The Talking Dog

September 18, 2012, Welcome to the future

I began blogging at this domain on 18 September 2001... eleven years ago today. More on that below.

First, it seems a federal Appeals Court judge here got the memo on the NDAA, and noted that when Congress and the President say we're a de jure dictatorship, by Jove, we're a de jure dictatorship, and if the Government feels like it, it can lock you up without recourse to, you know, law. This, of course, has been the law of the land for over eight years, ever since the Supreme Court refused to spring Jose Padilla. And hence, perversely, the federal appellate judge is right on this one: if the Constitution doesn't apply to Latino ex-gang-bangers like Padilla, it doesn't apply to upper-middle-class White journos like Chris Hedges and the other plaintiffs... I've been trying to tell you this for years.

In Fake Election News[TM], it seems that old Scrooge McDuck Romney told a "truth is no defense" political "truth" to his donor base, and Mother Jones got a secret video of it... He suggested that something like 47% of Americans are on government entitlements and "will vote for this President [Obama] no matter what." Or something. Vaguely reminiscent of Obama's "gotcha" four years ago, when he lamented that lower-middle-class White voters would "cling to their religion and guns." Like all pseudo-truths, there is an element of truth to what Romney said, except there really isn't. He, of course, meant "YOU KNOW, BLACK PEOPLE." The joke, of course, is that most of the government entitlement money goes to White people, mostly via Social Security and Medicare [and Defense contracts and corporate welfare]... of course, most food stamp money and even most Medicaid money, nationwide, probably does too... because there are still a lot more White people than non-White people in the USA. The other joke is the assumption that people actually vote on economic self-interest... that's not really true either, or Democrats would never really lose elections, given that most Americans actually aren't particularly well-off (and logically, wouldn't vote for "the party of the well-off."). At this point, both parties are in the thrall of the feudal lords in the upper strata-- "the 1% or higher." Knowing this, most Americans either don't vote at all (one of the few signs of a healthy society out there, along with our national distaste for soccer)... or else, they vote on "spleen" and nonsense issues... like, of course, "abortion, gay marriage and gun control"... or, code words aside, that is to say, which party they think will be meaner to Black people. [Impressively, the President, despite, you know, being Black, has been pretty mean to Black people himself, all things told.]

Meanwhile, as American interests in the Middle East are quite literally under attack, including the unfortunate recent killing of Christopher Stephens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, the fifth sitting ambassador killed in U.S. history, it seems this is a well-followed story among Americans (who also view Mitt Romney's right-wing-talk-radio response to it quite negatively). The easy-to-understand story is "rage over an anti-Muslim video"... but of course, that video has been out for a while... the rage is about the failure of the Arab Spring to improve the lives of most Middle Easterners, and quite probably, because of stepped up American intervention in the region (perhaps designed to cause World War III to break out as a last-minute "rally 'round the flag" election tactic just in case "QE-3"-- the Federal Reserve goosing/juicing of the markets to boost Obama's reelection odds at a time when the equity markets are near all-time highs-- doesn't work... electorally.)

All of these things reflect a consolidation of central power... financially, or via outright brute force... that has been underway for a while. There is consensus among our political classes (if not our citizenry) on this point, that this kind of power consolidation is "good"-- it keeps the status quo power in place. The proposition of this blog is that this is unequivocally bad: IMHO, decentralization, autonomy, and local control... are always superior, pretty much regardless of context, be it of agriculture, or politics. Not to say rules, including the rule of law, consistently enforced, aren't good... Of course, as you know, laws in the USA anyway aren't consistently enforced... be it on [mostly] racial lines, or on socioeconomic lines, or just on an out-and-out raw power basis... and this is, you know, bad.

Reality is that the human condition, at least through recorded history, has mostly sucked for most people. We had a window throughout most of the latter half of the Twentieth Century where things were getting better-- at least politically and materially-- for more people than had ever happened before. Now, it seems, we are reverting to the norm (some kind of feudalism). I am saying this is unnecessary, and given the "environmental" in every sense (physical, biological, moral, etc.), I am suggesting that this too, is bad. Only it's more than bad: in the interest of propping up the power and status of the status quo, we run the risk of killing everything and everyone on this planet, be it from global warming, rampant use of chemical and GMOs in agriculture, nuclear waste, fracking, war, or any of the self-imposed pestilences that our current hierarchical based status quo and our ever more "me first... and only me" lifestyles are imposing on everyone else.

And so, once again, here we are. Poetically, just as my first post did eleven years ago, this blog anniversary falls around Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time when the annual cycle of life can re-set... a time of celebration, yet of sober reflection, as in just over a week, comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when the Jewish people's Deity, at least goes the theology, will finally seal our fate, and determine whether our year-to-year contract is finally up, or whether we get to make it another year. While, in my view, this is an extremely useful metaphor for individuals, it is also an extremely useful macro-metaphor. Somehow it has been lost in our "Me first" world [where our dominant philosopher has become Serial-Killer-Admirer Ayn Rand.] We can either acknowledge that our fantasy of Adam Smith's "invisible hand" (he did not suggest it as a "good thing") is not an appropriate ordering mechanism of the universe, or we can go on not being nice to each other (micro and macro) and maybe give up having a chance at a future just to keep an unsustainable party for fewer and fewer people going. Eleven years on in this blogging endeavor, I cannot say that I'm optimistic about the direction we've chosen.

But the metaphor of the universal cycle-- and the possibility of renewal-- is always available to us, and this seems as appropriate a time as any to reconsider whether we are capable of actual renewal and genuine introspection. On that point, as my dear friend Candace always says, "Hope dies last."