Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reflections in a Dark Room – Part 2

Note: I wrote this before the SOTU and waited to see if I needed to change anything - I didn't

Obama is not the problem – we are.

OK, what does that mean? It means that Obama is just a symptom of whatever the disease is. It means that he was obvious, even elementary, and why did we - as in 'the electorate' fall for it? It means that we have to start looking in the mirror and really seeing what's there... I came across this review of a critically acclaimed TV show and I think it sheds some light:
“Maybe we deserve it for watching in the first place. Or maybe this is the price those of us who can't chuckle at absolutely everything under the sun will be forced to pay, over and over again in this spectacle-driven nightmare culture, for still having some shred of humanity deep inside us.” -Heather Havrilesky writing about the “Dexter” finale in Salon

“spectacle-driven nightmare culture” is an accurate description, I think, an old friend calls it “modern bread and circuses”. I keep thinking of Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of everything is crap.”

“Buy Rinso Blue, Rinso Blue, Rinso Blue, Rinso Blue, Rinso Blue, buy Rinso Blue…” [and so on for the full 30 second TV spot]... and watch Rinso Blue sales skyrocket while all the smugly oblivious tell each other that they’re not affected by those TV ads – hmmm, I wonder if it would work in politics…
Another vapid, content-free cinema extravaganza by James Cameron goes over the $1 billion mark in sales – in two weeks - guaranteeing yet another decade of valueless drivel from Hollywood, all with happy endings (the focus groups say it adds at least $50 million to the bottom line).


The ranks of the homeless swell, the poor remain unfed, the ill remain untreated, the unemployed are reduced to begging and yet our several wars go merrily on their way: one useless quagmire, propping up a staggeringly corrupt kleptocracy is winding down just as another is ramping up and of course, after we’ve poured out blood and treasure in an doomed attempt to create a nation-state out of a tribal culture by force majeur in Afghanistan, why we’ll have Pakistan just ripe for yet another American Expeditionary Force.

I’d have a lot more faith in us if we stopped thinking that the Marines are the same thing as the Army Corps of Engineers or Medecins sans Frontiers, but I digress…

The unholy confluence of thirty years of gigantic political lies (supply side “economics”), political sabotage (Ken Starr and the persecution of the Clintons as only one example) and sheer, unadulterated political cowardice (“Impeachment is off the table”) combined with the monstrous entrance of advertising techniques (and amorality) into politics (thank you Lee Atwater, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, David Axelrod) has all combined to produce a spineless, feckless, deliberately ill- and under-informed, gullible ‘electorate’ who can be led contentedly down the garden path and blatantly lied to with absolute impunity, (see David Axelrod’s recent remarks on the North Carolina primary: “Yeah, we were behind in the polls so we decided to call Clinton a racist and that did it.” – yes, I’m paraphrasing but he admitted it.

Obama is not the problem – we are.

We now live in a vapid culture of overarching ignorance, obsessed with the ‘now’. We blithely ignore the past (see Santayana).

I’m being bludgeoned into incredulity by the superimposed banality of contemporary life. I was reading, the other day, about the Boskops, a race of hominids whose remains were found in South Africa in the early part of the 20th century. This was a race, very closely related to us (about as close as we are to Chimpanzees) but whose brains were about 25-33% larger than ours especially in the cerebellum (where cognitive thinking occurs). These folks would be geniuses in relation to us and would have probably played a major role in the development of civilization. Incidentally, they appear to have had very child-like faces, 1/5th of the head frontal area vs 1/3rd for Homo Sapiens – much like the non-threatening aliens of sci-fi lore. We don’t know what wiped them out: disease, ecological disaster, attacks by Homo Sapiens… I’m thinking evolution really jumped the shark when the Boskops died out because Homo Sap apparently can’t think its way out of a paper bag.

This isn’t just an oldguy rant (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it). It’s another attempt to generate a wakeup call to me/we/you/us, before they just cancel elections as irrelevant foregone conclusions, before they kill the internet and free, broadcast TV - that campaign has already started, didja know? Mind you, I wouldn’t be mad about that if they canceled all TV: as an information tool, it’s next to useless; as a propaganda delivery system it’s frighteningly effective.

We just had a primary and an election where massive cheating and illegal campaign tactics by the ‘winning’ candidate (both in delegate counts and in huge duplicitous campaign contributions), race baiting and palpable, outright lies were used to install an obviously incompetent candidate as president. Obama thugs and bully-boys – the same ones were seen in five separate states - threatening and intimidating caucus goers into voting for Obama. Women in the North Carolina primary wept because they wanted Hillary but they were pressured by friends, family and the entire black community into voting for Obama because he is black. The ‘intelligentsia’ of college faculty and ‘lefty intellectuals’ became instant sycophants because he is black and the masses of slackerclones woke momentarily from their fever dreams in mom’s basement (where the parents are the problem), to vote for him because: “he’s cool kewl!”. $200 million flowed into the Obama campaign coffers in the middle of September 2008 (when it looked like he would lose to McCain) does anyone really believe this money came from little Suzie's cookie jar? Really?

We’ve accepted so much that we should have resisted with blood in the streets: “free speech zones” - blocks away from the parade, behind chain link fences topped with concertina razor wire. Congressmen and Senators whose corporate sponsorship should be tattooed on their foreheads, awash in money and privilege telling us that the only thing we can hope for is that your government will now force you to pay a private insurance company for a policy that has no value whatsoever. Regulatory agencies that will “go to the mattresses” to prevent any corporate regulation whatsoever. Corporate propaganda channels masquerading as ‘news’ programs pouring pre-digested pablum down our throats and calling it information.

Obama is not the problem – we are.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it!” you say, so what's your point? What are you/us supposed to do about it?

Stay tuned for Part 3