Tuesday, June 28, 2005

They Can't Take That Away from Me

Before it disappears into PPV, check out Charles Taylor's review of Corinne Maier's Bonjour Laziness in the Newark Star-Ledger of June 19. To excerpt, Taylor says the book:

"...[O]perates from basic, sound assumptions, the truth of which will be obvious to anyone who has spent time in the corporate world and not been body-snatched. Briefly, these truths are: 1. The corporate world prizes obedience over intelligence. 2. While corporations play lip service to ethics, their behavior (Enron, Parmalat, et al) reveals they have no use for or belief in them. 3. Belief in the free market is blind faith with no basis in science. Thus, Communists (with their dedication to dialectical materialism) and capitalists are linked by their faith in systems that are little more than voodoo, just as they are linked by ... their contempt for language."

And this, which I found over the weekend because I trawl for Charley's stuff since he left the fading Salon (before all the bodies are snatched, so perhaps fortunately), provided some armor against FatBoy Rove last week, and Rumsfeld's Alfred E. Newman imitations this weekend. Rove gets a bang out of being feral. Rumsfeld I can't figure, because for such a hands-on, visionary guy, a hard-head who's going to shake up the military and retool it for a New Age of American Glory (or some such bullshit), he's remarkably out of the loop, on his own word; I don't even have to bother to make a list of the evasions and lies - they are transcripted from here to the moon. But, damn, he sure as hell talks the tough manager talk, has the grooming down flat. A man my Dad can trust - a straight-shooter.

Except that my Dad (and I suspect many self-described Independents like him) know that they've been burned yet again, and pride is about the only thing that keeps them from saying it. The Bushies go far beyond spin - they shit on meaning. That's not an insight; anyone who's been paying attention has known this for years, but the continuing audacity of it has yet to be accepted by - fuck - what lefty bloggers call the Kool Kidz in the DC Press Corps - or the Gang of 500 per The Note - and by all those who ride their coattails, looking for solace and a return to the Old Ways.

Dad and I had a date last Friday, and we talked about 50 years of transformation in maritime labor (that's what he did, as an LR professional, before he retired). In his apprentice days, if the Port was full and busy, and there weren't enough union members to fill the gang allocation, they'd sweep the fucking streets for casuals. Labor and management reps and staff drank huge amounts of booze (probably to dull the discontinuities Taylor describes above). When I was a kid, I still remember the crisis of "containerization" - prepackaged cargo that would demand fewer longshoremen to empty a ship. I am oversimplifying for sure, but I'd say my Dad oversaw a transformation of longshoring from scruffy bluecollar to virtual whitecollar in a single generation, salaries and benefits keeping pace. Now, we have a tiny fraction of the workers we used to have at ports (and, on the Pacific Coast, 10 times the freight - outships the East and Gulf Coasts), and, quite certainly, no casuals.

It's very funny. When I was in LA and learning the "Life of the Courtier" intricacies of the movie industry guilds, I'd occasionally call Dad; "In violation of all labor statutes!", he'd tell me, but it didn't help (and, remember, he repped the employers). A sense of humor is a wonderful thing.

That incomprehension of just how Bad It Can Be has yet to sink in for guys like him. He's old now, and I hope he doesn't have to see the collapse of everything he spent his working life create, but I am thinking that it's the casuals - Cheney sending copies of Ken Burns's Civil War series to generals in the field, for example - who are now running the show. Bottom of the barrel, and dragging us all down.

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