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Vagaries of ‘Anything-can-happen’ world

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 “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics”, Plato warned, “is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” The rise of dangerously populist leaders across the world is the result of voters’ apathy and increasingly low voter turnout. Only 56 % of the voting age population  in the US voted in the 2016 presidential elections. The US trails most developed countries in voter turnout. As far as young voters are concerned, the US has one of the lowest voters’ participation.

Virginia University  Professor  John Holbein says that democracy in the US would be transformed if youth voter turnout is the same as older citizens. Issues like climate change and public education would receive greater attention. And leaders will be held accountable for poor governance. The great world power has, sadly, become what Foreign Policy journal calls “America the mediocre.”

Salman Rushdie characterizes the present moment as an “Age of Anything-Can-Happen.” Shocked by what is happening in Trump’s America, he has warned, “Today, I say, beware America. Don’t believe that it can’t happen here.”

The US has all along prided itself as a society  which has realized everything that other countries have dreamt of—justice, plenty, rule of law, wealth and freedom. Even Martin Luther King’s historic “I have a dream” speech in 1963 was rooted in the American dream. After his election, Trump said, “the American dream is back.” What Trump has given to Americans is shattered dream.

 Many American leaders and a large number of immigrants are never tired of using the hallowed phrase but the US never achieved a dream of a social order in which every man and every woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable. Indeed, US became what French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillad calls a land of “utopia achieved.”

 Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of White people. The race divide is also a class divide. The US is the only significant Western country which has no universal health insurance. A land of the free for all, the US is a health care outlier. No wonder, the number of Black people dying of the pandemic in Washington is six times that of the Whites. This disparity is five times in Michigan and Missouri and three times in New York, Illinois and Louisiana.

President Obama often  saw injustice in the growing divide between Main Street and the Wall Street.  Globally, being poor is in itself a crime. Poverty is treated as a criminal offence. In the US, poor people of colour are over-represented among jail inmates. In the land of ‘American Dream, the  poor get prison. The Blacks happen to be poorer than the poor.

With truth-defying president in the White House, truth has become stranger than fiction. The ‘ugly’ American has become ‘ignorant’ as well. Remember Sera Palin, the Conservatives’ superstar? During her vice-presidential campaign, she admitted that “everything I have ever needed, I learnt on the basketball court”. She also claimed that “Alaska’s proximity to  Russia gave her foreign policy experience.” 

But why blame Palin? Gerard Araud, former French ambassador to US, wrote about Trump’s durbar: “You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed and he wants to show it.”

A few years ago, Japanese high school students , on a short-term exchange programme in the Mid East America, were shocked to hear their American counterparts asking them, “ Japan, what part of China is that ? Is your mother a Geisha? Is your father a ninja? Do you have McDonald’s in Japan?”

Geography is no longer taught in many schools. When the D-Day came with the Normandy invasion in June 1944, Americans were scrambling for geography books. When Osama bin Laden was held responsible for 9/11, demand for maps of Afghanistan skyrocketed.

It is this ignorance which has led many to believe that Coca Cola, Big Mac and Western pop command the moral high ground of human civilization. As journalist Thomas Friedman says, the US wants the world to follow US lead with a “Pepsi on every lip, Microsoft Windows in every computer and enlargement of both our values and our Pizza Huts.”

  There are many countries where Rushdie’s phrase would be apt. Today there are many world leaders who set a trap in the hope that reality will be naïve enough to fall into it. There is a growing disjunction between the rhetoric about liberty and realities.

The US has the best universities and scientific institutions. Yet,  public education is in a shambles. While China has risen, the West  is in visible decline. Edmund Phelps, Nobel Prize winner in Economics, says that the West’s decline is “due to a loss of innovation that happened a long time ago. It was not visible for a while “because Europe transferred technology from the US.” But the growth of productivity in the US has been falling for several decades. Consequently, Europe is living on borrowed time.

America’s decline is not unrelated to the decline in American democracy. Here is a country where 99 % is pitted against 1 %. Inequality matters. It slows economic growth, undermines health and erodes social order. Plutocracy and democracy don’t mix. As American Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.” This is the tragedy of America.

This is also India’s tragedy. Indian democracy today is a pale shadow of its earlier self. The poor, the Dalits, the Adivasis and the minorities carry the burden of being at the wrong side of the divide. They too are criminalized at every turn.

Many believe India is now composed of  only heroes and villains. With binary story-telling , sucked dry of fact, Indian politics threatens to become partisan docudrama. You can’t win dazzled admiration through new fangled PR stunts. India dreams big. Many believe the pandemic has come as a God-send opportunity for India to become a world leader. Many nationalist leaders believe China would be torn apart and India would rise as a world power. Perhaps the reason they call it the Indian dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.

India is facing a strange paradox. Indians are good at creating maps of desires and aspirations. They are super confident of building  a great future.  Maybe a future  immersed in a kind of amber, stuck in time. One may say, why bother about future when we are living in a heroic eternity.

Ash Narain Roy did his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies , Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He was a Visiting Scholar at El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City for over four years in the 1980s. He later worked as Assistant Editor, Hindustan Times, Delhi. He is author of several books including The Third World in the Age of Globalisation which analyses Latin America's peculiar traits which distinguishes it from Asia and Africa. He is currently Director, Institute of Social Sciences, Delhi

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Democrats Control of the Senate

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Midterm elections are held in the United States every four years in the middle of the term of the American President, that is, two years after the presidential elections, in order to elect all members of the House of Representatives (435 members) and a third of the members of the Senate. These elections are an indication and a referendum on the performance of the American President in the first two years of his presidency.

During the elections that took place on November 8, 35 senators were elected who spent 6 years in office, in addition to 36 governors out of the 50 state governors who spent 4 years in office, 36 state governors and 27 state secretaries from a total of 50 states, besides the election of a large number of the local legislative positions, including the election of 6279 deputies out of 7383 deputies in the state legislative assemblies.

The midterm elections this year took place in an unprecedented atmosphere at various levels, as it was the first elections after the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the death of more than a million Americans, and infected 100 million, and it is also considered the first elections to be held after supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Congressional Building in January 2021 to prevent the official announcement of President Joe Biden’s victory, and they are known as “Elections Deniers”.

The Senate elections – in particular- are considered a political battle by all standards, in which Catherine Cortez Masto’s uneasy victory in the State of Nevada came as a lifeline for the Democratic Party, and the failure of Republicans’ plans to take control of Congress. This battle was resolved in favor of the Democratic Party in the Senate.

The US Vice President Kamala Harris – who, by virtue of her position, presides over the Senate – has the relative weight, as she broke the tie rule and tipped the balance in favor of the Democrats, who seized seat No. 50 after announcing Masto’s victory in the aforementioned seat, while the Republicans remained at seat No. 49 in the Senate which is the upper chamber of the Congress, comprises of 100 seats.

The elections also have witnessed the defeat of a quarter of the candidates supported by Donald Trump, in which some of them instigated and participated in storming the Congress. The setback was the failure of the sweep expectations as expected by Trump and the Republicans, and even Republican lawmakers, and other commentators admitted that the Republicans had failed to achieve what is known as the Red Wave sweep, in reference to the States that support the Republican Party, which are known as the red States.

Many opinion polls had indicated that the Republican Party is expected to achieve a great successes in these elections, especially in light of the inflation and high prices crisis that the American citizens suffer from, which resulted in a significant decline in the popularity of President Joe Biden in recent months.

It can be asserted that a simple majority in the Senate will give the Democratic Party the ability to approve the judges chosen by US President Joe Biden to fill positions in the district courts, circuit courts and supreme courts, and this in turn will be a fundamental step for the Democrats to win new seats on the Supreme Court that now enjoys a majority of six to three Republicans. In addition, by controlling the Senate, the Democrats can reject legislations sent by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republicans, and this is a remarkable success for the Democratic Party.

The majority in the Senate also means for President Joe Biden the ability to move easily with regard to international treaties, and the negotiations that will take place with the Republicans on a broader spending package at the end of the year, an issue that will need the approval of both parties.

A number of Democratic senators will seek to raise the debt ceiling, while House Republicans will seek to use this issue as a pressure card to obtain spending cuts. However, Democrats have the ability to raise the borrowing ceiling before Congress takes the oath, if the party members remain united.

The Democrats’ control by a small majority of the Senate is considered a miscarriage of Republican plans to conduct investigations into the activities of the Biden administration and his son Hunter, who had business dealings with Ukraine and China. The Democrats will maintain control over committees and investigations, in addition to preventing any attempts by the Republicans to isolate President Joe Biden, and on top of that, Democrats can pass a limited number of controversial bills with a simple majority of votes.

It is certain that this victory will have positive repercussions for the Democratic Party and President Biden during the next two years, that is, until 2024, when new elections for Congress will be held in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, in addition to the presidency.

It was expected, before the elections, that the Democratic party would lose 25 or 30 seats in the House of Representatives, and the party would turn into a clear minority in the Senate. This result would have been seen as a public rejection of President Biden, which would increase the pressure on him in his quest to run for a second term. But in turn, and after this victory, President Biden’s position within his party has been strengthened, and his advisors are now speaking with greater confidence about his intention to run for a second term, but this definitely depends on the performance of the Biden administration at the internal and external levels, the American citizens’ feeling with an improvement in their economic conditions, and the continuation of making progress in a number of issues, foremost of which is the issue of health insurance.

On the other side, there are concerns that a divided Congress, by nature, may lead to a state of legislative stalemate, and the Republican control of the House of Representatives will be enough to eliminate any hopes for President Biden to pass a comprehensive legislative agenda over the next two years.

Nevertheless, and despite the disagreement, there is a consensus between the Republican and Democratic parties over a number of files including confrontation with China, the promotion of international trade, and the acceleration of establishing energy projects.

The elections showed the lack of centralization of external issues and the focus on internal issues, including issues of protecting democracy and freedom of abortion, which is what the Democratic Party bet on and succeeded in.  In addition, the performance of the Democrats reinforced confidence in President Biden’s agenda and his presence at home and on the international stage.  In contrast, the failure of many pro-Trump candidates to win the elections is a painful blow to his movement, which puts Trump’s political future at stake, especially in light of his announcement to run for the upcoming 2024 presidential elections.

The elections were also evidence of the American citizen’s awareness and support for democracy despite the economic conditions, international instability, and the Biden administration’s preoccupation with several international files.

What happened in the elections was a victory for American democracy and emphasis on its strength, its ability to overcome challenges, and a correction for the compass of the American political system, which was distorted by Trump.

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Should there be any censorship? (NO -NONE!)

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Conservatives say yes, there should be censorship, because otherwise what they feel is repulsive can become spread: they fear its spread and are convinced that censorship (by people who believe as they do) must be imposed. That’s NOT democracy.

Liberals agree with conservatives on this question, though they want different people to be doing the censoring, because some of their beliefs are different from conservatives’ beliefs. (Anyone who thinks that liberals — Democrats in the U.S. — aren’t ardent for censoring, should explain how that can be so, since overwhelmingly the political money donated by executives and other employees of the gossip-grapevine, Twitter, has gone to Democrats, and those employees decided to censor-out from their site the damning evidence against the Biden family — Joe, Hunter, and James — that the Republican Party’s N.Y. Post had published on 15 October 2020 under the headline “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm”. (Maybe Trump would have won that election if this report of the Biden family’s corruptness had been spread and discussed instead of squelched as ‘Russian disinformation’, as was done.) Then, the Democratic Party’s Politico ‘news’-site headlined on 19 October 2020, “Hunter Biden story is Russian disinfo, dozens of former intel officials say” and buried two-thirds of the way down the key passage (which had been in the top third of the document), in these Deep-State operatives’ letter, the passage which included the fact “that we do not know if the emails [from Hunter Biden’s laptop computer], provided to the New York Post by President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, are genuine or not and that we do not have evidence of Russian involvement.” The signers said there that they were signing ONLY to having “suspicions” that this had happened — but Politico suppressed that most crucial of all the allegations in the document. Also: Glenn Greenwald was forced out of the Democratic Party billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s “The Intercept” ‘news’-site on 29 October 2020 for submitting a news-report titled “THE REAL SCANDAL: U.S. MEDIA USES FALSEHOODS TO DEFEND JOE BIDEN FROM HUNTER’S EMAILS”. And, furthermore, the Democratic Party’s Washington Post headlined on 1 November 2020 the lie that “For Russia, Biden is the foe they know. The Kremlin is studying old playbooks.” As Greenwald subsequently pointed out, “Twitter’s ‘foreign govt hacking’ pretext for censoring was a lie, and they knew it.”) So, regarding censorship, conservatives and liberals are effectively the same but protect different lies and liars. The two groups believe and protect two different, competing, myths. That’s NOT a democracy. It’s rule by billionaires (who control those politicians and media), NOT by the public.

Libertarians say no, because anything that limits a person’s freedom is condemned by them on principle — they even are sometimes called “anarchists” because no principled line (no clear distinction) exists separating libertarians from anarchists (persons who oppose ALL government). HOWEVER, libertarians (even self-declared anarchists) disagree with one-another about whether the private sector, including corporations (such as Twitter), have a right to censor: some say yes, it’s part of their (the private sector’s) freedom; but some say no, no entity has a right to censor, because that limits another person’s freedom. Some say that ONLY parents have a right to censor what their children receive. CONSEQUENTLY: Libertarians don’t ACTUALLY have any clear and principle-based position, for or against censorship. Libertarianism provides no answer to this question — other than the myth that they are committed to everyone’s “freedom.” Libertarianism is a nullity, a nothing, on censorship: neither for it nor against it. It allows rule by billionaires (whose agents fool the public), and no democracy would.

Progressives say no: Nothing can possibly justify censorship of anything, except of demonstrable (provable) falsehoods. This means that, if a court of law cannot reasonably disprove an allegation, then the public must be able to consider the evidence both for and against it. Neither the Government nor any other entity has a right to prevent the public from considering and debating any allegation. A progressive is devoted to science, and science is based upon this same principle — ANY possible truth must be considered by the public. (A provably false statement cannot possibly be true.) Progressives can differ with one-another in allocating criminal versus civil liability for the spreading of allegations that are provably false; but, they are united in opposing ANY liability for the spreading of truths. The ONLY exception to this is that if the nation is legally at war and under “martial law,” then its Government has a right to censor, (or “classify”) allegations in order to protect the nation’s sovereignty against the legally declared “enemy.” That is the ONLY exception to the progressives’ principle that NO possibly true statement should EVER be censored by ANYONE. Progressivism — the ideology of science — advocates clearly for democracy, NOT for any aristocracy.

Here’s how the ideology of science functions — and why it needs to be applied in order for Government to serve the public’s interest instead of merely some fake ‘national interest’: On 2 August 2022, the pro-science magazine Current Affairs headlined “Why the Chair of the Lancet’s COVID-19 Commission Thinks The US Government Is Preventing a Real Investigation Into the Pandemic” and interviewed Jeffrey Sachs, who explained:

So you saw a narrative being created. And the scientists are not acting like scientists. Because when you’re acting like a scientist, you’re pursuing alternative hypotheses. And the scientists just wrote recently an op-ed saying the only evidence that this came out of a lab that’s been put forward is that it came in a city, Wuhan, where an institute was located. Well, that’s a lie. That is not the only coincidence that leads to this theory [He should have said “hypothesis” there]. What leads to this alternative hypothesis is the detailed research program the NIH funded that was underway in the years leading up to the outbreak. So I see the scientists absolutely trying to create a narrative and take our eyes off of another issue.

That’s the politicization of science, the corruption of science. Sachs documented their obfuscations and evasions — the censorship that has been occurring, which has been preventing the necessary research to identify how the covid-19 virus was created.

That’s a typical scientific example.

Glenn Greenwald is a progressive, and his position regarding the twitter censorship scandal that the billionaire Elon Musk released to the public on December 3rd after buying twitter corporation and firing its censors, said that “The sleazy, pro-censorship pack of liberal employees of media corporations united last night to attack @mtaibbi — as they do to any journalist who breaks a real story about real power centers — and, because they were so desperate to discredit it, showed what they are.” What they are, in America, is NOT democrats: The “Democrats” aren’t any more democratic than America’s Republicans (conservatives) are.

On 8 May 2022, I headlined and called public attention to “A crushingly powerful legal case against censorship has now been presented.” Linking to and quoting from the court-ducument, it seems to me to be an open-and-shut case for a decision against “the Biden Administration’s open and explicit censorship programs. Having threatened and cajoled social-media platforms for years to censor viewpoints and speakers disfavored by the Left [referring obliquely there to the Democratic Party], senior government officials in the Executive Branch have moved into a phase of open collusion with social-media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social-media platforms.”

On 3 December 2022, former President Trump disqualified himself from any further political consideration by patriotic Americans, by his advocating to terminate the U.S. Constitution if necessary in order to declare himself to have won the 2020 election. CNN and other mainstream ‘news’-sources that don’t link to their primary sources, because they don’t want their readers to be able easily to see and inspect for themselves what they actually say — what the actual evidence is — refused to link to Trump’s actual statement, but instead linked to anything else. For example, the Washington Post headlined about Trump’s statement, “White House rebukes Trump’s suggestion to suspend Constitution over 2020 election” (an intentionally indirect headline, which refused even to call attention to the fact that the former President was now urging cancellation of the U.S. Constitution, such as would a headline like “Trump Urges Termination of U.S. Constitution”). Their ‘news-report’ provided no link to Trump’s statement, which it supposedly was about. Lots of people pay subscriptions to read such trashy ‘news’-reporting. Anyway, here was Trump’s full and actual statement:

https://truthsocial.com/@realDonaldTrump/posts/109449803240069864

https://archive.ph/G8lqx

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!

Dec 03, 2022, 12:44 PM

He thinks that his being declared the 2020 winner is more important to America than America’s Constitution is.

Without the Constitution to serve as a basis for the nation’s laws, the ONLY available basis for the Government is dictatorship: even the possibility of a democracy no longer then exists. Trump is so petty that, in his view, restoring him to the White House is more important than his country having even a possibility of becoming a democracy. Unless the American people are complete idiots, Trump has now lost any possibility he might have had to return to the White House — or to any other political post. His statement there is the most outrageous and anti-democratic that any former U.S. Government official has ever publicly made. It should not be censored (including refusing to link to it); it should be widely debated in America’s public square. Perhaps America’s billionaires feel nervous about making the public aware of just how deepseated dictatorship now is in this country. It’s merely their banana republic, now. In fact, it not only is NOT now a democracy but instead a dictatorship — an aristocracy instead of a democracy — but it is even a police state.

America’s billionaires control their Government, and if they terminated their censorship instead of perverting or eliminating the U.S. Constitution as their agents have been and are doing, then it would no longer be their country — it would become, again, ours. That would terrify them, all the more so as we have been along this global-imperialist path, the MIC (military-industrial complex), now, ever since it became imposed, on 25 July 1945. And the farther that goes, the closer a second American revolution will become, but this time to remove from power not Britain’s aristocracy, but America’s own.

That’s why we have censorship in America. There is no other reason. There is no actual national-security reason, nor any other. It’s all a fraud. They need to protect and spread their lies (especially against ‘enemy nations’). It is now so deep that it cannot be exposed as it actually is, without producing a revolution — not Constitution-change, but regime-change, back to what (prior to 1945) was a Constitutional democratic republic. Ending the empire is the only way back to becoming, again, the Constitutional democracy that preceded 25 July 1945 in America. It is the only way to end the censorship, and the dictatorship, by and on behalf of the aristocracy — the Deep State.

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John D. and Henry: A Marriage of Convenience

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After oil had been discovered in Pennsylvania in 1859, a canny businessman realized its potential and began buying up the oil fields.  John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil eventually owned almost all until trust busters broke up his Standard Oil Trust.

Meanwhile a clever inventor was interested in bringing the automobile, heretofore a rich man’s toy, to the common man.  So it was that Henry Ford’s production line showed the world how it could be done.  Of course, the automobile of the day, coughing and sputtering, might have had a similar effect on the people but it brought independent transportation and its convenience to the middle class.  And John D. Rockefeller’s oil fueled it.

Between John D. and Henry and others like them in Europe and elsewhere, our poor planet became a warming greenhouse as the gases generated by these cars, and industrialization in general, rose to the atmosphere — the effects of which few if any had foreseen then.     

People in the early days were to invent steam cars and electric cars also but the convenience of refueling at John D.’s gasoline stations left them trailing in the dust of Henry Ford’s now lovingly named Tin Lizzie.

The Second World War saw the use of oil and its derivatives in cars, trucks, airplanes, ships and just about anything that could move.  Oil became a strategic commodity defended and fought for — without oil, armies came to a standstill.  Romania fueled the axis powers and thus became a target for the allies.  The war in North Africa became a struggle for control of the Suez Canal and access to oil from the Middle East.  The British controlled it; the Germans failed to wrest it. 

If John D. (1939) and Henry (1947) had passed away, their companies were thriving, enriched further by the demands of war.  Europe might be in shreds but America was whole and ready to supply its needs.

It was a time of peace, and America to Europeans was a land of milk and honey.  Hard work was behind it though, and nothing displayed the rewards of this toil than an automobile in the driveway — the flashier the better.  As Americans became richer, the cars became more luxurious and more convenient to drive:  automatic transmission, power-assisted brakes and steering, windows moving up and down at the touch of a button, as could the soft top on convertibles and so on. 

The huge cars birthed a new name:  gas guzzler.  Both Detroit producing the cars and the oil companies supplying the fuel became richer.  Greenhouse gases increased and could only go one way … up … coining new expressions like global warming.  Greenhouse is apt, for the sun’s rays come through but the heat generated cannot escape as easily as it would without the gas shield.      

Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, focusing on the use of pesticides and the subsequent harm to the environment, brought environmental damage to the attention of the world.  It did not take long to draw scrutiny also to vehicles blowing greenhouse gases out of the exhaust pipe.  The love affair with the automobile was coming to an end. 

But in a society built around it, reducing usage will take a while for the auto has become a necessity. 

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