So, here we are, into part 3 of this thing.
I’ll state what should be the obvious, that to get any sense of where we might be going, we have to know something about where we’ve been, and where we are now. I’ve found myself now arriving at writing a part three to this thing largely because of the overbearing fog of political malfunction and accompanying confusion getting in the way pretty badly of people getting a reasonably clear grasp of where we are now, and how we’ve arrived at where we are.
As I left off the last time, the news of the day was dominated by events at the LA airport. I turned on a television, turned to CNN, and found exactly what I expected. That story is all they were covering, although, as is normal now, they just took about three minutes worth of actual factual information and filled hours of program time with it. The usual routine played out there, as they filled large chunks of time by doing things like having a parade of guests, presented as some form of expert authority, and have people talk out their asses in speculation and opinions.
One example of this was a guest with a graphic onscreen identifying them as a former FBI profiler. From what was said, if I understood correctly, the FBI profiler had no connection with any investigation about this event. They were asked to offer their thoughts about the man who opened fire in the LAX airport, and obliged, while, again, apparently having no more knowledge about him than the news people. What they said was interesting, although maybe not in the way some people might have found it interesting.
The profiler went on for a while. Among all that was speculation (with, again, no actual knowledge that was apparent) that the gunman was somebody who had troubles, who was somehow unhappy with their life, who probably blames everybody else for their own problems, and so on, and on. In something like this, it’s predictable that somebody will talk about them being disturbed, about mental health issues, et cetera.
By that time, reports had come through that among the gunman’s possessions at the scene were things vaguely described as anti-government literature, or anti-government and anti-TSA rants, or some kind of anti-government manifesto.
The FBI profiler time filler made a comment saying that they knew nothing that indicated that there had been any personal experience of the gunman with the TSA that could have angered him in some direct way, and nothing that indicated that these anti-government and anti-TSA ideas were found among anyone in the gunman’s life they knew of, so, according to this expert opinion, I quote, “they must have gotten it from the internet“. Apparently the guest could not conceive the idea that perhaps, the guy doing the shooting had a sense of what his own government was doing, and what he thought about it, all on his own.
I suspect it’s likely that the ugliness at LAX won’t be the last event of this kind we’ll see.
Upon hearing about a story like this, it’s reasonable to immediately think in terms of somebody being a sociopath, but in this case, what news we have had about it so far tells the story of an armed man walking into a crowded airport terminal, shooting at the TSA, while ignoring dozens of airline passengers and other people in the terminal.
It’s very possible we could be seeing vaguely similar ugly incidents like this, not being committed by people who are crazy, but people who, simply, are just that pissed off.
Sorting things out faces masses of noise and confusion, though. One recurring item, now, is to hear about people described as anti-government people of the right-wing extremist sort. This kind of bunch seem to rally around notions of fighting tyranny against the evil secret Muslim Leftist radical Marxist communist Obama who wants to destroy America and usher in a totalitarian communist One World Government and take our guns and outlaw Jesus, or whatever is going on in their heads. Some people seem a little less off the deep end but still buy into some kind of idea that Obama is some Leftist radical whatzit who wants some sort of totalitarian socialist police state, but they were fine with a police state and military empire with Bush and Cheney at the helm. These would be the people who spent years chattering about how all real Americans must support the Commander in Chief, and just swear allegiance to the flag, shut up, and obey, to keep us safe and secure and fight the oxymoronically named “War on Terror”. Others who were properly repulsed by that during Bush and Cheney’s reign now seem to think that it’s all good now, since Obama is president, so somehow it’s all different.
The sick twist is, when you shove aside all the bullshit and deal with reality, the Bush and Cheney regime, and now Obama’s presidency, have ended up being, overall, the same damned thing. There are plenty of distracting diversions of all the swirling games and circus of politics, but in essence, it’s mostly the same, including the ever expanding police state and mad ambitions of world military empire.
One special case of massive irony popped up before me just a few days ago, when I turned on a TV and found Dick Cheney on the Charlie Rose show. Cheney really needs to just go away and shut his face forever, but apparently now he made it on to the Charlie Rose show to pimp a new book. (Extra points of disgust for the thought that Dick Cheney will be accumulating even more money now, from book sales.)
I didn’t stick around for much of that, but what I did hear was Cheney yammering something about how Obama, as president, has “lowered America’s standing in the world”. The staggering irony is that coming from Dick Cheney, for a start, but then, when Obama was elected, it seemed pretty obvious that America’s standing in the view of much of the world went up considerably, seeing Obama coming in, and seeing Bush and Cheney heading for the exit, finally. In the last few years since, it can be said that the rest of the world’s view of America has deteriorated quite a bit, and it comes down to people starting to realize that Obama, in practical reality as president, was turning out to basically be just a more genial version of Dick Cheney.
I wrote in an earlier note about occasionally recalling the line from Hunter S. Thompson; “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro”. Right now, we’re in a state of affairs where the reality around us in public affairs is so bizarre that it takes a bit (sometimes a lot) of careful attention and thought to sort out truth of actual reality from assorted tinfoil-hat nuttery and paranoid delusions. This probably explains how some people, apparently sometimes seemingly otherwise sensible and functional people, can be sucked into taking a comically confused character like Glenn Beck seriously, to name one glaring example.
The problematic flipside to this is people dismissing some things as “tinfoil hat nuttery” that are, in fact, very real, and deadly serious. Sorting this out is probably going to be more complicated as time goes on. People have a lot bombarding them, and many people just block it all out because it’s overwhelming, and sometimes not particularly cheery.
One segment is obvious enough. We’ve got all the general mass media stuff that gets most attention. One of the strange twists of recent American history is to observe people barking about the supposed “Left-wing Liberal media bias” and so on, which is applied, shall we say, extremely broadly, in talking about a collection of “news media” that are generally some media business owned by large corporations, but are asserted by some people to be the propaganda wing of some vast conspiracy of a socialist/communist takeover of America and world domination. It makes no sense, but that doesn’t stop this from being an idea accepted by a lot of people who somehow can’t understand what a ridiculous load of bullshit that is.
So then we get the American public bombarded by manipulative garbage presented as the alternative, like the long running twisted joke of Roger Ailes’ propaganda operation of “Fair and Balanced” Fox News, the host of barking malevolent fools on AM broadcast “talk radio”, assorted websites. Just the topic of Fox News Channel by itself is convoluted and twisted, but just at a glance you can find assorted examples of the deranged manipulations and deceptions in action there, like campaigns of online sock-puppet identities to pollute and manipulate online chatter on the web.
Apart from all that, we have some people breaking free of all that contorted reality distortion and vapid infotainment, addressing reality as clearly and honestly and incisively as they can, but these people are largely ignored by the people who need to pay attention the most, or are completely unknown to the people who need to get the message. For some examples, we have people like Bill Moyers, Matt Taibbi, David Stockman, Paul Craig Roberts; and among these men, given the fog of political confusion and cliches, some people will instantly dismiss Moyers and Taibbi as “part of that Leftist Liberal media propaganda!”, because Moyers does a program series on PBS and Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone, while others will instantly dismiss Stockman and Roberts as “Right-wing Conservative Republicans” because both of those men by coincidence held high level positions in the administration of President Reagan.
For people bound up in cliches and presumptions and stereotypes, it’s apparently near impossible for them to grasp that these particular men are actually addressing many of the very same problems. Some months back I came across an installment of Bill Moyers’ TV program with David Stockman as an interview guest in the studio. It was, let’s say, refreshing, even though the subject matter was not terribly happy stuff. It was men who can see what actually is, and think for themselves, and speaking about the stuff at hand, without bullshit.
It’s really hard to even find some good stopping point in addressing all this. Basically, what so much of it all comes down to is that it seems to serve some people very nicely to keep the American people massively confused, split into contrived opposing sides, and squabbling, while most of them have little to no grasp of what’s really happening.
The revelations from Edward Snowden of the misbehavior of American government in the realm of the NSA, as well as what was revealed by Bradley Manning, have made it clear just how deranged and out of control our government really is, showing us an ugly reality that makes it appear that a great deal of “conspiracy theory” paranoid nuttery was actually closer to the truth than most people would like to believe.
Of course, one complication of all that, making a complex and ugly set of circumstances even worse, is that this will encourage the paranoid nutcases even more, and give them a sense of validity in whatever crazed extrapolations they imagine, following whatever mental processes crank out that stuff.
It gets even more bizarre as you swat aside the confusion and deceptions and cliches and look at many things found in actual reality, such as what I already mentioned about Obama, which was summarized by something I read a while back and mentioned before, which suggested that Obama talks like he’s from the American Civil Liberties Union, but then in action, he’s more like Dick Cheney.
We have the same kind of behavior, attitudes, and action of neocon type military empire. We have the same kind of ugly trend in increasing police state circumstances, from ignoring the first and fourth amendments to the constitution, to suspending due process rule of law, secret courts ruling on what appears to be secret law overriding all else, declarations of American citizens as “enemy combatants” and subject to any kind of decree up to indefinite imprisonment and even execution by their own government (you know, to keep us safe and free!), right down to increasing transformation of even local law enforcement into paramilitary forces.
Like I said, it’s tough to find a stopping point in this. Let’s just say that there is an awful lot happening that demonstrates the idea truth is stranger than fiction.
What is certain is that however it plays out, and however long it takes to happen, both the people who buy into all kinds of nonsense narratives of the Republican party, Fox News, the AM radio blowhards, and Wall Street and corporate America, and the people who buy into the idea of Barack Obama as a great reformer of a president, bringing our government back under the control of the people and serving the people, are going to come to the realization that they’ve all been played for fools.
What follows will probably not be a lot of fun. Part of the lack of fun is likely to be that people who like positions of power of status quo of plutocracy and empire will be unlikely to be willing to give up any power and advantage and priviledge they’ve gained. As unrest and disgust and frustration and anger grows, you can figure on seeing and hearing all kinds of dog and pony shows from “bipartisan” players, and the news media playing along with the program, about what they want everybody to believe is happening.