Friday, November 20, 2009

Grassroots Press Column

Here's my latest column for Grassroots Press:

I’ve been an observer of politics since junior high school. (Does anybody remember Jack Redman’s run for Congress in 1962?) To me, politics has been the ultimate spectator sport. Like sports, there are winners and losers, with the added thrill that the winners get power in the real world. It’s a compelling spectacle, but lately it’s started to pall for me. I get tired of watching the idiots on Mount Olympus screwing things up. It’s like watching a really bad reality TV series. When you already know how the series is going to turn out, why bother watching?

The Bush era was easy to scope out. The plot line was simple. The Republicans are always cartoonish in their venality, so we always know exactly what to expect from them. When they’re in power, they’ll cram their agenda right down our collective throat, no nonsense. And the Dems will whimper and ask for more. Makes me glad I’m not a Democrat.

Now that the Democrats are supposedly in power, the situation is far more complex. Anything the Dems do is pre-compromised and so convoluted that only a policy wonk can follow the ever-changing twists and turns of a piece of legislation as it makes its tortuous way through the legislative meat grinder. The Dems will jab and feint and dither and flip and flop until you’re totally confused. What do they stand for, again? Oh right, they’re trying to serve two masters: the people who elected them, and the corporations that fund them. Hmmm, they must ask, how to serve the corporations while keeping the people as confused as possible? Maybe incomprehensible legislation will put people to sleep? Maybe sending diametrically opposite messages will keep people confused? And, how about convincing people that instead of insisting on half a loaf, they should just sit back and enjoy the smell of baking bread instead? There are so many options for the clever confusion-monger!

It doesn’t matter what the issue is – health care “reform,” financial system “reform,” climate change legislation, whatever. The end product is a 1000-page piece of legalese that, when you read it under a microscope to parse its true meaning, turns out to actually make things worse. Our 233-year-old experiment in representative government hasn’t turned out very well.


The internet is full of fabulous writers, and just look at the impact they’re having out there in the larger world! (Which just goes to show that if you want to be a major player, you’ve got to get on national TV. Writing is so 18th Century.) At any rate, here are a few of my favorites:

Matt Taibbi. Writes for Rolling Stone and has a blog. I appreciate his insight and take-no-prisoners writing style.

Digby. She posts several times a day on her blog. Her insights into Congress, the press, and all kinds of sociodynamics are unparalleled.

Joe Bageant. Born a redneck, and offers a lot of insights into redneck culture and why rednecks vote Republican.

James Howard Kunstler. I look forward to his weekly dose of doom-and-gloom every Monday morning. He’s a very entertaining writer, considering his subject matter.

Ilargi and Stoneleigh put out a financial blog, The Automatic Earth. They post more financial information than I can assimilate, but I always enjoy Ilargi’s commentary. If you ever find yourself believing the good news propaganda about the economy, try this blog for an antidote.

And of course my own blog. I try to go easy on the political and doom-and-gloom stuff, but sometimes I have no choice. I prefer to post pretty pictures, homestead happenings, signs of the seasons, and other positive reflections of life. It’s still a good life, despite the catastrophes on their way.