The Disgruntled Dylanologist

All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.

‘Together Through Life’: Will Dylan’s new album live on its own or is it a ‘Dead’ end?


Then she opened up a book of poems

And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century.

Dante, Rimbaud, Eliot, Whitman, Shelley, Keats, cummings, Timrod, Blake…

Bob Dylan may be the ultimate chameleon, but he’s also an avid collector. And over the years, the collection of characters who’ve appeared in Dylan’s lyrics is trumped only by the manner in which Bob has transformed those distinct, disparate voices into his own.

For Shakespeare the play was the thing. For Dylan it’s always been about the words.

I wasn’t sure, therefore, how to react to last week’s confirmation that Bob collaborated with longtime Grateful Dead lyricist, Robert Hunter, on 9 of the 10 tracks on his upcoming album, Together Through Life.

Maybe it’s a sign of the modern times in which we live. In an era where style trumps substance, the notion that our politicians, pop stars and public figures are propped up by an army of minions clamoring to craft an image that feeds our incessant need for idolatry has become all too commonplace.

But as we look out over what seems to be a vast wasteland of perpetual despondency, we’re not looking for iconoclasts to console us. What we’re really searching for is someone to break through the clutter, to give us a sense of direction, to help us find our way home. We’re looking for clarity.

In recent months, a barrage of bloggers (this disgruntled Dylan fan not excluded) have drawn parallels between Barack Obama and Bob Dylan. But then again, the comparisons aren’t totally unfounded. Dylan isn’t the only cultural chameleon out there.

Like the title character in Woody Allen’s brilliantly insightful 1983 mockumentary, Zelig, Obama has perfected the ability to conform to his surroundings. When Obama steps on stage, we see what we want to see. When Obama speaks, we hear what we want to hear. Yet the words he speaks are rarely, if ever, entirely his own.

In a time when our culture is so sanitized, where every action is viewed under such scurrilous scrutiny, the people to whom we look for inspiration can no longer inspire by example— and so they retreat to linguistics. It’s not so much what they say, but rather how they say it, by which they are evaluated.

The consensus among historians is that Abraham Lincoln was the last American president to put pen to paper. The “Gettysburg Address,” perhaps his most famous piece of oratory, clocked in at 278 words and took less than 3 minutes to deliver. But in those 3 minutes, Lincoln embodied a nation’s pain and suffering with words so enduring that they are now etched in aeternum in marble.

There have been endless comparisons between Lincoln and the man who currently resides in that mansion on the hill. But whether you like him or hate him, you cannot dismiss Barack Obama. He may not write every word that comes out of his mouth, but he is hardly an empty oratory vessel. His predecessors may have spoken to the ‘vision thing,’ but Barack Obama embodies it.

With Bob Dylan, however, ‘embodying’ an artistic vision isn’t enough. With Bob, the words matter.

The issue here isn’t that Bob wrote a couple of songs with someone else— even if that ‘someone else’ just may be the second greatest living lyricist in the English language. The issue is about purity of vision, not persuasiveness of delivery. It’s about clarity.

Dylan is coming off what many consider one of rock’s perfect ‘trifectas.’ Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and Modern Times are not just high creative benchmarks for Bob, they are the gold standard by which all other musicians could, and very well may, be measured.

And so the news that Dylan collaborated with another wordsmith naturally would raise a few questions. Did he need to do it? How much of it did he do? Did he even really do it at all?

Dylan and Robert Hunter have been down this road before. The two worked up a few songs together for Dylan’s 1988 album, Down in the Groove. But these were hardly a threat to the Dylan canon, musically or lyrically. They were almost transitional, as if Dylan was in some sort of Dantesque state of limbo. As we later found out in his biography, Chronicles, he was.

And lest we forget that Dylan and playwright, Jacques Levy, wrote an entire album of songs in 1976 (ironically, in 1965, Levy directed Red Cross, a play by Sam Shepard with whom Dylan would later co-write the epic, 11-minute yarn, ‘Brownsville Girl’). And while the Dylan-Levy collaboration stands as one of Dylan’s most commercially successful endeavors, there’s no debate that the songs on Desire are all distinctively Dylan.

And maybe that’s the point.

Dylan always hated being heralded as a ‘poet,’ a ‘prophet,’ the ‘voice of a generation.’ Perhaps now we know why. Sometimes accolades do more to weight us down than they do to lift us up.

And after nearly a half century of accolades, can any of us really know the full extent of the load we’ve asked Dylan to carry.

And when you look at it from that perspective, can we really fault Dylan for wanting to share his burden—and his vision—with someone else? Even if sharing that vision does run the risk they might see if from a different point of view…

And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you

Advertisements

April 22, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Groom Still Waitin’ at the Altar”: Dylan opens house for weddings, but is the Obama honeymoon over?


I see the burning of the page,

Curtain risin’ on a new age,
See the groom still waitin’ at the altar.

The last person you’d expect to be jonesing for cash is Mr. Dylan. So when it was reported this week that Bob opened his spacious, 10 bedroom Scottish manor for engagements, you just had to wonder what in the devil could it all possibly mean? And while Dylan’s Highlands mansion may be way up in the border country, far from the towns, apparently it’s the perfect place for your next party or wedding gowns.

That’s right…for a measly $3,000 you, too, can hold your next wedding reception at Dylan’s Dalriadic digs. But before you let your heart go the Highlands, consider this: America’s current relationship with a certain suave Senator from the land where the Aberdeen waters flow hasn’t exactly turned out to be the match made in heaven we’d all hoped for.

Not that Barack Obama wasn’t a formidable suitor. For two years, he coddled, cuddled and kowtowed to our every whim as he effortlessly ascended the political pecking order. Sexy, smooth and seductive. And we fell for it— hook, line and sinker. But what do you expect, America? We were falling in love. Then at precisely 12:03 pm on 20 January 2009, our courtship was consummated on the steps of the US Capital when Obama stood before God, family and close to 4 million witnesses and took the plunge.

Like any new marriage, there are milestones. And just a few weeks ago, the Obama Administration passed a major one: the First Fifty Days. Yet despite the boundless energy and barrage of programs put forth by the brash, young president, the new union hasn’t been without a few initial squabbles.

Despite numerous overtures to appease an ailing Wall Street, the market has fallen faster under Obama than any other new president in 90 years. Despite claims that he would put partisanship aside and patch up the financial fissures tearing this country apart, the Obama/Pelosi stimulus bill didn’t garner a single Republican vote in the House. And despite touting the ‘transparency’ of his new administration, three of Obama’s top nominees were torpedoed by past indiscretions that the media, not the nominee, brought to the surface.

Fifty days, my how time flies. What started as peaches and cream has turned into some serious piss and vinegar. All of which begs the question: “Is the Obama honeymoon over?”

With a CNN poll putting Obama’s job approval rating just north of 61%, a majority of Americans seem to think the bloom isn’t off the rose just yet. And they just may be right. After all, Obama’s 61% approval rating is higher than any of his predecessors. President Bush was at 58% fifty days in. President Clinton was at 53%. President George H. W. Bush was at 56%. Even Ronald Reagan, the ‘Great Communicator’ himself, was only able to communicate favorable message to 60% of the American public his first 50 days in office.

Of course, appearances can be deceiving. Because like in any relationship, in all the excitement leading up to the Big Day, we tend to overlook the ‘little things’— those annoying little distractions that suggest ‘Mr. Right’ may not necessarily be ‘Mr. Perfect.’

And while Obama may have a 61% overall job approval rating, but according to a poll released by Rasmussen Reports, the pesky little ‘distractions’ are starting to add up:

The Economy. 83% of Americans say they’re worried the steps Obama is taking to fix the economy may result in the economy getting worse, not better. And when asked how much we should be spending to get the economy back on track, 7 out of 10 voters say we should be spending less, not more.

The Stimulus Package. And when it comes to spending, close to 60% of voters say the massive, $787 billion stimulus package will make only a marginal difference in the next two to four years. And by 2-to-1, voters reject the Democrats’ call for a second stimulus package.

The Housing Market. Perhaps CNBC’s Rick Santelli got it right a few weeks ago when he went whoop ass on the Administration over the Homeowner Stability plan. Two-thirds of Americans may want to see homeowners refinance their mortgages, but less than half (48%) say the plan unfairly benefits those who have been irresponsible.

The Partisanship. Speaking of taking sides, the numbers on the recent stimulus package tell the tale. Not one Republican voted for the bill. And Americans think it’s only going to get worse. Nearly half say politics in Washington will be more partisan over the next year.

The Street. More than half of Americans have hit a wall when it comes to Wall Street. 56% oppose giving Wall Street another dime. And over two-thirds say bankers will benefit more than the average taxpayer will from the new bank bailout plan.

Like any marriage, America’s relationship with Obama is going to be filled with peaks and valleys. Obama may have lifted our spirits enough to carry us across the threshold last November, but clearly those pesky distractions we didn’t want to be bothered with during our affable, two-year courtship with Barack Obama are started to nag the American public.

But until we can get beyond our glassy-eyed infatuation with Barack Obama and stop treating him as some enchanted Prince Charming, there’s a good chance that the ‘Seven Year Itch,’ that moment when every newly-wedded couple eye one another with kindled suspicion, is going to get scratched a few years early.

That’s a problem. Because for better or for worse, we all need this marriage to work out…

I see the burning of the page,
Curtain risin’ on a new age,
See the groom still waitin’ at the altar.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dylanesque Adieu: “It’s All Over Now, ‘W'”


You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last.

But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast.
Yonder stands your orphan with his gun,
Crying like a fire in the sun.
Look out the saints are comin’ through
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

On Thursday, January 15, 2009, at precisely 5:03 pm EST, a middle-aged man wearing a dark blue suit, white button-down shirt and a power blue tie stepped through a doorway, and walked down an elegant carpet-lined hallway before stopping behind a waist high podium bearing the emblem of an eagle, its wings outstretched against a royal blue background.

After taking a moment to acknowledge the appreciative crowd, the man smiled, cleared his throat and uttered the following opening salvo, “Fellow citizens, for eight years it has been my honor to serve as your president.”

Exactly 13 minutes, thirty-one minutes later, the man in the dark blue suit with the white button-down shirt and power blue tie turned and walked back down the hallway then passed through an unseen door. And just like that, it was over.

9/11, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Katrina, a collapsed economy—suffice to say, George W. Bush has presided over one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.

You’d have thought the networks would have given him more than 13 minutes. Frankly, many pundits were surprised he even got that.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a recap of 2008 in which I paraphrased Bob Dylan’s enigmatic, surrealistic, ‘Desolation Row.’ Considering how well received the piece was, for the last week I had been toying with the notion of using another Dylan diatribe, ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,’ to bid farewell to our 43rd president.

When I sat down to write my postscript to the Bush presidency, however, I realized my intended Dylanesque adieu had already been written:

You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last.
But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast.

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you.

In those two verses, taken from the first and last stanzas respectfully, resides all the angst, all the anger, not to mention a good dose of mournful lament that American has experience for the last eight years.

But the connection between Bush’s farewell and Dylan’s acerbic adieu goes deeper than the lyrical parallels. Dylan recorded “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” in Columbia Studio ‘A’ on January 15, 1965—44 years to the day of Bush’s final official appearance before the American public.

The saddest part, of course, is that it didn’t have to be this way.

Bush began his presidency with a 50% approval rating. Not bad considering he received less than 48% of the popular vote. But it only got better for Bush. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Bush’s approval rating skyrocketed to over 90%. It was an unprecedented moment in American politics—the highest popularity rating of a sitting president. Then something equally extraordinary occurred.

After only four months, Bush’s popularity began an equally unprecedented, unrelenting 7-year decline. It was truly as if someone had pulled the carpet out from under George Bush.

That ‘someone’ it turns out wasn’t so much the American public as it was the people Bush surrounded himself. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Brown, Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, Carl Rove, Alberto Gonzalez, Hank Paulson: each pursued policies that not only eroded support for Bush and the institute of the presidency, they pursued policies that eroded our faith in virtually facet of the U.S. government.

In his defense, Bush has become the lightening rod into which all of America’s disdain and disgust has been directed. As the Administration’s point man, it’s to be expected that the president would take a jolt or two. Yet considering the unrelenting, unilateral affront the team Bush assembled has made on every aspect of the American experience, it’s amazing Bush has hung on to as much support as he has.

Earlier in the week, George Bush told the press corps, “When I get out of here, I’m getting off the stage… one person in the klieg lights at a time. I’ve had my time in the klieg lights. I wish [Obama] all the best.” And while it came from an honest place, there’s no question there was a Nixonian ring to the refrain, as if to say: “You won’t have old ‘Dubya’ to kick around anymore.”

And while it’s probably not the last time we’ll hear from “43”, it is the last time we’ll have to listen. And I’m not sure who’s more relieved, him or us. But one thing’s for sure— we’re both better off now that it’s all over for ‘W’….

Leave your stepping stones behind, something calls for you.
Forget the dead you’ve left, they will not follow you.
The vagabond who’s rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue.

January 19, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan’s ‘Neighborhood’: The World’s ‘Bully’ Pulpit


Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man,

His enemies say he’s on their land.

They got him outnumbered about a million to one,

He got no place to escape to, no place to run.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

Written for his 1983 Infidels album, “Neighborhood Bully” is often cited as a defense of Israel’s volatile foreign policy. With a long history of angst and, as recent events have suggested, a good dose of antagonism the subject of the song, much like the man who wrote it, is pure Dylan.

But whether you believe Israel is bullying the Palestinians, or that Hamas is the harasser, the intent of this grunt is to be neither incendiary nor seditious. The only person I am siding with is myself; the only insight I offer is an interpretation of a song that, I would argue, is just as relevant today as when it was penned over a quarter century ago.

On the surface, this rather straightforward 11-stanza narrative could be construed as a litany of the events that have confronted Israel over the last six decades. Considering the following:

‘Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad,

The bombs were meant for him,

He was supposed to feel bad.’

Given the topical nature of Dylan’s songwriting, the lyric is literal (albeit volatile) reference to Israel’s bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant near Baghdad on June 17, 1981. A place where, as the song suggests, bombs could very well have been built for use on Israel.

Yet despite the seemingly obvious political underpinnings of the song’s subject matter (historical facts are evoked, sides are taken, battle lines are drawn), this is not a political song. Or more to the point, we cannot be sure exactly whose ‘politics’ Dylan is extolling since he never actually utter the word, ‘Israel.’

As a result of this notable omission, Israel and Palestine can, and have, both laid claim to the song as a defense of their actions. In fact, “Neighborhood Bully” was cited in 2001 in the Jerusalem Post as a “favorite among Dylan-loving residents of the territories.”

You can see how such confusion could occur. Take the line”

He got no place to escape to,
no place to run.

On one hand, Dylan is referencing the fact that for the last 6000 years the Jews have been forced to be a nomadic people lest they be persecuted, punished and put to death for their beliefs.

So the line is a defense of Israel, right? Not so fast.

Were a member of Hamas, one of the Gazan militant groups controlling the Gaza Strip, to ruminate over the exact same line, his interpretation would be decidedly different.

He got no place to escape to,
No place to run.

This may be metaphorically true for the Jews, but it is a literal truth for the inhabitants of Gaza. Water to the west, Israel to the north and east, Egypt to the south—the citizens of Gaza are literally trapped by geography.

But “Neighborhood Bully” isn’t just about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As expected considering its author, the song works on another, more universal level.

And while the world’s focus may now be turned on that particular conflict, couldn’t the tenets the song examines—condemnation, survival, an ardent belief structure—apply to all conflicts?

Last week, the U.N. approved a resolution intended to resolve the Israel-Gaza conflict. But the US—the parental figure to whom the world is now looking to sort out this whole sordid schoolyard skirmish—abstained from the vote. And when the world then turned to the Obama transition team, they copped out, too, claiming that perhaps it would be best to let the ‘kids’ work it out.

The problem, of course, is that Israel and the Palestine aren’t ‘kids on a playground.’ The ‘neighborhood bully’ motif is just that—a motif. What’s happening in Gaza is real; the lives of thousands are at stake. And if you buy into Book that both sides rather fervently ascribe so, too, does the future of the world. And since one of those countries can destroy a lot more than some enchanted garden paradise in the desert sand should they chose to, perhaps a little parental intervention might not be such a bad thing.

Whether his intention or not, Dylan has always used his songs as a de facto ‘bully pulpit’—a place from which he can cast out demons and comment on the topics that confront not only him, but those topics that confront us all.

The fact that his songs are not only prophetic but that each of us can read our own point of view into them is the real insight here, not which side Bob may or may not have been on at the time of his profession.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,

He’s criticized and condemned for being alive.

He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin,

He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.

He’s the neighborhood bully.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dont Look Back: 2008 in Review

A poetic look back on 2008, set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”:

They’re printing tickets to the coronation
They’re fitting his thorny crown
The district’s filling up with Democrats
A new sheriff is in town
There goes the Maverick from Arizona
And gal from Wasilla
Couldn’t quite get the votes they needed
Their platform was too vanilla
Eight long years they ran this place
Now it’s time for them to go
As ‘43’ and Laura lament the passing
Of Republican Row

Congress, they make it look so easy
“This won’t hurt a bit,” they smile
As they slip $700 billion in their back pocket
Hank Paulson style
In come the auto makers, they’re whining
“What about our piece of the pie?”
“Talk to 16th and Penn,” the gentleman from Alabama says,
he’s gonna be your guy
And the only sound that’s left
As theyfill their Priuses with dough
Is the sound of Wagoner, Nardelli and Mulally cleaning up
On Republican Row

And the banks are also empty
Lehman, Stearns and AIG can’t console
As America’s fortunes disappear
Down a dark, rat-infested black hole
All except for T. Boone Pickens
And the Oracle of Omaha
Everybody’s future is bleak
No one can believe the gall
And Bernard Madoff, he’s in lockdown
$50 billion and nothing to show
A house of cards has come tumbling down
On Republican Row

Now Hillary, she’s buckin’ for a promotion
The Senate could not hold
Less than eight years in New York
Her true ambition did unfold

To her, New Hampshire seemed quite inviting
She wore her emotions on her sleeve
An act of pure political theater
Even crocodile tears could not deceive
But were it not for her former rival
To whom she does now owe
She’d be serving the rest of her sentence
On Republican Row

OJ, disguised as an All-American
Reclaiming his memories from a fan
Into a Vegas suite he burst
A pistol in his hand
He must have looked rather frightful
Waving his USC letter vest
Then ran off with the Heisman
Clutched tightly against his chest
Got off years ago after killing his wife
It seems you reap what you sow
Thirty-two got 33-to-life
On Republican Row

Spitzer, he keeps all his names
Inside a little black book
But it’s what he said on the phone
That got him cooked
Now the girl, quite a looker
Had the lungs to be a singer
It was the Governor’s tit, however
Got caught in the ringer
For years he blew the whistle on corruption
This time he took the blow
Just another self righteous prick sent packing
To Republican Row

Meanwhile in California
Another sexless battle begins
Gay marriage goes on the ballet
And then abruptly ends
It seems America wasn’t ready for Casanova
To come marching down the aisle
With a partner on his arm
Who can’t produce a child

And the Religious Right is shouting
“It’s not natural, don’t you know”
One Casanova at a time
On Republican Row

And we learn the governor of Illinois
For months has been trying to sell
Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate
To whomever has the most cash to shell
But despite a jury’s indictment
Blago still refuses to concede
Replacing the people’s trust
With his own gluttonous greed
But soon his house will shatter
When he runs out of stones to throw
His fortunes crashing like everything else
On Republican Row

Praise be to Phelps’ Neptune
A solitary beacon of hope
Brought the whole world together
Eight men out with a single stroke
And another show of mettle
Naked aggression in the Gaza Strip
A millennium of distrust and malice
Of which this latest skirmish is only the tip
In Iraq the war still rages
Would Iran have been the next to go?
You can bet they had it all mapped out
On Republican Row

Yes, America is at a crossroads
(As if you didn’t already know)
But hope and change is coming
Though some would say too slow
But now that the people have finally spoken
And the world has heard their plea
All these people we mentioned
Into exile were forced to flee
Let’s just hope they’ve taken with them
The anguish and the woe
That’s been festering these last eight years
On Republican Row

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November 4, 2008: The whole world is watchin’


Oh the foes will rise,

With the sleep still in their eyes,
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’.
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal,
And know that it’s for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.

In two days, America will pick a new president. The reality, of course, is that the man who will lead us into the new millennium has already been chosen.

Brought out of Africa, blessed in the cornfields of Kansas and baptized in the warm waters of the South Pacific, he came with a simple, prophetic promise: Make right a world that has gone decidedly wrong.

And while there are those who will dismiss this assessment of our next president as nothing more than bombastic hyperbole, there is no denying the fact that the press has anointed Barack Obama a modern-day political messiah— David to the world’s Goliath, the man who will save America, and in doing so, just may save the world.

The time is right for a savior. For the last 40 years, America has been in the wilderness. In March of 1968, Lyndon Johnson, covered in the blood of 50,000 men, was crucified for his trespasses in Vietnam. Twelve years later, a born-again peanut farmer from Georgia turned the other cheek when 52 Americans were taken hostage in Iran. But in ‘doing the right thing’ Jimmy Carter let a ragtag band of religious zealots cast a stone that shattered America’s resolve for years to come. In 1992, America thought they had found a man who could transform a nation that had spent a decade teetering on the precipice of Babylonian excess. But instead of restoring our faith in our better angels, Bill Clinton succumbed to the temptations of the flesh and he, too, was banished.

And then He came.

Little is known of Barack Obama’s early years. Once he answered his calling as a community organizer in his 30th year, however, he quickly began to change people to his way of thinking. His opponents portrayed his philosophies as radical, even dangerous. But he triumphed over his adversaries, and wrote of his trials in a book he titled, Dream from My Father— a memoir that chronicled a father who abandoned him at his time of need, yet someone whom he has always kept close, especially in moments of doubt.

Many are bothered that the pundits are so overwhelming behind Obama. Yet as any student of history knows, there are two sides of history: the right side, and the wrong side. But we are not talking about that pedantic, petty, “you are either with us or against us,” mantra the Bush Administration has perpetrated against the American people for the last eight years. This is different.

For years, we have been like a ship lost at sea as our moral and ethical bearings have given way to greed and gluttony. But the tide is about to turn, and the hour is rapidly approaching. And while the pundits may be on the right side of history, the pundits have gotten it wrong.

Electing Barack Obama as the first African American president isn’t about standing on the ship’s bow and shouting that Pharaoh’s days are numbered. It’s not as black and white as that. There are larger factors at play. And when the history books are written, it will become apparent that the decision to cede the moral direction of a nation to a man about whom little is known but much has been entrusted was never our decision to make in the first place.

What happens in the days that follow is…

Then the sands will roll,
Out a carpet of gold,
And the ship’s wise men,
Will remind you once again,
That the whole wide world is watchin’.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , | Leave a comment

World Gone Wrong: Beyond Bushworld


We live in a political world,
As soon as you’re awake,
You’re trained to take,
What looks like the easy way out.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we live in a political world. The fact that we’re in the final throes of perhaps the most contentious presidential campaign in 40 years is a daily reminder that America is at a crossroads.

Those days are numbered, however. But before we pick a new direction for the country, it only seems fitting to review the signposts of the last eight years.

In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. And for the last eight years, we’ve been in a place called ‘Bushworld’.

Bushworld, a look back:

For a closer look at Bush’s world, click on the map above.

Divisive Politics. Bush has spent more money on focus groups than any other administration in U.S. history. In Bushworld, we don’t need to see or feel. Instead, we have polls and pundits to tell us what’s real.

Diminished
Privacy. Bush has signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any other president. As a result, wiretaps, surveillance, and undisclosed data mining are now a daily ritual. In Bushworld, we may live in a time where men commit crimes, yet thanks to a barrage of Bush lawyers the real criminal’s face remain hidden.

Eradication of Human Rights. Bush is the first president to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from both the elections monitoring board and human rights commission. In Bushworld, we throw the wisdom of the world’s nations in jail, and let those whose patriotism we question rot in a Cuban cell.

Destruction of Economic Markets. Bush’s economic advisers smugly presided over the highest number of bank failures and home foreclosures ever. In Bushworld, money doesn’t talk, it swears. And by doing nothing as the economic markets collapsed, Bush told the American middle class to go screw themselves.

Invasion of Sovereign Countries. Bush has dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history, ensuring American is able to travel anywhere we want. In the months leading up to the removal of Saddam Hussein, Bush claimed that everything that was his was ours. In Bushworld, however, you run the risk you might hang yourself there if you bring enough rope.

Squandered Political Capital. In the aftermath of 9/11, Bush turned a nation in mourning into the most resented country in the world. In Bushworld, it makes more sense to close an open door than to have a world where peace is welcome.

For the last eight years, America has witnessed the systematic dismantling of our venerated 200-year old political system by George Bush’s brand of ‘come hell or high-water’ politics.

And while Bush’s critics have done their best to tag the pugnacious Texan as nothing more than a highly functioning moron, Dubya is hardly some run of a mill Tweedle Dum to America’s Tweedle Dee.

The Grim reality is that he’s actually a lot closer to Humpty Dumpty. Sadly, however, it’s America that’s taken the tumble.

The biggest challenge facing the man who steps into the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, won’t be whether he has the resolve to put American back together again. It will be the frightening realization that while Bush and his fawning, sycophantic advisers were trying to create a world in their image, they may have pocketed a few key pieces when they realized their idyllic worldview wasn’t coming together quite the way they had planned.

There’s no question we live in a world gone wrong. But just because things are wrong now doesn’t mean they can’t be put right in the future.

Let’s just hope the next president can reassemble a foreign policy that has been spread too thin, a financial system that’s been stretched too far, and a domestic agenda that has shortchanged freedom in the name of ‘liberty.’

Of course, that’s assuming the next president can actually find all the pieces. We all know what happens when the vandals get hold of the handle…

We live in a political world,
Where courage is a thing of the past,
Houses are haunted,
Children unwanted,
The next day could be your last.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment