Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I saw Syriana last night. I came way somewhat angry and disheartened. They film is interesting in that it tells various sides of the story of oil.

You know, the display of Arab wealth in the film was so ostentateous as to be childish and the display of American wealth was so arrogant as to be evil. Combine the two and you get one big "fuck you" to the average person. Anyone who attempts to change the status quo gets burnt. It is about greed, alliances of convenience, anf complete disregard for the greater whole. It was only a film. But like most good films, it is a commentary on the real world.

The only honest person in the whole thing was the young sucide bomber. In fact, you find himself sort of cheering him on a little until you realize that it is a waste. His act will change nothing.

Considering what we have been talking about on this blog for nearly 2 weeks, I have little if any faith that our leaders care. They pass budgets that steal from the poor and give to the rich. They add riders into legislation that have little to do with the legislation itself in a n attempt to gain political points. They lie, cheat, break the law at will and never suffer the consequences. I agree with RBR . . . we have become so average. It wasn't 9/11 that did this to us. We did it to ourselves. This averageness has been headed our way since the 1960s.

Has anyone else seen it? Any comments about it or the ideas it is meant to highlight?


Anonymous said...

"This averageness has been headed our way since the 1960s."

Care to elaborate on that, for those of us who weren't alive then and don't have the history background to connect the dots? 

// posted by Bob

US West said...

K, for the record, I wasn't here during the 60's either. But I know a little about history.

Allow me to set up an analogy. The U.S. as a nation has gown into adulthood. I see U.S. history as being marked by some important milestones, somewhat like the development cycle of a human. And I think that most of us agree with what these milestones are.

The Revolution is our birth as a nation; the Westward expansion is our toddler years; the Civil War and reconstruction-our are break into childhood, the industrial revolution and roaring 20's, our pre-adolescence; WWI, the Depression, and WWII-our early adolescence; The 1950s into the 1960s-our full adolescence; the Cold War-our college years; the 1970s, that period of time when you turn 30 (you're working, still broke, but trying to advance and earn adulthood); the 1980s-our 30's (you're working, coming into the cash, playing by your own rules, stable, and still advancing, feeling more confident in your identity). The 1990's -that nice confident period in our 40's (we are working, making the money, and on the fast track). And now, we are in mid-life crisis.

The social contract in this nation started to break down in the 1960's with the assassination of Kennedy and the Vietnam War. Nixon accelerated the process with Watergate. Regan's trickle down economics policies taught us the virtue of debt and borrowing to satisfy our material wants. Bush the First taught us that we can still win wars and negotiations. Clinton was a ray of hope that we as a nation might be on the mend. That soon ended with the 1994 mid-term elections. Now we are encountering the problems typical of a mature nation. We aren't so young and fresh anymore. Our ideals are gone. We worry about things like inflation, competition from abroad, energy shortages, etc. These are the things that other older nation's worried about. But we were the Superpower, invincible, the U.S. of A, American exceptionalism, all of that.

But now ,what are we? Our elections are fraudulent, our leaders corrupt, our middle class is being eviscerated, we torture people and hold them in secret prisons indefinitely, we spy on our own citizens, we are greedy, materialistic, hypocritical, and worst of all indifferent toward if not ignorant about the community of nations of which we are a part. We are a banana republic.

We were never these things. Now we are all of them. And I ask if we will ever be able to rebuild ourselves and the reputation that we once had. We are no longer a moral authority in the world. We don't deserve to be. GW has set is so far back, and we knew every step of the way that this is what he was doing. It's like living in a very bad movie.

I think about Germany. It was a proud nation. Then it lost 2 world wars, suffered huge economic consequences, massacred 6 million people, invaded others, and then spent 50 years divided and broken with guilt. It is just now feeling safe enough to say it is proud again. Will the U.S. suffer the same fate?

That, Bob, is what I meant when I said that " This averageness has been headed our way since the 1960s."

Anonymous said...

Well, first of all, I really wonder how new this all is. LTG drew a remarkable analogy between today and the Gilded Age (USA roughly 1865-1900).

Second, Germany wasn't all that proud in 1914 and that was the problem. Having only unified in the 1870s, they're leaders had a huge inferiority complex. Bush shares that with them. He substitutes bluster for intelligence and war for courage.

I guess I'm agreeing with your assessment of current events but taking SLIGHT issue with your mechanism/historical background. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

I understand and share USWest's deep frustration when she writes eloquently,

"I have little if any faith that our leaders care. They pass budgets that steal from the poor and give to the rich... They lie, cheat, break the law at will and never suffer the consequences."

But I feel her remarks about the breakdown of America's "social contract" suffer from the "good old days" fallacy. We never really had much of a social contract, did we? The rich and powerful have always run this country. Larceny, corruption, and oppression of a thousand kinds characterize our history. Zinn's "People's History of the U.S." is sobering reading indeed.

As I have written elsewhere, American history can be painted, in the broadest strokes, as the unsteady progress of liberal values against the fierce rear-guard action of conservatives. Slavery, child labor, racism, and sexism have finally been conquered (albeit not outside our borders). We have social security (albeit under threat), universal K-12 education (albeit in need of more funding), a federal minimum wage (albeit declining at present), a safety net (albeit weaker than in Clinton's time, but better than in Reagan's), some protections for the environment (albeit under seige), and corruption is far less than it was 100 years ago (albeit still at unacceptable levels.) In time these things will improve and we will have new benefits, like universal health care.

Keep the faith, USWest. Look not to the past, but to the future.

Anonymous said...

"Bush shares that with them. He substitutes bluster for intelligence and war for courage."

Let's see if we can get that line into a anti-Bush commercial. It has a nice ring.

Strangelove may be correct that there is a bit of the "rose colored" glasses look on the past, and he is correct that progress has come in fits and starts. I wonder what start this fit will lead to, how much worse it will get before it gets better.

But, it is the season of hope, so perhaps . . .

I will be confident again when BUSH IS IMPEACHED!

// posted by USWest

Bob said...

Okay, this is a story of a post. (Oh, and Merry Christmas to all, or at least I hope it was. I've been incommunicado, so maybe this'll fall off the front page before anyone reads it. Oh well, if I was writing for the fame I should be writing on my own blog. :) )

Because this is after the holidays, and there's lots more stuff on the Citizens since this post came up, I wasn't planning to post anything here. But the conversation reminded me of a powerful quote that I've tried unsuccessfully to find on the Web, so I tried to look for it again. And curiously, it actually tied more to this conversation than I expected.

Also, it was _still_ hard to find on the web.

I happened to see Thurgood Marshall announce his retirement, and as I recall, he kept it pretty short. I don't remember too much about it, but he closed with a quote from Langston Hughes that was brief and powerful. And I wanted to make sure I got it right.

The fact that I can't find Thurgood Marshall's retirement speech on the web is somewhat deplorable. The fact that a line from one of Langston Hughes's poems doesn't bring up that poem on Google is rather shameful. But anyway, eventually I got it.

The quote is this:
O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Really, that's all -- that seems to me to be the same sentiment of hope that Dr. Strangelove was expressing. And, though I thought it wasn't worth a post, I had some notions about commenting on the curious fact that America has had that "messianic" thing or whatever you want to call it, the notion of America being more than just some country. And that this ideal of America has persisted even in the face of corruption and poverty and all the worldly sins that force us to recognize that the America we aspire to is not the one we actually live in. And the Langston Hughes quote would fit in well with that too.

But, it turns out, this quote which Thurgood Marshall turned me on to is actually the penultimate verse of "Let America Be America Again" (which you can find here, by the way ). Which, curiously, is about nostalgia for the good America which used to be, and the realization that it never was, but that...well, go read it, and if that verse wasn't enough, here's another:

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

To be fair, the whole poem's much more stridently antagonistic toward USWest's original theme and post than I am, so I hope you don't take it personally. But I put it out there anyway, maybe because I'm a sucker for every paean to the unwashed masses yearning to breathe free, who are the people this country is for, and by, and of.

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

I read it Bob! Thanks for putting it there! And Thanks for the poem!

America, like any place, is more than a country. It is the human endeavor.

I think my sentiments are not unknown to any of us. When I was in France, they asked why I didn't move there and live with them. I made up a bunch of reasons. But the bottom line is, I am in love with my country. And like all lovers whose humanity hits us one morning while they are shaving or brushing their teeth, and we wish it were more, as you so eloquently put it. But the thought of not hearing them snore all night makes our heart ache, as well. So, we live with the humanity of it and buy ear plugs.


// posted by USWest

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