Most of you that read my pieces know that I was arrested for a heinous crime in 2006, the accusation being false. I was cleared in court via DNA, but that was not good enough.
I have not worked at all since then, and have been tapping out my hard earned, and long saved retirement funds. To add insult to injury, I have had to pay income tax and a 10% penalty on drawing those funds. At the rate that I am burning them, I will be a pauper before retirement age.
But that is not the topic exactly. My immediate problem is that I think that I have a dental abscess, with my entire face hurting on the left side tonight.
Tonight Eastern Standard Time will begin. Again. And that, around here, is the dreaded beginning of horrible Winter. This, after all, is Upstate New York. I’m nestled against the Massachusetts border. And the beginning of Eastern Standard Time fills me with utter dread.
What stands between me and actual, below zero winter? First, deer hunting season. A very few hunters, fewer by far than a decade ago, will stagger drunkenly into the woods before dawn and send the grotesquely overpopulated deer into an unparalleled panic and frenzy. They’re already crazy because they’re in rut. The deer will then run into the roads and into cars. Why don’t they avoid the cars? Two reasons: first, they think the roads are made of ice, so they’re afraid of running on them. And second, there really is a reason for the phrase “a deer in the headlights.” This doesn’t begin explain why deer run into the sides of passing cars. And it doesn’t explain why the shoulders of all of the roads are filled with deer eyes reflecting headlights and waiting for an unfortunate moment to run into the road.
A few days ago I was worried that tigers might be becoming extinct, so I wrote an essay about it. The idea that tigers were becoming extinct was making me ill: it brought on feelings of anger, sadness, despair, grief, longing. I found myself thinking about it. Constantly.
It’s almost funny. Here comes a bus. Soon my fellow progressives and I will be thrown unceremoniously under it. The last ten days it’s almost as if the purpose of going to a bus stop is to be run over by oncoming omnibuses: climate change, health care, Afghanistan. You name it. Name a progressive cause and it’s been squished in the past two weeks. And if it hasn’t, if you can think of one that is not now looking like a beer can reconfigured by an oncoming locomotive, just wait tell next week.
I could react with anger to these developments. Certainly not with surprise. For example, I almost reacted in anger just a few moments ago when I read this in the New York Times:
Independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman says he expects to support the Democrats’ health care legislation as long as any government-run insurance plan stays out of the bill.
Lieberman has been a question mark on the health care legislation for months. To win him over, Senate leaders said late Monday they were backing away from a Medicare expansion Lieberman opposed. They already had dropped a full-blown government insurance program.
Lieberman told reporters Tuesday that if the Medicare expansion and government insurance plan are gone, ”I’m going to be in a position where I can say what I’ve wanted to say all along: that I’m ready to vote for health care reform.”
Senate leaders need Lieberman’s support to secure 60 votes necessary to advance the legislation in the 100-member Senate.
Isn’t that great? We somehow went from single payer universal health care (that could never pass, they said) to a robust public option (that could never pass, they said) to a weak tea public option for the select few all of whom live down the block (that could never pass, they said) to a medicare buy-in (that could never pass, they said), to nothing (which evidently Uncle Joe approves and which can easily pass because, well, because it’s nothing and nothing is what we have now so it’s easy to pass).
Remind me if you can why I voted in 2006 and 2008 for Democrats? Remind me, if you’re really creative, why 70% of the population wants health care and they’re just not gonna get it. Maybe I’m forgetful. As I said, I almost got angry about this.
I also almost got angry last night when I heard two Democratic Senators on Maddow and Keith explain how much progressives had helped with the HCR bill and how even if it didn’t have a public option or a medicare buy in or anything else of any value to people who actually need health care and insurance, it was still an enormous victory because, get this, it will provide a foundation for the future. And in the future we can build upon the foundation (if you like this metaphor). And soon on this foundation there will be a 1700′ tall, glistening sky scraper, a beacon to the nation if not the world, called Universal Health Care and you, my dear friends, can even go in an visit the lobby of this edifice. Soon, of course, is a term of art. It means a time between now and the next, distant ice age. You can visit the magnificent structure for which you have provided the foundation if you can live to be 200 years old without adequate health insurance. I personally am not taking this as a bet. Are you kidding me? This is truly a case in which legislative nothing is claimed to be governmental something. So I was almost getting angry. And thinking of things I could do to get even (I’m like that. I don’t apologize for being like that). I’m a Buddhist, but revenge did cross my mind and perch on my eyebrows like a carrion vulture.
Then I recalled some recent pacifying remarks by Pinche Tejano. His remarks were to the effect that it was all just a computer game and should be treated as such (his analysis was far more eloquent and intelligible than this very basic boil down of his very subtle and correct idea). So I began to think about all of this electoral politics as just a game. I couldn’t get mad about a game that was obviously rigged so that I couldn’t get to the next level, so that I would have an EPIC FAIL. What’s to get mad about that? It happens all the time. Especially to people like me with no game skillz. No game cred. In a word, losers. Suckers. I’m used to being pwned by games. I don’t like losing, but I don’t get mad about it. It beat the hell out of being almost angry about politics. Yeah. All of a sudden all of this electoral politics and senate politics and astroturf movements and Joe Lieberman made sense. It was all just like son of Pac Man. It was finally sensible. Even to me.
The Nobel Prize winner explains how some wars are good and necessary. He’s not old enough to have ever been faced with being drafted. And he hasn’t served. He’s apparently not worried about things like quagmires. He wins an award for peace. The award it turns out was endowed by a maker of explosives who felt guilty about blowing things up. The prize winner explains to people interested in peace how war is sometimes necessary. He is not embarrassed to do so. And the sometimes when war is necessary, he informs us, is now. That does not embarrass him either. Or at least not very much. Has peace ever been so devalued?
Closer to home, well, to my home anyway, number 2 son is in Hanoi traveling and taking photographs. He’s a photographer. Forty years ago, I spent a lot of time and energy on trying not to get to Viet Nam. I could look at that big plane that flew weekly to Pleiku and plan on how I was not going to be on it. No matter what. Now he’s there. Because he wants to be. In of all places, Hanoi.
He sends me a photo of a fish dinner he ate for lunch in Hanoi yesterday. The fish was delicious but, he reports, very bony. What can I say? I tell him the best part of a whole fish cooked like this is the cheeks. You can use a spoon to get to them. How do I know that?
The Hanoi Fish
On docuDharma, a refuge from the craziness of a larger, group blog that is its “blogfather,” there are several essays on the recommended list at this very moment about that particular larger, group blog. And a bazillion comments, including some from me, on what its apparently self inflicted, fatal wounds might mean. And what is happening in that crazy corner of the Internet. A corner from which I am absent and hope to remain so. Except that I keep looking over my shoulder, rubbernecking at the crash. And wondering about the plane to Pleiku.
What can I say? Why is it that I think know I’ve seen these movies before?
I was perusing a certain kind of ideological web site when I came upon the following article by Nicole Colson.
ONE AFTER another over the last month, the reports of terrible incidents of violence kept coming:
— A Vietnamese immigrant in Binghamton, N.Y., increasingly paranoid about police and upset after losing his job, kills 13 people at a center for immigrants before committing suicide.
— An Alabama man who had struggled to keep a job kills 10 people in a shooting spree before committing suicide.
— A Pittsburgh man, recently unemployed and afraid that the government would ban guns, opens fire on police responding to a domestic disturbance call, killing three.
These are just some of the recent eruptions of violence to make the headlines in U.S. newspapers. In the 30-day period between March 10 and April 10, there were at least nine multiple shootings across the U.S., claiming the lives of at least 58 people.
The individual motives and stories differ widely, but there’s a common thread among these incidents–the worsening economic crisis is becoming a factor in pushing some people who are already on the edge over it.
It seems nearly everyone is concerned with the ever-shrinking middle class, but almost no one is willing to discuss the social class those middlings are being tossed into: the POOR. The platform, speaking for the poor, that John Edwards ran on during last year’s presidential election primaries resulted in his marginalization and eventual banishment from the public discourse as the elite weeded out those candidates who dare point out the disease of poverty. But just because the messengers were silenced does not mean the larger problem went away; it continues to fester, with disastrous social consequences.