October 03, 2009

Oh. My. God.

[Update added. We get results!]

So, okay. Here's the thing. I'm planning an article discussing the collapse and almost total intellectual bankruptcy of the progressive movement in its current form and with its current "leadership." (Those aren't scare quotes. Ridicule quotes, perhaps? Yeah, close enough for this subject. Oh, all right. I hear you. Omit the "almost" from "almost total intellectual bankruptcy." Insert strikeouts ... done.) The progressive movement's rapid and complete descent into incoherent, self-contradictory, stupendously and unintentionally hilarious babble is exceptionally well-illustrated by the unfolding health insurance deform debacle. Hey, I never claimed the Age of Obama would be marked by underachievement. (Whenever I speak of the progressive "movement," I needs must exert unfathomable willpower to prevent an uncontrollable fit of laughter that will last for hours. The estimable Chris "They Call Me Mr., Although Commandant Might Do" Bowers is responsible for that: "Why Movements Move Me" (see that post). Boyfriend, you do have the master's touch with the phraseology! Yes, sir! I sometimes immensely enjoy saying "Yes, sir," but in a very different context. You probably don't want to hear about that. You do? Call me!)

The distinctly unedifying spectacle of health insurance deform will be part of my discussion, but I have lots more. Not so by the way, the deform crapfest is succinctly set forth here by Chris Floyd. However it turns out, it will be a victory for corporatism generally, and for the already swollen coffers of the financial titans of the insurance industry more specifically. Surprise! Not. Told you all that in May of 2008:
[T]he truth is very different from this idiotic fantasy [of most progressives]: Obama is the perfect embodiment of the system as it now exists. He will challenge it on no issue of importance. To the contrary, he will advance the goals of the ruling class and ensure that the powerful are fully protected. He will lie to you about all of this, as he already has on numerous occasions -- but as I have noted, many Americans, including many liberals and progressives, are enthusiastically willing to believe anything.
Killing truth and hope? The fatal illusion of opposition? Check, and check. Can I hear an Amen?! Thanks.

But I gotta say, I mean, I gotta say that I now think my essay will be superfluous in the extreme. A dear friend (a female or male friend, since she or he may wish to remain unidentified; if she/he wishes to proclaim her/his identity, she/he can let me know) alerted me to an astounding development of stunning cultural significance. The subject line of my friend's email reads: "And it was I who coined the phrase, 'To be or not to be.'" She/he directed me to a gem of startlingly original incisiveness and penetration.

In explaining why she was "a little bit tickled" by the use of the phrase "hissy fit" in an article at Politico (and not just in the text, but in the headline, too!), the blogger to whom my friend directed me proclaims, with charming modesty:
I'm please [sic] by this because I think I may be the one who coined that particular phrase, or at the very least popularized it.

What can one possibly say? Oh, I know, I know! "What Digby Said!" (For those who may not know, that is the citing phrase commonly used when other librul/prog bloggers link to Digby, since she presents so pure and insightful a version of progressive truth. Bloggers do this in substantial numbers. 'Cuz librul/prog bloggers are fiercely independent and never follow cues from their designated leaders. Which I'm sure you knew, especially that last part.)

I well appreciate that many successful bloggers, especially those who are heralded as leaders of movements that move (somewhere, anywhere, but in present-day America, always, always toward strengthening the already frighteningly powerful corporatist-militarist State), live in a self-contained bubble which constantly reinforces their already-existing convictions and challenges them on not a single question of significance, while it repeatedly tells them of their own wonderful wonderfulness. But I truly had no idea that the bubble was so small. Like, I mean, teeny, eeny. Tiny.

I cower before the realization that all common, popular phrases entered our culture only with the advent of the progressive movement of the present day.* Yet, steeling myself despite trembling jaw and fingers, I offer, contra Herself, this ("The allusion in this expression may be to the hissing and spluttering of such an outburst, or it may simply be a contraction of 'hysterical'. The term originated in the USA in the mid 20th century and is first recorded in a 1934 edition of American Speech" -- and the entry goes on to indicate that the phrase probably arose at least eight to ten years earlier). This illumination lit up my world after about three seconds of internetz research.

So there's that.

That little bit of hysterical history confirms one of my initial thoughts upon encountering Digby's declaration with startled countenance: "Just a sec. I'm pretty sure I had heard about hissy fits by the time I was five." I was born in 1948. So the time frame seems about right. Actually, I think I heard the phrase for the first time in the minutes immediately following my birth. "Why is that new-born having such a hissy fit?" I was upset. You would have been, too, if you had been born in the back seat of your parents' car. It was in midtown Manhattan, but it was about 2:30 in the morning. My father was ringing the bell for the night nurse; I arrived before she did. Ahead of my time right from the start, eh wot? (I was my mother's third child, so the labor was brief.)

But this is too, too silly. I'll still write that essay about progressives progressing into blithering oblivion because I have other stuff to say about it, and a bunch of material I've already gathered. And it's substantive, and yet not all that dissimilar from this tidbit of ... whatever ... at a loss for words to describe just what this is ... that is, not all that dissimilar with regard to the mechanisms at work. And some of the material is from ... yes, Digby! There's lots more where that came from!

Oh. My. God! I coined a phrase! I am awesome.

In her same post, Digby wants people to send money to some congressvarmint. They're raising something like $35,000. Zowie! (A week or so ago, I read that Joe Wilson and his opponent raised about one million dollars in the aftermath of the "You lie!" episode. One million dollars each. Well, people pay for what they value. In politics, with almost no exceptions, they value shit.) At the rate progressives shovel money to those who are already operative parts of the system that's killing us (and lots of other people around the world), there will indubitably be Change! Now! Well, not now exactly, but sometime, somehow, in an opaque, indefinite future, possibly with regard to some issue you never heard of and that matters to absolutely no one, in some universe far, far away.

You know. Sometime. In other words, never as far as you're concerned. (You should live so long. You won't. Bummer. Some change is possible, but not this way. Also to be discussed in future.)

I have a much better idea. Send money to me! I actually need it. Still better: I won't use any of it to brutalize and kill people, even indirectly. My deepest thanks to all those who have made donations in recent months, even when I wasn't able to write a single word. Without you, I wouldn't have survived, at least not with a roof still over my head and food to eat. And electricity and stuff like that.

With that last article, I think I'm getting back in the groove. I'm already into the next part of that series. But I just paid October rent, and I'm almost completely broke. I have $100 and change to my name. That's it. More food is always a good thing. And I have to pay some utilities bills. Bah. (And new cat toys! And fresh catnip! Hi, everybody! -- Cyrano and Wendy! Me: I included the exclamation point, Wendy. Oops, Wendy! Of course, I know it's part of your name. Yeah, I got it, I got it! Aw, love you, too.)

Okay, then. This was fun. Except for the being poor part. I don't need money for the heart meds at the moment. They gave me prescriptions with only six refills, and that's over now. They ran out a week or so ago, and that was only after I had cut the dosage in half to make them last longer. Lots of people are doing things like that these days. So I have to go to another doctor (money!), or wait until I have to call 911 again and let them take care of it then. I have choices! This, I am told, is a good thing. Even if I find a free doctor (at a free clinic or something, if just to get new prescriptions, although I'm pretty sure they won't do any tests beyond the simplest ones to see what shape I'm in now), I have to get there. Since it's so hard for me to get about now, that probably means cabs back and forth if I can't find someone to chauffeur me around (hard to do given people's schedules, especially during the week). Money needed for that, too. As is often observed, it costs a lot to be poor. It's especially expensive to be poor and in very bad health.

So all that sucks. But the rest of it was fun. Donations in any amount at all would obviously be deeply appreciated, as always.

Many thanks for your indulgence.

Say goodbye, kids. C: Bye! W: Bye! C: Hey, when do we get to write our posts? W: Yeah, when? Me: We'll talk. First, can we go back to bed for a little while? C: Okay! W: Okay! C: Bye again! W: Bye-bye!


W: Are you sure you put the exclamation point in there? Me: Yes, sweetheart. Look, it's right...there. W: Ohhhh-kay. Bye again!

*In an excess of caution, and because charity begins at blog (as I've noted, and you'll find some additional general observations about today's progressives in that entry), I asked myself if Digby meant only that she had used "hissy fit" in connection with certain Republican behavior, and it was that particular association that she propelled into more common usage. But that's unsatisfactory: if you knew it was a very common phrase (which it is), you wouldn't use the word "coined." Such an explanation is still more unsatisfactory because, as so many have said, Digby is a "wonderful writer." Don't wonderful writers express themselves with a minimal degree of precision and clarity? I would sorta, kinda think so. And there can be no doubt that Digby is a "wonderful writer." Can 50 million proggies be wrong? I don't think so! So I conclude that Digby said what she meant.

Much more importantly, why in hell does she give a damn, especially when the world is falling apart? (If you don't think it is, certainly as far as the U.S. is concerned, you're not paying attention.) And she most certainly gives a damn: "I couldn't be prouder that Alan Grayson used the term..." Honest to Christ. If you wonder why the progressive movement has collapsed so completely, that's a large part of the answer right there. Consider the kind of thing that thrills a recognized online progressive "leader," and just how small and shabby it is. More about all that in the upcoming essay.

UPDATE (added 10/5/09): Ah, I see that Digby has added an Update to her original post; the Update is three good-sized paragraphs in length. It begins: "To be clear..." Let it never be said that our efforts here are ineffectual.

In, um, clarifying her original claim (and indicating that she intended it to refer only to one very particular usage, the possibility I considered in the asterisked note directly above), Digby writes: "I know many of you think I am mentally deficient bordering on catatonically dumb, but really, I'm not quite that vacant." In fact, that is not what I had thought. (Methinks Digby is being just a tad hyperbolic.) What I do think will be explored in more detail in the planned fuller essay I mention (and it's very briefly indicated in the concluding note above); meanwhile, my more general points about the progressives' failures stand, and I'll explore them in the fuller piece.

The length of Digby's Update confirms one point I've already made: her original post, more particularly the specific claim in question, was remarkably unclear and imprecise. But I will refrain from further comment until I write the longer essay. At this point, it would be like carrying coals to Newcastle. (Silber, 1661.)

That was the last one for now, I swear.