By Alex Symington….
I went to a dinner party at an old friend’s house this week held in honor of some other old friends that had left Key West ten years ago and returned for a visit. I would describe those in attendance as a lively liberal minded, educated people from different countries, backgrounds, sexual orientation and racial make up… in other words a Central Casting conservative’s worst nightmare. The food was spectacular and the verbal intercourse stimulating. Naturally, talk of politics, political wishes and predictions were in no short supply. Even though everyone gathered at the table had similar left leanings, some of us held that the old system of governance is a bit bruised and battered, but still functioning and continue to have faith in the system and believe it is still capable of self-correction. Then others amongst us, myself included, feel that the system, indeed, is broken and has been hijacked in a quiet coup by corporate interests masquerading as branches of our government.
Our two camps at dinner reminded me of an interview I recently listened to by Tom Ashbrook of the nationally syndicated, public radio call-in program “On Point”. He interviewed journalist, author, activist and Presbyterian minister, Chris Hedges and to counter Hedges, he invited Will Marshall, one of the founders of the New Democrat movement, which aims to steer the US Democratic Party toward a more conservative orientation.
When Mr. Hedges speaks, I listen. Mr. Marshall is a well spoken player and veteran of the “first” Clinton administration and a textbook Washington insider in the Democratic Party. As with we dinner party guests these two men are considered left leaning, but the difference being Mr. Hedges chronicles the pathology of the Washington insider, no matter how he or she brands him or herself and is well versed in how the system works. It works very well for the corporate influence peddlers, power brokers and the lobbyists greasing the gears of congress and its members. Conversely, the system is virtually of no use for everyone else and we the people remain powerless to change the rigged game. I pasted a link below to an interesting animated graph of the results of a study by Princeton University that illustrates Congress’ utter contempt for the people and total lack of interest in all things populist. The billionaire class and Corporate’s interests override the people’s needs every time, without fail. Well played.
In the interview, Mr. Hedges took Mr. Marshall to the wood shed and reminded him of his former boss, Bill Clinton’s “accomplishments”. “It was primarily the Clinton administration that sold us out with NAFTA and now we’re getting TPP and CAFTA which is just global NAFTA or NAFTA on steroids. It was the Clinton administration that passed the Omnibus Crime Bill that exploded our prison population. We now have 25 percent of the world’s prison population and [only] five percent of the world’s [over-all] population [and] most of those people are poor people of color. It was the Clinton administration that deregulated the FCC allowing the airways to be seized by a small cabal of about a half dozen corporations, [including] Viacom, General Electric and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.”
Hedges gave no quarter, continuing with, “It was the Clinton administration that destroyed assistance to families, 70% of those recipients were children. It was the Clinton administration that destroyed Glass-Steagall and ripped down the firewall between commercial and investment banks [causing the 2008 stock market crash that stole billions of the people’s money in order to bail out the criminals that caused it] and by the 1990’s the Democratic Party had fund raising parity with the Republican Party.” Hedges went on to succinctly sum up the Clinton legacy, “Clinton, with diabolical brilliance, transformed the democratic party into the republican party and pushed the republican party so far to the right it became insane.”
Towards the end of the fifty minute interview Mr. Hedges tallied up his take on the current state of our republic with this, “The judicial system is a wholly owned subsidiary of the corporate state, as is the legislative class. We can count on one hand members of the senate and house that aren’t millionaires or aren’t going to become millionaires as soon as they finish and become lobbyists or sit on boards. Money has replaced the vote, our constitution has been destroyed by judicial fiat; the whole idea that unlimited campaign corporate cash is [considered] petitioning the government. We can go back to the NDAA with the refusal of the courts to deal with the evisceration of our privacy when you are watched 24 hours a day by the government, as we are, you can’t use the word ‘liberty’. That is the relationship of a master and slave. So, all of these things that have happened in our system, which are in clear and direct violation of our constitutional rights and the system’s only response is to sustain that violation.”
All of the preceding attests to the fact that corporate co-option of our government is very real and is on-going. It has been a great success from the standpoint of the power elite, but make no mistake; this coup has been anything but bloodless. Consider the militarization of civilian police (NDAA) as a direct pre-emptive action by a fearful corporate class and all of the death-by-cop statistics. Consider the over-flowing corporate prisons-for-profit and the deaths and injuries of those incarcerated (Omnibus Crime Bill). Consider the draconian banking practices legalized by corporate lobbyists writing laws that protect criminals and create homelessness and suffering. Consider the greatest domestic blood letting of all; corporate firearms sales and the insane manic zeal of corporate lobbyists preventing ANY legislation that even hints at disrupting the sales and marketing of weapons. Bloomberg, found shooting deaths in the US in 2015 “will probably rise to almost 33,000.” That’s seven times the American casualties in Iraq. That’s a lot of blood.
This, in turn, brings us to the blood that has been spilled by our Corporate/Military/Industrial Complex outside our borders. The numbers of dead are staggering! In just the Iraq-Halliburton-War-For-Profit alone it is estimated that 151,000 to one million Iraqis and 4500 Americans died as a result of an utterly pointless and unprovoked war on a sovereign nation. The Corporate State, The Oligarchy, The Pathocracy, whatever we want to call it, has arrived with a vengeance and will not be going anywhere without the people rising en masse and making their voices heard. As for my friends that still have faith in the system, please excuse my lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of choosing between Jeb and Hilary. Call me crazy, but given the present corporate ownership of all three branches of government, I’m not throwing in the towel, but I find it becoming more and more difficult to give a damn.
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