So, … Just Which Lives Matter and Why?

Echoes of Cassandra, and of Huxley and Orwell, and of Heinlein as well.  The counterintuitive blues.  Perhaps our hidden pandemic.  The real plague among us.  Our mirrors don’t seem to work anymore.  Narrative is all that counts.  “Resistance is futile”!

As so often happens, diverse parts of the world are being stricken by social convulsions, spontaneity now become a carefully organized production.  Good causes immediately perverted into evil.  Sauron wins again.  At least for now.  As usual, the United States is the focal point, the catalyst, and then, the betrayer.

Although denominated “Black Lives Matter”, the movement convulsing the United States and resonating around the world would be better described as “Criminal Lives Matter”, at least if facts mattered.  And they do.  Both criminal lives and facts.  And they should.  And they must in a system that seeks to reflect the values to which most societies aspire.  But it seems to me that there are three very different issues at play that are being hysterically conflated in the United States into only one for no purpose other than to attain political advantages in upcoming elections.  They involve: (1) the problems of police impunity and corruption; (2) the reality that too many of our citizens find themselves immersed in a life of violent crime; and, (3) the accelerating polarization of our society that increasingly divides us by race, nationality, religion and gender.  Black lives matter.  All lives matter (strange that this statement is now considered racist).  Human dignity matters.  Equity matters.  Equality matters. 

Criminal lives matter but police lives matter just as much.  In each case, both the victims and the perpetrators are human beings.  They are parents and siblings and sons and daughters, cousins and uncles and aunts.  Friends.  They are us, … but for fate and blind fortune, as Joan Baez sang so long ago.  And we probably all agree, regardless of how the corporate media and Deep State seek to confuse and divide us.

Impunity is a poison that leads to corruption and needs to be eliminated, not expanded to criminals as well.  The United States, indeed the world, is full of African American and minority heroes, real role models.  Role models like Mandela and King, and a bit east, like Gandhi.  And their modern variants are myriad and exist at every social level and in most political and social movements.  But career criminals, injured or killed resisting otherwise lawful arrest, do not fit that bill unless what we want to create are more violent criminals resisting arrest.  Role models are people we hold up to emulate, those in whose footsteps we want our children to follow.  But during this past century that role has been perverted.  Our role models are now too often selfish athletes, or selfish singers, or selfish actors, or selfish plutocrats.  And now, seemingly, selfish violent criminals resisting arrest.  Still, notwithstanding that violent criminals ought not to be our role models, extrajudicial killing ought not to be accepted and much less justified.  Criminal lives matter and police impunity deprives the state of the justification for its monopoly on the use of force.  That is the real issue tearing the United States apart, and now the very real issue spreading throughout the world.

As should be the case with public servants across the board (especially those holding higher office), police should be held to higher standards of conduct and perhaps, conviction for misconduct should involve a lower threshold of proof given how easy it is to hide official wrongdoing, and more serious punishment.  But with reference to public servants of whom we demand that they place their lives at risk in order to protect us and our property, that reality also needs to be taken into account.  A complex conundrum not attained through politically expedient, simplistic solutions designed to appeal to emotions of the moment rather than to reason and logic.  The same is true of our military.  In each case we teach that killing and risking our lives are acceptable options, then, after those dehumanizing lessons have been inculcated, we seek to bind the resulting impulses with rules of engagement that are all too frequently impossible to analyze in the split seconds available.  And when the predictable consequences take place, we seek to wash our bloody hands and blame them, and only them.  We fulminate and excoriate and make ludicrous suggestions in lieu of solutions and we do so because their crimes are ours as well.  And that, we prefer to ignore.  If the violators of the public trust are depraved and sick human beings, it is the depraved society that we not only tolerate, but which we select at the polls, that is ultimately responsible.  When war abroad make killing and mayhem quotidian events (a price to be paid only in collateral consequences), how can we be surprised when it comes home to roost?

But what of criminals? 

Well they obviously should not resist arrest!  But then, they should not have been criminals in the first place.  The reality is that most criminals did not chose to be criminals for the fun of it.  Some are subject to mental aberrations but many have been drawn to crime by opportunity-denied generationally.  By failure assured.  And the resulting self-loathing is relieved and hidden only under layers of readily available psychotropic drugs.  Those responsible for the evolution of a society where such problems are festering social wounds are much more to blame than are aberrant policemen and women.  In that regard, the Clinton administration with its lurch to the right to attain power at any cost may be the most to blame.  Its penal and welfare “reforms” are what most exacerbated an already seriously unfair economic system whose primary victims were African Americans and Latinos.  “Reforms” that led to the incarceration of a higher percentage of our residents than are incarcerated anywhere else in the world; worse than Russia or China, worse than our allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel.  “Reforms” that destroyed the nucleus of the Black family with males driven out so that welfare benefits might alleviate the existing abject poverty.  Reforms responsible for the fact that African Americans are responsible for more violent crime than any ethnic group despite being a minority of the population.  Odd that African Americans adopted President Clinton as one of their own but then, they don’t call him “Slick Willy” for nothing; feminists have done the same thing. 

As in the case of all aspects of terrorism (and violent crime is just that, whether perpetrated by criminals or rogue police officers), it will not be minimized by eliminating those who engage in terrorist tactics but by minimizing the social factors that maximize inequity and injustice.  Palestinian lives matter but we did not care and the Israeli tactics designed to permanently eliminate the reminders of their own “peculiar institution” have been imported by police departments all over the United States, now forming an integral part of domestic police practices.  Iraqi lives matter but we murdered hundreds of thousands of them, a price Madeline Albright found acceptable.  Afghan lives matter but we murdered tens of thousands of them, a price Bush II, Obama, Clinton and Biden found acceptable.  Libyan and Syrian and Honduran and Ukrainian and Yemeni lives matter too, but every one of our major political leaders in both major political parties have found the price acceptable.  And we, the voters, especially those willing to settle for lesser evils, are personally responsible.

This is who we have become thanks to the bellicose oligarchs we permit to dominate us (and the current president is far from the worst among them; not exactly a tribute).  The Obama-Clinton-Biden triad happily led us into Libya and Syria and Yemen and Honduras and the Ukraine.  And current GOP allies of the Biden presidential campaign such as the Bush family and Colin Powell, and numerous generals and admirals and intelligence officials, current and former, etc., led us into the continuing Iraqi and Afghan quagmires.  So for all the noise and blunder, for all the protests and riots, for all the looting and arson, we keep headed in the same direction.  Not the blind leading the blind but lemmings following bloody murderers to the polls to vote for the same old options.  To vote for evil in the name of lesser evil, but with the same results.

Is America Headed for a Race War” is the headline in an article published on RT by Robert Bridge, an American writer and journalist and the author of Midnight in the American Empire.  The law of unintended consequences strikes hardest when long and intermediate term consequences are ignored in favor of immediate goals such as victory in a single election.  Hopefully Mr. Bridge’s article is hyperbolic as its conclusion ought to be unthinkable.  But it raises valid points.  Points we should consider.  Unfortunately, Mr. Bridge continues to associate the left with the Democratic Party as though they were synonyms, which they are not.  While some leftists are indeed trapped in the Democratic Party, leftists I admire like Tulsi Gabbard and Dennis Kucinich, and others are seduced by fantasies of a shortcut to attaining power by capturing one of the two existing major political parties (but will more likely become what they believe they are fighting), the Democratic Party is utterly controlled by neoliberal, neoconservatives.  One need only consider who their candidates for president and vice president are.  The truth is that rather than being “leftist”, the Democratic Party does not even qualify as center right.  Furthermore many of today’s rioters (as distinct from protesters, two very different social roles) are anarchists rather than socialists, and anarchists are not leftist either; they are far to the right of libertarians in the individual-to-collective spectrum. 

The United States is obsessed with hyperbolic labels (seemingly more now than ever).  Republicans falsely equate the Democratic Party with communists and Democrats return the favor, associating the GOP with fascism.  Neither cares for the truth, only for power.  Something most voters understand but feel incapable of correcting because, this time, the election really is existential  This time one opponent or the other must be stopped, even if evil will win again, as it has for most of the “democratic” elections during our lifetimes.  Perhaps, due to our political apathy coupled with the naivety of too many of us, we’re receiving just what we deserve. 

But does our progeny deserve it as well? 

Perhaps it is their lives that ought to matter most.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is!

Guillermo Calvo Mahé
Image for post

Boycotts may be the only way to attain change in a world controlled by the billionaire elite. Whether your political leanings are in favor of the Democratic Party, the GOP, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the diverse socialist, conservative or special issue parties, etc., or independent, it seems that the only way your voice will be heard (certainly given the lack of options that won’t be at the polls) is by withholding your hard earned money from those who will spend it on causes in which you do not believe. Abandon them not, just until they change (they’ll change back when your back is turned), but forever.

We will need constantly updated data bases, and they are certain to be hijacked by the same-old-same- olds, but we’ll just keep generating new ones distributing the information we need. In fact, much of the date we can obtain ourselves. For example, if there are professional athletes or entertainers whose views or actions you loath, boycott their sponsors forever (e.g., Nike, Coca Cola, Pepsi, etc.) as well as advertisers in their events (e.g., the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA, etc.). If you feel the Washington Post is a disgrace, boycott Amazon and all advertisers in that publication. The New York Times? Boycott Carlos Slim’s companies (e.g., TracFone, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Coffee Factory) and products and all advertisers in that publication. Fox News? The same.

The most interesting and difficult part will be to develop and update national, regional, state and local websites that include local alternatives for the products boycotted. That would probably be great for the local economy. The big boys will, of course, try and sabotage the effort, co-opting the websites, using algorithms to censor the data, having their paid tools in the legislature pass laws making the boycott illegal, filing lawsuits for slander or defamation, but properly structured and monitored, we can fight back. And politically, we’ll know that those who oppose will never receive our votes, nor will their party.

A real solution for a sick time. A peaceful, non-violent rebellion of which Gandhi and Mandela and King would be proud.

Let’s make this proposal viral but even more importantly, let’s make it a reality. Start now, on your own. If we have thousands of sites on the Internet providing the information we need to both boycott and purchase, we will be that much more difficult to destroy.

Something not only about which to think but on which to act, … and to act now.

Lesser evils? Not anymore!!! Direct action is the way to go.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

Reflections on another Nine-Eleven, this One Very Different

Photo creator: Peter Morgan, credit Reuters

A strange anniversary today.  Sad, as always, but very, very different this time around.  Perhaps it was time.

Nineteen years have passed and I do not perceive that we have ever reflected as a People on why that terrible day occurred or how it would affect or has affected our collective psyche  There are plenty of conspiracy theories and at least one of them is valid, perhaps several.  It shaped who we became, at least for a while, and millions have been displaced and died worldwide as a result.  But our cycle of despair and mourning and furious overreaction with patriotism become jingoistic seems to have run its course and a contrary dystopian overreaction has set in, violence having subsumed reasonable and necessary protest.  Self-loathing replaced American exceptionalism although the balance is somewhere in between.  Perhaps karma has caught up with us at last.

It is said that those who live by the sword die by the sword and we as a People have lived by the sword for way too long.  Apparently, we have now become fratricidal and suicidal as a society as well.  It ought to have been expected.  Indeed, the “Sleeping Prophet” predicted it a century ago.

The past three and a half years have been terrible as well and perhaps in the long term more destructive than that day in September almost two decades ago, at least to us.  The rest of the world may see things differently.  Perhaps dreaming that its long nightmare may soon come to an end. 

The foundation of a functioning democracy: that the winners govern, that the defeated accept their defeat at least during the next cycle, and that the government stays neutral during the election, have been shattered in the United States, less “united” than at any time since our first “Civil” War.  As in the case of Pandora’s Box, I doubt that the harm and disruption occasioned since that fateful day in November of 2016 will ever be repaired or that future elections, regardless of the winner, at least for the foreseeable future, will ever be accepted as legitimate by large segments of the population.  I doubt that the reaction to such delegitimization will, in the future, be as patient as that shown by the current president.  “Dictatorship”, from the Democrats or from the GOP is in the air, and it will, as was the case in the Roman Republic, as has occurred three times in the United States already (Lincoln, Wilson and FDR during war), be found acceptable by many members of a weary People. We will have become enured to “lesser evil”.

For good or most probably, as seen from where we sit today, for ill, we the People are deeply enmeshed in a fundamental transition, pulled hither and yon by selfishly chaotic forces that care little for our welfare, only for their own.  For power and wealth perpetuated on the one hand and for instant gratification on the other, instant gratification sometimes bred of despair but too often just out of selfish, childish boredom: on the one hand an urge to accumulate and on the other an urge to destroy.  We are firmly focused on the instant blithely ignoring the future, consequences be damned.  But we have been bred that way for almost two centuries, it is who we have become, and the chickens have come home to roost.

I wonder what the next nine-eleven will be like.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

Political Antigens: Destroying Democracy in the Name of Democracy

Furious at rejection by the American electorate, the Deep State, through its two principal tools, the Democratic Party and the monolithic corporate media, have engaged in an Orwellian four year war against American democracy, against freedom of expression, and against individual liberty, all, purportedly, in the name of “protecting” them.  A no-holds barred war structured to disassemble the American polity by setting race against race, gender against gender, friends against friends and fracturing the concept of family in the name of “equality”; by reigniting the Cold War against Russia and China in the name of peace; by using the spread of a dangerous pandemic in order to destroy an unfortunately (for them) thriving economy, and, by installing the Orwellian concept of an antithetical ministry of “truth” (defined as “deception”) as the new normal.

The fury expressed externally may reflect a self-loathing at their inability to enthrone the Democratic Party’s monarch despite having utterly rigged the 2016 presidential election, both internally, to insure that notwithstanding profound popular rejection, she attain the prerequisite nomination, and then, by manipulating the other major party’s primaries so that a candidate she could defeat, notwithstanding her unpopularity, would be selected.  But, while successful, such machinations proved inadequate; the federal system conspired to pull defeat from the orchestrated jaws of victory and the victor was the utterly unpredictable and bombastic Donald Trump.  Worst of all, he turned out to be less inept as president than the Democrats had promised he’d be.  Not that he has been a good president, at least as measured in the long term, but his many successes, although suppressed and distorted, were an unpleasant surprise.  To make it clear, the author is not a supporter of President Trump nor will he be voting for him, the author is an avowed leftist, but a real leftist, not the kind trapped in the Democratic Party.  He merely believes that opposition ought to be ethical and civil, that when credit is deserved it ought to be acknowledged, and that society ought not to be destroyed in the political process.  Because of the foregoing he has been accused by family and friends of being a Russian stooge (at best).  Hurtful, but, in the end, perhaps given the times, unavoidable.  As a caveat, he confesses that he reads RT, a Russian news source (and finds it useful), but he also reads, on a daily basis, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, CNN, the Christian Science Monitor, Fox News, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, and numerous alternative news sites including Truthdig, Common Dreams, the Duran, Consortium News and the Medium.

The great Democratic Party defeat of 2016 made it clear to the Deep State that neither democracy nor liberty, nor freedom of expression nor peaceful coexistence, could be tolerated in the future. The time had come for more direct intervention, for censorship and for large scale brain cleansing; the time had come to generate civic dysfunction using every tool available, especially the politicized judiciary at the district and circuit levels that the Democratic Party led Senate of 2013 had wisely planted when changed the rules for judicial selection.  However, the damnable law of unintended consequences stuck its ugly head into the fray and, adding even more frustration to fury, the GOP captured the Senate in 2014 and, with the unanticipated presidential defeat of 2016, the Democratic Party’s restructuring of the judiciary to ensure long term power was foiled.  Harbingers of more political chaos in the future, it was the damnable GOP that selected new Supreme Court justices and judges at the district and circuit levels, and, as in a bad divorce, it was the citizenry of the United States that has been shamelessly battered and abused as a result.  Chaos, in all its glory reigns for the nonce, with structured oligarchic order waiting in the wings.

So, where do we find ourselves as we head to the federal elections this time around? 

As divided internally as at any time since the Civil War with no resolution in sight.  Truth has become an irrelevant inconvenience dealt with by a deceptive corporate media on the one hand and multidimensional censorship of opposing voices on the other, censorship not only through lack of access to the corporate media but also by limiting contrarian access to social media Internet platforms (e.g., Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).  Even worse, by loosening an army of both carefully trained and supported and unwitting trolls on those who dare to share information critical of the Deep State, the Democratic Party or the corporate media by introducing information that contradicts their narrative.  Foreign sources, especially having anything to do with opponents on the world stage are especially verboten.  Leakers of truthful information are tortured, imprisoned or exiled (think, for example, of David Snowden and Julian Assange, the prometheuses of our age), with the focus shifted from the accuracy of the message to the origin of the messenger while planted and orchestrated leaks of misleading information have become omnipresent.  Hyperbolic faux news reigns supreme, Hallelujah!

That’ll teach anyone to defy the Deep State and its money-to-power-to-money machine!  And if it causes despair and misery to the citizenry, well it’s a hard but necessary lesson.  “Democracy” in the United States was not meant to be populist and rebellious but rather, as our Constitution makes obvious, a ratification process for decisions made by our oligarchic masters.  As the illusory Borg once exclaimed on television, “resistance is futile”, fortunately the Deep State’s resources are virtually endless and our attention spans and patience are brief.  A happy coincidence.  Manipulation should be easy, 2016 a mere aberration.  We’ll soon learn and return to political docility, … or else!

From an academic perspective, analysis leads some of us to conclude that there is still hope for the populace, albeit barely, that perhaps resistance is not futile and that we need not reinvent the wheel to attain it.  Some of us have come to realize that effective dictatorship does not require a one party state but can be even more effective in an illusory “democracy” limited in terms of real participation to two political carefully cast wholly owned actors, but that increasing the base of political participation to four or five actors makes control by the Deep State much more expensive and difficult, kind of like overloading an electrical current or in more modern terms, the Internet system, so as to render it ineffective. 

We have the means, at least for now, at least theoretically, to liberate ourselves from political and economic slavery, but we may not have them for long.  The maverick presidency of Donald Trump has woken the sleeping tiger of autocracy in the United States, not from Mr. Trump’s denizens but from his ironically and oxymoronically named opponents.  But if we don’t act soon we may soon find that our window has closed.  That is why we are subjected to the omnipresent crescendo of “lesser evil, lesser evil” until soon, evil will really be the only option as “not yet” morphs into never.

It may well be this November or never.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

Lies, Damned Lies and Mistakes

The truth has become passé. 

There seems little doubt about that.  Those who practice it, who are dedicated to it, are an aberration[1].  That is especially true in public life and especially in the profession once known as journalism.  Lawyers, politicians and journalists have eclipsed used car salesmen (and women) in the mind of most people as the most dishonest and untrustworthy professions[2].  That is regrettable given that those three professions are the most important in establishing and maintaining “government of the People, for the People and by the People”, although for those who really study history, the author of that quote would probably be comfortable living and working with today’s lawyers, politicians and journalists.

That something is not true does not mean that, when stated, it was a lie.  There are lies that can help us understand deeper truths, metaphors and, to an extent, similes, but we understand that they are figurative tools to make a point through comparison (although depending on how they are used, they can either illustrate or obfuscate).  There are errors that may seem like lies but are not.  A lie involves a deliberate intent to deceive and if the intent does not exist, then a person stating something that is not accurate is merely wrong in what he or she believes.  Being a somewhat naïve optimist, I tend to believe that a great many statements that are not true are not lies, just wrong.  Unfortunately, it has become more and more difficult to correct misimpressions.[3]

Indeed, even when statements involve lies, they can be classified into two principle categories: “hot lies”, momentary, unplanned reactions, and “cold lies”, preplanned and full of loopholes to provide cover and “plausible deniability.  The latter, of course, are the worst, the most dangerous; the most despicable.  Cold lies are complex, preplanned constructs that operate in a boundary between art and science.  Their artists are experts at parsing and splitting hairs and distorting what opponents say in order to make it seem that they are the ones lying.  Their scientists tend to be experts at behaviorist psychology, at finding the exact words, said in an exact, preplanned context and in a specific manner so as to make them function as desired, whether the person to whom they are uttered believes them or not.  “Cold lie” masterpieces are lies “told often enough [to] become… the truth”, a quote attributable to Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, and lies “so ‘colossal’ that no one would believe that someone ‘could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously’” from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  But masterpieces are rare and lies such as those described have become all too common, their rarity diluted, so that we need to find another term to qualify them.

“Hot lies” are common but fairly obvious thus their impact is much less dangerous than are “cold lies.  President Trump is infamous for “hot lies” and mistakes, but “cold lies” are not his forte.  His opponents in the Democratic Party include some of the foremost experts at “cold lies”[4], as does the profession once known as journalism and the conglomeration of planted bureaucrats that some of us have taken to calling the “Deep State”.  Current Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph Biden, is like his opponent, he is also infamous for “hot lies”, mistakes and plagiarism, but his current supporting cast, through its expertise in “cold lying”, is expert at obfuscating his blunders and is diligently working to make him a bit more proficient at “cold lying”.  Unlike the case with Mr. Biden, there is no hope for Mr. Trump.  No one, for good or ill, can control him.  But plenty of traditionalist Republicans can give Democrat “cold lie” pundits a run for their money.

One of the political “cold lies” that annoys me most is the one that claims that the leadership of the Democratic Party is leftist, or liberal, or progressive, or socialist.  That is a bipartisan “cold lie”.  Republicans use it to disparage Democrats and Democrats use it to falsely describe themselves in a manner that will appeal to leftists, encouraging them not to strike out on their own.  Indeed, almost anything that qualifies as bipartisan usually is mired in “cold lies”.  There are leftists and liberals and progressives and socialists in the Democratic Party, but they are trapped there, rendered useless, as though running a race in quicksand.  And there are racists and misogynists and xenophobes in both major political parties, although the corporate media would have us think that their membership is limited to the GOP (the Grand Old Party that, at the time it adopted the moniker, was not very old but perhaps, given that it had just “technically” freed the slaves, perhaps the “grand” was justified, at least back then). 

What there is not in either major political party is honest and ethical leadership, the kind of leadership for which leftists and liberals and progressives and socialists clamor.  The kind of leadership that would abandon foreign intervention and the related armaments industry and focus on the “Public Welfare” the American Constitution of 1787-89 promised.  The kind of leadership that would provide not only free education at all levels and free healthcare, but also free insurance and a guaranteed minimum income sufficient for the poorest among us to have a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear.  What there is not enough of is the kind of leadership that would allow us to really govern ourselves and to enjoy equality and equity; liberty and justice; and at least reasonable personal security and freedom from fear.

There is way too much lying but also too much of “being wrong”.  Too much of politicians claiming that they are not corrupt, rather merely inept.  I wish I could honestly say that, collectively at least, we deserved better.  But the truth is that it is our own fault.  Having lived through many important events and experiences ourselves we fail to trust our own memories and permit ourselves to be manipulated through objectivist appeals to emotion, especially fear, and we permit ourselves to be herded into mentalities of us against them, even if the “them” involved were until recently our friends or even our families.  We take to belittling other’s opinions and creating “straw men and woman” to whom we attribute opinions and actions that are not theirs.  Calumny becomes a habit and hate quickly follows.  We permit ourselves to be split into antagonistic, predesigned groupings based on class, race, sex, religion, nationality and values so that we end up totally polarized.  We permit all of that when our better natures scream at us to wake up.  We permit it because we permit ourselves to be cast as opponents, always voting against something rather than in favor of what we believe, always in favor of purportedly “lesser evils” that usually wind up being at least as bad as the purportedly greater evil we were called upon to defeat.  Every election is existential and thus can never deal with our quotidian needs, to political leaders, they are just not important enough.  Those are always reserved for a more practical someday, a someday that will not arrive until at best, “early next doomsday morning”.

All of this is accomplished through “cold lies”, artfully woven and flavored and disguised, “cold lies” which after so many episodes of the “boy who cried wolf” we ought to be able to recognize, against which our common sense should be able to inoculate us, and if not now, it will soon be too late.

Something to ponder as we await another fateful November.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

[1] Some of us were educated under an honor code where we were sworn to “never lie, cheat or steal, or to tolerate those who do” (honor code of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina), a beautiful code but one that places us at a distinct disadvantage in the “real world” when opposed by those who spent their formative years learning how to lie proficiently.  The following letter from the late renowned author, Pat Conroy, written to the Charleston Post & Courier almost 12 years ago makes the point all too clearly, “Don’t destroy the state’s best college”, Sunday, January 10, 1999.

[2] My apologies to the used car industry which has all too often been unfairly singled out for disdain.

[3] A study reported in the New York Times over a decade ago claimed that proof someone is wrong tends to strengthen rather than correct the misimpression.

[4] See, for example, the reference to Bill Clinton (famous for questioning “what ‘is’ is”) in the letter to the Charleston Post & Courier by Pat Conway referenced above.

Are Trolls Sparking a Potential Political Backlash?

According to Wikipedia[1], “… a troll is a person who starts flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, either for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

While Democrats and their “traditionalist”[2] Republican allies, the “Deep State”[3], the corporate media and the major Internet platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) all accuse foreign adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran of using “troll farms” to disrupt United States political campaigns, the truth, as I and other independents and third party advocates have experienced it, is that trolling seems an official and, at first blush, effective Democratic Party strategy, as is the practice of accusing others of all the negative things of which Democratic politicians and activists are in fact guilty, both successful Clinton trademarks, something you would never know through a Google search of the Internet where all search results not only ignore such reality but contrive to portray a totally different narrative.  Still, for those of us, mainly to the left of the Democratic Party, mostly independents and third party advocates, our experience on a quotidian basis is very different than that portrayed. 

As has now become traditional, Democratic trolls are launching constant personal attacks anytime anything critical of the Democratic Party or its candidates is posted online, even while many of them acknowledge that their candidates and history are evil, … just … purportedly less so.  The attacks, frequently by our own acquaintances, friends and family members, become increasingly rude and personal if one does not succumb and fade away, apparently in an attempt to bully us into silence (if not acquiescence).  Oddly, the same is not true of conservatives who, although opposed to our philosophies and policy proposals, generally engage in much more respectful and polite debate, acknowledging that we each have a right to our opinions.  Who, perhaps other than George Orwell and Cassandra[4], would have imagined that it would be the Democratic Party rather than the GOP that engaged in such undemocratic, unlibertarian conduct, although one wonders if perhaps efforts similar to those engaged in by Democratic Party partisans against those of us on the real left are not mirrored by traditionalist Republican Party partisans with respect to those to their right on the political spectrum? 

Being a leftist, I wouldn’t know. I’m a left-wing political advocate, analyst and activist, both in the United States and abroad, and a dedicated democratic socialist[5].  For the past five decades, I have maintained current on world and political affairs on a daily basis through diverse sources with widely varying perspectives.  Those now include traditional mainstream online media such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, etc.; local Colombian media such asEl Tiempo, el Espectador, la Patria, Semana, las Dos Orillas, El Eje 21, Razón Publica, etc.; diverse other foreign sources such as The Guardian, The Panam Post, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, RT, etc.[6]; and, most importantly, alternative news sites such as Consortium News, Truthdig, Counterpunch, the Duran, Common Dreams, Medium, Vocal, etc.  The diversity of my sources seems anathema to my Democratic Party critics who believe that only sources that support their positions (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Post, etc.) should be consulted and cited.  That such sources today are obviously biased and all too frequently ethnocentric, incoherent, self-contradictory and distortive is irrelevant.  However, it is apparently not enough that the major Internet platforms are censoring independents and third party advocates as well as right wingers; apparently, everyone must be incorporated into the Democratic Party’s efforts to silence anyone who does not toe the Democratic line, but ironically and oxymoronically, in the name of tolerance and freedom of speech.

George Orwell and many other authors predicted this in many of their writings including Animal Farm, 1984, 451, Harrison Bergeron, etc., but they always assumed that such intolerance would originate from the fascist right rather than from a philosophy-free, pragmatic center seeking to falsely portray itself as the political left.  Hypocrisy and disdain for truth are its hallmarks with constant repetition on all available media substituting for historical accuracy and logic.  Using B.F Skinner’s behaviorist psychology, they are seemingly attempting to prove the accuracy of claims by Vladimir Lenin and Herman Goering that big enough lies constantly repeated will, at least among enough people, replace truth in the public narrative.  One feels as though Democratic Party trolls are secretly Star Trek Borg repeating the mantra “Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!”[7]

As one of the many victims of the foregoing I feel as though I am trapped in a dystopian science fiction novel.  Friends and family members have succumbed and, some, like zombies, have turned into ruthless adversaries.  No opinions are tolerable but their own even if the social and political consequences will eventually prove to be ones they will profoundly regret.  However, as experience during this millennium has demonstrated, the reality of consequences can be expunged by false narratives and if the false narrative momentum can be maintained, a working majority of the deluded can be maintained.

As a democratic socialist I am committed to the premise that we have a dual nature.  We are each individuals but concurrently, members of a number of social collectives and while such natures can usually be reconciled, when reconciliation is impossible, our collective natures must prevail.  The character “Spock” in the science fiction television series Star Trek puts it well when he exclaims (as he frequently does), “logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”  Based on the foregoing, I believe in a number of collectivist sociopolitical and economic policies anathema to the right wing of the political spectrum, among them, universal healthcare, free education at all levels, free insurance, a guaranteed minimum wage, a non-interventionist foreign policy, peaceful resolution of conflict at all levels, ecological responsibility, equity and equality, and, I believe in libertarian concepts such as non-interference by government in personal decisions that do not detrimentally impact non-involved others (such as consensual sexual relations, consumption of intoxicants, etc.).  Many Democrats believe in the foregoing as well and sincerely believe that the Democratic Party is the best political tool to attain them (e.g., Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, etc.), however, the reality is that the Democratic Party, like its counterpart, the GOP, has long been politically controlled by economic elites who also own most of the corporate media (see, e.g., “These 15 Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies”).  Consequently, both major political parties generally implement the same neoliberal globalist economic policies through the same neoconservative interventionist and militarist means.  While both parties seem all too similar in their actions if not their rhetoric, because many people who believe in goals similar to those I espouse are trapped in the Democratic Party (rather than involved in a political movement of their own whose actions rather than orotundity reflect their goals), I see the Democratic Party as far more of an impediment to attainment of my aspirations than is the GOP.  Thus, while I criticize Republican policies and actions as adversarial to mine, especially in foreign affairs, more of my criticism is directed at the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party where my sociopolitical soulmates are not only trapped, but their efforts at real reform are rendered ineffective and their aspirations, like mere mirages, are always just out of reach.

In 2016 many of us believed that the electoral choices hoisted upon us by the two major parties (with the essential assistance of the corporate news which assured that independents and third party candidates were rendered invisible) were as bad as they could get but the Democratic Party has seen to it that the choices in 2020 are at least as bad.  Notwithstanding what was until then the most biased media coverage and polling ever, the most aggressive domestic trolling campaign ever, and, apparently, illegal intervention in the election by the Obama administration, in 2016 the preordained and manipulatively selected Democratic Party candidate lost; an unacceptable and unaccepted result, not only for the Democratic Party but for the Deep State which was profoundly invested in its candidate and extremely distrustful of the Republican nominee who had somehow managed to elude Deep State gatekeepers in the GOP. 

Even before the inauguration of the unanticipated victor, the Democratic Party called for his immediate impeachment and launched an effectively organized and savage, no holds barred “resistance” with well-financed and pre-organized protest crowds ready for any opportunity, all too frequently accompanied by rioters, arsonists and looters, all impugning the legitimacy of the election and doing everything possible to make the United States ungovernable and the United States population miserable[8].  Amazingly, for a long time, such efforts seemed unsuccessful as, despite his boorish personality, unpredictability, penchant for not verifying information and lack of diplomacy in dealing with other countries, President Trump inexplicably accomplished a great many of the goals he had set for his administration and the United States economy reached milestones in many areas, including areas where minorities had never fared as well.  But, almost as if in the form of divine (or demonic) intervention, the Covid19 pandemic came to the rescue, a curse to most everyone in the world but a blessing to the Democratic Party, the corporate media and the deep State.  Finally a scenario existed where everything the President did could be criticized effectively, notwithstanding what decisions he made or failed to make.  The task was greatly facilitated by the federal nature of the United States which the citizenry, for the most part, does not understand, a scheme of governance that makes authority and responsibility difficult to place and easy to misrepresent.  If the President acted (e.g., as when he claimed authority to reopen the national economy) he was usurping state rights, if he accepted that certain functions were the prerogatives of governors (e.g., as he eventually did with the same issue as well as with mandates to wear filtering head-ware, etc.), he was failing to lead.  A perfect setting for his opponents to whom the public welfare was not nearly as relevant as was regaining political supremacy.  Traditional Republicans loyal to the Deep State quickly jumped ship and joined the Democrats where, notwithstanding their former status are reviled enemies, they were now proudly showcased as patriots who placed country over party.

To independents and third party advocates all of the foregoing should have provided the catalyst for finally making it clear to the electorate that both major parties were inept, jaded, ineffective and power mad with little interest in the common welfare.  Bernie Sanders once gain promptly surrendered and delivered his adherents to the masters of the status quo, and Tulsi Gabbard, the real hope of many was promptly ostracized from Democratic Party debates through impromptu rules changes and rendered invisible by fraudulent pollsters and the corporate media.  Given the nature of the resulting major party candidates, 2020 ought to be a perfect year for consideration of available alternatives (although it’s been 160 years since a third party candidate attained the presidency) but alas, the world has changed drastically since the halcyon days of the 1860’s (satire, of course, … pretty much, … comparably).  Communication has become so monopolized that a similar result seems virtually impossible, as Democratic Party trolls so frequently remind us.  The reality is that, amazingly, despite a plethora of presidential candidates in addition to those of the two major parties (see, e.g., “Third party and independent candidates for the 2020 United States presidential election”), the corporate media has made it seem as though there are only two choices and, those of us who are trying to correct that misimpression through posts on social media and articles published on alternative media are being subjected to vicious personal attacks, distortions and interference by the aforementioned army of Democratic Party trolls. 

So, what to do?

One option, one I do not recommend but which may come to pass, is to turn the Democratic Party’s trolling campaign into a self-fulfilling prophecy.  To protest their actions by voting for what they themselves are making seem to some of us as the real lesser of two evils, their opponent.  By acting as though we were what they claim we are.  That would probably be emotionally satisfying but probably counterproductive.  Another GOP upset of a corporate media pre-crowned Deep State candidate might well be the best thing possible for the left-wing of the Democratic Party making it at least theoretically possible to depose the entrenched, Deep State-allied leadership that since 1992 has moved the Democratic Party from the left, through the center, and now to the right of the political spectrum.  But that is the hope that too many progressives have clung to, the hope of change-from-within that has been unsuccessfully sought for decades during which the Democratic Party has strewn the field with the political corpses of progressive heroes like Dennis Kucinich[9] and now Tulsi Gabbard.  

The real answer lies in replacing the Democratic Party with a real leftist political party, one that would really represent African Americans, Latinos and other minorities but without setting us all at each other’s throats, one that would debate policies with its political adversaries without resort to character assassination, distortions and violence; one that was not wholly owned by the globalist, neoliberal Deep State and its billionaire masters.  Indeed, perhaps the Democratic Party could fuse with traditionalist Republicans in an official Deep State party, without meddlesome political philosophies and outside political spectra and the current Republican Party could become a Trump led Tea Party with libertarian Republicans returning to fortify the Libertarian Party.  The real answer is that a two-party system is not democratic.  We need multiple parties, parties with equal rights to political participation and news coverage, and we need an independent, non-monopolized news media.  We do need electoral reform but real reform, eliminating elections by mere pluralities, something most of the rest of the world has already done, something already tried and true.  We need real change and expecting those who most benefit by the inequitable and inefficient current political system to be the instruments of change is foolish.  And we need that change to start now by doing everything possible to support independent and third party candidates, especially when the choices of the two major parties are so abysmal.  And we need to do so while forgiving our “trollish” tormenters because, as Jesus purportedly exclaimed with his dying breath, “they know not what they’re doing”.

Something to not only think about but on which to act.  If you agree, please share this article or even better, write one of your own and circulate it.  And in any event, ignore the trolls and keep posting what you believe.[10]

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at

[1] Admittedly not the best of sources from an academic perspective but a great place to start.

[2] Traditionalist Republicans include those who are neither libertarians nor part of the so called Tea Party movement but rather loyal to traditional establishment policies some of whom identify themselves as “never-Trumpers”.

[3] The “Deep State” in the United States is a loose, informal alliance between unelected bureaucrats, primarily in justice, defense and intelligence agencies, who do not change based on electoral results; the purportedly mainstream media now consolidated among six news and entertainment conglomerates as well as the owners of the principle Internet platforms (e.g., Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wikipedia, etc.); and, most billionaires who, especially since the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 [2010]), now control both major political parties and own most of the mainstream media. It is dedicated to globalist neoliberal economics implemented through neoconservative military and interventionist policies seeking to maintain the world in a constant state of belligerence justifying enormous expenditures on defense. The Deep State seeks to have its policies implemented regardless of electoral results by promoting political allies and destroying elected officials they cannot reliably control. The Deep State is not a United States phenomena, rather, it is associated with similar collaborative structures in other pseudo-democratic systems, although it is the dominant and most important such structure.

[4] Cassandra was the Trojan seeress, daughter of King Priam, who accurately predicted the future but was never believed.

[5] From 2007 through 2017 I was a lecturer on government, political science and international affairs chairing the related programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales and since 2017 have served as an adjunct professor in the master´s program on Social Justice and as a peer reviewer of publications and graduate theses at the Universidad de Caldas, and, as a translator for the official publication of the National University of Colombia’s Political Studies & International Affairs Institute.

[6] See a myriad of such sources at

[7] Not to mention the dozens of daily emails with which we are bombarded daily from Democratic Party activists and allied issue based organizations, each seeking money and, intermittently, advice or signatures to self-serving “petitions”.

[8] Ironically, during the 2016 campaign, when the Republican candidate had declined to pre-approve the results of the pending election, both the corporate media and the leadership of the Democratic Party had joined the Democratic Party candidate in calling the refusal to accept the legitimacy of a presidential election treasonous.

[9] Gerrymandered from office with the collusion of the national Democratic Party in 2012.

[10] This article is dedicated to friends who will remain nameless but who know who they are.

Dirty Dishes, an Allegory for Political Change

The table was set, real silver flatware, crystal glasses, fine china cups and porcelain plates, but all were dirty, filthy in fact, crusted with food now rotten and beverages putrid, the wine not even decent vinegar.

“Dear”, the lady of the house said to her children, “perhaps it’s time to use the other set of dishes and flatware, the ones in the dining room china cabinet”.

“But mother” two of the children” dared reply, a boy and girl, the youngest two of the large family and thus still a bit brazen, not yet properly jaded, “those are at least as filthy, why not the ones stored unopened in the attic, they’ve been there forever and ever and are brand new”?

“Oh you foolish children” replied the mother, “those just won’t do. Don’t you know that all the fine dining critics in all the best newspapers and magazine and the most popular cooking shows on cable all agree that only the ones on the table and in the china cabinet are the only ones fit to use? At least for now. This is not the time to change them, perhaps someday but not today, this dinner is too important to experiment with anything new and untried!”

“That’s what you always say Mom” exclaimed the littlest girl, “and the dishes keep getting dirtier and dirtier and no one eats what’s served on them so the filth just keeps accumulating, and we have all those other boxes of unpacked dishes and flatware and glasses and cups and everything, … and I’m really hungry!”

“Now, now dear” soothed the mother as she straightened out her hair and flattened her filthy dress, “maybe next time”.

“That’s what you always say Mom” cried the little boy this time, “and I’m hungry too! And every time we try to eat off of these dishes I get sick and throw up.”

“Regurgitate dear” corrected the mother, “we have to watch how we say things, it’s not polite to use crude language, it only makes matters worse and we have to keep up appearances, appearances are what count after all. Maybe next time”.

The other children, all emaciated, looked on bored. They’d all been through the same pre-adolescent stage but had now grown out of it. Change was frightening and one gets used to things they’d decided. Who even knew if there was anything in those old, old boxes? Better to stay the course as the people on television, on the radio and in the newspapers and magazines made so clear. After all, the two sets the family had alternated seemingly forever had been bought on credit and hadn’t even been paid off yet. And they were certainly the top brands and all the advertisements claimed they were made of the finest materials, all tried and true.

“I wonder if we were that naïve when we were that little” the eldest girl whispered to Mark, the eldest brother, coughing as she did so, all the children had been ill for a long time, seemingly forever, but the family couldn’t figure out why. He just shrugged and responded “they just don’t understand yet. Now is not the time. This time the dinner really is too important to experiment with newfangled things”.

“Now don’t you mess with those old boxes” warned the father! The two younger children seemed exasperated and one never knew what they might do.

“Maybe next time”.

“And remember to brush your teeth!!!!”

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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 and much of his writing is available through his blog at