Walter Rhett

Remember the Better Things

In Ideas, National Affairs, Perlo on April 28, 2011 at 12:39 am

"Primrose Path," An Original African Hand built Rice Dike, c.1730s

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I’m a quilt maker posting patterns I see in words. I am a weaver trying hard to construct something durable. I am alive and I know something lives outside of myself. I want to attact its echo and light.

But did you ever become excited by an expectation and end up disappointed, smoldering and seething in anger,  feeling weak and weepy?

Twice this week I felt this way. Once when my lawn care service dumped the leaves–disguised as mulch–under the shrubs rather than carting them away. The second time when the President pre-empted the “discussion” and released the “document,” citing “better things” to do.

Lord, that only made things worse. I hurt my back screaming at the TV and promised myself never to watch CNN again. Why? Shouldn’t I have been ecstatic? Didn’t Barack strike a blow that would clear the air? Now nothing would interfer with my curious interest in “the dress.” But, quickly those who were in the silent ranks rose to object. “Proof,” they demanded. India is more concerned about the new security team Obama is installing. The Dutch are having a good laugh at the idea that Barack is Afrikaans. Canada has passionate supporters on both sides; those against are appealing to technical issues to prove the certificate is false. But if I were going to create a fake document, wouldn’t I make it perfect? Aren’t the issues being raised evidence of its veracity? There were smudges (I predicted a focus on one of the “X”s), it didn’t show the marks of leather binding, the doctor died eight years ago, the date the clerk marked it received was four days after the birth, the signature says “ukelele,” and was the copy real; after all the online pdf could be easily opened and its components moved around with a click in several software programs!

Today I got a four posts on twitter from a woman who sent her views in all caps.  Here’s two of her posts to me: (1) ANY OTHER BC I HAVE SEEN SAYS TRUE AND CORRECT.  PROVE A GOOD REASON AND I WILL ACCEPT (2) BUT IT STILL DOESNT PROVE NATURAL BORN, OBAMAS OWN WORDS IS WHAT HAS ME ASKING.  IF ITS TRUE FINE, JUST PROVE

Sadly, I don’t think the issue can ever be proved to her satisfaction. But let’s work backward. Why was it important to begin with? Eight Presidents were British citizens. Fifteen presidents lead a country in which owning slaves for a lifetime was considered a simple property contract. I’ve read the bill of sales. Since before Dred Scott, from the beginning of the Republic, they cry has been for “PROOF.” The Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall rejected the legal, common sense arguments of proof. So did Plessy. So did eleven states which seceeded from the Union and began the nation’s most tragic word. Even the incessant demand by the social voice for “paper” whose a historic echo. South Africa once required its African citizens to carry pass books. Unable to produce one? You were arrested and locked up on the spot. Those enslaved sent on errands carried day passes subject to inspection by an free person, to ensure they were in the proper place.

The key is a close reading of the post words, a technique the French call “explication de texte.” The frentic, intense focus of this posts is Obama, “his words.” For those who doubt with such absolute certainty, He is his own PROOF he should not be allowed to hold office. This man was ineligible and they seek the sign. He should not be President, this simply can not be, he is accused. At stake is more an unfinished lament over an election. Or dissatisfaction that her candidate lost. For her, a vote for Barack betrayed her honor and changed a world she believed in and cherished. There is uncertainty now and nothing is authentic. Inward are threats and distress. For many, a hunger develops, fed by a passive hostility; by some, even latent or open hate. Isolation from the beliefs of others begins. This is accompanied by a need to will Barack into nonexistence. Their hoax demands that the President of the United States prove he is an American. Yet for their hoax, there is no proof. It’s him, “his words.” From some deeper region of their minds, they force Obama to wear the masks of their fears: the loss of face, the loss of self-respect, the hint of cowardice, the furtility of his true aim, how his remarkable success outrages them. He must wear their humilation. How is it to be transferred? The question is how to “prove” what they can never accept. They challenge his honesty and deny his fundamental humanity. For their world view, and for reasons unavailable, it is a practical necessity that Barack Obama’s existence as President be denied.

Outside of the President’s words, the greatest conspiracy in the history of modern politics would have to be in place if the certificate he posted on the White House web site isn’t true. Two adminstrations of Hawaiian government, one under a Republican administration, and countless officials and lawyers would have engaged in fraud and forgery of the highest order and risked their political lives to criminal punishment if the certificate is fake. “I want him to prove it.” He has, but it doesn’t “meet” the perpetual doubt that holds out the hope for the return of what is both cherished and lost within the irrational fear of the private soul. We can nitpick and parse and split hairs and cast blame upon the victim (Obama), claiming injury for those whose demands will never be resolved. Sadly, many can’t see their fears as the reason for how small their hopes have become. Their fears say about Obama you are different, devious, immoral, duplicitious, and don’t deserve office; you embarass us, haunt us; you cheated, convived, lied to 62 million Americans and the world, but not to me. They accuse him of manipulating, but it is they who manipulated and stretched reality to hold on to a dying legacy they cannot let go.

Charles Blow has declared, “Trump’s pride is a mark of shame.” Overlooking the damage the discussion and intransigent doubts have done to the country’s standing, to the institution of our democracy, it perpetuates its own elaborate technical ruse, far more serious than the one it accuses the President of. That ruse of “non-matching” dates, places, requirements is subtly about race in a way easy to deny. The release of Obama’s birth certificate will not pacify the minority that cannot accept an African American president. Nothing Obama can do will send them a final, acceptable signal.

The New Journalism

The old fashioned, enumerated lists that journalists use to cite reasons for or against a decision by citing factors of climate falls short when viewed against the new GOP long term strategy, which is multi-tiered and multi-cycled, with specific state and federal goals.

To wit: the longer the Republicans wait to announce their presidential bid the longer Barack remains the singular focus and point of attack. It is easier to drive up his negatives and continue the public hazing if he is alone on the front. Waiting also has the advantage of heightening the fears many have of an Obama reelection. Swooping in from the wings will create a frenzy of movement and energy for GOP candidates.

As the Republicans unroll their politics of command and control, the Presidency is less important to party goals than control of state legislatures and state executive offices, and the US Senate and House. Long term, it remains to be seen if the GOP intends to mount a viable candidate for President or prefers to use the Obama Presidency as a straw figure to build and consolidate state and regional responses and advance their legislative and business agenda forward.

It is important to note that the GOP is becoming increasingly adept at using budget measures for executive leverage. They are actively funding and defunding legislative and executive authority according to ideology and special interests. A large part of the effort is an attempt to reduce elected executives, including the President, to figureheads. Elected officials whose power is being negated by defunded budget authority. Benton Harbor, Michigan is the case study in point. The elected Mayor and Council have had their authority removed without appeal and transferred to an official appointed by the Governor. Another part is to disenfranchise voters with absurb requirements and taking away the rights of opponents, including collective bargaining. This dictatorial tyranny is using democractic institutions to break the institution principle of broad freedom and concentrating absolute power in the hands of a few who will determine wages and the rights to political participation is the backdrop against a jounralism which has its head in the sand about the rapidly shifting GOP agenda, flying below the radar and rapidly gaining ground.

The Budget Line

Increasingly, businesses are shifting costs to government while becrying government’s rising costs. Whether it’s worker healthcare, unemployment insurance, debit cards for transfer payments, low interest rates, capital bail-outs, or direct ownership, the fast track trend is to hide the costs of business and its capital needs in the portfolio of government.

The public is distracted by those who receive these direct and indirect benefits when they “bite” (in the media!) the hand that feeds them. The private sector use of government to assume its costs also has a corollary that works in the opposite direction. The private sector would love to take over the $2.6 trillion surplus that sits in the social security system under the guise of choice. It is a prize to be gained with no more that a good public relations campaign and few changes in congressional votes.

The point is political economy matters more now than classical economy; the hidden, embedded, inter-connected relationships between the public and private sector are being exploited daily while most of us are worried about inflation, or in a twitter tizzy over the price of food. Classical economy shows trends and consequences, but political economy shows the re-alignment of power and the means of the concentration of wealth.
(One commenter said this was written “from Mars.”)

Birther or Bust

A New Vision

Commenting on Paul Krugman’s blog when he weighed in on Civil War anniversary, I wrote to draw parallels between the old and new political arguments of oppression: Your “aristocratic ideal” was my regulated feudalism with chattel rights (slavery), which Reagan would have deregulated, current Republicans would have supported, asserting freedom as too expensive and too socialist (after all, freeing slaves was a government taking, and a transfer of wealth, property, and productive means!), and Obama may have compromised with on plantations holding more than a 100 persons. Beck would read the Civil War as being a plot by the Knights Templar. Bill O’Reilly would try to bully Frederick Douglass into asserting slaves were not “prepared” for freedom. (School vouchers would be out of the question.)

You, my friend, would be pointing out how the “investment” in freedom would expand the economy rather than collapse it–and as always, only the loyal few believers, out of power, would be listening.

Think about it.
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