Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Compassion, Lies, and Imbecility

I remember when President Bush brought up compassionate conservatism; I was offended. President Bush had this effect on people. However, thinking back, I think I may have misjudged him. Now, I suspect he may have meant it in some peculiar, alternative universe way. In any case, times have changed. Compassion is no longer beautiful, especially on the right side of our politics.
Working with young people reveals a lot about their parents. Frankly, there is little compassion for the poor. Many of my "religious" students say things that stun me. These may be sporadic occasions, but nonetheless a few times a week. It is a sort of mantra they have to hear at home: poor people are lazy. It is stated dispassionately. It is said without thought -- as a matter of fact. It is though -- a sort of fictional fact. And it suits a demented, new American, Republican narrative quite too well.
Make no mistake about it, it is a wealthy Republican narrative. Then again, it didn't use to be the way they talked. My parents were Republicans. They never spoke this way. Not surprisingly, we were not rich. Yet things change, and as the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, the message has become far less merciful, more unreasonable, intemperate, out of balance, and irrational.
I know poor people well -- years on the playground and concrete have shown me how most poor people get up and go to work every day with little to show for it. Yes, there may be an occasional hustle (and this is also hard work), but the majority of the poor do not float the hackneyed, welfare Cadillac. There may be moments of crooked shadiness, but it is the inverse of the corrupt deceptions practiced and refined by the rich. I know rich people too  -- I work for the extraordinarily privileged. They are typically kind and generous, but they are divorced from reality, living as they do in mansions and behind gates, chilling in massive Range Rovers and sequestered in steakhouses. It is their entitlement, the province of privilege.

Though many people may know both groups, more often, we have become segregated beyond repair. The poor imagine the rich. The rich imagine the poor. And while the poor idealize the rich, these days, the rich chastise the poor, a consequence being GOP policies which terrorize the poor. The ties no longer bind. It is often cold-blooded, and increasingly Machiavellian. The perpetrators victimize real victims by suggesting the rich have been victimized. As Governor Romney did, they distinguish the 47% who "take" from the 53% who "make". The 47% "freeload" from the 53% who "work". The 47% spoil the country. The 53% are here to revive it. It is a fairy tale.The defense of it is a fabrication. It takes misrepresentation to defend it. The deceit is indefensible, and those who spin these lies carelessly invent them. They need not even be precise; the fiction has rooted itself. Imagine, there is an industry designed to craft distortions which defend themselves against the very distortions they craft. The only truth reality may be that they believe the swindle itself. It is a sick sort of matrix they have created.
We may be over the edge. In order to respond to the fallacies, another deep-pocketed industry must face up to them. It is depressing. I grew up thinking that one day, we might see reason rule. Desperately, I hang on to hope by a thread. Perhaps the poor are somehow uncontainable and I have missed this, but I doubt it. It is the opposite, and it is obvious. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Despite all of life's difficulties, when I can remember to think philosophically, it is a bowl of cherries. Today is 9/11. When this dreadful tragedy occurred, like billions of others, I was NOT on the scene. When the first plane hit one of the towers, nobody really knew what was going on. In my workplace, the word spread that something had occurred in Manhattan. As a result, I turned on my office TV just in time to see another plane hit another tower. Then we figured it out.

Everyone reacted differently. Some immediately panicked; others took it in stride.Some worried; others regarded it randomly. Some felt an instant patriotism that lasted for a time; some still feel it. Others just felt sick. Inside President Bush's government, a small group exploited it and led us on an expensive wild goose chase that we still suffer from and that the perpetrators distance themselves from. Essentially, they hijacked the hijacking. Meanwhile, frankly, it has been President Obama who has straightened out Al-Qaeda.

Random acts of violence are horrific, happen too frequently, and cannot be avoided. Once upon a time, when something bad happened, we used a peculiar old-fashioned word to describe it: an accident. 9/11, with all its planning, all its miraculously lucky fiendishness, all our faulty intelligence, and all the time to examine it from afar, was an extraordinary accident. 

Lives were altered; this is an understatement. However, we are just bugs in the grand scheme -- wasps. And life is a bowl of cherries.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote a lot of beautiful music. Mr. David passed away Saturday in LA. Having written nearly 700 songs, Mr. David is way beyond legend.

Here is a partial list:

24 Hours from Tulsa
A House is Not a Home
America Is
American Beauty Rose
Anyone Who Had a Heart
Blue on Blue
Close to You
Do You Know the Way to San Jose
Don't Make Me Over
I Say a Little Prayer
It Was Almost Like a Song
Johnny Get Angry
Magic Moments
Make It Easy on Yourself
Message to Michael
My Heart is an Open Book
One Less Bell to Answer
Open Your Arms to the World
Promises, Promises
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Reach Out for Me
The April Fools
The Look of Love
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
There's Always Something There
to Remind Me
This Guy's in Love With You
To All the Girls I've Loved Before
Trains and Boats and Planes
Walk on By
What the World Needs Now is Love
What's New Pussycat?
Wishin' and Hopin'
Wives and Lovers
You'll Never Get to Heaven
(If you Break My Heart)

Here's an article about Mr. David.