More on my fiction writing

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July 10, 2009


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It is amazing. The failure of market fundamentalism was so stunning that it seemed unlikely even the rubes in talk-radio land could ignore it. But they not only did, they swallowed with nary a pause the right's alternative theory why things went bad (Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Freddie & Fannie, mortgage mandates for minorities, etc). One reason why health care reform is failing is simply that the demonological paradigm of public investment still holds. Everything government does is bad. Everything. Plus, if you win the lottery, the government will take it all for taxes!

We have a deeply ignorant citizenry, an entirely feckless media culture, and a passion gap still favoring the right. What good does it do us to complain? We know we're going to lose this latest battle.

Yet on another level, we are winning. The media and political leaders on the right are, with virtually no exception, horrifyingly grotesque. It's probably not a surprise that anyone with some measure of human warmth and humility is not a firebreathing greedhead and know nothing. People may believe stupid things through the magic of incessant propaganda but they can still judge the character of the shills themselves. That said, power and wealth are the great persuaders so even obvious shills can make a case if the stars align.

It looks like that's going to happen. Arizona's parochial example will fail but explained away. For most Americans, the magical invocations of "Reagan", "tax cuts", "free enterprise", etc will fill the void where skepticism should reside. We're not going to win this war for America's soul because the nihilists have already sold it to their corporate bidders.

Even the Peanuts comic strip recognizes that the existing healthcare system has broken down (see the sample strip for July 9):

Increased sales and payroll taxes, even as income taxes were cut (especially at the high end), have gone a long way toward increasing the burden on the working and middle class. Nobody seems to remember that Reagan presided over a huge increase in payroll taxes, which he called "pre-funding" benefits, which produced a cash surplus that was only used to offset deficit spending.

The matter of blood is certainly curious. I wish I had a pocketful of shiny answers, but I'm scarcely more than a mummy myself, and have only a few vague impressions: unlike answers, these have the potential to deceive and discourage as well as to enlighten and hearten. Impressionistically, one turns to artists: in my own case and due to my own tendencies, to poets and musicians.

T.S. Eliot is somewhat depressing, but in the spirit, perhaps, of the Rogue Columnist. Shall I, like the protagonist of the Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock, compare myself to Lazarus, "come from the dead, come back to tell you all", having bitten off the matter with a smile, and squeezed the universe into a ball, to roll it toward some overwhelming question"?

But the question, never mind the answer, remains unspoken, suggesting perhaps that it is, after all, illusory.

Or shall I compare myself to the protagonist of Ash Wednesday, mourning the vanished power of the usual reign? (If I should ever meet an aged shark, I should punch it most vigorously on the snout and jab my thumbs in its eyes.)

Or perhaps one of The Hollow Men? After all, "This is the dead land / This is the cactus land":

Or perhaps one of the Pale Saints (pale from exsanguination?) Throwing Back the Apple (silly video but interesting music):

No, I suspect that for those who endure even unto the end, we shall find, like Robert Frost, that blood will out because it cannot be contained, and that the "power of blood itself releases blood / It goes by might of being such a flood / Held high at so unnatural a level"...

Or, if I'm really feeling optimistic, I might recall the words of "The Ink Spots" in Glenn Miller's "Juke Box Saturday Night":

If I didn't know why the roses grow
Then I wouldn't know why the roses grow...
Now listen, honey child, honey lamb,
If I didn't know all them little things I'm supposed to know
Then I sure would be a SAD man...

Well played, sir! Until our heads are literally cut off, would you say we are more likely to rebound from current circumstances with a new progressive era (as was the response to the wealth concentration and abuse of the Guilded Age, arguably reaching its apogee with The Great Society programs to fight poverty), or because of the concentration of main stream media in service to hyper-corporate/wealth interests, are things more likely to just get worse? Is a replay of the French Revolution, literal "class warfare," the more likely outcome of our broadening social disparities?

What's so maddening is that the true elites, who are a fraction of a percent of the population, cannot do it without the complicity of millions of dupes - from politicians to pundits to the modestly affluent, and especially of legions of dingbats like Samuel Wurzelbacher (AKA Joe the Plumber). As Emil points out, the working class has NOT benefited from tax cuts.

The kooks don't get it. They would rather sacrifice themselves on their new alter of free enterprise than save themselves. As long as they have their guns they will keep the faith as they swirl down the drain. The kooks really make me wish I had emigrated when I was young.

Your article on Obama's Waterloo is so right on. As a disappointed Obama supporter I can't understand why he won't play hard ball with the
Republicans,bipartisanship is overrated. They didn't give the Democrats the time of day when they were in power and Obama should do the same. Sure do miss your writing in the AZ Republic but now have discovered your website and great articles. The Dayton article was so true also. I lived there for 6 years myself and it is sad to see a great city on the decline.

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