Frisbeetarianism

When Your Beliefs Are Not Open to Change

George Carlin defines Frisbeetarianism as the belief that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck there. But there is a version of Frisbeetarianism that affects us while we are still alive. All too many of us treat our values as fixed in place, impervious to all attempts to change them. Are facts contrary to your values? Well, then, adhere to “alternative facts,” or, as I call them, lies.

I remember years ago going to a coffee shop in Cambria, California, for lunch. At the next table were a couple of ranchers discussing how Rush Limbaugh was such a God-fearing man. Did these ranchers care to know that their beloved Rushbo goes to the Dominican Republic loaded with Viagra to have his way with loose women? Or that he has had problems of addiction to Oxycontin, the so-called “Hillbilly Heroin” that is an opioid? And that’s only the beginning.

These men would be offended if I brought up any of these points. Why? Because they conflict with their beliefs and values.

We all have beliefs that affect our behavior. That’s why I get my news from CNN and NBC rather than Breitbart. Oh, occasionally I look at Breitbart.Com, though it fails to move me in any positive way. But I have changed my political affiliation lately to Independent, because the last several elections have soured me on the Democrats, thus changing voting behavior that goes back to the election of 1968. I also look warily at Progressives of the “Brie and Chablis” variety that populate West Los Angeles.

The point is that my beliefs are still in flux. What used to be a wide paved road has become for me a pitted dirt path that can lead me into making horrendous and immoral decisions. I consider myself a person who is still evolving.

And by no means do I wish to sail onto the roof and get stuck there.

Poems that Shock and Awe

Harold Pinter in a Photo by Eamonn McCann

It was during the Presidency of George W. Bush, who at the time was putting together the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” to combat the evil Saddam Hussein. Playwright and poet Harold Pinter had given a speech at a “No War on Iraq” Liaison meeting in Parliament. He ended his speech indicating that we all add “a clear obligation, which is to resist.” The following two poems were written by Pinter with that spirit in mind:

God Bless America

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America’s God.

The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn’t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who’ve forgotten the tune.

The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in he dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America’s God.

Democracy

There’s no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They’ll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.

It’s always interesting to see oneself as the villain of the piece. But then, of course, we put ourselves all too willingly in that role. It didn’t take long before the “Coalition of the Willing” was down to us all by our lonesomes.

 

How to Stop Those Tweets

Girls, Are You Wearing Stiletto Heels?

I figure if we can get a troupe of Mexican dancers to render the Trumpf’s tiny hands inoperable by dancing on them with their stiletto heels, the people of the United States would breathe a sigh of relief. Never before has a president’s unedited prejudices gone straight from his putative brain out to the world at large without any editing.  Things have come to such a pass that I think it were best of Twitter were put out of business.

It’s not just covfefe that worries me: Trumpf and Kim Jong-Un of the DPRK are waging a constantly escalating war of threats that could take us to the brink of nuclear war. I am worried less about what Kim could do to us than what China and Russia would do if we attacked North Korea. Even now, we are sending bombers in international airspace just east of the Korean peninsula.

Our president is so out of control that no one can rein him in. Even Kelly and his other generals are helpless when Trumpf is alone at night with one hand on his cell phone and the other on the launch button.

So let’s get the Mexican dancers out there. It would be most appropriate.

Juggalos 1 Trumpf 0

There Were Two Rallies in Washington DC This Weekend: Guess Which Was Larger

This weekend was the so-called Mother of All Rallies (MOAR) of Trumpf supporters. Hundreds of mental defectives wearing red, white, and blue and waving American flags made as much noise as they could.

Also in Washington on the same weekend was a much larger, less violent demonstration, consisting of Juggalos and Juggalettes, the mostly young supporters of a band called Insane Clown Posse (ICP), were protesting the 2011 decision by the FBI that the movement was a gang. It’s not. The followers of ICP consider themselves a family. Although the songs they follow appear to be violent, they do not generally translate into violent actions by the Juggalos. (How very unlike the Trumpf Brownshirts!)

The whole seemingly violent Dark Carnival atmosphere of ICP is in fact a form of therapy which actually helps their followers cope with broken families, joblessness, bad relationships, and other misfortunes.

Perhaps our Presidente will take a cue from them. He would look great in black and white clown markings, and they would be wholly appropriate on him.

 

The Long Slow Death of America

Chris Hedges Is My Political Guru

I have met Chris Hedges several times at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival—before it moved to USC. On a regular basis, I read his contributions to Truthdig.Com and his books. Currently, he has a great article on Truthdig entitled “Diseases of Despair,” which paints a grim picture of the decline of mainline white culture:

The opioid crisis, the frequent mass shootings, the rising rates of suicide, especially among middle-aged white males, the morbid obesity, the obsession with gambling, the investment of our emotional and intellectual life in tawdry spectacles and the allure of magical thinking, from the absurd promises of the Christian right to the belief that reality is never an impediment to our desires, are the pathologies of a diseased culture. They have risen from a decayed world where opportunity, which confers status, self-esteem and dignity, has dried up for most Americans. They are expressions of acute desperation and morbidity.

A loss of income causes more than financial distress. It severs, as the sociologist Émile Durkheim pointed out, the vital social bonds that give us meaning. A decline in status and power, an inability to advance, a lack of education and health care and a loss of hope are crippling forms of humiliation. This humiliation fuels loneliness, frustration, anger and feelings of worthlessness. In short, when you are marginalized and rejected by society, life often has little meaning.

Hedges goes on from there to lambaste the whole shabby weltanschaaung of 21st century America. It’s not a pretty picture. Among his best books are:

  • War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002)
  • Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America (2005)
  • American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2007)
  • I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008)
  • Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009)

As you can guess from some of the titles, Chris Hedges is the son of a Presbyterian minister who, himself, attended Harvard Divinity School. As a war correspondent, he won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.

If you want to know what is wrong with this country, you can either wear a red hat that promises to make American great again, or you can use your brain and get a better idea of what is going on behind all the political spectacle.

Going Independent

Goodbye, Donkey! Goodbye, Elephant!

This summer, I have re-registered to vote as an independent. Ever since I came to be of voting age, I have been a Democrat. For a while, I even tried to help out in a congressional election—my man lost—and even donated money to the party at various critical junctures. Of late, I did not particularly care for the leadership of the party. I did not like Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I do not like Tom Perez. And, as time passes, I do not care for the way Hillary Clinton screwed up her presidential campaign last year; and I am not altogether sure I would have liked it all that much had she won. Granted, she wouldn’t have been as bad as Trumpf. From her ivory tower, I think she has totally lost touch with the voters, a large percentage of whom hate her for various reasons—many of them trumped up by the Right.

My first presidential election was in 1968. I refused to vote for either the Democratic (Humphrey) or Republican (Nixon) candidate. Instead, I wrote in Otto Schlumpf, a Franciscan priest from Santa Barbara, for president and comedian Dick Gregory for vice president. Both were actively against the Viet Nam War, as was I.

Over the years, the Democrats have been wasting the many successes of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lyndon Johnson came close when it came to domestic policy, but was a total washout in Viet Nam. He wisely withdrew when he realized how badly he had messed up. Too bad: He could have been one of the great ones. (But then Viet Nam made dunces out of a lot of otherwise smart politicians.)

I will probably still vote mostly Democrat, though no longer in the primaries. I don’t know what will happen to the Republican Party—nothing good, I hope—but I may conceivably vote Republican in some local elections, as I have done in the past, especially  when I voted for Schwarzenegger for governor of California against the Democrat Phil Angelides in 2006.

In time, I would like to see more than two major political parties in the U.S. And I don’t mean single-issue parties like the Libertarians and American Independents. The Democrats and Republicans will continue to morph over the next few years, most likely in a way that is unacceptable to me as a voter.

So now I’m an independent.

Erasing the Confederacy?

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877)

For some reason that perplexes me, there seems to be a concerted attempt of late to eliminate all traces of the Confederacy: its memorials, its flags, and its heroes. I, myself, have nothing against Robert E. Lee, a man I regard as a legitimate American hero who just happened to fight on the losing side. I even admire the somewhat unsavory Nathan Bedford Forrest, a brilliant cavalry general who just happened to be one of the founding members of the Ku Klux Klan.

These are men who believed in slavery along with millions of their countrymen. In fact, Forrest had before the war been a slave dealer. Do I think slavery is evil? Yes. Do I blame people in the past for believing differently than we do? Not at all. Slavery was petty universal until some point in the 19th Century. It exists even today in the United States, where many prostitutes are in fact slaves of the men who pimp them. We are wasting our time when we are trying to reform our ancestors by pulling down statues, banning flags, and denigrating heroes of times past.

To a certain extent, I believe that much of this whitewashing the past is due to the fact that even the Solid South is not necessarily solid. Americans from Blue States have invaded part of the South, and Red Staters have returned the favor.  If I lived in Memphis today, I probably would be persistently annoyed by all the trappings of the War of the Southern Confederacy.

Let the South have their heroes. Does that mean that we should permit slavery in the 21st century? By no means. We just have to admit that times and mores have changed.

If you reject my reasoning, I suggest you read the three hefty volumes of Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: A Narrative.  It is written predominately from the Southern point of view. As I read it, I kept thinking, “These people were Americans, too!”