Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Steven Hass: Beginner's Guide To American Politics

A Beginner's Guide To American Politics

By Steven A. Hass

1. Your president is George W. Bush. He lives in the White House. He doesn't actually do anything except act as a figurehead for American politics, which is kind of embarrassing. I know we all could think of someone a lot more impressive to show as our leader, but American voters screwed it up twice and now we're stuck with him. Well, maybe that's a little harsh, because American voters didn't actually screw up any elections; electronic voting machines did that for them.

2. Don't try to understand any "war on terrorism", because there isn't one. It's impossible to fight a "war" against an ideal. It can't be fought, and even if it could be, it couldn't be won. "War on terrorism" is nothing more than a scary-sounding catch phrase, meant to keep you thinking you're in danger so you'll just go along with whatever program is dictated to you as being your protection. It's like saying, "Bush will save you from those meanie terrorists, if only you'll vote for him". You get the idea.

3. Do not try to think too deeply about what comes out of George W. Bush's mouth. Why should you have to think about it when even he doesn't think about it? He doesn't think this stuff up - he's got a whole team of handlers and script writers who do that for him. All he has to do is read what they write, but he tends to screw up the bigger words. Most of it is baloney anyway, just neat phrases and sound bites to paint whatever picture they want you to be seeing. Think Hollywood, and movies, and bad actors - that's about as authentic as it is. Pinocchio meets the 21st century - pull his strings and watch his mouth move.

4. Under no circumstances should you be buying crap like magnetic ribbons that say mindless things, such as "Freedom Isn't Free". Displaying such trinkets will only tag you as a mindless sheep in a mindless herd. Don't do it. If you see things like this, avoid the people who display them. They have absolutely no idea about much of anything, and certainly no clue about Iraq, oil, Bush, the economy, etc. They go along to get along, where they are comfortable. Avoid them at all costs.

5. Cable TV news? It isn't. It's entertainment. The giveaway is usually when the word "news" is in the show's title, such as "Fox News", a prime example.

6. If you really want the truth about anything involving American politics and current events, you'll need to do some homework. Here's a major tip: look outside of the American mainstream media, which gave up on objective journalism a long time ago. Try international news sources and online independent sources. Chances are good that you'll find more to every story there than you'll ever get from American mainstream media.

7. When you cast a vote for somebody, you do it because they're going to represent you and your wishes, right? Well, that was the original intention a couple hundred years ago, but it's not like that anymore. Once they get to Washington DC, all bets are off. They're in the club now. Oh, they'll do some representing, but not if you aren't sitting on a pile of cash. Elections have degenerated into a choice between two evils, and your only option is the lesser evil. Pretty sad, isn't it? Welcome to American politics in the 21st century. If an honest one does happen to slip in through the cracks, he won't be there after one term.

8. What is patriotism? It has nothing to do with the size of your flag. It has nothing to do with blind loyalty to a president. It has nothing to do with supporting a war. What is patriotism? It is standing up to a president (or anyone else) who goes against the principles this country stands on. It is a decision to ask the difficult questions, to demand accountability from every elected official (including, especially, the president). It is an attitude that says, "Nobody, not even a president, is more important than the good of the country". Patriotism is non-partisan. Patriotism bows to nobody. And patriotism will kick a president in the ass when it's called for, every time it's called for.

9. Your Vice-President is Dick Cheney. Sometimes he lives at the White House, too. Most of the time nobody knows where he lives or what he's doing. He's not very good at clearing that up. All he's really been good at is awarding multi-billion dollar contracts to his former company, for cleaning and rebuilding Iraq - and now the U.S. gulf coast, too (probably because he's still getting paid by his former company). Cheney is worse than Bush, because Bush is only lying according to a script, and Cheney can do it on his own. Again, some intense homework is in order if you really want to know about Dick Cheney.

10. This is your initiation into the world of American politics in the 21st century. It's not very in-depth, because it would take too long to erase what Big Brother has sold to you as the real story of American politics. It's been whitewashed and dressed up and sugarcoated for so long that now it's just a tacky piece of junk on a souvenir stand, painted in red, white, and blue. Do some homework. Do some research. Ask questions. Question everything. And turn off that friggin' TV!


Steven A. Hass

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Binoy Kampmark: A Looting Matter: Cambodia’s Stolen Antiquities

Cambodia has often featured in the Western imagination as a place of plunder and pilfering. Temples and artefacts of exquisite beauty have exercised the interest of adventurers and buccaneers who looted with almost kleptocratic tendency. In 1924, the French novelist and future statesman André Malraux, proved himself one of Europe’s greatest adventurers in making off with a ton of sacred stones from Angkor Wat... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour Leadership Speculation Premature And Facile
Speculation that the Prime Minister’s leadership of the Labour Party may be at risk because of this week’s adverse poll results is as exaggerated as it is premature and facile. While her popularity has plummeted from the artificially stellar heights of a couple of years ago and is probably set to fall further to what would be a more realistic assessment... More>>

Ian Powell: Colossal ‘Porkies’ And Band-aids Don’t Make A Health Workforce Plan

On 1 August Minister of Health Andrew Little announced what he described as the start of a plan for the beleaguered workforce in Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system: Government’s 5 year late health workforce announcement. In October 2017, when Labour became government with its two coalition parties, it inherited a health workforce crisis from the previous National-led government... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Fuss About Monkeypox
The World Health Organization has been one of the easier bodies to abuse. For parochial types, populist moaners and critics of international institutions, the WHO bore the brunt of criticisms from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro. Being a key institution in identifying public health risks, it took time assessing the threat posed by SARS-CoV-2 and its disease, COVID-19... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Time For MPs To Think For Themselves
One of the more frequently quoted statements of the Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, was his observation that “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement, and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”... More>>