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.