Friday, September 30, 2011

Into the Fall

I am feeling tremendously pessimistic and depressed about my nation today.And it's not because of any particular, or recent, event.

Although the generalized lack of public unease regarding the extralegal assassination of a U.S. citizen seems to point up the combination of overall indifference and governmental chicanery that has characterized our decade-long movement - I can't figure out whether to characterize it as a "march" (with the military associations of the term appropriate to the "War on Terror" that is used to justify it) or a "creep" (given the underhanded and duplicitous way it has been managed, for the most part) - towards a nation set about with the machinery of surveillance, secrecy, and "Nacht und Nebel"-variety legalisms.

No one has explained to my satisfaction why what happened to al-Awaki could not happen to anyone, anywhere, who is accused of "...inspiring attacks against the U.S." The guy was an anti-American SOB and an enemy of my nation. But not an "enemy" in the sense of a soldier, not even an "enemy" in the sense of an intelligence officer. He was a propagandist, a talker, the Tom Paine of Islamism. If talking shit about this country is a capital crime, if promoting violence against our "leaders" is punishable by death by missile without the bother of trial or conviction, I'd better be damn careful about driving around outside of busy public streets.But that's not it, really.

Here we are, in Year Three of the Lesser Depression.

Millions of Americans are jobless. Millions more are clinging desperately to poor or part-time work. Corporations are sitting on fat piles of jack but neither hiring nor expanding capacity because - surprise - all those un- and under-employed Americans are purchasing two things; jack and shit.

They're mostly using this lucre to buy up OTHER outfits...which are then "streamlined" and "outsourced"...putting more poor dumb bastards out of work.

The wealthy, who have hoovered up the spare cash showered on them by tax breaks and Republican largesse like a commodities trader in Vegas going through blow and hookers, are wailing about "class warfare" (quite effectively!) while raining economic death on the lower 80% like Flying Pencils over Rotterdam. And at least half the public - those same poor dumb schmucks getting carpet-bombed with cramdowns, foreclosures, downsizing, and layoffs - seems anywhere from unconcerned to actually excited about this.

In fact, the only real opposition to this massive comforting-of-the-comfortable and affliction-of-the-afflicted seems to be coming in the form of a bunch of juggalos and slackers sitting down on Wall Street; maced by the coppers, mocked by the banksters, ignored by the press...a carnival of fools on a fool's errand.

How will this change anything?Here we are in Year Nine of the "War on Terror".

The seemingly limitless capacity of my nation for pointless diddling in ungovernable foreign nations (or should I parenthesize that - "nations", since it's hard to characterize Afghanistan with the same term I'd use for Switzerland or Belgium. Or perhaps not...) remains without a foreseeable end in sight. Perhaps the most ridiculous - the eight-year tenure of Six Flags Over Nothing, a.k.a. the Third Gulf War, a.k.a "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - is heading for the ash bin but the Afghan farrago looks set to run longer than "Cats" and given the lack of either interest in or condemnation of the Libyan capriole by press and public there seems to be no reason why this Adminstration or any other shouldn't repeat the same business in some OTHER Third World shithole tomorrow or next week.

And here we are.

We've got people running for office who spout patently comical nonsense and are taken as serious in the national press. We have a national identity that seems more than ever to be composed of trashy reality television, muscular acephalic "patriotism", fiscal and financial rapacity, and public indolence.

And the REALLY depressing part is that I have no idea what I, or "we" - those like me who dislike the idea of Back to the Gilded Age as the next three decades - can do about that.

The degree to which partisan politics has bent to wealth has made me feel like my widow's mite is less mighty than ever. Which forces me into either trying to bend one party or the other to my pitiful will or contemplating a Third Party, the iocaine powder of U.S. politics.

My hope for some sort of political backlash of the sort that blew in the New Deal after the LAST time the plutocracy shat the bed is all but gone. We had the opportunity for that in 2008 which only proved the degree to which our Galtian overlords had learned the lessons of 1932; choke the populists with cash, flood the public forum with bought stooges, and deflect the moron mob with trivialities and manufactured fears.

And - as delightful and cathartic as the notion of taking Wall Street and Capitol Hill by storm and decorating the Tree of Liberty with the plutocrats and their purchased legislators is - the idea of violent revolution isn't really acceptable. The historical examples are dire; always followed by either anarchy and counterrevolution, or tyranny.So I enter this autumn as morose about the next decade as I've been in a long, long time. I cannot see a way forward, and there is no way back.

What will come, I cannot guess.

But looking around me I feel very...fragile. A glass vessel in a wilderness of hammers.

I like to think that I can "control" my life, and have a strong effect on the lives of my family.

But it's when I look at the world and my country that I realize I'm deluding myself. We're are ALL riding the whirlwind. It's the times we think we have everything under control that are the illusion. The corrupt politician, the remorseless corporation, the random inattentive driver, the casual virus, the slippery stair...all of these are out there, waiting to change our lives in a moment.

And those of us without the wealth and power to hold back those changes...all we can do is live every day to the fullest, love our children recklessly, caress our lovers without thought of tomorrow.

Because tomorrow may bring horrors.

Or may never be.All we can have is each other, and today, and hope. And just for today, for me, hope is a guttering candle, flickering in the hard winds of a trouble world, looking despairingly close to snuffing out.


Ael said...

Just to add some extra cheer, consider China

On the other hand, my feet are dry and my kids don't have bow legs. What more can a man reasonably ask?

FDChief said...

I know, I know, I feel like I've written this post again and again.

But there's just no escaping that - much as things are well at the present for me and mine - that I feel ever more uneasy, as if that blow; illness, injury, losing my job, poverty, homelessness, are just inches away.

A climate of precarious fear is and has never been the best thing for democracy. And if someone like me; "stable", college-educated, well-informed, feels this way, what price those people already further down the slope?

A lot of this comes from having a conversation the other day with this great woman; smart, active, creative...and yet she's a year out of college, huge pile of debt, and can't find anything other than temp work, and that so low-paying that she's losing ground every day she gets up.

It just seems like a pretty wretched thing when someone like that - who wants to work, who would work hard and well for someone - can't, just can't.

I just can't get that out of my head.

Leon said...

Cheer up Chief, for tomorrow a satellite may yet fall on Michelle Bachman or Rick Perry.

I share your pain, we're stuck with Harper (Bush Light) for four more years. He's already taking us down the "drugs bad" path by bringing in longer sentences - which others have pointed out means you do less time for molesting children than for having 200 mary-ji-wana plants. Okay, we're nowhere as screwed as you guys but we're kinda in the same boat. Okay, we're in the "screwed up light" boat, this is Canada after all. We never do things whole hog.

Oh, and on behalf of all Canadians, I apologize for justin Bieber, Celine Dion and Dane Cook. You have yet to apologize for Twilight tho...

FDChief said...

Leon: Thing is, it's not JUST the beyond-parody bugnuts feudalism of the current GOP.

It's my sense that the country as a whole is getting past the point of any sort of sane social, political, and financial recovery.

We now seem to do - or not do - things either because we just "can", or because we whip ourselves into some sort of faux lather/hysteria/stupidity and convince ourselves that something perfectly do-able is impossible...or something ridiculous and self destructive is the Very Bestest Idea Evah.

Democrat, Republican...or the huge lump of slothful "center"...

We seem to be stuck in a sort of "learned helplessness" and can't think ourselves out.

We KNOW how to get out of a Depression/liquidity trap, seeing as how we did it in the Thirties and Forties...we just don't do it. We KNOW how to rein in foolish overseas adventures...we just don't do it.

If we COULDN'T solve these problems, that'd be one thing. But CHOOSING not to? That's a sad, sickening thing, and that seems to be where we are...

Lisa said...

Thank you for your humor, Leon.

Chief, I thought exactly this:

"If talking shit about this country is a capital crime, if promoting violence against our "leaders" is punishable by death by missile without the bother of trial or conviction, I'd better be damn careful about driving around outside of busy public streets."

Your imagery of the stark b/w birds has also been haunting me this week. prior to reading your piece, I had used Monet's cold magpie in the snow for today's RAW post.

I can hardly believe the fools who are being fronted as legitimate candidates! Which makes me sad to think of the fools who will be voting for them.

I just spoke w/ an event organizer from FSU yesterday, and we discussed how most of the gatherings she now plans are "socials", devoid of depth or speakers. I offered that when I attended 2 decades ago (ugh), her particular group had actually invited speakers of merit, and the community also turned out.

She demurred, saying they did not want an embarrassing situation on their hands, and that student's attention spans had shrunk considerably from my time there.

Pity, really. But hey, there's a new Glee episode, y'know. Oh, and per Leon's apology for Ms. Dion, this dovetails perfectly: visiting a friend recently, another household member came in to show me this "showstopper" -- a horridly oversung version of the Westside Story great, "There's a Place". He thought it great, but it was just loud, strained and unfelt.

How do you teach discernment? (BTB: This is a person who saw most of the great shows on Broadway in his teens.)

FDChief said...

Lisa: Don't get me started on the state of vocal music. If there is a Hell, the people responsible for "American Idol" will have a space reserved amidst the hottest banked coals in the joint.

I loathe most of the current fashion for hysterical belters. I have no idea where how the notion that a mixture of volume and breathy emo hiccuping became lodged in the national cerebrum, but its killing pop music singing.

And as for the rest of the country...well, there's a couple of old country songs that cover that.

Lisa said...

Ah, we agree -- this is precisely it:

mixture of volume and breathy emo hiccuping

Why do we not/can we not understand that ballads must be felt to be sung. Projection and quivering lips and wrinkled foreheads denote naught (other than the ability to overcome a light botox treatment.) I really can't bear it. I grew up listening to the great show tunes on my mom's 45's, and love that stuff.

If I may indulge in a bit of catharsis, that same day I was also asked to watch "the winner", a black fellow from Miss. who chomps gum on stage who is then asked to remove it like a school child, who then sings like Frank Sinatra. Wowee, we're so surprised, one of the judges even comes to her feet! We can take the gun out of pocket, now.

Oh-kaay .. so he's a good impersonator. So he doesn't shout obscene rap. Wow, let's tap him on the head with a gold star.

Yiiiikes!!! Such pathetic drivel, such yokel-ism, such ... "This is MY country, land that I love .."