Friday, January 23, 2009


TALKIN' CABBAGES AND KINGS: An email with exclamation points in the subject line arrived this week from a reader on the mainland distraught at our apparent lack of interest in and comment on the new prez.

Our reticence comes from the fact that it’s awfully depressing to think that the pendulum has swung so widely that this is probably the best president we’ll ever get in the corporate democracy of the USA Inc.

Worse has been keeping out lunch down with the mindless gushing of the media- the first thing we heard upon turning on CNN on Monday morning was “...during this historic week when the past literally intersects with the future”


It’s not like national policies haven’t gotten better in some areas already. But how could that not happen? There have been presidents that left in disgrace, under a cloud or despised beyond rationality. But never has one been a laughing stock.

There’s something about political humor that requires an almost caricature-like super villain to play off of before it’s really funny. And when you’ve got a willing foil like we had just being earnest every once in a while will make you wildly popular replacement.

And when Porgie and Dickhead left as the mother of all butts of jokes it was not a hard act to follow especially since people are laughing as an alternative to crying.

So in walks Barry who is “gooood” as in “oooo- he’s gooood”.

Some people have that thing going that, when they talk you’re lucky if you still have all your fingers when they’re done. Some sell timeshares, some sell cars and some become politicians and sell ideas.

We all sense it when we hear it if a speaker’s ”got it” Kennedy had it. King had it. Even Clinton had it.

The problem is that it well may be that in order to have “it” you have to be “full of it”.

And just because we like the description of “it” doesn’t mean we have to swallow it whole. Because once it’s ingested it becomes a part of us investing us in the original palatability.

The political gourmet need not be the cynic just the skeptic and realist. We need only to remember that the lambs that follow in lockstep are the last to know. so the first to the slaughter.

For all the pretty bows on the package we will still have a leader who will leave us at perpetual war, without insurance company free health care, still perpetuating an exploitive economic model and still be slouching toward theocracy in a country built on corporate personhood and expansionist genocide.

We’d be well served to check out those blankets before we wrap ourselves in them.

To those who prefer to play Peter Pan and think lovely thoughts this kind of disbelieving must seem like that ubiquitous “negativity”- code for “don’t shatter my delusion, it’s all that’s keeping me from stuffing up the cracks and turning on the gas.”

But “real” is neither positive nor negative – it just is what is is. If it seems charged one or the other it’s only one’s perspective. In actuality it’s all just existent or fanciful.

It takes no time at all growing up on the streets of New York City to figure out that it’s a sucker’s game to trust anyone and everyone until they prove untrustworthy rather than keeping count of your teeth until it seems ok to take a smoke-break on the vigilance.

And the same is true for those in Missouri. But no matter where or what there’s still a lot of people who will let the smooth talker steal their face right off their head.

It couldn’t help but be better now It up to us to be real enough to reject the castles in the sky we create in our perceptions.


Katy said...

Just because Obama won didn't turn us into Democrats!

Andy is right - no matter what, it is imperative that we be critical and honest.

I am glad that Obama won, and I know it's no small thing for people of color in the US that this has happened.

It's also no small thing that we will see a reversal of much of the dunderheaded policy of Reagan/Bush/Bush.

But the United States will not stop being a capitalist and imperialist country because Obama won, and if we were critical of that US tendency on Jan 19, we must be critical of it on Jan 20 and after as well.

We should also be honest about the meaning of possible progressive reforms - even if they don't go as far as we would like them to.

I am in favor of reforms that ease the pain for poor people and that shore up the working class, and that employ less belligerent tactics around the world. I am not someone who believes that reforms work against revolutionary potential - that's a cruel and contemptuous position on the Left.

Yes, I am an anti-capitalist and I believe that our survival as a species depends on replacing capitalism with more cooperative and participatory economics, and I know that Obama - or anyone else in the White House - will not agree with me on this in a million years.

I believe that my task as a grassroots organizer has not changed because Obama is president. It is still up to me to work with others to build mass support for the alternatives we believe in.

Most people struggling through their everyday lives are overjoyed that Obama is president because they need the modicum of relief provided by the reforms Obama will support. That a viable alternative to capitalism in the US has not made a strong enough case for such people to turn their backs on capitalism is not a cause for disillusionment or cynicism in my view - just an indication that we have a lot more work to do with such people.

Tactically, and emotionally, I sense that it doesn't help that work to ignore or insult the significance of Obama's victory to the people. I'm certainly not going to chalk up peoples' enthusiasm to blindness or stupidity, because I think it is neither.

The happiest folks right now about Obama are working class and poor African-Americans. If anyone in the US population understands that it's it’s "a sucker’s game to trust anyone and everyone until they prove untrustworthy" it's them.

What can we learn from their hopefulness and enthusiasm at this moment?

Ace Harbinger said...

Andy –

That’s quite a philosophical detour you took, albeit reeking in cynicism.

Still yet, there’s ample reason for cynics to catch the ear these days. Even the most placid of observers must note that while Barry the Boss may be basking in the glow of goodwill at the moment, his path has led straight to a train wreck. Yes, he’s a photogenic, charismatic and heck-of-a-nice guy, but he’s still stuck: the thing about train wrecks (and rung bells and farting donkeys) is that they are impossible to undo.

I say to POTUS, enjoy the feel-good times as long as you can. Enjoy your new dog. Fool us with your smile. But you know – and we know – there looms on the horizon the moment when the great mass of hugs and kisses that got you elected will become your albatross; when public opinion morphs once again. That day will be when Dubya’s train wreck is seen as your own.

Cynically, A.H.