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Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all. ~~Hypatia

It’s as Good A Time as Any

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l_aec3aec0-6aaf-11e1-a36d-1d8174700002 Well here we are again. I’m inclined to talk (ask my husband), so there is little point in trying to silence me. You have no doubt made your decision already about me.

I’m not one of those persons who people are casual about. You either like me or you hate me, seldom anything down the middle.

So I don’t give a rip’s roaring ass which one you adhere to frankly. I can come down on that both sides of that issue too, depending, so welcome if you are reading, screw you in absentia if you aren’t.

I don’t figure myself to be that much different than the rest of ya, a bit smarter than the average, a tad wiser given my age than a thirty-year-old. I know myself better than most people  bother to inspect their innards, and I’m comfortable with what I find. Not always happy with it, mind you, but comfortable.

I grew up privileged. Not in super rich mind you, but privileged nonetheless. Most average kids from working class families don’t believe that, but it’s true. It was a hell of a lot easier than growing up African-American or Hispanic. It would have been better to be male given the times. But I never went to bed hungry or didn’t have a pair of shoes. I had the opportunity of a pretty decent education back when it was still affordable for the working class kid.

It’s a small but constant wonder to me that I ended up being a bleeding-heart liberal. I shouldn’t have, at least as I measure it from examining the lives of those I went to high school with. Some of them are loons. Some of them are just immersed in their own lives of grandkids and whatever one is interested in if it ain’t the state of the world and all who inhabit it. A few are liberal, a few pointedly conservative, but I repeat myself–the loons.

But I pride myself most about being a rational thinking individual who manages to blend a sophisticated metaphysical belief system along with a logic based political view of the world at the same time. They conflict, my angelic side and my devil as you would expect, and when the conflict comes, I wrestle with it, I seek to escape from it, but I rarely can ignore it.

Back in 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton, until it was obvious she was losing to Obama. Then I switched allegiance, since John McCain and his Alaskan albatross proved  to be unacceptable as leaders of the free world.

So we are now 2015, and Hillary is running again. And I am supporting her again. And. . . .

I’m conflicted.

Bernie Sanders and I disagree on very little. I was frankly surprised that he gathered so much money so quickly.

I am sensitive to the notion that if all of us smart people read the tea leaves accurately and accord him no real chance, we in fact insure he will have no real chance. Yet Hillary is more than competent and it’s so time for a woman to take the leadership.

Yet Hillary and I don’t agree on a number of things, and I am more than aware that she is more conservative (by nature) and certainly by design than I am. She is more comfortable with Wall Street than I would prefer. She is more hawkish that I would prefer.

In some ways Bernie has made this easier. At least his has the good sense to run under the Democratic banner, which means he is no threat to siphon off votes in the election as a third party candidate.

So I’ve been quiet about Hillary for the most part, hoping to let Bernie’s run peter out as it is expected to, and let the conflict within my head die a quiet death. And yet, I’m mindful that if he has no chance, it can surely be in part because people like me, his natural allies, won’t switch.

I am more than aware of my conflict of interests, which devolve down to a moral choice or a loyalty choice. Both are important I suppose, but one is compelling.

I am, as I say, pretty much clear on what motivates me.

An example.

The other evening, my husband admitted, “I have no opinion on the President’s trade agreement. I simply haven’t read hardly anything about it, so I don’t know who has the better argument.”

“Same here,” I replied, “but my reasons are quite different. I have deliberately avoided reading about it. I know at the end, I’ll either have to diss Elizabeth Warren or the President, and he needs all the support he can get against the crazies, so I’ve avoided the cognitive dissonance becoming informed would cause.”

See? I can and do act to avoid issues I don’t want to deal with.

And as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, I basically stayed fairly quiet when the discussions turned to Hillary or Bernie.

Yet the nagging continued.

This is not a time to merely support the candidate who can win. At least not until we get to the crossroads. Until the primaries are completed and one has withdrawn, I figure I am required by my moral compass at least to support the candidate whose dedicated to doing the most for the average person.

So I find myself feeling all sorts of traitor in leaving Hillary’s side and offering my small donation to Bernie. I still figure he doesn’t have a chance, but if that happens, at least I can sleep well knowing I did the right thing. I followed my conscious and not my cynical political savvy self.

Nothing will change in this country before it is too late to matter unless we as citizens, victims of the government machine, stand up and stop this madness. I’ve truly had enough of those who promise a better future while continuing to “play the game”.  The game at this point is simply rigged, and so clogged with illegality and personal greed as to make even Satan blanche at the sheer chutzpah.

Perhaps it’s always been this way, with a small but vocal group warning of “the end” but with climate change and income inequality, I don’t see planet earth surviving much longer with humanoids being at the top of the ladder. Unless that is, we make drastic changes.

They say that the uber wealthy in the world now routinely have bunkers build beneath their luxury homes, guarding against what they know must surely come, the uprising of people who have nothing left to lose.

I fully expect Hillary Clinton will be the next president. I hope however that she is not. Not because she wouldn’t be okay as president’s go. But because following Bernie, would be a fine time for Elizabeth Warren. And at least with Bernie, we have an honest chance to turn the page to a new way of doing democracy.

But enough of fantasy politics.

Back to reality.

Where’s my checkbook?

Yeah, I Already Said That

Lets_go_exploringI never meant this to happen. This writing thing. I was just, shall we say, verbose as a child and adult, and I wrote with some flow and well, I got praised a bit here and there, mostly for essays and very long boring tracts on the death penalty and Rachel’s fathers household gods, and stuff like that doesn’t play at all well with the public but thrills the bejesus out of professor or six who spend their professional lives hoping to ignite the same passion they suffer in their students.

When blogging came along, I gotta say, it was a perfect storm.

My favorite writing is just off the cuff sorta rambling and blogging seemed to meet that style and give it a big old kiss of acceptance. No longer editing but gettin’ on with it.

I’ve been through a lot of transitions and polishing since the beginning back in whatever it was, 2006 or something. I changed the name a few times, changed the pretty covering it comes it, changed the focus, changed the writing. Guess it changed me too. Made me a bit more fearless, a bit more in your face, a bit more eccentric too no doubt.

Yeah, you know what’s comin’.

I’m taking a break. Maybe a break forever, maybe for a while. Maybe I’m moving to different pastures or just being bored. Some combination is about.

This, (these) blogs have never been what I envisioned. I envisioned a wildly controversial give and take with a bunch of people arguing over points and theories. That never happened. I got plenty of feedback, but it never developed into the conversation I had expected. The numbers went up and they plateaued and they rose, and they fell, but the comments never took over.

I always sought to be the spark that ignited the chat. Instead I remained the focal point.

I’ve had amazingly faithful readers, some for years.

My haters are numerous but cowardly for the most part. They tend to “cut me” in some juvenile high schoolish drama instead of having the courage to actually try to drum up a defense to their silly notions. So my response has been to poke at them incessantly as one does a bear in a cage, provoking its rage. That doesn’t speak so well of me, but I never tried to claim I was a good person after all.

So ceasing my efforts comes with some regret that I can’t dangle the truth before them daily, though lord knows they surely don’t read it anyway.

This does not mean I’m going off to some mountain to meditate.

I just seem to have an increasingly busy life right now, and I’m enjoying it too much to worry about getting out a daily missal of angst written in my indomitable snarky style. Worse, I find myself repeating myself, too many times.

Since much of my activity is on Facebook, I’ll still be making my points, and offering up good reading material when I find it. Just not formalizing it with an essay.

Perhaps the time of the blog has past. They say it has. Who am I to disagree? All I know is that I made no “smashing success” and never became the “talk of the town”, though I’m not sure I wanted that. Undoubtedly I wanted the praise, but not the responsibility that comes with it.

Perhaps the ensuing presidential campaign will ignite me again, but I fear that I will repeat again and again the same arguments, pointing out the same stupidities. I’m boring myself at this point.

Anyway, I’ll be around to those of you who are Facebookers. I may start a page there just to focus the political and stupid off my wall and into it’s nice little cubby hole. Who knows. I don’t.

All I know is that I have a lot of living type things to do, and I want to do them more than I want to repeat myself daily. Frankly I’m tired of writing something I think is juicy and certain to piss off a few, and having it land like a dud. Read by many, commented upon by nobody. The echo hurts my ears.

Perhaps I don’t write at all well after all.

Perhaps I do.

Perhaps, and perhaps.

I’ll send out notices if I start a Facebook page, but a title eludes me so far. Somethin’ catchy?

Anyway, I’m copying this to the other blog too, so you all will know.

So adios for now friends, and thank you all, especially those of you who have been faithful supporters.

I’m off to shopping, and cooking, and beading and reading, and rubbing my dogs’ bellies. And scratching the old man’s libido when he smiles that smile, and my heart melts.

The Gangs of Baltimore

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8d8e3061980f4fd71b6c0de47eb514da73b40b25_cWatching the events play out in Baltimore is an education to some, to others, it’s a why question. Why didn’t this happen sooner? The fact is whether you like it or not, life in the inner city is purely shit for the average African-American citizen.

Every deck is stacked against the individual trying to survive. Poor schools, no jobs are just the beginning. We see nothing less than a systematic attempt to herd “unwelcomes” into small enclaves and then devote all our money and energies to “other interests.”

We not only condone racism in this country but we grow it.

We demean people even when we give them the pittances we do, by making them take drug tests, and defining what food stamps can be used for, and attaching so many rules and regulation to any sort of assistance that you end up in the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario.

And when people rise up out of anger and frustration and disgust at the injustices they endure, we blame it all back on them and their “fatherless” homes, where unfortunate black youths learn no morals or sense of obedience to authority. Above all that, they have no respect for their betters.

One young man fairly told Geraldo Rivera to take his white ass and get out of town. They recognize Fox for what it is, purveyors of hate upon their heads. Geraldo, the youth said, you are only interested in filming what you call “thugs” rioting. You and Fox haven’t been interested in coming here to report on the daily injustice that we face.

To those of us who have engaged in the criminal justice system in this country in large metropolitan cities, we know all too well of what the young man speaks. As Alan Dershowitz explained in his Rules of the Justice Game, “almost all police officers lie about whether they violated the constitution in order to convict guilty defendants”, (rule IV) and all prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys are aware of rule IV. Worse, they look the other way. Like it or not, it’s true.

The recent public exposure of these cases of police overreach, abuse and lying comes as no surprise to us. I recall a dear friend of mine, a street cop from Detroit, whom I had argued with good-naturedly about whether police could do their job and still tell the truth. He was called to testify on an arrest and to make his point to me, told the truth. The case was dismissed for lack of “probable cause”. He grinned at me, as he walked from the courtroom. “See what you get when you tell the truth?”

We understood it, and we accepted it as a the way life was. We knew that in most cases the officers were at least sure they had the right guy.

But there is a segment of police officers within each department who do not care. They figure one black body is as good as any other, and they have ambitions, and a host of emotionally based reasons for throwing their authority around and not caring who gets caught up in their game.

Therein lies the problem.

And a solution comes from an unlikely source:

The gangs of Baltimore.

The major gangs have declared a truce, and apparently are devoting their time and efforts to helping their community respond in a politically helpful way to the recurrent injustice visited upon them in general and in the Freddie Gray case in particular.

It boggles the mind. Young men hell-bent on killing each other, and unfortunately any innocents that get in the way, have come together and agreed that for now at least, they will stop the violence against each other, and help organize their community to stop police violence against them all.

This is no small thing. Thinking, educated, above middle-class men and women only a few miles away, encased in a glorious white facade of sandstone and marble, are unable to agree upon even the most basic of things because screwing the black guy in the White House seems paramount.

Yet these young men have agreed to set aside their differences and work together for the common good of their community.

And the gang has a good deal to offer should it choose to actually follow through. Long the center of loyalty, and business acumen (albeit illegal) it mirrors many good traits that the young can well adopt. Strong Black men, helping their community? What’s not to like here. They teach loyalty, respect, and how purpose can bring about change. Somehow in their matriarchal upbringing, they have managed to become quite savvy at things they aren’t supposed to understand at all.

They in a real sense complement their environment, reflecting an honest if not legal response to the tremendous burdens and disadvantages heaped upon them since birth. They have the ability to encourage the younger kids coming up at least in the character requirements of making their way in a racist world while still standing firm for dignity.

No one argues that gangs are stellar examples to our youth. They have not been since the days of the Irish gangs, the Puerto Rican ones or any of the others. But all ethnic groups plagued with the criminal element within have always managed to take those good attributes and bettered themselves and their communities. And the Black community is no different. It too learns the right lessons along with the less savory.

Larry Wilmore, on his show The Nightly Show, did a most important thing on Thursday. He sat down with gang bangers in a diner and just talked. And they were articulate, and politically aware, and sincere. And that matters and should matter, and should make us hang our heads in shame when we cannot expect better from our paid politicians, and we cannot seem to expect more of ourselves in insisting on our own justice from the tyranny of big money and big K Street influence.

Perhaps it will be the gangs of Baltimore that will lead the way in helping us to see that we are not without recourse in our own struggles to retake command of our government. We need merely to stop focusing on our differences and agree that we are not being heard. None of us, for anything. And it’s time to change that. And if it takes a gang to explain that to us, well, more power to them.

And that’s a compliment in case you didn’t realize it.

We participate in SoCS.

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To Thine Own Self, Be Specific

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fundies_and_anti_theists_by_jedi_one-d65mkb1 I’m not sure how to negotiate these waters. I cannot walk upon them surely.

It’s not for want of trying. I surely have done that. Ad nauseum as they say. To both sides. Repeatedly. Exhaustively. With patience even. With frustration. With anger. With self-righteous certitude.

Never were two opposing groups so much alike. Never did two loggerheaded enemies share one common mind-set.

I suppose that’s why trying to reason with either is futile.

Right wing fundamentalists of the religious persuasion, and left-wing fundamentalists of the non-religious persuasion.

Neither has any concept of nuance.

Neither will entertain that there is a compromise to be sought after.

They are deranged in exactly the same way, having an operating system that conveniently filters out everything but “their side” and allows them to hold perfectly nicely contradictory views on a range of subjects without ever even being aware that the conflict exists.

Where are the rest of us to fit? How can we reclaim control of the bratty kids we apparently have raised and allowed to run free without harness?

For the rest of us are in the middle, believers and non-believers alike. We here in the center of things recognize that historically religion has much to crow about and much to be ashamed of. We have philosophically pondered and drove ourselves slightly mad at times in attempting to reconcile beliefs with reality and coming up with coherent and satisfying personal ideologies/theologies out of all the facts at hand.

We have arrived and still refine from time to time these beliefs or ideas. We recognize that there is much that is still not a perfect fit. It provides us with intellectual exercise when we wish it, and we shrug and get on with the day-to-day activities of life the rest of the time.

We don’t obsess about any or all of it. We approach it as a puzzle, which we work at for a time, and then leave off for a time as other things impinge upon our time. We see it as a lifelong quest, and part of being human. We have more questions than answers and we are okay with that.

We enjoy from time to time a rousing discussion with people who think differently than we do. That’s when we begin to get in trouble. For we reach out once again to have normal conversation and instead we are ridiculed, be damned, laughed at, and told we are doomed to be either more stupid than a rock or headed for a sea of molten lava for eternity.

We sigh. We shake our heads, we wonder where are all the others like us?

The truth is, the others like us are the majority, yet like the middle in general, we only come out to play when there is something big at stake. An election, a holiday. We require something large to move us from our soccer games and endless to-do lists and planning for down time with the kids.

We, you see, are the great middle of basic ennui. The issue of religion, of politics, of the environment, of anything much at all is “uh, yeah I care, but I’m busy now. Catch me next week, I may have time to squeeze you in.”

See the carers are the ones who get shit done. The passionate ones. They are invested. The “the world isn’t worth living in unless we can change this.” Those people change the world, or commit suicide, or at least think of it once or twice. They have the unfailing optimism that they can make a different. The are unceasing. They get up a thousand times from the ground and continue the march.

They are heroes to me. Well, heroes only if they are on my side of things. Otherwise they are fanatics.  Sometimes they get in the way of success because they won’t compromise. But they are the canaries in the tunnels, chirping away to remind us of what needs doing. They make us feel small and selfish too. And that leads sometimes to us blocking them from our view so as not to feel those things.

It is the purpose of every campaign manager to awaken the beast. Whether it be of a candidate or a cause, the point is to “get out the vote” “get the signatures” or “get the funding.” It’s getting the behemoth to move out of the way, and sometimes to actually act.

You see we want to be left alone. We want to believe that the planting of spring flowers, and the trip to Carlsbad, and the creation of that new mousse cake are IMPORTANT things worthy of our time. And the carers are there to remind us of how really unimportant those things really are when children are starving and people are not free. They remind us by their presence that they are better than us, and we don’t like that much.

I’m no different. I just talk about shit more, and call that “my contribution.” I’m not out organizing and marching because it impinges too damn much on what I want to do. 

Recently I did my usual stupid thing. Somebody raised the question of petitioning our pool to open an hour earlier. Not content to just nod that I would sure like that, I did what I always do, stood up and offered myself as the “petition” collector. I do such things not out of some humble service offering, but because deep down I figure if I  want something done right, I gotta do it.

Put me in a group, and I’ll take it over sure as shit, because I can’t stand wasting time with people who are gonna take a week to figure out the obvious. Sometimes I’m undoubtedly right in this assessment, mostly I’m just an arrogant bitch who thinks I know better.

In either case, I bring the work on myself.

Soon, I was faced with idiots who told me, “oh you shouldn’t do a petition. It’s better to just go up and talk to the administration. ‘They don’t like petitions.'”

So the sheep of which most of America is composed, refrained from the petition. “I’ll sign later after we find out if they are okay with us doing that.”

Yikes people, how did we win a war of Independence with such wimps?

So I called the administrator and set up a talk time. And it went well, and he was distressed that anyone was spreading the idea that the pool personnel were “against the right of people to sign a petition.” And as we all know, the decision to open earlier would be based in large part on how many would actually come an hour earlier, so the petition was necessary.

So then I ran a petition for a week. And I was in and out of the water a dozen times some days, and carrying it in the water and trying to keep the paper dry while people stood in swirling water and signed.

And I found that instead of the thirty or so people I thought I could muster, I ended up with sixty-two signatures. And I turned it in, and three days later, they announced that they would open an hour earlier starting in Mid-May.

And I’m so incredibly glad the process is over, because it impinged on my life and I got shit to do. But I got another dose of how frustrating it is when you try to do something. Thank you vague people who said, they’d “think about it,” while rushing to grab their foam weights and enter the artificially heated pool to “work out.”

And that’s it folks. The planet is dying because we befoul it, and “hey, I’ll think about it, but right now I gotta get that box of rice krispies off the shelf.”

The country is turning over to an oligarchy of wealthy business leaders, and it’s “oh, yeah, regrettable that Citizens United thing, but I’m running late for my hair appointment.”

That’s us. That’s human nature I suppose. That’s me. Unless it becomes something I care about enough to take charge of it.

How to turn that to everybody in the middle land of “not my fucking problem”? I dunno.

I think Socrates had this problem. Jesus sure did. How to get us to move off our butts and fix stuff?

See it’s an age-old problem.

Back to pondering how we ever got out of caves.

 

 

I’d Like a Piece of that Peace

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images (1) Ya ever wonder how two words end up sounding alike yet have nothing to do with one another? I mean, a piece is a part of a whole, a unit unto itself. It is a “something” that together with some more somethings makes another thing.

Yet it also means having sex with someone “a piece” or giving some of your thoughts to another as in “piece of my mind”, which is not literal as in a piece of pie would be, but rather an idea conveyed, which still remains with the thinker. I can also demand a “piece of the action” claiming that for some reasons I’m entitled so share in certain activities or profits.

Confusing?

How does a word get to mean so many diverse things?

Now peace means no war. It means tranquility and freedom from turmoil. It relates to countries, groups within a country, families, or even the individual. Wherever there is upheaval one desires cessation. Calmness is desired.

I am not sure why we crave peace, but we certainly do. We say we do all the time, while we of course war. We say our aim in war is peace, but we curiously think that comes at the end of a gun rather than at the end of a string of sentences.

To want a piece of peace is to lay claim to some place physical or otherwise where we impose peace. Our island in the midst of chaos. It’s often our home, our castle as we construe it.

While it seems for there to be peace there must be all peace, we insist that if we can’t get real peace, we will settle for this semblance of it. We will have a cabin in the woods. We will meditate into our piece of peace.

It will be contained within our minds. No matter what you say or do in front of me, I won’t give it up. This piece of peace I have established. I’ll fight pretty hard to maintain its perimeter. But somehow that is not violence, since I’m preserving my peace.

People say, I won’t talk to you about politics or religion; it will disturb my peace. There are rules to peace so it seems.

I will sit and watch all around me go to hell, but it will not disturb my peace. That is something isn’t it?

I’ve got my peace, screw you buddy.

I’ll not only take no responsibility for this fine mess, I won’t lift a finger to fix it, cuz it ain’t my mess.

They gotta meme for that.

not my Catchy huh?

Yeah, I know.

Climb into your blanket fort and pretend it ain’t yours.

Peace at any price?

Now that will start a row.

Neville Chamberlain is reputed to have desired peace so much that any peace would do. Not yours or theirs, but England’s was enough.

That didn’t work, because Hitler wanted to his fantasy at any price.

It is your mess.

You can’t avoid it.

You can only look the other way.

So that means peace can be really fake.

It can be a pretence for peace, one imposed on an ungrateful world which refuses to go away, or at least just keep it’s horrors to itself.

I wanna get a hold of some peace, but my heart keeps looking around and seeing injustice, and I can’t get my piece of peace until I can wipe those images from my brain.

And I can’t do that, until I change the world.

Imagine that.

Talk politics and talk religion and stand forth against the raging tide of ennui and lies and speak truth to whom ever is standing in front of me. Imagine that.

If they gave a war and nobody came would there be war any more?

If we don’t care enough to learn how to tell a liar from a saint are we seeking peace, or only a piece?

It’s Earth Day.

The earth would like some peace. It needs a lot of pieces of peace these days.

Whales need a lot of peace. Not only are their seas and oceans being polluted, but they are still incarcerated and forced to perform for humans.

Women need a lot of peace. In a lot of places for a lot of things.

The list would be long. All the shit that needs some peace.

God probably needs peace too. I bet She never figured that this particular human sentience would be such a pain in the ass. We write books and then claim that God wrote them, and then we tell each other what they mean, and we all disagree, and we call each interpretation “being the real church”.

We all need peace from politics, so we say. As I said, some say they won’t talk to people who mention that stuff. I guess that’s why we got a House and Senate full of morons and when you travel around the states and cities, you find even more of them.

They say, that to achieve peace, you have to be peace. I guess that might be true. You are becoming a piece of peace, and when there are enough pieces, that makes a whole peace.

But it’s not enough to be peace. It’s not like seeping into the fabric of evil and suddenly it’s not evil any more.

You gotta actually speak up and speak out and call it what it is. Name it.

When it ain’t fair, you gotta spit out that it’s unfair, and how it can be fair. That’s transforming. Because it’s all too clear a whole lot of folks have no clue what is fair.

So are you gonna do peace today?

Are you gonna take your piece and go out and explain truth to the world?

Or are you gonna stay in the blanket fort, and pretend you got it all by yourself?

Brought to you by SoCs

Why The Dividin’ Works So Well

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divide-and-conquer If you happened to catch Jon Stewart last week he did what has become classic for him–pointing out the heaping hypocrisy that the uber Right always seems to manage to live with. Entering the head of a right-wing expert is sorta like entering the minotaur’s labyrinth. A normal person gets lost in all the dead ends.

Anyway, Jon was talking about Kansas. Kansas just passed a law and gol’ darn it, Sammy “spittin’ Brownback signed it, removing all restrictions to concealed weapon carrying, including even having a permit. That’s cuz Kansans are so dang trustworthy and kin do the right thing. Kansas is also real big on the notion that poor people are not like regular Kansans. They are akin to kidlets and must be told what to eat and what to buy. If you get assistance from Kansas, you get a list of what you can use it for, cuz you aren’t grown. Jon pointed out that the inconsistency here is that Kansas receives $1.29 from the Federales, for every $1.00 it pays in. Which makes them welfare moochers ya know. So, um, if we wanna be consistent, I guess we ought to be tellin’ the Kansans what they spend their free monies on huh?

Kansas is not alone in this sort of thinking. Republican-led legislatures in many states seek and do impose lots of restrictions on the poor of all sorts, treating them like they are not fully grown, nor citizens. One wonders why Re-huh-ligans think this way. I mean plenty drug test anyone seeking assistance, even though the results of all those tests suggests it costs way way more to give them then it ever saves in “drug users don’t git no help” fails.

It’s all illogical, demeaning, and downright awful and one wonders why, as I said.

See, iffin’ you go back far enough, we were a very tribal species. Sorta like lion prides. New folks from other lands were not invited into the tribe, much as alpha males drove off traveling loners who sought to join the pride. (This all drives fundies quite mad, since they don’t believe we humans go back far enough for that, but fundies seldom can force themselves to take the giant step to actually read out of their comfort zone, so no matter.)

Anyway, we tend to be tribal still, some of us more so than others. The tribe is generally quite artificial these days, but it often relates to religion, or ethnic origin, gender, and stuff like that.

We live with a lot of folklore here as they do everywhere. We were raised on the Protestant Work ethic which should tell you a whole lot just by the name. It had to do with religion and salvation, but has become twisted into some sort of “this is how grownups behave” notion that hard work brings success economically.

Our start as a nation also caused people from time to time to strike out on their own, urged on by such things as primogeniture, to make a life in the wilderness. This became “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, in other words, making it on your own.

These things, when done successfully give one a sense of accomplishment and capability. Such people like to look a bit down at others who for a whole list of reasons can’t succeed as they did.

Of course, this whole thing gets extended and twisted until it doesn’t really resemble what it started out as. We aren’t any longer a new country with a vast Western virgin expanse where one can strike off and create a new life. You can only invent the hula hoop once. It gets harder and harder to make it on your own, and hard work can end up bringing little more than basic survival.

But as long as one is surviving, albeit at the lowest level, one can still, and one is encouraged, to look down askance at those who have failed to even reach basic survival.

When we have priced education out of the range of most working class kids, it’s time to put down the idea that elite educations matter. All that matters is common sense after all.

The political hacks who do the work of big corporate interests have gotten very good at all this. They keep the barely differentiated in reality yapping at each other for all sorts of nonsensical things so that we fail to see what is really wrong in our country. We break into union/non-union, religious/not-religious, right-kind-of-religious/not-right-kind-of-religious, gay/straight, unregulated guns/regulated guns, and the divisions are infinitely divisible at this point. Somehow it all becomes liberty-loving patriots/commie-socialist-atheists. It all becomes prideful, and the alpha males snarl and gnash their teeth around the perimeter while the king of beasts patrols, defending.

The poor, become child-like, and lazy, because the working poor who are scraping by, must see themselves as successful. The liberals become elites who want to take what little the working poor  have and trade it for votes among the child-like and lazy. The conservatives want to encourage entrepreneurship in theory to “grow jobs” by reducing taxes and regulation, and the workers are encouraged to believe that they could be entrepreneurs if only they didn’t have to pay for the child-like and lazy.

It all is quite silly and wrong and indefensible by the actual facts, but that does not matter since the working poor and barely holding on middle-class wants to believe they are doing all they can, and it’s somebody’s fault. They are actually right. They are doing all they can, and it is somebody’s fault. Just not the folks they think. For the machine works tirelessly to make sure that their anger is directed away from them.

We have gone in this country for feeling pity for the poor to actually hating them. For they are us and deep down we know that. And we are desperate to keep that fact buried deep in our subconsciousness, so that we can go on feeling successful and proud of ourselves.

Not just hate, which we camouflage in “tough love” rhetoric, but bitterness as well. They remind us of not just of ourselves, but of the opportunities we have missed, abused, and let go by while we took the easier course of listening to our “betters” and their constant propaganda. “You could be just like us,” they whisper, “if it were not for them.” And we have listened and we have nodded in agreement, and we have gone back to our Archie Bunkers and laughed uproariously and told ourselves that we are not Archie, all the while we have been Archie and continue to be that caricature in all his bigotry and blaming.

And we feel self-righteous in our demands that you don’t get to buy steak or get your nails done if you are getting my tax dollars. And we claim we are just helping “them” act like us, which is what we have been told is the “right way to be”. And what we do is ugly and mean, and makes people feel bad about themselves and they hate right back.

And the corporate masters cheer and clink their glasses and laugh and discuss the latest results of the polo match and whose going to the Mediterranean this year, and who will be at the Met this season.

And the wars go on. And nothing changes. And we teach these stupid lies to our kids and life goes merrily along for the rich and powerful and we keep dancing.

Is that all there is?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends
Then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

 

Anecdote to Cognitive Dissonance

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Cognitive Dissonance - Clean Life is sure simpler if you avoid conflict. I know how easy it would be to just shrug and say, “well, that’s me, complicated” and just return to my purchased serenity. But the price is the incessant nagging that won’t leave me alone. Conflict must be resolved. It seems, well unseemly to do anything else.

Let me dispel any notion that I was someone of importance in the feminist movement. I was a cipher to put it quite bluntly. I came along at a time when the movement to date meant that I didn’t have to struggle with some things and too late to matter regarding others.

For instance, I showed up right on time when it came to law school, with all universities working hard to bring their women’s numbers up. I benefited no doubt and probably got in when say ten years earlier or maybe even five, I might not have.  I was probably too early yet to be an air force pilot, and other occupations like police officer or firefighter were still male bastions. I consider myself lucky that those jobs were not within reach for me at the time.

I recall no march that I participated in, since those were few and far between. I was one of those “fellow travelers” who made their point largely by commenting on doors opened, “I can open my own door thank you,” and ladies first, “I’m fine being in the place in line I arrived at.”

But my heart was surely there. And as with most women of my time (and those who became politically aware) I read the required texts of feminism, listened to the words of feminist spokeswomen, and re-evaluated most of the “advice” I’d been offered by mother and other female family members. I mostly began to rethink the notions of what women want, and what they need to do to get it.

We rejected the casting couch. We demanded a say at the table of decision making on serious issues, not just those pertaining to “women’s issues.”

But old habits die hard.

I know there are women my age who married their childhood sweethearts. And bless them, if that turned out well for them. But most of us did not, and the 60’s and onward provided us opportunities to test out our sexual freedom as well. And with that came the perils. I would bet that not one woman who was sexually experimenting (meaning separating sex from love as men always do) was not subjected to some form of rape. Date rape is what I refer to. It need not have been violent, but it was insistent to the point that we succumbed rather than continue objecting. We told ourselves or were led to believe by an insisting man, that we had encouraged it, or brought it on, and we can hardly blame him now for wanting to “finish.”

So we understand about emotional and physical abuse, whether overt or “benign”.

Over the years the struggle has had its ups and downs and re-orientations. It has focused on poor women, and women in the boardroom. On wage equality, job opportunities, and image. Lately it has focused on abuse.

Many have recognized that until women and especially young girls have better images of themselves regarding power and influence, real progress won’t be made. This is because too many female children are still being raised in traditions that value being quiet and “polite,” and above all knowing “one’s place.”   Until we teach our young boys and girls that gender is fairly insignificant to their dreams and responsibilities in life, we cannot effectively marshal the numbers necessary to push old white men off their pedestals of entitlement and take our rightful place alongside.

We must however, not merely preach the message, but we must live it, and therein lies my conflict of the day.

We are a culture that deifies to a great extent anyone in the public eye. Whether they be movie “stars” or singers, or sports professionals, we look upon them as objects to be admired. We seek to act like them, in however that translates to the average life. We dress, eat, drink as they do. We attempt to live in our modest means with trinkets that resemble their splendor.

To a degree we do this with politicians as well. Who doesn’t admire those who have managed to become known to large segments of the world simply by wielding power?

We fantasize these people into very inhuman beings, almost in some cases, as incapable of being anything but the perfection we infuse them with. They are bereft of the failings that we suffer. We tell ourselves that this is not the case, but truly we do so.

And yet, many if not all of them are flawed, as deeply flawed as we.

And of course there is a tabloid press out there ready and willing to make a buck trading on their failures. This is good in one sense of course for it reminds us of their feet of clay.  But, to those we worship from afar, we tend to find ways of avoiding what we don’t want to believe.

I and my husband have determined that we cannot bear the ugly underbelly of hate that a Mel Gibson exhibits to the world when he is sufficiently drunk or angry to let his true beliefs come forth. Gibson is nothing but a hateful racist of the worst kind. Yet we recognize his talents in acting and are saddened that we miss the opportunities to enjoy it.

There are others. Many others.

Woody Allen is my nemesis. Such a huge talent, such amazing movie-making, yet  an ugly man in his abuse of girls. One can only claim so long that the charges, which he denies, are false. The fact that he married his adopted daughter speaks volumes. Mariel Hemingway was 17 years old when Mr. Allen tried to convince her to come to Europe with him.  I cannot ignore the obvious any longer, even though Diane Keaton seems to manage.

We cannot continue with “artists must be allowed their quirks” no matter how inappropriate.

Bill Cosby was easier. The sheer number of accusers is all the evidence needed. This man abused women in a ruthless  “because I’m Bill Cosby” sort of ugliness that offends on every level.

Charlie Chaplin abused girls. So did Roman Polanski.

It is said that John Lennon beat his first wife and so did Eric Clapton. Ike Turner beat Tina.

We make allowances because of who they are.

We cannot continue to do so. Lennon, I’m told, publicly confessed his sins. Ike certainly didn’t.

There will be no more Woody Allen movies in my future, much as it pains me to do so. He is a genius of sorts, but a sick bastard as well.

I cannot and will not pick and choose based on how much I admire the work they do. I cannot, because I have a responsibility to girls growing up in this very difficult world. I cannot send mixed signals.

WE cannot send mixed signals. We must stand up for all women everywhere who are subjected to emotional and physical abuse, who are beaten down into believing that they are entitled to no more than they get. We must stand up, or collapse into our suburban retreats being nice grannies while organizing family get-togethers in some refusal to be a part of the reality that confronts our youngsters every day.

That is what it means to be a grown-up. We must leave the world a better, safer place. Damn us if we don’t.

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