Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Well-Behaved Woman

DISCLAIMER: If you think people should stop analyzing the 2016 presidential campaign, then you shouldn’t read this essay. If you wonder why I’m still talking about it, it’s because those who control history control the future. How that contest is interpreted is incredibly important to the future of the Democratic Party, to the US and, therefore, to the world (since we’re still the preeminent empire). The conclusions drawn from it will go a long way toward determining the shape of American politics for years to come.

Let me be clear: I think Trump has been a fucking nightmare. But that doesn’t mean a Hillary Administration would’ve been much better. Her policies likely would’ve been right in line with the Dubyobama Era, probably worse than Obama, probably better than Dubya. There’s so little difference between them, who cares?

But, just like Obama, Hillary’s only job was to get elected. All she had to do was break the last glass ceiling, thereby ending the patriarchy. After that, there was nothing left for her to accomplish. She could’ve maintained the lion’s share of Dubya’s policies (like Obama did), and the Liberals and Mainstream Media would’ve gone along for the ride.

There was virtually no pressure on Obama from Libs to do anything. Absolving them of their racism was all they needed from him. Nine years later, they still think he did a bang-up job. Aside from keeping us mired in the Middle East, making sure the Paris climate accord contained ZERO commitments to reduce pollution and letting Wall Street get off scot-free, I suppose he did alright.

As ugly as the term is, I think it’s accurate to call Obama and Hillary tokens. They’re Establishment politicians who just happen to be, respectively, Black and female. They have no interest in changing the System. As far as they’re concerned, the System works great. It certainly worked for them.

They both claimed outsider status based on their race and gender. This strategy has been crucial to winning the White House since the end of the Cold War. Every president we’ve had since 1992 (Clinton, Dubya, Obama, Trump) has cast himself as an outsider who’s willing to take on the corruption and vested interests in DC. Despite their failure to keep that promise, they all won second terms (so far). But they faced uninspiring insiders (Dole, Kerry, Romney) in their re-election campaigns.

At the same time that Hillary was trying to show how tough women could be, she also exploited stereotypes associated with her gender identity. We wanted her to live up to the feminine ideal of a caring, nurturing person who would take care of us. But she had no intention of doing so. A cursory glance over her political career was enough to confirm that.

To her credit, Hillary was honest about what she was willing to deliver. She didn’t over-promise. But she had to wade into policy specifics, because she lacked the grand, transformative vision to inspire hope (like Bernie) or the oratorical skills to bewitch us with sweet nothings (like Obama). For some reason, she thought slightly lowering interest rates on student loans was the kind of exciting proposal that would electrify the electorate.

She accused Bernie of making unrealistic promises. He said he would expand the social safety net. She positioned herself as the realist, the pragmatist who could “get things done,” whereas Bernie was the idealist who didn’t understand how impractical his platform was. She kept telling us that we couldn’t have single-payer healthcare or free college.

That’s true. We can’t have those things… BUT ONLY IF YOU BELIEVE: (A) our military budget must be maintained at its current size (or bigger) and (B) the rich shouldn’t be taxed any more than they already are (or were before the GOP’s new tax code). Maybe she thinks expanding the social safety net is a good idea. But she wasn’t willing to cut the military budget or raise taxes on the rich to do it.

That’s hardly surprising given her record. She was a hawk on foreign policy and extremely friendly with Wall Street. She fit squarely in the middle of the neoliberal/neoconservative consensus. (FYI: “Neoliberal” doesn’t mean “new liberal” in the contemporary American sense. If you don’t know what it means, FUCKING LOOK IT UP!) She isn’t just part of the Establishment; she is the Establishment.

In order to vote for her with a clear conscience, Liberals had to trust that her words (and record) were just an act to get elected. Once in office, presumably, she would reveal her true self, the maternal archetype that lay within, someone who would take care of everyone and end all those nasty wars.

One Baby Boomer, White, middle-class woman even told me that Hillary’s political career had essentially been an act, not driven by calculation but by fear. In this person’s opinion, Hillary had been afraid to vote her conscience or speak her mind because she hadn’t yet gained enough authority. This is a pretty ridiculous hypothesis, considering Hillary was a U.S. Senator and the Secretary of State. Even if it were true, why would anyone vote for someone so meek?

Maybe the GOP-controlled Congress would’ve prevented any attempts to pass progressive legislation. But what does it say about Hillary that she wasn’t even willing to try?

Like her Democratic predecessors, she probably would’ve supported abortion rights, (some) environmental protections and other Liberal causes. But these amount to window dressing for most people, especially when both parties are in lock-step on the economic policies that are impoverishing so many of us, both fiscally and spiritually.

I have to admit: I’m really glad to see her go. It seems incredibly sad to me that so many women invested so much in her candidacy. What’s the point of getting your hands on the levers of power if you’re going to pull them the same way everyone before you did?

I’m also really hoping Elizabeth Warren gets elected in 2020, not just for the good she could do, but also to see the Hillary boosters try to explain how the country got so much less sexist in 4 years.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Lord's Message to America

Woe unto you, O America!
You have done great evil in My Name.
You have conquered the world for your own greed and called it Liberation.
You have killed the innocent and called it Justice.
You have destroyed the weak and called it Mercy.
You have aided the wicked and called it Wisdom.
You have set up tyrants in foreign lands to do your bidding.
These you call wise and just rulers.
But the people they rule are not fooled.
You have waged war for plunder and asked Me to bless it.
You claimed it was My Will that guided your armies.
But I abandoned you long ago.
Once you set your hearts toward conquest and the accumulation of wealth, you turned away from Me.
For that betrayal, I have cursed thee.
You clothe yourselves in the finest garments, yet you feel naked.
Your homes are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, yet you tremble in the cold and wilt in the heat.
You have built the highest walls, yet you never feel safe.
You have conquered the world, yet you never know a moment’s peace.
Your fear has consumed you.
You rule the world, yet you are alone.
You are hated.
You have united the nations against you.
And you will fall.
Just as Babylon and Persia, Rome and Byzantium, the Mongols and the British, you will fall.
No empire can last forever.
But you will cling to your empire, as all imperial peoples do.
You will cling to your luxuries and your comforts, long after they have ceased to bring you any joy or solace.
You will sacrifice everything to keep your privileges.
And the longer you cling to your empire, the more you will lose.
Your leaders will be vain and haughty.
They will love the sound of their own voice.
They will be mesmerized by their own lies and cower from enemies of their own making.
They will lead you astray.
You will believe their lies, and, even after you stop believing, it will be too late.
You are a vain people.
You look young and act young.
You are like children compared to your ancestors.
You inherited this empire.
You did not build it.
You did not conquer it.
You do not know how to hold it, so you let it slip away.
And the more you try to keep it, the faster it slips away, for you are a foolish people who have grown weak and fat and lazy.
As punishment for your sins, I will turn sister against brother, father against daughter, husband against wife.
You who brought death to every corner of the earth will be torn apart by the very weapons you worship.
You who have squandered and spoiled your land’s beauty will leave your children scraps to fight over.
You who clothe yourselves in vanity will go naked to the slaughter.
The butcher is readying his knife, but you are the ones who gave it to him.
I will not be there to stay his hand.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Corporate Cannon Fodder

I’ve put in many years as a corporate drone, one of those cogs in the machinery of commerce sitting at a computer in the grids of cubicles filling up skyscrapers. Our job is to take care of the mindless work that must be done to keep the gears of profit turning. But we also have another important, thankless task.

Corporate drones are paid to serve as cannon fodder for the executives. We’re the first line of defense against the consequences of their actions. We must answer for the company policies that we had no hand in shaping. We’re the ones who must listen to the complaints, vitriol and abuse from the clients and customers. We’re the ones who must repress our anger and sadness. We're the ones who must bow and scrape and grovel to keep the customer satisfied.

We’re the buffer between Management and Reality. We insulate them from negative feedback, so they can continue to pursue the policies that enrich them and immiserate the rest of us. As long as they don’t have to deal with the consequences, they will keep squeezing as much blood, sweat and tears out of us as they can to maximize profits.

So, even as we suffer humiliation, exhaustion and soul-death, we perpetuate the system that tortures us. We are the engine of our own misery. We enable the Fat Cats to escape responsibility for their actions. We absorb the blowback that should be blowing them back.

We keep shrinking our souls to fit into the corporate cubicle. It’s the most elastic variable in the profit equation. Capitalism can only squeeze so much out of the earth via technology. But there’s always room in the soul. The human will to survive is Capitalism’s greatest resource. It can be mined almost indefinitely. But they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. The vein is nearly exhausted.

Capitalism must strike a delicate balance between exploitation of the soul and enrichment of it. If you give us nothing to live for, we will lose the will to survive, and then we won’t respond to the whip anymore. We’ll simply give up and lie down to die. But if you enrich our souls too much, we won’t need your dead-end jobs. We’ll strike out on our own and take our chances in the Great Big World. The trick is to keep our souls floating between these poles, in a kind of spiritual limbo.

You need to convince us we deserve the abuse, that we don’t deserve to be free, that we must toil in the profit mines. Convince us that we can’t hack it out there in the Great Unknown, that we need the security of a 9-to-5. But still hold out hope for a better future, for a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. That’s why the stock market must be propped up at all costs. If our 401(k)’s and savings were wiped out, CorpWorld would have nothing left to offer us.

Instead of waiting for this economic reckoning (which seems inevitable), we should abandon the cubicle before our souls are completely obliterated. We must reject the terms of our surrender and refuse to waste our lives in service to the servants of Moloch. We cannot be the lambs sacrificed for a god we don’t even believe in. We must reclaim the anger and sadness we’ve repressed and use them to fight back.

We might like to stay above the fray, but there’s no avoiding this war. We thought if we left the Fat Cats alone we could keep our comfortable lives. But that time has passed. Now they’re coming for everything we have, even our souls. We have to choose. Either we fight for them or we fight for ourselves. Fighting for them offers security, but what good is security without a soul?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Popping the Beltway Bubble

I’ve been listening to The Fifth Column podcast lately. It’s good, but they have a libertarian bent, I guess, which seems to make them oblivious to some of the finer points of neoliberal economics. On this week’s episode, they were nattering on about how Blue-Collar Joe's are stupid for thinking that NAFTA has had an adverse effect on the American economy.

One of ‘em even said that people will have forgotten about NAFTA in 20 years. Dude, NAFTA was 23 years ago! Why do you think it’s still on people’s minds? Granted, “the mob” (as The Fifth Column hosts called the unwashed masses) may not always understand the effects of public policies, but I think the mob nailed it on this one. To their credit, The Fifth Columnists said they might not get it because they’re a bunch of “cosmopolitan coasties and journalos.” Ding, ding!

They also discussed a Politico article about Trump voters who still like the President even though he hasn’t delivered on his promises. The thrust of the article seems to be “These people are crazy! How can they still like a politician who hasn’t kept his promises? WTF?!” The implication is that the Trump dead-enders are beyond reason and, therefore, beyond help. The Mainstream Media (MSM*) did their best to expose Trump as a dog-whistlin’, no-class-havin’, female-assaultin’ con man, but they just can’t get through to these nutjobs.

This seems a rather self-serving piece of reportage by the MSM. It reinforces the idea that people in Flyover Country are corn-pone rubes who deserve the shallow, pandering news coverage the MSM give us. The problem couldn’t possibly be that the MSM ignore the real causes of our suffering, e.g., the corporate capture of government. That would imply that many of the Common Folk understand politics better than the big, important, serious people on the News, and that would not be good for ratings or for the MSM’s corporate paymasters.

It’s not like Trump’s support is strong. His approval ratings are breaking records for pathetic-ness. Since polling began, no President has been this unpopular this early in his Presidency. The MSM have been able to revel in those poll numbers for months, but they’re still not happy. They have to find out why anyone would still support Trump.

The big revelation in the article is that these people don’t care that Trump hasn’t kept his promises. They just like him personally. This is supposed to shock us and fill us with despair, but it shouldn’t. They act as though Trump were the first President who failed to keep his promises and still retained popular support. I mean, whoever heard of a politician not keeping their promises? And surely no one would be stupid enough to still support a politician who was so disingenuous.

Are the MSM really so brainwashed, or do they not have long-term memory? Trump may have had the most vacuous, cynical campaign in American history, but Obama’s was #2 in that hit parade. “Hope” and “Change” turned out to mean 8 more years of basically the same shit we got from Dubya, just with better marketing. But Obama remained popular despite his failure to deliver any real hope or change.

This is the political arena that the MSM have been building for decades. They’re the ones who turned politics into a circus, just another entertainment where everything is for show, where words have no connection to actions, and actions have no consequences. The only reason the MSM are shocked by it is because they’ve been drinking their own Kool-Aid.

The 2016 presidential election was likely a tipping point. A critical mass of the American public no longer believes the MSM, and their power is slipping away. I think this is the true (if unconscious) source of their fear and desperation. They no longer recognize their own country, and they can’t predict or control the natives anymore.

It’s time for these folks to get out of the Beltway Bubble. As one of the interviewees in the Politico article says, “I think we’re going to see the end of the world in our generation.” I doubt the world will end that soon, but this generation will almost certainly see the end of the elite’s world of comfort and privilege.

*If repeatedly referring to the “MSM” makes me sound like a tinfoil-hat-wearing crackpot, so be it. I just happen to think they’re full of shit, and this is the most efficient way I know of for referring to them.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Everybody Hates

Before we encounter another situation like Charlottesville (which was exactly 3 months ago as of this weekend), I’d like to address something my fellow Leftists and Liberals seem to be overlooking. I followed the events of that day on TV and social media. Like most people, I was horrified by what happened, wondering if our country was about to be engulfed in a Second Civil War.

I registered my anger on Twitter. But I saw something else arise from the Left that day and not for the first time. Many of my compatriots’ tweets and Facebook posts were seething with a visceral hatred. They really seemed to hate the white supremacists they were watching on TV.

Now I would regard this as a healthy reaction. We saw people beating up other people apparently just because of their politics. That’s reprehensible. It’s only natural to get angry at the neo-Nazi’s and other Right-wingers who were engaging in violence, especially when the police didn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

The problem is that most people on the Left refuse to admit that they hate anyone. They insist that hatred is something felt only by racists, sexists and other deplorables. That’s an interesting position to take. I think the key is in how you define “hate.” (I’m going to take the hack approach now and cite a dictionary definition. Do not be alarmed. I am a trained professional.)

The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology defines hate as a "deep, enduring, intense emotion expressing animosity, anger, and hostility towards a person, group, or object.” (And, yes, I found that on Wikipedia.) I would add that the hostility is not based in logic. To me, hatred is irrational. It ultimately has nothing to do with whether or not the object of your hatred poses a threat to you.

I’d like you to keep that definition in mind if you choose to read “Hate is the New Sex,” a typically brilliant essay by the greatest living nonfiction writer I’ve ever come across, John Michael Greer, a.k.a. “the Archdruid.” (Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of him; he’s not particularly famous. But, seriously, check it out, because the man is a fucking GENIUS.)

His point is that hate is a natural human emotion that everyone feels sometimes, and, by denying its legitimacy, we’re doing what the Victorians did with sex: filling people with so much shame about it that it’s being repressed and twisted into dangerous behavior. We’re pathologizing it. I think Greer puts it best in this passage:

“That’s what happens whenever people decide that an ordinary human emotion is unacceptable and insist that good people don’t experience it. A culture of pretense, hypocrisy, and evasion springs up to allow them to vent the unacceptable emotion on some set of acceptable targets without admitting that they were (sic) doing so.”

Just as the Victorians ascribed sexual desire to the lower classes, we ascribe hate to the white working class, the rednecks or, as they’ve also been known, “white trash.” They are the socially, intellectually and morally inferior people who are susceptible to the temptation of hate. This has the added benefit of providing a moral justification for our classist contempt of them.

So who are the acceptable targets for our hate? Why, the haters, of course, those very rednecks we accuse of being filled with hate themselves. They are so richly deserving of our hate though, being bent on the destruction of whole races. They must be destroyed before they destroy others, right?

This is a disturbing argument that has recently come to prominence. The following comic strip appeared in a Democratic Socialists of America email right after the Charlottesville clashes. (I’m on their email list.) It claims that intolerant groups cannot be tolerated, because doing so will lead to those groups taking over.

The result of this belief is so obviously horrible that it’s no wonder it came from a philosopher. When you destroy the monster, you become the monster. Destroying one’s enemy doesn’t lead to peace and tranquility. It leads to more violence, more repression and a search for more enemies.

It’s worth remembering that we didn’t destroy all the Nazi’s in Germany after the war. We executed the leaders and left the rest of them pretty much alone (not counting a heaping helping of propaganda and military occupation). In fact, West Germany was the third-largest recipient of funds in the Marshall Plan. What finished off Nazism was the Allies’ mercy, not our might.

But, in our current worldview, hate is an absolute evil that must be amputated from the human soul. This Western habit of identifying “evil” aspects of our nature (hate, sex, left-handedness) and trying to rid ourselves of them has a terrible track record. As the Archdruid points out, the Victorian fear of sex led to the Sexual Revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. Our current psychological climate could spawn a “Revolution of Hate,” an idea that conjures images of the Holocaust and all the worst atrocities of the 20th Century.

We need to remember that we all have the potential to become monsters, but not because we all feel hate. Any impulse can be destructive when taken to extremes, even the extreme of repressing one’s instinct to hate. Rather than denying our urges and trying to destroy those urges in others, we should learn to control them. Then we needn’t fear the monster in the mirror, and we can stop projecting that monster onto others.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Orange Stain

I got an email this week, imploring me to “Tell Congress: Don’t let Trump spy on us.” I’ve gotten other similar emails since the 45th President took office, encouraging me to strip Trump of his ability to unilaterally order a nuclear strike or oppose his pro-Big Business policies. These are all good ideas, but they were good before Trump became President.

The real question is: Should any President be able to spy on us, unilaterally order a nuclear strike or pass laws by decree (a.k.a. "executive orders")? The answer should be a resounding “no,” no matter who’s in office. I’m glad opposition to Trump has brought these issues to the fore, but we shouldn’t need such a bad President to make these powers seem like a bad idea.

This is why the Establishment is so pissed off at Trump. He’s thrown a big wrench in the imperial machinery. The Empire used to be run by dignified adults who supposedly knew what they were doing. But Trump is so crude and obviously incompetent they can no longer carry on the charade. Worst of all, he has infected the Elite’s favorite policies with his stink.

Instead of associating neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy with “serious” people like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan or Barack Obama, we’re associating them with Mr. Cheezy Poof. If you support the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria, then you’re also supporting Trump. If you support the Free Market handling healthcare, you’re supporting Trump. If you support tax cuts for the rich and corporations, you’re supporting Trump (although that should’ve been obvious already).

The thin veil of legitimacy has been ripped off, and the status quo stands naked before us, in all its crass, venal, orange-haired ugliness. Trump represents the grotesque greed and paranoid power-hunger at the heart of the Establishment, with all the polish and sophistication removed. The Elite are being forced to defend their policies on merit alone, and they can’t.

They need to get a smooth, slick puppet back in the White House, someone like Obama, but further to the Right. The problem with Hillary is we wouldn’t have followed her off a cliff, and, ultimately, that’s the kind of loyalty the President must inspire, because that’s where the Elite wants to take us.

Many people thought Trump would immediately drive us off that cliff, but that only would’ve happened had we followed the Elite conception of democracy. This holds that the public’s political activity should be limited to voting for Establishment-approved candidates. The rest of the time we’re supposed to just sit back and let them do their jobs.

Instead, people filled the streets after the election and have fought the GOP’s agenda tooth-and-nail. As a result, Obamacare has been preserved, the Muslim immigration ban has been limited and the Wall has not even been funded, much less built. The Republicans may control both houses of Congress and the White House, but they still have to answer to the People (as long as the People are willing to get off their asses).

Trump is a constant reminder that we can’t just let politicians do what they want. On a daily basis, he proves how clueless and corrupt our leaders are. This is precisely what the Establishment was afraid of. They wanted to keep us passive, sitting on our hands while politicians and moneyed interests run the country.

In an ideal democracy, we’d all be involved in government decisions. But that’s hard and time-consuming. It also seems impossible, considering the dilapidated condition of American democracy. Out of fatigue and frustration with our neglected, corrupt model, many have given up on effecting change through politics.

Their hopelessness, however, comes at the wrong time. Lots of people looked on the 2016 election as a cause for despair, but really it should be seen as a reason for hope. It showed how the forces that have controlled American politics for decades (Big Business, the Mainstream Media and the leadership of the major parties) are quickly losing power.

Trump won the Presidency despite the opposition of the entire GOP establishment and the MSM (with the predictable exception of Fox News). Bernie nearly won the Democratic nomination facing the same level of resistance from the DNC and a near-total MSM blackout. The signs should be obvious: The Elite are teetering on the brink of irrelevance.

Now is the time to act. We can no longer blame the Establishment for keeping us from changing things. Its shackles are melting. We must throw them off before another ruling class arises to replace them.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty and the Holy Ghost

In my last essay, I detailed how our political discourse focuses on style to distract us from the troubling substance of the policies underneath. This is mainly done for the benefit of the Elite, so they can continue pumping wealth from the imperial periphery, the external and internal proletariats, to the core, i.e., themselves. But there’s also a psychological benefit for the rest of us.

Politicians protect us from the truth. We want them to lie to us. Most of the time, we don’t really want to know the awful shit they’re doing on our behalf. That’s a job best left to our social betters, which is what we expect our politicians to be. Being a social better means putting on a good show, turning chicken shit into chicken salad, as it were. We may not trust the elite to do what’s best for us, but we at least trust them to be discreet.

We’ve got enough on our plates. We lack the emotional resilience and community support to deal with such a heavy psychological burden. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry IV, Part II (and, yes, I had to look it up), “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” If most Americans knew about the horrors of the global economy that enables our lifestyle, they probably wouldn’t be able to function. They certainly wouldn’t continue going along with the program.

We also don’t wanna think about it because we either don’t know how to fix it or we don’t wanna fix it. This imperial arrangement is the source of our comforts and luxuries. Why would we wanna give that up? Even those of us who are willing to go without are at a loss for how to dismantle the Empire. That would require an organized, mass political movement, and we are far too atomized to believe in the plausibility of such an enterprise.

Soft propaganda works on the middle class. They’re already getting a decent share of the imperial tribute. It’s enough for them to know that our foreign policy and economy may not always work out for the best for everyone, but we mean well. For the poorer classes, a stronger message is required.

You may have noticed how working-class whites are renowned for their patriotism. Many of them seem to wrap themselves in the flag as protection from any unpleasant truths about America’s role in the world. People often cling to beliefs more tightly when those beliefs are losing legitimacy or being challenged. This seems to be the case with American nationalism now, as doubts grow about the righteousness of the endless War on Terror.

But what else do they have? NASCAR? Country music? Christian denominations increasingly focused on denying access to abortion and rights to LGBTQ people? Mainstream Protestant Christianity has strayed so far from the “meek shall inherit the earth” message that it now features the Prosperity Gospel, the belief that faith in Jesus can make you rich. In other words, their church is expressly telling them they’re poor because they lack faith.

Is it any wonder they’ve turned to a quasi-religious nationalism? Their communities have collapsed, their job prospects have virtually disappeared and their god has no sympathy for them. Who else can they turn to but Uncle Sam? Of course, this is Uncle Sam in his G.I. Joe incarnation, not the DMV clerk version that complicates their lives with red tape and never provides as much of the social services as he promises.

Trump has no interest in shoring up those domestic programs, but he can put the B-52’s back on 24-hour ready alert to pump some life back into American jingoism. Uncle Sam as death-bringer to the rest of the world is the modern patriot’s preferred role for the U.S. government. The wealthiest nation in the history of the world is apparently unable to provide healthcare or housing or jobs to all of its citizens, but we can blow up the world many times over.

In the face of this onslaught of warmongering and the engineered failure of domestic programs, much of the working class abandons any hope that government can be a caring nurturer, a mother figure, and embraces the military, the nation-state’s disciplinarian, law-giving father figure. The military can provide employment, housing and access to higher education, all the things the civilian government is supposed to provide, or at least help with. In addition, it provides a sense of purpose and community with fellow soldiers and their families.

Even if the military doesn’t provide a great living, and even if you’re not in the military, it’s still an effective rallying cry. The government may suck at providing for its citizens, but we can still kick every other country’s ass. If you’re not (consciously) crazy about militarism, you can tell yourself that we’re making the world safe for Democracy. The decay of American communities and families has left us with few other options for a sense of belonging.

The Empire has given us unparalleled material comfort, but it has left us emotionally and psychologically bereft. We’re the Poor Little Rich Kids, surrounded by entertainments, but unable to fill the hole in our soul. To whom can we reach out but to that big Uncle Sam in the sky? Or, if you’re in the mood for some nurturing, how about Lady Liberty?