Showing posts with label GOP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GOP. Show all posts

05 November, 2018

Letters from Trumplandia: Politics and the Phenomenon of Craving






A.A., like any other organization dedicated to a single idea, has it's own mantras and jingoisms. The Serenity Prayer has been co-opted by our culture -- especially the part about asking for courage to accept those things we cannot change, since it pretty much feels like no one has control over anything pretty much all the time. One Day at a Time and  Easy Does It get tossed out at regular intervals by a fairly large cross-section of people -- larger even than the cross-section of people who are among the 10% of people who have that particular allergy to booze that makes us one day either get to a meeting or crawl into a ditch. 

As a culture, we like mantras and jingoisms. They reduce complex ideas  down to sound bites that are easier to chew on. We like to be able reduce our moral, ethical, and spiritual life down to easily marked and remembered catch phrases that will rise above the one-liners advertisers throw at us to get us to buy the Next New Shiny Thing.

And since is a Political Season -- November 6 being an election day -- we have been further bombarded, traumatized, and had our central nervous systems cauterized by political ads. Incumbents who want to keep their jobs. Up and comers who want to unseat the incumbents. And we are being extolled, ONE MORE TIME, that this election, is The Most Important Election of Our Generation.

If you're wondering why I started with Alcoholics Anonymous and led into the election, it's pretty simple. It's what we in A.A. call The Phenomenon of Craving. An alcoholic drinks and the craving kicks in and there is no common sense that will make us stop.  Politics, and the emotional urgency its dealers push on the American people -- nearly all of whom are drunk on one brand of politics or another (that includes the politics of apathy) -- kicks in that Phenomenon of Craving. We can't help ourselves. We drink in that sweet, intoxicating moral urgency and sense of mission that will disappear as soon as the election results are in and we are all, once again, pressed with our individual tyrannies of the present that will drive back into the intoxicating arms of mantras, jingoism, and name-calling -- 

all while the Laughing Boys who are in charge and will most likely continue to be in charge regardless of which political party you hang your hopes on carry on making us hate one another so we're too busy seeing what the hell they're doing. 

Common sense, in both cases, is roundly ignored.

My politics of choice and experience tends to fall somewhere near the Far Left -- though not far enough to swallow every last drop in the bottle. My politics and my world view are probably best described by old radical standard (that fewer and fewer radicals know anymore),  The Internationale:





I've sang The Internationale drunk in a room stock full of well-intended liberals who fantasize about fighting fascists but never will. I've sang The Internationale sober with all the sad passion of Amazing Grace, waiting for God to tell me if I really need to fight, if this cup is really mine, or if I'm just one more vainglorious sap who is hoping for victory against the cyclical tide of historical implosion. I've sang The Internationale in a room full of unionists who barely knew the words and who probably would have refused to sing if they'd known where the song actually comes from. I've sang The Internationale with friends, drunk on bourbon and dizzy on didactic rhetoric -- only one of whom I actually believe could take on the fascists as a personal mission for the Almighty... and woe to them if that ever actually happens. I have sang The Internationale but I have never seen the collective fraternity, community, or egalitarianism it is supposed to represent... certainly not on the Left and never, ever, in all my years (including the ones growing up in the ultra-conservative Rust Belt) on the Right. 

And that is why the Radical Left is losing and why, if they don't rethink strategies that isolate them along ideological lines so tenuous that the lists of enemies is longer than their lists of friends and comrades, they will continue to lose. 

There is no moral urgency to this New Wave Fascism. The sense of inevitability people feel -- and believe me, people on all sides feel it, especially those that cry out against it from every social media corner of the country --  that causes them to call this election one more Most Important Election of Our Generation comes from something much deeper, something more dangerous, and something more profane. 

It springs forth from the shadow heart of us all, the evil that will not die until the last trumpet sounds and against which we have been fighting since man's evolutionary ancestors developed enough cognitive ability to dream darkly and to commit their hands to making those dreams happen.

So drink up, my friends. I'm not saying not to vote. If you still have the right to vote then you should, if for no other reason than to prove the cynics and oligarchs wrong. But Easy Does It. We need to take these days One Day at a Time, but it helps to be on the look out for that hangover. Because in spite of the jingoism, life will march on after this election is in the books.

And.. get to a meeting.

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04 March, 2016

Trump Bumpin': Uncivil Rest Along the Dirty Sacred River

Stella and the Chairless Ones. She's making notes for her own blog post
The air was palpable, thick with anticipation and the muttering of all the mantras that make the rise of a fascist important to notice. Of course people were excited. Many of them were there to listen to a man who they hope will be the next President of the United States. Many of them would never be that close to him again. Those who were there to protest were equally excited. It's rare to see the personification of the New Old American Fascism in person, to bear witness to what may very well be the beginning of the end of the Democratic Spirit in America.

Slogans and signage gives you a clear indication of what to expect. The "Hillary for Prison 2016" swag was enormously popular... and I have to admit I thought it was pretty funny, too since I'm not fan of the DNC's Goldwater Gal.  There were plenty of trucker hats (made in Bangladesh) emblazoned with MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. I saw a few with the slogan "border, culture, language [commas added for grammatical correctness], a mantra often sang by no less than far right wing nut jobs like radio personality Michael Savage and multi-media troglodyte* Glenn Beck when they rant about "taking America back."

3rd set of protesters being led out, the Love Trumps Hate folks.
The police were there, too, of course, to help the Secret Service detail roust out protesters and protect the crowd of Trump supporters from the consequences of free speech and free thought. Stella and I hung back. I wanted to have a clear line to the door after the very presence of their demagogue would give the adrenalized crowd permission to act out all of their pent up aggression... which, unless you're not on social media, happened.**

Me and my shadow. 
In spite of being what I thought was relatively inconspicuous, we still managed to get a buddy of our very own. He was a little too chunky for a Secret Service detail. He spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder and looking down to type on his phone. He wasn't obviously armed, but he did have a radio... probably to call for reinforcements if the fuzzy guy and his daughter got out of hand. He was private security, maybe. Maybe an off duty cop doing a little double-dipping. I felt honored, really. After all, I left my THE BEST FASCIST IS A DEAD FASCIST t-shirt at home.

We took part in a small protest outside before the rally. I wanted to make my opinion known before going inside and trying to get a closer look at the personification of our country's evil underbelly.

One of the forms of non-protest... I wrote about it in my last blog post... was The Empty Seat Coalition's idea of buying tickets and not going. I posted picture on my Facebook page to let those folks know how that strategy worked out. I'll share it here as well:
Seats? What seats?
A Democrat Hears a Who. A Republican Doesn't Hear At All.
After The Don's 7 state sweep on Super Tuesday, all of those people who insisted that America would never, could never actually elect a Reality TV star*** who spouts such venom are now trying to salve themselves with the idea that America would never, could never let The Donald beat Our Ol' Goldwater Gal.

If he pulls off the nomination (likely) and goes up against Hillary Clinton -- who has been re-coronated by the mainstream media as the presumptive Democratic nominee after a decent showing  on Super Tuesday -- he will have a good chance of winning it all.

And if you're sitting there reading this and insisting that America could never, should never, would never elect a fascist, stop trying to compare him to Hitler and think straight. He's not Hitler. Hitler was a failure who ended up dead in a bunker with his girlfriend. Think about Franco, in Spain. His fascist movement unified Spain and he ruled standing atop the bones of nameless martyrs he sent to still undiscovered graves for 40 years. People there still celebrate him.

Trump did not create this wave of fascism. He stood up in front of the tide. He's an opportunist, not a zealot. It doesn't make him less dangerous; it just makes him a different sort of the same amount of dangerous.


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_________________________________________
*Dear actual troglodytes. Please accept my apology for using you as a negative metaphor.
** Please note that LMPD, that bastion of lawlessness and inhumanity, did nothing. And they're still insisting on doing nothing even though they were there and witnessed it.
*** Because we've never elected an entertainer to public office before. Right? 

29 February, 2016

RE: Donald J. Trump in Louisville versus The Empty Seat Coalition

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.- Genesis 3:15

My body is my ballot. - Utah Phillips quoting Ammon Hennacy  

Mab J. Trump, Queen of the Pixies
In case you missed it or live under a rock, Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump is going to be here in River City tomorrow. The rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center has promised to be jam packed full of people looking for a leader who can deliver the sort of America they say they want.

There's also a protest building that I call The Empty Seat Coalition. The plan is this: people are supposed to go through Trump's website, reserve two free tickets to the event, and then not show up.  This is an apparently popular form of protest, or so my Facebook feed would have me believe.  Many of my lefty/progressive Facebook friends have embraced the idea that Trump will get the idea that Kentucky doesn't like him and his dangerous rhetoric if he shows up to a rally full of empty seats.

 Now, if that actually worked out, the visual impact would be amazing. And given that many of my lefty/progressive friends pretty much only talk to other lefty/progressives, the idea has gained momentum. And naturally, one form of free speech is orchestrated silence, and there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.

There's only one problem.

A lot of people DO want Trump to be President.  A lot of people have bought into the violent and
Hillary J. Trump: the ultimate neoliberal
dangerous rhetoric.

He's built a campaign on anti-immigrant venom, machismo, and a brand of anti-populist anti-establishmentarianism that only a millionaire can pull off.  He refuses to reject to the endorsement of the KKK. He promises to build a wall between us and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it. He promises deep corporate tax cuts. He is not as critical of national health care as the traditional GOP thinks he ought to be, and stumbles over religious questions.  Most recently, he quoted Benito Mussolini -- who was another anti-populist,anti-establishment, self-described successful business man (he published a newspaper.) He's not a conservative in the traditional sense .He is, in short, a neoliberal ... just like the presumptive Democratic Candidate.

The problem with ignoring Donald J. Trump away is that ignoring him only feeds the fever tide he is rising in front of. Let me be clear - Trump did not create the tide of fascism he has made himself leader of. It was here already and, like a smart opportunist (a good businessman) he took advantage of it and has built it up into an irrational fervor.

It's in these kinds of situations that I think of a cheesy Merlin mini-series I watched as kid. It starred Sam Neil as Merlin, the last wizard. Mab, who created him to wield magic against humanity, tempted him perpetually, much in the same way the serpent tempted Eve and the way Satan tempted Jesus in the biblical tales.  Merlin eventually defeated Mab by ignoring her into non-existence.

Such a nice story. Except there's a reason it was made-for-tv fiction.

It doesn't work.

I have a ticket to the rally, and I'm going. There is nothing that could ever compel me to embrace the fascism Trump is preaching. I'm not going because I'm considering voting for him. I'm going because voices like mine need to be there, and because someone needs to be there to give an actual report of the event.  I'm going because if my body is not my ballot, nothing else is. Democracy is not supported by the piece of paper or computer screen in a voting booth. Democracy is  supported by people showing up -- to vote, and sometimes, to protest.

If you are reading this and you bought tickets in order to leave them empty, let me suggest that you go to the rally. Let's all sit together and sing "This Land is Your Land." Let's all sit together so our voices are represented, not ignored.  Imagine if Martin Luther King decided to address America's racial and economic inequality by not Marching on Washington. Or if Rosa Parks decided to protest racist policies by not riding the bus. Or if Big Bill Heywood and Joe Ettor had decided to speak out against the treatment women in New York City sweatshops by NOT going to New York and instead telling the strikers to go back to work.

It's not enough to wish evil away. Evil must be faced directly, without hesitation, and be banished. Otherwise, you're just making yourself feel better by cooking marshmallows while the world burns. The only people who win then are the arsonists.

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11 September, 2011

The Three Tenses: Some thoughts on 9/11, Football, and The Sacred Long Memory

I rolled out of bed this morning to get some work done before the Cincinnati Bengals play their first regular season game against the Cleveland Browns -- because, in fact, all work does stop for me when there's a football game on. I realize this relegates me to a stereotype, but I don't really care. That I was never an athlete doesn't change the fact that I enjoy being a spectator. That the Bengals are trying to recover from a lousy season, the departure of a whiny quarterback, and an owner who's head is permanently planted up his own ass doesn't change the fact that I'm wearing orange and black today. In spite of the past, in spite of everything, life and faith goes on.

After feeding the cats and taking a shower and making coffee, I made my way upstairs to my desk. The weather is starting to cool off enough that I will be able to spend more days up here, writing. (Old house, the physics of heat, and the inability to afford an air conditioner all played a role in what I am now thinking of the Ennui '11: The Summer That Nearly Killed My Soul.) I need this space -- some kind of space -- where I can simply sit and write and be alone with all the muck that goes on in my head. This morning, part of that muck means doing the day job. Tomorrow morning's newspaper deadline is looming already, and there are public officials to expose, lampoon, and embarrass into doing the right thing. (Save all your objective media bullshit, please. The Fourth Estate is rarely objective. And when it is, no one reads it, listens to it, or watches it, because it's as dull as the list of contents on the back of a box of Hamburger Helper. You want your journalists to be honest, ethical, and merciless, not objective... which means that Fox News is not really a news outlet, but a well-funded propaganda machine -- since they've proven they are neither honest nor ethical.)

The thing I am faced with when I get online, however -- because I have to check my email and Facebook before I can do anything... damned digital age -- are people's thoughts, remembrances, and tributes to 9/11.

And while I remember precisely where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the planes flying into the World Trade Center Towers, I will not pine about that here. Any attempt on my part to insert myself into a momentous and tragic historical event would be pointless.

The focus of such remembrances should be on the people who died, their families, and the subsequent  responders and Ground Zero workers who have and continue to sacrifice a decade after the event. The focus ought to be that even though it has been 10 years, that we shouldn't lull ourselves into junking the events of September 11, 2001, into some kind of convenient decade package -- which is what pundits and pseudo-historians tend to do. Decade packaging is a myth. The events that shape us as individuals and as a society do not stop and start at 10 year intervals.

Remembrance is not a word I use lightly. The very word itself has a kind of religious resonance for me. It reminds me of the religious zealotry I hid behind in my youth. "This do in remembrance of me," was what Jesus said, according to Luke 22:19, as he ate with his disciples at Passover. And while I have since rejected the metaphor for God and spirituality I was raised on, that specific word retains a particular resonance that never fades.

For me, though, remembrance continues to take on a larger, longer, and deeper view. Responses to the 9/11 attacks are a part of what I have come to think of as The Long Memory. This collection of stories, songs, and poems provide the permanent under current that keeps humanity moving. The Long Memory exists above, beyond, below, and outside of history. History is an abstract collection of events that are generally told with a specific narrative in mind. The Sacred Long Memory -- indeed, it may the one and only sacred thing -- ties together the past, the present, and the future. This Do In Remembrance Of Me. That is the purpose and the meaning: ensuring that the past stays with us and informs our present, and takes us into a better future.

The tragedies and travesties that have occurred as a result of the those horrific events are as much a part of the event as the planes flying into the towers and into the Pentagon and the crash of United Flight 93. Wars and rumors of wars. Torture, the silencing of dissenting voices, the xenophobia and all too familiar brand of Nationalism (think Hitler and Mussolini) that some people mistake for patriotism and "defending democracy." The soldiers who have sacrificed life and limb to keep Halliburton in business and to maintain the high price of a barrel of oil are just as much a part of those events as well. Gitmo Prison, Abu Graib, and the various crimes against humanity committed in our name are a part of those events, too.. and they continue to this day. President Obama has managed to continue most of the same war tactics that horrified rank and file Democrats during the Bush II regime. We're still fighting an expensive war in Afghanistan that no one talks about. We're dealing with a lingering recession here -- that, admittedly, Obama inherited -- but given the intransigence of the GOP, the tomfoolery of Tea Baggers, and the sheer spinelessness of the Democratic Party, there's no end in sight that doesn't hurt the poor.

And when I speak of remembrance, I also speak of the fact that 3000 + people died on 9/11 as a direct result of years of hawkish and exploitative American foreign policy. (Don't forget, Osama bin Laden was CIA trained to be our proxy during the Cold War to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Also, maybe one of the reasons the Bush/Cheney regime was so sure Saddam Hussein had WMDs was because WE GAVE HIM SOME when he was our proxy against Iran, which was backed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.)

These things, and the stories and songs and poems that have come as a result, are all a part of the Long Memory.

There are those who would make 9/ll a national holiday, and I can see their point. But it's not an idea I support.  How many people really know why Memorial Day is a holiday? Or Labor Day?  Did we immortalize December 7th, 1941 with a day off of school and work? (The answer is no. After all, it's too close to Christmas, the high and holy day that celebrates consumerism and egg nog.)

Remembrance means moving forward and carrying the Long Memory with us every single day. Adding to it every single day. Passing it on every single day. This Do In Remembrance Of Me. Part of engaging in Remembrance means that life and faith -- faith that some good can still happen -- must go on.

And the last time I checked, "to do" is an active verb. It means to perform a specific act, as in DIYDS. (Do It Your Damn Self.)