Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hucksterism and The Religious State

You know, I want to like Mike Huckabee. He and I agree on at least one topic and that's the need to greatly increase arts spending in the schools. He's the only candidate talking about creating an educational system that teaches young people to be able to create content in the digital age and not just be data processors for the digital mill. At one appearance in Iowa, he got on the stage with the school band, put on a bass guitar and played "Louie, Louie" and "Sweet Home Alabama". How cool is that? He wants to create "instruments of mass instruction" in order to challenge some of the 6000 students that drop out of school each day. At least one of the candidates is talking about the subject.

However, being a musician, he is, as is wont with musicians, subject to some pretty daffy ideas. On the subject of evolution, he apparently not only disputes the theory of evolution but that "anyone who wants to believe that they are descended from primates is free to do so". I guess that when asked the old multiple-choice question about if he's animal, mineral or vegetable, his response is "none of the above".

I work with musicians and I was married to a musician so I’ve seen and talked to quite a few of them. Sweet people but I’ve learned three hard and fast rules about them. Don’t let them dress you, decorate your house or balance your checkbook.

As far as Huckabee being a minister I have far fewer qualms about that than the whole subject of religion in politics in the US. Dwight Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness and Richard Nixon was a Quaker and we survived that administration, Red Scare and all. If Huckabee were elected, I doubt that we would start seeing baptisms in the Reflecting Pool but it will give some credence to the recent talking point that has been developed by the Religious Right that this country was founded on “Christian Principles.” If that were the case then I think that we would be seeing a lot more of “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick and freeing the imprisoned”. Driving the moneychangers from the temple is pretty low on the order of priorities today.

When you go back and look at the historical data you find that among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the majority of them were Anglicans. When Constitution was signed there were none. Why? Because the head of the Church of England was also the King of England and he expelled them for being treasonous rebels to the State and heretics to the State religion. Thus the majority of signers to the Constitution were newly created Episcopalians who had to form their own church as a result of the excommunication. Also bear in mind that this was The Age of Enlightenment and thinkers everywhere throwing off the shackles of the Roman Catholic Church, the official religion of many European states and kingdoms. Read in this light the Bill of Rights takes on a whole different context. The Freedom to Assemble, the Freedom of Speech and others Rights speak more to freedom from a religious state and the subsequent religious intolerance than the creation of a “Christian” state.

I think that the founders of this country were religious and spiritual men and women who were determined from their past experiences to keep a wall between the clergy and the government. Pretty wise people, our founders. Even if not one of them played rock and roll.

Monday, December 17, 2007

And Now For Something Entirely Different

Over here on the Right Coast, we've got that whole New Yorker magazine cover thing going on. Things diminish in importance the get further away they get from the Hudson River. So one wonders about the whole WGA strike thing with it’s lack of progress in contract negotiations and the catfight that’s going on with all the unions out there. There’s a continuing turf war going on and somehow they seem to think that this is going to benefit organized labor in some way.

I drove through Los Angeles one day back in the early 70’s in a VW van on my way to San Francisco so I’m not really up to date on the subtleties of labor relations out there. But I have done a little reading about it. For an interesting historical perspective I can point you in the direction of a book called “Class Struggle In Hollywood 1930-1950 Moguls, Mobsters, Stars, Reds and Trade Unionists”.

Another good book is Hollywood's Other Blacklist: Union Struggles in the Studio System . Neither one paints my union in a very flattering light but labor history is rarely as good as it’s painted nor as bad.

One side of why things are the way they are (at least with cartoonists) can be found in a recent post by Mark Evanier in the second “WGA Stuff” entry.

The other side is in a business article in the LA Times . It tells of the relationships and history of the Animation Guild the WGA and the networks.

In keeping with our self-criticism theme, here is a post with a view from the outside of the fray about certain labor leaders in Hollywood. In the Open Left Matt Stoller takes a dim view of the proceedings with When a Labor Union Goes Rotten It’s an unfortunate title since he’s talking about the leadership and not the 115,000 people, who make up the entertainment union.

You know, I feel like taking a shower.