When Blue Girl's step father died on Inauguration Day, her mother gave back the plaque she'd given the old man three decades earlier, and in her moving elegy this week (a post her blogging friends have been sadly expecting), Blue Girl gave us the rallying cry for the long, cold middle section of this endless winter:
Nothing could have been more appropriate. And it made me smile. And I was grateful. He and I were more alike than I ever knew. All of the anger that had washed over me and through me for so many months, in that moment, simply washed away through laughter and tears.
No such transcendence among some of the stronger, angrier voices in the new era, no loving memories of wisdom and the eternal verities among the bloggers I've turned to as an antidote to the hope and change placebo - just an angry slogan that fits this grim Super Bowl Sunday like a linebacker's shoulder pads. No particular knock at President Obama from this quarter: I thrilled at some of the imagery like everyone else with an American pulse, and I'm generally pleased with the early days. It matters who sits in the Oval Office.
But there are three-hundred million of the same species roaming these badlands, and damned if the anger's not building out there. To many of us, the most important utterance in public life undoubtedly came from Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill in reaction to the news that Wall Street bankers took a record $18 billion in bonuses at the end of 2008, even as the Federal treasury pumped billions of our sorry dollars onto their book to prop up their sorry, unpatriotic, anti-American, traitorous asses: “They don’t get it,” McCaskill said on the Senate floor. “These people are idiots.”
Yes, they are - and what heart among us doesn't embrace the hope of a parade of orange jumpsuits? That's change we can believe in. An angry voice among the angry, Digby raps the Republican suggestion that McCaskill's proposal to limit the pay of top executives of TARP-subsidized companies to $400,000 or less will send too much talent overseas:
I say if there's an overseas market for these greedy, incompetent bastards then the best thing we could do for the country is to exile them. Unfortunately, they've managed to take down pretty much the entire world with us, so I don't think there are a lot of jobs for failed wall street executives out there right now. But hey, let them put their resumes up on Craigslist like everyone else and see what the market for such superstar talent will yield these days.
Lance Mannion taps into the lighting of the torches and the slow heat of the melting tar, as he rips Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus's opposition to pro-union legislation, which Marcus decried as the "demise of a civilization":
...a civilized nation by his lights is one in which a chosen few get to live like kings and queens, comporting themselves as they see fit, following highly flexible rules they set for themselves and can ignore at their convenience, paying no price for their crimes and depredations, while getting to tell the rest of us how to behave and how to work and how to accept our lots without complaint or expectation of any other rewards besides the ones they deign to toss our way like scraps to the dogs, a nation in which they rake up piles and piles of money and cart it home in wheelbarrows while the rest of us are so desperate for work we'll take whatever we can get at whatever insulting wage they decide, begrudgingly, to pay, in which we're so terrified of losing our job that we'll cringe and fawn and work ourselves to exhaustion to please our unpleasable betters and then grovel and apologize and accept our punishments meekly when we we fail to be sufficiently slavish.
Meanwhile, our back-to-the-country pal Neddie Jingo sees denial and poison in a visit to Tysons Corner Mall:
....the density of the crowd made it impossible to escape the thought: For a country that has, this week alone, shed 100,000 jobs with no end in sight, there sure were a whole lot of people out spending money on fripperies. Second, what the fuck are these people here for? Where's the appeal? Thousands upon thousands of people of every age, income group and ethnic identity, aimlessly wandering among exactly the same PacSuns, Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombies, Williams & Sonomas they'd find in any other mall...for what? They'd actually packed into their XTerras and Priuses with the thought in mind that the best kind of Saturday night consists of grabbing a plate of Heat-Lamp Italian and a large Sprite, wandering the halls of America's Fourth-Largest Mall, and seeing and being seen in this plastic zocalo, this carefully-policed polis?
This is a theme that has been owned of late by the original angry man of exurbs, mall culture, foreign oil and SUV-clogged traffic jams - the rural future loving gadfly/novelist Jim Kunstler, who takes his upstate reaper's scythe to the bailouts and stimuli:
All the possible actions tried so far have have seemed absurd. Why even try to prop up inflated house values when the single most crucial need in this sector is for house prices to return to parity with incomes so the shrinking pool of ordinary people still employed can begin to think about buying one? Well, the obvious explanation is that politicians can't bear the pain of watching mass foreclosures and the ruination of families. This is pretty understandable, and it is tragic indeed. Frankly, I don't know of any political narcotic that can mitigate the pain that results from having made poor choices in life -- even if those choices were promoted and reinforced by the mighty ideology of "American Dreaming." Anyway, the foreclosures are well underway now, and perhaps the salient question is how long will the public's fury remain constrained while they hear about Wall Street executives buying $80,000 area rugs? Surely there is a tipping point of collective distress that is not too far from where we're at now.
But none of them can touch the anger of our old blogging compadre Dennis Perrin, one of the lone red dots in a sea of feel-good blue in these early Obama Era days - and the red ain't for Republicanism, my friends. Dennis has taken another path, and damnit if he isn't churning out some of the best, most vicious prose on the Internet these days (his Updike piece was simply the finest bit of writing to hit an RSS feed after the author's death). Sure, you may still feel pretty rosy and hopeful (I do, some days) but like the bottle of Xanax calling your name on the worst of down Dow afternoons, Perrin's rants have become ground zero for that restless ire that seems to afflict everyone I know over 40. You can love Obama, and still spoon up Dennis's choler like Recessional tapioca:
It seems that in order to be a "good" progressive, if not a Decent American, one must remain starry-eyed about Obama, regardless of reality. How long this condition will linger is up in the air, though I doubt it will ever fade away. Too many liberals are too attached to the myth of benevolent power. They want someone to worship, to obey, confusing their conformity for "inspiration," or worse, "patriotism." Feedle fiddo foo. What you gonna do?
Tonight, we jump into the jello-wrestling pit of national consumption like John Candy's buck private Ox in Stripes. Unless you love the Steelers or Cardinals, you're there for the ads and the spectacle. And the halftime show. For some reason, I'm thinking the singer from New Jersey should roll with this particular tale:
Workin in the field till you get your back burned
Workin `neath the wheels till you get your facts learned.
Baby I got my facts learned real good right now.
You better get it straight darling:
Poor men wanna be rich, rich men wanna be kings,
And a king aint satisfied till he rules everything.
Note: Tom Watson's book CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World - about the rise of online social activism - is available at Amazon.com. If you read the blog, pick up the book.