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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

This isn’t 19th-century Russia. It feels a whole lot more depressing than that. Just look around. But still, it’s apt: What is to be done? From Paul Krugman:

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.”

People like Rachel Maddow and Ezra Klein and Digby have succinctly and eloquently highlighted what is happening.

But I don’t think blogging or talking about it is enough. Huge segments of the population don’t think the President was born in our country. People are freaking out about mosques and the 14th Amendment. This is absolutely, utterly, maddeningly bat-shit insane.

Talking amongst ourselves is all well and good, but the fact is that large swathes of our population are not being remotely adequately informed about issues, and yet are organizing and protesting. I think it’s high time we middle-and-upper-class liberals realize we have to get up and walk out of our homes and engage the public and try to peacefully get attention. We need to be protesting the deadlock in the Senate, we need to be out in front of Goldman Sachs and pointing to why so many Americans are suffering. Our technology is disconnecting us from activism. People didn’t get the eight-hour work day (how I miss it) by blogging and chatting up fellow believers at dinner parties. They did it by striking and protesting and risking their lives against a System which considered them worthless. But slowly, slowly, slowly change came.

We are rapidly, rapidly, rapidly moving backward. We had enough problems where we were. How can we peacefully help stop what is happening and regain control of the narrative?

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…besides my heart. Because he is most definitely in charge of that. I love this man.

There’s yesterday’s 0p-ed, for example:

For a nation that can’t stop bragging about how great and powerful it is, we’ve become shockingly helpless in the face of the many challenges confronting us. Our can-do spirit was put on hold many moons ago, and here we are now unable to defeat the Taliban, or rein in the likes of BP and the biggest banks, or stop the oil gushing furiously from the bowels of earth like a warning from Hades about the hubris and ignorance that is threatening to destroy us.”

Then there were his insightful, prescient comments a week earlier:

The response of the Obama administration and the general public to this latest outrage at the hands of a giant, politically connected corporation has been embarrassingly tepid. We take our whippings in stride in this country. We behave as though there is nothing we can do about it.

The fact that 11 human beings were killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion (their bodies never found) has become, at best, an afterthought. BP counts its profits in the billions, and, therefore, it’s important. The 11 men working on the rig were no more important in the current American scheme of things than the oystermen losing their livelihoods along the gulf, or the wildlife doomed to die in an environment fouled by BP’s oil, or the waters that will be left unfit for ordinary families to swim and boat in.

This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.”

Bob Herbert manages, column after column, to beautifully (and sorrowfully) emphasize how the rights and well-being of the American people have been pummeled, mocked, ignored, and slowly crushed by the bloated, enormous, monstrous corporations. They’re not human beings, but they control the health and future of our people and planet infinitely more than any of us do as our democracy fades into a plutocracy. So I swoon a little bit (instead of weeping) as Bob Herbert, week after week, keeps the pressure on.  We all owe him not just our thanks that he points out how in a time of crises in the seas outside Gaza, in North Korea, in the Gulf, in our inner cities and in our air, we remain plagued by ineptitude and inaction. We owe him everything we can do to get out there ourselves, write letters ourselves, and do whatever little we who are not unemployed and broke can do to protest the slow and grim degeneration of the Republic into the Empire.

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During the State of the Union tonight, Obama said a most bizarre thing:

“You abide by the law, you should be protected by it.”

That statement sounded good at that moment, but it also immediately suggests a corollary to me… And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be? Am I wrong for feeling that under the surface? Is it crazy to feel this way? Is this just years and years of seeing abuse and torture being validated and the prison population explode? Is it just me? Is that the strangest thing to slip in to the most important speech of the year? Or is that just par for the course these days? Should I not think anything of it? Personally, I can’t help but help but feel it was  a Wonderlandish comment which a whole but-on-the-other-side-of-the-mirror-thing, a departure from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights… I could go on and on, but I won’t. I simply feel that there is a potential threat in that sort of sentence, an unnecessary one, with democracy-threatening implications before it.

I feel this whole thing, delivery included, came across as a high school speech, a wee bit cheesy and corny. I could have written this (without the policy shit) in tenth grade. And I would have wagged my finger far more at the Republicans. Some people find this successful and likable and just what we needed, but I disagree. It’s not seizing the narrative. At it’s very best, it’s pretty pandering, it’s high-minded superior righteousness (which I’m more than prone to myself).  The tough stuff is too little, too late in the game, and not enough to be memorable or change the way we see things. People may watch this and say ‘yes’, but tomorrow they go back to reality, and no new narrative has been forged. I think there is no bite to this bark, and we are in need of a forcefully justified bite on those whose wealth and comfort is based on the exploitation and misery of their fellow countrymen and fellow human beings, wherever they are. With corporate ghouls looming in all of our shadows, I think we need quite a bit more of real FDR-style rhetoric, and less happy-go-lucky (‘blithe’ as Chris Matthews has it) “I’m-bipartisan-why-aren’t-you?” pop-isms.

P.S. Rachel Maddow, I love you. Plus, you said ‘feistyness’. Woo!

P.P.S. Bob McDonnell: We are blessed with resources and we should use all of them. Excellent. Soylent Green, here we come! We got the resources in ourselves. Or, as Matt Yglesias said on his Twitter (I have no idea how to link to those things or cite them ugh): What happens the day after McDonnell uses all our natural resources as promised? 3 minutes ago from TweetDeck. Where should we draw the line?! You are terrifying me. You are dry, but a far more effective speaker than Bobby Jindal, and that is the most frightening thing of all.

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Our President gives a speech tonight, blah blah blah. I’m watching it right now, and I gotta say, sorry Mr. President, but you have a real scene-stealer behind you.

I love this guy. I can’t even pay attention to what Obama is saying. I’ve heard it all before, but nothing changes. But there’s one thing that can still make me smile: Joe Biden. Watching him grin, clap, smirk, preen, swoon… I mean, really. He should have been the winker in that VP debate in ’08. Oh look, he winks too…

I think I should go back to paying attention… as in, adoring Joe, and wanting to pat Nancy on the head. She’s so earnest. I feel like she needs a little chirpy hug. Or one of Joe’s winks.

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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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Oh man. Listen, I don’t like to talk about Sarah Palin. She doesn’t need the attention. She’s like Hydra, and everytime she says something dumb and it is pointed out by someone with prominence and we all think finally, she will go away, she doesn’t. She just sprouts like, a fucking million new heads. And a million people go buy her book, and then I cry. I have no jokes to make about it. It’s too awful.

A Metaphor for Her Political Career

I don’t care about every stupid, ignorant, nasty thing this woman has ever said. There’s too many to count. For me, it all goes back to that Katie Couric interview. Katie asks her what magazines and newspapers she reads, Palin responds with: “All of ’em!” Boom. Political career over. That is what should have happened. If there is any operating principle of rationality in this universe, if humans are capable of maintaining a functioning society, then that should have been it. I don’t care how horrible every other answer was. They were all equally embarrassing and atrocious. And the seed of it all is in that little phrase. All of them, really? Really Ms. Palin? I have to say, with the enormous fucking number of magazines in the world, with the frequency they come out, I’m shocked. I’m shocked you read The Nation, Bitch, Mental Floss (you should maybe try that one).There simply can’t be enough criticism levelled at the stupidity of such a comment; the fact that she thought she could get away with it insane. And then, she kinda did! She has, I can’t believe it, actual influence. I can’t understand it. It’s sick.

And now she comes out with that same, stupid fucking answer to the question: “Who is your favorite founding father?” For Christ’s sake, you couldn’t just say “George Washington! He was a great leader,” and then keep your mouth shut? It’d be stupid and dumb, but at least it would be a fucking answer. Sarcasm, disbelief; it all fails me. Steve Benen dealt with it best :

About 12 years ago, there was an episode of “The Simpsons” in which Bart was supposed to deliver an oral report on Libya. Bart, of course, hadn’t done his homework and had no idea what to say. He stood up, cleared his throat, looked at the blank page in front of him, and winged it.

“The exports in Libya are numerous in amount,” Bart said earnestly. “One thing they export is corn, or as the Indians call it, maize. Another famous Indian was Crazy Horse. In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrast. Thank you.”

None of this made any sense, but Bart couldn’t just stand up and say, “I have no idea what I’m talking about because I’m unprepared.” He had to say something, so he made up some silliness and got the ordeal over with as quickly as possible.

Every time I hear Sarah Palin try to answer any question on any subject, it immediately reminds me of Bart’s classroom presentation… But like Bart, she couldn’t just take a pass, so she told Beck, “You know, well, all of them, because they came collectively together with so much … so much diverse and so much diversity in terms of belief, but collectively they came together.”

She eventually said, “And they were led by, of course George Washington.” I kept waiting for her to say, “Or as the Indians called him, George Washington.”

Unfortunately, it’s so close to reality that it’s difficult to laugh.

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