Monday, January 03, 2005

OK, So What's Up Since November 22?

OK, this whole regular/frequent updating thing has gotten past me, rather spectacularly so. But rather than continue to acquiesce in failure, I’m turning over new leaf with the new year.

Probably last a week or two, tops.

Let’s chalk it up to an extended holiday period, and move on, people.

First, the holidays. Bittersweet, overall, as is so often the case following the loss of a loved one. Well, that plus lots of other items that continue to conspire to provide me with a rich broth of depression, resentment, despair and plenty of doom and gloom.

But let’s accentuate the positive, shall we? And blather on about politics in a half-informed, sort-of-coherent manner.

On the positive side, I have resolved that 2005 will see me getting involved in owning my own business. Hopefully one that produces scads of revenues. Also, considering letting my hair grow a bit. We’ll see.

Now, turning to the main event: the tragedy of our nation’s politics. Over the last month or two, I have become despondent over the failure of so many Americans to openly embrace the progressive philosophy. November provided us with the clearest possible choice, and we clearly made a decisive choice against progressivism and in favor of stupidity, vulgarity, greed, and cynicism. Sheesh. Hard to pull the silver lining out of that one.

In fact, my pessimism over losing the election so clearly has spread and grown to a rather dark view of our society as a whole. The day after Christmas, a sub-oceanic earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a tsunami that killed 150,000 people. In virtually the entire world outside the US, this was seen as a human catastrophe and relief emergency of the first order. In the US, it played like an infomercial for Save the Children – lots of shots of wailing women in colorful exotic garb, and scenes of villages that could have been the “before” pictures in urban development schemes. The only news coverage was of the “news-for-budgies” variety – “White Child Feared Lost, Found,” “Europeans Find Vacations Cut Short by Asian Disaster,” and so on.

I didn’t see a single Hollywood mogul hop on the phone to organize a relief concert, or the NFL commissioner wonder how his league could help, or the Senate out front of the Capital singing Amazing Grace. Just didn’t see that.

And I couldn’t help but note the stark contrast between our rather pitiful reaction, and the reaction of the world on 9/11, when people all over the planet pured into the streets, the churches, mosques and temples, to show their solidarity.

We, on the other hand, enjoyed a spirited round of college football playoffs.

When I consider this against the backdrop of 50-something percent of my fellow Americans actually voting for GW Bush, I see broader problem far deeper than any single election, or the failure of our political system. I see a society that has collapsed, that may or may not revive.

I am an innately optimistic person, and continue to believe against all the evidence that the righteous shall prevail. But on November 2 I thought we were beginning the long journey back to a society that valued human communities. I’m now concerned that our long march toward the forces of greed and cruelty is not yet over, and that in fact things will get considerably worse before they get any better.

“The Bush administration yesterday pledged $15 million to Asian nations hit by a tsunami that has killed more than 22,500 people,” sayeth a right-wing paper on December 28. On January 1, the AP reported that the President’s Inauguration committee “planned to raise $40 million to $50 million for the inaugural events, scheduled for Jan. 18-21.”

Of course, the outcry over the initial $15 million pledge has resulted in a large increase in that amount being promised, though as a New Yorker I’d advise the nice people of Asia not to spend anything until Uncle Sam’s check clears. And the latest news is even more bizarre: President Bush has enlisted his dad and Bill Clinton to lead a fund-raising drive amongst American citizens. I’m having a hard time seeing what Bill Clinton is doing consorting with these bastards, though I suspect he in anxious to play a role in helping our fellow humans who have been hit so terribly hard. It’s just that it smacks of enabling these punks who feel the government has no role to play in disaster relief – except in doling out dollars to prospective voters in Florida.

I also read today that Senator Kerry is so far not releasing his core team members from their loyalty to him, holding the group together in contemplation of an ’08 run. I have decidedly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I was as convinced as could be that John Kerry was going to make a fine commander in chief, and possibly help Southern people understand that We Do Not In Fact Hate Them (which is the key in my view to getting them back on our side, where they belong – hell, where everybody who’s not a billionaire belongs).

On the other hand, he is not someone that many working class or red-staters warmed up to, nor did he strike me as combative enough. I’d like a newer, tougher, far-less mealy-mouthed John Kerry to show his fighting spirit and rally for a crushing victory in 08. But I suspect that’s not what I’m going to get. John, call me!

As we head into what looks to be another year of Anti-Robin Hooding (taking from the poor to give to the rich), as well as a year of utter coarseness and cynicism, it’s hard not to be depressed. Where are the bright lights of hope? Where are the beacons of sanity? When I look back over our nation’s history, I see a disturbing and ultimately tragic pattern playing itself out yet again: we indulge our childishness by engaging in these flights of fancy that what goes on politically doesn’t really matter and it’s fine to use politics to make all manner of silly statements, all the while letting fester wounds that ultimately erupt in carnage. I sure as hell hope I’m misreading these particular tea leaves, but more and more, that’s what it looks like. We seem to be drifting helplessly toward a conflagration with the extremist Muslims, which is unnecessary, but which I fear will come at some point, perhaps much sooner than anyone could possibly guess.

And on that happy, note, Happy New Year Everybody! Happy 2005!

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