Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

I haven't found the energy or motivation to write much lately, and I'm not sure that I'll be writing much more in the future, but I do have a few things to get off my chest. First I'd like to address the critics of this administration. The politics of absolutism are bound to result in disappointment. Citizen Barack Obama would surely be on the side of those calling for this administration to take more aggressive stance toward the Republicans and to push a more progressive agenda. Perhaps even Senator Obama would be a voice of agitation for this administration. However President Obama does not have the luxury of dealing with absolutes. There is no black and white in politics, only shades of gray. The politics of absolutism, on the right or the left, demand everything and criticize anything short of that goal. There is no middle ground or compromise in the politics of the absolute. And while the need to push our elected officials from safe and entrenched positions is necessary, there is a point at which reason and some understanding of reality should kick in. However in the politics of absolutism, that point is never reached. Nothing is ever good enough or quick enough or comprehensive enough. If a goal is accomplished, there are numerous criticisms that are leveled because in the eyes of absolutism, the finish line is a constant moving target. Perfection, especially in something as imperfect as politics, can almost never be attained. The absolutist would have railed against the Emancipation Proclamation because in reality it freed no one. The Civil Rights Act would have been considered too little, too late. These are extreme examples, but I think they are valid. I have been reticent to express my opinion of late because I simply have no patience for the politics of absolutism. There is simply no politician who given the weight, responsibilities and limitations of the presidency would act they way they would want him or her to. In our fractured political system, the best that we can hope for is some kind of fragile consensus. That consensus cannot be built without compromise and reasoned debate. As soon as an intractable position is taken, any attempt at moving forward is doomed to failure. So please exercise your right to criticize this President and this administration all you want, but remember that if by some miracle your desired candidate were to hold the position, they would be subject to the same problems, limitations and complexities of the office that this President is subject to. 

Next I want to talk about the "revolutions" in the Middle East. The successful removal of the Egyptian president has led to copycat movements all over that most explosive of regions. The Libyan situation has provoked the most response from the people and from politicians all over the world. NATO and the UN are considering what they can do in response to the uprising in Libya. People in the country are calling for us to help those who would try and get rid of their dictator. I would like to ask the question of when the last "revolution" in the Middle East led to a better life for the people in that country. Do the families of the upwards of a million dead in Iraq feel their lives are better after their dictator was overthrown? Did the Egyptians feel like their lives were better after their previous President was assassinated? Do the Iranians feel that their lives are better after they got rid of the Shah? Egypt is now run by a military commission. Does that sound like an improvement to you? Frankly I don't care about liberating the countries of the Middle East from their dictators and neither does NATO, the UN or the US government. The only issue at stake is oil. A month ago, Qaddafi was tolerated and supported with arms and money from the same governments who are now trying to figure out ways to help remove  him. Those governments don't care about the "liberty" of the people, they only care about stability in the region and keeping the oil flowing. There are calculations being made now about what is most likely to happen in Libya, so that the correct side can be supported. It's all about which side will get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Qaddafi's latest offensive push is without a doubt causing quite a bit of consternation in the rooms of power. Also isn't it amazing how quickly the world rallied to the aid of those poor citizens of Libya who were being killed by their own government. How long did that take before everyone was freezing assets and threatening "no fly" zones and possible military intervention? A week? Maybe less. Isn't it amazing that just a few miles to the south in Africa where there is no oil, the systematic murder of tens of thousands can go on for years without an international outcry. It takes George Clooney and other celebrities to bring attention to genocide in Africa after hundreds of thousands have been killed and yet we have one week of civil unrest in a major oil producing country and our politicians and people are up in arms and willing to consider the severest of actions. Apparently the world doesn't really value the lives of Africans without oil or who happen to have a little darker skin pigmentation. So really, I don't want to hear about how worried we are about humanitarian violations, because a month ago no one cared and the world still doesn't care about what goes on below the oil line in deepest, darkest Africa.

My last point in this probably pointless rant is probably the biggest reason why my output has basically come to halt (I'm sure some are probably not particularly broken up about that). It comes down to the futility of the effort. We all know (even the most optimistic among us), that this country is run by and for a very privileged few. We haven't experienced the disparity in wealth that now exists in this country since before the depression. It seems (certainly with the Wisconsin example, and many states ready to follow suit) that we are rushing headlong into a time when the working people of this country will be once again be at the mercy of the whims and whimsy of their bosses. The scary thing is that this time we're gonna get there with the approval of a large vocal minority. The Republicans and their town criers at Fox News have managed to convince a large percentage of the people that the reason we are in such economic straights isn't the unbridled greed on Wall St., but the hard fought gains of those lazy civil servants. The teachers, the fire fighters, the cops, the sanitation workers, those bastards are the ones to blame. The fact that unions helped to create the middle class in this country is lost on those  people whose grandparents probably built their legacy on the backs of those hard fought gains of the very unions that they are now demonizing. Outside of a full scale revolt by the people, there is nothing that can stop the current wave from becoming a tsunami. The problem as I've stated before is that half of the people who are being adversely affected have been convinced to fight on the side of their masters. A slave revolt doesn't get very far if the slaves fight each other. 

I think I've always tried to be a voice of reason in any political debate I've taken part in. Occasionally I've let my temper get the better of me (sorry, Tim). The problem is that reason doesn't get you very far in today's climate. To an absolutist, I look like a sellout (or from the right, a commie or worse) and to the ruling class, I'm a non entity. I can't say that this going to be last foray into politics, but it probably will be for a while. So to all of you still fighting the good fight, I wish you good luck and God speed.
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Oso said...

You and I have had our differences, most of it due to my unwillingness or maybe it's an inability to view the world in anything but absolute terms.

I can't apologize for my personality makeup, it's like apologizing for left handedness or skinny legs.

But I certainly regret any emotional turmoil my own emotional rants and polemics have contributed to.

The sense of despair I read here mirrors my own. If you've noticed I've written little but fiction lately, mostly politicized but it's fiction. I have difficulty doing the linking and analysis such posting requires, it's easier to go within my mind to come up with thoughts to write down.

So I share your melancholy, if I in any way added to it I am grieved. I hope the despair, the malaise, the emotional depths we seem to be sinking into are something we can rebound from.

Sue said...

a great ranting and I sure hope not your last! We've all said this one time or another, "we need all the voices we can get". Those of us on the left are in the fight of our lives, if we get lazy or lose our passion, it's all over.

I'm proud of you Mike!

Beekeepers Apprentice said...

The problem is that there is no fight on the left. We're cats to be herded, and we all know how that goes. This is why the GOP didn't die a slow death of utter shame a decade ago - they walk in lockstep. We don't. managed to pretty well sum up most of my own feelings and internal conflicts and concerns regarding everything you touch in this post. I keep hearing about how great it is, the middle east exploding in the desires for democracy, but when the lights go out, whoever can turn them back on will be the one to gain the power, and that may not be the best choice, but it will be what it is.

As for Africa - no, it's definitely not lost on...well, me at least, that while all this outcry over Libya goes on, no one said much of anything for the past 10 years about the Sudan.

I'd say "please don't stop, keep at it", but I completely understand every reason you have to not keep at it. I've been tempted lately myself to start posting nothing but pictures of the cat...but I don't really even like the cat all that much.

Jack Jodell said...

I am going to echo Sue's comment that we need all the voices we can get. To that I will add a reminder from Dante that "the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, proclaim their neutrality."

You, sir, are a brilliant and passionate man. You must NOT recede into passivity or mediocrity. This world needs you AND Sandy to keep fighting and not lose hope. As I have said before, take a break if you need, but come back roaring as you always have. This crazy world will never be perfect, but you and I and all who read you cannot throw in the towel and surrender. We MUST keep up the good fight. Your insight and introspection are sorely needed in this endeavor. They are a treasure we must not be deprived of.

I will close by quoting Tom Rapp, a favorite singer/songwriter of mine:
"O children don't you weep
if the road is long.
All of us are prayers of action
on our way to God..."

Mycue23 said...

no worries, my friend. Unless you are actually the one behind the current state of affairs, you are blameless for my current attitudes.

Jack, Sue and Bee,
Thanks for the comments. your writing always remind me that there's still hope even in these dark days. Keep up the good work, my friends and in the immortal words of Plato or perhaps it was Michael Bivens, Keep flippin' the gift.

Beach Bum said...

Obama pisses me off regularly but you hit the nail on the head Mike, almost all power is an illusion and while he is president and for the most part a man of reason the Consitution prevents him from going all George W. Bush with signing statments and executive overreach.

Now I would like him to act less like an unemotional Spock and more fully use the bully pulpit and get a little crazy.

Those governments don't care about the "liberty" of the people, they only care about stability in the region and keeping the oil flowing.

Damn straight, no government on this planet give a rat's ass about anything but protecting their positions and the status quo. Frankly, now this will sound crazy but right now I don't care, nothing is going to change until some new and unknown element enters the equation. The status quo is too locked in and protected by the elites for any real progress. What is worse is that with the union busting in the Midwest things are only moving further their way.

I joke about it but finding an semi-isolated part of the planet (southern Chile, New Zealand) and hunkering down is a really possibilty for me. Because I have read a little history and when the status quo does fall apart it is never easy or pretty.

Manifesto Joe said...

Please, guys, keep going. You have followers. You are on my e-mail as a followed blog.

tnlib said...

Great minds. I totally understand and agree. The timing couldn't be better and you capture my feelings exactly. I'm going to put a link to this from my latest post, which mirrors yours. The comments are better than anything I said; I hope you'll come by to read it.

I echo what people say here and those who commented on my blog: we have to keep plugging away, as discouraging as it gets sometimes. Democracy is worth fighting for and individually our voices add up.
But damn, it sure gets hard sometimes.

tnlib said...

I wish I could email you - but you can always email e.

A very good comment from Infidel that is just as applicable to you and all the rest of uss with the Bloggy Blues:

"No, one blog alone will not change things. One soldier alone cannot win a war, but the army that wins the war is made up of thousands of soldiers, and every one has his part to play."

And this from RFK:

"Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation."

In short, we need you.

Sometimes it helps to move away from current events for awhile.

SJ said...

I feel your exhaustion my friend. That said this was a very forcefully reasoned post and I felt vindicated in reading it, -as well as the resulting comments.
I should confess that I'm finding it harder to devote the mental capital and time to explore the ongoing issues too. It takes great effort just to dispel all the lies and all the false premises being constructed for the benefit of the wealthy and the powerful. It's a full time job, and being as I'm only a part time blogger (if that these days) I cannot justify adding my brief part time arguments against a full time 24/7 media onslaught that pushes positions and policy efforts as though they were news or information.
Lately, I've felt as though I was just muddying the waters, and for now, I feel have to leave it to others like Tom Degan (who recently wrote an incredible piece on the totally bullshit ongoing war against CPB and PBS by the Right), Truth 101, manifesto Joe, Sue, Gwen and many, many others who I read religiously.
Regardless of what people who may or may not disagree with me think, I didn't join Mycue23 on here to fight or argue, and I don't think that's why he started the blog either. Fighting, insulting, judging, assuming is a lot of what everyone, (especially those who consider themselves our eternal ideological adversaries on the Right) want[s] to do. As if just winning an argument is just going to drive things forward? You can win an argument and still be fundamentally, factually wrong. I've seen parents do it to their kids countless times. Fox News Channel does it every day, of course they stack their deck with contrived opposing viewpoints, bare Murdoch sponsored lip service meant to convince viewers that a conflict or issue was discussed and resolved when there was no real conversation at all, just pantomime of a kind.

I'd say to everyone, of every stripe, political affiliation and philosophy in America and in the world, that when people fight and drown each other out (whether within a party affiliation or across the Left and the Right,) -when people lie about their motivations in order to disingenuously support a blanket opposing position out of party allegiance (as many do in attacking civil rights legislation, or initiatives aimed at helping the poor, or healthcare) we are wasting valuable time and effort:

We are focusing on enforcing the details of our philosophical orientation, while those structures and entities responsible for corruption and oppression only strengthen themselves and continue unopposed in their control and exploitation of human life.

All the powers that be want us all to do is run down the clock.
It's been working real well for corporations and big business: While we all vigorously fought each other as Democrats and Republicans in at times blind brand alignment with this stupid Coke or Pepsi two party system we can’t seem to see through, while we all focused on the Presidency and not our Senate, -jobs steadily went overseas, industry by industry for the last 40 years.

No, I don't want fries with that.

Mycue23 said...

Yeah. What SJ said. He always manages to say it better than I can.

SJ said...

Thanks, I'm duly humbled. You wrote a great thought provoking post. I'll always be thankful for the arena you created on here, and for inviting me along on the trip.

tnlib said...

Well, your blog will remain on my roll - just in case.

Mycue23 said...

Thanks, Leslie. We'll probably still post from time to time, but I'm not sure how much of it is going to be about politics. The blog will remain up if for no other reason than to point people toward the great writers on our blog roll.

Oso said...

The reason SJ says it a little better is he's a Dodger fan.

Mycue23 said...

Oso, just because he's named after one does not make him a fan. You'll have to find another reason for his talent.