Madhouse Distractions

I’m back in San Francisco where the gray rain has followed me from the east coast. Doing my usual perambulations around the internet and blogosphere, I’m amazed by the frenzied thrashing in the shallow end of the pool going on. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since we are now officially in election season. That’s the pathetic ritual that passes for “politics” in the U.S. every so often.

Nationally all news has been buried under the avalanche of the latest scandal, embraced with enthusiasm by liberals happy to see the Repugnicans turning on themselves, but scarily reinforcing the worst homophobia and exaggerated fears of child abuse. The power relations of exploitation are clear, but the unmentionable story of teenage sexuality in the overheated atmosphere of power and money is ignored. Who at age 15 or 16 hasn’t wanted to have sex with attractive adults? But who cares anyway? How can this culture still be so crazily obsessed with the private sexual behavior of politicians and celebrities? I know people aren’t getting enough for themselves, in any way you care to measure it, but this frothing irrelevance is absurd to an extreme. (For an intelligent, 5-part analysis of how Russia, China and others in the Great Game are reshaping the playing field of world politics while all this stupidity dominates our anti-news services here, check out this Asia Times series… in general Asia Times is one of the best news sources these days.)

Locally there is the strange phenomenon of friends with politics urging us to care and donate and get involved in campaigns that are Quixotic at best. There’s the hopeless effort to elect the anti-charismatic Phil Angelides and defeat Schwarzenegger for Calif. Governor. It’s been a bit interesting to see Schwarzenegger embrace every spending and eco-initiative he can during the past few months in order to rub out the memories (such short memories in California, it’s breathtaking!) of his frontal assault on public workers and cozy relationship with Bush and the right. Who cares? He’s a stud, a celebrity, a star! and his opponent is as appealing as a worm… so what if Angelides represents a vaguely populist direction, an attempt to fortify the public sector and the safety net against the depradations of rapacious business? (Of course, Democratic policies are–or would be–good for business, but that presumes ‘business’ can see beyond the next quarter’s stock report.) More locally still, we have Nancy Pelosi as our rep in Congress. She’s about as bad as you can get, a corporate lobbyist-dominated, knee-jerk pro-Israel, pro-war, ultra-rich society woman. Funny to see the Repugs demonizing her as some kind of left-wing horror. Anyway, for those of us in the bubble of SF, she’s a nightmare, and we have one of our own, Krissy Keefer running as a Green against her. Pelosi will win about 80% of the vote probably. I find it utterly mystifying why people want to participate in this patently bankrupt system of popularity-advertising-money. Real politics is exactly what does NOT go on during this pseudo-democratic ritual, no matter the good intentions that keep getting sucked into it.

Beneath all this endless hype and propaganda, a lot of us wish for a more meaningful engagement with political change. John Robb at Global Guerrillas has very different politics than I do, but I enjoy his candor. He wrote a good short piece about how current propaganda is defeating itself and what might be a smart alternative (for the powers-that-be that is). As usual Billmon is very smart, going behind the froth to ask good questions, offer some useful anti-amnesiac histories, and generally write better than most any “official” pundit I know of.

Lastly, there is still a quasi-insurrection developing in Mexico, centered in Oaxaca. I’ve been following it as best I can on Narco News, though some of my friends have cast aspersions on their credibility. Nevertheless, they have the latest communiques from the Zapatistas, and regular reports from the streets of Oaxaca and the rest of Mexico.

Next week, Wed. Oct. 11, at CounterPULSE, we’re hosting our first Fall-Winter Talk on the History/Politics side of things, and our topic is “Bolivar, Zapata and Sandino: Ghosts of Revolution in South America”. We’ll have John Ross, who has been in Mexico for the past 6 months covering the election and other events. Also Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Aileen “Chockie” Cotter, plus some fresh video clips that Caitlin Manning shot in the Planton in August.

Lastly, if you’re a foodie like me, you won’t want to miss our upcoming Autumn Harvest Feast of Fools and Friends–“Gourmet Meets Wild!” at CounterPULSE on Sun. Oct. 22. Go here to make your reservations!

2 comments to Madhouse Distractions

  • vps hosting

    I would love to attend the same, i ams kind of in a trend with food.

    Wherein compared to humans, jealousy and discrimination is vey common.

  • Biker-X

    Spot-on cc. Busy working the harvest here up north. My first summer wheat crop was a huge success, hand seeded and hand-harvested. There’s something especially rewarding about giving away boxes of fresh organic produce, versus shuffling papers from one side of a desk to another.

    Drop in next time you’re in the neighborhood.

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