Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Power Makes Stupid


English, Hamburg, Lehman, Schenk,
Darden, Johnson, LaRocco, Rosty.


Yeah, Rosty baby,
Danny Rostenkowski.
You remember him, they indicted his ass
on more counts than Bill Bennett's got virtues for.

Anyway, where was I?
Long, Smith, Glickman, Barlow, Bilbray,
Bass, Klein, Hochbrueckner.


Yeah, Hochbrueckner baby, New York's first,
the one and only, in New York anyway,
one in the first, ain't that cute.

What in the hell are you talkin' about?

Me? Me?
Surely you know I'm just readin you a list,
and I'm talkin about politics,
congress to be exact, congressional politics.
It's the Republican revolution,
and I am just listing, in order, alphabetized by state
and district number
the complete list of all the incumbent Democrats
who lost their re-election bids in the
great Republican landslide of '94.
I counted 32 of them, but I'm not quite sure
because I had to count them myself for reasons
we'll get into later.

But wait a minute, wait a minute man.
I thought this was supposed to be poetry or something;
I thought you were trying to write a poem.
You can't just go reading some random list of names
that no one's ever heard of.

Yeah, yeah, I heard you baby,
and I couldn't agree more;
you can't write a poem like that,
and this isn't poetry.
And that's the great thing
because this isn't politics,
this isn't democracy,
this isn't no two party system ---
I'll give you the two, but what I wanna know is
where's the party baby?
And so the two are kind of made
for each other.
Poetry that isn't poetry,
and politics that isn't politics.

And really, I couuldn't have said it better myself,
no one's ever heard of these guys.
They're simply 32 of the 535
most powerful people in the most powerful country
in the history of the world,
and nobody's ever heard of them.

Well ain't that cute.

And let's try a little channel surfing
and see if we can find some
American Gladiators somewhere.

And nobody's ever heard of them
---- except for Rosty of course,
but that's like Lou Reed said,
"Does anybody really need,
another crooked politician,
caught with his pants down,
and money stickin' in his hole?"

Lancaster, Price, Mann, Strickland,
Fingerhut, Mezvinsky
--- but cutting to the chase a bit,
the way I've got it figured,
and if you get my point I've had to get down
to the bedrock of the names and I've had to figure for myself,
86% of incumbent democrats were re-elected in '94.
Which is to say that even in the midst of
a Republican 'revolution',
nearly nine out of ten democrats were re-elected.

Revolution; Republican; change.
Yeah, the more things change.

Which added to the 100% of Republican incumbents
who were re-elected
amounts to well over 90% of all incumbents
returning to Washington.
(And a lot more if you count lobbyists.)

This, folks, is a revolution;
90% stasis, and 10% change.

And you are quite right, absolutely right,
you can't talk about percentage points in poetry,
I mean it just isn't poetry when you get done,
and that is my point exactly.

It's like what the president said,
the president of the United States, Mr. President
William Jefferson Clinton;
"We're all Eisenhower Republicans and
they're Reagan Republicans."

I'm not making this stuff up,
and if you want to check it out all you have to do is
hop in your car and drive down to Yale
and wait 40 years for them to release the documentary evidence
Bob Woodward deposited there for his book "The Agenda"
under stipulation that it not be released for 40 years.

40 years.
40 years.

Go ahead, have a cup of coffee,
you've got time.

This Woodward character, what a trip.
Yeah, that's right, Redford played him in "All the President's Men".


Well if I remember correctly that was a little bon bon
called Watergate,
and there was this guy,
what was his name,
yeah, Nixon, I think --- well and didn't he have
something to do with Eisenhower at some point in time?
All in the family,
all in the family.
Yeah, Julie and David; how's that for closure?
Eisenhower to Clinton to Woodward to Nixon to Eisenhower.
Around the horn.

Well anyway, Redford, I mean Woodward,
is playing intellectual footsy with the librarians down at Yale,
and it's all so god damn cute that I'm just
dying to know
who Deep Throat was
(remind me to ask Justice Thomas if you can get that on video) ---
and I'm not even talking about Linda Lovelace and Harry Reims.
And he is so far into the woodwork at the White House
that sometimes you think he is in Clinton's
god damn boxers (kudos to MTV for that one.)

they call this power.
They call this control.
They call this politics.
Change. Revolution.
And all the time the poor bastard can't find a measly billion
for 'putting people first.'
Sure, it sounds like a lot but it is less than one tenth
of one per cent of a
1.5 trillion dollar federal budget.
One tenth of one per cent.

Okay, okay. If you can't talk about percentages in poetry
you certainly can't talk about tenths of a per cent.
I mean, what is this, some kind of god damned mathematics treatise?

Alright, alright, I apologize, I apologize.

The point is that here is the most powerful man,
in the most powerful country,
in the god damned history of the god damned planet,
elected on a verbal barrage of rhetoric about change,
prostituting every last principle he ever dreamed to hold dear,
working day and night with the energy of a Kerouac benny addict,
a god damn Rhodes scholar
(yeah baby that's the Rhodes who used to harpoon niggers down in South Africa),
with a brain the size of a planet,
----and he can't change one single mother swiving god damned thing.


Let's stop on a dime here and take a little cross product
into a new dimension.
We can do that you know because our minds are agile,
and we don't have to just think in one direction
like some idiot machine.
A sweetness of directionality that is melodic,
poetic, rhapsodic.
What I want to do is to mention my old friend Nietzsche,
Fred, or Friedrich if you prefer ---
(and that whole Nazi anti-semite rap just doesn't stick.)----
and his dictum "Power makes stupid."

Power makes stupid.
And what really could be the point of power
if not stupidity?
I mean where do you go from here?
Once you've got all the power,
and all the control,
and all the money,
and you own the lawyers,
and you own the courts,
and you own the universities,
and you collect royalties on freedom of thought,
what then?
Whatta ya gonna buy then baby?

It's like what Adam Smith said in "Wealth of Nations",
the whole point of all production whatsoever is consumption.
And what is consumption but taking it and wasting it,
squeezing the thing for all it's worth
and throwing it all away.
And that is about as stupid as stupid gets.
And that, then, is the point.
Power makes stupid.
And so,
super-power makes super-stupid,
and we're the world's sole remaining superpower.

It's like what Kissinger told Oriana Fallaci
(and she can give me some Oriana Fallaci any time she wants to
I mean she is seriously hot in those Italian leather miniskirts);
'Intelligence is not all that important in the exercise of power.'
That's first hand experience talkin' huh Mr. K.?

And now you see we are finally at the point
where we can start 'Bringin it All Back Home.' Okay.
And I know that this has been a long time coming,
and that poems aren't supposed to be this long,
and that even this apology is making the whole thing longer,
but just try to hang with me a little while longer,
cause we are almost there.
(I feel like a god damned dentist sayin' this shit.)

I've always felt that Kissinger's whole life was ruined
when Peter Sellers beat him out for the lead
in "Dr. Strangelove."
It's just like what the President Sellers
told George C. Patton and the Russian guy,
"Please, gentlemen, we can't have people
fighting in the war room."
So Kissinger did the next best thing
and started having 'secret bombings' and 'secret wars.'

What the Fuck is a 'secret bombing?'
I'll tell you one thing baby,
it ain't no fuckin' secret to the people being bombed.
"Mein Fuhrer."

I don't know exactly why it is,
but Allen Greenspan has always reminded me of Kissinger.
I think it's the wrinkled skin and the coke bottle glasses,
and the fact that they were both there in the Sellers
uh, the Nixon Whitehouse back in the days of
non-denial denials, when bloody Agnew was still taking cash bribes from the Baltimore bagmen at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
And so here is Alan Greenspan,
seat A6,
February 17, 1993
on all four major networks,
seated between the new Eisenhower Republicans
--- Hillary and Tipper.
(Protect our youth from dirty lyrics Tipper.)
And where does the White House beat end Andrea,
and the Federal Reserve beat begin?
And Woodward has gotta be lookin' over his shoulder
at Kissinger and Oriana saying that power
is the ultimate aphrodisiac,
the secrets locked like Deep Throat in the archives at Yale.
It's only money, but while your at it,
who owns the Federal Reserve?
'The buck starts here.'

It's the Grammy award ceremonies
coming at you live via satellite
with all the slickly marketed
superficial importance that modern technology and
creative hair dressing know how to manufacture.
It is 1991, and among other things
they are giving a lifetime achievement award to Dylan.
DYLAN, baby.
That's right, Dylan.
Well you know, infinity is definitely going up on trial.
The Persian Gulf War has just started,
and the Seven Sisters are getting what they paid for,
and everyone is getting just a little tired
of watching death, live.
His is a body of work to fill a lifetime.
Dylan, the anti-war troubador.
And, after all the video clips,
and words of homage,
and tribute and honor,
the man arrives to play his own song
and take a bow.
And he is blasted out of his mind,
knocked out loaded,
stoned, and barely able to walk.
And even people who normally love Dylan
can barely make out a word he is singing,
and all the news reports the next day say
that nobody even knew what song it was.
But if you listened hard and you already knew the lyrics,
you could make it out.
It was 'Masters of War' baby, 'Masters of War.'
And so here it is,
the triumph of a lifetime,
surrounded by a generation of millionaires
who grew up listening to you,
the rich and famous, the glitterati of electronic influence,
beamed out to more millions than you can count,
over the same satellites that have been beaming in
the missile-mounted images of destruction.


Got the picture?

A generation of revolutionaries.
'The times they are a changin.'
You know, "I'll stand over your grave,
til I'm sure that you're dead."

Who could look at the death-crazed,
frothy-mouthed, Saddam-hating multitudes,
the computerized 'smart' bombs,
the sanitized reporting,
and think that anything had changed
but the degree of war's mastery?
Kill more with less risk, less effort,
and our side wins.
And make millions singing songs about
how horrible it all is.
The pro-test,
is part of the pro-cess.

So now I'm thinkin' about another Dylan.
And the lovers,
'their arms wrapped around the griefs of the ages,'
and I'm saying that's it.
They are all one grief.
All the same grief.
And they are all as close as the person sitting next to me,
or you,
it is one person.

And so now the world is down off the satellite,
and the TV phosphors are that greeny black,
and the mikes and the soundstage are all switched off,
and we are sitting here clothed in the heat of our own metabolism,
and the exigencies of this moment,
right here, right now.
You know that power is out there,
but we've been there,
and frankly, it's more than a little too late to go back.

So what am I sayin'?

No, I'm sorry, I think it's off of me now,
and onto you.
This burden, this sustaining it,
if it connects,
it connects into you,
right here.
And I have got to let go.

It isn't out there, and I'm just about out of energy.

If I could, I would make you as open as a child's mind.

how to end, how to end?
Eternal life is no great shakes, just ask the Sibyl.
I can't help thinking that I want to steal it from Elliot:
What have you given?
Does any of us really know how to give?
To give?
To give?
Wrestle with your soul over that one a few times
without calling it love.
How do I know how to give?
This crushed heart is so weak ---
can it bear even more pain?

Open as a child's mind.

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