There are many very serious issues which demand our attention at the current moment. July 2023 was the hottest month on record, with severe and deadly heat waves in the U.S. and the world. More than 4 million medicaid recipients have lost coverage after covid emergency programs ended, despite the fact that most of them are still eligible to receive that benefit. The U.S. continues to send money into the black hole of Ukraine while residents of Maui, Hawaii struggle to survive after devastating wildfires. The Biden administration dares to brag about a one-time payment of $700 to people who are now homeless while the military industrial complex is flush with a new infusion of $200 million.
In his 2005 bestseller Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, geographer Jared Diamond focused on past civilizations that confronted severe climate shocks, either adapting and surviving or failing to adapt and disintegrating. Among those were the Puebloan culture of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, the ancient Mayan civilization of Mesoamerica, and the Viking settlers of Greenland. Such societies, having achieved great success, imploded when their governing elites failed to adopt new survival mechanisms to face radically changing climate conditions.
The Republican and Democratic parties have no intention of allowing independents and third parties into their exclusive club. A series of arcane laws and rules governing elections make it extremely difficult for outsiders to get on the ballot, receive exposure, raise money, comply with regulations that are designed to advance the interests of Republicans and Democrats or participate in public debates. Third parties and independents are effectively disenfranchised, although 44 percent of the voting public identify as independent. This discrimination is euphemistically labeled “bipartisanship,” but the correct term, as Theresa Amato writes, is “political apartheid.”
Some 50 million people in the United States live in poverty today—and over 108 million people survive on less than $55,000 a year. Despite having the largest economy on earth, poverty in the US is often grinding and brutal. From millions who live without running water or reliable power, to countless children who experience food insecurity and homelessness. The data on poverty only becomes exacerbated when race is taken into account. In 2019, the median White household had a net worth of $188,200, compared with $24,100 for the median Black household. Matthew Desmond joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his new book, Poverty, by America
Vested interests create “checks and balances” primarily to make political systems non-responsive to demands for social reform. Historically, therefore, the checks are politically unbalanced in practice. Instead of producing a happy medium, their effect often has been to check the power of the people to assert their interests at the expense of the more powerful. Real reform requires a revolution – often repeated attempts. The Roman Republic suffered five centuries of fighting to redistribute land and cancel debts, all of which failed as the oligarchy’s “checks” imposed deepening economic dependency and imbalance.
Political comedian Lee Camp recently published his second book, "Dangerous Ideas," which provides a bitter dose of reality in a way that makes it hard not to laugh. He explains that most journalists avoid covering the major crises of our times with any depth, leaving the public grossly misinformed. Camp, who has the courage to take on difficult topics, such as the oligarchy, capitalism, militarism and racism, and what to do about them, has had his work censored, banned and erased in retaliation. On Clearing the FOG, Camp discusses the challenges of living in a country that is afraid or unable to face reality and why he still has hope for humanity.
AMLO strongly implied that the United States is an oligarchy, not a real democracy. He argued that the government needs to challenge the power of the economic elites if it truly wants to be democratic. López Obrador opened his speech warning, “Many of the great crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of God or in the name of democracy”. “In some countries, the oligarchy reigns with the façade of democracy”, he said, not so subtly referencing his northern neighbor. “How can we talk about democracy if there is no separation of economic power and political power?” AMLO asked. He added that the system that exists in many countries today is “a mixture of oligarchy and democracy, or a simulated and mediated democracy”.
The U.S. is an oligarchy. Stating this fact explains events that may seem mysterious if this simple truth is not spelled out. The ruling class are fully in control and ensure that their needs are met. They disregard the public good and any claims of democracy are easily exposed as a cruel hoax. Americans have no representation in congress or the white house and the corporate media are also part of the oligarchic class. They expose nothing that their partners in crime want to hide. Governmental action and inaction if the wake of a freight train derailment exemplify all of these dynamics.
The bipartisan project of dismantling our democracy, which took place over the last few decades on behalf of corporations and the rich, has left only the outward shell of democracy. The courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and the media, including public broadcasting, are captive to corporate power. There is no institution left that can be considered authentically democratic. The corporate coup d’état is over. They won. We lost. The wreckage of this neoliberal project is appalling: endless and futile wars to enrich a military-industrial-complex that bleeds the U.S. Treasury of half of all discretionary spending; deindustrialization that has turned U.S. cities into decayed ruins; the slashing and privatization of social programs, including education, utility services and health care.
The people of Haiti have been on the streets for weeks to protest rampant inflation and currency devaluation as well as the political-institutional crisis facing the country. These protests intensified this week following the declaration by de-facto President and Prime Minister Ariel Henry that he had officially requested foreign military support to curb gang violence. Haitian movements have alleged that the move furthers the already alarming criminalization of social movements demanding change in the country, and paves the way for another foreign military occupation of the country. Their protests against the call for military intervention have been met with brutal violence and repression. There exists a numerically-miniscule but economically-powerful set of inbreeding oligarch families in Haiti , who are not descendants of deported and enslaved Africans, like 99% of Haitians.
“You know me, and I know you.” Those words were spoken by president Joe Biden at the recent Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference. No doubt he was purposefully evoking Congressman James Clyburn’s 2020 endorsement. Clyburn famously said , “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.” The identity of the other party in the first person plural was never stated, but was widely assumed to mean Black people. The oligarchs of the democratic party had chosen Biden and that meant Clyburn went along as well. He is not the king maker he is made out to be. Of course the importance of his endorsement extended beyond the South Carolina primary and was considered to be a stamp of approval for all of Black America.
It’s not a presidential election year — which explains my lack of gastrointestinal issues — so when better for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to quietly, behind closed doors, change their rules to make it even harder for regular people to have any impact on our completely unhinged government? That’s exactly what they did! But in their defense, they did send out invitations to all DNC voting members with one of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s inner thigh scabs in each envelope. The DNC is best known for being the most hated organization in the United States for 26 years running! You’ll never catch up, Child Molesters of Cincinnati Club!
The fawning adulation of Queen Elizabeth in the United States, which fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy, and in Great Britain, is in direct proportion to the fear gripping a discredited, incompetent and corrupt global ruling elite. The global oligarchs are not sure the next generation of royal sock puppets – mediocrities that include a pedophile prince and his brother, a cranky and eccentric king who accepted suitcases and bags stuffed with $3.2 million in cash from the former prime minister of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, and who has millions stashed in offshore accounts – are up to the job. Let’s hope they are right.
In February 2021, by order of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine shut down three domestic television channels, accusing them of spreading Russian “propaganda.” Three months later, Zelenksky arrested Viktor Medvedchuk, who was at the time leading the second-biggest party in Ukraine’s national parliament, the pro-Russia and Eurosceptic Opposition Platform for Life (OPZZh). Zelensky didn’t have trouble incinerating vaunted democratic norms well-before Russia crossed the Rubicon into Ukraine this year. So it was no surprise when he did it again amid the war in late March, invoking emergency powers under martial law to nationalize TV channels and ban 11 opposition parties, including OPZZh — all supposedly done in the name of combatting Russian misinformation and Russian sympathizers, even though OPZZh’s then-chairman, Yuriy Boyko, denounced the war and called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
This past week, November 1 to 6, this writer wrote a daily running commentary on the developments in Congress, as the corporate wing of the Democrat Party maneuvered US House progressives into a corner over voting on the Infrastructure and Reconciliation (Build Back Better) spending bills. Ever since the two the bills—Infrastructure and Reconciliation— were first raised together last March 2021, progressives in the Democrat Party have been steadily driven into making concession after concession, reducing their proposals in a vain attempt to get the party’s corporate wing (represented in Senate by Manchin & Sinema and in the House by Cuellar and friends) to agree to some reduced cost Reconciliation bill.