Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Republican Pledge

Today's headline is - "GOP unveils its Pledge to America". I haven't read it all yet, but I will. I'm sure it will include a claim that only rich people and money-obsessed people deserve freedom; a claim only rich people and money-obsessed people deserve healthcare; a claim that birth control equals death; a claim that murder of women and children in Afghanistan or wherever equals freedom; and so on. I fully expect to see those claims, couched in slightly different terms.

But I also expect to see some good sense, too - for the Republicans have their share of it. First of all - that the US Federal budget MUST be balanced. Of course, this good sense will be vitiated by a pledge to maintain American military might in all corners of the earth, etc. Their pledge will be to create leeway for balancing the budget by eliminating social welfare programs, regulatory programs, educational programs, and progressive taxation of the overly-wealthy.

But I am going to read the thing. I'll have to get through my Liberal knee-jerk reactions to their myopic, athlete-hardass knee-jerk rhetoric, but then I can consider what might be valuable in it. Something's got to be done, whether it's done slowly (Obama et al.) or quickly (Boehner et al.) We'll see.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reflection, Recalibration

But enough about politics and human nature and my own distaste for it all. On to - what? On to 'coping', of course. How to live without being driven insane.

First of all, and despite what the media educates you to, moderation is the goal. It make take years to figure this out, but for the person who is a non-hot-shot, moderation is the rule of thumb.

The media - from movies to MTV to religion to history books to Fox News - in search of drama must endlessly repeat the Romantic rule, that only extremity is real. And there is truth in that, but as far as human life goes, it's a warped truth. It lends itself to the Either-Or Thinking that fosters false conclusions of great drama and conviction: everyone is either a Saint or a Devil, a Patriot or a Traitor, a Winner or a Loser, and so on. But we know that while polarities of these sorts can subsist in our minds, and by their drama and urgency and simplicity govern our view of the world, they are not the story, they are not the substance of living, which is something of gradations and mixtures, as well as extremes. Think about it. If the Either-Or extremity were nature's rule, how could we have temperate weather, a quiet afternoon, or - on the negative side - muddling and mediocrity? How could a building be built and constructed, section by section, instead of boldly flashing into existence? How could we have diseases that hamper but do not kill? How could we even begin to co-exist with our families and friends?

This is a corrective to the modern world's inheritance of the cults of Christianity and Islam, of Nietzche and Marx, and other fundamentalisms. Cults that demand adherence to an Absolute foster a delusion that the human mind rather enthusiastically takes up, such that we are too, too willing to practice in the place of Moderation and Reason. That we should govern our lives only by extremism, that a person must be Winner or Loser, that there is no middle ground, that "being fully human" equates only with "being a Winner", is a fallacy when it is pressed into service as a philosophy of life. And if being a winner means "being absolutely Certain", then it also means being definitely Wrong - for no one KNOWS, no one comprehends the whole business - microcosm, macrocosm, physics, astronomics, God and all - and that would be something the "winner" could never accept.

To endorse the Extremity Only fallacy forfeits a big chunk of one's own humanity, for it follows that 90% of the human race is then obliged to hate itself, for failing to 'be the Winner'. The only way to avoid that self-hatred is to beat everyone else, or to employ self-deception, arrogance and folly.

Despite this pervasive pre-made conception that anyone who is modest is a loser, the truth is that we are many, of many types, and that we have little control over the circumstances around us. Where the winner-types teach us something useful is in pointing out our potential to control our Selves, our opinions and our actions. And that Presence of Mind requires not being the biggest and loudest, but being reflective and quiet enough in our own head so that we can re-evaluate the things that affect us, things and reactions to things which - by our accepting them - we allow to control our emotions and opinions. Fury is folly, in most cases.

Some are born to blaze, yes - let them blaze. But most of us are born to burn only more or less brightly; some of us rather dimly. There's nothing wrong in accepting that, having tried and tested yourself and your personal fire; accept your station of life, but don't get lazy.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Right-Wing Crazy is ... well ... still Crazy.

Remember Newt Gingrich?

I just read that recently, probably because he's angry that certain other Sons of Satan - like Karl Rove and Terry Jones - have been getting all the air time rooting for the American Right, this father of the anti-American Religious Right has finally gone completely off his rocker, wholeheartedly endorsing a racist fantasy proposed by neo-con activist Dinesh D'Souza. (An article critical of these Morlocks, by columnist Maureen Dowd, can be accessed by this link, here.) In an article in Forbes magazine, D'Souza says that President Obama is somehow possessed by the malign and depraved spirit of his father.

D'Souza, in this article, claims to "explain" - get ready for it - "Obama's rage".

(Long pause to digest the nonsequitur.)

Now, if there was ever a President lacking in rage, it's President Obama. But once again, the Right - presumably fueled by looking at their own enraged faces in the mirror - has chosen to go beyond criticism into pure non-reality. Always playing hardball, never content with reality, and having forgotten what decency even meant, they twist and impute and invent and re-write all media content into whatever will mask the humanity of others and portray themselves as saviors. And if you mention Joseph Goebbels, they will probably get angry at the comparison.

It's amazingly sad that both the Left (hey guys, tax and spend IS a real problem; yes, it was Liberals and Lefties who spied for Stalin and gave him the Bomb - admit it!) and the Right (who chant, "Kill the dark people - it's what Jesus (... that damned Jew!) wants!") - that these Americans can't put aside their FANTASY WORLDS for a while and talk turkey. The always-angry and well-organized Right has what the sloppy and irresponsible Liberals need - good dollar-sense and active participation. The Liberals have what the Right lacks - human decency. The Left also retains some knowledge of what and who America is - a nation of immigrants, not a nation of 'saints'. The Right, sputtering with rage since time immemorial, has even managed to work the Democratic Left up into outrage of its own; alas, the Left, hampered by lingering notions of fair-play and even compromise, cannot out-propagandize their opponents.

What does the Right want? They have most all the money; they have had a very long run of wild Cowboy Diplomacy and unilateral wars. Why are they infuriated that there are people out there who are not Newt Rockney? That there are fellow people who might actually possess more feelings than just Contempt? They have gone beyond opposing the Left; they have identified Liberals as a separate, sub-human species that must be exterminated. If there are any people in the USA - aside from the Trotskyists and other such nuts - who resemble the Nazis and the Stalinists in their manner and their foreign policy ideas, it is plainly the Right. For them, anyone who would want to make life better for others MUST be a sort of evil genius, a Macchiavellian Deceiver, like themselves - only worse! So much worse!

And the Left - oh, boy. They won't come clean at all - and since they are now the 'bad guys', I'm sure they don't dare. Yet that is what they need to do. It's time for the Left to give up their self-indulgent 'something for nothing' social programs. (And the Right has to give up its wars; they are too expensive, in so many ways.) The Left can't get it through their thick skulls that imitating the Right won't resurrect FDR - that, in fact, FDR is himself seen as a kind of devil by more and more propagandized Americans. Yes, wholesale illegal immigration does undermine the state; yes, there are way too many laws; yes, you can't legislate morality; no, life is not a big party; no, the 60s were not a simply wonderful flowering of freedom - yes, the 60s were a period of social disintegration that led - ultimately - to Ronald Reagan and decades of Republican contempt for humanity. Americans, routinely derided for many years by insulting counter-culturists, more and more pinched by economic decline, and maddened by the slaughter at the Twin Towers, have decided that Liberty means kill or be killed. You can't wish that away.

Yet every day that the Right and Left refuse to come out of their fantasy worlds of propaganda, every day they refuse to give an inch, every day they screw their hatreds up to the utmost, that day is another nail in America's coffin. So -

Stop blaming each other; stop the name-calling; renounce your extremists, renounce your conventional wisdoms; re-learn toleration; remember you're ALL Americans, whether you like it or not; and start identifying what the real, hard and important problems are for the USA. That's a tall order for people who find ego, insanity and hatred more to their tastes....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What a strange time....

What a strange time....
But when in history were the times NOT strange?
The "cutting edge" in U.S. politics has passed to the right - even further to the right, it seems, than in Reagan's day. A resurgent threat of individualism (gang-action) haunts us, even as the old threat of collectivism (gang-action, also) haunted our parents.
There is a basic logic in the Tea Party stance - mine is mine, and you can't demand it of me - you can ask, but you can't demand it of me. They see society not as a relationship but as a war.
If the Republicans stink of greed, and the Lefties of old illusions and Stalin's crimes, the Tea Party stinks of down-home bullying and swagger. Their tactics are purposefully violent, insulting and overbearing. Their campaign is driven, and replete with propaganda - and they have their own television network to propagate it. It's this combination of bullying verbiage, scurrilous disinformation, and all those dollars and popular anger behind it that raises alarms in people like myself. A party of bullies - haven't we seen that before, says the Left-winger in me? Anybody remember the rise of fascism? Anybody remember the Trail of Tears of Andrew Jackson's day?
But all this proves is that I, myself, am a stranger to the basis of human interaction, which always comes down to violence. It was once a hope that men could be more than just violent drones, that there might really be such a thing as a good civilization. But this is and has been constantly belied, on all sides, by the Left, the Right, the Communists, the Islamofascists - everybody.
Do people have a "right" to live, and to live decently? And then - what does that mean? What is decent? And if people are not tested, if they are not morally destroyed and brought low in the course of their lives, how are they to emerge from their vulgar, crazy selves? But enduring such trials always calls up hatred and blaming - for it is always man's nature to blame someone else for adversity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bad Conscience or Good Conscientiousness?

The Conscience (as opposed to mere consciousness) is that "associated knowledge" or "small quiet voice inside of one" that will whisper or nag about the right or wrong of our conduct. Someone who is conscientious is careful about investigating these nonverbal, internal critiques - someone who listens to his or her conscience.

My conscience nags from all sides in political questions: Can I speak up and claim any authority when my perpetual implicit foolishness shines out in whatever I say? Can I speak up when I am simply reacting to news, when I haven't researched or investigated the report deeply? Can I let crime go by, seeing that it's an inevitable part of nature, and not speak up? Can I put any value on the idea of the 'equality of men' when quite plainly we are not in any way equals, but rather more 'born rivals'? Is 'equality of men' just another word for the Law of the Jungle, the Social Darwinist 'justice'? Is it not foolish to carp about misfortune, as though nature were being wronged by the suffering it itself creates? Is it not foolish to give voice to resentment? To disagreement? What are my credentials for giving voice to any such protest or dismay? Since death is not an evil, how can I complain about the 'collateral damage' carnage that American intervention has loosed on Afghanistan and Iraq? How can I complain about this carnage, given that it is caused more by Muslim absolutism and Aghani and Iraqui ego than by any specific American policy? How can I imagine that the original American neo-Con interventions were not, in fact, pursued for American Imperialism? How can I imagine that the original American mideastern neo-Con interventions were not, in fact, aimed at truly evil men, guilty of every kind of crime? But then how can I endorse further carnage pursued at the expense of the more-or-less innocent folk of those nations when we know that the terrorists' tactics inevitably result in fixing greater and greater accretions of crime and blame on us Americans - that guerilla wars are impossible to win where the people on the ground are made into shields to suffer or deflect the domineering power's blows - how can such a war ever be won?

Et so on and so forth. If the evil folk of the world have decided that rotten America is 'the great Satan' and legitimate target of any kind of violence and provocation, how can they not be treated as our enemies? And if enemies, how can we not defend ourselves? The joke for militant and aggresive American Christians is this: Christ already laid that his followers should "offer them the other cheek also" - not sweat oppression and domination that is yet to come, simply endure it and cleave to God.

But how can one, in good conscience, stand by as people are killed and torn to pieces regardless of their guilt or innocence? How can one stand by as one's own nation implicates itself in crime and savagery? Yet, by its nature, savagery is a natural part of the human world.

Et so on and so forth....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Florida Road to Jihad

News item:

"... the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center, an evangelical Christian church in Gainesville, [FL,] said his church plans to go through with its 'International Burn a Koran Day'" to be held on Sept. 11th, 2010.


I love the irony - this 'church' is the "Dove World Outreach Center" - neither peaceful, nor international, nor out-reaching, but simply and self-satisfiedly ignorant and angry. Woo-hoo.

This demonstration of thick-headed American ego is obviously intended as a commemoration or protest of the Sept. 11 attacks performed by our favorite ultra-Islamic terrorists, Al-Quaeda. By reacting this way, this little branch of the Religious Right is deepening and confirming all the propaganda victories already won by Al-Quaeda and their fellow terrorist bandits. But then, the "Dove" church is probably counting on Armageddon in 2012 or somesuch, and sees this as just the run-up to it. No wonder Christian is becoming a four-letter word. Oh, for a Pontius Pilatus to chastise these stupid Americans!