In today’s America, games rule. Literally.

We have Hunger Games in theaters, the talent game show American Idol chooses our next musical stars, political games are played by the wealthy and politicians to win the next election, media outlets game their viewers for profits and Wall Street and corporations gamble to win big on all of the above at the expense of 99% of Americans (with tax payer money always there to bail them out).

America has become one big cynical carnival of games but at least the GOP has been considerate enough to throw in a number of clowns at no extra cost.

The problem with everything being a game is that, as in every game, someone has to lose. So when it comes to such things as democracy, health care, economic fairness, etc., areas where there should not be winners and losers but a nation working together and a rising tide raising all ships, there are losers.

So the supporters of class warfare, misogyny, racism, religious zealotry and plutocracy readily compete against the public welfare to bring home the gold.

The other destructive factor in layering everything in society with a game is that the game can become the primary focus and the underlying critical social issues can be neglected and deteriorate. Whether it’s our crumbling infrastructure, stagnant job growth and pay, corporate domination over our democracy, poverty, our manipulative media…it’s all about winning the games piled on top of the real issues instead of addressing the actual issues.

It’s no coincidence that corporations and the GOP use the same playbook in setting up and competing in games. In one way or another, they seem to apply the same game to every situation, “Dodge Bull”. This is basically a game of spending a great deal of money and/or media attention on lies, both in number and repetition, so that the “opposing players” are fully occupied trying to refute lies instead of being able to debate the substance of an issue. The idea is to overwhelm the opponent, rain down on them and the public a torrent of lies so great that they can’t all be caught and fully disproven.

For example, if you watch cable news, you’ve likely been barraged by commercials from oil companies that show people “disagreeing” over more drilling and clean energy then coming to the conclusion that oil companies are magically able to both drill and mine for a dirty, toxic fuel while being ecologically safe. Just ask BP about that or the people who can light their water on fire. Yet, by drilling this pleasantly presented, dishonest message into the heads of the public, they anticipate reaping a gusher of manipulated support. In fact, one of these ads from Chevron claims that the Keystone XL pipeline will bring plentiful and secure supplies of energy to the U.S. and that is a flat out lie. Even the owners of the pipeline are on record explaining that oil from the Keystone pipeline will be sold to the world market, meaning virtually no oil will come to the US from the pipeline. But again, this game is about throwing grit into the public’s eyes so they can sneak across the finish line and grab the oily trophy.

Mitt Romney’s entire campaign is based wholly on the Dodge Bull game. He spent millions inundating Republican primary voters with lies and attacks against his opponents…and almost nothing on explaining why he should be President. Which is more important to voters in the long run? And Romney spouts one easily provable lie after another in attacking President Obama, almost gleefully admitting it’s all just a game of Dodge Bull.

Elections have become just the game of manipulating perceptions, a game of illusions. There is so little honest debate and expression. There are those like Romney who could only win an election by playing this game and those like Obama who have to respect the game or be demolished by it.

Why do Americans have such low regard for their government and their democracy in general? Could it be because they have seen this game mentality in campaigns and in office and recognize that part of the game is to show a patronizing concern for their welfare and democracy itself while it’s really all about these politicians winning? Re-election, handouts to their cronies, legislation for their corporate contributors, maybe many Americans see the game quite clearly and see it as rigged against their ever really winning.

Playing just to win the game may prove one good at playing games but it distracts from answering important questions or solving important problems…and that’s exactly the point and purpose.

Which brings us to the corporate media. No need to go into great length as I’ve addressed this in prior posts but the corporately owned media is in the ad money game so whatever they can do to break their previous high scores, they will and need to do. To win at that game, they need to play another game with the public, “Outrage”.

Unfortunately for the MSM, the actual news of the day just won’t fill 24 hours of broadcasting, reality isn’t as prolific or “sexy” as corporate media outlets need it to be…so they invent their own reality that is. Each day is a desperate hunt by them for something someone says or does that they can pour gasoline over and throw a match on it so they can turn to the public and tell them how outraged they should be at it. The simple fact is, conflict attracts viewers (ever see people look away as they approach a car accident?), they know this so they manufacture all the conflict and outrage they can to keep and attract viewers, allowing them to charge more for advertising.

Add to this the political agenda of the five corporations that own all major media outlets and you have what we have today, media that doesn’t just report the news, they also create some of it…which is part of this same game.

When Hillary Rosen, who has no connection to President Obama, was painted as evil by the corporate media for her remarks about Ann Romney, the media splashed that all over Obama. Days later when Ted Nugent, who is officially lauded by Romney as his supporter and advocate, infers that he would try to kill Obama if he was re-elected and urges people to chop off the heads of their political opponents, the corporate media doesn’t make a peep about Romney being impacted by this.

The Presidential Photo Finish Game that the corporate media is playing is the cause. Right now, Obama is ahead of Romney in most non-partisan polls. As mentioned, conflict drives people to watch and read the media. So, a tight Presidential race means more revenues to these corporations. Is it then so mysterious that the corporate media jumped at the opportunity to damage Obama’s lead with a manufactured attack on him while rejecting a far more appropriate opportunity to hold Romney responsible for the threats that an official and sought out supporter of Romney’s delivered?

There are sneaky ways that the media accomplishes its goals, sometimes by default instead of design. There are those like Fox News that play the game by plainly fabricating outrage and openly presenting politically motivated falsehoods as news to harm their political adversaries and give a hate fix to their hate-addicted audience. Then there are outlets like MSNBC which present those and other contrived outrages to inform their viewers about them or to discuss their legitimacy. By not talking about the real issues and discussing the games others are playing, they are actually playing the game just as much as the originator of them…and winning as much by doing so. In any case, there’s no way to ascertain the true intention, whether the coverage of such games comes from genuine concern or is just an intentional twist on the original game, feigning concern as a way to keep playing the game and increasing revenue without alienating viewers who might otherwise object.

Must we accept that everything has to be a game? Our democracy, our health, our nation’s future? Does everything of consequence have to be shoved aside to make way for a never-ending competition over money or power?

There is a very encouraging trend, a way that Americans have been kicking over the game board with a growing frequency that’s quite heartening.

There were other instances before it but the big Wisconsin protests against Gov. Walker’s outlawing of collective bargaining rights, seemed to kick off a series of occasions when Americans said, “We’re not playing your game!” There was the political explosion of Occupy Wall Street, people standing up against The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s game to damage Planned Parenthood, people rejecting the Rush Limbaugh game to destroy and diminish the voices of women to stand up for their rights and people refusing to accept the racist game of the Sanford Police Department to allow white people the right to shoot and kill black people.

It seems that many Americans have had enough of games and players. With so many huge issues facing us, we don’t have time to keep spending our days playing the MSM’s “Untruth or Dare” or the Republicans’ “Green Lie, Red Lie.” Our society, infrastructure, economy and sense of community have been deteriorating because they’ve been neglected and ignored by those who would rather win their games. They haven’t an interest in solving the serious problems facing Americans.

Most Americans enjoy games for fun but when it comes to our future, we need to put the games aside and get something meaningful done. Perhaps more and more Americans will feel the same as those who are already standing up and tell those who try to game the majority of Americans, “game over”.

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bitoMurphTheSurf3SallyTkesmarnKQµårk 死神 Recent comment authors
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Ad Lib. Strong analysis. You know that we agree on so much and here you go again proving this to be so.

Let me add a point about our flawed political infrastructure.

One three countries have used our constitutional and its structure as a model for their own governments: Liberia, Japan and the Philippines. Liberia was founded by former U.S. slaves. Japan rewrote its constitution (which was based on a German model) to the U.S. model during the occupation of that country after WWII and the Philippines was a U.S. territory.

That is it? Most of the world is governed by variations on the parliamentary model. There is a reason for this. By the middle of the 19th century it was clear that our system is unwieldy and tends to petrify government efforts to address our deepest issues/problems.

European newspapers viewing the coming Civil War wondered why an internal issue like slavery was shattering national unity. This has been our pattern.

The separation of powers, the way in which our Houses of Congress operate, the overlap in the authority of states and the federal government, the unique/flawed role of the Supreme Court in judging law, and either over-mighty or flacid executive leadership are all at fault and they are all built into a system which favors two parties for whom gridlock is a way of life.

When the chief executive sits in the principal legislative body and leads a coalition of parties things move much faster.

I have a lot more to say on this but I just wanted to make the point here.


Isn’t every government using a parliamentary system presently now in control of a minority leadership? Not sure if that’s the answer.


AdLib, this article explains why some of those ads are showing up on some of the stations.

“Crossroads GPS and similar groups exploit a legal loophole with issue ads. The groups cannot legally advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate, so issue ads simply attack a candidate’s views or policies. The Crossroads GPS ad criticizing Obama’s energy policy, for example, asks viewers to, “tell Obama to … work to pass better energy policies,” but does mention voting against him.”$10-million-watchdogs-demand-irs-crackdown


A really wonderful article, AdLib. And the comments are just a terrific addition, too.

Here’s a quaint little exercise. Remember the antique notion of Good Sportsmanship? I think it was taught in homes, high school athletics and occasionally even beyond those places.

Let’s see. What were the main tenets?

1. Be humble in victory.
2. Be gracious in defeat.
3. Play by the rules.
4. Cooperate with and give credit to your teammates.
5. Never try to deliberately injure an opponent.
6. No trash talk.
7. Shake hands with your opponents and be on good terms when the game is over.

Maybe if the game of politics were played with some level of good sportsmanship, it wouldn’t be such a destructive one. Isn’t that a naive wish? ‘Fraid so… 🙁

Come to think of it even sports are no longer subject to the rules of sportsmanship.

Business and finance most definitely aren’t. The police at OWS demonstrations and some of the military don’t seem to comprehend the concept either.

Tea Partiers at town hall meetings? Nope. Rush Limbaugh and Ted Nugent? Don’t think so.

Maybe I should search on YouTube for one of those scratchy old black and white educational films. Good Sportsmanship. To the Breitbarts and O’Keefes of the country, I guess it would be filed under “Comedy.”

KQµårk 死神

Great points AdLib and spot on analysis. It’s all about the horse race now in the MSM. They want the election as close as possible and damn the future of the country. The voters have seemingly completely forgotten all the right wing stances Romney has taken and even though the Republican brand is tarnished they still lead all generic Congressional polls.

The magazine blogs are in on it too. Even though like you said most non-partisan polls have Obama leading ‘The Daily Beast’ has the #1 story ‘Obama and Romney in Dead Heat’. They fucking absolutely love this shit while the country’s future could be decimated by right wing policies if they get all branches of government.

I know people argue with me hear that we get what we deserve for having an ignorant electorate but the very fact the country even accepts the modern GOP as a viable political party only happens because people let it happen. Yeah if Romney gets elected we can all blame the other side but it’s still a referendum by the voters save if he wins and loses the popular vote.

My biggest worry by far that it seems the economy is slowing down a bit and because people have complete forgotten that all the remedies Romney have been prescribing have gotten us here it will hurt Obama’s reelection chances.

As for games. I’m a big time gamer so I resemble that remark. Since I can’t work it’s one of the few activities to keep plaque from starving the little grey cells.


I find it interesting that amidst the games, as you note Ad Lib, people are pushing back. Both the extremes want to “win” – and the average person just wishes to survive as a functioning person with a degree of efficacy and reasonable autonomy, living a calm life and raising his or her family with peace of mind.

I think the Game mentality – winner take all, voting off the island, you’re fired – is getting just too much for anyone sane to accept. Life is NOT zero sum. You can win and I can win, too. Better – it’s not even about winning but prevailing which is quite different. We ALL can prevail. We’ve done it before and can do it again. I read somewhere that science of brain functioning shows that the human mind works best in cooperative, NOT competitive, circumstances. Being able to rely on others is highly energizing to the individual.

Another writer (forget who) wrote that individualism and solitude are more creative than cooperation, but I think that utterly depends on what’s at stake. Beethoven certainly would not have created his works by committee. But is there not some balance here? Beethoven also could not have created his masterpieces if he’d had to hunt his food, build his fire, cook his food, clean himself, and build everything he needed all alone. Balance.

Americans, I think, are sick of zero sum games because deep down they understand that you cannot win when the deck is stacked, and you cannot prevail when the fix is in. It’s exhausting. What DO we get when we live via bumper stickers: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Oh? Does said mass accumulator – who gets the toys stomping on others – have an ounce of joy? Are people of modest means who can play with their kids, hug their spouse, enjoy a backyard BBQ and the pleasure of a nice yard and who can band together with neighbors to help a widow or shut in – are they losers? Or are they the real winners? “Bowling Alone” noted our isolation and loss of community. It does NOT have to be that way.

We need elected officials who understand the common good and our hunger for it. We need leaders who can comprehend our desire for being part of the whole not being the sole survivor. We need leaders who also do not desire to be the sole survivor with us paying fealty to him or her.

Enough with the games. They are for FUN, not strategies for survival. I think officials running for office who can stand for a society of shared benefits, and who can show how that can be accomplished, will be elected. Time for a new way of looking at “success” – not as a single person’s rape-and-pillage conquest but as something we all can achieve in a nation that values the whole, not just the conqueror.

KQµårk 死神

CL that’s exactly the way I look at it as well only you expressed it much better than I could.

Obama was really our last hope to bring this country together in common cause but because the right and elements on the left put the ‘game’ before country that chance has passed. I’m not an alarmist but until the hyperpartisan gridlock is dented at least a little we will end up with two Americas.


If Romney wins – he who signed the “investigate groups that supported GLBT rights” – I will leave the country. I’d have no other choice. I’ve spent far too long pissing off the religious right, and they will be embraced BY him even as he does not believe in them or their ideas theologically. They are just too, too useful to him. So we’d see a tremendous uptick in their power, a dimuntion of all of ours, and a conscientious decision on his part to root out liberals everywhere. I’m too old and too damned tired to take on that kind of persecution of good people everywhere.

Our only alternative will be a PPOV commune somewhere in Alberta…


CL, I would have to leave to but I can’t go to Canada. Too cold for this old body. The rain in Portland has put me to bed again. But, I know they have internet access in Belize and I will get on from there! 🙂


Excellent article AdLib. These “games,” are nowhere more evident than on right wing discussion sites. I have been commenting on Yahoo, for last several days, and boy does it give truth to your comments in this article.
These people, the GOPers who make the most mean spirited, uninformed, and blatantly bigoted remarks are not the least bit interested in truth. They have their pea brain sized minds made up. If an article is anti-Obama, they love it, no matter whether it has a grain of truth or not. I’ve heard it said there are many paid commentators there, and that really wouldn’t surprise me, but I think the majority of GOPers there are just unpaid morons. They clearly don’t follow what’s going on politically in this country. They are extremely misinformed and are nothing but RW talking point machines. They don’t give a damn about facts. Actually, facts trip up their very stupid ideas and beliefs. Facts are like Kryptonite to their anti-Obama, cartoon super hero mentality. What a cesspool of willingly ignorant bacteria, bent on saying anything that might disfavor Obama. Truth be damned. And they are like this BECAUSE (as you rightly point out), they see politics as a game. Like insult games on a 6th grade playground. I thought HP was bad, but yahoo really is a torture chamber of RW Iron Maidens and Intellectual shackles. Even though I realize how repulsive uneducated and uninformed RW minions can be, it still amazes me when I see such lack of humanity, lack of intelligence, lack of truth and the general ugliness of it all. To these cretins, reason is poison.

KQµårk 死神

Everything you said about the right is highly accurate KT but personally I blame those ‘independents’ most. They are swayed easily and have no idea what policies they are voting for or against. Every poll shows that people believe in most Democratic issues when you poll independents yet they never drill down and look at the issues that affect them. Unfortunately most of them are right leaning and have to be persuaded to vote for policies that actually help them.


Oh KT – I went over there and was too scared to post! Yikes! Those are some of the meanest people I’ve run across outside of Free Republic or outright racist/neo-Nazi sites.

Hooooo-BOY! Hope their numbers are few because their rage is huge.


CL, it really is disheartening when I think of a collective good in America. It’s really sad to realize that these types of people are part of American society. I realize that such people have pretty much always been with us, but to see so many of these misanthropes in the 21st century is very disappointing. Adult children is what they are. Grown in age but stunted intellectually, spiritually, and culturally. And what of their parents? It really makes me wonder how these people were raised.


The GOP/TP want the Capitol……….They want to sacrifice our children along with our country in the Districts……….This cannot be allowed.


Well said, AdLib! Beautiful and horrible all at the same time.