We needed a hero in a white hat

Shortview Lincoln memorial

Remember when the Republicans had leaders like this…

 

The 2016 U.S. presidential election, more than any other event in recent history, has left the world feeling disillusioned. People of all stripes and political persuasions, in far off lands and countries bordering the U.S., went to bed early Tuesday night and stared at the ceiling or pulled the covers over their heads not knowing quite why they felt so bad.

Maybe it’s because things aren’t turning out the way our parents said they would. Hard work pays off, always do the right thing, treat people with respect, decency wins in the end, things work out for the better, good triumphs over evil. All the do-gooder clichés parents worldwide have been imparting to their children since the beginning of time were thrown into question on election night.

The country founded in 1776 as a nation refuge for the world’s oppressed, a place where no person was better than another because of birthright, colour of skin or religious beliefs, has been for centuries a shining beacon of hope in a sometimes dark world. A country founded on the best of human intentions. A place to go to get away from evil.

Of course, we all knew it wasn’t really so. After travelling the U.S. for six months, I paraphrased Charles Dickens in a previous blog, calling it the ‘best of countries and the worst of countries.’ However well-intentioned, the founding fathers had no problem with slavery and ignoring the rights of America’s indigenous people, who suffered cultural genocide in the name of Manifest Destiny.

No nation made up of human beings could live up to the ideals laid out in the American Constitution. The world’s oppressed suffered from bigotry and intolerance after arriving on U.S. shores, but in a lesser non-institutionalized form. The immigrants knew in their hearts the impossibility of legislating the dark side of human nature and that prejudices were inevitable. But in America bad intent was not officially sanctioned by a governing force. They could see others of their kind working hard and succeeding and held out hope for their piece of the American dream.

And so it went over hundreds of years, with good eventually winning over evil, industry over sloth. Slavery was abolished after a bloody civil war and the horrible mistreatment of indigenous people was reduced to levels a country blessed by God could live with. It was an imperfect Union that fell short of the founding fathers’ lofty ideals but a country that championed individual liberty and freedom above all else.

In the 20th Century, the little democracy that could, emerged from its isolationist stance to become the star of the world stage when American military might brought the First World War to an end. The nation came into its own as the world’s champion of freedom when it reluctantly joined the fight against the forces of evil in World War Two, its soldiers pictured in newsreels liberating European cities along streets crowded with adoring grateful crowds.

It was the dawning of the movie age and one-dimensional Hollywood heroes like John Wayne and Gary Cooper ingrained the image of the American good guy in the world consciousness. For children growing up around the globe, the United States stood for what their parents always told them. The cowboy in the white hat always draws faster and shoots straighter than the guy in black. Good wins over evil, every time.

For a brief while in the war’s aftermath, people felt safe in a world where the guys in white hats had nuclear weapons. Tensions ratcheted up when the Russians went over to the dark side and caught up, especially when Soviet ships laden with nuclear missile parts cruised towards Cuba and an American naval blockade. The world held its collective breath until the guys in black hats backed down. President John Kennedy came away as the free world’s greatest hero, the sheriff who stared down the gunslingers threatening the global community.

But with the sheriff dead by the country’s own hand, the world’s champion of freedom veered off course in the sixties, allowing paranoia about the spread of communism to overshadow the founding fathers’ original intent. Innocent people in a far-off land died by the tens of thousands, their blood on the hands of the guys in white hats.

With U.S. losses mounting and the nation being torn apart internally by opposition to what was clearly an unjust war, the nation’s leaders refrained from resorting to scorched earth annihilation of a far weaker foe and left the battlefield, if not defeated, then certainly chastised by world opinion with their white hats tattered and somewhat soiled. In the sense that the U.S. had shown military restraint and walked away without obliterating the enemy, it could be perceived that once gain good had triumphed over evil.

America began its next war of note on higher moral ground, ostensibly to liberate Kuwait, its weak but oil-rich Middle East ally. Most of the free world watched with pride as President George Bush Sr. told the murderous black-hatted Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein that his aggression in Kuwait ‘Would not stand.’

With overwhelming military superiority and complete control of the air, the U.S. made short work of the vaunted Iraqi army, leaving scores of enemy soldiers smouldering in charred heaps by the side of the highway as its army marched towards Baghdad. With Kuwait free and the tyrant sufficiently chastened, the guys in white hats pulled back on the military reins, keeping civilian casualties to a minimum, and brought the troops home. Good beat evil again.

Fears of a worldwide computer glitch aside, the 20th Century ended on a high note for the country that had emerged as the world’s only Super Power. Russia couldn’t keep up with its military spending and the Cold War was over, and with it the specter of nuclear annihilation. Its white hat image had mostly survived the fiasco in Vietnam and its various intrusions into the affairs of sovereign nations, including supporting despots and its hand in assassinating democratically elected leaders who weren’t deemed in keeping with U.S. interests.

Keeping the world free sometimes required putting your white hat aside and getting down and dirty with the bad guys. Reasonable people could see that.

The first unsettling rumbling that things might not go as smoothly for the world’s oldest democracy in the new Millennium came in the 2000 presidential election. Despite winning the popular vote, the Democratic candidate Al Gore lost to Republican George Bush Jr. in the closest presidential election in American history, with 537 votes separating the candidates in the decisive state of Florida, then coincidentally or not run by Bush’s brother Jeb. The result triggered an automatic recount which resulted in litigation that ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which gave the election to Bush in a 5-4 decision.

The Democrats reluctantly went along with the ruling and an orderly transition of power ensued but a shadow had been cast over the democratic process amid dark rumors that the election had been stolen.

The implications of that Supreme Court decision will be reverberating through the world for decades to come. While the dovish Gore went on to champion the environment, Bush surrounded himself in power with conservative hawks who saw foreign enemies everywhere, but especially in the Middle East where they viewed the job in Iraq had been left undone by Bush senior. When 9/11 shocked the world and shook the nation to its foundations, the hawks seized on the opportunity.

The good guys had a new villains to fight and the open-ended global War on Terrorism was officially launched with a strike against Afghanistan and the governing Taliban who harbored Osama Bin Laden. But the arch-villain of terrorism escaped and the hawks turned their attention to an old adversary, the  tyrant in a black bowler hat, Saddam Hussein.

In behind the scenes scheming to justify an attack on Iraq, the line between good and evil began to blur. Weapons of mass destruction were imagined and then used as a rationalization that would take the country to war on false pretenses. This time the army wouldn’t rein up short of Baghdad but would take the whole country regardless of the cost to innocent civilians.

Unlike Vietnam, an unjust war fought on the ill-conceived premise that creeping communism would threaten the world order, the second Iraq conflict was motivated by revenge and presented an opportunity for certain American companies, one of which had close connections to Bush’s powerful Vice President Dick Cheney, to reap huge profits. It destabilized the Middle East, resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, displaced millions of people and virtually bankrupted the U.S. No one could seriously say the world was better off after this unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation.

The U.S. wore the black hat in the Iraq war and the world began to view the country differently in the new century. The election of its first black president, with his campaign slogan “Yes We Can’, burnished the image somewhat but also brought out the country’s darkness as the far-right Tea Party emerged from under the rocks to hijack the Republican Party, bringing long suppressed bigotry back into the political mainstream. The far-right movement received financial backing from shadowy citizen groups with patriotic sounding names funded by top one per cent power brokers like the billionaire Koch brothers, whose father was a founding member of the John Birch Society.

With money flowing to the top one per cent and the middle class disappearing many people see their American Dream fading. Some believe the country is undergoing a slow-moving financial coup, in which corporations are the real power fronted by political puppets who do their bidding to keep their jobs.

Enter Donald Trump the improbable billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth who won by claiming to be the guy who’s going to make America Great Again for the working stiffs. The man who will drain the Washington swamp. Throughout the campaign he displayed an appalling ignorance about world affairs and a temperament unsuited to be Commander-In Chief of the world’s most powerful nation. By his own words he showed himself to be a braggart and a bully, a pathological liar, a misogynist, a sexual predator, a bigot.

He is so obviously not the person our parents told us should win. Not the good guy of few words whose actions do the talking. Not a person worthy of the revered Oval Office once occupied by Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Obama. America you have let us all down. We’re pulling the blankets over our heads because the world has lost its hero nation. You gave us an evil orange clown when we needed a hero in a white Stetson hat.

The Clownfall of America

eagle-crying

With the election of Donald Trump the United States has dropped the veil of progressive democracy and exposed its true face to the world. And it is an ugly made-in-America face.

The country that claims a special blessing from God, and along with it the divine right to interfere anywhere in the world that it deems necessary to protect its own interests, has selected an unstable Reality TV star endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan to lead it in these dangerous times.

How much damage can a Donald Trump presidency do to the world?

In 2000, the American people gave the world George W. Bush and company. We watched as George W. sat befuddled, stunned and confused in an elementary school classroom as he received news that the first massive terrorism attack on American soil was happening on his watch.

Bush and his Republican council of not-so-wise men reacted by letting the perpetrator of 9/11 escape on a donkey in the company of a one-eyed mullah, then invaded the wrong country under false pretenses, destabilizing the Middle East and bankrupting the American economy in the process. They went on to preside over an era of Wall Street financial malfeasance that very nearly sent the entire world into economic chaos.

With hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned home so mentally and physically damaged that 22 veterans kill themselves every day, the true cost to the country cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

After eight years of Republican rule, the worldwide death toll directly related to Republican decision makers soared into the hundreds of thousands, with millions more displaced. At least with the first George W. presidency, it could be argued the electorate didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. But then they elected him again.

The Obama administration came into power facing the biggest financial crisis of modern times. With calm hands on the controls and a reasoned approach to complex problems, Obama steered the ship away from disaster. He leaves office with Osama Bin Laden dead, the foreign wars winding down, unemployment numbers looking much better and the economy showing encouraging signs of recovery, despite eight years of ideological obduracy by the Republican Senate and Congress.

A reasonable person might think Americans learned something from the disastrous years of Republican reign and the ensuing stability and optimism nurtured by Obama’s Democrats.

Not so much.

In exit polls, 60 per cent of the 2016 electorate stated they thought Donald Trump temperamentally unfit for the presidency. Yet they lined up to vote for him anyway knowing the following:

*Eleven credible fellow citizens have accused him of the inappropriate sexual behaviour he bragged about on tape.

*He cheated on his wives and agreed with a radio host that his daughter is a ‘nice piece of ass.’

*He considers himself smarter than regular people for not paying taxes.

*His hidden financial dealings are so potentially damaging he is the first presidential candidate in modern times to refuse to release his tax records.

*He has so little respect for democracy that he refused to acknowledge he would accept the will of the people, “unless he wins.”

*He dodged military service during the Viet Nam war and later called into question the character of a war hero who underwent torture for answering his country’s call, because he was captured.

*He likened the sacrifices of Gold Star families who have lost children in the service of their country to the sacrifices he made doing deals for his own profit.

*He degraded an American-born judge and questioned his integrity solely because his parents are Mexican.

*He encouraged his supporters to demonize his opponent with calls of ‘Lock her up.’ and said he would follow through by putting her in prison if elected.

*He promoted a bogus university that is being sued by thousands of former students who say they were bilked by a scam.

*He said global warming is a hoax perpetrated by China.

*He called American military leaders losers and claimed to know more than they do about fighting terrorism.

*He praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as a strong leader who has done a better job ruling as an authoritarian thug than President Obama had done leading a democracy.

*He encouraged the Russian dictator to interfere in the American democratic process by hacking into the emails of American citizens and seized upon those same emails for political gain when the Russians heeded his advice.

*He stood on a podium in front of thousands of supporters and made fun of a reporter’s physical disability.

*He advocated for the proliferation of nuclear weapons to countries like Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

*He questioned the usefulness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal if the country wasn’t prepared to use it.

*He called into question the legitimacy of the democratic process, saying the system was rigged against him and that the media is part of a large global conspiracy that includes international banks (read Jews).

*He banned select media outlets from his rallies because of unfavourable coverage and threatened to change libel laws to muzzle the press if elected.

*He questioned the integrity of the FBI and then recanted when its director tipped the election in his favor with only days remaining in the campaign.

*Ignoring the constitution and the rule of law, he called for a ban on people entering the country based solely on their religion.

*He called Mexicans rapists and criminals and said he would build a high wall to keep them out and then make them pay for it.

Sadly, the above list, though long and tawdry, is far from complete when it comes to the flaws of the man Americans selected as a role model for their children. In the eyes of the world, the American people have lost any high moral ground they like to claim when referring to their violent, bigoted, gun-crazy society as the best country in the world.

In fact, it is a starkly divided nation, a democracy in which candidates for elected office further encourage divisions by isolating voters with polls that separate them by class, race and religion—White, Black, Hispanic, Asian; Muslim, Jew, Christian;  working class, college educated; men and women–then tailor their messages to appeal to whichever group can deliver the vote in contested areas.

In electing a man born to wealth with an innate sense of entitlement, a man who lives with his trophy wife high in a garish tower that trumpets his name on the front for all to see, a man whose life has been devoted not to public service but instead to conspicuous consumption, gaudy acquisitions, vulgarity and narcissism, an opportunist who made his political bones questioning the first black president’s right to hold office and solidified his base with a message of hate and bigotry, U.S. voters have now got the man they so richly deserve.

It is not surprising that the Canadian Immigration website shut down mid-election due to the volume of inquiries coming in from south of the border. If Americans want to see how a truly great country functions they need only look north.

We Canadians, known for our strict gun laws, peacekeeping, racial tolerance, politeness and socialist policies like Medicare that provide affordable health care to all, look south and say to the Prime Minister of our resource rich nation: “Mr. Trudeau, build that wall.”

Forget Billy Bush, Darwin made them do it

monkey-money

Darwin’s Wall Street broker ponders the after-election market

No matter who wins the 2016 presidential election American democracy has been exposed. By putting forward two deeply unpopular candidates as the only realistic choices to lead the nation, the power brokers in the country that bills itself as the world’s beacon of government by the people for the people have shown the world how far the great experiment has gone astray. The candidates, in their race to the bottom, did the rest.

And the villain is human nature.

To many Americans, Hated Hillary personifies everything that is wrong with the U.S. political system. A power-hungry insider, a double-speaker who has relentlessly pursued her self-perceived political destiny in a cynical partnership with a sanctimonious sex pervert and known public liar, she has earned the people’s mistrust with the better part of three decades of bending the truth to her own means. But what she lacks in likeability she more than makes up for in her ability to raise money.

And nothing is more important in the U.S. democratic process than the big money controlled by the elites in the top one per cent.

On the ‘family values’ ticket is the Christian Right’s billionaire saviour, a thrice-married philanderer and proud tax-avoider who boasts about groping women, a narcissistic, bullying braggart born with a silver spoon in a foul mouth that spews lies and insults that appeal to the basest human instincts of his followers. He is a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan as the best person to Make America White Again.

There is no better symbol that the U.S. is an empire in decline than Donald Trump’s run for President. Consider this, no matter what happens on Nov. 8, there will be a sex pervert living in the White House.

But should we be surprised by the choices offered? Can the people really be trusted to pick altruistic leaders? Would selfless humans interested only in the common good apply for the job?

Think of it in scientific terms, specifically the science of evolution. If human beings are animals subject to Darwinian principles, the best human predators will rise to the top through the process of natural selection. Note, the best predators should not be confused with the best intentioned people. In fact, they are opposites.

Human beings sit at the pinnacle of the food chain, the planet’s most successful predators by any scientific calculation. As a species we subjugate all other species to our will, altering the very earth we live on to make things better for us, regardless of the consequences to competing species. Honesty, integrity and compassion do not come into play in the natural world. In fact, it can be argued that the higher traits that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom are hindrances to getting ahead in human society.

Take any field of human endeavour—the military, politics, business, religion. At the bottom you have a mass of people striving to make their way into positions of influence, positions that will benefit them and their families, their allies and close friends.

Who among the masses will make their way up the human food chain? Will it be the people who are restricted by conscience or the concept of fair play? Or will it be the sociopaths who expertly mimic the traits needed to gain advantage while using every underhanded means at their disposal to achieve their goals?

Science says the sociopaths will rise through the ranks and history has shown it to be true, from Caligula to Genghis Khan to Hitler to Donald Trump. There has been a truism throughout human existence–If an industrious person/family/tribe/nation, through hard work and sacrifice, obtains something of value to other humans, be it gold, silver, wheat or salt, it will be taken from them unless they can protect it.

This has happened at every step along the human evolutionary path, from the first ape-like man who clubbed a rival to death over a dinosaur carcass to the tyrants of the modern world who plunder the weak and leave them to rot in mass graves.

Despite the best intentions of the founding fathers, the world’s most powerful country’s third act is playing out according to the human script. Built on slavery and the cultural genocide of its indigenous people, the land of the free and home of the brave has exploited and murdered its way around the world to attain and then protect its exalted position. It should not come as a surprise to well-meaning Americans that the sociopaths in the one per cent elite who have lead the charge throughout the country’s 240-year history are now firmly ensconced at the top in full defence mode.

skeletons

Is it over yet?