Rhetoric

From Victor Klemperer’s diary of 7 May 1935, a comment by one of his friends on the possibility of the (German) government going to war:

“ They have overcultivated the national rhetoric . . . they will have to undertake something.”

Sounds somewhat familiar in these times.

Tyranny?

A quote I put up for the commemoration of the Great War.

“The Great War of 1914-18 lies like a band of scorched earth dividing that time from ours. In wiping out so many lives . . . , in destroying beliefs, changing ideas, and leaving incurable wounds of disillusion, it created a physical as well as psychological gulf between two epochs.” — from “The Proud Tower – A Portrait of the World Before the War 1890-1914,” by Barbara Tuchman.

This is the response I got from a long-lost, newly rediscovered friend from high school days.

He wrote: “Just united people rising up against tyranny..such as we have in our beloved country today.”

Me:  “I don’t quite get the parallel, dude.”

Then in private message, I get this:

He prefaces: “It’s because of stuff like this Mike…Sheer Tyranny”

He then sends me a web site which takes me to an app, then I refuse the app, but the headline on the story behind it all is “The IRS thinks you’re a terrorist, but Holder still won’t appoint a Special Counsel to investigate IRS misconduct.”

Me:  “Still don’t see the parallel – this is all bogus shit to distract people from the real problems of today’s world.

And WW I was not about any perceived tyranny at all.  It was about stupidity and vanity.”

Can I pull out my hair now?  Is this the depths to which middle-class, supposedly literate, America is sinking?

Note: the website app mentioned is the American Center for Law and Justice.  Do the letters ACLJ look strangely similar to ACLU to you?  Surely they didn’t base their name on how many people they could reel in who are pissed off in some way at the ACLU and happen to hit the adjacent “J” rather than the “U.”

 

Welcome home . . .

Notes on the U.S, after being away for a while.

You will listen to LOUD music or TV in any small, confined area. Sometimes you will listen to both, maybe with a few PA announcements thrown in for good measure. Sometimes you will want to scream.

There is too much stuff.

BBQ is good.

People are generally friendly, but there are too many people.

Lots – lots – of people don’t know what or where The Netherlands is.

It is nice to be able to have a wealth of choices for breakfast out. Wow.

There are many more homeless and/or obviously strung-out people around in the US than we are used to seeing in Europe.

We are sure missing out on a lot – I mean a LOT – of commercials by watching British television.

Dental care, the basic cleaning and checkup, just cost us about three to four times what we pay in Europe for excellent care. No, it’s not subsidized care. I’m talking direct, cash-on-the-barrel head comparison.

Nancy Grace. Who is she? Why? Where’s her makeup artist? Freakin’ wicked witch.

When you go out to eat, you will have to yell to be able to be heard, especially if it’s a nice place. The cheaper, the quieter.

The narrow view

So disappointed to see how ignorant and yet, so opinionated, people are who’ve never been outside their own country, many of them never outside their own state in the U.S., and yet, they know everything about the world and how it should be run.  Got their high school degree back in the late 60s from some little school in East Jesus Undershirt and now they know everything.  Never even had a passport.  Why would one need one, anyway?  Nothing out there that could teach one anything anyway, when you have the best there is.

The racism, xenophobia, blatant disregard for science, the lack of ability to think about anything for a “spell” other than staged television spectacles which rival anything the Nazis ever put on for the ignorati, the willingness to turn over our entire political system to a bunch of rapacious gamblers —  it’s all beyond me.  And to think, once upon a time our country thought it had a mission to fight Nazism, ignorance and racism.  I sure hope our fathers are dead soon enough so they won’t  have to be witness to the stupidity of our age.  Now we just celebrate the D-Day landing and think nothing of what was behind it, what it meant, and why we did it.  Hell, who cares, we won, right?

Sometimes I wonder if people are just tired of thinking or if they’ve never been taught how to think.  I suspect the evidence will point to the latter

Duck D’Nasty

So we have a guy that is a huge TV star, a “clown” in a whole family of clowns.  I use the word clown because they are actors, whether they were before the show was produced or not, they are actors now in this series called Duck Dynasty.  This guy, Phil, is a redneck patriarch who, after a life of sin and youthful dissipation, now purports to walk the straight and narrow ways of his backwoods Christianity.

He says this in an interview when asked about his definition of sinful behavior:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” such as bestiality, he said.

“Don’t be deceived,” he was quoted in GQ. “Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Now the network has removed him from the series.

And now we have a whole backlash starting up in social networks for support of this guy.  What is the America that supports this guy thinking?  So disappointing.

People think that in a campaign like this, whoever gets the most likes, or tweets to the network, will win the contest.  But many don’t seem to see that the contest here is much bigger than votes and “likes.”  The contest here is between appropriate and inappropriate remarks about people the speaker sees as different, or in this case “sinful,” and condemns them publicly.  What if he were convinced that the Bible tells us black people are the sons of Ham and therefore there’s a biblical reason for them to be in subjectivity to whites?  Would we be saying, “support this guy!”

But it’s OK for many that this guy can say these things about people who are queer? If he were saying this about blacks or about Jews, or about grandmothers, we’d have an outcry and the guy would be buried in shame.

Of course, I know I said he was an actor, and as such, he should have a private persona as well, and is allowed to express his opinions as such.  No problem.  But I won’t financially support him for it – by watching the show.  He can do that on his own.

After being suspended from the show, Phil did say, “I myself (sic) am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

Fair enough, but let’s think about it a bit before we jump on the Support Phil Campaign.  If he’s reinstated, would you still really feel that comfortable with his rant?

Maybe we could be just as happy without him on there.

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It’s crazy, but I needed it so much I stole it!

I just read this in one of my high school friend’s Facebook status updates, written by her, I assume, as no source was given:

“Christmas, for me, is a time of humble adoration. Why?  Because Jesus humbled Himself.  He went from commanding angels to sleeping in the straw with animals.  He went from clutching stars to clutching Mary’s finger.  The hand that held the Universe took the nail of a Roman soldier.  What do I want for Christmas?  What greater gift than that which I have already received?  I am humbled.  O, Come Let Us Adore Him.”

This is pure rubbish to me.  How can someone in the 21st century even think this?

Update three hours later:

I searched for one of the sentences in the quote above on Google.  It’s a direct quote from one of those pietistic designer bible guys, Mac Lucado, from the Lucado Devotional Bible.

So gladly I tell you – or sadly – then even sadder – it is not her creation.

What’s worse?  Believing it?  Writing it and believing it?  Writing it purporting to believe it and not believing it, or just saying right out, this is what I believe and I here it is (but I stole it)?

I am from . . .

From a writing exercise:

 

I am from the river bottoms and flooded flatlands, sun-dried dusty gravel roads and melted tar shingle-scrap parking lots of bar-be-que joints and clandestine sips of Falstaff from the trash can.

I am from the house off the ground, with huge crawdads in the ditches out front, their mounds all over the yard, nandinas on every corner, with a sprig of forsythia flashing here and there, perhaps an iris or two as well. I am from inside a solid fence of steel welded by my father.  I am from a pink Maytag with a small scratch, which made it a second, and hence cheaper to buy.

I am from my Aunt Rachel’s hydrangeas, trailing vines of wisteria and kudzu and the piney woods with the wind whistling through.  I am from the cinders of the lumber mill swept off the front porch every morning. I am from the porch swing and the sleeping porch.

I am from the stoics and hardheads, the bakers and the lumbermen, the railroad hostlers and Dorothy and Frisky and Leona and Adelaide and George and the preachers.  I am from the retarded and the impaired.

I am from the organizers of closets and workbenches and sweepers of clutter.  I am from the brothers and sisters of nearsightedness, the ones who in earlier times were tapestry makers, weavers and finework artists.

From the ones who were taught “America never starts a war,” and “America never loses a war.”  And told the enemy was on the way with terrible weapons.

I am from the hell-raising backwoods, bible thumping, hardshell Baptists, the flaming speakers of tongues unknown, the holy rollers and the stiff upper lipped evangelical Teutonics.  I am from the cauldron of fiery hell and damnation and the cool, soothing whiskey of forgiveness and peace.  I am from the gilt-edged, onion-skin pages of old floppy bibles.  I am from the family photo, all dressed up, squinting into the Easter morning sun, barely able to keep my eyes open. I am from an upright grand piano, thumping out honky-tonk gospel.

I’m from the Pink Tomato Capital of the World, although they don’t taste like they used to, since they are not for locals anymore. I am from 1951, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1959 and 1964 Chevrolets and from 10-2-4.

From the hard scrubbed body of the dead uncle, prepared by his own kin, and from the Army’s biological weapons program.  I am from anthrax and white phosphorous.  I am from the time of polio, the wading pools closed and families afraid.  I am from lightning in the sky, storms passing through, with a glass of homemade lemonade in my hand, sitting in the doorway watching the storm with mom and dad, the fine mist of the rain wafting in through the screen.

Secession!

Just amazing to me, even after years of swift change, the way technology keeps changing things, sometime for good, sometime not.

This secession petition campaign, and a certain number of concerns on one issue triggering a presidential response on the government website: We the People: Your Voice in our Government  (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/).

We’re just not thinking fast enough or smart enough to keep up with the technology.

Why would a response that basically requires one to be able follow a link Uncle Joe sent to all the cousins, to check a box, and to say “Hell yeah, I wanna secede.  I don’t like the way the government . . . . .”  whatever — why would a few thousand of those mouse button clicks trigger a response?

The signatories don’t even have to think about anything at all, they just vent their anger or frustration somehow by believing that clicking on a website is going to do something about it — about anything.  There’s no thought put into it.

Not too many ago, if you wanted to communicate with the government, you’d write something.  You would have done some research and could communicate your findings and your opinion in writing, perhaps even in person, to your representative, hoping that it made sense when it got to that point.  And if you worked long enough, maybe for years, you might just get to see your idea made a reality at some point.  But it sure didn’t happen through someone pushing a button.

And now we just send these viral things out – go here, click here, OK, I’m done and they had better do something about it, damnit.  And if they don’t let’s just secede from the U.S.

False religions . . .

Well, it had to happen.  I predicted as much back in the midst of a Glenn Beck (remember him?)  brouhaha.  I wondered then how some of the more “conservative” evangelicals were going to handle Beck’s Mormonism.

Now it’s all about Mitt.

Here we are in the thick of the winnowing process for the Republican presidential nomination.  Rick Perry supporter, Pastor Jeffress, has called Mormonism a “false religion” straight out (along with Islam, Hinduism and  Buddhism).  But it seems the other candidates are giving Mitt a pass and tacitly bowing to common knowledge: everyone believes what they choose to believe and it’s no one else’s business.

In other words, if you choose to believe that Joseph Smith translated golden tablets with the use of special spectacles, and then they were returned to their angelic guardian, it’s OK.

Hey, it’s not such a far cry from a plague of frogs, a virgin birth, an ascension into heaven or any other of the myriad of miraculous events that our religions claim for themselves or their superheroes, is it?

Basically, what these politicians are saying is: “We’re all in the same boat here — none of us want to really have to defend all this stuff is that we purportedly believe because we don’t know if it’s true or not.  But we somehow, through accident of birth or choice, believe it, because politically, we have to say we believe in something like this.”

This is a very interesting development, and provides us with faint hope that we’re one step closer to acknowledging the human roots of religion and our gods — that they are all our creation, made up out of our human experience over the ages.  And since they’re all made up, perhaps no one has a lock on the truth.  Now we can stop using our gods to give legitimacy to our politics, stop consigning others to the fires of hell, telling them they’re not as “holy” as they could be if they believed or voted this way or that.

The sooner we’re able to say this out loud, the sooner we’ll all get along a lot better.

Thanks to the Republicans for pointing this out!

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Intolerant and proud of it . . .

I just found this on an acquaintance’s site:

“Reagan Conservative….I’m a Conservative. I’m a highly opinionated blogger. If you ask for my opinion I’ll let you know exactly what’s on my mind. I don’t play the PC game, so, be very careful what you ask for. Our Constitution holds ALL the rules and laws we need, and some of them need to be removed. I do NOT tolerate anarchists and anti-American trolls. I do NOT tolerate radical and militant liberals and left wing moonbats (means yer clueless). ”

It just seems so senseless, anti-intellectual, and reactionary.  It’s almost as if he’s trying to put up a front of bravado in order to appear normal in some way.

Highly opinionated blogger, indeed.

Do you have any idea what rules and laws need to be removed from the Constitution?  I bet I know which ones he means.

And if he doesn’t tolerate “anarchists and anti-American trolls” or “radical and militant liberals and left wing moonbats” – whatever is a moonbat? — probably something picked up from Limbaugh — how is he going to handle being a citizen of a democratic/republican/pluralistic/multicultural/multiracial society?  He may as well go ahead and jump off a cliff.

What is it that so damages people that they feel they have to present a public persona of intolerance and aggression, when in person, at dinner,  they appear perfectly normal and amiable?

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