Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Bowling in Hell
Since just about everything being promised on the presidential campaign trail will not be lived up to, why not have the Democratic candidates at least do something positive? Like, bowl! Stop boring us to death!
I caught sight of a ‘news’ program, Hardball, showing Obama bowling in some place, and the chatter heads were having a blast at the repeated loops of Obama’s attempt at bowling (into the right gutter). Among all the laughter, one talking-head opined that Obama was trying to tap into the white working class vote, intoning something suspicious was going on there.
First of all, so what? Isn’t this an election season? Aren’t the candidates supposed to go around and talk to people in different walks of life, all the time lying through their teeth to as many ‘constituencies’ as it takes to make it to the White House?
Before rushing to the second point, let’s pause on a basic problem: the ‘constituencies’. Not people, and lots of them too, with problems in need of solutions (readily available by the way), to be found by using the very money those people hand over to the government, who then takes that money and gives it to weapons manufacturers and their associates in related industries. There are no absolutely egregious violations of people’s rights, life and dignity by the U.S. government with the aid of people’s taxes. There are no real people, tens of millions of them in fact (47 million without healthcare, 50 million in poverty, just for two counts), whose very problems are created by the system the government promotes and protects. There are no people getting zero political representation even though their very labor provides the state with the means to function.
Instead, we the people are fed through strange politico-rhetorical prisms masking abject ethical poverty, and out the other end come abstracted ‘constituencies': Asian Americans (no mention of which class of them, since ‘Asians’ supposedly all think alike), African Americans (no classes here either), White/Black/Other Professional Middles Class (the only class ever mentioned), soccer moms, white male blue-color workers of the baby boomer generation, 18 to 25-year-old voters, retirees, ‘Women’, ‘Muslims’, Gays-Lesbians-Trans-Genders, environmentalists and tree-sitters (definitely depleted of classes and not a mention of environmental racism/class oppression), ‘Latinos’ (classless; amazing), fiscal conservatives and social conservatives, hard on defense/soft on defense voters, bleeding hard liberals, Gen-X-ers, Gen-Y-ers (I am told this is real), first-time voters, never-time voters (I salute you! Let’s get together!), and on and on.
A relevant aside: Is it just me, or do others too find it not at all shocking that in a presidential campaign year which is the seventh (not fifth) of a barbaric military occupation war in the Middle East, during a turbulent time when a clear majority of the U.S. citizens want this war to end and ditto with the plundering of their resources, under such extreme conditions of abundance of evidence of its existence, the corporate media can still not find the peace ‘constituency’, in all their reporting?
As for the constituencies that are covered, every single one of them is a window shopper, and will never get to taste any of the cookies in this system. Every one a window shopper, except the never-voters, who are most likely lesser shoppers in socio-economic indexing, and are too poor to afford illusions about American democracy.
And that’s why I’m with them. We see the circus for what it is. It is primarily for entertainment. More specifically, it is for self-entertainment.
Voting for establishment candidates is (electoral) masturbation. It gives you a euphoric high: I did my bit; I not only get complaining rights, I am an active citizen, even though after this singular act of delivering a ballot, which took me between an hour to a few, I will return to my private space, safe and self-pleased in the knowledge that I did my duty to uphold this wonderful citadel of democracy (no blood-fed empires here) and maintained the healthfulness element in the public domain; now, it’s back to me, again, after a brief democracy interruption.
This electoral euphoria, unlike auto-sexual masturbation, comes without any shame or possible embarrassments (if you’re religious, that is), thus magnifying its mystifying effects. A perfect democracy achieved with minimal effort required of the subjects; a miracle of efficiency! In fact, to demonstrate the available limits of its efficiency, citizens are actively encouraged by the system to reduce maximally any participation in the public sphere.
Voting at all would be purely masturbational if it were not for the occasional candidates who cause discomfort among the establishment candidates and the press; people such as Ralph Nader and Cynthia Mckinney, who come close enough to making sounds pleasing enough so as to cause some warm blood to flow back into an ear otherwise petrified by layers of repeated insults, corruption and violence, thirsty for the slightest talk of social justice and a fight for people’s rights, for workers’ rights, for immigrants’ rights, a good fight against racism.
So, and this is the second point, since the establishment candidates such as Clinton and Obama are not really going to do anything to change anything, and since they’re both playing for the zombies, why not try to sort out this family feud in a form that really shows us their character and temperament in the heat of some competitive activity that is more entertaining?
If Clinton and Obama want to persuade, indeed there’s everything right about going to a bowling alley. As suggested on Hardball, though, the only thing missing was Clinton in the same bowling alley. They should stop pretending this electoral thing means anything, and at least put up a good game.
They should play different games in fact: sport games, board games, card games, as well as word games, and why not drinking games. My good friend suggested mud wrestling. Why not! Let’s see them in the heat of the action.
Let’s do see them sweat a bit working under the command of Chef Ramsey, in Hell’s Kitchen. Let’s see who breaks down or loses their temper first.
They should be put on reality TV shows such as Survivor; people can watch them form alliances and study how they form alliances in a way that makes sense to the public to whom these candidates are pitching. Let’s see if they’re plain liars only, or, additionally, snakes, back-stabbers, and snitches too. Let’s see what other failings creep out of the bag in the heat of alliance-based cut throat competition.
For one thing, this merging of political campaigning with entertainment-proper side of the circus will at long last put the job of commenting on the workings of the political machinery in the hands of commentators who can actually describe things without their own noises fogging up the picture, and will increase the likelihood of not having to listen to the idiotic ‘news’ punditry classes whose asinine and jarring comments are looped and sampled 24/7.
For another thing, the alliance-making behavior of candidates in a Survivor mini-series type of show, for example, can reveal a million times more information about the candidates’ characters than can the current system of electoral circus management (after all, the corporate press does insist that ‘character’ is the most basic issue with the voters). Observing the candidates in such light can for one thing help us figure out which level of hell they end up on (we may want to switch sins, to avoid them in the next life). It can also give us information that is just plain necessary to have particularly since the U.S. executive leadership is itching to open yet another gateway to a major corridor in hell, by militarily attacking Iran. People who go with the flow really do need to know how skillful the CEO of the U.S.A. Inc. is at maneuvering hell’s labyrinthine passageways.
When in hell, you may basically follow two different paths, depending on your perspective. If you’re a zombie, most likely you’ll continue to follow the circus and have a good time, in a most lunatic kind of way. But, at least demand respect: candidates who want the thumbs-up from those in mud, must at least respect the intelligence of their audience and educate-persuade them using a proper format, entertainment, instead of boring them till hell’s frozen days dawn upon us.
The other path in our earthly hell is that of the visionary poets and artists, the socialist workers, and the revolutionaries. This path will always be there; as it has always been there, since the dawn of the capitalist world system.
REZA FIYOUZAT can be reached at: email@example.com