Reflections on a Black Friday: 

Sports versus Team Fandom – A sort of Ode

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has become an important commercial holiday, both to those who sell as to those who purchase, although it is also a reflection of the reality that prices have been unjustifiably high, at least in terms of equity and decency, than they ought to have been all year long.  Consumers are easily manipulated but no consumers are more easily manipulated and abused than sports fans, those “fanatics” who shell out trillions of dollars in attendance and viewing costs, memorabilia and incidentals, while the recipients (owners, not players) seem to snicker, and generally, to ignore them.

Being a fan is generally a passionate but passive activity, with frustration the most obvious aspect, especially when one is a team fan and the ownership views the team as business, rather than a hobby.  Consider the current New York Yankees as an excellent illustration.

When father George was at the helm, he was an owner and a fan concurrently, and, although a businessman, the fan aspect was paramount.  Indeed, he treated the massive ongoing investment in the team by the fans as a trust, and it was to the fans that he felt that owed the highest loyalty, although he was also loyal to the players and former players from whom he demanded so much, in so emotional a manner.  Even those he’d mercilessly bullied.

His son Hal, as in almost anything and everything, is a negative of his father whom he does not respect but from whom, everything he has, was inherited: a typical second generation syndrome.  Calm and profit oriented, the Yankees, to Hal, are primarily a vehicle operated for the benefit his creditors and investors, and it is to them, rather than to fans or players, that his loyalty is rendered.  And his chief advisor and operating officer, the aptly named Irishman, Brian Cashman, is his ideal henchmen.  Randy Levine, the Yankees president seems to be a seldom seen illusion, and apparently likes it that way.  While an extreme example, the model is not unique.

Yankees fans, the ideal illustration of “team” rather than “sport” fans, are for the most part, a masochist lot.  Vocal, emotional, passionate and pretty well informed, but kept at bay, carefully, by management trolls who infiltrate their social networks to support management decisions, suggesting that fandom is a permanent state whose prime virtue is loyalty to ownership.  In essence, Team fandom, in the view of ownership and its trolls, involves a sports variant on the “my country right or wrong” slogan that led the Germans to morph from liberal social leaders of the nineteenth century to the obedient masses who watched their values destroyed in the first half of the twentieth.

Team fandom is a strange but effective means of social control, diverting attention away from issues that really impact society and thus permitting a tiny elite, which now includes billionaire owners who also disproportionately exercise control over just about everything, to rule us all just as surely as if they collectively wore Sauron’s one ring.  But it is so addicting, that, notwithstanding acknowledging the foregoing – I’m a passionate Yankees’ and Jets’ fan.

Being a sport fan is quite a bit more rational and hardly masochistic at all.  One does not care who wins, only that the sport is brilliantly played.  It is much less passionate than team fandom and many team fans can enjoy that passive distraction too, when “their” teams (not theirs at all, fandom is not democratic) are not involved.

Fandom, a diversion that lets off steam so that the issues that impact our real lives can be safely obfuscated, manipulated and controlled.  Machiavelli would be proud.  He’d probably approve of Black Friday as well.

Go figure.

Anyway, Happy Black Friday!
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Thanksgiving 2022

My reflections on the national holiday denominated Thanksgiving in the United States.

The concept seems beautiful.  A day on which to give thanks without asking for anything, just a general sense of gratitude directed at both our fellow men and women, and to a sense of the divine.  Unfortunately, it was a hypocritical concept since its inception set in stolen indigenous lands denominated New England by an intolerant and racist religious sect totally at odds with the humanitarian philosophy of the incarnate man, whom they judged divine and claimed to follow.  Of course, they were very much a reflection of the Romanized Jew, Saul of Tarsus, who changed his name to Paul, and who swiped the emergent innovative Hebrew religious variant right from under the noses of its progeny.

As a “Pauline” rather than “Nazarene” sect, the conduct of the Pilgrims was utterly predictable.  Orthodox hypocrisy followed by virtual genocide.  Still, the thought is beatific and noble even if its implementation by the Pilgrims and Puritans in general fell far from the mark.  But that does not, in any sense, mean we need to do the same.  Or, more accurately, to keep doing the same.  It would be awesome if on this day of thanksgiving we dedicated ourselves, not just to watching football games and stuffing ourselves, but to replacing polarization with empathy and to doing unto others as we would have them do to us; and to insisting on a peaceful world were swords are beaten into plowshares and equity and justice reign and truth is relevant; and if we did so, not tomorrow but today.

I wonder if resolutions need, for some reason, to be limited to the New Year.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Day Four Following the 2022 United States Elections: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma, … Again

Editorial cartoon, in another context, from CentralMaine.com.

Many things are possible and few are really certain, unless we ourselves are directly involved; still, there are circumstances that raise doubts, and doubts that may involve probabilities. And the negative probabilities tend to be accurate an unfortunate majority of the time.

As a neutral observer in the sibling political rivalries that engulf the United States (I despise both major political parties) between two groups which, failing to listen to each other, fail to realize how unfortunately alike (for everyone else in the world) they are, the scent of chicanery is overwhelming in the delays involved in the counting of votes in several states during the recent elections, elections which in almost any other part of the world would have concluded on the day they initiated but which, in the western portion of the United States, as they did four years ago, have yet to be decided … now four days later.

This occurred in the Republic of Colombia (where I now reside, although I am a citizen of the United States) in 1972, and it involved a stolen election which led to a long and bitter insurgency, one in which, ironically, Colombia’s current president was a participant. During the electoral delays involved, vast quantities of mysterious votes kept appearing after the votes should have been counted, votes which appeared to turn the tide, and which, in fact, proved decisive. Perhaps that history makes me understand the lack of faith which many participants in United States elections have in the veracity of their own results. Even more, the refusal of authorities in all branches of government to seriously investigate the delays and the ensuing reversals of fortune, instead of putting the matter to rest, unfortunately lend credibility to allegations of electoral fraud, despite a massive, ongoing media campaign to cast “election deniers” as dangerous and eccentric lunatics, probably violent, but in any case, too deranged to ever be permitted to vote again and certainly not fit to run for political office.

Not that fraud (or at least more fraud than is traditional) was actually involved, or that improprieties, if any, were enough to impact the results; but the appearance of the possibility of electoral improprieties answered only by slandering and ridiculing of those aggrieved shakes the faith essential for a functioning democracy, and in fact, encourages those who feel that they’ve been denied justice to either mimic the tactics they believe were practiced against them, or at least as bad, to resort to violence, as occurred in Colombia in 1972.

The United States has, during the entirety of this millennium, alleged that elections elsewhere were fraudulent. I’ll use the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as an example. Notwithstanding international observers and prompt electoral counts as well as unexpected victories by those internally alleging fraud, “election denial” in that resource rich but impoverished country, elections there have been “certified” as fraudulent by the United States and its allies, without the benefit of any sort of due process, and what’s more, in the total absence of jurisdiction. Those denials of legitimacy have in fact been used by the United States and its allies as pretexts to steal that country’s gold reserves, cash, oil, and large corporate assets. Given the foregoing, why is it virtually impossible to understand the feelings of those citizens of the United States who earnestly believe that United States elections lack legitimacy, that the government currently in place lacks validity, and that it is their political duty, especially if they’ve taken oaths to uphold the United States Constitution, to take steps to correct that situation? They may well be wrong, but is their conduct really criminal? Doesn’t the freedom of expression guaranteed in the 1st Amendment to that Constitution also protect a right to believe what you will? Even if you’re wrong? Especially in a scheme of things filled by as much duplicity and manipulation as are United States elections.

No wonder United States citizens are utterly polarized, confused and dissatisfied, almost always immediately regretting their own voting decisions, in elections where campaign pledges are acknowledged to merely involve poorly written and poorly thought-out creative fiction. Were it not for the overwhelming imbalance of paramilitary power enjoyed by the state within a state that actually governs the United States, I would fear the likelihood of a new civil war. But I don’t. It would be short and utterly futile.

Perhaps it’s better that democracy in the United States is a fallacy. Elections seem meaningless anyway, fraud or no fraud (as Donald Trump ought to know by now but refuses to acknowledge). So, … what does a bit of “necessary” electoral chicanery matter, … if it in fact exists.

Ineptitude all too frequently smells just like corruption, while corruption finds excellent camouflage in apparent ineptitude.

The American West, what a fascinating place. Apparently as wild and wooly as ever. 
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Perversion of the Electoral System and Electoral Deniers, Now an American Tradition

Donald Trump is, as the old phrase goes, “a riddle wrapped in an enigma”, but a very boisterous, pompous and unpleasant riddle.  However, he is not the criminal his enemies portray, whether in politics or the press.  And he was far from administratively inept, in fact, his instincts for demilitarization (except on behalf Israel, admittedly) and for avoiding international military conflict and for redirecting “defense” related expenditures towards social programs and infrastructure were down right progressive.  Much more progressive than the performance of those who purported progressives managed to ensconce in his place.  As in the case of Richard Millhouse Nixon, history is unlikely to be kind to Donald Trump, which says much more concerning the lack of veracity and ethics among historians and journalist than it will say about Mr. Trump.

The ruthlessness and perversion of the Deep State’s minions in the Democratic Party and the corporate media have converted the populist threat posed by Mr. Trump into a useful electoral tool, as the article published in Fox News (admittedly a non-objective right wing organization) on November 10, 2022 (this morning as I write) entitled “CLEAN SWEEP: Democratic meddling in GOP primaries paid off in a big way on Election Day” makes clear.  Truth and accuracy being irrelevant and engaging in that of which one accuses others as a preemptive defense against criticism is a powerful offensive weapon, and, well, … sort of fun.  Dishonesty has become standard policy in politics, especially from the Deep State, erroneously self-identified as the left, or as liberal or as progressive.  No tactic is unacceptable as long as it works and fooling the electorate has become an art form, and again, sort of fun as well.

Frustrated victims smell the broad spectrum of electoral fraud to which they’ve been subjected but, given the Deep State’s control of the judicial system and the administrative bureaucracy, complaints are as futile as is resistance to the fictional Borg.  In fact, it will only result in being labeled an “election denier”, a new pejorative catch phrase that denoted stupidity coupled with malevolence and fascist proclivities.  In many cases it is possible that some of those so labeled fit that description, or are very wrong in their beliefs, but being wrong is not the same as lying, and the saying “the lady doth protest too much” would seem to apply, not to them, but to those in politics and in the media who label them as such, making it see, at least likely, that there is indeed something to hide, something sinister and inappropriate, something unethical and immoral.

As an academic and political analyst I recently participated in an international forum on the nature of corruption, sponsored by the Facultad Interamericana de Litigación A.C., Barra Interamericana de Abogados A.C., which included speakers from Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, México, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Spain, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Honduras, Panamá and Costa Rica.  I was one of five speakers representing Colombia.  Thus I have some knowledge concerning the nature of corruption and the tactics used to implement and obfuscate corrupt practices.  Practices one can frequently almost smell, but which are difficult to “prove”, especially when those responsible for preventing them are either inept or actively collisional.  And unfortunately, the latter is the usual case in all aspects of corruption.  But never more so than when corruption involves politics.  As another saying goes, “something smells rotten in Denmark”, and it’s not the cheese, but then again, it’s not emanating from Denmark.

In my experience when it comes to corruption, apparent ineptitude, disorganization and confusion are actually the signs of very clever dishonesty, usually successful.  Then again, sometimes it really is ineptitude, disorganization and confusion, which is what makes them so useful as camouflage.  As I write this I imagine the fictional Vinnie Barbarino from the old program, “Welcome Back Kotter”, uttering his catch phrase, … “I’m so confused”!  Many good United States citizens are confused today but also angry at the ineptitude of those charged with safeguarding the integrity of elections, and the appearance of possible improprieties they generate, especially, today, in the State of Arizona where results of elections held on November 8 are not yet available.  Especially given the ethical improprieties disclosed in the above cited Fox News article.  That such activities are unethical, immoral but not illegal says a great deal about the United States political system.

In the Republic of Colombia, where I currently reside (although I am a United States citizen), I have worked alongside several organizations dedicated to rooting out and minimizing electoral corruption.  Minimizing rather than eliminating it because we are aware that corruption, including political and electoral corruption, is ubiquitous.  The one certainty is that those who claim there was absolutely no electoral fraud in any large scale election in the United States are either incredibly naïve or collusive in obscuring it.  Because we want to minimize corruption in Colombia, we take fairly simple safeguards akin to protecting chains of evidence in penal proceedings.  Ballots are only available at polling places at the time set for voting and are provided only to the voters themselves, subject to their providing officially issued picture identification, which also includes fingerprints and signatures, and requires that the voter acknowledge receipt of the ballot by signing for it, and that he or she promptly return the executed ballot prior to departing from the polling station.  All of the foregoing is deemed essential in order to avoid a market in votes through the purchase and sale of ballots, and the use of counterfeit ballots.  Since 2016, the United States has taken a very different path, purportedly in the name of “democracy”.  Ballots are now often mailed out in mass and collected anonymously in “drop boxes.  To us in much of the world, that seems either amazingly naïve or cleverly facilitative of corruption.  Thus we can understand how electoral results may seem suspect to normally intelligent decent citizens in the United States.  Those lambasted and publicly shamed there by the corporate media as “election deniers”.

In Colombia and in almost the entire world, outside of the United States, electoral results are tabulated, posted and certified a few hours after elections.  And delays are viewed with a great deal of suspicion.  Such suspicion is deemed not only healthy but essential to protect the integrity of electoral processes.  In the United States, criticism of electoral delays and irregularity is deemed almost akin to treason.  Very, very strange.  But then again, the financing of campaigns to sabotage the candidate selection process is not deemed here (and elsewhere) as merely, “boys and girls will be boys and girls and they’re just having fun”, though fun it may seem.  Such activities here would be deemed criminal.

Something on which to reflect as the United States awaits electoral results, several days late, from Maricopa County, Arizona.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Post-Election Hangover, 2022

It’s the morning of November 9, 2022.  I feel as though I have a hangover although I’ve not indulged in any intoxicants recently, I rarely do.  But I watched last night’s election returns and that is undoubtedly the cause.

I watched them primarily on CNN International, switching periodically to Fox News, both available where I currently reside, in the Republic of Colombia.  My email to the Marion County Florida Board of Elections advising that I had not received my promised mail in ballot, purportedly mailed to me on September 23, went unanswered so, like other United States citizens here who I know (and probably elsewhere), our duty to vote went unexercised, although the dearth of adequate candidates might well have made that right irrelevant, if not meaningless.  That adds to my suspicions about the efficacy and integrity of United States elections, at least as compared to elections elsewhere.  For example, Colombia and its neighbors have reliable electoral results available in hours, through a process that requires official voter identification and the collection of ballots only from voters, and in official polling places.  We still experience some electoral fraud, and vote selling and buying is still difficult to stamp out, but it is minimized.  In the United States, how can anyone know?  It’s somewhat of a mystery to us here. 

Post electoral exit polls indicated deep displeasure with the status quo and the Biden administration, but apparently, fear of Donald Trump, who was not a candidate, and a desperate need to protect the “right” of women to abort unwanted progeny proved more important than concerns about inflation, the economy or an impending nuclear holocaust.  While that may seem incoherent, United States voters have their priorities and are as gullible and short sighted as ever, although perhaps that criticism needs to be tampered with an acknowledgement that the corporate media fulfilled its duty to assure that almost no one was aware that third party and independent candidate options were available, except perhaps for voters in the States of Georgia and Oregon, where available options were beaten down.  Both major political parties have claimed victory, actual and symbolic, but for the electorate, at least from my perspective, all such victories are utterly Pyrrhic. 

I primarily watched the results on CNN because the analysis seemed better and more timely, albeit utterly lacking in objectivity, with insults and taunts pretty much the rule.  Fox news was more civil, but not any more objective.  I wonder what MSNBC was like?  I can’ get it here.  While pundits and purported journalists claim that the results are not yet clear, the reality is otherwise.  As is almost always the case in the modern era (post Second World War), the Deep State won and belligerency and lack of respect for international law will continue to be the rule, regardless of the consequences to common men, women and children in the United States and abroad, all in the name of generating profits for the very few.  Costs to others is no concern.  And of course, the Deep State’s most potent weapon, polarization was as effective as ever.  No empathy wanted here!!!!

I saw a very negative reaction to last night’s elections in a right-wing publication (ReTalk Newsletter, November 9, 2022, available at https://retalk.com/c/us-politics/election-4?utm_source=email&utm_campaign=topposts&utm_medium=email&rtmid=20c439ff35ac1637522d0d598c125137), a post from someone deeply offended by the results, who wrote “This should have been a blowout by republicans. We have experienced 2 years of disastrous policies and yet ugly pieces of shit like fetterman [sic] are elected. There is something terribly wrong with the democrats. Either they are truly insane and want to see this country destroyed or they are just plain ignorant morons. To all the fucking morons out there who voted for any democrat I hope enjoy your reduced standard of living you stupid bastards!!!

I replied to that post noting that insults and ridicule rarely if ever change minds and hearts, and that that’s what was needed.  That a fundamental paradigm shift was essential towards respect and a quest for accuracy, with a willingness to change perspectives based on re-evaluating those that have proved ineffective; all seasoned with plenty of empathy, something apparently totally lacking.  I of course doubt that my reply will be taken into account, other than perhaps through some sort of ridicule.  Other perspectives, while diametrically opposed, were virtually identical in tenor if not in substance, indicating that somehow the election had saved United States democracy from traitorous “election deniers”, ignoring the reality that United States democracy exists only as a delusional illusion but that liberty gives everyone the right to opine on critical public issues, whether they are right or wrong in their observations.  Again, insults and ridicule were the preferred means of communication.  Which is exactly what the Deep State favors, “polarization and hate uber alles”, perhaps seasoned with a bit of violence which can then be manipulated, distorted and decried in a flood of crocodile tears.  In essence, it appears that traditional Republicans and all Democrats agree that the electoral results were shaped by former president Donald Trump somehow, and that the GOP needs to comply with Deep State demands to prevent him, not only from running for public office, but even from expressing himself, … for everyone’s good.  Such is the concept of civil rights and liberty now sweeping the airwaves, a message very likely to be endlessly repeated, at least during the following two years.  Hopefully (according to them), the “Biden Justice Department and attorneys general in New York and Georgia, will soon see to that.

As Yakov Smirnoff noted decades ago “America!  What a country!”

Is it any wonder that I woke feeling hung over?  I’m pretty sure that hangovers are a pandemic this morning, and one without any cure in sight.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Some Thoughts on November 8, 2022

It’s November 7, 2022, a Monday, and I’m wondering what I’ll be thinking two days from now.  What I might write.  How I might reflect on what happened and why.  How free I’ll feel about sharing it, considering where Julian Assange languishes, … and why.  But, this is how I feel today.

As I am not currently in the United States, I vote through absentee ballot after having fulfilled all requirements therefor in Marion County, Florida, my last place of residence in the United States.  I’ve voted this way for over a decade and have not had a problem, until now.  This year, for whatever reason, my absentee ballot did not arrive.  I’m hoping someone else doesn’t have it and if they’ve somehow acquired it, that they won’t be turning it in.  That is a frequent phenomenon in many parts of the world, Colombia (where I currently reside) included.  But we spend a great deal of effort seeking to insure electoral integrity and minimization of electoral corruption and fraud.  Not an easy task, but we try.  In the United States today, … not so much.  Voting in the United States has become something of a crapshoot lately but apparently, nothing can be done about that, at least not now.  And United States midterm elections are tomorrow.

As usual, polarization and fear seem to be the main tools being used to drive voters to the polls.  It’s all about the monsters, bigots and racists who make up half of our population; not about issues (other than abortion and gun rights, the old standbys) … or performance.  “Please, leave memory and logic safely locked away in the basement or attic, or somewhere else you don’t frequent.  Do not, for any reason, use them when making electoral decisions”.  Trust your emotions, those that have been manipulated by the corporate media and through armies of internet trolls for the last decade, and through the thousands of direct email appeals made to you by earnest candidates seeking just a few more of your hard earned dollars, in order to “save democracy”.

This is another election for voting against something amorphous (a greater evil) instead of something in which we believe, and above all, for ignoring facts.  Facts such as: war in the Ukraine and attempts to stoke war with China by leaders who disdain military service for themselves and their families; economic sanctions imposed by our government against others that hurt us as much as the targets (unless they’re much weaker than we are, then, who cares about suffering by the people, weapons sales are what count).  And what about healthcare for all, a guaranteed minimum income, free education, infrastructure repair?  Remember those issues from two years ago?  Sorry, the money for that has been sent to the Ukraine so it can buy weapons from our “defense” industry.  Nuclear war?  Is it really worth the risk just so our wealthiest can get wealthier?  Apparently so.  And how about liberty at home, the right to make personal decisions about what we put in our bodies, or the right to opine freely (free of censorship), how’s that going?  And the economy and inflation, and how the world perceives the United States?

I find it amazing how lightly we heed Albert Einstein’s observation concerning insanity, you know “continuing to do the same thing but anticipating different results”. Lemmings are apparently our heroes.  Perhaps this time those currently in control of our federal government (those we elect but also those who run “our” all-powerful unelected bureaucracy) really do have our best interests at heart and are not, like Lucy in the comic strip Peanuts (when acting as a football placeholder for Linus), just waiting to fool us again.  Of course, if one believes the foregoing, then (a), there are several bridges for sale at bargain prices one might invest in; and, (b), there are Arab billionaires so grateful for the understanding of United States’ citizens in keeping them in power, who, if you will just send them your banking data and passwords, will deposit a million or so dollars in your account.

We have different opinions concerning policies that we believe will best attain sociopolitical goals that best suit our priorities, but for the most part, we share common goals, no matter how political leaders seek to polarize and manipulate us.  We want to be personally and economically secure; we want to live in a world at peace where different societies are free to make their own decisions, free of meddling and especially free of invasion and occupation; we want to avoid violence at all levels; we want access to fair and equitable systems of conflict resolution that respect our legal rights; we want to be free to express our opinions, even if we’re wrong; and we want to be free of intrusive government interference with our lives.  Our political institutions, which supposedly combine democracy with liberty and minority rights (three incompatible concepts), are supposedly operated based on our electoral decisions, although in reality, our electoral options are limited by a rigid, albeit informal, two party dictatorship, which, with the essential assistance of the corporate media, limits who our choices as candidates will be.  That frustrates us, but apparently, not enough to do anything about it, thus, rendering us insane, at least according to Einstein.  That’s because we have been brainwashed into believing that we can’t change the system.  If we can’ fight city hall”, how much less powerful are we with respect to the federal government.  Just ask Donald Trump or Tulsi Gabbard or Dennis Kucinich?

But here’s something to consider today, in light of tomorrow’s elections, and if it seems reasonable to you, to implement tomorrow: If you can’t vote for either the current batch of self-serving, corrupt autocrats or for the major party opposition to the current batch of self-serving, corrupt autocrats (i.e., the Democrats or the GOP), then consider third parties and independents.  There are plenty of great candidates there.  Don’t become an accessary to the misery those currently in power are generating for people everywhere; or to the hate and polarization they’re causing, dividing us by race and gender and sexual orientation and nationality and attitudes towards religion, while they claim it’s their opponents who are responsible for all the foregoing.

Don’t waste your votes again.  Misusing them is even worse than not using them.

This is a message I’ve been sharing every electoral cycle for decades which, in my naïve optimism, may mean that I’m as crazy as those who keep voting for the same rascals hoping that, this time, they’ve changed their spots for stripes, or vice versa.

Something to ponder as today morphs into tomorrow, and with which you’ll have to live long after tomorrow’s elections are history, or perhaps just literary fiction.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.  Oh hell, plagiarize it if you want!!!

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

A Call for a Real Liberal, a Real Progressive Political Movement in the United States

As usual, the United States is embroiled in an armed conflict.  Since war is supposedly illegal, we no longer have them, we have police actions and special military operations and clandestine interventions, etc.  The latest, that one involving the Ukraine, is a bit different, a bit more Machiavellian.  The United States orchestrated it (with help from its NATO allies) and is financing it but is maintaining that it is not actively participating in it, other than through assuring and facilitating its continuance in order to weaken both the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, regardless of the cost in lives and infrastructure for the Ukrainians (the United States designated tools) and perhaps, in the near future, if its luck holds, the Taiwanese.  That nuclear holocaust is a risk is irrelevant.  The ends, apparently, justify the means, and narrative management will take care of all but the radioactive fallout.

Thank goodness Donald Trump was eliminated to make the foregoing possible, after all, it’s a project started during the Clinton administration and implemented by the good old troika of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (with an assist by Hunter).

So, how is the foregoing feasible, you know, with the United Nations Charter, the United States Constitution, etc.?  Well, well-orchestrated political dynamics in and through the United States certainly help.  There’s the purportedly defensive “North Atlantic Treaty Organization”, now morphed into a world-wide neoliberal enforcement organ predicated on “Mafian” principles; there’s the European Union, NATO’s echo chamber; and of course, there’s the  United States’ bipartisan dictatorship.

Let me explain the latter. 

There are two major political parties in the United States which, between them, split almost all political offices and posts at every level.  One, the Democratic Party, has under the leadership of a certain Nancy Pelosi, with the assistance of a certain Chuck Schumer, become monolithic in its voting patterns (except for two recalcitrant senators, one from West Virginia and one from Colorado, considered pariahs and traitors).  The other is a strange collection of feuding caucuses under divers, would be leaders, who find it difficult to govern.  Not a bad thing as Will Rogers, a noted political comedian from the first half of the twentieth century once noted when he explained that “no one’s life or property was safe while Congress was in session”.  Oddly, he was a Democrat and once described that political party in terms that now apply to its principle opponent.

Until fairly recently, interestingly enough, both parties were controlled by the same people, whose artfully planted moles in the federal bureaucracy shielded their interests from any populist threats.  Somehow that managed to briefly change in 2016, making formal and informal structural changes in the electoral system necessary in order to preserve democracy’s innocuousness.  After all, democracy’s supposed to be just for show.  The control by the unorganized but highly disciplined state within a state that some of us refer to as the Deep State was shaken, perhaps bent a bit but not broken, and it is now firmly back in place.  Thanks to an artfully crafted, controlled and managed “pandemic”.  A curse for many but a blessing for the privileged few who rule us.

But, what does the foregoing mean? 

Well, to all appearances, it means that ideology free monolithic autocracy and pragmatism have triumphed over principles, equity, democracy and liberty, nasty things the latter, every one.  Monolithic autocracy, is maintained, sustained and fueled by the hate, disdain and polarization which the Deep State, now a memeplex all its own, loves.  It sets us against each other domestically by gender, by race, by nationality, by sexual orientation, by religious beliefs and then does all it can to absolutely silence dissent through censorship, censorship directly by our government (all three branches) as well as through its allies in Internet technologies and platforms, and through abuse of the criminal justice system to attack political enemies, all while loudly accusing everyone else of doing exactly what it is it is in fact doing (the foregoing phrase kind of reminds us of the famous observation, “that depends on what the meaning of “is”, is).  There is a problem though.  Today, only the Democratic Party is sticking to the script, although a number of traditionalist Republicans keep trying to bring the good old GOP back into line.  But fortunately for the Deep State, at least right now, the Democratic Party controls all of the federal political branches (although how legitimate that control is and how it was attained is questioned by all too many potential voters; but that is irrelevant).

To the delight of the Deep State, that “Democratic” Party applies Deep State principles and tactics internationally, as well as domestically, seeking economic and political control by planting conflict everywhere which permits perpetual sowing of the profits of perpetual war, albeit in the name of peace, democracy and liberty.  And admittedly, those profits are not meant to be shared, at least not broadly.

To opponents of violence as a means of conflict resolution, to those to whom equity, truth and justice are somehow relevant, GOP traditionalists are not much better than Democrats, but at least the GOP is not monolithic, there is internal dissent expressed in actual congressional debates and non-uniformity of votes, with a wing led by Rand Paul that demands de-escalation of external conflicts and freedom of belief and speech at home, opposed to GOP traditionalists like the Cheneys and the Bushes.  And there are civic leaders like Tulsi Gabbard, an awesome statesperson, except for her Islamophobia, but she at least thinks for herself and is not owned by the billionaire class.  In truth, there are viable political leaders everywhere, in third parties and among those who refuse to be part of political parties (which have become the self-serving sectarians James Madison promised in the Federalist Papers would not evolve.  The anti-Federalists, unfortunately for us, were right on almost every point, as history has shown). 

Federal elections in the United States (now a dysfunctional mess as promoters of electoral fraud in the name of “democracy” obliterate traditional norms) are set to take place in a few weeks.  Elections that impact men, women and children everywhere, most of whom cannot participate as they are not United States citizens.  I wonder what would happen if they could?  How might all of the people in all of the countries that the United States has fragmented and looted, … purportedly for their own good (or at least that’s the story), usually under Democratic Party led administrations (think WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and now the Ukraine but that’s barely the tip of the iceberg) vote?  But they can’t, at least not unless they have managed to enter the United States and surreptitiously usurp the franchise, … and vote for the Democratic Party.

The foregoing makes United States voters committed to peace and equity morally responsible for selecting world leaders who really believe in peace and in sane environmental policies and in sustainable economics and in equity and in real justice.  A daunting task at which we too often fail because our choices are drastically limited to those of whom the Deep State approves.  As to those who do not come up to Deep Sate standards, well, not that he was great, or even decent, but look at what happened and is happening to Donald Trump, whose main crime is that he does not believe in perpetual war and dared to suggest dismantling NATO and bringing troops back from overseas.  Look at what happened to Tulsi Gabbard, the star of the Democratic Party’s presidential debates until the rules were changed to exclude her.  Look at what happened to Dennis Kucinich, gerrymandered out of a congressional district by his own party (the Democrats, who with crocodile tears now constantly scream against gerrymandering, at least any gerrymandering that is not their own).

All of this is possible only because, notwithstanding the famous “First Amendment”, the United States does not have (and really, never has had) a legitimate free press but rather, only purported journalists tasked with spewing mind-controlling narrative on a 24/7 basis.  There are, of course, miniscule exceptions, exceptions like the imprisoned Julian Assange and those who look up to him, but there are less and less of those as more and more realize on which side their bread is buttered, or how dangerous it is to actually investigate and honestly share findings.

So, … as elections once again approach, we, the electorate, find ourselves confused, bored, disillusioned and disinterested, anticipating results we feel are preordained.  Except of course, for dedicated and either well compensated or deluded Deep State activists, some of whom, like lemmings, vote in blocks regardless of how often they have been deceived.  But then, that’s what polarization is for.

Going into these imminent elections, we are once again unprepared for alternatives, either because they have been prevented from evolving or because the corporate press and social media moguls have obfuscated them.  At best, once more, we can vote against greater evils, although they are difficult to identify.  If only Tulsi Gabbard could run for everything, but alas, she’s not running for anything, although she has endorsed a few candidates.  Still, perhaps by recently resigning from the Democratic Party (but not joining the GOP), she has provided a sort of benchmark for our personal electoral decisions.

Too many of the most decent among us will refuse to participate in what they see as a charade but that may well perpetuate the Deep State’s hold on power, and that, in turn, may well accelerate the day on which our political decisions will no longer have any relevance, as the universe may at last find itself rid of the infection posed by our species, decisions which will no longer be relevant as our, and many innocent species, will no longer inhabit this sphere we call home.  Is that a depressing or hopeful thought?  I guess that depends on one’s attitude towards being rebooted.

Not that there isn’t hope for a peaceful world.  One where equity and justice prevail; where truth is relevant and where we are each not only free, but empowered to attain or full potential.  But that requires a great awakening and a rejection of those who currently enforce de facto, if not de jure slavery over so many, either in a pretty velvet casing or through brute force.  Rejection of those dedicated to ruling us through polarization and perpetual war.  Rejection of those who hoard the world’s resources forcing hundreds of millions to live in abject poverty and to die or be maimed in meaningless conflicts.

There is a saying that it is always darkest before the dawn and it is pretty dark right now.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Some Observations and Reflections as we Once Again Head to the Polls in an Existential Election

I am not and never have been a supporter of former president Donald J. Trump but I’ve defended him against the myriad false and misleading accusations to which he’s been subjected.  I also recognize the current witch hunt against denominated “Election Deniers” for what it is.  That’s because as a dual United States Colombian citizen, I have the benefit of a somewhat broader historical perspective. 

For example, the events surrounding the 2020 federal elections that crystalized in the protests turned violent on January 6, 2020, as well as the ensuing government reaction have an analog in recent Colombian history.  Current Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, was, in his youth, part of an insurgency (unfortunately armed) against the theft of the 1972 presidential election in Colombia by a coalition of the two traditional parties, an insurgency known as the M-19, a movement that was not a communist conspiracy, as described by its detractors, but one whose goal was to protect both democracy and liberty.  The insurgency soon lost its focus and egregious acts against the innocent public resulted but eventually, a positive although very slow healing process ensued, culminating first in a new constitution, and eventually, in Colombia’s recent presidential elections where for the first time in its history, a progressive movement emerged victorious.

The United States is currently experiencing a similar crisis.  While it is probably impossible to determine that electoral fraud in 2020 was enough to impact the electoral results, there is little doubt that, as in every federal election in United States history, some fraud occurred, and that the electoral mechanisms introduced in 2020 purportedly due to necessities imposed by the apparent Covid 19 crisis (a crisis now deemed by many as artificial at best), mechanisms such as mass mailing of electoral ballots and acceptance of completed ballots through intermediaries, facilitated the process for vote harvesting and the buying and selling of electoral ballots.  At least some credible allegations of electoral fraud were raised but as in the case in Colombia in 1972, they were neither seriously investigated by responsible government agencies nor prosecuted, leading a large segment of the electorate to question the election’s legitimacy.  The refusal to investigate the allegations and instead, to investigate and in too many cases, to prosecute those who made them (either in judicial proceedings or through Congressional hearings designed to impact future elections) have led to the complete polarization of the United States electorate at levels threatening domestic tranquility.

Insurgencies are usually the result of justice blatantly denied leading to a loss of faith in all governing institutions deemed responsible for the repression of democracy and liberty (two very different things).  That sometimes, although fairly rarely, leads to popular reaction, something detractors refer to as “populism”.  Populism is neither a right wing nor a left wing phenomenon and examples in recent United States history include the ill-led Sanders revolution (which flopped) and the Tea Party revolution (which succeeded until it was stamped out).  It is thus a phenomenon which occurs when a significant segment in any given society rejects constitutional institutions designed to hamstring democracy and decide to really “throw the rascals out”, although all too frequently without having reflected on with whom or what they’ll be replaced. 

It may be that populism is the only thing that can save the world in which we find ourselves, today although hopefully (as is the current case in Colombia), with a well thought out and planned alternative ready for implementation.  The traditional parties in the United States are leading the world deeper and deeper into a dystopic disaster and need to be replaced. Not all options are viable and many are worse than the “disease” they need to eradicate (kind of like the Covid 19 vaccines seem to be), but some options are indeed viable and additional options can be crafted by men and women of good will who want to maximize debate while minimizing polarization, and to find common ground for solutions while acknowledging that, where consensus cannot be attained, in a democracy, there are things which are beyond the legitimate control of government.  That minds and hearts are not changed by ridicule, censorship and false narratives (at least not in the long term), but that long term solutions are desperately needed if our species is to survive.

While it is losing respect and influence everywhere, the United States is still powerful enough militarily and through control of mechanisms of international finance (with ill conceived, unfair and illegal economic sanctions) to create havoc almost everywhere.  Thus United States politics impacts people everywhere and its elections are of universal import.  Indeed, it would seem normal and justifiable for people all over the world to seek to impact the elections in a would-be hegemon (what after the 2016 elections was hypocritically referred to as foreign meddling), given that the results of such lections are likely to impact their own future, and even, their survival.  Once again, as seems to happen at least every other year, existential United States elections are again at play.  Once again, we are again about to go to the polls without viable options, but at least some fundamental things are clear:

  • One political party and the traditionalist remnants of the other are totally controlled by the state within the state many of us refer to as the Deep State (unelected bureaucrats, corporate news media, intelligence agencies, billionaire technocrats, etc.) and are dedicated to perpetual war in quest of worldwide political and economic dominance for the benefit of a tiny few, albeit claiming to merely be seeking racial and gender justice and recognition of human rights, purported rights they themselves violate constantly. 
  • The other is comprised of confused and angry populists who know in their hearts that the “system” is not their friend and who seek solutions mainly in what they mistakenly recall as a better past. 

Not great options, but the reality is that one party is willing to risk the survival of humanity, and the other is not.  A crude choice, … at least for now.  A third alternative is one being crafted by an interesting albeit imperfect stateswoman, a former United States Congresswoman who concurrently served as a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaiian National Guard but who abhors war.  However, she has neither a political party’s backing nor an organized political movement fielding candidates in the next election, although there are a few candidates she is supporting, without regard to their current political affiliations.  Her name is Tulsi Gabbard and she recently resigned as a member of the Democratic Party, recognizing it for what it was become.  It may be that her recommendations and endorsements are worth considering.

Most of us want very similar things.  A world without war.  Economic and personal security.  The ability to successfully raise and protect our families.  Access to real justice with respect to resolution of interpersonal and international conflicts.  Freedom to think and to express ourselves however we want free of censorship of any kind and free from those who insist that we think and believe as they do, even if we are wrong (it may well be that only by being free to make mistakes will we ever be able to be experienced enough to find correct solutions).  A world free of international organizations like NATO whose goal is to dominate others through military force, and to force conflict on societies whose people derive no benefits from the ensuing mayhem (e.g., the Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Palestine, etc.).  A country that spends its citizens’ hard earned money for education, healthcare, infrastructure and a social safety net rather than on foreign military bases and a bloated defense industry.  What seems clear is that the political party than now controls all political branches of government at the federal level and which has turned the federal bureaucracy into an Americanized version of the Gestapo is an unmitigated disaster in every respect and should be consigned to the dust heaps of history, and that were it possible, its leaders and elected officials should somehow be barred from ever again participating in political leadership, or indeed, leadership of any kind. 

This is not an endorsement of the GOP but rather a rejection of the Democratic Party and a plea for consideration of new alternative political options.  Your survival depends on the evolution of new viable alternatives and unfortunately we are no longer dealing with a long term solution but rather, with one which requires immediate action.

Please consider the foregoing when you go to the polls in a few weeks.  Please also consider sharing the foregoing observations.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Perhaps

How strange it is to grasp that this world might well be a better place if the fictional macabre were real. 

If ghouls and goblins ruled in place of politicians and if necromancers and their ilk controlled the corporate media. 

Or perhaps there wouldn’t be any difference.  Any difference at all.

Perhaps they already do.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Observations on the Passing of Mikhail Gorbachev

He was a courageous and creative humanitarian, ironically the product of a justifiably paranoid regime, a man whose vision for a just world, where individual and collective interests might be reconciled, was thwarted by the power mad egoists who rule us in the so-called West. 

As Yeshua ben Miriam is reported to have observed, “a prophet has no honor in his own home”, and so, he is all too frequently blamed in Russia for the misery occasioned by his successor, Boris Yeltsin, who virtually sold Russia to Western backed gangsters, a prelude to our modern, post-truth world.  But some of us who were both alive and alert at the time know the truth: he almost singlehandedly ended the age of the Iron Curtain and the first Cold War. 

Unfortunately, he naively felt that leaders in the United States, Germany and NATO shared his vision, and he and Russia were promptly betrayed.  Something from which the Chinese and the current Russian leadership appear to have learned.

It may be a long time before a conciliator of his stature appears on the world stage at an opportune moment, a long time we perhaps no longer have.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.