Teaching Your Children Solid Lies–2/2

American_Exceptionalism

The American Foundation Lie

One lie rules all the others. It’s the lie of American exceptionalism. American children are nursed on it along with their mothers’ milk. It comes in various guises but they all have to do with the “fact” that Americans are different from the rest of humanity: somehow better, more idealistic, more generous, more industrious,  more advanced, more democratic, cleaner, more godly. And these qualities, of course, entitle Americans to certain inalienable privileges.

Soldiers are trained to kill for their country. The unsuspecting recruits usually don’t discover that it’s a scam until it’s too late.

Branding Patriotism

American_Flag_mfg

Patriotism as big business thrives on the lies that teachers tell American schoolchildren. Americans purchase some 150 million US flags every year, 10-20 million of which are imported from China (and are not subject to President Trumps import tariffs). No other country in the world reveres its flag as the US does. The caskets of their soldiers returning from foreign wars are wrapped in it, making the package look more like a Christmas present than a dead boy. People from other countries consider it an American fetish. It does, however, advance the American ultra-nationalist agenda. Flag enthusiasm is the abracadabra that permits them to justify the unjustifiable on countless occasions and in countless contexts.

American patriotism has also been reduced to selling cars and credit cards. The Brandkeys.com site lists America’s most-patriotic brands. A national sample of 5,862 consumers, 18 to 68 years of age, balanced for gender and political party affiliation, drawn from the nine U.S. Census Regions, evaluated brand resonance for “patriotism.” Here are the top 10:

1 Jeep
2 Disney
3 Ford
4 Coca-Cola
5 Levi Strauss
6 American Express / MSNBC
7 Hershey’s
8 AT&T / The New York Times
9 Walmart
10 FOX News

According to Statista.com 72% of Americans are “Extremely” or “Very” Proud to be American

The Kardashianization of America could turn out to be a prime cause of the country’s ongoing decline.

Not Just Textbooks

It’s not just textbooks that keep the beloved American myths alive. Lots of other factors help to condition the intellectual atmosphere under the American bell jar.

The Military–With all its heroism, terrorism, expensive toys and glorious history of victories declared, the military is the lie personified. Soldiers are educated by semi-literate drill sergeants to kill “for their country” to defend the Constitution. The unsuspecting recruits usually don’t discover it’s a scam until it’s too late. The price they pay is exhorbitant.

The Scouts–The Scouting movement, with its uniforms, marching, saluting, survival skills, and patriotic cant, has been since its inception in 1910 a para-military organization, virtually a children’s army that has had a massive influence on American boys. Until recently it was statutorially bound to churches, another quintessential Americanizing factor for young people to get their heads around. Things are about to changing radically, however, as the scouts and the church are now legally separated and, as this NY Times headline from Feb. 18, 2020 points out: Boy Scouts Seek Bankruptcy to Survive a Deluge of Sex-Abuse Claims. Pederasty has a long history in scouting, starting with its founder, British Lt. General Baden Powell, who revealed his “affection for boys” in his diaries. It’s possible that today’s mix of scandal and economic disaster will mean the end of scouting.

The Media–Television, Hollywood movies, right-wing radio, and the mainstream press don’t require much government control to put out the “correct” ideological messages. Virtually all of these media are owned by conglomerates that benefit from the promotion of tendentious American mythology.  Nine-eleven, of course, opened the floodgates for jingoist content of all sorts.

Who is acknowledged by the American people as the most patriotic American of our time, in answer to the question: “Name anyone – alive or dead – you feel best personifies the value of “patriotism” in the United States'” Originally posted on Brandkeys, as part of a study of consumer values in America, the answer to this question is not hard to guess.  John Wayne’s character and unwavering patriotism still stand the test of time, as consumers answered, unaided, that John Wayne is the most patriotic person in 21st-century America, quite a feat as he died from lung cancer in 1979. 

Pop Culture and Consumerism–The roles of pop culture and consumerism in the nurturing of American lies is indirect but essential. Both of these all-encompassing phenomena occupy and infantilize the nation’s thinking and lifestyle so thoroughly that there remains little room in the collective mind for anything else. The Kardashianization of America could turn out to be a prime cause of the country’s ongoing decline.

The Trouble with Lies Is That They Come Unraveled with Time

The American exceptionalist lies, which were never taken seriously abroad, started to be doubted even by some enlightened Americans themselves in the light of their government’s gratuitously savage foreign wars and economic imperialism. That tide began to turn with the anti-Vietnam-war demonstrations organized by “radical” American students in the sixties. Bearing banners and yelling slogans on the streets of American cities was considered “radical” while indiscriminate mass murder by grid bombing carried out by American B-52 Stratofortress bombers was mere business as usual. Not much has changed in the intervening half century, considering right-wing America’s truculent response to today’s Black Lives Matter marches, which President Donald Trump, the law-and-order candidate, is astutely using as a creepy springboard for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Isn’t It Time to Heal America?

It shouldn’t be too hard to heal America. All they would have to do is face the facts–not the myths–honestly, renounce the lies publicly, repent openly, repeal the noxious textbooks, correct the mendacious institutions and take significant measures to address inequality. Working hard with broad cooperation, dedication, and perseverance that healing shouldn’t take more than three generations. The Germans and the Japanese achieved it in two.

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.
Back to Part 1

Teaching Your Children Solid Lies –1/2

Lies_My_Teacher_Told_Me_
This book, published almost 25 years ago and republished twice since, drew the curtain back on how young Americans were–and are–systematically lied to about their country’s history and its role in the world.

American High School History Classes Teach Mythology

In 1995 American sociologist James W. Loewen published Lies My Teacher Told Me, an essential book that illuminates the indoctrination that passes for education in American high school history classes. The book was so important that updated versions have been published twice since then.

Loewen’s methodology was simple enough: buy a dozen of the most popular textbooks of American history for 11th-grade high-school students, meticulously analyse each one of the books, compare them, evaluate them, and place them on the history-mythology continuum.

The results of this analysis reveal that mythology wins. The first priority of all these seminal books in the formation of young American minds is to foment “traditional American values,” not to teach the unvarnished facts of history.

Goodreads.com has this to say:

Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.

Racism, for example, is not mentioned in any of them. Slavery, in particular, was the driving force behind major events like the Louisiana Purchase and the Civil War. Loewen points out that, “as long as history textbooks make white racism invisible, neither they nor their students who use them will be able to analyze race relations intelligently.”

No Warts on America

Why do textbooks promote wartless stereotypes?” asks Loewen. “The authors’ omissions and errors can hardly be accidental.” He then chooses two paradigmatic figures from American history to illustrate his point: President  Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US commander in chief, and the remarkable blind and deaf humanitarian, Helen Keller. Wilson is known, and enters into high-school history books, as the altruistic promotor of the post World War I League of Nations and for his 14-points declaration which included  proposals to ensure world peace in the future, open agreements, arms reductions, freedom of the seas, free trade, and self-determination for oppressed minorities. Wilson even suggested that there would be another world war within a generation should the U.S. fail to join the League. Woodrow was quite the statesman and diplomat.

President Wilson’s Sinister Side

What few US high school history books mention is that Wilson was authoritarian and racist at home, having promoted the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition act of 1918, which Loewen refers to as “probably the most serious attacks on the civil liberties of Americans since the short-lived Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.” Wilson, with his persecution of progressive causes–he promoted the notorious Palmer Raids against left-wing unions–and foreign interventions, paved the way for McCarthyism, the Patriot Acts,  and the disastrous invasions of Iraq. Under Wilson the US intervened in Latin America more often than at any other time in American history. Loewen cites an article published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1919, “After World War I, the Wilson administration’s attacks on civil liberties increased, now with anti-communism as the excuse. Neither before nor since these campaigns has the United States come closer to being a police state.” That was in 1919. Much “progress” has been made in the advancement of the American police state since then and we’re seeing the results of that progress on American streets today.

Helen Keller Was Much More

Helen Keller, Loewen’s other example, is portrayed in the history books as an admirable case of individual victory against tremendous odds, an American success story. Her activities recorded for American high-school students are limited to her remarkable educational achievements and her charitable work. But Keller’s life was much more remarkable than that. Loewen recounts:

She was a radical socialist. She joined the Socialist Party of Massachusetts in 1909. She had become a social radical even before she graduated from Radcliffe and not, she emphasized, because of any teachings available there. After the Russian Revolution she sang the praises of the new communist nation. ‘In the East a new star is risen!’ Gradually she moved to the left of the Socialist party and became a Wobbly, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the syndicalist union persecuted by Woodrow Wilson.

Inexplicably, none of this information made it into any history texts for American students.

The Shining City on the Hill,Champions of Self Deception

“The land of the free and the home of the brave…” begins to sound a little shopworn after watching children, forcefully separated from their families, imprisoned in wire cages on the evening news. As for “bravery,” that’s hard to detect in killer operations conceived in the White House, launched from underground bunkers in the Nevada desert by expert computer gamers and destined to take out terrorists, along with their mothers and children, their cousins, neighbors and the milk man on dusty streets of impoverished Middle Eastern countries. Emma Lazarus’ poetic fragment from the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” sounds like empty claptrap in a country that is more concerned with “free” markets than free people. But those distinctions elude most Americans today. To them “fraydom is fraydom,” whether delivered by lies or by drones.

The United States Armed Forces are there to safeguard those fraydoms. But there are some anomalies in that, too. Recently there was some talk inside the Trump administration of renting out American military units to the Saudis. Seen from a shrewd businessman’s point of view the deal would permit the US to recover some of their investments in “national security,” but they might have trouble explaining it to the mothers of American military personnel killed and maimed over there. In former times those deaths could be explained away as “in defense of American democracy” or “protecting the American homeland” but what American mother would sell her son’s or daughter’s life in defense of Saudi oil wells, war on Yemen, and bone saws?

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.
Go to Part 2

Which Shithole Country?

Trump_Shithole2

The Day “Shithole Entered the Presidential Lexicon

On January 11, 2018, during an Oval Office meeting with several U.S. senators about a new immigration package for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries, President Donald Trump inadvertanly opened a fresh controversy regarding just what constituted a “shithole country.” He didn’t elaborate on it. In fact, he later denied having said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” (The Atlantic, Jan. 12, 2019)

Someone should ask President Trump what his criteria are for assigning countries to his “shithole” category. They may have to explain what “criteria” means… and that it’s plural because it’s Latin… Oh, never mind.

I think it’s safe to assume that a “shithole country” is a place where people live in a deep, dank hole that they’re not about to escape from any time soon. How did a series of unfortunate little countries get into that ugly situation? Was it just assigned to them by “history?” Not exactly, it’s about imperialism–first Spanish, then American. Those little countries were fine until the white man began to exploit them. And that exploitation–some of the cruelest in history–goes a long way to explain their ending up in dark holes. President Trump mentions specifically the cases of Haiti and El Salvador.

Columbus ravages Haiti
Christopher Columbus takes Christian values to the New World.

They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen.

The Western Hemisphere’s First White Supremacy

Haiti was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and named by him, “La Isla Espanola.” It was the venue for the Europeans’ first genocide of Native Americans. Because, contrary to American legend, Columbus was not a nice man and neither were his colonists. Within twenty-five years of Columbus’ arrival in Haiti, most of the island’s Taíno people had died from enslavement, massacre, or disease. En route to enslaving the entire population of the island–and exporting some of them to other islands–the Spanish regularly hunted down escaping islanders, murdered them and fed their carcasses to the dogs they had thoughtfully brought along with them from Spain. Today not a chromosome remains of  the DNA of the original inhabitants of what was to become Haiti.

Washington Post writer, Gillian Brockell, elaborates:

Bartolomé de las Casas arrived in Hispaniola in 1502, when he was 18. For decades, he participated in the mistreatment of the Taíno and the introduction of enslaved Africans, before renouncing it all, becoming a Dominican friar and confessing what he had witnessed in “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.”

“It is worth quoting him at length,” says Brockell, “this excerpt is very graphic:”
They [Spanish explorers] forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. (The Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2019)

Flash forward 500 years, and the Haitians are again experiencing problems of white supremacy. In 2004 the US State Department was not happy with Haiti’s newly elected–for the second time–president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. So they shipped him out–escorted by American diplomats to an American airplane–in a coup d’etat that cleared the atmosphere for American business as usual.

El Salvador Similarly Razed

More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads.

El Salvador is another classic case of brutal imperialism, and its perpetrators are still slithering around Washington. The prime example is the elderly neocon apparatchik, Elliott Abrams, recently recycled as the American envoy to Venezuela.  Abrams will always be remembered for trying to cover up before the American Congress the El Mozote massacre where, in March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that more than 500 civilians were “deliberately and systematically” executed in that village in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran government.

Time magazine says of Abrams:

Abrams, a longstanding neoconservative diplomat, served in the State Department during the Reagan Administration and played a key role in U.S. interventions in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala in the 1980s. He later joined the New York-based think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, as a senior fellow. His appointment to oversee the U.S.’s response to the situation in Venezuela, where Trump has refused to rule out “a military option,” led many to raise concerns over his past dealings in the region, including his entanglement in the notorious Iran-Contra scandal. (Time, Feb. 14, 2019)

In the early 1980s the American clandestine services joined the illegitimate Salvadoran military junta in its struggle against the Farabundo Martí National Liberation front (FMLN)–a coalition of left-wing groups. The Americans financed, trained, equipped and transported the government troops. 

Raymond Bonner writes in The Atlantic, Jan. 20, 2018,

It was a civil war of the 1980s, one that pitted leftist revolutionaries against the alliance of countries, oligarchs, and generals that had ruled the country for decades—with U.S. support—keeping peasants illiterate and impoverished. It was a bloody, brutal, and dirty war. More than 75,000 Salvadorans were killed in the fighting, most of them victims of the military and its death squads. Peasants were shot en masse, often while trying to flee. Student and union leaders had their thumbs tied behind their backs before being shot in the head, their bodies left on roadsides as a warning to others.

This gratuitous “civil war” lasted for more than 12 years. An unknown number of people who were “disappeared” are included in the UN estimates of 75,000 victims between 1979 and 1992. The war ended with the Chapultepec Peace Accords, but in 2016 the El Salvador Supreme Court ruled that the 1993 amnesty law was unconstitutional and that the El Salvador government could prosecute war criminals. (Wikipedia)

Trump’s Dangerous Militarization of US Politics by Ishaan Tharoor 

The world’s sole superpower is starting to look like more fragile countries elsewhere. Trump and his loyalists are only the second camp in the Western Hemisphere this past month to entertain notions of domestic military crackdowns: Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have urged a full-fledged takeover of the administrative state as the president faces a storm of controversies amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Tharoor compares American racist horrror with the events of Tiannanmen Square in 1989. “Only under a dictatorship could such things happen, we say, forgetting OcoeeOpelousasTulsa, or Kent State.”

(The Washington Post, June 5, 2020)

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the twisted conception of Latin American–and American–history held by American presidents since the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 is a series of “errors” and abuses that need clearing up. There may be a “shithole country” involved in the tragic stories cited by President Trump, but it’s neither Haiti nor El Salvador. Their roles were relegated, throughout their history, to those of simple victims of colonial savagery .

January 12, 2019 on The Daily Show

Trevor Noah sums it up in one minute, seven seconds:

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.

Where Will Renewed Hope for America Come From?

Hope_for_America

If You Believe This You and the Country Are in  Trouble

Where Hope Is Not Coming From:

Not from Nazis, white supremacists, nor semi-literate rednecks. They are the very elements that have been stifling hope for generations.

Not from the alt-right. They have gone beyond activism to corruption and from there to absurdity.

Not from televangelists, prosperity preachers, born-again hucksters, nor the power of prayer. You’ve tried all that for centuries and look where it’s taken you.

Not from a Civil War or uncivil uprising. Luckily, those dudes strutting their assault rifles up and down the streets of Charlottesville would not stand a chance against a company of Marines. This supposes the Marines would be on the side of the freely elected government. Is that too much to suppose? (Note: This was written before Marine General Jim Mattis made his reassuring watershed statement the other day on the military and domestic politics.)

Not from fast-buck billionaires. Having a lot of money does not necessarily make you a better person or a model for young people. You can be dead smart for making money and mortally ignorant for everything else.

Not from war profiteers, their lobbyists and on-the-take Congressional and judicial types who, by the way, are currently running the country. You have to get them out of government first. In theory that’s easy. Just  expose and discredit them. Then get out the vote against them. (This presupposes a free and fair election. Is that too much to suppose?)

Predators are replacing peace makers, preachers are replacing professors, demagogues are replacing thinkers.

Not from ignorance. Great countries require experts to manage them for the greater good of all. They must be guided by cool-headed rational thinking. “Faith-based” thought is not thinking and it has no place in government.

And certainly not from a morally-challenged, know-nothing president who, midst multiple crises, can only concentrate on his ruinous reelection strategy.

Where Hope Can Be Sourced

From more civilized countries: Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, Iceland…

From interior opposition to the lowbrow-led, American wrecking-ball government…

From honest, new, unconventional politicians with the welfare of all Americans–and all the rest–at heart…

From independent, courageous, investigative media…

From progressive pre-school education initiatives, starting with every Montessori school in the USA. From schoolteachers from grades K through 12. Fine teachers engender fine young people. In the most advanced countries teachers are highly educated, valued and well paid. How did resource-poor Finland become a world leader? By investing in the education of its young people.

From humanitarian thought leaders in progresssive American universities…

And, last but not lease, from concerned activist citizens…

The omission of “political parties” on this list is not an oversight. If serious progress in the United States is to be achieved it will be in spite of Republicans and Democrats, not because of them.

Authenticity Is Being Replaced

Predators are replacing peace makers, preachers are replacing professors, demagogues are replacing thinkers. Americans are buying into dubious futures: future wealth, the kingdom of heaven, world conquest, the promise of benign climate change, the belief that money can solve everything… No, the billionaires who buy land in New Zealand are not “secure.” Nuclear winter reaches every nook and cranny of the planet.

False-Hope Scams Abound

Freedom of markets is not freedom, any more than libertarianism implies liberty.

The Promise of Technology–Technology is morally neutral. It’s all the same to a Hellfire missile to take out a terrorist as to carbonize a saint. Artificial intelligence promises just as much danger as progress. Medical technology must be used to cure humankind, not to design advanced torture techniques or methods of mind control. Technology is like every other form of power. It’s great in the right hands. And those hands should belong to people who read.

Miracle Religions–A person’s religion–however far-fetched it may seem to non-believers–is an intmate, private, matter to which no one can object, and it is rightly protected by the US Constitution. What is not legitimate is that citizens of certain religious stripes should band together to influence the election of legislators and the appointment of judges on religious grounds in attempts to flip the country’s principles to those of their own religion. That’s an offense to other people’s religious freedom. The “freedom of religion” guaranteed by the Constitution also implies freedom from religion.

When religious groups are called out for meddling in politics they have no right to take refuge in “freedom of religion” pretensions. That “freedom” that coopts other people’s  freedom is toxic. It’s hypocrisy and repression. And governments that adopt religious groups as political allies also lack legitimacy. Any religious cult that functions in an advisory capacity to the US government is an offense to American democracy, an offense that is all too frequent. Countries do not achieve greatness through prayer nor miracles. They achieve it through good hearts and expert project management. The other pending issue on the government agenda is the rescission of tax exempt status for “prosperity gospel” religious scams. American televangelists have too many private jets already. Government has the power to end those frauds. The only imaginable factor holding it back is the votes their followers represent, votes that are conceivably capable of getting President Donald Trump reelected.

Military predominance–America’s awesome military power has so many downsides that it cannot be credibly considered a safeguard for the country. Its use has been abused so many times, both overtly and covertly, with such disastrous results for the people of so many innocent, unsuspecting countries that it discredits the US around the world. It’s that discredit that causes the extensive and unnecessary bad blood between the government of the United States and major international  institutions: the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and any other international organization that tries to limit or sanction American abuse of power. What is the principal product of American military dominance (the Pentagon refers to it as “full spectrum dominance” and it extends to outer space and the electromagnetic spectrum)? Principally they make, enemies. Most of them are helpless victims, others less so. But after decades of America’s amassing enemies unjustly, what happens when they reach critical mass? Then there’s the nuclear threat, enhanced recently by President Trump’s boosting of the budget for advanced nuclear technology. That’s clearly a dangerous step backwards. Is this “enhanced” nuclear policy just another bone for the dogs of war, a mere cog in his insatiable re-election machine?

Quick money schemes like crypto-currencies, junk bonds, ponzi schemes and mortgage scams. And if someone invites you to become a “trader,” hold onto your hat.

“Free-market” capitalism. Freedom of markets is not freedom, any more than libertarianism implies liberty. Capitalism, like other great ideas–Christianity, Communism–has been coopted and perverted by turbid interests that invariably work against the common good. Unregulated freedom of markets empowers monopoly and is the enemy of the commonwealth. And technology only multiplies its negative effects on society. Meanwhile, far-right ideologues extol the free market as if it were supernatural truth, and their semi-literate followers lap it up.

Mere Hoping Is Not Enough

Hope doesn’t arrive by coincidence, nor by divine decree. And it doesn’t arrive prefabricated. Hope has to be planted thoughtfully in well-prepared soil, then cultivated and nurtured throughout a long season. That preparation has been conspicuously lacking in the United States, at least since President Kennedy’s untimely death in 1963. It’s not that Kennedy was a Messiah. He had grave flaws (see Seymour Hersh’s 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot), but he wasn’t a monster.

Having wasted five or six decades of preparation, Americans today are seriously behind on all counts, a fact that has become sorely evident during today’s dual crises of coronavirus and Trumpism. If America and the Americans are going to come out on upside of this catastrophe they’re going to have to recover that lost time. This will require conviction, perseverence, hard work and, yes, hope. Hope such as they haven’t known since the Second World War. And if they don’t get started immediately the consequences could be terminal.

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.

Deep State Blues

Mike_Lofgren

Note: This article is mainly based on a 2014 interview with Bill Moyers (The Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight) on his Moyers and Company online program and the essay (Anatomy of the Deep State) that Mike Lofgren wrote for Moyers’ website at the same time. Also worthy of note is the mindset of Moyers, the interviewer. When he retired the first time in December 2004, the AP News Service quoted Moyers as saying, “I’m going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that’s interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that’s interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don’t have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.”

In the Beginning Was Mike Lofgren

Mike Lofgren has the benign face and mild demeanor of a high-school Latin teacher, but his message is anything but mild. Instead of prying Latin declensions into the heads of reluctant sixteen year olds, Lofgren spent his 28-year working life as a Republican Congressional staffer. So he has a privileged take on what goes on inside Congress, particularly the Republican Party. And he’s smart. Lofgren’s books and articles since retirement make clear that he is not cowed by people in high places. Just the title of his first  book (2013) gives us a hint: The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted. The Washington Post characterized the book as “forceful, hard-hitting and seductive.” Lofgren said at the time, “I wrote the book because I am a concerned citizen.”

If you read the papers, both mainstream and alternative, though you may have long suspected something along the lines of the Deep State thesis, you could never substantiate it. This interview and Lofgren’s books will permit you do do just that. Even before his books he limbered up with a series of telling essays on Truthout.com. The first one, in September, 2011, was Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult. In it he explains why he retired, affirming that he was “appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them.” Mike Lofgren first used the term “Deep State” in his Goodby to All That essay, referring to a “web of entrenched interests in the US government and beyond (most notably Wall Street and Silicon Valley, which controls access to our every click and swipe) that dictate America’s defense decisions, trade policies and priorities with little regard for the actual interests or desires of the American people.”

“… rotton captives to corporate loot…”

He charged there that both major American political parties are “rotten captives to corporate loot,” but that while Democrats are merely weak and out of touch, the Republican Party “is becoming more like an apocalyptic cult.” That was in 2011, nine years ago. In the meantime his “…is becoming…” has evolved. It now would read “has become a fully-fledged apocalyptic cult.” Lofgren describes highly-placed Republicans as caring only about their rich donors; being predisposed toward war; and pandering to the anti-intellectual, science-hostile, religious fundamentalist fringe.

This essay published on BillMoyers.com is so cogent, so knowledgeable and so impervious to the passage of time, that it is still required reading. As usual, I printed it out and started highlighting the most salient paragraphs with a green felt-tipped marker. When I was finished I found page after page of solid green. Want to try it yourself? Here’s the link.

The Whole Point

With Lofgren’s second book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government (2016), he takes us even deeper into the Potomac swamp which, he affirms, now extends from New York to California. An observant reviewer on Amazon.com puts his finger on one of Lofgren’s most important revelations regarding the Deep State:

The whole point of the Deep State is that it is NON PARTISAN. It transcends democrats and republicans and you simply have to follow the money. Anyone who thinks that Donald Trump is not part of this – after appointing a cabinet of billionaires and generals, de-regulating Wall Street even further, and driving up the military budget while threatening to curtail what little social services we have left, have clearly drunk the Kool-Aid. You don’t get to be President unless you have the tacit support of the Deep State.

Trump’s Two-Headed Deep State

The best explanation of the Deep State is Mike Lofgren’s own in his 2014 Anatomy of the Deep State essay:

“There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol… Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose.”

Everything that President Trump says or writes, awakens the same questions: Is he confused or is he trying to confuse me? Or both? The subject of the Deep State is no exception. He frequently sees it–and uses it–as a whipping boy but sometimes, usually when he’s in trouble, he turns to it as an ally. Here’s Business Insider (on the subject:

Rather than referring to a “shadow or parallel system of government” operating outside official channels, for Trump the deep state is the government —
or at least those parts of it that frustrate him in any way.

The HuffPost (Jan. 27, 2020) has compiled some examples:

  • In November 2017, he blamed “deep state authorities” for a failure to continue investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, calling those authorities “Rigged and corrupt.”
  • That same month, he tweeted that the FBI and the Justice Department were withholding information about “surveillance of associates of Donald Trump.” This was, he said, “Big stuff. Deep State,” and he demanded that someone “Give this information NOW!”
  • In September 2018, he suggested that the deep state does have its extra-governmental allies, “the Left” and “the Fake News Media”: “The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy — & they don’t know what to do. The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices…”

Just a Conspiracy Theory?

Some people withhold that the Deep State is just a fantasy of conspiracy theorists. Who believes that? Like everything else in politics what people believe depends upon what they are presupposed–or paid–to believe. If you google Mike Lofgren’s books and essays and look at the readers’ reviews, you’ll find that the big half of them award him four or five stars and the rest, just one.  My guess is that most of those one-star readers are Republicans who haven’t actually read the book but are embittered by the fact that he let their cat out of the bag.

The Best Alternative Would Look Something Like This

This video might seem out of place here, but look again.  This, I submit, is the exact opposite of the President that the US currently enjoys, and the quintessence of what non-Trumpish Americans are seeking today for the leadership of their country.

J.F. Kennedy’s American University Commencement Speech 1963

Five months later President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas. Not five years later Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis.

Good luck, America.

 

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing

 

Why the Morbid Fixation on President Donald Trump?

Trump's iPhone.
President Trump has an iPhone with one ap: Twitter.

Are We Neurotic or Is He Too Much?

My wife wakes me up this morning at a quarter to six.
“Good morning, what is it?”
“Oh, nothing, never mind.”
“What do you mean ‘never mind?’ You woke me up to tell me something.”
“Yes, but it was about Trump, never mind.”

We–you, me, my wife and millions more around the world–are not neurotic regarding the threats posed by President Donald J. Trump. We’re gravely concerned. And we have cause to be worried. For the first time in our lives our fate is in the hands of an apparent megalomaniac sociopath who has stretched the already alarming degree of American executive power to the snapping point. We have seen him arrogate to himself powers that few previous presidents have ever considered: the power to lie obviously and repeatedly; the power to slander and ridicule his political opponents, the press and his own staff; the power to defy normal standards of decency and humanity. Gravest of all, he has in his right forefinger the  power to launch single handedly world history’s sixth great extinction. In reality, the “nuclear button” is not a button. It’s a briefcase. According to the Washington Post, the president is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a “football” with launch codes for America’s nuclear weapons. The football is a metal Zero Halliburton briefcase.

President Donald Trump personifies the quintessentially American saying: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” His public image is deplorable for about half of America, but it could not be more highly esteemed by the other half. Whatever he says, whatever he does, he manages to keep the country–and the world–in thrall, as if we were all watching the evolution in slow motion of the same multi-vehicle car wreck. He has taken the American presidency into the realm of snuff films. It’s too sick, too outrageous to bear. But we can’t resist watching. And when he oversteps even his own limits, instead of apologizing, he doubles down. Nobody has ever seen, nor imagined, this sort of presidential behavior.

Trump’s Communications Strategy

It’s not clear where the idea came from but President Trump employs a novel medium for getting his presidential messages out to his following: the tweet. It’s perfect for his peculiar style of communicating as Twitter messages are limited to 280 characters (raised from 140 in November of 2017) and he rarely needs more space to express his narrow range of boasts, threats, insults, and dismissals. This communications channel is immediate, direct, universal and free. And it’s capable of reaching in real time the entire 81% installed base of smart phones in his country.

This system does, however, have two drawbacks for the president.

  1. It exposes him to ridicule for his fifth-grade spelling.
  2. It gains him criticism for his frequent temper tantrums.

But this is a small price to pay in exchange for direct, unedited access to the American electorate. We must never forget that President Trump has only one objective: reelection. Any other consideration is not even secondary; it’s non existent. His followers don’t seem to object, and the rest of the electorate is irrelevant for President Trump.

What’s more, the recipients of his tweets are not limited to Twitter users, as the American media–both mainstream and alternate– give them viral treatment, passing them on to you whether you like it or not. So the entire US territory–and a great part of the rest of the world–is treated to a permanent warm bath of the president’s smarmy banalities. Before we start feeling too superior in the face of this lowbrow communications campaign, we must remember an overriding fact: It works for him. It probably got him elected in 2016 and may do so again in 2020.

The President’s Act

Perhaps the greatest part of President Trump’s draw is due to the fact that he is unique among the world’s leaders, past and present. The world has never seen anything like him. His oafish part-clown, part-bully persona evokes different levels of shock and awe depending upon which part of the world is watching. In the more open and informal, English-speaking countries like Canada and Australia his messages and their curious presentation leave listeners either laughing or mildly horrified–or more often both. But in more traditional, straight-laced nations like Japan and China the President of the United States looks and sounds as if he were from another planet, which is not to say he’s not fascinating in the way a tornado ripping down Main St. is fascinating. Unfortunately for him, however, fascinating  is not the same as trustworthy.

President Trump’s manners are exaggerated and unusual. His barging, me-first gestures, his stiff, posturing body language and awkward speech patterns have prompted some experts in abnormal behavior to suggest that the president may be entering into senile dementia. An opinion article in USA Today from Dec. 2019 affirms:

If Donald Trump were your father, you would run, not walk, to a neurologist for an evaluation of his cognitive health. You don’t have to be a doctor to see something is very wrong. 

Troll

The Collateral Damage

At the same time that President Trump is mesmerizing the country and winning reactionary, corporate, and Evangelical votes with his grotesque stagecraft, something different is going on the wings. His hand-picked crew of anti-government trolls–picked for their simple-minded ideology and loyalty to Trump, not their expertise–is busy dismounting the American government as we know it. The running of a country as big and complex as the United States requires brilliant managers, specialists trained,  experienced, and dedicated.

These have traditionally been people who could have made more money in the private sector, but have opted for public service. That is to say, some of the best, and most capable and disinterested people in the country. To take them off the job and replace them with unqualified minions dedicated to following orders from a chain of command that leads ultimately to deep-state oligarchs, places the entire country in serious danger. It’s like pulling all the air traffic controllers out of America’s control towers.

Shouldn’t something be done? Obviously. One thing is a riveting spectacle, quite another a mortal danger to the entire world. The obvious solution would be that the American voters were to vote President Trump out of office. Could that happen? Theoretically, yes. But what if he were to lose the election–despite the sophisticated methods of election tuning at his disposal–would Trump go tamely? Or would he precipitate Armageddon? This is just one more fascinating question that holds the world in thrall and to which only the president has the answer.

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.

 

 

 

 

Get Out as Fast as You Can

Leaving_Trump

Americans, You’re in a Dangerous Place

Looking back at the essays I’ve written–more than 150 of them–for this blog over the past three years I note that in most of them there’s a tacit subtext for Americans: “Get out of there.” The United States is no longer a safe, healthy place for you to live and raise your children and grandchildren. Before it’s too late you need to get them out of the only country in the world where children wear bullet-proof knapsacks to school. And I’m not talking just about the obvious physical dangers such as police brutality; school shootings; violent racism, and the lack of a proper public health system. This factor alone has contributed to tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths of Americans during the  coronavirus emergency.

Even if those obvious dangers were not present the US would still be an unsuitable place to educate children. The reasons are less obvious but more cogent. The United States has a sick, false and ultimately dangerous value system. Americans overvalue things that are frivolous, irrelevant and inhuman and undervalue those that are essential to harmonious human life, things like altruism, civility, tolerance, and generosity.  They’re seeing more than ever now the results of twisted values on their streets and in their institutions. The brutality and inadequacy of President Donald Trump makes it easy for them to pass the blame to him. But President Trump didn’t make America; America made President Trump.

If you discuss the issues sincerely and dispassionately with a thinking person from any other country in the world, most of them will agree that today’s US is far down the road to moral, intellectual and economic ruin. It has been on that track for decades but, since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the situation has spiraled out of control and the future looks even less promising.

A President for His Times

President Trump is the perfect prototype of what’s wrong with America. Any normalcy  that he might embody is overshadowed by his shady past, his lies, his conflicts of interest, and his unsettling stage presence. His lack of any normal social, intellectual and moral responses prompts people around the world to hold their heads in their hands and ask, “How is it possible for a person so bereft of normal human qualities to be elected president of what we have always considered the greatest country in the world?” This greatness may have been real 40 or 50 years ago, but not today. The only field on which the United  States can claim world leadership is the field of battle, though it’s not clear to what extent that superiority represents an advantage for them.

Despite spending sums that are galloping towards a trillion dollars annually, maintaining more than 800 military installations around the world, and boasting the world’s greatest fleet of killer drones, the Americans are still incapable of winning a war, not even in starving Yemen. They did not win in Irak and they are still grasping for an “honorable” way of backing out of Afghanistan after waging war against that impoverished country for more than a dozen years. Now they are rattling their missiles at Iran and Venezuela. In view of their track record, what do they expect to achieve, beyond lining the pockets of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and the rest of the select mob of American war profiteers? And let’s not forget the tremendous political clout those gentlemen wield.

This insistence on permanent war helps to explain the deficiencies faced by the American people at home: poverty, inequality, crippling racism, crumbling infrastructures and falling standards in public health and education, along with pre-civil-war levels of civil unrest. (I refer not to the last civil war, but to the next one.) These deficiencies and more have brought the people onto the streets and the country to its knees.

Consider How People Live in Other Countries

Comparisons may be odious but in this case I think it’s legitimate to look at the ranking of the United States among other nations and compare their conditions of health and welfare. The data that follow come from reliable international sources, many of them from the United States. Let’s start with overall health. According to the 2019 edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, Spain is the healthiest country in the world, followed by Iceland, Japan, and Switzerland. The US is number 35 in the ranking. Life expectancy is also indicative of overall wellbeing. According to Worldography.info, who average the age for both sexes, the United States clocks in at number 46, with 78.11 years of life expectancy, just below Cuba and 44 other countries. At the top is Hong Kong with 89.29 years.  How does the US do in literacy? Andorra, Greenland, North Korea, and Uzbekistan enjoy 100% literacy rates as of 2015-16, according to the German site, citypopulation.de.  The Washington Post (Mar. 8, 2016) says under the headline Most literate nation in the world? Not the US, that the US has advanced from 11th to seventh place. That js a remarkably positive result for a country whose president refuses to read and is incapable of writing a proper sentence. This president may be a unique case in the entire world.

Other Benchmarks are Equally Telling

What about infant mortality? According to CIA.gov, the US ranks 36th (estimated data 2017) with 5.7 deaths per 1000 live births. These numbers are significantly bettered by countries such as Hungary (4.90), Poland (4.40), Portugal (4.30), Slovenia  (3.90), Spain (3.30) along with a couple of dozen more. Neither do the American results for electoral integrity fare very well in the world. “U.S. ELECTIONS RANK LAST AMONG ALL WESTERN DEMOCRACIES,” reads the headline on the electoralintegrityproject.com site (an electoral monitoring project run by Harvard and Sydney Universities) on January 7, 2017. The only ones, among western democracies, who held freer and fairer elections than the United States were everyone else.

Where the US is out front is in coronavirus deaths, where they y overtook China and Italy and currently lead the world with more than 106,000 fatalities.

That is to say, the US is slipping badly in vitally important areas, and these dismal results are not due to coincidence nor bad luck. They’re deliberately built into the American Way of Life and determine the condition of the majority of its citizens. That has not improved since the 1970s and cannot be expected to do so in the next generation or two. The American working class cannot recover because the deck is stacked against them by design. Before they are even born they are victims, via their parents, of a “constitutional democracy” that is little more than a mirage underpinned by a de facto oligarchy that pays pliable politicians, right up through the United States Congress, to unleash and protect predatory capitalism with all of its cruelest attributes. This includes the removal of economic and environmental regulations, gifts of massive tax cuts to corporations, as well as cynical multi-billion-dollar bailouts that include no corresponding equity for the citizens. At the same time they undermine workers rights at every step of the way. The coronavirus pandemic has only aggravated matters. A working family will be lucky to survive, let alone prosper. The voracious American oligarchy is exporting this slash-and-burn model of economic relations around the world.

Don’t Forget the Bright Side

The prospect of leaving the United States for good is not only about escaping an increasingly insufferable situation there. It’s also about the pleasant surprises that await you in your new country of choice. Yes, you can choose your country. What a revelation. We won’t dwell on that aspect here, but dozens of details of daily life will make you feel as if you’re living in a better, more civilized world–because you are.

Leaving your home country is a long-term project that entails formidable challenges. It’s not something that many people would do under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances. And if you get it right the risks and efforts are more than worth the trouble. Take my word for it. I’ve been there.

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.

Closing note. I have not touched upon the nuts and bolts of self exile in this post. A few years ago I published a three-part article on my old blog which goes into those subjects. It’s a bit out of date but you will get the drift. You can find it here.

 

 

For Crissake, General, Think of Your Grandmother

The Forgotten Human Factor in American Geopolitical Thinking

What do we have to do to remind American political and military leaders that all of their favorite bellicose initiatives–mainly wars but also “sanctions,” boycotts, blockades, regime-change ops, etc.–ultimately all fall on the backs of people, not abstractions. Those afflicted are schoolteachers and postal workers, mechanics and nurses, mothers and grandmothers, children and grandchildren. So when the McNamaras and Westmorelands, the Rumsfelds, the Wolfowitzes, the Cheneys, the Albrights, the Boltons and Abramses loose their indiscriminate–and curiously personalized–wrath on one country or another, be it Iraq or Venezuela, those who suffer aren’t politicians nor generals nor the institutions that make up “the country.”  Those who suffer are the grandmothers.

Don’t American politicians, strategists, bankers, industrialists and research scientists have grandmothers, or grandchildren? Or did all of these illustrious Americans just pop out of cyborg vending machines? If not, how can they justify the grief they engender with their perpetual quest for geopolitical advantage, for oil and gas, for arable land and fishable seas, in short, anything that can be “exploited.” When they’re calculating their troop depletion estimates do they also dial in the murdered and the maimed ballet dancers and flower vendors? Do they count the hungry children and the homeless refugees? What prompted Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to make that spine-chilling comment in 1996 when she said on national TV that 500,000 Iraqi children dead from sanctions were “worth it.”

Merely a Monster?

Had she been smoking allspice or is she just a monster?  A few months later she was confirmed by the US Senate as Secretary of State and nobody even questioned her about this statement. Transporting 500,000 first graders would take 6,667 school buses, making a line more than 50 miles long. Albright’s father, the Czech politician and academic, Josef Korbel, was also the mentor of another hardliner, Condoleeza Rice. (Source: Democracy Now.com)

What’s wrong with these people? What have they got against humanity? What genetic deformation or failure in their upbringing makes them incapable of even considering the human factor? They are, after all, the coddled children of the richest, most advanced country in the world. They have always taken obscene privilege for granted. Can’t they remember their seventh-grade English teachers? Doesn’t it occur to them that the equivalent 50-year-old woman, also a teacher of English, who was carbonized from the air while riding in a collective taxi in Syria, was also a mother and grandmother? They can’t plead ignorance. They have some of the finest “intelligence” services in the world. Or do they consider it “just the cost of doing business?”

Is the wanton killing of innocent civilians really necessary? It may or may not be but it’s counterproductive. For every grandmother, son or daughter you kill, you create a tight-knit group of highly-motivated enemies whose mission–which will extend to coming generations–will be to kill Americans. So who benefits? Only the ghouls who profit from authorizing, creating and selling the Hellfire missiles used to atomize our grandmothers. In a sane country these “businessmen” would be put out to pasture to herd sheep and make cheese.

###

 

 

How America Might Survive

Human_Values3

Changing the Definition of What Is Valuable

A limo, a Jacuzzi, thousand-dollar shoes, private jets, rich friends, fame for being famous, cash in hand, political power, armed strength, economic growth…? What has value?

Umair Haque, my favorite observer of the American condition, says on Medium.com, March 31, 2020:

Amazon, Inc. is worth a trillion dollars, give or take. But the ongoing survival of the human race is literally worth nothing to capitalism. Nothing but profit has any worth whatsoever to it. That’s all that’s capitalized on stock markets or denominated in bonds. But capitalism is the system of the world… America fought a hidden world war to globalize it — attacking nations from Chile to Iran to Iraq to Vietnam. It was successful. Today, we’re all paying the price of that success. Capitalism has literally eaten through the planet, nature, and life on it. Now it’s beginning to eat away at the human race itself — its health, happiness, longevity. That is what Coronavirus really is.

American Capitalism’s Stately Pleasure Dome

It has taken US corporate capitalism less than a century to erect a seemingly-unassailable edifice of exclusively market values, an American Xanadu. According to these norms everything can be bought and sold. It must be so in order to achieve capitalism’s summum bonum: economic growth. That, of course, is a lie just as egregious as “manifest destiny” or “the war on terror.” Because long-term growth is absolutely limited by the world’s resources, and they are shrinking fast while the appetites of capitalism are insatiable to the point of driving the world’s sixth mass extinction of species. What annual economic growth does assure is vast wealth for the usual suspects: fossil fuel giants, “defense” industries, big pharma and tobacco, flukish online multi-billionaires, and banks and vulture funds of every stripe.

But the long-term effects of unending growth on the country, on other countries, and the planet itself, are fatal. The world is already half dead and if US predatory capitalism is permitted to continue “leading the way,” the extermination is imminent. And there’s no cogent reason to believe that will not be the outcome. Fast-money capitalists now control “the greatest country in the world,” along with massive swaths of the rest of it. Do you see anybody committed and powerful enough to stand in their way? Not the militarists. They have the growth industry of the moment. Not the population at large. They’re anesthetized by irrealities and bling. Not the churches. The protestants are hooked on the “prosperity gospel” and private jets, and the Catholics have their own special problems. Who does that leave? The Icelanders might be a good choice for putting the world right, but there aren’t enough of them to go around.

Enter Coronavirus, There Will Be Some Changes Made

After almost four months of the coronavirus experience in America there are some things we have learned:

  • The virus has impacted lives in all sectors of society, not only in the US, but around the world. Though it’s only fair to point out that, like everything else, the incidence of the virus is much more devastating among poor and minority populations.
  • Given the universality of the pandemic it is not enough to cleanse one city, one state or even one country. The world will not be free of coronavirus until all countries are made healthy again. This will require worldwide solidarity, financing and close collaboration.
  • The countries that took immediate remedial action–masks, distancing, tests and sourcing–greatly limited the number of cases and deaths. And those that didn’t suffered immeasurably more. The United States, for example.
  • The responses of the heads of government of different countries shed light on the priorities of world leaders. Compare, for example, the messages of Donald Trump, President of the Unites States, who oversaw more than 98,000 deaths in his country, with those of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand where the coronavirus impact has been limited to 21 deaths as of 22 May, 2020.
  • It’s not clear how long we’ll be under the dictatorship of the virus, but it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a long haul. That will give governments and populations around the world time to reflect on the necessity of changes of  ideologies and policies. We are already seeing that concerted collective efforts are required to deal with the crisis effectively. It will not respond to military solutions, nor nationalist approaches. It will require sincere concern for others, generosity, and worldwide solidarity.

There are countries around the world where these necessary new collective measures and attitudes sound subversive, unnatural, and outrageous. Principal among these is the United States, the one that currently leads the world in coronavirus cases and deaths. This is not a coincidence. The US is an every-man-for-himself country, and its President is a man who thrives on chaos. But the United States must become a major player in this scenario. Would its leaders be up to it? For them to save themselves, and contribute to saving the rest of the world, they will need to change their national philosophy from top to bottom. Can that happen? If it’s ever going to occur it has to happen soon, while there’s still country and world left to save.

What we’re talking about is an active awareness that we’re all in it together (a sentiment often expressed by former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders). This demands a sincere change of heart, concern for others, a willingness to work towards and help pay for not only local but global solutions. Empathy of this magnitude seems impossible under a Trump presidency. Given Donald Trump’s utter lack feeling for anyone but himself, it’s no suprise that he has turned his country into a giant triage tent with today’s score standing at 98,200 dead. Will the next president be radically different? Will he or she have the courage and conviction to reorient the country’s military budget in favor of the battle against coronavirus? That’s what it would take. We are looking at the highest-stakes game the world has ever seen. Thoughts and prayers will not get the job done.

Really_Smart

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.

 

American Hypocrisy Reigns Supreme

American hypocrisy
The ‘Evangelicals for Trump’ campaign event held at the King Jesus International Ministry on January 03, 2020 in Miami, Florida. President Donald Trump appointed televangelist, Paula White (center), as White House faith advisor. In this photo it’s not clear whether the President is praying or calculating  votes.

A Country Solidly Grounded in Hypocrisy

How does a country of 330 million people hold its head high while living in the most abject state of intellectual and moral squalor imaginable? Inequality, injustice, social disorder, racism, ignorance, poverty, militarism, brutality… There’s only one way they feel they can defend such a squalid record: by injecting industrial quantities of hypocrisy into the mix. It’s a cheap trick–just go on razing your country and the world, then make up specious lies to cover up your actions.  Until recently this strategy has worked surprisingly well, at least internally. A majority of American citizens still regard their country as “a city on a hill, a beacon of hope for the world.” How many of them are aware that the city-on-a-hill metaphor was the vision of religious fanatic, John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, a man who sowed the seeds of a religious extremism that still blights American society today?

Lately, however, the hypocrisy machine is getting a bit rusty, and the truth is becoming visible through the cracks. To most impartial observers around the world, American ideals have slipped to sordid levels. They now detain immigrant families, incarcerating parents in one place, children in cages in another and call that justice. Those children–some of the babies–may never see their parents again. The Americans permit armed thugs–Nazis and white supremacists–to invade a state capitol building, proffering intimidating threats and insults, and call that free speech. Then the President himself appears with praise: “These are people expressing their views. They seem to be very responsible people to me.” These are the words of a fascist.

This self-aggrandizing oaf of a President, breaks all records for lies and insults in his press conferences and then strides arrogantly off the stage.  On the subject of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, Health and Human Services Secretary,  Alex Azar, tells members of Congress, “We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,”  Two days later he reverses that declaration. (Business Insider.com, February 27, 2020). Most recently the President, having calculated the damage done to his re-election campaign, pulls this out of his sleeve:  “The vaccine will be available free to all Americans.” There seem to be no rational criteria driving the administration, just the whims, hunches and inspirations of a semi-literate President.  Given the fickle changes in his humor, we still don’t know whether the Trump administration is prepared to let people die because they can’t afford the vaccine.

International Opinion Counts

Most Americans may be unaware that the whole world is watching, and it’s not sedated by the platitudes of American mythology. Citizens of the world are acutely aware that the emperor is devoid of clothes. The success of any foreign-relations agenda relies heavily on credibility, trust, and respect, all of which are flagging badly in today’s Washington. At the same time, the countries they consider their enemies are growing as potential candidates for world leadership. Will today’s American politicians pay the price for this gross mismanagement? No, as usual it’s the American people who will pay.

What Abuses Are We Talking About?

  • Wrap-around racism. Now that South Africa has faced up to its institutionally racist past, the United States steps into the spotlight as the current racist capitol of the world. Nowhere else are so many aspects of society tinged by racial hate: law enforcement, judicial and penal politics, education, voting, housing and employment, to name just a few. When is America going to come to grips with this situation once and for all. Or are most Americans happy with the status quo?
  • Election irregularities and interventions. When was the last time the US had a free and fair election? How then do they permit themselves to criticize other countries? As for interfering in elections of other countries, the US is the all-time number one. And if NSA and CIA clandestine fiddle-faddle doesn’t tip the election scales, they simply organize a military coup, as they did in Chile in 1973.
  • Assuming religious airs for electoral purposes. This is a two-way  street of particularly-repugnant hypocrisy: Trump appears to lap up fundamentalist religion and the born-again folks pretend that he’s a decent person, while each advance the sick agenda of the other. Included in the Evangelical agenda, of course, is school prayer. If Jesus Christ were alive in the US today he would be crucified as a Communist immigrant.
  • Unsavory bedfellows. Backing the Saudi war on hapless Yemen. Facilitating the Israeli Likud party’s annexation of Palestinian lands. Pandering dangerously to Fundamentalist Christians and their truculent “Rapture” agenda. If this obscene Apocalyptic policy comes to term it could drag the US into a war in the Middle East.
  • Regime change and internal meddling in other peoples’ governments. There’s a long list: Most of Central America, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos… The United States accusing other coutries of militarism and human rights abuses is the richest and most ironic example of and hypocrisy in modern political history.
  • Levels of aggressive militarism not seen since Attila the Hun. What the US did to Indochina and Iraq, to name just a couple of their victims, is grounds for international war crimes trials.
  • Cloaking their baseless, clandestine political and military interventions as humanitarian aid, or support for democracy while casting countries like Venezuela as “dictatorships,” i.e. any country which resists an American-sponsored takeover. Venezuela has a long-standing elected left-wing government (thus certified by the Carter Center election monitoring team after visiting Venezuelan elections in 1998 and 2000). But having a true democracy is no guarantee against American regime-change operations. Any country with important reserves of natural resources is a target for American greed and aggression. Venezuela has massive–perhaps the world’s largest–petroleum and natural gas reserves, as well as mountains of gold and other precious metals. For that reason alone their government needs toppling and their economy “liberalizing” by American experts.
  • Communications too fuzzy or too clear. The result is that US citizens are kept in the dark, knowing only that they are subject to the President’s follies. Required to defend postures and policies that are clearly indefensible, his communicators are trapped. If they tell the truth they’re sunk. If they try to work around it they’re comically unintelligible. Meanwhile, the very fate of the world depends upon the shifting moods of a textbook sociopath.

The Justification for All This Villany

Attempts by the American amoral political elite to justify their foreign and domestic abuses are grounded in the democracy scam. “Scam” because nobody in Washington gives two hoots about democracy. What they worry about is getting elected, then re-elected, ad infinitum. In addition to their tricked-up election laws and perverted campaign financing, what’s the best way to achieve that? By constantly regurgitating the words “democracy” and “freedom.” Teetering atop the unstable “democracy” pretense they must balance all the rest of the mythological American playbook: the über-patriotism, the exceptionalism, the flag, God’s chosen people, the heroic militarism… They defeated Grenada and Panama, though they were less fortunate against the Asian superpowers, Vietnam and Afghanistan. All along they’re incapable of seeing themselves as bullies.

These cherished American myths are more than enough justification for home consumption, but not for the rest of the world.

###

Thanks for following, commenting and sharing.
%d bloggers like this: