March 14, 2016: A Trump In the Crowd

An old friend reminded me of this old movie which I love and which I wrote an old post about in 2016 … I still like the writing … #poetry

The Rick Blog

a-face-in-the-crowd

March 24, 2016: A Trump In the Crowd

A favorite old post about media complicity in the rise of Trump, and American fascism in general. I have more to say about this theme, I am sure, but the original post was corrupted and I wanted to be sure that the writing was saved.

Les Moonves, head of CBS, said in 2015 that Trump’s ascendancy might not be good for America but it is great for CBS. Moonves said that people needed 60 Minutes, Colbert (and NFL Football — which they have manipulated so much as a brand that they’ve bled the life and interest out of it) everyday.

The possibility of someone like Trump coming to power became real as far back as 1958 when CBS Chairman Bill Paley moved Edward R. Murrow’s masterpiece news series See it Now out of prime time to Sunday afternoons. Hard news had…

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9/5/20: Giving Us the Business #poetry #commentary

9/5/20: Giving Us the Business #poetry #commentary

Trump’s view of people in the military as “losers” and “suckers” because they take great risks, including the ultimate risk, and get little money for their troubles is the ultimate Republican point of view.

The Republican Party — the party of business. For Republicans money is the only valid motivation for doing anything, with the exception, perhaps, of the adjunct goal of the power money gives you.

Business has been at the helm for the last four years. How’s that going? Business supported a clown authoritarian as President that is destroying our democracy. Business doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to control a pandemic, and we have the worst response to that public health crisis in the developed world. Business doesn’t want to pay labor fairly, or provide a safety net to working people adversely affected by business’ bad decisions, and thus, we are in a depression. Business believes that the person with the most money rules, and that attitude has brought on a time of great social unrest as a result of that injustice.

Business has laughably said that government is the problem. They assumed the total control of the government that they had building to for forty years in 2016. We live in chaos.

The three businessman Presidents have been Herbert Hoover, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Other Presidents, including Democrats, have been pro-business in their policies, but those three men’s backgrounds were the actual making of business.

I’ve noticed two quirks in discussion with business people this week. They have a hard time accepting moral outrage. They believe that everyone has good intentions — always. It’s a curious stance coming from people whose whole worldview revolves around competitive selfishness. Business people also respond to the presentation of facts by saying, “we have to agree to disagree”. They see reality as a matter of argument.

The best business people — the Bill Gates, Warren Buffet types, are masters of reality. They made their money skillfully responding to real needs and desires. At one time, The Wall Street Journal had the best reporting, because wealthy business people wanted to know precisely what was going on so that they could make the best decisions. The best business people are usually something else too — professionals or artists or intellectuals who have actual expertise in some substantive subject matter, and aren’t simply focused on management, accounting and marketing.

But the populist business man, the Sinclair Lewis Babbitt types, the scions of main street have no tolerance for nuance and little skill for adaptation to the needs of others. The Main Street Moguls get visions — American dreams, and pursue them come hell or high water.

Business people remain inexplicably popular with the American people writ large. It seems almost everyone wants to be one. And everyone looks to the successful business people as sources of all jobs and security, in spite of all evidence that business people are not adept at providing either of those essential commodities.

Business people can build and destroy, but they fall down in roles of stewardship which are required of all leaders.

Fred Rogers said that in times of crisis we should “look for the helpers”, and yet we crazily keep looking for the takers — business people.

Most Americans are not successful at business, because we want to do other things.

Did you become a school teacher because you like working with kids? You’re a sap.

Do you do art for art’s sake? Loser.

Do you become a lawyer and then do some work in the public interest? How can you use that money and education that you put into that degree and get so little out of it? Fool.

Business certifies everything. If you do anything that isn’t successful in a monetary or commercial sense, it doesn’t exist.

Business hates regulation and the law because it unnecessarily gets in its way. The ultimate business is crime.

Business turned our government into a criminal enterprise.

All of the rest of our institutions — churches, schools, charities etc. now operate as businesses because business is our only barometer of success.

Business is the fuel that makes our American Rome burn.

The primacy of business must end …

or we are all going to die …

at the same time.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

9/4/20: The Evolution of Mistaken Criticism on the Road to Quiet Self-Contained Joy #poetry

9/4/20: The Evolution of Mistaken Criticism on the Road to Quiet Self-Contained Joy #poetry

When a person is fully living their own life

Fulfilling their destiny

Honoring their character

Creating

Fortunate enough to be born surrounded by love

Not spoiled but cherished

Endowed with a natural sense of entitlement

not in the social superior way

but in the existential respect for humanity way

grateful for the very gift of life

in awe of the vast array of possibilities associated with that gift

Possessed of self-esteem

before he or she could talk or walk

The imprint for all human interactions set as a baby

a mother’s nurturing warmth

a father’s strong admiration and protection

bestowed upon the person

not as a reward for any success, achievement or attainment

not for any beauty or intelligence or any other extraordinary attribute

but simply for the fact of his or her life

The blessed person is welcomed into the world with great hospitality

The second womb

For the first two or three years of life

the lucky fetus-like soul is cared for and grows

Then …

the happy little fellow or girl is introduced to the broader world

Teachers, friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents, kindly neighbors

initially continue to build the environment that the golden child knew at home

but sometimes slowly

and sometimes in abrupt and shocking ways

the little one is unfairly criticized

out of misguided concern

what was seen as a blessing is now characterized as a disability

out of an assertion of societal authority

the little one can’t be allowed to be and do as he or she pleases

There are rules

“Should”

The child learns a new word

“You should do this”

There is the shock of being mocked and condemned

for the very qualities that led to such love and admiration at home

Why?

Why the fall from paradise?

Most people never receive the unconditional love that our little hero or heroine got consistently and without interruption from day one

That love is necessary

and when it is denied people suffer greatly

They become misshapen

distorted

The absence of love leads to ignorance — a lack of curiosity and interest in the world, because the world is seen as a harsh and mean place to be avoided

The absence of love leads to lust and aggression — power as an ultimately inadequate love substitute

The absence of love leads to envy of those who are loved — a hate for those who have what is desperately desired and believed to be unattainable

The absence of love leads to fear and identification with societal authority to provide a facsimile of the security that love provides

The absence of love leads to criminality — life is seen as a war, a fight, a field of murder, rape and thievery

The absence of love leads to pride — armored souls mistaking their ability to survive as proof that they live lives of self-determination

The absence of love leads to greed’s golden false idols

The absence of love leads to the worship of success — the need to prove oneself in a way that is wholly unnecessary for the loved one — the loved one never had to earn his or her right to feel worthy, wanted, cared for

… of course,

our little protagonist begins his or her journey

completely unprepared to meet all the sorrow and anger and pain and stupidity of the world

and all of its assaults

At first, the loved one thinks all criticism directed toward him or her is right

and all criticism is sincere

The loved one thinks love is the nature of the world

without exception

Innocence

So the innocent listens and learns

and of course suffers

The loved one becomes exiled from his or her essence

His or her excellence

That special quality

becomes a source of shame

He or she began life as a unity

and is, at this point, divided

This might go on for several years

Self-betrayal has its rewards

Once plucky and independent

our main character now

fits in

This goes on for years

But the soul is a nag

Shame tuned into compromise and acceptance

which turned into a legitimate doubt

and legitimate guilt

something isn’t right

which turned into anger

which turned into argument

who was right? The loved or the unloved

Which turned into frustration

and resentment

and finally the unloved completely disappear

beyond being objects in an artist’s studio

still lifes

The only trace of the unloved

is the as a weakening delusional voice

in the loved one’s mind

that finally disappears

after decades of an odyssey

he or she returns back to hearth and home

quiet, peaceful and happy

this time aware of the sad storm outside …

Nothing to prove …

nothing to earn …

no one to please

love and work unite

the greatest social forces

are forces of nature.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

9/3/20: favorites in reverse order … #writing #TheRickBlog #poetry

9/3/20: favorites in reverse order … #writing#TheRickBlog#poetry

I have re-posted several blog segments only on my Facebook page and on the New Inclusive page (and here). The pieces are misleadingly labeled “favorites in reverse order”. I just meant that I went through my blog last-piece-first and pulled out pieces that I remembered being happy with when they were published. This grouping is not exhaustive, perfect or unchangeable. This morning I was most interested in the film, theater, TV and cultural criticism, and also the poetic and personal material. I rarely feel my political commentary is representative of my best writing. I’m glad I write it, but feels like it is just social media expression without artistic ambition.

Umm … maybe it was that way once — that was certainly true in 2015 and 2016, but I think the politically themed work has improved in the last couple of years. I’ve tried to touch on more universal themes than mere current events commentary in all of my writing. I believe I’m getting better at that.

If you decide to call yourself an artist, you have to teach yourself your craft. You set out to do things your own way — not out of arrogance or ego — but simply because that is what art is …

The apprenticeship of an artist lies in doing things that he is not ultimately meant to do …

For the last 15 years I have been on my own … beyond accepted rules and methods … fashioning my own way.

Since 2014, I have been working on “Rick writing” — doing that thing that I do …

I don’t think the goal of an artist is to be unique — the goal is to be authentic …beyond rebellion, the artist answers to himself …

in my case, first harshly, but increasingly lovingly …

Understanding oneself does not mean having all of the answers about who you are, I don’t think … it means developing ever-increasing comfort with oneself … honoring one’s own sincere impulses — living one’s natural life — free from internal and external restriction. One’s fate waxes and wanes, but one’s essence can become a comfort and the source of one’s greatest security. Each person is a species with a singular nature whose very presence is a perspective on truth to be expressed to the world.

The Rick Blog is the story of my interaction with the world — a very ordinary person, a very common experience animated by the extraordinary perspective of art.

Art is not something that you are. It is something that you do.

I used to think that art was an elite experience, but I don’t believe that today. A reader of these words, with no artistic inclinations, who converts the words into personal meaning is a half-artist. Half-art creates personal meaning. Full-art communicates the meaning to the world. I don’t think everyone is equipped with the time, talent and ability to do full-art. But that may be a distinction without a difference. If a half-artist turns these words into personal meaning, that meaning will inform the half-artist’s life. And that natural life will inform the world. That goal of pure and conscious natural life is the goal of both half and full-artist — and much more important than art, which is only a means — itself …

Authentic life is a potentially “elite” experience which we all live unconsciously — accepting and rejecting those truest impulses — consciously existing in our full humanity is currently an elite experience — but more and more people participate in it every day — and they are leading mankind to that state of peace, love and freedom.

I truly believe that. If everyone lived in awareness of their true nature, the world would be an Eden.Art is the path that leads to the reclamation of our innocence — that’s why t feels so good to make it and consume it …

I think what is excellent about the blog was present from day one, and the process of writing is one of emphasizing that excellence and eliminating personal obstructions and blind alleys that can diminish what is good or hold it back. It takes a lot of work to develop as a writer and to develop good writing. My blog is a work of art in itself but it is also notes for a completely separate work of art …

all the sketches and treatments leading to the “completed” painting …

all the paintings curated in chronological order and representing the artist’s body of work …

Jackson Pollock fiercely and quickly splattering paint on a canvas — spasms of creativity symbolizing years of deep experience …

James Joyce working 18 years on Finnegan’s Wake …

I generally love what I most recently wrote, and see much that I would change when I re-read older material. Looking at the sweep of the work is like browsing photos in an album charting the physical, emotional and spiritual changes in my experience over the years.

This writing feels like a big block of marble waiting for some new shape to be sculpted from it.

I love the uncertainty of the writing process — a combination of spontaneously facing the unknown, and employing all of your rational faculties to figure out what is going on.

Eternal immediacy in motion down the tracks of linear timeThe endless soul alights on the fleeting moment …

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

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8/29/20: The Finer Things #poetry

8/29/20: The Finer Things #poetry

A writer is an eternal novice

He thinks he knows what he is doing

and then everything changes

subtly

almost imperceptibly

like a slight change in the direction of a breeze

Old personal challenges get solved

naturally

seemingly magically

It only seems that way

Epiphanies follow experiences

Aha! comes after change

Consciousness follows reality

Everything seems so easy up close

The far away is difficult

All good writing is personal

The social is just a projection

The Democrats give a poem of community

Overcoming adversity together

It is nice but distant

I want all that for the world

and more for myself

The Finer Things

The Republicans threaten

they promise the continuation of all that is wrong

and the achievement of all that can go wrong

I can’t get outraged or fearful or indignant

Been there done that

The Finer Things

The Upper West Side of Manhattan

before 9-11

before the development of the last thirty years

Independent bookstores

Writers talking in coffee shops

art house movie theaters

Off-Off Broadway plays

warm apartments

with plants on old window sills

Old furniture with thick upholstery

I walk alone

No commerce

No entertainment

No conflict

Lectures and talks at the Y

Unconnected

No love of other

Love of words and ideas and images

Not lonely at all

The Finer Things

A Sea of Tranquility

Forget schools

Forget therapy

Forget mentors

Forget conventions

Time to make the finer things oneself

To stand naked and vulnerable and expectant before an empty page

and fill it

to create an upper west side and bookstores and coffee shops and conversations and art houses and over-stuffed furniture

and in so doing

make a community that overcomes adversity

unafraid of the crass threats of barbarians

All good writing is personal

and that which inspires what is calm and warm inside of us

is who we are, what we do and everything we can be

it teaches us, cures us

and connects us to others

Conflicts transcended

the world starts anew

again and again and again.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

8/28/20: America’s Attention Deficit Disorder #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay

8/28/20: America’s Attention Deficit Disorder #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay

We locked down in March

in order to flatten the curve

but then got tired and re-opened

before we were ready

and a lot of extra people died

We were outraged when George Floyd was murdered by police

Black Lives Matter!

A couple of months later

Police shoot Jacob Blake several times

in the back

Two protesters are murdered in the aftermath

another maimed

and now Black Lives Matter not so much

We can’t stay focused on root causes

We just worry that a Wendy’s got vandalized

We can’t stay away from the racism

and blame the victims

We can’t sort out the white nationalist violence

and the politicians’ who incite it

Our democracy may be dying

because we can’t pay attention

can’t stay focused

We can’t stay focused on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights

The Declaration of Independence

and the moral teachings of every religion and humanist philosophy

We need brief social media posts

We call short pieces too long

Our entertainment has to move quickly

A 30 second commercial might have hundreds of quick cut edits

Some people graduate from college without having to write an essay

The Presidential Polls usually bounce around

The famous “October Surprise”

Campaign professionals exploit the fact that we have A.D.D.

Decisions made based upon our reaction to the last thing that we heard or saw …

People who suffer have focused minds

Black basketball players speaking about what it is like to worry that their little brothers and sisters

or black coaches’ children

could get killed for no reason

or punished for merely having dignified outrage

at insult and abuse

Nurses who see communal death

day after day after day

and fear getting sick themselves

because of lack of proper protection

stay focused

They know a genocide continues in America

eliminating the unproductive old

and the unjustly persecuted people of color.

We walk through our lives unaware of their arc

Unconsciously fulfilling stories written by the rich

Happily surrendering our power of self-determination

Just existing

in our one-thing-after-another manner

In denial of death

in denial of our own misery

It’s not that we can’t see what is going on

we just can’t keep seeing it

easy pickings

for murderers and thieves.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

8/26/20: Eat the Rich #poetry#essay#PoeticEssay

8/26/20: Eat the Rich #poetry#essay#PoeticEssay

This photo is at least 8 years old — several weight fluctuations ago. I thought the picture read “Fuck the Rich” but I guess it is the same meaning. I offer this as a companion to my “Fuck Trump” photo portrait. I think this one gets at the root problem —the situation that made Trump possible.

Are you frustrated that Congress hasn’t passed a relief bill for your unemployment, rent, virus control, school safety etc? Fuck the rich! They don’t want you to get the money to survive beyond the disaster that they created because the government will have to print more money to save you, and that makes their money worth less. They are all for expensive tax cuts or wars — they make money on those. But every dime that goes to you is less for them.That is the ultimate debate in this country — always. The fucking rich getting more value for their money or the rest of us getting what we need and justly deserve.

The rich know that the idea that we don’t want to work is bullshit. They always blame us as a tactic in order to get their money.

Any issue in this country, any conflict, any tragedy has the rich as a silent partner.

Every issue is always doing what is right — which is usually obvious — or preserving and not lessening the value of the rich’s money.

Hundreds of thousands of people are dying in the pandemic to protect the value of the rich’s money.

Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering with chronic lifelong illness …

Millions are unemployed …

Millions are under-paid and unprotected …

The rich have already destroyed our democracy. Democracy doesn’t work for the rich. It lowers the value of their money.

We adjust our existences for their money.

We can’t go outside because of their money.

We cancel or defer our dreams because of their money.We can’t breathe because of their money.

We can’t just do normal things … make a living doing something that serves our human values and that we enjoy because of their money.

Our self-esteem is based in what we can do for their money — until we get wise and say

FUCK THE RICH!

We don’t need revenge — we just need their knees off of our necks.

We need to take back our self-determination that they have usurped from us.

Trump is the culmination. The rich impose him upon us because they make money doing so.

I guess the first step is defeating Trump.

But it’s only an early battle.

We have to FUCK THE RICH!

Fuck them first out of our minds and then do everything to take all power that they have over our lives away from them.

That’s politics, culture, personal relationships — everything will be changed.

You’re going to have some unpleasant confrontations; and you are going to lose some people that you thought were friends.

We all have friends who admire the rich, who are working to be one of the rich, who would live in squalor self-medicating on a drug of rich-love.

These former friends are the imaginary rich — they are rich in their own minds. They are not fair-minded. You only know them because they don’t actually have money. If they had money, they wouldn’t give you the time of day.

Some people — THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT — who have money are not RICH. Some people got their money not by being worried about the value of money, but being good at something, or inheriting it or getting lucky. These good people with money are also harmed by the obsessions of the rich to preserve the value of their money. These good well-off people have to live in a dystopian reality when what they want most is to enjoy life and be nice to other people.

But with that caveat to carefully identify who is friend and who is foe —

there is no choice.

You have to

FUCK THE RICH !

We can’t put their needs before our own any longer.

We won’t survive.

Look to the election

AND BEYOND …

the primacy of the rich is unsustainable.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

Gallery

8/25/20: News from The Republican Convention Day One #poetry#essay#PoeticEssay

8/25/20: News from The Republican Convention Day One #poetry#essay#PoeticEssay

Just think of a person who would find the Republican National Convention appealing. Then think of a person who might have some problems with the convention, but still found it acceptable. Then consider a hypocrite who would condemn the Republicans, but practices the same types of meanness, selfishness, stupidity, mendacity, cruelty, disrespect, violence, vengefulness, condescension and narcissism in their own world and affiliations.

Next look at the polls that show Trump to consistently get a minimum of 40% of the vote. Add 40% of the remainder of the electorate ….

and there you can witness the fallen nature of man in a very concrete way.

Watching the RNC is to open the wound of every bad person that ever did you wrong … to re-live the innocence that allowed them to betray you, and your pathetic attempts to understand why they are the way that they are in an attempt to preserve your misbegotten love.

Bad things happen to good people. And bad people exist. A lot of them. And bad people happen to good people.

You can avoid bad people like a virus, and be pretty successful at it. You can go through the painful process of healing the wounds they inflict upon you and helping others do the same.

But the bad can never be completely ignored. They will come for you, wanting to take your money, your reputation, your sanity and ultimately your life.

The bad people have made a world and you have made one too. And never the twain shall meet.

All of this might seem quite depressing, but it shouldn’t be …

It’s a fact of life, as sure as illness and death — there are bad people who hate you and want to kill you.

Life of the good is all about creativity and love …

and …

it is also a fight …

a constant struggle which requires uncompromising integrity

clear-eyed discernment

strength

and courage.

You can look with the perspective of psychology and/or the perspective of politics… but ultimately it’s a question of the aftermath of free will …

the choice of every individual to be good or evil

in response to the fates of their lives, the good breaks and the bad

A venial sin is opting for the evil way as an innocent mistake

then feeling bad about it, apologizing and changing course

maybe over and over again

But mortal sin

begins with pride

and then the sinner digs in

doubles down

There’s a lot of mortal sin in the world

At the moments of greatest transformation

for individuals and mankind writ large

mortal sin becomes even more brazen

and prevalent

Great wars occur

Bloody rituals of human sacrifice

Awful pain

and good re-asserts itself

But don’t anticipate victory or better times

Evil never disappears

Existence is a constant battle of dark and light

Accept this grim reality

and then you can be happy.

Don’t waste time being afraid or disappointed

Create, love …

and fight.

And that’s the way it is

at the Republican Convention and everywhere else.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

8/22/20: Hopeful and Inspirational Events Planned for the Republican National Convention #poetry#satire

8/22/20: Hopeful and Inspirational Events Planned for the Republican National Convention #poetry #satire

43 songs from Kid Rock

Low-information voter roundtable

Charlottesville Nostalgia Montage

Tribute to President Trump from the American Morticians Association

A Musical Number Celebrating the Pardons, Indictments and Convictions of Trump Associates

Roll Call Tiki Torch Parade

“QAnon is Our Future” Presentation

Sycophant Trump Praising Contest Moderated by Mike Pence

Health tips sponsored by Clorox Bleach

Recognition of Achievements in Domestic Violence

This Week in School Shootings

An Appreciation of President Trump from the American Auto Repossession Industry

Trump’s nomination seconded by 3 Confederate Monuments

Update on Wall Construction with Steve Bannon

A Moment of Silence for the Be Best Program

Stephen Miller Lizard Impressions

Mitch McConnell Marie Antoinette Comedy Sketch (on tape)

Search Party for Rudy Giuliani

Tear Gas and Rubber Bullet Buffet

Plague, Depression, Racial and Economic Injustice Musical Number

Republican Senate Caucus Hostage Video

Trump’s inspiring deranged insult comic acceptance speech

Discussion — Was anything really wrong with the Mafia?

Memories of South Africa

“Refugee babies just look innocent” presented by ICE

Jared Kushner’s Tales of Nepotism

Montage of people unable to breathe

Retro – Movie Night: The Grifters

American Carnage Closing Number

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

8/20/20: The 2020 Democratic Convention — the Best Show on TV #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay

8/20/20: The 2020 Democratic Convention — the Best Show on TV #poetry #essay #PoeticEssay

The Democratic Convention (all four nights) is the best TV show that I have seen in a long time. Engaging, fast paced, moving, thought-provoking, funny, informative, sobering, charming … from deep dive civics instruction to great music to calamari … a graceful, with rambunctious counterpoints, non-hierarchical secular hymn to unity through diversity

…and I think and hope and pray — effective …this show is everything Trump isn’t.

And everything we are and can be.

America the beautiful.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas