Twenty years it’s been, as of yesterday. Twenty years and Afghanistan is down the drain, the Taliban back in charge. At least a comprehensive malignant menace like Bin Laden is dead, with his corpse – supposedly – dropped into the deep ocean, although I suppose that his organization staggers on, zombie-like, and possibly subsidized by Pakistan’s secret service. The dust of the fallen towers is settled, and the American troops are home, more or less. Still under a cone of silence as far as the US media is concerned, as are tales of hairbreadth escapes by American citizens, employees, and American-employed Afghan nationals … perhaps they were all made to sign a binding non-disclosure-agreement, as a condition of getting on that big Freedom Bird. Or our national establishment media is doing their bidding, as obedient handmaidens of the Dem party, and doing their best to disappear this latest disaster. Well, good luck with that. There are too many of us out there, and we have a voice, for at least a little bit longer.
The fictional mass murderer Kevin is most often described as a psychopath and his mother Eva a sociopath in book and movie reviews, the latter defined the same as the former, but without the insanity defense, i.e., a physical brain disorder rather than a choice. President Biden isn’t suspected of any such brain disorder (although dementia has long been suspected, common for his age). But Bruce Cannon Gibney argues that Baby Boomers, those born between 1940 and 1964, are A Generation of Sociopaths (2017) based primarily on their over-consuming at the expense of future generations, a massive inter-generational injustice. He allows for exceptions, but not among the Baby Boom political leaders, of which Joe Biden was the first on the national scene.
Sociopaths are defined as narcissists with additional characteristics, among which are: superficial charm, glib, manipulative, self serving, grandiose, pathological lairs, without remorse, self-centered, untrustworthy, physically aggressive, impulsive, blaming others, lacking in empathy, break promises, an ability to avoid persecution for illegal acts, and a belief they deserve to rule the world. As a result of the Obama/Biden “Good War” over half the current population of Afghanistan was born under American protection. These and thousands of those who assisted the American occupation and their families have been left behind by Joe to meet repression, and, for many, death at the hands of his captors and other Islamic radicals. His press conferences revealed almost all these sociopathic tendencies, leaving no doubt as to the applicability of Gibney’s diagnosis.
Like Kevin, Joe is competitive among his sociopathic political peers. For sheer narcissism it would be difficult to top former President Trump, and the Clintons are unlikely to ever be surpassed in the team sociopath competition. But Joe Biden, whose first attempt to rule the world over three decades ago was thwarted by a plagiarism scandal, seeks to exceed FDR, the record holder by size of Mall Monument, as a world leader not on his foreign policy experience, but by spending his way to a risky “fundamental transformation” of the US economy and society. Should we trust in Joe, or is he the “Borax Man” (a soap salesman)?
(An Ode to Lionel Shriver)
Back in 2021 President Biden reiterated that his proposals, unprecedented in scope and expense, represented an investment in the future with extraordinary returns that could only be evaluated over the longer, e.g., ten- to fifty-year time horizon. This perspective coincidentally facilitated claims it was paid for without new taxes, while postponing an evaluation of actual returns beyond his term in office, even if he should run and win a second term in 2024 at 82 years old.
Saving American Democracy
But it’s now a decade later and Biden is still in office. Well, not exactly in office, as he had been replaced by a hologram in late 2021, addressing the American people from his estate in McLean Virginia, purchased for $50 million cash (before GSA improvements). Following FDR’s precedent people were told that changing leaders in the midst of a crisis, and these continued to accumulate over the decade, was dangerous.
Besides, he had run virtually unopposed in the 2024 election after all those registered Republicans within a half mile of the Capitol on January 6,th 2021 had been arrested, tried, convicted and jailed for “terrorism and crimes against the State,” after which Republican voter registration plummeted.
The expanded Supreme Court, 29 Justices to accommodate race, ethnicity, gender, etc., had finally ruled on the legal concept of “disparate impact,” concluding that everything from global warming and COVID 19 to voter identification, rent collection, college admission requirements and even law enforcement represented illegal racial discrimination. The expanded Court then called an indefinite recess during the construction of a new edifice to house it.
There was really no point in holding a faux election in 2028 in any event. The progressive campaigns to eliminate the electoral college and voter ID laws to prevent “voter suppression” had both been successful, and the ongoing COVID lockdown still allowed mail-in ballots under the rules in place in 2020, so there was no need to go through the motions. The New York Times and the Washington Post, the only remaining Party sanctioned newspapers, simply announced “the will of the people.” By now, 2031, most people have long since forgotten the promises of that Biden Ten Year Plan.
The Presidency of Teddy Roosevelt is often considered the beginning of “The American Century.” The Great White Fleet circled the world. The US defeated Spain in the Spanish American War, probably instigated by the US as it fought to “free” Cuba and the Philippines “fell” into our Empire. Our iron and steel production had surpassed that of Europe. Problems began in 1912 when leading “Progressive” Woodrow Wilson was elected President. This came about as Teddy Roosevelt, for reasons that were not clear, opposed his own successor, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt formed his “Bull Moose” party and divided the vote, electing Wilson. In 1916, Wilson was re-elected, promising to keep us out of World War I. In 1917, following Germany’s decision to wage unrestricted submarine warfare, Wilson declared war on Germany, thus disclosing his lie.
America entered the war in 1917 at the cost of 53,000 lives lost. The intervention probably led to the 1918 Armistice and the Treaty of Versailles, which French Marshall Foch called (accurately) “an armistice for 20 years.” Wilson’s Progressive rule included many similarities to Fascism that would be come more apparent in years to come. Harding and Coolidge were elected in 1920 and reversed many of Wilson’s policies. The next 9 years were marked by prosperity and a surge of innovation. The German war debts, plus those of the allies, put pressure on the international economic system, which resulted in the 1929 panic and elected Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 as Herbert Hoover’s attempts to cope with the 1929 crash failed. Roosevelt campaigned on a platform of a “balanced budget,” which was quickly abandoned once elected. Roosevelt’s experimentation with the economy produced no better results until World War II provided the stimulus to spending plus the absorption of millions of unemployed and an economic boom followed. The cost of this war was 407,000 American lives but it left us with the only undamaged industrial system in the world. A real Boom followed until Lyndon Johnson got us involved in the Vietnam War plus The Great Society, both of which brought us close to financial ruin.
Peggy Noonan, in a WSJ column which is actually worthwhile (rare for her these days, IMO) writes about aspects of Andrew Cuomo’s behavior which she says demonstrate a deep weirdness:
The culture of his office was rife with fear and intimidation. A victim: “It was extremely toxic, extremely abusive. If you got yelled at in front of everyone, it wasn’t any special day. . . . It was controlled largely by his temper, and he was surrounded by people who enabled his behavior.” Everyone feared retaliation for speaking out, so they didn’t.
But there is deep weirdness beyond that. He ordered one aide to memorize the lyrics to “Danny Boy.” She testified he “would pop out” of his office and ask her to start singing. A footnote says it was not the only time the governor asked her to sing. The aide found herself writing to a former staffer, “He just asked me to sing Bohemian Rhapsody so. We aren’t far off from a bedtime story.” He asked her to do push-ups in front of him…
I was reminded of a passage in one of the Hornblower novels in which the protagonist, as a new midshipman, finds himself on a ship with a sickly and disconnected captain and a midshipmen’s mess ruled by a bully, Simpson.
Simpson had apparently always been an ingenious tyrant, but now, embittered and humiliated by his failure to pass his examination for his commission, he was a worse tyrant, and his ingenuity had multiplied itself. He may have been weak in mathematics, but he was diabolically clever at making other people’s lives a burden to them. As senior officer in the mess he had wide official powers; as a man with a blistering tongue and a morbid sense of mischief he would have been powerful anyway, even if the Justinian had possessed an alert and masterful first lieutenant to keep him in check while Mr. Clay was neither…
Significantly, it was not his ordinary exactions which roused the greatest resentment — his levying toll upon their sea chests for clean shirts for himself, his appropriation of the best cuts of the meat served, nor even his taking their coveted issues of spirits. These things could be excused as understandable, the sort of thing they would do themselves if they had the power. But he displayed a whimsical arbitrariness which reminded Hornblower, with his classical education, of the freaks of the Roman emperors. He forced Cleveland to shave the whiskers which were his inordinate pride; he imposed upon Hether the duty of waking up Mackenzie every half hour, day and night, so that neither of them was able to sleep — and there were toadies ready to tell him if Hether ever failed in his task.
Here’s my thought when I finished the report. As America becomes stranger and our culture becomes stranger, our politicians become stranger. As their power increases (I can close a whole state down; I can close a country!) so do the stakes.
As politicians gain more and more power…especially arbitrary power…the kind of people who become politicians changes. Francis Spufford, in his book Red Plenty, writes about those who sought and achieved power in the Soviet Union. He notes that: