The Depths of Despair

shhhhhA while back during the stimilus ‘debate’ (more accurately, the GOP throwing a major hissy fit and threatening to hold their breaths until they turned blue because, socialism, omigod teh deficit, Obama is ebil Islamofascist dictator socialist Neville Chamberlin Adolph Hitler gonna take all our guns away such a big wimp and totally a dictator, and, and, and ACORN!, so shut up!  Also), I stopped reading and watching anything about politics for four days in a row.  I had been following the stimulus ‘debate’ closely until one of the talking heads said something like, “Oh, it’ll pass” before going on to rehash some inane detail of the stimulus.  It took my breath away how casually this talking head stated it would pass, as if it were irrelevant to the matter at hand, which was how one sentence on the 127th page of the bill enraged the junior senator from Kentucky or something equally stupid.

So I said to myself, “Minna, why the fuck are you following this if it’s gonna pass no matter what?  Why listen to the bat-shit crazy talking points from the nutters and their enablers if it drives you so fucking insane?  Why not…pull the plug?”  I resisted.  I protested with my other self.  “I have to be well-informed.  I have to keep up with what’s going on.  I can’t not read the news!”

“Bullshit,” said the other me.  “Look, it’s the weekend.  Congress will be out doing their schmoozing and fucking around.  Nothing is gonna happen.   You can glance at the headlines on Yahoo! if you like, but you can go four days without reading or watching anything about politics.”

“But, I will die!”  I argued with me.  Yes, I am quite the drama queen when I argue with myself.  “Besides, it’s irresponsible and, and, and ACORN!”  Oh, wait.  No, that’s the rightwingnuts last word, not mine.

My other self won, and I didn’t watch, read, or listen to the news for four days.  It was difficult, but it also felt damn good.  I didn’t start being a political junkie until the last election, and it’s exhausting to follow the minutiae, especially when nothing really seems to change all that much from day to day, and yet, so much talking and pundit-ing and wanking.  I know there are twenty-four hours in the day to fill, but really.

When I returned to the world of politics, my mood went from neutral to negative in, oh, about five minutes.  I decided I needed to cut down on my political consumption.  Which I did.  However, it slowly started growing again over time, and now, I am back engrossed into the machinations of the government, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

Today, I read this an entry on Balloon Juice about the CEOs of Goldman Sachs maybe giving themselves the biggest and bestest bonus evah this year because they made gangbusters profits in the first quarter, mainly by rigging the books.  Yes, that’s my lay-person interpretation.  You can Google it if you want to know the details as I am too dispirited to do any research on it right now.  Seriously?  More bigger better bonuses than ever?  Even if they don’t, their attitudes toward the recession that they helped create and at the bailout indicate to me that they have learned jack shit from the last six months or so.  They are not repentant, nor do they appear amenable to changing their ways.  They are fighting even the most tepid changes to the way regulation has been enforced, and they are implying that the consumers are the ones who will be hurt if the rules are enforced.

They were too big to fail, so we bailed them out.  Now, they want to award themselves more money, even though people are still losing jobs by the thousands.

Then, there’s health care.  The GOP and the Blue Dawgs are fighting the public option tooth and nail.  Some on BJ believe that even with all the wrangling, there will be a public option in the final bill.  Again, it’s more political theatre designed to–I don’t know what.  Even if I were to believe that some kind of public option will be included in the final bill, it’s gonna be diluted to the point of uselessness.  The same people grandstanding on health care are people who enjoy a very public option choice of health care.  After all, WE pay for the health care of our fine congress people.  Yet, they don’t seem to be calling that socialism or protesting too loudly.  Why is that?

Then, we have queer issues and the fierce urgency of, “eh, whenever”.  And the so-called transparency that hasn’t been, actually, all that transparent.  And, and, and…the more I read, the more hopeless and helpless I feel.  I know that Obama is better than W. by far, but it’s a bit dispiriting that true progressive voices are still dismissed as moonbatty and too far to the left to matter.

Politics are heavily slanted towards the status quo, the wealthy, and big businesses (Pharma, Agra, etc.), and that isn’t something I see changing any time in the near future.  Look, it takes millions of dollars even to run for office, and where does most of this money come from?  Businesses and corporations.  Big Pharma has lined the coffers of many government figures, including President Obama.  It’s difficult not to be at least somewhat beholden or influenced when you are getting lots of money from one group or the other.  I’m not sanguine that this is going to change any time soon.

I am thinking of winnowing my political perusal again, or doing another self-enforced ban.  It’s time for an emotinal cleansing.

13 Responses to The Depths of Despair

  1. Politics are heavily slanted towards the status quo, the wealthy, and big businesses (Pharma, Agri, etc.), and that isn’t something I see changing any time in the near future.

    I can easily imagine someone in, say, the Roman Empire saying the same thing. Well, maybe not the bit about Big Pharma…

    The same people grandstanding on health care are people who enjoy a very public option choice of health care.

    More than that — they enjoy the very government-run health care they’re trying to convince their constituents is a Bad Thing. Feh.

    I hear you, and I think you can tell I’m pretty cynical, but I’m reminded of Churchill’s quote about democracy being the worst form of government, except for all the others. It may be cold comfort, but even if the entrenched interests louse up health care reform, they simply can’t stop it dead like they did in the ’90s.

  2. I get really agitated reading about the business as usual politics as well. I know that these entrenched power-hungry creeps will do anything to keep their power (as they have since, well, FOREVER). But it’s admittedly tough to strike a balance between being informed and staying above the fray.

    It’s a little like watching a daily soap opera, in that often, changes happen so slowly it seems to be no changes at all. Lots of excitement & bluster, but nothing substantial comes of it. Of course, occasionally, something huge does happen. But friends will inform you if you miss something like that. BTW – thanks for informing me regularly. At least then you have someone you can share your indignation with!

  3. Greg, you’re right. I know this kind of thinking has been present, probably since day one. I keep forgetting that democracy is sloppy, messy, sometimes ugly, and rarely blazing in speed.

    You are right about the health care issue coming to a better resolution than it did under Clinton (dead in the water, I think the phrase goes). I read an article at the Firedoglake website comparing the health care crisis to slavery, and all the commenters agreed with him. I just cringed. It’s nothing like slavery. I need to keep things in perspective.

    Choolie, yeah, I don’t know how to walk that fine line between being informed and being entrenched. Since there is little I can do in and of myself, it may be better not to be quite as invested.

    You are right in that it’s a soap opera. All this fanfare and drama, but with little actual change. Big things, like electing our first black president (still get chills typing that) happen so rarely.

    Oh, and I hope I am not your only source for the news because that would be a tad bit scary.

  4. I know this kind of thinking has been present, probably since day one.

    I wasn’t chiding you for your pessimism, Minna. I’m saying *you’re* right — politics has always been heavily slanted towards the status quo and the wealthy.

    The one bright spot is that our system encourages coalitions of competing interests. It sure seems like all out Congresscritters have been bought, and will stay bought, by the medical-industrial complex, but either they’ll figure out that they need to serve the people they’re *supposed* to represent, or we’ll throw the rascals out and get new ones.

  5. Greg, I was chiding myself because I tend to get into the all or nothing mindset. I do think that with three-fourths of Americans supporting a public option in health care, we are inching towards, you know, actually getting one.

  6. Taking out one portion of this, don’t use Goldman to judge all of Wall Street. I could have told you when this started that GS was going to come out a winner, because they always come out a winner. Part of it is how well they are connected, but most of it is because they are the smartest motherfuckers in the industry. They are the evil geniuses of Wall Street, and I do mean evil.

    One of the big problems in the finance business is that everyone makes the same damned trades. You see one person making a lot of money doing something, so they all have to do it. It means that, when it becomes time to unwind everything, they all lose money, because they all have the same overbought positions. Except Goldman. They were usually the ones who came up with the great idea, and they were *always* the first ones out, and sold there positions back to the crowd. It’s uncanny.

  7. J. Michael Neal, I had no idea that GS was so far ahead of the curve. My main gripe with the WS players is that the ones in the news all seem to believe that they are entitled to make a kajillion dollars a year, even when they fail. They take the risk, but they don’t have to pay if they fail.

  8. More and more I am beginning to see why my grandfather doesn’t vote anymore. He’s well into his grumpy old man stage. He can belt out a “BAH!” as well as anyone. And when he told me years ago, “Bah! It doesn’t make any difference who you vote for,” I thought that was the worst advice he’d ever given me.

    But we just voted for a president who’s “change” motto seemed to be more meaningful than the average campaign slogan. And this on top of such a disastrous previous administration that has Americans clamoring for change – they don’t even think socialism sounds bad anymore for crying out loud! If, given all that we still can’t budge the corporatocracy it seems hopeless.

    These guys’ greed knows no bounds. They are more than willing to destroy the planet. They are more than willing to destroy the middle class. They are more than willing to destroy America. And our spineless, egotistical, power hungry political class aids and abets the whole way.

    Grr. I don’t even remember where I was going with this other than to say that I think my grandfather is right.

  9. gex, I was seriously thinking of not voting in the last election. Then, I was actually inspired by Obama, and I voted for him. Now, I have realized that as much as he promises hope and change, he’s just one man. An impressive man, but one man, nonetheless. I think, in the end, when Barack Obama leaves office (hopefully, after two terms), we will have a better America than what we have now, but there will still be lots of work to be done. Our country is set up for the big guys to win, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  10. No you’re definitely only one of mt news sources. Don’t worry. But you’ve alerted me to things I may have taken much longer to encounter a few times.

  11. I like how people still spit the word Socialism out. One day I may understand why the premise of taking care of ALL and sharing the wealth and the burden amongst ALL is a bad thing.
    As for not watching the news, as I have focused more on personal matters, it has become a bit freeing to NOT be a slave to my political junkie. I’m OK with it because it is all I did for EIGHT LONG YEARS!
    President Obama IS just one man and with that, comes disappointment. Hopefully the people who helped elect him realized that the right’s clap trap shouts and accusations of Messiah was just that. I’ve never met anyone who walks on water, not even President Barack Obama.

  12. One day I may understand why the premise of taking care of ALL and sharing the wealth and the burden amongst ALL is a bad thing.

    Hey, credit where due, corporate America is getting there. They’re often big advocates of socializing the risks.

  13. whabs, it bemuses me at well. Most people in France like the social safety net they have, thank you very much. I think it’s because for many people, even those who aren’t well-off, the dream of some day being filthy rich is enough to make them NOT want to have to be (theoretically) taxed at a higher rate when they attain such dreams.

    As for the prez, nah, I knew he didn’t walk on water when we elected him–however, he does do a good impression.

    Greg, snort. You made me laugh.