Saturday, April 30, 2016

HUMAN WORLD?




Today there is an official ivory burn in Kenya. I listened to some live coverage from the scene on BBC World Service. This burn is a landmark assertion of Kenya's commitment to save its elephant population from ivory smugglers and poachers. Bravo. I'm on the side of the elephant in any elephant-vs-human conflict.

In one report, an interviewed expert talked about the place of elephants in a "human world". This reminded me of the European world colonizers who often referred to a "White Man's world" as they exterminated or enslaved indigenous populations with relatively superior weaponry. Same thing really. This twisted ideology is based in religion and the unrestrained breeding of the human species, which has become the top planetary predator due to its frontal lobe in combination with poorly integrated base animal instincts. Human violence is the evidence of the dissonance.

"Human world" to the likes of the Koch brothers or Donald Trump means that aggressive humans have a supreme right to exploit the world and its resources without any responsibility to the whole planet and its ecosystems. This self-destructive mentality is shared by elites across the planet. Organized religions, fawning on the wealthy for their financial health, support this ideology of world rape for profit. No religion has been innocent of this. Temples and cathedrals are the evidence. Iconography, art and money are all entwined. The elephants and other species pay with their lives.

This may be a human world but it is certainly not a humane one. The elevation of humanity to god-like superiority has never been accompanied by god-like wisdom, mercy or justice. Quite the contrary.

Monday, April 25, 2016

GROW UP. I DON'T HATE HILLARY.


The feminine wiles are at play. I know them all too well as a man who worked in a profession dominated by a majority of women. Women make lousy debaters. They can be aggressive, even violent, but when push comes to shove with men in contention, they will inevitably revert to whining as a last-ditch method of defense of their position.

Let's face it honestly, fellow Leftists, Hillary has been shamed by Bernie Sanders on the big issues that divide Left and Right in politics. Her stance, squarely in the middle, has made her vulnerable to ample criticism from both quarters, but more from the Left, simply because the Democrat Left has been oppressed since 1992 first by Centrists like Bill Clinton and then by the Right, which used typical dirty tricks to win elections in 2000 and 2004. Centrist Obama came roaring in like a lion and will leave like a lamb of bland compromise. We voted for change and got spare change on major issues like fiance reform, foreign policy and health care.

I don't hate Hillary Clinton. In fact, she reminds me of many women with whom I have shared nursing jobs. She is a hard pragmatist who moved from middle class to celebrity class through hard work alongside her con-man husband. Couldn't have been easy. I've read her post-First-Lady autobiography. I think I get where she is coming from. It is where she is, and where she seems to be going, that trouble me.

I hated her choice to laud a man like Henry Kissinger. I hate her association with lords of high finance in New York. I hate her apparent coziness with the Koch brothers. I hated her performance as Secretary of State, an expensive million-air-mile photo op with heads of state which accomplished little other than furthering her public image. I hate her reluctance to release the content (promises?) of speeches to finance executives. I hate her cashing in on the Black vote provenance of Bill Clinton, despite offering little in policy projections to actually solve Black crime and poverty. I hate her hair style.

I think all this whining in media by women that Hillary is hated by Leftist men because of some irrational or subconscious misogyny is insulting to women as well as men. Absurd notion. Hillary is being held to a Presidential election standard of criticism and scrutiny. In fact, I believe she has received more sensitive treatment than she deserves given her lack of truly progressive agenda. She is running on a mediocre platform which will most likely yield less change than Obama's more progressive one. This will not win votes to change the complexion of the Congress in 2018. Hence even less will get done. But Hillary will have secured her place in history as The First. 

Hillary may well blame misogyny for her failures if elected, as many Obama supporters blame racism for his. The truth is that private misogyny or racism motivates few real people in the real world when it comes to their economic and political fortunes. Each of those concepts in 2016 is a phantom blamed by those who simply cannot manage their roles adequately under the real circumstances of life. So, to those howling Valkyries who would take up the spears of feminism to promote or defend Hillary Clinton simply on the basis of her vagina, I would say, "Grow up."


Friday, April 22, 2016

OBAMA-LOGIC


President Obama has weighed in on the debate in the U.K. concerning its popular referendum on the question of whether to stay in or break with the E.U. on a significant basis. President Obama's case for telling U.K. to remain in the E.U. hinges on his claim of U.S.'s entitlement to cast its vote due to its assistance to Europe during and after two world wars of the 20th century. I think this could set an interesting international precedent.

Perhaps the head of the Chinese government should weigh in on U.S. policy since they have lent us the money to keep our economy from collapse. Perhaps the king of Saudi Arabia is justified in threatening to gut the U.S. economy if the Saudi involvement in the 9-11 attacks on Manhattan, which has been previously buried for obvious reasons, effect U.S.-Saudi-Arabian relations. Perhaps Indian government officials should weigh in on labor policy in the U.S. since their citizens have propped up the U.S. medical establishment and also provided cheaper labor to the tech industry.

The quid pro quo of Obama's pressing his Presidential position on the U.K. referendum is indicative of the old corrupt politics of The West. It reveals the fallacy of true democracy in the U.S., U.K. and E.U.. It appears the real reason that Obama has stepped in is the assertion of control by politicians who are in the pockets of financiers, who have assumed the role of aristocratic puppet masters of global governance. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

HARVARD REARMS

Howard Zinn, Boston University professor and author, 
addressed us at anti-war demonstration on Boston Common in 1971.

Perhaps it is preparing for another anti-aristocratic revolt like the one in the 1770's when Harvard was already over a century old and on the Tory side at first. The esteemed Massachusetts Ivy has invited the military back on campus in full force with the addition of Air Force ROTC. Other branches have already returned to Harvard. 

Harvard distanced itself admirably from American militarism during the Vietnam War era in protest of that colonial war. But that was a different time. That was a time when Bernie Sanders would have seemed a middle-of-the-road socialist and Hillary Clinton would have been laughed at as a potential Presidential candidate by the leaders of the Democrats. 

America's war industry is now booming. Thanks to wily propaganda, patriotism is also back in the form of constantly thanking paid killers for their service abroad in distant fields where they have no ethical reason to be. This does not make these paid killers (soldiers) happy necessarily. American taxpayers will be picking up the tab for treating their psychological damage for decades to come. American citizens may also pay the price when gunned down by a veteran in a fast-food restaurant. 

Perhaps the Harvard elite consider militarists peace-keepers. Or, perhaps they consider them portfolio-protectors, who insure the long term appreciation of the Harvard endowment funds. The reality is that the American military resides on foreign soil and foreign seas to intimidate and negotiate in favor of the American Way, a.k.a. ruthless corporate capitalism. Harvard is at the nucleus of that American Way, well insulated from the reality of combat troops on its ground.

I know now that the cultural influence of my generation of anti-war advocates is dead. There will be no requiem, because, like old soldiers, we will simply fade away out of frustration and disgust over what we see happening at places like Harvard. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Merkel 2.0

Hillary feigns laughter after Angela remarks that nobody seems to know they are zombies.


Hillary Clinton plans to become Merkel 2.0. It looks like she will succeed on the backs of bourgeois baby-boomer women who like her "look" and corrupt Black ministers/politicians who swore their fealty to hubby Bill, mafia don of the Center-Left-Kinda-Right. Like Merkel 1.0, Hillary Clinton is a slave of the IMF and Wall Street. Perhaps even a zombie or the victim of some kind of body-snatching. You can see the glimmer of her resident evil whenever she gets what she wants, like when she won the New York primary. Her voice drops low and takes on the cadence of a truck driver after a successful bar fight. 

What's the harm in letting aggressive bourgeois women have their goddess in The White House? Well, if you are happy with the socio-economics of the current world, no harm at all. If you like war, poverty and exploitation of migrants for financial and political gain, no harm at all. If you think people like Henry Kissinger, Benjamin Netanyahu and the King of Saudi Arabia are really nice guys, no harm at all. If you think that ignoring the outrage of Americans over illegal immigration and environmental degradation is OK, no harm at all. If you think that college students should still be cash-cows to be milked by college administrators, banks and the government, no harm at all. If you think that Obamacare is really the best universal health coverage Americans deserve, no harm at all.

Angela Merkel, like Hillary, will always do well for herself. She'll speak for high fees to the elites of the world. She'll be offered high-pay jobs. She'll most likely have a nice government pension as well. She won't have to wait in a clinic for health care with hundred of migrants. She won't have to live in a slum with them either. Her next jobs won't be impacted by competition for resources by dissonant minorities. She, like Hillary, will always be able to laugh the laugh of the IMF-Wall-Street zombie. And, bourgeois women will laugh along with them until the next revolution.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

THIS IS GETTING REALLY NUTTY.

Trump sign in East Boston. Photo from The Boston Globe. 

This morning I was treated to a story on one of my local National Public Radio stations, WGBH. I would link the story, but it was unavailable on their site search engine or Google. I found that nutty too. But the gist of the story was the "plight" of illegal Latino immigrants in East Boston who are feeling oppressed by Trump election signs in their neighborhood. No kidding.

It seems the local NAACP, an organization which is grappling for relevance in an information-laden world, has latched onto and encouraged anti-Trump sentiments and fears in the Latino communities of East Boston, which is 55% Latino, a majority. So, who are the fascists in this scenario? One business owner in East Boston was interviewed.  He moved out of Massachusetts after feeling he was being displaced by immigration in his native neighborhood. He still operates a laundry business in East Boston, and he has been harassed by local Latino residents for posting a Trump sign. He has been told to remove the sign by people he once considered friends as well as customers.

A Latino organizer from East Boston was also interviewed. She whined on that the Trump signs were somehow oppressing the Latino people of East Boston. What was her best stupid comment? She implied that many Central Americans fled to East Boston because of the lack of freedom and democracy in their home nations. Really? My reaction was two-fold. First, as a former property owner and resident of East Boston, my experience of the Latino residents was colored by their total detachment from the Anglo community as they assembled a facsimili of their native land. Second, freedom and democracy are maintained by contested elections in which actual citizens, not illegal immigrants, participate. 

To the offended illegal immigrants of East Boston, I say, "Mind your own business. If you decide to go to a country where you cannot or will not legitimately participate in its political process, butt out. Enjoy our freedom of speech, but threatening people for practicing their Constitutional civil rights in not acceptable." To the Trump supporters of East Boston, I say, "While I think supporting a billionaire for President is ill-conceived in your social class, I totally support and encourage your legal participation in the electoral process. Stay strong in that, but please do more research on the candidates."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

YES. BERNIE DARED.

Israeli Wall, a wall Donald Trump must envy. 

I will remain open-minded and practical until election day, but I have to applaud Bernie Sanders for his recent statements concerning Israel during his debate with Hillary Clinton. It was courageous for him to be honest about his opinions on the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Bernie, as quoted from www.feelthebern.org“…the bottom line is that Israel must have the right to exist in peace and security, just as the Palestinians must have the right to a homeland in which they and they alone control their political system and their economy.”

This just follows the basic human rights philosophy of the United Nations and other international organizations. However, it is in stark contrast to the defensive posture of many American Zionists and the politicians who take their money. Bernie has publicly challenged the prejudice that all genetic Jews support Israeli-Palestinian apartheid as a defensive strategy. And, this comes from a person who has generational links with Holocaust victims.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

MORE SHAMING



Yes. We don't need less shaming in our society, but more. And that shaming should be vocal and freely administered to those who simply are too thick or demented to understand that some behaviors are antisocial or dysfunctional for themselves. 

Driving in a densely populated urban area will provide ample evidence of the need for more social shaming. Passengers in any car with a texting driver should immediately call that driver an idiot and grab the phone from their hands. The same action should be taken when the driver is using a hand-held phone or eating or slurping a liter-size drink. For example, yesterday morning a car came alongside mine with a moron eating toast while driving. He looked over at me while chewing like a cow with blank bovine eyes. I simply shook my head and mouthed the word, "Moron." He sped away as though I'd aimed a gun at him. 

A great amount of attention is being paid to so-called fat-shaming, especially among women. Guess what. Being obese is unhealthy. Point of scientific fact. If you are proud of being unhealthy, like the jerk who blows cigarette smoke into your face and says he loves to smoke, you are simply stupid or mentally ill or both. If you are struggling to correct being overweight, you should be applauded mildly. After all, getting slimmer is for your own damn good, not mine.

Alcoholics and drug addicts who refuse treatment once it has been made clear to them that they have a problem can do with a good dose of shaming. I recently had an illustration removed from Facebook because it was critical of female heroin addicts who intentionally get pregnant while using. Yes, there is a movement to coddle these women, thereby encouraging the production of another generation of addicts. I shame recalcitrant addicts relentlessly by raising the subject of their inebriation when they stop me repeatedly in my neighborhood to beg for money. Why? I do not do it to be cruel. I simply know from working as a nurse with recovering addicts that no addict seeks help when people happily hand them money for drugs and alcohol freely. Duh. Truth is that the most adamant anti-shamers would be too scared or simply uncaring to risk such an intervention on a personal level. 

Antisocial children are another category of the enabled shameless. I'm not talking about the suburban kid who innocently stands up on subway seats when excited. I'm talking about the brat who provocatively throws a full cup of sugary drink on the floor of the subway while the parent carries on texting. The target of my shaming in these situations is the stupid and lazy parent. "Is he/she mentally retarded?" I might ask. The stunned parent will often shrink from me while shaking his/her head "No." "Oh," I will continue," then you might consider teaching him/her to behave like a socially responsible human being in public." When I have done this, the child usually shows more response than the parent who will either get up and move or bury his/her head back in his/her smartphone screen. I also like shaming pushy young people when they sit in handicap seating while people stand in crowded subway/bus aisles with canes and crutches. It's easy. I address my comment loudly to the air, "Isn't it amazing how selfish some people are to hog the handicap seats while handicapped passengers stand." 

What has happened to us as a species? Tolerance movements have been about valid issues of racism, homophobia and sexism. Somehow we have allowed these to be exploited by those who cast their own obnoxious or unhealthy behaviors as victimhood or entitled right. I believe much of this has been rooted in increased alcohol and prescription drug abuse in the U.S.. Drug companies, street-drug cartels and alcohol peddlers have had a field day with relaxation of policing against drunks/addicts and commercial indoctrination by psychologists and MD's about the superiority of drugs over self-development, education and restraint. A low-cost and effective antidote is shaming whenever/wherever shaming is due. I think shaming those who refuse to call a problem a problem is a good place to start. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

COOKERY AND DEMOCRACY

Gordon Ramsay, relatively at rest. 

I confess to liking Gordon Ramsay's cooking programs. Ramsay is in some ways the Donald Trump of kitchens, I know. He is foul-mouthed and brash. His behavior rustles the shades of my proletarian childhood in a rough small city. He is familiar. He barks and bites in even measure for his ideals.

I worked in restaurant kitchens when I was in college. I was a dishwasher, bus boy and also the sous chef to a top-shelf New York chef. The job of line cooking is grueling. I have felt the heat, the burns from spatter, the knife cuts and the pressure of coordinated timing. It can be psychologically brutal as well as physically demanding. 

This is not why I watch Gordon Ramsay. I am watching his Hell's Kitchen series through the lens of my past work in group therapy and in-patient nursing. I am also watching it through the lens of a follower of politics and political history. From these perspectives, the shows are simply riveting. 

Line cooking during a dinner rush resembles the current geopolitical environment caused by colonial politics, overpopulation and climate change. Two essential factors prevail: The domination of the chef with the central vision and the communicative team work of the food workers. The balance between these factors seems to have determined Gordon Ramsay's success as a world-famous restaurateur. However, if his methodology is transposed on world politics, Vladimir Putin's Russia resembles a Ramsay kitchen more than Obama's U.S..

The fact is that governments in Singapore and China are also more like a Ramsay kitchen than the U.S. government. I am not saying that these governments are qualitatively better. I am saying they are more effective at producing concrete results. In the case of China, its rapid modernization with its obvious overpopulation and climate degradation displays the effectiveness of authoritarian leadership within a society conditioned to communist-socialist ideals, which are the embodiment of team in social practice.

Despite my conditioning to worship democratic ideals, I cringe when Ramsay delegates selection of losers to the competing cooking teams. I am thrown into mental conflict by this. Don't coworkers have the knowledge of each other and their work which should produce the correct decision in this? I often scream "No!". Then I think of why. It's simple. I am watching all the action through cameras above the fray. I am not stressed. I am sitting in my room. My view is actually above Ramsay's view as he reacts and rants to get the dinner service done to his standard of perfection. 

Political observers in this time if information technology are like viewers of Hell's Kitchen in this regard. Unlike Obama or Putin, we have the luxury of watching the sausage-making of government from a comfortable distance. We are not immediately effected by the stray knife or grease splatter. But we do individually dine at the table of our political leaders' decisions. As a senior on American Social Security, I am acutely aware of this. I understand why seniors vote. We are the gourmands at that table of government's recipes for a good American life. 

So, whose table would I rather sample: Ramsay table or Rachel Ray table? Do I believe Donald Trump's kitchen would produce a gourmet menu for me as a low-income citizen? Or would Bernie Sanders produce a nutritious but egalitarian meal for more Americans? Who could possibly organize Congress into a line which could cook anything edible for the average American? On the other hand, does Putin's Russia get any Michelin stars for human rights or egalitarian well being? Hard to say. But I think those who govern could learn a great deal about how people work or do not work together by watching Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.

Friday, April 8, 2016

AD MAN


Pope Francis was hired by the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church to be an ad man. That's all. He is not a saint. He is not touched by a supreme being. He is in public relations. That's it.

Francis' job is tough. I will grant him that. I suppose that is why the Vatican called in a Jesuit, the heavy lifters of intellectualism in Catholicism. They are cynical masters of double-speak. I should know; I studied under them for seven years.

The Vatican is rapidly losing relevance in the world. Churches may be active in Philippines, Latin America and Africa, but those venues don't yield high dollar incomes. Add to this the rapid rise of radical Islam in the same areas where the Catholics are trying to expand. I don't think a financial adviser would suggest heavy investment in Roman Catholicism for long term yields.  

Catholicism is now being grouped in intelligent discourse worldwide through on line media with other forms of fundamentalist religions. The problems of poverty and overpopulation can be traced to the misogynist dogma of all fundamentalist religion. Societies which are freed from this nonsense are prospering through the education and liberation of their women. So much so that millions are trying to invade those societies from the societies where religions hold power. 

Looking at Pope Francis as Tony Robbins in a white dress is not insulting. It is realistic. He is selling a lifestyle which has no relevance to modern progressive thought. Having many children, committing to a single lifelong sexual relationship, looking at equal human beings as morally unequal on the basis of their genetics...these ideas are archaic and insulting to an educated mind in 2016. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

APPROPRIATE THIS.




Cultural Appropriation is apparently a new term among minority activists, or self-named justice warriors. The popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement has encouraged the breaking of boundaries in some quarters but the erection of more boundaries in others. Some similar historic cultural dichotomies: LBJ vs George Wallace, Martin Luther King vs Malcolm X, Gloria Steinem vs Phyllis Schlafly. 

I am rather fed up with the appropriation of the worst of Black urban culture by the music industry, the fashion industry and sports elites. I encounter real Black people from poor neighborhoods daily in my part of the world. The appropriated Black culture in retail media does not represent them at all. The gangster culture is a small minority in the Black community. And it appears to be shrinking, thank goodness. It would most likely shrink faster if well-off White people would stop doing drugs and stop patronizing products which exploit Black machismo and criminality. 

Perhaps that perception, conscious or unconscious, is in part what caused this Black woman in the video above to act the way she did. Perhaps she's just been raised to act out the Black female rage which is popular in media and some segments of Black culture. I see that in my environment frequently, but it is not the demeanor of the majority of Black women I encounter by any means. If it were, I would have moved house long ago.

Gay men are used to having our culture appropriated. Since the first pretty representational cave paintings of animals, heterosexuals have stolen our ideas or tried to portray our best historical gay geniuses as bisexual or straight. We shrug and move on to the next fabulous idea. Or we sell our fabulous ideas as hairdressers, interior designers, architects, fashionistas, etc.. We have learned to profit from this appropriation of our culture. We move from one gentrified dumpy neighborhood to another as heterosexuals snap up our renovated houses and condos. We have made it work for us by understanding that imitation is sincere compliment.

I grew up in an immigrant home where my grandmother's Russian food reigned supreme. She never seemed insulted when non-Russians gobbled down her food and asked her to teach them how to make it. That wasn't cultural appropriation; that was sharing between people who appreciated tasty cooking when they ate it.  That sharing cut both ways. It softened my uneducated grandmother's resistance to assimilation, and it softened the Cold War prejudice of non-Russians who met her. 

The problem with cultural appropriation these days is the garbage that is being appropriated and foisted on the public for money: Drug culture, gang culture, macho culture, victim culture. I recall my horror twenty years ago when I first deciphered rap lyrics to discover that they were encouraging gay-bashing. Imagine my reaction over the past two decades as I have seen that subculture mainstreamed in clothes, music and other media. Yet there was little outcry from the minority communities as that cultural appropriation occurred and spread across the planet. 

I hope I eventually live to see a cultural appropriation of love of education, good will and good manners from those who have them in our society. Now that would be something great. 






Sunday, April 3, 2016

LESS DENSITY

Ernest Hemingway and Henry James, as they are in my mind.

There's density and there's 'dense-ness'. aka stupidity. I struggle against the latter as age slows my energy and capacity for adventure. However, my writing of late has fallen victim to the former. 

I have always been in the Ernest Hemingway camp as opposed to the Henry James pavilion. Peter, my partner, is a James lover. I have thrown several paperback volumes of Henry James on the floor. This may give the educated some insight into the complimentary nature of our relationship. Not really my purpose here though.

I've believed, like Hemingway, that getting to the point succinctly serves ideas well. Reading the fine print of any legal document tells you more about what is wrong with modern civilization than the crass expletives of a graphic novel. Twitter may well be the progeny of Hemingway. Facebook would most likely suit Henry James. 

What is to be gained by writing at all? I ask myself this question daily. I'm not the hack in a sloppy movie who says, "I don't choose to write; I have to." Nobody is holding a gun to my head. Yet. The question for me is about my time. At 66, I don't have a lot of that non-renewable resource left. Luckily, at this writing, the question isn't about money either. There are reasons why I earned my living outside the arts. Long story for another time or maybe never.

I don't write for an audience. If I did, I'd still be talking to myself most of the time. Occasionally I am flabbergasted when I receive an email or Tweet about my blogs or cartoons. Someone actually saw that? Go figure. I have been fortunate to have escaped notice from the Second Amendment crowd. As my joints get creaky, it is harder to be a moving target.

If you have read this for any reason other than complete boredom, you have wasted your time. Sorry. Today is not my day for profound insight. Maybe tomorrow. I felt the need to clip words. And, as I look up at my paragraphs, I can see I need more work at it.