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Posts Tagged ‘Absolute Despair’

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Whenever I think Goldman Sachs can’t be any more sick and cruel and horrible, I’m proven wrong.

“…through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into ‘derivatives’ that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born.”

My God, what is happening in Mexico?

“Nearly 50 candidates and public figures have been assassinated in the run up to Mexico’s 2010 state elections. Former presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos, major leader of the ruling PAN party, was kidnapped on May 16 and has not been heard from since. Three days ago, Rodolfo Torre, the odds on winner for governor in the state of Tamaulipas, was murdered in a highway ambush. Torre’s murder represents the highest ranking politician of the 50 assassinations this election cycle.”

Here’s another environmental problem finally getting some attention: air conditioning. Can I just say how delightful I find Seattle to be? For a few days I can forget the horrible heatwaves in Washington DC, and enjoy this weather which is cool and normal and pleasant. They’re really just going to have to stop talking about heatwaves, by the way. Now it’s just the way the weather is, with brief respites of coolness.

Overall, I just don’t really know how I feel about the human race.

But I am in love with Seattle, and I am also sort of wild about Judith Jones and her Cooking for One blog right now. She won me at gooseberries.

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I’ll write something soon. But basically, this is how I feel about BP, climate change, the Supreme Court (except you my lovely!), the British elections, the abandonment of Miranda, and absolutely everything else under the sun. None of it is good. The Onion and Noam coming together is the only thing which brings me joy.

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I am extremely upset about this. I am, with great difficulty, restraining my tongue from unleashing a torrent of obscenities and frustration.

What I will say is that on every mediocre proposal, at every step back, at every turn away from change, at every perpetuation of the status quo, I have hoped things might yet change. I didn’t support him in the primaries. I knew he was one of the worst candidates of the bunch. I have tried to hope, though, that he was something better than what we’d had. I tried to hope there was an agenda. I criticized his administration’s actions while retaining goodwill. A thing in isolation is bad, but it doesn’t ruin everything. I allowed myself to be persuaded by graphs and charts and arguments which suggested there was perhaps a rhyme and reason, that despite the rhetoric dismissing progressives, there have somehow been significant accomplishments.

No more. It’s not true, and I won’t deny my honest reactions anymore. His awful proposals, his terrible justifications of the way things are, his refusal to make any real changes: Obama is a Hoover, a Reaganite, a McCain actually (I mean, he’s using many of McCain’s proposals, after all!), and voting for him meant nothing at all, really. I’ve spent a young life working and donating to the Democrats. No more. They stand for nothing. You have accomplished not only little of real substance, but you have absorbed the rhetoric of the right-wing and have perpetuated many of their most horrible policies. You mock your base and turn around to say “I’m not a liberal, I’m a tough guy!” to the very people who despise and relentlessly lie and attack you. God, Republican “philosophy” is reprehensible, but at least they believe what they believe. You court me, and then shit on me. Fuck you. I won’t listen to another “It’s all Nader’s fault” argument again in my life. The problem was within. Blame everyone else but yourselves. Then blame yourselves and whore out to the Republicans! Cowards and quislings, all. Your legacy will be the speeding up of the descent of American’s lives into the over-worked, under-paid, under-educated, high-consuming, high-polluting, anti-depressant abusing vortex. That’s the “bi-partisan” legacy you wanted. The flagrant abuse of goodwill and support. I’m disgusted.

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Fuck the five right-wing corporate quislings on the Supreme Court, fuck the Democratic party leadership (sometimes), fuck bankers, fuck greedy, elitist, power-hungry old men everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shocked. Being quite liberal and giving support to the Democratic party is a Hamlet-esque experience. To be a Democrat, or just to acknowledge that I am consistently voting for people who will over-think and betray all of our core principles? It was tragicomically plain in those last weeks that Ms. Coakley would lose. I’m not proud of being aware of that or anything. It’s depressing. I don’t have a PhD; why do the people who do fail to have any grasp of reality? I think back to the primaries. Obama and Clinton, two pretty conservative Democrats who had different rhetorical styles. Obama is elected, and many people are shocked and disappointed that the progressive agenda is not being enacted.  But why? It was depressingly obvious. Neither of the presidential candidates was going to really enact a progressive agenda. I mean, they didn’t even really get specific about that. They said “Change” and criticized Republicans which, unfortunately, was actually shocking. Shocking because Democrats don’t like to actually point out who got us into all these disasters. We have to “move forward”. Which is probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. You take quizzes and study in school and take a test at the end of term to prove you’ve learned something. You don’t just “move forward” at the end of every class and try to put it behind you. You hold onto it! You absorb it! That’s what, you know, fucking life is all about. You have a memory. Use it. Jesus Christ.

And of course the present make-up of the Supreme Court made it clear they would go into a grotesque swoon as they crooned about how like, wealthy concepts are people or something. I know, I don’t get it. When I read about it as a young(er) lass in the Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, I was like: Oh, well, that’s stupid, um, ideas and institutions only have power because people imbue them with meaning, and if we don’t, oh, they fall apart. They have no reality except that which we bestow upon them. But the Supreme Court has been right-wing for a long time. And this decision will have all kinds of horribly disastrous results that I’m in no mood to even consider.

What I don’t understand, in the midst of all my “fucks” and “I could run the DNC better than Tim Kaine (though not as well as Howard Dean, that’s for sure!)” is: why? I don’t get it. Are they just technocrats at the end of the day? Are they really just thoughtless, lacking in imagination, overly cautious and unable to see outside their bubble? Are they mad, are they power-hungry? Just to make clear, I’m talking about the Democrats. The Republicans, I have no fucking idea what they are doing.*(aside below!)

I really don’t understand it. I can predict what consequences will come from certain actions, but I really am unable to understand what motivates some people. Is power, is greed really so alluring? Why is a few million dollars never enough? What creates an emptiness in people that they are willing to step all over everyone else? Fear of death? Original sin? A biologically built-in impulse to struggle and succeed? Then why isn’t everyone like that? I finished Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem today. I’ve been reading about it at length for so many years, I figured it was high time to read the thing itself. And what I got out of it is that there are just some questions so big, and the answers too paltry and meager. Evil can be banal. Massive, enormous crimes are committed by “sheer thoughtlessness”. It’s mind-blowing. We’ll sacrifice our Earth to the economy. We’ll sacrifice our democracy to an outrageous, deliberate misinterpretation of the Bill of Rights. Reprehensible. Atrocious. Or, as I said before: Fuck.

*As an aside (Aside!), a friend told me about some enormous changes they were undergoing. I was doing my best to be very supportive, when deep into it I started getting a little nervous. Very gently I said: “I don’t want to be rude, and I want to be completely supportive, but a quick question… are you going to become a Republican?” To be fair I (mostly) said this because I love my friend, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings by ranting about politics. My friend burst into laughter and cried, “No way, now that would be crazy!” And we had a good, long laugh. Because some things are too insane to contemplate.

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The Liberal Arts

I love In These Times. This article grieves me. Here:

In light of rising costs, students fear liberal arts degrees are not worth the price tag. Consequently, interest in the liberal arts and humanities is on the wane, and the education they provide runs the risk of becoming restricted to elites who are rich in capital—cultural and otherwise. The liberal arts are not the only source of a valuable education, but they place an unparalleled emphasis on critical thinking, integrated learning and civic engagement. The growing inaccessibility threatens to deepen the divide between a well-educated elite (once called the ruling class) and a technically proficient, but less broadly educated, middle and working class.”

I know  in our technocrat-loving, only-elite-specialists-have-the-right-to-an-opinion society, the views of commoners like myself count for nothing. But for the record, it’s high time Americans stop saying they value education. They sure as fuck don’t. They value making money. And sports. And reality tv. Whatever it is, it’s not education. I spent time at a lot of colleges: public, private, Ivy League, community colleges, women’s-only (it’s true, and while not a point of pride, it did allow for strange learning opportunities… puns!…)… and what I noticed was there is a depressingly enormous number of people who know nearly nothing about the history of the world besides what they see in movies, and if they astonishingly to decide to read a book for fun, it will be something to pass time, not to broaden or enlighten or create new sympathies. They go to college because they know their only chance of getting a well-paying job is to major in something like engineering or business or economics. They work very hard and are very good specialists and then they tell you they don’t know what political party Ms. Clinton belongs to, and then you cry.

What the fuck good is pouring billions of dollars into math and science and teaching American children (and just a small portion of those because the others are going to be our nannies and mechanics and janitors, remember!) how to be excellent specialists in a very narrow field if they know nothing about the society they’re a part of? Why is it considered more important to know how to juggle equations than where we come from, what mistakes we’ve made, and how to prevent them from recurring? No wonder Wall Street gets away with the shit they do and unemployment crawls up and up as climate change threatens us all and we stagger under the heavy weight of our baggage. We can’t critically think our way off the couch or away from the television or the bar or the mall or our generally inane lifestyle.

For the record, I blame Reagan. For California, for being president, and for being the perfect representative of the sort of assholes who smiled as they pummeled a good, free public education into the dirt. He destroyed the last free public education people could get. Now we have for-profit colleges milking their students in the most disgusting fashion as they build stadiums for their football coaches with their million-dollar salaries as professors in crumbling liberal art classes try to teach a few young adults, brave enough to risk the enormous student loans they are incurring as those despicable companies pay off congress to look the other way, how the Roman Republic collapsed, the impact Tolstoy’s writings had on the destruction of the British Empire and the fall of the Romanovs, and how the American people got bogged down in a war in a strange land as corporations sought to strengthen the military-industrial (and financial) complex so a similar rebellion by the youth of America could never happen again. And they’re making sure those last few students left don’t hear those professors or learn to think. What a coup!

If a liberal arts education becomes a luxury, the implications for civil society are profound. A broad-based higher education provides an environment that fosters the critical thinking skills that are the hallmark of informed, responsible citizenship. Disparity in education equals disparity in power. By making a well-rounded education available only to the elite, we move one step closer to a society of two classes: one taught to think and rule and another groomed to follow and obey.”

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Republicans are never right, but there is the seed of a shadow of a sliver of truth there: we do need to worry about death panels. Specifically, the U.S. Senate, and behind them the major corporate contributors, lobbyists and media pundits who refuse to acknowledge our global crisis.

Our Senators have the position of deciding who lives and dies in the world. Not just in terms of drone warplanes or watching millions go broke as they struggle to deal with a broken health care system, but in terms of their insidious, selfish, downright evil lazy greedy cowardice when it comes to dealing with global warming.

The delegate from Tuvalu (a small Pacific island nation) has reminded us how strange it is that a few men and women can decide the fate of billions and who-knows how many untold future generations.

Then there’s Bolivia, another nation who is staring at massive, frightening changes in the next few years:

A World Bank Report concluded last year that climate change would eliminate many glaciers in the Andes within 20 years, threatening the existence of nearly 100 million people.”

I think it’s safe to say our government is failing when a handful of elected officials can hold up and obstruct the public will on every issue, including those which are in desperate need of being addressed immediately. There’s an enormous Democratic majority in Congress and the Senate. We have a Democratic president, and there’s no use blaming him for the loss of the public option or the weak stimulus or the utter lack of addressing global climate change, because he’s not in the Senate to vote on these measures. All he can do in that stage of the game is encourage and push and make his views known.  The fault lies in the fact that the U.S. Senate is a profoundly corrupt, self-interested body. Senators Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman or Blanche Lincoln or Olympia Snowe represent an incredibly tiny part of the country. The people of D.C. have no vote in the Senate at all, while the state of Wyoming has two Senators. And even with a Democratic majority, the Republicans are so enormously selfish, stupid, and greedy that they have made it their goal to defeat every piece of Democratic legislation. Even if it’s something like, oh, you know, against rape.

They are people without ethics or any interest in the public good. There are people like Joe Lieberman, who said he would support a Medicare buy-in just a few months ago, and now is threatening to filibuster if Harry Reid doesn’t bow down to His Majesty and remove it from the bill. Not out of principle or anything. Just because he is an obstructionist jackass, him and about 45 other Senators (Oh yeah, there’s some corporate Democrats in there). These people are irresponsible and immoral, and they have this terrifying power to affect the lives of every living creature on this Earth. But they don’t care, it’s an all-they-can-get buffet right now. It’s heart-breaking. All I can hope is that there’s a major initative to massively reform the Senate before things get worse here and everywere else, and that people don’t take their anger about the lack of change out on the party which is really trying to get us reform just because a few of them are rapacious wolves in (thin) disguise.

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I’d really like to feel good about healthcare reform right now. I should find it easier than I do, since there are a number of liberal pundits and bloggers out there eager to tell me to calm down and acknowledge that this is a great start. I think their intentions are entirely innocent and good. They really do think it is a good start, that it’s better than nothing. But I remain skeptical.

For starters, I think it’s difficult for some of these well-meaning people to accept the possibility that they have been soundly and terribly defeated. For months I’ve read articles and posts as things have gotten steadily worse and worse: “Okay, it’s a weak public option, but there’s no trigger, folks! There’s no trigger!” Then it was “There’s no public option, it’s terrible, but hey look at this…” Then it was “Hey, the public option is back! It’s great!” Then, “Hey, there’s no public option, but there’s a trigger! Oops, it’s hard to pull and we’ll have to ditch it for Lieberman, but forget about all that. Health care reform is being passed!” I think some of these voices have spent so many years being in the midst of this fight that they can’t realize that something they’ve so passionately attached themselves to has been turned into meaningless reform-in-name-only.

This part I more strongly resent: the idea that I don’t understand that this really is reform and I just haven’t spent enough time on the details. I’m a smart enough girl, and I know our government and corporations are run by technocrats. But it’s disappointing to see advocates of reform telling me I don’t get it. Noam Chomsky is one of my favorite examples of a brilliant man who is pretty accessible. You can talk about difficult, complex things and make them understandable. And, regardless, at the end of the day, it’s the general population, free of elitist language, who have held fast to the public option. It’s our pundits and others who have used elitist language to cloak their disappointment and declare we should just accept all this.

Finally, I’m surprised and embittered to see people touting the idea of opening up Medicare to people 55 and up. I was flipping through the Washington Post yesterday in a mechanic’s waiting room, and there it was: “People as young as 55”. Whoa. 55 is young? Lie to yourselves much? Really, after over 40 years since Medicare was passed and life expectancy has soared up, the fact that we’re opening up Medicare to people “55 young” is shocking. It should have been obvious years ago. But it really riles me that I’m supposed to think of that as a victory. I don’t want to pit generation against generation, but there’s something gross about this. My grandparents were able to have their first child when my grandma was 17. They had to work hard, but they could afford it. My father had me when he was 26. Me? I’m 26 today, and I couldn’t even think about having a kid. I’m a fucking nanny. I pay for my own health insurance, and it doesn’t cover a thing. My last job didn’t provide health insurance.

But it’s not just me. It’s all my friends. Some are getting their masters, and they’re tens of thousands of dollars in debt. There are thirty-year olds who are just living at home with their parents. And it’s not just them. I know people, practically kids, who are going to join the army so they have insurance. I often chat with the lady who comes to clean my employer’s house. She works from 8 am to 7 pm cleaning houses. Sometimes she works a night job as a janitor. She has two children. Her oldest son is nearly illiterate, and she’s afraid he’s going to join a gang. Her husband works three jobs. She is not in great health (I mean, cleaning ladies can’t afford normal decent food, so they get sick eating the processed subsidized shit which passes for food) and though nothing major has gone wrong their health care expenses are huge (cleaning ladies don’t get nice employer-based healthcare!) and they can’t afford a house so they pay rent on a place which is not even their own. She’s in her early 40s. How is opening up Medicare going to help her? How is it going to help the poor, the people trying to raise families? How is it going to help people my age, who’d like to have a family at some point, and who hate the idea that we have to wait till we’re 40 and enough of the baby-boomers have retired so people can get promoted? How it will help those of us who will be paying off student loans till we’re 50, then our childrens, and then, hey, maybe we can buy into Medicare?

Thanks. Great reform. This country is so far from valuing “the pursuit of happiness” and its ideals it’s sick.

Also, don’t get me started on mandates. Mandates! Punish the poor more, you bastards.

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