Quick answer: I don't comment nearly as much as I used to. For one thing, responding to the constant barrage of stories about Donald Trump's latest belch, Queen Hillary's daily crumbelievable a la carte wonk offering, or Barack Obama's self-referential legacy tour of glory was getting too depressing. And also too scary, given the downward spiral in the general quality of the allegedly moderated comments. Comment threads are getting nasty in this atavistic election season, in which every vote surely counts equally! When anonymous posters hurl vitriol at you from behind the cowardly safety of their home computer screens, it stings. It really does. I admit it, I am averse to conflict when I don't even get to know who I am conflicted with.
At a time when politicians are so loathed, and the paranoid overlords of the ruling class are doing everything in their power to tamp down the populist impulse, the pulsating comment threads kind of remind me of the swarm of bees that nearly took over my town last week.
Some genius, or practical joker, left several crate-loads of bees on the side of the road. Lacking a hive and desperately needing to protect their Queen, they became became very confused and irate. They attacked every breathing thing, out of pure tribal instinct. My daughter Kat was walking near our apartment complex when she became a subject of their wrath. They aimed right for her head. As she screamed for help when they literally got stuck in her hair, the cars just whizzed merrily by until finally a Good Samaritan stopped to assist her. She was fine, but another victim was rushed to hospital after suffering an allergic reaction to the stings. Flashing lights were eventually posted and a cop stationed by the side of the road to monitor the situation, which lasted the better part of a day. One plucky college student had the wherewithal to make a video, which the local newspaper published. The film immediately goes into slo-mo as soon as the driver spots the cop on the side of the road. Ever seen a stoned bee? Well, now you have!
A much, much scarier situation occurred over the weekend in Nevada, where the Democratic Party showed its true undemocratic colors for the whole world to see. If these authoritarian bigwigs can freak out over a couple of extra moot Bernie Sanders delegates crashing their elite party, I can only imagine what the national Philadelphia confab will look like. Sanders might not have a chance to win the nomination, but the police state antics displayed over the weekend are making me cheer on the Bernie Or Bust movement. I hope that its spirit and its activism survives long, long after Hillary or Donald takes the oath of abusing their office. I also hope that no innocent people get hurt. But with enough people already getting hurt by this country's crushing, inhumane neoliberal policies, that is a risk that the desperate ones are willing and able to take.
Now, back to the Times. I did actually break down and write three comments within the past week, but only because silence in the face of such cloying mendacity and superficiality was just not an option for me. I broke down. I took the loathsome bait.
First to annoy me was Frank Bruni, who emitted a sickeningly sweet and colorblind racist ode to Barack Obama, which he called "Obama's Gorgeous Goodbye." Bruni was especially tickled that Obama again scolded the Black Lives Matter activists during his Howard University commencement speech. Young black people who have failed to mind their manners when dealing with candidates who talk down to them is apparently one of Bruni's, and Obama's, biggest pet peeves.
My not very popular sarcastic response:
This was a gorgeous addition to the ongoing Obama legacy tour. It truly captured the president's mythos and the spirit of compromise for which he does deserve much credit.
My quibble is this: why lecture the Black Lives Matter movement in such a scolding way? When black people are getting killed by a law enforcement at the rate of about one per day, they rightly protest, march, interrupt fundraisers of a politician who once called young blacks "super-predators who must be brought to heel," and make all the noise they can to try and stun our elected officials into paying attention to them. This is an existential crisis, not a tea dance or Aspen Ideas forum.
Obama has been criticized in the past, notably by Ta-Nehisi Coates, for using graduation speeches to very successful young black people as a way to "dog-whistle" a reassuring message to white people. There is none of Martin Luther King's "fierce urgency of now" rhetoric coming from his lips. Then again, he's often said he is president of all the people, even the angry white dudes who can't find work because of off-shoring trade deals that have profits over people as their implicit mantra and their only objective.
We need to examine and acknowledge the root causes of their despair before lecturing people about their excessive "purity." There's nothing wrong with young people afflicting the comfortable when they refuse to budge from their comfort zones. When your very life is on the line, politeness seems almost suicidal.One commenter actually gushed, "If only all black people could be like the Obamas!"
And then there was Maureen Dowd, with yet another breathless insidery account of one of her regular exclusive tete-a-tetes with The Donald. Some might call her series of pieces, showcasing the Raw Trump at his rawest, an example of the arch, deadpan satiric style with which she is capably comfortable. But her latest offering just struck me as lazy and dead. I responded thusly:
I really feel for Maureen Dowd. A whole week has gone by since her Trump satire, and the prospect of actual journalism has proven to be way too daunting. But kudos anyhow for the volcano metaphor and the heads-up that this op-ed would be a banal convergence of farce and tragedy.
Here's an energy-saving suggestion for the next installment in the Dowd-Trump saga. Rather than feed us an allegedly verbatim account of yet another vacuous, one-sided conversation with The Donald, how about a podcast to save both yourself or your assistant(s) the trouble of typing out 800 whole words of exhausting stenography? I mean, although the titters and the air kisses were way too implicit in this piece, I am dying to hear them actually vocalized. I also want the sound effects of the call actually going through on speed dial. As a paying subscriber I deserve it.
And just think how many remunerative clicks that such an "I Hear It Now" Murrow-esque piece would get you.
I won't even bother asking whether you have any shame.
Last and definitely least is the latest from Paul Krugman, a/k/a "Clinton Operative K." (h/t Naked Capitalism.) Riffing on Hillary's ghost-written 90s ode ("It Takes a Village") to herself, Krugman first gloats over Republican pedophilia in high places before pivoting to Clinton's own incremental great love for children, equaled only by Krugman's own sudden and great piecemeal love for children.
Krugman is only concerned about details when it comes to, say, single payer health care. Hillary's plan is also big on aspirations and short on specifics, but it's given a miraculous pass.
Of course, her ideas are good ones, especially better pay for workers and subsidized day care. But they still have neoliberalism (market-based solutions to social problems) written all over them.
The first clue is that Krugman and Clinton talk about kids as investments, from which the plutonomy expects to derive big dividends as tomorrow's worker bees and payers of regressive taxes.
Well, guess what? Children aren't cattle futures.
They need enough to eat, today. Growing bodies can't thrive on "increments." But year after year, food stamp stipends get cut. Republicans demand starvation ("he who eats must work") and then Democrats agree to give the nippers a wee nip and tuck here and there.
Parents need jobs and living wages, today. Hillary should demand reversal of the repeal of FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children. Bernie Sanders's shocking claim that Clintonoid welfare "reform" has doubled extreme poverty in the US in the past two decades was deemed accurate by fact-checking organizations.
Kids require shelter, today. The rents are too damned high. Every year, 2 million kids face homelessness. Evictions are the new normal. We need a federal guaranteed housing policy.
Human rights can't be doled out in increments for the sole purpose of placating the Market God.
(Don't even ask me to re-post all the readers' responses to my offering. Let's put it this way: some of them make the Angry Bees of New Paltz seem like butterfly kisses with gossamer wings.)
|Go to Hillary's Website for the Only Truth There Is, You Lefty Child Hater!|