Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rituals and Holidays and Christmas

CHRISTMAS, celebrating the birth of the Christian God. Thanksgiving day, giving thanks for the blessing of harvest? Do we point the cursor at religious feasts? Spanish explorer in San Elizario, Texas in 1598 or in Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565, or the Virginia Colony or the Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in 1619? The New England Calvinist Thanksgiving? Or do we gather and mourn this day to restoke the fires of anger in our chest, memory of that tragic day in 1637 in Mystic, Connecticut, the blood of the 700 Pequot humanity?

          Or what is Saint Patrick's Day, or what the Irish call, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig”? The death date of the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick—who brought forth Christianity in the land? Or do we also pause and light a candle to those who perished from the creeks to the pulpit in the name of religion? Or what about Christmas Day? An exalting convergence central to the Christian liturgical year? Mistletoes and Santa Claus? Or should I turn back the pages of time that it was the Christian cross that subjugated my people and pummeled their beautiful, wealthy earth to submission?
          Or is Thanksgiving simply an Earth Fare turkey baked with Food Lion stuffings, Saint Patrick's Day is a keg of Guinness, Christmas is an ornamented tree circled by colorful gifts recycled from Goodwill, flea market, and Dollar Tree purchases? Maybe. For whatever it is, and whatever historical, political, or commercial backstory or front-story that we choose to interject with these holidays, these are simply moments of pause and ease. Moments of family, friends, community.

          So let us cease to crowd our template of dogmatic hatred with more hatred. Holidays will never be “just another day,” because “just another day” is a tedious grind in the workplace, lumbering traffic of harassed souls in the street, necks and wrists bloodied by credit card gallows, and unmitigated smoke of war in the prairie of our discontent. There must be a day or days when we just have to easy up on the psychoanalytical bombast or sociopolitical bravado of knowing too much and too deeply, lest our spirit starts to slip slide away to a swamp of numbed, synthetic existence.
          Rest the redundant bickerings with mom or dad, set up the chess set for bro and cousin, start the grill with compadre and comadre while Bee Gees music plays along, hand over a slice of appleberry cake to the new neighbor, share a PBR or Guinness with whoever happens to be without a family around that time and talk about Kobe or LeBron or Pacquiao or Kim Kardashian, nothing heavy.

          Somewhere in an island-galaxy so far away, I was born in and around a wounded humanity that bury their dead in thousands after almost 6 months of calamities, and they weep and weep days and nights—enough for tears to nourish the earth again for springtime harvest and summertime revelry. On Christmas season, they pause and take it easy for more than 30 days—and just live, just live like what life is all about. Let life and love happen while these gifts are still beating from within and without. There are no Thanksgiving or Saint Patrick's Day where I came from. But there are people, diverse people from 7,107 islands who speak 19 languages and worship a dozen or more different gods—who gather when a holiday ensues and just, well, they just gather. It's all about a holiday of hearts that talk and speak with a singular language. Maybe that language speaks about love, sumptuous turkey, or queso de bola, or best brew ever. Whatever it is, it's all good.
          MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SOME post-election posts (or notes). Copy-pasted from my Facebook Page. I didn't update or edited these entries from the original posts. (Part 2)

ELECTION is over. But some people are still arguing about it. I ask myself, would those friends who were actually friends before all this election fray got rolling--will finally shake hands now that electio is over? I got friends here (friends that I know in person and friends that I haven't met at all) who unfriended themselves believing I have a preferred candidate or political party. They get offended that I criticize their politico or politica like the person is their god and the party their Church. Well, I criticize both and I appreciate good deeds as well. Both sides. I guess, you could say that there's more to criticize these days than those that we have to commend. We just have to present alternatives. 

          I try. But if one is a fanatic of this and that--no word that tends to question means anything. Some even say they supported my fundraise concerts--so why can't I support their bet? Well, my concerts gave help to people--and I wasn't running to be Senator of Habahaba. More so, my community projects and gigs don't support partisan politics or specific religion. It supports everything that comprises a community. Facebook maybe, just maybe, is good at revealing true colors of humanity. Whatever the color is. You see, it's just election--four or six years from now, there will be another election. Is that how short the life of one friendship?


IN this world of power tilts, surprising realigments and contradictions, Kremlin's machinations via WikiLeaks fed the fire inside the Democratic front by widening the crack between Bernheads (socialists) and Hillarysts (centrists)--thus dividing the camp so the ruling class rules again. It worked. Trump is in power. Russia entered WTO in 2012 (okayed by Congress which were generally Republican) which means Russia has a say now in sale of crude oil to the US and elsewhere. Vladimir Putin aligned with Donald Trump because, among other things, Trump eases up taxing the rich (investors = Russians and Chinese). Meantime, oil whether it is Opec or Russia is gold to the Koch brothers.

          Another backgrounder. George Soros aligned himself with Hillary from PAC days and even funded groups on the left side like Black Lives Matter and cannabis legalization to balance the brinkmanship internally and win the progressives—as what he did in the 90s in Southeast Asia by derailing Asean's march to less reliance or independence from the West (West = OPEC oil and security machinations in South China Sea). Russia and Indonesia (who's got oil) are non-OPEC members. Russian oil companies owe Chinese banks lotsa money. Before elections, Soros was in Indonesia, HQ of Asean—which was always anti-Washington (Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar etc). How does Duterte and Trump play up in all these? Russia-China-US 1 percent matrix. Beijing operates behind the scenes as always in regards US affairs—but Kremlin has a poster boy in Putin. PR-wise Russia is less evil than China these days in the eyes of American heartland. Duterte-China, Russia-Washington/Trump. Meanwhile Soros regroups. That's how I see it. Irrelevant what kind of drivel or twaddle comes out of the mouths of Beavis and Butt-head.


TAXES. Taxes are such an issue. But it's not entirely that bad if taxes translate to increased social program accessibility—like in the cases of Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Japan where total tax rates are around 50 percent and more per capita income.
        Fact check to Donald Trump. The highest taxed nation is not the US. Argentina (but I desist from discussing that for now). Tax rate per capita in the US is 24 percent. But Canadians are taxed lesser at 21 percent. The Canadian province of Manitoba has a 0 percent corporation tax rate for small businesses. In most surveys however Canada ranks No. 1 overall for providing a good quality of life. The country is tops for its well-developed education system, job market. In fact, Canada was rated in the top five in all but one of the nine attributes – affordability, where Asian countries dominated.

         Meantime, wanna know that in rich Qatar, tax rate is just 11.3 percent! Lamborghinis and Ferraris rule the parking lots out there with camels. No kidding. But seriously where I'd pursue business (in case I end my American journey)? Singapore. A low tax ate of 18.4 percent. Many companies from around the world choose Singapore as a base for their Asian operations.


FREEDOM of speech. I know. We know. No one stops no one from speaking their mind. So I will—and continue to invite unfriending, of course. I couldn't wrap my mind with this absurdity of absurdities. This is directed to Democrats or progressives/liberals who boycotted the election because they were overcome with anger and grief that Bernie Sanders wasn't chosen to carry the Party banner against Donald Trump—or to those who voted the 3rd candidate as a form of subtle protest that their bet didn't make it instead. I posted time and again that the pre-election signs or forecast were pretty much even. Hillary Clinton needed the Sanders votes. I assume that Sanders supporters knew that—and the larger assumption or certainty is Trump will clobber Clinton if the other half of the Democrat throng don't participate. It was either Trump or Clinton, it's as simple as that.
         Now I don't see the point why Sanders supporters are so noisy that Trump is the new President. I wonder wouldn't they be noisier or less noisy if it's Clinton? For me this not just a crack on the left side of the road—the damage is a lot worse than that. It also magnifies a national problem that is even beyond what the current protest is shouting. Their fear of hate, racism, misogyny etc under Trump is overtaken by the fear of a collective weakness to fight hate, racism, misogyny because those who profess to fight them are more concerned with individual end than the welfare of the majority.

         A divided people is a divided country, tempest in the yard is the ruin of the house. Yet since the Conservatives/Right seems tighter and bonded, I could see that if their President fails to deliver what he promised, it's them—those who voted for him—will be the power that'll bring him down not those who didn't. Why? Because they are united as a people.

SOME post-election posts (or notes). Copy-pasted from my Facebook Page. I didn't update or edited these entries from the original posts. (Part 1)

DID presidential candidates “play” the voting public? I believe the word isn't “play.” Maybe as Jeff Beck (the guitarist, not the other Beck) said, politicians “lie.” They lied because they knew it'd be easy to lie than to sell facts—facts that will against them. Elections are about winning—whatever it takes. And in American elections, always a very few percentage show up. Lowest was the 46 percent in the Clinton/Dole race in 1996. This last one was the second-lowest. So candidates are actually talking to a “few” captured audience—that is why catchphrases and sloganeering worked. Like rahrah in a ball game. 

          Trump promised these, Sanders promised those—cakes from polar extremes. Yet the story behind it all is—OIL. Oil is more than gold. Saudi Arabia is slowly but surely losing clout with America and West. The Saudi-led OPEC countries have been threatening to cut oil output as Russia and non-OPEC members battle them for pricing. Two weeks ago, OPEC agreed to reduce its own production by 1.2 million barrels a day. This developed following Russia's previous announcement that it had already announced plans to cut output by 300,000 barrels a day next year, down from a 30-year high last month of 11.2 million barrels a day. Mexico also pledged to cut 100,000 barrels, Azerbaijan by 35,000 barrels and Oman by 40,000 barrels. The US' main oil imports come from Canada, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Russia and SA are the world's top #2 crude oil producing countries; the US accounts for nearly 20 percent of the world's total oil consumption per day.
          There is no such thing as making America great again. It is just a matter of handing over the baton to the next leader who can negotiate better with oil giants. All the Mexico talk is bull. Mexico is still the US' #3 trade partner and it's a next-door neighbor plus a huge population that is an economic force than illegal nuisances. Russia could be the #2 exporter of oil to the US which will make the Kochs happier since they could deregulate pricing et al by virtue of Russia's entry to WTO in 2012. And China despite Trump's anti-China rhetoric is still the China whose crap clogs US retail and been lending money to all corners of the world, especially to giants like Brazil and Venezuela and yes, Russia. Trade balance, military spending (while Pyongyang continues to bait Washington to keep on spending on military hardware), pharmaceutical 1 percent's machinations in Afghanistan and Myanmar/Indonesia (Asean) via George Soros etc. 

          The Assange leaks were obvious—yet it could sway elections. But don't people know that it's all Russia while the dude lives in an Ecuadorian embassy? Ecuador and China have lotsa investment deals. Trump is dealing cards, not running a country based on new policies that should go beyond stone age protectionism. What has done so far—Carrier and the Mexico transer and appointment of environmental czars who makes folly of climate change. Is that making America great again? It's the same scribblings on the white board. But well, these win elections especially that candidates are talking to only half of the populace.


ONE very effective campaign game changer that worked for Trump was the WikiLeaks Hillary email fiasco. Julian Assange is a genius—a genius hacking xxxxxxx harlequin. Right on time, right on target. He knew that a huge throng of Democrats (mostly Sanders believers) will easily bite his candy—they did. I know of a number of Democrats who switched to either Trump or Johnson or decided not to vote at all after the email leaks came out on crunch time. I believe that jacked up Trump votes easily. After the fact, I am more interested to observe how Washington deals with Kremlin/Russia than question or protest Trump's victory. He won, period.


WHEN it comes down to it, it is fine that followers of two political polar extremes stay glued to their belief—as long as the crack isn't so wide so that compromise and negotiation are still possible. I believe that it is much better than when people are seemingly bunched on just one side. That'd eventually allow dictatorship or autocracy—even if at the get go one-person governance commands majority allegiance. Those who will oppose him/her become rebels whether we define them as Right or Left. Yet as in the nature of humankind, I don't believe all of us will agree as one—although universal good and evil seem to tread a parallel balance like black and white. We are not like that. We are either half-weirdo or a bit saintly. Many times the insane becomes cool and mutate into a rock star--and the sane turns out boring and never get a date. Humans are that unpredictable and contradictory. So Trump voters and Hillary believers, it's okay to argue—as long as somewhere somehow you'd all line-dance to the Bee Gees' “Night Fever” on syncopated cadence.


IF majority or all of those who voted for Trump are racist, sexist and xenophobic as their leader, and then the leader won--then something is really ailing with America. Really bad. Not the government or President-elect per se but it's own people. These are Americans as in heartland America. And if we study the demographics, these are mostly Americans who got ran over to poverty in the last ten or 20 years. That hardship pulled their American-ness out of the hole--because they found a voice. They don't see their America anymore in retail stores, in media, in a politically-correct pop culture, in basic structures of society--especially when America masterminded the entry of China then Russia to WTO and let globalization dance for the 1 Percent. So when a despot like Trump came out swinging, they heard some of their muffled voice in his rhetoric. They don't see good life in another Democrat. They don't see good like in another Republican like Bush either. They see it in someone who promises a new order by spouting an anti-GOP girth and fuck the corporations/let's reclaim America bombast--who also didn't have a public office portfolio which only fired up his line. That's how Adolph Hitler rose to power--by appealing to the disenfranchised German majority who's been relegated to the background. And he rescued the economy in the next 4 or 6 years--before got totally insane.        
In America, in the polar extreme of disgruntled America--are those who opted for Bernie Sanders who promised his throng a sociopolitical system that hasn't been tried in the US (not even with FDR's New Deal in mid-1900s), the same "voice" that Trump sounded albeit on a different sociocultural spectrum. A new system. Those voices communicated with a disgruntled mass--polar extremes but those were the words that many wanted. Hillary Clinton is a centrist. So they didn't see her as their messenger or deliverer--it's more the ethnic communities who liked Clinton. The difference though in terms of Trump/Sanders voters, Trumps went out to vote but Bern people opted not to--which is tactically flawed. Truth is, it's either Trump or Hillary for president--but by dividing the Dem's vote, that'd only catapult the GOP bet to presidency, which happened. Meanwhile, I observe many arguments and discussion on Facebook--and I can say both sides exude both rude and disrespectful tact. That was a nasty election--and not just because the Conservatives are nasty--it's because it is general nasty. And social media gave people somehow the "license" to talk ill of these candidates and their followers. I am called moron and idiot and stupid by Bern followers and "go home to your Third World dump!" (my country of birth is not 3rd world) by Trump fanatics although all I did was present facts. Bottomline, it comes down to who got a mass base that was intact despite partyline schism, Donald Trump. While the Democrats need to go back to the drawing board how to instill partyline allegiance from its mass base and leadership. It's after all a united front that instills power, whether it is by means of democratic elections or revolution. Which the Democrats/progressives failed to show. That for me is worrisome.


FACEBOOK is fun as long as you don't take it seriously. It's like these: Hey, Trump has lots of dandruff, that's not good for a president. I just voted, look at my face. I saw this lady on Sam Edelman boots that looked like wading boots. My mom is a nasty little rightwinger bitch! You know that I just read Hillary emailed Michelle this awful squirrel casserole recipe? Assange just hacked my ex-husband—Julian is my hero! By the way, I will be cooking Beef Bourguignon tonight but I guess, uh, no. My deadbeat boyfriend couldn't even hold it for freakin' three minutes! I think I will break up with him tonight. Bernie would have waived my parking tickets. Look at my new socks—recycled from spring rolls wrappers. President Kirk is a moron! Namaste to y`all! Dafuq with what?


WHAT's good thing after an election? Time to bring out the notepad and list down what have been promised. Time to REALLY figure it out if those make sense--and then begin the true duty or responsibility of a citizen. Expectation check. Time for deliveries. Since the truth is, whether you voted for Trump or Hillary or still meditating a Bernie mantra--you are going to pay the rent this month, swipe a debit card for gasoline, and provide yourself and family health insurance. Let Life resume! Taco, please!


AFTER the primaries, it seemed very clear that whoever the Republican Party's bet was, it is still very likely that that candidate will beat a Democratic Party rival. Why? The problem isn't the GOP. The problem is the Democrats' mass base--it is already cracked. In the same way that rank `n file Conservatives are angry with President Obama's administration, a huge chunk of the other side (mostly Bernie Sanders followers) also feel betrayed by the outgoing president's two-terms. But then the Right remained tight—not exactly the hierarchy per se, but their voting bailiwicks are formidable—and even spread through some states that were first thought as majority Dems. 
          Meantime, the GOP in Congress built a wall against Obama's signature bills in re immigration reform and gun control et al. Those stayed as is Bush's time. Also, within the Dems, Sanders should have acted as a party stalwart and not a so-called people liberator. Instead of rallying his supporters toward Clinton's side to ensure the defeat of Trump, he distanced himself. Trump's victory of margin isn't a landside, it was close. Which means, if Bern people voted for Hillary and not the 3rd option—or they didn't boycott the election, the Democratic bet would have a better chance of winning. At this point, the Democratic Party needs a lot of regrouping and rethinking—on how to at least narrow the gap or vacuum in their house and backyard. Meantime, inhale exhale—and enjoy some tacos.


TRUMP is what he is. Hillary is what she is. Bernie is what he is. Obama is what he is. Frank Underwood is what he is. These are individuals with their respective "I am what I am" that stays in them--that is why they ran as President of what is supposedly the strongest nation in the world. We can't just change them no matter how we namecall or judge them. But what must change is people's attitude and behavior on election time. The only way to winning is via a united front. And a united front makes a strong nation--irrelevant who sits as President. A united front installs a leader--a united front brings down a leader. However, a divided throng only brings forth a bad Taco. That is the truth.