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James O’Keefe and friends

Fresh from his success with breaking Acorn in his practice of creative journalism, James O’Keefe, along with some other conservative campus activists, perhaps victims of their own hubris, were arrested in Louisiana last week masquerading as telephone repairmen as they entered Senator Mary Landrieu’s office.  Busted, they face an interesting time in the next months explaining how it was just a prank, and that they weren’t really out to tap Landrieu’s phone, or otherwise plant some kind of electronic spying device – all of them, along with the fraudulent means of gaining entry, felony crimes.   O’Keefe and his cohorts are self-proclaimed conservatives, and thanks to the Acorn “prank”  are much adored by Foxy and friends.  What is interesting is that these are supposedly “law and order” types, who are all for draconian punishments for those who break the law, unless it’s one of their own, in which case of course it is the law that is at fault.  Mr. O’Keefe says what he is doing is “to get to the truth and expose corruption,” though we don’t recall him being so active during Bush’s most obviously corrupt turn.  I read that the sentence for the crime which Mr. O’Keefe and his friends were caught at is 10 years.  Hopefully he can do an exposé on Federal Prisons in the near future.

Scott Roeder

Next in the line-up is Scott Roeder, self-admitted killer of George Tiller, doctor in Wichita, Kansas, who did legal abortions.  In his court room defense Roeder explained that he did indeed kill the doctor, on purpose, because the doctor did, well, legal abortions.   Scott Roeder is perceived as a hero by many, if not all, in the anti-abortion crowd, most of whom say they are “Christian.”   Despite his change of costume in court, below, the jury in Kansas deliberated 35 minutes and convicted him for first degree murder.  The judge sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Scott Roeder in court

A meaningful democracy presumes an aware, informed, reasonably educated public of whom its voters is composed.  The voter is asked to make choices on numerous things – things which are often complex, difficult, and against one’s immediate apparent self-interest.  The voter is asked to select someone to “represent” them, a person who is a surrogate for them.  If, owing to the complexity of the real world, they do not themselves know certain things, they presumably select as their representative persons wiser, more informed, more capable to make choices on their behalf. So goes the theory.  In practice, in America, where education has been ravaged both by the effects of corporate media and the internal corrosion of the educational system itself, and where the average person is poorly or often willfully misinformed, the assumptions of a meaningful democracy are at best dubious, and at worst, catastrophic.  De Tocqueville perceived this quite some time ago, predicting that America would end more or less where we are now.   Those on the mandarin Right would opt for rule by experts – their own, naturally.   Those on the populist Right would opt for rule by hook-or-crook – whether it be by elections engineered by a rightist Supreme Court (2000), or by the skulduggery of the likes of James O’Keefe, or the blatant violence of a Scott Roeder.  Might makes right in their book – hence their hankering for guns, for police (so long as they aren’t aimed at them) and “leaders.”

The American left, if one can call it that, is loathe to admit that much of its support is derived from poorly-educated people who do indeed vote that way because they are given some social assistance, though they may not know much else.   Though I think the liberal side is more supportive of efforts to raise the educational level of the general public, and tries – against the odds in the USA – to take steps to do so.   In the scrum between these we’re caught with a contradiction which our system seems unable to sort out, and the consequence is a fraudulent “democracy” in which minorities within the system (Senators from thinly populated rural states) are able to hijack decisions, and in which other minorities are able to tilt the scales despite their mis- and ill-informed understanding of the realities around them.   And all this is deeply muddied by the ill-begotten forces of money – recently underlined and enforced by the Supreme Court – which manipulates the various under-parties at will.   This reality bodes ill for the Union.

Tea-party in Dallas

The administration released its forecast for the coming decade, a grim one of unemployment and a national deficit far beyond what is considered “sustainable.”   Government forecasts are almost always optimistic and wrong, most often – if not always.  So if the government is saying this, you can bet it’s likely to be worse.  For example, the figure for “unemployment” below is 10% when it is much more likely around 20%.   As things squeeze more, we can anticipate more “tea-parties” or other expressions of social discontent.  Meantime a friend in Chicago sent an article about the CIA on campuses.  Same old story.

Jasper Johns, Target

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