Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Good Friday

From a bus on West 23rd Street, Good Friday afternoon.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy Daylight Saving Time, Ides of March, St. Patrick's, All That

This year they decided to put the New Hampshire primary right at the end of the trifecta that was Super Bowl Sunday, Asian/Lunar New Year, and Mardi Gras.  I started writing this post way back then.  And a lot has happened since.

Putting aside a discussion of the Dems (for the moment) to share a few words about Donald “Making America Great Again” (Which slogan, as has been pointed out, is intended to mean "making America white again."  In case you weren't clear on that.) Trump.  Or Drumpf, as the case may be.

And I do get torn about making fun of the guy.  This whole post started with that GIF way down at the bottom. (You'll get to it; you've probably already seen it.)  Because while pretty much everything he says and does warrants making fun, it's getting less and less funny as the primaries wind on.  The notion that he has any real understanding of, or even much interest in, actual policy crumbles upon the slightest scrutiny.  So what’s going on?

Well, a couple things pop to mind off the bat.  Here’s a guy who was born into money, and plenty of it.  He took a look at the options and made some choices.  My guess is that he was drawn to gambling, and sees the obvious truth in the maxim that “the house always wins.”  So, since he had the cash and saw that it's more lucrative to be the house than the gambler, he bought some ‘houses.’  Even when they didn’t win (you know, those bankruptcies in Atlantic City, the University, the Steaks, the list goes on) well, gaming the system is his game, so he made it work, and made it fit in with a pretty clear addiction to being the center of attention

He’s also a proven showman of the huckster variety, with a Barnum-worthy eye for the audience.  And it may be that his true talent lies in media manipulation.  And now that he's running for President, not just as a punch line in the late night comedy, but a real honest-to-god frontrunner, that audience is America.  Which has shown itself to be hungry for the hatred, the racism, the puffed up machismo, the gutter sniping, the name-calling.  It's not just the latent intolerance rearing its head after the perceived indignity of living with a President of Color for 7 years, and having to suffer through progress in gay rights and access to health care.  It it not just that a large portion of the populace is frightened at the idea that a woman should be permitted (or - say it isn't so! - possibly be in a place to do the actual permitting) to have control of her body; and not completely comfortable with the notion that her worth might not be wholly dependent on her appearance; and thoroughly confused, gobsmacked, terrified by the idea that gender itself may be a fluid concept. It is not just that people have those bigoted reactions, though it most certainly is partially that.  The embrace of the neighborhood bully shouting down the nerdy wonks in the debate club also comes from years and years of pent-up frustration resulting from seeing crony capitalism strip wealth away from the population at large and concentrate it among a very small number of people gaming the system. Never mind that Trump is one of "them" - his 'telling it like it really is' (which, let's not forget, is not-very-clever code for racism, sexism, dominance fantasy, and discomfort with outsiders), he is speaking for "us."

And that dualist formulation is suuuupes a problem, because it's never never never as simple as Us vs Them.  I am about 99.5% positive that I have friends and/or family members who support this guy, just based on the numbers.  And we should be very-clear sighted about the alternatives in the Republican party - not one of them offers anything remotely worth voting for.  And I have zero problem condemning the philosophy (if you can call it that) driving the white-supremacist, sexist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, plain old hateful ideas being spouted.  But the people who have those ideas - not often very fully thought-out (how could they be?), but viscerally, authentically bubbling up from the gut - they live here too.  "They" have a voice, they get a vote, and you are probably related to and/or friends with some too.  Is there a chance they will change the way they feel?  Some of them will, maybe, but history (remember that?) shows pretty clearly that it's hard to get a whole bunch of people to face that mirror and realize that you've been doing it wrong.  [And don't forget, when we're Us and Them-ing it, "they" are all hoping that "we" will face that same mirror from the other side, see our reflection and make the same conclusion.]

I guess I'm going to want to post this before it turns into a book outline rather than a blog entry.  But before I do, I want to point out that - for all his many, many failings - SeƱor Trump is simply reflecting the racism and extreme intolerance/intolerant extremism that has been developing for years, in America and abroad.  Carefully cultivated by the Republican Party and its media wing? Sure. But really - it's been doing just fine growing wild on its own too (and not just in the GOP, while we're telling the truth about things).  And the non-Donald Republican rivals are not improvements, in any real day-to-day way: although they might pose slightly less risk of complete destruction of the American two-party system (a bad thing?) they do stand for policies that essentially do away with any part of government that benefits workers and the general population, while enhancing those parts of the government that prop up corporations and the wealthy, and expanding the military and hastening conflict (while, paradoxically, ignoring the needs of actual soldiers and returning veterans).

SO - are the Dems the answer?  Never, not really.  They are, of course, about a hundred times better than their opponents on the other side of the aisle, but if you're flipping through the Book of Perfect People, I don't think you'll find either Clinton or Sanders.  It is a very short book.  

What you want to do is vote for the presidential candidate you agree with most, AND - and this part is extra-special important, and you'll be making a big mistake if you overlook it the way people seem to do every year - the people you agree with most in your other national, state, and local elections.  And then - and here's the part people really forget about - stay engaged.  Because there is no elected official completely impervious to pressures and temptations of elected office.  Stay out there, stay active, keep talking and keep listening.  It's only - only - ongoing social movement that causes anything to happen that really benefits the people.


By the way, what the fuck did he think he was doing when he sat for this shot?  Even the most experienced falconers use a glove.  Of course, they also have a clue about how to approach and handle a bird of prey.  [And, ummmm, yes: that's a metaphor for the unspoken Big Bad risk associated with any of the fellows running for President Right Wing Nut Job: global nuclear annihilation resulting from overwhelmingly misplaced responsibility.]