Saturday, October 22, 2011

VOR’s Turn: No Wonder I Turned To Eagle & Cuckoo.

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Eagle & Cuckoo haven’t had much of a look-in on this blog recently, and I’m feeling quite guilty about it.

Given that they are entirely fictional characters, that may seem something of a stretch , but the truth is that once I have created a character in reasonable depth, he or she becomes real – as far as I am concerned.

By that, I don’t mean totally real – as in I would invite one of them out to lunch. Instead, I mean that I think about them a great deal and am concerned, in an omniscient sort of way about their development. I want and expect them to evolve as people. I give thought to how they live in steadily increasing detail. How does Hugo Fitzduane, who lives in an old Norman keep on an island off the West of Ireland, feed himself? Does he cook, or if he doesn’t, who does? How and where does he shop? What does he do all day? Given the number of people he has killed (always in a worthy cause) is he suffering from PTSD?

That is not as crazy as it sounds because every character I have created actually has his or her roots in reality; so, in a way, when I’m plotting fiction, I’m also thinking about reality. I’m recalling people, places and situations, and then letting my subconscious take over. Fortunately, it is a subconscious with a work ethic which rarely lets me down.

We have a deal. If I supply it with plenty of material, it will deliver. By material, it doesn’t mean watching TV. It means having real life adventures and experiences which it can really do something with. And if I get shot or knifed in the process – and there are other hazards – why to serve the interests of literature is noble. We’ll ignore whether a thriller is literature or not. It is a good motivational quip. 

E&C rather broke the pattern. I haven’t spent much time socializing with eagles to date – I admire eagles, but am not overly fond of heights and my un-assisted flying capabilities are limited – but when I was searching for a way of discussing our current rather horrendous economic situation, in a slightly less in-your-face way, E&C just popped into my head. 

I guess Eagle’s origins are obvious enough – Eagle being the national bird – but Cuckoo is harder to pin down. Perhaps he stems from the fact that our current situation is cuckoo. We don’t need to be in this situation at all. There are solutions to all our problems, but the Republicans are so hell bent on making Obama a one term president that they seem quite content to wreck the country in the process. And for good measure, they seem to revel in a particular kind of spiteful intransigence which is remarkable reminiscent of the school bully. Again and again, their behavior could well be described as mean and nasty. 

I would mind less if they had rational alternative policies, but they don’t. Instead they pump out the same old propaganda about excessive regulations, and taxes being too high while ignoring any and all contrary evidence (of which there is a great deal). Further, they are so blatantly in the pockets of the Rich and Corporate interests that the chances of their advancing all our interests – as a government should – are zero. In short, they are deeply corrupt, both morally and financially, as is the system as whole. It has been rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many and the great wonder was that more people didn’t spot this earlier. Good grief, it is not a new development. The process started in the early Seventies and has been gathering momentum ever since.

So why weren’t the Democrats screaming about this decades ago. The data were available. Even if they couldn’t interpret the figures themselves, there is no shortage of socially concerned economists. Yet, somehow the enormity of the havoc being wreaked on the American Dream was missed. Could it be because the Democrats were equally corrupted by the Rich and Corporate interests? It seems highly likely. Correction: It is certain.

This raises serious questions about President Clinton’s conduct. True, he presided over a period of sustained economic prosperity, but he doesn’t seem to have been concerned that this growth was essentially debt fueled, and that the tilting of the economy in favor of the Rich and Corporate interests was continuing. Since, by all accounts, he is an extremely intelligent man, why did he not try to redress the situation? Instead, he chose to be silent on the subject. Power came ahead of principle.

What puzzles and distresses me about all this is the near complete absence of reasoned debate. The Republicans have in effect said: “We are the party of the privileged, and since we have enough economic power to buy control of the system, pretty much regardless of who is elected, why should we care about the wellbeing of most Americans? Our rice bowls are filled by the 1%. The rest of you, the 99%, are just not really our concern. Anyway, we have a strong enough propaganda machine to keep enough of you docile no matter how outrageously we behave. True, you might think the media would cut us to pieces, but they don’t because, to a very large extent, we own them, As for the balance, they have such a peculiar idea of balanced reporting that we can still get away with almost anything. In short, we are grabbing all the marbles because we can. And what has fairness got to do with rugged individualism. Rugged individuals grab what they can and to hell with the rest. That’s the American way.”

To be fair to the Republicans, at least that has the merit of being a coherent point of view. It is a philosophy of greed and thuggery. It is despicable. It is almost certainly Un-American. But at least it is clear.

What the Democrats stand for is very far from clear. Nominally, they are the party of the Working Class; but the Working Class doesn’t exist any more… It has, somewhat mysteriously, become ‘The Middle Class;” the class of most Americans. Of a regular guy doing a regular job who probably belongs to an union.

But wait: Government unions apart, the union movement is almost dead. And it is far from certain that the Democrats will give them the kiss of life. Why so? Well, modern Democrats get a significant amount of their funding from corporations – just like the Republicans. And corporations hate unions, particularly in the U.S., because unions are now the only force available to counteract corporate power. Clearly, they have to go.

I could write pages about the weakness of the Democrats (and I’m sorely tempted to) but let me show restraint, and merely state that the Democrats come across as a bunch of wimps with no clearly defined policies.

Do they want to rein in corporate power – which they clearly should? I have absolutely no idea.

Do they really want to improve working conditions and give Americans the same sort of rights that currently exist in Europe? I see no evidence to that effect.

Are they concerned about the fact that the earnings of the average American have not increased in forty years – and are now declining? I really don’t know. I suspect not.

Do they think the financial sector should be reformed from its gullet to its zatch? Not really, both because leading members of the party are in bed with the banks, and because they don’t really understand all that technical stuff…

Judas Priest! This is a case of the corrupt and ignorant bamboozling the wanting and ignorant. It’s not a debate. It’s a competition over which party can rape and pillage to best advantage.

No wonder I turned to Eagle & Cuckoo.






















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