Mar 9, 2011

A month ago you heard the news from Cairo as though it were the birth of a grandchild. And you thought, "well, look at those crowds in Tahrir Square and God's speed to a democracy. What a long journey it will be, but worth every step."

And now tonight you, yourself, are in the streets. Figuratively, at least. In Madison or Lansing. How did this happen? This was just a matter of some teachers who realized they needed to give up benefits but just wanted the comfort of collective bargaining. And now this outrageous plan to privatize local government in Michigan, and the local dukes and viscounts will need more than $150,000 per annum, thank you very much. Indeed, you'll need to pay them more than the governor to take apart the local school district, to delete city hall and put a whole town out to pasture.

And you realize that suddenly we are fighting much the same struggle as Egyptians. Better commentators will illustrate the point.

But what may not be readily apparent is how the Left's anger, and righteous it is, is now out of the bag. And now you're going to hear the equivalent of the Tea Party, the new howl, but now the same fear — that some nut will go after el Rushbow or the Kochs.

It is hard to imagine how much Republicans have overplayed their hand, but then they are acting roles they're not quite familiar with. The most interesting part of it is how a handful of people, "the 400" as they should be known, have stirred up a hornet's nest of 153 million people.

And how the Thanesters and the Koch heads and Innanity, NFL owners, and Gov. Walker, who imagines himself the new Reagan, how they're are all linking up... How they're all joined in this effort.

And you wonder when the president will give up the pretense, see through these people who he seems to admire and for what? Because he really did want to be their friends all along? Is that really it? Tell me it ain't so...

Mar 3, 2011

How extraordinary it is that four months ago conservatives held such a grip on public sentiment. From deficits to healthcare a progressive could not get in a word edgewise. Obama was turning into political poison, the righteousness of the Right was "on loan from God", as el Rushbow would say.

And if the puppet's hands were stringed to the Koch control bar, and even if some people knew that, it didn't matter. Because you couldn't feel that effect. It didn't seem to make any difference if that were true. What was important was that you had your anger and you were right to be angry, and anger was effective. It was fun to have power, to feel that wind in your hair.

A blink later and now you can see the plot. It's not a "conspiracy theory" anymore; it's just the way it is and, you could argue, always was. And now everyone has a front row seat so they can actually hear Gov. Walker's reverence for Charles Koch. You can understand their strategy. It's all so clear now.

And isn't it odd how those union protestors suddenly seem to have stolen the place of the Tea Party. Now the vindication is theirs.

But here's the point: As crazy as it might have seemed, there are a group of conservatives who really want to undo this country, who really want to crush unions and constitutionalize the power of the corporation and put in stone the wealth and influence of how many is it, 300,000 people?

And we're not talking about people who can't spell or who live in a car phone in Fremont or who believe the president is not an American or who say, how dare that Aunt Jemima in the White House tell me how much grease I'm gonna eat....

Meanwhile, in the background, those other protesters, from Casa to Baghdad. And there is a resonance, a vague connection between them and teachers in Madison and cops in Newark. The common protest is against those who would take away rights. It's the many against the few, those who imagine they have lost power against those who imagine they have power.

And maybe in this country this really is part of the last stand of a wealthy, Caucasian empire. No matter what you call it, or how you think of it, the truth is that the intermittent spirit of socialism that runs through America, in communes and coops the American Utopian movement — Brook Farm, New Harmony, and Shakers — and certainly with the industrial age, is burning brighter. Materialism, as we've known it here, is flickering.

Of course, there's still the desire to acquire, to buy and possess, to get the new new thing, but that desire seems increasingly mixed with fatigue and a kind of listlessness. You could argue it's the last legacy of the age of Aquarius. We've been told that for a long time and now perhaps we're beginning to accept it.

The long slow decline into the 'littler world' of Europe is what right wing labrador retrievers would say. That's party true. But it's also America maturing, and getting smarter and wiser, not just more frail.

The essence of America and the American experience is the role of the individual. Of course. We would all agree on that. And that's what needs protection. And monitoring. In the end, our well being in every sense is less a measure of the competing powers of unions and corporations, than nurturing the instinct to remain free, to hold on to a sense of individual freedom even as we slowly, painfully, even appropriately disappear into the great morass of ever larger communities and anonymity.