Category Archives: Today in USA

“Americans love equality”

I cannot agree more with this statement by the author Richard Reeves given in his book Dream Hoarders.

” I never thought I’d say this but I sort of miss the class consciousness of my old country which I grew up hating. The reason I miss it is because at least we’re aware of it. It seems to me that in the U.S. you have a class system that operates every bit as ruthlessly as the British class system but under the veneer of classless meritocracy. There isn’t even a self awareness.”

The book describes in gory detail the  manner in which the upper-middle class hoards opportunities for themselves while remaining entire oblivious to what they are doing.

 

The point of this quote is that what is truly grotesque about America is the degree to which Americans try to deceive themselves about the emergence of class struggle.

As I once wrote,

“Americans love equality. In fact they love it so much that if they meet anyone in their neighborhood who is not their equal, they move away to a expensive suburb.”

A newly dug grave

170519-usa-graveyard_C

Institutional decay in the United States

If you are trying to understand the significance of the recent firing of the FBI director James Comey by President Donald Trump,  and the related political games taking place in Washington D.C., you would be better off reading through Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century and staying away from the sensationalist and unenlightened reports in the mainstream press. This unbelievable conflict is a product of the complete degradation of the government institutions in the United States, which no longer serve as legitimate institutions dedicated  to service or country, but rather function like mercenary armies for the wealthy. Some of those super-rich may have good ideas, but the trend is clear and negative.

The problem is that Trump and his billionaire friends view the government with complete contempt. So great has the gap in wealth in the United States that government can no longer serve its purpose and cannot take any action whatsoever against one the rich elite. The super rich have become an untouchable ruling gentry. Piketty suggests that disparity in wealth will reach such a serious degree that society is torn apart and we see here that one must be aligned now with a billionaire have any political standing.  The entire Federal government, perhaps, is falling apart not just because of the incompetence of its employee but rather because of its inability to compete with wealth and power of the billionaires–they are now trying to develop the next generation of cartels. The media increasingly takes a courtier mentality in approaching Trump, Kushner, Gates or Buffett. Treating them as enlightened souls because of their class status.

What does Trump want?

Many are breathing a sigh of relief this week because the Trump administration has taken a step to play down its escalation of tensions with China, and has even suggested it will have to accept the comprehensive agreement with Iran for the removal of sanctions and normalization of relations. But although we may not be facing the apocalypse this week, we should not consider that we are out of the wilderness.

The threat is not merely that Trump will start some other military conflict up elsewhere, but also that the very manner in which he governs will guarantee a systematic breakdown in the United States that will be a tremendous threat to the United States and to the world.
We first have to understand the breakdown in American politics and governance which led to Trump’s victory.

It is not the case that a madman suddenly and mysteriously took control of the United States. Rather the entire structure by which policy is made and implemented in the United States has become so decayed that anyone who showed sufficient audacity, and who actually wanted the position, could seize it. Policy making has been outsourced to private consulting firms and investment banks. Whereas half of the graduating class from Harvard Law School went to work in government back in the 1960s now it is closer to 5%. Government is increasingly administered by corporations and what government employees remain lack the self-confidence to resist increasingly barbaric politics.

Trump’s success in the 2016 election can be read like this: imagine you had a solemn cathedral built of solid stone and someone started running up and down the stairs pounding the walls with his fists. Everyone would take him for a madman and dismiss any possibility that he had any authority. But then, suddenly, his fists started going through the stone walls and the entire cathedral started to shake and crumble from his tiny blows. At that moment the madman takes on a magical power because he is able to tear apart institutions which were assumed to be solid. In fact, Trump’s political antics proved that the entire government in the United States has been reduced to a shell over the last twenty years of privatization and that it can be easily torn apart.

And tear apart is exactly what Trump intends to do. He and his people, like corporate raiders, intend to strip off all the assets from the United States for their own profit and leave behind a rotten carcass.
He has appointed a cabinet full of vultures and hyenas whose function is not to run the government, but rather to tear it apart. His chief adviser Steve Bannon has stated explicitly that he is like Lenin in his desire to destroy the state. But Bannon is just the tip of the iceberg. Secretary of Educatio Betsy Devos is dedicated to destroying public education, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is a climate change denier who is deep in the pocket of big oil, as is the Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump could care less if he is impeached. His intention is to make as much of the commons into his private possession as quickly as possible.

The radical and rapid decay of the United States federal government has implications that go far beyond the challenges facing American citizens. As the American system falls apart, America’s problems are going to become the world’s problems.

End of the Republic and the beginning of the empire

The time has come for people to start to get over their shock and assess the United States as what it has become, not what we want it to be.

You may have noticed that despite all the noise in the media, not a single a politician has drafted articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, despite multiple illegal actions.

They are not doing anything at all. Congress is just a show. No action. The congress has become an institution like the Queen of England, an elegant historical relic.

And the State Department, which once played such an important role, now has been permanently stripped of ambassadors, and lies there like a castrated gazelle.

What has happened? Well, the great scholar Chalmers Johnson predicted all this a long time ago. He said it was the end of the Republic and the beginning of the empire.  He predicted exactly this.

 

The problem is not really about Trump at all:

 

 

Chalmers Johnson wrote:

 

 

The collapse of the Roman republic in 27 BC has significance today for the United States, which took many of its key political principles from its ancient predecessor. Separation of powers, checks and balances, government in accordance with constitutional law, a toleration of slavery, fixed terms in office, all these ideas were influenced by Roman precedents. John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams often read the great Roman political philosopher Cicero and spoke of him as an inspiration to them. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, authors of the Federalist Papers, writing in favor of ratification of the Constitution signed their articles with the name Publius Valerius Publicola, the first consul of the Roman republic.

The Roman republic, however, failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism, leading to a drastic alteration in its form of government. The militarism that inescapably accompanied Rome’s imperial projects slowly undermined its constitution as well as the very considerable political and human rights its citizens enjoyed. The American republic, of course, has not yet collapsed; it is just under considerable strain as the imperial presidency — and its supporting military legions — undermine Congress and the courts. However, the Roman outcome — turning over power to an autocracy backed by military force and welcomed by ordinary citizens because it seemed to bring stability — suggests what might happen in the years after Bush and his neoconservatives are thrown out of office. Read more of this post

George Washington is rolling over in his grave tonight

I have been reading through Washington’s farewell address. He writes very succinctly about the problems that the United States faces today as a result allowing itself to be seduced into this imperial structure of alliance. He notes the internal corruption that results from external engagements. It seems as if the United States is beyond any simple cure at this point. 
 
Washington notes:
 
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.
 
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
 

Read more of this post

What exactly is the crime of the New York Times?

The New York Times is one of the most misleading journals in the world. The New York Times promotes a dishonest neoliberal tale of human affairs aimed at educated readers throughout the United States. They use a very sophisticated approach to journalism in which they employ a vague literary language that flatters the reader by making him or her feel that he is sophisticated because he or she follows its allusions to a shared elite cultural tradition. At the same time, the New York Times presents extremely misleading, or outright dishonest narratives about domestic or foreign policy that sound like they are sophisticated, sympathetic and infinitely progressive in a practical sense. Moreover, the New York Times employs complex algorithms to determine just how much critical journalism they must mix in with the fodder provided by political consulting firms and corporate PR representatives in order to fool the reader into believing that they are actually reading news.

There are very reliable algorithms that allow you to judge just how much solid reporting you have to add in order to get the educated reader to swallow a load of reactionary and self-interested crap. The global media makes wide use of such algorithms, although this process is never discussed.

This process defines the income-generating business of the New York Times. The newspaper takes the agenda dictated by corporations and adds a bit of liberal content to make it more palatable, then feeds it to the readership of lawyers, businessmen, government officials and professors to convince them that totally irrational and reactionary policies are somehow normal.

The sale of newspapers is far less important. You could say the New York times is a public relations company. I do not think it represents the government. The government is as good or bad as the people it is made up of.

Rest in Peace

May 15, 2016

 

Here is a rather political cartoon that I drew today. I have to admit I am not much of an artist. As for the humor…well it also is a bit of an acquired taste.

 

 

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

 

Students response to Emanuel’s dismissal from the University of Illinois (April 20, 2004)

Students response to Emanuel’s dismissal from the University of Illinois

(April 20, 2004)

The department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at University of Illinois formed a committee to determine Emanuel’s third year review as assistant professor in December, 2003. Although none of the member of the committee ever met with Emanuel, they  delivered a final judgement in April of 2004 that he was not qualified to have his contract renewed.

Although none of his fellow faculty members spoke to him about this decision, or expressed any opinion at all, the graduate students of the department drafted and signed a letter that appealed this process and presented the letter to the department head, Professor Jerry Packard. Read more of this post

Bernie Sanders hugs Muslim Student at George Mason meeting

I do not know if you saw this particular video, but personally I think it was a very strong statement: a bit of politics with real significance.

 

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