Tag Archives: politics

Pigs, Sheep, and Wolves…

(Reading time: ~2 minutes)

Here’s some clarity for you this morning: Fervor has utterly displaced Mellow in these United States.

Remember when you’d hear the complaint, “Hey, Dude! You’re harshing my vibe! Yo, chill!” Maybe mostly on tv, and perhaps only ironically over a beer in a backyard, but the thing was this: In general, back then we valued relaxation.

And, we could indulge in it!

Fast forward to today: No matter which side you’re on, it’s all Urgency. It’s all Crisis. The Right cries out, “Defend Our Freedom!” Everyone else shouts, “Defend Democracy!” The underlying passions are feeding a stridency and tension that may reach a flash point.

Don’t mistake my reflections here as a call to calm down. I am anything but complacent these days about the dangers I’ve seen coming, and, yes, arriving in America.

We are confronted by a small but powerful faction that has built its strength by playing on and magnifying people’s fears and hatreds. The fear and hatred is irrational and tribal. It’s curated to be so by those that generate it because frightened people are easy to manipulate, and also easy to stampede!

There was a guy some time back accused me of being a “sheep” for telling him to calm down. “What’re you so angry about?,” I challenged him.

“You’re one of the SHEEPLE!”, he shouted.

And I closed my eyes and pictured the mob stampeding the Capitol.

Those who would lead you to smash things aren’t thinking about you. The one swinging the sledge isn’t thinking about the hammer. He’s thinking about the target of the blow, and what he might do with the empty space left after destruction. The burning of the Reichstag didn’t liberate Germany.

Those who would lead you to reverse an election in these United States- (they tried on January 6th, and they’re trying again in 2024) ..Those are the ones who pursued only three missions when they held control: increase the wealth of the richest, seize factional control of the courts to shape society to their view, and build a “show-piece” wall to perpetuate fear of the “other”.

Paul Simon wrote a song called ‘Pigs, Sheep, and Wolves’. It’s a simple little story tune; an allegory riffing along axes of culture, politics, and human psychology. If you see what I’ve been saying here, you might enjoy it too. Chill out with it for a bit.

And after that ask yourself who are the sheep, who are the wolves, and what do the pigs really want.

This Old House

(Reading time: ~1 minute)

Yesterday the ultra-right firebrand, Jim Jordan, lost his bid to be third in line to the president. He was set aside by 25 republican members who, despite considerable bullying, found their spines and refused to seat him as house speaker. I enjoyed watching the vote happen, sipping Earl Grey Tea.

I, too, laughed as Mike Kelly (R-Pa) voted, instead, for John Boehner. Boehner, who dubbed Jordan “a legislative terrorist”, and used to razz Jordan by button-holing him to ask, “What do you plan to f-ck up today?” That was before the far-right Freedom Caucus drove Boehner from the speakership and into retirement.

As thankful as I am for this unexpected courage from those 25 republican members, it bears reflecting that on the dark and stormy night of January 6th, after the sacking of Congress, not one of that 25 voted to confirm the rightful election of Joe Biden, but instead supported The Big Lie. In all, 147 republican house members voted against confirmation.

Good governance requires both a vision concerning real policies and works; Not just some vague notions that “taxes are too high”, and “regulations are bad”. And, too, a willingness to work with your opposition in honesty and compromise is essential. A commitment to constitutional democracy wouldn’t hurt as an added extra.

The present house majority lacks all those, almost absolutely.

In line to vote with Exxon and BP…

It was brought home to me today that it has been more than a year since the dreadful Supreme Court decision, ‘Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission’.  A one-time friend from my youth whose present wrongheadedness in most things political does not border on, but rather EXCEEDS the utterly maniacal, took advantage, in a recent exchange, of gloating on the fact.

In trying to understand his position it occurred me that he had never in his adult life worked for anything but major corporations. I grimly predict that a day may arrive when his masters put him out to pasture, social security and medicare gutted, and his pension stolen outright, which might alter his views somewhat. Or not. His views are mighty extreme.

If you are groping here a bit as to what that Supreme Court case was about, here are the broad strokes. The five Republican judges appointed by Geo. W Bush carried a majority opinion that corporations should have the same freedom as individuals to practice “free speech”, which includes the freedom to unlimited investment of corporate assets and monies on political campaigns. It does not matter that the ownership of such corporations may be primarily foreign, or antithetical to what is best for our society at large, but only that they be licensed on United States soil.

Nor does it matter that, unlike individuals, they can never be held accountable for crimes against society in any meaningful way. You can’t incarcerate BP, as much as you may want to at times. But BP can certainly spend the dollars it takes to buy the election of your next senator or congressman, without regard to its lack of safety in its business practices.

None of this is particularly cheerful to contemplate.

My reply to my former friend included a caution that a populace disenfranchised from meaningful involvement in the selection of its government has an annoying tendency  of rising up, sooner or later. I further expressed my hope that this would not become necessary. The news from Cairo sounds just awful.

There are people who say it will take an amendment to the constitution to right this situation. Let’s start thinking about that instead!