And Now, As You Bid Farewell To Your Money In The Bank
As the Fannie Maes sink in the west, and the banks close, and the taxpayer gets stuck again bailing out more failed institutions and stock market manipulations, time to contemplate a recent essay in the latest Harpers, an excerpt from his forthcoming book: “The Wrecking Crew, How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing,” by Thomas Frank. Frank, as you recall, wrote “What’s the Matter with Kansas.” Well, what’s the matter with Kansas is now, what’s the matter with America.
Yes, it’s old Reagan, Abramoff, Norquist, Reed. Rove, Bush & Co, and all the associated neocon free-marketer, privatize-it-all, We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Government Regulation Gang. As Frank concludes, “Take a step back, reader, and see what they have wrought.”
An excerpt: “Fantastic mis-government is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversions and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepeneurship not merely in commerce but in politics, and the inevitable results of the ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we’ve come to expect from Washington.
The correct diagnosis is the “bad apple” thesis turned upside down. There are plenty of good conservative individuals, honorable folks who would never participate in the sort of corruption we have watched unfold for the past few years. Hang around with grassroots conservative voters in Kansas, and in the main you will find them to be honest, hardworking people.
But put conservatism in charge of the state, and it behaves very differently. Now the “values” that rightist politicians eulogize on the stump disappear, and in their place we can discern an entirely different set of priorities – priorities that reveal more about the unchanging historical essence of American conservatism than do its fleeting campaigns against gay marriage or secular humanism. The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school. Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourceing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately pile up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action.”
Read it and weep.
A Real Farewell
Bill Morem did a very nice job on yesterday's Tribune article noting the passing of Los Osos resident, Margaret Mehring. Her death came as an awful shock to me. Yes, she was 82, but, heck, she’d just run for and got elected to the Democratic Central Committee. She also finished writing a splendid how-to manual, “How To Win: A Democratic Grassroots Handbook,” a book that can be used by anybody from any political party to get off their duffs and get involved in politics at all levels. And about a year before she had adopted a lovely greyhound specially profiled for her from GAC and was thrilled to death with her new companion. In short, she was the Energizer Bunny, so full of life, a smile always at hand.
Until, suddenly, she wasn’t. And the hole that leaves in my heart is a large one. On the other hand, she was a person I can honestly say, it was an honor to have known. She was someone who made a real difference in peoples lives. Certainly to the Native Americans at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where she packed up her beloved Sheltie and galloped off to the Dakotas to live for months while she developed plans for a Media Degree program there. She certainly made a difference to so many people by spearheading a committee to create a memorial sculptural garden on the USC campus to honor those Americans “blacklisted” by that lunatic, Joe McCarthy, during the 1950’s Red Scare Unholy Inquisition. In the obituary that also ran in yesterday’s paper, it noted Margaret’s remarks at the opening ceremonies for the monument, “It is the function of a monument to remind – whether it be to reawaken past glories, or to mourn, or to honor the honorable, or venerate the venerable, or to caution against repetition of any of the sordid lunacies of history.”
“. . . caution against . . sordid lunacies of history.” That monument is also a monument to Margaret’s sense of justice. And sense of what America should be all about.
Her obituary was a long one, outlining a long, well-lived, highly productive, busy life filled with honors and accomplishments. But what stays in my memory is her delighted laughter. It always sounded like, no matter what was up, she was having a whale of a time.
She will be missed.
Your Sunday Poem and for Margaret, too.
The Woodpecker Pecks, But The Hole Does Not Appear
By Charles Wright
It’s hard to imagine how unremembered we all become,
How quickly all that we’ve done
Is unremembered and unforgiven,
Bog lilies and yellow clover flashlight our footfalls,
How quickly and finally the landscape subsumes us,
And everything that we are becomes what we are not.
This is not new, the orange finch
And the yellow-and-dun finch
picking the dry clay politely,
The grasses asleep in their green slips
Before the noon can roust them,
The sweet oblivion of the everyday
like a warm waistcoat
Over the cold and endless body of memory.
Cloud-scarce Montana morning.
July, with its blue cheeks puffed out like a putto on an ancient map,
Huffing the wind down from the northwest corner of things,
Tweets on the evergreen stumps,
swallows treading the air,
The ravens hawking from tree to tree, not you, not you,
Is all that the world allows, and all one could wish for.