Saturday, December 26, 2009

Running in Place

I'm just so way behind here, and all my excuses are seasonal. Winter is hard and exhausting. Christmas is fun but exhausting. First it was the manic mayhem of shopping and wrapping, the giddy thing of tying endless bows, the ritual trip to the post office with two shopping bags full of presents. This is a luxury I enjoy indulging myself in: having lots of friends and celebrating them at Christmas. (I'm pit when it comes to birthdays.)

Then, a week ago last Friday afternoon, the snow began to fall. By Saturday morning, it had broken all records for the month of December. Talk about having a white Christmas! The night the snow started, nervous about what was coming down the pike and fearful of losing electricity, I pulled a Tarot card. It's first words were, "You are probably experiencing a period of enforced incarceration." I had to spend days digging my way out--shovel shovel, toil and trouble--until Tuesday, when I finally got out with the help of an angel friend, and we made straight for the local cafe so I could have a heavenly mocha.

Shoveling snow is like walking the plank to oblivion. It leaves your muscles and joints rebellious, and makes your brain go dead. Merry everything! So who else is going--and what should I wear?

The next dreck thing that happened is that my friend Fern, who always comes for Christmas from Chicago, got herself a miserable case of shingles in one eye. So I didn't get to give her the alligator-skin cigar holder I was planning as a Christmas gift. (Virgil, my snarky but delightful alligator blogging assistant, is quite happy about this, since he is always disgruntled whenever a compatriot's hide has been misappropriated. But he was quite bummed at not seeing one of his favorite humans.) In the end, Christmas did happen, just not on the right days or with all the right people.

Meanwhile, the good news came that Harry Reid had eked out his sixty votes for the health care bill in the Senate. As one commenter stated on MSNBC's blog FirstRead: "Senator Reid deserves recognition for never giving up, for never backstabbing anyone, for never walking away. It is his maturity, his steadfastness, his willing to listen to all, that will make this legislation possible. Something our government has never been able to accomplish. Hopefully this legislation will get better through the years."

As for the GOP, they have done their damndest to create "Waterloo" for Obama. Now, they will spend the next months trying to prove the bill is unconstitutional, if it does indeed finally pass. It's like doing battle with a plague of mosquitoes. Comments from the two Senate Majority Leaders, Democrat and Republican respectively, sum it up, party on party:

Harry Reid: "Affording to live a healthy life isn't about politics, or partisanship, or polling. It is about people."
Mitch McConnell: "This fight isn't over. My colleagues and I will work to stop this bill from becoming law." McConnell speaks for all Republicans, as they work hard to figure out what is stinking up the refrigerator, never realizing it's them.

But not only them. Liberals like Drew Westen continue their assaults on the Huffington Post, more dreadful and bilious than ever. Westen complains bitterly that Obama has delivered only "half a loaf." (You can read the entire piece on "Leadership, Obama Style: Pretty Speeches and Compromised Values" on HuffPo if you are cheered up by his exemplary discharge of baffled energies):

"I don't honestly know what this president believes. But I believe if he doesn't figure it out soon, start enunciating it, and start fighting for it, he's not only going to give American families hungry for security a series of half-loaves where they could have had full ones, but he's going to set back the Democratic Party and the progressive movement by decades, because the average American is coming to believe that what they're seeing right now is "liberalism," and they don't like what they see. I don't, either....What's they're seeing is weakness, waffling, and wandering through the wilderness without an ideological compass. That's a recipe for going nowhere fast -- but getting there by November."

Funny, but I don't have any problem knowing what Obama believes, and I don't see the multitude of lapses everywhere that Westen does. What I see instead is the constant buzz of mosquitoes, pressing all legislation flat into the ritual symmetry of "last man standing"--and a brutal guarantee "to keep it up at the same rate eight hours per day as long as the demand holds out."

In my humble opinion, ideological compasses are so 20th century anyway. Non-ideological governance is a change I can believe in. I really admire Obama's efforts of trying to govern non-ideologically. It is stimulating and refreshing to me. So how will the health care vote be remembered? Marc Ambinder asks on his blog. "A major victory for the forces of progress? A great moral advance in the history of America? Or the culmination of a scandalous series of secret compromises, backroom deals, and a blind ignorance to public opposition?"

Whatever you happen to believe, there is only one right answer. (Spoken by a Kenneth Lonergan character in "The Starry Message"): "Nobody knows anything. We're all just guessing." I think it behooves us to remember this in our puzzled attempts to understand.

Personally, I would like to wish our president a better decade to come, in his valiant struggle with the great crumbling sandbank that is now our country. As I write this, the snow has pretty much melted away--and the mosquitoes? They, and their dismal absurdities, sadly aren't going anywhere.


Margy said...

It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in the way I view this administration. Thank you for that.

Unknown said...

Right and wrong are so twentieth century. Right? I for one voted for Obama because of the idea-logical differences between what he said and what Bush said. Perhaps it is to early to make a definitive assessment of Obama's first year in office but I do wish he would demonstrate the same rhetoric now that he espoused during the campaign. The hope that he generated among my colleagues was due to his distinctions of right and wrong. Now what we mostly hear is compromise with the "devil".

Anonymous said...


I hope Fern is feeling better...I'm really sorry she didn't get to visit at Christmas/Hanukkah

Peace be with you..

great blog once again.

Anonymous said...

sorry this is not the best way to contact you but Google didn't come up with anything else! i am writing a thesis about environmental art and social activism. i have read Art and the Big Picture and wondered if you have heard of the artist activist collective PLATFORM based in London? my email is