the drift


Friday, April 17, 2009

Trying to find my love of poetry again. E.A. Robinson sketches a neo-con quite accidentally.

It's been awhile since I read poetry on any regular basis or that matter even picked up a recent year's best of anthology but in this week's Time I saw a mention of E.A. Robinson, a poet who never much impressed me until a chat with a friend about good luck and envy intersected with this Time story about the Binghamton massacre of a week or so ago.
The poem mentioned in the piece was so bleak, I had to have more so I looked up a few critiques and especially good one lead to this piece -- and it seems to embody the longing of the most vehement of the neo-cons in my life (a mix of self-loathing, and a sense of the uncanny and a tragic feeling of lost opportunity). It's kinda fun to comp lit with politics. That's a new one for me. Enjoy:

Miniver Cheevy
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would send him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam's neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing:
He missed the medieval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

-- Edwin Arlington Robinson

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preutopians Go Undercover at the Tea Party

What kind of parents take their children to gawk at people with the opposite political views as ours? I dunno. Maybe not good ones, but nonetheless KC's own Tax Day Teabagging at Liberty Memorial made the to-do list this evening.
I suppose the optimist in me wanted my children to witness the day when the neo-cons turned off Fox News, loaded the kids up and stood holding signs, finally breathing some life into the faux populism of the last few elections. The pessimist in me wanted the kids to see a dissonant grouping of (actual, not Fox-brand) libertarians, neo-cons and old fashioned compassionate conservatives (img via TKC) floundering as their worldview reveals itself as outmoded. For myself, I wanted to witness fellow Americans getting riled up about -- no, not children dying or the metaphorical shredding of the Geneva Convention, not providing health insurance to children of the working poor in this country -- no, not any of that -- they are sick of ... taxes. Taxes!! Taxes and freeloaders! Just which freeloaders, I never quite got the names of but looking around the crowd, I got the feeling that the picture of said freeloaders in the collective mind's eye looked more like this:
than this:
The simple fact was that the crowd had far more representatives from Exhibit B than Exhibit A (I saw two walking up from H&R Block with signs in tow). So, let me call that a rational inference.
And you know, it's not that I'm a supporter of the bailouts or the MASSIVE influence of Wall Street in this administration. It's a fucking travesty. A travesty of the similar consequence as the massive war-profiteering that occurred during the last administration when another multi-national corporation called Halliburton had its paws in the nation's coffers through backroom dealings (just like AIG in this administration) and rigged contract bidding. It's ridiculous to not call a spade a spade. To, within the same breath call for impeachment of this president over AIG and bailouts and out of the other side of the mouth protest any investigation into the previous administration's illegal dealings with Halliburton or wire-tapping or any number accusations just as grave. What is the difference?
More importantly, what do the tea partiers want? What is the end goal here? Impeachment? I've asked around quite a bit. No one has much of an answer for me but impeachment seems to be mentioned most consistently. I've been to my share of ill-fated liberal protests, let me tell you, and what they all shared was a lack of cohesion in the end game message. I saw that today. But truly, without a workable solution, it amounts to little more than pissing and moaning. It's like they just figured out that they're being taxed? I wonder when they'll actually look at their paystubs and figure out that the majority of them just benefitted from the largest middle class tax cut in history?
Eh, the truth is, I felt pretty uncomfortable as looks of approval were shot our way. After all, we had all the same trappings of those around us -- the two kids (albeit not dressed in stars and stripes themed casual wear), stroller, pale faces with dashing good looks, good enough jobs -- so it was natural. I wondered what they'd look at me like if they knew I once trekked out into a dark snowy Milwaukee night to hear Gloria Steinem stump for Gore.
As I looked out at the crowd of 1500 or so today (not 5k as is being reported by the right-wingers naturally but still exceptional for a KC protest) a wave of disappointment hit me as I thought back to March 2003, standing at the Plaza holding signs protesting the impending invasion of Iraq and all the blantantly false pretense with which our country mounted that effort, standing with my dad, a Vietnam vet, beside me and counting it a huge success with 500 people in attendance. I was swept up by the deep disappointment that such a broad swath of humanity can't be mobilized to care about 'collateral damage' on the other side of the world, babies outside of the womb and on a middle eastern woman's hip, or even to care so deeply about the sacrifice of a young American soldier's life that they would require government accountability in exchange for that ultimate sacrifice ... and I thought of Jesus saying What you do unto the least of you, you do unto me.
I saw a woman walking around with a sign reading 'Are you a Producer or a PARASITE?" Just the unabashed materialism on display! While I saw mostly good people standing there indignant about 401ks that have lost value or dismal home values or social security or welfare moms, I also saw greed. I saw greed returned with greed.
I guess some of us never learned how to share in kindergarten. (aside: In fact, unless you want to raise a bunch of mindless socialist drones, that rule should be taken off the board in kindergarten. We shouldn't be MADE to share!) And for the lady carrying that sign that constructed the producer/parasite binary, I want to tell her to never drive again on OUR interstate. If she wants a road, she can build her own. If she wants to be able to flush her poo down the toilet and not have it come back in her water glass when she pulls the tap, she should quit siphoning off my tax dollars and my husband's tax dollars in order to get clean water and go buy a couple of rivers in Canada (and hope for the best). What hubris in thinking that because you've never been down and out, you never will be! Or, for the guy holding the No Social Security (whilst I give him points for consistency on the socialism talking point), that because you've never been old and on a fixed income, you never will be? That just because your boss still affords you the luxury of breaking a sweat on your weekly TPS reports, the Vietnam vet without legs and an education shouldn't look to your producing ass for a handout. I mean, seriously, IS THIS the world these people really want to live in? Sometimes I wonder where people's hearts are.
Especially THESE people who, as I looked around, for the most part, exuded that uniquely American brand of fresh-faced suburban hopefulness and neighborliness. There were the bitter folk, of course, but there were mostly a lot of genuine people who saw themselves there as defending their children's futures, and while a stew of mixed messages and sublimated motivations ultimately muddled the goal, I have to respect that part of what they were trying to do.
Update: Do check out KC-based art toy phenom, MAD's, sweet signs for the JoCo Tea Party. I may not agree but I know badass art when I see it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

republicans masquerading as libertarians

Ok, ok, so why stop now?
Saw a quote recently by Glenn Beck now that he's with Fox "I'm becoming more and more Libertarian every day."
The revolution of the cogs is showing, Beck, I mean really, come the fuck on.
Has anyone else noticed that the Republican brand has become so TOXIC that even in the midst of a clearly Rush/Coulter/Dobbs infused rant, your con friends grab a breath to tell you how they're REALLY Libertarians?
Ok, by that stretch of the imagination, I'm a Libertarian as well.
This is also none to different than that d-bag who wants to to tit-for-tat you on every dem v repub talking point then when his/her argument starts looking as thinly veiled as an American journalist in Iran they smugly inform you that they "... vote third party" last election. So, fine, listen there is no such thing as third-party punditry in this political landscape, so ahole you CLEARLY must fall more or less on one side or another of the moderate line (another conspiracy theory, anyone actually know any true moderates?) and when that affiliation becomes transparent, THAT's when this kind of dbag wants to pull the old bait and switch. And -- let me clearly state -- I've seen libs as well as cons pull out this same tactic. While I admire the idea of supporting a third party, I really don't see the point of a third part vote OTHER than as a last-ditch bottom of the deck trick to win political arguments. In fact, for all intents and purposes, I consider that fact to deem null and void any legitimacy of their political beliefs because in effect they basically chose not to vote at all.
allright. beer #2 on deck for the evening. and time to read some more of teh Twilight series. Don't hate. You know you're Team Edward (but since I've got native blood I've got to rep for Team Jacob, soory).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

word 'socialist' trademarked by Fox News

And I know I sound like a dbag when I talk politics. What's funny is -- in the 8 years that we had a Republican White House and I had plenty of drive to banter on about politics, I never once offended a conservative friend to the degree that they got truly angry and/or refused to talk to me any more. In the last 6 mos that's happened a couple of times already.
Maybe I should take the hint?

Excerpt from an email exchange between myself and a funny con friend of mine who spends way too much time on Right wing conspiracy blogs but who also never fails to get me thinking ...

You don't even want to know the scroatattacks I'm planning with Natasha. I've noticed she doesn't find scroats nearly as hilarious as we do. This is going to change.

I'm not pointing to Bush only. If cons are so up in arms about socialism, why aren't they petitioning to repeal the policies of the New Deal? Maybe Social Security was a bad idea? Clearly Medicare is unnecessary and those people should just be shot or deported if they can't heal up and pay their own way. Or, maybe you want to talk big government -- Maybe this whole security force run by our government and patrolling our airports isn't a great idea? Or at least the department created to oversee it along with a million other 'security' depts is a bit of unnecessary bureaucracy?

In other words, no, Obama shouldn't be allowed to take us further down the path of socialism (unless a policy that could be spun as 'socialist' is inherently the right solution for the problem). But where is the activism to reverse the trend? Where WAS the activism to prevent the Bush administration? Or the Roosevelt administration? It is/was non-existent. Why is that Bush context important? Because it's not about being anti-socialism at all -- it's about the opportunistic Right co-opting a term that most citizens of middle america couldn't provide a decent definition of on their own other than to say it sounds bad and re-branding it as a conservative media talking point. It's about Fox News and Rush Limbaugh needing to create controversy to stay relevant. It's not about socialism at all or there would be anti-social security and anti-labor laws rallies going on right alongside the tea parties.

I heard a great quote about progressive v conservative. Conservative policies are designed to work for the good of the individual. Progressive policies are designed to work for the good of the many. Actually, that's not the quote but it's as close as I can remember. But the point is, neither of those is inherently WRONG. But there are times when one of them is the more appropriate response to the difficulties at hand. Additionally, most people kind of innately fall into one of those camps when they form their own cultural and political cosmologies.

All that is stuff I came up with from that bastardized quote. And likely someone else has said it before and more succinctly.