Contradictions R Us

Design by Rha Bowden, "Co-Exist"

Design by Rha Bowden, “Co-Exist”

It’s head exploding time in these United States and maybe in Venezuela, too. As Rachel Maddow declared it’s another day “in which all of this news does not seem possible.” I started writing about about the various and opposing views of Hugo Chavez who just died and whose legacy is being discussed on the social media and the MSM (mainstream media), but social media, as usual, is more interesting and more nuanced.

But only just. Being “friends” with so many folks on the Left or at least left of center, wherever the hell that is now in times of challenging women’s right to birth control and the right to vote for folks who waited for hundreds of years before even getting to register, I have read a lot of tributes on my news feed. Then a bunch of disagreements started to pop up and as one wag, radio critic, Matthew Lasar wrote, “Hugo Chavez was a wonderful monster who destroyed and saved Venezuela, which will never recover from his life/death.”

Now I am not, I repeat, not, an expert on Hugo Chavez but I did admire his chutzpah and his ability to completely change the conversation in Venezuela and around the world. As the first person of Native and African origins to be elected in his country, he gave the populace who looked like him a reason to hope.

He told the world that the most valuable resources of his county, oil, belonged not to international corporations, but to the people of that country. He thumbed his nose at baseball owners who were used to running a plantation system where young players were treated as commodities not people.

He also shut down newspapers and went after opposition press. He spent his country’s wealth on literacy and health clinics AND goodies for his friends and family(so they say). For Americans, for whom the MSM’s version of a dictator or strong man who terrorized the (wealthy) newspaper owners who fomented  (funded) a failed coup against him, he wast billed as both scary and a clown. Well, if the first image didn’t work to belittle him, the other surely would do the trick.

For many of us regular viewers of the MSM who don’t read the Nation as often as we watch cable news but hated Bush-he was a breath of fresh air. When he told the UN, “Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.” Well, Mastercard, that really was priceless.

Now that he is gone, no matter what he did or did not do, many of us fear for his countrymen and for the help he lent to other countries. But we have enough problems dealing with our own politicians and the policies of two parties beholden to corporate CEOS and their boards.

Now along comes Rand Paul and more head exploding politics, personalities, and contradictions. I listened to part of his filibuster against possible murderous drone strikes in the US on KPFA. Rand Paul on KPFA should have been enough to hurl me into migraine territory much less the fact that I found myself nodding along with him.

When I later caught Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC haranguing against Paul’s long speech and describing him as a mad man, I got more confused and bewildered. Then O’Donnell asked his guests to join him in berating the “stark raving mad” Paul; but they declined and went on to talking about the president giving out his secret list of terrorists who may be killed (Ryan Grim, HuffPo) and bringing attention to the use of drones (EJ Dionne). Then we got to hear Republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham denouncing Paul for implying this president was that horrible??

At that point I had to finish eating my whole day’s ration of chocolate before my brain shut down. This morning I read that Eugene Robinson agreed with Rand Paul and almost went into a coma writing it (I’m only imagining that).

At least Eric Holder has now stated that no, we won’t be doing that unless of course there’s a little caveat to that statement like, unless necessary. I never even got the wonderfulness of drone attacks in other countries against people without my grocery-store-surfing-third-world-exploiting-talents-and passport-owning-non-burka-wearing-music-downloading rights who might be attending a wedding with the wrong entourage, never mind the bad bridesmaids dresses. I never really felt good as an American about our apparently god-given technologic advances that are making this all possible.

It seems that now some Americans are waking up to a few of these new threats. Back to facebook and twitter, and tumblr, and whatever else they invented last night that I haven’t found out about yet, there’s Bradley Manning and Aaron Swartz, and, oh for those of us in the Bay, KPFA’s contradictions could fill, well, many a book-as they already have.

One thing I want to know though. If we voters elected Barack Obama, he of the brightest smile since JFK, and of the drones, and the I-could-cut-a-little-out-of-your-social-security-checks for the sake of the deficit which happened because people are out of work , which happened because the investment bankers ponzied us all out of a living, not our greedy grannies and grandpas buying their cat food; if we (yes, this is the definition of a run-on sentence) could vote for him because we recognized the scariness of the other guy or just because the other guy wore mom-jeans, then why can’t we learn to live with the contradictions??

I, for one, maybe you for another, don’t want to be caught using all my energy hating a president the way I did in the 60’s who turns out to have been probably the best one in my lifetime. After all, LBJ gave us Medicare and food stamps, and the Voting Rights Act which we may now be losing.

I don’t want to be in long arguments against a now dead president of a country I have never visited.

I don’t want either to read about my mayor (you knew I’d get around to that) and wonder  if she were either a head breaking, proponent of police violence or a criminal-coddling-cry- baby-liberal, neither of which comes close to the person I know who has ably engineered a budget that has maintained our libraries, youth and senior services through a deep Recession.

What’s my point-ferkrissakes-how would I know while my head explodes?!The only guess I have would be that these are tough, volatile times. They come close to the polarization of the 60’s which means I am now too old to be trusted anyway. Sometimes I don’t trust myself so I have to back up, study a little more, write it all out or paint it or whatever works and then be responsible for what I say, write, and do, how I am in the world.

I need to figure out how to live with the contradictions of loving my president while fearing his power, his mentors, and his isolation from people like me. I need a place to mourn the loss of a charismatic leader who spit in the eye of the world’s most powerful states. I need to listen to my enemies and, more importantly, resist the need to have enemies and the desire to have heroes.

By the way, Happy International Women’s Day!

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