As many of you know, Monday February 2nd was this year’s celebration of the high holy holiday known in America as Groundhog Day. Worshipers of this holiday go back to pagan European and Celtic traditions. In essence, a representative groundhog is called on to be the symbol of the deity-like power necessary to create or prognosticate six weeks worth of chilly weather. Rather than trust in themselves and their own ability to look out the window and see which way the wind blows, folks around the country make an elaborate ritual out of putting their faith in a burrow dwelling woodchuck.
This year our most famous groundhog, Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil did indeed see his shadow which mean he’ll have 6 more weeks of looking over his shoulder to see whether we seriously intend to blame him for the next six weeks of messy weather we’ll have to endure whether we believe in him or not--ultimately powerless against the weather under most conditions, much like any other groundhog.
Take presidents for example, as likely a deity as an oversized rodent any day. Also as when dealing with rodentia, how can one know if they’ve selected the correct icon to worship and not wound up with a nutria in their ignorance? Like our own personal groundhog, Americans look to Obama to guide them through the stormy weather through his actions in one symbolic moment as if he had the power to change where even one raindrop fell.
To be sure Obama has a heftier hand at the tiller than most North American fur bearing mammals, but with all sectors of the population expecting Obama to solve their personal problems, with our numerous cross purposes, not everyone can get what they want.
Republicans, for example, currently want to still play by rules and with the same moves that they just lost with as if their former game still functioned. They’re once again resorting to the same copy-cat stale strategies that brought you an ersatz war hero they’d kept on a shelf for eight years and in ’08 were finally getting around to selling to you as if the contents of the war-hero box were still either fresh or new. More than anything else, McCain’s recent lame delivery of the cliché classic, “that’s typical liberal spending,” reminded everybody why we didn’t vote for him.
Stalling the nomination hearings in a fit of pathetically partisan passion, John Cornyn from Texas reached back even farther into the stereotype bin when he was caught holding Holder’s nomination up in fear Holder would seek to prosecute torture, because the Southern White Man didn’t want a Black Man to seek justice. In yet another variation on this theme, the new Aunt Jemima’s face of the newly repackaged pachyderm party is (oh all things where did they find one) a Black Man, Michael Steele, thus recreating a GOP stereotype going all the way back to Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The decrepit GOP brand is running so desperately old school these days, the Arizona branch office of this cabal of Republicans has vowed to go all the way and taken to beating up on school kids to make themselves look like heroes. Despite protests on the state capitol lawn of 2000 educators from around the state; with the help of her statehouse henchmen, newly installed Republican governor Jan Brewer has pulling 275 million out of the state education budgets and taken her first steps to tax cutting her state back into the Stone Age.
Meanwhile the Dems want us to stop listening to the GOP and begin to think of the Dems as the tax experts, but it turns out that even the best possible Dems Obama could possibly find to be his hand picked advisors--Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle--don’t even know enough about taxes to pay them.
Millionaire congressmen want to condemn socialism except for their millionaire farmer friends and their buddies in banking and they want you to pay for it with your kids. Rich CEOs want to buy their 50 million dollar jets and get drunk on bailout dough too. You know that sort of “have-their-cake-and-eat-ours-too” attitude also known as the Bush Doctrine?
And Obama, bless his heart, with some social equality coming through, wants salary caps for CEOs to be equal to his, about 400K a year and a bunch of killer perks. Once upon a time Babe Ruth could laughingly crow that he deserved a bigger paycheck than then President Herbert Hoover because Ruth had had a better year than Hoover. In 2009, Wall Street could not try the same crap with Obama, it’s just not so. Imagine that, a black man seeking social justice. Surely some Republican will figure out a way to get in the way of this in the weeks to come.
Meanwhile millions of Americans want the latest near trillion dollar stimulus package to save their butts or at least keep them in out of the cold. With the money being given to banks, they could pay off hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of loans of the people caught in the ARMs of evil. It would seem this sort of thing could be the win-win; but that’s not going to happen. The banks and credit industry don’t just want you to have your house and them to have your money; they also want to keep your interest.
It’s not about win-win, it’s about profit and growth. It’s unfortunate that the American economic system and cancer are the only organisms that pursue unlimited growth since that pursuit will inevitably lead to killing the host.
When the climate of our country has elected officials turning the sick from their hospital beds, firing your children’s teachers, feeding the rich with the bread of the poor, and muzzling justice, and then claim themselves heroes, the power of prognostication by a groundhog or a president must be limited at best. That’s a whole lot of rain on a parade.
So, which groundhog will you worship? I would rather not worship one, but looking at Obama’s uphill battle, if I had to pick, Punxsutawney Phil would be just fine. He’s only predicting six weeks more of stormy weather, which is a lot brighter picture than my forecasts for Obama.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ