Tag Archives: politics

Reprisal

Remember the story of Braveheart?

We cheered the Scottish leader and

praised the victory at Stirling but still

the story ended in failure for the Scots

and an ultimate, eternal loss of their independence.

 

Their own division was their downfall.

 

Clans fought among each other

instead of finding the common ground of

unity, each un-willing to let loose of smaller

ideals in order to coalesce against a tyrannical enemy.

 

The story we write today is commensurate.

 

A Party of factious clans mobilize around leaders

to whom we’ve pledged our souls without

understanding that such an action means

we’ve also turned our backs on one another.

 

We fail to realize we share the same intents.

 

Sure, I’ll validate your assertion that

policies and proclamations of one leader

outweighs those of another, but each has

their strength. They are none of them benign,

they are none of them blameless, either.

 

We only have this moment to keep our independence.

 

I pray we can all step back for a wider perception

and comprehend the task at hand: to

loosen the grip on our own sacred ideals

in order to make room for a much needed accord,

for the vitality of the Party,

for the sake of our nation.

 

Only with coherence does the US avoid a reprisal of Scotland’s subordination.

 


Thinly Sliced

How tenuous your Democracy.

On the width of a piece of parchment, it hangs

Where the slow breeze of selfish breath

Chews away at its corners.

 

How brief your arc in the sky.

An idea formed from oppression for

An ideal of freedom and equality;

Lasted only a moment.

 

How thin the ties of your society.

Once more we pull and tug

Over truth and justice and integrity,

Untying knots of unity.

 

What slight margin secures the office?

Imagine! A measly few thousand votes

Strong enough to pry open

Heavy steel gates of tyranny.

 

How sadistic this treason?

Self-serving and super-sized;

Personal vendetta paid for by

International reputation.

 

Beg to pardon that hypocrisy.

The self-righteous pointing of the past

Comes round to claim its due.

Pray, mercy be granted.

 

Did you not vaccinate for this virus?

A mutant DNA of sequential lies,

Algorithmically curated;

Souls become deaf, and blind.

 

Words fly as short, dark arrows.

Facts distorted, maligned.

Dissident becomes the enemy.

Right will always find its mark.

 

Transformation finally complete.

A once dissected Octopus

Now an ugly Frankenstein of

Strange patch-work laws.

 

Deep groans a country.

Suffering from weight of avarice

bending the spine, then Snap!

From the strain of inequality.

 

What of you dutiful citizens?

Will you confess your indifference?

Recognize the facade of indestructibility

While you hastily mend the aspect.

 

Does not your heart break again,

And again and again and again?

To watch the speed of cancerous growth,

Knowing the cure is destructive as well.

 

How tenuous your democracy.

How brief your arc in the sky.

Does not your heart break again,

And again and again and again?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dis En Franchised

I am being deprived of my privilege.

Everyone wants to be equal and have the same playing field.

But if that happens, then I am no longer on top, no longer number one.

I’d have no claim to being special.

I’d no longer belong to God’s chosen race. 

I’d be just like all the rest – just like all them homos, just like all them foreigners. 

I don’t know what that means; 

How would I know my place in society if everyone is equal?

I don’t know any other world than this one with its sense of imperiousness: 

That calm, wide undercurrent I’ve felt in everything I’ve been taught.

The idea that only my kind worshiped the right God. 

Only my kind is civilized. Only my social structure is allowed.

What future is there for me without that undercurrent?

I can’t envision it.

There is no one who will define it for me or show me how to act within it.

The uncertainty makes me anxious, fills me with fear.

A fear that decides to haunt me and grows exponentially

until one day it tips over into an empty vat and morphs into a deep anger

that I can no longer control – and maybe I don’t want to.

It feeds me, this anger.

It validates me and then becomes my best friend and adviser. 

I’ve learned there are others who embrace the same anger, welcome the same adviser.

I am thankful for my online brothers,

ours is a private world where we talk about keeping our privilege,

we talk about lording it over others who are not like us,

we say “fuck equality,” we’ll do things our way here.

We encourage one another, “This is our Vietnam,

we’ve got to rid our country of those who think they could ever be equal to us.”

We ask about the best guns to own, we discuss how to cause the most damage,

we feel no remorse at ending the life of someone

who dares to think they could ever be equal to us.

No one can ever be like us. 

We won’t lose our privilege to anyone beneath us.

We will not conform to a society where our kind must yield to their kind who smell funny and talk differently, yet want the same treatment.

Even our own President says they’re invading us, and there’s only one solution to an invasion:

Kill the fuckers. 

They can’t deny my privilege and render me disenfranchised if they’re all dead. 

 

Author’s note: Some come close to describing disenfranchisement as one of the main underlying problems to many of today’s mass shootings and the white supremacy movement, but they don’t really come out and say it. I wrote this little prose so that we might better understand part of the process of disenfranchisement and open up dialogue about ways to address this issue. 

 

 


Belonging to Facebook

There’s a subtle social struggle going on about whether to Facebook or not to Facebook. I talk about it with others and observe many comments in different forums online. I myself made the decision to step away from the platform some six-plus months ago.

My decision was based on two things: Facebook’s wont to mine our personal data and pass it on to marketers or god knows who, and the fact that I could not longer deal with seeing some of my old friends, or even family members defend things like child concentration camps, racism, or historically failed economic policies. I’d rather remember them as decent people than view them through the lens of an algorithmically curated timeline.

I don’t miss the frustration, but I do miss out on family pictures and social group connectivity, like posting local events or keeping in touch with local organizations. Yet when I conjure up the benefit/cost analysis in my mind, the result falls in favor of staying off the site.

As I gain further distance from the platform and engage or listen in on conversations about participating on it, I’ve formed an important insight: Facebook offers an incredibly strong sense of belonging, even if much of it is a false sense of belonging.

This is a worthy point to hone in on because the need to belong to a social group, to feel accepted and loved, isn’t just a flippant desire; it’s as hard wired a necessity as food and oxygen to our survival. Abraham Maslow backs this up with the scientific observation of his Hierarchy of Needs – if we don’t feel a sense of belonging and love, we can not achieve our full potential as humans.

By and large, the one reason people seem to be sticking with Facebook, in spite of its astonishing lack of respect towards private information, is that it plugs in to our human need to belong.

Every thumbs up and heart emoji translates to feeling like we belong, we’re connected, we’re appreciated. We live in a hectic, fast-paced, dog-eat-dog society that often makes us feel lonely in spite of the thousands of people physically milling around us. But if we  post a picture of our cat, vent about our ex’s new spouse, or share a news article, a select few friends will see and like or offer comments of support and BAM! we’re accepted, we belong, we feel important. 

It’s not a genuine sense of belonging, though, simply because Facebook relies upon algorithms to determine what we all see on our timelines. The end result is that we’re only sharing or posting stuff from a narrow, virtual, point of view and our sense of belonging is tied to the likes of those followers who are chosen to see our posts through an algorithmic determination. Neither the incoming or outgoing messages are organic, but the responses satisfy our need to feel important nonetheless.

On the broader scale, many are reluctant to leave Facebook since that’s where they can connect with local organizations. I often hear someone lament that, ‘It’s too bad there isn’t some other way we can connect and share with such-and-such demographic.’ This particular area is where I personally miss Facebook most acutely. This indicates that our need to belong is so strong, and satisfied so well by Facebook, that local organizations are dependent on the platform’s connective ability to market their events and causes.

To the point that Facebook does not filter its news outlets for veracity or authenticity, the reliance we have on Facebook to provide a sense of belonging becomes dangerous. Millions are subject to outright propaganda which transcends to polling results…check out where we’re at right now as a nation.

To Facebook or not to Facebook may not be as much of a choice as we think. Considering the impact it had in the last general election, I’m concerned we all ‘belong’ to Facebook in an indirect way no matter our conscious efforts.

The fact that its roots reach deep into our psyche and entwine themselves greedily should at least make us pause to think about the consequences the platform inflicts upon our society. And maybe, some smartypants kid will develop a better way to connect. Or, maybe, we could fulfill our sense of belonging with real life people instead of virtual avatars.

Peace,

Frankie

NB: I’ll admit that YouTube, Twitter, and other social media outlets offer a sense of belonging in the same way. I focus on Facebook due to its ubiquitous role in our lives comparatively.

For a similar analysis about the dynamic of belonging to a social group and its effects, here’s an article about how it works in religion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The US’ Other Opiate Problem

The same incredulous question arises nearly every day:  How can Trump still have a thirty percent approval rating considering his bungling, lying, crudeness, and refusal to lead? Who would still support him after child separation, farm bailouts due to trade wars, and Putin’s obvious influence in his decision making? Who? I have my own hypothesis, drawn from my experience as a former evangelical Christian/Republican and it echoes another voice:  Religion is the opiate of the masses.

There is a backbone to the idea that religion numbs the senses of the masses. It is the belief that the bible is right, the inerrant word of God, and to doubt it is to doubt God himself. This notion is infused into church teaching.  It’s preached to little babies, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me!” Then as an adult, “God said, I believe, that settles it forever.” We’ll even put ourselves through some hefty mental gymnastics to prove the argument. Confining a person’s knowledge base to only the bible acts like a spinal block to the logical, analytical areas of the mind, leaving them unresponsive and worthless.

Church leaders utilize the spinal block effects to their advantage and employ some impressive acrobatics to re-enforce the group-think. For example, Stephen Strang, founder of Charisma magazine, demonstrates his support of a lying, crude, selfish, president by tweeting that “God can use even a corrupt man.”

Here are the recent words of Jerry Falwell, Jr.

“It’s a distortion of the teaching of Christ to say Jesus taught love and forgiveness and therefore the United States as a nation should be loving and forgiving, and just hand over everything we have to every other part of the world.”

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, but this guy says that as one of the richest, ‘Christian’ nations in the world, we shouldn’t be concerned about starving Yemeni babies. Then again, if the spigot of information is drawing from just one well, the people tuning into Falwell most likely don’t even know about the crisis in Yemen.

Check out the amusing amount of hair splitting going on about affairs that happened while in the Oval Office and affairs that happened eleven years ago before a guy became president. This is particularly galling to me as I recall distinctly the thrashing Clinton got from local and national church leaders (I was still in the church at the time). Those same people now liberally tease out some very obscure angles from which to view morality in order to justify supporting Trump. Guess what? If the mind of the flock is numb, constricted by a singular source of information, its malleability around strangely shaped ideas is inevitable.

Falwell and Graham’s grandiose proclamations are reinforced with publications such as Charisma magazine. Its stories massage the marriage of politics and religion, interpreting political developments through the pinpoint lens of evangelical Christianity. A scroll through the sites’ news feed is anemic on information and knowledge, but fat on reassurance to their reader that, despite our current mess as a nation, all is going according to God’s plan. It’s like a little booster shot of Novocaine to the soul (Televangelists are superb administrators of similar anesthesia).

The pinnacle of evangelical Christian thinking is some apocalyptic end times gig, based upon the book of Revelation. So when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it was a sign that god did indeed pick the right man to fulfill the role of ushering in His plan for the end of the world. You might wonder how we could buy that line of thinking. If I’m already subscribed to the mystical stories of talking snakes and partings of seas, then a drug induced hallucination including political developments as indicators of the rapture is easily plausible.

I was doing my own research outside of the church offerings by the end of Clinton’s tenure. I compared what I read in publications such as Charisma to what was being reported by outside sources that had decent track records of accuracy (WaPo, Guardian, Al Jazeera, NYT, LA Times, to name a few +  books). I found a lot of lies on the side of the church, which to me appeared necessarily invented solely to stir up fear. I observed that the wild prophesies I’d heard about Clinton simply didn’t manifest. I came to realize that having a mainline of information from just one source leaves the mind paralyzed; cut yourself off from the mainline, and the mind wakes up.

There’s not much to be done for a numbed mind and paralyzed logic. A person has to answer their own curiosity in order to shrug off the dense effects of evangelical opium. It is important to recognize the dynamic involved with Trump’s persistent portion of support, though. Evangelical mind-think is a contingency that’s not going away since it soothes the uncertainty of many a soul, we must acknowledge that. Perhaps we should stop questioning the “How?” and focus on a social coping mechanism instead: Do we ignore that faction? Engage with it? Exemplify an alternative?

I am open to suggestions…

Frankie

 


Presidential Robbery

There’s a fleecing going on – our tax dollars pay the bill to Trump Org. for the room and board of our national security detail that goes with protecting the president, at his own  properties. There’s a grifting going on – the corporate elite pay higher membership prices at Mar-a-Lago, where they have exclusive access to the president and his high ranking aides.  While these material slights are by no means benign and even have profound impact upon the way our government is currently functioning, they are far from the biggest robbery our president is committing: that is the robbery of our emotional security.

Emotional security, and a sense of belonging, are the second most important needs to be met in order for us to become fully actualized, or operating at our full human potential according to the wisdom of Abraham Maslow. Most of us get this first as infants and children, by parents who are attentive to our needs and provide us at least a constant roof and food and familial support. As adults we seek out partners, social groups, or strong friendships to provide a sense of belonging and emotional support.

There’s a similar sense of security we obtain as citizens and it’s as intangible and immeasurable as belonging to a family. Under the guises of the idea of the social contract, we pay our taxes to the government and it provides national defense as well as a functioning infrastructure. This relationship has allowed a majority of people to feel safe about the future and its ability to provide opportunities. It has enabled us to take personal risks in art, science, education, politics, and economics. We know the infrastructure, or scaffolding, is sustained by our tax dollars through the government and historically, that scaffolding has been steady, mostly secure, and highly profitable overall.

We’ve been robbed of that by Donald Trump.

Instead of worrying about overspending on Christmas, several hundred thousand federal workers are right now worried about how they’ll make their mortgage or rent in three days. Instead of the comfort of a plump 401k account, many baby boomers are wringing their hands over lost money, because of capricious Trump tweets. Instead of knowing that federal agencies will pick up the pieces after a natural disaster, he threatens to shutdown the government. Rather than assuring his audience that our nation is safe, he stokes fear by creating an immigrant caravan crisis that is nonexistent.

As we progress in years we learn that money is one thing but peace of mind and health are priceless. It’s the most astonishing thing, then, to realize our president is robbing us of our national peace of mind and security. It’s even more maddening because it’s a deliberate choice he’s making. it’s deliberate pain he’s inflicting upon his citizens, it’s a deliberate robbery of our sense of security.

Maybe there’s a German word that describes this kind of poor, selfish leadership. I can’t seem to fish the right adjectives from the English language.

Here’s to turning this ship around…

Frankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief (in name only, he


Perverted

These things I heard from you as a child:

You told me that He detests hypocrites,

so be careful not to be one.

You upheld His life of humble poverty as an example,

and pointed out that the proud rich man is to be pitied.

You showed me pictures of the time when He

upset the merchant tables, and then you talked

about what it meant to defile a sacred space.

I learned from you that He loves the little children,

all the children of the world.

And now you tell me that this man who says one thing and does another,

this man who could never pass through the eye of the needle,

this man who defiles our sacred space,

this man who separates children from their mothers

is chosen by the same God?

That  is … perverted.

 

 

 

 


Another Sort of Soldier

I’ve ignored my yard, my dogs, my husband, and my house. I’ve done more than most, not as much as some.  I am exhausted, bone tired, ready for a long winter’s nap.

I am only one of millions of us who have been working like another sort of soldier to protect our democracy and freedoms. These soldiers are as dedicated to the truths of  democratic principles and the Constitution that protects them as any that patrol our borders and skies. They understand that our democracy is at risk and every single vote this election counts.  They volunteer time and donate their money to Democratic or Progressive Congressional candidates running for office this year.

These sorts of soldiers wear tennis shoes instead of boots. They carry clipboards insteadboots to shoes of ammunition clips. But there’s still an order of command, there’s still a clear objective, there’s still the need to carry water and wear sunscreen (some of us even arm ourselves, with pepper spray, depending upon the territory).

These soldiers knock on doors, make phone calls, table at libraries, and have tough conversations with neighbors who might have a different political yard sign.  They’re the sort of soldier who arrives every Monday night, for weeks, to write post cards to fellow voters encouraging them to vote. Soldiers that spend hours on end tediously printing out precinct maps and lists, then organizing them. Dutiful ranks that transport campaign materials to rural districts. The kinds of soldiers that drives for hours to campaign for a candidate outside their district, for the sake of flipping the House.

Let me be clear:  The armed forces that serve on our front line and daily put their life in danger deserve all respect and gratitude. I do not claim that the sort of soldier I reference here requires the same. I am simply pointing out that there is indeed a different sort of soldier that works diligently to protect our democracy. They do, at least, deserve a whispered thank you in the corner of the room.

Vote smart this election. Take it from this historian, your democracy depends upon it.

Yours,

Frankie

(photo credits: marine times, visualventuring.com)


Hypocrisy to shining Hypocrisy

You’ve been educated on government money, your family made its wealth on government money, but nowadays you’ll be damned if the chump in the next low-rent neighborhood gets a dime of it to help his family out of a hole.

What’s with the double standard of displaying your hatred towards someone because of the color of their skin or the language that they speak but if I call out the evil that rips off our taxes and decimates our democracy you claim that I am the one ‘full of hatred’?

It’s okay for your great grandparents to have migrated here from religious persecution but it’s not okay for a young woman with two babies to come here to escape gang violence and abuse.

Somehow you defend a president who lies daily and had multiple affairs when just a couple decades ago you were impeaching someone for less, and crowing about morality all the while.

It’s puzzling that you justify taking away food money from children and the disabled when the founder of your religion fed the multitudes without condemnation and healed the sick without judgement.

Your declarations of the sanctity of life sound more like clanging symbols since you chose to be silent when the scalpel that separated innocent children from their parents was employed.

You care about the national budget only when the opposing party is in the White House.

You’re all about supporting that thin blue line but more than willing to allow the shredding of your Intelligence Community.

You say you’re all for freedom then go on to deny half the population the freedom to care for their own bodies.

“God can use even a corrupt man!” He can’t use a corrupt woman, I guess.  Nor can he forgive her any sin, apparently. Neither can he even spare a mustard seed of compassion for her, it would seem.

You say your race is superior, yet live in a land that was never yours to begin with, a land that had to be bleached by your ancestors with smallpox blankets and muskets.

You claim to follow a god of love and compassion but trod on the poor with criticism and shame.

You sing of goodness and brotherhood crowning our nation from sea to shining sea;  your two-toned life has given us a nation of dazzling hypocrisy instead.

 


This Christian Nation

You claim this is a Christian nation,

Which means a practice of love and merciful consideration.

Yet I cannot see proof of this enacted creed,

but something opposite, derisive,wholly obscene:

Where Jesus fed thousands who failed to bring their lunch,

You would starve millions – children, elderly, those who do work but can’t claim much.

Where Jesus healed the infirm at the first asking,

You deny the same any kind of care or compassion.

Where Jesus refused to judge, and preached the same in scripture,

You complain, place blame, testify that some are simply lazy creatures.

Where Jesus displayed contempt for the corrupt and hatred for injustice,

You embrace these heartily while spewing lies that shift the focus.

Where Jesus overturned tables and openly abhorred greed,

You worship Mammon with gusto, keep your money in piles behind doors of steel.

Where Jesus exemplified love and unity,

You damage with pure divisiveness, then flit around deceitfully.

Where Jesus accepted without question the stranger and the prisoner,

You deny them with malicious prejudice and disdainful reasoning.

Where Jesus might have built a prosperous City on a Hill,

You destroy democracy, sell out lady justice like a two-bit shill.

So, spare us the self-righteous narrative,

Throw off the coat of pretending.

At least own who and what you are –

A faction full of forked tongues, willing to ignore Jesus’ mission

For the sake of self entitlement and blatant power grabbing ascension.