observations on life

Conservative values is an oxymoron

My sister shared an article from Huffington Post, in which the author concludes that democrats failing to appeal to conservative “values” is a big reason why rural Americans didn’t vote for them, generally speaking.

I have to say I agree that this is true. Democrats did not appeal to the value of maintaining the status quo. They did not appeal to the idea that we have to keep others–those who are not the same as “we” are—out of our country. Democrats did not appeal to the value of equality for some. Or the value that life only matters for fetuses, and not for living breathing people. Or the “family values” which teach that as long as we provide for ourselves and our children, and give money to the church, we don’t have to care about anybody else. Or the value of calling ourselves “Christian,” while ignoring virtually all of the teachings of Jesus Christ. What exactly are the conservative values that Democrats are supposed to appeal to? Seriously. Somebody tell me.

I’ve been searching for articles on Google regarding the effects of isolation and homogeneity in rural areas on political beliefs. I got lots of hits, but none were the exact topic I was hoping to research. There are some articles that validate the fact that rural areas are much more homogeneous than urban areas, that is, there is very little diversity of race, religion, ethnic background, etc., and that attitudes are commonly held with little variation among community members. In other words, people are very much like one another.

There were also articles about the isolating effects of rural life, not in the sense of loneliness, but in the context of little interaction outside the community (or similar communities close by.) People who live in rural areas are less likely to travel widely, move out of their area, or have any opportunity to interact with people unlike themselves. Because day to day interaction offers little information that is contrary to local customs and standards, new information about the larger world is not only lacking, but is often disregarded, since it doesn’t fit into the local world view. Maintaining the status quo is a dominant feature of small towns. And that is what conservatism is all about.

Yes, there are televisions, radios, newspapers, social media, but because only local attitudes are rewarded and promoted, anything that doesn’t fit the community narrative is suspect. This may be true in urban areas too, but urbanites have other means of understanding the larger culture—mostly by being around and interacting with people who are not all exactly the same as they are. Living with or near and interacting with people of diverse races, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, citizenship status, and so on, makes a much larger impact than watching TV. Knowing people who are different from oneself is humanizing. Understanding what motivates people and what kinds of lives and struggles they’ve had makes them real, and human, and normal. They are not “other.” They’re “us.”

Experiencing diversity through electronic media does not substitute for being face to face with actual people. The homogeneity of rural areas precludes this for the most part. If one person or one family of another race or background comes to live in a rural community, they are often welcomed as being the town “project” or simply as a new distraction. But let hundreds of Mexicans, for example, come to town to work in the meat packing plant where the union has been busted, then they are considered outlanders who have come to take over. They become the enemy, because they are “other.” The status quo is not being maintained, and to conservatives, that’s very bad.

In rural America,the idea that all those who are not just like us are illegitimate in their race, country of origin, religion, sexual orientation, politics, or whatever, makes them objects of scorn and fear. They don’t believe in what “we” in our own small town believe. Or they’re not the right color, or religion, or what have you. They aren’t like we are, so they are suspect, and being so, we are scared of them and about what having them here might mean. And fear breeds hate.

What, I ask again, are the conservative values that we are supposed to appeal to? Literally. I’m stumped.

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observations on life

The New Regime of Sewage

The Ferengi are our rulers now, and the constitution has been replaced by the Rules of Acquisition.  Worse, we are surrounded on every side by battalions of ignorant, hate-filled cowards, who believe that everyone who isn’t exactly the same as they are is out to get them.  There is no evil, no scourge that is worse than having to live with republicans and their ignorant, fact-resistant, greedy, immoral agenda, which they seek to impose on all of us.  It is the death of hope.  They’ve taken a page from the Borg:  resistance is futile.  Assimilate or die.

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observations on life

A Ministry of Niddering Ninnies

Well, we’ve gotten what a minority of citizens voted for.  That Herr Trump lost the election by nearly three million votes notwithstanding, our “electors” have made him president.  Of the United States.  It’s a heart-rending reality to contemplate.  Worse, are his choices for his cabinet, variously referred to as “a Fucktangle of Dunderheads,” a “Confederacy of Dunces,” or my own title for it, a Ministry of Niddering Ninnies.  It is the brain damaged leading the blind through their own Slough of Despond, dragging the rest of us behind them.

Most egregious, however, is the fact that millions of voters are so poorly educated, uninformed, besotted with their own ignorance, and full of fear, hate, and bigotry that they voted for this racist, sociopathic, cognitively impaired miscreant for president. (I could use even more descriptors, but I’ll stop there.)  Obviously many factors have combined to create this monstrous travesty, not the least of which is an education system so drained of integrity and mental discipline that ignorance and an inability to think rationally have been elevated to a status to be desired and applauded.  “When mediocrity becomes the norm, it is not long before mediocrity becomes the ideal,” A.N. Wilson said.  We have apparently now left mediocrity behind with G.W.Bush, and after a moment of redemption with Mr. Obama,  have descended directly into utter ineptitude and evil.  And that’s exactly what millions and millions of American voters want.  I hope they get it.

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observations on life

Democrats, let’s get our reality on

I just sent an email to the Democratic National Committee telling them that when they can figure out how to win an election against a bigoted, sociopathic miscreant, to let me know, and I’d send them some money.  I’ve been thinking very seriously about how this happened, and I have some ideas.  But they don’t tell the whole story.  If anybody has any ideas, let me know.

First, it would probably be a good thing not to nominate a person that half the country already hates.  I know it’s irrational and that most of the reasons people hated her were untrue.  Nevertheless, it was a fact.  People hated her.

Secondly, it appears a lot of folks think the Democratic party is made up of ONLY intellectual elites, Hispanics and African Americans, and people on “welfare.”  There are several problems with this.  The most vocal Democrats, including those in powerful positions, are mostly intellectual elites.  They are seen as “fancy people” as my friend in Virginia used to say.  They’re well educated, upper or upper middle class professionals who are seen to have nothing in common with “regular people.”  The fact that many democrats are regular people is barely visible, except for those who are not white.  The white middle class apparently views democrats as either snooty,”colored,” or on “welfare.”  They also see democrats as being weak, molly-coddling do-gooders rather than as people with a social conscience who stand up for those who are marginalized.  They are able to recognize, it seems, when someone is actually standing up for the marginalized, at least at the movies.  They cheer William Wallace in Braveheart, and George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.  They cheer for the Native Americans in Dances With Wolves.   They applaud Erin Brokavich.  It seems, though, that they are unable to translate that to real life.

What do we do about that?  I don’t have all the answers, but one idea might be to have actual regular working people as the face of the party, rather than politicians, attorneys, and MBAs.  I’m not saying they need to run for office necessarily, but let’s let others know that the vast majority of democrats live and work and are the same as everybody else.  And we aren’t rich.  Being rich didn’t seem to hurt Trump, though, which brings me to my next point.

Expecting undereducated/low information voters to look at Donald Trump and see him as he really is turned out to be incredibly naive.  His behavior was, I guess, irrelevant to his supporters.  They only cared that he told them what they wanted to hear.  The fact is, people don’t want to hear the truth; what they want is to have their already established prejudices validated.  And that’s exactly what Trump did.  Never mind that the vast majority of the things he said were lies and and/or unconstitutional.  What one does about that, I don’t know.

And I don’t know what to do about the idea that facts are things that can be believed or not.  If you don’t like them, you can just ignore them.  When and why did that become an option?  If anybody can figure that out, please explain it to me.

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observations on life

Isn’t this what our parents and grandparents fought against in World War II?

Let me see.  There was Hitler, a Nazi demagogue who sought to force his evil, hateful will on others.  And there was Mussolini, a Fascist demagogue who sought to force his evil, hateful will on others.  And then there was Hirohito, who sought to force his evil, hateful will on others.

First, they divided their people, convincing them that the cause of their problems were those unlike themselves.  In Germany, it was Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, unions, intellectuals, and all non-Aryans who were at fault for the mess in which they found themselves.  In Italy, it was the government itself, along with the poor, that were evil.  In Japan it was everybody who wasn’t Japanese who were a fault.

Now the Trump Nazi/Fascists divide the nation by agreeing with and condoning the idea that the cause of all our problems are those unlike ourselves.  It’s immigrants, blacks, refugees, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, the poor, the government itself, homosexuals, unions, women, and intellectuals that those who support Trump believe are at fault for the mess in which they find themselves.

What am I missing?  How is it not exactly the same?  We fought it with everything and everybody we had in the forties, and now we have voted the same thing we fought against into power in the United States.  Maybe the rest of the world will rescue us, just as we helped rescue the rest of the world in World War two.

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observations on life

The definition of “poor” from Mrs. Bond’s dictionary at iworkforcats.com

Poor:  When you have or earn less money than you need in order to have decent housing, enough food, and/or medical care.  Not being rich is NOT the equivalent of being poor.  When you are poor and have or make no money due to any number of circumstances, you take whatever job you can get, say, working in a factory for 10 dollars an hour, or waiting tables, or loading trucks.  And you may very likely have more than one job.  You live in a trailer or subsidized housing (if you’re lucky enough to not be among the homeless). If you have children they get free lunch at public school.

You buy your kids’ clothes and your own at Goodwill.  You take the bus to work.  Your kids take the bus to school.  When the kids get home from school, they entertain themselves until you get home; that may also be true on weekends if you work that shift.   And they do chores.  They don’t belong to scouts or sports teams, because you cannot afford the uniforms.  They don’t take lessons in anything, because you can’t afford it.

You buy nothing for yourself, ever, because if you have any money you spend it on bills or on things your kids need.  Your kids may get medical care because they’re kids, but you don’t.  You may have medicaid if you’re lucky.  You cry a lot.  You feel defeated and hopeless.  You know you are one crisis away from becoming homeless, and/or losing your kids, and/or ending up in jail for something over which you have no control.

Being poor is hard, and it’s debilitating physically, mentally,and emotionally.  (That doesn’t mean it’s the only thing for which that can be said.)  You have no choices about anything.  You work until you are exhausted.  When your kids are old enough, they work, too.  You get old before you’re old and die before you should.  And sometimes you hope dying will come sooner rather than later, because it will be so much easier.

“Keep watch with those who work or watch or weep this night.  Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil. Tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted. Guide us sleeping that we may rest in peace.” The Book of Common Prayer 1789

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observations on life

My sister. An essay.

My sister, Roxie, is the most level-headed, calm, dispassionate person you would ever want to meet.  The exact opposite of me.  She considers what she’s going to say before she says it.  She doesn’t complain.  She doesn’t have tantrums.  She doesn’t yell.  Unlike me in every way.  How did this happen?  I don’t know why she got ALL the self-control, and I got none, but there it is.  And she has migraines and osteoporosis and a bad back and had asthma when we were kids and every other crappy thing you can think of.  And she’s still, you know, not pissed off all the time.  Like I am.

From the time she was in high school, she was absolutely drop dead gorgeous.  If you didn’t know her then, but do know her now that her hair is turning gray and she doesn’t wear her contacts anymore, you might not know that about her. Yes, she is still very beautiful.  But younger, and even not-so-young, she was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

And she’s smart. Damn it. She’s one of the smartest people I know, or have ever known.  She knows everything. Somebody doesn’t know something?  Ask Roxie.  She’ll know.  It’s almost demoralizing.  She’s already forgotten more than I know.

I got her a birthday card once that said, “You’re smarter than me, you’re better looking than me,  and you’re older than me.”  Inside it said “I win.”  It’s the only thing I win at, being two years younger.  But I would gladly be two years older if I could be the person she is.  I know this sound really sappy, and normally that’s the last thing I would ever be.  But I can’t think how else to say this.  She could probably think of something, though.

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