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Getting our priorities straight

Published by marco on

It’s January 6th, so half of the U.S. media has its panties in a bunch again about the B&E that happened a year ago at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. It’s not just the usual suspects either—everyone is getting in on the hyperbole. For example, the article What Do You Call a Failed Insurrection? PRACTICE by Greg Palast is by a great investigative journalist. He’s done great work. He’s still rehashing and republishing details that were disavowed nearly a year ago.

“Forget the whack-jobs who invaded the Capitol one year ago today. These “insurrectionists” were schmucks with no chance of overturning the election. (I don’t dismiss the gravity of their actions — they crushed the skull of a policeman and threatened other murders in the hall of the people.)”

No-one crushed Officer Sicknick’s skull. According to Death of Brian Sicknick (Wikipedia),

“He was pepper-sprayed during the riot, and had two thromboembolic strokes the next day, after which he was placed on life support, and soon died. The District of Columbia chief medical examiner found that Sicknick had died from stroke, classifying his death as natural, whereby a death is “not hastened by an injury”, and additionally commented that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.””

So why is Palast repeating this? Because it’s a knee-jerk, unthinking iteration of bad things you heard about a thing that’s really bad because it’s really bad. Why is he even writing about it? Why is Palast placing a priority on talking about this stupid event? Ordinarily, he focuses laser-like on voting laws, which is his bailiwick, and which are far more important than regurgitating disproven Democrat talking points. You’re better than that, Greg.

I don’t think it was great that the protesters stormed the Capitol. I think it’s definitely worth finding out how it happened so easily. I don’t think that Congress should be in charge of investigating it, though. That’s not their job. Why isn’t the justice department doing it? Oh, they are? And they’re not really finding too many charges that will stick? And they’re holding people in jail for months and months? Neat. The American system works wonderfully.

Probably one of the funniest takes today was the article AOC Lays Wreath At Her Grave On January 6th (Babylon Bee), which captures the mood in 2022 perfectly. It’s about hyperbole and appearances and making sure the angle is just right.

“United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visited Woodlawn Cemetery this morning to grieve in quiet dignity at her own grave on the 1-year anniversary of her death on January 6. […] AOC, […] was killed in the Capitol’s House Chamber by murderous Trump supporters […] Once her camera crew confirmed they had several good shots, she wiped her eyes, slowly walked to her brand-new Tesla, and drove off—leaving a crew of professional mourners in her wake.

“Visitors to the cemetery are advised to socially distance and mask up while mourning the loss of America’s greatest congresswoman. For those mourning remotely, a contribution can be made to AOC’s 2022 campaign.”

I just don’t understand how anyone looks at America and thinks that this is the number-one priority. There are so many other issues to address for people who bethink themselves of high moral fiber.

Nearly everything else is more important: corporate capture of the state, unbridled war-making, Boschian levels of inequality, no health-care to speak of for many, many people, an enormous police and carceral state, a burgeoning use of prison/slave labor, a merciless, stupid, and counterproductive immigration policy, an unchecked and perennially bungled pandemic, no real response to climate change—the list goes on and on. The moronic protesters from last January are not even on the first page…or in the first chapter.

However, if you’re looking for a more nuanced take on the matter, you could do worse than the article The Long American Meltdown Led to the January 6 Insurrection by David Sirota (Jacobin), which writes that,

“At its core, the January 6 insurrection was the weaponized manifestation of virulent anti-government sentiment in a putatively democratic country where a majority has not trusted its own government for two decades […] That anti-government sentiment on display during last year’s riot wasn’t spontaneous — […] it was cultivated by both politics and reality over the last four decades.”

This anti-government sentiment isn’t just those you think: there are a lot of people disappointed with the government’s inability to do anything but funnel money upwards toward a self-selected and self-perpetuating elite that includes not just many politicians, but most of the media as well.

“Democrats shoved aside a beleaguered labor movement in pursuit of corporate campaign cash, figuring they could help Republicans kick voters in the face, and then just try to buy reelection with corporate donors’ money.”

Not only that, but they’ve been doing this for a good three decades, starting with Bill Clinton (and continuing in the same vein with Obama after an eight-year GWB interregnum),

“Bill Clinton, the first Democratic president after the Reagan era, proudly declared that “the era of big government is over,” and then launched a crusade to slash welfare, help capital crush unions, deregulate Wall Street, privatize government services, and pass the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — the latter of which prompted culturally conservative working-class voters to abandon the party in droves, according to new research.”

There is no alternative, as Maggie Thatcher said. She meant “to capitalism”, which in America’s case is correct: if you don’t like how things are going, there is literally no viable political alternative. Everyone who might effect any change is inexorably drawn to power, Republicans and Democrats alike.

They don’t even pretend to try to resist it anymore. Think of Pelosi’s recent, brave defense of congressional insider trading that has made so many of them (herself included) millions and millions of dollars richer in a year where the country is otherwise reeling from a pandemic and economic bitch-slap. Why should anyone trust this government to do anything but make its own situation better?

“[…] overall, the government was not addressing eminently solvable economic problems that have been enriching a handful of billionaires while making life miserable for millions of people.”

A lot of the discussion of this overarching, important topic is in the context of the upcoming election in the U.S. No, not the one in November of 2022; the one in 2024. You see, Americans are so deeply narcissistic and ignorant of the world that they believe that these things matter. It doesn’t matter to the world and it doesn’t even matter in America.

Elections don’t matter in America. The same people always win. The politicians have different faces—or somethings they don’t; Joe Biden has a lot of miles on him—but the policies tend in the same direction. There are no surprises.

Will the psychotics from the Republican party win back the houses in 2022? Who cares? How would they make the Democrats more ineffectual? Americans don’t seem to respond to any form of wake-up call. They’re always willing to waste more and more time while they masturbate away the largest collection of wealth, knowledge, power, and influence the world has ever seen. It’s pathetic.

Or maybe Trump comes back in 2024? So what? If he does, America will deserve it. Again. Because America hasn’t done anything to not deserve it. America only does stuff that earns another round of Trump as president. He has a shocking amount of charisma and seems to be able to navigate America’s politics quite well—which says something about both, no?—but he’s a terrible leader.

Would it be better to have someone more effective and willing to face some of the priorities outlined above? Of course. But that’s not going to happen. Instead, more of the same will continue to happen, until it very catastrophically stops doing so. That’s how these things end, as Hemingway wrote, “gradually, then suddenly”. It won’t be because anybody was able to stop it.

To be fair, some have tried. People like Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders and, to be honest, countless others who have fought the good fight and offered alternatives and shouted from the rooftops—all for nought. The place is worse than it’s ever been—unless you’re well off, riding the wave of profit powered by the misery of the 99%. Maybe it’s more ripe for real change—because it’s so close to collapse. But maybe it’s also still firmly in the “gradual” part and the “suddenly” part is still painfully far off. Rome took centuries to die after it was obvious that it would.

None of the efforts so far had any lasting effectiveness—other than inspiring some memes like “99%” and “Black Lives Matter” that long outlive their movements. Instead, their efforts were swallowed or rejected by the parasite that’s wrapped itself around that country. No, when it ends, it will be because the system just died of its own callous stupidity and greed. But we have to wait for it to happen. All of our attempts to point out that we should kill it fall on deaf ears.


2 Replies

#1 − Glenn Greenwald’s coverage is also very balanced and worthwhile


The Histrionics and Melodrama Around 1/6 Are Laughable, but They Serve Several Key Purposes by Glenn Greenwald (SubStack)

Putting the events of January 6 into their proper perspective is not to dismiss the fact that it was a lamentable event — any more than opposing the exploitation of 9/11 and exaggeration of the domestic threat of Muslim extremism, which I spent a full decade doing, meant that one was denying the heinousness of that attack. The day after the 1/6 riot, I wrote in this space that “the introduction of physical force into political protest is always lamentable, usually dangerous, and, except in the rarest of circumstances that are plainly inapplicable here, unjustifiable.” I still believe that to be the case. There was nothing virtuous about the 1/6 riot.”
“Hapless defendants who are not even accused of using violence have been held in harsh solitary confinement for close to a year, then sentenced to years in prison — while self-styled criminal justice reform advocates say nothing or, even worse, cheer.
“[The Democratic party’s] only ideologies — neoliberalism, corporatism, militarism — are widely despised failures, but they are imprisoned by their donor base from offering anything else.
“What happened on January 6 was ugly and disturbing. But it was nowhere near an insurrection, a coup, or anything threatening in a fundamental or sustained way. That core truth — that it was a protest that turned into a three-hour riot killing nobody except four of the protesters — destroys its value. Only the false narrative that has been constructed over the last year and consecrated by today’s inane festivities can convert this banal episode into some world-historic event that at once makes heroes out of those who were there to oppose it and justifies everything and anything done in the name of preventing its repetition.”

#2 − Matt Taibbi also weighed in


A Tale of Two Authoritarians by Matt Taibbi (TK News)

“I don’t mean to understate the seriousness of January 6th, even though it’s been absurdly misreported for over a year now. No one from a country where these things actually happen could mistake 1/6 for “a coup .” In the real version, the mob doesn’t take selfies and blaze doobies after seizing the palace, and the would-be dictator doesn’t spend 187 minutes snacking and watching Fox before tweeting “go home.” Instead, he works the phones nonstop to rally precinct chiefs, generals, and airport officials to the cause, because a coup is a real attempt to seize power. Britannica says the “chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the armed forces, the police, and other military elements.” We saw none of that on January 6th, but it’s become journalistic requirement to use either “coup” or “insurrection” in describing it”
“The reason it wasn’t worse is because Trump has also been constantly mislabeled as a Hitler, Stalin, or Pinochet. The man has no attention span, no interest in planning or strategy, and most importantly, no ability to maintain relationships with the type of people who do have those qualities (like Steve Bannon). Even if he wanted to overturn “democracy itself” — I don’t believe he does, but let’s say — Trump has proven over and over he lacks the qualities a politician would need to make that happen.”
“All those things Trump is rumored to be, Dick Cheney actually is. That’s why it’s so significant that he appeared on the floor of the House yesterday to be slobbered over by the Adam Schiffs and Nancy Pelosis of the world. Dick Cheney did more to destroy democracy in ten minutes of his Vice Presidency than Donald Trump did in four years.
“You don’t have to like Donald Trump to recognize the dire threat represented by a clique of mediocrities with just enough brains to use their offices to organize the criminalization of their opposition.