Through the 2004 presidential election year (oh joy) we go:
If Air America constituted a clear threat to plutocratic interests, don't you think there would've been a more organized smear campaign against it, in the mainstream media? Such a campaign might yet happen, particularly if the ratings and subsequent poll numbers show AA being any kind of threat to the media big boys' tax cuts, deregulation and permanent war coverage.
Air America is a promising first step toward reclaiming some true balance in a media marketplace dominated by timid sellouts and corporate shills. But I think the listeners of AA must realize (and the on-air talent should remind them) that it won't be a good thing if the net effect is nothing but liberal listeners feeling good about their pre-held beliefs and opinions. Ultimately some dent must be made in the 45 percent of America who currently reside in the Ned Flanders Twilight Zone, and among those few who control the corporate wealth, or else the radical conservatism espoused by Reagan, Gingrich and Bush will continue to thrive in the political arena.
He was Bob Dobbs' head personified, and Robin Williams was only half-joking when calling him Walt Disney's last and ultimate automotron: "Fuck it, we'll make a president."
He came to power, first in California and later in Washington D.C., at two moments (1966 and 1980) when there was heightened doubt and confusion about the post-New Deal welfare state and security state. Ma and Pa America started to wonder whether government notions of charity and containment remained viable, in a world where enemies foreign (Communists) and domestic (counterculture) were skillfully being demonized by the media. I'd say that this crisis of confidence arose less from inherent flaws in the government system, and more from the trauma-filled trifecta of assassination, war and scandal, but the "anti-government" Reagan and his handlers had the knack of seizing upon our moments of weakness with ruthless political aplomb.
Reagan wasn't as much a Great Communicator as a Great Exploiter, capitalizing on the breakdowns of his era not with sober analysis, but with Disneyfied fantasies about the utter sanctity of America, where God and General Motors share a shining city on the hill. And part of what made him politically successful was that he really believed in those Disneyfied fantasies.
The hopeless arrogance, the sour sarcasm, the tone-deaf rhetoric...why, Ralph Nader is positively Bush-like!
Even if you agree with a good portion of the man's ideas, and even if you agree that there's more similiarity between Democrats and Republicans than you'd like, it's crystal clear to me that he's not the one to take a progressive cause to a higher level.
As a matter of fact, there's ample evidence that he's running for president this year more to punish Democrats for not adopting more of his policies, than to help kick the incompetent, corrupt, plutocratic and warmongering GOP from power. Against the advice of supporters like Michael Moore in 2000, he campaigned in swing states (including the decisive state of Florida) just before the election; in this Village Voice article, a close aide to Nader is quoted as saying they would not campaign in "safe states" only, because "we want to punish the Democrats, we want to hurt them, wound them."
A person who'll vote for Nader in November must have such levels of willful ignorance and/or arrogant denial as to need their head examined. One can make a reasoned argument that the difference between the parties has significantly increased since Bush took office, and Molly Ivins' fine book Bushwhacked is one place that points out evidence of this. But even small differences in policy -- on healthcare, the environment, reproductive rights or dozens of other areas -- can still directly effect many thousands or even millions of people. Focusing too much on the macro in politics (not enough difference between parties) can cause one to lose sight of the micro (the actual differences), and I don't think a truly aware and compassionate person would abandon the people affected by said differences, just because both major parties don't meet his or her personal standards.
Local theater is typically a mixed bag of the professional and amateurish -- flashes of brilliance mixed with awkward moments that wouldn't be out of place in Christopher Guest's mockumentary Waiting For Guffman. But for the hundreds of people who've showed up for the performances, the thrill is primarily seeing the locals do their best to strut their stuff. Slack is cut, and kudos are distributed generously.
"When his (Dylan's) first book of lyrics came out -- 'Writings and Drawings' -- it was dedicated to Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson. To an Oklahoman white protest singer and a black Delta bluesman. And one of the things I've wanted to study for years is, what happens when black arts and white arts come together in this country? Dylan gives you just a remarkable place to study that happening."
My point (and I do have one) is that we're truly at the dawning of a new era here, one way or another. If Bush is able to hold onto power, it's a clear signal that a large bloc of voters are willing to accept a quasi-fascist state, and that's different from the 1968-2004 GOP era. In 2000, Bush voters though they were getting no more than a genial hybrid of Poppy Bush and Dutch Reagan. Not now: a majority of Bush voters are okaying the possibility, if not probability, of a violent Pax Americana in the Middle East and strident one-party rule at home.
1932-68 was the age of FDR and Kennedy. 1968-2004 was the age of Nixon and Reagan/Bush. Now we're on the brink of a new decades-long period: either of Democratic advantage and a long, hard slog to recovering some sense of progressive reality; or a "New American Fascism" era of The World At War meets Monty Python's Flying Circus, with plutocratic & theocratic Republicans dominating, and perhaps with Dems occasionally offering a more marketable package of cloaked corruption and Orwellian militarism.
You'd think that with the Iraq quagmire, Osama still at large, Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, the 9/11 Commission report and the worst jobs performance since Herbert Hoover, enough citizens would wake up and vote the "miserable failure" of an incumbent out. Particularly with Fahrenheit 9/11 and Air America out there, and three solid debate performances by Kerry.
But noooooo. Kerry supposedly didn't have enough "moral clarity" on issues like gay marriage, abortion and fighting terrorism. And so, 59 million
I mean, out of 115 million votes cast, it will be 136,000 votes in Ohio that separate John Kerry winning the White House from George W. Bush re-winning (or re-stealing, if you must) the White House. From a hope, possibly slight but undeniably real, of creating a new momentum to protect Enlightenment and New Deal values, and the fragile balance of the earth's environment, to a nearly inexorable decline into unnecessary chaos, pain, absurdity and, finally, the extinction of the human species -- most likely, as T.S. Eliot foretold, not with a bang but a whimper.
This is a cruel fate that could've been written by the devil hisself. (Why, it even goes beyond Game 6 for the '86 Red Sox, or Game 7 for the 2000 Trail Blazers.) And we, as a species, need some miracles and we need them fast -- and I don't believe there is a God who guarantees such miracles. We, as citizens of the planet, must help ourselves, before the possibility of avoiding future madness and death becomes so faint as to be practically non-existent.
Commander Codpiece after 9/11 and the fall of the Taliban was going to be tough to beat no matter how you look at it, particularly since he had the whore media in his pocket pretty much to the end. Kerry wasn't perfect -- he could've fought back a bit harder on Swift Boat (just a well-placed 527 ad or two would've likely done the trick); and as Digby said, he by nature isn't the kind of telegenic everyman that Bush is able to fake -- but he did wonderfully in the debates, at the convention, and for the most part on the stump. He raised a lot of money, chose a decent running mate (although in retrospect Wesley Clark may've been better) and came within 136,000 votes and some rigged voting machines of winning the thing.
And as one realizes by the end of the film, how Carrey and Winslet's characters have, with love and bonding and perhaps a little luck, been able to transcend the obstacles and limitations of their mysterious and even darkly magical minds, one attains a deeper understanding of why they belong together.
A great film can make you believe the magical is possible, and this one does. It's way more out there than Sofia Coppola's fine Lost In Translation, but the two movies do share a couple of important qualities: the human vulnerabilities displayed by the glamorous Hollywood leads end up making said glamour beside the point; and the bonding between the leads (Carrey and Winslet; Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) has a magical component that nevertheless makes some real-world sense.
Is it surprising, after all, that Murray's Bob and Johannson's Charlotte have their "chance" and fortuitous get-together on the streets of Tokyo at film's end? Not really, because the bonding between the characters makes it seem inevitable. And so it is with Carrey's Joel and Winslet's Clementine -- by the end, we just know their relationship was meant to be.
As for where I'm personally at on the issue of this year's presidential election and its alleged chicanery, author Mark Crispin Miller puts it well:
"To nod agreement that this was indeed an honest win is to forget how Bush was shoehorned into office in the first place; to ignore the ease with which electronic totals can be changed without a trace; to suppress the fact that Diebold, Sequoia and ES&S-the major manufacturers of touch screen voting machines and central tabulators-are owned and run by Bush Republicans, who have made no secret of their partisan intentions; to deny the value of the exit polls, which turn out to have been “mistaken” only in the swing states; to downplay the weird inflation of the Bush vote in county after county, where the number of votes for president was somehow higher than the number of voters who turned out; to ignore the bald chicanery of the Bush supporters who ran the central polling station in Ohio’s Warren County and forced out the press and poll monitors so they could count the vote in secret; to forget the numerous accounts of vote fraud coast to coast throughout the prior weeks of early voting; to overlook the fact that every single “glitch” or “error” that has been reported favors Bush; to ignore the countless instances of ballots-absentee, provisional-thrown away or left uncounted; to forget that the civilian vote abroad (some four million Americans) was being mishandled by the Pentagon (which had somehow become responsible for doing the State Department’s job); and to ignore the many dirty tricks reported-the polling places quickly relocated at the last minute, the fake voter-registration drives, the thousands of Americans who found themselves not on the rolls, the police road-blocks, the bullying pro-Bush poll workers, the machines that kept translating votes for Kerry into votes for Bush. And so on."
Hail to the thief, again.
All this press to fascism is just another way for the weak multitudes to say "I can't handle life without some kind of reality-altering drug." You see their fear, and see their stupid banality, and what dominates is not their desire to transcend, but their desire to deny. The anesthetizing allure of denial, and the overwhelming waves of power that result, is perhaps (more than the love of money) the root of all evil.
In the end, the Ministry of Silly Walks will probably tie us all to Slim Pickens' atomic bomb. But for awhile yet, some of us can still have a little fun with our fleeting psycho-delic time stamps.
Mitchell invites couples who are unhappy in long-term relationships to question whether they are as unhappy as they think they are. He, like the other two authors reviewed here (Joshua Coleman and Phil McGraw), is wary of any "grass is greener" thinking among those in marital crisis. Better first, Mitchell says, to explore the possibilities of what one already has, seeking to discover (or rediscover) something essential and transformative. To give up without fully exploring those possibilities, he says, leaves one vulnerable to repeating similar self-defeating mindtraps with future mates.
Exploring the transformational possibilities of one's stuck marriage, Mitchell writes, takes at the least an understanding of the creative aspect of a relationship. He says that marriage ideally is a "sandcastle built for two," with the notion of "objective reality" accepted as a "construction" that can be molded and remolded.
I had a nice buzz on and I had to check in on the weirdly compelling pomp and circumstance of the inaugural parade on C-SPAN. I find the live feeds of political events from C-SPAN often fascinating, one of the few glimpses behind the facade of soundbites and BS that viewers ever get.
I watched live as George W. Bush gave the Texas Longhorn marching band the "Hook 'em Horns" sign during the parade. I saw that he might not have done it, were it not for his daughter Jenna flashing the sign first. It was a moment of small controversy, as that sign has long been taken in some circles as something obscene and devilish. Bush himself looked a bit embarrassed after he flashed the sign; to cover for it, as he has in other uncomfortable public moments over the years, he made a slightly goofy gesture for the omnipresent TV camera, with self-deprecating body language that seemed borrowed from (or aligned with) a master of the art, the late Johnny Carson.
I was pleased when James Wolcott noticed the Carson/Dubya connection in an early blog entry of his -- I sometimes need affirmation that my crazy-ass media notions (and there are several) aren't completely off the charts.