Scylla and Charibdis
Either government doesn't matter, or that's all that matters. I don't know which.
I'm really wishing I had a poster version of this fantastical, post-collapse illustration of a road trip. And I wish I could be responsible and tell you a) the artist and b) where I got it. I've had this for awhile and just slugged the title as "Road Trip2" and a search for this didn't turn up the picture. If anybody knows where or how to credit this, say so.
Should I Go To Monterrey And Watch The Whales?
About two weeks ago Amy Goodman had Ralph Nader on Democracy Now! He was also profiled by Paul Farhi for the Washington Post, because, yes, he's running for president again.
"So at 74, shunned and marginalized, he's running for president for the fifth time.
"It's the rational approach," he declares. "If you're locked out of the governmental system, if you can't get a hearing, and I can't, you go to the electoral system. What's my alternative? Should I go to Monterey and watch the whales?"Having burned so many bridges, and persuaded for decades in the righteousness of his cause, Nader insists not on harnessing his dwindling sympathizers to the current Obama Hope train but instead takes every opportunity to drub Obama about how he's really just another suit. And Nader could be right.
Obama must run as a centrist candidate--much as Doug Wilder did when running for Lieutenant Governor and Governor here in Virginia, and what he sought to do when he ran for President for 10 minutes in 1993. This is the same reason Colin Powell was bruited for one executive office or another; but frankly, I don't know if Powell--one-- has the stomach for the fol-de-rol of campaigning and, two, with the way he was trotted out to fall on his sword for a lying administration, if he wonders himself what the hell he built a career in the military fighting for. Or maybe I'm naive. The latter is the most possible.
My gullible nature notwithstanding, if Obama ran as big a liberal as he likely is, there's no way he'd turn out the votes he needs. He's got a tough enough time being black and half-white and not Muslim. Politics is politics. Nader must know that.
I once met Nader, prior to his 2000 bid that made so many people angry. He was speaking at a philanthropy conference and I had the opportunity to interview him for a publication. We were backstage at a brand spanking new performing arts center at the University of Richmond. With a straight face, the only one he owns, he worried whether the blown-in insulation above us was asbestos. I got anxious because the little table upon which I rested my notepad wiggled and that caused the small lamp on it to flutter, with an obvious electrical short. I thought better of this, and rested the pad on my knees.
I remember how in 2004 Michael Moore and Bill Maher got down on their knees to beg Ralph not to run. The former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell -- who always made the best points on the shows she was on -- makes the point that Nader changed the way people throughout the world think about power. And said then he could be out there as the gadfly mobilizing people. He could be part of a feet-to-the-fire campaign. Use a check list, and f a candidate doesn't do it he pays the price. If Nader helped somebody win, he's still a player, and has influence where influence is everything.
Nader didn't take her wise advice. He's got his own reasons.
From the Post feature:
"Todd Gitlin, a Columbia University professor and a liberal author, admits he becomes "splenetic" on the subject of Nader the candidate. "I regard him as a saboteur of the cause to which he purports to devote himself," Gitlin says. "Nobody I can think of in public life has so willfully repealed his contributions to American life with such intensity and conviction."
Eric Alterman, another liberal commentator and author, calls Nader "a megalomaniac" and "a Leninist," in the sense of Nader's belief that things must get much worse before reform can begin. "There was only one person in entire world on election eve who could have prevented Bush's election."
Nader doesn't feel a need to apologize. He doesn't worry that the first line of his obituary will describe him as the spoiler of the 2000 race. He often quips, "You can't spoil a system that's rotten to the core." To strangers who get in his face, he has another deflection: "Gore won. The election was stolen. Go after the thieves."
It wasn't his responsibility, he says, to persuade people to vote for Gore. If voters were attracted by his positions and issues, he says, then Democrats were free to take the same positions. Bottom line? "The Democrats couldn't beat a bumbling governor from Texas," Nader mocks.
Nader wasn't the only man who could have changed the election's outcome. His name was one of eight third-party candidates on the Florida ballot, all of whom attracted far more than the 538 votes Gore needed to change the outcome.
Nader thinks it's futile to keep arguing about it. He also thinks one man could stop the "scapegoating": Gore. "If he would stand up and say publicly, 'Ralph Nader wasn't responsible,' that would make a huge difference," Nader says."
Nader: Obama Is Running For "Panderer-in-Chief"
From Democracy Now!:
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, on his first day as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee, Barack Obama traveled to Washington to address AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This is some of what he had to say.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Let me be clear. Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable. The Palestinians need a state—the Palestinians need a state that is contiguous and cohesive and that allows them to prosper, but any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized, defensible borders. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.
AMY GOODMAN: Obama later appeared to backtrack on his comments about the future status of Jerusalem as capital in a follow-up interview on CNN. He said it would be up to the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate. Ralph Nader?
RALPH NADER: Well, I think Barack Obama is in training to become panderer-in-chief. That was really a disgraceful speech. It didn’t further the peace process, the two-state solution favored by a majority of Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, a majority of Israeli and Palestinian people. He basically sided with the militaristic approach to occupying, repressing, colonizing, destroying the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. He hasn’t even spoken out against the international crime of the blockade of Gaza, one-and-a-half million people, from medicine or drinking water, fuel, electricity, food—lots of silent fatalities in Gaza because of that.
Barack Obama really now has to be examined very carefully. He has worn out the word “change.” We now want to know what change is involved. And it’s quite clear that he is a corporate candidate from A to Z. In his voting record, he voted against reform of the Mining Act of 1872, which gives away our hard rock minerals. He voted for a terrible class-action restriction law that the corporations wanted him to vote for. He, in many ways, has disappointed people who had greater hopes for him. He’s voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. He refuses to even discuss—he’s vigorously against impeachment of Bush and Cheney. He won’t even support his colleague Senator Russ Feingold motion to censure the Bush administration for systemic repeated illegal wiretaps. He—you know, he’s letting the corporate-dominated city of Washington, the corporations who actually rule us now in Washington, determine his agenda. And that does not augur well.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, I wanted to play for you two clips, one of Barack Obama and one of McCain. This is Barack Obama speaking about Iran.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: We will also use all elements of American power to pressure Iran. I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.
AMY GOODMAN: On the campaign trail, John McCain accused Obama of being naive on Iran.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: My friends, they are developing nuclear weapons. Also what is totally unsatisfactory is that the Iranians are making, are manufacturing and shipping into Iraq the most lethal explosive devices that are killing young Americans. That’s not acceptable. And Senator Obama wants to sit down without any precondition across the table and negotiate with this individual. My friends, that’s not right, and that’s naive. And that shows a lack of experience and a lack of judgment.
AMY GOODMAN: McCain’s position and then your assessment of Obama?
RALPH NADER: Well, it recalls Michael Abramowitz in the Washington Post in March and New York Times reporters a few weeks later saying that if Obama or Clinton were elected president, the foreign and military policy would not be much different than the foreign and military policy of George Bush in his second term. And that illustrates that. The military-industrial complex and the politicians like Obama and McCain who support it—$700 billion, over half of the federal government’s operating expenditure now is the military budget—are desperately looking for enemies, desperately exaggerating enemies.
Iran has not invaded anybody in 250 years. Yet it’s obviously frightened. It’s surrounded by the US military west, south, east. It’s been labeled “Axis of Evil” by Bush, who invaded Iraq after he labeled them “Axis of Evil.” We have Special Forces, according to Sy Hersh, that go in and out of Iran. What are they going to do? They talk very belligerently nationally, but they’re really scared. I mean, we supported Saddam Hussein, logistically and with materiel, in invading Iran, which took a half a million Iranian lives. They remember the shooting down of their civilian airliner years ago."
Theodor van Thulden - Sirens, Scylla and Charibdis,
I admire communal and even anarchic principles and can see how they may work in small communities where the consent of the governed, or un-governed as they case may be, is easy to gauge. But with a nation of 300 millions, spread over a continent, there is little real way of maintaining a democratic relationship forever without periodic renovations of the structure. And that happens every, oh, 200 years or so.
Am I just throwing up my hands, and therefore saying; OK, you win, bring on the despot? Or am I saying: I am a concerned citizen, but I have too much going on in my life, with an accumulation of interests and a good group of friends and colleagues, to allow my precious life moments to get siphoned off in the affairs of national government that is beyond repair. On a street and even block level, this is where when I have the emotional energy spare on such matters. I mean, at this point, I don't see any other way to retain my balance.
Obama can give no speech and Olbermann can make no Special Comment that'll save us.
"Hope And Fear Chase Each Other's Tails"
I'll keep voting, though I feel that beyond the local level, it doesn't matter much.
Jim Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation isn't the place to go for cheerful news, usually, but I do on occasion run into somebody who has written thoughts I harbor but haven't articulated. As in here, with Djinn: