استعادة التوازن في المعركة الرئاسية الأميركية المقبلة

نوفمبر 8, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– يصحّ القول في نتائج الانتخابات النصفية للكونغرس الأميركي بمجلسيه، إن الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب من الزاوية الإجرائية وقع بنصف خسارة، بفقدانه السيطرة على مطبخ التشريع الذي يمثله مجلس النواب، وقد بات بعهدة خصومه، والسيطرة على مجلس الشيوخ تمنح الفيتو على القوانين، كما هي الرئاسة، لكنها لا تمنح صلاحيات إطلاق مسار قانوني لولادة القوانين، ويمكن القول إن التسويات والمقايضات ستكون الطريق الإلزامي أمام الرئيس للتشريع، وكذلك يصحّ القول إن لهذا التغيير تأثيرات على السياسات الداخلية للرئيس ترامب أكثر مما يقيده في السياسات الخارجية، التي يشكل مجلس الشيوخ الجهة الوحيدة التي تشارك الرئيس نسبياً في رسم ضوابطها، لكن هذا كله وصف للحال الإجرائية بعيداً عن جوهر المعنى السياسي للانتخابات، في قلب الدينامية التي تمثلها الانتخابات في ترسيم توازنات وحركة اتجاهات الرأي العام، خصوصاً في الانتخابات النصفية، وبصورة أخصّ في مجلس النواب الذي يشهد إعادة تشكيله بالكامل، وقبل سنتين من المعركة الرئاسية.

– في المعنى السياسي للانتخابات، التي تمثّل أداة قياس للتوازنات الحاكمة بين الحزبين المتنافسين استعداداً للانتخابات الرئاسية، تكون العين دائماً على مجلس النواب، أولاً لأنه يُعاد انتخاب كامل أعضائه وليس مجرد ثلثه كما هو حال مجلس الشيوخ، وثانياً أن عدد النواب محدّد بالتناسب مع عدد الناخبين وليس مع عدد الولايات كحال مجلس الشيوخ، وثالثاً لأن الاستقرار سمة تقليدية في العديد من مواقع الشيوخ، والتحرك والتبدل ميدانهما الحيوي مواقع النواب، ورابعاً لأن طبيعة مهام كل من المجلسين مختلفة لجهة كون مجلس النواب هو مطبخ التشريع، وأغلب التشريع يتصل بالشأن الداخلي والحياتي للأميركيين، والتصويت لكل من مرشحي الحزبين يتربط غالباً بقضايا مثل التأمين الصحي، والإعفاء الضريبي، وسياسات الهجرة، والتمييز العنصري، وسواها من القضايا اليومية التي ترتسم وفق الأداء السياسي لكل من الحزبين تجاهها، صورة رمزية لكل منهما.

– الفوارق الكبيرة في عدد المقاعد التي حصدها الديمقراطيون في مجلس النواب عن تلك التي نالها الجمهوريون، والأهم نجاحهم بانتزاع هذه المقاعد من الجمهوريين وهم في سدّة الحكم، أمر تقليدي له سوابق الحدوث في الانتخابات الأميركية، لكن في الولاية الرئاسية الثانية لرئيس جمهوري، ومن المفارقات أن ذلك حدث عام 2006 على يد الديمقراطيين في الولاية الثانية للرئيس جورج بوش بزعامة نانسي بيلوسي للأغلبية الديمقراطية بمثل ما حدث في هذه الانتخابات، كما حصل بالمقابل أن كان عهد الرئيس السابق باراك اوباما مصحوباً بنتائج سلبية في الانتخابات النصفية في الولايتين الرئاسيتين، حيث كانت السيطرة لأغلبية جمهورية في المجلسين، لكن اللافت أنه منذ عهد الرئيس الأسبق الجمهوري رونالد ريغان والانتخابات النصفية التي تحمل خسارة لحزب الرئيس تتم في ظل تبلور زعامتين متنافستين على الرئاسة يقدّمهما كل من الحزبين، وهذا ليس هو الحال هذه المرة لتصير الانتخابات برمزيتها الرئاسية تصويتاً ضد الرئيس ترامب، كما أنّها تتم عموماً في ظل نسبة مشاركة لا تتعدى الـ 30 في المئة بينما تخطت الـ 47 في المئة هذه المرة، وقد حملت النتائج مؤشرات رمزية إضافية لكونها تحولاً في مزاج شعبي هام يتّصل بالانتخابات الرئاسية المقبلة، من نوع نسبة المشاركة النسائية العالية في الترشيح والاقتراع. وهي مشاركة احتجاجية على مواقف ترامب وسلوكه تجاه النساء، ولعله ذو مغزى كبير أن عدد النساء في المجلسين ارتفع قرابة 20 لكن الأهم أنه من بين 112 سيدة في مجلسي الكونغرس فاز الديمقراطيون بـ 95 وكانت حصة الجمهوريين 17 فقط، هذا إضافة لزيادة عدد الفائزين من أصول غير بيضاء في صفوف الديمقراطيين من لاتينيين وشرق أوسطيين ومسلمين وسود.

– يدرك الرئيس ترامب بعيداً عن المكابرة، أن نتائج الانتخابات في مجلس النواب كانت تعبيراً عن تحول هام يمثل ما وصفه الإعلام الأميركي، ولعب دوراً في صناعته، كموجة زرقاء ترفع بوجهه البطاقة الحمراء، ولعل يبلوسي التي تستعدّ لرئاسة مجلس النواب تنجح بإعادة رصّ صفوف حزبها لتقوده كمرشحة رئاسية بعد عامين، وهي ليست من جماعات المتّهمين بالفساد كحال هيلاري كلينتون، ولا من جماعات المشتبه بعلاقاتهم بحكام الخليج التي تتفتح عليها عيون الأميركيين اليوم، ومشهود لها قتالها لاعتماد سياسات عاقلة خارجياً من جهة، وسياسات اجتماعية معتدلة ومتزنة ووسطية تجاه قضايا الداخل الأميركي من جهة مقابلة.

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US Midterms: Split Decision

By Stephen Lendman
Source

The disturbing reality is when things change electorally in America, they remain the same.

Dirty business as usual always wins, the underlying reality of Tuesday’s midterm voting like all earlier “elections.”

Mark Twain was right saying: “If voting made a difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

Social justice champion Emma Goldman explained US “elections” the same way, saying: “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.”

Ordinary people have no say over how they’re governed. America is a democracy in name only, the nation’s founders assuring things would be run by and for privileged interests exclusively.

The first US Supreme Court chief justice John Jay arrogantly said America should be run by the people who own it. The nation’s second president John Adams said the rich, well born and able alone should rule.

The notion of “Equal Justice Under Law” adorning the Supreme Court’s west facade is just a meaningless figure of speech – the way things have been in America from inception.

Political and judicial fairness don’t exist. Things are polar opposite under one-party rule with two money-controlled extremist right wings.

Independents are shut out. Dominant media are in cahoots with a hugely debauched system – self-serving governance by America’s privileged class, pretending to be otherwise. 

The rights, needs, and welfare of ordinary people don’t matter. They’re consistently disserved and betrayed by Republicans and undemocratic Dems alike.

Democratic values and egalitarian principles exist in name only.

Executive, congressional, and judicial officials systematically lie, connive, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest. 

With rare exceptions, they’re unprincipled, unethical, immoral and amoral, deferential to powerful monied interests alone.

It’s the longstanding American way. A previous article explained the results of Tuesday election as follows:

The only thing possibly positive about the outcome is if Dems retake one or both houses, they could block some of Trump’s most extremist policies – for political, not ideological, reasons only.

Both extremist wings of US duopoly governance are in lockstep on issues mattering most – notably the nation’s imperial agenda, its endless preemptive wars of aggression, supporting corporate empowerment, and cracking down hard on legitimate resistance for equity and justice denied ordinary people.

The main difference between Republicans and undemocratic Dems is rhetorical, not ideological. 

No matter how often ordinary Americans are manipulated and betrayed, they’re easy marks to be duped again because they’re ill-informed and dis-informed by major media. 

They’re victims of the fabricated official narrative and state-sponsored propaganda fed them by dominant print and electronic media.

They reflect what the late Gore Vidal and Studs Terkel called the United States of amnesia, public betrayal on vital issues passing through their collective consciousness like water through a sieve – understanding something today, erased from their memory later on.

For what it’s worth, below are the likely results of Tuesday “elections,” some races too close to call:

Undemocratic Dems are projected to retake control of the House with a 229 – 206 majority. (CNN estimated Dems winning 238 seats.) 

Republicans are projected to retain Senate control by a 53 – 47 margin, gaining two seats over their pre-election 51 – 49 advantage. (CNN estimated a 52 – 48 GOP margin of victory.)

The only certainty about what’s ahead once the 116th Congress is sworn into office on January 3, 2019 is no change whatever in how America is governed on issues mattering most.

Same old, same old will continue like it always does. Americans believing otherwise will learn soon enough how they were duped again – like every time before.

Today’s America is the United States of I Don’t Care for its least privileged citizens and residents. 

Federal, state, and local governance dismissively ignores what they care about most.

That’s what governance in America is all about – a fantasy democracy, not the real thing.

The only solution is nonviolent revolution for constructive change – achievable no other way, never through the ballot box assuring continuity, the way it’s been throughout US history.

A Final Comment

Former Massachusetts governor, GOP 2012 presidential aspirant Mitt Romney defeated Dem Jenny Wilson to succeed retiring Senator Orrin Hatch in Utah.

Some observers believe he’ll be more a Trump antagonist than supporter, during the 2016 campaign, saying:

“I’m going to do everything within the normal political bounds to make sure we don’t nominate Donald Trump. I think he’d be terribly unfit for office. He doesn’t have the temperament to be president.” 

Based on his record as Massachusetts governor and alliance with GOP politics, he’ll surely go along with the dirty system like the vast majority in Congress.

US Midterm Elections

By Stephen Lendman
Source

US elections most often reflect no more than rearranging deck chairs on America’s deeply debauched ship of state – conditions for ordinary people worsening over time, not improving, things heading for totalitarian rule with bipartisan support.

America is governed under one-party rule – by what the late Gore Vidal called the “money party” or the “property party.”

Its two extremist right wings take turns controlling Congress and the White House, not a dime’s worth of difference between them on issues mattering most. 

They govern by Washington rules, ignoring the rule of law, waging endless wars on humanity at home and abroad, serving privileged interests exclusively, rejecting the general welfare, and cracking down hard on nonbelievers.

Undemocratic Dems are as militantly hostile to peace, equity, justice, rule of law principles, and democratic values as Republicans – notions both wings of US duopoly governance abhor.

America’s money-controlled electoral process is too corrupted to fix, a fantasy democracy from inception, not the real thing.

Ordinary people have no say over how they’re governed – why voting is a waste of time. Elections when held improve nothing for the vast majority of voters. Dirty business as usual wins every time.

NYT editors laughably said: “The best way to protect democracy is to practice it.” How when government of, by, and for everyone equitably doesn’t exist in America.

Gandhi when asked what he thought of Western civilization responded, saying “I think it would be a good idea.”

The same goes for democracy, a “good idea” absent in America, the West, and most everywhere else, a notion abhorrent to most societies, serving the interests of business and high net-worth individuals exclusively, at the expense of most others.

The Times saying “(t)here’s no good excuse for not voting,” ignored all of the above. Calling “millions of eligible voters (opting out) their own worst enemies” pretends that elections in America matter.

How can they under one-party rule, independents shut out, democracy the way it should be absent in the country. Outcomes most often are determined by which major party candidates raise the most money.

The Times turned truth on its head, claiming “every vote really can make a difference” – not when Wall Street, America’s military/industrial/security/media complex, and other monied interests determine outcomes.

It’s not so when secrecy and back room deals substitute for a free, fair and open process, when candidates are pre-selected, when big money owns them.

It’s not so when millions of Americans are disenfranchised, when election rigging often occurs, when horse race “journalism,” he said, she said, who’s ahead and who’s behind dominate political reporting, vital issues left undiscussed, the electorate left uninformed about what’s most important to know.

A truth emergency exists because of major media managed news, reporting what powerful interests want people to know, suppressing what they need to know.

America’s electoral process was constitutionally flawed by design – to assure powerful interests owning the country run it for their own self-interest, while the general welfare increasingly goes begging.

America’s deplorable state is why half or more of the electorate often opts out.

November 6 midterms are the first federal elections since Trump took office. Undemocratic Dems hope to regain control of the House and/or Senate.

The notion that they represent progressive ideas and policies is pure fantasy. The Dems’ 2016 party platform largely reflected dirty business as usual interests.

Lofty mumbo jumbo rhetoric pretending otherwise couldn’t conceal it.

Proposals for the following were rejected: universal healthcare, a $15 minimum wage indexed to inflation, ending wars of aggression, support for Palestinian liberation, a carbon tax, opposition to corporate coup d’etat trade deals, destructive offshore drilling and fracking, as well as prioritizing world peace, equity and justice for everyone.

Next Tuesday, Americans should either vote independent or stay home. 

Either way, they have no say over how the country is run, no way to change who’s served exclusively at their expense.

The only thing possibly positive about Tuesday is if Dems retake one or both houses, they could block some of Trump’s most extremist policies – for political, not ideological, reasons.

The problem is they support most policies harming ordinary people everywhere. They abhor world peace, stability, equity and justice for all. They go along with things they rhetorically oppose while campaigning. 

Voters supporting candidates from either major party disenfranchise themselves for not opposing dirty business as usual – what duopoly governance and what it stands for is all about.

‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

October 31, 2018

‘Cost-Push’ Narrative Formation in the Trump Era

In his 1928 landmark book Propaganda, public relations pioneer and Goebbelsian trailblazer Eddie Bernays offered what amounts to a disingenuous assertion at best:

“It is important that any effort to influence or effect the American public that is not in the public interest be killed by the light of pitiless publicity and analysis.”

Immediately, the statement begs two questions:

  • What if the American public decides at the ballot box that what passes for the prevailing public interest (really a manufactured imposition) runs counter to its own version of said interest?
  • Who orchestrates the “pitiless publicity” aimed at killing competing visions of the “public interest” and by what authority do they undertake this mission?

Bernays references the ‘who’ elsewhere, albeit vaguely as, “…invisible rulers who control the destinies of millions… and shrewd persons operating behind the scenes.”

Conceivably a tug of war could ensue between two competing visions of the public interest; one vision expressed at the ballot box in the manner of direct democracy and the other emanating top-down from managed democracy’s “invisible rulers”.

For Bernays such a conflict would not represent an intractable impasse so much as a cue for redoubling the, “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses”. After all, only intensified propagandizing efforts can correct the People’s ill-informed sense of the public interest. Undemocratic manipulation is, “an important element in democratic society” under Bernays’ weirdly circular formulation.

Of course self-determination is neither a path to infallibility nor a vaccine against public policy blunders. Direct Democracy merely makes the People the masters of their own fate, which is equally to say the captains of their own errors.

Bernays would have been better to say manipulation is a vital facet of a smoothly running Republic or Oligarchy, not so much a Democracy. His paternalistic subtext clearly reflects the former. Indeed another name for Managed Democracy is Republicanism (not to be confused with the political party of the same name).

A rough but effective analogy can be drawn from what serve normally as macroeconomic terms used to describe two varieties of inflation: Cost-Push and Demand-Pull. For an explanation of the traditional economic context of the terms, see here.

Applied to political narrative formation, Push is the bottom-up, propulsive force of the Will of the People. While Pull is the manipulative, diversionary desires of the Elite. Push is hard knocks and demonstrable scrapes. Pull is consciously engineered wishfulness harnessed to oligarchic solipsism, Empire objectives and atrophying noblesse oblige.

Popular consent should be organically derived and not subject to extrinsic manufacturing at all. Nor should its germination process be invaded by an externally fashioned agenda. The People should be the authors of their own consciousness. That’s the ideal anyway.

The Culture Industry’s mandate is steeped, from the outset, in inauthenticity and misdirection; or, as Theodor Adorno insisted, structurally inescapable insincerity. Through the endless propagation of false consciousness, Media is charged with convincing the People that the Pull is actually the Push. Sustaining this inversion has become a difficult task.

The Pull techniques are many and varied. Here are but a few:

The last chart addresses Russophobia. Anyone who’s walked past an American TV over the last two years can attest to a media obsession bordering on the manic; an intensity not shared by (nor successfully seeded within) the American public as evidenced by a July 2018 Gallup poll showing concern about Russia to be immeasurably unimportant (the issue garnered an * meaning less than 1%).

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein fed the sui generis racialist fires when he referred with casual malice to The Russians (wink-wink-nudge-nudge) in his February 16th indictment press conference for Concord Management officials who happened to be Russian nationals with no discernible state actor affiliation.

The farcical social media trolling charges relate to “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general”, as if the American populace wasn’t already immersed in boatloads of domestically-inspired skepticism. Chances are slim the politically-motivated indictments (announced on a Friday in part to the get the Parkland, Florida shootings off the front page) will ever come to trial despite Concord’s heroic efforts to have their day in court (see 3:48 here).

 

Surely it surprises no one that Putin is simply too busy to plot subterfuge at every table of every Russian boardroom engaged in Stateside business. Attempting to dampen Western media’s impression of his fearsome omniscience, the Russian President had this to say at the Jul 16, 2018 Summit Joint Press Conference:

Today’s Russophobic dog whistles recall John Maynard Keynes’ 1932 assertion that Bolshevism sprang from, “some beastliness in the Russian nature”. Far from dispelling these beastly stereotypes, CNN reinforces them nightly for the ‘higher dual purpose’ of de-legitimizing the Trump Presidency and positioning Russia as the Military Industrial Complex’ Enemy of Requisite Budgetary Scale.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz has routinely decried the ACLU’s MIA status throughout the Trump Russia witch-hunt. The same can be said of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) whose charter states: “We fight anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.” We’re familiar with battles waged on behalf of the former, less so the latter. Here’s an opportune chance to engage on behalf of another besieged group.

Russian-Americans comprise 3.13 million people, a sizable population by any metric. Surely Russophobia (a dark retread of Nazism’s Anti-Slavism) warrants urgent attention. Blessed be the stoic forbearance of our Russian neighbors. One hopes it is a circumspection that will continue to go unpunished, though the Japanese and German internment camps that dotted WW2 America hardly inspire confidence.

Since at least Hillary Clinton’s Putin = Hitler equivalence-setting, the public consciousness has been in the grips of determined preparatory spadework for war with Russia. Frankly, the People are to be applauded for enduring the last two years of cognitive carpet-bombing with their disinterest and skepticism intact. Alas this failed impartation will not derail WW3. Rather it will cause the war to break out preemptively without the embedded pretext of settled consent. What cannot be consented to will occur nonetheless, leaving ‘new realities’ to compel the appropriate consent post-factum, that is, in a manner analogous to journalist Ron Suskind’s recounting of a 2004 quote attributed to Karl Rove:

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

As we see in Syria and elsewhere this authorial prerogative is increasingly being shared by Russia in either a nascent reemergence of bipolarity or an interim way-station towards a multi-polar actor ensemble.

Another Pull variant is, as Nancy Pelosi so helpfully anatomized for us, the wrap-up smear. This is the technique of creating a false set of facts (the smear), “merchandising” the false fact pattern to the Media, then wrapping the smeared individual in the ensuing tar-and-feathery media glare until the former stops beating his or her spouse lately.

Of course the ensnared victim is obliged to continually reference the false facts if only to mount a self-defense. Perversely, righteous denial further reinforces the falsehoods through repetition. There is, as they say, no such thing as bad publicity if the purpose is to keep one’s name front-and-center, which in the case of a wrap-up smear, it most surely isn’t.

Again, the purpose is to pull the media consumer towards a desired narrative based on falsity and distortion. The news-maker advantages his or her podium to initiate news that only becomes news by virtue of a bully pulpit (one of the top-down trappings of power), and not by the inherent truth-value of ‘facts-on-the-ground’. Putin and Trump, the world’s most potent nationalists, are no strangers to being wrapped in deceptive, pejorative garb.

A crucial point to note is that both leaders enjoy the shared contempt of the globalists.  Putin’s favorability among Americans has been engineered down to 16%, 9% among collusion-besotted Democrats. Thus, while Russia is not a front-burner issue in US households, the Mackinder-MIC catastrophe of a US-Russia rapprochement is rendered all but verboten by these figures as detente would confirm extortioned compromise.

Viewed in this perma-war context, the establishment palpitations caused by Trump ‘being left alone’ with fellow loose cannon Putin make perfect, twisted sense. Suppose a powerful personal chemistry had erupted into a sudden outbreak of peaceful intentions between the two unchaperoned leaders? The prospects for WW3 might have lain in shards. Summit? What Summit? It’s practically been erased from the annals of geopolitics as was the proposed follow-on Summit in Washington. All that can be hoped for are dashed-off corridor meetings at future co-attended events.

Alas, this shell-game is breaking down in the Trump Era. Fake News is a more tactile, street-level term for false consciousness propagation. There’s little doubt Trump has a gift for branding.

The President is routinely accused of thinking in 220-character Twitter bytes, giving way to charges of truncated intelligence. There may be other reasons to doubt his intelligence. With Twitter, he is fulfilling the greater need of bypassing the Media filter for a communication path more consistent with the needs of direct democracy. The truncation is a non-rescindable feature of the Twitter platform itself.

The current Push-Pull narrative divergence –which has the opinion-shapers in conniptions– is on stark display in the recent Gallup vs. Media Research Center numbers (graphic at the bottom of this post). Surely 92% negative coverage evidences Bernay’s “pitiless publicity”.

Even after the desperate steps taken to shut down alt-media (and yes, desperate is the term), the divergence grows. The Media responds with ever more dislocating and lurid material. Bombs –or at least clocks resembling bombs– appear on Democrats’ doorsteps with eerie synchronicity.

A recursive self-consciousness has now infiltrated the system contributing further noise, not unlike how the pings of a too-high-octane fuel destroy the kayfabe experience (instilled by the car salesman) of a frictionless magic carpet-ride. The clunky mechanics of the process overwhelm the message itself.

The collective wisdom of the People has fully determined their passenger status in a vehicle driven by a malevolent chauffeur. Managed Democracy will be hard-pressed to recover their prior innocence.

The divergence also implodes the notion that the media is in any way reflective of the population it claims to derive its news from. Clearly the reportage has become prescriptive which is to say, not reportage at all. We’re not happy with the facts where we find them. Thus we will be moving them over here instead, beneath the canopy of our desired narrative.

The breakdown of the Pull hasn’t stopped the usual talking heads from pushing endlessly on strings deemed mission-critical by their managers. Like deer trapped in the klieg lights of an indiscernible new reality, they fumble along, in thrall to a dark comedy that takes its cues from absurd representations of untenable narratives.

Though opinions on Trump differ sharply, few can dispute his disruptive role in fomenting managed democracy’s narrative crisis, and for putting back onto its heels a myth-making prowess whose influence up until now had been considered unassailable.

Why might Trump be an authentic change agent, albeit one with a high probability of derailment or self-betrayal? Because the bifurcating narratives cannot be denied. If the divergence is real, the systemic stress must be equally real. Why, one has to ask, does the corporate press protesteth so much? Therein lies a telling litmus.

There’s a tendency to forget Trump’s formal political career is less than two years old and that he contends against a hostile, entrenched security-media complex seventy years in the making. Whether he is already capitulating to insuperable neoconservative power centers or is engaging in tactical ducks-and-feints cannot be confirmed either way. His post-midterm demeanor, and inevitable staffing changes, will reveal much. A verdict today is premature.

For the moment, we applaud small mercies and encouraging signs…

A breakaway bloc now exists in America along the lines of the red pill, blue pill demarcation. Many have been ‘dispelled’. Let us hope more can Push away from the master’s table forever.

 

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