Complex Fiction and Simple Reality

Tonight is my night off.  I got back from tour today and tomorrow I go back to canvassing.  I am marathon watching The Walking Dead and messing about.  I am only in the beginning of season 3.  There was a scene in the beginning of the season where one of the main characters had to kill other live human beings for the betterment of the group.  It was not played out as an easy decision.  I started thinking about how many modern dramas display complex moral decisions, that seem underneath the surface to be asking big questions.  Yes, even a show about zombies at times.

It seems that many Americans can handle watching shows that deal in moral complexity.  Why is it that so much of our drama is morally complex, but so little of our reality seems to be?  (And I am not just talking about the vapid and often quite unreal reality of reality TV.)  A great deal of the time our corporate media paints things in black and white, between good guys and bad guys.  Our leaders are often no less guilty.

Can this be because so many in power want it this way?  Many people, referring to this current crop of dramas, that started with The Sopranos and is still continuing today, refer to this as the golden age of TV.  (These shows obviously air between a great deal of meaningless nonsense.)  This golden age of TV is taking place during a time of political inaction as various sides are painted in simplistic terms.

I’m not saying there is a connection, though it may be that some people hunger for any kind of intellectual stimulation in a world that rarely seems to ask you to think.  There are always going to be people that want to put their heads in the sand, but if people were presented with more facts, then I have to believe more people would become engaged in the political discussion.  It’s too bad that so much of our discourse is dumbed down to the point that it just becomes meaningless background noise.

Manifest Destiny and Lebensraum

I have been reading a little about World War II lately.  I have always been fascinated by World War II.  It was a time when the world teetered on the brink of insanity.  In many parts of the world civilizations were turned upside down.  If you read a lot about the Nazis it is really amazing how they were able to pervert every aspect of society for their own ideological political gains.  They were able to turn things that were normally good, like motherhood, and corrupt them towards their own ends.

I have a question and I don’t mean to be controversial.  I am not asking this to purposely get some right wingers’ heads to explode.  First I came across the following passage from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee in an old blog I wrote:

“The rich and beautiful valleys of Wyoming are destined for the occupancy and the sustenance of the Anglo-Saxon race.  The wealth that for untold ages has lain hidden beneath the snow-capped summits of our mountains has been placed there by Providence to reward the brave spirits whose lot it is to compose the advance-guard of civilization.  The Indians must stand aside or be overwhelmed by the ever advancing and ever increasing tide of emigration.  The destiny of the aborigines is written in characters not to be mistaken.  The same inscrutable Arbiter that decreed the downfall of Rome has pronounced the doom of extinction upon the red men of America.”

That was said by The Big Horn Association in 1870.  That was said about Manifest Destiny.

A very simple explanation of Manifest Destiny is:  In the 19th century, Manifest Destiny was the widely held belief in the United States that American settlers were destined to expand throughout the continent.

Hitler wanted what was called Lebensraum or “living space” for his Reich.  A very simple definition of Lebsenraum:  The territory that a state or nation believes is needed for its natural development, especially associated with Nazi Germany.

So my question is, especially considering the fate of many of the Indians and the Jews, what is different about Manifest Destiny and Lebensraum?

I am asking that as a rhetorical question to get you thinking.  I know that in some ways there were many differences you could bring up.  The industrial murder of the Holocaust was very different from the Indian Wars, as cruel as the Indian Wars were in many ways.  There are many cultural and political differences that you could bring up as well.  The degradation of values was nowhere as complete in even the worst of times in America as they were in Nazi Germany, not for a second.

But in school we are brought up, or at least I was, to think of Manifest Destiny in a mostly positive light.  But we wiped out many people in order to acquire this “living space”.  I’m not trying to say that everything America does is bad or “blame America first”.  For instance, in World War II we were on the right side of history.  But I do think there are many myths and stories that we don’t question.  I posed this particular question to make you think.  If we can understand the distortions of the past, we have a better chance at unraveling the distortions of the present.

End of the Weekend Trivia

How many of you know the name of this character?


Answer here:

Information on above character

And now how many of you, off the top of your head, can remember what the Fourth Amendment pertains to?

Answer here:

The Fourth Amendment

I am willing to bet there are a lot more people that know the answer to the first question than the second.

And I’d be lying if I said for sure I would have gotten the second one right from memory!  Just a little test to make you think about where we’re at.  

My Land is Too Green Lyrics

My land is bogged down in religious tradition
We nod our heads in humble submission
One foot in the door a hand in your pocket
We export our problems for foreign solutions
My land is naive too scared of the devil
Holier than thou with eyes up to heaven
When nobody looks we tear strips off our neighbour
And to have a good laugh at it all in the end

Shrouded and mist the outlook’s appalling
Pressure is rising but temperature’s falling
Sunny spells and scattered showers
But still it rains for hours and hours
And as the floods rise we drown our sorrows
Tossing them back like there is no tomorrow
And in the end we’ll stick or stand
And piss it back to the bog holes of Ireland

My land is too full of incurable scheming
The promises given are nothing but dreaming
We all love a rogue we’ll make him our leader
And every four years it’s right back to zero
My land is still poor and underdeveloped
We talk round our problems for hours on end
And then we decide there’s two sides to the story
And have a good laugh at it all in the end

Shrouded in mist the outlook’s appalling
Pressure is rising but temperature’s falling
Sunny spells and scattered showers
And still it rains for hours and hours
And as the floods rise we drown our sorrows
Tossing them back like there is no tomorrow
And in the end we will sit or stand
And piss it back to the bog holes of Ireland

My Land is Too Green written by A. Hensey/Erik Visser.  The recording that I owned is performed by Mary Coughlan.  I was listening to Coughlan as I took a walk after having just written about her.  I had downloaded this song for my six hours of drive time yesterday to a gig in Conroe, but I never got around to listening to it till today as hardcore music was better at keeping me awake and focused.  As I was listening to it the first few lines, even though I knew in advance the song was about Ireland, struck me as very fitting for America.  In fact, change a few lines here and there and a few words, and the song could unfortunately translate well as an American political song.  Let me show you:

The whole first verse fits great with the continued rise of the religious right.  The only thing is, we don’t export our problems for foreign solutions.  We just export our problems.

The chorus would take the most work.   You should change the temperature falling to rising on account of our country’s terribly inadequate response to climate change .  You would also have to mess with the weather metaphors a bit depending on where you lived.  God, does our country get hogged on booze though.  That’s not just an Irish thing.  I have seen that shit with my own eyes.  I have taken part!  Obviously you would have to change the final line.

The second verse you wouldn’t have to change a line, although to be fair our land isn’t poor, it’s just that many of its inhabitants are poor due to the greed of the few.

So there you go.

Your Brain On Money


Your Brain On Money

The above link is an article at Salon about research that was done on how the rich behave differently than the middle and lower classes.  A key paragraph:

Paul Piff and his co-authors, who have done extended research on the behaviors of the wealthy, find that lower class individuals are more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful than upper class individuals. In another study, they find individuals with expensive cars were more likely to cut off other drivers and pedestrians. Further, in laboratory experiments, wealthy participants were more likely to take valued goods, cheat, lie and endorse such behavior. These studies have support from other sources. For instance, the wealthy actually donate less to charity as a share of their income than the middle class. Their giving is more dependent on the economic climate than the middle class. It is unsurprising that Christ warned, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

The reason I post so many Salon articles is quite simple:  I have the app on my phone and many of the articles are interesting.  However, Salon is quickly following Huffington Post in creating a lot of senseless articles with sensational headlines to simply garner more clicks.

As far as my thinking on the above article.  This certainly isn’t scientific, but I have done canvassing, sales, and customer service.  Basically, I have had a lot of jobs where one deals directly with the public.  Especially in canvassing, I feel as if people are ruder in higher income neighborhoods.  There are a lot more doors slammed in your face.  This particular canvassing jobs wasn’t even political in the sense that it did not take sides.  It was simply giving information to the community so that they knew what was going on pertaining to a certain issue.  It was actually a public service and not pestering people to think one way or the other or ask for money. We were trying to inform the community about something that was going to affect them whether they cared or not.  Meanwhile people in the middle and lower income communities were much friendlier and would often spend time talking to you and even going above and beyond by offering water on a hot day.

Income disparity might not just be bad for the country, it might be bad for the soul.

In Defense of Obama

Krugman in Defense of Obama

Recently I posted an article where Cornel West criticized President Obama from the perspective of the left.  The right wing is not serious in its criticism of Obama as they have pretty much been against everything Obama has done since day one of his presidency.  The above article is from Rolling Stone Magazine and it is an article by Paul Krugman who defends Obama’s presidency.  It’s worth a read as it may give you a different perspective on recent political events.  I personally go back and forth how I feel about his presidency.  At all times I support him over the opposition, because well, the opposition seems nothing short of insane to me.  However, that does not mean that I support everything he has done.  I am troubled by our use of drones among other policies.  Anyway, if you don’t think Obama is an Islamic communist, then check out the article.  It is definitely an interesting perspective.

Welcome to the Terrordome

Why Americans are so easily terrorized by ISIS via @Salon

This is actually a really good article.  Do you know how much I sit around worrying about ISIS being a personal threat?  Never.  My vices and the highways I drive on and crossing the street and a billion other things are way more likely to take me out.  If I am wrong, and someday I am the one to be struck by terrorist lightning, well then I won’t be around to worry then either.  As Warren Zevon sang, “Life’ll kill ya.”

I think it is fair to have an honest discussion about ISIS’s role in the Middle East and how the world, and yes the world and not the U.S. alone, should respond.  However, this constant fear mongering that somehow they are a big threat to our daily lives must stop.  I don’t know what the statistics are for dying in a U.S. terrorist attack are, but they are dwarfed by your chances of dying from a million other things.  Don’t let the lizard brain run your life!