Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Obama vs Edwards

Paul Krugman writes about the Edwards-Obama difference that whereas Edwards is a true populist, Obama is naïve to think he can work out Hope and Change while sitting at the table with Big Pharma and Big Oil and Big Money. And it got me thinking.

This ultimate Obama criticism is what fuels John Edwards ideas for me—what makes him, funny hair fetish or not, a more left leaning option than my dear Obama. That is, if you believe John Edwards is sincere, which sadly, I don’t. I’ll take Obama’s centrist leanings over Edwards’s newfound populism any day, because well, I think the former’s sincere and the latter’s uh, shady. But that’s neither here nor there. I also prefer Obama’s position—that the idea you can work out healthcare by totally ignoring and shutting out Insurance and Drug Comps is nonsense—not because it suits my politics (it doesn’t at all) but because it suits what I think is reality.

The political environment is contaminated, it is completely rigged, at the most fundamental “meaning-making” level. I’m not going to get all Marxist here except in the most rudimentary way, but the idea of a really informed population is only half the battle. You still need the other half: a full range of meanings to choose to make. Something's weird when lots of people can live in squalor or nearly, can be bereft of so much, can live a life of want dead smack in the middle of plenty, and not find an extreme left political leaning bone in their bodies. They can’t derive the most obvious political conclusion from a life of experiences that seem to scream, if not Edwards certainly, well, Dennis Kucinich!

That’s weird. It’s just strange. (I mean, it’s only weird and strange if you don’t do the rudimentary Marx because if you do, it makes plenty sense).That there isn't a solid extreme left, or solid social democratic, lively, active population in this American reality sort of makes the landscape surreal. Except it is very real. The idea that this kind of a properly leftist message doesn’t thrive is a few steps ahead of the tragic reality that the message doesn’t even really arise. Politically, the population is scripted into predetermined ideas about viability. People say, Dennis Kucinich “is just not viable”. Even my all time favorite person Sean Penn is adamant that it is not the case because “we” get to decide that—he supports Dennis and I love him for that. But really Sean, no we don't get to decide. Because Dennis (and that sort of a message) can't get enough money to run a viable campaign. It’s a capitalist chicken and egg type of question. Do we *think* he is not viable cause he is TOO left, in fact? Or do we think that because never has someone with his profile gained enough legitimacy—that is, had enough money to gain said legitimacy—to make the message real?

He—and what he represents--is not viable because the big money that funds candidates will never allow say, a socialist (give and take) to run with any “legitimacy” or “viability”. Because big money and socialism don't work. It's not just in presidential campaigns that people don't understand where their interests lie, it’s EVERYWHERE. Not in education, not in media, not in "real life", nowhere. Nowhere do people really really really fundamentally believe that their human rights trump the right of the next man to profit. And that my friends, is capitalism not as economical system, but as way of life—that is what America is, if anything is what America is.
To an extent, it's not about 2008 election, or the ones before. This is about hundreds of years of that way of life, of the character of a place being sketched out with a particular slant. It’s about the soul of a nation being an emanation of its being the persistently most robust, free market, capitalist operation on the planet. That operation has thrived on a certain political structure. A fundamental historical, social and political chassis to think of an apt car analogy. Whatever moment we live in is simply the latest make and model of the car that goes on top of the chassis. But the fundamental nuts and bolts, they stay the same. It is what the country is and that structure is the structure within which a President of the country operates. And I don’t think I overestimate Obama to say that’s exactly what he is thinking about when he concedes, quite honestly, that much as he’d like to, he won’t be able to go all FDR on some pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

FDR was not FDR because he was the John Edwards or even the Dennis Kucinich of his time. FDR was FDR because to be simplistic, “shit was that fucked up.” Shit was that fucked for enough important people. You know what, shit was SO fucked up, it was fucked up for corporations and big money. When chaos is visited upon them, when the car crashes so badly that not only the body and passengers are annihilated but the actual chassis is destroyed, then yeah, you’re allowed a trip back to the drawing board and you can present new plans and re-engineer. But even still, only for a while until the old smell gets back in everyone’s nostrils and just like that, we want things back that way they were—when money was being made at rates and in ways uncountable. This is what normalcy in this country feels and looks like.

Part of the problem to me is precisely is about plenty and wealth and sheer scale. As much trouble as the country’s in, it’s not in a Depression of that scale. Too much wealth and space makes it very hard to feel completely overwhelmed, to congeal in a state of panic nationally and feel together, at once, oh boy, we’re headed in a fucked up direction. Chaos can give you an FDR, you know, but we're not there. Rather, we don’t think we are at chaos yet, which considering 9/11, global poverty, the environment and domestic statistics about health, children and education (to name a few), is again surreal. Why don’t we think “shit is that fucked up”?! The meaning-making processes are fully compromised and contaminated, that’s why.

Sure the so called middle class is feeling it, and just from their malaise (as well as that of the aging boomers) we see rumblings of a more progressive agenda. They are just rumblings as long as the economy, that Super Citizen, is thriving. But even to get these rumblings, look what it took, in terms of our analogy of the car: look how many massive crashings of the car, from Reagan through the Clinton centrist years to the Bush times, before we even asked a question.

Let’s get Obama-esque though, let’s get practical. Even while cavorting with Big Money, playing with a rigged deck, could we do better? Sure, and I think that's what Obama thinks he can do--make "better" deals with the devil. I believe he'll try because I think he understands that those corporations can give some leeway and still make out okay. He knows that while things like NAFTA don't have to happen under him, for instance, he is fully aware that the forces behind things "such as" NAFTA will continue to pressure his government. And some of what they want will have to pass. His job is about how much of that some passes. I don’t think that’s the job he’d like to have, but I think he understands that is what it will be.
I think Obama understands what country he’s gearing up to run, what it’s made of, what it’s ultimately about. Maybe it’s the what did they say?, voluntary immigrant acumen in his DNA that gives him that unsentimentality of scope. I think he understands (and I don't mean this tragically or pessimistically) that this government has to be an Asshole Govt to a large extent in order to support this Way of Life. But he knows it doesn't have to be As Big An Asshole as it's been. Obama would curb the Asshole quotient but doesn’t pretend he’d do away with it, I think. Edwards wants to pretend the Asshole can be Nice Guy Who Says Screw You to Big Money, and I think nonsense. Edwards knows this and the reason he knows this is because this is his second presidential bid. You don’t get that far ahead not knowing shit. Just like you don’t get to be 31 years old and live in the States 16 years not knowing shit.

A Savior Is Born

No, no, not THAT one. The soon to be born child of Jamie Lynn Spears. A savior: the only person who could make Britney Spears look like the better sister. At least her babies were born in wedlock, right? Were they? Well if not that, then at least she wasn’t 12. Uh, I mean, 16. This story is cracking me up. I don’t think it’s tragic because a) they don't seem to themselves--they told the story to OK! magazine; b)my mother had me when she was 16 and though rough waters were waded through, I’m fabulously here to tell about it and c) Grandma Spears is rich and can raise all those babies. She would anyway because that is what happens (where we come from you know, myself and the Spears and countless others!) but at least she can have three nannies if she wants to, and her own compound.

Time and time again, it’s always the church going God-fearing public that overestimates its ability to keep the panties up and ends up spread eagle and condom free on some old, “I just never thought it could happen to me.” Ah, kids.

Of course my biggest issue is WHAT AM I GONNA TELL MY SON? Zoe 101 kind of like, is a little ho and lost her job?

Best thing about the story is not that the Spears saw fit to let their child cohabitate with her boyfriend soon to be baby daddy. Best thing is that said boy is mentioned as her “long time boyfriend”—that means what? They started dating in 4 or 5th grade?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

made in new york

After my son goes to sleep I get a few quiet hours and despite what they sometimes bring, I relish them because the life of a mother is very loud, very full, very outside of herself and I need to find my way back inside myself. Especially now. So he goes down and I turn off all the lights except of the room I am in. Increasingly that means pitch darkness other than the glare of the computer monitor, because I am writing or reading or less proudly, watching everything I can possibly think of watching on YouTube. I never know what kind of night it’s going to be. Maybe I’ll write something about my son that gets birthed from the deepest best places inside and soars up, the way stories about him do, and saves the day and my mood. Maybe I’ll happen upon another of my “biographical notes” moods and write that, for better or worse. Maybe I’ll just thrill myself excavating musical memories on Itunes—spending a fortune getting songs I’ll be too embarrassed to play to people. Maybe I’ll read the latest magazines I’ve been piling up and plot my next (likely to be failed) workout diet regimen. But maybe just maybe none of that will happen and I will be like I am right now--overtaken by the feeling of absolute loneliness and abandonment. I wanted to, as I was writing, call it other things and make it less pathetic. Because I do feel pathetic saying that this is how I feel: abandoned and left behind. In some massive, fundamental, any way I cut it way. Left behind. It’s a feeling that is enormous and no less so for my knowing it is partly delusional… I think when you suffer this much for the loss of a place that wasn’t even a good place for you, the loss of someone who sold you out so many times, I think that fucks you up more. Because it tells you something you don’t really want to know about yourself. But this is me tonight, just wishing I were not alone in this whole mess. If my life is an occasion well I am not rising to it—that’s the feeling. It is dark and the snowing went into raining so you hear the time pacing in the sound of the tires of cars—it frames the endless silence. I know this whole thing, including these lonely panics, are The Whole Point. I know this is the fight for the life, for the good life—I’ve been here before enough to know it, I can smell it. As much as I wish someone were here, I know better; I know that would be as good as putting a gun to my head, spirit wise. And I’ve done enough of self-erasure for a lifetime. It’s just about filling in my blanks and not filling them up with someone else’s bullshit for a change. What was that cliché they said on that HBO show? That it was dedicated to the people “who have the courage to be happy.” I don’t have it, the courage, or the faith or (and this troubles me most) the inspiration. I am terrified because I don’t have these things and I wish I had someone right here to tell me it was going to be okay. But fact is, when I did, he was lying and it wasn’t okay in the end—it was the worse possible way things could be. So hey, it’s dark and cold and quiet in my apartment but I am here. Typing away. Feeling sorry for myself and saying so. Crying and staying up all nights and having trouble getting up on time. Scared shitless but showing up every day. And I’m going to hope I don’t disappoint myself after all the disappointments they have caused me. I am not going to abandon and leave myself behind. Nobody is here to tell me it’s going to be okay, because that’s not something said. That is something made. I am going to make it.