I know that’s a kind of selfish question. I’m one of the descendants of the people that the USA was pretty good to, and I’ve done well. Unlike lots of people, I don’t have a relative who has been blown up, lynched, driven into wage-slavery, beaten, arrested, etc. Maybe a feel a bit bad about that. I feel like every decent person should be thinking about how to destroy and rebuild this motherfucker before it kills us all.
As you can probably imagine, I mostly read the “liberal” or progressive news. Which means, now, that I am horrified by Biden. I don’t, for example, believe the posturing that Biden’s being unable to do carry forward a progressive agenda because he’s being blocked by the Republicans. After what happened to Obama, it would be hard to find a human on the planet that was so naive they’d expect “bipartisanship” from the Republicans. If you’re not familiar with the story of the frog and the scorpion, it’s very old – and it goes like this:
A scorpion wants to cross a river but cannot swim, so it asks a frog to carry it across. The frog hesitates, afraid that the scorpion might sting, but the scorpion argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. The frog lets the scorpion climb on its back and then begins to swim. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
The US, playing both roles (bipartisanship, right?) likes to remain in denial about its status as a world empire, so it can pretend that it’s trying to be a “good broker”, or whatever. In fact, it is performing the exotic ritual of “Washington gridlock” which is performed whenever one party or the other wants to extract concessions as the budget is being drawn up – and, then, both parties will vote the pentagon a massive increase and nod sagely, “it’s what we had to do.” Yet climate change, a more rational international corporate tax regime, scaling back the DoD, stopping the development of world-threatening first strike nuclear weapons – those are either going to happen or not, but the one thing I can assure you absolutely: the will of the people will have absolutely nothing to do with it.
“Yep, we’re all hat and no beef when it comes to democracy,” said the US ruling class, as they pulled their velvet gloves on to protect their iron fists from getting smudged, “and we always have been.” That’s the opening move for another round of “don’t blame us we’re just making money off it it, it was our ancestors that did the nasty stuff. But it doesn’t take a moral philosopher’s help to realize that, if that was the case, they could stop – you know – profiting off of it. The American oligarchic class has been saying, for the last hundred years, “If I don’t do it, somebody else will.” Ignoring that that doesn’t mean you have to do it – you can switch from doing to not-doing, and now that you have some experience on the doing side, you know how to catch and block the other guys. They’ll scream “but that’s not fair!” which is really, truly, exquisitely funny if your sense of humor breaks toward hating humanity and laughing at them while you do.
I saw the other day that Biden and Yellen are trying to establish a “corporate minimum wage” – an international agreement that companies can’t locate themselves in some other country for tax purposes, and that countries will stop undercutting eachothers’ tax regimes. For example, Apple is headquartered in Cupertino, CA, but “realizes all of its profits” in Ireland where it has negotiated a 7% maximum tax rate. In other words, the Irish – who are no fools – concluded, “if I don’t do it, somebody else will” and offered to help Apple cheat on their taxes by 5% of $274 billion. The Irish are doubtless looking at that agreed-upon 7% and thinking “that 7% they’re offering is a percentage of the money they couldn’t hide. But we’ll take it.” Will this new policy venture of Biden’s work? Probably not. Apple will move to Israel or someplace that’s not part of the G7, because as we just established, 5% of $274 billion is a lot of money. Meanwhile, enjoy the spectacle of US politicians poor-mouthing about how they can’t afford to expand medicare because there just isn’t enough money. They won’t say, “we’re already spending that money on a new generation of first-strike nukes.”
Let’s talk about those. I used to fantasize that there was a Sekrit Plan(tm) afoot in the US establishment, to take over the world by stealth. One day, everyone would wake up, and there would be a blanket media announcement:
Welcome citizen of The World! We, the United States of America, have decided to finally reveal ourselves as the strongest military power that has ever existed on earth. We are capable of precision strikes that will ‘decapitate’ any country that wishes to stand against us, and nobody – not even all of you if you acted in a unified and controlled manner (and what’s the chance of that) – can do anything about it. Over the next year we’ll be asking you nicely to stand down any strategic military forces that you have and start spending that money on re-tooling your economies for global climate change. Over the next 10 years you’ll be standing down your militaries, mostly, though you’ll get a chance to contribute some of your best trained troops (as long as they are not psycho killers) to an international peace-keeping force with real teeth. Nobody is allowed to have a military air force capable of dropping bombs on civilians; nobody needs those anymore; we have all of the civilian-eradicators that the world needs and you’re best off not asking for a demonstration. In the meantime, wind up your racial hatreds and ethnic cleansing, wage slavery, and massive inequality. You’ve got a good chance (let’s say 5 years) to show that you can be a good citizen of the world, or – come on, do we really have to tell you what’s going to happen to you?
But, as I wrote some of my recent postings about Jerusalem, looking at how the British empire completely did not give a shit what happened to anyone except its pinker members in London, I realized that nobody cares enough to take control of the world. The great innovation of the United States is two-fold: 1) you don’t need territorial lines if you can sail massive war-fleets like moving islands of death anywhere in the world, backed by aircraft that can appear anywhere in the world and cause a most horrible sun-rise; you can build a mobile empire that picks and chooses the parts of the world worth controlling and treats the rest as garbage, 2) if you adopt a cherry-picking imperial strategy, you do not run the direct risk of failing like the British did; you can simply choose effective satraps and get out of the way unless it’s necessary to send a bomber or two over. The US strategy for empire is brutal and cruel: does anyone think for a second that the rulers of Saudi Arabia or Israel have convinced themselves that Americans like them? As Nobel Laureate for War Crimes Henry Kissinger said about Iran and Iraq “It’s a shame they can’t both lose.” And, they did.
Right now, my progressive/liberal friends – all 1.2 of them and one of them is my dad – are in a bit of a panic that the Republican attempts to re-write the electoral system represent the end of American democracy. Dad thinks that the Republicans are “All In” and realize that they will never win another fair election, so they have decided there will be no more fair elections. Then, I had to make some wheezing noises to get his attention and pointed out that the structure of the senate is nothing but a great big gerrymander designed to allow a small number of population (coincidentally, southern oligarchs) to have disproportionate power over much larger populations. That system is finally breaking down, a bit and the Republicans’ see that. Their reaction is to say, in an Alabama accent, “no bueno” and wipe the current arrangement clean. Who knows what we get, but it won’t be the same fake democracy we’ve been going around the world talking up since a bunch of right white oligarchs cooked up a multi-axis power-sharing arrangement that allowed them to decouple from the British Empire and loot, rape, kill, and steal tax-free to their hearts’ content over here. The game would have continued in that vein except the stupid British Empire bit off more than it could chew in the form of the Kaiser Reich, and asked the Americans to use their industrial capacity to militarize and suddenly the world had a monster so powerful that it uses Godzilla to light its cigar.
Add to the Republican’s desperation their awareness that they need to seriously upgrade their ability to perform domestic control. I have wondered if the “Space Force” is someone with some strategic sense who realized that. I also suspect, for those of you who are no longer shocked by anyone, that the US is about to violate or has already been violating the “no nuclear weapons in orbit” treaties. Why should we be bound by such things? Trump blew off the mid-range missile treaties, and successfully blamed the Russians for violating them, and I suspect the White House and Congress all shrugged, “never thought that would work.” Remember: we are supposed to be scared of Russia’s 4,000 nuclear weapons, and China’s 290 (about the same as France) and not talk about the US’ 13,000. If the US starts to have regions of permanent chaos, some asshat is going to point out that the new nukes are variable-yield and can be dialed down to slightly less than what was used on Hiroshima.
Remember: when the system breaks down, it will break down completely. The Republicans just demonstrated that they can attempt an insurrection, fail because of massive incompetence (yeah, I want those guys to run my country!) and publicly forgive themselves while patting themselves on the back. The next big round of pseud-democracy is happening in 2022 and the Republicans will be ready, while the Democrat gerontocrats will still be seeing bipartisan consensus.
The discussion about “cancel culture” and “critical race theory” isn’t even smoky enough to be a smoke-screen. This is a country that’s entire political system is, as I said before, a massive racial gerrymander. And that’s before the nonsense about slaves only counting as a percentage of a person, or owners being allowed to count their votes. The fix has always been in. If you watch what is happening in Washington, virtually all of the hot action involves manipulating who gets to manipulate the vote. Here we have a Congress that is a corrupt system from the top to the bottom (disclaimer: I like some of them and think they mean well) and let’s focus on Jim Manchin or Susan Collins or whoever is the fulcrum of the oligarchy at this particular minute. Meanwhile, let’s ignore the fact that the whole electoral process runs on donor money, which is all donated, for sure, “no strings attached.” Are you fucking kidding me? Whenever someone calls the US a “democracy” I usually push back against it, and the usual response is crushing: the other person nods and says, “yeah, yeah, we’re a republic.” No, we’re not even that. What the fuck. When media talking heads are having a calm conversation about the fact that a candidate can lose the popular vote and still win in the electoral college. [stderr] There should be riots in the capitol; it’s just the wrong side that’s rioting and both sides can’t putsch worth a damn.
So, happy Sunday. Here’s a closing thought: Florida, California, and the midwest are all experiencing severe drought. There is not any sign of it getting better, either. And those three regions are where most of the US’ food, or the food for the US’ meat supply come from.