31 October 2018

The EU, Neoliberalism, Obama, and the Clintons

The prospect that the European Union—and the UK (or any other country for that matter) staying in it, two separate issues, mind you—is a good thing is just as valid as the hypothesis that Hillary Clinton was a good choice for POTUS because she wasn’t Trump.  A case in point is the very recent reversal of Italy’s 5-Star Movement on the EU’s deficit limit of 3% of a member state’s GDP from opposition to acceptance. 

When I posted an article about that to Facebook, I remarked, “In other words, ‘we accept the limitations and strictures and deficits of neoliberal socioeconomic anti-humanism, thereby surrendering our principles and claim to status as anti-establishment’, as well as revealing the party’s anti-establishment stance to be nothing more than a pose adopted to become the establishment.  Like the slaves who dream of becoming the masters rather than of freedom for themselves, much less for the people they supposedly serve.

During the Great Depression, the governments of most of the world used increased budget spending to deliver their people out of the ruins created by the 1% of that time, and little resembling such an effort has taken place to cure the Great Recession.  Instead, we the people of the world have only been inflicted with more and more austerity, so that the rich get richer while we all get poorer.  I’m so glad the world’s stock markets are doing so well, but as Stieg Larsson noted, the stock market has fuck all to do with the economy.  Therefore, this 3% limit accepted by the 5-Star Movement in Italy is yet another instance proving that the EU as an organization is nothing more than a shithole operating for the benefit of the wealthy few.

The leaders of our countries treat social welfare benefits not as if they were created to serve the needs of the people who receive them but as if they were created to enable their corporate sponsors to pay their employees less.  Workfare, means testing, work requirements, and other such demeaning, humiliating ways of mistreating people in need are not about lifting people up but grinding them down, making them feel helpless, weakening their will to fight back, make them feel as if their poverty is their own fault rather than the fact that the few at the top horde to themselves resources far beyond what they need.  Mind you, many of these abuses did not originate with the Tories in the UK or the Republicans in America, many were first instituted in the USA by New Democrat Bill Clinton and in the UK by New Labourite Tony Blair. 

Those last two groups, Clinton’s New Democrats and Blair’s New Labour, are as fucking useless as the reformists in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the CHP in what is becoming the Islamic Republic of Turkey.  As opposition, Turkey’s CHP is to Erdogan and the AKP and Iran’s reformists are to Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard are slaves who want only to become masters, just like the New Dems and New Labs are to their counterparts to whom they want to do nothing more than replace.

The Obama presidency was such a fucking waste of potential and a betrayal of hope, as great a betrayal, in fact, as that perpetrated by his successor upon his own supporters.  When he came into office as POTUS, Obama had a supermajority in Congress.  He could have passed single-payer healthcare that included price controls on drugs, he could have passed welfare changes that were actual reforms rather than deforms, he could have enacted changes beneficial to Afro-Americans, but he did none of those things.  He did not do those things, because he did not really want to do any of them, which anyone paying attention would have noticed long before the 2008 primary.  Like too many of his fellow Dems, the greed of the few was and still is more important to the one who promised hope and change than the needs of the many.

Obama revealed his true colors soon after his inauguration in March 2009, behind closed doors away from public view, mind you, when he met with the lords of Wall Street on the then recent crash and Great Recession which began then and is still continuing, at least for most people.  “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks,” he told them.  “You guys have an acute public-relations problem that’s turning into a political problem.  And I want to help.  I’m not out there to go after you.  I’m protecting you.”  And you have to admit that he that on that, at least, he was good at his word, else he would not be getting $400,000 for a one hour speech to the 1%.

Recently, Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing states to to institute work requirements for people receiving Medicaid.  As originally structured, Medicaid covered only those whose income was below a certain level and were pregnant women, children and young adults up to age 21, parents or caregivers of those children, women in need of breast or cervical cancer treament, Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries, and those who have received an SSI check and Social Security check in the same month at least once since April 1977. 

One of the undeniably good things Obamacare did was to expand those eligible for Medicaid beyond that narrow scope to all persons with income below 133% of the poverty line.  Unfortunately, states with mean, stingy legislatures like that of my own successfully sued in the U.S. Supreme Court to allow states to opt out of that, which the Republican-controlled General Assembly of the State of Tennessee promptly did, with the Republican governor’s signature.

Despite the fact that the General Assembly rejected Medicaid expansion, leaving those eligible to that limited list above, Republican Speaker of the Tennessee House Beth Harwell, who is a candidate for governor in the next election, almost immediately introduced a bill to put that new indignity which Trump inflicted on the poor into effect.

Unlike the thankfully failed repeal of Obamacare at the national level, this change does effect me directly, or at least would if our state’s Republican-controlled legislature had not shitcanned the Medicaid expansion authorized by Obamacare.  Because of that, at 54 years old, I have not been to a doctor in nearly ten years.  However, it does or at least could effect those like me.  So I will fight back, even if it means I have to go on hunger strike if Speaker Harwell’s latest cruelty is passed.  Poor and working people, people like me, are worth dying for, and so is our dignity.

Afro-Americans voting for a Clinton are like working-class whites voting for Trump.  You get the betrayal you voted for.  The white liberal dog-whistle racism that first became acceptable under the Clintons is what has allowed Trump-style racism to flourish.

If the Rapture Were Real

If the eschatological fantasies of Christian evangelicals were true and the Rapture which they for which they hope so they can go to heaven without the transition of death out of their fear and lack of faith, not accepting that they have to die in order to live, that nirvana is samsara, and that damnation comes before salvation actually came, I’d have to say, Sorry, Jesus, my friend, but if you take all of these, there will be no one to suffer with those left behind, and besides, I’d rather laugh with the righteous sinners than sing with the sanctimonious saints.  I want to #carelikeademon and #fightlikethedevil. 

Jesus, looking at me, winked with a smile, and told me that removing all of these smug, self-righteous, priggish little shits who cling in vain to their surety and their wealth for security as both weapon and shield against the Other from the backs of those upon whom they look down was succour for the suffering of their victims.  Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke, he said behind his red mask as he took them away to the sanctuary of a solitary confinement where they will be just as safe from all that they fear and loathe as were the guests in Prince Prospero’s abbey.  If they miss the punchline, he concluded, fuck them all.

Suddenly, Jesus stopped and turned back, saying, And Another Thing...since Make America Gay Again and #LuciferSaved trended on Twitter the same day, 15 June, henceforth world without end let that day be observed as Save Lucifer Day.  Or maybe I should say Save Me, or rather Save Us, Day, since he and I, Lucifer and Jesus, are the same person, melded together in an alloy like white gold, except that in an alloy two separate metals unite to become one while he and I have never been anything but.

A Better Definition of "Proletariat", and the Parable of the Talents

In an interview by Suzi Weissman for Jacobin Radio of David Graeber about his most recent book, Bullshit Jobs, Graeber critiqued what I have always seen as one of the major shortcomings of Marx and Marxism.  That failing is Marx’s restriction of the definition of what constitutes the proletariat to industrial workers and the corresponding definition of what constitutes “work” to physical production of goods.  That definition has sent many a Marxist theoretician into very ludicrous convolutions of logic.  Not only that, but it has served to divide the actual proletariat against itself and lent rhetorical support to capitalism by that very definition.  It also, as Graeber pointed out, contributes to anti-feminism and toxic masculinity.

As I and others have pointed out, the term “proletariat” derives from the name for the Roman lowest class, the proletarii, which owned little or no property, at least not any kind of surplus property.  In Marxist terms, personal property only but no private property, which would in fact in the last two centuries take in most of the so-called middle class.  So, from now on can we just accept that the term proletariat takes in all those people, instead of doing the neoliberal capitalists’ work for them?

The whole idea of “middle-class” is a fiction meant to convince the upper working class house slaves that their  interests lie with the masters rather than with their fellow slaves toiling in the fields, a pretence to which all too many of them cling, like the ungrateful servant.

I’d like to remind everyone that, with the notable exception of its patriarch, the members of the Manson Family, especially the women, came from this fictional middle class.

Keeping in mind my more pragmatic definition of the word proletariat, let me paraphrase one of my favorite passages from Martin Luther King’s writings.

The proletariat’s great stumbling block in its stride toward freedom is not the Americans for Prosperity or the American Legislative Exchange Council, but the so-called middle class, which is more devoted to order than to justice; which prefers the absence of tension to the presence of justice; which constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; which paternalistically believes it can set the timetable for other’s freedom; which constantly advises the proletariat to wait for a “more convenient season”.  To which I add, “and in doing so ensures its own destruction”.

I finally figured out the meaning of the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew.  A rich man going away gives three servants different amounts of talents—talent being a measure of currency in the first century—the first five, the second three, and the third just one.  The first two invest and profit, the third hides his portion in order not to lose it.  For this, the third has the one talent taken from his and he is cast out.

This parable is certainly not a defence of capitalism, which would not exist for another millennium or fifteen hundred years, depending on whether you date capitalism from the development of the finance system still used by the world’s banks during the Crusades or the sale of the first stocks at the dawn of the so-called Age of Exploration.  The two servants who sell and make a profit in this story are just stick figures. 

The focus of the parable is on the last servant, the one who fears his master will be angry if he loses his portion and therefore buries it.  The story is not about profit.  The story is about the consequences of not acting in defense of our fellow humans in hopes of maintaining that which we have been given rather earned and do not necessarily deserve.  Like the so-called middle class, also known as the house slaves of capitalism or the upper working class, all too often does with respect to the proletariat.

Remember Noami Shulman’s words from Novermber 2016:  “Nice people make the best Nazis.  My mother spent her childhood in Nazi Germany surrounded by nice people who refused to make waves; who looked the other way and focused on happier things than ‘politics’ when things got ugly.  They were lovely, kind people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.”  Don’t forget to step up, to resist; the life you save may be your own.

Questions and Answers

I heard a line on a TV show recently that made the suggestion that by asking the question, we create the answer.  I don’t remember the context or which show, but when I thought about it, I realized that all often that statement is true.  

We ask a question looking for an answer to fit into our preconceptions, or, if not, we only look for answers within the frame of the question we ask, thus by asking we create, and what we thus create is inevitably self-delusion.  

Because in doing so, in asking a question we think we already know the answer to or only accepting answers that fit into the framework of the question, we are attempting to control, and control is an illusion, and believing we have it is self-delusion.

Our Votes Do Not Belong to You

To the Democratic Party:

In addition to primaries for national elections here in NeverNeverland, many of which have pitted pro- and anti-Trump Republicans against each other on one side and progressive versus neoliberal establishment Democrats on the other, several local and state elections have put Democrat against Republican.  In a special election for the House of Representatives seat in the 12th District of Ohio, the Democratic challengers narrow lost, by a few hundred votes, to the Republican incumbent. 

Quite predictably, Democratic celebrities, outlets, active rank-and-file of the party, and supporters almost immediately began caterwauling about the evil Green Party whose candidate in that race polled about the same number of votes as the difference between the two candidates of the major parties.  That and Russian meddling, with zero evidence of the latter. 

To these, I say, “Listen, you fucking cunts: our votes do not belong to you.  They are not yours by right; do something to fucking earn them.  Grow the hell up and engage in a little self-criticism, because you sound like a bunch of whiny crybabies.  Like the snowflakes that POTUS and his right-wing pundit friends accuse you of being.  Stop putting forth candidates who run after the votes of moderate Republican and former Kasich voters.  

We the people are done with your mewling centrist neoliberal bullshit.  Give us candidates who will support the needs of the many instead of the greed of the few, or we will find someone who will.  Before we have to suffer through the four more years that you staying your course brings; neither we nor the rest of the world can afford it.

29 October 2018

On Identity, Part 1

Greetings from your clever commie cunt in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, in the Never Never Land where corporations are people, money is speech, and the rights of the few  to excessive wealth, power, and property outweigh the rights of the many to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, author of the blog Notes from the Ninth Circle and group owner-administrator of Terran News on Faceook.  Just call me Chuck.  Or Protest Dad.  Or Mac Mheic Con Raoi, king of Gno, king of Delbhna Tir Dha Locha, king of Muintir Conraoi, king of Baile Mac Conraoi in Conmaicne Mara and overlord of Baile Conraoi in Corco Mruad, Chief of the Name of MacConroy, and primary heir of Tuireann Delbaeth mac Ogma, god of thunder and 6th High King of the Tuatha De Danaan in Ireland.

Okay, maybe not really on that last, as far as anyone knows, but I very well could be.  

I first connected with my Scottish past and ancestry after avidly watching the miniseries Roots in 1977 when I was 13.  My favorite character, and hero, of the miniseries was Chicken George.  It is what first inspired me to search for my own roots. 

Up to that point in my life, I’d always been told by my Anglophile mother that we were English, the Hamiltons that is, and Scotch-Irish in the case of the rest of our families.  Since I knew that families name or are often named for the places they come from, I sat down with our giant atlas and began scouring England for a city, town, village, or hamlet for anything Hamilton.  Disappointed but not too surprised, I happened to glance up the page to Scotland, where the town of Hamilton was properly marked.

I was really, really excited.  Mom resisted the idea that the Hamiltons are not English, but after several Saturday bus trips I later took to do research at the public library, she caved in.  I learned a lot about the House of Hamilton, found out that my Uncle Dick had traced the Stewarts, my dad’s mother’s family, back to the Royal Stuarts of Scotland, and discovered that the Buchanans, Haddens, Olivers, Adams, Hornes, Hawkins, and possibly Martins originated in Scotland.  And so, essentially, I thought of myself as Scottish-American, though the distance in time between me and the mother country in both space and time were quite lengthy.

One day in my sophomore year at uni, I went to see my granddad at the nursing home and experience one of the more disconcerting aspects of dementia.  He thought I was my dad.  But that wasn’t as disconcerting as what he told me next: that my great-grandfather Hamilton was not really my great-grandpa, at least not by blood.  That he, my grandpa, was a bastard, and that his father’s surname was King.  He told me that he had even worked for him at the A&P grocery, but that his da had never acknowleged him.  I later confirmed all this through my mother, who called my aunt after I told her.  Margaret replied that Aunt Lorraine had learned as much from my long-dead Great-grandma Hamilton and told her several months before, she just hadn’t gotten around to letting the rest of us know.

Still kind of grooving on the whole Scottish identity thing, I checked to see if there were any Scottish clans, houses, grains, septs, or families named King.  I was nearly overjoyed to learn that King was one of the pseudonyms adopted by members of Clan Gregor after they were outlawed for being, well, outlaws.

It was not until I returned from the Philippines in the early 1990s is when I began to do actual geneaological work to try and trace the lines back to at least the first illegal immigrant of that line.  Unfortunately, by that time Uncle Dick had died of cancer and no one knew where he kept those records, so either I will have to do all that work over again or just go with what I have.

My great-grandma Hamilton was born Anna Roach, and after a lucky find in an old, old family Bible learned that she was the daughter of Silas Roach Jr. and Alda Rice, both of whose fathers served together during the Civil War in the 10th Tennessee Infantry of the Confederate army, a unit nicknamed the “Sons of Erin”.  That they had subsequently moved to Arkansas Territory together indicates a certain Irish clannishness, making it like that when Anna’s parents moved their family to Indiana, they sought out other Irish-Americans.  Not definite, but likely, even probably. 

That being the case, my biological great-grandpa King was also likely Irish-American, and if that is the case, the most probable home for him and/or his ancestors was the southwest of the region of Connemara, also known as the barony of Ballynahinch, the westermost part of Co. Galway in Ireland.  Why?  Because in the 19th century the members of Muintir Conraoi, the MacConroys of Ballymaconry, almost universally adopted King as the anglicized form of their name after having used McEnry for a couple of centuries.

For a thousand years, the dynasty that became the MacConroys ruled the portion of the Delbhna people in the land known as Ti Dha Locha, or Land of the Two Lakes, also known as Gno, G-N-O.  They were one of eight branches, and the largest, of a larger population known as the Delbhna, who once rule Central Ireland.  They were pushed from their homes in Tir Dha Locha by the O’Flahertys in the 13th century after the latter were kicked out of Magh Seola east of Loch Orbsen.  The main branch went to Ballymaconry in the southwest of the west of what is now Co. Galway, a region known anciently as Connemara and since the 16th century as the barony of Ballynahinch, while the smaller group of the famil went to Ballyconry on the shores of Corco Mruad at the eastern end of Loch Lurgan (or Galway Bay).

The MacConroy was one of the four sea-kings of Connacht, the others being The O’Malley of Tir Umhaille, The O’Dowd of Tir Fiachrach, and The O’Flaherty of Iar Connacht.  Besides trading and smuggling in partnership with the MacTeige O’Briens of the Aran Islands, many of the MacConroys sailed and fought and robbed and reived with the Pirate Queen of Connacht, Grainne Ni Mhaille herself.  Hell, being descended from them is just as good as being descended from Clan Gregor.

Gaelic Ireland is often said to have died with the Flight of the Earls from Ulster in 1607, but in fact, Gaelic Ireland lived on in Gno Mor and Gno Beg (the divisions of Tir Dha Locha under the O’Flahertys) and Connemara (which remained without division) by law until 1625, and after that unofficially until the Cromwellian plantations of Connacht in the 1640s.

The MacConroys were so old school they never adopted medieval coats of arms.  Thus, they probably never adopted the system of primogeniture, sticking with the classic system of election from among the derbhine, or beyond that if there not a sufficient candidate within that small grouping.  So I could very well be The MacConroy after all.

Okay, a lot of that was a massive bunny trail.  But it is relevant.  Once I had started to wrap my head around that, I also started to learn that nearly all my Scottish ancestors, nearly all my ancestors period, in fact, had come to America from Ireland.  Sure, a few were directly from Scotland or England, but the overwhelming majority came from Ireland before landing in the Americas.  Which makes me Irish-American rather than Scottish-American.

Despite the fact that many in Never Never Land use it to mean that their ancestors come from both Scotland and Ireland, the American term Scotch-Irish has a racist origin.  It is one that only came into vogue in the North (of the USA) in the 1840s when the old timer Irish-Americans, largely descended from Irish Protestants and Dissenters, wanted to separate themselves from the pathetic, desparate, starving huddled masses yearning to break free who were coming over from Famine Ireland.  Much later in the 19th century, as Jim Crow began to rise in the American South, whites there began to use the term Scotch-Irish as a euphemism for white. 

In truth, the only Scots-Irish, the more proper form of the term, are descendants of Scots in Ireland.  Like Ian Paisley and Arlene Foster.  Or Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands.  In Ireland, the racist ethnic term corresponding is Ulster Scots.  Because those who call themselves such are Scots-Irish.  The only thing that can validly carry the name Ulster Scots is the dialect of the Scots language spoken there.

As for the origin of my King great-grandpa, true, circumstanial evidence indicates that he was probably Irish-American, but he could well have been Scottish-American.  Hell, he could even be descended from Lithuanian Jews originally named Koenigsburg.

Not were I meant to go when I started writing this, but fuck it, there it is.