Have you noticed that American politics has slipped into Alice and Wonderland territory? That the Tea Party is now hosted by the Mad Hatter’s cousin, the Mad Hairpiecer? And that the Red Queen has morphed into the Blue Queen, with her king and all her courtiers shouting “Consider your verdict!” when the trial hasn’t even begun, and ordering “Off with their heads!” as the fate of anyone who dares disagree with them? How many people have noticed this, and how many people are simply too swept up in the emotions of the moment to reflect on the absurdity, and danger, of the things they are being manipulated into believing?
The Wonderland metaphor breaks down somewhere around this point, because in our current situation, the Blue Queen and her court have been almost wholly disempowered by the Mad Hairpiecer, so that all they can do is howl. Given the size of their echo chamber, the howl sounds pretty fearsome, but, just like the trial Alice attended, the evidence in the question of who stole the tarts–or, in this case, the election–remains shaky at best.
For instance, here’s a conversation with our former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, that the off-with their heads/the Russians are coming crowd has had to conveniently ignore since it popped up smack dab in the middle of the mainstream, on NBC’s “Meet the Press“:
Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?
We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, “our,” that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.
I understand that. But does it exist?
Not to my knowledge.
There are a couple of subtexts to this that we need to notice. The first is that the next question and answer exchange was this:
When asked whether he still believes that Russians interfered in the U.S. election to help Donald Trump, Clapper said, “Yes, I do.”
The second is to remember a few events from Clapper’s past. He is the guy who swore under oath that there were “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq prior to our country’s war-whooping, boots-on-the-ground-first, questions later jump into that tar pit. Need I remind you that Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” turned out to be completely nonexistent? More recently, Clapper, again under oath and testifying to Congress, claimed that the NSA doesn’t spy on Americans, a claim soon disproved by the Snowden revelations. Yet somehow, Clapper has gotten away with perjury while Snowden, who revealed his most recent big lie, lives in exile, under threat of incarceration.
It is important to view NBC’s recent conversation with Clapper through the lens of his checkered past. Clapper is a man who has lied to protect and advance American imperialism. It is, perhaps, Trump’s only virtue that he is a thorn in the side of the builders and maintainers of that empire, and that is why they hate him. So why isn’t Clapper lying to serve their interests here, by affirming that there’s evidence when, in fact, there is none? He did it for the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps he gives us a hint in his affirmation that evidence to support Russian interference in our election will be found. It will be found, but first it needs to be manufactured?
That leads to a second set of questions for those hyperventilating over alleged Russian interference in our recent election:
Even assuming that incontrovertible evidence of Russian collusion with the Republicans surfaces, how do you prove that it was the deciding factor in the election? Why is the alleged Russian factor more important than Obama pushing Congress to pass the TPP in the closing weeks of the campaign? Or the fact that everybody knew Hillary had been for the TPP before she was against it? Did the fact that, in spite of her proclaimed opposition to it, her Vice-Presidential choice, the head of her transition team, and the chair of her political party all were on record as supporting the TPP have anything to do with her loss? Speaking of trade deals, how many heartland votes did Obama reneging on his promise to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement cost the Democrats in the 2016 election?
To take a break from the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot, let’s recall that, in the initial aftermath of the election, it was not the Russians, but FBI director James Comey who was the object of Democratic Party wrath, for having raised, and then withdrawn, the question of her missing emails, this time linked to the notorious Anthony Weiner. That Democratic Party stalwart, Mother Jones magazine, even published a graph showing a correlation between Comey’s email announcement and Ms. Clinton’s popularity.
With the subject of emails, we enter back into, as it were, allegedly Russian territory. Those nasty Russians hacked the Democratic Party’s emails and turned the info over to the nasty guy at Wikileaks, and the content of those emails made the Democrats look like a bunch of arrogant elitists, opportunistically posing as environmental champions while secretly telling pipeline supporters that anti-fracking/anti-pipeline activists “should get a life.” However angry the Democrats might feel about having their backsides shown to the general public, they could not deny that what had been exposed was true. So, since when is knowing the truth about someone who’s running for office detrimental to the democratic process?
I could go on and on with ways the Democrats sabotaged themselves, but what it boils down to is this: the whole Russian gambit is a smoke-and-mirrors exercise designed to divert attention away from the Democrats’ considerable flaws as a political party and an ideology, and make it so they don’t have to change a thing. In a way, it’s the moral equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.”
It is aimed at Russia not because the Russians are any more repressive and oligarchic than, say, our friends the Saudis or our friends the Egyptians, to name a couple. It’s because the Russians are not “our friends.” US/multinational business interests have sunk their sucking parts deep into Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and a great many other countries, but they are no longer able to parasitize Russia, because Putin won the allegiance of the Russian people by freeing his country from that particular brand of oligarchy–not that there isn’t a repressive Russian oligarchy, but it’s Russian-owned. It’s not our repressive oligarchy, and that angers the infinitely desirous beings who hold the majority of our wealth and call the majority of the decisions our government allegedly makes. They must have more, and, to them, Russia is the last big untapped reservoir of “more” on this small, fragile planet.
And so, the Democrats and their new friends at the Project for a New American Century are blowing lots of dark smoke, and carefully arranging mirrors, in hopes of angering the American public enough to provide an excuse for regime change at home and a confrontation with Russia, in which the Bear backs down…they hope.
Tell me, Democratic Russia-haters, where do you think increasing hostility to Russia is going to lead? And when, or if, you do regain power in this country, won’t your hostility to the Russians make it more likely that we will have a nuclear confrontation with them, and make it more difficult for our two countries to cooperate on steering our mutual climate out of the danger zone, more difficult for us to make this a just, peaceful planet that will remain hospitable to the likes of us for a few million years, instead of the few decades of increasingly desperate livability for which we are now on track?
In my humble, but stubborn, and admittedly minority, opinion, the eventual evaporation of the Democrats’ claims about Russian influence in our election will turn into enough rope to hang them as a significant political force in this country–if the nuclear war they seem to be pushing for doesn’t hang us all first.
The current state of the Republican Party reminds me of the job I had taking care of a guy diagnosed as delusional. I greet a lot of our health care system’s “mental illness” diagnoses with skepticism, but not this guy. Rick believed that he was Ace Frehley, the lead guitar player in the band “Kiss.” Rick spent many of his waking hours scratching away at a completely untuned electric guitar. Part of my interaction with him involved showing up with my electric keyboard and playing as he inaudibly strummed. When we first started, I offered to tune up his guitar for him and plug it into an amplifier. Oh, no, no! He was committed to playing air guitar with a real guitar in his hands!
I encountered several other cases like his when I was a mental health worker. People would insist that they wanted something, or were capable of doing something, but when you offered it to them, suddenly there were all kinds of reasons not to have it or do it. It, whatever it was, was something to be desired, not something to be attained.
That’s kind of how it was with the Republicans’ attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. After years of regularly voting to repeal it when they knew that vote was meaningless, they had a chance to really repeal it, and fell apart instead. Will this set a pattern? We’ll see. Our Decider-in-Chief has been pretty good about signing executive orders and getting his nominations approved, but sooner or later Congress will need to pass some bills–a budget, a raise of the debt ceiling, that sort of thing–and we’ll all notice if they continue to fall apart under the pressure of reality. They are certainly having a difficult time keeping their cool against the pressure of Russia accusations.
Beyond the accuracy, and relevance, of such accusations, it is, I hear, beginning to dawn on at least some of those who voted for Mista T that his version of the smoke-and-mirrors act is just as much a con as the Democrats’. He says he supports coal mining, but cuts funds for miners suffering from black lung. He says he supports American manufacturing jobs, but the deals he cuts to keep them undermine the tax base–and thus, the ability to function–of the cities and counties that host those factories. That list goes on and on, too. With a stroke of his pen he repeals”job killing environmental regulations” and condemns his supporters to people-killing environments, instead.
Trump, like Obama, has used smoke and mirrors to make himself seem like a populist to get elected. Like Obama, he is failing to deliver on his promises of hope and change. As with Obama, there will be considerably less enthusiasm for him and his party both two years from now and four years from now. The only thing in his favor is that the voters have just been through that cycle of disappointment with the Democrats, and are increasingly fed up with being fooled. What if, ultimately all the Democrats and Republicans get for their smoke and mirrors is enough rope to hang themselves? What if they held an election and nobody voted? Or voted for some other party, or parties? You know, like…Greens?
The history of the future is being written as we speak. What we say–and do–will influence it. It’s time to get busy–not busy with the madness of the moment, but busy getting clear of that madness, learning how to free ourselves from being slaves to fear and desire, cutting the fetters of ignorance that bind us to fear and desire, and becoming the kind of humans we need to become if we are going to continue to be. It’s not so difficult to set ourselves on the path towards that, and, once we have set out, to understand what to do and what to avoid to make the world a better place. We just need to keep on coming.
music: Grateful Dead, “New Speedway Boogie“