Cheap crap, Pope Francis, & the Communist boogieman.

Image“To paint the pope as some superman, a star, is offensive,” stated Pope Francis today, as he sat in his hotel bed this morning in front of a throng of flash-snap happy reporters.

Barefoot and wearing a rainbow lei, the bushy-bearded pontiff and his words of peace, love, and wealth redistribution, sprung forth memories of John Lennon’s Bed-in. But instead of the demure, raven-maned and much maligned Yoko sitting at his side, an old man, sporting a salt and pepper beard, wearing olive-green battledress and a matching patrol cap, hunches over, grinning…chewing.

Pieces of stringy and masticated jamón from his sándwich cubano noodle downward and stain the pristine, pearl-white bedsheets below.

Pope Francis’s benevolent smile turns into a castigating frown. He leers toward the comrade sitting next to him.

“That better be fish, Fidel!”

“No,” says Fidel, “eben bedderr, it is made frum capeetalis’ peegs!” 

Ja-ja-ja,” replies Pope Francis, along with the entire bedroom full of reporters, photographers, sycophants, and Danny Glover.

I swear Adderall and iced Americanos make me write stupid, sick and twisted shit in the morning, Unfortunately, I imagine it the kind of evocative scenery that permeates the minds of every A.M. listening, cable T.V. watching armchair political pundit around this great country of ours.

See, back in December after Pope Francis criticized the redundant and perverse theory of trickle-down economics (before those skivvies of yours retract into some ungodly form of fabric torsion…keep reading, I’ll address why) Rush Limbaugh accused the Pope of using the Church and his position as a platform to endorse and spit out Marxist theory for asking governments, banks, or whoever holds the purse strings, to show economic compassion towards the poor.  Here’s the thing, I get Rush. I understand his role in our post-Fairness Doctrine world of political media. I actually think he doesn’t believe half the shit he says, therefore I really don’t take what he says seriously half the time. The guy is a money-making machine, a shock jock (he rose from the ashes that was old-school talk radio along with Howard Stern) and on some cynical level I applaud him for exploiting the uninformed political fervor of the masses. However, any politician or avid listener who believes what Mr. Limbaugh said was truth, or what the Pope said was truly Marxist theory, needs to slow the &$%! down and do a re-check or at least brush up on some of their high school history.

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There is not a single woman alive or whose skin I have touched that could mimic the pleasure that came with playing Ocarina of Time on this sensual, plastic device–Jesus, what the hell did I just write?

 

Before I tackle this bit of hyperbole head-on, let me add some legitimacy to my argument. I attended Catholic school from first to twelfth grade, in fact, my high school years were spent at an all-male Salesian institution. Although my high school did its best in creating dances or meetups with our sister school, I still graduated thinking women were born with an extra toe–okay, maybe not to that extreme level of gender ignorance, but as soon as I got into college, whenever I made eye contact with a girl, I thought I was experiencing hormone-induced telepathy where I was being judged and scrutinized because they somehow knew that my fingers had only touched the contours of every controller since the Atari to the NES to the PlayStation.

Aside from my social retardation, which was ironed out by surviving a couple bouts of alcohol poisoning, and finding out that the first girl that decided to sleep with me wasn’t necessarily marriage material, my catholic school experience did indeed shape me into the person I currently am…which I believe could be considered a half-way decent person.

From first grade on, my Catholic education emphasized that Jesus helping out the poor, the downtrodden, the disposables, the lepers, those who life kicked to the curb was the central, underlying theme permeating my spiritual existence. In fact, the Catholic church and its academic institutions, at least from the time period that I went to school 84′-96′, not only made it a point to let us know the only way into heaven was to help or assist those less fortunate than us, but also made it a point to teach us how corrupt our church once was. It was like a whole new level of Catholic: a self-aware, institutional guilt than what my previous generation had experienced (you know…sexual guilt, I mean we still had some of that, but institutional guilt was definitely more prevalent). They taught us why the reformation came about, and how the Catholic Church exploited tithe giving; you know, when they used to reward sinners with forgiveness after they provided a little bit of charity.

My eight-grade teacher–a guitar-playing nun, with Birkenstocks, who thought she had soul–suggested that every fantastical scenario from Genesis’ woman being created from man’s rib, to Noah’s Ark rescue of every animal on earth, including whatever Donald Trump’s head has rescued from extinction, to David knocking out Goliath with a slingshot (I remember the actual debate to this day, was Goliath as tall as Magic Johnson or Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Cause’ the whole giants didn’t exist and people were malnourished midgets back then) were most likely just stories, allegories, and legends…except the New Testament stuff about Jesus, of course.

Jesus was Galilee’s MRI-CAT scan-Diabetes/high blood pressure test center on wheels, but all fleshy and miraculous. His miracles most likely did happen and he most certainly rose from the dead, but the other stuff, the Old Testament stuff, well, I guess those old-school, desert-hallucinating Jews were just awesome storytellers, but apparently there was enough truth in those whacky books that set the foundation for the coming of Jesus Christ, son of God.

Whatever…bottom line was that Jesus helped the crap out of everyone. He turned the other cheek, he confronted his own corrupt, ruling government and the social taboos of the day by being passive and helping out his own worst enemies, the sick, the forgotten and taught that forgiveness was the ultimate act of sacrifice. Not only was the Sermon on the Mount paramount to our teaching, but it was Luke’s version that was highlighted the most, where Blessed are the poor, ends at poor and not in spirit as in Matthew, Mark, and John’s versions of the Gospels.

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I based an entire 450 page book on a what if scenario about a Greek demi-god who assumes the role of Christ so he could teach modern humans about Luke’s interpretation of the Beatitudes and attempted to sell it as Y.A. and you’re telling me it’s not selling? Why is life so unfair? Psst…the link works, give a shot, heh.

 

Whether I continued my life as a practicing Catholic, later became a Mormon or Scientologist, or was seduced by the humanistic temptations of secularism, my Catholic education convinced me to always root for the underdog.

Going back to why I felt compelled to write this post, If one considers Rush’s grievances legitimate, that either Communists, Marxists, or Socialists had infiltrated the Catholic Church throughout or before my primary academic career, or that even tilting wealth distribution just a bit more in favor of participants who’ve lost or just can’t compete, for whatever reason, within our economic system, would be tantamount to a Bolshevik-like takeover of our capitalist system, then anyone or anything who advocates social justice for the poor, through whatever means necessary, is a goddamn commie. But due to my education and continued interest in history I believe there’s an inherent impulse or universal truth that calls us to help or take care of the least among us, or pushes us to make societal changes ever since mankind decided to start societies or social groups, or begin what we call…civilization. To imply a nefarious red agenda for anyone calling for more economic fairness is absolutely ridiculous.

Before Karl Marx, communism, or socialism there have always existed philosophical and economic discussions that ask how to best deal with the economic losers of our society. Hell, even post Marx there could be some staunch, economic conservatives out there who chooses to run his/her business one way–especially in this day and age of declining white color work off the clock, so to speak—and without knowing, could possibly agree on Marx’s theory that the source of profits under capitalism is value added by workers and not paid out in wages. I’d guess there’ve been some Fox News-viewing, Limbaugh-listening conservatives who’ve experienced work environments where they’ve been asked to contribute before and after work hours without overtime pay. Whether they agree this is a good business practice is a topic for another day, but remember, this particular labor loophole was exploited so much at the turn of the 20th century, that Americans fought and campaigned in favor of overtime pay laws, which have been chipped away at over the past ten years or so, as some states have adopted “white collar exceptions” for some office workers who are now expected to work off the clock without accruing overtime pay.

So when Rush blatantly labels the Pope or his message as Marxist, it is a form of an Ad Hominen Attack–a fallacy where a negative label or association (in this case Marx > Marxism > Socialism > Communism) is placed on the messenger, without a shred of legitimate evidence suggesting the messenger deserves such a negative association, that seeks to delegitimize the actual message or argument. The sad thing is this type of argumentative fallacy works on millions of Americans and it doesn’t matter where on the political spectrum they reside in. And is clearly ignoring the fact that there are millions of Americans out there, who are not asking for a hand out, who are working as hard as anyone, who may be Liberal or Conservative or apolitical, and who are seeing wages decline, and opportunities decrease despite gains for those who are currently controlling the means of production.

However, just to show you I’m not just picking on Rush Limbaugh, you could see how the carnival barking, from all sides, have affected political discussions all across the internet and society at large. On message boards, you’ll see a group of Liberals assail a Libertarian, and suggest they’re sociopaths who can’t reason beyond economic freedom and Social Darwinism, or at the dinner table how a conservative family member is instantly labeled a homophobe for bringing up even the lightest form of a traditionally-grounded objection to same-sex marriage. Instead of laying out all the facts onto the table, or discussing the possibility that each one of us might hold beliefs or may share favorability toward a government program or philosophy that might run counter to our initial argument, it seems that Americans are more than eager to label those who may oppose their belief system and type-cast them as a one-dimensional enemy—including your mother-in-law, freedoman1996, and even the pope!

Personally, here’s what I think. The trickle-down theory of economics is in of itself a redundant philosophy. The economic model we’ve chosen to make a living as a society is rooted within capitalistic construct. Those who control the majority of the resources and control the means of production share their wealth and productivity with laborers and therefore anyone who benefits from the compensation or wages given to those laborers, and so on, and so forth, will see the eventual gains of production come down to them as well. In essence, our system is already trickle-down. So whenever someone touts or lauds trickle-down economics, don’t let them fool you. I’m pretty sure you’ve already accepted capitalism as your model of choice, right? I know I have. If that’s the case, then they’re basically trying to tell you that they’d love to make it easier for those already benefitting greatly from the current economic system to benefit even more (in the form of lower taxation, less regulations, or access to more markets), because they believe the laborer will gain more than they currently have as a result.  But just because I or someone else might disagree with further implementation of trickle-down economic theory, shouldn’t imply I or we are Marxists or support the destruction of capitalism.

No one I personally know, or who I encounter on a daily basis whether in the flesh or in digitized form on the internet, Liberal or progressive, even believes in communism, Marxism, or outright socialism. I love cheap crap, and so do the majority of millennials. We love software too. We adore what Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, or whatever Silicon Valley is creating nowadays. Capitalism has won. Competition has won the hearts and minds of the vast majority of people across the country.

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Has anyone ever asked why Netflix’s logo is so…so…damn red?

 

I don’t think anyone who is asking for balance, where the least among us are helped out a little more, are staging a coup where capitalism is deposed in favor of some totalitarian state where our heads of state proudly wear red berets and are suddenly asked to grow long beards (confusing the hell out of Southern backwoodsmen everywhere). Keep in mind, this same generation values freedom for all, not just for a select few. They also value freedom of information and truth, even if it runs counter to the values and traditions they grew up with. They also understand that some of our parents and grandparents have benefitted from socialist programs such as Medicare, social security, disability insurance, tax subsidies, and unemployment insurance. A new generation of Americans no longer believe in outright labels and understand that societies, philosophies, and economic models change and sometime intermix. What’s wrong with embracing capitalism and adding a dash of socialism to our governmental and economic landscape? We’ve been doing it for years, and successfully so I might add. Maybe if we name our economic model something else…I don’t know, how about Americanism or Freedonomics? Maybe then we could recognize this imperfect, ever-changing system that requires a balanced approach, as our own and recognize that without business there are no jobs and without a comfortable working class with disposable income, there is no business?

So do me a favor, let go of fundamentalism. Ask questions. Find out what the other person likes. I guarantee you they’ll enjoy buying cheap shit too, most likely like a couple of things the new pope might have said, and probably agree that communism is dead and that our current economic model, which for the most part is enjoyed, might need some tweaking to ensure everyone has a fair chance at success. Then start from there. You’ll soon find out that you have much more in common with someone who may hold diametric positions as you, and that’s how you spark dialogue, solutions, and understanding. We are all ignorant of some fact or another, but don’t go asking for facts from someone looking to entertain, seeking to sell you something, or who clearly has an agenda. The best and most qualified information reads and sounds as if it was written or orated by a friggin’ robot. Information fed to you with wide swings in inflection and emotionally charged words should be dissected and scrutinized with precision, including my own.

As someone who no longer believes, but still respects, the divinity of what is contained in the Holy Book that you may still hold dear in your heart, I agree and enjoy what Pope Francis has been saying of late, even if I know, fundamentally speaking, there are still some things he and I disagree on. If common ground and dialogue can be found and explored through believers and non-believers, especially when it comes to matters of fate and the consequences associated with debating the meaning of life itself, then adherents of certain political and economic theories have run out of excuses to continue their stubborn, unproductive means of avoiding real solutions for all Americans

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