Showing posts with label Matt Bevin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matt Bevin. Show all posts

24 February, 2018

Every day is a title fight: the last round

Everyday is a title fight, Mick Parsons
I haven't felt like blogging lately, at least in the vein that I normally do in this space. That's not to say I haven't been writing, because I have. And it's also not to say that there's lack of things to  expound upon and I haven't developed a case of apathy for the general state of the world. But I am aware that just having a blog, a slightly above average vocabulary, and a need to string words together just to feel like I'm not wasting space on the planet are not enough to drive me to comb through all of the comb-worthy things happening in the world to lay out my opinion on them. 

This could have something to do with the fact that I just turned 45, or with the fact that I recently got my 90 day chip from AA. 

AA, disease, Dante, sponsor, Virgil
From Inferno, Canto 29, engraving by Gustav Dore'
Part of the process, other than being able to sit in a room of other People Like Me and say "Hi, my name's Mick and I'm an alcoholic" is examining both the impacts and causal relationship of drinking in your life. It's taken me forever -- 90 days, actually -- to get a sponsor I trust enough to let be my sponsor... which is to say, I found someone whose experience and opinions I trust so that I can release myself into the life-long process called sobriety. 

My sponsor is the Virgil to my Dante in this journey. And yes, being in the process of maintaining my sobriety feels more like a circle of hell than a ring of paradise these days. Even though I've been really productive lately in my professional life and doing a pretty okay job of keeping my house in order, the fact it there isn't a day that I don't obsess over drinking... even if I'm just obsessing over not drinking.  

When you're not in recovery, or if you're not one of the 10% of the population with this particular allergy to alcohol, it sounds absurd. I know that. I also know it sounds equally absurd that as I am engaged in the process of my sobriety, I know that relapse is built into the disease. 

As Virgil says... my sponsor, that is ... it's never a question of IF we will relapse. It's a question of when. 

In last two weeks, two people I care about very much, people in my recovery community, have relapsed. They both struggle hard with their addictions... for them it's drugs and not booze, but the disease is fundamentally the same. The most recent of them relapsed on his 90th day of sobriety. It's hard for me not to think about that in terms of the dumb luck that's kept me sober for 90 days. Dumb luck or faith, depending on what day it is, how I feel, and how I feel about myself. Today it feels like dumb luck. Tomorrow, with any luck, I'll still be sober and feel differently about it.

Part of being sober means I feel things differently... which is to say more. One of the reasons I drink is that I get really worn out on feeling things. Working in homeless outreach and seeing what people go through, or what they put themselves through, or what they have no control over, hurts my heart. It makes me angry when politicians and some so-called religious folk dismiss, ignore, and erase the suffering of people. School shootings make me scared for my friends who are teachers, for kids, and for their parents. That people place the need to own a death machine over the lives of children enrages me. That Kentucky's governor can only dismiss violence by blaming video games, only to commit economic violence upon teachers and students in the name of a balanced budget deepens my mistrust of governments, of institutions, and of people in positions of power. 

There's so much to write about, but I'm not convinced that being one more blogger in the blogosphere makes a damn bit of difference. I'm not sure this is a time for bloggers. But I know it is a time for poets and artists. That's one arena where the fight is and that's where I'm going to be... and yes, some of it will get posted here. It's not like I'm going anywhere. I'm just shifting my process and step work to something more productive.

I've written before that everyday is a title fight. And it is. I've written before about fighting my demons, and I'm sure I'll write more. But no one talks about the fact that we end up fighting our angels, too. And contrary to popular belief, angels and demons aren't always on opposing sides. Sometimes they tag team. And sometimes faith wins. Other times it's dumb luck. Because we're just people, and flawed, though, it's sometimes damn hard to tell the difference.

But the fight goes on, anyway.

024.Jacob Wrestles with the Angel.jpg
By Gustav Dore'

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01 May, 2017

Letters from Trumplandia 9: The May Day Special

 Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.  -- George Orwell

I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be this past Saturday. Part of me wanted to be in Pikeville this past weekend facing down the early break of this New Wave of American Fascism.  Somewhere in me lurks a reactionary, even still. The reactionary me wanted to go to Pikeville and punch Nazis and bring to bear on their heads the considerable anger and violence I feel towards the baby fascistas who vandalized my son-in-law's car and terrorized him and my daughter.

There are days when the lines are very clear and I know where I'm supposed to be. But as the plans started to come together for an insurgent reaction to the TWP having their little Nazi picnic, I found myself feeling not entirely sure of  how it was all going to pan out. Any time you walk into Eastern Kentucky like the Grand Pooh-bah Savior of the people, you are walking into trouble. If you think they need you (even if they ask) you've got to tread carefully. Regardless of your thoughts about the book, Jesus, fishes and loaves, the banished money changers, or Golgotha, you ought to expect to be crucified by the very people you think you're going to save if you intend to march into Eastern Kentucky.
Martyrs ... have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood - never. Camus

Because there isn't an Eastern Kentuckian, devout Christian or no, that demands anything less. They have what you might call a high standard.

As I write this, today is May Day. The first of May has historically been a labor
holiday pretty much everywhere except in the United States, where our early robber baron overlords gave us Labor Day in September in order to try and steal thunder away from the radical labor movement. Of course now, The Big Orange Meanie, our Fascist-in-Chief  Donald "The Don Don" Trump is trying to recast this historic and global radical holiday as "Loyalty Day."
The Don Don

Yeah. Let that one sink in and tell me again that he's not a fascist.

For months, Memeworld has been all a-twitter about a General Strike -- or, as I like to call it, the Wobbly Rapture. They've already started one down in Brazil. I don't expect to see much in the way of a general strike around here simply because there isn't the will or the numbers for it. Memeworld has it's own warriors, though, and I realize I am not one of them. I'm an opinionated sometimes activist and organizer who's really more of a poet than a protester. I'm all for it, of course... protesting and pushing back against Nazis, a General Strike. All of it. But one of the things I've learned is that just because you're in a room full of folks who might agree with you, that does not mean you have a cultural quorum.

That's not to say that the anti-fascists can't win out the argument. Tyranny always betrays itself in the end, and even now, the mask is starting to slip off the figurehead for the New Wave, our boy Don Don. The mistake that most traditional liberals are making right now is they act as if getting rid of Trump will stem the tide. It won't. His vitriol has unleashed something that's been a part of the American character since the first settlers came here.*

If the Pikeville Rally shows us anything, it's that there is absolutely nothing new about hate. It sometimes takes on a slicker facade, like Richard Spenser or Steve Bannon. It sometimes takes on the mask of an arrogant bully, like Donald Trump. Sometimes it takes on the mask of the true believer, like Kentucky's own tin pot fascista, Matt Bevin. But it's nothing new.

Something else the rally made clear, if it wasn't already: the powers that be are complicit in protecting the ability of hate to spread itself like cancer. The cops didn't try and shut down the fascists for making verifiable threats to peaceful protesters. The cops shut down the peaceful protesters by relying on fear and the implied threat that the cops would not be there to protect them.**

I was not at the Pikeville Rally. In the end, I decided it was more important to be here with my family and the community of folks I work with in homeless outreach.

But that shouldn't confuse anyone into believing that I've gone anywhere, or that I'm backing down. It's true, I've been a little quiet of late.

That's over now.
*Note: the Puritans did escape England to pursue their own religious ideals, but they were not then, now, or ever, martyrs for religious freedom. These are the ones who burned women for witches, remember?
** This, too, is nothing new. See Also: The Kent State Massacre, The Cripple Creek Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre, The Haymarket Affair, the murder of Joe Hill by the state of Utah, and The New Testament. 

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19 November, 2015

"The Four-Year War"; or the Whimpering Acquiescence of Organized Trade Labor *

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor. -- Camus

Signs at every entrance to the UAW Local Hall instructed anyone driving a foreign car to park in the side lot, away from street view. Luckily,The Blue Burrito is a 95 Dodge Ram -- older than any other car in the parking lot and made, I was assured by the previous owner, my uncle, of American steel.**

I found a parking spot, finished my cigarillo, and focused on my purpose to quiet my nerves. I had fought the urge to take a drink all evening in order to quell the frenetic firing of every piston and synapses in my head.

It was a long shot, and I knew it.

My plan was to try and convince the Central Labor Council to work with me and organize a massive state-wide protest against Kentucky Governor-Elect Matt Bevin's campaign promise to push through Right-to-Work legislation, basically removing the one or two teeth labor unions have in the Commonwealth. As I see it, the windmills really are dragons, and need tilting.

Organized Trade Labor in the state had cast its lot with a milquetoast candidate in Jack Conway. Conway lost the election to a guy who campaigned at a cock fight, who threw temper tantrums at the state Democratic Headquarters, and who has consistently used a lot of flag waving and hyperbolic religiosity to avoid criticisms of his murky past. The Democratic Candidate barely ran a campaign, and relied on others -- like members of AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the SEIU, and ASFCME -- to do the heavy lifting for him.***

I walked into the hall, preparing myself. I'd looked up the Constitution of the CLC, saw how the meetings were ran. I've been in enough meetings to know there's always the busy-ness part of  the meeting.

I wasn't sure what my contact there looked like, and things were about ready to begin, so I found a seat at one of the long tables-- strategically by the door.

The meeting commenced with a prayer and the pledge^, then rolled right into the wound licking. They'd made progress, real progress, in terms of their door knocking and phone calling -- though I don't recall anyone knocking on my door in the South End. People were thanked and comments were made about the Governor-Elect. People hide powerlessness with humor sometimes, and this meeting was no different.

A Democratic candidate who wants the District 46 seat -- the current seat warmer is retiring -- stood up and talked briefly about his pro-labor vita. He's going to fight the good fight and protect the interests of organized labor, by God, if they are kind enough to allow him the honor of being the Democratic candidate without a costly runoff campaign.

There I sat with what I expected to be the backbone of labor. There were Teamsters there, for fuck's sake. The leadership is as corrupt as hell, but still -- TEAMSTERS. They don't do much marching themselves, but they have resources to move literal mountains.

And yet there I sat, listening to the backbone of American labor bend. There were talks of elections. Of gearing up. Of golf scrambles. Of successes in getting TARC bus drivers reinstated through due process -- even as every person in there had to know their due process was on life support and an egg timer.

Then I was introduced and had my turn. My action plan, I decided, would simply scare them off. It required them to step up to the line -- to honestly step up to the goddamn line and put their boots into a direct action. No due process. No mealy-mouthing. No pandering. Direct Action. Instead, I changed my approach and offered something of a structure they could engage. I called it The Louisville Pushback. I said there was a website in the works, and the plan included both a candle light vigil the night of Bevin's closed inauguration and peaceful protests the day of. We need people, I reiterated. Lots of people. I pointed out that when Wisconsin tried to protest Scott Walker's Right-to-Work laws, it failed because there was no threat behind it. I told them protest without the threat and promise of a state-wide strike will not accomplish anything.

The audience was polite, but no one met my eye as I stepped down. The CLC president asked what the website address was, so I repeated what I planned for it to be.

As I was going back to my seat by the door, an older man stood up. He sat near the middle of the room. He pointed out that Andy Beshear had won the Attorney General race. Andy Beshear would was their guy, he said. Andy Beshear was going to stop Matt Bevin from hurting working people. Beshear would do the heavy lifting.

You know... because that sort of third party strategy worked so well for "their guy" Conway.

Subtext: he had no intention of putting his boots anywhere, and didn't think anyone else should either. "This is a four year war," he said. The phrase stuck with me. I wondered if he is thinking about how much damage an ambitious little fascist demagogue like Bevin can do in four years. I wondered then, and I wonder now, if it has occurred to any of those in attendance that simply based on attitude, the war is already lost.

I waited until the meeting adjourned to leave. I walked out alone, lit a cigarillo, and drove The Blue Burrito straight to the bar.

*Whenever I use a semi-colon and over-explanatory title, I think of my former American Lit professor, Layne Neeper --who appreciated the arcane style of my essay titles if only out irony and a wry sense of humor.
** "Parts made in America ... and assembled in Mexico." - My Uncle. Hence half the reason my truck is named The Blue Burrito. You can guess the other half.
*** Good thing they're used to heavy loads. The loads will probably get heavier very soon.
^ I will not say the Pledge of Allegiance until people decide to actually make it happen. But do take my hat off out of respect for my father and other veterans I have known.