I recently sat down and watched a couple of episodes on DVD of the current TV series Veep. For anybody who hasn’t seen this, it’s a fictional satire series featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in the role of Vice President of the United States. It’s actually pretty good, well done, but I found myself barely able to stand it after a while. The reason is pretty simple. I suspect that, as good satire often is, it’s probably actually portraying the day to day of American national politics fairly realistically, and what it portrays is truly wretched.
One thing that occurred to me at some point is that I never noticed anything in the story as things proceeded that actually said anything about the political party membership of any of the politicians, including the main character of the vice president herself, or the president (who we never see at all, in the episodes I watched). Once I realized this, the next thought was that, really, at a certain point it almost does not matter. It’s just a running chaotic game of wretched corruption and vain ambition for power and importance being played by a flock of assholes and sociopaths.
The series Veep is a good work of satire, but like any of the best satire, it appears to be good by being probably pretty close to reality with little or no exaggeration. That can be funny, but this is something that maybe we should back up and reflect upon a bit about regarding it as a joke for our entertainment amusement. The joke is on us. Even more so when people just sit and have a good laugh about those whacky political characters, and then move on to the next item on the agenda of entertainment amusement.
What captures something of the insanity in the realm of American politics is an almost obscenely absurd bit of opinion/editorial I found on the CNN website. I include a link to this, despite the saturation-level quantity of sheer deluded bullshit it manifests. It’s not even surprising anymore that there are so many people who could take such a load of nonsense seriously. But, then, you read the text blurb about the author, and the author’s role in life is “Republican strategist”. This is a person whose purpose in life is gaining and keeping power for a political party, not informing the people and acting in their interest.
It’s interesting to notice that this reality warp propaganda piece names people as examples of what is supposed to be the new leftist radicalism of the Democratic party, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren is one of the few people in American politics addressing the years of madness and fraud in banking and finance and securities, an elected representative of the American people actually acting on behalf of the American people. One of the things she’s doing is putting forth a bill in the Senate to restore the Glass-Steagall Banking Act of 1933 that was repealed in 1999. A similar bill, of the same simple idea, was introduced in the House of Representatives. Neither gets much attention in the noise of political chatter or the “news media” entertainment replacing journalism of a free press. Instead, several years of noise have swirled around the dog and pony show of “reform” of the Dodd-Frank Act. That’s better showbiz for the political games of empire that manages to suit, in different ways, the games of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
The Wall Street masters of empire don’t like that. So, Elizabeth Warren becomes “a radical leftist”. With Republican party member and 2008 Republican party presidential nominee Senator John McCain as a partner in the bill, it should be a real classic episode of farce, at some point, to watch somebody telling the American public that John McCain is one of those “leftist radicals”. You can almost bet on this happening. What’s worse is that quite a few people would believe it.
Any American paying the least amount of attention to matters of government and the political circus is familiar by now with the intense bombardment of bullshit along these lines. The longer this ongoing narrative of nonsense goes, the more embedded it becomes in the minds of people susceptable to this kind of gross fraud, especially when all they think they “know” about public affairs comes from Fox News and AM radio bleating and honking, and everybody they know around them in day to day life is saturated with the same nonsense. They’re fixated on the fiction they’ve been sold by incessant repetition, with ideas about “liberal media bias” and “leftist propaganda” stuck in their noggin.
It might be useless to point them toward people like David Stockman or Paul Craig Roberts, both former occupants of high-level positions in the Reagan administration, who are very aware of all the corrupt dysfunction of empire, and do what they can to get the American people to understand what’s happening. Both men also share something in common in terms of realizing what a gigantic crock of shit they were involved in, working in the Reagan administration, with all the mythical nonsense foisted on the American citizenry about the supposed “principles” of the Reagan administration, that still last in people’s minds today, ideas about Reagan and his presidency that often severely contradict actual historical reality.
There was an absolute classic example of the staggeringly obvious clash between reality and what fills people’s heads sometimes. I flipped on a TV, and there was a noise festival happening on Fox News. The host was holding a little group session with a small crowd in a TV studio. The host (this would be Sean Hannity) was rattling off a collection of items as part of the program’s purpose. What was happening there was reading off a bunch of numbers to show how much more money it would cost various statistical demographic categories of people for medical insurance than before “Obamacare”.
One part of the problem there should be ridiculously obvious. Let’s state this clearly- somebody was standing in front of an audience seriously arguing that what they were presenting was clear evidence of the terrible awfulness of “Obamacare”, by presenting numbers about how much money it would cost people that they had to pay out to private insurance companies, because of “Obama’s socialist takeover of healthcare“.
Let that sit in your mind for a moment. The cognitive dissonance there is enough to down a rhino. It should be staggeringly obvious. Yet, so many Americans have let go so completely of their own sense and grasp and understanding of reality, to be replaced by what they’re told they’re supposed to think, that this kind of almost comically insane contradiction can go over well with a crowd, and gets people nodding in agreement.
But that’s not all. Yes, there’s more, and it gets even more absurd.
These statistics, said host Hannity, came from a study by the Heritage Foundation. If you’ve been reading here in this little blog o’mine, you will have encountered this name recently. Let me review. The Heritage Foundation is an organization generally described as “a conservative think-tank”, and the interesting part about them related to this episode is this. What ended up as the Affordable Care Act, better known by the name people insist on calling it, of “Obamacare”, was not the plan proposed by presidential candidate Obama in the 2008 election. That was tossed aside and replaced by a plan that was a recycled version of old plans that had been proposed years ago by politicians of the Republican party, and had in fact become law in the state of Massachussetts under Republican governor (and 2012 Republican nominee for president) Willard Romney.
The punchline is that the origin of the plan, you know, this thing these guys now call “Obamacare”, came from… wait for it… the Heritage Foundation.
I can understand if you sit there right now thinking this can’t be right, it’s just too bizarre, that it simply must be a joke. It isn’t.
Getting more strange, something to toss on the pile of absurdity here is that loads of people are lost in their own fiction about what they would like to believe President Barack Obama has been, and is, including the belief that the ACA, “Obamacare”, is a wonderful and grand achievement, ignoring the reality that what he proposed five years or so back was ditched and replaced by a plan cooked up years ago by the “conservative think tank” Heritage Foundation and Republican politicians.
Pick other subjects, and things get just as confused. Keeping people confused, and even wildly delusional, suits empire just fine. It works even better (for that, not for us) to keep people neatly divided into squabbling opposing camps, attention diverted from real problems.