Wednesday, January 12


THIS is Edroso at his most luminous, not that those moments are all that rare. But there are times when his writing is prehensile, when it seems like conception and thought and action are a single wave on the pond. Fuck it, I wish I'd written this, is what:
The "eliminationist" tropes we've been hearing about recently are part of the problem, but so are the less violent notions we see them parroting every day: That Obama is a Muslim, an alien, a psychopath, and consciously trying to destroy the United States; that Teddy Roosevelt was a dangerous radical; that America's scientists are engaged in a deliberate conspiracy to bankrupt the nation via global warming fraud; that deficits, which were harmless and even kinda fun under Reagan, are under Obama a menace to the future of our famous statues; etc. etc. etc.

The cumulative impact of this kind of magical thinking may or may not lead to assassinations, but it certainly weakens the sufferer's ability to respond to even obvious problems in any reasonable way. And in the long run this is more dangerous to the Republic than the grrr-lookit-me-I'm-a-Minuteman blood-lust we're currently focused on. The wingnut looks, for example, upon millions of citizens financially unable to visit a doctor when they're sick, and the first thing he asks himself is, "How can we defend these people from socialism?" He sees the stock market doing great while ordinary people can't find jobs, and surmises, "This Administration is anti-business." Etc.

Even if you embarrass them (fond hope!) into talking less about guns and revolution, you aren't touching the real problem. I'm not confident that it's curable. The best we can do is keep them away from sharp objects and the levers of power.

Comments, too; a lot of which disagree with his assessment. If you're getting there late, as I did, it's a daunting five pages or more, but worth it. I went through saying, "Oooh, I'm gonna feature that one tomorrow" at least seven or eight times.

If I can, or must, return to the fog-shrouded swamps of my own cerebral landscape, then I agree with everybody, and don't, and don't know what to make of it, except I'm sure we're all on the wrong page, or something. The levers of power are broken, or else over my lifetime they've been reconnected to operate a country not my own. And you can't trust a repairman; they're all certified by the same people who broke (or swiped) the thing. I have a sense--I started blogging specifically from the sense--that this is a center-left country at its heart which has been seized by issues as defined by the Right, and that the proper response--of Liberals, who seek to make things better, not scabrous mongrels like myself--was to show America, aggressively, since that's all it understands any more, which side it was really on. Instead, after twelve years of responding to Reaganism the way the French responded to the Wehrmacht (and that's probably unfair. To the French.), they more or less codified the differences (let's elect a President who really cares!) and then offered to split them if the other side would just play nice.

So much of our politics seems to be a debate about how best to remove most of the pieces of eggshell from our omelette, and none about figuring out how to properly crack an egg. If you're concerned about eliminationist rhetoric--and you have every reason to be--then you should be hopping mad at the Obama administration (as you very possibly are) for the failed policy of Timid Response, and hopping mad that it could have been voted into power in a pivotal year without the extraction of a promise to Do Something about the madness of the Republican party. The timidity of the 110th Congress (in fairness, Pelosi wouldn't have had the votes for impeachment even if she'd had the political courage; in fairness, it's always the Left which is saying "in fairness"); the USADOUBLEGOODPATRIOTAct, The Iraq War Resolution, the 2000 Elections: it isn't long before the litany predates most voters. If you think a toxic political environment was a contributing factor in the Giffords shooting, then the failure to confront it--going back to Nixon, at least, in some quarters--is inculpatory.

Instead, when this sort of thing gets noted, it's Jon Stewart winging an opening segment Monday because it's no time to be funny, and pointing fingers at James Carville for blaming Palin, as though Carville was as major a factor in the Democratic party as Palin is in hers, and, in Norbizness' absence, the official spokesman for The Left. Dreaming a World where none of this exists is not the same as confronting it where it does. Carville may be dead wrong, and/or gauche, but what he said is not entirely unwarranted; for that you have to go to the people who dragged out "The President once said 'bring a gun to a knife fight'". Palin, and the Teabaggers, and the Right, and the Republican party are responsible for their rhetoric. They are responsible--not solely, but unanimously--for the complete lack of gun control in this violent land. They may be unfairly hoist on a canard here, but Who Controls How An Issue Is Raised? I wish we'd have a rational discussion about economic exploitation or basic justice every day of the year, not just when Wal*Mart gets caught looting timecards or "extraordinary rendition" hits the headlines. I wish we wouldn't have a discussion about our Toxic Political Environment only when it's time to urge "both" "sides" to shut up. I wish Charlie Manson didn't represent Youth Culture, Altamont didn't represent Rock n' Roll, and Len Bias didn't represent What Happens On Your First Hit Of Coke. I wish I could still buy a Betacorder.

I wish a loon with a semi-auto Glock shooting up innocent people--Congresswomen or no--was reason enough to discuss gun violence and gun culture. It's not. So I'll take what I can get.


Sator Arepo said...

"hoist on a canard"


Doug said...

I was listening to some right-of-right wing radio on the drive home yesterday and learned that - I shit you not - hippies are to blame. Without their licentiousness, this troubled young man never would have done drugs and, well, you saw what happened. But, that said, this was not the time to cast blame.

Anonymous said...

I wish we had mental health care in this country.

Kathy said...

Well Doug, when is the time to cast blame? This assassination attempt upon a Democratic congresswoman did not happen out-of-the-blue, it isn't the first murder egged on by our Right Wing Pundits, who are owned by the same people who are looting and stripping our country of its wealth, and turning the citizens into ignorant beasts.

Palin & Co. are just paid puppets, they say and do what someone else instructs them to say & do. It's the "someone elses" we should be looking at, doing something about; for they're hiding in plain sight behind all the screeching and yowling and whoopla about 1st Amendment and 2nd Amendments and all that great stuff written in the no-longer-in-service Constitution. And they're laughing their asses off at us.

squatlo said...

This is the finest commentary on the subject I've read yet, and I've been steadily reading (and ranting) since the shooting.

Well damn done!!!!

Here's the thing... I urged restraint from fellow progressives when the sentiment seemed to be high to blame Palin/Beck/Limbaugh/Faux News/Angle/Kelly/Coulter/Hannity and the rest for this toxic environment. I'd come to realize that all too often I was guilty of jumping to conclusions that later proved hasty and wrong.
But for all the bluster on the right, the blowback and preventative 'don't look at me' bullshitting alibis for what passes for civil discourse in America, the fact remains that one side consistently calls for calm, rational solutions to problems, while the other side sends herds of unruly astroturf retirees with misspelled signs to town hall meetings, uses violent metaphors like verbs, and profits greatly from fomenting fear and unease among the shallow-minded who listen to their bile.
We don't have proof that their toxic rhetoric caused this tragedy, or the last one, or will cause the next. But just to DISCUSS the possibility that we need to tone it down seems to instill such hostility that it's obvious we won't learn from this.
In the words of Strother Martin's character, "What we have here is a failure to communicate."
You can lead them to knowledge, but you can't make them think. The wingnuttier the rant, the more rabid the following.

My greatest fear is that the next time someone trips over their own throbbing libido with a semi-automatic weapon in their hands, it might be the President we mourn. And then, the survivalists and race warriors will have gotten their apocalyptic reward, and we'll watch America burn from coast to coast.

I see no solution, and fear we have but touched the tip of a hidden iceberg with this event.

Hope I'm wrong, but know I'm not.

bjkeefe said...

What is there to say? Except that I am more grateful than I can express that you and Roy are out there on the Internet for me to read every day.

Thank you.

Fiddlin Bill said...

Look up the campaign of the guy who ran against Giffords--one Jesse Kelly. This was the eye of the storm. And the fact is, Palin not only published that crosshair poster, she left it posted till after the blood. Her inability to respond to this situation speaks volumes--some of which even some of her erstwhile supporters may be able to read. I am also hopeful--somewhat--that Limbaugh's relentless attack on the Pima County Sheriff sounds so rediculous that he too will have his eyebrows singed. As far as the bigger picture, however--your optimism last week about the electorate at some point noticing the fundamental bullshit was a cheering candle in the darkness. Preciate it, bro.

Jeff Blanks said...

You know, I'm not surprised that the Right is still going after hippies. What continues to distress (though no longer surprise) me is that the Left keeps refusing to own them. There are much worse things than hippies out there, but for some reason the Left won't just come out and say, "Well, what about hippies??" I think there are cultural reasons for this, most of which have to do with the emergence of Punk, which the Right simply doesn't care about. The Left keeps going on about "getting past the '60s" without really defining what that means beyond just forgetting them (which is what all the Leftward "ironic" neo-retro really seems to be about, from Elvis Costello to This Modern World to whatever the hip "indie" band is today). But disowning the '60s--which is what forgetting them amounts to--is (a) exactly what the Right wants and (b) no way for any Left worth the name to go forward.

Hippies, more than anything else, are the standard Right's real grand bugaboo, even more than gays, minorities, or women (quite apart from the issue of who has the biggest grievance). And the standard Left in the wake of Punk keeps ignoring this. But then, I've always had the impression that the standard Right and Punk have a weird sort of unspoken alliance against hippies, anyway.

Oh, yeah--second the kudos on "hoist on a canard".

Bill In OH said...

"So much of our politics seems to be a debate about how best to remove most of the pieces of eggshell from our omelette, and none about figuring out how to properly crack an egg."

This is the single most accurate metaphor for the American political I have ever read. Thank you.