politics

Thoughts On Our Country

Today, still grieving. Still in the stages. Of course the fundamental stage to every modern human's existence these days is always denial.

  proteser

And so this may be full of various instances of rationalization, cognitive dissonance, and the like.

Nevertheless I will try to make this one concise point about my take on things, which was not my first or second take, but it's inching toward some kind of truth, I think.

At first my thought was, fuck all those racist, misogynist, ignorant, stupid morons. Fuck them and I'm done with them. 

But then, looking at the numbers, it's staggering. How can there be that many of those hateful fucks?  Well, obviously there are a lot of different kinds of people out there and a lot of different reasons that millions of them voted for a sociopathic rapist to lead their nation.  But from stuff I've been reading and seeing, it seems like the number one reason is:  A big middle finger to how things have been, to the status quo. And people were so upset at "the establishment" that they were willing to throw minorities, women, refugees, the environment, etc, under the bus to raise that big middle finger, to "the establishment". 

So for the most part, I have to believe, it wasn't a conscious referendum on bigotry and hate and intolerance.  It's just that those things, when given a binary choice, those things took a lower priority.  White people that don't know any Muslims, gays, refugees, polar bears, sagegrouse, or who've never seen a river that's not already full of toxic waste, they just don't care enough about those things when compared with the grievance they feel for how Washington has been working, or how the media has told them Washington has been working.    How it has, in their view, made their lives worse. 

What this has to mean is that people are suffering, and they're suffering enough that they can't bring themselves to be bothered much by other suffering.   Everyone suffers, as Buddhism teaches us.  The trick, for the enlightened, or even those who are slightly more wise, is to see that fact, accept it, and have compassion for others who are suffering, despite your own pain.  But most of us, alas, are not that wise, or at least not very often.

When I get home from work with a splitting headache that makes me feel like a railroad spike has been driven through my head, from temple to temple, and  my wife is cooking, cleaning, and taking care of a screaming toddler all by herself because i have decided it's impossible to do anything but pop some ibuprofen and lay down in a dark room for a while,  I'm thinking in one part of my brain, "this is unfair. This is kinda sexist. I should be out there helping."  But the rest of my brain wants to stick a pistol in my mouth and end it because I'm in so much pain

Now, pain is relative. I'm pretty sure that when I have a headache like that, it's not the very worst thing that anyone in the world has ever felt.  It's not worse than being raped. It's not worse than a drone blowing up your house.  Or some ISIS fanatics beheading your family. Or a cop shooting you dead because your skin is the wrong color (I'm pretty sure, though, that it is worse than the government telling you that you can't graze your cows on land that's not yours, for free.)

And yet, in that moment, the pain I feel is real, and valid.  Somehow, if I can, some days, I rise to the occasion, and get up and go help feed the kid and make dinner and do dishes, because I know that's the right thing to do.  But often, that's really really hard.  It's the fair thing, it's the compassionate thing. And I've been taught to be fair and compassionate.

But some people didn't get that teaching. Or they've forgotten it, or had it been drummed out of them.  It's not that they explicitly all  hate women and gays and polar bears. They just can't get past their own pain to see others' pain.  They never learned that that was a virtue that mattered.

And that's why we have this problem now.

And somehow despite our pain that we have this problem, those of us who see a President Drumpf as a huge huge problem, we need to look past it and recognize the others' pain.  We should have done it before. We were blind to it, blind to how many people felt that pain and what they were willing to do about it.  Now there's maybe a little time left. Maybe. But the pistol just got put in Amerikkka's mouth.

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

author: Ariel Dorfman

name: Steev

average rating: 3.88

book published: 1971

rating: 5

read at: 2000/01/01

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: politics

review:

All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity

All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity

author: Marshall Berman

name: Steev

average rating: 4.18

book published: 1981

rating: 4

read at:

date added: 2013/09/08

shelves: politics

review:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

author: Neil Postman

name: Steev

average rating: 4.11

book published: 1985

rating: 4

read at: 1994/01/01

date added: 2013/05/10

shelves: politics

review:

The Cost of Privilege: Taking On the System of White Supremacy and Racism

The Cost of Privilege: Taking On the System of White Supremacy and Racism

author: Chip Smith

name: Steev

average rating: 3.88

book published: 2007

rating: 5

read at: 2010/06/19

date added: 2010/06/20

shelves: politics

Society of the Spectacle

Society of the Spectacle

author: Guy Debord

name: Steev

average rating: 4.10

book published: 1967

rating: 5

read at: 1992/01/01

date added: 2011/02/07

shelves: politics

The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

author: Richard Davenport-Hines

name: Steev

average rating: 3.78

book published: 2001

rating: 4

read at: 2011/06/30

date added: 2011/07/03

shelves: politics

Would Someone Please Slap All These Fools That Like Ron Paul?

i can't believe Ron Paul is so popular. especially with young people.
he:

- is against affirmative action
- he's against the Civil Rights Act of 1964

- he's clearly a racist, despite all the backpedaling and disavowals recently about his newsletters.

- he's basically against separation of church and state.
- he is pretty waffly about same-sex marriage.
- he is "strongly pro life"; he's also said the government doesnt have a right to interfere with abortion, yet he's voted yes on anti-abortion legislation.
- he's pro capital punishment.
- he's against any federal control of education.
- he's against federal environmental protection and wants only the market to protect the environment.
- In fact, he wants to completely scrap the Department of Interior and sell off all public lands to private interests!

- He also wants to get rid of the Energy, HUD, Commerce, and Education departments!


He's basically a classical, hardcore libertarian wingnut, as irrationally committed to a dogma as any demagogue can be.  And I guess young'uns like him for the same reason many young'uns like libertarianism. It seems at first glance to be a good idea, sexy and radical and apparently full of real fundamental change - but only if you don't think about it much or study history much and think of things as occurring in a vacuum, like many young people do.  The problem with Libertarianism is that we're not starting from scratch, we're not rebooting the world from a blank slate. If we were, the policies it espouses might be okay (at least some of them - of course Paul's deep racism would still be a problem). But we live in a world where compensations need to be made for past injustices and repairs need to be made to the defective machine of society while it's still running.  Libertarians rarely seem to get this.

Some of my friends might think I'm oddly hostile to some ideas of Libertarianism that overlap with Anarchism, given my past involvement with anarchist groups and projects.  But indeed, Anarchism is a similar notion with similar problems: The basic idea is great but it's a utopian notion, and those who talk about it are often naive, ignorant of history and sociology, and propose things that just will not work in the current cultural and social context - but young people who don't understand that love it because they mistakenly think it's all about personal freedom and destroying "the system." Most Anarchism is preferable to Libertarianism only because of its optimism about humanity and collectivism and its anti-capitalism, rather than the cryptoparanoia, fear, pessimism, free-market ideology and individualism that are Libertarianism's context. Of course, Utopian ideas are useful as far-off destinations to shoot for, to guide us loosely. But they must never be the only consideration. The real world and its real complications must always be paid attention to while we're on the road.

Basically, I'd love to have no government if we really COULD wipe the slate clean and remove all unequal powers like corporations and people with unfair accumulations of wealth (and heal the psychological damage that infects almost everyone on the planet and causes the greed and hate and fear that engenders so many problems).  But as long as there are power inequities we NEED strong government to protect the poor from the rich - although I admit that too often the government gets corrupted into doing just the opposite: protecting the rich from the poor. Read more>>>

What's Wrong With Obama?

There was a great op-ed in the Times over the weekend that does a convincing job of explaining what Obama's problem(s) have probably been, what has stopped him from being the great president we thought and hoped he would be. It also contains a brilliant idea of roughly the sort of speech that Obama should have delivered on Inauguration Day and kept delivering over and over, but didn't and isn't:

“I know you’re scared and angry. Many of you have lost your jobs, your homes, your hope. This was a disaster, but it was not a natural disaster. It was made by Wall Street gamblers who speculated with your lives and futures. It was made by conservative extremists who told us that if we just eliminated regulations and rewarded greed and recklessness, it would all work out. But it didn’t work out. And it didn’t work out 80 years ago, when the same people sold our grandparents the same bill of goods, with the same results. But we learned something from our grandparents about how to fix it, and we will draw on their wisdom. We will restore business confidence the old-fashioned way: by putting money back in the pockets of working Americans by putting them back to work, and by restoring integrity to our financial markets and demanding it of those who want to run them. I can’t promise that we won’t make mistakes along the way. But I can promise you that they will be honest mistakes, and that your government has your back again.”

And maybe he's just kind of naive, inexperienced, and timid:

Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted "present" (instead of "yea" or "nay") 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues. 

The problem now is, where does the hope come from now? In November 2012 we will only have him to vote for again, because as usual the other evil will be fantastically worse, and 3rd party alternatives will be a waste. Mass disillusion is ahead, which is exactly what I've been afraid of ever since November 2008. Read more>>>

The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

author: Richard Davenport-Hines

name: Steev

average rating: 3.80

book published: 2001

rating: 4

read at: 2011/06/30

date added: 2011/07/03

shelves: politics

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