Politicizing politicizing

po·lit·i·cize

verb:

  • cause (an activity or event) to become political in character.

“art was becoming politicized”

 

What does it mean to politicize something? In the wake of the tragic events one week ago yesterday, many people accuse those that want to push for stricter gun laws, gun control, or whatever you want to call it, as politicizing a tragedy. As you can see above, that led me to look up what exactly it meant to politicize something. So, it essentially means that you are causing something to become political in nature, not that surprising. OK, so what then is the nature of politics?

Politics

  1. NOUN
    1. the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power:

 

Ok, so the argument is that we shouldn’t make guns an issue associated with the governance of the country? Let’s look at the congressional schedule for the past few days to see what things are allowed to be made political,

 

  • H.R. 5073

To authorize the Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority System and the Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System in the States of Montana and North Dakota, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by:

Feb 20, 2018: Introduced

  • H.R. 5075

To encourage, enhance, and integrate Ashanti Alert plans throughout the United States and for other purposes.

Sponsored by:

Feb 20, 2018: Introduced

  • H.R. 5076

To amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to extend the examination cycle for certain insured depository institutions.

Sponsored by:

Feb 20, 2018: Introduced

To restore certain exceptions to the United States Grain Standards Act, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by:

Feb 20, 2018: Introduced

  • H.R. 5074

To authorize cyber incident response teams at the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes.

Sponsored by:

Feb 20, 2018: Introduced

So, cyber incidents, grain standards, banking, missing adults, and regional water authority systems are all things that can be politicized without incident, but a weapon, something that’s sole purpose is to wound or kill (is that debatable? I feel like some people would say that’s debatable but I don’t know how) is untouchable. Does that actually feel right to you?

But what about the Second Amendment, right? Something else I thought would be interesting to look up.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

That’s the second amendment. The right to bear arms there is given to the people, not every single person, for the purpose of a well regulated militia, emphasis on regulated there, here’s another definition for that word

verb (used with object), regulated, regulating.

1.

to control or direct by a rule, principle, method,

 

to keep free states secure. I think that is a pretty big jump to take this amendment and state that it gives license to 1) any individual to bear arms and 2) for those arms to include any weapon they so please to buy, hence the founding fathers decision to put language in there from the beginning that this militia would be regulated.

I do doubt, however, that the founding fathers could have ever imagined that the type of weapons that are purchased daily by anyone with the money would even exist, but if they did, I would imagine they would think that those with weapons like that would pose a potential threat to the security of a free state.

Drugs, cars, so many other dangerous things are well regulated by the government, far more strictly than guns are, and we all know why that is the case, it is solely because there is so much money spent by lobbys to make sure that any gun legislation is killed before it could ever get voted on, or if it does somehow get voted on, the threat of negative ads and money being spent on primary challengers makes them vote against it.

Plato believed that the point of politics was to act in the interest of the public, and that was why politics were the highest pursuit imaginable. Politicians today do not have this same standard, they act in the interest of their highest donors.

Overall, it is hard for me to not think this is simply a group of people stating that their hobby is more important than the safety of children. I like basketball, but if people were dying on basketball courts at the same rate that people are dying from gun violence, I’d say we need to stop making basketballs and tear down the courts and build something else. Why is this no different? Before the lobbys and the calls to action, if someone asked another person whether or not an eighteen year old should be able to buy a machine gun, the answer would be no. It still should be.

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Gossip and Bikes

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When I was seven or eight years old, I got my first real bike. It was a blue Mongoose and it soon became an extension of me. Wherever I went, I was on that bike, no matter how short the distance.

One time, I remember someone actually came onto the estate and stole it. I saw them riding the bike down the driveway and yelled to my Dad. He ran outside and drove down the street, where a few guys were loading it into a van. Later he told me that he said to the guy, “That’s my son’s bicycle” and the lead guy just smiled and said “I’m sorry, sir, that’s my mistake” and gave it back to him. I’m sure he didn’t want the police called on him, especially in Georgetown where they would come very fast, but I was always amazed that my Dad was that brave to do that. Honestly it was the one time I felt like he stood up for me, and I don’t know what I would have done if the bike was gone at that period of my life, because my parents really didn’t have the money to just buy me another one.

When you walked out of the door of our house, there was a large driveway that led down to the main area of gardens. It was just steep enough to provide a thrill to a 7-9 year old while not being unnecessarily dangerous. The hill did have a wall that dropped precipitously down to the cemetery that bordered our property, the view of which could be quite dizzying while flying down on my bike, which only added to the fun of going down and then walking up, and going down again. I did this all the time, most days after school and the weekends whenever possible. It was muscle memory going down the hill, skidding to a stop at the bottom where a couple of cars would be parked, and the asphalt turned into stone and a large greenhouse sat where my father did a lot of his work.

One day, I was headed down the hill and started to apply my brake when suddenly, I froze for some strange reason. My feet couldn’t figure out how to engage the brake, even though I had done it hundreds of times before. I was headed straight for the greenhouse and I didn’t know what to do. For some reason, my idea to stop myself was simply to put my knees down and stop myself by skidding my knees on the asphalt. It worked, but I was immediately in horrible, horrible pain. I somehow walked back up the hill to my house and walked inside, crying.

My parents were in the kitchen, which was just inside the doorway, talking quietly but I could tell intensely. “What did you do?” My dad asked, looking me up and down.

“I hurt myself” I said and sat down on the small step between the dining room and kitchen. My mother sighed loudly and rolled up my ripped jeans to reveal extremely bloody and raw knees, bits of gravel and dirt stuck to the wound. “Jesus,” my mother said, which I knew meant she was very angry because she never said that unless she was really mad. She went into the kitchen and grabbed alcohol and paper towels. “I have to clean it, Adam,” She said in a way that made me realize this was going to hurt even worse, and I was going to get no mercy from her.

I somehow kept the screams down, biting the back of my hand as she cleaned the wound. As she worked, she kept talking to my Dad, “They said it’s cancer, but I know it’s not. It’s AIDS, you know it is, you can just look at him. He’s got all the signs. I knew from the first time I shook his hand, that marriage is a sham, he shook my hand like Tony.”

I knew Uncle Tony was her brother that lived in Seattle, across the country. He owned a hobby shop which I thought was awesome, and he lived with another man and that was why he moved so far away from the rest of the family in Tennessee.

“You don’t know that,” my father said, not very convincingly. “And it doesn’t matter, anyway.”
“Oh it matters, because they’re lying about it. Why are they lying? They don’t want anyone to know.”
“Well, they wouldn’t want anyone to know, that makes sense. If people thought it was that, that would embarrass all of them you know that.”

“I don’t think it’s right.”
“Now don’t go telling anybody.”
“I won’t, but it’s not right. You know it’s not right.”

“You’re not going to tell anyone are you?”
“I said I wouldn’t.”

I could tell my father wasn’t convinced. He just looked at her.

“I said I wouldn’t.” It was his turn to sigh. My mother turned back to my knee. I felt forgotten, did they realize this was the worst pain I had ever felt in my whole life. My mother picked out a large piece of rock and pressed the alcohol in. I couldn’t hold back that scream. “Oh hush, I’m almost finished.”

“Who has AIDS” I asked.

“None of your business,” My mother snapped. Even then I thought, then why are you talking about it around me, but I was smart enough to shut my mouth. I knew soon enough anyway when the person passed away. It’s interesting to be on the ancillary of wealth and power, and to be privy in some small way to the inner workings of that realm. Whenever someone talked about that person after that, I felt a small pain in my knee, sympathy pains to the agony that they must have gone through, no matter what the true cause of death may have been.

That was about the time that I realized what gossip was, how gross it was, and how I never wanted to be a part of it. Unfortunately, that is something I have not been as successful at that as I would have liked or thought I would have been earlier in life, but I still feel queasy when someone starts to do it, and I try my best to not be a part of those conversations, or to shut them down before they can start. To see that my mother was willing to do it about a dying man, just struck me as wrong even in third or fourth grade, and to neglect a hurting child to do it, even more so.

I gingerly walked up the stairs to my room after my mother but a plethora of Band-Aids on both knees. Not two days later, I was back on that bike zooming down that hill, just to show myself that I could do it again.

 

Black Panther-Short Review

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I plan on writing in more length about this movie this weekend, but I wanted to write my intial thoughts after seeing this movie last night while it is still fresh in my mind. First off, as a superhero movie, an action movie, a mass entertainment, it works like gangbusters. It is fun, never feels boring, is consistently surprising and inventive in its action sequences and introduces a lot of really cool stuff throughout the movie. But the reason that this movie is going to be so important, why it has become a cultural milestone before it ever was released is where this movie really shines. Ryan Coogler could have felt the weight of making the first major black superhero movie and been buried underneath those expectations, but instead he made a movie that embraces them and he has delivered an absolute triumph that celebrates the fact that it is an African movie, set 95% in Africa, with 99% African characters. It embraces the traditions, the culture, it does not apologize for its blackness anymore than The Avengers or Thor or The Avengers apologized for its whiteness, or their maleness. Which is where this movie is also a triumph. Women in this movie are equals to the male characters in combat or even often superior, superior in intelligence, funny, independent and just alive in a way that most movies, but especially superhero movies, rarely allow them to be. And the villain, wow, Killmonger is a true villain, but he is one of the greats because his motivations are understandable, his motivations even make sense, but his solution to a real problem is where he is wrong. The final scene between Black Panther and Killmonger is brilliant, truly. This is clearly just the beginning for this character, as all of Wakanda looks to play a major part in Infinity War and I for one can barely wait the three months to see it, but in the meantime I plan to return to Wakanda at least once more.

Rating **** out of ****

Buying and Selling

So I am in the process of selling my home and buying a new one. It is a stressful process by design it would almost seem. Two very separate and extremely complex transactions are being completed simultaneously, and there are so many middlemen involved in the process that it is almost impossible to know who is on your side and who is looking to profit off of you. Well, that’s not quite correct, everyone is looking to profit off of you, but some people make more of a profit when something good happens for you and some people make more of a profit when something detrimental happens, and figuring out which is which (and that sometimes changes within each decision) is horrible.

Honestly, I’m at the point where I absolutely love the house that we are going to buy, but I know that it is going to have to be at least ten years before I even think about doing this again. I can’t imagine how or why people would do this more often then absolutely necessary (e.g. moving out of an area). Does anybody else feel the same way? It’s like buying a car multiplied by 1,000. The emotions fluctuate so wildly between wanting the new house so bad to saying forget it I’m just never going to move within a couple of hours. Whew! I’m exhausted and I haven’t even had to pack all of the considerable possessions, furniture and what not that I have accumulated over the past nine years in our current home.

2018 Reading So Far

Until the past few years, I spent the majority of my time reading classics. As I’ve grown older, I first started to read a significant amount of history books (mostly about the founding of America) and lately a lot of sociological and political books. I grew up in a Republican household, mostly I think because we were Christian and being Christian in the 90s meant being a Republican, staunchly anti-abortion and that was the main way political beliefs were created. I remember in middle school that I knew two kids that were Republican, or called themselves Republican. One had a parent who had worked for the Reagan administration in the 80s and just stuck around after that, and the other one I honestly had no idea why she was a Republican. I do remember very much liking Clinton, and I even played him in a mock debate/election in ’92, I think I would’ve been in 4th or 5th grade at the time. But in 2000, I was pro-Bush, mostly because I didn’t like Gore, which had more to do with his stance on censoring art, especially during the early ’90s wave against gangsta rap, then politics. That changed quickly thereafter and by the 2004 election, the first I was allowed to vote in, I would say that I have sided with Democratic candidates ever since.

Interestingly enough, it is for the same exact reason that my father was a Republican, because I’m Christian. When reading the Bible and especially the stories of Jesus and the early church, his policies and view sound very much like the platform of a Democrat to me. I have no real allegiance to party, I have allegiance to helping people, and perhaps more importantly, not hurting people. Most people immediately bring up abortion as hurting people, killing them actually, and I agree. That’s an issue that I don’t agree with Democrats on, per se, but it’s assuming that pro-choice is in fact, pro-abortion. I don’t think anyone is pro-abortion, and studies show that planned parenthood and organizations of the like have actually helped lower abortion rates pretty significantly over the last couple of decades. But anyway, about my reading.

I am currently reading “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance. I recieved the book as a Christmas in 2016 and finally have gotten to pick it up. As a story, it is quite engrossing. The characters of his family are incredible, his story is great and he clearly loves his family dearly. However, as he goes further into how his upbringing has affected his political beliefs and what he believes are the systemic issues of the white working class and specifically the Appalachia white working class that he knows, it’s hard to understand how he has come to his conservative stance.

It seems that certain people either rebel against what they know or they embrace it, and it seems to me that Vance is trying to give off the air of embrace and respect, but really underlying everything he does and says is rebellion. The sort of central theme of you can’t help these people because they are in denial about the fact that they refuse to help themselves seems to have led to the justification that all social programs need to be taken away from them so that they have the impetus to work and get off their lazy butts. This is… troubling to say the least. I’m looking forward to finishing the book and see if this view changes by the end, but overall I think that these are fairly immature views, not understanding in full how people respond to certain types of adversity. While Vance talks about being quite poor, it also seems that he was significantly more well off than many of the people he describes as being lazy, as he always had his choice of a roof over his head and never went hungry, which is not the reality for many other people. I don’t claim to know more than him, as he truly was raised in this community, but his overall conclusions seem a little cold hearted, something that has always troubled me about so-called Christian Conservatives, or evangelical republicans.

 

 

The Post – Review

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Obviously timed to be released during a time period in our country where the freedom of and integrity of the press is under attack in ways it hasn’t been since, well, the Sedition Acts perhaps, Steven Spielberg’s new film is a small scale, contained masterpiece, almost more of a play than a film in many ways but nonetheless riveting and honorable in a way we could use more of in public office nowadays. Tom Hanks is compulsively watchable as editor Ben Bradlee, struggling to keep up with rival The New York Times and with the new reality of how the press and government are at odds with one another sweeping over the town he has reported on for decades. Meryl Streep is even better as Kay Graham, and her character truly has a great arc, going from feeling the shame of constantly being told she shouldn’t be running this great paper to the confidence in doing what is right no matter what the personal cost.

There are many notable scenes of great acting in this film, it is one that will probably be shown in classes for decades to come, but the phone scene towards the end of the movie, as well as the conversation between Graham and Bradlee where Bradlee discusses the events of the day JFK was assasinated that truly made the most of the abilities of two of our great actors. Ones made even more great because they are no longer Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, but Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, truly, this transformation into a character and not just a projected persona of themself is something that many of our other great actors have had trouble with as their careers progress, and something both actors could easily coast on for many years, as likable and talented as they are. It is a testament to them both, Spielberg, and the material that they do not here.

Spielberg is interestingly restrained here as well, from the non descript opening credits to not using the cliches of landmarks either in Washington or New York, instead letting the papers themselves be the star of the look of the film. The sequences showing the typesetting and printing of the paper itself are truly beautiful, and made me for one want to run out and buy a print newspaper for the first time in a long, long time, and that is proof positive of the power of this film.

Obviously, the target of this film in a not so subtle way is the current administration, and it makes those points in a classy and not over the top way (although fans of that administation may feel differently) so that this film will not just be a product of its time, but can truly resonate as long as the press needs to report on the misdeeds of the government. Something of a modern day “Crucible” in that sense. Overall, this isn’t a movie that will make you stand up and cheer, per se, but it will make you admire it, and I certainly did exactly that.

Rating ***1/2 out of ****

The Last Jedi – Review

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So I finally got to chek out “The Last Jedi” last night and maybe because I had heard some of the more divided reaction to the film, or I still had some prequel hangover, I went in with a little more muted expecations than I normally do for a Star Wars film. I came out thinking that I was not very surprised that people had negative feelings towards the film, but that I personally thought it was great.

The last hour or so of this movie is probably the best hour of any Star Wars film that I can think of, personally. The first hour or so felt a little too episodic, but overall this one felt a little more organic, like it was confident in the story it was telling and it knew where it was leading. There were real ideas behind it, and because of that there was a purpose to the events far more than was ever achieved in the prequels (which face it, were based on one single event, Anakin becoming Darth Vader, and we took three films and about seven hours to get to a climax we all knew was going to happen).

There were many big time moments in the movie, my favorites all involved Luke, the shoulder brush, the green milk, tossing the lightsaber are all new classics, whose character has become incredibly interesting and complex. I also disagreed with Mark Hamill, who thought that his character acted in very un-Luke ways, I think that this keeps in line with the Luke that we saw him changing into during those three films, especially when confronted with events that mirrored his own father’s turn to the dark side. There is an inevitability to the fight against the dark side, that as soon as it is defeated new enemies will spring up, that could easily turn someone that is so in tune with the Force to become disheartened.

Overall, I’m excited to see where the final episode takes us, and I honestly don’t know where that will be, which is incredibly fun.

Rating ***1/2 out of ****.