Friday, September 23, 2011


Someone once described American President George W. Bush as someone who "was born on third base imagining he hit a triple." It was a small arrow shot by someone who was not a fan and wanted to sum up his distaste in terms of class. It was a description I found hard to dislike.

But as the desperation of the country (and perhaps world) mounts, bon mots seem to be all anyone has time for. The stock market took a 391-point nose dive yesterday; joblessness squeezes people who can remember a time when they complained about going to work in the morning; disaster relief is held hostage in a country that once assumed that natural disasters anywhere in the country were the nation's business; and everywhere angry and helpless people seek simple answers, which, when given, are obviously not going to work in any concrete, I-need-a-job-now way.

Helplessness, anger and last night the Republican candidates took to the debate stage in Florida looking, among other things, so goddamned white. "White," meaning well-heeled, well-positioned, self-serving, unaware, and unwilling to give up an inch of what they have attained in order to minister to the body politic. And no one for a minute imagines that a black man or woman would be much different. Watching those candidates merely enhances the anger: It's no longer what might improve the country's lot that is worthy of belief: The sense of in-your-face malaise and despair demands to hear what will improve that lot.

From 1966 to 1969, Chinese chairman Mao Zedong instituted 'The Cultural Revolution' and thousands of bourgeois natives were sent off to labor camps for re-education. People read his "Little Red Book" which pointed to a more pure form of communism in which the egg-heads (and others with "incorrect thoughts") would not hold sway. A new generation made a profession out of attacking the previous one. The cultural revolution was a disaster, but the idea of shipping out anything that resembled thinking outside the box was attractive to the have-nots and those who insisted on thinking inside some lock-step box. And it is hard not to imagine sweeping up the current lot of politicians and shipping them, en masse, to some rice paddy in Zanzibar or someplace else that was sufficiently remote so that their sound-bite nostrums could not be heard fouling the airwaves. It wouldn't work, but the temptation sure as hell has its appeal. But would that put food on the table or protect the families that long to protect themselves?

I don't know anything about politics. But, like a lot of others, I know something about trust and distrust, about the difference between can-do and can-talk, and about the desire for a little decency and safety that is concrete. How to attain it? I haven't got a clue, but I can't imagine that telling more self-serving, pseudo-patriotic lies will help much.

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