Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Xi Jinping

It was one kind of world when, every now and then, some strikingly stupid thing would happen and be worth commenting on from out here in the bleachers of far far right field. I could usually think of something to say once a month that wasn't just a rewording of what someone else might have said in front of their teevee. But this new world, which is still unfolding, still probably in its infancy, well "prozet," as Warren Oates said in an obviously ironic tone from the table just below the General Mapache's. The other day, probably Friday last, Libby was reading that LaVar Burton had received a volley of hate on the Twitter from Trump people who thought he was LaVar Ball. That's almost as good as the endless stories of men who end up shooting themselves in church whilst attempting to show off their new 9mm to their buddies or their buddies' wives. (I always thought the crack about the gene pool being improved by each gun stupidity wasn't so bad, but that was before next week's new massacre.)

Trump's response to the massacre of over 300 worshiping Muslims in Egypt is a call for further banning of Muslims. Genius. But the President trumps himself (so to speak, if you're playing the poker game where the normal low hand is the winner). Yesterday was the Pocahontas thing, garnished with layers of further irony. The whole event occurs under the gaze of Andy Jackson. The President patronizes Mr. MacDonald with a pat on the shoulder after delivering the Pocahontas line as thought it's some sort of shared joke. Those Navajoes fought in all the Pacific island campaigns, and in Korea. And an honor which they might have otherwise taken home and framed becomes instead merely another sick joke, Trump's forever festering hatred of anyone who for any reason doesn't treat him like the Emperor he imagines he is. Trump only respects the people he fears. Everyone else he patronizes, or insults.

I was proud of Mr. LaVar Ball. Ball also thinks he's a kind of Emperor, he's just playing in the world of sports promotion, and he can't pretend that his son is better than LeBron or Stef Curry. But thank you Mr. Ball, for not becoming a toady to Trump. If I had your email I'd send you a little note. Put up a big thank you to Xi Jinping, President of China. A few decades back another little Emperor, Ross Perot, had some of his employees arrested in Iran. He didn't like it. He devised a plan and, with some able assistance, got them out. Or more accurately, broke them out. Whatever you thought of Mr. Perot as a presidential candidate, he had some gumption.

Emperor Trump did not rescue the three UCLA basketball players from China. At best, Mr. Trump asked his counterpart and much more capable Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to please let the boys go. For whatever reason, Xi Jinping agreed to let them go, and so they went. It's even possible that Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi Jinping performed a little kabuki for our amusement. But Mr. Trump did not rescue the ballers from China. He didn't have the keys.

You should see the scurrilous notes LaVar Burton received from the imbecile 33.5%. (You'll have to look them up yourself.) Mr. Trump's minions include the folks who, responding to the 9/11 attack, shot Sikhs who were working in 7-11's because they thought they were Muslims. They likely include the guy up on NC49 between here and Burlington, who's put up a gigantic Confederate flag on a gigantic flag pole in the middle of a vacant field in front of his house. They surely include the sad Alabama voters who are going to vote for Roy Moore because his opponent, Mr. "soft-on-crime" Jones, got two Klansmen convicted of killing the four little girls in the Birmingham Church Bombing of 1963, at long long last. That's a good Alabama citizen for you, finally wiping up some of the bloodstains. You'd think some of the preachers supporting Moore would actually give Mr. Jones a little credit. And maybe some do--just not the ones in the news.

Finally some thanksgiving. Last Monday one of the little copper connectors that comprise our little plumbing system here on the ranch failed. I used Quest pipe when I ran the water decades ago. It was a wonderful improvement on plumbing, which before required a torch, copper fittings, and so forth. All you needed was this special crimping tool, which I borrowed from a friend. But it turned out after a few years in the field that the Quest system often failed, and that was particularly bad news if your pipes were in the wall, or under the house. So a fitting finally failed here. I was freaking out and talking about hiring a plumber. Libby (here's the thanksgiving) thought she could make the repair. She did some reading about the new replacement for Quest, which is called PEX and has it's own similar fittings, either crimp-rings or a new deal called "shark bite" push-to-fit. They're made it looks like of brass, not copper. They have a similar crimping tool. Libby set in to crimp and push to fit yesterday, after amassing the needed bits at Lowes. It took a long day, and the idea of having running water--even hot running water no less--had after a week become a big-rock candy mountain for us. Now and again I'd help--just looking mostly, but once actually keeping a pipe in place with my shoulder. Libby's perseverance has amortized over the years, while I've found my store of that commodity to be seriously dwindling. I argued several times for the plumber, but I also felt like it would be a damn good thing for Libby to have the opportunity to learn the way of PEX, if she was interested in that course of study, which she was. So I stifled my self-pity, which was a wholesome exercise, and not nearly so difficult as actually trying to figure out each new connection, and how the blamed push-to-fit gizmos really work. It turned out in the end that to fix that one broken Quest fitting--admittedly a 3-way connection--required some nine new connections. This is surely yet another of the fundamentals of plumbing. You cut one pipe and you have to put in two splices. I can't explain it here--but it's true, a kind of string theory.

We're on the way home now. We'll probably replace all the old copper connectors and get rid of a lot of the Quest pipe. I'd rather get ahead of the next break, if you know what I mean. Something to do on a winter day. And thank you again, both LaVars.
And Felice Navidad to Puerto Rico, in solidarity. We hope your water returns, and your electricity! A week was bad enough, and you have been two months and counting.

The next bomb may be the destruction of net neutrality. No one knows what will happen, but the big businesses who will be given full Republican "Liberty" may well make the internet of people like me, just ordinary folks who think they have something to say, and who think "to google" is just a part of life, a thing of the past. It's happened before. I worked for a year with some old masons who had started their working life in a time of trade unions in North Carolina, and who fondly recalled great wages, good benefits, full employment. NC went "right to work" back in the late '50s, long long ago. These old hands all complained bitterly of the vanishing of the good times. And they all voted Republican, and held deeply racist views concerning the ability of working men of other races to even do the job they excelled at. My boss used to say, "A N****r can't even push a wheelbarrow." For a while there was a black masonry team right across the road from us, building the same sort of building we were building. Trump all the way! Just wave that ole Stars and Bars. After a while I decided to get out and free-lance on my own, which was a pretty good choice as it's turned out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roy V Wade is the Key

Ever since Ronald Reagan decided that the abortion issue was a perfect wedge to drive into the heart of the American electorate, heartland American churches have been Republican to the core. The fact that women have always had the leverage of their bodies used against them has been entirely ignored by the American Right. Indeed, for the Southern Baptists it's just a “natural fact.” The fact that abortion is something one can do “at home” is ignored too. In a world where abortion is illegal, a woman, and particularly a young woman, is at the mercy of the company she keeps or happens to find herself with. “You're a young child. I'm the District Attorney. Who's going to believe you.” It's always the girl who gets pregnant. And to add another layer of icing on this cake, the guy can always buy her an abortion, even if abortion is illegal, if the guy has some coin. What's a nice trip to Switzerland worth these days? Or a trip to a doctor in the next town who deals with these problems. Think of the kids and their futures. He was going to law school in Tuscaloosa.

Roe V. Wade put the beginning of the end to this. Not just the illegality of abortion, but probably much more important, the leverage men have over women. In some ways Roe V. Wade is a profoundly important plank in the scaffold of democracy which the United States has been building long-term, since a founding mired in slavery and property rights and a racist colonialism that ignored the folks that already lived here from the very get-go down on Roanoke Island, NC. This is the long arc of history Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial one steamy August afternoon in 1963. It happened, that fine speech, I'll always be proud I was there.

Roe V. Wade obviously has galled Roy Moore, Jr. The reasons for his interest in very young women are probably a psychological mystery, but as he said to the girl he allegedly tried to rape behind her place of work in 1978, “you're a child.” You have no power. Relax and enjoy it. My guess is, Mrs. Nelson probably had never even heard of Roe V. Wade at that point, and even today is “agin” it, since she and her husband voted, as she testifies, for Trump.

Mr. Moore has been obsessed with Roe V. Wade, most likely because his antenna is finely tuned to the wedge issue. Note the carefully crafted images in the photo above. Through the years, as he managed to gain more and more political power in Alabama, he wrapped himself in the trappings of religion and argued in speeches and his own court rulings that the laws of God as he interpreted them superseded United States law and the Supreme Court. He was abetted in this distortion of American law by Ronald Reagan, who took a Presidential stand against Roe V. Wade in the early 1980s. Moore was also abetted by the various white, fundamentalist cult preachers who themselves saw opposition to Roe as a good horse to ride financially speaking. In Alabama, as in many other places, a great many voters think removing Roe V. Wade is the Silver Chalice, the sole criterion of how to vote. A man who managed to convict two racist murderers in the Birmingham church bombing is reviled by Moore supporters because he supports choice. It is the bright red line. It is trumped, apparently, by absolutely nothing. Among these voters, Mr. Moore still wins. (And there is the plain fact that Mr. Jones put the Klan in jail, so he's obviously a “race traitor.”)

So it should be at least understood that what Mr. Moore and his cult fundamentalist proponents want is an end to women's equality in America. It angers these people, enrages them. The bargain they want to make is, “we'll protect you, just be quiet, lie back, enjoy it.” There are other bargains that can be discussed later. For now, the passenger door is locked.

Mr. Moore is adept at this old logic, the logic of the plantation. Brandishing his little silver pistol the other day was symbolism. So was riding in on his horse, with his cowboy hat and black leather vest. He was MacArthur, walking through the water to the beach. I have returned, an exiled Patriarch, to my kingdom. It was as fine a ceremony as the procession to Westminster, with golden coach and bejeweled orb. But we should be able to see through this ceremony. Roe V. Wade confers power on American women. Even women who have not yet read about Roe V. Wade, who are just coming into their own lives and working a part-time job after school at some steak house in Gadsden, where their job involves learning how to tend to and please more well-off men who can pay the tab and tip if the service is perfect enough to suit their tastes. The waitress is the apprenticeship to the fundamentalist marriage, if you just play your cards right. Mr. Moore hated Roe V. Wade back then, and he hates it now. It takes away a power he believes is his, because some Old Testament God conferred it to him via Adam. Eve in those olden days was the sinner, the bringer of not life but pain and death. She was to be Adam's servant. She was literally “made” from him, and for him.

As Mr. Moore says to Sean Hannity, “I didn't date young women, but if I did, I asked their mothers first.” It's a culture you can still find here and there, in places like Saudi Arabia and Afganistan and Albania. Mr. Moore's behavior is not aberrant. It is of a piece. Roe V. Wade conflicts, for Mr. Moore, with the Old Testament laws. Mr. Moore is deposed by Roe V. Wade. And this deep conflict drives much of current Republicanism, particularly the part grounded in white fundamentalism. Perhaps Mr. Moore's basic “problem” is merely that he took the old ways a little too literally. If you look at it from Mrs. Nelson's point of view I mean. She had to carry his problem in her heart, for 40 some years. Today, Mr. Moore whines about his “reputation.” It's a reputation he stole. And that's also in the Bible somewheres, maybe even on the stone monument Moore paid for and even carved his copyright into.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sweet Home Alabama

The band I used to play in did a lot of work in Alabama. For all I know, nobody who came to hear us ever voted for George Wallace or Judge Roy Moore. It's a hell of a thing to be stuck in a state that never votes the way you think. It's a little better here in NC. Yes, we inflicted Jesse Helms on our country and the world, but we also elected some decent Democratic politicians, including our current Governor, who beat out a remarkable jerk swimming against the Trump tide of last year. The Virginia elections just past this week also offer some optimism to those of us who keep trying to remain sane, in the face of the authoritarian tide. This Roy Moore thing though. Dayammmm as they say. I would have thought that just brandishing his little silver pistol at his acceptance speech would have raised certain questions among the faithful. But the blinders just keep getting sewed tighter I guess.

This is not a new problem.

For further reading, see http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2017/11/remember-bush-plan-for-iraq.html

Just because Mr. Trump can't remember what he said in the last paragraph doesn't mean we can't keep a larger focus.