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 k / o
                                       politics + culture

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

welcome to the 00's

Let's face it, this has been a miserable, execrable decade.

Or, as a hip colleague of mine responded when I made the above comment, "Well, at least the music's been good." (If you know where to find it.)

The Zeroes...branded with the mark of Bush/Cheney and a U.S. populace that doesn't have the will to tell them and their GOP brethren to just shove it...despite the low poll numbers and, well, this administration's utter failure, ineptitude and corruption at everything they do. Bush is like a reverse Midas...everything he touches turns to shit.

I lived through the Reagan/Bush years. By my measure they don't come close to the blight we see now. For one, a huge wave of corporatism swept American life in the 90's...in the 00's those waters have settled and ripened into a fetid, acrid cultural swamp where the single most marked trend is an alarming rise in childhood and teen obesity. I heard another co-worked talking about this...she said, as she set down her latte, "When we were kids, we used to play outdoors and ride our bikes alot...what happened?"

Well, HUGE soda pops....FEAR of letting your kids play outside...and, um, government and corporate-sponsered inclusion of CRAP food loaded with HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP are a couple factors that might have tipped the scales towards obesity. Whaddya think?

Little did we know that when the Dead Kennedys riffed on a dystopic, semi-imagined America in the early 80's...Winnebago Warriors, In God we Trust, Give me convenience or Give me Death ...that they hadn't even begun to imagine how crappy things would truly get...and how prophetic they really were. (Further, almost anyone attempting to stake out a stance like DK now...is either ruthlessly commercialized and co-opted...or lost in subcultural irrelevance.)

To put it bluntly, this decade sucks.

We have a choice whether to slam our earbuds deeper into our ears and crank out another playlist of music perfectly suited to our mood, time, and locale...

or we can WAKE UP.

We don't need to simply change politics. It's not as simple as..."Hey, let's elect some Democrats"...though that is something most of us have worked diligently to do. We need to go deeper than that.

What I'm talking about is hitting the PAUSE button on the merry-go-round for twenty seconds and taking a look at who we are and where we are headed. I'm talking about asking the question that occurs to me everytime I'm stuck in SF Bay Area traffic surrounded, literally, by tens of thousands of other cars pointed in one direction, while tens of thousands of other cars go the opposite direction:

Where the HELL are we going with all this?

I don't think George W. Bush has a fucking clue about the future of the planet, our society, our government...or, hell, even what sorry shit he's going to try to sell the American public next month.

And the American public, for all I can tell, stuck in traffic, looking at the blank faces that surround me as I pilot my car to work in the AM...is pretty much thinking obsessively about how the hell are we ever going to pay off our huge levels of debt.

That's the best I can come up with.

I don't think it's much more complex than that. We all are overloaded with our own problems. The system isn't really giving us the security, stability and prosperity we need. Health care? Nope. Job security? Nope. Solid retirement planning? Nope.

We just don't have time for the planet, for other people, to fix what's broke.

To put it simply, we're so distracted that we literally just...don't....care.

What a long ways we've fallen from the dreams and idealism of the 60's when a president could actually challenge the nation to think big...and mean it. We're so far from the idealism of that decade it's not even funny.

In fact, we've pretty much become the dystopic vision that the Dead Kennedy's mapped out for us twenty-five years ago.

President George W. Bush. Says it all.

We got the America we deserved. Now what are we going to do about it?


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

the Cleveland Two-Step

Robert Sheer has a fine web-only piece up in the Nation, documenting how Bush's response to an elderly gentleman's question about the three disproven rationales for the US going to war in Iraq: WMD, al Qaeda ties, and a burgeoning quest to procure nuclear materials in Africa....have all pretty much bit the dust while we continue this war.

To put it simply, Bush's "answer" just dances around the question and his own lies. If the "funky-chicken" wasn't already taken I'd say we call Bush's Q&A dance just that....I'll guess we'll have to settle for the "Cleveland Two Step". Read the piece, you'll see.

Of course, add to that how we've learned that Bush believes withdrawal from Iraq is a question that will be settled by "future presidents" and Bush looks funkier by the second.

Hmm. The president just telescoped the whole concept of a second term: get reelected, fail at every single thing you do in your first year of your second term....and then start talking about your legacy and "future presidents" to start year two.

I can't believe he gets away with putting horse manure like that on the barbeque.

This president may find a way to crack the 20's yet.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

a thought

There's been a theme that's been preoccupying me during this break from blogging.

I keep thinking about how there's this gap between realities that are obvious to those of us on the left, and the way most of our society completely ignores these challenges, in particular, how U.S. voters seem to vote to ignore them. (To name a few of the challenges I'm thinking about: global warming, the increasing level to which the American diet is poisoning us and our kids, the disaster that is the American health care system, and the way in which this nation seems to have absorbed the dual failures of the war in Iraq and our abadonment of the citizens of New Orleans without much of second thought.)

Why is this? Why does it seem that it's almost a "liberal" thing to talk about the environment, corporate food, our health care system, and the multifarious failures in Iraq and on the Gulf Coast?

I think some of it comes out of a reality that we are just beginning to get our heads around as a nation and a planet: the logical next step here in the U.S. and abroad is not a "moderating" of the dominant corporate conservatism but instead a full out embrace of progressive ideas and policies: a reinvention of our society and economy to meet the needs of humanity in the 21st Century, a reinvention that starts from ideas that progressives, liberals and socialists have been talking about for decades.

I would propose that it is likely a "moderating and adapting" of the progressive, liberal and socialist view that is the logical next step for our world, not the other way around. That truly is the task for our times. How do we make these ideas the dominant ones in the marketplace of politics and the economy? How do we start with our ideas and make them work in this profit-driven world dominated by short-sighted corporations that have poisoned our food and our environment? In my view, how we answer that question will determine no less than the fate of human life on this planet.

Take global warming. We need to take immediate global steps to curb the emission of greenhouse gases (both industrial and agricultural). Not half measures. Serious and enormous changes need to be made. The kids who are tagging the STOP signs in my neighborhood with "STOP Driving" stickers are actually more right than not (Though that doesn't make them less annoying.) We must realize, however, that we are living in the world they are describing; if we refuse to see that, we are living in an illusion. It's simple, we all need to walk and bike and use mass transit more. That is where the 21st century is headed. Not towards "small tweaks" like Hybrid SUV's and cleaner coal, but a basic BIG TWEAK that we then adapt as best as possible to our current way of life.

Simply put, we are, all of us, facing huge changes, huge paradigm shifts in our day to day lives that will not be comfortable in the least until we learn to adapt to them.

I think this in part explains the reluctance of citizens in all the major democracies to get serious about "the next step." The next step is SCARY, it is not comfortable. However, the alternative is what we're seeing in Iraq, where we're are basically "fighting for oil," and on the Gulf Coast where the increase in hurricanes is almost surely no coincidence of nature so much as a kind of global warming influenced catastrophe. It's also an alternative we see in the skyrocketing obesity epidemic among our kids and the crazy health care prices we pay. Truth be told, these realities are becoming more and more SCARY every day. They are the alternative to embracing wholescale change.

I would put it this way. We're all going to be eating a hell of a lot more vegetarian in generations to come, whether any of us like it, or realize it, or not. We will do this because of overpopulation and because the huge impact of corporate meat production on our environment...we'll also do this because it's healthier and we need to back off the manifold risks of the "corporate food diet."

Am I saying that we will have to give up our daily cheesburgers, our suburban SUVS and our millions and millions of 90 minute solo vehicle commutes? Yep, more or less, until we figure out a better way. We will have to learn how to adapt.

That's what so many folks are afraid of. That's why we're resisting change. We literally can't imagine how that change might work. Of course, most of us haven't really started to consider the alternative to making real change. The alternative, however, has proven that is isn't going to wait for us.

That is the lesson of Katrina. That is the lesson of our war in Iraq.

It's the lesson we see on playgrounds across this country, where a generation of "high fructose corn syrup" kids begins what will be, after all is said and done, their century.

Monday, March 13, 2006

funny that way

A funny thing happened when I took a break from blogging...when I stepped back for a moment.

I realized it was time to change some things...not with this blog...but with me. Inopportune time? Sure. But when is it a good time to shake things up? I guess that's why...like so many people, I just kept on keeping on regardless of whether my daily routines were getting me where I wanted to go. That's what we do. That's life. One foot follows the next.

So, in way of explanation, I'm busy reinventing and making some changes that work for me. A break from blogging helps.

I know this isn't much of a post, but I figured I owe you an explanation of my lack of posts. As always, I'm grateful for your readership and your patience.

kid o.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bush's California

NPR had two stories this morning on how the Bush Administration, the GOP and their business partners want to cut the idea of California's ability to make it's own state policy off at the knees.

First, Congress wants to pass a nationwide regulation of Food Warnings that will prevent California, or any other cutting edge state, from passing our own strong consumer protection laws on food safety. The legislation directly targets Propostiion 65...you know, the one that tells pregnant women foods to avoid and keeps out lead-poisoned candy. (The legislation is written so broadly, however, that it might even overstep traditionally state run Agriculture and Food Inspection agencies.) The upshot, in a nutshell, is that in the name of a "federal" law promoting "standards", big business will have far fewer restrictions and us consumers will get less information about what's in our food. Anyone who thinks that Bush's "standards" would be anything other than a giveaway to his corporate buddies is kidding themselves.

Second, the Bush Adminstration wants to impose a "prove you need it" standard on minority and disabled small business programs or DBE's....something the State of California has been a pioneer on. Hmm. Big business ruthlessly discriminates and excludes for decades...and then it's the guy in the wheelchair who has to prove he needs a fair shake chance at the table. Here again, Grover Norquist's priorities are being imposed on California.
The GOP talks a good "states rights" game...but like everything they do...it's a one way street. States rights only applies when it favors policies that they and their business buddies like.

Democracy should mean that we get to decide and debate on the important things. We is the people, the citizens...not the corporate buddies at the ears of the President and the GOP.

My question. When will regular Americans wake up and smell the coffee?

Until we kick some GOP butt this is unlikely to change. As I've said repeatedly, the only language the GOP understands is being voted out of office.