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MARX: A HERO FOR OUR TIME? — Suddenly, everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone seems to be talking about Karl Marx. Louis Proyect delves into this mysterious resurgence, giving a vivid assessment of Marx’s relevance in the era of globalized capitalism. THE MEANING OF MANDELA: Longtime civil rights organizer Kevin Alexander Gray gives in intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and the global struggle of racial justice. FALLOUT OVER FUKUSHIMA: Peter Lee investigates the scandalous exposure of sailors on board the USS Reagan to radioactive fallout from Fukushima. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT: Kim Nicolini charts the rise of Matthew McConaughey. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the coming crash of the housing market. JoAnn Wypijewski on slavery, torture and revolt. Chris Floyd on the stupidity of US policy in Ukraine. Kristin Kolb on musicians and health care. And Jeffrey St. Clair on life and death on the mean streets of an America in decline
Dying to Compromise

The Fables of Obama

by JOHN ESKOW

THE FABLE OF OBAMA AND THE SAND

We are trekking through the Sahara at noon, canteens empty, dying of thirst. The Republicans cry: look! Look at the beautiful lake! We’re saved! Let’s kneel down and drink our fill! The scouts report: sadly, it’s a mirage. It’s all sand. If we try to drink it, we’ll choke to death on the sand. Obama says: yes, it’s a mirage. Nothing but sand. So let’s only drink two-thirds of it. And, as the Democrats kneel down to drink, they feel the true power of faith.

***

THE FABLE OF OBAMA AND THE PIG

We are stumbling through dense jungle at dusk. We’re down to skin and bones–too weak, even, for cannibalism. We stagger into a clearing where a miraculous vision greets us: a tribal elder…leading a succulent pig by a rope! Obama says to the tribal elder: please, if your tribe is planning to eat that pig, may we share a bit of it? The elder says: only if you slaughter it yourself. And know this: to slaughter a pig is a nightmarish job, a bloody job, a job that may haunt you forever. Obama says: though I love pigs–they’re so pink and innocent!–our people are starving. I will do it. As Obama approaches the pig, with a small, dull knife in hand, suddenly the tribal elder says: I changed my mind. Even if you slaughter this pig, I’m just going to throw the meat away. No one will get to eat it–not my people, not yours–only the dogs and the bugs. Obama says: then we will compromise. I will slaughter the pig, and you will throw the meat away.

And tonight–as we keel over, one by one, losing consciousness–we murmur words of praise for his wisdom. We die proud, with the word Compromise on our cracked and blistered lips.

***

THE FABLE OF OBAMA AND KING SOLOMON

Two women come to King Solomon, shrieking and rending their garments. Both women claim the same baby as their own, but no-one in the village can be sure. Wise King Solomon draws his sword and tells the two women: if you can’t agree on whose child this is, I will cut it in two, and you can each take half a baby! Both mothers are distraught, and screaming. But Obama comforts them: you know what? All things considered, that’s not a bad deal.

John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning.