Friday, June 28, 2013

Sex trumps democracy with gay marriage but locked ballot boxes

It only dawned upon me in 2008 that the all-Monica news of 1998 was really a cover for the dismantling of safeguards against the reckless speculation that led to our current long economic slump. One would think we would learn, but here it is happening in front of our eyes all over again.

In the late 1990s, Bill Clinton was allowed Oval Office oral sex, which had no bearing whatsoever on national policy, in exchange for signing away the economy to big banks. Now, the same Supreme Court that gave corporations the right to buy elections has handed the white Republican South a get-out-of-jail-free card whenever its politicians want to win against the will of voters who are too dark, too poor or too liberal.

The Clinton presidential pen's ink was just barely dry on Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, as was the spunk on Monica Lewinsky's blue dress, when investment bankers were freed to go on the spree that eventually gave us the Wall Street crash of 2008. The 1999 law was the final nail in the coffin of the Glass–Steagall Act, the 1930s statute that barred the merger of banks, brokerage houses and insurance companies, which was one of the major causes of the Great Depression, as well as our current lesser one.

Similarly, this past week four white bigots on the Supreme Court, plus one hell of a self-hating Uncle Tom, gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the signature legal achievements of the civil rights movement. The court effectively ended federal supervision of states with a historical record in living memory of denying the most essential democratic right to African-Americans, Hispanics, women or whomever fancy tickles them.

The powers that be are smart, no doubt about it in these allegedly post-racial days.

They gave us the Monica circus when they wanted to set us up for an economic free fall. Now, in exchange for a free hand to white Republican to suppress the black and Hispanic vote, they give us the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday to serenade us with an unquestionably beautiful rendition of our national anthem.

Makes one want to sing those immortal words: O, say, can you see, how they screwed us again ...

The court opened the legal door another slim crack for gay marriage, very slightly, very indirectly, putting no finality to the issue in a majority of the states. They gave gays and lesbians the right to eventually have nasty divorces and rampaging child custody battles just like the heterosexual idiots who get a marriage license.

Woot! Woot!

Gay marriage will cure the creeping socioeconomic inequality and the coming vast underclass of dark, underpaid masses turned away at the voting station.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Something very good happened

Surprise! Not everything is bad and going to the dogs. Some very basic good things happened if you have a long enough perspective. I was reminded of this in a very clever op-ed piece by restaurant critic Phyllis Richman in The Washington Post.

I’ll give your the WaPo’s teaser (the whole piece is well worth reading):
In 1961, Phyllis Richman applied to graduate school at Harvard. She received a letter asking how she would balance a career in city planning with her ‘responsibilities’ to her husband and possible future family. Fifty-two years later, she responds.
Read the whole piece here.

Living as we do in the Orwellian world of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four—where the reigning slogans were WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH— it is hard to believe that anything has improved, as on a daily basis we witness progressive deterioration of everything.

After all, we live in a time of
  • peace characterized by war on "terror";
  • promotion of a morbid consumption that wipes out ever lower inflation-adjusted slave wages, plunging us into the "freedom" of bankruptcy; and
  • ignorance yawning as wide as the Grand Canyon, with news coming in the form of either comedic satire or biased propaganda.
And Big Brother is watching us.

It doesn’t surprise me, actually. In the real year 1984, the United States had an actor play acting the role of president with scripts very obviously provided by the "them" who produce and direct our society.

Why should things have improved since then?

The Oval Office since then saw: a man who had coined the term “Reaganomics” claiming he was not in the loop when it was implemented by his running mate; a man whose “centrism” was suspiciously helpful to the greatest orgy Wall Street had ever had; a man who invented a war to justify two invasions without bringing the criminals charged with the defining event to justice; and, finally today, a man who fooled us but good that he would bring change.

1984 was never meant to be a futuristic novel. Orwell picked his title as a play on 1948, the year he finished writing the novel. 1984 is now, a fact I found hard to believe when I first read it in my idealistic adolescence.

So, yes, our present is terribly bleak. But a funny thing happened on the way to this bleakness.

Women stopped being universally regarded as baby-making and housekeeping serfs. Black people, and all peoples who were not white-bread American, stopped being universally regarded as a permanent underclass whose exceptional members make great entertainers and athletes.

More recently, we learn that the world is ahead of schedule in meeting one of the U.N. eight Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2001: extreme poverty has been halved.

What else that is unquestionably a move forward is happening? Shouldn't we be more aware of the sustained progress we are making?

I don't mean we should be taken in by the feel-good advertising of the iPhone, although I love that gentle piano, or any corporation's claim to doing good while doing (obscenely and disproportionately) well.

Let's not be naive. But would it kill us to smell some of the roses in our garden?