In the chunks of news in the last note, there was the item that people might file under “infrastructure”, about the condition of the public transit rail system in the nation’s capital city of Washington DC.
I have to wonder what people in other nations around the world think when they get glimpses of the city housing our nation’s capital. I do know, as one little interesting item for perspective here, that several years ago the BBC show Top Gear had hosts Clarkson, Hammond, and May on one of their road trip adventures where they did a road trip in a set of interesting cars up the east coast of the United States, ending in New York City, and the route included passing through DC. It was, shall we say, not a flattering view. In fact, they made fairly grim dark comedy of it, not showing the usual tourist views of all the usual shrines of governance and history, but passing through the place elsewhere and showing what a hellish shithole it really is for, you know, regular peasants who actually live there and are not part of the power structure.
For that matter, it should be fairly obvious to anyone really paying attention that if you examine the people who are involved in the business of government there, virtually nobody actually lives in the District of Columbia, and are mostly located in very wealthy zones in places like Arlington, Virginia.
I can’t believe that many of them do a lot of shuffling around from place to place via public transit.
But, then, this opens up all kinds of serious, but uncomfortable, topics.
There’s the pervasive attitude here in the US, where, over a period of decades, people have been trained, pretty successfully, to regard the whole idea of public mass transit, with the exception of very few places, as being something for peasants and losers, not good useful members of society doing their consumer duty to drive their personal petroleum fueled vehicles (can’t really just say cars anymore) miles and miles to do anything.
Then there’s the whole attitude toward anything involving public infrastructure, or anything that might be considered the public commons, as being like communism or something.
Let’s pause for a moment to interject another new item that came up, an article on the website for The Atlantic. The article by Jonathan Rauch is called How American Politics Went Insane. One tiny item about this is interesting to notice, aside from the article itself. There’s the title, as you have just read it, but, then, when you look at the title that gets shown for the webpage, the title that appears in the title bar at the top of a web browser, and gets saved as a title when you bookmark the page in your browser bookmarks, it was changed, for some reason that might be interesting to have explained by someone, to show the title as “How American Politics Became So Ineffective“. Well, the writer didn’t say that, did he? The actual title was a very different thing, and much more appropriate and to the point.
For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong. -H.L. Mencken
We have become like the latter-day Romans. We worship the gladiators and we have forgotten the architects and the philosophers – Dean Kamen
People see only what they are prepared to see. -Ralph Waldo Emerson (Journal, 1863)
When societies get badly stressed, delusional thinking increases. We are now in that situation. – James Howard Kunstler
Pausing to point at the article from The Atlantic is not really interrupting to go off on a tangent. It really follows right along with what I was talking about regarding the state of the DC transportation system. It doesn’t just fit right in, it might be a better to say that the two topics are just absolutely inextricably tangled up with each other.
The DC transit item has a peculiar quirk to it in that, on the face of it, it is the sort of topic that would reasonably be regarded as a local issue, but with a twist. It’s in the District of Columbia, a governmental entity of a unique kind. It isn’t a part of a state, and it isn’t a state among the United States of America. It is a city, of a sort, but not really a normal city, as the seat of national government. It’s an issue that really is literally right under the noses of people in positions of power and authority of national government, but, again, appears to be an item that might somehow escape the notice of such people, because, in a very real way, it is just not a part of their world.
I will confess, right now, to the fact that I know virtually nothing about the specific details of the funding and administration of governance of the District of Columbia, and how the federal government is or is not involved in the caretaking of its home base territory, but, then, this might be a trivial point. In other words, any arguments that the nature of this problem is merely some sort of local municipal government issue and malfunction would be a bit specious. It’s right there on display, hidden in plain sight, you might say, and the existence of a running problem this wretched and pathetic in the home of our national government could have many descriptive words and phrases applied, none of them nice.
It’s a kind of story that has an aroma to it that could be found in places all across the nation, even while we suffer from endless parades of people spouting pompous delusions of grandeur. Money and work somehow cannot be applied to something like this system, but, hey, hundreds of billions of dollars can be “found” and applied to funding war supplies and operations that are euphemistically always referred to as “defense” and “national security”, even while it’s apparent that a relatively small portion of it has any relevance to maintaining a guard and defense of the United States, and is mostly applied to maintaining a program of world empire with the US armed forces as a sort of enforcer for Empire.
Thinking about this nudges loose some thoughts about a running theme of James Howard Kunstler, which is a statement describing the decades long program of suburban expansion in the United States, mostly since the end of World War II, as the greatest misallocation of resources in history. There is certainly that, although it has to be said that this particular project has not been the only case of misallocation of wealth and resources.
Looking at what does appear as ideas from some people about what is good allocation of wealth and resources is a quite a subject, really too much to take in. As just one item of a great pile in the story of the neocon cult dominating Washington and their ambitions for Empire and malicious meddling everywhere in the world, a new story has appeared about the direction of war supplies to what we keep hearing about as “moderate Syrian rebels”, to overthrow a government of a nation on the other side of the world that won’t follow Washington’s orders, and this, perhaps, not going well, as if there is any way this could be going well.
This whole saga is as continuously astonishing and just plain disgusting as it is seemingly endless. It seems to be an endless churning cycle; the neocons dominating our government keep chanting about “regime change” and maliciously meddling everywhere possible in any place things are not conforming to their plans and whims, things go badly, any way you look at it, in anything and everything they touch, and responding to all the consequences of death, destruction, and general mayhem and misery by making things ever worse. This has now been a long-running saga of hubris and sheer lunacy, and, somehow, they just keep going.
Meanwhile, almost completely ignored among all the diversions, as Paul Craig Roberts recently summed it up:
Washington is putting its nuclear missiles on Russia’s borders, conducting war games on Russia’s borders, and stationing its Navy off Russia’s coasts in the Black and Baltic seas. To cover up its reckless, irresponsible aggression toward a nuclear power, Washington accuses Russia of aggression.
It isn’t only that this situation is so astonishing, so disturbing, just so wrong on so many levels, it’s that in what we could just broadly call the realm of general American public awareness, attention, and consensus, it seems to be almost completely unknown and ignored, completely off people’s radar, as they’re bombarded with all the distractions and diversions.
I’ve certainly spent more than enough time and attention here on the Ukraine story to try to make people aware of it, but, in the general public realm in the US right now, it’s obvious that the overall public notions, whatever there is of a general consensus, of what’s going on, are completely warped by grotesque deception. What has happened there is, as I’ve said, complex. In general, Ukraine became a slightly more covert than usual target of “regime change” by the neocon crowd, with prime neocon player Victoria Nuland at the helm, and became still another fine example of these kinds of mad neocon manipulations and ambitions making someplace in the world even worse than it already was. When the people in Crimea and the eastern Donbass regions wanted nothing to do with the new gang taking power in Kiev, who immediately turned on those areas with extreme hostility and violence, Crimea (which, again, was part of Russia until 1954) voted in a referendum by over a 90% majority to separate from Ukraine and ask to rejoin Russia, this was described as “Russia’s seizure of Crimea”, by “Russian invasion”, pointing at the Russian military at the two century old Russian naval base on the Black Sea coast of Crimea. When the people rebelling against the coup d’etat in Kiev (who still wanted the government they had elected) actually fought back when they then came under attack by the Ukrainian military under the command of the new gang in Kiev, this, we were told, was clearly “Russian invasion of Ukraine“, and, as this dragged on, “Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine“.
This whole ugly saga has, from incessant propaganda, insidiously become one of those things that have taken hold as something that “everybody knows”, when, in fact, the thing “everybody knows”, supposedly, is wrong, and the public meme is this notion of “Russian aggression” that doesn’t really exist.
In the neocon alternate “reality” narratives, another item tossed out casually (seemingly implied to be another thing “everybody knows”) is the events of several years ago in other former Soviet republics, supposed “Russian aggression” in the former Soviet state of Georgia, which was also recently mentioned by Paul Craig Roberts, summing up the story-
We are constantly informed by the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, numerous senators and representatives, by NATO commanders, by EU politicians, by presstitutes, and others, that “Russia has invaded Ukraine.”
Take a minute and think about this extraordinary lie. Clearly, evidence is no longer a factor in determining what is occuring. Assertion only rules. Take a second to look outside The Matrix. Is it really possible that Ukraine would still exist if Russia invaded? I would bet my life that within 60 hours of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine would again be part of Russia.
Remember August 2008 when the US and Israeli trained and equipped Georgian army invaded the peacekeeping realm of South Ossetia, killing Russian peace-keeping troops and Ossetian civilians. Putin was at the Beijing Olympics, but Russian armed forces quickly smashed the American/Israeli trained and equipped Georgian army. Putin held Geogia in his palm.
What did Putin do after delivering this lesson in the superiority of Russian arms? He released Georgia and returned home.
So how is it that Putin, according to the entirely of the Western political establishment and media whores, is determined to rebuild the Soviet Empire? Putin held Georgia. No power on earth could have forced him to release Georgia. But Putin withdrew Russia’s forces and released the country. The former Georgian president is now an American operative in Ukraine.
If you consider the number of outsiders, including US citizens and the former president of Georgia, who serve in the Ukrainian government, it raises questions about the so-called “Maidan Revolution” in February 2014. If this really was a popular uprising, and not a Washington orchestrated coup, why is there such a shortage of Ukrainians to form the new government that foreign citizens have to be brought in to rule the country?
Just as another piece, notice the trouble in Georgia happening while the Russian president was at the Olympics happening at the time, and then the trouble in Ukraine reaching full boil while the same Russian president was occupied with the winter Olympics happening 6 years later, hosted by Russia in Sochi, along the coast of the Black Sea, not far from Ukraine. You might think, gee, isn’t that an interesting coincidence?
Talking about any and all of this, unfortunately, runs smack into the likelihood of encountering absurd reactions from people who say that you must be a Putin apologist, or a Putin supporter, or maybe pro-Russian, or whatever the hell it might be, as they have been sucked in completely by propaganda telling them about a supposed menacing Russian threat personally orchestrated by evil villain Vladimir Putin, who is just like Stalin all over again, and on his evil quest to recreate the Soviet Union and conquer the world!
So here we are, now, with a whole array of events involving US military forces and/or NATO military forces (who, realistically, are simply commanded by Washington) placed or moving all along the European borders of Russia, with active war game military exercises in close proximity, with the obvious clear purpose being about going through motions of actually attacking Russia, pushing hard to start World War III, while people in power (and their media channels) are repeatedly babbling complete fucking nonsense about “Russian aggression”.
The short story is simple, even as the larger story is a complex tangle, and that is that we have lunatics pushing hard to try to start World War III, and all that involves, which would be likely, if not certain, to be a war with nuclear weapons.
It isn’t all about Russia, either, as, for some time, we’ve been hearing about an “Asian pivot” in “defense” strategy matters in Washington along with occasional glimpses of news about US military operations around China, usually reported in the usual suspects news media entertainment and propaganda as the Chinese behaving badly when they have the gall to encounter the US military lurking around them. Some months ago I was somewhere with a group of people around me chattering about whatever assorted randomness I was mostly trying to ignore, and was startled to suddenly hear somebody in the midst of it declare offhand, “China wants war with everybody”. That stopped me dead for a second, yanking my attention away from what I was doing, busy with work at hand, in stunned amazement. This, evidently, is the kind of result you get from people just superficially skimming what we’re presented as “news” here these days, along with probably a large dose of random noise bullshit from people around them. How do you arrive at something like this? What gives somebody an idea that China wants war with anybody?
What goes on in the neocon minds in Washington is an ugly mystery, but at least on some level, it’s relatively easy to guess from years of evidence. Part of it goes right back to the briefly explicit (and then more covert) notions of the neocons about Washington (with themselves in control) as the center and seat of power in total world domination, with any nation and government anywhere who might be a difficulty or obstacle treated as a threat to be eliminated, neutralized. Years of evidence have shown this in action, in either trying to intimidate all the world into submission and obedience, or going into outright military attack. Along with that goes another element, which is that everything involved in this, one way or another, has the effect of bulldozing great and ever greater piles of money into the coffers of the war supplies business, which continues to be sold to the public under the euphemisms about “defense” and “national security” and “defending our freedom”.
There’s a new bit of news I’m inserting here in an edit, as I find a report from the CBC that Canadian military forces are going to be sent to Latvia as part of more NATO forces, as “deterrence” in the Baltic region of Europe, more of all this nonsense about supposedly defending Europe against all this imminent menacing “Russian aggression” that has no evidence of actually existing. It continues to be astonishing that anybody buys this nonsense and never asks, why, after a generation of the Russian Federation working to rebuild their own country, and work on good relations with the rest of Europe after all the madness of the Soviet era, would the Russians suddenly be on some agenda to threaten the rest of Europe and launch some sort of attempt at military conquest? The whole idea is insane, completely nonsensical. If I were Canadian, I would be extremely annoyed by this news.
Kunstler’s point about the massive project of postwar suburban sprawl as perhaps “the greatest misallocation of resources in history” is certainly a good one, an essentially important point that is still almost completely lost in oblivion among most of the American citizenry, but the decades of what Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex” absolutely ranks right up at the top. That gets even more complex, as it isn’t just about how much or how little is really about legitimate defense, guarding and defending the nation from outside hostilities, but also gets into serious questions about the actual usefulness and effectiveness, in any actual defense, of the masses of stuff involved. Dare to even question any of this, either the issue of the massive amounts of money shoveled in war supplies and how they might actually work if actual defense needs to happen, or the widespread scattering of it all around the world in more bases and other “installations” than anyone seems able to even count, and you are certain to be accused of “not supporting our troops” and noisy histrionics about “gutting our military”.
Meanwhile, what’s the general condition of the country? Look around.
Getting into any of this, chances are you will find a burst of chatter and squabbling about “public sector” and “private sector”. How about the general matters of finance, economics, and even money itself? I’ve seen some items around where people are talking about the recent and current state of things involving a gigantic bubble, a bubble of money itself, more and more “finance” as a thing unto itself. We have, obviously, had a period of years now, following what people call “the financial crisis”, involving the Federal Reserve pumping out more and more money imagined into being at near zero percent interest, with all the wonderful things this is supposed to do, along with all the noise about growth. So, what has happened? Where has all this, what shall we call it, “new wealth” gone? It should be obvious to anybody paying attention that essentially all of of this has simply fed more and more money into the same small bunch sucking up all the money possible anywhere, feeding the games of finance and skimming and looting and stock market shuffles.
I came across the following bit of commentary on the web, and I will quote it here, without attribution, because I don’t think it’s a unique thought.
Let’s be honest with ourselves –
The United States of America has become one giant shit show. We’re so lost and I’m not sure if we can find our way back. Maybe we’ve always been lost.
I don’t care where you stand politically or otherwise, but who wants to say they belong to this completely dysfunctional country? Not me….
If this was a club my family and friends would walk out immediately, laugh and roll our eyes. Maybe even call the cops….
It’s like watching an episode of Jerry Springer and then changing the channel only to find out that it’s on every fucking channel.
And it’s not just the corrupt politicians. That’s just the face of it.
We’ve been so doped up on television, smart phones and pharmaceutical drugs, that we’re all just a bunch of junkies.
Our entire culture revolves around sports and celebrity and politics.
The food we eat is poisoned….
The education system is a disgrace…
The infrastructure is falling apart…
Everyone is angry and thinks they’re right and the other person is an asshole and moronic ….
And we are afraid of everything. And I mean everything ….
I’m not pretending to have an answer. I don’t …. But I certainly see there is a problem. And I hate to say it, but this isn’t a small cut.
I think we hit an artery …..
This has a certain resonance.