Showing posts with label Clinton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clinton. Show all posts

26 July, 2016

Evolution for the hell of it

Pliny the Elder, who when Rome was burning requested Nero to play You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille, never got a dinner! - Red Buttons 

The problem with most revolutions is that they end up crushed under the weight of their own sense of nostalgia.

If the political season has reinforced anything for me, it is that I should be leery of political leaders crying out for revolution -- especially leaders calling for "revolution" within the structure of an institution (read: voting) that was meant, from the beginning, to avoid the previously aforementioned revolutions.

One friend of mine, whose political astuteness I respect even if I don't always agree with him, has been talking about the problem of ideological purity in the DNC. I was not able to make it to Philadelphia for the donkey circus like I did  to Cleveland to sit sideline and watch corporate media facilitate the very frenzy The Orange Il Duce described in his 75 minute prophesy of doom (read: nomination acceptance speech). The Bernie or Busters are busting a gut and threatening to go Green.

This is bringing the Nader bashers out in Memeworld -- poor, statistically inept souls who think somehow that Bush II only won the first time because Nader had the temerity to run for President in spite of the two party system. Claims by Bush I supporters that  Texas billionaire crack pot Ross Perot cost Bush a second term have been roundly debunked.  The problem with any recent third push, as far as a I can tell, isn't in the desire for a viable response to a broken two party system. The problem is that they never try and build from the ground up. The Green Party doesn't spend money on local, state, and federal elections. They go for the Big Chair on Pennsylvania Avenue. The problem isn't that Jill Stein will split the progressive vote. The problem is that the Green Party lacks a strong enough base to knock either corporate party off it's feet.

There are a lot of calls for unity behind the now coronated presumptive Queen Hillary, whose only smart move has been to pick a VP who at least knows how to play the harmonica. Meanwhile, journalists are arrested the DNC -- which, for all of it's circus and foreboding fascist themes, did not happen at the RNC.  Having seen how local law enforcement tone can have an impact on these situations, I am more inclined to put this off on Philadelphia's Police Department than I am the Democratic Party. Then again, corporate media outlets, the blogosphere, and memeworld have been brewing up a fight since Bernie Sanders first conceded the race and endorsed Hillary Clinton.

I'm more inclined at this point, rather than calling it for one political hack or another, to pick up my guitar and play a little music. Then I'm going to go write a poem. Then I might weed the garden. I could get angry at politicians behaving like politicians, or at corporate media acting like corporate media. I could sacrifice my ideological stance in the name of being on the winning team*.

Or, I could go camping.

Yeah. Camping sounds good.

* #GoTeamFascist

If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
You can also leave a tip if you'd like. Thanks for reading!

13 July, 2016

My Last Sermon; or, why I don't play Pokemon GO

 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. - Book of St. Matthew, 5:6 (DRV)

Lately I've been thinking about the last sermon I gave. I was 14 years old. The minister of the church I attended while growing up supported my decision to dedicate my life to the ministry* by working with me to explore the nature of the vocation. I studied biblical and theological texts; I went on hospital and home visitations; and I was allowed to give a couple of sermons.

Let me add that stepping up into the pulpit for the first time is a uniquely terrifying experience. There is a kind of invested authority there which does not exist anywhere else. There also a special kind of isolation there, too. People generally do not like their preachers to suffer from the same human failings everyone else does. It's as if those who hear the call are supposed to be suddenly touched by the divine in such a way that all manner of arrogance, fear, greed, hatred, and ignorance are washed away like a hard day's won dirt.

Clearly, that is not how it worked out for me.

I chose Matthew 5:14** as my subject -- what is referred to as the "City on a Hill" section right after the Beatitudes***. The verse is one that gets a lot of treatment and a lot contextualization and re-contextualization. My focus was on how, after the Beatitudes earlier in the chapter and before the call to action that comes after, that it isn't enough to simply identify as a Christian. Mere existence and religious self-identification is not enough. Through his life as recorded in the New Testament, Jesus helped the poor, broke down the false caste system that elevated Pharisees above tax collectors and prostitutes, and preached against greed, hollow words, and empty works. He also acted out in righteous anger at the money changers in the temple. To be the light of the world is more than wearing a name tag, and more than walking into a building on Sunday. To be the light of the world, the salt of the earth, the city on a mountain means DOING, not just BEING. Being a follower of The Christ is an ACTIVE VERB, not a PASSIVE one.

As a student of history, I watch current events through the lens of someone who has read not only Pliny's history of the fall of the Roman Empire, but also about the rise of Franco in Spain, Mussolini in Italy, and Pinochet in Chile. I've also read about and watched the long history of nationalism in America, the violent power play of capitalists, as well as the divisive and violent racism and sexism that have long run the undercurrents of America.^  I have made my position clear about certain current events: Trump's neo-fascism, Clinton's neoliberalism, and Sanders as NOT a revolutionary figure.

The violence last week with the death of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and the five Dallas Police Officers make one thing very clear: the rhetoric is far more important to the powers that be than any of the blood spilled.  Wisconsin is next in line to suggest "Blue Lives Matter" Legislation -- which would make the killing of a cop a hate crime. The very same people who rally against increased gun legislation, pointing out that more laws won't solve the problem, are themselves calling for more laws.

And, true to form, the far right is trying to co-opt the wording of protest in order to change its meaning.^^ Blue Lives Matter laws not only insult the purpose behind hate crime laws, but is an attempt to negate the essential message behind the Black Lives Matter -- that systemic racism puts Black Americans at a higher risk for violence at the hands of The State.  While it's important to keep in mind that economic violence impacts people of all ethnic backgrounds, there is nothing wrong with people within the black community trying to organize and defend their community.

The other big ticket media item over the last week, besides Bernie Sanders' capitulation to the Clinton Political Machine, is the Pokemon GO explosion. Between the phenomenon surrounding the new hunt for Pokemon in real time and Samsung Galaxy's VR goggles, augmented realities are becoming... well, a reality.

Not that augmented reality is anything new. Italian writer Umberto Eco wrote about hyper reality in 1973. Reality TV and the myopia created by being able to fine tune our online experiences to a specific and individual reality have already cemented our cultural interest in being distracted by an augmented reality. Simply retreating to the movies or to television -- streamed or otherwise -- is not enough.

I don't have anything against playing games. I probably majored in Grand Theft Auto in graduate school as much as I did writing. There's a lot in the world that drives me to want distraction and avoidance. I'm an expert at avoidance. And there's a lot I'd rather avoid.

But there's no action in avoidance. There is no beauty in passivity. There is no flavor when there's no salt.

*I've written about this time in my life at length in other places, so I don't feel like going through all of that again here. Let's just say my life took a different turn.
**You are the light of the world. A city on a mountain cannot be hid. (DRV)
***What I like to call The Revised Ten Commandments.
^They were here in the beginning. They have always been here. "Before the settlers. Before the Indians. It was here. Waiting." - W.S. Burroughs.
^^ See also, Pat Buchanan's upending of the Reform Party. See also, the "Trump Revolution." See also "All Lives Matter." 
If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
You can also leave a tip if you'd like. Thanks for reading!

11 September, 2012

Southern Jaunt: Rhetoric Junkie

Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. -- Ambrose Bierce

He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot. -- 
Groucho Marx

I was going to begin by talking about events local here in Paint City -- recent updates regarding some free advertising in the Letters to the Editor page and misquoting of my words by a local disgraced ex-political figure, and a recent visit to the local Rotary Club chapter, among other things. And I still will discuss those things at a later date; but first I have to get something out of the way.

I am a rhetoric junkie.

Political speech is particularly interesting to me, and I've had a lot of it to ponder lately. From local politics to Presidential campaigns, to Facebook flame wars: the more I talk, the more it seems to bring out the most interesting kinds of folks. Folks without whom our political process might actually be able to achieve something lasting, something noble. Hell, something. But folks are folks and ideas, like bird droppings,  fall on the intellectually suited and unsuited alike.

A few words about the Democratic National Convention: like every stage show, it had it's stars and it's boors. Sandra Fluke and Bill Clinton rank near the top of my list, other than Obama for sheer rhetorical skill. Jennifer Grandholm is a carnival barker, and I like the cut of her jib. But Sandra Fluke impresses me in that she refuses to be silenced by Congressional Republicans or by Neo-con talk radio pundits. Ran through the ringer, called a slut, a whore, her character impugned beyond reason... and she still speaks out. Kudos.

Clinton? Well, shit. What can you say about Bubba? He is, without question, the single most effective political figure in this generation of politicians. He still knows how to reach out to a crowd, and he does it well. Say what you want about his getting a blow job in the Oval Office... but he wasn't the first, and he won't be the last.  He's got political and cultural star power.

Obama? I've said it before and I'll say it again. The guy is a master rhetorician. He knows how to give a speech. In comparison to Romney, Obama's speech delivered a tone, a message, and an image. He knows how to make it about himself without really saying so. Romney's RNC speech was the equivalent to


And while heard a lot from Romney about tax cuts for wealthy people being good and I heard a lot from Obama about the middle class, I would just like to point out that in both the RNC and the DNC, the poor were summarily ignored.

To be fair, though, the demonization of the poor by GOP'ers, Tea Baggers, Birthers, and other fomenting fringe fascists -- who will not remain on the fringe for long unless we do something about it -- is inherent in their speech, whether they mention the poor directly or not.

And why are the poor summarily ignored -- unless they are summarily exploited by one major party or the other?

Because no one thinks they vote. And because they can't contribute cold hard cash to reelection campaigns. And because it's easy to blame people who don't have a political voice.

Thank Jeebus, then for the Facebook meme TROLL. You know them. You love them. Or not. Because they DO have a political voice. Insipid, rude, lacking insight, yes. But a voice. Here's the modus operandi. They wait for you to post something on your Facebook page and then proceed to hijack the discussion and bend it towards whatever their end result is... lately, in my case, someone keeps trying to use my page to bash Obama. Not for his signing of the NDAA, his strengthening of the Patriot Act, or his continuation of Bush Era intelligence gathering methods (torture). No, this troll spouts Tea Party/Birther bullshit mixed with some of that Cold War McCarthyism that comes around every few years whenever there's a Democrat in the big chair.

If that's what political speech is reduced to, then political speech is dead. It's all spin, baby. Spin.