Posts Tagged ‘Tea Baggers’

Time For An Updated Caberet Revival

October 17, 2013

I am reluctant since I write stream of consciousness, and some folks read as though it is a directive. I hope you aren’t in the latter frame of mind. Recent events have triggered correlations with my research/study. I guess 10 years ago everyone was all in a tizzy over “connecting the dots”. Since then we’ve taken up twitter and twerking, and left the children’s coloring book puzzles for the unsophisticated and immature thinkers amongst us. The school district here is running a final drive to renew an existing ongoing levy that funds the school. That levy has failed repeatedly in the past. Inside knowledge is that tea party activists, opposed to taxation carte blanche, have been very active with regards to their success at creating failure. My neighbors, in the compound down the road, have stopped in to educate me after I put up a pro levy sign the last election go round. The local paper ran articles on how the levy is a last resort. Cuts, etc. have already been made. The state is threatening to take over. The district has shown incredible, excellent results compared to 20 years ago when it was considered an educational doormat. Etc. Yet these folks claim “We’re broke. Vote no”. The paper ran a disappointing article trying to interview the opponents and get their side. Turns out they couldn’t track anyone down that lived in the district amongst the organizers. Of the people who are involved in the organization that actually live in the district, they refused to name them (though all the levy proponents always provide their names). Etc. That same day Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee led the rambunctious rally at the WWII Memorial. There is a correlation between these events (Palin’s group, opposition to the school levy), the default crisis, and the brown shirts in Europe during the 1930’s. It is very complicated.

We have been actively engaged with a war on terror for the last 20 years. Historians and students of culture will affirm that wars of such duration tend to insinuate themselves on the people of the various cultures involved, morphing them into one, so to say. The crossover and intermingling of things like diet, fashion, or music/literature/art are easy to identify. Not so easy to identify is the subtle change in outlook/approach to political process. The plethora of suicide jihadism may, in a way, have rubbed off on how we conduct our own approach to solving our problems, especially when our own belief in righteousness finds itself in the minority (which is the situation the tea baggers find themselves in). So, like the thugs of the thirties, we create a problem, blame the opposition, the “other”, the despised for the problem, and then turn around and aggrandize our ability to solve the problem, to be the solution. Exactly what Cruz, Lee, et al did in Washington. It isn’t that such folks aren’t true to their stated convictions (to make a smaller government, if not eliminate it altogether). Rather, it is this strategy of destroy it, claim the destruction on the “other” and then legislate, or bloviate, or announce, promulgate that your approach is the solution, etc. (after the destruction has been perpetrated). This is precisely what the brown shirts did covertly as well as in an outright violent manner, for primarily racial reasons. But many would say the opposition to anything Obama is likewise racially motivated. My local school levy renewal opponents embrace the same modus operandi. Alan Dershowitz just blasted his (ostensibly) best student (Ted Cruz), claiming his approach to be not exactly what the founding fathers had in mind (of the senator perverting the constitutional framework established specifically to reassure regarding the good faith and credit of the US government; using it as a means of achieving partisan political ends, rather than what the framers intended – guaranteeing the good faith and credit of the nation as a whole). The latest manifestation of this noxious growth is from the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Reuters reports (10-16-13) that the VW corporation wants UAW representation at the plant (management wants the workers organized). Once achieved, VW plans on adding another vehicle manufacturing line. The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, from out of state, are pouring in money and have filed a law suit on behalf of 4 plant employees to disallow this; in essence to shut down the anticipated growth, if not the facility altogether (one senses a genuine, hand crafted Koch wallet opening here). Our Supreme Court is likewise entertaining the same twisted logic in the recent McCutcheon vs. FEC case brought by the same folks who produced Citizens United. It is to guarantee unlimited individual contributions AND no regulation, oversight or transparency. The logic is based on Supreme Court precedent that those exercising first amendment rights (like the 1950’s civil rights activists) not be subject to regulation, disclosure and transparency in order to protect them from intimidation and reprisal. Today the argument is, after Citizens United, that if spending money is free speech, those doing so should likewise be protected from intimidation and reprisal. It is just a skip and a hop to realize that the disposition, strategy and tactics of the brown shirts lies waiting to expand, completely nascent. It is part of capitalism to rely on “crisis” for the sake of profit (created or otherwise). Without crisis, things become a bit too ho hum, efficient, and the opportunities for “growth” are limited to ones that are real or genuinely new. Tear up the trolley tracks, get rid of the busses and people will buy GM cars to get to work. There’s a brown shirt outlook that has crept into our culture. Social scientists wouldn’t be surprised provided the prevalence of bullying in its unseen underbelly. But this is now bullying which threatens to bring us all down, to damage everyone, those involved as well as those innocent and oblivious – all like the daily news of jihadist suicide bombers to which we, as a people, have become completely inured.

Connect The Dots

January 16, 2011

            Great deal of pain coming out of Arizona in the past weeks. The media put a positive spin on as much of it as they could, while keeping the contested parts as an “also ran” reportage. Other events of the time were quickly overshadowed by either being relegated to “local” news worthiness, or not reported at all. It was a good time to go unnoticed. Here in Ohio, a new governor was sworn in. He is all gung ho to create jobs and make money for the state, after which we can all have a “nice fistfight”. First off he instituted yet another government office whose mandate is to devise ways of eliminating the state’s Medicaid obligations. That immediately created jobs with the promise of more money. Another proposal is to consolidate the various offices of mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities into one office, one service. Why didn’t he also include the state’s agencies for arts or tourism in this single entity? Then again, it is only understandable that he wouldn’t include any offices of transportation, sport or gaming commissions since we don’t like to associate anyone involved with those as also being disabled, addicted or mentally ill (projected gambling casinos will only generate jobs and revenue for the state). Likewise for agriculture, business or commerce. Nope, these folks all contribute to jobs and revenue, unlike the state’s primarily expenditure involvement with physical and mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disabilities (OK, corrections was not included because he intends to privatize it. Got me there.).

            Tucson’s tears prompted some to not “retreat, but reload” with regard to gun restriction, regulation, and gun related violence. After all, if the constitution specifically spells out a given right, how else could it be interpreted? Some wacko is to blame, a deranged, substance abusing sicko. Associations with those lawfully exercising their Constitutional rights are simply wrong, misplaced; guns and abortion, both legal but not the same

            Recently, at two separate speaking events, Reagan Supreme Court appointee Antonin Scalia claims that the constitution does not protect women against discrimination (one of those news events that went unnoticed). The argument turns on the word “person”, the definition of which is determined socially (see Ranciere’s community of sense in previous posts). OK, according to our longest serving justice, it must be specifically spelled out in legislation, like the right to bear arms (“b-e-a-r” as opposed to “b-a-r-e”). Close to 10% of Americans, being or having been incarcerated, are eliminated from the constitutional “sense” of the term “person”. Rights under US law are considered comparable to a grocery bag of goodies. Some staples are not necessarily included, which occurs when there has been a public transgression resulting in a criminal record. This also underlies the current imbroglio regarding what constitutes marriage in most states. Given Scalia’s carefully deliberated statements, both in thought and execution (Would he do it any other way?), and the actualities of a socially constructed “sense” as to who gets a full bag of groceries and who doesn’t, some citizens of the US of A may one day discover they are not quite a “person”. Many more will feel this is not only appropriate, but constitutionally sanctioned.

            The current consensus is that modifications, or establishment of gun laws are not a practical solution to the grievance posed by the Tucson transgression (along with Columbine, Virginia Tech, ad nauseam). Yet, something will be done. Legislation will not leave this incident unaddressed (since it involved one of their own, a legislator). Our esteemed Supreme Court Justice, along with Ohio’s newly elected Governor, may be indicating the future direction and determination of just such legislation. The common denominator of the Governor’s consolidation effort is that the services involved, provided by the social entity of the state, are unproductive; by their very nature undesirable economically. The constitutionality of legally determining “person[age]”, espoused by our longest serving Justice, allows for this avenue of restricting and regulating behavior without diminishing clearly defined private property rights (the framers of our constitution were unfamiliar with the terms “mental health”, “substance abuse”, and “developmental disability”). Precedent has been set with the public’s unquestioning embrace of laws restricting sex offenders. Sadly enough, this all brings to mind Europe in the 1930’s with its definitions of persons and undesirables.

Tea Baggers And Hippies

June 4, 2010

            What a shock! Tea baggers and hippies together on the same page. Aside from the obvious idealistic congruities, they share many of the same practices. In the 1960’s hippies were pretty ubiquitous. Ditto tea baggers in 2010. Driving the highways or streets of the 60’s meant eventually passing a car or micro bus festooned with hippie slogans and regalia. Ditto for tea bag proponents in 2010. For all the weirdness that the very thought elicits, it is the street that makes these street people family.

            The street, the place where one actually, physically encounters the other people co-inhabiting one’s environment. It may not be an officially designated public gathering place, a piece of real estate set aside specifically to be held in “common” (almost all space anymore is private, even that “belonging” to the public such as city, state or federal governmental property). It is wherever people pass each other and mingle such as shopping areas, small town sidewalks or box store parking lots.

            “Nonetheless we find that a new criticism adopting a position of opposition to what is considered to be established or conservative academic scholarship consciously takes on the function of the left wing in politics and argues as if for the radicalization of thought, practice, and perhaps even of society by means not so much of what it does and produces, but by means of what it says about itself and its opponents.” (Edward Said in an essay entitled Reflections on American “Left” Literary Criticism, from his The World, The Text, And The Critic, pg. 159). This seems to be an apt description of the “out to lunch” Left in contemporary American political activism. Said’s dated essay addressed the nature of the then current literary criticism. But it also says many things that inform today’s filiation of tea baggers with hippies. Consider some more of what he says in this essay, but reconfigure the literary criticism aspects with that of the Left in America and its voice today:

“What I am most interested in here is what, generally speaking, they produced intellectually: a type of criticism based principally on endless refinement.” (pg. 165)

            The Left’s principle critique of tea baggers is that they are unsophisticated and naïve (the hippies received the same epithet).

“In a unique and perhaps puzzling way then, literary modernity was associated first not with the present but with an immediate past, which was endlessly validated and revalidated; second, with the production of a virtually unassimilable secondary elaboration of a body of writings universally accepted as primary.” (pg. 165)

 “Moreover, the whole concern with oppositional knowledge (that is, a knowledge that exists essentially to challenge and change received ideas, entrenched institutions, questionable values) has succumbed to the passivity of ahistorical refinement upon what is already given, acceptable, and above all already defined.” (pg. 168)

            The Left returns continuously to the pre Reagan era. It refers constantly to the secondary elaborations of what all has evolved since then (just today the new October arrived announcing an all “Andy Warhol special issue”). 

“To a great extent culture, cultural formations, and intellectuals exist by virtue of a very interesting network of relationships with the State’s almost absolute power. About this set of relationships I must say immediately that all contemporary left criticism of the sort I have been discussing is for the most part stunningly silent.” (pg. 169)

“[s]eeing culture and art as belonging not to some free-floating ether or to some rigidly governed domain or iron determinism, but to some large intellectual endeavor- systems and currents of thought- connected in complex ways to doing things, to accomplishing certain things, to force, to social class and economic production, to diffusing ideas, values, and world pictures.” (pg. 170)

 “But this main point of course is the suggestive insight that thought is produced so that actions can be accomplished, that it is diffused in order to be effective, persuasive, forceful, and that a great deal of thought elaborates on what is a relatively small number of principal, directive ideas.” (pg. 170)

            In many strange ways the hippies of the 60’s were affiliated with the anti war movement, with the civil rights movement, with the Great Society, and radical changes in literature, visual art production, etc. But what held all of these together (other than the calendar) was the intense urgency and motivation to have these intellectual endeavors achieve fruition, to be actualized immediately, now.

“Furthermore, if the language of magazines like Critical Inquiry, Glyph, and Diacritics is brimming with sentiments of depth, radicality, and insight, there is rarely a paragraph expended on what in the way of ideas, values, and engagement is being urged.” (pg 172)

“What is lacking in contemporary oppositional criticism is not only the kind of perspective found in Joseph Needham’s civilizational approach to culture and society, but some sense of involvement in the affiliative processes that go on, whether we acknowledge them or not, all around us. But, as I have been saying over and over, these are matters to do with knowledge, not refinement.” (pg. 177)

            Creative outlets like Keillor, Colbert, Stewart voice the Left’s position within America today. In a “new” PC manner (could also be read as “polite, civil”), it “argues as if for the radicalization of thought, practice, and perhaps even of society by means not so much of what it does and produces, but by means of what it says about itself and its opponents.”

            It is the street, the “in your face” urgency and intention that makes siblings of the tea baggers and hippies. The Left is occasionally spotted there, usually at a sidewalk café waiting to be served.