New year, new era, newspeak

New year, new era, newspeak

Regular readers may have noted that I have on occasion made the statement “let it never be said we do not live in interesting times.”  I will now add to that particular train thought to never let it be said that America is not unique among nations.  The USA is indeed the occupant of a category unto itself.  Have we become our own worst enemy?  We seem to have come full circle.  Allow me to explain.

As one who served in the armed forces during height of the Cold War, I was well indoctrinated in the evils of the totalitarian system which controlled our then adversary.  I recall that the contrast between their system and ours was quite stark.  The one caveat then that stood out to me most about our government and that of the old Soviet Union was the system of how we elect our leaders.  The US electoral system worked quite well and nothing was certain as compared to that of the old USSR where nothing of the sort worked at all and everything was certain.  We Americans now find ourselves in a place in history where, in terms of electing the controllers of the levers of government, everything works and everything is certain!  America is unique among nations in that its elected legislative branch, which has over the past year had an approval rating in the mid to upper teens on a good day, has managed to net a reelection rate of 90% or greater!  Only in America, where most self-respecting businesses terminate the contracts of employees that deliver bad results, rehire the same people whose body has not polled above 30% approval in the better part of a decade.  What will it take to reverse this?  Getting unlimited money out of the electoral process would be a good start but for the foreseeable future with the current party in charge of government, the Citizens United decision will stand.  After all, corporations are people too.  Mandatory voting in all federal elections would be my recommendation but then anyone promoting either option in 2017 is pipe dreaming.

Is it any real surprise that we find ourselves in this sordid state of affairs a mere three decades removed from America being that “shining city on a hill” that President Reagan so proudly proclaimed?  It wasn’t like nobody saw this coming.  The late George Carlin explained it beautifully a decade ago when he did a stand-up routine about the owners of this country.  Mr. Carlin indeed nailed it from the demise of public education to the plateauing of wages and the loss of job benefits.  Sadly, the owners of this country are the ones who are the real winners of the November general election.  As we transition into the era of President Trump’s America let us be mindful of who is really in charge.

George Carlin:  The Owners of the Country

Who really will be in charge as of 12:01 PM January 20th?  We are now within two weeks of the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.  Despite his repeated dismissal of it as a “witch hunt,” the one cancer already growing on his presidency is the Russian hacking scandal.

Since Mr. Trump has consistently confounded and defied conventional wisdom and established norms from the outset of his campaign, I am curious if he will prevail yet again.  He was after all the candidate who encouraged a foreign entity to willfully spy on his opponent.  Will the old saying that one can get away with almost any crime there is until they start to cover it up hold true in his case?  Mr. Trump successfully executed his Presidential campaign without disclosing any of his income tax returns.  There was some reporting of his debts but no disclosures of his tax returns as all other Presidents and Presidential candidates have done since Nixon.  Mr. Trump’s tax history may have shed some light on his ties to and his financial interests with foreign governments.  Heretofore, the President-elect has been quite successful at allaying the angst of his conservative base by telling them all the things they want to hear, much of it from the reality of his own invention.  This has suited most Trump supporters just fine as most I have encountered, online and in person, are more obsessed with getting their paybacks for their purported suffering under Obama and getting their digs in on liberals than they are about any suspected or confirmed compromise to their own nation’s sovereignty.  Being himself a creation of the media and being a master manipulator of it, President-elect Trump received more free coverage than any other candidate in the age of mass media.  As such, he has pretty much been allowed to write his own ticket with regard to what he considers real and fake news.  How long will this continue with him in the Oval Office?  Mr. Trump has successfully evaded critical examination by a bold and independent fourth estate.  What in the end will be allowed to constitute the truth?  If it is discovered that Mr. Trump did in fact violate Article 3, Section III of the nation’s governing document, which apparently he has yet to read, will the Congressional leadership of his party do the right thing and convene impeachment hearings or will the end continue to justify the means?  We do live in interesting times that are indeed quite sobering and are increasingly becoming very concerning.

As Mr. Carlin pointed out in his routine, the information flow we are all privy to is being controlled by fewer and fewer parties.  Given how so many old hard line conservatives I know who pulled no punches on and cut no slack for the former Soviet Union during the Cold War are now being conspicuously quiet in the face of their incoming Commander-In-Chief being possibly duplicitous in an act of cyber warfare on their own country, what will it take to get their attention?   Must we now settle for being spoon fed invented reality by a new Ministry of  Truth?  As I stated above, we cannot say we did not see this coming.  We are on the precipice of the America of President Donald J. Trump.  To have good relations with Russia is one thing but succumbing to demands to an undemocratic regime is unacceptable, what the old conservative hardliners would call “sellout.”  Conflicts of interest are a real thing and can factor in and compromise leadership decisions so just how much will we be made to tolerate?  Where on the continuum of falsehoods emanating from a certain Twitter account will the tipping point be reached?  In the meantime I suggest we all review George Orwell’s novel 1984.  In deference to Mr. Orwell, he never intended his classic work to an instruction manual, however, certain concepts contained therein will be useful in the coming months and perhaps years.  One of those concepts is known as Newspeak.  Thought-terminating cliches and media sensationalism will keep the masses distracted.  Certain media outlets have already mastered this.  Obama may have been coming for our guns but Trump and the GOP Congress will be coming for everything else, you know, Medicare, Social Security, civil rights and all the rest.  Welcome to 2017, er, well….(Orwell)….