Let’s continue, carrying on from my last note.
Where to follow this thread, of what’s the future going to be, where are we heading, takes a bit of thought to try to narrow things down. Thinking about this leads me over and over again to the thought that you can’t avoid addressing the subject of politics.
An entry in the blog Decline of the Empire restated the idea that politics makes you stupid. No argument with that here.
Here we are in a time of some pretty major difficulties and complexity, and it’s unfortunate that what we have swirling all around us is way too much of the age old human activity sometimes neatly summarized as talking out your ass. I’m not exactly offering up any great flashes of insight in observing that there is probably no place where this is more common and overwhelming than under the heading of politics. Let’s check an example.
Right now, of course, we have all the noise flying around regarding the amazing malfunctioning complexity of the grand opening of the US federal government “healthcare exchange” website. The whole subject of that, the wider matter of everything surrounding the saga of the Affordable Care Act, and “healthcare reform”, is one huge messy example of the extreme dysfunction in American politics and governance. It’s compounded by the unfortunate tendency for even this sort of observation to trigger even more confused dysfunction, as people respond with the usual array of cliches.
Let’s remember that what some people keep yapping about as being “Obama’s socialist takeover of healthcare” is essentially just an old scheme that apparently originated from the “Conservative thinktank” Heritage Foundation and was then taken up by Republican party politicians. This is what we got as the Affordable Care Act.
On the other hand, people who really want to believe the current president is great, and really accomplished something here, proudly trumpet praise of “Obamacare” and what a great breakthrough and advance this is for the people of the United States. This is common, despite the fact that it’s basically just an old scheme that originated from the Heritage Foundation and was then taken up by Republican party politicians, that addresses the problem of so many Americans not having any medical insurance, because they just can’t afford massively expensive health insurance from some private health insurance company, by simply making it a national law of the land that now you are required to have medical insurance. The president then signed this botch job into law and has proceeded to pretend that he really accomplished something, and achieved “healthcare reform”.
Maybe the best way I can cut this short is to say that if there is a simplified condensation to make about American politics and governance of the present, it’s that reality barely has a chance to enter into the picture. Look at the whole ongoing farce of what I just mentioned. People who shriek that it’s a communist plot and The Death of America, and people who think it’s a wonder and great progress and The President’s Crowning Achievement, split into barking and squabbling camps that share a common trait of apparently being completely unable to deal with it as it actually is.
There’s a lot of that around.
The following quoted text is important enough to review it again, from an online essay by Chris Hedges:
Men and women of stunning mediocrity and depravity led the monarchies of Europe and Russia on the eve of World War I. And America has, in its own decline, offered up its share of weaklings, dolts and morons to steer it to destruction. A nation that was still rooted in reality would never glorify charlatans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Newt Gingrich as they pollute the airwaves. If we had any idea what was really happening to us we would have turned in fury against Barack Obama, whose signature legacy will be utter capitulation to the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, the military-industrial complex and the security and surveillance state. We would have rallied behind those few, such as Ralph Nader, who denounced a monetary system based on gambling and the endless printing of money and condemned the willful wrecking of the ecosystem. We would have mutinied. We would have turned the ship back.
That almost says it all, when you get down to essentials. Everything else is a great pile of details.
As I’ve said before in the past, I hate even dealing with politics, yet, the circumstances we’re in create a situation where I find myself here writing about political matters frequently. There’s the dilemma; the mad circus of present-era American politics causes major problems and gets in the way, so that it ends up being unavoidable to talk about the dysfunction. It fouls everything. People get shoved into playing along with the running game of Left or Right or Conservative or Liberal or pulling the voting switches for Team D or Team R, with the latter item being constantly reinforced by people hammering the notion into the heads of the American citizenry that the USA is “a two-party system”, and there is no other but Team R or Team D.
Obviously, as I write notes here I throw in a fair amount of links pointing people to various things I regard (usually) as important. I often wonder how often, given the context of the political insanity polluting the nation, people might be baffled by some of it, not because an item is really baffling, but because they can’t just read something and comprehend it as it is, but rather have to digest things by first deciding what sort of categorization it fits, i.e., “is this a Liberal thing or a Conservative thing?… is this a Republican thing or Democratic thing? (or “Democrat party” thing, in really dysfunctional minds)… is this from The Left or The Right?”.
Never mind what it actually is. One of the most horrific things I’ve ever encountered in my life is a notion that I’ve heard more than once in the past, as the phrase “perception is reality”, in other words, that what something is isn’t important, that what somebody thinks it is is what really matters. There’s a notion that’s a grand entrance door to the domain of complete insanity.
Set aside all the stuff about “Obamacare” and focus on the current president himself, and virtually all of the swirl of noisy confusion of American politics regarding President Barack Obama manages to be removed to an astounding degree from the actual reality. What’s truly bizarre about this is that I’m not talking about any kind of thing where I’m claiming some otherwise unknown secret information, some grand conspiracy theory obscurities, but rather what is, and has been for several years, in plain sight. Scroll back up the page to review Chris Hedges’ summary of Obama, for reference, because he nailed it right square on the head.
In the 2008 election, people were sold a bill of goods about Barack Obama (I was convinced, at least about some of it, myself), that here was a bright and well educated man of vision who would do his best to bring changes and reform to a mess of a national government, and work to return the American government to the people of the United States. In the crazy realm of the Republican party and their allies in Fox News and so on, they found it useful to propagate fiction about what I’ve called cartoon villain Obama, the secret Muslim leftist radical socialist who would destroy “free enterprise” and steal all our money in taxes to give free stuff to lazy communists, Negroes, and Mexicans (add in any other convenient scapegoats I might be leaving out).
None of all that has much relation to the actual reality of the four and a half years so far of the Obama presidency. In reality, one relatively simplistic, but not inaccurate, way to summarize the Obama presidency to date would be to describe it as a third and now fourth term of the Bush/Cheney presidency. But any of this has a hard time getting through to any of the people who are holding on tight to either of the general alternate reality images of Obama.
Regardless of any lunatic delusions about “perception is reality”, reality is going to just go right on being what it is.
Spending time talking about the insanity infecting present day American politics is necessary because of this. A piece written by Bill Moyers talks about this problem, making special note of the absurd item found in one of Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda papers about JP Morgan and the recent penalty, that was apparently negotiated between them and the US federal government. As pointed out by another good piece by Matt Taibbi (a man, like Moyers, who is one of the few remaining actual journalists in America today), JP Morgan got off easy, considering what they’ve done to the country, along with a cadre of other Wall Street mega-banks. The way Murdoch’s New York Post and his TV operations at Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network make it sound, poor mistreated heroes of American prosperity JP Morgan Chase (among others) have been robbed by commie tyrants of the Obama administration, including suggestions that this is some sort of persecution as political revenge for daring to stand up for freedom and The American Way against the tyrant Obama and henchmen.
Actual reality is that this looks like a slap on the wrist deal that’s practically a travesty considering what those guys have been doing, practically a joke, and another sign added to the pile of the period of the Obama presidency so far that accumulates and seems to indicate more and more that Obama is completely a puppet figurehead of government run by a plutocracy. This kind of stuff sets people off about “conspiracy theories”, but, good God, man, look around.
This kind of problem is massive and pervasive. The overall upshot of the thing is that the inevitable snapback to reality is likely to be rough, more and more so as the reality distortions get more contorted.
Over recent years, especially since the election of Obama as president, it has been looking more and more apparent that quite an unfortunately large number of older Americans have bought completely into being bamboozled by bullshit from the axis of Fox News, the assorted obnoxious madmen honking away over the AM radio broadcast airwaves, and the Republican party (in its dividing factions of different kinds of madmen, and a rapidly dwindling number of responsible honest sane people). There’s some kind of mass pathology that future historians will probably study with particular interest, the way historians do in selecting subjects of study where the general question goes like “how did things go so wrong then?”.
There’s a different thing, but sharing something in common, in older Americans who keep carrying some sort of torch of loyalty to the modern Democratic party, really wishing and wanting to believe it to be something it’s not.
I’ll stop here for a second to interject this note. I am very acutely aware of the fact that this, right now, is a good example of how hard it is to pull away from the subject of dysfunctional politics and move on. It’s like some sucking vortex that distorts and drags in everything.
There is one bit of news from recent months that I thought was very interesting. That was the news of a primary election in the city of Toledo, which included a vote to narrow down a set of candidates for election to the office of Mayor to two choices to be presented on the coming general election ballot. The two final candidates who will appear as the available choices include the incumbent mayor. Both the incumbent and their challenger opponent are categorized as “independent”.
Let that settle in your mind for a minute. In the coming election to choose the next mayor of a substantial medium-sized American city, there is no candidate from the Democratic party, there is no candidate from the Republican party, and neither of the two candidates who will be offered as choices for voters has any official political party affiliation.
I definitely think that there is something of a sign of things to come in that story, as people gradually wake up to what becomes more and more unavoidably apparent, that the two dominant parties, the same entities that continuously hammer citizens with the idea that our government is a “two party system”, are dysfunctional, corrupt, and increasingly detached from reality and irrelevant. How things will play out in this story is just one of many things that are hard to forecast exactly.
I should wrap this up, and return to this again addressing the topics that I still haven’t really dug into here, as here I am, once again finding that the topic of the political circus shoves itself on to center stage. To top it off, and add to the pile, as I come back to write and finish up this note I started yesterday, today’s news (Friday November 1) pops in, taking over every minute of CNN program time (as usual), with the episode at the Los Angeles airport, featuring a guy with a firearm (and extra clips, according to reports) walking into a terminal and opening fire at TSA agents, killing one of them.
Winter In America Gets Colder : Why We Choose Poverty