When the mundane becomes revelatory, when banal pronouncements are considered startling epiphanies, when orchestrated spectacle is considered the apex of statesmanship; a society is fast approaching the finish line in its race to the bottom.
The corrupt leaders of society’s broken institutions remain busy spinning a self serving zeitgeist of denial, sowing gardens of ubiquitous ambivalence. The liturgy of mass self delusion anoints a polity comfortably numb and safely ensconced in a political paralysis; keeping the Bozos bouncing along on the bus sans wheels, happily enthralled in the reverie of their disillusionment.
Sarah Palin, looking slim and extremely fit slugs down a mega calorie Big Gulp on the CPAC dais. Sarah’s slurp becomes an iconic moment in GOP history, as fawning star struck conservatives believe it to be the symbolism of a new Statue of Liberty.
Morning Joe stuffing handfuls of Captain Crunch into his mouth to tweak the eat healthy nose of liberal manikin Mika, cheers the American driving public for making the 6 mpg Super Duty pickup the best selling truck in the USA. Morning Joe relishes any opportunity to confirm the resplendent truth of America’s voracious appetite for radical entitlement.
Newly elected Pope Francis closes his first Sunday address by advising visiting pilgrims to “have a good lunch” and the media falls all over itself with adulatory elation.
In a world understood as a branded sound bite, the affirming credo an individual adopts as holy gospel is self serving institutional propaganda that vigilantly defends the status quo.
In such a world, sound bites have become a school of famished piranhas that are devouring the body of rational understanding and the ability to peek beyond the veil of obfuscation.
The messages and symbolism signaled from our leaders and political celebrities is clear, loyal constituents are offered an absolution to remain stuck in the certitude ensuring the perpetuation of failing institutions badly in need of reform.
The CPAC crowd cheers Palin’s clownish moxie as she charges the battlements of Bloomberg’s Nanny State. Though I wonder if Palin’s salute to Seven Eleven was more of a product placement exercise than astute Kabuki theater; Palin’s masterful pandering played well to the partisans. She brought down the house and successfully sidestepped the issue of a commercial food chain that is progressively poisoning their customers with unhealthy food due to lax regulatory oversight, harmful food additives and corn fructose syrup infused processed food that is driving an obesity epidemic amongst the poor and minorities residing in the food deserts of America’s cities.
Palin’s showmanship appeals to the growing libertarian streak in the GOP. Let the market decide is the mantra. The jury is out but when the toxic food chain has killed off enough of the process food industries customers, General Foods will hire a Stanford MBA as a new product manager to design and market better foods for a better world. After all that’s how responsible job creators work.
Mornings Joe’s insistence on his free market right to be a mindless consumer is codified in the divine celestial ledgers of Laissez-faire capitalism. His fattened bank balance is the sole moral imperative to drive an inefficient gas guzzling truck that poisons the environment with carbon emissions. This is the same mind set that insists on building vacation homes on barrier islands. If a major storm destroys the dwelling so be it. FEMA and private insurance have socialized the risk to preserve the right of these homesteaders to settle on endangered land, tipping into the swelling seas, fueled by a changing climate brought on by excessive carbon emissions from Morning Joe’s Super Duty.
In the aftermath of the Newtown Massacre the yearning of citizens to strengthen gun control laws is met by the intransigent commercial interests of gun manufacturers. In a society bleeding from gun violence the NRA got busy greasing the palms of senators with filthy lucre to encourage diligence to protect 2nd amendment right to market high powered automatic rifles and 30 round magazines that can spray instant death into a room full of 1st graders.
Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA gave an impassioned speech at the same CPAC conference pointing to “the Washington elites” and “liberal media” as the root of all evil. States LaPierre, …gun control advocates “insult [us], they denigrate, and they call us ‘crazy’ for holding fast to [our opposition to gun control]. In their distorted view of the world, they’re smarter than we are; they’re special; they’re more worthy than we are; they know better than we do,” he said. “The liberal media can keep hating on me, but I’m still standing.”
How the CPAC attendees and the three million members of the NRA can fail to see the irony in Mr. LaPierre’s condemnation of “Washington elites” escapes me. To be sure, like many CPAC attendees, Mr. LaPierre and the NRA are fully integrated with the elites of Washington. In point of fact many are on the NRA payroll. His pernicious attack on a free press belies his unquestioned fealty to the constitution.
Which brings us back to Pope Francis. He is hailed as a much needed change in a scandal ridden Vatican. The global prevalence of sexual abuse by clergymen and the institutional protection of predatory pedophiles continues to trouble the church. Money laundering and other untoward financial transactions conducted by the Vatican Bank is another explosive issue that continues to fester. The rising voices of women and LGBT communicants seeking reforms to fully enfranchise them as equal citizens in the church are liturgical and theological issues that will continue to be repressed. These questions beg an urgent response from the ossified paternal hierarchy that resists transparency and fails to transcend practices that sacrifices the faith in service to the institutional religion.
Yes the monied pilgrims that made their way to Rome will enjoy the day and most surely find a wholesome meal to eat. What will sate today’s pilgrims and sustain the future generations will be to sit at an inclusive communion table to richly feast on the bread of truth. Throw the institutional banalities into the ovens to stoke the fires capable of baking a rich wholesomeness into the glorious bread of life.
Music Video: Fleetwood Mac, Hypnotized
Risk: political, religious, psychological, cultural
Republican’s fancy themselves to be the party of values. They profess to love God and country. They believe themselves to be the real Americans. They are the absolute definition of righteous patriots. They see themselves and their families basking in the light of a celestial exceptionalism. They occupy the center of a universe anointed by the invisible hand of free market capitalism, governed and sanctified by the benevolent love of their heavenly father, Jesus Christ.
Their values are based on a fundamentalist foundation of the King James Bible and the US Constitution as it was originally conceived and authored by the Founding Fathers in 1787. They are resolute in the belief of the correctness of their interpretation of this hallowed literature and remain adamant in how the instruction of these sacred tomes should be applied and implemented to shape and govern our Federal Republic.
If you question the basic supposition of their position they will tarry your thrust by questioning your love of country and your belief in God. Those same questions must be asked of them. The virulent defenders of the cross and crown of liberty consistently undermine the spirit of both. They serve the corporate objectives of church, military and industrial institutions that have formed an unholy alliance to rule and exploit the hearts and minds of an enslaved consumer market that cannot discern the difference between political liberty and a have it your way experience at Burger King.
America’s political ignorance is a poverty exploited by the oligarchs; giving them full sway to control and manipulate the levers of power to secure and advance selfish interests. They cloth their motives in priestly robes, medal adorned military uniforms, Rotarian flannel suits and Joe “the wannabe” Plumber overalls feigning a martyrdom of being crushed by the menacing liberal elites by standing for the values of free markets, Christianity, class mobility and a military spreading the global march of democracy.
The GOP presidential debates provided some telling political theater of how the party of values advanced the cause of individual liberty and governance informed by moral precepts. In one session a gay officer serving in Iraq asked the candidates “now that DADT has been repealed and gay service personnel can serve in the military would they support same sex marriage”. The gay serviceman unselfishly serving his country in a theater of war was roundly booed by the uber patriots sitting in the audience before Rick Santorum piled on and asserted not only would he not sign a same sex marriage bill into law, he would also reinstate DADT.
In another session the question concerning the mandatory requirement to purchase health care insurance was raised. The moderator asked a hypothetical question, “if a person failed to purchase insurance and required a life saving procedure who should pay?” One of the more compassionate conservatives shouted “let him die”. This was undoubtedly the same guy who condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.
Another high water mark of GOP moral turpitude occurred when the debate moderator questioned Rick Perry about the State of Texas position as the leader in capital punishment executions. The audience erupted in cheers. The United States is home to the worlds largest penal colony with an inmate population that exceeds 2,000,000. This belies the myth of the United States as the land of the free; particularly for the people of color who account for the largest proportion of the inmate population. This is good news for the free marketeers as the privatization of prisons is a growth industry. The profiteers of misery require the judicial apparatus of the states to maintain a prison occupancy rate of 90% to assure profitability for private investors. The threat to a fair trial has never been more at risk. This is a business opportunity right up the GOPs free market alley. The devaluation of the rule of law an unfortunate consequence. The value of money trumps the grace of justice.
The GOP’s deep investment in the culture of death mirrors a country thoroughly committed to the continued militarization of the economy regardless of its cultural cost. Republicans eagerly beat the drums of war and use the poetry of destruction to articulate a cutesy point. Remember John McCain using the melody of Barbara Anne to sing, “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” The neocons ate it up. The peacemaker may be considered children of God, but in the GOP the business of war and righteous crusades are divine.
Republicans pledge undying fealty to the Constitution and the rights of citizens. One would think that this would encourage vocal opposition to President Obama’s Executive Order to execute suspected combatant citizens without due process in respect to the right of a trial by a jury of their peers. Not a single word has been raised against this grievous violation of a basic constitutional protection. Where are all the freedom loving, constitution waving Teabaggers? It’s a natural extension of Republican’s refusal to recognize the full civil rights of citizens. As in the case of LGBT civil rights, the GOP’s vision of America protects civil liberties only for select citizens they deem worthy. The rights of the republic’s citizens and the rule of law be damned.
It is in this light that we can understand Rush Limbaugh’s misogynistic characterization of Sandra Fluke as a slut. Dehumanizing a group of people as “the other” or “less then” because they hold a contrary position is a dangerous sedition that undermines democracy.
Democracies need its citizens to reach an informed consensus to function. Consensus requires dialog to assimilate disparate views from multiple viewpoints and perspectives. This presupposes that the participants in the discussion recognize and value the rights of citizenship for all participants in the dialog. The highest value in a secular democracy is respecting the equal rights of all citizens. Without this value democracies crumble. Our democracy is in shambles.
This weekend Rick Santorum sat upon the alter at the Greenwell Baptist Church to accept the endorsement of Pastor Dennis Terry for the upcoming Louisiana primary. After laying his hands on Santorum to bless his candidacy, Pastor Terry delivered a sermon that spewed fire and brimstone onto the reprobate head of our secular democracy. “America” he said “was a Christian Nation ruled by Christ the King. He said American’s don’t worship Buddha, Allah or any other false Gods. He said American’s worshiped the God on High, Jesus Christ. And if they don’t like it they can get out.” As a Christian I can’t tell you how much I loathe this blatant bigotry. Jesus was all about inclusion and tolerance and I’m sure he would make short work of this Pharisee. As an American citizen, I can’t think of a more ignorant and damaging characterization of America’s promise and the democratic values it professes to uphold.
GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan, yesterday unveiled a budget that assiduously accounts for the price of every tax loop hole, generous corporate welfare allocation and tax reduction for the wealthy while demonstrating a chilling indifference for slashed social programs and its impact on human beings. Republican’s know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The party of values is thoroughly bankrupt.
Music Selection: Sen. John McCain, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran
Today is Aids Awareness Day. The organizations and people who have tirelessly worked to rid the world of this terrible plague is expected to announce that the scourge of Aids has peaked and that it is believed that in the struggle to manage, control and eradicate Aids the tide has turned. Some believe that the total eradication of Aids is within reach and could someday soon become a reality.
I remember when the Aids virus came to the attention of the general public. It was first called “the gay influenza” because of the preponderance of infection within the gay community. I also recall a news broadcast that identified the first Aids carrier into the United States. If I remember correctly it was reported that a Scandinavian Air steward had the unfortunate distinction of being carrier 001. A convenient scapegoat that supported the narrative of the disease as transmitted and carried by promiscuous gay lifestyles.
As the plague of Aids grew it devastated the gay community. Young beautiful men in the prime of their lives withered away to become living cadavers as the HIV virus ravaged their bodies. Caregivers and doctors fought to combat the disease but its cause and cure remained a mysterious enigma that baffled and perplexed researchers as the toll of is devastation mounted.
Friends, lovers and families were ripped apart by death and ignorance. Bigoted intolerant beliefs were voiced that the disease was God’s retribution visited upon Sodomites for their sinful behaviors. The vibrant gay communities of Castro and Christopher Street were besieged within by the virus and from the outside by the rising vitriol and condemnation of the gay lifestyles. The growing virulence of anti-gay bigotry paralleled the rising death toll of Aids victims. The mysterious terror of the disease permitted public opinion to elevate the sin of homosexuality from a “misdemeanor nuisance crime” to a capitol offense. Many believed the ghettoization of the gay communities was a rational response to quarantining Aids. Bigots preached that God’s Divine Retribution would snuff out Aids as the last gay man succumbed to the virus confined within the walls of their profane ghetto.
Medical science, social service and compassionate empathy of caregivers turned the tide and public perception concerning the nature, causes and treatment for Aids. Today we understand that this disease is not a gay affliction but is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system. HIV can be passed on through infected bodily fluids, most commonly via sex without a condom or by sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment. Aids afflicts people of all social classes, color, nationality and is particularly prevalent in the Third World where unprotected sex is common.
Aids Awareness Day brings us full circle about the need to be vigilant in seeking understanding and practicing intentional compassion. Our ignorance and our willingness to blame a segment of society as the cause and curse of Aids made us all complicit in the victimization of sufferers. It also make us defacto carriers of the disease by enabling the politics of intolerance and exclusion by erecting a wall of silence around the steeples of bigotry. Silence is death. May our voices and prayers always be heard in affirmation of all life.
This little ditty on NPR this morning about the Smithsonian Exhibit, Hide and Seek, an exhibition of Gay portraiture. Seems Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor and Bill Donahue, President of the Catholic League is upset that taxpayer money is being used to showcase what they consider to be unacceptable art. Here’s the link:
Its a doubled edged sword when government underwrites the creation of art. Exhibitions can confer a type of sanction that promotes censorship in service to state sponsored propaganda. From my perspective that is not the issue at stake here; but if you listen to the audio Bill Donahue condemns museums as “liberal elite institutions”. Mr. Donahue probably considers Hide and Seek as the latest subversive initiative by Obama’s Politburo to undermine American Family Values.
Mr. Donahue, still smarting from Andreas Serrano’s Piss Christ gets off his best shot in America’s escalating culture war by asserting that “working people, like himself, (read real Americans) don’t go to museums. He says they go to WWF wrestling matches.” He sarcastically suggests that perhaps government funding of the arts would be better spent underwriting WWF ducats for the masses. Beholden to his dogma, Mr. Donahue fails to recognize the difference between pedestrian commercial camp and artistic pursuit. He confuses the spectacle of bread and violent circus with aesthetic encounter, discovery and contemplation.
Mr. Donahue’s insistence that his position should be viewed in the same light as Muslims reaction when depictions of the Prophet Muhammad appear in visual art presentations is disingenuous. Muslims prohibit all visual representations of the Prophet Muhammad. The same prohibitions of promoting visual images of Jesus Christ is not a common practice of Christian denominations. Secular democracies also do not sanction fatwas and post bounties for jihadists to take out apostates and infidels. That is a unique blessing of secular societies that fundamentalists, religious zealots and Mr. Donahue fail to perceive.
File this one under the dumbing down of America Series, Triumph of the Willfulness.
Walt Whitman: Calamus Poems
You Tube Music Video: Aaron (Gay American) Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Risk: culture, censorship, homophobia
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.
MacBeth, William Shakespeare
Shakespeare could have written these words to describe America’s deteriorating political culture. Spoken by three witches as they wait to deliver a message to Macbeth, it accurately captures the foul stink of ideas espoused and tactics employed by Tea Party candidates and the tacit acceptance of their supporters as fair rules of engagement. The repugnant swill served up by the Tea Party and the alarming rise of a growing citizenry eagerly lapping it up at the Party’s public demonstrations and civic events is a disturbing indication of America’s radical rightest shift. The concoction offered at the filthy troughs by Tea Party candidates is a mixture of demagoguery, character assassination, blatant lies, bigotry, intolerance and xenophobia. They shout Anti-Federalist slogans, denounce Obamacare and the “socialist president” living at the White House as a fascist dictator. Hoisting Don’t Tred on Me flags, while tramping about in costumes dressed like Minutemen, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross and Hitlerian likenesses of Obama they would make for amusing political theater if it were not for the seriousness of the threat to democracy these misguided people pose.
The Tea Party articulates a steady stream of fear, loathing and mistrust. It effectively creates a fog of obfuscation to cloak the identity of its well financed backers allowing them to hide behind layers of opaque corporate structures. As of September 1, over $200 million was raised by Conservative groups to purchase issue oriented ads that attack liberals and support positions of conservative candidates. Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, has raised approximately $65 million from anonymous backers and he is strategically deploying it in districts and campaigns to fuel the conservative juggernaut and regain the House and Senate for the GOP. This is the genie the Supreme Court unleashed with its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Its a genie that Karl Rove knows how to tame and use to do the bidding of his corporate masters. These funds do not include the amount of direct funds raised by candidates. In hotly contested campaigns like Nevada Senate election, Tea Party endorsed Sharron Angle has raised over $14 million during the third quarter alone. In Delaware Christine O’Donnell raised close to $3 million in the two and half weeks since winning the Republican primary. Big money from well financed backers are flowing into the political coffers of Tea Party candidates. Following the money trail will more likely then not lead to a well carpeted corporate headquarters belying the purported “populist” agenda of the Tea Party movement.
Teabaggers are the shock troops, the populist covers for powerful global institutions that are salivating to carve up and consume the distressed assets of America that are up for sale and available to the highest bidder. America has hospitals, shopping malls, auto manufacturers, bridges, water pipelines, toll roads, shipping ports, offshore oil leases, minerals begging to be liberated from National Park dungeons, vast public school networks, community banks, military contracts, natural gas waiting to be fracted loose, toll roads, lots of distressed mortgages and millions of foreclosed homes weighing like a lead sinker on banks balance sheet yearning to be turned into a liquid asset. These are the real prizes at stake in America’s election. The Tea Party’s professed love of liberty and the constitution is useful only in so far as its expressed in their unquestioned commitment to laissez-faire democracy. Get government out of the way, no regulations, no taxes, no protections, no minimum wages and no unions. This is the cornerstone and common mantra of conservatives that opens the door to monied interests to snap up unencumbered assets on the cheap without any restrictions. It is the continued plundering of America.
Our revulsion to the repugnant statements of Tea Party candidates makes one wonder if they are engaged in a deliberate attempt to heighten our antipathy to the political process. Christine O’Donnell now well known coy TV ad of “I’m not a witch.”; Tea Party congressional candidate from Ohio Rich Iott’s bumbled pronouncement, “I am not a Nazi”; New York Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino’s statement “I don’t want homosexuality taught in schools”; and Sharron Angle’s assertion that “We must oppose the Sharia Governments of Dearborn Michigan and Frankfort Texas” seem to be comedic inanities spoken by political demagogues playing to the lowest common denominator of their low information voting constituents. Unfortunately, I don’t find humor in a thug espousing his homophobia, a dimwitted shill advancing religious bigotry clothed as “righteous intolerance”, a US congressional candidate aggrandizing Nazism or a Sarah Palin wannabe obfuscating critical issues confronting this nation with the affectations of her ego. One must pause and ask why are these ideals emanating from the Tea Party movement. It clearly expresses an ideology that is antithetical to the constitution and represents a virulent political strain that threatens civil rights and personal liberty. Teabaggers supporting Paladino’s homophobia, smiling at O’Donnell’s witchery and winking at Iott’s Nazi fantasies detract attention from serious candidates offering political alternatives. A disturbing example is Laura Wells, the Green Party Gubernatorial candidate for California who was barred from participating in the political debate and was later arrested for trespassing at a post debate party. This is a hair on fire moment for America.
It is a huge mistake to dismiss these comedic political pawns as the current election cycle’s candidate du jour. Big money is laying big sums on the line to support and control these candidates. The Tea Party and the big hidden money of the GOP is casting a bewitching spell on the electorate. MacBeth’s regicide is small change compared to Karl Rove’s intent to deliver a deathblow to democracy. Rove is mixing a special Tea Party elixir just for the occasion.
“Double, double toil and trouble,”
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
You Tube Music Video: The Stangelings, Season of the Witch
Risk: democracy, constitution, elections