2016.09.11 the distractions of the empire (yes, still)

As I take a little time on a beautiful September Sunday morning to write a bit, it’s a bit hard to avoid the date. Here on September 11, 2016, we now have reached 15 years gone past since the day when what was a nice Tuesday morning across much of the United States turned ugly and almost incomprehensibly shocking. Looking online, it’s inevitable that all kinds of things appear about the occasion.

In the aftermath of that wretched day, some people in positions of power came up with the plan of actually designating this date as an official government holiday named “Patriot Day”. I still fail to understand that. First, there’s the idea of actually designating the date of such a horrible day as a holiday, but beyond that, and maybe more important to consider, is how the word “patriot” applies to any of this. That followed the nearly immediate passage of a federal law by Congress that essentially declared a state of police state semi-martial law, a kind of “emergency” act that has, of course, become permanent, to this point, anyway, and seeing that this has been in place for just short of a decade and a half, it should be a main point of examination to how long this “state of emergency” notion is supposed to remain. The answer, as it seems obvious to anybody paying honest and objective attention, is that the intentions were (and are) that this was to be a permanent change.

The official title of the act of Congress was “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001″, which, of course is something that virtually no American actually knows offhand, and in fact, I just had to look it up myself. The ubiquitous name used to refer to this thing is “the Patriot Act“, although, again, how this is related to a “patriot” is a bit of a basic question. George Orwell could have created the whole chunk of events and lingo as a work of fiction as in his novel 1984, including the immediate declaration of a “War on Terror”, and absurd term of its own, proclaimed to the American people (and the rest of the world) as “a new kind of war”, one that was to never end, if for no other reason that it was a declaration of a war that was not actually a declaration of war as defined in the constitution, a responsibility and authority given to Congress, proclaimed to be in existence now, and presumably forevermore, against “terror”, a word defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a state of intense fear“. So, then, I guess the “War on Terror” will be continuing until… we have a signed agreement of surrender from the state of intense fear?

It probably strikes some people as being silly and pedantic to note that the warping of language has taken such effect that if you look up the word “terror” in the web version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, among the definitions of the word you now find “violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands“, which is actually a definition of the word “terrorism”, not the word “terror”. It’s not trivial to take note of the fact that in the fictional world of Orwell’s 1984, the profound warping of language was an inherent part of the world of the story.

One of the slogans bombarding people in that dystopian fictional world was “War is Peace”, and it should strike people as slightly terrifying, or, at the very least, extremely disturbing, to observe the way that we have this kind of mental distortion bombarding us on a daily basis now, and, even worse, shocking proportions of the populace play right along with it.

There’s a little snippet I came across that manages to capture a general sense of some things-

“We were attacked on 9/11 by a group of Saudis, Emiratis, and a Lebanese, led by an Egyptian. Which is why we’re at war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.”

One piece of the tale in 1984 is the piece of propaganda meme (with the idea of a “meme” coming along decades later) where the public is told “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia!”, about the conflict between the large nation-state conglomerates of the world in the story, imposing a large scale reality warp on the population to sweep away any inconvenient memories of the fact that, not long before, relations with Eastasia had in fact been a different matter.

Cut back to reality. Almost instantly after the events, it was declared that without any doubt, the shocking horrors of large aircraft crashing into buildings in New York City and DC had been executed by the evil mastermind of Osama bin Laden, the new enemy number one of America. Twenty years or so before that, the same character had been a friend of America and freedom-fighters everywhere, we were told, as he and his brave little band of “freedom fighters” were bravely taking on the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Later, obviously, we then had the whole Iraq epic, when evil dictator Saddam Hussein just had to go, because of those weapons of mass destruction (a new bit of lingo born in the midst of all that), that turned out to not exist. In something similar to the whole bin Laden case, an item that was conveniently forgotten was how recently before that Saddam Hussein was regarded and presented as “friend and ally of America”.

The Trump/Clinton farce rolls on, all the while. An article on the Counterpunch site summed it up very neatly:

Even by the standards to which American voters have become accustomed, a Clinton-Trump election marks a new low.

Think of it: an inept toady of the rich and powerful, with a neoconservative worldview and a mindless determination to maintain American world domination by military force is pitted against a billionaire huckster-buffoon, with an authoritarian personality and the maturity of an unhinged adolescent. Could it get any worse?

Beyond that succinct and, I would say, dead accurate summary, the article makes a pretty good case explaining how we got to such a state of affairs. As one web meme floating around put it, a country of over 300 million people, and these two are the best we could come up with?

The absolute determination of some portion of the American population to accept the idea that these two are simply the choices, and you must vote for one or the other of a pair of walking horror shows (because democracy, and “our two party system” is democracy!) has many people, evidently, at least appearing, sometimes, to be losing their minds. This is a tricky subject, obviously, and no joke. It does raise again the statement from James Kunstler about how stressed societies have increased delusional thinking, and we are now in that kind of period. It definitely is playing out in all kinds of ways, the political crazy being just one facet.

Among people I know, an item coming up recently was somebody posting online a link about Trump regarding a TV “news” appearance and part of Trump’s statements. The article includes a video clip, and the actual text can be quoted entirely and not take a lot of space:

During a forum featuring questions from veterans on NBC, Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that he was doing a better job than President Obama. “The man has very strong control over a country,” he said. “Now, it’s a very different system and I don’t happen to like the system, but certainly in that system, he’s been a leader. Far more than our president has been a leader.” Trump added: “I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin. I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia.”

This, it appears, is beyond the pale for some people, which I find a little bizarre, frankly. Many people have lost the ability to look at all sorts of things clearly and objectively, especially in the context of this election farce. If you set aside all else from, and about, the huckster buffoon that some Scot described as the “orange-faced shitgibbon”, what has he actually said there?

He would have a very good relationship with a large significant nation and the leader of that nation’s government? Outrageous! How dare he?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a leader, far more than our President Obama has been a leader?

Well, I find it interesting to notice that every time I see anything talking about Putin and how he is seen by people in Russia, it seems that anything talking about it in somewhat simplistic terms of the ever-popular “approval ratings” measurement, the numbers always range somewhere around 75% to 85% approval among the Russian population surveyed. Despite the noise coming from the neocon dominated capital here, it also seems that elsewhere in the world, Putin is seen in a more positive view than the leadership here, and, for that matter, this raises the questions of what leadership of government there is here and how President Obama factors in.

In 2008 I looked at the mob seeking the Presidency and thought that Obama was, by far, the best choice. By 2012 and the next election, I found Obama to be, to be a bit simplistic about it, a severe disappointment. Fully explaining that opinion is a large subject by itself, but a large part of his assessment is that “leadership” and Obama did not seem to be compatible terms. It isn’t just that the only “leadership” seems to have been a nice speech now and then, with little real positive effect, but that the reality of Barack Obama as President has been very different from what many of us thought we were getting with his election.

A big chunk of that has been his apparent acquiescence to the whole neocon cult, in one area of affairs, and in another, total submission and service to oligarchy and plutocracy, in the aftermath of the gigantic financial disasters of 2008.

In any case, the response from this person was a bit of commentary along with the link, including saying that if you see Trump’s pronouncements on foreign policy and military and intelligence matters as “no big deal”, you might be setting yourself up to be regarded as “collaborators“. What?

What the hell does that mean? I have to guess, from context (including past commentary from the same person) that this implies that you will be considered a Russian collaborator with the evil Putin and enemy Russians and their evil plans. This goes right along with the general madness I’ve been talking about ever since the coup d’etat in Ukraine, where anything that even tries to look at reality in world affairs is likely to attract noisy and disturbing rhetorical hyperbole about being a “Putin apologist” or “pro-Russian” or “Putin’s Useful Idiot” and so on.

It’s really pretty awful to see how many people have bought in completely to all kinds of lunacy from the neocon cult, including the ongoing malevolent obsessions with the Russians, and, specifically, Putin.

It’s interesting, and pretty disturbing, as well, to note that the same guy has also made occasional comments to the effect that Edward Snowden is, obviously, a Russian spy! He’s a Chinese spy! No, he’s a Russian and Chinese spy! Snowden is a traitor!

Anyway, he then went on to comment on Putin, including saying that Putin (personally, of course) has made war on Crimea, Ukraine, Georgia, and “other former SSR’s” (other former Soviet republics). Never mind that the story of the short burst of military action, a brief war in 2008, in the region known as South Ossetia, is apparently much different than the sound-bite proclamations frequently fired out at us here in the US. The problem is, anything about this is also going to be dismissed outright as “Russian propaganda” and ignored by some people. In such a case, like many stories, it doesn’t seem to matter that a variety of people are seeing and reporting the same general story, with no connection of any sort to Russia and its government. In the context of the running narratives about supposed quests for “Russian expansionism” and so on, it should be worth noting that after the Russian military went into the region and quickly squelched the Georgian attacks (with US encouragement and outright support for the Georgian action) against Russians in the South Ossetia region (whatever the hell all the details were of the regional squabbles there) and Russian military forces there who were being attacked while serving as some sort of peacekeeper force, the Russians didn’t take over the place, they left.

That’s relevant but separate from the other part, claiming as some sort of “everybody knows” fact, that is not fact, that “Putin made war on Crimea and Ukraine”, complete nonsense that has been covered here before, complete with dozens of stories from a variety of reportage, that appear to have been completely dismissed or ignored by the person I’m referring to. As I’ve pointed out about a billion times, what was the semi-autonomous region of Crimea within Ukraine had been part of Russia until some Soviet political maneuvering in the mid fifties that saw Crimea moved from being part of Russia to part of Ukraine (when they were both Soviet territory), and, after the coup d’etat in Ukraine, followed by extreme violence from the new gang taking control directed toward “the Russian element” in Crimea, the people in Crimea voted by an over 90% majority to separate from Ukraine and seek to be part of Russia again, and the supposed “Russian invasion” of Crimea part of the scenario was the Russian naval base in Crimea that had been there for two centuries. There was no war, certainly nothing that could be realistically considered anything like an “invasion”, and the end result of Crimea being Russia again was what was wanted by nearly all of the people actually living there.

It’s certainly one of the endless bizarre items in recent and current affairs that, with the incredibly loose relationship between Donald Trump and truth and reality, occasionally things come from Trump where he is actually telling the truth, which are then greeted with incredulous outrage by many people who then point to the items in question as egregious evidence of Herr Drumpf’s massive dishonesty or just plain delusion.

It’s an interesting bit of timing to read this week’s Monday installment of Kunstler’s Clusterfuck Nation blog, which included this excerpt-

One more thing this week: why exactly are America’s Clinton-invested political elites inveighing so strenuously against Russia and its president, Mr. Putin? The US has gone out of its way to provoke Russia militarily the past several years. We foolishly sponsored the revolution in Ukraine that has left it a failed state — and which prompted Russia to reclaim the Crimea, historically its own territory and the site of its strategically crucial warm water ports. We continue to run NATO war game exercises along Russia’s borders. We fly surveillance planes in their airspace and then act surprised when Russia sends up fighters to remind us where we are. We hold naval exercises in the Black Sea and wonder why the Russians buzz us. Are we out of our minds? How would we act if the Russians flew their planes over Catalina Island or held naval war games off Hampton Roads? Who does the US policy elite think they’re kidding?

These memes in financial and foreign policy are dangerously crazy and dishonest. They are doing a good job of making the US political establishment look like a claque of fools and outlaws, and laying a red carpet for the election of Trump, the fake savior… the apotheosis of the fabled Greater Fool.

It’s tragic, not a word I’m using lightly, that the people who most need to get the message there are people who would instantly and completely dismiss it, and Kunstler, as some sort of Trump support and Putin apologist/Russian propaganda.

On another note, a web meme item was another sort of editorial cartoon demonstrating some sort of Trump/Putin homoerotic relationship accompanied by text shrieking about Trump appearing on Russian state television to disparage America and Obama and how this is pure treason.

I got curious and searched, and, as far as I could tell, the only thing I can find that seemed that it could be what they were talking about was a segment of the Larry King show that is now running on the RT network. You can watch it yourself. I did, and I have no idea how anybody got the idea shown in that little online item I just mentioned. I must be missing something. Seriously, either I’m completely failing to comprehend what I saw and heard in the clip in question, there is some other TV appearance I’m missing, or, what I suspect is the actual explanation, people are just happily spreading some reality distortion meme with no knowledge at all of the item supposedly providing its basis, just because, I am presuming, reasonably, I think, that it’s a neat little item on the theme that Trump is terrible. I guess that for some people, that’s close enough.


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