Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Reeling and grasping for direction

A friend of mine lives in Mexico, because his wife is unable to get healthcare in the United States.  Don’t ask.  You’ll just get me started on the American decision to allow corporations to profit off of visits to a doctor, and that’s a misery for another day.  For now, let me address the distress he’s going through.  He’s been spending much of his retirement time yacking it up with a bunch of other retirees who gather each week to discuss politics.  I love the idea of lifetime geezer education, so I’ve been inclined to cheer them on from afar.  Problem is, though, they seem to be so dispirited by the endless stream of bad news from Washington that they’re actually thinking of disbanding.

My heart goes out to them.  I wonder if I’d keep coming back week after week to rehash the latest illustration of how America is making an ass of itself before all the world.  The problem of greed behind it all.  Our talent for generating great wealth, and then making sure it stays in the hands of bankers and CEOs and not too much spills over to the hoi polloi who will just squander it on bread and circuses.

Besides our greed problem, there’s also the fact that we seem to be unable to think in terms of both/and.  Instead, it’s either/or.  Take the White Christian people, for example.  They started the place; shouldn’t they own it?  Many of them seem to think so.  Instead now there are non-whites everywhere you look, and some of them are even transgendered.

Here’s the problem.  We couldn’t figure out how to manage the rise of the have-nots without the white people haves having to let go of all the goodies they had acquired by getting here first.  So we picked a man to be president who we thought would make sure that wouldn’t happen.  At least he could slow the process down.

I wish I hated America, so I could have a good belly laugh at all this.  But I don’t laugh at people falling down the stairs and I don’t laugh at people shooting themselves in the foot. And when you ask young people on the street who we fought the Revolutionary War with and they answer Russia, I don’t laugh, either.  Ignorance makes me sad.  That’s why I became a teacher, because I saw ordinary common ignorance as something that was fixable. 

Some kinds of ignorance, of course, I just can’t help myself.  Like watching Pat Robertson (may he live forever) with his predictions that hurricanes will hit the coast of North Carolina because there are lesbians running loose in California.  Or Jim Bakker urging his Christian flock to recycle his potato soup buckets into elimination buckets.  No kidding.  Have a look here

Putting Trump and his men in charge of the henhouse is that kind of ignorance.  We once taught kids to think logically.  "A is bigger than B.  B is bigger than C.  Therefore A is bigger than C."  Today it's "Politicians are all bad.  Trump's not a politician. Therefore, Trump is good."

Inner city schools are a mess.  The solution?  Logically, replace them with charter schools. Appoint a billionaire friend who has dedicated her life to destroying the public school system to head up the Department of Education.  Killing two birds with one stone.  She can dismantle the Department of Education at the same time.  What happens to the kids we can't fit into the charter schools?  Look, I can't fix everything.

Solve the “too big to fail” banking problem by appointing Steve Mnuchin, former executive at Goldman Sachs to Secretary of the Treasury.  It appears that Trump's promised "draining of the swamp" (getting rid of corrupt politicians) means putting the people that corrupted the politicians in the first place in his Cabinet, cutting out the middle man.  Logical.

I can't handle the news anymore.  Every morning it's another outrage.  The accumulation of corporatist millionaires (what am I saying - billionaires!) in the new ruling oligarchy known as Trump's cabinet.  This morning there was a petition being passed around from a friend of mine in New York protesting the need for New Yorkers to foot a million dollars a day so that Mrs. Trump and her son can stay in the tacky gold tower they're used to.  Wouldn't do to have to move to that dump on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.  Not when you can stick the sucker-taxpayers for the rent to stay where you are!

It's called the new reality.  And I'm still getting word from my sister that God has answered her prayers by putting Trump in the White House.  She gets her information from Billy Graham's little boy, Franklin, so she knows it's good information.  Like so many other evangelicals, the folks now fixing to dismantle Medicare and raid the Social Security coffers to the benefit of the superrich have figured out these are single-issue voters who can be had simply by promising to repeal Roe v. Wade. And making sure their leaders keep them informed as to God's will.

Just don't know what to do.   I can't live with this much depression.  But I can't shake it, either.  Got to get back to normal.  Got to find a way not to take this in and make it feel like such a personal attack.  Not doing well at all.

Wish I could watch Trump piss off China by talking with Taiwan and laugh.  Laugh at watching that Carson bozo take on the country’s big city mayors as head of Housing and Urban Development. Laugh as Trump backs another truckload of alligators up to the swamp he promised American suckers he would drain.

I’m going to suggest to my friend in Mexico that they rename themselves the Resisters of Rosarito Discussion Group.  Sticking your head (my head - obviously I'm talking to myself here first and foremost) in the ground will not satisfy.  It will only allow the pain to dig in and fester.  There has to be resistance.  Catharsis never comes with denial.

If you’re not going to fight, what are you going to do? 

Seriously.  What to do?  I am a fan of Robert Reich, whom I see in Indian restaurants here in Berkeley from time to time when he's not on YouTube urging people to organize and fight back. And of Elizabeth Warren.  And Van Jones is out there beating the pavements once again.  And of course, there's Bernie Sanders, who just keeps on running like an old Model T.  Love that guy.

But organizing and fighting back, for me, are easier said than done. I live in California. Do I knock on doors or join a telephone bank to get my democratic neighbors to vote for electors who are guaranteed to vote democratic already?  Do I join the secession movement? Do I move to Wyoming or North Dakota where my vote will have a greater influence on the Electoral College?

Do I pay more attention to what’s happening across the pond in Europe and Britain?  Keep abreast of Geert Wilders in Holland, Marine le Pen in France?  Austria narrowly escaped electing a fascist head of state in this week's election, but nobody thinks the winner can hold out against them forever.  Hungary is already in the hands of a thug who is systematically dismantling the courts and oversight bodies..  Germany is struggling with a cross between the Tea Party and a Trump Rebellion in the “Alternative for Germany” Party, which only won 4.7% of the national vote in the 2013 election (and therefore was not entitled to any seats because the country has a 5% minimum requirement).  Three months ago, however, they were able to gain recognition in ten of Germany's sixteen state parliaments.   

All part of the same Trump show.  The legitimate gripes by the have-nots against the wealth generators who have not figured out how to distribute the wealth equitably.

My friends, many of them, insist I need to get away from the computer and cultivate my own garden.  Problem with that is that in this age of connection, the national garden is our own garden. Another alternative, also common among my friends, and one which I lean toward quite strongly, is to kvetch. Sit hour after hour at the computer and keep track of all the injustices and shout OUCH day after day after day. At least it relieves some of the pressure.

Big news here in the East Bay this week is the fire in East Oakland.  Death count is now up to 34.  The artsy-fartsy crowd without a pot to piss in can’t afford the $2500 a month rent in Oakland (It’s $3500 across the Bay in San Francisco), so they gather together in death traps.  All part of the same problem.  The wealth generated locally by Silicon Valley is great for those who can afford the two, three, five, ten-million dollar homes you see advertised everyday in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Not so great on an artist’s income.  Haves, superhaves, and have-nots.  At least we're not at each other's throats yet.

Democracy?  Pretty much gone.  Vulture capitalism is still alive, but the natives are getting restless.

The stock market is at an all-time high.

I think I’ll do Christmas this year.


1 comment:

Emil Ems said...

Dear Alan,

These are depressing thoughts indeed. Let me try to cheer you up with a song that led people to foxtrot into the abyss last time:

Yours sincerely