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Truth To Power

the strong do as they wish, and the weak suffer as they must

Archive for the 'Points to Ponder' Category

A new day

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

On a day that sees DOMA being struck down, and Prop 8 dropped, I find it ironic that if American society had been more enlightened 50 years ago, I probably wouldn’t be here.

I’ve written about my father and his life before. He was a gay man from south Georgia…not a pleasant existence, I’m sure. He tried to fit into society, marrying my mother and having a child. As much as he loved me, and he loved me quite a bit, I’m sure of it, I suspect that some portion of his soul was dead from the time he became aware of his sexuality. I don’t know, because my father and I never spoke about it, but to live your life feeling out of step and hated by those around you because of their ignorance and fear, well, that has to make living hell in so many aspects. Dad, I wish you were here today. But he’s not, having died of AIDS in the early ’90s. Dad, it’s a new day.

Now, just as Loving v. Virginia didn’t wipe away the hatred toward blacks, the courts rulings today only give people human rights via the law. It’s not going to change those diseased, hateful bigots who hide behind their “god” in order to cloak their fear and envy in loftier terms. To them I have one thought.

Your god is dead.

Now, I don’t happen to believe in a deity, but even if some “supreme being” created us (for the sake of argument, it’s utter rubbish), then they wouldn’t create someone just to turn around and hate them. No, your god is dead. So, to the Bryan Fishers, Tony Perkins, Betty Bowers, and the rest of the hatemongering faction, I have a simple statement for you:

Keep your hate to yourself. It’s not legal, moral or in defense of anything. So shut up while society evolves. And like evolution, being gay isn’t a “choice” or a “theory”. It is simply the truth. I know it, my dad knew it, and deep down, you know it too.

So today is a new day. Now, you can keep on hating, but its a losing cause. If you want to spend your time on this precious earth hating, well, your choice. Nobody will respect your opinions anymore, of course, because we don’t HAVE TO.

Because it’s a new day….a fabulous day at that.


Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

It’s funny what you remember from your youth. When I was very young I spent every Friday with my grandfather, and he always listened to Paul Harvey on the radio. I don’t really recall what Harvey said, but he had a bit entitled “The Rest of the Story” that was kinda interesting, at least to a seven year old. At the height of his fame he was about the biggest star radio had, with over 24 million people a week tuning in. According to Wikipedia, his work has been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than any other commentator.

Ask anyone under about 30 who he is, and you’ll get a blank stare. No knowledge of him at all.

Then in the late 1980’s we had Morton Downey, Jr. Fired from his radio show in Sacramento for telling an offensive joke about a member of the city council, he eventually found himself on TV, blowing smoke in guest’s faces, screaming “ZIP IT!” to the unruly, and generally bad-mouthing liberals. He was on Saturday Night Live in 1988, WrestleMania and movies; for a while he was the biggest name in shock entertainment there was.

If you ask anyone under 30 about him, at most you’ll get “Was he Robert Downey’s father?” (No.) Otherwise, nothing. No recollection of him at all.

When Downey was fired from the radio show, a new face took his place, and has had the slot ever since. His name is Rush Limbaugh.

As of this mornings count, 26 advertisers had dropped Rush because of his offensive remarks about Sandra Fluke, and it ain’t over yet. Now, people have wanted Rush off the air for years- with good reason. He’s a blight on our culture, completely dishonest, degrading to anything that doesn’t suck up to power. So why is he on the ropes this time? A article in Forbes gives us the reason:

The New Networked Feminism: Limbaugh’s Spectacular Social Media Defeat

“I think the feminists were always out there, but often isolated from one another or overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and lack of time in a day,” says feminist writer Kate Harding. “Social media allows us to work together quickly and publicly for something like a boycott or twitter campaign–(mostly) without the distractions of in-group politics or disagreement on any number of other issues–and that creates an energy that makes it feel so much more like a unified movement, even when people are still quite loosely connected.”

Simply put, Rush, like those who came before him, is a dinosaur. One of the main differences between the two political parties is focus. Liberals tend to be diverse and random in their interests- look at any liberal parade or march, and you’ll see as many different slogans and causes as there are people marching. On the other hand conservatives are single-minded for the most part, generally toeing the party line and speaking in a single voice. That’s why they’ve been so effective getting their message out, and having it almost sound normal while it endlessly repeats on cable news. Instead of banners wanting “No Keystone!” or “Free the Whales” or any number of causes- it’s like herding cats- the GOP just espouses the viewpoint of one segment of our population- old white men. The entire GOP structure is built around giving a reach-around to big business and big, old white people like Limbaugh.

Rush, meet your future. It might not happen right now, but I guarantee you in ten years you’ll be at a loss to find anyone under 30 that will remember him. As Forbes shows us, social media has given voice to those previously too weak to battle the giants who own media companies, run for office (ask Santorum), or cuddle up to theocrats (ask the Susan G. Komen Foundation how that worked out). Just as Facebook and Twitter helped spur the Arab Spring, its given voice to the voiceless here at home. So, it might take some time, but Rush, you’re extinct. The power of protest by boycott works- remember Glenn Beck? Seen him anywhere recently? Nope. He’s a dinosaur too. And we don’t see- or more importantly, hear- T Rex anymore.

Good riddance.

Dear god, let it be Santorum

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Like most people with a functioning cerebellum, my tolerance for the 2012 election has been used up. As the GOP flounders around trying to find someone, anyone willing to be utterly defeated by Obama, its gotten more than tiresome. Now the pollsters are seeing Rick Santorum in the lead.

Praise be.

Now I’m no fan of Obama- not at all. He’s a war criminal who is in bed with Wall Street, and he’s too timid by half. His refusal to indict the Bush Administration on anything is reminiscent of our inability to deal with Nixon, and will have the same effect. The stimulus was too small, and the banks too big. His use of drones is appalling, and allows us to wage war without comment- not that he would listen to comment anyway. No, Obama is flawed.

But compared to Rick Santorum, there’s no contest. One is a rational human being who deals in facts and reality, the other a homophobic theocrat who makes Pat Robertson look almost sane in comparison. Drummed out of the Senate, Santorum – even without Dan Savage’s help- is a laughing stock. He can’t make a public statement without resorting to complete fabrication, debunked urban legends or Biblical “evidence”. His is the perfect embodiment of the sad state of the GOP. Unable to run on their record, they instead lie about Obama’s. They hold the myth of Reagan as their absolute, despite the fact that he ballooned the size of federal government, raised taxes and was a draft dodging failed actor. To be a contender for the GOP nomination means you’re beholden to the Tea Party and the likes of Jim Demint, who seems to be permanently stuck, like the rest of the party, somewhere in a mythical 1950s America, where women did the dishes and kept their mouths shut, gays were shunned and minorities were largely unseen. The GOP has invented the laughable “Sharia law” threat, while at the same time insisting that their own “divine law” become the law of the land. They’ve had 30 years, more or less, to watch as their winner take all, trickle down economic “theory” has reduced our nation to beggars, eating away at the middle class while the 1% gets fatter. Gay marriage, the “war on terror”, the whole notion of “illegal” people, all GOP talking points, all fodder for the pundits, but already passed by for the majority of Americans, who are evolving past the regressives. This will be the last election that you’ll see applause lines generated by “socialism” or “secular humanism”. No, the GOP is a dying breed, unable to do much of anything except say no- and people, except for that stubborn 25% that thinks the Civil War is still being fought, aren’t interested.

So instead of Mitt Romney as the nominee, I pray that it’s Santorum. The only thing Mitt can run on is his race- everything else about him is Obama-lite. And for some, that will be enough. Just give them a white male, and they’ll be happy. But Rick Santorum, now that would be an actual race. Not a race for the presidency- Santorum would lose by double digits- but rather a battle between two diametrically opposite ways of looking at the world.

Santorum believes that the government can and should tell you who you can marry– but not regulate business.

He feels that children are better served with a father in prison than with a lesbian couple.

He doesn’t believe in evolution, and feels tax money should go to “teaching” intelligent design but not funding the EPA.

And of course, the whole repellent “man on dog” crap.

Now, the money men aren’t going to allow little Ricky to be the nominee- and that’s a shame. Because his running against Obama- and losing, badly- would be a line in the sand moment, where America would be able to pick between two totally different visions of our nation, one progressive (of a sort) and one completely regressive. As noted before, I ain’t no fan of Obama. If Romney is a GOP candidate, I’ll probably skip voting. But if Rick Santorum gets the nod, I’ll be first in line to vote against him, and everything he stands for. We as a nation have been far too nice to those who would drag us back to the 1850s with their ignorant homophobia, racism and dim-witted pandering on science. Rick Santorum is an embarrassment, and his defeat would send a definitive statement on just how far out of the mainstream he and his loathsome ilk are. So come on, GOP, make him your candidate.

I dare ya.

I finally get Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

For the previous 48 Thanksgivings, I never really got it. My son was born on November 25, and I’m certainly thankful for that- his arrival turned my life around at a pivotal juncture and made me in part the man I am today. He provides me an endless source of pride and inspiration, and I wish him a happy birthday, a day early. But this Thanksgiving means something different to me, something deeper.

I had a stroke in the early morning of August 2nd. It caused me no physical pain, and none of the classic signs of stroke, other than my speech became jumbled. I spent a week in the hospital, and now after three months I have returned to work, so outwardly all is getting back to normal. And I guess it is, at least in the day to day mechanics of life. I awake at the same time, go to work and come home. Other than not really enjoying loud music, it’s almost as if the stroke never happened.

But inwardly, everything has changed. As the old saying goes, you don’t miss your water till the well runs dry. I have never been “cute”, and I tend to gain weight, so I never thought of myself as attractive and popular, but I knew that I was smart. Unschooled perhaps, but well-read and with a burning quest for knowledge. The stroke has changed that- I no longer trust my brain. I fumble when speaking, particularly at end of the day when I’m fatigued. Words do not come as easily as before, and my writing is not up to the level I was accustomed to. My doctor says within 6 months to a year I can regain 95% of my abilities. I say no. The brain reroutes itself in injury, steering blood away from the damaged parts, and learns new pathways for the things it needs to do. So I have set as my goal not 95%- but 100%. Or 150%. Why not take this event as a motivation to get smarter? I read more now, to overcome my problems with numbers I have become addicted to Sudoku. I do logic problems, crosswords, and other puzzles everyday, to keep my brain growing.

Until my stroke, I didn’t “get” Thanksgiving. Until I faced the prospect of not having life- or dealing with far more setbacks that I have so far- I never really looked at each day as the blessing it is. I’m alive, able to exist in the world pretty much as before, but now I see that in a more spiritual way. I am not religious, I don’t believe in deities, but I truly believe that something, somewhere, wanted me to live. It has enthused my life with a greater purpose. I look at my friends, small in number but large in heart, and I am thankful for them. I listen to music with even more appreciation than before, just at a lesser volume. I read stories of stroke victims, including the great My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, and find comfort at the shared experiences of others.

But the stroke, although it has robbed me of some aspects of life, it has given me a far greater gift than anything I am temporarily beset by. It has given me an appreciation of love. When I was in the hospital, a dear friend came to visit. I have known Wade Lowe my entire life, ever since he moved down the street when I was five. His son was one of my best friends in school, and Wade’s guitar shop, Diapason, sparked in me a life-long love of guitars. He arrived in my hospital room, a place he was familiar with considering his two heart attacks, and said that once I got back we would walk everyday. And so we have. I jokingly call him my personal trainer, but he’s far more than that. He is one of the happiest, most loving persons I have ever met. He seems to exist to, as his daughter remarked, “to do good things for people”. He has taken me under his wing many times in my life, far more than I would care to admit. I hope to replay the favor- and the love he has shown me- someday.

My wife Nancy and I are not “people persons”. She would rather draft ten emails than leave a voicemail, and other than friends and family, dislikes the phone. But she forgot all that when I was in need. She worked the phones tirelessly setting doctor visits, getting me setup for speech therapy, and a hundred other things. She finished my sentences when I couldn’t, and listened to my frustration when things got rough without complaint. She took my dietary restrictions as a challenge to her chefing abilities, never once letting it get the better of her. She has comforted me when I am stressed or fearful, listened to my woes, and truly made me know, finally, what a “partner” is. I truly feel I wouldn’t be here without her. This Thanksgiving, unlike years past, is only the two of us. And that’s alright with me. Because until this year, Thanksgiving was pretty much just an occasion to overindulge and eat Nancy’s stellar cooking. Not this year. Having been faced with the alternative, I look at life- and particularly life with her- as a blessing.

I finally get Thanksgiving. I hope you do too.

Dear Tea Party: The honeymoon’s over.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Well, had a few elections last night, how did that turn out?

Mississippi Voters Reject Personhood Amendment
Mississippi voters rejected a radical “personhood” constitutional amendment that defined a fertilized egg as a “person,” which effectively banned all abortions, birth control, and couples from conceiving children through in vitro fertilization.

Ohio Voters Emphatically Reject Kasich’s Anti-Union Law

Ohio Democrats, who got absolutely creamed in the 2010 elections, have now won a major victory over Republican Gov. John Kasich — massively winning a referendum to repeal Kasich’s anti-public employee union law.

AP: Maine Voters Say Yes To Same Day Registration
Voters in Maine have approved a ballot measure on allowing same day voter registration. The state had previously moved to require voters register no later than two days before an election. The state Republican Party had run ads urging the issue’s defeat, by suggesting that pro-gay rights groups supported it.

Arizona election results: Russell Pearce ousted, Jerry Lewis wins
The Arizona election results are in: according to the Associated Press, Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce has been ousted by voters and Republican Jerry Lewis has been elected to the state Senate. Senator Pearce was the chief proponent and architect of SB1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law. According to the text of SB1070, the immigration law was designed “to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.” However, SB1070 generated an intense public outcry from immigration rights activists.

Hmm. It appears that Americans love affair with the Tea Party has run its course. That was quick, almost like the Kardashian wedding. Since the elections of 2010, where the Astroturf Tea Party garnered impressive victories, folks have gotten a chance to actually live under the rule of the Koch brothers and Dick Armey. Farmers in states where severe anti-immigration laws became law hate it; they have no workers to pick the crops. It’s one thing to carp about illegals watching Fox and Friends, but faced with the reality of your livelihood going down the tubes due to racist demagogues is quite another.

John Kaisch, anti-union poster boy for the ALEC and the Koches, watched as voters emphatically put the smack down on his union-busting law, passed earlier this year. Guess Ohio voters didn’t like their collective bargaining rights stripped away to give more goodies to Republican-backed corporations. Didn’t help the Kaisch is a Neanderthal- check out the shirt he wore at a “Building A Better Ohio” meeting. What a yutz.

In their mad passion for power, the GOP around the country has attempted to limit the voting rights of, lets face it, democrats by various means, all supposedly to combat “voter fraud”, a problem that doesn’t exist- unless you think that voters not voting for them is fraudulent. In Maine they even trotted out the gay card in an attempt to sell their message, but even the “gay agenda” wouldn’t stop people from repealing a law meant to deprive people of their civil rights.

Will the Tea Party blow away? No, not entirely. There are a lot of confused, easily manipulated people out there, and as long as Obama is President, they will continue to blame him for all their woes- its just too easy. But in a recent poll, Americans showed where they stood:

Poll shows Occupy Wall Street more popular than Tea Party

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Occupy Wall Street, also known as the 99 Percent Movement, now has much more public support than the Tea Party. The PPP poll of 1,000 American adults shows that 27% have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” view of the Tea Party, compared to 44% who have a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view. In contrast, 32% have a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” view of Occupy Wall Street, compared to just 35% who have a “somewhat negative” or “very negative” view.

We’ll just have to admit that for about a quarter of our population (and tragically our corporate-owned media), reality doesn’t intrude. They will carry the posters with “Obama=Socialist” and leap to the defense of CEOs over school teachers, voting against their own interests each time. A rational person can’t debate them- their cluelessness is literally in their genes– so don’t even try. But as Tuesday’s voting around the country shows, the honeymoon is over for the Tea Party.

Thank god.

After 44 years, finally a discussion

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City

King made that remark in a speech entitled Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence. And now, 44 years later, we have arrived at a point in our history where we have finally been forced to confront that edifice. The month-long Occupy Wall Street movement has already achieved more than we could hope, simply by raising the point. The point that government has failed us, big business has abandoned us, and that for the majority of people in this world, life is a narrow straightjacket of economic slavery. King was right, of course; we don’t need coins flung at us. Rather, the system where 400 people in the United States have wealth equal to the bottom 150,000,000 needs to change. Change because it is grotesquely unfair. Change because it is unsustainable.

The dynamic of capitalism is relentless growth, an ever-expanding pool of consumers. For a finite resource such as our planet, this is obviously impossible. We have long past reached the point of diminishing returns. No matter how cheaply you can make them, once everyone has a cell phone or a TV, you can’t sell anymore. The robber barons of Wall Street knew this long before the man in the street, that’s why they came up with default credit swaps and derivatives. They cost nothing but fictional money to produce, deliver vast returns when they work- and even more when they fail. Of course, only the 1% get anything from them. They are the ones who reap the rewards, adding more and more fictional money to their coffers, without producing a thing. The only time the entire arrangement is brought to the attention of the rest of us is when their irresponsible gambling has gone woefully sour and we have to bail them out. At this moment instead of watching Bank of America fail and their management team in jail, we’re about to pay up another 75 trillion because their 3 Card Monte scheme in Europe went belly up. No one but the 1% got anything out of this. Not one job (other than hedge fund managers) got created, not one factory was made, no bridges got repaired.

We have no idea how the OWS movement will end up- I suspect it won’t be pretty- but its a beginning. When people take their money out of the behemoth “too big to fail” banks- at the point of getting arrested– and put their savings in a local credit union, its a beginning. When people who can’t occupy Wall Street instead beginning addressed their concerns via Occupy the Boardroom and cause panic among the plutocracy, its a beginning. When the grotesque imbalance in the pay of CEOs versus the workers in this county results in the public shaming of these leeches instead of flattering reach-arounds on CNBC and Fox, its a beginning.

This is a discussion I never thought I would see in our country. When people are awaken to the truth they can do one of two things. They can ignore it and live their days in a comforting fog of unreality, or they become energized to make a change. I believe we are witnessing the dawn of some sort of evolution in our way of thinking, one that looks past short term gains for long term results. One that values school teachers more than the Chairman of the Board. Where people are not just wage slaves and consumers, but equals. I don’t expect this discussion to be done in my lifetime. And I suspect it will get messy- as Gandhi said First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you,… and we’ve seen the inklings of that already, with the fraudulent “We Are the 53%” movement– but remember how the quote ends:

Then you win.

It’s taken 44 years for America to “see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring”. How long will it take to find the answer? Who knows. But finally, we’re having the discussion.

Sad week to be a GOP voter

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

If you’re a GOP voter you’ll probably not look back in fondness at the first week of October. Everywhere you turn that demon reality smacks you yet again. First, Chris Christie says, for the 1000 time, that he’s not running for president. Not that he was a viable candidate; for all his “let them eat cake” attitude toward his citizens he shows a little too much sense when it comes to say gun control, immigration and climate change. The GOP, the party that believes science is a debating society certainly isn’t going to flock to a guy who says humans can affect the weather, surely you jest.

Then the hammer fell down on the legions of Facebook/Fox News devotees as Sarah Palin made it official, that she’s not running for president. As one wag said, now she can quit jobs she can’t even get. Not that she could have been elected; she polls in the single digits and outside of a green screen at Fox, she doesn’t exist. But I’m sure we’ve not see the last of her. Five minutes after Obama takes the oath again, she be back on Facebook spewing her own particular insipid vision and hawking whatever TV show or infomercial she has running.

Yes, I said Obama takes the oath again. The eventual GOP candidate is Mitt Romney, and he’s just a pale caricature of Obama himself. The biggest thing against Obama, to the minds of a GOP voter is the Affordable Heath Care act, and it was the brainchild of Mitt when he was Governor of Massachusetts. And I imagine that quip “Corporations are people too” will come back to bite him, as it should. The rest of the woeful crew- Cain, Perry, et al, well, they’re just too insignificant to matter. The only candidate polling better against Obama is “Unknown Republican”, meaning that any of the ones that are actually running are wasting their time. The guy who killed Bin Laden and quotes Ronald Reagan is going to be hard to beat down the stretch, and while the average GOP voter will hold their nose and cast a ballot for Romney, so will the Democratic base-whipped puppy that they are- vote for Obama.

The world has gone into mourning over the death of Apple visionary Steve Jobs, and you know, no matter how much they like their iphones, the attention given to such a liberal giant must be madding to the true believers of the GOP. He made his fortune not by government bailout or derivatives, but by making a product someone wants to buy. Take that, auto industry. The man hand-picked by Jobs to run Apple, Tim Cook? Gay. Take that, hate groups such as American Family and Pat Robertson.

And finally, Occupy Wall Street is growing, with labor unions, nurses and even veterans joining the cause. And don’t think it has nothing to do with you, loyal GOP voter. Sure, Herman Cain can call the protestors “anti-American“, but that’s because he, like his party, are beholden to greed. There is nothing more American than protest, and while I think in the end this drama will end poorly- Major Bloomberg is just itching for the chance to really call out the goon squads and protect his base-hell, you don’t think JP Morgan just gave them 4.5 million for nothing, do ya? No, this probably will not be our Arab Spring- but its a start. As any ’60s hippie can tell you, getting Maced in the face doesn’t make you go home- it makes you angry. And the last thing any GOP voter wants is a bunch of 20-somethings getting riled up- and going to the polls. Nope, the first week in October hasn’t been kind to the GOP, for as much has they try to run from it, reality eventually wins. What did Stephen Colbert say? Oh yeah.

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Heh heh.

Barbaric behavior vs. “Liberal Bias”

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

As Williams tried to continue asking his question, the crowd broke into applause, prompting Williams to pause.

The moderator then continued: “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

Perry responded, “no, sir.”

“I’ve never struggled with that at all,” he said. “The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required.”

For the state to commit murder against itself is barbaric, which is why most civilized countries don’t do it. American stands fast with other champions of “justice” such as Iran, North Korea, and Singapore in allowing the state to feed on itself. Our country’s inhumane tendencies can hardly be seen in a more compelling example than the death penalty, and it’s to our shame that it continues. As Helen Prejean said, “The profound moral question is not, “Do they deserve to die?” but “Do we deserve to kill them?”

It’s one thing to allow the state to kill it’s citizens, but it is a truly monstrous lack of humanity to cheer for it. Unfortunately it comes as no surprise that the crowd at the the Reagan Library- a library dedicated to legacy of yet another American tyrant- would stand in applause when Rick Perry’s murderous toll was brought into question. From the Reagan era at least, the GOP has garnered voters by being the “strong” party- of course, its strength comes from attacking the most vulnerable among us. Blacks, gays, women, Muslims- anyone that a typical GOP voter can rise above by squashing their humanity, they’ll do it, and cheer as they do so, apparently. In fact, you could say it’s their only real draw as a party- that someone, somewhere, isn’t worth as much as you. It is both terrifying and sad. Terrifying because of the damage they inflict from it, and sad because it reveals their utter lack of compassion.

Fox “News” Chris Wallace apparently thinks that Brian Williams’ question reveals yet another example of “liberal bias”. Of course there is no such thing in our Murdoch-controlled media universe- it there was, there would be no wars in the Middle East- or against unions, for that matter. Or the death penalty. Liberal bias is a fiction spouted by Fox, Rush et al to allow their Orwellian disinformation to prattle on 24/7. But beyond that, Wallace’s question reveals so clearly the “conservative” mindset:

Chris Wallace appeared on Friday’s Fox and Friends and assailed NBC’s Brian Williams over his question to Rick Perry about whether he ever struggled to sleep at night over the potential innocence of one of his many executed inmates, calling it an example of a “liberal bias.

Any sane person would “struggle to sleep at night” over the killing of another. At least, you hope they would. The case Williams was referring to was Rick Perry’s apparent murdering of an innocent man. We can expect no humility from Perry- he’s a politician, and a Texas one at that. Forgiveness and big thinking aren’t in his makeup, whereas lying and vengeance is. But apparently just asking the question- do you struggle to sleep at night over potentially killing a innocent man– is liberal. To be troubled by the awesome power of the state to kill it’s own, that’s liberal. To have doubts about the innocence of one you condemned to die, that’s liberal.

If evidence of humanity therefore is liberal…sign me up.

The end of our empire

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

That the United States will no longer function as an empire is plainly evident to anyone who cares to look. Our government is, to put it nicely, “dysfunctional” – the actual word is criminal. It exists solely, at this late hour, to funnel money to the wealthiest 1%. There is no free market – not that we had any at any time in our history anyway. The rich make the rules, and they always get theirs first. The only sops given to “the people” is just enough to keep them off the streets. The powerful care not a whit about whatever your pet issue is- and if they seem to care, just follow the money. Drug legalization? It only exists to create a criminal class and those that get rich off it. And don’t forget the medical community, who of course don’t want marijuana legit- a weed that grows in a ditch, has never resulted in one death? Who would need big pharma, and their willing pill-pushers in the AMA?

Or, perhaps this:

“Almost $43 million from seven charitable groups went toward financing anti-Muslim campaigns, the report said, including proposed state laws to ban judges from considering Islamic laws in U.S. courts, opposition to the Islamic center near Ground Zero, and a general encouragement of anti-Muslim rhetoric in politics and elsewhere.

Dig down deep enough, and you’ll find, I bet, money to made. As long as our population has someone to blame, they will keep the war machine going, cable news will have good ratings, and moron politicians will get elected spouting gibberish like “Sharia law”, no matter how insane it appears to normal people. And while we bicker about it, the relentless, always hungry for more, damn the little people orgy of greed continues. Unstopping, unregulated, oblivious to everything but itself greed. People on every “side” can prattle on about “entitlements” and austerity in some Randian circle jerk, or on the other, wanting a Prius and a solar panel installed by the government. But as long as our country things of itself as the world’s policeman, nothing will ever change.

And because the United States has the world’s largest economy, its share of world military spending is outsized, accounting for 43 percent of all the military spending on Earth — six times as much as China, which has the world’s second largest military budget and accounts for 7.3 percent of world military spending. Russia accounts for just 3.6 percent.

With polls showing declining support for the war in Afghanistan and increasing talk in Congress, even among Republicans, about cutting the military budget, it appears certain that the Defense Department is going to be downsized and our foreign military commitments scaled back in coming years.

This is going to require serious rethinking of what we perceive to be our strategic threats and whether the United States can continue to afford to be the world’s peacekeeper.

Of course it can’t- not to mention it shouldn’t. But every rational person knows this, so there isn’t a lot to debate. At some point the money will run out- what do we do then? Will we go the USSR route, with rebellions and food shortages, or will we just fade in prominence ala the British?

For the U.S., declining economic growth and rising military commitments won’t necessarily signal the decline of Pax America unless others become disproportionately richer and stronger. That is why the rise of China and the resurgence of Russia are such threats to American power. And while it is difficult to imagine the U.S. accepting a diminishing status gracefully, it will have to find a destiny in that seam where finance and commerce meet politics and strategy. Post-imperial Britain shows a possible path.

As for me, I cannot wait. All empires fail, and Fox News notwithstanding, ours is not “the greatest glory God ever placed on the earth”. We will fail, one only wonders if it will be graceful or brutal. In any event, it’s past the point of if, but when. So, what do you do? Well, for starters, assume that its already happened, and that we’re five or fifteen years down the road. Do you live off the grid? Do you make most if not all your money in an underground economy or with barter? Do you grow food? There are a thousand things that can be done- investigate. But in a “post-American” world, things will be changed, some rapidly, some incremental. This will require you to adapt and evolve- or face a world unfamiliar.

One man spoke to this. He was Gandhi, and he spoke multitudes when he said:

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Until you understand this – really understand this, deep in your soul, until it is second nature, like breathing, you will be forever out of step. You don’t want war? Then be a beacon of peace, not hostility. You want freedom for all? Then approach everyone as free. Quite simple. Except for actually doing it. It might take you a lifetime to achieve.

If you’re lucky.

The sad life of Bobby Franklin

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Cobb Rep. Bobby Franklin found dead in home

EAST COBB — State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-east Cobb), who was found dead at his home just before noon on Tuesday at the age of 56, had complained about chest pains on Friday.

I am ashamed to say that my first reaction to reading about the death of Georgia Representative Bobby Franklin wasn’t exactly admirable. Clarence Darrow said it best: “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” I’ve written about Franklin before here. I wasn’t kind to the man back in January, because he didn’t merit any. As I wrote then, legislators such as Franklin- or Michelle Bachmann- are completely useless when judged solely on the amount of actual work they produce, but as cheerleaders for “the cause” they are stellar. Bachmann mounts a presidential bid based on nothing more than being photogenic and quotable. (Much like our current President…). Only a nation as opulent as ours can afford, as I said then, “The luxury of nonsense”.

Franklin was a theocrat, who stated on his website the following: Representative Franklin has been called “the conscience of the Republican Caucus” because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role. . For that alone he shows himself to be unworthy of holding elected office; there is no “biblically defined role” for government- in fact, its one of the tenets this nation was founded upon. If Bobby Franklin wore a turban and spoke Farsi, then the likes of Herman Cain would run him out of town on a rail, because evidently Franklin believed that there should be no separation of church and state.

But this is not meant to belittle the dead, but rather to share what struck me once I got past my initial reaction to this man’s death. This devoted Christian died alone, with no family near him. He had been divorced for quite a while, and his children were grown. It was only when he didn’t show up for church (after complaining of chest pains) that people began to wonder, and eventually police had to enter the house, finding him dead in bed.

That is sad. Sad for a man who clearly thought his life’s calling was to be an advocate for God via the legislative process. A man who believed us to be a Christian nation, despite all evidence to the contrary- and the law. How a man chooses to spend his life is his business, and if he wants to be a legislative Don Quixote, “forever tilting at windmills” so to speak, unable to achieve anything of note in his chosen profession, well, that was between Franklin and the voters of his district. A district that I lived in briefly and thankfully escaped, feeling trapped by pious pricks lauding their wealth and looking down their noses at anything marginally different than the habits of the swim/tennis communities that sprawl across this part of metro Atlanta. They kept electing this guy, year after year since 1996, and got little to nothing for it. He passed no real legislation, instead spending his time with attaching anti-abortion riders to other unrelated bills, attempting to return Georgia to the gold standard, and introducing legislation to change the language of rape cases from “victim” to “accuser”. Rather unchristian behavior, it seems to me, but since I’m not one, I can’t really judge his faith except in comparison to others. Folks such as Hosea Williams, legislator and minister who fed thousands each year at a massive Thanksgiving buffet, or Jimmy Carter, who builds shelter for the homeless.

Franklin, as far as I can determine, did nothing such as this. He devoted his life to being, essentially, an easily dismissed buffoon known more for idiotic- and unconstitutional, don’t forget- attempts at lawmaking, instead of using his faith and public office to actually do something, anything for those in need. No, Bobby Franklin was more comfortable with the judgmental aspect of faith, not the charitable. He was much like the former co-worker who I watched for three days during the horror of Katrina attempt to get a semi full of Gideon bibles to New Orleans. When I finally could take no more and asked why didn’t he try to get a truck full of say, WATER to those poor people, he was deeply offended and replied “People need bibles too!”. Not as much as they need food and clean clothes, you self-serving shithead. I imagine Franklin would have sided with my Gideon co-worker, unfortunately.

The Catholics say “Faith without works is dead.” And it died alone in an empty house, after achieving what, exactly? Now that is sad.