Carping Diems, American Driems

In his recent Real News interview with Chris Hedges, Ralph Nader quietly and urgently provides truthful descriptions of what ails us as fellow citizens continuously trying to tweak our beloved democracy.  Far from seeming radical, per se, unless you deem holding Congresspeople accountable as extremist, Nader continues to plug away at aspects of government that can still be salvaged.  He’s a lawyer who knows his stuff, how change takes place, and who in Congress can effect the change, not merely a contrary brass horn adding little but bluster blues to Your Show of Shows.  Recently, he has started up a newsprint paper called The Capitol Hill Citizen, which the good reader is urged to subscribe to.

Here in this interview Chris Hedges begins by lamenting the corruption of Empire. There’s a keened melancholy to Hedges’s doings these days and his pieces reflect a global civilization, in which America plays a dominant role, in steep decline.  It’s worrisome to Hedges, and many others, that a $6 trillion throwaway for losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is so easily and quickly forgotten, so that the American military-industrial complex (deep state) can keep the war machine going by supplying Ukrainians (and NATO Poles — Patriot missiles) with US taxpayer-weapons, despite the rhetoric of impending nuclear catastrophe.  Hedges begins this segment with Nader explaining the incredible sums of money spent on the 2022 midterm elections that had the balance of power in Congress at stake. Hedges tells us that $9.3 billion was spent to prevent a meltdown of Biden’s effectiveness as the American CEO of the corpocracy and to see the House return to Republican control (and maybe impeach his ass for fun). $9.3 billion. Hedges tells us,

But what do we get from what must surely be the most expensive electoral system on the planet? There’s little real choice. The dismantling of our democracy which took place over the last few decades on behalf of corporations and the rich has been a bipartisan project, leaving only the outward shell of democracy. The courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch, and the media, including public broadcasting, are captive to corporate power. There is no institution left that can be considered authentically democratic.

Then he adds, Big Lebowski style, that we “bums” are kaput: “The corporate coup d’etat is over. They won. We lost.” Now, if I were Young Werther and I heard that, I’m enrolling in a Deer Hunter roulette game in some concrete jungle back alley casino, all mentality, crying, Nein, Nein, Nein, while Wall Street bucky bucky beavers laugh at us lefties all bent out of shape — for wah?

Hedges-Nader Interview

Well, Chris serves up his defeatist hoagie but Ralph ain’t bitin’.  Ralph’s more for the quiet Mediterranean diet; he’s got recipes! (See my review.) This gorgeous motherfucker — he knows he can’t win, but his heart just won’t give in, to channel the Bard from Duluth for a moment — Ralph just kind of chides his progressive sourpuss friend:

So it just is very intriguing that people thrash around groaning, moaning, being sickened, injured, blocked, discriminated against, deprived, and they don’t focus on the Khyber Pass, which is Congress. Whether we like it or not, that’s the institution that has the greatest authority to take on these big corporations and take on the predators and to drive peace in the world instead of war and empire. We’re listening to all these recountings of the ills, ailments, and injustices and the brutish scenarios coming up in the future with climate disruption and reneging on any kind of compact with posterity, and we don’t focus on Congress.

Cheeses.  What are we going to do when this guy carks it?  When I consider how some of my fellow citizens regarded Ralph as the reason why Bush won in 2000 I want to punch myself in the face just to get at the losers in dialogue in my head.  Imagine that: Go after Congress! Fucking guy’s a genius.

Many of us despair to know that it’s even possible that Donald Trump is still available to run for office — any office — let alone the presidency. How is it possible that this guy who managed to get impeached twice can still run for office? After all, at the very least, such impeachments boldly declare that he is rejected by Congress. Or at least half of them. Which is enough to disrupt and gridlock the government and reduce it to the bipartisan circus it has seemed for the last few years — totally corrupted and ineffectual when crises come along. But Ralph calmly points out that soon the Jan 6 investigatory body will release its findings of culpability and action toward Trump can follow. He tells Hedges:

Well, first of all, under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, any state can ban him from running for election based on this Jan. 6 findings of insurrection. That’s the insurrection section of section 3 of the 14th Amendment. The Jan. 6 committee report is going to be out soon and they could recommend that to the states and say, start enforcing section 3 of the 14th Amendment. If he is banned from running for reelection in four or five states, he can’t possibly compete even at the primary level.

Good News for Modern Man! Imagine: Fucking guy gets famous putting out a bestseller, The Art of the Deal, and he didn’t write it, according to his biographer (who actually wrote it).  Maybe we should impeach him once per year, or do a Guy Fawkes Day thing with explosives (Jan 6, get it?), or a Burning Man thing once a year to cast away his methane spirits.

The Hedges-Nader interview is a great, short read. Inspiring. Hedges does an excellent job explicating the crises of our times and of pointing out that “the world’s premiere democracy” is in deep trouble.  Nader knocks that back quietly enough and tells how We, the People can fight back; that it’s not all lost yet.

And while you’re at, do consider reading the Nader-inspired Capitol Hill Citizen.  It contains articles in it that aren’t deeply attractive to the MSM any more, so, likely important to the public interest.  For instance, on the front page of the pilot September 2022 issue (it’s a monthly), the lead story has us wonder about The Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), which the author, Jefferson Morley (a former spook), tells us might be the most important trade association we’ve never heard of. He writes, “Welcome to the revolving door of spooks who exit the corridors of secret agencies and enter the lucrative business of  lobbying for secret government contracts.”  Another headline asks: Why no hearings on the bloated Pentagon budget? (Answer: Because “the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is [too] busy investigating the toxic workplace culture of the Washington football team’s owner, Daniel Snyder.” Some of the team’s fans want to know when the fuckers are going to win anything again. Same with the US military, frankly.)

And on the back page, there’s a piece titled “The Black Hole,” that includes references to the Citizen’s print-only status. Some citizens are carping about its non-availability online, totally mising the point. Not Counterpunch co-founder and editor, Jeffrey St. Clair, who says, “I’m sick of the f—— web. It’s a black hole.”  Another section of the piece responds to carping about the values espoused in Ralph Nader’s sister Claire’s new book, You Are Your Own Best Teacher: Sparking the Curiosity, Imagination and Intellect of Tweens. Claire wants young minds to regularly take time off from the web (hivemind, really, if you ask me) and she takes guff for her views. But the Citizen responds by saying:

We’ve heard people call the book “quaint” and “out of touch with reality.”

They respond:

And the book’s essential argument is — if this is reality, who would want their kids to touch it?

Stuff the Naders have to put up with, right? Tsk, tsk tsk.

Here’s Ralph making a surprise appearance on the Busboys and Poets Books Present show to help promote his sister’s book. Here is an excerpt:

All in all, “progressives” should give the interview and Citizen and Claire’s book a processing moment, if they can break away from the tweets during their busy days of snarking and snorting cocaine.



Transcript at Real News website.

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.