The Disgruntled Dylanologist

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

The Old Guard: Can Obama change their way of thinking?

Sixteen years,

Sixteen banners united over the field,
Where the good shepherd grieves.
Desperate men, desperate women divided,
Spreading their wings ‘neath the falling leaves.

First, let me say that I’m not a big fan of politicos. But James Carville—perhaps the most puffed up, bombastic, pretentious politico of them all—got it right when he famously opined back in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

It was the economy in 1992. Sixteen years later, it’s the economy all over again.

The fact that the US economy is in the shitter should come as a surprise to no one. For the past 12 months, we’ve been sliding toward the precipice of the worst recession in 16 years.In the last 60 days, it’s only gone from bad to worse. Thirteen banks have gone into bankruptcy, the top five investment banks have died, the stock market has hit a six-year low, unemployment has reached a 14-year high.

Contrary to John McCain’s reassuring reaction to the September 10 collapse of Lehman Brothers, the fundamentals of our economy were not ‘strong.’ And it certainly didn’t help that McCain borrowed his phrasing from Herbert Hoover, who on Thursday, Oct. 24, 1929, just five days before the crash that would result in the deepest depression in world history, proclaimed, “The fundamental business of the country, that is, production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.”

As the largest economy in the world, the American financial crisis has far-reaching ramifications. The direction of the U.S. economy doesn’t merely ‘impact’ the global economy; it decides its destiny.

It’s a big idea. It’s also a big problem. And the irony is that the problem isn’t going to go away until we change the way we do business in this country.

Yet despite the proclamations of ‘change’ that were the cornerstones of both the McCain and Obama presidential campaigns, change won’t be coming anytime soon. You already know the reason why.

It’s the economy, stupid.

Historically, the election of a Democrat has meant more jobs for Americans. History, however, is hardly consolation for the 1.2 million Americans who have lost their jobs since January.

It’s not especially encouraging for those who have jobs, either. With most 401(k)s off by an average of 40% or worse, dreams of retirement by the 50+ set have been replaced by the realization that there simply isn’t enough money in their accounts to sustain them for 10 years, much less the 20 years they’re expected to live.

Sure they can stay the course, stick it out, work a few extra years until the anemic stock market turns around. But there’s just something fundamentally wrong with the notion that what was only a year ago considered an appalling indignation by those who have toiled their entire life to build something for themselves and their families is now an umbrage those who actually have jobs would all too gladly suffer.

This past election was about change. A seismic shift, a comprehensive overhaul, a changing of the guard. It’s what we were promised, it’s what we want and, considering the perilous state of the economy, it’s what we need.

Unfortunately, change is not something the Obama Administration will be able to deliver anytime soon. It would mean the old guard would need to step down. But the old guard is like a caged animal tethered to a stake that keeps it from wondering too far from the trough.

And with their retirement pensions gone, the stock market in a perpetual downward spiral, and the potentially some of that $700 billion in bailout money might potential come their way if they just hang on long enough, the old guard is a permanent fixture on the horizon.

Contrary to what the media would have us believe, the rest of the world truly wants America to succeed. For millions around the world, America truly is a beacon of hope, prosperity and opportunity. But Eden is burning. And rather than change the old guard, we need to change their way of thinking.

Because the old guard isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Frankly, they can’t afford to…

I don’t need your organization, I’ve shined your shoes,

I’ve moved your mountains and marked your cards,
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination,
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards.


November 23, 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.

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

You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the election blows

Johnny’s in the basement,
Mixing up the medicine,
I’m on the pavement,
Thinking about the government

Back in the 1960s, domestic terrorists knew their place. They lived underground. They kept out of sight. And when they did come up for air, you knew about it.

Today it seems domestic terrorists not only walk among us, they actually breathe the same air we do. Well, maybe not all of us. But they certainly breathe the same air as Barack Obama.

So what does the tempestuous, stormy past of a 1960s Weatherman by the name of William Charles Ayers have to do with Barack Obama, who was all of eight years old when Ayers was tapping phones, blowing up buildings and generally trying to bring down the American government?

This, my friends, is just the question the McCain campaign would like you to consider. But whatever you do don’t look to John McCain for the answer. The last thing McCain and his minions want to do is tell you what to think about Bill Ayers’ relationship with Barack Obama. They want you to use your imagination. And they want you to imagine the worst.

According to the McCain campaign, Obama wasn’t just friends with Bill Ayers, Ayers was actually a mentor—someone who helped to mold and shape Obama when he was a young, up and coming Chicago politician.

They had coffee together back in 1995 when Obama was first running for office, for Pete’s sake. And we all know what those ‘60s radicals were putting in their drinks back then, don’t we? Hell, for all we know, Ayers could have programmed Barack to be the next Manchurian Candidate.

And while McCain keeps pitching his stories to the ink well, he’s been very careful not to call Obama a terrorist. No question, McCain’s trying to keep a clean nose on this one, letting a group called American Issues Project do his bidding.

But McCain isn’t the only one walking on tiptoes. Barack Obama’s jumped down a few manholes himself over the last few years when the issue of his relationship with Bill Ayers has come up.

In his 2004 race for the Senate when the Obama-Ayers relationship first was made an issue, Obama avoided a potential political scandal by claiming the Republicans where just doing it again by looking for a new friend, a man in a trench coat to whom they could tie the electorate’s über paranoia.

In February of 2008, the ‘Ayers issue’ arose again during the Democratic primary. And again, Obama failed to personally repudiate the charges. Instead, he ducked down the alleyway, leaving it up to his spokesman, Bill Burton, to issue the following statement: “Any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.”

So why has that soot the McCain campaign has been shoving in the face of Obama stuck this time? Because it turns out that Bill Ayers and Barack Obama do have something in common.

In a September 2001 interview with the New York Times, Bill Ayers was asked about his past ‘civil disobediences,’ to which he replied, “I don’t regret setting bombs…I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Similarly, it wasn’t until last Wednesday’s debate with McCain that Barack Obama finally acknowledged Ayers’ actions in the 1960s and early 1970s were unconscionable. Yet in typical Obama double-speak, he stopped short of extending that condemnation to Ayers himself.

America is a forbearing nation. We tend to forgive one another for our past indiscretions. But in order to receive your ‘get out of jail’ card, you have to admit to the indiscretion in the first place.

The real issue at the heart of the current Ayers-Obama controversy isn’t whether or not Ayers’ actions in the ‘60s and early ‘70s were “unconscionable.” What Ayers did 40 years ago is beyond unconscionable. It’s irreprehensible. And it isn’t that Barack Obama has shown himself to be just as unrepentant as the man with whom he has allowed himself to be linked, either. The real issue is that neither man will admit an error in judgment.

When given the chance to come clean in 2001, Ayers should have said he was wrong to put innocent American lives at stake to advance his own personal, vindictive political beliefs. And when asked about his relationship with Ayers in 2004, Barack Obama should have said he respects Ayers for his convictions, but abhors the tactics he used to try to achieve them.

What American wants is for these men to come clean. To date, neither has come close. And until they do, this political shit storm isn’t going to blow over anytime soon. Which is exactly what John McCain was counting on the moment he dosed the American public with the story in the first place…

Better stay away from those,
That carry around a fire hose,
You don’t need a weather man,
To know which way the wind blows

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Disgruntled, Dylanologist | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment