Monday, August 31, 2020

Instability

"Instability is a permanent feature of capitalism, but the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a whole new level of volatility. Amid the turmoil, the American right is dreaming more feverishly than ever of apocalypse and heroism." ~  Meagan Day - Jacobin magazine

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Sadly, for all of us, the instability plays into 45's hands ... he has no interest in solving anything, other than to add to his aggrandizement and adulation.

The far right, including most evangelicals, social conservatives, and host of big biz, all see ways in which they will "profit" from the chaos and 45's growing authoritarianism - the profit being varying amounts of money and power.

The psychopath in the WH is playing all of this with consummate skill, and in the end, we know how it'll end: what he can't have, he destroys; those he can't control, he isolates and punishes. So it's a zero-sum game he's playing.

His goal? absolute control.

Evangelicals, I fear, are comfortable with that notion, because of their toxic militarized masculinity as a virtue, as godly; he's the man to set straight the Amerikan home, the nation, and the world. He's John Wayne on steroids, with a WWJD tattoo on his arm and a Bible in hand.

Social conservatives are equally comfortable with the notion of "ruling with him" in their spheres of power; guns, of course, low taxes, and the freedom to dominate and isolate "the others." White supremacy, misogyny, state's rights, the power of the local constabulary (in other words, sheriffs), free-market capitalism without any regulation, and greed-as-virtue are all part of this hedonist mess. In its own bizarre fashion, an image of the "if it feels good, do it" message of the 60s. In this regard, hippies and yuppies shared the same dynamic of "me." If hippies were free to smoke weed, yuppies were free to be greedy.

Big biz, of course, sees and smells money, as has always been the case, in fascist governments. Low taxes, of course, or none; no labor unions, or at least unions utterly gutted; no public schools, no public anything. Make it all private! Eveything fungible; everything with a price. In the end, the amassing of wealth is all that counts.

Millions of Americans, working hard to make it, living from paycheck to paycheck, are not likely to think these things through, which makes them pawns in the hands of the powerful.

The guy in the pickup who hurls a half-empty beer can at a Biden-Harris yard sign and screams "Communist cu&^*" at the lady and her 11-year old daughter is a victim of this kind of manipulation. An easy victim, to be sure, but a victim nonetheless.

The couple at the local convenience store who nearly attacked my friend when he said something about wearing a mask, and called him a "stupid fu^&*#) old man."

The young shooter in Kenosha isn't thinking any of this through either; and those who refuse to wear masks; so many folks who don't want to think, and find "hating an enemy" far easier; and cheering on a man who encourages their rage, their sense of indignation, their sense of entitlement, their sense of being hurt by immigrants, people of color, LGBTQ persons - who take their jobs, who move into their schools and neighborhoods, who upset the status quo of manhood and feminine subjugation. Even the most vile woman lives in this scenario by being "woman" and not man - delighted to let 45 grab her any where he wants, even as she brandishes a gun and screams bloody murder at an immigrant.

We're in a real pickle, one that's been marinating for a long, long, time.

Can we turn the tide this November?

I hope so ... I really, really, hope so.



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Holy Crap and Hells-Bells

 I look out my french doors, 

across my deck, 

and I see a pink crepe myrtle, 

pulsing with extravagant energy, 

palm trees reaching high for the sky, 

and mountains’ purple haze.


A witness to creation!


But I have to be careful, don’t you think?


Because some look out a broken window right now, and what they see is full of sorrow, everything broken, twisted, soaked, tumbled and torn. We give ‘em names like Laura and Hana … 

how strange, 

when they might better be named 

Hells-Bells or Holy Crap.


Think of it. 

Holy Crap now up to category 4.

Making landfall in twelve hours.

And Hells-Bells churning just south of Florida.


But that’s how nature does it … 

with, 

it would seem:

a little help from us 

with 

carbon and and lot of other junk 

we throw above our heads 

like children lofting lovely leaves in the rituals of fall.


I see …

Thank God.

For TV and the Internet.


Because I see what some have to see.

And it’s not pretty.

Holy Crap

And

Hells-Bells.


LORD have mercy.




Thursday, July 9, 2020

SCOTUS, and the Need for Unions

The recent SCOTUS decision on birth-control is, for me, disappointing.

It's so maddeningly typical of rightwing ideology: capitalists have the final say-so over the lives of their workers.

In fact, so important are the rights of capitalists to the rightwing mentality, capitalists can reject federal law (sort of like State's Righters) and deny their employees (read women) access to healthcare (read birth-control).

What's next?

I pray for unions!

I pray that God will give to the employees the wherewithal to join together in unions, and it's the unions that will have to fight for workers' rights.

No wonder capitalists have been working overtime to destroy unions.

Unions are vital, and it's never been easy to form a union, to join a union, to unionize a shop. Capitalists have deployed every device, and then some, to kill unions, to deny workers their rights, to make it impossible for workers to have a say-so over their employment, its conditions, wages, and benefits.

As long as the USA continues it's rightwing approach to workers' rights, supporting capitalists in their greed and alleged "religious convictions" (read bullshit), we will need strong, strong, unions.

To fight for the workers, those who create the wealth of the nation; who create the wealth with their labor, their sweat, blood and tears. Blue collar, white collar - millions of Americans who labor long and hard, to make life good, for their families, for all of us. Creating wealth that the capitalists are more than happy to take unto themselves, dressing themselves up in their filthy rags of piety and prayers.

Perhaps SCOTUS has done us a favor, in a backhanded sort of way.

I wish SCOTUS would've decided otherwise.

But if not, I hope unions will rise to the occasion and the American Worker will rise up, too, to claim her rights, challenge the capitalists, and organize, organize, organize, to fight the capitalists and take what rightfully belongs to the Workers.

Monday, June 29, 2020

"Jesus and John Wayne" by Kristin Kobes Du Mez - a review

I need a shower, maybe two or three … and a good mind-scrubbing.


I just finished a remarkable book by historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, from Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”


I knew a lot of this story, but Du Mez connected a lot of dots and forcefully draws the conclusion: Trump is not an anomaly, but the culmination of 50 years, and more, of evangelical militaristic masculinity. 


Trump is their man - his behavior confirming for them his manliness, a virtue desperately needed to preserve this nation’s greatness, a greatness built upon patriarchy, white supremacy, nationalism, and militarism. A nation under attack from within by liberals and progressives who support women’s choice, women’s equality, gay rights and voting rights, and under attack from without by Communism and now Islam.


Along the way, evangelical fixation on sex has led to some of the most bizarre ideas and behaviors that are nothing less than pornographic - all in the service of the easily bruised male ego, which is crucial to the welfare of the nation. It all begins with the man, a clearly defined manly man, masculine, dominate, steak-eating, gun-loving, soldier-like, and powerful, with women created by God to keep the man happy, proud, strong, through her obedience, quietness, sexual servitude, and child-bearing and rearing, to produce another generation of soldiers for Christ and the little women to serve them.


Hence, anything that blurs the lines between male and female is to be rejected, and those who would promote the blurring of lines, as do Democrats, liberals, universities, public schools, socialists, people of color, and Hillary, are to be vilified, hated, feared, mocked, and condemned.


Boys should play with guns, and girls with dolls. And if boys are boys, well, then, girls need to be forgiving and quiet. Everything, of course, should be reserved for marriage. Boys are initiated into the secrets of manhood in a hunting camp, and girls at purity balls and makeup parties.


15 years in the making, this book dives deep into the murky waters of evangelicalism, and while some evangelicals have protested all along the way, the bulk of evangelicalism has moved into hyper-conservatism, bolstered by the Christian publishing and music industry, talk radio and FOX News, in partnership with politicians who have played the evangelicals for all their worth, and evangelical religious leaders who have loved the power of their influence peddling in the halls of congress and the Oval Office.


Du Mez’s writing is clear and her points well-documented. That she survived this ordeal is a testament to her fortitude and her faith, that what has been done can be undone, and to a host of people around her - family, friends, and scholars who share her commitment to the truth and her hope for better days.


I thought I knew much of this story, but I didn’t. I had no idea as to the depth and breadth of it all, so well-funded, and so well connected to rightwing politics and rightwing military leaders. I knew something about Colorado Springs as the center of it all, but no idea as to how deep it went, and how deep it remains, though more and more is being revealed, and brought under scrutiny.


I find it amazing that evangelicalism thrives in an environment of control, fear, and secrets, and when brought to light, it reacts with violence, and lies all the more to cover itself and keep the flock obedient.


This vital book filled in lots of  my knowledge-gaps, and drew lots of lines between people, organizations, and ideas, to make it painfully clear just how insidious and deadly is the evangelical hold on much of America. Evangelicalism is not about life, no matter what it claims, but control and power and greed and manipulation, with the white male as king of the mountain.


My thanks to Ms. Du Mez for this extraordinary book, a book that belongs on everyone’s shelf, or on everyone’s kindle, deserving a careful reading and much prayer.


And, yes, like me, you may need shower or two  after reading it.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Houston, We Have a Problem

A union man, that's me.

I joined the Teamsters in college, and throughout my years, I've been supporting American Labor, one of the three legs of our middle class: strong government, strong industry, strong labor unions.

I've supported labor unions because the working women and men of America face one of the toughest unions of all, the Oligarchy, well-funded, well-organized, with top-notch attorneys.

Against this, by herself, the American worker doesn't stand a chance, but together, in a union, folks have a chance to challenge the Oligarchy and win their case.

So, we have two entities facing one another, sometimes locked in mortal combat.

On the one side, the Oligarchy - committed to the lowest possible wages, next-to-nothing benefits, and maximum profits for the shareholders.

Against this powerful ensemble of ideas, the Labor Union and collective bargaining.

I suppose one could say that the contest between labor and owner is vital to the health of our society, sort of like the biblical idea of steel sharpening steel.

But in the case of police unions, where's the other steel?

It seems to me that police unions have no one to challenge them - and as a result, they've been getting away with murder, literally.

Yes, technically, the police work for us, but in reality, they work for themselves, too often a law unto themselves, defying again and again, efforts to regulate behavior, with tax money flowing into their coffers unchecked.

Police unions aren't unions, because there's no equivalent of the Oligarchy to challenge them, and there seems to be no regulation other than their own efforts, or that of city hall, to cover up their crimes and protect renegade officers. And truth be told, the Oligarchy has always relied on the police to protect their property and vital interests. These days, it would seem, the Oligarchy has not desire to reign in America's police departments.

And worst of all, there are serious questions now being raised about the kind of people law enforcement has been recruiting for some years now, the kind of person immune to training, and more like neighborhood bullies than peace makers, sometimes operating like a branch of the local KKK rather than public servants.

Houston, we have a problem.

And it's high time that America addressed it.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Mitch McConnell - Packing the Courts

Why does Mitch McConnell care only about packing the courts?

The GOP plans to run the nation for the next several decades even if the GOP should lose the next several elections, maybe even the Senate for a time. 

The GOP has in place, now, judges who will turn away progressive, common-good, laws, including civil rights, voting rights, and rights for women - anything for the common good, which is generally termed “socialism” or “communism.”

All “rights” involve what the GOP sees as a “transfer of wealth” from the white rich, the elite, the Oligarchy, anointed by gawd to govern the rest of us, to those undeserving or unqualified.

And just who are the undeserving, the unqualified?

People of color, immigrants, non-christians, women and children, the elderly, and those with challenges, and in some instances, the list even includes Jews.

And poor whites, as well. 

If you want to see a picture of the GOP’s white America, check out the 1920s and 30s - millions of white families living in abject poverty - from the Dust Bowl to the  urban jungles. And did the rich care? No way at all, because poor whites were fodder for the factories, and could be counted on to side with the rich when it came to matters of race.

It’s ultimately the subjugation of African Americans , the symbol of everything the South lost after the War.

Jim Crow laws and voter suppression is still the modus operandi of the GOP - to realize their dream: as the world was before “Gone with the Wind.”

Mitch McConnell is nothing more, and certainly nothing less, than an antebellum southern elite.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Splintering Effect

The principle proof of evil's presence is the splintering effect, the breaking apart and the breaking down, of life's essential connections.

Whether it be Cain killing his brother, Abel, or Elisha using his newfound power to kill some children, the splintering effect sets one against the other - people, communities, entire nations, the world.

Jesus fought evil's effects by crossing boundaries and going where "proper people" didn't go.

The Apostle Paul speaks of Christ reconciling the world, through the cross, through his death, by his suffering, to repair the damages of sin.

Ultimately leading Paul to the glorious affirmation, that in Christ all the usual categories of splintering are overcome, so that in Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or free, no longer male and female.

Movement Conservatives*, of either the political or evangelical bent, require splintering for their purposes.

They thrive on division, folks pitted against one another - the usual categories of splintering: saved or damned, man or woman, white or colored, taker or maker, capitalist or socialist, straight or queer, strong or weak, Reagan or FDR, public schools or private schools, voting rights or voter fraud, voting in person or voting by mail, masks or no masks, stay home or go to church.

For the Movement Conservative, everything is a reason for splintering, because in splintering, they find their perverse strength.

Movement Conservatives are not strong enough in the usual shove and push of politics and faith; they don't have the votes to win, except through gerrymandering and voter suppression, and likely Russian influence.

Nor do they have a Gospel of hope and reconciliation - needing instead schools and churches with harsh boundaries, seasoned with white supremacy, male dominance, the love of guns, and the hatred of LDGBQ persons.

Movement Conservatives have to divide in order to conquer, and let's be honest here, the Movement Conservative is determined to conquer, to win everything, to destroy democracy and rebuild the Oligarchy (Southern Style), to undo FDR's social supports and replace them with Reagan's supply-side economics, to undo voting rights, civil rights, rights for women and people of color, because such rights for all, they claim, diminish the rights, the liberties, the privileges, of the few, those few who alone know how to run things, to advance the American cause, or the cause of Christ.

That some should be Movement Conservatives for the sake of politics doesn't surprise or sadden me. There have always been those like the Genesis story of Lamech who love the blood and gore of revenge and victory.

But what truly saddens me, though it doesn't surprise me either, is how the evangelicals have bought into Movement Conservatism lock, stock, barrel.

In so doing, evangelicals have abandoned the salvation of Christ, rejected his purpose, denied his call to discipleship, and joined the hostile crowds standing in Pilate's courtyard to shout at the top of their lungs, hands raised in praise, "Crucify him."

Evangelicals have bowed the knee to Baal, Mammon, and Ceaser. With their trumped up claims to "freedom of worship," and personal rights, they trample upon the public good and further splinter the nation. They no longer serve Christ, but some distorted version thereof.

History is full of such hideous moments: and of more recent times: the church in Spain with Franco, the church in Italy with Mussolini, and the church in Germany with Hitler. Fascism, national socialism, militarism - white supremacy, racial purity, the dominance of the rich, the subjugation of women, and government by brutal power.

Movement Conservatives are out to get it all, and if they can't get it all, they'll destroy it all.

In the meantime, dear friends, be smart, be careful, wash your hands, wear your masks and don't be misled by those who would splinter the nation while working for their own privilege and power.

If you're a Christian, spend some time in the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount and Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

And to all my friends here, if you've read this through, I salute you for your care and compassion, your larger sense of life and hope, your commitment to the common good of this nation, and the welfare of the world.

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*For Movement Conservatives, see the work of historian, Heather Richardson ...