05 November 2007

Outrage Fatigue and 2 Georges

I'm suffering from outrage fatigue. After nearly seven years of George, mine seems to be a common condition. The presidential election is now one year away but already Americans have distracted themselves with the small differences between Hillary, John, Joe & Barak and with the larger, but less relevant, differences between Rudy, Fred, John, and Mitt.

George doesn't have foreign policy. He looks into the soul of a leader like Putin or Musharraff and places his confidence in them, seemingly confused when they rule like despots. When the people of, say, Pakistan turn against the leader he's bet on, he's left alienated and ineffectual. While Pakistan has been brewing as a major issue, George trusted his friend Musharraf to quell riots there while he pushed to attack Iran, showing a gift for multitasking through even the most important events of his administration. At this point, he could easily leave the next president with military conflicts and / or civil wars raging in a row of contiguous countries stretching from Egypt to China, an unprecedented swath of policy failure which boggles the mind, including as it does Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan - countries that are home to about a third of the world's Muslims. It would be hard to have intentionally created so much chaos.

Meanwhile, here at home, George made only his fifth veto. In addition to vetoes against funding for stem cell research (twice), troop withdrawal, and health care for children, he's decided to veto a water bill. Water issues constitute a quiet crisis, something we're acutely aware of here in southern California. "Today, mankind is using about 160 billion tons more water each year than is being replenished by rain. If this water were carried in water trucks, it would require a 300,000 mile-long convoy of trucks every day - a convoy length 37 times the diameter of the Earth. This is how much water we are using and not replenishing." [from James Martin's The Meaning of the 21st Century] Whether George's environmental legacy would best be represented by an ostrich or Dodo bird is an argument I'll leave for others.

George is also appointing an attorney general, a supposed advocate for the people of this country, who believes that torturing and wire-tapping citizens is perfectly fine - showing a casual disregard towards the individual not seen since King Charles was beheaded for thus ignoring the rule of law and the rights of citizens.

I could go on, but I'm just tired of it all. Tired of the former frat boy cheerleader who seemingly seizes on every policy decision as an excuse for doing a cheap imitation of Alfred E. Newman. Tired of the press taking him seriously and acting as if anything he and his advisers said still makes sense. Quite simply, I've got outrage fatigue.

All that to say that Lowell George (a southern California boy) and Little Feat were my favorite band when I was in high school. One evidence of genius is that its products don't age. Lowell was more than a wicked slide guitar player with funky white overalls. He was a songwriting genius. This song in particular seems to capture my current political funk. Sing along if you care.
"Telephone is ringing.
Tell me it was Chairman Mao.
I don't care who it is ...
I got the apolitical blues."



Anonymous said...

The song I keep falling back on is Don McLeans "Prime Time." It's thirty years old, and you don't have to change a word of it.

We had to burn the city 'cause they wouldn't agree/
That things go better with democracy…

David said...

Oh my, amateurs dabbling in foreign policy. I got you that Foreign Affairs subscription awhile back so you wouldn't keep making these mistakes. If I could only find a way to let my fervor (bias) drift over to economics, wouldn't that be something to read? Calm down. Everything will be better when Hillary wins. You know it, I know it, Bill knows it.

Ron Davison said...

I've not heard that song. I'll have to do a search on YouTube.

oh that's right - this isn't a democracy anymore. It's unfashionable to criticize a subject matter expert unless you, too, have a presidential appointment. What kind of nonsense is that? You've never had an opinion about economics? Come on.

Life Hiker said...

Outrage fatigue. Everybody's got it. I'm down in red North Carolina this week, and even the newspaper has lost its redness.

What should our country do about Musharaff? "Uh, have elections and ask him to take off his military uniform..." That's all we get from our president - one sentence? Unfortunately, George W. has only one sentence for every issue because that's as far as his brain can go.

If you saw "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday, you saw Outrage Fatigue on prime time. Len, the professional dance judge, tells Helio Castroneves that "just because you're from Brazil, that doesn't mean you will be good at tango, just like if you're from Texas, it doesn't mean that you will be a good president". Wow!
Could it be that the revolution starts with a comment on dancing? One can only hope.

My 86 year old mother is impressed by Bloomberg's resume, even if he's a Jew. Everyone wants someone who will do something, and he may be the only one who has he intellect, confidence and cajones to go after the changes that are inevitable for our society.

Ron Davison said...

It's hard to believe that Dumbya isn't going to become a catch phrase for something and easy to believe that it'll be something ugly.
I don't know enough about Bloomberg to make a judgment yet. At first glance, his resume reminds me too much of Berlusconi's for me to feel particularly excited about his possible entry into the race.