A Total Eclipse Of The Heart
(And The Brain And The Spine)
by Michael A. Maynard
January 11, 2015
As we enter the new year, usually a time for hope and optimism, the country seems dispirited and reconciled to more political inaction and obstruction. It needs inspired leadership. It needs a hero.
Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”
Every now and then
I get a little bit lonely
And you’re never coming round
Every now and then
I get a little bit tired
Of listening to the sound of my tears
Every now and then
I get a little bit nervous
That the best of all the years have gone by
Writer(s): Jim Steinman, James Richard Steinman
Copyright: Edward B. Marks Music O/B/o Lost Boys Music, BMG Platinum Songs, Lost Boys Music, Marks Edward B. Music Corp.
I recognize that this admission will be in sharp contrast to the image you may have developed of this brave, macho, fearless columnist/journalist/multimedia superstar – I have a soft spot for the music of Bonnie Tyler. Her voice is raspy, at best. When the background music increases, she has to yell over it to be heard. The lyrics of her songs are trite and somewhat cheesy. But her songs are not the formulaic “keep it under 2:00″ hook driven teenaged angst based mediocrity of most of today’s top 40 music. Bonnie Tyler’s songs are bombastically great.
Bonnie Tyler’s songs are also heartfelt. Whenever one comes on the radio or TV, I have to stop to listen. While I hope she’s getting mucho dinero royalty payments for the corruption of her songs used in commercials for snack foods, the common theme of her song’s lyrics represent a wistfulness, a yearning for times gone by when there were larger than life heroes coming to the rescue. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Jackie Robinson.
They were brave figures who went against the establishment and “conventional wisdom” to do what they thought was right for the country. Perhaps that hope reached a crescendo in 1960’s, the time of a young charismatic United States President, the new leader of the free world. The time of the men and women who risked their lives fighting for civil rights. The time of the pride of a nation that led the fight of the “war to end all wars” and won. The time of the war heroes coming home and settling down using their Veteran Administration sponsored housing loans and college education benefits to create a better middle-class life for themselves and their families. It was a time where exploring space and landing a man on the moon became more than science fiction.
When the assassins’ gun shots hit their targets in too rapid succession, the three leaders of hope and change were cut down in the prime of their lives – President John F. Kennedy. His brother, Attorney General and presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy. Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King. 50 years isn’t long in the annals of history, but emotionally that time now seems lost and forgotten. The emergence of great men, and women, to lead us all to the promise of a new and better land appears to be gone. The wonder of innocence, the compelling force of hope, and the bonds being formed in creating a new frontier seems impossible to do again. The time for doing great things no longer will happen. The leadership of great men and women has been replaced by small, venal men (and a few women) whose self-love of money and hatred of others born of a different race or gender has made the greatness achieved from shared goals, resolve and effort. relics of the past.
The ascendance of the morally bankrupt and hate filled Richard Nixon, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and especially, the worst modern president, Ronald Reagan, into positions of national leadership and authority have changed the country’s tenor and tone from building unity and consensus to that of divisiveness, fear and racial and class hatred. It was the Reagan Administration that began the assault on middle class and the poor for the benefit of the wealthy and big corporate interests. It was the Reagan Administration that began the stripping away of the gains made in civil rights and environmental protection. But the worst “achievements” of his terms in office were the reestablishment of military hubris in foreign policy and the increased political focus on the Nixon era “Southern Strategy” of playing upon the fears of the white male middle and lower classes about losing dominance to non-Caucasians and women. Reagan was a small, shallow man, who used his bad actor’s presentation skills to make his administration’s ideas palatable to too many, the amplification of the culture of hate, greed and divisiveness represented in today’s United States.
Reagan’s and Bush’s appointees to the Supreme Court were similarly small minded, venal, hateful, corrupt men – John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. Their collective disregard for legal precedent and impact of their rulings on the tenor, tone and fabric of society have codified into law the oligarchic rule of their financial benefactors. Their votes for and opinions on the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases are unparalleled in their naked display of jurisprudence malfeasance. It is the efforts and writings of one small, frail, passionate elderly woman, the great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (joined by Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor) that show any legalistic leadership today.
When Barack Hussein Obama was elected President in 2008, many had hoped for a great leader to provide the hope to reconcile a dispirited, fractured United States, that hope was misplaced. While President Obama is a good man ,who has had many admirable accomplishments during his 6 years in office, he is not a great leader. In large part, that is due to the times in which he came into office, after the depravity and venality of the policies and actions of President George W. Bush and Vice President, Richard B. Cheney. Obama inherited both the financial and international crises caused by Bush/Cheney and the moral, societal and political dysfunction caused by Nixon, Reagan and the Supreme Court. In the hope of making incremental progress on the financial and social crises, Obama has too often and too easily capitulated to the group of unintelligent and spineless Congressional “leaders” – Boehner, McConnell, Scalise, Cantor, etc. They are the best politicians the Koch Brothers, Walton Family, Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the right wing 1%ers money can buy.
President Obama can give good, but seldom great speeches. He can talk a good game, be a media darling, but his basic financial conservatism and internal political moderation, have served to enable, not to ingratiate, the racist and hateful political forces against him. President Obama attempts to lead, but his nature, in combination with history, time and circumstances, do not help him do so. He connects to the minds of the people, but seldom the hearts and souls.
The advent of a new year usually means a time of hope and optimism. Not in 2015. The 2014 elections have brought in a wave of the most ignorant and corrupt new Senators there has been in generations: Ernst, Cotton, Tillis, Gardner and Rounds (and others). With the Republicans now having majority control of the Senate and the House, we the people, who they are supposed to be serving, will see a flood of new legislation designed to benefit their rich right wing benefactors at the expense of the middle class and especially the poor. That assault has already begun.
In the first days of the new Congress, efforts have been made to weaken Social Security benefits, a long time goal of the Ayn Rand fetishists of the right wing, who believe giving money to senior citizens and the needy to live will continue to harm the moral backbone of the U.S. society by increasing their federal government dependance. The first legislation to pass Congress for the President’s signature or veto is the building of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
This morning, a representative of the Obama Administration stated on television stated that the President would veto the Keystone XL pipeline legislation. But, most of us assumed that the reasons for the veto were that the pipeline was not needed because during the time when the:
• United States has an fossil fuel energy surplus and is allegedly moving rapidly toward a “green environment”, the additional oil is not needed
• Western states have been experiencing great droughts, the risk potential environmental damage to the largest Western aquifer was too great,
• Economy is finally doing well and producing new jobs, the implementation of the pipeline would produce between 45 and less than 1,000 new jobs,
• Profits from the production of the pipeline would go mostly to Canadian oil companies,
• Monies from the financial speculation on the implementation of the pipeline would go to Wall Street and very wealthy, such as the Koch Brothers,
• Poorly designed pathway of the pipeline, which cuts through sacred Native American grounds and highly productive farmland, would be economically and morally wrong.
There would be approximately 2,000 1-2 year construction jobs created, but if the dollars spent on creating the pipeline were spent upon rebuilding the crumbling U.S. roads and bridges and building a useful pipeline(s) that would increase the speed of Internet access to that of other industrial countries, the money would be better spent and create productive permanent construction and other industrial jobs.
No, the Obama Administration representative stated the reason for the veto was the legislation was approved before the State Department’s study of the pipeline, and its recommendations therein, was finished. As much as my liberal/progressive heart and mind wants to support the President, this would be the last straw of capitulation of he and his Administration to Wall Street and the big-money interests for me. While we assume and expect the new Congress to be heartless, brainless and spineless, we don’t expect the President of the United States to be like that. But Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would be heartless, brainless and spineless.
It would be equally heartless, brainless and spineless for Obama to go along with the Republican plans to cripple Social Security and make further cuts into the needed social programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a/k/a food stamps. Five billion dollars has already been cut from SNAP affecting 23 million low-income households. President Obama dropped proposed cuts to Social Security, under pressure from Congressional Democrats, from the 2014 budget. With the new Republican-controlled Congress, will these cuts be taken up again? From Talking Points Memo:
When House Republicans signaled last week that they would provoke a fight over Social Security in the next two years, progressive stalwarts like Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren decried the action, with Brown alleging the GOP wanted to “set the stage to cut benefits for seniors and disabled Americans.”
But notably silent on the Republican stance, which prevents what has been a routine transfer of revenue between the retirement and disability funds, upping the chances of a crisis for the latter in late 2016, was the Democratic official who might actually be at the table if conservatives succeed in forcing negotiations in the next Congress: President Barack Obama.
TPM asked multiple times last week for the White House’s position on the House action, but never received a formal response, a stark contrast to the loud public pronouncements of Brown, Warren, and others. It also invokes the uneasy relationship between the White House and Social Security advocates, who were dismayed by Obama’s willingness to accept cuts to the program during the 2011 grand bargain talks with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
“Advocates do not trust the president on Social Security,” Monique Morrissey, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, told TPM last week. “If he blinks and they message this right, it could be something.”…
During the 2012 election, Obama’s campaign said that he is “committed to keeping the promise of guaranteed Social Security benefits for current and future generations.”
After the election, Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal would have cut Social Security in exchange for tax revenues, a plan that Dan Adcock, policy director of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, told TPM had “troubled” his group.
The United States desperately needs a hero, a leader who is willing to fight the big moneyed interests and to stand up for the middle and lower classes. And we have one, a kindly grandmother originally from Oklahoma, who by happenstance is now the Senior Senator from Massachusetts and the hero of the liberal/progressive movement, Elizabeth Warren. Senator Warren is leading the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, even against the wishes of the President.
I have been against Senator Warren’s running for President in 2016, in part, because she has stated she doesn’t want to do so, and in part, because I thought she could get more accomplished in the Senate. I have reconsidered my position. I am urging and supporting Senator Warren’s candidacy to become the next President of the United States. She is intelligent and smart, fearless in fighting the oligarchs and special interests that are ruining our country for their financial gain and political control, and she has a big heart, because she remembers what it was like growing up in humble surroundings. Senator Warren, in her short time in the Senate, seems to be in the middle of every fight against Wall Street and the big moneyed interests and for the middle and lower classes.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodman Clinton is a remarkable, intelligent and dedicated public servant. She would be the most qualified politician to ever run for President. But, to me, she is a continuation of President Obama, a policy wonk who will need to know everything possible to know before making a decision, even to the point of inaction. She would be a very good President and if she is the nominee, I will vote for her. But, she hasn’t shown the ability to inspire the nation that a great leader needs to do. This country desperately needs that kind of inspired leadership now more than ever. Is Hillary Clinton now a member of the Right Way, The Wrong Way Or The Third Way?
The country needs to overcome the total eclipse of its heart. It needs hope. It needs the vision of a bright future gained by working together again. It needs a leader. It needs to hold out for a hero. Just change the gender references in Bonnie Tyler’s song from male to female.
It needs Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero
Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life
Writer(s): Dean Pitchford, Jim Steinman
Copyright: Sony/ATV Melody
(The cover image was Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Toppot)
Copyright 2015 by Michael A. Maynard, Stow, Massachusetts.
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