Friday, December 22, 2017

Congenial Speak #60

It's Their Funeral



Now is a good time to live. It is even a better time to die. This administration, this thought policed mentality of a out-foxed nation, this configuration of a democracy on the verge of extinction has given people no reason to live. People, for example, with ALS, with cancer, people whose days are numbered by the availability to affordable health care, can choose to lay down and die. They did, mocking a tragic end, on the floors of congressional bureaus. If it's really the end of free will, of the God-given talent, the smile, the option to laugh and wish your servants a warm time in hell. Just pessimism gets you there, sitting in a sterile room in a wheeled chair. Wondering whether to allow an extra hour to get your taxes done next fiscal year, whether your child will survive CHIP's ending. Or, the glass is half full, the GOP cooked its goose, democracy will prevail and we'll just have to hunker down for, at the very least, another year. People will have to suffer through one terrible holiday season, a bleak new year, one they will remember for the rest of their lives. It is kind of a spin on It's a Wonderful Life, the rare version in which George gets a windfall and Uncle Billy dies because his health care got too costly. That song, that anatomy of the human spirit, its saga. That dichotomy drives me insane these days. All the way one can see “a time to live and a time to die,” “a time to reap and a time to sow.” That was ripped right from the omniscience of the bible. Save for the title and the final two lines, the song is from the third chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes. It is a little known story—so I am telling it here—Pete Seeger added the sentiment, the suggestion, the other-worldly idea, that there's “a time for peace on earth, I swear it's not too late.” Let that sink in; let that shrink the arrogance of the biblical lip-servers and hypocrites born with every elephant cycle of gestation. A mortal man, a Democrat, a “Communist” who served his country had to edit the bible. He had to, in the frays of a war started immorally, protracted by greedy politicians, remind them that there did exist another option, that it was not too late.
I think the shrewd reader can see where this is going. That, without the guidance crutches of GPS, bookmarks, or breadcrumbs, my next sequenced step is clear.
Picture an epic mural, a massive all-ensconcing piece of art, a display of philosophy that by sheer coincidence bears a bold connection to the humanities. Imagine that, during the seances at night, in the backrooms of Georgetown watering-holes, where senators join hands, once more, each decade, to pay homage to the dead. To nod their heads in glib recognition of those killed or cut short of future Christmas's; at their hands, in their words, in their deafness to constituents, AT PAUL RYAN'S GAVEL SLAM. Trace the connections, follow the money there. And there are the dots, schemata, blueprints for a civil or world war, or both. From the Lincoln Memorial, behind the pillars, eyes study the terrain. The 16th president stares at where his party has gone, what it's become, where it could go, and yes, how it may be too late. The peace Mr. Seeger spoke of in the late 50's came at the beginning of Vietnam, when it was still that Second Indochina War, at the tip of the slippery sloping iceberg, when each year it became a little easier, less culpable and tangible, for a Congress to draft young men to a probable death in an uncertain war. It was not too late then, in 1959, in 1960, when Eisenhower (a General war hero and all-around good Republican) warned Kennedy (a war hero and all-around good Democrat) about the constant threat of Communism spreading. Well, you know the rest. How the lies surmounted, gathered objectionable acceptance, altered reality and compromised journalism for the next decade, until the Washington Post published the “Pentagon Papers” in early 1970. History writes this stuff. It is documented, or at least a watered-down version of it, in text books, now on the internet subject to fanciful Wiki-creation, for the next generation. For prosperity. How is it so different? The players obviously differ, but the plot and motives are essentially the same.
The peace I write about is less objectified. It is a set of door hinges, a boxed set. The peace I refer to faced its biggest threat on January 20,2017, when a hustler from the streets of NYC said America was a dumpster fire and he could make it as great, again, as it was in 1886 when Alexander G. Bell created a means of communication. The policies create havoc, they breed animosity, violence, guns, belligerents intent on war. In short, that man on the capitol steps, swearing a lip served oath to the empty bleachers on Pennsylvania Avenue did start the fire. He fans it with every tweet, with appointment of the least qualified people for the job, he fans it by pandering to his base. Here was this extreme narcissist with an agenda: To plunder America. He scammed that gullible quadrant of the country, that populace that cheers NASCAR and cooks meth in their garage. The one that now has to swallow their pride and admit that Obama made it possible for them to get health care for a few years, made it possible for them to get help after the meth lab exploded or Jr. lost a digit lighting fireworks, showing his loyalty to America.
Hypocrite's gestation
Early next year the kids on CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) will lose their heath care. It was not renewed. The program did not get the necessary attention (money) to keep it functioning. So much was invested in the tax scam, the overhaul that would make Reagan ashamed to be a Republican, so much emphasis was put on the reverse Robin Hood zealots, the pirates that took over the White House. Things look bad for Alabama, southern state that exist to be the go-to places to rally support. Bastions for voters with a deep sense of remorse, preachers of right to life for fetal means. If 2,000,000 kids lose their health care, families have to go on food stamps to feed them, pay medical bills, make choices of whether to feed or medically treat their kids. Ah, back in the womb, things were so nice and those prospects of human beings had rights. The unborn are “worth” more. A righteous moral high ground is lapped, within the uterine walls, with so much amniotic fluid. The unborn, the idea of a base in the name of religion saving them, giving them a fighting chance, allows a narrative to be created. A highly contentious, volatile, debate is offered to which no living, potentially productive child can compare. In a nutshell the unborn child is exploited for political gain. And once again the bible, religion, something that by definition is designed to bring people together, to echo compassion, to take the heaviest burden from those struggling to make it, succeeds in creating a divide. Saving an unborn life is a smoke screen. A time to live, a time to die; months to be unborn and leave politicians to scheme and lie, to cast away stones that hold them in real time, and lobby for donations and 5,000 dollar a plate dinners. Time for special interests, for the NRA, to create the next Sandy Hook. A time for war, a time to tweet little rocket man threats; a time to dream of an adopted homeland, where birth-er movements don't exist, a time for the ill, the blue-collared, the veterans, the seniors, to get what they paid into, a time for America to stop trying to exploit the middle east like. . .the unborn; a time for peace, I pray it's not too late.
And finally, to leave this world, to abscond with a sense of self and let the rest fend for themselves. There must be something bigger than ego, than politics, than a trail lined with money. In the fickle fates of old-school candidates, the struts and dancing gavels of clairvoyant magistrates; looking at how the world spins, each time they hiccup from caviar, how they win and drink champagne in the Rose Garden . . . It is a good time to live, but to die is nye, ripe, youthful, sinister, a leftist plot.



Saturday, December 9, 2017

Congenial-speak#59

He saw it, Axis, Filters, and All

I was thinking of John Lennon yesterday, of what's transpired in the 37 years without that voice, that perception, for whatever reason, of an immigrant. He saw something in America, in NYC specifically, that made him want to live here badly enough to take on Nixon, Liddy and a government that wanted him out. Five years he fought to stay in America, all stemming from a bogus drug charge in England in 1968. On July 27,1976 he emerged victorious with a green card. Two years earlier the man who saw his presence in America as a threat to “democracy” resigned “for the good of the nation) before an impeachment trial would likely have ended in conviction. John W.O. Lennon saw something in America worth saving, worth imagining, worth throwing out the despots that every score or so float to the top of the filtration system.

Lennon first came here at the height of the phenomenon know as Beatlemania. On the 7th of February, 1964 the four sat in the Pan American terminal in JFK flippantly answering questions of how they found America (“turned left at Greenland”). I do think that in all seriousness Lennon found the reaction to them as a group “not normal.” That inhuman reaction, that devil-detailed music that made girls swoon, scream so loud that the Beatles (accepting the amplification of the day) could not hear themselves, lost some momentum, some of that rebellion against good old puritan values, in 1966. Lennon, as the most thoughtful, forthright mouthpiece of the four claimed that they were more popular that Jesus. The words did not sit well in America's South, in states like Alabama where next week a child molester might go to the senate. John Lennon's statement which, as he put it was more true in England than America, prompted the burning of Beatle records, staged marches of the KKK, and death threats to individual members of the Beatles. All because it was said off the cuff that something was more popular than religion, at that time. That was America's Achilles heel. Lennon was perceptive and pointed it out. Something was sacred then. I'd wager now if a Beatles caliber wave came along, and a statement was made suggesting that it was more popular, temporarily embraced more that religion, nothing would be said. Even in the Bible-belt.

Achilles in 2017 wears his heel on his sleeve. The bar has been raised to indeterminate heights or simply removed from its precarious rests above the port-a-pit. I listen to a song like “Happy X-mas (War is Over)” and I'm deeply moved, saddened, seeing a grossly bleaker world perhaps than Lennon had seen. It was in the “bitter end of the war,” after Nixon had vowed to try things LBJ had never thought to do. I listen to the song and can only think of the fact that in 46 years, as we cycle toward the holidays, the perennial time for reflection on good will to all, we are fighting one war that beckons lessons from Vietnam. From the beginning, when the French were fighting off the Communists, to 1960 when America “took the baton,” a critique was that the region's history was not well known. America, much more than the French, was ignorant. By 1967 any understanding of the region, who's loyal to who, a clear object, had pretty much eroded away. The US government began lying to keep the war going, to save face, to. . .preserve a political base? Any war or global conflagration fought today will be done with fathoms less insight into history from a commander in chief. Lennon saw something in America, from his first taste of its insanity, its hypocrisy, insecurity, its denial of true nature of man. As he fought to stay here, he found paranoia, he watched Watergate, seeing a tyrant deposed. In 1971, as he and Yoko took to the streets of NYC, financially supporting Yippies, America still had the insecurity, the denial of who they really were, a fear of an outsider exposing them (Nixon, Liddy) for the frauds that they were, for the lies they were precipitating in America for the good of a chosen few.

The Real Celeb, the working class hero

I argue that John Lennon, in his own right, was the least phony artist of his time. He was brutally honest, perhaps cajoling America to be honest with themselves. They did not like what they saw, retreated in the warm cocoon of the bible-belt (libel) and re-wrote the book, re-phrased the article, asked journalistic integrity to take another hit, CHANGED the narrative. At a very young age Lennon had to chose between his parents, and the one he chose copped out on him and was later killed by a car. He had problems, was insecure, was a very angry youth. Lennon was moved, quite literally, by America and, in the last years of his life, used his celebrity to show it where it was. Some say he was a phony because while preaching love and peace he had been an absent father to his first son, fought with his first wife, and lashed out at the media. By 1980 Lennon had been through a kind of therapy known as Primal Scream, rid himself of all the negative baggage that caused him to appear a fraud, and was raising his son by Yoko Ono, acting like a father (mother if needed), and was writing music not angry, not overtly political. Like almost all of the Beatles's songs the music on Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey is about love, either his for life, of his son, for his wife. They are autobiographic and optimistic and do not attempt to comment on the state of America or the world. That is why, to me, his slaying at age 40 was doubly tragic. “The Monster” had gone. Lennon I surmise would have gone on to be a well-adjusted musician, activist, and family man. He saw something (then) in America worth saving, worth arguing over, an idiosyncratic nail whose head he hit in a misquoted 1966 comment.
Measured Karma

Personally, he saw the world, he saw America for what it was, for what it could be, for what it desperately, pathetically, wanted to be. There is a story that “Blue Jay Way” was written about George Harrison's visit to Haight/Ashbury during “the summer of love.” It was the height of the counter-culture, the short-lived excess from nothing but music and drugs, ending that October with the staged event Death of the Hippie. Harrison reported what he'd seen. The wasted hippies clamoring for LSD, vowing to disavow material goods. They were, by his account, dirty, starving, going nowhere. Something less than a third of America had joined the summer of love, grown their hair, gone to San Francisco by any means possible. I mean it was small, a tiny percentage of Americans chose to really rail against the establishment, to totally blow off the doors of democracy as it was known (drafting men, forcing them to fight an illegal war), to permanently change the national paradigm of how we treat one another and how things are prioritized. If it turned out that the trickle of Americans who banded in the Haight in 1967 turned out to be roughly the same as the Americans who stay loyal to their base today, that truly would be something. You can not get more empirically full-circle than that, intrinsically twisting ideologies like the famed double helix. It is all in that DNA. If that happened, if we advanced past opening the door (ajar) to Nazis, Confederate sore losers, let child molesters make laws, sparred with N. Korea until doom, opened another box of Pandora in the middle-east and then the camel broke the straw pole and the percentage was like 1967's. I think even John Lennon would have found it remarkable. He may have even said that, after five decades of economic experiments, wars (decisive and protracted), social programs, all while the control group's in church every Sunday, it's proof that the trickles in the world are more popular than Jesus.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Congenial-speak #58


Where Fools Rush in

I think the White House is an Adult Day Care Center. The closer one gets to the oval office, the more the adult supervision dissipates, tends to recede into the woodwork in search of the grace under pressure of Dolley Madison in the hot summer of 1814. I get an image, a quixotic reckoning to the movie One Flew Over the Coo-coo's Nest. Few of those characters at the ward had to be there, as few in the White House have ever truly stood by Trump. They are all insane by proxy, living a life of delusion, paranoia, and self-loathing all for the survival of a barely recognizable GOP base, an elephant most of them would shoot only for its ivory. As in the movie, Trump is the outsider like RP McMurphy (Nicholson's character) who goes crazy, is crazy, gets lobotomized and then, well, has a date with a pillow. Kelly Anne Conway is nurse Rachet keeping it real (or fake) but keeping everyone there, the grand enabler.

America needs to take a good look at itself. I grew up seeing democracy fighting for a place, fighting for blacks, for women, for a way to end a war. From Civil Right Acts in 1964 to Watergate democracy integrated blacks (on paper) and forced a tyrannical president to resign. It laid a standard that no one is above the law. The president does not make them and he—or she—can not break them. In Ten Years and Change I wrote about a time when democracy was displayed to me at its fiercest, at its most utilitarian, as the most useful sharp tool in the shed. LBJ was a Democrat. That said, Trump was one as well. He ran as a Republican he said because they would be stupid enough to buy anything he says, to stay at his hotels, to buy his daughter's things made in China. He played an entire ideology
for a bunch of saps, rubes, the lowest, most cogent, human denominators; greed, lethargy, fear, pride. He sucked everyone, from the General who listens to him like he makes sense to the marine private saluting him. I would give a marine 50 dollars if they altered the salute with one finger. I mean, what the hell at this point, at this total eclipse from reality. Well, partial eclipse. I have never gone there, and most people I know won't. But at least a third of the country, most of the WH, all the marines, police saluting and securing him, when they know full well he would not break a sweat for them. He would not put down his golf club to execute a logistically reasoned raid or bother to make a fuss when they die for him and the country he, and they, swore to defend.
GPS
Who cares to see the BIG picture, the one that's projected after Trump and maybe McConnell's generation are long dead? Will they ever spin in their graves? How can they top themselves. Let's be optimistic, cautiously, and say in the year 2525—as in the song—all those things in the song are true, but humanity has finely come to terms with itself, they figured life is too short to keep fussing and fighting. Thanks to America, to Trump rejecting the Paris Accord in 2017, the world is given a prognosis of a decade (that could cause WWIV). But, as most people think of MLK, RFK, JFK, FDR, Lincoln, Regan, even Nixon rolling in their graves now, in 2525 as America rejected how Trump made it better again and chose instead to take care of each other, give everyone an equal shot (basically what Sanders has been stumping since the 1980s) would the earth move? Would it feel the rotation of dead tyrants, martyrs, extinct polionic speakers who tried to take away health care from millions? Will the tug of war, the battle of the two-parties, a dichotomy of errors exist in the year 2525 “if man is still alive?” Actually that is the foreseeable future. That will be the second chance to have a woman in the WH after the embarrassment of 2016, the blemish, the erosion of sanity, decency, of morals by a perversion of a party who preaches them. A decaying of scruples to the point of sending a man who as a private citizen would have to register as a sex-offender (unless Alabama let's one marry their second cousin) to the senate.
The Bent Spoon-fed Theory

The world is bent, the insanity ripples across the pond to the very people who have long abandoned monarchy as a form of government as far as having the first and last word on anything. Germany maybe empathizes with us. Hitler came with most of the defects Trump has and set about creating a world that is unimaginable to humanity. A world that, for the 20th century, looked quite behind its time. It was a regression of humanity to a classified and killing state. After the Civil War, the counter-productive efforts of Reconstruction, Jim Crow stripped constitutional rights away from the black man. In a way, the laws mirrored the Nuremberg laws. Democracy was always at work, though, somewhere in the heart of America, above the Mason-Dixon line. Somewhere in America, during the Great Depression, through the Civil Rights Movement, through women's efforts for equality, to DREAMers' wanting fair treatment, in America there is always some group that shall overcome. There are always voices that come though the night, disturbing the giant as he counts money. At the 1968 Democratic convention, when thousands of draft-age students protested an immoral war the whole world watched, and the tear-gas used to disperse them seeped in, disturbed quasi-hawk Hubert Humphrey in his Hilton shower. The people are heard. Democracy gets through. It finds a way. It trickles down, up, in, whatever preposition seems appropriate.

The Germans did Bomb Pearl Harbor

The fantastical world, the kool-aide drinking cult, the lynch pin who'd sign any bill for applause, the Trump period in history will be remembered like Watergate, the Vietnam War, it will go down as a reminder as the time when the governments' lies became par for the course, when the line between fact and fiction blurred, merged to one clear picture (SMALL) all the pathetic deluded paranoid men and women, void of any integrity, saw. Seriously, America has taken leave of its senses. Or is this an existential warp of time? Can America survive anymore, as a union? Maybe it is time for America to secede from within, to reject each other and live in our respective realities. We could have Real America and Trump-land, West of the Rockies (they'd be the first to fall off). But would it work, could the so-called haves get a long without the existential have-nots. They might have to put down their golf clubs to mow a lawn or clean a toilette once in a while. I really think Trump has brought democracy (and elephants and tigers) to a dangerous level preceding extinction. Jim Crow differed mostly from the Nuremberg Laws because there was no plan that succeeded it. (Until 1941 there was no real plan in Germany.) No one wanted, except maybe your KKK and fanatics, to commit genocide in the blacks case. The Germans tried eugenics with Commission #3. The point is America never set themselves up to fail with a “Final Solution.” That was arrogant, thinking it is possible to snuff out a group of people, an ethnicity, a race. Did the Germans ever read Darwin or Mendel? What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Suppression of a race or ethnic group can have a positive (for them) effect. Today your white supremacists argue that Jews and blacks are taking over, that Jews control Hollywood and the banks. Well, if that is true, who put them there? Who created the situation that may lead to such supposed domination? From having Jews as money lenders in the Middle Ages to antisemitism forcing them on the Borscht Circuit to McCarthyism and blackballing, the WASPish michigas has put Jews at the top of some fields. Conservatives created that hunger, that drive, that NECESSITY to get ahead. Suck it up Republicans, your ancestors made your bed and now you lie in it. Now, with beady, red, meth weary eyes you saw an opportunity, your savior, one who could make lies a reality, fact fiction. He hustled you Roy Moore confessors in AL into thinking he gives a shit about your welfare.
Now could be the time, the ripe moment, when the hanging fruit has turned sour enough to discard. It is spliced democracy juxtaposed against a mutation of Republicanism, a hybrid of fascism, autocracy, oligarchy and a bit of kleptocracy to sell it. Now is the time when all good men confess to their assaultations of women, double check reality, echo loudly the First Amendment, survey land east of the Rockies, and write our final solution

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Congenial speak #57

History's a Duel of Fencers

It's the version of Robin Hood in the bizarro world. The tax bill the GOP is rushing past houses of congress will steal from the poor and give to the rich. What would Reagan say? What would Friar Tuck say? The bill is being paraded by senate at break-neck speed because each eyeful shows something worse about it. How can McConnell, Ryan do this as, like the health care bill, Trump sits with pen ready to scrawl his EKG-like signature. I don't even think this one has any intention to ever trickle down to anyone. The bill would do nothing to ever lower the national debt. It will in fact raise it by 1.4 trillion dollars. Now, with the cost of fighting what is, as far as I can see, another Vietnam situation in Afghanistan the bill will add insult to injury. A generation in 2085 will be talking about what their ancestors left for them. And then there is the embryo of another war, a bit further east, with not far to go. It's on the brink, the provocation of a poorly worded or timed tweet, an ill-candor emoji or schoolyard taunt.
Maybe this is the dawning of the true America. Maybe this is the fight we have been fighting since the end of slavery. Should Senator Sanders and Warren concede? Take a dive? Elizabeth Warren once compared the middle class to a fighter being on the ropes. Trump is here to deliver the knock-out punch. I read once that those Puritans who came to these shores in 1620 were not escaping religious persecution at all. They wanted to build a system similar to the one they had left in England. Well, most of them did. The other 2% wanted show stoppers, impediments to the plan to the stuffy wig fluffers had. Things they objected to like taxation without representation, all of which led to acts of civil disobedience like dumping tea in Boston Harbor. Some estimates today, based on John Adams and other journals, suggest that as many as 55% of the colonists were patriots, supported total independence from England. I am guessing that these were who would be your Warren and Sanders, the founders who really saw a future America as not just a knock-off monarchy, a Democracy in wolves' clothing with everyone cow-towing and afraid to say the emperor has no clothes. The colonists who remained loyal to England, did not want anything to change, would never think of thinking out of any box, numbered between 15 and 25%. It is the uncommitted, as with voters in elections, that warrant watching. These comprised 30 to 45% of those fourth generation puritans. I surmise that these were the ones that wanted it both ways. They were on the fence. They wanted, for instance, in regards to health care, the best leech bleeding services. But the lower and middle classes would have to work harder so they could have it. In addition, the access to affordable health care would be taken away from the lower classes.
In nearly three centuries only the methodology has changed, the leeches still apparently suck blood from the pale, the insulted injured Americans. If the GOP get the only significant legislation they achieved with control of both houses they will throw 13 million Americans off heath care by 2027, according to the CBO. Still, it is an amazing time. There is never a dull moment in America. I once, for shits and giggles, looked up what was the dullest day in history, the 24-hour period when the news was the least eventful. It was April 11, 1954. It had to do with the birth of a scientist who went on to invent a very obscure and ineffective search engine. Funny thing about computer searches, what they lead to, the answers found, the way your question is rarely answered with acuteness. Google could tell me the most boring day in history. It also told be the worst days in history. There was a top ten, including things like the Black Death, Crusades (#1), or fanatical terrorism. As far as a chain of causation, a day in June of 1914 kept coming back like groundhogs do. WWI began, escalated hostilities to the point of a gun pulled at an arch duke. Historians map out the chain of belligerents. How for a few reasons in the aftermath of WWI the fuses for II were exposed. In 1945, after V-J day, hostilities remained in the Pacific theater. China threatened French colonies. The US policed Korea to fight back the Chinese, North Koreans, and Soviets from 1950 to 1953. The French were fighting in Indochina to stop the Chinese communists from ruling Vietnam. The French eventually left, conceded, in 1956 and the US embarked on its own mission to save South Vietnam from Communism in the second Indochina war, what became the Vietnam War in which we were technically involved until 1975.
December 2017 could be nearly as costly in US history as June of 1914 was. Consider, if tyrant Trump's bill passes it would 1) raise the debt for generations to pay off 2) make health care unaffordable to 13 million 3) give him that one piece of legislation that could garner support for him, thereby laying a base for 2020 and a....second term. Passing this bill will have negative repercussions touching, probably sooner than later, the very rubes that voted for him, many of whom now in focus groups admit that he is an embarrassment. It will kill the middle and lower class. If Republicans object to programs like SNAP now, what do they think will happen when those people are taxed, made to pay more so they don't? No one, as far as I can see, as long as I've been around, has learned from history. Are they doomed to repeat it? Maybe they're adament on repeating it until it comes out right. Or are they just the descendants of those Mayflower waifarers who chose a spot on the fence?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Congenial-speak #56


Era of Women


Glass ceilings receive scratches, kind of like a woman's nails might irritate the back of a man in an auto-erotic fantasy. They leaves cracks, wounds proliferate to heal, they raise to seal, men whose fates are revealed. And when the bleeding begins, let the blood letting in, allow the confessions to begin. They're moguls of Hollywood, of Real Estate; they hide at Pennsylvania Avenue, on capitol hill and those of Hollywood. Bill “Slick Willy” Clinton, Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Roger Ales, Dustin Hoffman, Harvey Weinstien, George HW Bush, Roy Moore, Donald Trump. Al Franken? He surprised me most. As a self-professed “Giant of the Senate” I really thought he was smarter. But, to his credit, contrary to most of his colleagues across the aisle Al apologized with a sincere letter right away. He invited the ethics committee to investigate him.

The alleged power-plays are about to begin. It is definitely there. Hillary, Mrs. C, the first woman was a first lady, the Democratic nominee lost her opportunity to be president on a constitutional technicality. Advantage women. Trump's glutinous past of disparaging women, beginning—and hopefully—ending with Rosie O'Donnell, opened the box, knit the pink pussy hats, began a narrative that exposed centuries of men for what they believe, or thought was to be believed still, after the 1970s. Something is happening here, something long overdue, like a library book that presents women in submissive roles that you were ashamed to return. The catharsis of this may be—aside from empowering women—that a female Democratic nominee in 2020 becomes president. (See my last post discussing the self-imploded death of the GOP.)

Politically, constitutionally speaking, as far as power-tripping, it started with the Adams, John and Abigail, America's first “power couple.” The fairer half, better part, of the couple, in a March 1776 letter, requested that her husband “remember the ladies” as he drafted the code of laws at the Continental Congress. She enlightened him, saying “all men would by tyrants if they could.” That was over two centuries ago. A track record set by the most powerful men in history, from Thomas Jefferson to JFK to Bill Clinton. It is a mentality that began with the aspiring actress on the casting couch and paused for air, for benign comic effect with Woody Allen and Pee-wee Herman in the movie theater. It never ends though. It's an idea that's been circulating since (for the sake of this post) the Garden of Eden. For want of a more concrete base, we will assume the whole woman from rib bubbe mayseh (Grandmother's tale), the apple, the serpent. Blame the media, advertising, history books, ANY book ever written before 1980, men who had their heads in their ass during the whole sexual revolution, blame men who refuse to let go of this alpha ideal. They hang on to it like Conservatives hang on to, for instance, the second amendment. Oddly enough there is a connection. Each argument is old, even archaic, pathetic and worn. Each pacifies a primal need, an instinct that gets less necessary or plausible with each decade. And, last but not least, each involves the wearing of a cod piece, and extension of a phallic symbol or fallacies designed to elevate the men reluctant to codify their code of ethics.

I was raised in a very feminist environment. Although, for all I knew, back when young people were working at the DFL office on Hennepin, where my mom went to work as DFL chairwoman in 1968, power-plays between older men and young women might have been going on. Anything's possible. I personally never saw women like that, to be the respondent people to someone who held power. Yes, in my book Ten Years and Change: A Liberal Boyhood in Minnesota I sometimes refer to “silky-haired women in fuzzy ponchos” but what kid doesn't see the beauty in women who enter the house. At nine-years-old I certainly had nothing on them, and probably still don't. Is it something for themselves, self-ingratiating, following a goal, or does any man consciously say “hey, I'm going to go to law school after college, become a very wealthy attorney, and I'll have access to any woman I want?” I doubt 9 out of 10 men do. I sincerely believe that screwing women, along with all the contractors, was figured into Donald Trump's plan when he went to Wharton Business School. Nixon, Clinton, JFK et al. merely found it to be a pleasant benefit, an occupational hazard, an incidental provider of many, many ah-ha moments. That's not to say it's any less deplorable, but for them it was not pre-meditated. Obviously I have never aspired to any level of power. But, by the time this wave of men accused by women of harassment crests, it would not surprise me if I saw a living writer. I'm sure Hemingway, Henry James, Kerouac, definitely Bukowski did not get through their careers without incident. It would be a delicious irony if Hawthorn had been a harasser and/or an infidel. Fear not ladies, I just don't have it in me, the basic inclination for any power, the gall, the testosterone, the bladder, or the dangerous level of self-esteem that leads to arrogance.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Congenial-speak #55

A Slow Death

Is the republic happy? I sincerely doubt it. A year ago those under-appreciated forgotten rapscallions who crawled from the lattice work like termites with a bone to chew threw something at the fan that I think they really knew would not stick. In doing so, they unwittingly (or knowingly) left the door open a crack for the least desirable. They let in so many arcane symbols of our unsavory past that it was hard to see any shred of validity to what their red hats claimed, that it was not just a platitudinal herring to cross a line, to look noble as they gave the republic away to a billionaire celebrity, a former Dem...igoge who played upon their rouge-like stupidity. The had an alternative, an alt-left, even an alternative left candidate to someday delete the right and its self-indulgent philosophy.
Beginning with—oh, Jesus I suppose—the closer society got to really caring for one another, I mean beyond your odd charity, really working together as a whole, the person is either killed or cast aside in favor of—this time—the exact opposite. Lincoln tried to bring together a country, purge it of slavery, and he was killed. Kennedy tried to bring the nation together, equate black with white in unprecedented integration, he was killed. His brother espoused agendas of John, he was killed. Martin Luther King dreamed of a day when one would “be judged not by the color of his skin but by the contents of his character.” He was killed. John Lennon sang about peace. He implored us to imagine a world in which there was “nothing to kill or die for...” He was killed. There is definitely a pattern here, a fear of that old Cold-War bug-a-boo. . . SOCIALISM. The Marxist fear that someone at some point may have to give up something, make the fairest of concessions in order to “build a more perfect union for ourselves and our prosperity.” That echos fro my past, from Schoolhouse Rock. I think it was from the preamble to the constitution. Lest the billionaire CEO of the giant insurance company (yes Virginia, they do still exist under the ACA) forget that they got there by playing a third party role. They got there by decades of exploiting illness and misfortune of the middle and lower classes. In fact, a few people I know are pharmaceutical representatives. Now, I don't know how high they are on the food chain but as a member of the middle-class I can say I made their boss. Without millions like me buying their inflated drugs—that may inflate me causing me to buy another drug—they would not be in the tax bracket that was designed with loopholes.
I recognize the independent senator from Vermont, the man who one day in 2015 walked out of his office and declared that “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” On February 1 the following year, in Iowa, as I turned as old as the number of cards in a deck, he lost the state in the primary to his Democratic rival by two votes. It was early on and I really saw a chance for economic equality, for the current iteration of the story that had been the death nail for so many of his predecessors. He'd been low profile (I had not heard of him before 2015) he was no Paul Wellstone stumping on the senate floor, as I gather is often how it goes, to an audience on-demand. He was the wave maker, the instigator, the dark horse who had not the weight of the baggage ($$) of his rival. He was the first of the last of the grass-rooters, a horticulturist who grew things the way nature intends—from the bottom up. I was among the thousands who offered $20 to his campaign, to exist as a seed in the grass destined NOT to grow up like a Roy Moore. I received my “feel the Bern” coffee mug. At 52 I had a place alongside legions of millennial, voters I saw at my caucus who could be my children. The progressive message, the alt-left, the alternative to mainstream Democratic ideology was out there, placing its neck yet again on the well-whittled and selectively heard stump.
“The loser now will be later to win...,” sang our poet of the '60s, Minnesota's sound-geist to the movement to end war and bring civil rights to society. A parable of workers even claims in the bible that “the last will be first and the first will be last.” A prophesy? Something to put in the bank for another 240 years like a savings bond? Was your bible wrong Mr. Moore? What are the chances a pre-1970s Dylan, a Jew, would paraphrase a quote from the bible? It's just been a battle between the red and blue since the Civil War. Since Lincoln, the last in line, as he was shot in his theater box, as the first Republican to realize something was wrong. He realized that this nation could not survive half slave and half free. Over 600,000 died, black men fighting for their freedom, for democracy. They fought to hold the union together.
It is 152 years later and the loser of the Civil War is as close as it's ever come to winning, maybe even at breeches too immoral for Jeff Sessions (see 11/11 SNL sketch). But I fear (I laugh) that the forgotten Who fans that were fooled again in 2016, who were taken by a money laundering, tax evading New York hustler, a bone spurred charlatan who figured our that the best way to defraud the U.S. government was to act like he was presiding over it, have mortally wounded the elephant in the room—and everyone knows the penalty for that. As it lies bleeding in capitol halls, as tortured as the metaphor it created, a not-so-silent grassroots army of the democracy—the blue—has judiciously gathered to rip apart its carcass. Republican senators are leaving, bowing out or retiring, finding that screwing America won't be any fun if the paradigm shifts. McConnell, the man who looks like the Big Bang Theory's Sheldon when he was forced to smile, and Ryan won't support a child molester in the senate. A handful of blue states won big last Tuesday, electing a transgender legislator and taking some business from bathroom contractors. But Democrats should stay humble and not repeat the general election last year. Remember when everyone saw many “paths” to 270 for Bernie's successor and none for her opponent? Now is the time to merely sit back and watch the seeds grow. Now is the time to cotinue to defend democracy. Now is the time to watch the GOP poison itself more and more.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Congenial-speak #54

When eagle talons
hold pigeon holes

“Give democracy its day in court,” he said in 1967. On a trip to California, months into his Dump Johnson campaign, New York Congressman Allard Lowenstein began the long search for a candidate to run against Johnson/Humphrey as an anti-war candidate in the 1968 presidential race. He saw hippies exercising their first amendment right, assembling to protest the Vietnam war in ways that were not constructive. He meant that their forms of sometimes violent, dangerous, shock-valued protest were in the end counter-productive. He cautioned the difference in opinion should not be at first a protest, an us against them confrontation, but a display of constituents. Those against the war should show that they were willing to play politics, to uphold the constitution (which is somewhat more than the government could say from the beginning) rather than simply tear at it, burn flags, take a knee or hang people live or just in effigy.

Fifty years later we find ourselves giving democracy its day in court. However this time a rotten war is not the issue, it is protecting the rights of millions while an insane narcissist tramples out a constitution he's never read (at least further than “we the people”). Two thirds of the country has (for the most part) been non-violent for the past 253 days. This administration began side-stepping democracy before the last inaugural balls had descended. Any kind of democracy that I've known, that the founding fathers intended, as the Greeks conceived has come out of the Oval Office since January 21, 2017. Many of the numerous executive orders, coming almost weekly at the beginning, made if for no other reason than to recklessly tear away at his predecessor's policies, have been given many days in court. This is not the way government should work. But then you get what you pay for. You get what the electors say, not the populace. Democracy is given its day in court. It needs its day in court because democracy was given its day in court. Because the constitution had a clause, rarely invoked with the scope and necessity it was on December 19, 2016 to count the electoral votes, we now need to give barely perceptible democracy its day in court.

Any legislator worth his or her salt will agree the Vietnam War was unconstitutional. Johnson violated a constitution he'd sworn an oath to defend. All but two legislators who voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution were guilty of the same violation. They gave Johnson that “blank check” to escalate the war to the point where it was a vicious cycle, producing jobs for the undertaker around a staring contest daring the other to blink. Five decades later democracy is just as fragile, just as subject to convolution. Saving it, remedying it when its very foundation is threatened is a meticulous course that takes time. Most presidents for example, unless the legislative majority opposes them, use the executive order judiciously, as a last resort. This president, who has the majority (but really, did he ever) signs EOs like a voluntarily ambidextrous primate eating a bushel of bananas.

Middle America has endured a lot in political history. The past 253 days has tested their resilience and compromising ability to give democracy its day the most in my lifetime, which was beginning around the time of Al Lowenstein's advisement. Upper America, well, they have theirs. They are, most often, the problem. Lower has been something America sometime forgets, or they think they are forgotten and may buy into the rantings of the candidate who says that there is “trouble right here in River City, tells his African-American friend he has nothing to lose. I am humbly from middle America. I spent my childhood watching, sometimes participating, as many middle Americans gave democracy its day. The result, arguably, upper got knocked down a peg, lower moved up one, maybe more. We are in the middle, mitigating with democracy as a trusted tool that has, believe it or not, a service record of occasionally tapping that vein in America that sees beyond the needs and wants of the few. It finds the channel that can distribute America's GNP so all will feel its effect

In a PBS series about John Adams there was a scene of a man being tarred and feathered, run out of town on a rail. It was brutal stuff to watch, painful, humiliating, violent, humorous—it had it all. It was definitely what would be seen today as cruel and unusual punishment. The tarred man was a colonist, but an impostor, a deviant who upset the balance of things, the democratic foundation Adams and others of the time were trying to birth. The eighth amendment had not yet been written to protect this outcast, this dissident who refused to give anything constructive its day. Currently, and under Bush, water-boarding was or may well be used as a permissible deterrent in the military. This would fall under cruel and unusual punishment. The current man in the WH owes a lot to the constitution. He is there because democracy, against the preference of over 3 million, was given its day.. He wasn't and isn't tarred and feathered, run out of D.C. on a rail because of democracy. He does not understand, woefully missing the irony, the contested, antiquated, long-debated auspices that put him there.

Congenial Speak #60

It's Their Funeral Now is a good time to live. It is even a better time to die. This administration, this thought policed...