s all about salesmanship and packaging.

The big-data tsunami has thrown up an interesting by-product which may prove to be as influential as data-mining itself: extreme right-wing big-data billionaires who have joined the ranks of the sinister oil billionaires in their efforts to skew the American democratic process. The prime example of this trend is Robert Mercer, who made billions developing big-data applications and implementations for business, and now spends part of his great wealth on retrograde political mind-bending both in the US and abroad. He sent big-data and media teams to the UK in 2016 to influence the June 23rd Brexit referendum vote in that year. Their efforts were a factor in the pro-Brexit
victory and the resulting splitting of Europe and fortification of US-British tilted-playing-field bi-lateral relations. (The British seem never to learn.)

How Low Can You Go?

This scheme of things has another advantage for the American ruling classes. It guarantees the gradual stagnation of citizens’ thoughts and aspirations for a better society or for any suggestion of collective solutions. (The dreaded socialism! The only Americans who benefit from true socialism are all the members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, who blessed themselves with free, socialized health and dental care as well as generous pension plans paid for by American taxpayers from sea to shining sea.)

The end result of this process of stagnation is–in case you hadn’t noticed–the dumbing down of the majority of that benighted country’s unfortunate citizens. This is how the United States got recent presidents of the lamentable intellectual and moral stature of Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, George W. Bush (and Dick Cheney, his expert and essential puppeteer) and, of course, President Donald Trump and his ghoulish cohort.

The way out of grave situations like today’s in the United States used to be the ballot box. But that was before political science and big data virtually assured the election of hollow men to high places. What can Americans do today? Only their tent preachers have the answer: “Get on your knees and pray.”

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for liking, commenting and sharing.

We Were Wondering…

President Trump's Cabinet
These are the hollow men. They are the stuffed men. Leaning together. Headpieces filled with straw.

How Do American Governments Justify Their Questionable Actions?

Although the Americans in charge regularly resort to “American exceptionalism” and other familiar formulas to justify their belligerent solutions both at home and abroad, Europeans and other people from the world outside the United States have a lot of questions for the government and the people of the world’s only superpower regarding those “solutions.” Thanks largely to that exemplary American hero, Superman, we all agree that superpowers should be used for good, and that evil should be left to the likes of super-villain, Lex Luthor, and other characters of his ilk. At least that’s the theory. As usual, the reality is somewhat different… Let’s take a look together.

How Do Americans Live with Their Own Government?

How does one of the world’s greatest countries–historically, economically, technologically and militarily–the home of some of the world’s most prestigious seats of higher learning, manage to elect a government made up of its worst elements semi-literate accountants, speculators and rednecks, ultra Christian zealots, racists, militarists, hypocrites and other assorted sociopaths, headed by an uncouth, unlettered and unprincipled President and backed by packs of extreme right-wing billionaires and industrialists promoting their own sinister agendas?

Virtually none of these eminent American leaders have any consideration for the wellbeing of the people who elected them, preferring to favor with all their government initiatives a cynical, opportunistic and affluent sector of American society–the notorious “one per-cent,” not to be confused with the 1% sector of unruly motor-cycle club members who might actually be considered a better class of people insofar as they only rough up their fellow citizens individually or in small groups. And they have yet
to provoke a mortgage crisis or major bank bailout.

What about Iraq and Afghanistan?

The American invasions of both of these sovereign countries were–and remain–unprovoked, illegal acts of war based on false pretenses. Both President Bush and his secretary of state, Colin Powell, knew, based on information from their own
intelligence services, that Iraq had no “weapons of mass destruction” but opted to mount a disinformation black op on the floor of the United Nations to justify that invasion. It is probable that the attack and subsequent occupation of the country and later blockade that resulted in, among other catastrophes, the deaths of half a million Iraki children constitutes crimes against humanity, in accordance with international law.

Due to setbacks on the ground, the Americans have pulled most of their troops out of Iraq. Was this for humanitarian reasons? They might say it was. But it’s also true that American soldiers are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which holds them accountable for abuses of civilians. Mercenaries (“contractors” is the current euphemism), on the other hand, are not hindered by any such legal restrictions. They’re freebooters. It would be interesting to know after the US government extracted the soldiers, how may mercenaries did they leave in place in Iraq? And how many fresh ones did they introduce? We were wondering…

The case of the Afghan war is equally egregious if more complicated since the Americans seem even less able to defeat the Afghan resistance. Again, out with the United States military and in with the private armies, which are more, shall we say “expedient” than GIs. That being the case, why does the United States even need an army? Meanwhile, missiles and drones are proving that the US doesn’t need an air force, either. What ‘s next, the conversion of the Pentagon into a giant five-sided shopping mall?

American Full-Spectrum Dominance, Reality or Myth?

Does the United States actually have the military might worldwide to back up their arrogant, unilateral foreign policy in a showdown with their most powerful adversaries? Hitler thought he had this preponderance of power, and for a while he did, but in the end he lost it. His “1,000-year Reich” lasted just 12 tragic years, from 1933 until 1945.

The University of Texas’s National Security Review addressed this issue in their June 28, 2018 issue, saying,

“Even a cursory examination of recent U.S. history raises questions about what military superiority should look like, given that the U.S. military’s last victory in conflict was against a third-rate power in a quick fight with extremely limited aims. The 1991 Persian Gulf War is frequently trotted out in the defense community as the example to emulate, yet it may offer less guidance for future state-on-state conflict than one might hope.

Correspondent Jamie Seidel, writing in the Australian newspaper, Adelaide Now, in its December 28, 2017 issue reveals similar cause for concern regarding American military hegemony:

International strategic think-tank the RAND Corporation has made a comprehensive assessment of US military capabilities in the face of an increasingly unstable world.

To do this it has analysed the outcome of extensive war games conducted by itself and other institutions, and assessed published reports on the capabilities and strategies of the key players.

It finds the US woefully unprepared.

As for the superiority of American advanced weaponry, The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is an excellent case in point. A well-versed Swiss military analyst who calls himself “Saker” sums up the US-Russian arms race succinctly: “The Americans build arms to make money; the Russians build arms to win battles.” If this is true it doesn’t bode well for the USA.

 

The Strategic Separation of Children from Their Parents

The Trump administration’s policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents at the border was not circumstantial, nor was it coincidental, nor by accident. It was a deliberate dissuasive strategy carefully worked out beforehand by what passes in the White House for thinkers, based on irrefutable logic. What do these backward Latinos value most? Their families, of course. If we take their children away from them immediately, at the border, it will be the definitive dissuasive measure to prevent other potential immigrants from trying to cross into the US illegally.

Did they consider the human implications of this policy? The facts indicate either that they didn’t, or that they did and decided not to take humanity into consideration. After
all, it’s the very inhumanity of the measure that makes it devastatingly effective. The United Nations has recently declared that this forceful separation of children–including nursing infants–from their parents is tantamount to torture.

What’s with Their Cruel and Unusual Lack of Gun Laws?

We’re also wondering about the advisability of the United States’s heavily armed
populace. Pistol-packin’ America maintains that their right to “keep and bear arms” is guaranteed by the sacrosanct second amendment to the US Constitution. In fact, these semi-literate constitutional scholars ignore–or choose to ignore–the context of the Constitutional text which clearly states, “”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Outside the context of that “well-regulated militia,” the right to keep and bear arms, just in order to shoot school children, ex-wives and white-tailed deer, is legally and morally indefensible, as it is in every civilized country in the world. Nor is the NRA a “well-regulated militia.” Any pretense that it is one is a perversion of common sense and constitutional law. So, the whole pro-gun movement is simply a band of unruly boy/men playing at defending their mortiferous bang-bang toys. Now there’s nothing to prevent the FBI from going round to confiscate them. What are they waiting for?

We’re wondering how the gun situation got so absurd in the United States. Could it have to do with far-right politicians pandering to a plump, reliable right-wing voting bloc of gunners in the same way they groom the evangelical vote even though those earnest Christians want to provoke an atomic war in the Mideast in order to precipitate the Apocalypse tomorrow, if not sooner?

Nor can we forget the potentially calamitous role of roving bands of armed mouth breathers on the loose during civil disturbances in the United States, an eventuality that looks more and more probable as the American ship of state begins to slip anchor.

Another interesting question arises here. In the case of a serious uprising against the democratic order of American Nazi, White Supremacist, National Rifle Association, and other associated sociopathic brotherhoods , which side would the US Army be on? While we’re speculating, which side would President Trump be on? This is beginning to look serious. Maybe someone should consult the Rand Corporation so they can run some reassuring war games.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for liking, commenting and sharing.

Schizophrenogenic America

fracturedamerica1

How the United States Drives Its Citizens Crazy

“Schizophrenogenic”=”Schizophreno” from “schizophrenia” and “genic” from “genesis.” Meaning: Tending to produce schizophrenia. When applied to a country it refers to a place that is so unfair and destructive for vast sectors of its population that it will drive them crazy, with all the logical consequences. There are many countries like that around the world, but the most egregious is the United States of America, due to the disparity between the image of affluence and wellbeing it attempts to project and its sordid reality. Powerful interests and popular traditions in the US like to portray it as a model Democracy but in reality it’s a model Schizophrenogenocracy.

The symptoms of this phenomenon are well known, but when you sit down to make a list of them it grows alarmingly long. In general, the country is beset by a desperation that engenders mental illness, crimes and suicides, among countless other evils. Underlying them all is a skewed value system that values wealth and profit first and foremost, regardless of the human consequences. Isn’t this just the way of the world? Actually, no, it’s not. Many countries are managed by generous, egalitarian governments and find the American system abhorrent. The first ones that come to mind are Canada and all of Europe, which offer an obvious alternative to the United States’s smash-and-grab practices at home and abroad. In European countries and Canada the principal objective is the enhancement of the well-being of their citizens. It’s as simple as that. It’s called “socialism,” and it’s that hairy foreign beast that patriotic Americans are prepared to combat to the death. How they came by that conviction is a story for another time. For now let’s settle for the short answer: brainwashing.

As a consequence of these faulty philosophical foundations, a large segment of the young people of the United States is prone to rebelliousness, substance abuse, mental disorders, underachievement at school, depression, hollow hopes, gun fascination and assorted asocial sentiments and actions. They are being medicated for this disorderly behavior at ever-earlier ages. One wonders whether medication is the cure or the cause. Researcher Josephine Johnson writes in the AMA Journal of Ethics in September 2013:

Some say that diagnostic thresholds in psychiatry are too low, causing too many children to be diagnosed, while others counter that mental disorders are underrecognized in children. Some argue that troubled children need behavioral treatments not drugs, while others point out that many medications show impressive efficacy in clinical trials. Some say that problematic moods and behaviors are caused by brain malfunctions that are no more prevalent today than they were 30 or 50 years ago, while others argue that we have the etiological picture all wrong: it’s our society that is troubled, not our kids.

At bottom, nobody is certain why the United States has a disproportionate number of school shooters. But it’s not only the kids. What about the beauty biz that turns American women’s body fears into multi-million-dollar profit mines? The unknown marketing genius who converted a widespread but little-known benign medical condition called “cellulitis” into a vast platinum mine deserves a medal from the American Snake Oil Association.

Filthy Lucre: Profit-from-Misery Scams

There are dozens (thousands?) of other profit-from-misery scams that turn grave social problems into profit. Consider the for-profit prisons, the holding facilities for children at $700 per child per night, sticky-fingered tele-evangelists, sect-related private schools (that Education Secretary Betsy de Vos promotes vehemently as an alternative to public education)… And that ain’t the half of it.

The whole Middle East oil and geo-political cluster-fuck that began with unprovoked attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan–war crimes under international law–has yielded trillions of dollars in profits for American war profiteers and an approximately equal amount of debt for American taxpayers.

Then there are the extreme symptoms, starting with those which occur in public life.  The most sinister example is that of politicians who steal elections, whether by hook or by crook, either through gerrymandering (which is actually legal) or election tampering, or the manipulation of ingenuous voters and the elimination of others by closing polling places and placing other barriers to free and fair elections. Any unscrupulous use of great wealth to influence public policy must also be considered extreme, along with racism which includes murder, White Supremacy and NAZIism.

What Are the Causes of All These Troubling Symptoms?

Insecurity causes unease. Economic insecurity. The insecurity of violent streets, especially for young black men. The numbing insecurity of not having decent medical coverage. Disproportionate incarceration and unfair sentencing practices yielding draconian sentences cause no little unease in communities all around the country. Racial prejudice and inequality contribute to poverty, untenable home situations and limited educational opportunities. Mindless religious and political indoctrination create destructive false hopes and reliance on magical thinking. Massive insecurity is engendered by mental and physical disorders attributable to military service, faulty social values formed by universally-accepted lies, myths, magical beliefs and indoctrination, all of which annul or limit the citizenry’s ability to think clearly. They simply cannot hear the song for the static.

The American Dream and the False-Hopes Machine

The American Dream is achieved by a tiny minority of citizens. For many of the rest it’s the American Nightmare. Even the all-pervasive myth of the “self-made man” is a lie. No man “makes himself.” That nonsense comes out of the American false-hopes machine along with Manifest Destiny, “arms of mass destruction,” rugged individualism, American exceptionalism and US military superiority. (Andrei Martyan, an interesting Swiss defense analyst I’ve recently discovered sums it up nicely: “The United States builds arms to make money; the Russians build them to win battles.”)

Why don’t those right-wing septic-think-tank trolls talk about what their country really has in spades: bare-fisted imperialism in an updated, high-tech version. And a lot of that “high tech” is devoted to thought control. What is “big data” if not an advanced technology for reading the collective mind. Then the big-data magnates dedicate a part of their gargantuan profits to sending teams of media experts, statisticians and information specialists around the world to spread noxious right-wing ideology. Do you need examples? Google the big-data billionaire, Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, and see what skulduggery they’ve been sponsoring both in Washington and on the Brexit front in Britain.  All of this information is in the public domain for anyone concerned enough to take the time to look for it.

The dumbed-down American masses prize shrewdness, not creativity; opportunism and the quick buck, not public service. And most of those who pretend to be in public service are just shrewd opportunists who tailor their discourse to poll results in order to get elected and re-elected. They care nothing for advancing the just causes of citizens. The lowest form of this species is the non-religious politician who panders to fundamentalist Christians in order to win the substantial evangelical vote. Does anyone come to mind?

Is There Any Hope?

Is there any hope for extracting masses of American citizens from this cruel and tragic double bind? The United States is the wealthiest, most powerful country in the world, but your family is reduced to living on the street in a cardboard hut and praying that nobody gets sick while other American families are contemplating spending their tax cuts on a bigger executive jet. What shall we say to these people who are tricked out of a decent life in America? “Hang on, things will get better soon?” Probably not. We’ll have to settle for, “Good luck, you’re going to need it.”

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for liking, commenting and sharing.

 

 

 

 

The Economist from Hell

James Buchanan
James Buchanan (1919-2013)

The Mastermind Behind the Rising American Dystopia

Normal Americans who watch the news and read the paper could easily get the impression that today’s radical political and economic changes in their country are determined by arbitrary–almost random–ideas and events promoted in large part by crazies of different stripes: American Nazis, white supremacists and other assorted hate groups on one hand, and anarchists, socialists and radical feminists on the other. It looks to Mr. and Mrs. America like a lunatic fringe that amuses itself on weekends carrying banners and bashing heads. When all is said and done it’s nothing that can’t be handled by well-trained riot police and a few justices of the peace.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. What Mr. and Mrs. America are unwittingly looking at is, in reality, a sinister, well-organized-and-financed extreme-right-wing campaign to undermine plural American democracy as we have always conceived it. You remember, separation of powers, free and fair elections, majority rule, respect for minorities, the rule of law, due process…

Ironically, none of this ultra-conservative campaign to undermine American democracy is illegal or even secret. Information on its inception, gestation, birth and growth is freely available from public sources. It just takes a few evenings to google it out of Internet. It turns out that what American democracy is up against is a group of reactionary billionaires systematically using their money to finance the creation and operation of think tanks, educational institutions, foundations, public relations firms and big-data concerns that all work together to promote their business-friendly, people-deadly model for American society and institutions. They’re actually quite successful at it, both at home and abroad.

Until recently it wasn’t easy to put together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to the point where normal people could understand exactly what the billionaires and their teams were up to and how they were going about it. Then Nancy MacLean, a historian from Duke University, wrote a book called Democracy in Chains, The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America; a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction in 2017. MacLean’s book illuminates the movement from its theoretical foundations own to its meticulously-executed strategies. Amazon.com calls it, “An explosive exposé of the right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, stop action on climate change, and alter the Constitution.”

According to MacLean it all began with an unlikely political economist from Tennessee. Yes, Tennesse. His name was James Buchanan, a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later took a graduate degree at the University of Chicago. He went on to form a school of reactionary economists eventually was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics. Though we usually associate Nobel Prizes with projects that benefit the people of the world, Buchanan’s award was for the exact opposite: elaborating a theory to potentiate the fortunes of a privileged minority and impoverish the rest of the population of the United States–and ultimately the world. Buchanan bases his radical laissez-faire economic system on the premise that human society is motivated uniquely by self-interest. And he takes this notion to its logical extreme. The resulting crushing impoverishment of the rest of the population is absolutely irrelevant.

Buchanan was increasingly concerned about anything that smacked of socialism, or any other form of government that directed resources to the public welfare. He saw no reason that the wealthy should have to pay for programs for ordinary citizens and the poor. Buchanan had written in The Limits of Liberty, a book published in 1975, “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves.”

MacLean quotes him as saying in his 2005 book, Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative, that people who failed to foresee and save money for their future needs are to be treated “as subordinate members of the species, akin to…animals who are dependent.” This sounds like a lunatic baying at the moon, fit only to be dismissed out of hand. But there was another factor that was to catalyze a chain reaction. MacLean suspected that Buchanan’s theories were being implemented by obscure forces in the here and now, but she had no way of confirming her suspicions until the economist died in 2013 and she gained access to his archives at George Mason University in Virginia. Perhaps “archives” is not the apt word, as she found his papers strewn willy-nilly through several offices in the wake of a move to a new building at the University of Virginia.

Midst the boxes and drawers of unsorted papers MacLean discovered correspondence between Buchanan and the multi-billionaire industrialist and speculator, Charles Koch. It immediately occurred to MacLean: this could have been the catalyst for the stealthy right-wing revolution then–and now–in progress. Retrograde, anti-social political ideas are just ideas until they are fueled by money and Koch had plenty of that. He also had a penchant for tampering with politics. When he discovered Buchanan and grasped his message, he bought into the Tennessee economist’s demented economic and social theories. This “buying in” went to finance voter suppression, the changing of legislative processes so that a normal majority would no longer prevail, fomenting public distrust of government institutions… Their ultimate goal was to modify the Constitution, to alter it in ways that no democratic politicians could ever challenge.

Lynn Parramore, from the Institute for Free Economic Thinking, wrote in May, 2018:

Research like MacLean’s provides hope that toxic ideas like Buchanan’s may finally begin to face public scrutiny. Yet at this very moment, the Kochs’ State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects corporate agents to conservative lawmakers to produce legislation, are involved in projects that the Trump-obsessed media hardly notices, like pumping money into state judicial races. Their aim is to stack the legal deck against Americans in ways that MacLean argues may have even bigger effects than Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on American politics.

MacLean’s book explains how Koch’s money permitted Buchanan to establish a base at George Mason University and partner with reactionary economists, right-wing politicians and lobbyists for companies like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and General Motors. Altogether they formed a cabal capable of promoting their exclusively property-friendly policies via control of the media, through new retrograde curricula for economics education and cultivating politicians. One of their favorite ploys was a program to create legal programs for law professors and federal judges. They calculated that, by 1990, 40% of federal judges had been subjected to a Koch-backed course of study. There were other sinister campaigns designed to combat such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, efforts to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as to kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project. Their ultimate objective was to “tear down” the notion that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. The “public” was irrelevant.

Buchanan and his troupe have spread their influence abroad since the early days of their association. They were contracted by the Pinochet government, after the coup d’etat in Chile in 1973, to re-draft the Chilean constitution in order to empower capitalism absolutely, including, of course, foreign investment. Britain is also a longtime benefactor of Buchanan’s twisted thinking. Many of Margaret Thatcher’s public-sector reforms were inspired by the American economist and his followers.

MacLean asserts that Buchanan’s revolution wasn’t just “a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics.” It was something “far more disturbing.” She sustains that the United States is “experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society.” She adds that “shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so they can bypass the will of the people. This requires “greatly expanding police powers to control the resultant popular anger.” One can’t help but think of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.

Perhaps the most terrifying aspect of the machinations of this economist from hell is the fact that Buchanan and his acolytes have been burrowing through the roots of American democracy for almost half a century and, until Nancy MacLean published her book, no one of note seems to have noticed, let alone dealt with the phenomenon.

Andrew Marvell, the 16th-century English poet wrote in To His Coy Mistress:

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow…

It’s not only love that grows vegetatively and slow. Evil does, too.

Read more rantings in my ebook, The Turncoat Chronicles.
Thanks for commenting and sharing

 

The Next American Civil War? 2/2

Charlottesville-militia-800x430

Straight Up to Heaven

For readers who are fascinated or horrified by this virulent interpretation of the Book of Revelations, here’s more information from the glossary provided by RaptureReady.com:

Rapture:
At an unknown hour and day the Lord Jesus will descend from heaven, while remaining in the air, he will snatch his Bride, the Church, out from among this sinful world. Christ then takes the Church to heaven for the 7 year wedding feast. The earthly reason for the removal of the Church is to make way for the rise of Antichrist and to fulfill Daniel’s final 70th week.

President Trump has many of these radical Christians participating in his White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative which, according to the Religious News Service, “will ensure that the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the Federal Government.”

What Are the Chances? Meet Robin Wright

In order to foresee a civil war we have to take a close look at the potential causes. It helps also to examine previous cases. Robin Wright, who has been a contributing writer to The New Yorker since 1988, wrote an insightful article there, published on August 14, 2017. In it she addresses the question of where the United States is headed in these troubled times. “How fragile is the Union, our republic, and a country that has long been considered the world’ most stable democracy? The dangers are now bigger than the collective episodes of violence.” She quotes last year’s report from the Southern Poverty Law Center: “The radical right was more successful in entering the political mainstream last year than in half a century.” Wright adds, “The organization documents more than 900 active (and growing) hate groups in the United States.” Continue reading “The Next American Civil War? 2/2”

The Next American Civil War? 1/2

White Supremacist Militia

Charlottesville, VA, white supremacist rally

It Couldn’t Happen in America

Americans are living turbulent times, times when the last things you need are half the citizenry armed to the teeth and an unstable, egomaniacal, possibly psychotic at the helm. Is there the possibility of a 21st-century civil war breaking out in the USA? We have always confidently assumed that it couldn’t happen in the world’s greatest democracy. Or could it? The mighty Mississippi doesn’t start out as a great river. It begins as tiny rivulets struggling towards Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, from whose headwaters it flows 2,340 miles southwards, entering the Gulf of Mexico as a triumphant giant. It’s the same with social movements, both benign and malevolent. They start with just a few people concerned enough to do something. Formerly they would die out or grow vegetatively into mass movements. Today, with the Internet, they can propagate like flash fires. This fact, coupled with the hundreds of rivulets of intolerance, racial hatred, inequality, individualistic greed, and armed militants, rife in the country, does not bode well. Could they all join together in a very short time to form a mighty river of civil disobedience and martial solutions? That is to say, a civil war. Continue reading “The Next American Civil War? 1/2”