Washington: Hollywood for ugly people
Barack Obama is George Clooney
The same blend of narcissism, confidence, “moral flexibility”, and desire for celebrity that motivates people to go to Los Angeles to compete for roles as “stars” in Hollywood movies is what motivates people to go to Washington to compete for roles as “politicians” in US political theater. Becoming an “elected representative” in Washington, D.C. is just another path to fame and wealth.
The lives of politicians differ little from that of celebrities. They’re treated like movie stars, posing for photos, signing autographs for admirers, treated to dinners at exclusive restaurants to attend “meetings”, weekends at luxury resorts to attend “conferences”, receive huge campaign "donations" from corporations and billionaires, and as a plus, have access to insider information on stocks, making members of congress multimillionaires.
“Show me a man that gets rich by being a politician, and I'll show you a crook.”― Harry S. Truman. This also applies to women who get rich by being a politician, such as Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Fienstein, and just about everyone else in the House of Representatives and the Senate, often called “The millionaires club”.
Washington truly is “Hollywood for ugly people.” They're ugly not only in their appearance (e.g. Mitch McConnell), but in their sociopathic disregard for the rapidly deteriorating plight of America’s working class and their unwavering support for the US imperial brand of foreign policy it has engaged in since World War Two that has resulted in the deaths of of millions abroad, created “failed states” in the Mid-East, murderous dictatorships in Latin America, and the forced migration of tens of millions to Europe and the US from the global south.
Washington and Hollywood offer Americans an identical escape from reality. For decades we’ve watched countless videos revealing systemic nationwide police brutality and murder of unarmed non-violent citizens, yet Hollywood movies and TV series continue to glorify and romanticize the police. For decades we’ve known about the brutality, torture, murder, and massacres of unarmed non-combatants by the US military, yet Hollywood movies (e.g. “American Sniper”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Zero Dark Thirty”) continue to portray the US military as “heroic” in wars known to be based on lies. Since the 1994 NAFTA Trade Agreement caused the elimination of millions of well-paying US manufacturing jobs which eviscerating our middle class, we’ve known about the resultant extreme wealth inequality that transmogrified “The American Dream” into a nightmare for the majority of working class families, yet Hollywood movies and TV shows rarely depict this reality.
To complete the circle of US propaganda, the “authoritative media” is populated by actors posing as “journalists”. The US print and broadcast media is populated by men and women “of color” stereotypes and Barbie Doll “commentators” whose role is to reinforce and legitimize Washington’s and Hollywood’s depiction of America’s domestic, political, and military conduct. The Washington-Hollywood-Media alliance completes the fictionalized “American Dream” that corporations, billionaires, the police, and the military want to instill into the American psyche despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
What accounts for this complete disconnect from reality? Why does “liberal” Hollywood refuse to produce movies that depict the reality of police and military brutality and murder? What accounts for the corporate media’s silence about the neo-feudalism that employees of Amazon, Walmart, McDonalds, et al, experience?
A political party’s popularity is greatly affected by the performance of certain corporations (e.g. weapons manufacturers, Big Oil, Big Pharma, etc.), as opposed to the state of the real economy. Understood in this context, the US didn't "lose" its wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, et al, that resulted in the deaths of millions. US politicians quickly learn to invest in these stocks and have enjoyed huge dividends for decades. A substantial percentage of these corporations are directly or indirectly involved in the US “war machine” which explains why we’re in a state of perpetual war. In fact, defense stocks outperformed the stock market by 58 percent during the 20 year war in Afghanistan.
Silicon Valley giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are paid hundreds of billions of our tax dollars to provide (technically illegal) surveillance on American citizens on behalf of the national security state making huge profits for their CEO’s and investors.
This is why our wars never end: War is America's “business”.
We live under the governance of vapid, vain, amoral thespians, not “elected representatives", and US politics is little more than scripted theater; a sort of ongoing, cliché-filled, patriotic Hollywood war movie. Our politicians are the “stars”, and US corporations and the national security state are the writers, directors, and financial beneficiaries of this theater of the absurd.
Barack Obama is perhaps the best modern day example of a political celebrity. We should forget his legacy as a shill for Wall Street who choose to enrich instead of prosecute the criminals who created the 2008 financial crisis while at the same time allowing over 5.1 million working class Americans to be evicted from their homes, a warmonger who expanded the two “Bush wars” to seven, bragged about his skills as a “killer” in his drone assassination program in which over 90% of those killed were civilians, and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all his predecessors combined. Notwithstanding his actual record, Obama remains a wildly popular ‘celebrity’ who retired at age 56 and now lives in a multi-million dollar estate on Martha’s Vineyard entertaining other celebrities such as George Clooney, Oprah, and Beyoncé.
Does anyone believe we can trust self-centered, amoral opportunists to effectively address the imminent existential threats to human life on earth, i.e. the destruction of Earth’s climate, and the ever more likely threat of nuclear war?
It’s important to remind ourselves that government employees, from the President to the police, are public servants on the citizen’s payroll—not “celebrities” for us to worship as their “fans”. We should demand the same basic social programs that even “center-right” European democracies provide to their citizens such as free high-quality healthcare and education, and demand an end to our our murderous brand of foreign policy that consumes over 60% of US discretionary spending, which in turn precludes funding healthcare and education and is responsible for America’s rapidly shrinking middle class, converting them into “serfs” for the likes of Jeff Bezos and the Walmart family.
The US is ruled by opportunistic political thespians who are in reality employees of the corporations who finance their political campaigns. They keep working class Americans too busy trying to survive financially and too propagandized by the corporate media to protest their plight while our military invades sovereign nations for their resources and to fabricate new enemies for them to claim they need evermore funding to defend us against.
Ironically, America could have achieved “world domination” and a "booming stock market" by building bridges abroad instead of bombing them, but that's not on the agenda of of the psychopaths who inhabit Wall Stree and the national security state.
The devolution of American democracy and the rise of “right-wing extremism” began not with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 or Donald Trump in 2016 as some journalists posit, but with the rigged nomination of Harry S. Truman, a “machine politician” from Missouri who replaced FDR’s choice, his V.P., Henry A. Wallace, in 1944. It was Truman who authorized the first and only use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was Truman who invented the CIA, created the Cold War with Russia which was our ally during WW2 and suffered over 26 million casualties compared to ½ million US casualties. It was Truman, who without congressional approval, ordered the US Army to fight in Korea’s civil war which resulted in the deaths of 20% of the population of Korea—a larger proportional civilian death toll than in World War II or the Vietnam War.
To paraphrase “The Godfather”, “It was Truman all along”.
If you like this article and wish to contribute my journalism, it will be greatly appreciated. Thanks. —Jim Gala
C Wright Mills in the 'Power Elite' noticed this phenomena of celebrity culture mingling over to politics. John Ralston Saul in 'Voltaire's Bastards' also writes a chapter on it. You are correct, it is dangerous, and one of the sicker symptoms of our politicians complete detachment from their supposed duty.
Well said. I have always viewed politicians as people I elect to do the work I don’t have time for.
Yes, I have opinions about most political decisions but do not have the time to commission research, look at alternative solutions and debate options on each and every one. So, I vote for someone who I believe is most likely to have the same instincts as me when making a decision and they are paid to make sure that decisions are made having devoted the appropriate resources and time in reaching them. If they personally are not on a Committee their job is to evaluate the evidence/rationale provided by the report of those Committees in deciding which way to vote. Then all politicians are accountable to their electorate to explain the “why” of their vote.
Obviously, this is too idealistic, but it is the only rational explanation form why politicians exist.