Obama and the Far-out Left

The Far Left is pissed at Obama. And with good reason, they declare. He has forsaken his campaign promises. They apparently forgot his message: ‘Yes, we can.’ Note the plural pronoun. Like the dreamers and sophomoric thinkers they are, most of the Left imagined all they had to do was elect the guy and voila!, reality would be transformed.

“Damn,” they moaned. “What happenend? Where’s the paradigm shift?” 

Welcome to realpolitik, comrades. Don’t mean to be too harsh but, please grow up. Really. Stop acting like little children who cry over a spilt ice cream cone. Shit, sometimes I have to agree with Republicans: the Left acts like a bunch of narcissistic, hedonistic prima donnas

Tell me more how you are shocked that Obama has not changed the world in the year he has been in office. Amazingly, the so called Far Left agrees with the Far Right on this matter. They both see Obama as a total failure and even a fraud. When, we might ask, will the Left ever wake up, grow up and get real?

Let me be the one to inform all these crybabies that change does not come easy. Let me be the one to inform the Left (MIchael Moore included….and I love the guy) that whatever they learned in school about the American political system is a fantasy. Let me be the one to inform them that it’s the system, stupid! 

Maybe, just maybe, they haven’t read their Howard Zinn (may his spirit live on). These folks just don’t get it because they actually are naive enough to believe that if they elect a mulatto President, everything will change, like likety-split. Their thinking is like, well, dullsville, man.

Do you really still believe that by voting you can change things? Please! You mean to tell me that you are so untutored that you don’t understand how the system works? I can excuse members of the younger generation and hope that they someday discover the hoax, the fraud, the absurdity that our faux democracy is. But for the older crowd, those between 40 and 80, it is inexcusable that they continue to believe things can be substantively affected by merely exercising the voting right. 

Let me create the scene for you once President Obama took office. He sat in the oval office, admiring the view (and wondering how the hell he did it!) and suddenly the Powers-That-Be strolled in, uninvited mind you, and essentially told him who ran things. They were the representatives from the titans of finance, of banking, of oil, of insurance, of exports, of pharmaceuticals, etc. There and then, they informed the President what he could and could not do. Then they asked him if what they said was clear? And without waiting for an answer, they sat down and ordered drinks. 

Dear reader, do you get it yet? Of course, the above is just an allegory. But there are mountains of truth in it. The system is controlled by plutocrats and, as any astute high school student knows, they finance political campaigns and the careers of politicians. For these bribes, they obtain access to our esteemed legislatures and influence or stymie bills in Congress in direct proportion to the influence each has bought and promised. They buy our Senators and Congressmen. That’s the way it works most of the time.

That’s the nature of American Democracy! (Cue the national anthem in the background). You see, and here is the big secret, it isn’t  a democracy. It’s a plutocracy, rule by the rich for the rich, Thomas Jefferson be damned and all public school indoctrination to the contrary.

And if you don’t understand how the system works yet, you probably are barely aware of the decision recently made by the Supreme Court. Oh yeah, they ruled that corporations (confirmed as individuals with rights of their own over 100 years ago by that same august body), now have the right to donate to campaigns in the manner of advertising. The Supreme Court calls this free speech. Ouch! As George Orwell would say, we all have free speech, it’s just that some have more!

And if you were thinking that the legislative branch reflected the voice of the people, you again haven’t done your homework. It’s mostly a matter of paying attention, maybe educating oneself a bit. 

Our bicameral legislature ensures that all business is conducted very agonizingly slowly  and agreement is challenging at best. Typically, the work week is from Tuesday through Thursday (yes, that’s right) if at all, and can be hindered by any number of methods, the most controversial one being the invocation of a filibuster in the senate which can forestall a vote on any bill. That means 60 votes are required to invoke the so-called cloture rule and limit debate. In other words, a minority can hold all business hostage to their whims. And the Republicans are very good at this.

Can you ever imagine 60 Democratic Senators getting together to invoke cloture. Really? Gawd, I have some bundled securities you may want to buy. In general, most Democrats do not have strong convictions about many things (money and sex being the two exceptions), and invoking cloture would mean they would risk the extreme displeasure and contempt of their Republican colleagues. That’s just too scary for this group! Imagine, they may have to stand up to the bullies on the block. Yikes!

Folks, get real. Our system is antiquated and totally dysfunctional which means the peoples’ business is impossible. In reality, the corporations run the show. Democracy? Please! The Senate is the least Democratic institution we have. Give me a break! California with a population quickly approaching 40 million has only two senators. Meanwhile, Wyoming with a population of a little over 500,000 gets two also! Guess what? They are both Republicans!  And in many of these less populated states, the senators tend to be more conservative, regardless of their nominal party label.

The Democratic party is nothing like the Republican Party. There is no marching in unison amongst Democrats. In fact, so many of the Democratic Senators are conservatives, that one could conclude that they are Democrats in name only. Think Joe Liebermann, now an ardent Independent, who supported McCain and partied with ‘Polar Bear Sarah’, in the last election. You may actually recall that he was on the ticket as the VP Democractic candidate in 2000. Was that all a hallucination? Hard to believe, huh?

Obama has little history in the Senate (two years) and has little pull with its members or those in the House where he also served a mere two years. He is too young, too inexperienced, too idealistic, and way too naive. And, (now don’t get mad), the rumor is that he is already getting frustrated and bored. As an African-American, his meteoric rise through the House, Senate, and now the Presidency, has been remarkable and I know lots of people had visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. But the word on the street is that Obama is already suffering from existential ennui.

If the Left were really serious, they would formulate a plan of action which would require lots of work, much of it tedious, building a movement over a period of ten years. But let’s get real here. Lots of tedious work? Ten years? Ohmigod! Can you imagine you and your leftist friends being that motivated? You might have to give up your weekly kayaking or sadhana!

The formula for change is, simply put, lots of hard work and some ideas that resonate. The spoiled Left brats suffer from a depletion of both of these especially since they exerted themselves so strenuously by getting Obama elected. Most of these folks are into prosperity consciousness, creative visualization, yoga and meditation, if not their ritual of getting stoned nightly while they sip Chablis while listening to worldbeat music or attending their drumming group.

So, if you are too lazy to build a real Movement (and I argue that you are), stop attacking Obama. In fact, it is probably best if you get out there and support the Congressional Democrats in the midterm elections, with the realization that this is the very least you can do to help him. It’s not much but it’s a lot easier and less stressful than actually building a mass movement. No duh!

Glenn Beck as Everyman?

It has come to my attention that O’Reilly on Fox News (or Fixed News as Oberman has designated it) has declared Glenn Beck to be  “Everyman,” as if to say each person (or woman for that matter) can relate. Beck’s success and following is rather astonishing one might conclude, given the show’s supposedly high ratings.  The show (and Beck himself) is a pastiche of comedy, shlock, and an attempt at a serious analysis of reality, politics in particular.

Sociologically, the Beck phenom is somewhat curious, even at times mesmerizing. It reminds one a lot of the movie Network, in which a news commentator revives his life by becoming a focus of every citizen’s complaints and angst with the world. Yeah, you remember, this is the movie that made famous the line, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

Watching Glenn Beck wade his way through political analysis is a weird experience akin to being stoned on good Jamaican ganja. At times, his emotionality bespeaks someone who is just barely holding it together. It can even be a religious experience I suppose for his followers. He mixes his rants with appeals to getting America back on the right track and references to our Founding Fathers. His cant resembles a sermon by Jimmy Swaggert, tears and all.

What interests me as a social observer is what Beck communicates that resounds so much with his following. His shtick seems to be a conduit for all the rage and frustration that so many Americans feel about their political system, and, even more so, their lives. 

I mean let’s face it, Beck has tapped into what others (like Limbaugh and O’Reilly) have as well.That is to say,  a general anger, disappointment and cynicism about politicians and the political system. It’s primary target is Liberalism in general and Obama in particular. And, occasionally, one will hear Beck castigate a Republican or even the Bush administration as if just to make sure you don’t see him as partisan so he can claim, like Fox News, that he is ‘fair and balanced.’

Who writes his stuff, I sometimes wonder? I mean does he have a staff like John Stewart with whom he prepares his shows and do they write most of his monologues for him? He now uses props including a chalk board, accompanying graphics, and videos as if he were in a classroom. Like many of his ilk, he constructs his argument to fit the conclusion he wants to reach. Yes, he marshals his ‘facts’ to fit his predetermined position. 

It is a sad state of affairs when someone like Beck garners a listening audience as large as he does. It tells us something about the sociological state of America. It is somewhat reminiscent of Germany in the 1920s and that’s not much of an exaggeration. Try this experiment on for size to get a sense of what I mean. The next time you listen to Beck, Hannity or Limbaugh, substitute the word Jew for the word Liberal and you get a sense of where they are coming from. 

Beck voices great fear and disillusionment that many feel in these uncertain times. He even sounds paranoid about the future, as if to say Armageddon is just around the corner. And yes, he is making millions and going on speaking tours across the country, writing books, and flattering his other cohorts on Fox News. Who knows, maybe with his millions he is preparing to flee to some South Sea island where he can wait out the massive calamities to come.

His is a hope, a dream, a vision that America can return to its supposed greatness and virtue which I wish he would pinpoint with exactitude. Just when was everything so fantastic in America and where? Maybe it was in Monterey in 1951, Sioux City in 1910, or perhaps Concord in 1779. Who knows?  To make matters worse, there is an undercurrent of racism, sexism, and rampant xenophobia in his diatribes.

The frightening thing is the mix of madness that such rabid right spokespersons like Beck drift into, maybe even accidentally, only to discover they have struck a nerve with the populace, or at least his viewers. To follow a Beck analysis is like being treated to a lecture on String Theory: It sounds interesting and provocative but can you explain that one more time? In reality, it’s like listening to a Palin speech. Everything is puerile emotion: “Gosh, golly, gee whilikers, don’t you get it, you elite….ah, ah, people who think.”

That people can find Beck’s spiel attractive and even incisive is a pretty fascinating study in human behavior. His daily soliloquy drips with emotion and hope. His pleas for sanity recall the comment by the character played by Jonathan Winters in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

What I am struck with most by watching Beck is the reality that he is not a clown but is making lots of money being something of a huckster. He has a product and it has appeal. Much like Rush Limbaugh, he has found a willing audience for his proselytizing. It is an audience that is nurtured by his homey and oblique critiques of the American political and economic landscape contrasted with a romantic notion of how wonderful everything use to be.  It is massive group therapy. And it reminds me a lot of Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. And that is scary.