Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Intellectuals Are the Shoeshine Boys of the Ruling Elite."

It's not a record review. But, it captures my mood after recycling this morning's newsprint. (A newspaper colluding to withhold a video that could discredit Obama with Jewish voters-- more about this in my next entry tomorrow.) Doonesbury's creator already has a celebratory cartoon for Wednesday. He backs his horse, or donkey, by citing but a 3.7% chance of the pachyderm's stomp. Such triumph will be echoed by those eager to see total control of Congress and the White House. Whether Obama's honeymoon will last more than a month, however, remains doubtful already, as even the L.A. Weekly warns "It's Going to Take a Whole Lot More Than a Democratic Majority to Save Us.". I am adjusting despite my grouchy drift to prepare for a new direction, away from the Bush dead-ends, if nothing else. For once, I agree with Marc Cooper's conclusion:
Four years from now, the less significant it is to be identified as a Republican or a Democrat, the more significant a leader Obama will be. That is my hope.

Shut out of the Fourth Estate's prime storefronts, honest people that you'll likely not find quoted in the likes of the Weekly abound on the Net with a lot of divided thoughts about the electoral choices we've been provided. They might not gain the attention garnered what half-hour informercials or banner ads can purchase for your anointed candidate, wealthy through connections marital or political. Yet, such overheard, if under-reported, voices represent to me what this defiant, half-baked, half-cocked plucky medium can offer us as a lesson in our own participatory democracy. Such as it staggers along, 232 years old.

I'm not a hero-worshiper by nature; this may be a problem related to my endemic pessimism! When my Reagan Democrat dad in the nursing home at 92 tells me that he's not happy with either candidate, you can tell choices, such as they've been narrowed, turn complicated. We all certainly yearn for change.

I have been mulling matters with friends who are very informed-- journalists, union organizers, grassroots activists, former Marxists-- who've revealed their unease about the American situation ahead. More than I contend that the mainstream media-- at least what I read in my five regulars, The New Yorker, Harper's, The Atlantic, New York Times, Los Angeles Times-- have "allowed" themselves to cover fairly and sincerely. I sense many of the genuine Joe Plumbers and Rosie Riveters (if any remain in still-open factories) get their fears and confusions and hopes manipulated and belittled when we read about them in the press. This relates to my critique of Thomas Frank's "What's Wrong With Kansas?" in my "What's the Matter with Sarah?" a few days ago, a blog sermon that kept expanding despite my editing.

Unreasonably or rationally, I feel the weight of an oligarchy that runs roughshod over the interests of its constituencies, with cynicism masked as idealism. Alexander Theroux's rather inchaote, often insightful novel (reviewed by me at the start of September, when the race seemed much closer, on Amazon US & here) "Laura Warholic, or the Sexual Intellectual," has a long chapter attacking eloquently the presumption that the hoi polloi, plebes, proles, or plumbers can be trusted with self-governing themselves. Why? They rely on the elite, the masters of puppets. Seeing the manipulations of myself and my fellow voters by a billion dollars spent spinning millions of us towards their own direction, I despair at our own complicity.

I wonder now and then who pushes our buttons, even as we're taught we punch our own voting levers. As my patient readers know, my own political and ideological reactions roam widely and unclassifiably. While with Irish stubbornness, I do not recant my positions (nor may I account for their lack of consistency, Emersonian hobgoblin of foolish minds), I am trying to be fair to all sides in what I express on my blogs.

Finding recently, long after my own interests had jelled, my family ties to John J. Finan, my great-grandfather in the Thames found "drowned in mysterious circumstances" as a Co. Roscommon Land League agitator on a visit to London in 1898, and my great-uncle Jack F. (note too those common first names repeating down to now!) as a Dáil and Seanad member of the Western farmer's rights party Clann na Talmhan in the 1940s-50s with its own tangled populist-radical-conservative ideology, from the little I can find on it, confirms those studies, perhaps, now about in America that show how we're partially wired to vote by genetics and not reason! But only partially.

Both parties appear to have dug deep trenches to lob grenades at each other, while more and more people that refuse to take sides appear in the no (wo)man's land of the DMZ, wondering where to duck for cover. I graze all over the free range. This all sinks in my belly. Making me a cranky populist who distrusts everybody yet yearns idealistically for true change-- that even a skeptic can believe in!

As Irish critic Desmond Fennell opened his prescient 1999 study, "The Postwestern Condition: Between Chaos and Civilisation":
"But no one can dispute that it is high time that we stopped viewing the West today in terms of the circumstances of sixty years ago and the seating arrangements of the French Legislative Assembly of 1791." [8]

So, I gather below a half-dozen contrary, or uncategorizable, sites. Lots of them have a wicked sense of humor I too inherit. As comedians of all shades complain, that's the trouble with Barack: you can't ridicule him-- at least on the air. Well, you can on the Net. These sites tend to tilt farther right than me, but I do admire their sass and spunk. Not for the po-faced PC NPR subscriber. This skewed, funhouse, snarky perspective I was initially directed towards by a savvy, equally unpredictable, inconsistently pinned-down net-prowler.

When you learn about gay Chicago supporters of Hillary now on "hillbuzz" backing McCain; feminists arguing for a fairer consideration of Sarah Palin by the press; anti-Prop 9 libertarians; ex-pats chronicling this country's crowd control by the fawning media; snide scoundrels speaking satirically towards button-down or tie-dyed neighbors-- well, it's encouraging, whatever your reaction to such strange bedfellows, to listen in. In that dorm-room, all-nighter rhetorical register. For better and worse, you don't hear enough banter elsewhere.

We need to lighten up and take it seriously too. I'm sure many of the blogster pundits below will be busier than if McCain wins, anyway, documenting morning again in America. Dawn will come November 5th and we will all move on, not to Canada. As my wife's blog entry yesterday imagines, in another term or so, may we finally have cleared the fences of blue-red states, donkeys-elephants, or left-right, secular-religious divides? When we listen to each other with compassion, preparation, and sophistication, we may have a chance to repair the damage of the past forty years. And to post a video of the president's inaugural parade in his imperial new clothes-- garnished with tasteless captions and witty barbs.

Most of us, if we're worthy of our education and our franchise now, should have transcended such confined demographics that keep us penned and cowed as our leaders march by, if we have any capacity for individual thought remaining. If we refuse to parrot what spin doctors dictate. If we turn away from CNN graphs charting fourteen undecided voters in Ohio's minute-by-minute reactions to presidential debates. Maybe that's what we can rule on as a majority no longer silent: to refuse pollsters and revolt against PACs. My audacity of hope.

RealClearPolitics portal
Hillbuzz blog
Liberal Rapture blog
Bookworm Room blog
Irish Eagle blog
Coyote-BlueJay blog

Title: I found this deathless slogan on the treadmill, reading the newest New Yorker, its cover with the spooks running scared from a pair in McCain and Palin masks. In it, I found a capsule review of Wisconsin art-punks Killdozer. This titles their 1984 Touch & Go début, from that Progressivist bastion. But, I paste their "When the Levee Breaks" instead, for it had a better picture. Symbolic, I fancy. Great blog where I verified the release date. Ideal if you're musically quirky; if you're reading this, I know you belong: Silence in Architecture

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