Thinking About Trauma and Euphoria
This is a dense, sober, fact-based post that people should read, but likely won't. That's a shame. There are many lighter and easier to read posts out there which say, more or less, many of the same things; you can find them if you search for them- here, and at other "hater" blogs. I'll try to simplify what I've taken away from the writing I prefer to read of late (a body of works which I'll note is growing in number rapidly) that responds to the stated aims and policies of the administration, which of today, is "official."
Put simply: America is suffering from PTSD. The traumas resulting from the last 8 years are myriad. War, poverty, anti-Constitutional criminality, inflation/deflation, unemployment, environmental and energy crises...and the sad part is that much of that was avoidable. That these things were avoidable is the reason why so many of us are sore in our metaphorical throats, our fingers tired from writing the same "No! We *are* predicting!" type precursors to the inevitable 'no one could've predicted!' response to collapse so common in our SCLM. It's a hard, lonely road, and it's made lonelier today, by the fact that our new Leader essentially has one message: you haven't been traumatized enough; get ready for more pain.
Speaking to non-blog readers, moderate liberals, and people who respond more forcefully to good speechifying than to hard policy, I think I understand the problem. Bluntly: people are tired. They're scared. They're traumatized. And they don't want to hear any more bad news. They want to believe, they want to hope. There's nothing wrong with that. Except, "nothing fails like prayer," and "hope is not a plan." Worse still, a bad plan is guaranteed to cause or increase existing problems, more than no plan at all. In a strange way, I find myself wishing that today's speech had been emptier, more filled with meaningless platitude and feel-goodism, than it already did. But the message I heard was clear: sacrifice. I don't believe President Obama meant those most responsible for our current crises, nor do I believe that he means it for those most able to make those sacrifices truly needed. I believe he means it for you and me, however.
As the author of the linked posts notes in some detail, I have my reasons. FISA. Warren. TARP. The proposed escalation in Afghanistan (and the insufficient plans for 'drawdown' in Iraq). Tax cuts instead of tax increases. "Entitlement reform." Moving "forward," rather than creating a stable, more just future by prosecution of those responsible for the problems that are guaranteed to unfold in it, due to their criminality and incompetence. The scope and range of the proposed stimulus bill does very little to offset the list above, nor do I believe it's more than a calculated, political plan that has more to do with reelection in '10 and '12, and less to do with actually addressing the problems that are hurtling down upon us all, "hope" and "change" notwithstanding.
There is also the problem of the track record of Republicans, of which I for one, have not forgotten. Or, what- do Obama and his supporters actually think that Republicans really mean to play nice, in exchange for plenty of hearty "bipartisanship" and "looking forward" talk, along with the elevation of a few moderate to outright hard right conservatives in the new administration? Sorry, Clinton tried that, at various times over the course of his term, and we all know where that got him: impeachment. How many times does Lambert have to say it: you can't trust Republicans. They will fuck you over every time, stab you in the back after every deal, pull the football out from your foot at every approach to the kick. You literally can't be cynical enough with them. What is so hard about this lesson, truly? It's no longer rhetoric, it's history and demonstrated fact.
But getting back to my original point: why won't anyone listen to people who speak like I am here? Because people are hurting, and afraid, and suffering from a desperate need to feel good. I thought I'd make it through this week without commenting, hoping to let people have a little moment of sunshine after 8 long years of bleak, gray hopelessness and pain. I think the reason I'm writing this post is because I want to go on record. Not out of bitterness, not out of doominess, not out of jealousy. But because I am angry. How dare Obama speak of "sacrifice," four times in under 5 minutes, at one point by my count, after directing Dems to hand over $350B in the initial TARP, no strings attached, and rushing to get the next round, and more, all while holding not a single Wall St. executive or Bush era regulatory agency actually responsible? It sickens me, because I understand, even if many don't, what it is that Obama means when he speaks of "sacrifice." He means for me and you, our SS dependent grandmothers and neighbors who rely on Medicaid and Medicare, veterans and the unemployed and students and the poor, to make his noble "sacrifice." Well, Fuck That. Seriously. I'm sorry, President Obama and CoS Emmanuel, that the Chinese national bankers have refused to agree to fund continued American idiocy and fiscal mismanagement, instead turning their available cash inward and towards their own, often green, development. I'm sorry it's so messed up in the world of high finance and credit, and that you find yourselves unable to make the hard choices with respect to our foreign creditors, such as the Saudis. But you really can't expect me to be happy to hear you talk about "sacrifice" and sit here silently, with a fake smile on my face, because I pity my friends and their desperate need to feel better after 8 years of feeling depressed and powerless.
Give me a reason to feel differently, and we can talk about "sacrifice." I have a long list, as a student of pagan religions, of fun ways we can employ that word. Unfortunately, I think you do too. I prefer the Sumerian version to the Phoenician, if that's not too cryptic. But unless and until I see (to hell with "belief, yo?) that you mean "sacrifice on the part of those most able to pay, and who are most responsible," I'll have a hard time distinguishing you from a moderate, Reagan-era Republican. Sadly, because of the last 8 years, the language of that era sounds "good" to many ears, who have forgotten what true liberalism and true progressivism sound like. I haven't. And I'll be here, as often as I can, reminding you of that fact, along with the storied history of failures that such neobullshit smoke and mirrors "fuck the poor and call it sunshine" have created, over and over and over again.
I suppose it's interesting and worth noting that Wall St. took a big dump on the speech today, going down by lots of points. Not that that, or this blog post, mean much, but stealing from Star Trek and lots of other fictional and historical narratives: when a friend and an enemy agree, the Wise Woman has no choice to listen. Think about what it means when two far-separated poles like that come to the same conclusion. But tonight, enjoy the champagne. There's nothing more painful than a champagne hangover.