The Real State of the Union

On January 16th, the 2019 State of the Union address was announced to be delayed. No matter, for this year the world got a more effective representation of the current state of American society than any mono-syllabic speech could ever hope to provide.

While evidence of his collusion with Russia goes largely ignored, the hot news out of the cesspool called America this week focused on President Trump’s celebration party with the Clemson Tigers—this season’s NCAA Football champions.

It is traditional for victorious teams to be wined and dined at the Whitehouse—after all, there are few greater distinctions available to the American populace than being good at (American) football.

That notwithstanding, teams are usually greeted with a fine dining experience in the Whitehouse to honour their victory, but this year—partially due to the government shutdown, the Clemson Tigers received something a little outside of the norm.

Served up on silver platters, and lit by golden candelabras, Trump offered a smorgasbord of (presumably cold) fast food—Big Macs, Wendy’s, Pizza—a veritable dream-spread for a 6 year old designing their own birthday party.

Leave it to America to be split right down the middle—was this a classless gaffe, or was it fulfilling the deepest desires of this pack of finely tuned young athletes?

Some argued that Trump gave them a far more fitting meal than the ‘caviar and wine’ any other president might offer, whereas others saw it as a crude and vulgar gesture, utterly unfit for large men who are good at throwing balls.

It should go without saying that this is one of the more idiotic debates of the year, although it would of course have steep competition. But no matter where you sit on the dinner, one thing cannot be denied—it may be the most fitting metaphor for the current state of America we’ve seen in quite some time.

Fancy décor, huge controversy, embellished claims, and a smiling idiot unaware of how absurd he seems. Silver trays offering items barely passable as food, given to successful athletes who are prized above the doctors, teachers, and firemen who truly serve the nation. A self-defeating celebration with a pompous air of self-importance to it.

It was cheap, unhealthy, embarrassing, and presented with endless lies and self-aggrandizing.

When it comes to empty promises and dishonest representation, the President is truly king, and this fancy façade is a more potent image of the state of the Union than just about anything I can imagine.

What do you think?

-Brad OH Inc.

America’s Wall

Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump made a lot of wild promises which no reasonable person could expect he would really accomplish. From banning Muslim people from travel, to erasing the memory of Obama, to making America ‘great’ again, he promised a veritable cornucopia of achievements suitably grandiose yet vague to make any self-conscious, fear-addled white man foam at the mouth with vindictive anticipation.

Of course, none of these promises were more discussed than his strange claim to build a wall along the border, and make Mexico pay for it.

Let’s not even get into that bit about Mexico paying for it. That’s not the point.

Beyond all the bluster and hair-brained grandstanding, the Wall became the great theme of his campaign. Now, it is a more nebulous thing. It’s not talked about as much these days, but that’s the way with a grifter. Let the details fade once the price has been paid. Blur the lines, and redefine what it means to be successful—to be honest. Was it about a wall? Or safety? Safety, or fear?

If you didn’t realize that was rhetorical, let me spoil it for you. It was about fear. It’s always about fear.

The Wall was a bracer against the fear of lost privilege, and although the physical wall seems to be a distant memory, the barrier Trump promised continues to be built brick by brick with each hateful tweet, each insult to justice, and each scorned plea for decency.

Nations around the world are beginning to see this Wall tearing up the skyline, and have taken the point. America is no longer the trusted ally that it arguably used to be. Less so each day. They are unpredictable and cruel. Hateful of all others, and loathing of themselves.

Of all the destructive, strange claims Trump has made in vain, it seems the famous promise of a Wall may indeed come true. Of course, in typical rat fashion, it will come true in a significantly different way than promised. That’s the way with conmen…and enchanted artifacts, I think.

Is that isolation what’s best? It’s hard to say. Short of some miraculous about-face not only in the politicians of America, but in the politics of its citizens and media, America is poised now to settle into the mire and rot it has made for itself—abandoned and abjured behind a wall of fear, anger, and spite.

A wall of its own making.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Lament for Henry Wallace

purelyspeculationOver the past year, we’ve written a lot about Bernie Sanders, the former Presidential Candidate and self-avowed ‘Democratic Socialist’ who showed America that their policies may yet be guided by decency and virtue as opposed to greed and the dark lust for power. Bernie failed to gain the nomination, and as we look around now, we can see that the forces of decency are certainly in peril. But let us remember that there are and have been men and women throughout history who will fight the good fight. We needed them then, and we certainly need them in the years to come.

In the past too have we needed such brave and selfless leaders, and today we look back at just such a man from one of the most infamously precarious times in the history of the nation, if not the world. That man is Henry A. Wallace.

In these present days of uncertainty, many are the men and women who will appeal—with righteous indignation and furious intention—to higher powers or political extremes. Sadly, it is far fewer who are willing to be that example in the face of adversity and defiance.

Henry A. Wallace was just such a man.

Throughout his political career, he made an unending effort to turn the political tides towards decency and good sense—even when such qualities were considered subversive, if not outright treacherous.

Wallace served as VP under FDR during WWII, and was an outspoken supporter of New Deal Liberalism, as well as a more cordial approach to dealing with the potential threat of the Soviet Union. He was staunchly opposed to the atomic bomb, but eventually found himself thrown off the democratic ticket and disastrously replaced by Henry Truman. How much of the imperialist decline and wanton destruction to come may have been prevented had Wallace taken the presidency rather than Truman?

Undeterred, Wallace continued as a force of decency and moral rationality, founding the Progressive Party in 1946 as an effort to combat the hardline policies Truman was enacting against the Soviet Union. These efforts, if successful, may have warded off much of the violence and dissolution of the Cold War to come (Link).

Throughout his life, Wallace was driven by a steadfast compulsion towards rationality and good judgement, favouring fairness and open dialogue to judgement and oppression. He was fanatically anti-racist in a time when racism was considered the accepted norm, and a staunch anti-imperialist even as the USA became the world’s most imperialist nation.

Wallace was both practically, and metaphorically the antithesis of McCarthyism. Not only did he fight against it in practice, he represented the polar opposite of ideals. Where McCarthy pushed for labelling, hysteria, and rule by fear, Wallace encouraged sound judgement, tolerance, and foresight.

Needless to say, this stance, and Wallace himself, was not without fault. There are few people indeed who can make the best of judgements at all times, particularity without the best sources of information. In 1952, Wallace published ‘Where I was Wrong’, reflecting on his soft stance towards Stalin’s regime, offering apologies for some of his positions, and recanting any sympathies in light of the war-crimes he learned Stalin had committed. To err is human, but to own that error, apologize directly, and make amends is sufficient in itself to cast even the most talented and noble of people from the sullied echelons of public-esteem.

So, dear readers, let us take a moment to lament the failures and rejection of our friend Henry A. Wallace. Though flawed and moreover disgraced, he was a man led by noble ambitions, and ever loyal to the truth of his beliefs. This is not the mould for political success by any means, and it is a rare thing for a political figure to be so recklessly unconcerned with reputation. To focus instead on decency and virtue is the trait which perhaps will forever segregate the likes of Wallace and Sanders from the highest offices of the American political process, but we can all pray to see more of their kind soon.

Indeed, such people—in all walks of life—are the best hope we have.

-Brad OH Inc.

What Does America Have in Common with the WWE?

purelyspeculationOn March 23rd, 2001, the former World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) accomplished one of it’s greatest ambitions. It bought out its main competitor, World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

This was probably the greatest mistake they ever made.

With no significant competition left, the WWE lost any impetus to improve its product. With no legitimate runner-up, they were left to rest on their laurels rather than fighting to be the best. The quality of the product quickly diminished as the company focussed on preventing any upstart organizations from gaining traction, rather than working to continually improve their own product.

The company’s new focus soon became buying out other organizations and swallowing up emerging talent without any plans to utilize them effectively. They would eviscerate the potential competitors, without ever building on their own brand.

As a result, the WWE never again reached the same level of success or quality they had achieved during their long battle for ratings with the WCW, famously known as the ‘Monday Night Wars’.

In a lot of ways, this is eerily similar to the slow degradation of America after becoming the world’s leading superpower at the end of World War 2.

The following decades saw the nation engaging in a ‘Cold War’ with the Soviet Union—a long and precipitous crusade to invade and exploit weaker nations and spread ‘American Influence’, all while keeping the scary Communists away from valuable resources.

The entirety of the Cold War was—if one removes themselves from the wanton death and destruction—almost a comical mirror of the theatrical pantomimes so common in the wrestling world. It was the classic scenario of two main-eventers competing to see who could intimidate the other more. As the classic scene goes, the two big guys take turns landing finishing moves on hapless jobbers, staring nails through their true opponent without ever directly confronting them. The lower card workers are decimated, and the main eventers perceive their reputation to be bolstered by the damage done.

During this period of macho-posturing and international abuse, America was far more focussed on keeping other nations down than they were on improving themselves.  Military expenditures exploded, and infrastructure crumbled. This trend has continued into the present day, and America now is known more for its foreign meddling and military misuses than it is for the great beacon of freedom it still half-heartedly claims to be.

No longer were the old values of social-cohesion, public growth, quality education and accessible opportunity the hallmarks of American society—all were swept away under an authoritarian wave of bomb building and resource chasing.

Becoming a Superpower caused a huge shift in national identity. With it, America moved from the nation of freedom and growth to a nation of maintenance and control. The American Dream was accomplished, and the rot of its underlying idealism begun. Being a Superpower is among the worst and most damaging things to happen to America—and the resulting decay of values, social responsibility, and cultural identity is apt testament to that.

In the end, the downfall of the WWE and that of the United States both serve to teach us the same crucial lesson.

There is a very significant moral difference between competing to be on top by seeking to be the best, and defending your place at the top by actively damaging those below you.

If we focus on keeping others down rather than enriching ourselves, everyone loses, and in the end, someone is bound to topple the lame-duck façade your once proud empire has become—whether from outside, or from within.

-Brad OH Inc.

Dear America

purelyspeculationDear America,

It’s time we had a chat. I’ve been thinking about it for some time—stewing and chewing my lip and hoping the feeling would pass. Sometimes, after all, it’s best to wait things out; give it some time, let emotions cool, and perhaps things will just settle down.

It’s gone on long enough now.

It’s nothing major mind you, and I’m certainly not looking to make a ‘big deal’ about this, but there’s something you do far too often to overlook. It’s insulting, disingenuous, and, dare I say, egomaniacal.

So let’s just have it out right now. America, you really, really need to stop claiming it as your solemn duty to protect the world. Freedom is not your export.

As the world watches you plunge into chaos with sorrow and trepidation, it seems a terrible injustice to hear you continue to describe yourselves as world-leaders, while simultaneously chastising the state of the world. Be clear about this—if leaders you are, then you must take full ownership of the bad along with the good.

You have made a commodity of greed, and the pursuit of vice has long overtaken those of liberty and happiness. If you are a role-model, it is primarily for bombast and falsehood—for yelling and kicking dirt and ignoring reason until everyone else gives up on you and you sit alone to wallow in your own petulance.

You speak of freedom and democracy in the same breath as economic-sanctions and drone strikes. You’re like the oversized moron on the playground preaching about self-restraint by playing ‘stop hitting yourself’ with the runt.

It’s not as funny as that analogy may lead you to believe.

It is an insult to the world at large to be chastised about morality by rat-fink purveyors of calamity such as yourselves—it’s beyond ironic, it’s downright pathetic.

But it’s not just about us and our hurt pride. It’s not even only about the importance of owning up to your actions—although this is certainly a laudable goal as well. It’s about you, and the inexpressible importance of being sincere with yourself.

As it stands, you live in a state of terrible cognitive dissonance. Calling for war while praising your mercy, and condemning greed while lining your coffers through the toil of those with less.

It is time you set aside the false braggadocio and face your true self America. Be honest with who you are—own it first, and then decide if you wish to change. For without facing our true selves—we cannot ever hope to be at peace.

Of course, if recent headlines are to be trusted, perhaps taking a good hard look into the mirror is exactly what America has been doing of late. The question then becomes, will you like what you see? (Link)

-Brad OH Inc.

The Second Most Important Step to Improving the United States

purelyspeculationHere at Brad OH Inc., we have on several occasions (Link) covered an issue which is indisputably the most important step to improving the United States. That is the complete overturning of Citizens United (Link). This change stands at the foremost of all sorely needed improvements, solely for the reason that this ruling acts as the lynchpin to all the other changes the country—and moreover the world—so dearly needs. So long as laws are decided by the vote of Corporate dollars rather than the will of the citizenry, all other problems shall remain immutably entrenched in the quagmires of Corporate bureaucracy.

As this has been covered in depth elsewhere, however, today we will be focussing on what seems to be the second most important step to repairing the dismal affair that is the United States of America. Specifically, we’re talking about the significant reduction and reallocation of military expenditures. As discussed in our article ‘The Global Scale’ (Link), the current approach to foreign policy taken by the American government—the driving force here being the Military Industrial Complex (Link)—acts in actuality as the source of many of their current greatest woes.

As more and more effort is exerted to bring ‘freedom’ to the rest of the world, so grow the enemies of America—understandably bitter about the ‘foreign aid’ that comes in the form of drone strikes, trade embargoes, and unnumbered civilian casualties. This creates a dangerous cycle, in which the American populace—goaded by the bought-and-paid-for media—feels more terrified by the day, and are comforted only by the knowledge that their dear country is capable at any point of destroying the world in the name of saving it.

“But if you strip military spending, you’ll expose us to terrorists,” cry the feint-hearted American media-stooges. Well, let’s consider the facts for a moment—if that doesn’t seem too tall an order.

Based on presently reported statistics (Source), the United States spends approximately $577 Billion on its military each year. This is significantly more than the TOTAL of the next 10 highest spending countries combined.

I’ll allow a second for that to sink in.

With spending like this, America is rather like the kid who shows up to a water pistol fight armed with a firetruck. It’s Rambo intruding on a friendly game of cops and robbers—PTSD flashbacks and all. Simply put: It’s madness.

Meanwhile, infrastructure is crumbling (Source), the homeless population is ballooning (Source), veterans are left without care (Source), and funding for public education is being gutted (Source).

Looking at the numbers above, let’s consider the relationships here with a quick bit of theorizing. If—and this is a naivety to be sure—the US were to slash their military expenditures in half, they would be left with a yearly military budget of around $288.5 Billion. Now, while only half of what is deemed currently necessary, this would still leave the US with a military budget higher than the combined budgets of the next 3 highest spenders. That doesn’t seem like an especially dangerous situation to be in, especially considering that half of the top ten spenders are allies of America.

Further to this consideration, we’ve seen through manifold examples in the past, and as an ongoing theme of the present (Link), that military escalation is a losing game. Investment in war tends primarily to breed more war—with the only safety-net being found in mutual destruction.

If however, this budget change was made, America would remain far and away the greatest military power the world has ever known, and yet would have a sudden windfall of $288.5 Billion to spend on social services like Veteran Affairs, Welfare Programs, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, (real) Foreign Aid, Home Care Services, Senior Care, and so much more.

With such a change, America could begin to be the utopian saviour it so desperately wants to be, rather than the school-yard bully who beats on people until they praise him. By setting an example for the world of the sort of peaceful and genuine neighbour they could be, they would likely reduce their enemies greatly, improve many foreign relationships, and, if funds were allocated appropriately, perhaps solve global terrorism at its root, rather than merely spreading the fire.

The end-goal here should not be hard to see—by addressing this ridiculous budgeting fiasco, the US could be the beacon of hope it has always claimed to be, rather than just another blind threat uttered in the darkness of irrational fear.

-Brad OH Inc.

On American Exceptionalism

purelyspeculationIn our recent article on ‘On Combatting Jihad’ (Link), we explained that if the ‘Western World’ was to successfully combat the tides of Jihad, their best breakwater would be not in armaments, but in exceptional and inspiring ideas. Well don’t take it from us—this sentiment was recently echoed by President Obama himself (Source).

But the main problem with this goal is that by a great majority, it is already deemed accomplished.

You hear it all the time: America is exceptional. Hell, it’s so ubiquitous as to merit its own definition on Wikipedia (Link). It’s right at the head of the article: “American exceptionalism is the theory that the United States is inherently different from other nations.”

Well, this at least may be true.

As the first ‘new nation’, it has long been assumed that America represented an opportunity to redefine what a country could be: Both within its borders, and as a beacon to the world without.

Again, it can hardly be argued that this opportunity has long been afforded to, and occasionally even seized by America. But the problem here is the built in assumption of positive affect. ‘America is exceptional’ is virtually always taken to mean ‘America is Great’, or ‘America is better’. It’s repeated ad nauseum, and finally taken to be axiomatic fact—that is to say, it’s taken as true by its very nature, and no longer are facts needed to support the notion.

There is nothing inherently exceptional about America. Not in the happy-go-lucky, ‘liberty, freedom ra ra ra’ way it’s so often portrayed to be at least. Of course, the key word there is ‘inherently’. Certainly, America has the potential to be exceptional. They are no different in that respect from any other country in the world. But to be exceptional, one must act in an exceptional way–that is, to take actions and make decisions which are above and beyond the standard. This, America is failing to do, and has been for a long time.

We’ve discussed in several articles, most notably ‘The Global Scale’ (Link) how American Imperialism has a devastating impact on the world at large. Politics driven by the greedy impulses of corporations have shifted this potentially great nation into something far more dark and sinister than was ever envisioned.

Yet it remains common rhetoric to use ‘American Exceptionalism’ as the justification for poor decisions. The assumption is that anything America does is exceptional by definition–because America is exceptional. This is misled, and serves only to justify the continuing trend of poor–and potentially disastrous–decisions.

Here, we see the axiom of American Exceptionalism become tautological, and thus it not only loses its meaning, but becomes a means of bolstering against any positive change. As global politics continue to heat up, and the dream of a future resplendent with peace and prosperity grows ever dimmer, exceptionalism is used as a pacifier, and the placated citizens are endlessly assured that not only are they alright (Link)…but even more damning, that they are, simply, right.

But it is not enough for a nation to claim it’s exceptional because it was founded on the principles of liberty and freedom, as this only allows it to rest on its withering laurels. Rather, one must accept that the country is in decline, and actively work to re-establish that once proud tradition.

America claims to be exceptional, yet falls ever short of being so. What would it take to live up to these claims? There are myriad areas to improve for sure. Rather than the strong focus on overwhelming might, or the ongoing bludgeoning of American Exceptionalism, perhaps it could be shown through greater commitments to issues such as education, infrastructure, debt relief, third world aid, equal rights, etc. If these priorities are seized upon internally, and a greater effort established at promoting them worldwide, then America could again be the beacon of hope it so desperately wishes to be. For these are the hallmarks of a truly great nation, which no flag, slogan, or axiomatic battle-call can ever replace.

-Brad OH Inc.