Archive | April, 2017

We have always been a right wing plutocracy

18 Apr

(What? Nobody ever told you?)

Oh, yes. It started even before we were officially a Nation. In 1786 in Massachusetts, Daniel Shays, a veteran of the Revolutionary War was, with many others, staggering under crushing debt and high taxes. Facing a possible turn in debtors prison (fine old Dickensian holdover, wasn’t it?) Shays led a revolt of impoverished farmers. Patriot lawyer Samuel Adams wrote up a riot act suspending Habeas Corpus and the militia put down the protest, killed a few, hanged a couple. The people were up at bat for the first time. 

_Strike one._

Several years later another handful of disgruntled veterans of the Revolutionary War (sound familiar?) living on the frontier in Pennsylvania and ignored by the elite back East, eked out a modest living making whiskey. To pay debts to bankers for war costs heavy excise taxes were levied on their product. They revolted. The militias were sent in and they, too, lost. 

_Strike two._

“A reign of witches”, Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State under George Washington, aimed this jeremiad at Presidents Washington and Adams. This honorable duo were convinced our young Republic was so threatened by the French revolution and the Democracy it championed, they wanted war with France to stop it.

Jefferson was further appalled when the Alien and Sedition Act was passed and enacted. This early piece of fear-mongering legislation was father to countless future acts designed to make certain democracy remained a rousing slogan and little more.

Among the immediate results of this passage and the suspension of the Bill of Rights, was the arrest and prosecution of opposition newspaper editors. Armed mobs attacked the offices of the Philadelphia Aurora and presses were destroyed. Criticism of our fledgling government led to the ultimate sacrifice for the young publisher, Ben Franklin Bache. Benjamin Franklin, demonstrably the most sincere democrat of the founding clique, was his grandfather. Alas, Poor Benjamin’s Legacy: trivialized in history books as that quirky old dude with the almanac and kite. Take that demos!

_Strike three._ The game is not going well for the folks, so far. 

Enter now President Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” Apparently he was not referring to his own blood as he sat out the war at home in Monticello. He managed to serve two full terms as President without vetoing even one single bill of Congress. Tom owned 600 slaves; denied suffrage was the due of women and men without sufficient property. Still he is regarded as the best friend the common folks ever had. Those were the good days; it got worse. 

Six years after Jefferson retired again to Monticello the Seminole Wars began, ushering a non-stop series of ethnic cleansing, land grabbing and gunboat diplomacy that continues to this day. It made next to no difference which political party was in ascendance, the march to power was assured. For two hundred years, Democracy- for-all leftist humbug, masking a heavy rightist plutocracy, has clanked forward, scarcely hindered by popular outcry.

The reactionary elements plaguing us today differ little from their anti-democratic ancestors. We have seen consistent disdain for the masses by the political class from the very founding of the Nation. Populist efforts have been tolerated as Loyal Opposition in the best of times: trivialized if considered annoying at other times; scurrilously demonized or worse if threatening the status quo at any time. Democracy has always been a kind of show pony to gain the good opinion of the nations of the world. Like a backward relative only trotted out to show our compassion. You can’t be seen as top drawer if you are known to beat the hired help.

The goal of the ruling class has long been to keep everyone from learning the true
plutocratic inclination of our government. It wasn’t as easy early on to weave the spell of a benign democratic proclivity in light of atrocious actions occurring all around, but it was done.

In those early pastoral years, aside from blazing political oratory, street corner pamphleteering and billboard plastered barns, only the press was available. The struggle to convince us we were a democratic society and not the product of a rightist and enabling leftist cabal, was never easy for our masters until the powerful electronic media that came in with the twentieth century. Now it’s a cinch. 

We are able now to fight two wars simultaneously, station troops at hundreds of bases around the globe, provide second world quality health care and educate millions for jobs that no longer exist and, borrow the money from our rivals to accomplish this. All the while professing it is done in the name of the people; hailed aloud as democracy in action, and meaning it! That’s the kicker; we really believe it all makes sense. 

Would our perception of ourselves be the least bit different tomorrow if the NY Times and CNN announced the following? “Congratulations. You have accomplished the first citizen sponsored, democratically produced… World Wide Empire, in history.”

_Game over._ The People forfeit.


Abraham’s Sons at Play

17 Apr

Since the days of Father Abraham war has been a favorite male pastime. In America, war’s only close rivals in popularity are NFL, Nascar and reality TV. The longest running reality show features the two most fundamentalist, Old Testament societies, Israel and the United States. The two principal players are at odds with most of the rest of the Abrahamic World. Wanton destruction of Apostates is the goal of these chosen, exceptional peoples for the Lord, Mammon or lebensraum. This show’s got legs!

To finance this costly reality TV and avoid the gory wet work of the real deal, the largest export from America to Tel Aviv, even larger than all those dollars is …balls. Harvested in vast quantities at the Nation’s Capital, from Christian Zionists, Major Media and, of course, the resident Tribe. It’s the American way, and it works. Sort of. But still, darn it all, we are number one and don’t you forget it. Hummph.

  The new reality? show just breaking for the summer season is liable to be become a problem though.  The western exceptionalists may clash with the North Korean faithful who worship Juche and regard Kim Jung-un as a minor deity. That may lead to great, bloody wet work that doesn’t belong in showbiz at all.  Reality has no place in reality TV.

Mad in the USA

16 Apr

The United States of America is rarely an innocent party in world affairs anymore. We have little validity other than being the greatest threat to life and limb on the planet.  We do no trade of consequence for our size; we help no one without a strategic purpose lurking near. We stalk constantly about the planet as a harbinger of doom and still, as Americans, we see none of it.

There is a madness about us; we are as a people, unhinged.  For decades we have been doing the same vile and stupid things to other peoples and we forever expect different outcome. Proof of national insanity could not be clearer. The roots of this malaise are deep and strong and of long standing.

We have been taught from childhood to regard all other countries as lesser entitities. We reluctantly grant them small notice for accomplishments but with a caveat of some flaw in their nature.  All lose with comparison to us; always.  This has been a singular fact of civic discourse for decades.  Surely there is a price to pay for such one-sided judgment and subsequent projection upon others and perhaps clinical insanity is it. 

Different leadership appears on the national scene with regularity bringing agendas that may differ from a predecessor’s. Very soon the institutional mindset envelopes the newcomers and they too exhibit the national syndrome.  If only the old Doctors Freud or Jung, or especially Adler, were with us today to analyze these hapless enactors as they go through their mad antics as if they were sane and reasonable citizens. They might then explain us to ourselves. The world would be a better place indeed.

To the Shores of Tripoli, et al,et al

5 Apr

With amazing regularity we have begun each new century of our existence as a nation by warring with Muslims. At the start of the nineteenth century, the fledgling United States, still unable to pay the debts incurred during the Revolutionary War, equipped a small fleet, manned by marines, to do battle with Barbary Pirates operating from North Africa. This was our first overseas military venture but would, of course, not be the last. The results were inconclusive but served to impress old Europe that the new kid was a player and to show the flag around.

It took another couple of decades to rout these bandits from those waters where they had preyed on shipping for years. Routed they were but it cost us dearly. It was not until 1815 that our involvement ended; the due bill showed up in 1819 with our very first Money Panic. The banks stopped lending to pay off war debts, the Louisiana acquisition and to get the international bankers off our backs. Starting to sound familiar?

Of course throughout the nineteenth century we had lots of wars with all kinds of people but right on schedule, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, we’re back fighting Muslims again. This time it was the Moros. For a scary film depicting, not very accurately, and with typical Hollywood slanting of the bad guys as ‘others’ and therefore, demonic, see “The Real Glory”. Gary Cooper, David Niven and Broderick Crawford star.

The Moros, who are Muslim and live in the southernmost islands of the Philippines, resisted the American occupation of their homeland. The U.S. Army tried out a new tactic of training native Filipinos to take over the burden of putting down the insurrection so the Army could withdraw. These surrogates, of course, were Christian and had little in common with the Moros. Does that sound familiar? In the course of the film, the Moro leader Alipang is captured. In order to break his will and cause him to suffer for his effrontery, the Troopers forcibly wrap Alipang in the skin of a slaughtered pig. This is a grievous insult to a Muslim and perhaps anticipates Gitmo and Abu Ghraib behavior. Nearly 100 thousand men, women and children were slaughtered in the Moro fracas; which falls just short of war crime numbers.

Thus began a new Century which featured wars with just about everybody on the planet. We all know the history of the late, lamented, 20th Century with a total of about a quarter billion casualties to its discredit.

That speeds us to a new marker, Y2K, The Age of Aquarius, Century of Hope, the beginning of the great 21st Century. Okay, we’re at it again with the Muslims. Now its Af-Pak-Men-istan that has our attention. The scenario is the same. We send in the troops and then attempt to train surrogates to do the clean up work but always pick the least likely candidates for the job.

If we somehow manage to survive until 2100, which seems highly improbable these days, and someone will stake us the cost of another war, odds are it will be with Muslims. It’s our heritage.