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With less than a month before the mid-term American elections, the airwaves are flush with the sounds of campaigning, this year more strident than ever courtesy of the Supreme Court ruling opening the floodgates for corporations to invest all they wish in manipulating public opinion in the name of “free speech.”  One buck, one vote.  We once would have called this “corruption,” but in present-day America this concept no longer applies: money talks and bullshit walks, as ever, and as in other parts of the world, there is no longer any pretense that anything else applies.

America has bifurcated into two distinct worlds – that of the 2% hyper-rich and their fellow-travelers, those 20% or so who imagine themselves rich, though by comparison they are poor, for whom the magic of Wall Street still works, and the shuffle of money, huge amounts of money, can be heard stuffing the ballot boxes, and the bank accounts of their enablers at Fox – Rush, Glenn, Palin, et al, as they eagerly move the herd of gullible victims toward the cliff.

The other America, asleep at the wheel the last decades, in thrall to the cheap stuff of malls and plastic credit eagerly urged upon them by the most venal of banks – no less venal than PayDay check loan outfits – suddenly finds itself evicted.  The credit’s been cut, and the knocks on the door are to pay-up the 12-38% interest on the past money loaned.  And if you lost your job, tough luck.  Those doing the knocking these days get their money almost interest free from the Fed, so anything they collect is icing on the cake of their bonuses.  Too big to fail.  But millions of others are too little to help.  But not too little to smother in fraudulent campaign lies, to get them to vote to slit their own throats.

After decades – to say more like a century – of constant governmental and school and media propaganda, the broad American public is against almost anything that might serve itself, and is ready to rail against anything that hints of social welfare, the common-weal, even if the most obvious logic in the world makes clear that these things are necessary for their individual lives.  Dumbed down and brain-washed, our public is seemingly ready to commit hara-kiri on the altar of the magical free market economy – the one that down-sized them, shipped their jobs off to cheaper labor, less environmental restrictions, and other profit-oriented reasons, and basically shafted them royally so that the 2% could watch their stocks go up and up and up until they owned almost all the wealth of the nation, and certainly had bought the government, lock, stock and barrel.  A government which now is of the corporations, for the corporations and by the corporations.

Dutifully it seems these voters will go to the polls, disgruntled and angry on Nov. 2, and in a fit of pique, slit their wrists to write in blood their choice to support those who are most  against their interests, who spent the last months selling them such a bill of absurd goods that even Barnum would blush.   Such a finale was anticipated by de Tocqueville quite some time ago.  However, as is well known, the great unwashed American public has a dim view of all things French, and most of all, intellectuals.  Fry your freedoms.

Dallas Tea Party



  1. We are living the agenda of the John Birch Society that my father (though a Republican in 1964)called “extremists.”

    Rebranded, empowered by the strategic neglect of our education system, the barbarians have seized their moment.

    In the best case scenario, this is their last hurrah. In the worst… we shall see.

    Fine writing, Jon.

    • “strategic neglect of our education system” is perfectly put.

      All this is not an accident.

  2. The dumbing down is correct. Anti-intellectualism is rampant. I snicker whenever I hear a politician claim to believe in the fundamental intelligence of the average American voter.

    If middle-of-America were intelligent we wouldn’t be in the mess we find ourselves today. A society bereft of thought, discourse, logic or reason. A nation watching ‘reality’ television. A nation giving credence to anything said by radio-hucksters turned ‘pundits”. A nation convinced the American dream is still obtainable, while clearly 50% or better of all wealth is controlled by less than 1% of the population.

    Intelligent? No. Seriously screwed? Shit yeah.

  3. Well said Jon. Thanks.

  4. Wonderful writing and photographs, and much admired.

    I copied this, tho I found a host of other quotes, and aphorisms, to be just as cogent:
    “… get them to vote to slit their own throats.”

    Astonishing, and true; right as rain, as an old time saying expressed it.

    Your writing reminds me of Gore Vidal’s take on how the maddeningly effective right-wing manages to keep a hold on power.
    To paraphrase: The genius of the American aristocracy is how they get the public to vote against their own interests.


    I’ve been on the planet awhile, read a bit, and so forth, but watching the hall of mirrors that passes for political discourse in this country, is always amusing in its ironical way.
    But profoundly dangerous in its consequences.

    Thanks for the writing, and I”ve bookmarked your ‘thoughts and things’ site. Please, keep adding to the conversation in the NYTimes, and elsewhere. I often find the comments section of the once old gray lady more interesting and insightful than the articles and columnists themselves.

    My best you,

    • Thanks. I try. Under no delusions that either this modest blogging or the films I make do much more than keep me (un)gainfully occupied as we swirl around the sun. It is nice though when some get something out of it, whatever it is. best jon

  5. Jon, this website is an amazing waste of time, effort, and some unfortunate one’s hard drive memory. You’ve been jerking off, literally, since 1963…never a day’s service for the country but to complain and promote a highly biased opinion. Your whine on NYT grows tiresome, cease the babble….or better yet continue to show the world the slanted, unsuccessful point of view espoused by the left. You are a fool.

    • Viktor T.,
      Interesting judgments about ‘jerking off, literally’ and ‘never doing a day’s service for his country but complain and promote a highly biased opinion’. Hopefully you’ll hear your own bias and foolish judgments greet you in your mirror one day. It may take some introspection to view your own failures and that shambles of a ‘democracy’ that you believe in. So, send in your clowns ‘Your Highness’.

    • Viktor T.,

      you accuse Jon Jost “never a day’s service for the country”.

      Jon is in the service of Humanity, if that means anything to you.

      I did 24 months of service. Highest Nato Security Clarification between 1980 – 82. Worked coding and decoding nuclear messages at a Nato HQ in Germany. Mostly Generals there. And a few of us low ranks.

      Four times a year we would – in WAR GAMES – annihilate half of Europe, including our own cities. To save us from the ‘Orange Forces’. The cynicism and madness of it literally made me ill. Although I enjoyed making all the US friends there.

      That was the SERVICE I did – for my country of birth (GER) and for my country of choice (US). I regret EVERY DAY – although I was drafted as a German, I had chosen this post because I loved America. My brother was a conscientious objector and worked with old folks instead.

      I salute Jon for doing 27 months prison instead. That is a man with a heart for humanity, while the warrior caste is mostly thinly disguised mercenary action.

      After I seen first hand the madness that is what you call service to the country, that is really a service to General Eisenhower’s MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX I have no illusion anymore about the brainwashed children of this failed experiment that has become of my adopted country.

      I’m sad, not only for my wasted service and my illusions about it’s worth, that was only 24 months and eventually passed, but for people like yourself parading your ignorance like it’s one of those little medals of honor you like to stick on your vest.

      Jon won’t say it. So I do. Go fuck off yourself.

  6. Tobias,
    Well spoken my brother!

  7. Jon,

    I read your comment in NYT on your getting an Indian visa. I read that South Korea was very corrupt, too. Is it no longer? And if so, any idea what helped?

    • Well, I would hardly say Korea is not “corrupt” – though they would differ and say it is just the way they do things. It is all family/tribal in a way. And they would say the same in India – it’s just the way things are done. Some places make it more and some less obvious. These days the champion place for corruption is America, and it is approved by the Supreme Court!

  8. I’m looking at your reader’s comment re Egan’s (excellent) “How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms” (NYT, 11/2). More specifically at your remark addressed to “the disproportionate wealth which [post-WWII] America commanded – 25% of global resources and wealth for 5% of the globe’s population…”

    But please see below:

    “We have about 50% of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3% of its population. … In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. … To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. … We should cease to talk about vague and … unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”

    —George F. Kennan, Policy Planning Study 23 (PPS23), Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), 1948

    And while I’m at it, have you ever bumped into this one?–namely:

    “In future times a great majority of the people will not only be without landed, but any other sort of property. These will combine under the influence of their common situation; in which case, if authority be in their hands by the rule of suffrage, the rights of property and the public liberty will not be secure, or, which is more probable, they will become the tools of opulence and ambition; in which case, there will be an equal danger on another side.”
    -James Madison, 1787, [Farrand, Records, Vol. II, p. 203]

    • Hi
      Well I suppose immediately after the war it was that tilted. Great quotes – you wanna be a researcher for me? Sorry, can’t pay….
      I suppose this is our dirty not-so-secret American reality which is now crashing down. It isn’t just Fox which provided decades of disinformation on this, so little wonder the broad public is surprised and pissed. And the top 1% are grabbing for everything that’s left…. Alas. Not going to be a very nice picture in the coming years. I may take a long trip, but I don’t plan on moving back any time.

  9. Jon,
    Corruption is what happens, it’s a process of nature. The USA is in state of corruption and decomposition, the empire is falling. Again.
    Latin America is the future.We have a lot freedom, good weather, music, beauty and artists are abundant. This ain´t no ‘terrorist state´. Bienvenidos!
    Medellin, Colombia

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