|Photo Credit: Michael Romanos|
Robert Creeley wrote one towering poem, and they even made a movie of it I believe, it was so good. If Shelley Winters was cast in it, life would be even better than art. (Jack Nicholson did direct, and Karen Black plays the Winters role--not so bad, really.)
People who believe that the Obama Administration has just putzed away its moment, or created a mess where there might have been a real solution to the health care system's train wreck--which still looms over most all of us--or believes Obama should have just closed down both of the reckless military adventures our previous Administration set in motion like the man with the bomb vest in Hurt Locker, those people ought to just buck up and like Creeley's voice in the poem, "fer christs sake, watch where yr going."
It's not like this is something new, this intransigent reality. America did elect George Bush, twice. And Ronald Reagan. And Richard Nixon. We've been a culture of confusion and contradiction for as long as we've been a nation. We accepted human chattel slavery for nearly 100 years after the country's founding, fer christs sake, then fought a horrendous war about it that many people still deny was even "about it." And then we destroyed most of the gains made in blood, and let that continue for yet another 100 years. Americans live in denial and contradiction. That's reality. It might even be the transient nature of Reality, the Ontological Structure buried under the Epistemological skin, as it were. Heisenberg. Or is it ...burg. (That's a Heisenberg joke, by the way.)
Right now we're watching people winning primary elections who are so remarkably unqualified to hold any office that we have to wonder if America is even capable of being the at best flawed democracy that it strives to be. What are people thinking? Do they not imagine what someone like Sharon Angle or Christine O'Donnell or Rand Paul would be like if they actually achieve power? Do they--these people who pulled the lever for these characters--imagine that reality will forbid the confusion and disaster implicit in the views of these characters to actually become the world in which we have to live? If so--I give you any number of recent historical counter-examples: take your pick. How could the culture of Goethe, Beethoven, and Kant evolve into Nazism. For one example.
But, one of the geniuses at Firedoglake argues, Game Theory tells us that we should never be so compliant that the powers that be, e.g., the Democratic Party, simply take us for granted.
Yes, well, that's a great theory. Meanwhile, the GOP is playing a very long-view sort of game in my opinion. Even if all the particular candidates I happened to mention above go down in flames--and that actually is unlikely given Kentucky's conservatism and the fact that Harry Reid is probably hated in Nevada--small devolutions keep being made. Already I'd guess that close to a majority of American voters believe Social Security is a ponzi scheme, and Medicare a government mistake that should be abolished. After all, we are subject to nearly 24/7 political advertising for these Randian views, with almost nothing in the way of a sensible rejoinder except the evening slots on MSNBC. The so-called right wing pundits are salesmen of the highest order, put in place at considerable expense by that top two percent who stand to actually lose a bit of change should tax rates be raised back to Clintonian levels (oh the horror!!). This sales crew has been toiling on the job for decades now. Is it any wonder that they have made considerable progress. It is more remarkable that incompetents of the order of Christine O'Donnell actually managed to get any support from the people who are actually pulling the levers--and Karl Rove is publicly not at all happy about it, to mention but one of the intelligencia behind the politics of stupid.
It's not that stupid doesn't eventually defeat itself. It's that the long run can be too long. Some of the global climate change deniers, for example, make the very true point that the planet is bigger than us, and that if we do mess the climate up enough to make a hostile environment for human beings, that doesn't mean the planet will disappear, or that other species won't come in and fill "our" niche. Well. Yeah. That people who are human assisted climate change deniers offer this as an argument is, at the least self-defeating, is it not? Hitler did lose, yes. Saddam did get removed.
It concerns me that these racist, classist, warmongering incompetents get any greater foothold in the government than they already have. What's the upside? Does Game Theory offer any guarantees? In 2006 reason won a small victory when Congress came into the hands of Democrats. In 2008 the Presidency also came into Democratic hands. Reality is an incremental thing of baby-steps and compromises. If I was you, I'd go out and vote for your Democratic Candidate in November. Our system is, for better or worse, just like electricity--it's either a D or an R. Any other "choice" is just fantasy football.
And if you want to see a stark version of the insane world the Grand Old Tea Party wants to build--a jury-rigged contraption of nonsense that will fall apart in the first breeze and collapse on all of us--why just watch "The Fountainhead." It ran the other night on Turner Classics. That's the playbook the yammerers are operating out of. They're just doing it in color, with a pretty girl in a tight sweater standing in an inviting pose at the front gate. But keep in mind that the Fountainhead was all the rage in the early '50s. There's nothing that new going on.
Update. The dissonance from Carl Rove on the O'Donnell nomination is remarkable. Nearly all elected Republicans have fallen in line on the "issue" of her competence, and the chatter on the talk shows defends her to the death. Rush Limbaugh, a close associate of Mr. Rove, was driven to sputtering yesterday when callers attacked Rove--a rare listening experience. Limbaugh is salesman of the epoch, and salesmen do not sputter--bad form. Rove is being attacked on character, the only line of attack available to his critics on this issue. But in fact, Rove is for once seeing the world aright--it's an Emperor's Clothes situation, and an obvious one. It's a strange situation to have the feeling of relief that, yes, someone else sees the obvious--when that feeling is generated by Carl Rove. After all, Mr. Rove sold the country G.W. Bush.
And yet another dissonance is generated by Alan Greenspan:
Update 2. Re my general point, consider the following, from alicublog in the comments, by one josephina:
Thanks for that Jackie Robinson link, Jay B. The notion of seeing "a television Conservatism panel which included Bill Buckley, Shelley Winters, and [Jackie Robinson]" fascinated me strangely. I'll go to the MTVR to see if they have video but the website Archival Television Audio has a listing for the Les Crane Show, August 4, 1964. Here's the site's description:
It's a heated discussion about Presidential Candidate Barry Goldwater with guests Jackie Robinson, Shelley Winters and William F. Buckley Jr. The program is interrupted for 8 minutes by an ABC News Bulletin from the White House. President Lyndon B. Johnson talks to the American People concerning the Gulf of Tonkin attack and USA intervention. Prior to resuming "The Les Crane Show," the network plays "The National Anthem," a patriotic gesture of the era.
There was quite a lot happening at that moment, n'est pas? As Shelley Winters is one of my favorite actors of all time, I really have to wonder what she was saying in this panel discussion.