I am doing what I can to address the destruction of democracy in America. ______ Without taking back our government, nothing will change.
It’s an electoral strategy called “Throw the bums out!”
Please support this campaign here.
I am doing what I can to address the destruction of democracy in America. ______ Without taking back our government, nothing will change.
It’s an electoral strategy called “Throw the bums out!”
Please support this campaign here.
However, regardless of how cuddly other members the animal kingdom might seem, some just can’t be domesticated.
We can go into all sorts of reasons for why this is. It’s instinct. It’s part of their wiring. They had a bad time in school (I guess that would only apply to fish).
We can find countless stories which confirm this. Here is one extremely gruesome one about a wolf hybrid which killed a 5-year-old in Cincinnati.
There’s a lesson in this for all of us. If something bites your head off, then proceeds to eat you, best not make a cozy place for it in front of the fireplace.
There are certain animals in our society who have made it very clear they aren’t hanging around to be cute and fill our lives with canoodles and love. They have bitten off the head of our government by destroying democracy, and are now proceeding to eat the decaying corpse of America by strip mining our nation and its citizens of all of the wealth.
These predators are leaving a trail of carcasses. Towns like Detroit, Camden, New Orleans, Scranton, Buffalo, Youngstown, Cleveland, Flint, and St. Louis have been gutted of their capacity to survive and offer any kind of life for their residents.
These sociopathic bullies are literally ripping America to shreds and sending the choice morsels off someplace else __ the money to offshore tax havens and our jobs to miserable impoverished countries so they can treat their workers like animals.
These are vicious, self-serving, rapacious individuals who by sneering at our appeals to their humanity make it clear they don’t have any humanity.
What to do? Should we try to sit down and have a nice talk with them about what kind of country America is suppose to be and how we all need to do our part? How about some new slap-on-the-wrist tax code regulations which create the illusion that we’re requiring them to contribute to rebuilding a strong and just America? How about some new laws which guarantee equal opportunities for everyone, protections of the vulnerable against the predations of the powerful?
Naw! Waste of time. We’ve tried that. Doesn’t work.
How about if we drop them off in some jungle where they can fight for survival with their own kind __ other undomesticable beasts with no conscience, no morals, no noble values, nothing driving them but kill or be killed?
Ah yes . . . the law of the jungle . . . or the free market system as it’s sometimes called.
The problem is we’re the ones in the jungle. They’re in their plush mansions, exclusive club houses, gated communities, yachts and resort spas. We’re the ones, ill-equipped and at enormous disadvantage, who are forced to try to survive undomesticable beasts with no conscience, no morals, no noble values, nothing driving them but kill or be killed.
There’s only one way to defeat a bully.
Ignore, avoid, shun, ostracize, exile, quarantine the thug.
There’s no secret to any of this. It’s no mystery.
We actually know what we have to do to stop the rampage on America. We know exactly who is behind the systematic destruction. We know that even though they like to portray themselves as all cuddly and concerned about the rest of us, they can’t be trusted. We also know they are insatiable and will attack and devour everything and everyone they can get their claws on. We know that there’s been a class war going on in this nation and the rich bullies, who now own our government and the vast majority of America’s wealth, will not slow down until every last shred and morsel of our once great country has been carted off.
Some people say, “Live and let live.” Or, “Turn the other cheek.” Noble sentiments which have a lovely ring to them, for sure. But I’m afraid we’re way beyond such niceties.
I prefer, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Coming from a family of pretty decent people who taught me that I am my brother’s keeper, I’m more than happy to share the wealth with everyone. There’s plenty to go around. Plenty!!
For those rich elite who feel no responsibility for their fellow citizens, who regard hunger, poverty, educational opportunity, a livable wage, justice, peace, fairness in the work place and the voting booth, equality, good affordable health care for everyone, personal privacy and freedom, as someone else’s problems, for those bullies who use America’s resources, its government, its people, its military, its institutions, only for their own enrichment and aggrandizement, I used to feel pity.
Now I only feel contempt and loathing.
It’s just not America to be so selfish.
It’s not America to be so insatiably greedy.
It’s not America to game the system.
It’s not America to buy the politicians, bully the public.
At least it’s not the America I grew up believing in.
It’s not the America you and I know is possible.
We didn’t start this class war. These folks are extremely dangerous.
We can’t just let them wander around the house.
Bullies can’t be domesticated.
But I’m not a violent guy. Except when some illiterate blockhead spitefully gives one of my novels a one-star rating __ because he’s sinfully ugly or his brain hasn’t fully developed __ I prefer the path of peace, love and self-restraint. You know, Buddha, Gandhi, MLK . . . there must be others.
More to the point, these are enlightened times we live in. We’ve learned that killing __ especially chopping off heads __ is just way too messy. We certainly don’t want blood splattering on our silk Gucci dress shirt or entrails slopping all over our Salvatore Ferragamo suede Parigis. So armed with the most sterile and tidy technology, now we hire Xbox wizards to do our killing for us on video screens. Point. Click. ZAP! Bye-bye.
So axe the guillotine for now. Or at least put it in storage __ we might need it later.
I have a better idea for the rich assholes that have stolen democracy and are strip-mining our nation for every last dollar they can squeeze out of it and each of us.
I say that when we get some REAL congressman in office __ more on that in an upcoming blog or go here for a preview __ we pass a simple, straightforward piece of legislation.
This new law will require everyone to give a complete accounting of their personal assets, then to move to the country where most of their wealth sits.
Everyone knows that the ultra rich are parking their money in places like Hong Kong, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, and a mere 55 minute flight from Miami in the Bahamas. There’s hardly a lack of choice. So many ways to screw the IRS, so little time.
But with my new law, the government will cancel their passports __ as they did with Edward Snowden this past June __ and put them on a plane. We can be nice about it, give them a choice. Do they want to live in the Cayman Islands which is the renowned international headquarters for thousands of shell corporations, or maybe Luxembourg where they have the safety deposit box with all of their stock certificates and blood diamonds, or Nauru where they have the numbered bank account with a running balance in eight figures? Nauru has very beautiful beaches. It’s not like we’re sending them to Bangladesh or Swaziland.
To give this new law some teeth, the displaced billionaires will not be allowed to re-enter the United States until they ship their money back here and pay their fair taxes on it.
Sound harsh? Not really.
We always hear cries of outrage about immigrants coming to this country to welch off the rest of us, suckle off the teat of the public dole, without having contributed their fair share to the big piggy bank where the U.S. Treasury tucks away our tax dollars.
Well, what about the creeps that are already here who aren’t paying their fair share? Who have their money stashed away in banks around the globe to avoid giving something back to the nation that made them disgustingly rich? Just by having a P.O. box in Georgetown, Grand Cayman or a cardboard sign hanging somewhere in Liechtenstein, they’re avoiding paying the price of admission right here where they have all of the advantages of living in the richest nation in the world.
And let’s be realistic. These guys are not getting a few dollars in food stamps or using the free local clinic to get some measles shots. They are using every possible advantage right here in America to leverage their already incomprehensible wealth into even greater piles incomprehensible wealth __ our banks, legal system, copyright and trademark protection, all sorts of regulatory advantages and slick financial mechanisms which cater to their every need and rewards their pathological level of greed. They’re getting handouts in the form of corporate welfare, bailouts from the Treasury so they can add more zeros to their salaries and bonuses, and zero interest loans from the Federal Reserve so they can blow up ghastly financial bubbles with more frightening potential for catastrophe than they did when they crashed the world economy in 2008. Talk about leeches! It’s more nauseating than a double down sandwich from KFC.
If that weren’t bad enough, their damn chauffeurs double park their limousines on our busy streets causing annoying traffic jams.
I say we apply the merchants rule: You break it, you pay for it. And if you refuse to pay for it, what happens? We call the police and the boys with badges haul you away.
The rich have broken our democracy, they’ve broken our economy at least once in 2008, and they’re setting up to break it again. But they refuse to pay for it.
Time to call the police and haul them away.
As I said, we’ll be civilized about this. We’ll let them take all their antiques, jewelry, fine art. We’ll give them a Certificate of Appreciation for their mansions and vacation homes, which will be turned into homeless shelters, alternative schools, hospices to provide care for people who are lacking proper health care, centers for peace studies.
We’ll even give them a reasonable amount of time to pack __ say 20 minutes.
Or if they prefer, we can haul that guillotine out of the basement.
I used to ask questions like . . .
“Don’t the rich care that there are many unfortunate people in America who will go to bed hungry?”
Or . . .
“Don’t they want world peace __ a permanent end to war?”
Or . . .
“Don’t they want everyone to share in the vast wealth of America?”
Or . . .
“Don’t they want true democracy in our country?”
Well . . .
The answer in most cases is: THEY DON’T!
Who are the ‘they’?
You know who they are. They know who they are.
They’re not ashamed at all. In fact they’re quite proud of their elitist status. It’s their imperial entitlement. They’re rich. They can afford to not give a shit.
Take the first question. Quite simply, there are many people in our midst __ to whatever degree they mix with us pathetic peasants __ who can just shrug when they see a starving child. Especially if the kid isn’t white.
Or they look the other way. “The view of the marina is so lovely from the club house, don’t you think, honey?”
How about war? Give me a break! They love war! They make tons of money on war. Best of all, they don’t have to fight them. They just wave the flag, conjure up some cartoon version of an imminent threat to our country, our women, our freedom __ whatever __ then send the rest of us, especially if we’re not white, off to fight and die to protect their investment portfolios.
How about sharing the wealth? Are you crazy? It’s a lot of hard work piling up daddy’s money in nice pretty stacks. Why share it? Besides, we all know what would happen. Your typical slob would waste it on beer, lottery tickets, a leather bumper bra for his Ford F-150 Series pickup, the latest X-box, and a new flat panel TV to watch porn.
What about democracy? This nation was founded on . . . right right. Yes, we are a symbol throughout the world of government of the people, by the people, for the people. The rich know a good thing when they see it. Image is everything. So they want to keep the illusion of democracy in America, where everyone gets a darn good feeling every couple years from thinking that by voting they are deciding the direction of the country and shaping a future for their children. But giving people a real say in government? No way! If the majority of citizens could actually make a difference, it would be complete anarchy! Why everyone would have plenty of food, clean air and water, educational opportunities, the best health care, good solid jobs. The U.S. would be at peace and provide leadership in the world to address the challenges of poverty, disease, climate change, wealth inequity, illiteracy, women’s rights, proper nutrition, population control. What a nightmare!
Aah yes! It’s a relief knowing where things stand. Knowing that it’s a complete waste of time to try to discuss the values which we as Americans all supposedly share, but in point of fact do not. Most of us do. But the ones who have ruthlessly destroyed our democracy and now firmly clutch the reins of control over every aspect of our society, do not!
Here’s what I’ve concluded we each must do, and the advice I now give myself every day. It’s kind of a new form of meditation. The idea is to get me to wake up, pay attention, stop dreaming like some silly clueless idiot. My newest spiritual mantra . . .
KNOW THE ENEMY
CUT THEM NO SLACK
DON’T TURN YOUR BACK
DON’T FORGET WHO THEY ARE
DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT FORGIVING THEM!
Try it! Say these every day. Repeat as needed for it to really sink in.
There are frankly some very very ugly people in the world. We here in America have more than our share. They’re selfish, smug, disdainful, self-absorbed assholes __ sociopaths who don’t care about any of the things most people reading this blog care about.
They do have their own set of priorities.
They truly love war. They’re bullies who love absolute power over others. They want all of the material wealth they can get their hands on. They love getting their way because they really truly know in their imperious hearts they deserve it. They know they’re right about everything, so it’s their right to ignore the filthy masses. But . . .
They don’t care about starving children much less starving adults.
They don’t care about human suffering unless it’s theirs.
They don’t care about murdering innocent people.
They don’t care about equality and justice.
They don’t care about democracy.
They don’t care about you.
They don’t care about me.
Hate to break it to you.
They just don’t care.
[ I'm sorry if my views offend any of the wussy liberals out there. But as Chris Hedges has eloquently pointed out in his amazing book "Death of the Liberal Class", by ignoring treachery you become its ally. ]
I’m sorry there’s an island of plastic debris the size of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
I’m sorry they banned the spitball.
I’m sorry I stole the Stridex pads from Ralph’s in Encino when acne was making my face look like cold pizza.
I’m sorry I forgot to put down the toilet seat.
I’m sorry you can’t smile at a cute kid without his parents calling the pedophile police.
I’m sorry about prisons and zoos, epilepsy and male pattern baldness.
I’m sorry that the iPhone has replaced friendship and now everyone is alone.
I’m sorry that Siamese Twins joined at the head can’t be separated without one of them being as dumb as a garden slug.
I’m sorry Meg Ryan’s cosmetic surgery makes her look like The Joker.
I’m sorry that Hulk Hogan got old because now we don’t believe he can win anymore.
I’m sorry that MySpace turned into a pile of crap that now only losers use.
I’m sorry I forgot your name.
I’m sorry about planned obsolescence and dying bees.
I’m sorry that 36% of Americans are obese.
I’m sorry I left that hitchhiker standing in the rain.
I’m sorry about the Holocaust and global warming.
I’m sorry I didn’t pull out in time.
I’m sorry that artistic integrity is relative, image is everything, every dream is a Ponzi scheme.
I’m sorry that making sense just doesn’t make sense anymore.
I’m sorry . . . really really sorry.
What can I say?
I’ve let everyone down.
No one will ever believe me again.
Or take me seriously as a creative artist.
So I guess there’s something I really have to do.
November 4th I will be making a formal public apology.
Over the past few weeks, we have endured the build-up to a major political charade, the unnecessary shut down of the government, and a totally manufactured kamikaze crisis over raising the debt ceiling. There may have been other newsworthy things going on but good-luck finding them in the monotonous, ever-vacuous reality show presented to the American public by the mainstream media.
As anyone with a functioning brain would suspect, a lot was happening. I’ve cherry-picked, by way of illustration, a few items that would seem in the long view relatively important.
Never making the short list for the annual Mr. Congeniality Award, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raged on before the whole world that “Iran is building now ICBMs that the United States says could reach this city (New York) in three or four years,” went on to call Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a blatant liar, and then topped off his rant by claiming “in the last three years alone, Iran has ordered, planned or perpetrated terrorist attacks in 25 countries on five continents.” He offered no supporting evidence but he’s a great guy so we can be confident he knows what he’s talking about. Bibi then went on to say that Israel was prepared to mount a military attack against Iran to prevent them from building a nuclear weapon __ again he offered no supporting evidence of a nuclear bomb in any stage of actual development __ and was prepared to “go it alone” if necessary, meaning I guess, to start World War III without assistance from anyone else.
Ignoring a stunning speech at the United Nations and overtures from Rouhani indicating a desire for peace and a pledge of full transparency and cooperation regarding Iran’s nuclear energy programs, President Obama and the bellicose Bibi joined spittle for a bad cop-bad cop number on Iran when the two met at the White House on October 1st. While many if not most nations prefer to error on the side of peace, America apparently is completely baffled by any initiatives aimed at diplomatic discussions and stands firmly behind its current drones-and-bombs approach to solving any and all disputes.
Speaking of drones, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai’s visit to the United States was actually given decent coverage in the media, but the prevailing narrative was the violent harassment heaped on her by religious fanatics who oppose her “liberal” views. She was shot in the head by the Taliban for suggesting that women have equal access to education. What was given very short shrift, if mentioned at all, was her message to President Obama when she met face-to-face with the drone-killer-in-chief: “I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees … I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact.” Was he listening?
TPP negotiations continued in high gear. This abominable “trade agreement” __ which in fact is not so much a trade agreement as a blank check for transnational corporations to be able to: trump the authority of national governments; dismember labor unions; capitalize on slave labor and inflict other forms of worker abuse; institute a form of trans-sovereign legal proceedings with no oversight or appeal; institutionalize a corporate race to the bottom in terms of human rights, worker safety, environmental safeguards, community control, and food standards; and completely destroy regulatory mechanisms for assuring the integrity and reliability of international financial systems __ has met with increasing opposition in a number of countries, Japan being foremost among them. TPP is almost completely unmentioned in the American press, so if you don’t know about it, you don’t have to feel guilty. It’s so secret that even members of Congress aren’t allowed to see the draft document. So don’t tell anyone, okay?
On October 2nd, two days into the government shutdown, President Obama met with America’s top bankers, who were conveniently attending a conference in Washington DC. Included were Jamie Dimon (CEO, JP Morgan Chase), Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs), Brian Moynihan (Bank of America), and Michael Corbat (Citigroup). This certainly comes as no surprise, considering Obama’s campaign coffers brimmed from the money donated by these same gentlemen. What was telling was that this meeting of gigantic wallets with our President was barely mentioned in the mainstream press, and certainly the details of the high-level discussions were never revealed. We can safely assume that Obama and the fifteen banksters nodded and agreed that the meltdown of the American government was bad and defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations would be worse __ as in catastrophic! It most definitely wasn’t mentioned in the press that several of these too-big-to-jail bank CEOs were under investigation for uncompetitive manipulation of LIBOR rates, and one in the middle of negotiating a settlement with the Department of Justice for mortgage fraud. My mom used to tell me that people are judged by the company they keep. But she’s dead.
Speaking of too-big-to-jail, Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase walked away with a $100 million slap-on-the-wrist fine from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for the $6.2 billion London whale debacle. As part of the modest settlement, they had to admit wrongdoing __ as in disastrous mishandling of investors money and the concealment of their astronomical losses from their stockholders and regulatory agencies. Whew!! Sure glad that’s over so they can get back to more casino banking, an unregulated high stakes game known as derivatives roulette. Yes, another day, another dollar! Or million dollars. Or is it billion? Wait! How many zeroes in a trillion?
While we’re on the subject of derivatives and the dizzying heights of risk and stupidity, as the U.S. tottered toward the brink of default and bankruptcy, the total notional exposure of the world’s banking system to derivatives continued to grow precipitously. No one knows for sure what the exact figure is, but it’s estimated at somewhere between $700 trillion and $1.2 quadrillion, horrifyingly 10 to 17 times the value of the ENTIRE WORLD ECONOMY. What does this mean for you and I? Let’s just say that it was these same exotic financial instruments responsible for the economic crisis in 2008, which wiped out savings, pension funds, investment portfolios, ultimately costing Americans an estimated $12.8 trillion, in destruction of assets net value, massive loss of jobs, home foreclosures, crippling of GDP growth and overall productivity, on and on. These financial weapons of mass destruction themselves took a huge hit in the economic collapse five years ago. But with Wall Street and investment bank addiction to gambling still pathologically entrenched as the de facto operating business model, derivative trades have since been steadily accumulating and now exceed the level at the time of the collapse in 2008. We won’t have to wonder how bad it will be this next time. We can just watch it on TV __ assuming of course, we each still have a TV and electricity in our homes when this house of cards comes tumbling down.
As criminal negligence of the nation’s well-being was passed off as democracy in action on the floors of Congress, accused traitor Edward Snowden addressed European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. His statement was read to the committee by Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, and included this highly salient remark: “A culture of secrecy has denied our societies the opportunity to determine the appropriate balance between the human right of privacy and the governmental interest in investigation. These are not decisions that should be made for a people, but only by the people after full, informed, and fearless debate. Yet public debate is not possible without public knowledge, and in my country, the cost for one in my position of returning public knowledge to public hands has been persecution and exile.” Did you hear about this? I saw no mention in the MSM. I guess he forgot to include a video of Miley Cyrus twerking him.
The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their fifth and final report on global warming and definitively confirmed what we already knew, though many continue to deny it. Dude! Elvis is still alive. The Holocaust never happened. There is a Santa Claus! But the simple truth is, these scientists have been wussy whining about the Earth-turning-to-a-pile-of-ash-and-cinders thing for decades now. Time to move on! This is our Thelma & Louise moment. Why spoil a great ending with a lot of wringing of hands and crybaby bawling about something as minor as the extinction of the human race.
In related news, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature released their IPSO review on the dismal state of the oceans. The bad news is that “the anthropogenic stressors on the ocean go beyond the conclusion reached last week by the U.N. climate change panel the IPCC,” and that “the ocean is absorbing much of the warming and unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide.” Meaning the world’s oceans are experiencing the deadly three-pronged effect of de-oxygenation, acidification, and catastrophic warming. These combined with gross overfishing don’t bode well. In a phrase, ‘the oceans are dying’ and we’re the ones killing them. The IPSO report doesn’t even take into account the vast amount of toxic pollutants and trash that we dump into them. Damn! Anyone hungry? Let’s get a McFish sandwich while we still can.
Speaking of poisoning the oceans, the damaged nuclear facilities at Fukushima continued to pour tons of radioactive isotopes into the sea and local environment. Whatever! Refer to the Thelma & Louise remark above. Pedal to the metal. Don’t look back. No fear. Right on.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pressed on with his China’s Silk Road initiatives. In case you aren’t familiar with this __ most Americans aren’t __ this enormous economic strategy is a “supremely ambitious, Chinese-fueled trans-Eurasian integration mega-project, from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea; a sort of mega free-trade zone.” This region contains “close to 3 billion people and represents the biggest market in the world with unparalleled potential.” So while the congressional three-ring circus further damaged our faltering economy, now growing at a sluggish rate of 2.5%, and made America look like a bunch of bumbling idiots, China was building on their already impressive growth rate of 7.8% by “bringing about a new multipolar international order.”
This is perhaps redundant to mention, but Chinese President Xi Jinping also dazzled the attendees at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Besides presenting brilliant new prospects to attending nations for even more lucrative trade deals with China, he led a “Happy Birthday” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono on acoustic guitar. Obama canceled his own trip there, presumably because he was busy buying non-chafing Kleenex in case Boehner had another blubbering fit during their budget negotiations. Obama’s no show in Bali, Indonesia was the icing on the cake for the rest of the world. America has long been perceived as a bull in a china shop and a force to be reckoned with. But as the crisis with our insane Congress unfolded, we were looking more like a church mouse on LSD. In a much-debated but certainly well-received editorial published by The Xinhua News Agency __ which is the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China __ writer Liu Chang called for the de-Americanization of the world economy. Hey guys! It’s not too soon to start learning to eat with chopsticks.
Last and at least theoretically not least, during the 17 days of the government shutdown, over 350,000 people in our lovely world died of starvation. At the same time, speculators pumped up on testosterone and panting over the prospect of making a totally awesome killing, continued to drive the prices up on huge stockpiles and surpluses of food.
So what’s the point?
Granted, the shutdown of the government and the debt ceiling crisis was much more consequential than Miley Cyrus’ twerking or even Gloria Steinem’s comments a few days ago about the place of eroticized-objectified-commodified pop stars in the greater scheme of things, specifically Ms. Cyrus.
But it’s still a matter of perspective. It should come as no surprise when somewhere down the road, America devolves into a second or third-rate power and the rest of the world has passed us by. Because while we immerse ourselves in our petty dramas and obsess over the ridiculous machinations of our pea-brain politicians, there are a multitude of other things going on across the globe __ and even in our own country __ which ultimately will destroy America’s capacity for leadership and undermine our own ability to function as a society and a nation.
It comes down to this . . .
The rest of humankind wrestles with all sorts of challenges. It struggles to make sense of the manipulations, the posturing, the militarization, the privatization, the corporatization, the countless day-to-day clashes between authority and the common citizen’s forthright and simple desire for a decent life. It’s difficult anywhere for anyone to keep up with and deal with in a constructive way. America has no monopoly on distraction and confusion.
But the other people on this tiny planet are also very aware of our own special American brand of folly __ our breathtaking ignorance of the rest of the world; our un-Christian and hypocritical lack of compassion for others, even fellow-Americans; our infantile fairy-tale “exceptionalism”; our inability to put our own house in order, while we make pompous declarations about how everyone else should live their lives, preferably just like us.
The world sees our divisiveness, our indecision, our insensitivity, our superficiality, our paralysis, and this recent self-destructive congressional tomfoolery exactly for what it is.
Boehner cries. Obama high-fives. Miley shakes her firm little butt.
We in America can sit on the edges of our seats glued to the boob tube all we want.
We can wring our hands, cheer for our side, and yell expletives at the other.
We can watch this reality show like we watch professional wrestling.
We can pretend these travesties are what’s really important.
But someday we’re going to have to face the facts.
The real world actually has real news.
As the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh put it, “The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.”
Of course, this is not just in America. Travel through Third World and less developed countries and you get a lion’s share of deceit from all directions. I couldn’t walk down a street in Jaipur, India or Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam without having somebody with a big smile and a disengenuous, “My brother!”, come up to me with some scam or pack of lies designed to extract as much money as possible from my wallet. But there you kind of go with the flow because ‘LIE’ is spelled S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L and I honestly don’t think these con artists view it as lying so much as just business-as-usual.
But that’s what I see in America now. Outright lies, by smooth-talking advertisers, jaded politicians, slick salesmen, Teflon CEOs, PR spokespersons, televangelists, television news anchors, big-bucks bankers, icons, celebrities and public figures of every shape and size. Frankly, lying is not merely acceptable. It’s expected! It’s business-as-usual.
I guess I should just accept the new reality but I grew up in simpler times. And it’s not like this everywhere.
Let’s get anecdotal by talking about my own conflicting gut reactions to a couple things that happened recently. Maybe you can weigh in on these, either privately or by leaving a comment below.
My wife Masumi and I were on one of those amazing no-speed-limit autobahns during our recent three weeks in Europe. We stopped at a rest area and went to our respective toilets. She came out of hers holding a women’s wallet high in her hand. “Someone left this.” She had looked inside and apparently it had a huge wad of cash, credit cards, etc. Repeat … a huge wad of cash. She had closed and fastened it up. I took it, my mind was churning, but out of respect for Masumi’s values walked it in to the cashier at the convenience store. For some reason I was also holding it high like it might be contagious. As the cashier saw me approach, carrying what was obviously a woman’s wallet, her eyes widened in surprise __ actually shock. I handed it to her and though nearly paralyzed with disbelief that someone would actually turn it in, she took it and put it behind the counter.
Now you’re probably thinking what I was thinking. Is this cashier going to empty out the hundreds of Euros and make believe she never saw it? Was I crazy for turning it in? What were the odds the absentminded lady was going to remember where she left her wallet, actually turn around and backtrack who knows how far on the autobahn to reclaim it? Since it was so full of money, the person was probably pretty well off, so what’s a few hundred (or thousand) bucks, eh? If she was so stupid as to . . . etc.
You get the picture.
I’m not destitute but a few hundred Euros would have made our vacation a little sweeter. But I never hesitated about turning it in, purely out of respect for my wife.
You see, in Japan, it is inconceivable to appropriate another person’s property.
An English-speaking friend of mine (she’s from New Zealand) who lives in Japan left her latest model Macbook Pro in a train station ladies room. For two hours! She had left it on the counter while she washed her hands and forgetfully walked out without it. She got an hour further on her trip home, remembered, jumped off, took a train back to the station. This was in a major city and that restroom had hundreds of people going through it every hour. She found her laptop right where she left it. Two hours later!
This is the way it is here. I still find it amazing.
It’s extreme in the absurd. You can drop something on the sidewalk and come back hours later and find it where you dropped it.
Think I’m exaggerating?
One Sunday many months ago, we went to our favorite local hot springs. This is one of the great joys of living here in Japan and we try to go once a month. Anyway, I left my hair brush in the mens locker room. This was not a family heirloom. This was an 89 cent piece of plastic, dirty and full of my hair from use over many months. The only thing it had going for it was that it was a pleasant shade of purple.
Five weeks later, we returned to the hot springs. On some impulse __ my synapses tend to fire randomly at times __ I asked at the counter if they had a purple hair brush in their lost-and-found box. Stupid me. I was thinking they had a cardboard box behind the desk. The clerk asked when I thought I had lost it. That was easy. Maybe four or five weeks ago? He stepped into the facility’s main office, consulted with someone, then returned with my 89 cent hair brush, safely contained in a sealed plastic bag with a label. On the label was the date I left it in the locker room.
I could go on and on. In the news several months ago, there was the story of a person who had found a satchel on a park bench with over 5 million yen (that’s $50,000 cash) and no identification of any kind in or on the bag. It was promptly turned into the police.
Is your head reeling?
Now let’s switch settings to America.
In 2011, my wife and I spent four weeks touring the East Coast, from New York City to Atlanta, Nashville to Philadelphia. We were on a local train coming out of Washington, DC returning to where we were staying in suburban Silver Spring, MD. On the seat opposite us, there was a nice, practically new pair of in-ear headphones someone had left behind. “Should I take those?” Her reply was straightforward enough. “No. They don’t belong to you.” Of course I replied, “But someone else is going to take them.” Sure enough, a young man sat down, spotted the headphones, looked up at me. I shrugged. He fingered them for a while, then finally put them in his bag. In fact, I was surprised he hesitated as long as he did, seeming to be giving his decision some thought. Was he having a moral crisis or was he wondering if the person who owned them had ear herpes?
But that’s the way it is.
Do I have to ask what you would do if you found an unmarked satchel with $50,000 in a park? Do I have to tell you what I would do? After all . . .
“Someone else will take it and keep the money.”
“The cops at the station will just split it up.”
. . . or . . .
“The cop at the counter will take it and just stuff it in his locker. He can afford that nice boat he’s been dreaming about for ten years.”
That’s what happens to an “honor system”.
Once you introduce the element of distrust, once suspicion about the honor of our fellow humans enters the equation, respect for the property of others starts to slip further into the background, finally to disappear. Once that solid door represented by the “do unto others” dictum opens a crack, it swings wide open. Then the free-for-all takes over. Then the Golden Rule becomes, “The others will do whatever they can get away with. So I’ll just beat them to it.”
Now so far I’ve been talking about property. What’s that got to do with lying?
Lying is stealing.
Lying steals hope. Lying steals trust. Lying steals the future.
When we can’t believe what others say, when we can’t count on them to honor their words with their deeds, we can’t expect what they say today to mean anything tomorrow.
On an individual level, this breeds suspicion, distrust, a circumspect attitude towards others.
On the scale of society at large, this spells decay and collapse.
When a politician or other iconic public figure lies, excusing his or her “massaging the truth” by insisting that the ends justify the means, that “if I don’t lie, someone else will and then people will listen to them instead of me”, it’s not just a few words getting misplaced. It’s not just a case as former-president Clinton likes to say, “perfection becoming the enemy of progress.”
No, the truth is . . . it’s the end of progress.
Because when the people we look to for advice, guidance, leadership, and a positive vision for creating the world we want for ourselves and our children, smile into the camera and lie to us, they steal our dreams.
“If I don’t tell the voters what they want to hear, they won’t vote for me.”
I wrote a blog this past New Years Eve, I’m very proud of. It’s called “Take me to your leader!” Of course, I got a lot of hate mail, threats, and vilification __ though the morons who attacked me wouldn’t even know the word ‘vilification’ __ for reaming the current bunch of sociopaths and sycophants who hold public office. I concluded that it’s been so long that the American public wouldn’t recognize true leadership if it actually somehow magically appeared. Such a person would be cynically mocked as weird or naive or an idealistic space cadet.
And here is the sad thing . . .
As I think more and more about this, I wonder if it’s a one-way street. I wonder if it’s ever possible once we individually and collectively join this race to the moral bottom, to turn it around. I wonder if we can ever stop asking . . .
“Why shouldn’t I take it? Someone else will.”
“Why should I let someone else beat me to it? Why should I lose out?”
“Why should I be the sucker? I’ll tell them what they want to hear. If I don’t someone else will. There’s no honor in being a chump.”
Once we individually and collectively judge our words and actions by the lowest standard, what is to prevent that standard from being lowered even more?
I hope the lady in Germany got her wallet back. I hope the money was still in it and she took out a nice 100 euro note and gave it to the clerk behind the counter as a reward.
My trip was great, even without her money.
And I slept well.
[This posting is no more demented than the cruel deceptions of the Israeli government.] While researching Europe for interesting places to visit and things to do during our three week visit there this summer, my wife and I stumbled on a very unusual entertainment complex in southern Germany. Apparently, laying the foundation for the advent of this whole new concept in “theme parks” is the unwavering popularity of reality TV. That and the fact that the public is always on the lookout for something new and exciting __ the latest and the greatest! __ made Dachau World a real crowd pleaser and instant success.
Of course, my first reaction was that this whole idea was crass exploitation, demonstrating an appalling level of insensitivity. But I contacted the German Department of the Interior and my perspective was turned around 180 degrees. My source, who preferred to remain anonymous, disclosed that the Dachau World theme park was fully owned and developed by a consortium of Jewish investors based in Israel. In fact, this investment group which is wholly responsible for planning and constructing the park, consists of eighteen orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch centers, which easily obtained the approval of the German government for their innovative project. As my source explained, “We immediately saw the potential for this type of entertainment complex and fast-tracked Dachau World. They have our full support. As far we we’re concerned, these Jews deserve all of the compensation they can get for whatever inconvenience the Holocaust might have caused them. I say bravo!”
Initially, there was some difficulty finding a community to host the new theme park. Many local citizens thought it would be an embarrassment, opening up old wounds dating back to the Third Reich. But these petty objections were finally overcome when economic projections showed how much Dachau World could boost a local economy. The sprawling complex is now located in an industrial suburb of Munich, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the original Dachau concentration camp. It has ample parking and a water park, as well as concentration camp rides and home stays in actual slave worker barracks.
I will confess that in the end, when we finally arrived at the gates of the park, I chose not to spring for admission and we didn’t go in. It was only 36 euros a day and I had the money.
But I guess I’m kind of a wuss. You know . . . one of those silly, old school, bleeding-heart liberals who just can’t appreciate the lighter side of genocide.
Now I’m sorry we didn’t stay there for a few days. I hear they have great yoga classes.
But don’t you miss out!! For more on Dachau World, just check with your travel agent.
Like the poster says, it’s fun for the whole family. And when your friends ask you what you did for the holidays, you can say . . .
“We stayed in a concentration camp. Woohoo!”
Oh! Before I forget: I was unable to confirm this, but I also have it from a trusted source that this same group of Zionist investors has just broken ground somewhere in Gaza for the construction of a related “reality show” theme park. It’s called PLO World. This will similarly offer an array of real world vacation packages so that visitors can experience what it’s like to live under the oppressive terror of the Israeli army.
What if the citizens of Germany during the 1930s somehow could have known in advance how World War II was going to end. Would they have bought into the lies of Hitler and the Third Reich? Would they have gone along with the wanton aggression knowing it was a suicide mission and would turn their beloved homeland into a pile of rubble and put nearly 9,000,000 of them in early graves?
What about Japan? Before World War II, Japan was securely locked down. No dissent from the imperialistic designs of the emperor and his military class was permitted. Even so, if the vast majority had known that like Germany, their nation would be almost completely destroyed and they’d lose over 3,000,000 people for nothing, would they have so willingly and enthusiastically rushed to the battlefield to invite annihilation and defeat?
Our leaders __ our cowardly, divisive, destructive, unimaginative, delusional American leaders __ from Barack Obama to John Kerry to John McCain, are taking America into another war. Sure, the attack on Syria has been shelved for now. But only for now. Only because we have been humiliated and humbled by such sterling examples of brotherhood and compassion as Vladimir Putin, and reduced to looking like the big, dumb bully on the block by no less than Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran.
But make no mistake about it. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. It’s all part of the same flawed over-reaching strategy that predates even Clinton. That pathological plan for achieving unnecessary and ill-conceived hegemony over the Middle East may be on hold, but it has not gone away, and it won’t unless we make it go away.
As uninformed and misinformed as we Americans generally are, we know how this is going to end. It doesn’t take a genius to see that despite our incredible military prowess and huge advantage in the quantity and sophistication of weaponry in our arsenal, we are really bad at war. Maybe it feels good to thump our chests and yell “mission accomplished” with a big shit-eating smirk on our faces, but our self-congratulations bear no relation to reality. We lost horribly in Vietnam. We are losing in Afghanistan. We made a mess out of Iraq and now have little control over the developments in that country. Libya is in chaos. We had our finger on the launch button in Syria and instead of gaining credibility in the world, have become the object of derision, upstaged and shamed into backing down by taunts from overseas and a surprising and encouraging swell of antipathy at home.
The truth is, we have a terrible track record over the last sixty years of muscle flexing military escapades, and haven’t even had to face what might be regarded as a formidable world-class enemy. God help us if we do go toe-to-toe with Russia or China.
Actually, god help the entire human race!
As we swagger into the OK corral twirling our guns and acting all cocky and cool, because after all we are so exceptional and so entitled and so self-righteous and so powerful and of course always have God on our side, what are the options? Apparently the only way we will actually “win” a real war against a serious enemy is if we go nuclear. And if we go nuclear, they will to.
And we all know how that will turn out.
So if we know in advance how World War III will end, why would anyone except the demented neocon imperialist cotorie of hell bent fanatics __ who can plead the insanity defense __ push for war? Which is the same as saying, why would anyone in their right mind go along with this madness?
Because we __ you and I __ do know how it will end.
Either we’re going to get our asses kicked or we’re going to destroy all civilization and risk the extinction of the human race.
Ask the Germans how things worked out for them when they tried to conquer the world.
Ask the Japanese.
I live in Japan. I already know how the Japanese feel about war. I know the shame they feel about their dark and vile history of aggression in pursuit of all manner of illusory glory and mountains of booty.
No, I don’t live in America any more. But I’m still a loyal American. I deeply care for my country. And I know this.
We can’t count on the lying liars who claim to have our interests at heart, the play-for-pay politicians who are the lapdogs for the military-industrial complex and the bankers who build their staggering fortunes on the corpses of our soldiers and the tens of thousands of civilians who are collateral damage for our drones, carpet bombings and ordinance.
We cannot look to the barbaric megalomaniacs in positions of power who claim to share our values, and have the unmitigated audacity to talk about humanitarian bombing and merciful intervention, to claim we are protecting innocent people against ruthless dictators __ killing thousands of innocent victims in the process __ all in the name of promoting democracy and human rights, when every one of these wars is about gas and oil interests for their corporate butt buddies. To add even more hypocrisy to the insults and injuries, it is our military which possesses and employs more weapons of mass destruction than any other country in the world and it is our nation which counts among its friends and allies some of the most ruthless tyrants on the planet.
We sure can’t look to the leadership of the most sociopathic president in our history, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who just said in his U.N. speech, “The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.”
That means it’s up to us.
It’s up to each and every American to say ‘NO’ to the madness.
It’s up to us to stop all the talk about war.
It’s up to us to demand a true and honest commitment to peace, not the simpleminded, hollow, meaningless blather that we’re being fed as the trigger-fingers of our war mongers tingle and twitch, just waiting for the right moment to churn up more carnage, destruction and hatred in the rest of the world.
Yes . . . we do know how this story ends.
It’s time for a new story.