Monday, January 10, 2005

Weekend was uneventful. Went and saw The Life Aquatic, which inspired fellow moviegoer Andy Sensat to pledge himself to the purchase of "a vessel of exploration". Afterward we went to Casa de Wilson where we tried to invent new mixed drinks and tried to trick their wiener dogs into diving into their backyard pond. Not much success on either count.

I also had Mono Ensemble practice. I played only the bass and did very little singing. Frank returned to the band after his baby acquisition hiatus. This freed us up to play Radiohead's Go to Sleep and other Frank-critical numbers.

Mono Ensemble is tentatively scheduled to play at the Carousel Lounge on Saturday the 22nd. Crack is being considered for an opening slot. People's reactions range from amused to horrified when I tell them that Crack may be playing out at the Carousel. It's mostly the people who have heard us before who are horrified.

I listened to Rush Limbaugh today as I ate my lunch. Sometimes it's good to keep an eye on what the enemy is up to.
Without going into too much detail, it continues to amaze me that the American populace at large has adopted the Republican party as their representative. As I listen to Rush argue for greater import/export protections for the American pharmaceutical industry (in an industry which uses half of their research and development costs for advertisements of medications available only by prescription), I am once again stunned that the conservative right wing has managed to convince middle America that they're looking out for their best interests.
When I was a child, my grandfather, who worked in an iron ore mine, explained political parties to me by saying, "The Republicans are made up of mine owners and management. They want to make as much money as they can. The Democrats protect working people so they can still make enough money to make a living. They help to pass rules so we're safe when we're working down in the mine."
Now granted, this explanation is a bit of an oversimplification, but it has more than a grain of truth to it. Yet somehow the American people are convinced that the "liberal elite" in the Democratic party are trying to steal their money and give it away to unmotivated welfare leeches. I think that this partially has to do with an American population that wants to identify with the rich and has an increasing tendency to see the working or middle class as undesirable losers. America is all about Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, and MTV Cribs- not people struggling to feed and clothe their kids. Furthermore, America is scared- scared of changing social norms (e.g., gay rights), scared of rapidly changing technology and biotechnology (from stem cell research to internet porn), and desperately afraid of terrorists and attacks on the American way of life. We have retreated into a mindset of defensiveness and "traditional" values in order to deal with our rapidly changing world right at a time when technology, business, and world politics are pushing us faster and faster into an interconnected global community. We are trying to make the world safer by dominating other nations, at a time when technology has made it feasible for any jackass with a centrifuge and an incubator in his apartment to brew up biological weapons.
I'm not afraid of being a liberal. I don't think anyone should be worried about being branded a liberal, any more than one should worry about being branded a conservative. Liberals have made some (mostly) well intentioned missteps throughout history, but they've also had some little victories (like getting blacks the right to vote and passing child labor laws).

We need to practice politics of inclusion, not exclusion. We need to convince nations of our leadership and exercise force only in the case of clear violations of international law. We need to protect the rights of consumers and employees at least as much as the rights of corporations and manufacturers. We need to protect the interests of American workers as strongly as we protect the interests of our CEOs. We need to respect and honor our diversity and place a premium on human rights. Mostly, we need to stop being afraid.
That sure is a mouthful, but that Rush Limbaugh gets me fired up.


Sigmund Bloom said...

im horrified at the thought of people being horrified at the thought of crack playing out.

CrackBass said...

what? wha? who??? crack is only being considered? who is horrified? i am utterly disappointed in mankind at this point. Also, i dont know that i would call seeing aquatic uneventful. plus, we did stay up til 5 drinking on the gress couch.

The League said...

I'm afraid of being liberal. But only because I think liberals are haunted.

Having lived outside of A-town for a few years, I think Austin is a weird little bubble. And I think living in suburban Phoenix where I didn't even have the option of voting Democrat on more than half of the items on the ballot has given me a new perspective on the Republicanism dealy-o.

I think to some extent that people are scared... I think that's true.

But the notion which you tapped into with the idea that folks identify with the rich sort of reflects how I perceive the difference.

Look, liberals do a lot of well intentioned yet ridiculous stuff. And a lot of formerly useful tools liberals had at their disposal, the Conservatives have gleefully labeled as immature and silly.

Example: In the eyes of many neo-cons, actually going outside to march for something you believe in isn't a show of numbers, it's a show of hilarity. When was the last time you saw Republicans marching for anything? I mean, how often is Karl Rove out there waving a flag screaming for Social Security changes?

Bottom line: until liberals figure out a way to make common sense of their positions and figure out how to convince people that each and every move they make is not, in some way, a road mark on the way to hell, they're not going to have a majority. Beyond that, the liberals are going to have to prove definitively, within the screeching nightmare which has become cable news, that Conservative plans don't benefit them and do not represent them.

And for God's sake, they need to pick a candidate who isn't going to ignore and shrug off personal attacks. Dammit, Clinton was at his best when folks tried to put him under the microscope.

And fuck Rush Limbaugh. When was the last time that guy needed to worry about buying medicine that he wasn't using to get hopped up on goofballs? He doesn't need to worry about dying or chronic pain if he can't afford his pills. If he had even one person in his life who needed to worry about making ends meet and still getting meds, he would be screeching from the rafters about the irresponsible practices of pharma.

Christ, they've already got 46% of Americans convinced they need a pill of one form or another.

J.S. said...

Yeah, Kerry kind of sucked as a candidate. As for making the liberal message easy to understand, how about, "We're not selfish bastards," for a mantra? Or maybe, "We'd rather be friends with other countries than be invaded by them." Seriously, a lot of liberal ideas are kind of complicated and require a bit of an educated worldview in order to understand them. This is part of the downfall of the American liberal, b/c the American voting populace won't sit still for anything longer than a 60 second soundbite (unless it's to watch people eat bugs on Fear Factor or sing bad pop music on American Idol).

lee said...

I was in church last Sunday and saw several members of my local Democratic Party club in attendance. I assume that there are other, anonymous Democrats in attendance as well, as the church leadership is quite tolerant on the whole.

LBJ was fond of quoting Isaiah:

"Come now, let us reason together,
says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isa 1:18-20 RSV)

President Clinton (rascal, Southern, Baptist), Carter (peanuts, Southern, Baptist), and Kennedy (idealist, Roman Catholic)...all easily identified as religious in the first two or three words that people think of when people think of them. I think the reason Kerry lost is that nobody associated him with faith. When you think of John Kerry, you think of Vietnam first. By design from his campaign. Next, you probably think of "boring". Maybe "incredibly wealthy". Obviously, those are not by design, but they are there nonetheless. The point is religion does not appear until well down the list of ideas or words which captured Kerry, even though most astute observers know he is Catholic. In a country where close to 75% of the citizens express belief in God, this was reckless campaign management. Everybody knows President Bush is religious. For those who wonder about his policies, this is the great reassurance that they have: "President Bush believes in God, just like I do. He can't be a bad guy, then. I'm not a bad guy. Nobody who believes in God is a bad person." What if John Kerry mentioned once, just once, a biblical passage in a speech? Did that ever happen? What if there were continuous pictures of him meeting with religious leaders, as President Bush and President Clinton excelled at doing? From such reassurances flows the values debate that the Democrats are presently losing, or perhaps more precisely, ceding. It isn't like Democrats don't believe in God. It's just that the only time they are mentioned in reference to God these days is in the opposition of the spread of religious influence (e.g. gay rights). I think that is disconcerting to middle class Americans who would otherwise be willing to get back to their Democratic roots if Democrats were more mindful of the power of symbolism in American culture and political discourse. The Dems don't need to do much tinkering with the engine. It isn't hard to reassure people. Politics is just as much about good pictures as it is good policy, and at least in the snapshot of an election, your pictures had better be damn well better than the other guy's or nobody will take the time to look at your policies except the people who would have voted for you anyway. That may be cynical at its core, but the purists among us aren't sitting in the White House right now. And I trust us a whole helluva lot better than them...

J.S. said...

I agree that a willingness to discuss one's religious faith is probably important to most voters. It would be nice to see someone put a more compassionate face on religion in a public forum, anyway. I grew up in a very liberal, yet religious enviroment, and while I hope that sort of thing is still out there, it isn't very visible these days. It seems that now we always hear of religion in the context of attacks on gay rights, abortion issues, prayer in schools, and so forth. The Jesus I grew up knowing was pretty much a hippy, but he doesn't seem to come around much anymore...