Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ozymandias Obama

A gigantic sand sculpture of President Obama has arisen from the vast wasteland of corruption known as Wall Street South. It was supposed to be a Mount Rushmore-type homage to the 2008 grand prize winner of Ad Age's Marketer of the Year contest. Sadly, it's turning into a reprise of a certain sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Oh, how the mighty are crumbling.

Just when you'd gotten resigned to the sight of the erstwhile liberal class marching in ovine personality cult lockstep with the Big Sellout, Barack Obama's right-wing side has at last been dented. Literally. 

Because, wedge-issue feminist pandering from Democrats notwithstanding, Mother Nature herself is singularly unimpressed and definitely not fooled. Maybe you were smugly assuming that she favors the Blue Team just because she so obligingly pre-empted the first day of the GOP's orgy. But she is plenty pissed that the president, too, has turned out to be such a bellicose arch-conservative. And she is absolutely livid that while she's suffering through the climate change, he seems to have lost interest. So it was no surprise that the massive sand sculpture of Himself being constructed in Charlotte, NC suffered some damage yesterday when a sudden rainstorm hit the Democratic convention city.

 The vaunted center of the malleable edifice is carefully protected from above, but the right side was left vulnerable to attack by an angry squall arriving from the left. The wind-driven downpour obliterated the sharp right elbow he'd previously used to jab those marginalized purist ideologues. And although most of the right-sided aspect survived largely intact, the face was dimpled with unsightly pockmarks. And the poetical sneer of cold command remains. As He Himself is so wont to intone, "there's still a lot of work to be done." The sand statue, like the presidency, is being defended as a work in progress. Lots of smoothing over, lots of soothing platitudes, lots of folksy schmoozing with the masses.

Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair!

Could the storm damage spell payback for the choice of anti-labor North Carolina as the site of the convention? Could it be discontent with the fact that the government is taking extraordinary rendition to a whole new level by proclaiming the convention an "extraordinary event" and squelching protest? Could it be outrage that while a mere statue of Mr. Sandman-Send-Me-a-Dream Obama has a protective roof over its head, millions of ordinary people have lost their homes to foreclosures and mortgage fraud by banks? Could it be disgust that the president will be giving his acceptance speech in Bank of America stadium? (yet another edifice constructed with the ill-gotten gains of the unpunished lords of finance.)

That the Democrats' unscripted Clint Eastwood moment has arrived even before the official start of their propaganda party may well be a harbinger of better things to come. We can only hope. And protest, and resist, and march. It's only natural.
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


Pearl said...

After watching the Republican Convention, everyone seems even more
apprehensive about what the future holds. But I think I will find it more
difficult to digest the Democratic convention because of our tied in history with the party, our disillusionment with Obama and concerns about how to vote.

At least, it was easy to spot the huge holes in the presentations in Tampa as well as the frightening support by the large crowds of pumped up voters,which was not unexpected. The Democratic Convention will not be so obvious and I wonder whether or not they will have some truly liberal speakers and if so, what can they say and how will they say it? Merely attacking the opposition is no longer enough and repeating the mantra of what may be planned for the
next four years will be repetitive and a reminder of how far short they have fallen with previous promises.

So don't be surprised by the very uncomfortable reactions we may have to
events in North Carolina. If Obama is smart he can display a sense of humor by having a skit with a chair, representing Romney, with or without the vulgarity that Clint Eastwood displayed.

Let's hope there will be some protest statements from the floor by some of the progressives who have been shafted and wonder if they will be allowed to be seated. We should have some interesting comments following Karen's blog (with suitable sardonic columns) afterwards. I am looking forward to that.

Valerie said...

I can't believe that Obama agreed to having a huge sculpture done of him. How proud is that? Reminds me a little bit of how he shamelessly accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Seems to me that the fates have made a deal with mother nature to pop his ego bubble.

Denis Neville said...

Karen, excellent!

Unfortunately, unlike our present day Ozymandias, there are many who will not have to wait the test of time to be left for ruin in the sands. They are already there, much like that those ancient sculptors, who were enslaved and poured their sweat and blood on that stone, while the Ozymandias Obama will flourish:

“Barack Obama and his franchise are emulating the Clinton’s, and are speaking not to voters, but to potential post-election patrons. That’s what their policy goals are organized around. So when you hear someone talking about how politicians just want to be reelected, roll your eyes. When you hear an argument about the best message or policy framework to use for reelection, stop listening. That’s not what politicians really care about. Elections in many ways are just like regular season games in basketball – they are worth winning, but it’s not worth risking an injury. The reason Obama won’t prosecute bankers, or run anything but a very mild sort of populism, is because he’s not really talking to voters. He just wants to be slightly more appealing than Romney. He’s really talking to the people who made Bill and Hillary Clinton a very wealthy couple, his future prospective clients. We don’t call it bribery, but that’s what it is. Bill Clinton made a lot of money when he signed the bill deregulating derivatives and repealed Glass-Steagall. The payout just came later, in the form of speaking fees from elite banks and their allies.” - Matt Stoller

Karen Garcia said...

I was reading a survey the other day revealing that Republicans lie over half the time in their ads while the Democrats restrict themselves to a mere third. It got me thinking that the Goppers are like those manic gyroscopes I played with when I was a child while the Dems are the run of the mill plodding spinning tops who lie largely through omission. So here's my response to Paul Krugman's latest which evolved from Ryan lying even about his marathon time:

When I was a kid, I had one of those toy gyroscopes. It was much more fun than an ordinary top, because you could get it to rotate indefinitely, even when it tilted at impossibly extreme angles. The directions said you could even get it to walk a tightrope, although I never mastered that particular trick.

Paul Ryan is a living, breathing gyroscope. He walks the tightrope without a net. His lies may be crazy, they may be totally out there, but they are eternal. Once you wind him up, he can't seem to stop. He's in control, and out of control at the same time. If he falls, he bounces right back. If he's caught out, no big deal.

This is a man who professed to simultaneously embrace atheism and Catholicism. He betrayed the Virgin Mary with Ayn Rand, and vice versa. So, when he claims he'll protect Medicare, he means exactly the opposite. A spinning wheel within a wheel, opposing viewpoints held at the exact same time with an earnest straight face, holds his audiences in thrall. It's a dizzying pace, exhausting the fact-checkers used to debunking only one political lie or two a week. The Ryan gyroscope careens in a 24-hour news cycle.

Ryan seems to have what psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen calls Zero Degrees of Empathy, what he calls the worst level of cruelty. Skilled at manipulating people, able to turn in one virtuoso mendacious monologue after the next, Ryan keeps right on spinning. And too many people keep getting spun.

Will said...

What has been seen cannot be unseen. The creepy countenance of sand monster Ozzy Obama will be prominently featured in my next nightmare. Thanks a lot, Karen. ;)

Percy Shelley's poem also inspired a powerful (Is there any other kind?) Chris Hedges column last year:

And if THAT wasn't depressing enough, here's Hedges' latest column posted earlier today:

Jay - Ottawa said...

I’m convinced Mother Nature checks in to Sardonicky regularly. Her comments are all over the place. Look around. It was Mother Nature herself, through the spitting rain aimed at Charlotte, who reminded us how low and insubstantial the most powerful man on earth happens to be. As Karen pointed out in the best Mencken style, we are led by another empty Ozymandias.

He, in turn, is controlled by soulless corporations dragging everything – animal, vegetable and mineral – to extinction for profit, whether we protest or not. Our protests are as laughable as the boasting of Ozymandias.

Prophets don’t foretell the future. They tell us what’s wrong about the present, without blinking. They stick to essentials, the big stuff. Their words fall harsh on our ears. They are no fun. We have a stern voice like that, and I know people who say they will no longer read him because his words are too depressing. Chris Hedges, in his latest Monday morning mini-jeremiad, spells out our present circumstance – the real big picture – despite our preference for the distractions of political spectacle and electronic hallucinations.

Life can no longer compete with the forces arrayed against it. Shrug or protest? In the end what’s the difference? We don’t matter. Dust, they say. Not even a broken statue left behind after we disappear. So, shrug or protest? What’s the prophet say?

“Voting is useless. But while I support … heroic acts of resistance I increasingly fear they may have little effect. This does not mean we should not resist. Resistance is a moral imperative. We cannot use the word “hope” if we do not fight back.”

Like Pilate questioning our capacity to attain “truth,” we must continually ask ourselves whether “moral imperatives” are worth the effort. More depressing than a Jeremiah or a Hedges is the unspoken “No!” of people still free enough to say “Yes!”