Wednesday, September 29, 2010

From the Otherside of the Looking Glass

My father’s favorite song was the old Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea." He was particularly fond of Sinatra’s version. I never could stand Sinatra. He always reminded me of a penis rolling down the street on a wave of testosterone without a body. Still in all, the lyric to the first stanza pretty much sums up how I feel about the Democrats these days:

I don't want you
But I hate to lose you
You've got me in between
The devil and the deep blue sea.

The lyrics to the chorus of one of Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty’s songs are perhaps more timely and succinct:

Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right
Here am I stuck in the middle with you.

Over the last twenty odd months this country has slipped behind the looking glass. Right wing extremists have become respectable and capable of taking over the Republican Party. Liberals have become objects of ridicule, disdain and condemnation by the Democratic Party. The intensity of confusion within the Party leadership is superseded only by the befuddled notion that the Liberal Left can be brow beaten into compliance the way the far Right has brow beaten the Republican Party.

The leadership’s bewilderment stems from the idea that the Left is angry at and withholding its support for 2010 because of what President Obama didn’t do. I believe that the Left is angry about HOW he didn’t do it.

He courted bipartisanship for months with people who had stated their determination to see him fail, indeed who stirred up every vile element in this society against him, at the expense of his legislative agenda. He kicked the Public Option to the curb because a handful of so-called Democratic Senators in districts with a total population smaller than Brooklyn, New York, insisted upon it - even though 61% of the American people supported it. The myopic media won’t tell us this but that is a goodly number of the people who don’t support the Health Care Bill now. He let the Republicans carry the message from the summer of 2009 until recently, while he and his underlings mouthed platitudes like, "Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good." Goddess, if I ever hear that again I will kick the TV screen in. The Democratic agenda regarding Gitmo and the war in Afghanistan have simply slipped into the fierce whirlwind that has become our body politic.

This whole muddle reminds me once again of my father. He had the most astounding ideas which he insisted upon – "hot water freezes faster than cold." "Take one pound of pasta, break it in half and you have two pounds of pasta." "Power makes people hurt themselves." One out of three ain’t bad.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Michael Moore interviews Tony Benn

This is stunning. Please pass it around.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Missive from a World Gone Mad

“The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.” . . . William Shakespeare

Once upon a time under an azure sky a majestic land mass spread itself between two mighty oceans. Dressed in granite peaks, silver streams and flora of every kind and dimension this hunk of terra firma came to support a magnificent nation dedicated to freedom for all – excuse me, almost all. Through the two plus centuries of growth from infant to adolescent to young adult this storied civilization evolved with all the graciousness of a prolonged bout of ulcerative colitis. The pernicious sources of chronic discomfort – greed, avarice, hypocrisy, bigotry, cruelty and generational stupidity – grew exponentially. Fed to the point of stupor with the idea of Exceptionalism the beautiful, clumsy giant went slamming through her own domestic affairs and often the affairs of others like an eighteen wheeler though a schoolyard. Afterward, turning to view the carnage she blamed everyone around her. Other nations came to distrust if not hate her. By the second decade of the second millennium she was shattered financially, morally and spiritually. Desperately the great nation quivered with rage and hate, looking for scapegoats – black presidents, non Christians, same sex partners, anyone would do. Finally bringing full circle the process began long before when it was first understood that espousing a value is more important than owning it, religious conviction became a whore servicing the fear and prejudice of a few, the Constitution became a validation of bigotry and patriotism became the justification for destroying anything and everyone who disagreed with her.

I am not a patriot in the traditional sense, but I love this country. I have no trouble looking at and speaking of her faults, blemishes and warts. I can live with those. What I can’t tolerate is the present day hate, the viciousness, the slander, the greed masquerading as the common good, the self serving, oily politicians who place re-election ahead of governing, the persistent pandering by the Beltway and media ideologues to every extremist turd that floats to the top of the bowl, the unabashed liars-cheats-thieves-frauds-pornographers running for major public offices and finally the desiccation for political gain of the several cardinal and transcendent principles on which America was founded.

I keep asking myself when the profane became policy. How can a so-called Christian rationalize prohibiting abortion on any grounds then wink at health insurance companies denying coverage to children because they can discriminate against the sickest? How the hell is it reasonable to raise the roof over extending unemployment benefits to people losing their homes while holding up middle class tax cuts until the rich receive their “entitlement?” The same rich who made out like bandits during the Bush years and definitely are not hurting now. How can anyone who lived through the Wall Street melt down in 2008 advocate privatization of Social Security? How is it that the people who caused the melt down aren’t in prison, instead they took millions out of the mess they made and went on their way? How is it that one of the smartest men to ever occupy the Oval Office is routinely called out for being too smart and/or too professorial after eight years of being stuck with what Zelda Fitzgerald called, “a beautiful idiot?” How is it that a professional muckraker can write a book about Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan that is touted by the media in such a way as to undermine our president’s authority as Commander in Chief?

I don’t know what is to be done about what seems to me to be a vile collusion of empty vessels, monsters and fools except for those who pray, to pray. Those who write must write. Those who agitate and engage in activism must follow their credo. Those who walk in the sterling moonlight of the Great Goddess’ favor must raise power to flood the earth with the winds of Her Spirit. To become discouraged, check out, sign off, or most importantly refuse to vote is to give aid and comfort to the enemy.

It isn’t easy to keep the faith mind you. Some days I wake up and wonder where I am. This isn’t America, not the America I love. Maybe there never was an America and I was only hallucinating, or perhaps like Atlantis that majestic land mass and its magnificent nation sunk to the bottom of the mighty oceans leaving only a dream-like memory behind.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Morass of Our Modern Times

I have been politically active all of my adult life. From Viet Nam to Afghanistan I have opposed war. From Shulamith Firestone and Betty Friedan to Hillary Clinton I have been a feminist. For over four decades I have passionately supported Civil Rights, Gay Rights, Union Rights, the Right of the Planet and Her Creatures to live in peace and dignity. I am absolutely committed to the precepts of social and economic justice. Further, I refuse to believe that unfettered and unregulated Free Market Capitalism is anything other than a slaughter house for the Working Class and the poor.

It would seem that some people have confused the President of the United States with individuals like me. They call him a radical – he isn’t. I am a radical. He is accused frequently of being a Socialist – he isn’t. I cut my activist’s teeth on Socialism and still stand very close to that line. I have yet to see President Obama in the vicinity and resent the hell out of the misinterpretation of my philosophy. After all, I have walked picket lines in the blazing heat, stood in the cold to demonstrate, raised hell where hell needed to be raised and more than once been carted off to jail for my politics. In view of all of this I demand and have earned the right to define my political doctrines and will not cede the privilege to some corporate funded, sub literate, shady apparatchik of the social emesis known as the Tea Party.

The real problem for President Obama isn’t any resemblance to old Lefties like me. His issue is that he is a black man in the Oval Office and presiding over a nation with a fair number of resentful, intellectually necrotic white people who are furious after suddenly realizing that they are no longer in the majority. This crowd firmly believes that they have a Divine right to rule this country. Their God of rage and wrath, misogyny and murder told them so.

Simply stated Obama’s difficulty with the Right is an acute, old fashioned racism and nothing more. Anyone who isn’t clear on that needs to pull their head out of their ass. The media’s so-called experts facilitate the hallucination of a nonracial political world by prophesying the President’s defeat purely at the hands of a people angry over a failing economy. They have been talking about his losing the House and Senate this November since twenty minutes after his inauguration. Their thesis is always based upon the premise of a deep moral and ideological divide between Obama and the Republican right. Horse crap! In my estimation the disingenuous blubbering of the media is to be taken with a grain of salt since they live only to serve their corporate masters and long ago forgot the public interest.

In addition to the racism, President Obama has the added burden of being an enigma. He has allowed his supporters, particularly those of us on the hard left, to know him “but slenderly,” as Shakespeare said of Lear. That has left the foul mouthed Rohm Emanuel and the rather pathetically snide Robert Gibbs to fill in the blanks – usually by insulting us. This and the watering down of liberal legislation, the loss of the Public Option, the refusal to prosecute Bush and his henchmen for war crimes, the failure to close Gitmo, the seemingly open ended war in Afghanistan, a country that no one has influenced since Genghis Khan, are all so very puzzling.

I have Liberal cronies who call me at least once a week and scream, “Who is this guy? What did he do with Obama?” They are bewildered, stunned and befuddled. Could it be that all the angry, disaffected Liberals the media is constantly bleating about are just really, really confused?

A friend of mine, Max, called the other morning and asked without a greeting,“What in the hell has happened? We elected a Liberal Democrat. We got a Moderate Republican. All the other Republicans hate his guts. Change died in the filibuster. What happened to us?”

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know anybody who knows. There isn’t anywhere to find out. Yellow journalism is the law of the land. Our politicians behave like vote whores (although most whores work for a living) pandering to anyone or any group that will help them get elected, peddling their influence to the highest bidder and lying about it. Lies are produced in mass quantities and never challenged, distributed in bulk in the blink of an eye, shot over the internet on streaming electrons, repeated over and over again until they become gospel.

Our world is enveloped in an oppressive stain of deceit and malevolence. In all the years that I have studied politics I can’t remember a political environment so toxic as to render truth meaningless. Some days it feels as if we are burying the truth so deep that we will never find it again.

Shakespeare said,“Truth is truth, to the end of reckoning .” Experience has taught me that like one of Carl Jung’s Archetypes, it is pure in essence and can’t be destroyed. No matter how long it is shut out of the world and forced into a corner of the abyss it will return. Perhaps when it does we will look back at the first two years of the Obama administration in honest mortification and shame, realizing that gang rape and slander were the rule of the day, and damn few people who could did anything about it. We may even appreciate with integrity and candor that a decent and honorable man who just wanted to help people was stonewalled and crippled by a bunch of opportunistic, grandstanding bottom feeders who had no interest in serving anyone but themselves. It is my hope that we may further realize with sincerity and meticulousness that those Americans who now bear him the greatest malice will suffer the most by what he wasn’t allowed to do.