a jim jividen blog

Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown: December 13-19 2009

Hi.

This is the 6th issue of our weekly recap of what's good - The Tendown; I count down the very best things that happened this week.  Last time, I talked about how I wasted my 2008 presidential vote, the Top Chef finale, and my meeting Chris Cornell in an Anthropologie.  Let's see what the very best thing was that happened this week...

1st...The Bill Moyers Journal.

One of the reasons for this blog is my sense that I want some accurate recording of my thoughts.  I'm not sure why that is.  But next year I turn 40, and 2009 is the year my neck began to crackle for no good reason other than now my neck crackles.  A year ago, I had a body where my neck wasn't chronically weird, now I don't. Now, the neck I've had my entire life has a sound effect. Sure, there are probably ways to view that other than it being a harbinger of the long, slow descent to death; and probably other ways to react to the long, slow descent to death than blogging about the derivatives market.  But I occasionally make curious decisions. 

Regardless, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect said something on this week's Moyers that precisely reflects my current worldview, and its the best thing that happened this week:

I think it's not accidental that the last three Democratic Presidents have been at best corporate Democrats, and one hoped because of the depth and the disgrace of deregulation as an ideology and the practical failure of the Bush presidency, that this was a moment for a clean break.  That even at such a moment, even with an outsider President campaigning on change we can believe in, that Brack Obama has turned out to be who he has been so far is so revealing in terms of the structural undertow that big money represents in this country. 

If there's one element, aside from the right wing referring to the first African-American President as a racist who is trying to bring down the United States, that will be most revealing about American character - it's how quickly we re-embraced the ethos of letting corporate America do anything it wants.  Rewind to September '08 - even the McCain/Palin campaign made noises about Wall St. regulation.  There was a month and a half in this country where you couldn't seriously say "just keep government's hands off everything and let the market take care of itself" without sounding like you were advocating Hoovervilles. The value of sitting on the precipice of global economic collapse was it so clearly put into focus the bankruptcy (pun intended) of a worldview that government's primary job was to get out of the way of business.  Corporate power above all has created a world where we are designed to live in a constant state of anxiety; we have sold our soul to the company store over the past quarter-century, and if there was any time that we'd ever get it back it was now.  That doesn't mean I thought we'd get it back - doesn't mean (to return to last week) that my vote for Obama was an expression of belief in a progressive White House - but in the universe in which we actually live (as opposed to the universe where...who would my ideal ticket be...Bernie Sanders/Blake Lively?) we did step into 2009 with a confluence of factors that, if there was ever any chance to turn around the three decade movement away from economic justice (I think of the United States the way I think of the WWE - I'm stuck with it and occasionally something really nice happens - but it is intentionally booked in a way entirely contrary to what I think is best.  It's not incompetence, although there's plenty of that - we're this way because this is what those entrenched in power want.  I am entirely disposable.  When I break down from my years of heavy courseloads and class sizes, I'll be swept aside no differently than if I worked in a Chicago sausage factory in 1909.  If that means my house is foreclosed, and I have no health care, my screams will not be heard by my government any more than Vince cares that I want to see Bryan Danielson and Low Ki pushed) it would have happened now.

But it did not.  What happened now is what happened now.  And what's going to happen next is worse.   Also from Kuttner on Moyers:

Democracy is the only possible counterweight to concentrated financial power, and ideally that takes a great President rendezvousing with a social movement.  One way or the other there's going to be a social movement, because so many people are hurting.  People are feeling correctly that Wall St. is getting too much and Main St. is getting too little, and if it's not a progressive social movement that articulates frustration and a reform movement, you know the right wing is going to do it and that oughta be scaring us silly.

And I think he's exactly right.  And it's exactly what I want to say right now.  And that's the best thing this week.  After the jump - the rest of the Tendown!