Monday, March 28, 2011

March Madness

March Madness
Every year I declare I'm not going to let the bug get me and despite my pledge I turn into a madman, yelling at the screen, missing meals, and rescheduling my life. I am not reacting to the madness that is exemplified by the conservative rally in Iowa. Some of the highlights reported by Jon Ward of The Huff Post, from Saturday's conservative rally for presidential hopefuls, in Iowa included: Herman Cain “We’ve got some altering and abolishing to do,” Cain said, referencing the Declaration of Independence. “The Founders got it right. It is within the power of the United States of America to alter stuff that we don’t like. We don’t like this radical socialism that’s being shoved down our throats.”
Talking to reporters afterwards, Cain also said he thinks the imposition of Islamic Sharia law is a legitimate threat in America and that he would not appoint any Muslims to any positions in his Cabinet if he were elected.

Michelle Bachmann: "She touted her introduction of a law to revoke the government's regulation of light bulbs, boasting: “I introduced the light bulb freedom of choice act!” The crowd roared at that one. Bachmann did not mention that the light bulb law was signed into law by former President Bush. Bachmann spent little time on the issue of moral values, but showed a deft touch in her handling of the issue. After railing for most of her remarks against big government meddling in people’s lives and hurting economic growth, Bachmann said that “it is families that are the solution and the ultimate building block for America." “Because no stimulus, no entitlement reform, no health care initiative, no education revamp can match the power of an intact two-parent family in driving economic growth, health and well being in the United States,” she said.
Bachmann noted that her parents divorced and said she understands “the difficulties that single parent families have. This is not to denigrate them in any way. ” She did not get into many specifics detailing how she would counter Obama’s policies, sticking to general principles. Bachmann was at her most populist near the end of her speech.
“The preservation of our nation is too important to entrust it to mere politicians,” she said. “The founders recognized that it could only be entrusted to the brain trust, and that’s the people of this nation.”
But Bachmann’s position on the role of religion in politics was somewhat contradictory. She sent positive and negative signals about whether religion is required for the nation to be moral. The Founders, she said, “understood it was our values that were the underpinning of this nation. John Adams wrote, it is only for a moral and religious nation, this constitution that we write, it is wholly unsuited for any other. ” But then Bachmann said that Adams’ quote was “not saying what kind of religion a person has to have, or if they have to be religious at all. What it is saying is that we cannot build a nation unless it is built upon a rock solid foundation. And America has that. It is the character and the values of our people. ” That statement would appear to be at odds with the belief expressed by many, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, that faith in God of some sort is needed for a nation to retain its “character and values.”
Bachmann left after her speech without answering questions from reporters.
Newt Gingrich: Newt Gingrich hosted a screening Friday night here in Des Moines of a movie he and his wife Callista made with conservative filmmaker David Bossie called "Rediscovering God in America." I watched the couple make brief remarks to introduce it, and then grabbed his book of the same name and read the introduction. The point of the book, and of the movie, is that America has been since its founding a religious nation with a national identity that recognizes faith in God as a cornerstone of its culture and its government. Some would say this means the U.S. is a "Christian nation." Gingrich's book stops short of that, and instead makes the case that America has been and should be a pluralistic nation that allows freedom of religion for most faiths (more on why not all faiths below). “For the Founders, it was abundantly clear. Religious liberty and freedom of religious expression would be indispensable supports for our democratic traditions of government and our pluralistic society. And so they have, for over two hundred years. It is important to recognize that the benefits of these supports accrue to people of not just one particular faith, but those of all faiths,” Gingrich writes.
Of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, Gingrich says “the phrase transcends any one faith or denomination and is inclusive. ”But there are some limits to religious freedom, he argues. A free country requires that its people be virtuous, and virtue is produced by what Gingrich calls “true religion.” “True religion” is defined in his book as “any religion that cultivates the virtues necessary to the protection of liberty.” “Implicit within this vision of the Founding Fathers is a pluralistic sensibility,” he writes. I asked Gingrich after his speech today whether Islam fit the definition of “true religion” as he defines it in his book. His answer was very short, and a bit inconclusive. “I think it’s a monotheism,” he said. “So it does?” I asked. He responded: “The point is the Founding Fathers believed that having a belief in God – this is a very wide range if you read what they say – is where they believe our rights come from.”
Another reporter asked whether some in the GOP were going too far in criticizing Islam and its connection to international terrorism. “I think that you can be anti-radical Islamist without being anti-Islam,” Gingrich said.

There is a lot to react to in that set of speeches. I left it to the pols to take up the slack. Robert Reich is one of the few insiders who is speaking out. He decries Maine's new Governor Lepage, and more evidence of the republican big lie. His last two posts suggest we need a fighter in the White House.

While that madness was playing out, I was concentrating on the truly astounding, the playoffs of the NCAA men's tourney.
Arguably, the best of the game is fought on courts in the middle. The same kids who astonish us every year with their talent are born, raised, and schooled in those reaches of our landscape that are the breeding ground for the radical right speak that dominated the Iowa gathering. As you watch the final four take note of the fans, the bands, and the cutaways to their home schools. They are not ignorant. They don't drool. And it is yet to be seen whether they can be scared into responding to the hysteria of the persons who would lead them.
The disconnect is mind boggling. Those stands are filled with thoughtful, concerned, people who are hurting. Why do "progressives" cede them to the right? The fact is there was no response to the hysterics of the Tea Baggers from professionals on the left. As for the so-called liberal media, it does a great job of not pressing any of these potential candidates on any of their outrageous claims or staked out positions. Radical is the name now given by the right to any press that reports or asks any question regarding their remarks or behavior.

What of the responsibility of the so called progressives to push back? There are signs of an awakening in Wisconsin. I don't trust it. It is too rifle shot an issue and one has to wonder if the rage will extend to support of grievances from the broader cultural agenda now under attack.
The middle comes up quick as you move off the coasts. During a recent election in which a gay rights bill was on a ballot, if you noted lawn signs in Portland, the city on the edge, you would have thought that passage of gay rights was a slam dunk. On a drive not two miles out of the town limits the yard signs changed and in fact the referendum went down. I don't think the so-called left really want to spend any quality time inn the middle. In the game of politics as social identity there is not much fun imagined by the cadres that would be required to actually sit down and speak to our neighbors in the middle. We don't gain their respect marching through their Precincts wearing bias on tee shirts or parachuting in to pass out leaflets and then hurrying out.

We have a President who holds political action hostage by claiming his is the voice of progress and we should accept his politics as our own, as the old saw suggests, "what's our option". I for one believe we have to create an option. I am not going to accept as a given the policies of war, and empire, and America for the rich. I don't believe there has ever been a better time to create a true progressive movement. It will require time in the middle.

We've spent most of our lives in the middle. When we moved to the Shenandoah Valley the first question the first person we met was, "Is Max going out for band or the orchestra"? The second question was what the J meant on Max's school application. When Charlie came to pull some wire we spent as much time bullshitting about our respective lives as we did getting the work done. We had kids in common, tough times, changing landscapes, and ironically the influx of people from the city, of which I was one, was a big topic. What locals wanted me to understand was that the familiarity and solidarity of their community was what they feared they were going to lose. They knew where everyone lived, and when someone might be snowed in, or in need of checking up on, they responded. They feared they would lose that intimacy. They wanted me to commit to them. I volunteered to coach midget basketball. Carrie taught pottery.
They did not fear my politics, my religious orientation, my big city ways. It was a constant source of amusement. There is a reason that most of the comics come from the middle. They would rather tell a joke than the truth, and they are good at it.
When my car needed repair, it was done. When the dogs needed shots it was done. When we had a serious medical need, it was satisfied. The details of such a life are for others to write. What I want to share is how much we had in common. The predicate was we weren't there to change them, nor they us. We grew together. I became a leader in the dem party. We got candidates elected. We were on the ground.

I find the theory of spatial harmony, the idea that when people sit next to each other they tend to harmonize their thinking, most exciting. Here is an excerpt from a book wherein corporations are picking up the data and incorporating it in their design of office space.

To be in a position to harmonize requires proximity. Everyone believed Virginia was going to go red in the last presidential election, and they cited race as the key issue. Obama won Va. The fact is that the next gen has taken race off the table. They have eaten at the same table with others and while not integrated are past the simplistic race based politics of their parents.
Now as the political season heats up again, we have an opportunity to harmonize with the people in the middle on an array of issues. If the only voices they hear, and the only people who will sit with them for any reasonable period of time come screaming from the right, then the future is a foregone conclusion. There is an alternative. Those who have roots in the middle have to go home again, sit around those family tables and discuss their collective futures. Young persons looking for opportunity would do themselves a great service by seeking out prospects to thrive where there is a vacancy they can fill. Seniors might consider affordable options for retirement where places are begging them to migrate. And, political organizers who mean it, who want change enough to live for it, might consider relocating. They would get a chance to see some great basketball.

1 comment:

  1. Barbara Doughty
    to me

    show details 4:12 PM (5 hours ago)

    1. Michelle Bachman is possibly stupider than Sarah Palin, if that is possible. Palin seems to be fading from sight a bit, and one can only hope that the same thing will happen to Bachman.

    2. Why can Germany rouse tens of thousands to protest over their nuclear power plants, when millions in the New York area are threatened by the one in their back yard and do nothing?

    3. It's great that there were big protests in Wisconsin over the shenanigans going on there; but again, tens of thousands in Britain, France and Egypt have turned out to protest the wrongs being done in their countries. One begins to fear that we in this country have no will to organize/mobilize and fight against the Beast.

    4. I'm rooting for Virginia Commonwealth, of course, and know you have special connections with the place.