I was watching Barack Obama in San Francisco, explaining that shootings of civilians by civilians, racist or not (“this sort of incidents”), does not happen with the same frequency in any other countries. Obama talked angrily. He was at the sea cliff mansion of a billionaire, the Pacific on one side, the Golden Gate bridge on the other. But his anger was not just directed at the gun lobby. Reading his face, one could tell he had strong doubts about the BS splashing so vigorously out of his oral cavity.
Had Obama just doubts that what he was saying could bring any progress? Obviously Obama knew that we know that, whatever he says, makes no difference. A sad state of affairs. Mr. Skin Color President is taken seriously by nobody. But he still gets to use the big jet, so what’s the big deal? Since when did he care about anything else?
As Obama was denouncing the frequency of shootings in the USA, one was happening in Oakland (three wounded). Obama declared that it was “not enough to grieve”. Indeed. But it has become so American, to just grieve. More and more, the rabble is into incantations, and little else besides. And the reason is in plain sight.
It was Obama’s 20th trip to San Francisco. To listen to him, one had to pay $33,400. Then one could get access to one of the various mansions of some of the wealthiest people on Earth Obama visited that day.
$33,400: more than half the median family income.
$33,400: does Obama feel the violence? It’s not Liberty-Equality-Fraternity, but Liberty-Inequality-Obscenity.
Does Obama feels he has power, because plutocrats and their little children give $33,400 to see his face? They would give the same money to whomever is president next. Its pocket change to them, and Obama is just the bus boy serving them, because somebody has got to do it. Obama was not born in Kenya, but his spirits sure died under a regime similar to the one colonial Kenya enjoyed.
Obama says the mood of the country has to change about guns. But 90% of the USA want tighter regulations about guns, 69% want to crack down on CO2. So why it’s not happening? Because the people who can afford $33,400 to see Obama in person are all who matter. And those people have very different priorities: they make money from fossil fuels, they need private armies to defend themselves, inequality is what feeds them, and the more, the better, they are happy that We The People Is NOT in power. And the first line of this, is that We The People’s opinion does not matter.
Is it why Obama looked so nervous and culprit? Maybe he stumbled on the truth? Did he finally realize he became… nothing? Nothing important?
The truth is that, during his entire presidency, Obama did nothing positive (besides killing Osama Bin Laden), and a few very negative things (letting banksters and the CIA get away with murder).
Why was Obama so ineffectual? Because he did not take one tough decision, and imposed it. Obama is not feared by anyone. And without fear, the Prince cannot rule, as Machiavel, having studied pope Rodrigo Borgia and ex-cardinal Caesare Borgia from very close, pointed out.
We are not living in democracy. Athens had a democracy, we don’t. Democracy means direct democracy, where the Demos has the Power (Kratos).
Instead what we have is a political system where immense powers go to a few individuals, and only to them. That way the system headed by Putin, Xi, or Obama are no different. The rest of the population, the 99.9%, is left without power whatsoever. (Seriously: studies have shown that what people want they don’t get. More than two-third of the citizens of the USA want something done about the CO2 crisis. Yet, federally, nothing is done.)
That’s why the population cling so avidly to their guns. At least they have the power of holding onto a self-destructive device which can turn them into god for a few seconds.
Obama did not understand any of this. Or he did not understand what it meant. He seemed to have really believe he was in a sort of democracy among his peers, and he could debate things, get to a consensus, and advance things this way.
Not so. When President Eisenhower imposed desegregation in public schools, he used the military. It was dangerous, and dangerous for Ike. But Ike was a soldier. He ordered to proceed with D Day during a lull in a major storm. Ike was tough.
When Lyndon Johnson imposed the “Great Society” reforms, he forced lawmakers to sign on, by using all sorts of unsavory means, thanks to presidential powers.
And President Roosevelt said: “I welcome their hatred” speaking of bankers. And hated he was: after all, he had started his presidency by closing all banks for four days (selected few were re-opened later). Then he outlawed gold possession, devalued the dollar (thus defaulting on US debt). And so on.
Obama thought he could keep on leading a charmed life, seducing everybody, and be a good president. But being a good president mean, leading people where they did not want to go. All the preceding presidents took hard decisions, even Nixon and Carter (Nixon founded the EPA, HMOs, pulled out of Vietnam, admitting defeat, etc.; Carter, at the very least named the hawkish Paul Volcker at the head of the Fed, to crush inflation, bring a recession, and cost Carter’s re-election).
The present political system is nasty. To get any positive result, any positive progress, one has to be nasty. Nastiness has to be carefully measured.
As I sketched in the case of Napoleon, Napoleon was way nastier than he needed to be, in the end, although he got there from the invasion of France by nasty plutocrats, and, first of all the British army and navy. That invasion lasted years. For years, Napoleon’s homeland, Corsica, was officially a possession of the English crown, because the king of England said so. That would infuriate any Corsican, republican patriot.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, Angela Merkel, and her French poodles, having saved the bankers from their profitable perfidy, wants the Greek rabble to pay with dear lives. Seeing her business meanness and military impotence, inspired by Obama’s lack of balls, Putin has moved, and keeps on moving. Not afraid, as Xi in China, to take dangerous decisions.
Something Is Going On, But You Don’t Know What It Is, oh great leaders of the West.
Rome had started as quasi-Direct Democracy Republic (not as direct as Athens, much more direct than we have now). Six centuries later, this was not even a memory: Rome had become an unsavory mix of military dictatorship, plutocracy and theocracy. The ancient Republican structures, such as Roman law, were crushed underneath. Political power had lost sustainable legitimacy.
In 381 CE, emperor Theodosius (initially a Spanish Roman general) passed a number of laws which launched a “war against the philosophers”. The lack of thinking bore fruit quickly: the empire became so impotent that, by 400 CE, the Franks were put in military control of Gallia, and the Germanias. In 406 CE, the legions were withdrawn from Britannia.
This was the bitter and of the (Roman) plutocratic austerity program. And its motivation was the same as now: the plutocrats did not want to pay taxes. By then, most plutocratic families, or “nobles” as they called themselves, had a bishop in their family, giving them moral authority (this was the age of the “Founding Fathers of the Church”; Saint Jerome even made emperor Theodosius bent to his will).
If one wants moral authority, or just the ear, and presence of power, it’s simple nowadays: no need to pretend that one loves god. Just fork over $33,400, and the president is yours. Let drones and bullets fly. Pay lip service to violence. Amen