October 9, 2003
Happy Birthday, John
War is over, if you want it
Here's a happy thought: John Lennon. It's a sad thought too, of course, such is life. But his birthday is today, October 9. He was born in 1940, "as the Nasties were Booming," he wrote.
"Can you take me back where I came from can you take me back? Can you take me back where I came from Mama can you take me back...?"
Back to the days when all you needed was love. Actually, things were pretty rough then too. There were plenty who pointed out that love was not all you needed and that it wasn't getting better all the time. But there still is a dimension in which those statements are true. So let's go there tonight. They say it's your birthday. We're gonna have a good time.
I saw some market research the other day about the Echo Boomers, what the market researchers call the children of the Baby Boomers. It said that the Echo Boomers were the first generation since the '50s not to have a generation gap. The Vietnam War divided the country, was the explanation, giving rise to a generation gap.
Sure you could argue that the generation gap started in the '50s with the rise of rock and roll, which the older generation just didn't grok at all. Maybe so. But looking back on it from such a remote distance I realized how bitterly the Vietnam War did divide the nation. It took whatever generational alienation was present in the '50s and supercharged it, shot it up with a lethal dose of speed.
Now we are back to another phony, stupid, pointless, imperialistic, money-making but otherwise unwinnable war. But I'm wondering if there will be a generation gap over it. Initially there was a deep cleft between the red-state types and the blue-state types. But now as the military rank and file are beginning to sour on the idea of being used as schrapnel to line the pockets of arteriosclerotic old bags like Dick Cheney, the great divide is dissolving. Who is left that is intoxicated over this war, except the Wolfowitz/Bush-type war profiteers? I don't see the older generation supporting this war like it may have in the '60s before people caught on to the fact that it was a filthy lie.
So things were not really any sweeter in the days that the Beatles wrote all those sweet songs. No need to lament the loss of a simpler, kinder past. But you can still go to that special place if you want to -- for a while at least. A place where you can go when you feel low, when you feel blue.
A place where you can forget that Arnold Schwarzenegger is now governor of California, and Bush is acting the role of president. Nothing is real. And nothing to get hung about.
Daniel Welch, in his piece "Stay In Bed", said it very well: "California awoke one morning to find itself governed by a giant cockroach. It's official: we are now living inside a Kafka novel--though even Kafka couldn't have predicted the turn of events that would bring us to this point. To be fair, Schwarzenegger is not a hyper-violent, frozen, misogynist, monosyllabbic robot. He just plays one on screen. In reality, he is -- well, by now we all know who he is." Here is a brilliant, biting letter to Robert Novak from James C. Moore, Co-author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W.Bush Presidential on Buzzflash. "In your numerous interviews last week, you were quoted as saying, 'If I gave up my sources, I would get out of journalism.'" writes Moore. "I would like to suggest to you that it is time you do both." Let's all savor it: "Arnold the Barbarian". According to a chilling story in The New Yorker, Bush doesn't read newspapers. He finds out everything he needs to know by talking to his staff. Whew! A good timeline of the Diebold Vote Manipulation Computers is at The Agonist. And here's just one sentence from SFGate's great Mark Morford: "Flags of intellectual acumen and nuanced understanding and general spiritual lightness were at half mast today as Californians banished much-loathed bland-as-oatmeal Gray Davis just 11 months into his second term and instead buried their heads in the sand and decided it's better to trash their state completely than let it be run by whimpering jerks, and elected mediocre action hero and rather embarrassing actor and noted sexist grope-aholic inarticulate completely inexperienced GOP lackey Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him -- a Hollywood ending to one of the most extraordinary political melodramas in the nation's history, as well as one of the most adorably nauseating circus freakshows of all time, though the pit-of-the-stomach nausea is but a hint of the pain wrought when BushCo bought the election and drove a monosyllabic icepick into the heart of the nation." Finding itself enmired in tangles that could destroy it and without the faintest idea how to solve the problems it has created, the Bush administration is doing the only thing it knows how to do: launch a PR campaign. ("White House Begins New Effort to Build Iraq Support") Is Karl Rove going to run a PR campaign to persuade the sun not to send any more ultraviolet light through the hole in the ozone layer? Somehow I don't feel very confident that the country is in competent and able hands. Why is that? One good thing about the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger is that next time a real actor, someone with a mind -- like Susan Sarandon or Sean Penn -- takes a political stand, it could stop the Republicans from saying actors don't have any business getting involved in politics. It could stop that talk because it so obviously contradictory of their own professed beliefs and would be too obviously hypocritical. It could. But it won't. From Tom Paine, "No jobs to be found in our economy? Let's increase the work requirements for welfare recipients. No money in the budget for social services? Let's launch a new $1 billion program to cajole women down the aisle. Job training needed? Let's cut the amount of time that recipients can devote to literacy or vocational education." That's what a new bill that is rapidly approaching enactment as law in the gleefully unopposed fascist-controlled legislature.