When Satire Seems Impossible

Samain                            Moon of the Winter Solstice

Republican presidential candidates.  Gingrich writes alternative history fiction, some of which I understand is very good.  As long he sticks to fiction, I’ll pay attention; when he blurs the line, taking the fictional world of alternative history into the day to day world of real politics, I shudder.

Mitt Romney has the charisma of a cheese cloth, but hey, we Democrats nominated Michael Dukakis, John Kerry and Al Gore.  Combined they have the charismetrics of soggy diapers.

Michele sees Romney, Gingrich and Perry as the same.  This might be one of those times when Michele and I agree.  Problem is, I’d lump her in right in there with those three.  Loony or boring.  Quite a combination of attributes.

Right now, with the Iraq war ended, Osama dead, the economy showing signs of life and congress with a lower popularity rating than, than, well, than the Freshkills landfill, I can see a situation where Obama backs into a second term.  Might happen.

 

All For Obama Stand Up and Holler

Fall                                        Full Harvest Moon

Obama.  Has done a fine job.  The Republicans and far left (my crowd) need to back the **** off.  He succeeded in the economic stimulus.  He passed health care legislation.  He reinvigorated the EPA.  He took a good shot at climate change legislation.

His presence in the office is steady and, I believe, calming, though the dark noise of the chattering classes seems to suggest otherwise.  Once the Republicans dug in their heels and decided there was no political mileage for them in bipartisanship the whole Washington scene has devolved back to the Newt Gringrich era, even further back, the right wing nut job politics of the early sixties:  the John Birch Society, the Minutemen and the hangovers from the McCarthy period.

We are lucky to have him in the office and I’m glad and proud that I voted for him.

Nunc disco.

Obama Loses His Luster. Why That’s A Good Thing.

Summer                                               Waxing Grandchildren Moon

The Colorado Teacher’s union says Obama has lost his luster.  Jen, union rep for her school, said so last night over sushi.  That would be a good generalization for the country as a whole.  Obama has lost his luster.  Let me tell you why that’s a good thing.

Part of Obama’s luster was his election as our first president of color.  Though his election represented a break through, it represented a break through not for Barack Obama but for the United States itself.  In the end Obama happened to be a person of presidential ambitions who was of color.  The quest for power has never known a color barrier, just access to power in certain places and certain eras.  The Mongols wanted power in China, so they conquered China and created the Yuan dynasty.  Likewise, the Manchus, an artificial amalgam of northerners, wanted in power in China, conquered the Ming dynasty and created their own, Qing dynasty.  Patrice Lumumba.  Ida Amin.  Kwame Nkrumah.  Nelson Mandela.  Felipe Calderon.  Pol Pot.

Part of Obama’s luster came from the dismal, even embarrassing governance of his predecessor, G.W. Bush, just your good ole boy in the oval office.  Obama would bring in the non-Dick Cheney’s, the anti-Rumsfelds.  This again has nothing to do with Obama himself, rather it relates to the person he replaced.  Again, from this perspective, anyone would do.

Part of Obama’s luster came from his victory in a long and hard fought primary battle, a battle that included the first viable female candidate for the Presidency, Hillary Clinton, and that stretched on well into the year of the Presidential election itself.  Though this begins to get to his character, he can tough it out over the long haul, confronting risks head-on, it is still nothing unusual.  Presidential candidates have to first win the confidence of their own party before they can have a shot at convincing the whole country.

Part of his luster, too, comes from a glamorous wife and two beautiful daughters.  This, too, begins to speak to his character, but we expect our Presidents to have families, so it’s not unusual in any particular way.

Luster fades, the Oscar becomes burnished as does the Olympic medal.  The carefully orchestrated rise of celebrity lasts for only moments in most peoples lives.  The rush of romance must give way to a longer, more sturdy and hardy love.  The lilies in my garden send up their three-foot stalks, dazzle me with their colors and fragrance, then quickly the flowers disappear.  But.  The lily remains.  It takes in food, stores it in the bulb, throws off more plants through expansion of the bulb, bulbils that grow on the stalk and even occasionally from seed.

This is why Obama’s loss of luster is a good thing.  Now he has a chance to send down stores of wisdom and experience gained in office to his staffers, his cabinet, his party.  Now he can begin to govern as Barack Obama, the man who would govern as a center-left president, not as Barack Obama, conqueror of Hillary, nor as the first black man to be President, not as the anti-Bush and not with the reflected glamor of wife and daughters.  Is he in a more difficult situation now?  Yes.  He has spent political capital at an exorbitant rate to pass the health care reform legislation, to get more bail out money, to push home some re-regulation of the financial services industry and in an attempt to pass energy legislation.

His party faces a difficult election round  thanks to the fractious politics of all the things mentioned here and the unsteady economy and the legacy wars, especially the one in Afghanistan he has made his own.  And yet.  This is the time the man can break out from behind the self-preening of those of us who elected him in part as a black man.  This is the time the man can break out from comparisons to G.W. Bush, flattering or otherwise, and create the reality of his governance style.  This, more than any other, is Barack Obama’s time.  I for one wish him well.

Night Time, Summer in the Exurbs

Summer                            Waning Strawberry Moon

Night.  A couple of nights ago I went down the driveway to the mailbox.  As I came back up, I looked up as I often do and saw an object scooting from SSE to NNW.  At first I thought it was a plane.  Without my glasses distance observing for me turns into a game of analyzing tantalizing bits of information rather than direct scrutiny.  As it came overhead though, I could see what I thought were lights were blurs owed to my faulty peepers.  No, it was a satellite.  It was bright and moving fast.

At heavens-above.com I tried to look it up, but the tables for satellite passes only look forward, not backward.  I don’t know what it was, but I know it was man-made.  Whether it was a communications satellite of the International Space Station, it’s still something up there because humans put it there.  An amazing and still almost science fiction notion to this boy of the 1950’s.  I remember Sputnik.  Well.

Kate’s a day away from her surgery.  The vicodin she has to take now makes her dull, “stupid” as she puts it.  She doesn’t like that feeling and looks forward to the time post-op when she can return to her NSAID.

Obama.  As a political leftist, I find things wrong with Obama’s record.  He supported off-shore drilling, he’s ramped up the war in Afghanistan and he’s accepted weakened regulatory legislation and weakened health-care legislation.   The Gulf oil disaster and McChrystal give an air of chaos to his administration, though neither one is his fault.  Here’s my prediction.  A year from now Obama will look very good in all the areas in which he looks very bad right now.  Her’s pulling troops out of Iraq as promised.  The economy will improve.  The public will get clear about the Obama administration’s role in the Gulf oil disaster to his credit and his firing of McChrystal will be seen as what it is, a necessary assertion of civilian authority.

He’s working as a politician, not an ideologue, a necessary ambit if he  wishes to govern, which he does.  Bush was a right wing ideologue and no matter how charming or gritty he appeared it was clear his decision making was in thrall to the neo-con view of the world.  Ideology puts blinkers on the best of us and Obama seems to govern without ideology, though he’s clearly a left-liberal.  Kudo’s to him.

The lustre of mid-day

Winter                                             Full Cold Moon

The full cold moon now has -5 temps under its light.  When there’s snow on the ground and a full moon in the sky, I always think of Twas’ The Night Before Christmas:  And the moon on the new fallen snow gave a lustre of midday to objects below.  Writing that reminded me of a performance I gave of that poem with our high school concert band in the background.  Scared me to death and I didn’t like it.  Acting I loved, but performing to music–not at all.

I surprised my 3 year old granddaughter last week with the news that Grandpa did modern dance in college, performing in front of an audience several times.  My mind says yes I did, my body insists it could never have done that.  It was fun.

Obama.  Our government.  I have known for decades now, as have many of my contemporaries that our system of government broke down long ago.  There are many reasons:  money, lobbyists, an archaic method of representing voters wishes, an apathetic citizenry, the practice of the big lie.  In the past I subscribed to the idea of radical change, a dramatic overhaul of our system, one that would replace it with, say, democratic socialism or a scheme in which the whole of Amerika broke down into smaller regional states.

With the passing years I have lost my faith in radical change in two ways.  One, I doubt the chance of creating it.  Two, and more fundamentally, I’m not convinced that my radical change would not morph into something terrible, perhaps in a different way, but still terrible.  I suppose this could lead to despair or reasoned apathy, but I’m not cut from that cloth.  In a bad situation you use the tools you have and  work for the best change you can expect.

It may be that within the remaining years of my lifetime that  the stars will align  and dramatic change will be possible.  I doubt it, but it could happen.  If it does, I’m there.  Even so, I’m not sanguine about a better world.

This world, this one world, the only world we have must always be enough and not even close to enough.  We must live in it as if it is enough; we must work for it as if it’s not even close.

Obama’s Prize and Other Thoughts

Fall                                      Waning Blood Moon

See below for big omission**

So Obama got the Peace Prize.  I happen to agree with those who say he got the, “I’m not George Bush.” prize.  Not that that’s a bad thing.  I also agree with those who say that his accomplishments, re: peace, have been underwhelming. Perhaps the prize is prospective.

I am not among those disappointed by Obama’s performance so far, though my reason is general skepticism about the capacity of Presidents to deliver political realities close to my heart.

Specifically, we need universal health coverage with a single payer.  Why?  Oh, c’mon.  Even if you don’t want it for self-interested reasons,  you know why.  We need to pull back from engagement in counter-insurgency warfare.  We don’t know how to conduct these wars without tripping over ourselves.  See Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan.  Financial services must get regulation of a type we can and will enforce.  Why?  Again, c’mon. Back to Glass-Steagall at least.

We need sustained and increased funding for higher education since the fate of US prominence in world affairs lies in the realm of technological advancement.  See this article if you disagree.  We also must clean up and shore up Medicare and Social Security.  Again, you already know why.

We also need real and dramatic action vis a vis global warming.  The means are not so important to me though the carbon tax seems to make the most sense.  My only thought about those who disagree with this one is that perhaps they should buy up all that beachfront property.  That would put their money where their mouth is and either they would become fabulously rich or very wet.  Guess which one I think is more probable.

I happen to think, though this is debatable (yes, I really believe the others are not), that a large investment in America’s aging infrastructure is a good idea.

Why are all of these ideas so difficult to realize?  Oh, let me count the whys.  Chief among them is a method of selecting political representatives that got broke long, long ago.  Right up there with this one is the impact of money and interest group politics on the political process after elections.  Another has a corollary in the financial markets:  our cycles of accountability in politics:  2 and 6 years are too short for the magnitude of  these problems.  Thus, solutions experience time-shifting rather than resolution.  And so, ad absurdum.

**Good health may have less to do with our health-care system than you think

I neglected to mention poverty.  The class disparity.  My own recipe here is banks and economic development corporations focused on poor neighborhoods and towns, helping to nurture community-based businesses that provide living wage jobs.  An earned income tax credit–proposed by Richard Nixon–would help, too.

Vega. Still.

Summer                             Waxing Green Corn Moon

Vega the wonder dog continues to add mischief and joy to our lives.  She climbed up on the kitchen table after treats we foolishly left there.  Yesterday she took the door-stop we use to lock our sliding door at night and happily chewed on it.  Yesterday, after the mulberry tree went down, Vega picked up the downed branches, chewed them and distributed them widely.

All this and still no ring.

Obama has fallen from grace a bit, his poll numbers have gone down.  This makes sense and shows a president of color, or the eventual first woman president, will have to perform.  That is as it should be.  No one gets a pass when the health of the nation is on the line, no matter what.  Does this mean Obama has failed to live up to expectations?  Yes, but the expectations represented the type of governance no person can achieve.  Now we have to learn how to adjust our understanding of who he is and what he can accomplish.  Just like we’ve had to do with every president of every era.

Tomorrow more work outside.

Superman

Beltane                           Waxing Dyan Moon

“It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.” – William G. McAdoo

Boy, is that true.  Look at Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld, oh my.

Had lunch and a by the seat of the pants tour with Mary and Frank Broderick.  It was fun, wandering around the museum looking at art with friends.

Obama is such a smart guy.  Speaking to the Muslims yesterday, visiting Buchenwald today.  He does not allow the dust to settle in any one place before he moves on, readjusting the tunic of America’s presence in the world.  In such a short time he has restored my feeling of good fortune in living here.  Geez, just to have a President who can string together a complex sentence is enough to make me cry.

Following the low bar of the Bush presidency has eased Obama’s transition, but he would have looked good at any point.  Now he looks like superman.

The first phase of the growing season, planting and amending soil, has come to an end.  Almost.  Now mulch goes down newwork09and surveillance for pests.

This is part of the new work we had done last week.  The vegetable garden area has no more grass, just chips.  It also has new beds with flowers, shrubs and space for some more vegetables.  We have made another step toward a permaculture suburban acreage.  The small white form in the upper left is the bee hive.

Snow, Snow, Snow

Imbolc        New Moon (Moon of Winds)

The winds continue to blow, now driving a heavy snow.  The winds come straight out of the north with gusts ranging as high as 16 mph.

I’m not going to either the MIA (Maya lecture) or the capitol (Clean Cars hearing) in favor of staying home and working on the blog while the snow piles up.  Sometimes the distance and a lack of four wheel drive add up to remaining in place.

My energy level and my sense of well-being began to increase dramatically at the end of last week, either the end of a mild virus or the hangover from the vertigo/nausea fun of the previous week.  It feels so much better to feel so much better.

In a bit I’m going to dive into Obama’s first budget message to congress.  I have it on a pdf file.

Inaugration Day. Bright, Sunny. Cold

Winter

Waning Wolf Moon

The day has begun well.  Sunshine comes from a sky with cirrus clouds, a nice break after the cloudy weather.

Today Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States.  After our discussion last night at the Woollies, I realize I do run on a different political path than most.  The politics I care most about happen because citizens, folks like you and me, make them happen: neighborhood economic development, movement toward single payer health plans and initiatives that promote a sustainable human presence on mother earth.

The players in Washington create the atomsphere in which local politics occur.  That is, a president like George Bush can make federal level policy and bureaucratic administration so obstructive that local politics become shoring up of dikes, attempts to stave off catastrophe in poor communities or in rivers and streams, woodlands and lakes.  In the best case a president like Obama can make local politics the art of adapting federal level initiatives to particular places, particular situations while continuing the local political level work that has no federal equivalent.

Whether Obama can turn the great ship US Bureaucracy and Law very far from its collision course with the natural world remains to be seen.  Presidents don’t matter much to me unless, as in George W. Bush’s case and Ronald Reagan’s, they ignore science, shove aside the poor and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t matter.   Yes, they entangle us in wars and produce fiscal policy that either mainline’s greed or provides reasonable checks and balances, and, yes, these matters are of crucial importance to certain people in certain situations; but my day to day reality, the politics of economic justice and the politics of sound ecology, must go forward no matter what the national government does.

So, I hope Obama will prove helpful in some way, but I’m not counting on it.  We still have to push the Clean Car initiatives and Mining without Harm.  Programs to help folks get back to work have to get money from somewhere.  Affordable housing has to get built.

In my youth I believed, along with many of my contemporaries, that a mass movement could push the federal government into stopping a war, creating a just economic society and dismantling racial barriers.  Now I understand that it is much more important to keep on working at the local level, doing those things that are necessary to  move what can be moved.  Why?  Because anticipating the federal government will, with a single whoosh, solve a problem is like imagining Daddy can come and solve everyone of your problems.  Can Dad help?  Sure.  But only if you’re ready and able to receive help.  That’s the local politics.  And it goes on whether Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton is in office, Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, and, yes, George W. Bush or Barack Obama.