Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Liberal Rapture" website

John Smart publishes this spirited political site. If you like Obama, it'll tick you off more than tickle your fancies. As Hillary Clinton's campaign losses mounted, this leftist blog (started earlier this decade) critiqued Obama. As the election neared, directed by a friend who shared my unease about Obama's cult of personality, I discovered LR.

I began reading LR and four similar sites as November 4th neared, but only LR I chose to link to from my blog and it's the only one I kept up with post-Election Day. I thank LR for linking back to me, once I'd survived a few rounds in its comments ring. My review of Bernard-Henry Lévy's "Left in Dark Times" appears there today as a guest contribution. (If on a slow news day.) I await LR readers' comments, and your own here on my blog. But, play nice.

John takes Sunday off for a well-earned Sabbath rest. I'm amazed how he manages to fill LR daily with such an array of posts on popular culture, politics, and ideas. Even if he cheers for USC rather than UCLA: see, I disagree after all. I often do not agree with all LR proposes, but I support the chance to entertain alternative viewpoints. We resist tired red-state/ blue-state, elephant-donkey configurations; I changed my affiliation to "Decline to State" a year ago.

LR's resident denier of global warming who defends untrammeled capitalism may annoy me mightily, but he's balanced by cooler heads, so to speak. John tells me that he can get hits in the thousands daily; as with most sites, only a fraction of readers comment. LR offers a wide array of videos and-- as this photo shows-- welcome humor. Something many of those who sneer at this site seem to lack. Barbed satire I admit as one of my preferences and failings both. Growing up with a house full of it, all of it aimed at me. And, inheriting another house with the same, and same big target.

So, leaving inner-city classrooms and dinner-table raillery, I donned my asbestos mask and dived into the comments boxes after a while. To be hammered by far fiercer ideologues than teacher-calmed, "let's hear from all sides" me, dulled by twenty-five years this autumn of letting everyone, no matter how dull-witted or orthographically challenged, have their say. I find myself able to entertain any opinion and play any role in discussion. Not sure if this displays intellectual facility or a professional erosion of my moral foundations.

It's a contentious forum. My wife, an Obama supporter along with nearly everyone I know in L.A. (John also is from here, which adds to my interest as he often features local photos and contexts), has never shied away from debate. She and I bicker a lot about the president five weeks younger than me. My skittering views have been called outré by her rightly, no pun intended, but I'm as unpredictable as when a quiz way back put my grab-bag of ideologies nearest to Ralph Nader-- and Pat Buchanan, a tag-team few of my fellow Americans cheer for in polling booths. Ecological isolationist?

Still, my wife wrote with patient insight about "Liberal Rapture" in her latest blog entry "Brown Bag." I delight in encountering, for better and worse, my own self-- elevated and deflated as regularly on her pages as in domesticity. It's a strange sensation to find yourself portrayed to others in this medium, a supporting player preening on her small stage rather starring in my own vast interior pageant.

While for her, LR dispenses vitriol more than opium-- as opposed to other Obama sites-- she concurs that even it may occasionally strive for tolerance and empathy. She didn't read the comments appended to the LR entry announcing a new "pay it forward and tell us if your good deed intended worked or not" site "Splendeed," but when she did, after writing her piece, she and I, along with LR's host, were both taken aback at certain naysayers. Skeptics made my own snarliness purr pussycattish by comparison.

Thanks to this medium and our freedoms, we enter this bustling marketplace of ideas. Comments remain up unless harmful, our shared right of expression to agree and disagree. At least here if not always out there, we can overthrow paraded idols.

I can no longer link to the original post for "Splendeed," as LR posts seem to have now a shelf-life akin to fruit flies. However, I'd add that one can be humanist, progressive, and caring without kowtowing to the Powers That Be. I did get slammed for similar claims on FB the other day for daring to question-- for the first time there-- "the man behind the curtain." Ponder this generous reaction to my diplomatic caution, from an Obama supporter and spokesman for his kinder, gentler constituency: "Only someone who was completely detached from reality could think that. Complete and utter lunacy."

I reckon I'd be rejecting anyone in the Oval Office. Only once has my presidential candidate won, in '92, and note that I did not vote to re-elect him. A Man from (a hamlet called) Hope. Hope and Change to me are not hype but hard-won individual challenges. Reducing them to hipster two-toned posters and bumper-sticker "We Did It. We Won" post-victory gloating resembles Pharisaical parading. I prefer light shining slyly when we let it out from under the bushel basket in private, humbly.

Gnarled in me is a distrust of being told what to do. As I grew up, I no longer could bow to a messiah. We live in "exile in a vale of tears," as this blog's motto overshadows my entries. "Put not your trust in princes, in man in whom there's no salvation. On the day his spirit departs he turns to dust. On that day his plans die." Lacking biblical command, me being raised Catholic, but even I can recall Psalm 146 from high school Mass. And, from such instruction, I know we are charged to repair the broken, lift up the fallen, and ease the weary. My hard-headed response to most liberal calls for compassion unsettles me, and I find myself equally resenting libertarian ideals of benevolent free markets, not to mention despising conservative demands for personal frugality amidst corporate capital gain.

I guess I'll never fit in, a habitual dissenter to whatever the Wizard promises. Strange how once November 5th arrives the robocalls go dead, the posters slip, and the earnest appeals to heartland values and rainbow coalitions vanish utterly from public view. We're treated like an easy lay, a cheap date, and we deserve our cads.

In a "Lunchtime" follow-up (also cited I find by my wife), John W. Smart adds, in his customary fashion, two telling enumerations:
3. Good Deed: I'm a little thrown by the reaction here to Splendeed. I like the pay it forward aspect. Is there something wrong with "pay it forward"? Haven't made my meal for a homeless person yet but I will this week. I am grateful for the suggestion....Should I be cynical about this? Frankly, doing 1 good deed - or 2 or 3 or 16 - in your personal sphere is a direct counterpoint to all that Hope and Change bullshit from the Obots...Without the element of star fuckery 75% of the "liberals" in America would be M.I.A.

Interesting thing on the site today - a few people have recounted their experience doing it....fascinating.

4. Quote: According to the Sutras, evil deeds result in hardships and good deeds result in blessings.

Photo: A wonderful snap via LR, always unpredictable in its wares, even to the predictably nattering nabobs of negativity among us. I admit disappointment when my wife opined it was Photoshopped. Make of the image what you will as metaphor. I remain naive despite my cynicism, a word derived after all from Greek for "dog"; cf. Indo-European cognate "chú"=Irish "hound/ warrior."


John W Smart said...

You are beyond kind to LR here. I agree with you and your wife about L.R. I love the brawl and I claim and bellow forth my vitriol. And believe me the under girding principle of all the "hope and change" nonsense was and is misdirected vitriol. Last year at Clinton, currently, and oddly, now it is being thrown at Whole Foods Markets of all places. Eventually it will come around to the place it belongs.

However if Mr. Obama proves me wrong I'll will bellow my mistake forth loudly as well. 8 months later I see nothing on the horizon that indicates my hunches were off. And, believe it or not, I want them to be off. Even if it means giving up my delicious sour grapes.

Your post there is a welcome elevation. I thank you for it. This blog in general is expansive. It makes me grapple and stretch. Thanks for that too.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I am blessed to have two excellent writers (Fionnchu and John) and the fellowship of John's commenters to read.


Jeannie (I'm posting under "anon" because I can't remember my google pswd).

Blaiser said...

Hi Fionnchú. It's the much maligned Andy here.

Quite thankful to read your thoughtful post about Liberal Rapture--it's helped my understanding more than 90% of the comments on LR itself. Clearly, it's only been a few days and everyone loves beating up on the New Guy.... but I'm planning on sticking around. I, too, am impressed with John's output. I do hope it's as varied as you say.

I'm looking forward to checking out more of your honest observations.

Fionnchú said...

Thanks all three for comments. John, for your diligence, Jeanne, for your support from the start when I found the site last autumn, and Andy for your patience with an irascible lot. Hang in there; I do and did.

Layne said...

You are no mere supporting player. You are my romantic (albeit cranky and bad assed) leading man.

Anonymous said...

Speakers of Mr. O, readers might enjoy Googling "Obama Avoids Bible Verses." Goldie