The most compelling images of 2005 are those of war, flood, and riot, but perhaps the most summary one wasn't even of human beings. It was a novelty photograph that appeared in many newspapers in late September of a huge non-native python that choked itself to death trying to swallow an alligator in Florida. It proved a lasting image of overwhelming and unsuccessful greed. All around the world this year, the snake choked and the alligator refused to see itself as lunch -- if you will let "alligator" stand in here for "civil society," for all the groups, organizations, publics, and citizenries who stood up for their rights.
I saw the photo, but never saw it as a metaphor for Bu$h and his political and corporate cronies until now. Fits like a glove!
And this one that gave this post its title:
You could say that, again and again, we mistake the hood ornament for the engine that moves us forward -- or backward, since pro-war neoconservatism gets called "Bush" (my em) as often as the peace movement is dubbed "Cindy."
I'll buy it, although I prefer to visualize him more as strapped across the fender with a tag in his ear.
A couple more:
And speaking of Bush, it was a pretty good year for people who stated all the most inconvenient facts or (as they liked to call it way back when) spoke truth to power. Even the powerful piped up surprisingly loudly sometimes -- from Congressman John Murtha who decried the whole damn war and highlighted the American wounded (so often forgotten) to Senator John McCain who took a heartfelt stand against torture -- even if the moment had come for ambitious Republicans to regard Bush as something akin to an Ebola-infected chimp (my em. Ha!). And a bad year for those who would only state the facts convenient to the powerful: the downfall of Judith Miller and the humiliation of Bob Woodward tainted the country's two leading newspapers, which had tolerated their "access journalism" (think: sycophancy) in ways that damaged both the media and democracy. Those plummeting stars grudgingly, belatedly fingered some of the Bush administration's key players on the way down. (As a much better journalist, Robert Scheer, pointed out, had Miller spoken up sooner, the outcome of the presidential election might have been different. Thank you Judy, and a more sincere thank you to the San Francisco Chronicle, which quickly hired Scheer when the Los Angeles Times, whose Chicago owners have been yanking its chain hard lately, fired him.)
Thirteen months ago, when Bush was reelected, the despondent around me seemed to think that our future was graven in stone. But in the best and worst of ways, in this wild, wild year that ends so differently than it began, it has turned out to be written in water. Much of the news is grim, but the best of it is being lived out by nurses, immigrant farmworkers, Korean farmers, campers in the grass of Crawford, Texas, marchers in the streets of Washington, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, scribblers on various blogs (ahem!), volunteers in various crises, and the immeasurable force of people everywhere who won't let the official version go unchallenged anywhere.
It's nice to see a good article end on a positive note. We need a little reinforcement from time to time. You owe it to yourself to read this one.