Friday, April 22, 2011

Sonnets to Telemann, part 2

Glances how brief signals how faint perhaps
A myst'ry of intent or real desire
The game only a task of constant lapse
A breath of longing mist or actual fire

O passion pools of light that hold a spark
The wreath of gold that shrouds the dream of touch
Or blank disdain for want or thought or mark
Nay but distant delight and little such

But how to sway the beauteous shade afar
Despite the lack of hope that hearts be true
Predict the path of light from random star
But yearn that road will be the course of two

Will passion break the plain reluctant shell
And free the thought of chance of tale to tell

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You must believe the lie so that the system will work

The following is a priceless example of the American electoral system in action:

That's Michele Bachmann, Minnesota-R, Tea Party caucus leader, and prospective Republican presidential candidate speaking in front of The Family Leader, a conservative and mildly deranged group in Iowa. Since Bachmann has decided to throw her hat in the ring for 2012, she's making the rounds in the rural, largely agricultural state, 30th in total population rank, that somehow continues to have the exalted status of deciding who is a real or imagined candidate for the two major parties. Since she's a Republican, she has to troll for votes among the people who consider a gender preference to be "akin to second-hand smok[e]". Most importantly, she has to lie to them.

She MUST lie to them because that's how the game is played. If she doesn't lie to them, she gets dismissed as a wacko, because the vast majority of Americans, even most of the homophobes, don't consider being gay a "public health hazard." There are plenty of people already ready to dismiss Bachmann as a wacko (I'm one of them, boundlessly entertaining as she is) but people still have to tolerate her unless she says something really outrageous that Huckabee and Romney can pin to her and use to isolate her even from the Tea Party-types. But she can't outright dismiss the fringe elements because they'll still have an effect on the Iowa caucuses, so she has to pretend that she really doesn't have an answer, either for or against them. In short, she has to lie to them until she gets elected (or re-elected), whereupon she can proceed to ignore them for 2 (or 4 or 6) years until the cycle begins anew.

The best part? They KNOW she's lying to them. They know it. They have to know it. They can't be rational human beings (and, believe me, in the case of people like Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Family Leader, I'm using the broadest possible definition for "rational") and not know that she is lying to them. Without her directly responding to the above question with a "yes" or "no", they have to know she's lying. After all, the man who will be her political director for Iowa in 2012, essentially did just that.(linked because it's unlisted; wonder why?)

She has to lie. They have to accept that she's lying. Bachmann is a quantifiable nutjob who believes that communists are still hiding behind every corner (Hi!), is married to a "cured" homosexual who attempts to cure other homosexuals, and believes "the nuclear response" should still be on the table as a foreign policy plank, but those Family Leader guys are apparently still a little too 'out there' for her. But she will still ask for their support and they will still probably give it. That's how it works. They must accept the lies and they must not talk about the fact that they are lies, because that reveals how hypocritical both they and the system happen to be and no one wants to face that.

Almost no one is immune to this. The vast majority of Democrats (and non-Democrats) gladly lapped up the lies being spewed to them in 2008 by the current occupant of the White House. Many of them are vowing not to fall for his perfidious ways in 2012, by golly! But they will. He delivered what was nominally a budget speech today, but it sounded an awful lot like the opening campaign speech for the next cycle and, boy, did it sound all progessive-like! And most of the herd will spend the next year-and-a-half basking in the warm glow of the lies. To do otherwise would be to face harsh reality and only a few members do that. They stand on the edges of the group to absorb the cold wind and keep an eye out for anything too dastardly from the wolves, while the rest stay inside, listening to the noise of the leaders and thinking that things will be OK. Until they're not and then there will be a little outrage and wonder at how they could have let themselves believe in the lies which they knew to be lies.

That was the funniest part of the confirmation hearings for lukewarm moderate and corporate-loving Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan, last year. The Republicans got to make a little hay (sheep love hay...) over the fact that a younger Kagan had dismissed SC confirmation hearings as a "vapid and hollow charade". Of course they are. They're supposed to be! They give the sheep the impression that senators are watching out for their best interests by making lifetime appointments to the highest judicial body in the land with the idea that said people are going to be even-handed and interested in justice... provided, of course, that they attended Yale or Harvard, clerked in the right places, and know the right people. Since Kagan had absolutely no judicial career or published opinions of any merit whatsoever (except, you know, the one that called Senate hearings "vapid and hollow"), she was the perfect candidate to do an about-face and take the whole thing seriously. Everyone in the room knew that it was bullshit and yet everyone spoke about it in ominous tones more reflective of the signing of an armistice. It's a lie. Everyone knows it's a lie. But everyone swallows it just the same. Too much talking might lead to... turbulence. And no one wants that. Except us. Well, me, at least.


My dear friend, Leigh, left a comment last week asking what she could do in response to my rant about people tuning out of the process and I've been thinking about what to say since then. My response: I don't know. I honestly don't.

My initial reaction was: Well, I could set up a group on a couple social portals simply called "Revolt" and start trying to organize people for mass actions of some kind: general strikes, blocking streets, etc. with the express intent of disrupting and, eventually, trashing the system. But I've been there. Many times. No one else seems to carry the fervor or intensity that I do, so I end up doing things myself and burning out from lack of time or energy; the same things that are preventing a lot of other people from joining in, I assume. I don't begrudge people their lifestyles (well, most people, anyway) or how they choose to spend their time. It's not for me to do that, as I am neither ascetic nor saint. All I can do is sit here and rant about it and hope that someone responds.

Nation of sheep. Ruled by wolves. Owned by pigs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reactions and perceptions

I have a friend whose initial reaction to political questions or premises is that he is essentially apolitical. He doesn't like politics and doesn't identify with any of the mainstream political parties or ideologies. I, of course, am extremely political but likewise don't identify with any of the idiots currently running DC or their associated sycophants and hordes of mindless followers. I think that when he suggests that he doesn't like politics, it's more a case of being so disenchanted with the broken machine that passes for a political process in our country that his essential pragmatism doesn't allow him to tolerate the idea of engaging it for more than a few seconds, if that.

That mindset is, at root, the ideal situation for those currently running the system. The more disaffected and powerless the populace feels, the less likely they are to engage that system and its adherents who will then proceed to rule in the manner that they always have. In my friend's case, his is a slightly more educated approach in that he simply feels that he has better things to do (a tough opinion to argue against) but it boils down to the same situation: he's not even voting because he feels that the system is set up to fail at anything that he would like it to do. And he's right. It will fail, because what he'd most like it to do is change. The reason he wants that is because he's not part of the wealthy class that the system is designed to serve. Of course, it won't ever change unless people are willing to come to grips with it. Perhaps literally.

One reaction to my last post was a vaguely reproachful assertion that the wonderful people out doing wonderful things to change our not-so-wonderful world every day were worthy of more respect and appreciation than the criticism I was wielding. That may be true, but if what I said gets people to break out of their normal routine, get angry, and sit up and respond, whether against me or against the ruling class, so much the better. I'll take angry people lashing out at me and going out with redoubled effort to prove me wrong over people doing the same damn thing over and over and getting nowhere with it. I don't need to believe that people are wonderful in order to get by in the world. I don't get depressed by reading blatant assertions of perfidy like I was relating last time. I get frustrated that I have to say these things over and over until people finally stop and listen, but I don't need to believe the world or the people in it are wonderful. I don't carry a Hobbesian perspective, but I do carry a healthy dose of cynicism. Unlike the aforementioned friend, my cynicism doesn't lead to detachment, but rather to motivation. I'm not motivated by doing shiny, happy things with shiny, happy people. My happiness is not a question of import here. My inner sense of justice is. If you let my outright condemnation of our system and the frequently mild responses to its outrages depress you, then I feel sorry for you. What it should do is get you to think: about the system, about the people that own it, and about what you can do to stop them and wrest back control of your lives (and, yes, maybe even a little money); perhaps even in the words of brother Malcolm: "By any means necessary."

Am I suggesting violence as an answer? Maybe. I wish it hadn't come to that point, but it might have been inevitable, given any cursory examination of history. One certainly isn't going to draw hope from that reprobate announcing his reelection bid as some example of change you can really believe in this time. The owning class essentially spitting in the face of the public and its nominally regulating government calls for a lot more action than simply people in the streets. Of course, until there's enough mass behind the movement to keep those people who should be in the streets 24-7 fed and housed, things will have to proceed a bit more slowly. Dammit.


I've done this blogging thing a time or two before and it becomes difficult after a while, because I quickly become tired of my own voice saying the same things a second, third, fourth, and fiftieth time. I especially get tired of it when it seems to be me pissing into the ether with little response, even from those that I assume to be reading. That's part of why I veered off into other topics. It's not that I don't like communicating. On the contrary, it's probably one of my main motivations in life, despite my general distaste for trying to do it with the general public (dichotomy, remember?) As Steve Martin used to say: "I'm a comedian, so words are kinda my thing. Some people have a way with words. And other people... well... not have way, I guess."

I'm certainly not a comedian. I'm not even a politician anymore (although I used to play one on TV.) But the words are still there, so I spew them here. There's a certain symmetry to that, but I'll be damned if I know how to really define it.

On a side note, I wonder if there's anything to the fact that my acupuncturist's irrepressible daughter is named Maya, which means essentially "that" in Sanskrit and is a concept in various forms of Hinduism and Buddhism that is supposed to assist people in piercing the illusion that there is a difference between oneself and the universe entire. That perception of difference is often referred to as a false dichotomy.

Probably nothing, but this stuff occurs to me every once in a while.