Archive for February, 2008


February 29, 2008

As a smack dab baby boomer, I feel quite sorry for Hilary Clinton. She has worked so hard all these years and taken so much heat. Who would have thought that a junior senator could have come out of nowhere and so upset her carefully arranged apple cart? I didn’t like her before, but she has earned my grudging respect over this year, and from that respect comes the sympathy I now feel – watching her wave, spent, pull away from the shore.

I would have pulled the lever for her over war-horse McCain (or the mannequin Romney or the cadaverous Giuliani), but she is undeniably tied to the past, to the Democratic political machine, to her own set of special interests who paved her way, and Bill has revealed that he can still be a liability as well as an asset.

As she recedes, I find that risking our polity on Barack has me just a little queasy – he may really have to study the foreign policy manual she wouldn’t have to do more than review. But he has shown that he learns, and learns fast, so I have hope – an attitude my politically jaded and socially jaundiced wife laughs at.

I first voted in ’72, but I was old enough at Kennedy’s election to feel the electrical charge, and of course felt his death. I fear for tall Obama and hope his security detail is attentive. But, like Kennedy, may his deft touch and his instincts not fail him during this long and grueling campaign process, or in the years of office if they are, as I now expect, granted to him.


White, white, white

February 17, 2008

Weird wizard wonderland
Winter way away in the wizened woods
Weft of woven branches, withered wracking runes
Written on a wan washed watercolor
Boughs bound down wound
Grounded in the mantle of snow
Gobbets of glacine wanton wax
Like a candle in Grimm’s Hansel

Writhing wraiths whisper ‘tween the trees
Gusts sweep the dust, crust scoured breeze
Waving winter wall of white
No wildcat, wolf or weasel
All the whining wicked wanderers
Nowhere to be witnessed
Even the Wascawy wabbits
Have gone to earth,
No tracks at all, no tracks at all
Only the owl, the silent owl
“Who? Who? Who cooks for you?”

Waning lune on black
Wending my warped way home
‘Tween tattled waste of cat-o-nine-tails
Loose lint lithping my sleeves as I path

Whither home, and whither danger?
Who is known and who’s a stranger?
Warlocks skulk and witches mutter
Wilder tree wisps crack and stutter

Vast winter waste, vale of weeping death
Keep your starkened beauty to yourself


February 15, 2008

Henry Gray (the original anatomist, not the TV show) notes that “fascia” is Latin for “bandage”, a simple fact that conveys the helpful image. Like bandage, fascia wraps around, covers, protects, and binds.

Your friendly local etymologist must take issue with this statement. Fascia, as every good student of the Roman Empire knows, does have the overt meaning of bandage or streak of cloud, but it comes from fasces meaning ‘bundle’. A bundle of sticks – faggot – derives from this, as does the bundle of reeds called a basket.

The fasces in Roman life comes from a story in which three sons were fighting over a putative inheritance, and their father, discovering them, showed how one stick could be broken easily, but a bundle of sticks could not – and so,in this Aesopian way, urged them to band together. This story led to the fasces, a bundle of sticks tied together with an ax handle in the middle and the ax blade sticking out of the top. This was supposed to symbolize the united and powerful nature of the ‘bundled’ Roman empire, and one of these things followed the emperor everywhere for some time.

There was even one on our money – the mercury dime had a fasces on the ‘tails’ side, but the rise of modern Fascism led us to the Roosevelt dime without such an imperial symbol.

Mussolini, determined to resurrect this power of the Roman empire, had a simple idea: the power of government ‘bundled’ hand in hand with dominant corporate interests. That’s what fascism is – government working together with large corporations. Bush’s idea is simple: get the telecom companies to help out with the fight against terrorism. The bundling together of the U.S. government with information companies is, in fact, a very powerful control mechanism, and the legislating of immunity for those companies that helped the government by disclosing our information is a very fascist act.

Who cares?  Any good citizen would say “I have nothing to hide”, and besides this is protecting us from terrorism.  In fact, dear friend, Bush and his government have plenty of tools to stop terrorism, and do not need this extra power.  Every tyrant uses an external threat to scare their people into giving up their rights.  And every time it works, because it is just the thin edge of a wedge that gets wider and deeper each increment it is driven in, until we no longer live in a land of laws.

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”  “Those who give up their freedom for security deserve neither.” “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants.”  The words of the founding fathers still speak to us across the centuries.
Will Congress go along with this new bid for fascism?  Remember, Eisenhower only at the last minute left ‘Congress’ out of of the ‘Military-Industrial’ complex he warned us about in his outgoing speech. Congress is an essential part of the deal, and it leads to a fascist handshake between the profiteering of the large corporations and the continued power to entrenched interests in the government. 50 years after Ike left, and our current president wants telecoms legally protected from laws they broke in helping the government spy on Americans (though he even equivocates as to whether they did help), and our vice-president is openly an arms dealer.

I don’t know enough about the current situation to know whether Verizon and AT&T should get a pass on this one. But I do know that we are turning feudal, with democracy meaning less and less – despite the fun of this year’s election – as the real fiefdoms and vassals and serfs are not determined by the political realities but by the transnational corporate needs.

We are getting used to the hologram of democracy, because the reality is disappearing gradually as we speak. I still like the old bumper sticker: “It’ll be a great day when schools have all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to build a new bomber.”

A Sistah or a Brothuh?

February 5, 2008

As I write this, Super Tuesday is underway. I hoped to get this in earlier but what influence do I have anyway? Whatever the outcome, this is the ineluctable logic of the election:

Setting aside, for a moment, the attractive candor of John McCain (because his war policy is more of the same, and I wish he was as liberal as the chorus of talk-show hosts from Rush to Fox are trying to paint him today – ad nauseam, wall-to-wall, how can they hate a war-hero so?), and the crisp haircut masquerading as a businessman politician named (until he changes it to gain some other endorsement) Mitt Romney, the choice is uniquely and historically between a sister and a brother.

Though I respect Hilary’s hard work and long service, and Barack is indeed an unknown, I fall (with my daughter but opposed, I think, to my wife) to the Obama camp. Here’s how it parses for me:

For the nomination: If Barack wins the nomination, everyone who was going to vote for Hilary will vote instead for Barack. If Hilary gets the nomination, not everyone voting for Barack now will vote for a Clinton in the general election. Therefore, Barack is more ‘electable’.

For the election: If Barack is elected, Hilary will be offered a prominent role in his administration, so we get the best of both. If Hilary is elected, Barack is likely to get a ceremonial role in her administration, so there we lose his commanding presence and audacity of hope. Hilary – hard worker that she is – is bought and paid for, and though Barack may be also, there is more chance of his not being weighed down by a career full of political favors.

Therefore, though I will pull the lever cheerfully for either in this ‘anybody but the jokers we have now’ mood I’m in, I have been nursing a secret hope that Obama will make it, and make it big.

A woman president is important, and it will happen in my lifetime I am sure, but the look forward instead of the look back is a crucial and telling symbol at this particular stage.