Grass Roots

The Logo of the Los Angeles Unified School District

It’s election time in Los Angeles again. This time, it’s a runoff between two school board candidates, incumbent Steve Zimmer and challenger Nick Melvoin. The issue between them relates to which candidate is for Charter Schools and which is against. On one hand (Zimmer), you have the teachers’ unions; on the other (Melvoin), you have big corporations. In an election such as this, I look carefully to see who’s spending more money—and I vote against that candidate or issue.

I am amazed that so many millions of dollars are being spent for two seats on the school board. Today alone, I have received eight live telephone calls and robocalls. Because of the tendency for elections in L.A. to go toxic quickly, I tend to be a bit abrupt with the live callers. One accused me of being against grass roots campaigning. I agreed with him and said that, increasingly, I find election campaigns—in general—to be overlong and overblown. So, yes, mark me down as being against grass roots or any other type of roots that are being shoved forcibly down my gullet.

The more money that is spent on politics, the more corrupt it is likely to be. Since I have no school aged children (or any other for that matter), I have no horse in this particular race; but I am more than willing to study the issues and vote according to my conscience. That usually involves ignoring all phone calls and TV ads (I don’t even watch TV) and reading the Los Angeles Times and maybe doing some Internet research. That might sound primitive to you, but that’s how I decide for whom or what to vote.

Yes, Vote, But …

Democracy Can Be a Bitch!

Democracy Can Be a Bitch!

We have a local election coming up on Tuesday, March 7. I will vote, of course, but I will not make any political canvassers deliriously happy. In fact, I might avoid answering the phone at all. There will be strange invitations to “town halls” from Judy, my “personal assistant”; there will be oddly inopportune “surveys”; and there will be young volunteers claiming to represent people running for the School Board, the City Council, or referendum issues financed by lying bastards from the real estate developers’ interests. If I pick up the phone at all, it will be to swear at telephone volunteers, or, more likely, at robocalls which stand no chance of being heard in their entirety by me.

Don’t people know that all democracy has given us this particular four years is a bonehead real-estate developer with tiny hands and a  mind and penis to match. Politics is unspeakably foul; and anyone involved is suspect as far as I’m concerned.

My mailbox is jammed on a daily basis with expensive four-color pleas for my vote. Actually, they are helpful. Anyone candidate or issue that spends what I consider to be too much money is probably taking money from nefarious out-of-state interests, like the Koch Brothers and their ilk. I assume that most of what I hear or read will be outright lies, and that ultimately I am being romanced out of my God-given rights.

I can hardly wait for March 8 to roll along.

 

Ethereal Innocence

Jon Stewart, Formerly of The Daily Show

Jon Stewart, Formerly of The Daily Show

Intellectuals have this little problem: They just cannot understand those who aren’t intellectuals. Irony and sarcasm will not do the trick. When we think that Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert have produced some withering putdown of someone on the other side of the culture wars, the only response from the other side is, “Consider the source. Who cares what a libtard has to say?” After all, they have their own information sources which Liberals have disdained to meet head on.

It’s roughly equivalent to “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

Looking back at the Presidential Election of 2016, it strikes me that humorous sallies are not a replacement for engaging with Red States. One has to confront, listen, and respond. Barack Obama did this in 2008 and 2012; Hillary in 2016 did not.

I am currently reading a book of essays on G. K. Chesterton by the Rev. James V. Schall, S.J. In a piece entitled “On Becoming Inhuman out of Sheer Humanitarianism,” Schall writes:

In the summer of 1926 (July 3 and 10), Chesterton wrote two essays in The Illustrated London News on literature and novels. He began with some advice that I recall my old professor Rudolf Allers had also given some years ago, namely, “read even bad novels.” Allers’s point was that you will likely find in lousy novels some rather accurate insight into how people are thinking or acting that you will not find in good literature or in your own experience. It is not easy to imagine all of the silly and wrong things that we might perpetrate on one another, yet we need to know this if only to save us from a certain naïveté or ethereal innocence. [Italics mine]

Maybe someone has to listen to what Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh are saying if we are serious about countering it. Even if what they have to say is unadulterated horseshit.

The “Saturday Night Live” sketches about the last election were brilliant: Alec Baldwin and Kate McKinnon couldn’t have been better. Yet millions of voters weren’t listening. They were tuning in to Fox News or Jesus or Breitbart.

Because the Democrats have failed to engage all the voters, we are resigned to waiting for a new Reichstag fire to be set.

Voting Against the Creepy Clown

It Was Worth It!

It Was Worth It!

Despite all my strong feelings about the upcoming election, there appeared a real possibility that I wouldn’t be able to vote. I could wait for the sample ballot with its attached absentee ballot application, but there was a better than 50% chance that I wouldn’t get the absentee ballot in my hands before I boarded my plane to South America.

So I called the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters and asked what I could do. They said I could vote in person by going to the County Clerk’s office in Norwalk. Foolishly, I took the 105 Freeway to Norwalk and got stuck in a behemoth traffic jam. It took me all of two hours to drive the 30 miles to the County Clerk’s office and only 15 minutes to vote. Fortunately, I took a better route home (the Golden State Freeway over to the Santa Monica Freeway).

This election matters a great deal to me. I know that California will not go for Trump—even Republican ex-Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to vote for him—but I have to be able to face myself when I look in the mirror. I have to act on my beliefs, or what am I?

You can bet that the Creepy Clown did not get an X in his box on my ballot. I can go to Ecuador now with a good conscience.

Defiance Is Everything

Wearing It Like a Badge of Honor

They Wear It Like a Badge of Honor

I know I said I would shy away from politics in this grim election season, but I could not avoid writing about what troubles me to the base of my soul. And that is the fact that people persist in backing Donald Trump despite the horrible behaviors that he is admittedly guilty of. At one point, he even said he could shoot some innocent down in the streets of New York without impacting his political base. Now I think that perhaps that is true.

The United States does not matter to these people. All that matters is expressing their defiance of all things relating to Obama, Hillary, liberalism, and political correctness. I keep thinking of Sly in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew:

Y’are a baggage, the Slys are no rogues. Look in the Chronicles—we came in with Richard [sic] Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris: Let the world slide! Sessa!

Yes, but once one wakes up from a drunken stupor, one has to face a world that is irretrievably broken. What then? Another impeachment trial?

This is the first election in the history of this young nation in which a large number of voters just want to scuttle the ship and sink it, even if they themselves drown in the process.

I am so exercised by this state of affairs that I’m going to drive out to the L.A. County Clerk’s office in distant Norwalk to pick up my absentee ballot for fear that, in the normal course of events, I won’t have it until after I leave for Ecuador. I know that Californians will reject Trump, but now, more than ever, I feel that my vote is personally important.

Consider it my own act of defiance.

Ideo-Bursts and Promisoids

The Whole Medium Is IMHO Suspect

The Whole Medium Is IMHO Suspect

About a year ago, I signed up for Twitter. But then, when I found out I was supposed to “follow” three existing Twitter accounts, I suddenly lost interest, so I never finished my application. About once a week, Twitter e-mails me to finalize my application … but I never will.

Why? A certain Prezidenchul candidate has adopted Twitter as his preferred method of communicating with the world, and I suddenly saw what was wrong with the whole setup. Standing at the microphone (broken or not), Donald Trump thinks in limited bursts of thought that are compatible with the character limit on tweets. He jumps from one tweet-length position to another. This effectively prevents him for discussing such nasty things as details that may substantiate his short ideo-bursts.

On the other hand, these same tweets endear him to his fans, who are not into such mundane things as facts. They are, if anything, practitioners of identity politics: Trump re-connects with his base, and since they identify with him, that connection is all that counts.

When you go into details, you could wind up betraying your base. So, the idea is to just skip around, making short promisoids without pinning himself down on any one of them. Promisoids good, facts bad!

So I think I will never complete my Twitter application process. And here, in considerably more than 140 characters, is why.

 

Quisquilian Diversivolence

The New Face of American Politics?

The New Face of American Politics?

The term come from a Futility Closet posting entitled “In a Word.” “Quisquilian” means worthless or trivial. “Diversivolence” is the noun form of an adjective meaning desiring strife. Those two words together pretty much summarize the 2016 election—most especially if you add Hillary’s phrase, “Basket of Deplorables.”

Obviously new terms are welcome, if the standard old ones put us in the mess we are in. Since the news media have signally failed to make any sense out of the this grim period, we need new ways to describe the, uh, situation.

I will attempt to search out new terms and bring them to your attention. Perhaps it will entertain you as well as add new shades of meaning.