Saturday, November 28, 2015
Once upon a time, in another land, I used to do blogs every day, with short snippets of info and appropriate links to read further. I don't intend to resurrect that format, but I am just dropping in and out of subjects today, so be forewarned.
There was a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic. We will get the usual bullshit from the GOP...."when are we going to address mental health in this country?" they will lament, while pocketing a roll of bills from the NRA. Thank You! for your contribution. Meanwhile we will continue to die as ammosexuals and their ilk continue to line their basement walls with assault "type" rifles, and high-powered clips for when their rage exceeds their give a damn restraints. The vile verbal assaults launched against PPH by GOP front runners will have been, of course, no contribution to the climate of hate that brought forth the PPH shooter.
People continue to wonder at the ability of Trump to withstand what would seemingly kill a normal candidate--his unrepentant race baiting, and every other kind of baiting known and developed. No matter what he says, his polls don't drop. The answer is quite simple. While Trump continues to claim that his remarks are not meant to offend, his base sees them as just that, and they are the things they whisper among themselves but dare not say in public. Trump says what they want so desperately to say. White men are very afraid, and fear always turns to rage and outrageous behavior. Nothing new here.
I'm told the ancient argument over whether we should let our dogs lick our faces continues. I recall that Brun usually did yell at Binda and Yorn for letting the damn wolf slobber all over the baby. "Put that baby back in the cave," Brun yelled, "and keep that mangy wolf outside where he belongs!" Now it's all parasites versus the healing power of dog saliva. Brun wouldn't have cared, he just enjoyed ruling the roost with bluster.
I noticed a surge in Trumps numbers a few weeks ago. I think it had to do with his taking up of the since the beginning of time habit of swearing. People like swearers. Especially when it comes from unlikely sources. It was not considered "appropriate" to swear if one were a politician. Look for more swearing coming your way. Hot Damn!
They say there is a comeback of the great white shark in the Atlantic. All I can say is, "Yay, more Jaws movies!" I was thinking of "Ratatouille Meets Jaws on the High Seas" or "Unlocked Jaws: the Story Behind the Mechanical Fish".
Spike Lee says women on campus should go on sex strike to protest the incidents of rape on campus and the oft-times "sweep it under the rug" mentality of university officials. Looks like somebody has been reading Lysistrata again! Aristophanes would be so pleased.
Benji Carson has been licking his wounds lately. Seems nobody is quite keen on his "I'm reading a book on foreign policy" answers. So he's off to Jordan to meet some real live refugees, so he can, ya know, "understand". See I can explain his drop in the polls. Old white guys all said, "I'm really liking Carson", when really they meant was "You can't call me a racist, you can't call me a racist, you can't call me a racist." --NOW..Well, once that is established, so the white racist believes, he can then move on to whom he REALLY likes, which appears to be Trumpet and Cruz'n for a kingship. Trumpet is happy to feed them racist bones, while Cruz? Oh he is the next best thing to Benjie himself, dark enough to be "one of 'em" so the white racist in a sense gets a twofer, all the while the wink, wink, nod, nod, assures them that secretly he is against them blacks too.
Hawaii will be the first state to ban the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes. Exceptions for movies and zoos. Animals were ecstatic at the news, but most got too drunk to interview. Others worried about how much it was gonna cost to return to their home continents. Seriously, no more elephants dancing or tigers roaring on command. I'm down with it for sure.
There will always be a place for the oddball shop which carries such a strange collection of oddities that you always want to see what's new. Bookstores will continue in some fashion for those of us who swoon to the touch of real hardcovers. But most stores are going the way of dinosaurs I am afraid. No amount of "shop local" will change that. Let's face it, the ease of one finger shopping and no shipping is here. When it started getting here by design in two days, brick and mortar were effectively doomed. Soon we will order groceries everywhere that way. Americans are LAZY.
Interesting issues at Princeton over the Woodrow Wilson issue. You can decide that how you wish, but the question remains. Do we make allowances for the "tenor of the times" or do we hold all to a standard of decency and moral rectitude across all ages? Do we allow for "some good and some bad" in human beings? Is it important to take down old "traditional" forms like the confederate flag? Should we strike down old racist rock sculptures of civil war Southern "heroes"? How far back do we go? Do we keep some as reminders of how far we have come? Do you think "slave" memorabilia should be only in official museums?, black only collections? Is a white collector by definition racist? I like to ask questions.
I get a kick out of imagining the inner dynamics when the Bush's get together to strategize over Jeb's fucked up campaign. Does Dubya snicker? Does Jeb turn red and stammer? Does Barbara wipe the spittle from the old man's chin while he berates Jebbie about "listening to proven winners"--namely the old men who worked for him? Does Barbara demand them to stop pickin' on Jebbster? I bet it is most delicious.
Only eleven percent of likely Republican voters support the Presidential pardoning of Both turkeys this year. That is neo-con-ism to the max. Is kill the only think the GOP knows? And if you thought to make exception because of their stand against abortion, think again. A study in Texas establishes that maybe twice as much, but at LEAST 100,000 women have tried self-help abortion methods since Texas has made it next to impossible for poor women to find a clinic to meet their needs. That makes them a culture of killers regardless of subject.
It's hard to care what Marco Rubio says about much of anything. Mostly I expect to find him out back behind the garage smoking cigarettes and swearing with his buddies. He's a child among juvenile delinquents, and seems to be learning the trade quite well.
As I mentioned in a blog about the first thanksgiving, most of what we "know" is bunk. The Pilgrims were having a celebration regarding their good harvest. The Massasoit heard the gun fire and went to investigate with some warriors. They discovered the happy Pilgrims, went out and shot some deer, and then joined in the feast. There might have been a turkey, but mostly it was venison, fowl, and fish, along with some of the veggies harvested. No cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. And no forks.
Friday, November 27, 2015
That depends of course. On whose ox is being gored.
Now, I have mixed feelings here, and we should all be clear. I am married to one of those old white guys myself, and all and all, I find him more than acceptable in general and in the specific if you are so nosy as to ask. He's a guy whose head is screwed on mostly right, and who never has taken any special comfort in his skin color, nor has it generally informed his thinking about most things.
We are, however, all, somewhat a product of our environments. We are more a product, I would allege, of our minds, and how we process that environment. I am no genius on this, but I've never been one to blame it on someone. I'm master of my own ship and steering my own course. For better or worse.
So, I can say without hesitation that my old man is a good'un, if you ask me at least. And I have never heard any woman who knows him suggest that he was one of those pasty lily-livered, misogynist, dogs that plague the world, yes even the world of today.
But he is the exception not the rule. Of that I am pretty much convinced.
The rule is most white men of an age, are downright ass hats. They try mightily to remain in a world their daddy introduced them to, where men were manly and women were womanly, and never the twain should meet, except in missionary like zeal. Women cooked and cleaned and men raked and mowed. Women shopped for groceries and men changed the oil.
I like this dichotomy pretty fine in some ways, since I don't like to rake or mow or change for that matter. I have no interest in learning the intricacies of not electrocuting myself when messing with wires. I simply don't mess with them. I don't care to learn of your mitres and cookies and other woodworking words.
But as a feminist woman, I do not like you white guys at all. You make stupid jokes, and then accuse me of being politically correct and no fun at all. You assume authority over me by tradition and "the way things should be." You ask me to read the bible more carefully and "know my place." Mostly you want me to be a slutty vamp and then tell me it's my fault if some sick bastard can't keep his pathetic dick in his pants cuz I wear my skirt too short.
So, all in all, I'm enjoying the great fall of the white male.
Of course they aren't falling nearly as fast as they should. Rich, and educated white men aren't falling at all, and probably never will since rich seems to always manage to steal a boat and get out of the drink unscathed.
And you white working stiffs ain't doing nearly as bad as you think you are. You still rule the working class roost when it comes to jobs.
But you literally hate what is happening to Merika, cuz your opinion is not solicited nearly enough. I mean how can they not see that the high-school educated?, manual laborers, who bowl for recreation, and take a big rifle to kill Bambi, aren't experts on nuclear disarmament and the import/export quotas problem. I mean you have OPINIONS dammit.
But dear pasty white dude, your opinion matters less and less. Hispanic opinion now matters. Black opinion matters. Gay and lesbian opinion matters, women's opinion matters. Heck, I do believe that hamster opinion probably matters more than yours.
It's a shitty generation to be a white guy.
I get that, but I'm not very sorry for you. For you have raped and pillaged, stolen everything not nailed down, and murdered anyone who stood in your way. All for having a fifty-fourth variety of Trix on the shelves. You have tried noble pronouncements of protecting kith and kin, but seriously dude, you did it for yourself as you always have.
A recent study suggests that you dudes are living in the past. You actually believe that things were far better in the 50's when we were pretty much openly racist, when women were "good little girls", gays were closeted, and immigrants were still mostly coming from Europe.
You are all living with a case of the sad.
You are drinking and drugging (oh big Pharm loves you! ) to an early death.
You were not ready for this.
It is no surprise. You got all the eduKashun you needed or wanted in high school, and so you had no idea you were on the road to perdition or extinction, you choose. We (all the others you have ignored) have been watching these demographics for years, and knew you were doomed.
But we didn't tell you, because your solution to most everything is to bomb it to death. Or undersell it. Or define it as somehow other and lock it up, drug it, or kill it, whichever is most convenient.
We just waited. For the inevitable.
We take no great joy in all this. Oh hell. yes we do, but we have no need, beyond this sort of flaunting "I told you so". We enjoy it as much as anyone does who has been abused and misused and make a joke of and lived to see the day called "comeuppance".
We make no claims that we will do better, but I suspect we will. We don't glory in our new-found power, for we were required to become informed while you were busy swilling Bud and thumbing through Sports Illustrated Model edition. We know that while you fiddled, Rome indeed burned.
The corptocracy that now controls you also controls us. That is our enemy, if it is still not yours. It will take a few more frying pans upside your heads to direct your attention to the real enemy.
Step up and be the first to be "enlightened".
Read all the dreary details of why white men suck at "Nostalgia is Killing the White Working Class."
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Thanksgiving is a non-aggressive holiday. It can appeal to everyone, without reference to race, creed or faith of any or no kind. It is all you want it to be, or none of what others find correct. It is your day.
Yet, we have our myths don't we?
Some part of the myth always starts with this:
Pilgrims came to America, in order to escape religious persecution in England. Living conditions proved difficult in the New World, but thanks to the friendly Indian, Squanto, the pilgrims learned to grow corn, and survive in unfamiliar lands. It wasn’t long before the Indians and the pilgrims became good friends. To celebrate their friendship and abundant harvest, Indians in feathered headbands joined together with the pilgrims and shared in a friendly feast of turkey and togetherness. Happy Thanksgiving. The End.Almost nothing of this is actually true, or at least it barely clings to the truth.
The Pilgrims were disaffected members of the Church of England who wanted to separate from that state church. Such was not acceptable in the England of King James, who was ironically pursuing one definitive "bible" translation that would unite his kingdom under one "interpretation". I say ironic, because the Pilgrims which included the then child William Bradford, were utter fundamentalists. They would flee England and King James believing their very lives were at stake. They would rely on their Geneva bible, but eventually the KJV became "the" bible of the fundamentalist movement.
After slipping away to the Netherlands (they were not free to leave without express permission of the sovereign), they gathered together informally. They worked at mean factory labor, but tried to live in some community of as they understood the early Christians did. They decided after some years, that the Netherlands was not the "promised land" and they started looking for alternatives.
Obviously the ultimate choice was the new lands of America. They went there, to be free themselves, but additionally, to establish a theocratic state of their own. They often secured passage for their own dissenters and others wanting passage to the colonies. They remained largely separate from these others, as they instituted laws making it a offense to the community to not attend church.
The Native populations were rapidly becoming victim of European diseases, and whole settlements of Native peoples were wiped out. The surrounding tribes became suspicious of the colonists who were moving along the eastern seaboard.
The Pilgrims, given their rather dismal initial numbers were fearful that as they sickened and died during that first winter, the Indians would become aware of their straits and attack.
A new myth was created.
What was done with the dead? According to the myth, the bodies were taken out late at night and buried in the corn fields, with corn being planted over them to mask the fact that they contained bodies. This to fool the Indians as to their numbers.
The truth? The dead were taken out to the surrounding woods (also the nearly dead who would surely die), and set up against tree trunks and muskets placed in their hands. From afar they were to look as sentinels guarding the settlement.
The first Thanksgiving?
Oh it did occur. Contrary to the fairy tale told to grade schools and above, we were not all friendly with the Indians. The Pilgrims were in league with one tribe only, the Wambanoag. They had been devastated by plague and were being pressured by nearby tribes who saw an opportunity to take their lands. So the Wambanoag joined with the Pilgrims in a non-aggression, mutual help compact.
One day, in the late fall as the Pilgrims were harvesting crops for the winter (some of which the Wambanoag had taught them how to plant), Massasoit, chief of the Wambanoag showed up unexpectedly with a band of his warriors. They went out into the woods and killed a few deer and returned and ate with the Pilgrims. That constituted the first Thanksgiving.
It was not remarkable to anyone at the time. William Bradford, who would be the governor of the colony for most of the rest of his life, made no mention of the fact in his diaries which he kept faithfully since his childhood. Nor was it included in his history of the colony which remains the basis for most of what we know about Plymouth colony.
In fact, Thanksgiving was not declared a holiday until Lincoln, who did it as a measure of unity to a union in disarray and war.
What I found most ironic in learning the truth of this group, had nothing to do with these myths and stories however. It had to do with marriage.
As you know, fundamentalists drive the conversation when it comes to marriage equality and they claim that the bible clearly mandates that marriage can only be between a man and woman.
Yes. Because William Bradford married in the Netherlands before the journey to America. His was a civil ceremony done by the local magistrate. Why was this?
Because Bradford was an extreme literalistic, and his examination of the bible indicated that at no place or part had God ever spoken about marriage being a religious act. Therefore, Bradford assumed (quite correctly) that marriage was a civil act. This was the normal interpretation I might add, for years later the Catholic Church finally relented and began to bless marriages because people wanted the church to bless their civil unions. They would arrive on the steps of the parish church and the priest would come out and offer them a blessing.
Bradford thus exercises first among those that would settle in America, the idea of separation of church and state.
Kind of puts a factual clunker on the fundie notion today that God has declared marriage to be "between one man and one woman". Again, it is wishful thinking on their part, but to, I would contend, gloss over the homophobic fears of those that claim it as their truth.
Just a bit of fact to set some records straight.
The readings today tell the story of the ten lepers. They plead with Jesus to heal them. He sends them off to the high priest. One returns, goes to his knees and praises God and Jesus. This one, is a Samaritan, hated by Jews, unclean by definition. Jesus praises the foreigner among you who by his faith is more attuned to God's good mercy than the rest of the Jewish lepers are.
If we take the Thanksgiving myth, regarding as true, then we see the perfect example of Jesus made anew. The Natives welcome and care for the foreigner among them, recognizing we are all "neighbors" as Jesus intimates in his recognition of the Samaritan leper.
Now we have the opportunity to welcome the foreigner who needs us to survive. Will we do as Jesus asked us? Or will we play the trickster as the early Puritans did? Will we welcome and care for the Other among us as Massasoit did? Or turn away Syrian women and children? Will we be the other lepers who failed to realize that God had just acted in their lives and give thanks? Or will we be like the Samaritan leper who was overwhelmed by the charity of God and worshiped in adoration?
Which will we be?
Monday, November 23, 2015
We were watching a football game. We were not drugging or drinking. We were quite sober in outlook and demeanor. What happened next, well you decide what it means.
Out of nowhere and apropos of nothing this ensued:
He: "I recall the saddest thing I ever saw."
Me: As I tried mentally to associate that statement to Larry Fitzgerald running a crossing pattern near the 35 yard line. I failed to see the connection, so I did what I always do, and always later regret. I responded, "What was that?"
He: Showing no signs that he was the least aware of my mental gymnastics, he gravely continued, "it was on the old Ted Mack Amateur Hour. You remember it of course?"
Me: The statement, more fairly a question, obviously was meant to elicit a response from me. Being of a certain age, (aren't they all? ages that is, certain), I was well aware of Mr. Mack and his talent show. One could of course quibble with the word talent here, since apparently neither Mr. Mack nor his sponsoring network were the least interested in paying for real talent. Thus, the unsuspecting public, in those early years of TV, had little choice but to view what Mr. Mack and his no doubt able group of "talent finders" passed off to us as amazing feats of entertainment pleasure.
At this point, I figured I was being taken down the shaded lane of "gotcha" but like the lamb going to slaughter, I was unable to resist the lure of shiny things. Before you ask, I have no idea what shiny object the lamb was unable to resist, but it was the first metaphor that popped into my head, and damned if I care if it fits.
I answered his question with "yes," though I am quite sure, he saw the fear in my eyes.
He: "Well, it was a one-legged tap dancer. But he had no peg leg. (As you know, there have been rather well-known examples of peg-legged dancers of all assortments. If you didn't know that, well, I can but decry the failures of YOUR parents in not teaching you such important things.) No, he, stood there on crutches, and wiggled his shoe, causing a tapping sound upon the floor."
Me: "That is sad," I agreed.
Yet, I saw, as I said those agreeing words, that a twinkle could be seen in his eyes, and his lips definitely curved upward just a tad, and for all the world looked remarkably like a smile. If I were to be nuanced about it, I could easily add, smirk, sly grin, or something similar. Actually cross all that out and just say mirthful, a word not sufficiently used in the modern era.
"You seem to find it amusing?" I queried, now thoroughly puzzled.
He: "Well, yessssss," he offered tentatively. I was sure that there was a "don't you?" in that long intonation of yes.
Me: "So you recognize that the correct emotion would be sadness at the man's plight and that he is reduced to begging for charity by tapping his foot, but your actual response is amusement? In other words, KNOW the right response but choose not to conform yourself to it? Would that be it?"
He: "Yes, yes, of course that is right. I do KNOW it was a sad display." And then with some slight bit of forethought, he added, "I'm not a monster after all!"
Me: I sat up straight and stared. He was now openly chortling.
Now if you have never had occasion to see someone chortle. I highly recommend it. It's that sort of guffaw (oh shades of Mittens Romney), that turns the face bright pink, the eyes bug a bit, the lips quiver, and the diaphragm locks up, causing a near choking, that brings a slight sheen of tears to the eyes, as the lungs recover their monotonous in and out, and the throat unconstricts just in time to avoid a serious spewing forth of spittle. Do always look for the opportunity to enjoy a good chortle.
Once again, of course I had been had.
There is no telling how long this particular gem of a joke had been lurking in the recesses of his very strange and one-of-a-kind brain. It's best not to ask, nor even think of such questions. It has been shown quite clearly and awfully that having more than one loose nut in the house, spoils the entire family.
Here's to you from the smoky limpid pools of my private cave of reality.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
It started innocently enough:
She: I actually have Facebook friends who are planning to leave the country now.
He: I'm not sure I agree with that.
He: Why is now different than all the reasons before? When we learned of the genocide of the native population, why wasn't that enough? The turning away of Jews in '39, half of whom died in the ovens. Why wasn't that enough? Why is now enough?
I know when enough is. It has nothing to do with events that make us ashamed of being American, make us run toward the light upon the hill and pray we can find sufficient instances of self-less sacrifice to make up for our atrocities. I know when enough is enough.
He waited expectantly for me to continue.
When you KNOW that the people whom you elect care nothing basically about what you think or want or need. When they are beholden in every respect to the corporate interests that pay their way through donations and lucrative post-Congressional lobbying jobs paying hundreds of thousands if not millions in salary.
When the vote means nothing since every study being done shows that the average folk have almost no influence on decisions in Washington about ANYTHING, while lobbyists get a good return on their investment to campaigns.
In other words, when we know certainly that all our elected officials are bought and sold or so close to it that they do nothing simply because it's "the right thing to do," without first asking, "are the oligarchs okay with it?"
He nodded slowly.
There is another, I murmured.
What's that? he asked.
When you no longer believe that the Judiciary is independent. When the first thing you want to know about any decision is who appointed the majority and the minority position on this case before all else. Because you believe that that fact alone will inform you as to what and why that decision was made.
When a decision is judged by the judicial philosophy of the majority as a "good" decision, or as a "bad" decision. The good one is from your side, but is cloaked with the aura of "rightness" based on the logic of stare decisis and morality. The bad one is from their side, and it's "wrongness" is attributed to pure partisan bullshit.
When you have reached that point, then I think you can confidently say, that you no longer have any connection to the moral philosophy of the nation in which you live.
Sadly, many of us have come to that point.
If I were younger, I'd probably think seriously about leaving.
Which raises another new specter.
It's a difficult one.
You have been warned.
So when you reach that point, the point of believing that your vote is meaningless (except in minor degrees), and you believe that the ultimate judges are corrupted, well it seems to me your choices become quite limited.
You can of course, chuck it all. Simply divorce yourself completely from the political arena, return to your knitting and volunteering at the senior center (which is really just a holiday of gossip and keeping "busy"). Ignore politics.
It's too emotional, too stressful. I have no voice. I shall wrap myself in my baking and gardening, and blah blah, oh grandchildren, and let the world go to hell, grabbing as many instances of enjoyment in family and friends, and leave it to "them" to argue about this stuff.
That's one way.
Or, you will take up your cross and go boldly into the arena full tilt, devoting as much of your free time as possible to making some difference somewhere, content that you are fighting the good fight, and if others do as well, somehow we will right this ship listing so far to starboard that she is in imminent danger of capsizing.
Or you can leave, moving to a new land with new customs, who is no super power nor with any allusions of becoming one where people are "normal". I have no doubt that one will discover that this too has its own can of sour milk lurking beneath the facade of normality.
That's a hell of a choice I believe. Retreat into one's cocoon of isolation, thumbing your nose at the world and retaining only that which soothes the senses or at doesn't ruffle the feathers, or admitting that it is OUR job, ours individually as much as collectively to DO SOMETHING to make a change for the better.
Is one moral and the other not? Is escape to a "new land" immoral? Is it a cop out? Is it the only sane way to preserve sanity in a world gone mad?
Unlike the fundamentalist who manages always to interpret his/her problems away so that God ALWAYS smiles benignly upon their choices, the rest of us has to wrestle with either of two things: what would God have us do, or what would being a human being require of us. Either one is a fair representation of doing the "right thing" the "moral thing".
It is so very easy to see why some opt for leaving the country. I refuse to judge anyone who does. I have no outstanding defense that somehow my meagre words amount to sufficient "doing of the right thing." I know those who are working their asses off in attempts to better the lives of others. I know my efforts pale in comparison.
Can we assuage our guilt of laziness and selfishness by throwing our money at these problems? Is that equal to the laborers who are the on the front lines? I have no clue about that either. It raises another interesting question for the believer certainly, though it may as well for the atheist moralist.
As usual, I have no answers, but I think the questions bear examination.
Where do you fall?