Category Archives: American Psyche

Political and social problems that affect how Americans see America

Summer is Coming

Summer is coming
…and a host of other things, too

© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
May 2nd 2012

Summer is coming.
For most folks, that’s usually good news. If you don’t live in the lower plains states or the American south, where summer renders the land uninhabitable, it’s a fun, relaxed time. Or at least it used to be.
Some folks remember the “Long Hot Summers” of the sixties and seventies; the tensions and civil strife, cities in flames, angry voices in the streets. Back then, thirty million Americans felt—with good cause—that they were subjugated by a system that hated them, cheated them, sneered at them and dismissed requests for fair treatment as disloyalty.
Now over three hundred million Americans find themselves in that position. And the simmering anger and desperation that led to Watts and Detroit is mounting.
America is still in a Depression. Yes, the market is way up (that’s actually part of the problem) and unemployment has dropped somewhat (the U6 shows it down from about 19% to 14.5%, still far too high in a country that has no real safety net) and economic activity is better than it was in 2008. But it’s like 1936, a year economists reckoned to be a year of recovery, even though the Great Depression would grind on for another seven or eight years. GDP was back to 1928 levels, and unemployment had dropped to 13.8, and people saw a light at the end of the tunnel. But then Congress imposed spending cuts and deficit reductions (what we now call “austerity measures”) and the economy plunged again.
Worse is the fact that whereas in the Depression, the wealth gap narrowed as the wealthy took the brunt of the economic losses (although not the hunger and privation visited upon the working poor), that gap now continues to widen: the incomes of the top 400 CEOs went up a staggering 15% last year, as everyone else’s income remained flat, not counting inflation. In other words, lost ground.
So for millions upon millions of Americans, the desperation and fear grows deeper and more painful, along with the realization that those in power have gone from indifferent to openly adversarial. FDR spoke of a “new deal”; the strutting and sneering fascists of his class today jibe that perhaps if workers were more worthy they would get more.
The fascist pseudo-justices on the Supreme Court tore down the one remaining wall of any significance between a free democracy and fascism with Citizens United, and the grotesque results of it were already apparent in the primary season this year.
The GOP field was a diverse collection of retreads, morons, crooks and bastards, yet with the exception of Jon Huntsman, who was quickly marginalized, they all spoke with one voice. There wasn’t an eyelash of difference in their opinions. They marched in perfect sync, uttering the grotesqueries of GOP class warfare.
They all washed out; the failed rural drama queen, the religious fruitcake, the pretentious fake intellectual, the dim yee-hah Confederate governor, the crazed teabagger queen. What was left was the vapid Mormon billionaire, a pampered scion who is puzzled that people don’t understand he has a right to build elevators for his cars or make immense profits by destroying jobs. Why he can even mistreat dogs. He sent his equally vapid wife out to get In Touch with The People in a thousand dollar T-shirt.
Mitt Romney makes Thurston Howell the III look like Will Rogers. He makes John Kerry, the last vapid plutocrat the Democrats tossed at us as a pretend candidate, look like Robin Williams. His wife is a cross between Lovey and Callista.
There are several thousand people who make up the upper crust, the fantastically overpriviledged collection of buffoons, heirs, hangers-on and sociopaths who make up the economic elite of the country and control over 75% of America’s vast wealth, and this was the best they could come up with as a man who could appeal to the people.
They aren’t even trying any more, but then, they know they don’t have to.
They’ll dump over two billion into this campaign over the next six months, shoving Romney down the country’s throat. Worse, they’ll have nearly total control of House, Senate and most local campaigns.
But the country already suspects they’ve lost control of the process that is used to select their government. The parade of losers all speaking with a single party line voice over the entire spring was evidence of that.
And that partyline voice is, at best, contemptuous of the 300 million plus Americans who aren’t part of the exalted rich, and at worst flat-out animus.
Have you been out of work for a year? You say you’re over 50, and nearly half the businesses in your town have closed? Well, you don’t deserve unemployment because it’s not the place of the people who benefited from your 30 years of hard work to look out for your welfare.
This is America. You get what you deserve.
And according to the super-rich and their puppets, you don’t deserve shit. You aren’t of any use to them unless you can buy something from them, be it shelter, clothing, education or health care. If you can’t pay, you don’t deserve to live.
The Ryan budget, with its merciless cuts meant to reduce the damage done by eliminating all taxes on the super-rich, lays it out for all to see. Really, it would be much cleaner if the budget just proposed building death camps for the tens of millions of Americans made superfluous—and therefore unproductive—under the new regime. If Americans aren’t willing to compete with people making pennies an hour in Asia for jobs, they don’t deserve to eat.
Americans tripled their productivity over the past 30 years, and lost ground on income. All that extra profit went to the people who are now using a tiny bit of that profit to try and convince you that you don’t deserve even the crumbs they throw you.
You could have been like them, but you weren’t a sociopath born to rich parents. So you deserve what you get—or don’t get.
Not all wealthy people are sociopaths, of course. In fact, most are not. Stephen King joined a chorus of multimillionaires demanding to know why his federal income tax wasn’t higher. The grotesque pig who is governor of New Jersey and the GOP’s heir-apparent for top fascist growled that if King didn’t like his tax rate, he should “write a check”. Christie couldn’t stand the idea that one of his class should debase himself by caring about that worthless American rabble.
The corruption goes beyond sociopathy into psychopathy. A leading Republican in the state of Arizona, who also happened to be a neo-Nazi (yes, with the swastikas and struts and beliefs that Jews and other lesser races should be exterminated) apparently shot and killed four people yesterday, including a toddler. He was just standing his ground, you know; that toddler had TEETH. He then shot himself, saving us all the trouble.
The Goebbels of this nasty little police state, Rupert Murdoch, was declared unfit by Parliament to be head of a major corporation devoted to controlling what the British people see and hear, and the American right are losing their minds over that. Apparently, stopping a sociopath from spying on private citizens, bribing and blackmailing celebrities and politicians, and trying to dismantle a free press is violating his right to free speech in fascistland.
The fake election is on, only now most people sense that it is a fraud, and that the GOP are no more running as a party devoted to freedom and democracy than Adolf Hitler was in 1933. If they take this election, America is finished in all but name. Oh, there will still be patriotism and Christianity, both in abundance, in greater amounts than we’ve ever seen before. There will be loyalty oaths to Grover Norquist and internal passports to weed out “the illegals”. There will be endless discussions on TV “news” about how anyone who doesn’t adhere to the party line is a communist (like everyone in Occupy) or a terrorist.
Speaking of Occupy, they had their biggest rallies yet yesterday, on May 1st. The GOP and the right wing propaganda machine tried to make it a communist celebration, of course, even going so far as to try to link the slogan for Obama’s campaign, “Forward” with a long-defunct communist magazine of that name from the thirties. And of course there were small, violent sprees by supposed Occupy members the night before the demonstrations, and it doesn’t take much in the way of brains to realize that such events would be staged, not by Occupy, but by the people seeking to vilify Occupy. Five bozos were arrested in a sting operation by the FBI to blow up a bridge, (yes, the day before the demonstrations!) and lazy or corrupt journalists and pseudo-journalists on the right were quick to at least mention Occupy, even though no actual link existed.
But the people are noticing all this, and one by one, the lights on the board reflecting the state of America’s culture are turning from green to red. This isn’t a good thing, but it’s inevitable when an aristocracy seeks to enslave an entire population, as is happening now in America.
This summer may prove to be a long, hot summer.

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The Fifth Characteristic

The GOP goes for a clean sweep of Britt’s “Fourteen characteristics”

March 18th 2012

Back in 2003, Lawrence Britt wrote “The Fourteen Defining Characteristics of Fascism” (sometimes also titled “Identifiers: An Examination of Fascism”) That essay is posted below, and can be found here: http://fwd4.me/0wei.

The list seemed to fit the toxic right like a glove.

Mindless avid flag waving? Check.

Contempt for rights? Well, there’s tort reform, and hatred of “trial lawyers”. For starters. Endless sneers about “entitled minorities.”

Scapegoating? Can you say “Sharia law menace”? The Islamic threat? Liberals?

Worship the military? Check. I’ve even seen right wingers whining about how weak America will appear if they punish Robert Bale if he’s convicted of killing those sixteen Afghan civilians. Some right wingers think it’s an imposition that he even be tried.

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Berth Control

It isn’t just contraception; it’s a power struggle

March 10th 2012

One of the more remarkable manifestations of the current campaign is the sudden foofooraw over contraception. That Santorum would make an issue of it is no big surprise; he’s been considered the religious nut all along. That the rest of the party would jump on the bandwagon as part of a larger casting of conducting “a war on women” is nothing short of amazing.

They have to be pretty confident that between the pressure to prevent poor people from voting, and the insane corporate corruption brought about by Citizens United, they are going to steal this election no matter what they say or do, because they sure aren’t bothering to appeal to voters.

Still, better to assume that the battle isn’t lost, and these fascistic maniacs haven’t already seized control of the country.

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The Ungodly Godly

In the batter’s circle: Nehemiah Scudder

February 23rd 2012

 In 2004 the renowned British political documentarian Adam Curtis did a three-part series entitled “The Power of Nightmares.” In it, he pointed out that the group known as the neo-cons greatly resembled their counterparts amongst the radicalized population of the Middle East, al Qaida in particular. Both sides are deeply mistrustful of individual freedom and liberties, and are intent on using authoritarian methods of containing such. Both sides used fear, if in different ways. Islamic radicals used terrorism, whereas neo-cons used fear-mongering. Each side found in the other a useful bogeyman.

The neo-cons lost power and influence in America (and the power and influence of al Qaida in the Middle East had always been vastly overstated), and withdrew from mainstream political discourse as the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan bogged down and eventually failed.

But another group stepped in to replace the neo-cons in American right-wing political circles, and I tend to think of them as the ‘anti-Soviets.’ They saw their role in America as being similar to the role of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union: a sort of shadow government without accountability, and with vast influence in the workings of the actual government. They were the “financial sector.”

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2012

A Fraughtful Year

December 28th 2011

 2012 is fraught. It is absolutely fraught. It is the most fraught year since 2011, and we all know how fraught that was.

The good news is that it’s a bit shorter than most years. It ends on December 21st, rather than on the usual date ten days later. Or so the Mayan calendar suggests, since that’s the day the calendar ends upon.

Somewhere around here I have a World Almanac for 1966 which I’ve kept all this time because it recounts the glorious World Series win by the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Minnesota Twins. Yes, I probably should get professional help for that. But here’s the thing: the calendar section there ends on December 31st, 1967. Did the world actually come to an end then, and the Nixon years were just a bit of post-ectoplasmic tummyache?

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Solstice 2011

Dies Natalis Invicti Solis

December 22nd 2011

Every December, I write a “Solstice piece”, and the theme is the same; this is the turnabout point, from now on, the days are getting longer, and eventually it will be spring.

Of course, there’s another element that I tend not to dwell upon. And that is that the Solstice is also the first day of Winter. And it’s just going to stay winter for another 90 days or so.

In fact, in eastern Canada, among other places, old man winter blows right through the Solstice and keeps right on intensifying. The snowiest and coldest month is often February, not December. For folks who depend on nice weather for their comfort and ease—and that’s most of us—the worst is yet to come. It will be a while for the days to be noticeably longer, and in the far north, it may be weeks or even a month or two before the first brief glimmer of blue sky to the south reminds people that there’s still a sun down there somewhere.

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Guy Fawkes

To tell the truth

November 29th 2011

 I was reading the latest on the Leveson inquiry, which is the British investigation into the sometimes horrible excesses of Britain’s tabloid newspaper culture. Front and center in the investigation, headed by Lord Justice Leveson, is an examination of how much damage was done to individuals who were spied upon and betrayed by the tabs. In a more general way, the panel examines how much damage these newspapers have done to British culture. Among other things the Lord Justice is tasked with is determining what, if anything, needs to be done to bring these entities to heel.

It’s the type of situation that cries out for a good dose of irony, and it came in the form of a website called “Guido Fawkes”, which published the formal statement of a witness scheduled to appear before the inquiry, three days before that scheduled date. The judge is demanding that Paul Staines, the owner of Guido Fawkes, reveal the source(s) that leaked the statement to him, and is considering what punishment is appropriate to the case, which violates the law much in the way revealing empaneled grand jury deliberations is in America.

Where the irony comes in is that Guido Fawkes, better known to English children as Guy Fawkes, is the man who tried to blow up Parliament in 1605, had his plot discovered on November 5th 1605, and was executed several months later. The fifth of November is commemorated in England as “Guy Fawkes Night,” a cheery holiday – considering – that features bonfires and fireworks and combines Halloween and Fourth of July. It is the Guy Fawkes mask that was worn by Prisoner #5, better known as “V” in “V for Vendetta” and has since gone on to become a symbol of Anonymous and Occupy. Continue reading