While highly distracted with love and hope (I fell for someone – on my face!), I managed to read three good but very different books…
Americans barely rescued our country and democracy in the mid-term election.
Over $16 billion dollars was spent, much of it channeled through “dark money” organizations. The Supreme Court has blessed this secrecy, declaring corporations are “persons” and money is their “free speech.”
About half of that was spent on federal elections, half on state and local. In some locales, the tv and social media were inundated with gobs of ads, none identifying who paid what for their annoying drone. Here are a couple of reports as to who funds what causes and candidates. Some, such as the National Chamber of Commerce, can raise funds from foreign governments.
What’s good about this election was the American people’s ability to see through the din of secret money negativity trying to convince them that Biden was the cause of inflation or that crime is burning down our cities. Neither is true. Americans didn’t fall for it and barely, barely saved our system from being delivered utterly to a party that thinks ‘government is bad for us,’ and then fulfills that campaign slogan when in power.
Way down the list of our concerns is global warming. Despite floods and fires, despite tornados and an erratic jet stream, despite mass migrations already and more expected, Americans were told their chief concerns were inflation and crime. Black Lives Matter morphed from alarm that police brutalize and murder blacks to attacking BLM for trying to defund the police. It wasn’t so much defunding as expecting them to follow the law. Who polices the police? When sheriffs declare they won’t enforce gun laws, just who do they answer to? All this distraction against the ominous backdrop of barely addressing climate havoc.
Barely understood so far is how massive and helpful the IRA (Inflation Reduction Act) is towards shunting money into cost-effective technologies and processes. Starting next January, a lot of money will be available to help homeowners insulate, put in efficient heat pumps, and switch to electric vehicles. All of these will rapidly reduce the carbon and other problems we currently spew. This is infrastructure attention at the personal level, but there are also incentives for manufacturing and innovation. The IRA is a good and needed investment.
However, so are armaments. Glad though I am that Democrats held the senate, I am deeply concerned at all their saber-rattling and stirring up of trouble. Pushing NATO on Russia and meddling with Taiwan stimulates missile production and fat profits, but it could lead to countless tragedies for the soldiers and civilians who inherit wrath and woe. We need multinational cooperation in slowing and fixing global inflammation, not adding to it with more wars to end wars.
Americans are sick of wars and whackos. Many of the extremists were defeated, if only barely. Sarah Palin lost in Alaska. Remember her? She might have been our vice president to John McCain. Remember him? He was a decent Republican, mocked by the imbecilic insulter. McCain was too nice, too bipartisan. Shocked Republicans now seek to rein in their extremists and revert to milder Goldwater types. Remember the John Birch Society? Their founder was the father of the Koch brothers, chief funders of the Dark Money flood funding all the negative ads, financiers of decades of deliberate lying about fossil fuels fueling worldwide troubles for generations to come. Americans apparently began to reject whackos and liars.
We haven’t instituted a Brave New World, but we’re still stuck in an Afraid New World. We’re afraid our media is used on us more than by us. We’re afraid the confusion about what is brave and patriotic could stumble into us/them cycles of revenge in a new, defuse, stochastic civil war. We’re afraid of each other when we should be afraid of the ways our media, mobility, and meaning can evade opportunity and responsibility to deliver our faults and flailing to the egregious profits of the few. Disaster capitalism, anyone?
I recently watched All Quiet on the Western Front. I remember being shaken by reading the book; the movie does the book justice. Like The Thin Red Line, this war movie exposes war for the hideous tragedy that it becomes. Three million lives were sacrificed in a “war to end all wars.” The battle line moved barely.
I remember being most of the way through the book before realizing it was written by a German, the supposed bad guy enemy. Though not anti-German, it was vilified by Goebbels at the dawn of WW II. Nazis attacked movie theaters and bookstores, burning it and other books not Nazi enough. Rather than knowing empathy for the hapless soldiers, whether German or French, reactionaries banned the book and proceeded to initiate another war, ending with the firebombing of entire German cities. Innocents galore were “collateral damage.”
I remember this dismal history that we do not foolishly repeat it. We European Americans have dangerous histories and tendencies. We’re not that far from Wars I and II, nor from the many since, nor the worst American war – the Civil War, nor from the mass delusions that fueled the Inquisition, Witch Hunts, and genocide of our Natives. It takes kind-hearted, intelligent, brave, and humorous people to make an inclusive, successful democracy. Perhaps Americans can live up to this and themselves.
So, despite all the money and wizardry of the ad makers and social media usurpers, Americans didn’t fall into a fascist hole. We avoided it, barely.
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I barely was able to churn out this screed by the 30th, writing for my few loyal readers. While I used to give my all to UU congregations for meager pay, now I make nothing and barely know or care what they’re doing. Too woke for me. Too pushy. The work I did for 36 years pays off – for others. My efforts to tell my story were rejected and then ignored. Please excuse this poorly written lament. My ministerial habit lingers. I am as Emerson put it, “Always a seer is a sayer,” if poorly and barely.
I’ll leave you with an excellent photo of Ashland taken by my son, Tobias. My larger worries and career gripes aside, I’m glad this is where we got to live for 36 years.
Excellent writing, Byron Bradley!
And that’s a really beautiful photo by Tobias!
Wow! incredible photo of Ashland, OR.
Thanks, George (and Teja). Tobias told me he went out specifically to get that shot and he did! He is quite the photographer. It is mounted above our piano.