Saturday, July 30, 2016

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

FIRST of all, elections are a pile of perfumed press relations speeches—meant to lure people to the polling booths. Election is about winning. It is all about soundbyte, meme and slogan that work good toward winning the race. Either candidates imbue partyline principles (or agenda?) that accentuate America's bipartisan ideals. That is what Uncle Sam sells to the world that is why it is the globe's most powerful nation. Talk about allies that are ready to go to war with the US and/or supply us what we need in the area of almighty oil and consumerist baubles. Oh yes, Americans got more access to most countries' doors than the rest of the world. The American government ensures that, too—that you are safe out there.

          To quote, “The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.” Whether we believe that system/ideal is happening or not, don't matter. That is what Washington wants the world to know and accept about America to keep the Great American Lifestyle fed and alive.
          If we believe/d in the polar extremities of Trump and Bernie's rostrum rhetoric (Hillary is a centrist polarizer), then we need to look deeper in and around who really are the players lurking and calling the shots in the Oval Office and Congress. Let's talk about The D. Would Washington's vaunted universal clout be sacrificed just like that or be made as a huge laughing stock to as far as Milky Way? Believe me, if there's a chunk of ET voters out there, The D will yell, “I will deport all extra-terrestrials to Wyoming!” and that will work. Why? Americans are pissed. Pissed with all traditional structures of society. From family units to educational system, from business kingdoms to conventional churches, from media firmaments to political governance. That is why social media and Reality TV work good working people out. People say what they wanna say, believe what they want to believe—whether it is Kim Kardashian's butt or Khaleesi's dragons. When people are pissed you basically look left or right only, and negate the middle ground. Check out the tempest in the streets—it's almost like anarchy. Americans want America to be perfect. So we kicked factories to China and emptied Detroit and stopped oil drillings in the West Coast because we want it to be an environmental haven—yet we reeled over Katrina and Sandy. I digress on that area though.

YET Trump appeals to the traditional Americans in two fronts. The old school American who believes in the primitive glory of conservativism. A tight “I am an American!” ideal but willing to compromise like how they did at the time of FDR's New Deal or during the construction of railroads that helped fasttrack America's march to Industrialization onto Superpowerhood. Mormoms/Irish/Blacks/Chinese. They worked together but don't mess with their beliefs and faiths. Two, he rallies the Americans that we fear. Those who think this is still Tombstone time. But those who are pissed because all they see are Chinese shit in retail shelves and their factory jobs are lost to political correctness and corporate greed, those that the Bernie people call morons because they drink Busch beers and not handcrafted ales and who consume Campbell Soups and not non-GMOs while the Mexicans get to DMV as illegals and CEOs get million-dollar stipends. They are pissed because they go to war first yet come home with shattered limbs and no health insurance and jobless. The Bernie people are pissed on the other extreme but they'd rather bring in illegal Mexicans and Syrian refugees in, never mind—it's okay for them to wait tables and BYOJs from Guangzhou (sans college degrees) as long as their souls are fed. They don't want war but they want oil, they don't want you to cut that tree but nope you can't take their iPhones away and don't tell me not to drive my car to Trader Joe's a block away for red wine and hummus.
          Now, would the 1 Percent (think the Kochs who assures us we can gas up to pricing that will not make you mad and the dot com billionaires who continue to give us apps so we can talk more seated) allow that? Would the Chinese whom Washington owes a lot of money allow that (the Chinese don't like prolonged tempests, bad for lo mein business)? Would the Russians who hand over crude oils to the Kochs maybe larger amounts than the Saudis allow that? No. Globalization means keep the 1 Percent't merchandise selling and Trump's bullheadness is bad for business. That is why the Republican bigwigs hate him. He is not following the rules of battle. Divide and win, but the winner remains the same.

          Trump, at least in his speeches, makes fun of the Muslims (that'd ignite more terrorism), Mexicans (Mexico is the US' #1 trade partner across the border and voters and workers under the table which helps Monsanto a lot). Etc etcetera. But I believe, Trump as we near Nov will slowly and surely ease in the Republican agenda and cozy up with Washington—because they Kochs will drop him if he doesn't. Will he lose some of his faithful? Leave that to the strategists. Now provided that Trump wins, that would American lives abroad in danger to extremists machinations. You will be an easy object of political statement and ransom money out there. Just because you are an American. These fanatics look at America as foreign policy infidel, period. Don't matter if Hillary or Trump sits as Chief Executive. Doesn't matter whom you voted. You are still an American to an extremist nutcase. So relax, “The Walking Dead” comes on few months from now. It is still sweeter and safer to watch a TV series with your loved ones, family or friends. At home.
          Should I talk about Hillary? I knew from the start the Bern has no chance in the Dems camp. His people are basically the Occupy movement. From the 1 Percent's point of view, they can sell better to Trump people than Bern people. Yet how they controlled Zuccotti Park, the Occupy's HQ, with just a McDonald's bathroom 24/7 across the street? Will Bern spend all his old age arguing with Congress about freeing half of inmates or free college education etc etcetera? No. Too much talk. America needs to get to business before China corrals everything.

NOW, is there enough reason for Americans to give up? Do they really believe that when Trump wins, it's Armageddon time? Or are we just scaring ourselves due to too much Facebook murkraking and “Game of Thrones”? Trump wants that vote but no you can't do that, Donald! So says the MIBs in Washington. Remember how the Mexican votes' 70 percent installed Obama to his second term? Yes, he promised some immigration reforms but via Executive Orders not as a law—because to date his immigration serenades are still up for committee wooing. But what worked in re lobbying was the slowdown of California/Texas oil drilling and the kicking out of stinky factories to China because we don't like stinky, deadly environment yet we are still #2 (behind the mighty Chinese throng) in contribution to carbon footprints. Whether Hillary or Trump wins, whether we get oil internally and Caltex is alive again or this comes from Russia/China partnership or Saudi Arabia, the Kochs will still process that oil to usable merch. Whoever wins, Apple Inc will still be bankrolling $5 billion a year to keep Foxconn alive in South China Sea. So they got it all figured out. The Matrix plug behind our neck is still wi-fi'ed.

          Now is there really such a huge problem? They shoot stoners in Manila and Jakarta and the Finn and the Irish still pay more taxes than the rest of the world's citizens. Etc etcetera. But yet, an American can go anywhere in the world, but the world is under employ by only three people: The Chinese, the Russian, the American—all bank their money on maybe 3 merged banks that control the universe. And since America is the designated front manager, your boss will still be an American. Their agenda? Globalization. Then, what's the difference, right?

     Home is where the heart is. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Our Political Lives

POLITICAL POST. I am not going to say that this is my last political post because saying that means I am scooting out of Facebook which I don't intend to. And how am I supposed to not talk about politics? Dissing politics is tantamount to breathing only through my nose, reacting to the world only on these particular side/s and ignoring that one—when that other one is the power and force that allows or disallows me to breathe freely, in the first place?

          How can we not talk about politics when living in itself in a society of governments and laws or interacting in a community of people constitute a political flow or cadence? So we think those people who choose to “live beyond the grid” that we see on TV aren't governed or dictated by a political system just because they are naked and afraid or living without cable TV or maybe they don't pay taxes? (Of course, they do, how they'd supposed to get a gig on TV? Under the table?) Everything is political whether we like it or not.
          Buy a property in an island off the coast of the Outer Banks, you still gotta fill up some form at some government agency, sail that boat all the way to Jamaica from Long Island, there will be coast guards or some kinda chopper hovering to check on you, buy a property out in the woods? You think you're so free you could farm cannabis and not be caught? It's all political, folks! Even here on Social Media. Why are you gloating about censorship and shit? The dot com people had to strike some agreement with the subcommittee on dot coms in the US Congress somehow, sit with the NSA, and well, agree. Political. Political is okay. Actually.
          Political isn't always bad just because you don't get your political margarine because they're all using butter instead. Political butter. You don't want to talk politics, that's okay. Sometimes I get tired and so I play some more Bee Gees. And then I hear their song, “Dear Mr Kissinger,” written in early 70s. Political, right? Maybe Taylor Swift isn't political but wait till they cut lotsa moolah from her earnings because Congress just... Uhh you know. Political.
          Okay, break. I gotta fix my political coffee.

NEGATIVE, POSITIVE. "Negative posts beget negative ones, with the positive posts being more contagious. Positive updates on Facebook can spread happiness as the feelings expressed on the popular social networking site are contagious." So suggests a study by researchers from the University of California, San Diego. The study analysed over a billion anonymised status updates among more than 100 million users of Facebook in the US.
          That isn't really surprising, almost a no-brainer. Bitchslap me, I'll bitchslap you back. Kiss me, I'll kiss you back. An almost deductive human reflex. But in regards social media, I am moved to identify what really are the "positive" updates? I am on my Facebook or in the internet more hours a day than most, I suppose--so I have an idea what the study is inferring.
Most of the positive memes and blurbs and posts border on dreamy ruminations of a world and society that humanity envisions, almost like utopia or nirvana, a thesis that we wish to pursue if we could--than actual pro-active, out-there positive pronouncements like community projects and village-level initiatives designed to actually help people. We read a lot of "heal the world" and "Namaste" and "Peace!" but these are mostly Hallmark greeting card-level "positive" vibes that are idealized than practiced. If you say, "What a beautiful morning! I am glad that I am breathing this fresh air!" you'd get the same. Yet when you say, "Oh my God! There's another shooting! What's going on!" or "Your candidate is a liar!" you'd also get the same retort. But the positive yarns although up there suspended on midair get more response and worse those that are negative howls although based on gut-level realities are frowned at and dissed. Because these are negative.

          It is okay to exclaim joy and spew anger in here, or out there. My only issue is how do we merge joy and anger and let them simmer as one and then do something about the real world? Compromise, negotiate, dialogue. The joyful ones need to come down to earth and feel the mud and murk, and then the angry ones have to calm down and explain to the dreamy one the facts and figures why there are mud and murk--and so maybe we can plant some good seeds on that ground and start a new geography of understanding and mutual respect. The positive and negative on Facebook will always be there, that is life. It's just a matter of how both meet up and work things out--in real, breathing world.

POLITICAL writing (or politics) has always been an integral part of my writing, professional life and research. And passion. But I always prefer looking at matters from an analytical/historical vantage view. I sat with major political candidates' think tanks in the past and I've been covering elections for years (Philippines and US) so at least I have some ideas what is a deliberation or discourse that makes sense from sheer sidewalk rabble-rousing. Talking is good. We give it, we take it--then we call it a night.
          These days, due probably to social media's bombast and extravagance, arrogance clobbers sensibility. You win the discussion if you just pissed off a roomful of nonbelievers (in whatever you believe in). Thing is, the "pissing game" isn't that simple juvenile mudslinging or trivial murk-throwing. To some, it's downright serious. Couples file divorce or relationships break up, longtime friendships crumble. 

          I like to read/listen to a good discussion if the person that I am talking with balances the volcanic fire with well-documented facts and some compelling points of agreement, not just the usual "you gotta listen to me, I got an opinion too" protestation. Problem is, most people don't want to listen at all. And if they don't agree with you, they'd consign you to either a rightwing moron or leftwing jerk. No middle grounds, no area for negotiation and compromise. Sad. You're either a lapdog of Glenn Beck or a Maoist zealot.
          Good thing about my family and circle of relatives is--we never really debated political stuff although some of my kin are politicians as well. In the last Philippine election, the family is divided among three or four presidential candidates. Yet there's no fighting or even arguments. The only fight that we exert effort on--are details of next week's dinner menu.
I wish we can just respect people's choice/s and leave it that way if we can't convince each other. It is weird how relationships and friendships are ruined due to this. It's just politics. When smokes have cleared--no one's going to be barred from eating Bojangles whether you are GOP or Dem or a boycotter (who may be eating hummus), anyway. Life says a new President gets elected after a few years, so that doesn't mean we'd approve of the people's choice each time. Otherwise, maybe we'd prefer dictatorship? No, we don't want that at all. So chill and enjoy your beer.

WEIRD thing is people these days don't really talk the way we did. Like barbershop talk, front porch Sunday talk etc. People today talk via cryptic language, internet blurbs replete with triple-meanings. Yet we pick on minute details, we accentuate those little differences (food we eat, language we speak, dress we choose etc) instead of focusing on what we can actually do as a collective community.

          Then we pronounce lofty words like community, one love, unity in diversity, power to the people, universe like we actually breathe them yet when you say, okay let's go do something--we start to segregate each other in cliques.
          I haven't had difficulty in organizing communities coast to coast, culture to culture--as I did compared with these days. It's tough. Bottomline is, our reflex and response as human beings under one universal good are all the same. We just have different families with different skin colors. These days though people are apart not just via race or creed, we are apart with just about anything that we could think of. If I reveal that I love Waffle House pork chop, ah! "No Pasckie, I can't be your friend. You're full of toxicity." 

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Social Media of our Lives

THERE was a time when mom and dad used to admonish us children for watching too much TV. Junk, they said. I may have did the same to my kids when they were little but not as strict as my dad was. But then these days in the Age of the Internet by way of Social Media, I'd rather motivate teen-age and 20something youths to watch TV series like “Homeland,” “The Americans,” “Hell on Wheels,” and “The Newsroom” than spend time on Facebook trapped in those silly political so-called discussion.
          Most people tend to simply shoot one-line blurbs that diss or praise without the “why.” At least, the shows that I mentioned offer compelling arguments and well-formulated/researched infos very significant in discussion and dialogue, especially in educating the young.

          I grew up and was trained as a journalist. Facts. Not even my dad when I was a teen-ager could sway me with sermonized ramblings about stuff. I will not debate him but I had to investigate further. Facebook election-related hubbub is replete with whimpers and echoes that may seem harmless. But due to the amount of false information in the guise of funny memes and “websites of folly” plus exchanges of barbs that stream in and out of the Homepage, these become dangerous. I am not siding with any political candidate or preaching a Church creed or something. I just have to admit that many times I am moved to ask, “Really? Tell me, send me links and data and stuff to support your allegation.” None. The person in question either scoots out, falls silent or continues to coax me to a sidewalk grubble.
          Since high school, I've always loved sociopolitical, economic and cultural discusions, especially from historical and scientific point of view. My college years (while already a professional journalist) were backstopped by endless soirees and convergences where all you talked about were stuff around, mostly political. And I always get good words, great knowledge. When I shared something that needs to be corrected, I wasn't called a “moron” or “a dick.” Those around me offered additional infos. That was the way it was before.
          These days, I don't know. I really want to know more about people. But I'd like to listen to someone who's got something to say in 15 paragraphs than someone who's got something to spit out in 4 words. Maybe that's the problem—we've lost the patience to listen and the ability to speak.