Saturday, December 20, 2014

The War in BHO

Dr S:  About your grandparents. It seems you pity them.

BHO: Sure. Who wouldn't? Poor Gramps, one of those guys buying into the American dream, always chasing the Dream.

Dr. S: Is it possible to overstate things?

BHO: I don't see what you're getting at.

Dr. S: Well, just to take one thing, you've talked about how your grandfather wanted to move to Hawaii. Let me look at my notes. Ah, here it is:

"So that when the manager of the furniture company where he worked happened to mention that a new store was about to open in Honolulu, that business prospects seemed limitless there ... he would rush home that same day and talk my grandmother into selling their house and packing up yet again, to embark on the final leg of their journey west, toward the setting sun ..... He would always be like that, my grandfather, always searching for that new start, always running away from the familiar ... He was an American character, one typical of men of his generation, men who embraced the notion of freedom and individualism and the open road without always knowing its price, and whose enthusiasms could as easily lead to the cowardice of McCarthyism as to the heroics of World war II. Men who were both dangerous and promising precisely because of their fundamental innocence; many prone, in the end, to disappointment."

BHO: And your point is?

Dr. S: We have talked about this before. Certain kinds of intelligence are vulnerable to excessive abstraction.

BHO: I thought we were done talking about that.

Dr. S: But you always talk about it. You talk about your grandfather's move as if it were part of some grand sociopolitical event. Did you ever consider he, and your grandmother, were just tired of gray, rainy Seattle and wanted to go to sunny Hawaii? And that it sounded like a good job opportunity to boot? And if it was a bit of a disappointment, well, isn't that true of most people? Perhaps everyone?

BHO: Aren't you getting away from your professional duty?

Dr. S: As Freud once said, Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes people get a chance to go to Hawaii and they just jump at it.

BHO: So what?

Dr. S: It's just interesting, your reading so much into things.

BHO: Some people say it's called insight.

Dr. S: It's in a way a compliment, having a powerful, nimble mind. But all strengths are weaknesses, of course. You tend to use your mind to manipulate what you encounter. That can be dangerous.

BHO: Can we get back to something relevant?

Dr. S: Look at the above. You equate winning World War II with a minor political panic. That's a danger of the Platonic mind: taking two abstract entities and comparing them as if they are equivalent. Of course, they are far different in size and scope.

BHO: McCarthyism was a stain on our national honor.

The causation is different. And remember basic logic. Uncounted generations have engaged in political feuds throughout history. Not many have defeated and destroyed two fascist military powers.

BHO: That isn't relevant.

Dr. S: Some people say it is. Some people say your generation faces fascist threats, in Europe and Asia and the Mideast too.

BHO: That's even less relevant, if that's possible.

Dr. S: But it is. If you fear that fighting fascist powers is equivalent to McCarthyism, in your own mind, then how can you fight fascism?

BHO: I do my job. Plenty of people think I go too far.

Dr. S: But do you? Are you held back because you can't see beyond the abstractions?

BHO: I have limited time, you know. Get to the point.

Dr. S: Let's go back to look at your grandmother.

BHO: [Groans.]


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Congress Is Now the Electoral College

Dr. S: Are you sure your current behaviors are prudent?

BHO: Are you kidding? People love it! They're cheering me on. Look at the articles. "Don't count him out." "It's time for a boomlet." It's already happening. I can do what's right, and no one is going to say anything about it. I've got the pope on my side! What do I care if Mitch [redacted] or John [redacted] has a hissy fit about it?

Dr. S: Aren't you obliged to cooperate with them?

BHO: Not any more! Look, first of all, they don't have the cojones to fight with me. Speaking of cojones, did you hear about what that movie studio did? They got some threats over the Internet, and they pull a $42 million movie! Look, Doc, people say I should be bolder or whatever. Why should I be bold? People don't want bold, rash dangerous moves. They want peace, and they want it now! All the rest is bluster and baloney. Look, Doc, I'm only doing what they want me to do. They don't want anything that'll upset them at all. I'm just going along with them. No one cooperates like me! I'm doing what the people want. Am I right? Aren't people fearful? Right.

Dr. S: Perhaps. There was ... my wife was on a trip, and was doing some tai chi outside her motel in the late afternoon. Some of the people complained to the front desk that they were frightened of her! She is quite petite, and she is my age ... let us say she isn't physically imposing. And of course tai chi is, well, it looks like a mime's routine. And people were terrified! They asked her to stop.

BHO: You're starting to understand. People don't want to suffer. At all. And they expect me to keep them from suffering. And it's the same for everyone, the tea party types and all. They squawk but they don't want the slightest inconvenience either. I'm just doing what they want.

Dr. S: Don't you have to work through the usual channels?

BHO: Do people wear silk breeches and powdered wigs? Look, the channels are done! John and Mitch, even Nancy [redacted] and Harry [redacted], they don't want to do anything. They don't want anything that's going to upset any apple carts.

Dr. S: But the constitution ...

BHO: The constitution is what people will put up with. There's an electoral college, right? But people don't put up with it actually picking the president. Nobody wants someone else casting their presidential votes. They want to vote for president. Same thing for the Senate. Nobody wants a bunch of hick legislators voting for their senator. People want to pick their own senators. Well, people don't want a bunch of prime jackasses like Mitch and Harry and John and Nancy and all those other clowns deciding what they want. The Congress is just the Electoral College now. Sure, it makes for a nice show, and it's tradition and all that crap. But the Electoral College does what the voters tell them to do. And Congress does what I tell it to do, because I know what the people want and need.

Dr. S: Is that you are supposed to do?

BHO: Democracy is the rule of the people? And I'm one of the people. I know what people really go through. And I know how weak so many people are. Like my grandfather. Sitting at that card table, begging people to meet with him so he could sell them insurance. The whole class of people is old and tired. They're frightened. They want someone to tell them what to do, and to keep them away from danger. Well, I do. And if I'm wrong, why isn't anybody doing anything about it? A few of them are huffing and puffing, but it'll all blow over. It's a new day. Congress can't cope. They don't want to cope. They want me to keep them out of danger. I do my best.  And you know what? They're glad. They're tired of all that arguing in Congress, tired of worrying what will happen. They know I won't do anything danger. They know I'll take care of them. The Constitution? What, you're going to get in your Oldsmobile and drive down to Montgomery Ward to buy one of them new long-playing record players? It's a new America, it's my America. Congress can make noise, but in the end they're just the Electoral College -- or the re-enactors at colonial Williamsburg.

Dr. S: You mentioned your grandfather ....


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Client BHO Dreams of his Father

Dr. S: In the course of ... coaching ... we sometimes talk of dreams.

BHO: I don't dream. My head hits the pillow, I'm out.

Dr. S: But there are other dreams. Dreams from your father, for instance.

BHO: That makes it a little easier for you, huh?

Dr. S: There's no need to walk if the bus goes into town, Mr. ... In any case, I was struck by some of these dreams.

[No response.]

Dr. S: At the very beginning, and I'm sure you know the research that says anything at the beginning, or end, of a sequence is especially prominent. It's a story about your father, with a young African student, up at a lookout point in Hawaii. The young man borrows your father's pipe, drops it off the cliff, and your father demands he go get it. When he refuses, your father dangles him over the railing, terrifying the man."

BHO: I don't see your point.

Dr. S: You put it in a very important spot. It must mean something to you.

BHO: Well, sure. That's what you have to do: You have to insist on your way. You have to make people follow you. Hell, yes! I just dangled John B[partially redacted] over the railing! He was just about to pee in his blue suit! [laughter] That's what you have to do.

Dr. S: Sounds a little extreme, isn't it?

BHO: He just wanted to teach the fellow a lesson. People are so ... let's say distracted. They don't know what they want, they don't know how to get it, they're afraid of getting it. Just like that guy: drops my father's pipe off a cliff! You have to scare them then make them follow you. That's what they really want anyway. Look at B[partially redacted.] He doesn't want to climb down the cliff. He wants to be told what to do.

Dr. S: I was also struck by the story of your father going to a music festival, being unprepared, yet singing and holding the stage.

BHO: That's what people want .Someone with confidence. Boldness. Who does things, and defies you to take offense. Look at the people who criticize me. They won't dare do anything. They're afraid. I've always felt that. I'm like my father: the African man up on the stage in Hawaii. I'm up there, and in the end they have to respect me. I make them respect me. Look around. They've been fussing at me for six years, and I'm stronger than ever. They're crawling all over themselves to do what I want.

Dr. S: Some people think you are weaker. Are isolated.

BHO: Not everyone. Forty-four percent of the people still approve of me.

Dr. S: That's a minority.

BHO: Don't you get it, Doc? If you've got 44 percent, and no one else has that much, you've got all you need. They're all divided, they're squabbling and bitching and moaning. I've got 44 percent, nobody else has more than 10 percent. They come around to my side. They can't do anything to me. They'll end up following. Like that scene in Huck Finn. A mob goes to lynch a man, and he faces them all down. 'A MAN's safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind.' That's what's needed, a man, who can stand up. And if he does it with confidence, everyone will follow his lead."

Dr. S: Everyone?

BHO: Eventually. Look at how it's all working out. One of my predecessors said it: One man with courage makes a majority. I've got courage, and I'm getting what I want. They don't dare to oppose me. Oh, they'll squawk and holler. But in the end they'll give in. They don't have the guts to actually do anything. So I will. And that's for both sides.

Dr. S: Doesn't that worry you?

BHO: Why? They say I'm a failure, I know that. But that's because they're judging me by the outmoded standards of a world that's fading away. In the new world, the one that's being born right now, I'm in charge, and no one dares really oppose me.

Dr. S: [A long pause.]


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Client BHO: Give the People What They Want

Client BHO: Did you see that column? Don't tell me how I'm changing the country. Only France has a bigger 'welfare state.' Thirty percent of our GDP goes to social services. That old 'self reliant' country is gone. Go see it in a museum. The real America is a welfare state. I'm just recognizing it.

Dr. S: I see

Friday, November 28, 2014

Client BHO: Fire and the Law

Dr. S: So what do these recent events make you think of?

Client BHO: There could be riots every day, Doc. Think of how many people want to blow. I know show they feel. Think of it. Every morning when I was growing up, I'd wake up, and there would be aliens all around me. All around me in Jakarta. But in Honolulu too. All around me, white people with power. Not real power, but power they could call on, any time they wanted. Just a word to the friendly officer. And think about being in the ghetto, seeing it every day! But now I have the power. Any wonder I use it? And finally, for a few days out a thousand years, we are using it! The people on the outside are burning all the time. Once every few years some crappy ghetto catches fire. We actually are very restrained.

Dr. S: We?

BHO: We, the people -- the powerless people. The people who are despised. Who are feared. Who have nothing and can never get anything.

Dr. S: You have never gotten anything?

BHO: Oh, I have been loaned a few things. Like the nice house I live in. But I'm just a tenant. All the people like me, we're just tenants. They have graciously allowed us to borrow a few things they don't need right now. That's fine. But a time's coming when we'll take them, for good. That's what happened. People got tired of being loaned a few things. And their rage went out of control. They got tired of having every flabby, dough-faced cracker being able to call them to heel. They snapped. They blazed up for a day.

Dr. S: But didn't they hurt themselves?

BHO: They're tough people. They really have nothing. So what did they lose? A few crappy stores they didn't own. They're no worse off than before. Besides, it's all going to blow away anyway.

Dr. S: What do you mean by that?

BHO: I see all the reports, all the numbers. And my people tell me things they don't even tell the "elected representatives" and the media. You know what the national debt it? The real debt? And the hard people. You think Mitch and Nancy and all of them can match up with the hard people in the world? It's all going to go up in flames. All I want to do is make sure the outsiders get their share while it's still there. Afterwards, well, the strong survive, right?

I always thank my mother for that. She showed me how strong the outsiders were. They can take all that abuse and keep coming. They're in training every day. That's why I work out every day. I know the truth. That's why we're the people of the future. You ever see the movie "Zorro," the new one, with Antonio Banderas? In the end, when the smoke clears, the strong people, the people who have been hardened by suffering and hard work, they'll survive. The pale, flabby people -- They've gone soft. They won't be able to survive. Why don't they see that? I'm just trying to get them the best deal I can, while I can. Do they think a country clubber like Mitt can? Or that soft boy, Paul? Or Mr. Man Tan? Or any of them. They ought to be grateful. I'm cutting them the best deal I can before, well, the fire next time.

Dr. S: They say you flout the law.

BHO: Me, of all people. I love the law. Why do you think I taught law? The law is what gives people leverage. The law is power. It can't be diluted by the hacks and the cronies. The law gives people leverage. I am not flouting the law, I am using the law. If I am breaking the law, let them call the police. But of course they don't. I am using the law. I am just bolder than others in using it.

And I am using it for the people. That's what scares them. It's OK to use that power if you use it for the hacks and the rich, to them. I use it for the people. The law allows us to hurdle the money and the power and the establishment. The law is jujitsu that lets us help the people. I don't break the law, I empower the law. I see its power and set it free. And they don't dare stop me! That shows they aren't worthy of wielding the law.

Dr. S: To burn down stores?

BHO: Someday they won't be enraged, because then they'll have the power. This was just an understandable mistake. Someday soon they'll have the power. We will have the power. Our suffering will make us strong and wise. And the old flabby people won't be in our way.

Dr. S: Do you think there's a conflict between how you see the people and how you see the law?

BHO: Conflict?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Patient BHO and the Post-Legislative Order

 Dr. S: Aren't you concerned by your current .... predicament. Haven't you alienated your allies?

Patient BHO: You don't get it? I should be your life coach. Don't you see? I finally have my allies. I've cut out all the hacks and old men who have kept me from the people. The hacks have been destroyed, all of them. They just don't know it. They're running around, but what can they do to me, or for me? Nothing. But I have the people, the people on the outside who are hollering to get inside.

Dr. S: What about the other people? Some would say you have more enemies than friends.

Patient BHO: That's why I talked about the two-thirds who don't vote. I'm not saying they would have voted for Democrats. They don't trust them, either. And why should they? The parties, the politicians, they just get in the way. The two-thirds who don't vote, they're voting against voting. They say refugees vote with their feet. The people who don't vote do the same. And they vote against the system, the hacks, the old men and women. The colorless, weak hacks. Those weren't votes against me, they were votes for me -- or at least for a bold leader who knows what the outsiders have endured. And who knows more than me? Sixty-four percent of the people said: This system is phony, outdated, obsolete, biased, boring, corrupt. Sixty-four percent said they wanted something else. I just happen to be the something else.

Dr. S.: Don't you need a majority? Wouldn't it be, at least, helpful?

Patient BHO: There are no majorities. Don't the right-wingers read their own guys? Take Hayek. The right-wingers just read the Cliff's Notes, I think. I read the book. There never are 51 percent majorities -- I mean, stable ones. Sure, for one vote you might get 51 percent. But that's like some nuclear substance, that exists for a few moments then collapses into more stable elements.

You look at when Congress votes 51 percent for X. But only, say, 10 percent really believe in X. Maybe another 10 percent believe in it that day, but tomorrow they believe in Z. Ten percent only voted that way because their party said to, and the next time they'll go the other way. Ten percent just got bribed. And 11 percent didn't really like it, but they thought it was the lesser of two evils, but then they'll see a better one, just like your girl might find a better-looking guy! And all of them will run like scared cats if there are problems. That's why legislatures always kill good ideas. They can't really muster a real majority. All they votes are cobbled-together messes. People make fun of the Affordable Care Act, but all legislation is jerry-rigged. That didn't bother me at all.

They say I didn't get a majority. They should read their own Hayek. It's right there. There are no majorities. He says representative bodies always fail. That's why. So that's why I didn't sweat voting in the Illinois Senate. The Illinois Senate! Every damned bill was a stinking pile of crap! Anybody with any sense would vote "present" all the time! Who the hell would want to be associated with all that!

Dr. S: But isn't that the idea -- for representative government.

Patient BHO: There's no majority, there's no representatives either. They just represent themselves, or the power structure.. There are the people themselves. The Others. And I am them. I'm the Other. I've always been the Other. am the Other. I have always been the Other. Don't think I don't know it. Their applause -- they don't see me, they don't know me.

Dr. S: It sounds to me as if you were always surrounded by people who wanted to help you

Patient BHO: They thought they wanted to help. In high school and at that hippie college in California. They were so smug, so self-assured. But they had no idea, about me. Or about the outsiders.

Take the old folks. I'd come in each morning and see that horse-faced old man and his wife, pale and old. Trying so hard to please me. Failing, of course.

Especially the old man. I felt sorry for him. But that's when I saw it. They are losers. Just like Mitch and Harry and Nancy and John are losers. They're all full of themselves, but they're like blacksmiths watching the first Model T chug down the street. Did I say that already? The hell with it, it's true.

Dr. S: Don't you, in your business, have to work with people, regardless of their failings?

Patient BHO: You mean politics. I used to be in politics. I had to be a politician. But now I've graduated. Now I'm beyond politics.

Dr. S: Then what?

Patient BHO: (a noticeable pause, which is unusual for this patient.) I guess we'll all find out.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Client BHO and the Second American Revolution

Dr. S: Aren't you concerned you might need the cooperation of some of these people?

Client BHO: Why?

Dr. S: Everyone needs help.

BHO: Oh, I'll get help. The people need me and want me. To hell with the parasites and the timeservers. This is the real American Revolution. It started out as a real revolution, but they quashed it pretty fast. But what if Shay's Rebellion had won? What if they had had a real leader?

Dr. S: Explain

BHO: Look, did you know the original American Revolution wasn't directed against the king, but against parliament? Well, what if this so-called Congress is just another parliament -- a clique of out-of-touch aristocrats who don't know anything about the people? I mean, the real people, the oppressed people? A Revolution doesn't have to be bloody or violent. The English had their Glorious Revolution because no one died. What if we just had one? What if people will celebrate Nov. 20 in years to come, because it signaled the toppling of the old order and the triumph of a new one.

Dr. S: Did we talk about adjust the dosages of your medication?

BHO: We were all laughing at how they must look. All those flabby old white men -- no offense, Dr. S -- when I just took it away from them. They must be like blacksmiths watching the first Model T chug down the road. Doctor, I know you think I need help. You ought to go work on Mitch and John and even Harry. They're like the coyote in those old cartoons. There's a shadow over them and it's an Acme safe coming down, and they know it. People want action, they want it now, and they want to hear it from someone cool and alive, not these old mumbling farts. The old America is gone, and good riddance! There's a new America today. And it isn't bogged down in these droning debates by these tired old men. And women, to be fair.

Dr. S: Are you sure you're right?

BHO: Look, they don't have the guts to do anything. And they can't. All they've ever done is argue and compromise and moan. There's a poetry to action they'll never understand. People today want to do things and they want to do them now. They don't have time for this crap.

Dr. S: You sound very confident.

BHO: You can't fight logic, doc. If it's OK to stop prosecuting 5 million people because most of the time they are ordinary people, well, if they are just ordinary people, why is it OK to deny them health care or welfare? Why is it OK to deny them the right to be citizens? Once Mitch and those other poor dumb bastards buy the premises, they have to buy the conclusion too. Hell, what about ten million, or 15 million? They're the people of energy, of vibrancy, of the future. All those poor dumb old men and women, they're in the dumpster already, and they don't even know it.