Monday, March 20, 2017

Are we watching an incipient despotism in the U.S.?

Is it fear, fatigue, complacency, insouciance, indifference or flabbiness of mind and body that generates despots? Or some toxic combination of all of the above?

Or, in the case of the United States, is there a strong “shot” of misogyny that slices through the political cocktail in a world reduced to binary”ism” that produces the current government in Washington?

For many, these questions are akin to the sophomoric inquiry, “How many angels can one put on the head of a pin?” What does either the question or any potential answer really matter? The fact is there is a despotic administration ensconced in Washington, and the head despot is Trump himself.

Profiteering by the fossil fuel sector, including the coal industry, at the expense of the environment is just one of the many ways by which the despot is enabling what can legitimately be termed “ecocide”…..death by the environment. Barring refugees, Muslims, Latinos, and science, (another of the most hated “forces” for this gang) is another path to ensuring that the hundreds of dying towns and cities will disappear. Reports that Erie Pennsylvania and Ann Arbor, Michigan are two cities whose pulse beats a little more quickly now that refugees have found and taken work in factories for $9/hour, spurring those industries to new life, in the face of the despot’s dissembling on this issue.

Emasculating the State Department, through the surgical scalpel to both its budget and the budget of the foreign aid, while China is dramatically increasing her foreign aid budget, will restrict American influence in the developing world, and enhance the probabilities of failed negotiations and severely restricted options in international relations.

"Vouchering" the public school system to death will clearly emasculate that sector, the foundation of both a healthy democracy and the potential of reasonable and deepening relationship between and among  different racial and ethnic demographics.
Stripping funding from the National Seience budget, the source of the much of the research money that has, in the past, elevated the United States to a position of envied leadership in innovation. Defunding the innovation budget for small business (“the energizer of most new jobs” the stated goal of this despot) is just another way by which the administration seeks to keep their leader’s promise not to increase the deficit, while simultaneously, working in direct contravention of the public good.

If you want to put the ‘spirit’ of this despotism (and most despotisms in history) under a microscope, think about the defunding of Meals on Wheels, a miniscule dollar figure, with a powerful  political punch in public opinion, far above its weight. Add to this, the bonafide projection that some 24 million people will lose their health care should the despot’s plan be finally adopted by Congress.

Completely debunking the news organizations, another of the cornerstones of any democracy, throughout history, not merely in this period, while inflating the military, homeland security and law-and-order budgets demonstrates the despot’s traditional modus operandi: becoming the sole source of “truth” armed and defended by those most amenable to sycophancy, the army, navy, air force, national guard and the police and border security agents.

Some have called this depot a super-salesman; while that may be true, there is a darker side. In every corner, for this despot, lies an enemy. Those enemies are both within the country and outside. The despot requires a world view over which his dominance can pervade, otherwise what is despotism for?

What really wrankles the mind and the spirit is the pretense, the utter hypocrisy that, under this administration, they pretend to support the appearances of a democracy. Not even their hero, Putin, does that! Everyone in Moscow knows and operates under the premise, the edict, that Putin rules, and any indication to the contrary is but a momentary aberration that cannot last.

Or course, if words like apocalypse, Armageddon, and ‘end times’ are the stars in the galaxy of the world view of these despots, based on a reading of both current and probable estimates of the Caucasians being overrun by the mobs of non-whites, and the ultimate and absolute need to “win” whatever major and minor conflict that can be concocted in the infinitesimal cognitive capacity of both the despot and his inner circle (none of whom have divested from their octopus business tentacles)….then all those rural voters who pulled the lever for this gang have been truly ‘had’ as the suckers they have proven to be.

Radical change, especially the kind of change that defies both law and governance traditions, may not have been the kind of change the voters wanted or envisaged. But then, despots never show their whole hand; it is much more effective to keep it close to their chest, and then to disclose conflicting glimpses, keeping everyone off-balance and on guard, thereby fulfilling the predictive value of their world view that enemies lurk everywhere.

There is a deep, profound and potentially long-lasting tragedy to a world view that considers itself the “saviour” against a world of so-called  enemies. It generates a kind of soap-opera exaggerated political drama, headlines, tensions, ambiguities and uncertainties not only among ordinary folks, for whom the despot cares not a wit, but also among other world leaders.

Unconventional, unpredictable, confusing, self-contradicting, blustering, the consumer and purveyor of fake news….these are all benign words attempting to wrap their arms around this emerging despotism. What is much more cogent and frightening is that the people have lost control of their country, in a realpolitik “coup” for which a single gun shot was not needed.

Will we choke on our own attempt to breath before we become mortally sick from drinking the poisoned water? Or will we simply atrophy into meaninglessness as the world smilingly walks away from all American influence and replaces that influence with the potential, and incredibly insightful and long-sighted Chinese?
Will the rich demonstrate any compassion and shame as they strip the cream from every bottle of tax evasion, profiteering, and regulation deconstruction? There is no evidence that the words compassion, equality, shame or even embarrassment are included in the vocabulary either of the despot or his acolytes.

And now that we know from FBI Director James Comey’s testimony in Congress today there is no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, as we all suspected all along, this is just another massive hole in the political armour of the head of the administration. Is there a law forbidding such a criminal charge or punishing such a criminal charge, especially one made by a president of his predecessor? And now that the world knows the FBI is formally conducting a wide-ranging investigation into any possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, what are the legal and possibly criminal implications if the findings from that investigation prove positive?

Before any more havoc is wreaked on both the United States and the international community, this regime that begs the question of its legitimacy every day, has to be reined in, and a good place to start is for Congress to find the spines their members seemed to have lost during the campaign (here I refer specifically to the Republicans) and to overrule the budget sent from the White House to the ‘hill’ for consideration.
Spine replacement for the national media would also be health care money well invested. It is not enough to point out the inconsistencies, the inaccuracies and the exaggerations of the despot. The rhetoric used by the critics has to include the kind of exploration currently found on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC each night at 9:00 p.m. Connecting the dots from the sale of that empty and vacuous Florida estate to a Russian oligarch after Trump owned it for only months, without improving it, yet profiting by some $40 million is just one seam down into the Trump evidence trove/cave that the FBI needs to explore.

Determining why the same Russian oligarch’s private plane has been observed at the same airports on the same days that Trump was in those towns in the middle of the campaign is another of the seams of the murky trail needing investigation. One has natural resistance to the “co-incidence” explanation some will try to proffer.
The timing of certain releases of emails connected to the Clinton campaign is another of the rabbit holes of potential evidence that needs poring through.

And, just imagine the pressure on the FBI to derail their work, given the kind of pressure that has been the prime characteristic of this, and all other despots, to seek and to gain power, without having to sacrifice any of the conventional divestitures; in fact, this president has already pocketed millions, starting with reports of the cohort of the president of the Philippines pouring millions into the Trump business empire as a way of paving the path of obsequiousness to the inner sanctum. Invoking the emoluments clause is still a riff waiting to be played by the law enforcement arm of the U.S. government, providing that arm is not removed by the new appointees to the Justice Department.

Watergate is starting to look like a Sunday picnic on the banks of the Potomac when seen through the reports of the gyrations of this new despot. Nixon might even be considered a patriot compared to this debacle.


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