Rally ’round the family

Music – Toots and the Maytals – 54-46 Was My Number

A hellish week for the patriots and optimists.  The decline of our nation continues, helped eagerly along by the fools and thieves and petty tyrants we’ve chosen to rule us.

The FISA bill passed.  Easily.  Obama voted for it.  The raving, outraged few shrieked themselves hoarse, teary-eyed and desperate.  Their anguished premonitions of America’s future went unheeded.  The masses went about their days, eating and scratching and farting along their ignorant and merry way.

Perhaps there was a brief, twenty second spot on the six o’clock news about the bill’s success.  An obligatory mention, without feeling or comprehension or depth.  A footnote, or an obituary.  And then the issue was put to bed in time for sports highlights, and the weather.

Like many such sickening, foul days in our history, Wednesday went by largely unnoticed.

The goblins and bottom-feeders of the United States Senate pounded another bent, rusty nail in to our collective coffin.

Their hammers fell, over and over, driving the iron deeper, deeper into the virgin wood. Clang, clang, clang.

I heard it, in the distance.

Did you?

———

I’ve been asked by some why I make such a big deal out of this FISA business.  It’s such a boring, intangible thing to care about.  Surely I must know greater evils exist.  What about all the off-shore drilling plans?  The reintroduction of Intelligent Design into Louisiana schools? What about The War?  Illegal domestic spying is small potatoes compared to some of the other atrocities and depravities America’s involved in.

It’s true.  Telecom Immunity is far from the vilest thing that happened to us lately.  It’s hard to get up in arms about privacy rights and defense of the Constitution while rivers of blood flow through the deserts of Iraq, and GWB makes lighthearted jokes about us being the world’s worst polluter.  And yet the passing of the FISA bill, and Obama’s support of it, may prove to be one of the most pivotal political moments in the last twenty years.

Set aside what you think of him as a man or a politician, and try instead to consider what Obama represents to the average young American.  To them, he’s hope.  He’s a possibility, a promise of a brighter future.  He’s the first candidate in many of their lifetimes who is not merely the lesser of several evils, but someone moral and driven and audacious enough to truly Make a Difference.  Not just some talking head they can tolerate, someone they genuinely respect as a leader.

That’s unheard of.  The power that this image gives him, the potential to wield a generation’s excitement and energy, is something no candidate since JFK has been blessed with.  A boon beyond compare.

When you have that kind of whole-hearted support from the young, educated, and wealthy, you can do what no other candidate dares to do: the Right Thing.

And the FISA bill is the simplest of litmus tests for Obama and his new-found strength.  The most cut-and-dry issue seen on the Senate floor in a decade.

The War, the Environment, the Economy, these are topics so chaotic and muddled and dangerous that even a man with Obama’s level of popularity has to handle them with kit gloves.  Whatever you do about the War, people on both sides will hate you.  There is no action that will not cost you at least some Conservative or Liberal votes.

But the FISA bill… it’s almost like something out of a movie.  Good versus Evil.  Right versus Wrong.  It’s an entire moral and political ideology distilled and rarefied down into one, simple choice.  Without room for interpretation, or perspective, or distortion.

For Obama and the rest of the Senate, the opportunity to act and to vote righteously is not all that rare.  Idealistic bills, after all, are not completely unknown in the legislature.  But to be able to cast a vote in defense of the right and not risk a single supporter’s vote is unheard of.

On Wednesday, there were two types of Americans when it came to the issue of Telecom Immunity:  Those who were vehemently opposed to it, and those who didn’t understand it.

This was no hotbed of controversy.  Informed citizens, conservative and liberal alike, despised the entire idea.  Multi-national corporations getting away with spying illegally on innocent Americans is totally reprehensible, regardless of party affiliation.

I mean honestly, who doesn’t hate the fucking phone company?

Thus did Wednesday offer a rare, almost unprecedented, moment of truth, for Obama and for Congress as a whole.

A vote against was a condemnation of the Administration’s years of deceit and corruption.  A vote against said that our leaders and their minions should be held accountable when they violate our laws.  A vote against said that our rights can not and should not be violated on a whim by corporate monopolies and demagogues.

A vote for it was surrender, and betrayal of our nation’s core ideals.

A vote for it was an admission of complete fucking moral bankruptcy.

And so Wednesday rolled around, quietly, and America was suddenly afforded the opportunity to see which side of the line our leaders and our Presidential Hopeful stood on.

Those of us who bothered to look saw the results clearly, and despaired.

——–

Why did he do it?

I can’t say.  Not for votes, certainly.  He’s cost himself thousands by proving he’s just as spineless and power-hungry as McCain, and gained none.

My guess is money, but I have no real idea.  As far removed as I am from the foul, shit-spattered warrens and back alleys of our nation’s capital, it’s impossible to guess what prize the fiends offered Obama in exchange for his betrayal.  To get this bill to pass, who knows what dark deeds and unspeakable perversions were perpetrated by the packs of lobbyists and good old boys that run rampant through the Washington nights. I hope whatever the Administration and the corporate elite tempted or blackmailed Obama with, it was something significant.

I’d hate to think he sold us out for some free air time on ClearChannel radio, or a paltry campaign contribution.

Hell, even Hillary had the integrity to vote against FISA.  You’ve got to be deep in some shit when Hillary “The Hosebeast” Clinton can furrow her brow and look down her crooked witch nose at you for selling out your constituency.

——-

Where do we go from here? Who knows.  The honeymoon is certainly over, at least for the small percentage of us who bother to read the news.  If there’s any justice in the world, Obama will lose the election.  But if your only option for justice is four years of warmongering and earthraping under Zombie in Chief John McCain, perhaps it’s not worth it.

I can’t say I was entirely taken by surprise.  Friends of mine, loyal Obama supporters, called me Wednesday shrieking and outraged.  Jaded, black-hearted pessimist that I am, I told them I had suspected his true nature all along.  I knew he’d sell us out, I told them.  He can’t have gotten so far in politics so quickly without being thoroughly evil.

They took comfort in my knowing cynicism.  I let them curse and lament, and I made agreeing noises at the appropriate times.  Yes, I’d say.  He’s certainly revealed himself to be as despicable as the rest.

But when the phone stopped ringing around two AM, I was surprised to find how angry I really was.  Furious.  Enraged.  How the fuck could he do this to us?  How could he pick this bill to support, a choice which made his betrayal so brazen and complete?

I lay awake till dawn, too full of venom and angst to sleep.  I don’t know why.  I must have been more optimistic about Our Man than I realized, or was willing to admit.

Why does our current completely fucked up political system ignite such a white-hot fury in me…

I don’t want to know.  Someday I will learn to embrace the apathy my generation is so famous for, and the hate and rage I feel so strongly may cool.  Someday I’ll resign myself to our collective horrible fate.

I hope.

Maybe I’ll learn to fiddle, so I’ll have something to do while Rome burns.

——-

I have a recurring nightmare, as of late.

I stand at the base of some gigantic edifice, or monument.  It’s black and terrible, and so large I can only see a small part of it at a time no matter how I crane my neck.  It’s covered with cryptic symbols and hieroglyphics, and if I study a particular, narrow section for a time, I can begin to understand it, to comprehend it.

I know if I could study the thing thoroughly, if I could define it and at least comprehend its dimensions, I could do something about it.  I could set right its many evils.  But the thing is so huge, no matter where I stand I can’t get a proper perspective.  It stretches away in all directions without end.

I run along the base for hours and still can find no edge.  I run away from it and look back over my shoulder, and still I can’t see the top.  And so the monstrosity may as well go on forever, so I slump against its base, tracing its symbols with my hands, and am defeated.

-T.

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