A few random rants and an interesting take on Shakespeare

I have not written a post for this blog in a while. I may use the excuse that I have been busy with other things, but really, I have not had much that I felt like writing about.  I pay some attention to politics and it all makes me feel like we’re re-hashing the same old arguments, but neither side ever really listening to the other, so no progress is ever made.  I hesitate to add my comments to that cacophony of contrariness.

But, I read an article today (here) about the new CIA director John Brennan who took the oath of office with his hand on a copy of the Constitution.  The tragic part of this (according to some) is that the copy of the Constitution on which his hand rested while he was taking the oath of office did not contain the Bill of Rights!  Is that because he is an opponent to the Bill of Rights?  Is it because he personally removed the Bill of Rights from his copy of the Constitution as a refusal to being sworn in on them?  No.  Of course not.  It is because the copy of the Constitution on which he was sworn in was from 1787, four years before the Bill of Rights was ratified.  And the reason this was ever even an article in the first place, albeit an article posted to Yahoo.com, is because it was first noticed and written about by what the ‘reporter’ calls a “troublesome blogger”.

Since the beginning of the whole 24-hour news station, and now with the internet and blogs and Twitter and everything making it so easy for everyone to be aware of everything we are running into the problem of running out of meaningful things to say.  Everyone wants to say something about everything, and of course, these 24-hour news channels need to fill 24 hours a day, every day, so a lot of nonsense is reported as ‘news’.  Like this article,  it was just some random angry blogger writing a post and spouting an opinion, but then it was picked up and treated as a ‘news source’ by a ‘reporter’ and published on a ‘news site’.  So, now it’s news, and will probably be picked up by more legitimate news sources soon, as it spreads across the internet.    At the bottom of it all is just people who want to be disagreeable, who hate ‘the other side’ so much that they do anything and everything to make them look bad, pointing out all little mistakes or errors or misconceptions.  Which brings me to another rant that I started writing the other day, relating to a review of a Shakespeare play I read.

There is a local magazine that was sitting in the  break room where I was eating lunch and I flipped through it and found an article about an RSC production of Julius Caesar that is coming to Columbus.  First off, I have a problem with the headline, which reads, “Caesar Then & Now:  Columbus one of only two stops in North America for All-African-American production.”  This is a production of the Royal Shakespeare Company,  these actors are all British.  There is not a single African-American in the cast, as they are all British.  It is just another example of Americans too obsessed with being ‘politically correct’ and afraid of using the work ‘black’, or any other word to describe people of this ethnic descent.  But, that is a post for another time.
What I found interesting was a paragraph describing the plot of the play.  Julius Caesar is one of Shakespeare’s great political thrillers and shows different characters’ reactions to a corrupt leader and how they go about doing what they feel is best for Rome.  This article states,

Julius Caesar – it has been argued – is also a tragedy with no villains. Essentially, all the characters are acting in what they believe to be the best interest of their beloved Republic. And after a rather shrill election cycle, perhaps that something we Americans can also take to heart: the fact that despite all of our differences, we all want what’s best for the country.

This is what I have been saying and thinking about American politics for years now, I had just never made the connection to Julius Caesar or Shakespeare before.  It seems like it is becoming more and more common in American politics to paint anyone who disagrees with you, even in the slightest, as the ‘enemy’ and  hell-bent on destroying this country.  That is obviously not the case.  What we really have in Congress and in the White House are different people who all want to do what is best for our nation, they just have fundamental differences of opinions as to what exactly is best for this nation.
I will admit, it has been a while since I have read Julius Caesar, I would welcome anyone who has read it more recently to comment, but what do we learn from this play as we look at it through the lens of American politics?   While the play is actually about a group of conspirators coming together to assassinate a man they see as a corrupt leader, it is also about the differences between these conspirators and the differences between the conspirators and Antony. In the end, it seems that Brutus is the only honorable man who truly acted only for the good of Rome and not for any personal reasons.
Does it then become our duty, as citizens, to find such Brutus characters, politicians who will act ‘for the good of Rome’ only?  What happens if we start listening to a smooth-talking Cassius who orchestrates a conspiracy and convinces honorable men, like Brutus, to go along with it?  Should we have fewer politicians in politics, and more ‘honorable’ men?  I have said this before, but I do not believe that Congress should be a career.  I believe our Representatives and Senators should be regular citizens, who take a leave from their normal careers for a time to serve their country, and then they serve a few terms and then return to their old careers.  And, as we are all talking about deficit and ways to balance a budget and making cuts to vital programs, I would suggest we take a long, hard look at Congressional pay.  Does a Senator really need to make six figures?  Does a Representative deserve such a salary for the work that they do?  And have they really earned such a retirement pension, even after serving just one 2-year term?  If you are looking at a lot of excess spending, I think I could make a few suggestions.

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