Democracy Pressured: Notes from Inside the Asylum

In the battle to end the insanity that inflicts this world, the latest iteration of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah calls for an Islamic response, the Speaker of the House calls for a Biblical response, the leaders of Israel and Hamas call for mutual destruction. H.L. Mencken summed it well: “Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage

Breakfast with Bwana

By Anil Madan

In his 1981 Inaugural Address, Ronald Reagan said: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time, we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.”

Worshippers of Ronald Reagan remain, to this day, a dominant force within the Republican Party, an agglomeration of cockatoos, macaws, and other assorted parrots, repeating the tropes that have evolved from Reagan’s themes.

It is a great curiosity that seldom does anyone ask of Reagan or his progeny: if government is the problem, why do you strive so hard to seek elective office? Of course, Reagan was too glib not to anticipate that an answer to this curiosity would be necessary. So, his speech included the obligatory disclaimer: “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”

Before I go on, let me point out that Reagan did not write that speech himself. Given the level of intellect he displayed over the ensuing years, this is no surprise. The speech was written by Ken Khachigian who was named chief speechwriter and special consultant to the President in 1981. Perhaps it was Khachigian, not Reagan, who recognized the dissonance and attempted to address it.

Messiah with clay feet

After Reagan, a schism developed within the Republican Party. As a result, we see today, the Bush faction and the ultra-right faction that has latched on to Donald Trump as its Messiah. Even as that Messiah is seen to have clay feet, these sycophants cannot help but cling to his muddy ankles.

Consider these observations by H.L. Mencken, early in the last century:

  • Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
  • Democracy, too, is a religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
  • Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

On election night in November 2020, early returns from voting precincts showed Donald Trump leading. Paying no heed to the fact that those early totals did not include the wishes of all voters, he concluded that he had won reelection. The following morning, unable to come to grips with the fact that he was, after all, a loser as he had been so often when his businesses failed and ended up in bankruptcy, his mind engineered what has come to known as The Big Lie.

Mencken was right. The swell of ignorance of the Republican diaspora, generated by the individual ignorance of its congregation, has papered over the FACT of Trump’s election loss and fostered the MYTHS of conspiracies, the Deep State, and worse.

During the second impeachment trial of Trump, the Senate took a vote on the question whether a President could be impeached after he had left office and the Chamber decided yes, he could. Nevertheless, Mitch McConnell who was then Senate Leader, declared that he would vote to acquit because Trump was no longer President. McConnell felt free to ignore what should have been a binding determination by the Senate. But there was no recourse.

Think of how different things might have been if McConnell had voted to convict. Should he have voted to convict? You decide.

Before casting his vote, McConnell said that the January 6 assault on the Capitol “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth.” A jackass speaking of foreseeability but not foreseeing that his illogic enabled a jackal.

Kevin McCarthy, the Minority Leader in the House at the time, said that Trump “bears responsibility” for the storming of the Capitol by his supporters and that he “should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” A few weeks later, McCarthy was another jackass standing at the side of the jackal.

Trump’s signature clarion call “Make America Great Again” emblazoned on hats as MAGA, has a cult following across America. Another Mencken observation comes to mind: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” The cult of MAGA Maggots has flourished in the House of Representatives and in the Senate as well. So it was that McCarthy was ousted as Speaker of the House and after skirmishes among wolves in MAGA clothing, the House ultimately elected Mike Johnson Speaker.

An American Ayatollah in the making

Johnson was asked what his worldview is. “I am a Bible-believing Christian. Someone asked me today in the media, they said, ‘It’s curious, people are curious. What does Mike Johnson think about any issue under the sun?’ I said, ‘Well, go pick up a Bible off your shelf and read it.’ That’s my worldview.”

On April 2, 1979, without waiting for the results to be made official (see Trump, above) Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared an Islamic Republic: “”This is the first day of God’s government in Iran.”

More of Speaker Johnson: “I don’t believe there are any coincidences. I believe that scripture, the Bible, is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority, he raised up each of you, all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed us to be brought here to this specific moment and time.”

An American Ayatollah in the making, Johnson added: “The founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around.”

Jackasses mutating into jackals.

In this chaos, President Biden asks Congress to authorize $100 million for aid to Ukraine, Israel, and for border security. Johnson’s sleight of hand was to put forward a bill authorizing $14.3 billion for Israel with a corresponding cut of $14.3 billion previously approved by Congress for the Internal Revenue Service. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this defunding of the IRS would cost almost $27 billion in tax revenue by thwarting tax collection from the wealthiest tax evaders. Johnson’s disingenuous response: “Only in Washington when you cut spending do they call it an increase in the deficit.”

Johnson promises to take up funding for Ukraine and the border later. But the quid pro quo is clear: if you want support for Israel, defund the IRS. Johnson is pandering to the MAGA Maggots who want to end support for Ukraine. They, in turn, are pandering to Trump who has called for a pause in funding for Ukraine until federal agencies turn over every scrap of evidence on a probe into Biden.

Humanitarian bombing?

Meanwhile, President Biden who went all in on endorsing Israel’s right to defend itself, now sees waning support among American Muslims and calls for a pause in the bombing of Gaza, a humanitarian pause, if you will. Then, will it be okay to resume humanitarian bombing? Dissonance requires an answer from yet another President.

Clearly, Netanyahu has decided that his own survival requires this ongoing carnage. The threat to Israel is existential in his view. Gazans are expendable. Nor will Egypt or Jordan accept Gazan refugees. “There will be no refugees in Jordan and no refugees in Egypt,” said Jordanian King Abdullah II this week, declaring it a “red line” that would not be crossed. Note that Abdullah spoke for both Jordan and Egypt. The latter country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry also said on Tuesday that Egypt would not host any more Palestinian refugees, citing the economic “burden” and not wanting to solely bear the “responsibility” of taking them in.

The coordinated stance of Jordan and Egypt is not viewed as Islamophobia, but rather an economic response to a brewing refugee crisis. On the other hand, President Biden announces that the White House is working on a plan to defuse Islamophobia in America. And, of course, Biden does not call on Egypt and Jordan to allow Gazans into their countries. The fear is that once expelled, they too will have no right of return.

Defusing antisemitism is another thing. The Presidents of Harvard, Columbia and Stanford failed to denounce and condemn the Hamas terror attacks. Now, responding to pressure, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania announce plans to combat antisemitism.

In this topsy turvy world, Mitch McConnell speaks to the urgent necessity of American support for Ukraine as essential to America’s national security. His fellow Republicans, especially the MAGA Maggot cohort don’t see it that way. Nota bene: McConnell’s wife is of Taiwanese origin and someday, an American President may ask Congress to authorize funding for Taiwan’s defense.

Is the threat to Israel an existential threat? MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute reports that Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas official in its political bureau stated: “We will repeat the October 7 attack, time and time again until Israel is annihilated. We are victims. Everything we do is justified.”

Meanwhile, Bahrain a signatory to the Abraham Accords, recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv as the Israeli ambassador returned to Israel. Bahrain’s parliament stated its decision to recall its envoy and suspend economic relations with Israel is based on the kingdom’s “solid and historical stance that supports the Palestinian cause and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

In the battle to end the insanity that inflicts this world, the latest iteration of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah calls for an Islamic response, the Speaker of the House calls for a Biblical response, the leaders of Israel and Hamas call for mutual destruction.

Mencken summed it well: “Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 3 November 2023

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