Send in the Clowns

Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry my dear
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here
.
–        Stephen Sondheim
.

I haven’t posted anything for several days.  I have remained stuck on a couple of topics, one of which I will attempt to address here.  This will be a somewhat rambling post; I have several seemingly disparate thoughts jumping on top of each other as if they belong together.  Who am I to argue?

This post represents my attempt to make some sense of this – otherwise I will have to face the reality that the voices in my head are winning.

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I didn’t watch any of the recent Republican primary debate.  I saw clips, read bits and pieces.  With every exposure, I was struck by the entertainment value.

I don’t mean the level of conversation – stupidity dominates all political conversation in the US; this is true for all candidates on that stage just as it will be true for all candidates when the Democrats take the stage.

I mean entertainment value.  These debates always offer something of entertainment, but this one seemed different.  No doubt, Donald Trump on stage had much to do with this. Something like “you’re fired” and political theatre find that they are the last two left at the bar at 2 AM, if you get my meaning.  Perhaps we witnessed the product of this liaise?

Cheering – it reminded me of the staged show that is the NFL draft (apologies to my non-US readers and to those readers with better things to do with their time than take note of another virtually meaningless exercise meant for distracting the masses).  Entertainment of a certain type.

Just like the audience in the NFL draft, no one in the audience for the debate knew much of anything about what was being said by those on the stage.  They cheered and booed according to the script given to them by some guy on a talk show or on the TV; they cheered and booed according to their gut – like an animal in the wild driven by nothing but hunger, bordering starvation.

It really didn’t matter if they understood it anyway; those on the stage at best (or worst) had the confidence of ignorant certainty and at worst (or best) had the soul of an indifferent liar.

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It is virtually impossible to keep up with the mess that is US foreign policy.  It was so much simpler when we only had to keep track of the lies told about the Soviet Union (ah, the good old days).  But now?

Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Ukraine.  China and Russia.  Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel – supposedly US allies all – are they aiding or fighting ISIS?  Where did ISIS come from, anyway?  Are ISIS and al-Qaeda in cahoots or are they enemies?  Iran (an enemy of the US) is supporting Iraq (a mess created by the US) against ISIS (supposedly an enemy of the US).  The Kurds fight ISIS and are fought by Turkey.  Syria fights ISIS and is attacked by…the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

The enemy of my enemy is both my friend and my enemy all at the same time.  Even with a scorecard, I can’t keep track of the players.

Every “solution” brings on three new problems.  It is easy to conclude that new problems are the objective.  Maybe.  But what if no one is in charge?  More precisely, what if the inmates are running the asylum – the bureaucracy is running on auto-pilot.

Even more precisely: what if the bureaucracies are each running separately, in their own directions and on their own autopilots?  Many different centers of capability – different warlords in charge of their own publicly-funded private war-making machines, each hiding behind the cover of a GS pay grade?  Each supporting or fighting against entities of their own choosing for their own reasons.

I guess it is possible that there is a strategy of “out of chaos, order.”  More often, out of chaos comes more chaos; so far, it has occurred this way.  I suppose either outcome is satisfactory to some sub-set of the countless factions that have virtually sovereign string-pulling power.

In the end, I don’t think the “what if” matters.  There is a real mess, and it is obvious to any thinking person – those capable of critical thinking in the general public (I met one once) as well as those capable of critical thinking in both the US government and (more importantly for where I am headed…I think) in various foreign governments of US allies (and others) – that the actions of the United States are directly contributory to the chaos.

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The chaos is easier for many to ignore when it remains over there.  This problem was solved long ago in the US.  No draft and no tax increases means over there has no impact to over here.

But for Europeans, over there is now over here.  Daily, by the thousands, the over thereare pouring in from North Africa and the Middle East.  It is supposed to be hundreds of thousands sooner than later.

This is to say nothing about the chaos brought on by the religion that is the Euro – a side note for this post, but certainly contributory toward the desire to ease the tension brought on by the chaos.  The Euro – a key component to centralization and hegemony; maybe not such a side note for this post.

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Obama was supposed to be different.  Eight years ago, they cheered him by the hundreds of thousands in Germany.  I seem to recall he went on a return visit a year or so ago.  He played to a much smaller crowd.

Call it “The Audacity to Tout the Audacity of Hope” tour.  They couldn’t give tickets away for free, apparently.

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The US finally came to the table regarding Iran (Hooray Barack).  The US, along with a handful of other governments, came together to negotiate a treaty regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  Many in the US think it’s a bad deal – including all of those on the aforementioned Republican stage.

John Kerry offers his thoughts to those in the US who might consider rejecting the treaty:

…Secretary of State John F. Kerry said U.S. allies were “going to look at us and laugh” if the United States were to abandon the deal.

“It’s not going to happen overnight. But I’m telling you, there’s a huge antipathy out there” to U.S. leadership, Kerry said. “There’s a big bloc out there, folks, that isn’t just sitting around waiting for the United States to tell them what to do.” Kerry was referring to efforts by Russia and China to join forces with nonaligned powers in a public question-and-answer session at Reuters.

“When I hear a senator, a congressman stand up and say ‘We should get a better deal’ – that is not going to happen. If everybody thinks ‘Oh, no, we’re just tough. . . . we can force people. . . . America is strong enough, our banks are tough enough, we can just bring the hammer down and force people to do what we want to do,'” Kerry said, according to The Washington Post.

Kerry, like a blind squirrel…well, you know the rest.  Maybe instead like a stopped clock – I seem to recall he was right once before, something about the Vietnam War.

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Patrick L. Smith at Salon is quick to point out the self-destruction of the (surprise, surprise) Republican Party.  The headline speaks volumes: “Donald Trump’s biggest crime is his honesty: How he exposes the sickening rot at the core of the GOP.”  We can only hope.

I won’t take seriously what he takes seriously – that there is, or at least was, something noble about American political discourse.  I also won’t cite the many points on which we agree regarding the Republican discourse (such as it is), as I have already said it above. Instead…

Put any one of these people in office and Americans will forfeit their chance to participate constructively in a self-evidently emergent world order, to escape a past that now haunts us, to act abroad out of something other than fear.

Forfeiting the chance to participate in the emergent world order.  Yes, of course.

Being Salon, Smith points to the forfeiting of Bush II for background while ignoring the eight-year forfeiting that Obama has done (other than…finally…Iran).  As if you needed me to point this out.

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Not to leave the democrats untouched…Black Lives Matter offers a very overt example of the end game for the politics of social justice.  Because, brown, female, elderly, young, gay, trans, bi, union, illegal immigrant, and government employee lives matter as well.

When the most avowed socialist – a champion for the cause of every one of these supposedly disadvantaged groups – can’t get a word in edgewise, what hope is there for any kind of social-justice world?

None.  But every (non-left) libertarian knows this already.

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And so?  I am not sure.  There is a thread running through all of this.  I am still not sure I can put my finger on it.

The US government has been the focal point for world government by what is referred to as an Anglo-American elite – of this there can be little doubt.  It has been true since World War II and it has been envisioned since the turn of the last century.

In our current time, when all is said and done it seems to me that the US government and those who desire to be the public face of same are doing everything possible to ensure one outcome: further movement against US hegemony.

Perhaps this is an unavoidable outcome: the tools required for global hegemony will also bring on its failure.  The carte blanche afforded by 911 was over-drawn, as was certain to be the case

Every action by the US government is seen by many important international players as reason to reduce both subservience to and partnership with said US government.  The spectacle that has become American presidential politics – spectacularly witnessed in the recent debate – can scarcely be dismissed.

Clowns aren’t helpful when you want to rule the world.  Your desired followers are too busy laughing.

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Returning to Sondheim.  Apparently, I am slightly misapplying his reference to clowns.  I want it applied to those on the debate stage.  He suggests otherwise:

I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song’s about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she’s an actress, but it’s not supposed to be a circus […] [I]t’s a theater reference meaning “if the show isn’t going well, let’s send in the clowns”; in other words, “let’s do the jokes.” I always want to know, when I’m writing a song, what the end is going to be, so “Send in the Clowns” didn’t settle in until I got the notion, “Don’t bother, they’re here”, which means that “We are the fools.”

I guess we can both be right.

Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.

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