Showing posts with label Tea Party. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tea Party. Show all posts

01 October, 2013

Gator People Live In The River: Shut Down Smackdown, Cave RunStorytelling, Up and downdates

Loyalty to the country always. Loyalty to the government when it deserves it. - Mark Twain

Governments never lead; they follow progress. - Lucy Parsons

Well, they went and did it. The immortal game of chicken has resulted in yet another government shutdown. This will yield infinite public relations pundit points for the right as they scramble to find someone who can run for President in 2016 -- sorry, Ted Cruz, in all his Tex-Mex Tea Party Glory, cannot run because he is... in the parlance of the times... a Canuck.

The GOPers and T-Baggers will blame the White House. The Dems will blame the T-Baggers. Obama will stand resolute -- or not -- and either way his hand is played pretty much the same way. Those of use who question the usefulness of the government will search for signs and smoke signals in the landscape that the world will, indeed, move forward without the Beltway Bozos. 

My mind turns inevitably to a North Illinois agribusiness baron and good Rotarian-in-standing, who I had occasion to skewer in print for his absolute lack of humanity, Mr. Rod Fritz. Among the gems that have fallen from his sly, smiling lips as he rubbed his palms together waiting for a bushel of corn to top $8 so he could unload his hoarded store onto the market and make a killing, Mr. Fritz once pointed out that his life would not change at all except for he would not be required to pay taxes.

Of course, he had already cashed his yearly subsidy check. He had a full growing season plus the winter to ferret out a way to blame Liberals while buying out his less moneyed neighbors and bulldozing their houses. 

Mr. Fritz is unencumbered this morning, as are his fellow robber barons. The gold-hoarders, the multinational corporations who actually run everything and who have been waiting on this shut down for their own nefarious reasons, are not affected. And of course, we are all glad to hear it. There is nothing worse than watching a rich man cry over spilled money. 

The sticking point -- again -- is Obamacare, which I have pointed out numerous times is probably the biggest money grab by the insurance industry since deregulation. Please bear in mind -- they are not against a mandate requiring everyone to have health insurance, any more than car insurance companies are against the law requiring people to have car insurance. They are against regulation, and that is why they're pulling the strings of their bought pets in Congress to fight the ACA. 

But whether the T-Baggers win their pandering attempts to de-fund Obamacare, or whether the law stands, the insurance industry will be rolling in money. Rolling. Like a pig rolls in shit. If that metaphor is overplayed, then please insert this one: the insurance industry will be lapping up ill-gotten gains with all the fervor of a dog licking his own testicles.

You're welcome.

Also do keep in mind that while the insurance industry doesn't suffer, while the robber barons don't suffer, while the multi-national thieves don't suffer, there is a short list of folks who will:

  • Active and reserve military and their families;
  • Children and the elderly on SNAP (food stamps); 
  • People on Social Security;
  • People on Medicare and Medicaid;
  • People drawing unemployment benefits.

But since that is, after all, such a short list that in no way takes up the same amount of space as the primary campaign contributors for the schleps in Congress. If I'm missing any, please mention them in comments. I'm writing off the top of my head here in the south side bunker where I am waiting for the world to not end.

While the Beltway Bozos were going through the dress rehearsal for their version of West Side Story, The Traveller's Angel and I packed up the truck and headed east for a weekend of camping and storytelling at the Cave Run Storytelling Festival. We had a blast. On Saturday evening, there was a story slam and both of us put our names in. I somehow managed to get on stage, though they ran out of time before Amanda could -- which is a shame, since she would have shamed the three folks who won. I was beat out by a lady preacher who needs a man (her words, not mine), and old guy (who was actually pretty good) and an art student who pulled in a 3rd place victory largely because it's understood that students are charity cases.

A good time was had by all, and I heard some really amazing storytellers. We also had a chance to stop out at Willow Creek for a brief visit with the Eklunds, who are amazing friends and amazing artists and amazing people. We should visit with them more often than we do.

12 September, 2012

Southern Jaunt: Family Tradition

Politics make for strange bedfellows. -My Dear Sweet Ma

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of the respect and joy in each other's life. - Richard Bach

Libertarians are anarchists who sold their souls. - J. Bob Friendly

Revise the high and holy dead.
Use the fathers to abuse the sons.
Character assassination is easy
When you hoard all the guns. -- Ditty from Travel Journal

Every once in a while, I'm reminded why, growing up, I never remember anyone in my household talking openly about religion or politics.

While on the Eastward-Ish Jaunt, I wrote about being in Colorado, and about meeting my Uncle Dan for the first time. The Parsons family is generally a scattered bunch. My Aunt Mary (R.I.P) who lived in Florida. My Uncle Danny, who lives in Denver. My Uncle Bill, who... unless he's died, is still alive in the house on S. Charity Street in Bethel, where he, my Dad, my aunt, and my other uncle, all grew up. (The house sits directly across the street from the house my mom and Uncle Jack grew up living in.)

If I seem out of touch with the clan whose last name I carry, read on. I now realize there are reasons.

When I was in Colorado, I stayed with my first cousin, Mary, who's named after my aunt, the oldest child of Daniel and Minnie Parsons, my grandparents. Mary sells guns, rides Harleys, and has made tons of money doing one in order to afford the other. A staunch conservative -- one of those family traditions I DID NOT pick up -- she believes firmly that Obama is out to take away everyone's guns -- which I am sure makes for a good selling point;  that taxes are bad; that wars are necessary, and that They (whoever that happens to be today) really are out to get Us. Formerly of Naval Intelligence, she claims to have insider information -- that I am supposed to trust implicitly because She Told Me So even though she can't discuss any of it for 144 years -- which definitively shows that the Muslims really are out to destroy our way of life.

As I type, I still marvel at the randomness -- or not -- of not being able to talk about something for such a specific time as 144 years. Who was the bureaucratic juggernaut who came up with THAT number? 

We had exactly one discussion about politics -- during which my disagreement with current, past, and future wars was summarily dismissed, the U.S. policy of using mercenaries who are above military law was justified, and -- again -- it was explained, primarily in terms that impact her business, how dem evil Dems want to disarm everyone and create a socialist police state.

I was staying under her roof and enjoying the hospitality she extended to me. So I didn't dig in. Nor did I argue with her assertion that men in the Parsons family avoid conflict like the plague. I kept in mind that

  1. She probably didn't hear the same stories of Grandpa Parsons that I did, and 
  2. She never really knew my Dad.

All that happened in JUNE.

Fast forward to YESTERDAY.

Being of a particular bent that I have not really hidden from anybody, I posted this image in support of the Chicago Teacher's Union Strike on my Facebook page:

The arrow, in case you didn't get it, was pointed at my wooly profile pic.

In less than a half hour, this drew the ire and hollow rhetoric of a particularly nauseous troll. While she may troll other people's pages in search of ways to shut down any argument but a Tea Party/ Birther one, she was making a point to troll me because I do, sometimes, write for her dad's newspaper.  Yesterday, however, I got tired of it. 

Read the meme here.

Yes. I blocked her. Facebook is a public forum, and I have plenty of "Facebook Friends" who don't agree with me on a lot of things, political and otherwise. I even have friends who are Steeler Fans, gawd forgive 'em.

I didn't go on her page to troll, didn't report her as offensive -- the REAL ploy of folks who want to silence free speech. I simply removed her. 

This got my cousin all tied in knots, of course. My cousin who rarely visits my page, who hardly ever comments on things I post, and who has never engaged me in a serious political discussion other than the previously mentioned BECAUSE I SAY SO talk.  

By the way, for those who may not know this: BECAUSE I SAY SO IS NOT A VAILID ARGUMENT TO USE AGAINST ANYONE OVER THE AGE OF 5. And even then, it's still piss poor.

After trying to explain WHY to my cousin, I then posted a status update, which you can read here. 

Now -- even though I made it CLEAR I was NOT talking about her, my cousin posted this response:

"you don't give a shit who I am or whose daughter I happen to be? well guess what? I don't give a shit about you either! I voice an opinion and it is different from yours and you decide to call people trolls and remove them for that? WOW...says ALOT about your character!! well...I am the daughter of your uncle who is the brother to your father, and how ashamed your father would be if he was alive today of you and how you are living your life! The Parsons family are all about working hard and doing what is needed to get ahead in life and be the best we can, and making a good life for our children, and serving our Country. what in any of that have you done or are doing? how are you bettering the life of your daughter? everyday that I live and breathe I do something for my children! I work hard to give them things, like a good education! I am a capitalist, and very proud of it! I believe in working hard and making as much money as I can, and that is something I have passed to my kids, which was something that was passed to me from my father. and one more thing...... UNIONS SUCK!!!! and yes...I am happy thank you very much!" (emphasis added)

Did I mention that I wasn't talking about her, but about a Facebook Troll who had been giving my problems and trying to derail every political post in order to rant about Socialism and Obama -- who, even though she claims not to like Romney (she is, in fact, a Ron Paul supporter -- don't get me started on Libertarians, but pay heed, instead to the wise words of J. Bob. Friendly) will not be critical of him for fear of seeming to be Pro-Obama?

I did.

What did my cousin do? She proceeded to rant about her martyrdom. She used my daughter -- who she doesn't know -- and my DEAD FATHER -- who she barely knew and probably never met -- against me.


Because I support a teacher's union strike. 

A strike, by the way, with standardized testing as the primary breaking point. The State of IL(L) mandates that standardized testing scores be used to determine a teacher's proficency. This, by the way, is nothing new. Another Bush Era debacle, No Child Left Behind, ensured this would happen.  

There's also considerable evidence -- both statistical and anecdotal -- that standardized testing not only is not a proper indicator of student learning ... and certainly not teacher effectiveness-- but that the current educational model being touted is to essentially TEACH TO THE TEST. 

Critical thought? Not important. 

Picking A, B, C, D? That's a good little monkey.

I was hoping to go back and visit my uncle and learn more about the family whose name I bear and about the father who -- according to one more GOOD CATHOLIC who didn't really know him, and who, as I recall, didn't bother to come to the funeral -- would be ashamed of me. The inability to fill in those gaps is the thing that bothers me the most. There were a lot of stories Dad never told me because I was never old enough (according to him.) That I will now never hear them because of a small-minded troll and my cousin's terrible affliction -- that my Dad would have called "Elephant Mouth and Hummingbird Ass) -- is such a damn and avoidable shame.  

I would also say  "If only she had read..." but that might lead me back into why the Chicago Teacher's Strike is so important. Because it's not enough to read. You have too be able to think critically, too.

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.)