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Truth To Power

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

Archive for December, 2010

Why the repeal of DADT matters- to me

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

I’m not gay.

I think anyone who enlists in our military is a fool.

So why do I consider the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to be a landmark day?

Because I loved my father, and I wished I could have known him better.

My father joined the army the day after he graduated high school. He did so, I imagine, for two reasons. One was to be able to attend college under the GI Bill. The second reason was to get the hell out of Cario, Georgia. You see, my father was gay- although I never heard that from his lips. I have to imagine that his sexuality was a major factor in his life, as it is in most peoples. But he wasn’t able to talk to his only son about one of the core issues of his life, and now, twenty years past his death, I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to why.

It’s because he wasn’t just gay- he was queer. The dictionary defines “queer” as strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; and of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady. I can only ponder how “odd” my father felt in south Georgia in those days, how different he pictured himself from his town, his friends, and his family. It never left him. And the reason he felt this way was because people made him feel that way. He was made to feel ashamed of being different, and it silenced him his entire life. He escaped the small town of his birth and became an army radio operator at Fort Benning, and then onto the University of Georgia, but he never escaped that feeling inside him that he had something to be ashamed of, something to hide, even from me.

He felt ashamed because society as a whole found homosexuality repugnant and unnatural. It wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association declassified it as a mental disorder, but I doubt that made any difference to my dad. I was 11 then, and my parents were still married, such as it was. It wasn’t long after that he left the house and began life on his own, a life of community theater and risky behavior, that ended with his death from AIDS in a VA hospital. He died alone, other than me, his mind rotted away from dementia. When I closed out his house I came across things I wish I hadn’t, things that confirmed my suspicions about his lifestyle, and while they shocked and saddened me then, that wasn’t as sad as my realization that he had left them there purposely, so I would know. I wish we could have talked. I wish he hadn’t hated that aspect of himself so much that he felt he had to hide it from me.

DADT was one leg of a table called discrimination. It is a table that allows a small group of people to stand above others and look down upon them, to ostracize them, to shun them from “normal society”. DADT mainstreamed hate, gave homophobia the government stamp of approval. It was just one more door slammed in a persons face, one more avenue closed, one more reminder that you are different, wrong, something to be avoided and feared and loathed. DADT was a leg of table that stood forever between my father and I, and kept us from fully being a family. That table robbed me of a part of my father, of a part of my life that I’ll never experience. There are still many legs to that table, more than I’ll live to see gone. But maybe by the time my son is my age, he’ll live in a different world, a world where haters are shunned, not championed. A world where whom a person loves is no ones business but their own. A world where foolish gays can serve the American empire in its final days, if they so choose.

A world, I hope, where fathers can talk to their sons.

GOP pawns our national myth for $7.4 billion

Monday, December 20th, 2010

It’s been our national myth since approximately 10:30am on September 11th.

9/11 changed everything, and anyone who disagrees hates America.

Afghanistan. Iraq. Thousands of bodies, billions of dollars.

9/11 changed everything, and anyone who disagrees hates America.

NSA wiretapping. American citizens held without charges. Patriot Act. Abu Ghraib.

9/11 changed everything, and anyone who disagrees hates America.

It has literally been our national blood. The only growth industry in this nation for nearly a decade has been the myth of 9/11. The myth that a religion of 1.5 billion people hates us, attacked us, and will attack us again unless we all give up our money, our security, our lives, and large bottles of water on a plane. Our national myth made a Churchill out of a dunghill, transformed xenophobic demagoguery into our national voice, and strips us naked in public. Everyone had to sacrifice.

9/11 changed everything, and anyone who disagrees hates America.

Until Thursday the 9th, that is. That was the day the whores of the GOP decided to strip off the yellow-ribboned garb of war to show their true colors, as bagmen for foreign corporations. $7.4 billion dollars- about a pallets worth, you might say- taken from the first responders on 9/11 because it might “damage U.S. relationships with major trading partners”. So, with all the lingering respect and interest a john has for a used condom the myth that “changed everything” was pulled off and tossed in the trash, its job done.

So, my question is this. Can we now stop with the piety of bullshit that has turned our world inside out since 9/11? Can we dispense with the sanctimonious hand-wringing masking our latent racism? How about we swap all the tattered “USA Pride” bumper stickers with something more relevant…such as this?


Because the myth has never been true- but it was profitable. Now, apparently, it is not. So to everyone who has been sacrificed on the altar of our national myth, thanks and fuck off.

We’re just not that into you anymore.

What a long, strange trip its been

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me,
What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Sunday the 12th marked an ugly anniversary, ten years since Bush v. Gore. Ten years since our Naked Lunch, as Burroughs taught us: a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork.

Frozen, not because of its rarity- brute force has been the dominant political mechanism in all societies since the first three people gathered and two disagreed with the third- and it certainly wasn’t unique in this country. Ask Sherman. Or Truman. Raw power is not only an incredible album, its an efficient way to get what you want. And it sends such a lovely message.

Look what we can –and will- do.

No, the installation of that ghoul into the White House wasn’t anything more than the preamble to a sad, disgusting drama that unfortunately seemingly has no intermission. It was, in the words of Michael Morrissey, a “transparent conspiracy“. We were meant to watch, to care, and to get angry. March in the streets, “demand” change, write angry speeches.

And then shut up, and let the men do their work.

And what work it has been. 9/11. The wars. Plame. Swift Boats. Socialism for Wall Street, squat for Main Street. Birthers in Congress. And finally, the sorry spectacle that is the Obama presidency. All of it, in blazing glory that day ten years ago. Screw you, we do as we please. But remember how fervent we all got, back then? I was recently scanning the archives of this blog, and had to laugh a rueful laugh at my mixture of amazement and indignation that was my reaction to such things as Scooter Libby, or Jeff Gannon. We were just sure the Downing Street memos would sink him. Or Abu Ghraib. Or any of the hundred other spits in the face of democracy that showered upon us.

And the powers that be gathered all that energy, all that rage, all the lost hope, packaged it in brown this time, and sold it. And everybody bought it. Hopey changey, my ass.

“What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn’t the same
Livin’ on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is “Ain’t it a shame?”

I began the decade a libertarian, now, if I’m anything, its anarchy. Our political system is nothing more than than a distraction meant to keep the rabble fighting amongst ourselves, voting against our own interest, and ignoring the real movements in the stream. Sure, we’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party, but they are being sold the same bill of goods by the same people who packaged Obama, but their version has boobs. And not much else. And in the next few years, when their “patriots” end up ineffectual at best, or complete hind-tit sucking sell-outs more likely, they’ll abandon them as the wiser democrats have abandoned Obama and his sneering tongue bath to Wall Street.

So where does that leave us? The last ten years were a joyride of literally unbelievable dishonesty, cruelty and greed. Our nation is now essentially governed by the whims of Fox News, again, as naked and unashamed as a new born baby in their shilling for the man. Completely transparent. Everyone you know says no one in their right minds could believe it- but that’s the point. We’re no longer in our right minds. That’s what the decade has given us. Take a long look back at the what has occurred since Bush lost the race, but won the prize. Once they showed us what they could do, live on cable TV, we never really had a chance to catch our breath.

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel;
Get tired of travelin’ and you want to settle down.
I guess they can’t revoke your soul for tryin’,
Get out of the door and light out and look all around

They can’t revoke your soul for trying. Only you can do that. However you feel you can, get out of the door and light out and look all around.

I used to say stupid should hurt more

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Hopefully everyone has read 4 Scenarios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire, but if not, let me pull out a money quote for ya:

All of these scenarios extrapolate existing trends into the future on the assumption that Americans, blinded by the arrogance of decades of historically unparalleled power, cannot or will not take steps to manage the unchecked erosion of their global position.

There are dozens of reasons for America’s decline, I suggest The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria as a good starting point for the big picture of what the world will look like. Our nation’s insane drive to use military force, the gutting of our educational system and local infrastructures, and of course the grifter class all have taken their toll, but I think there’s a factor folks aren’t mentioning.

We’re perhaps too stupid to survive.

While our nation is locked in an endless cycle of war, our economy has no pulse outside of the con game that is Wall Street, and millions are unemployed, our “ruling body” does nonsense like this:

Michele Bachmann & Allies: Obama Doesn’t Say ‘God’ Enough

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and her colleagues on the Congressional Prayer Caucus penned a letter to President Obama Monday, attacking him for his alleged failure to the use the word “God” and “Creator” more in his public speeches, especially abroad.

Ok, here’s a radical idea. How about nobody mentions God and instead…you do your fucking job?

Oh, was that impolite? Well, try this. How about, if you’re an elected official, you never, ever mention god or jesus or your flying spaghetti monster of choice in public again? Believe whatever you want in private, but in public, we didn’t elect you to be a cheerleader for the almighty. You wanna preach, resign and join the seminary. Because while you’re debating how many angels exist on that pin, China is investing in green energy. While you’re mouthing useless platitudes about our “Christian nation”, India is sending its kids to technical school. And in 50 or so years, since you wasted our time and money ginning up nonsense about “wars on Christmas” and raising millions to keep gays from marrying, we’re going to be a second-rate debtor nation. Granted, one where 50% of the public believe that angels watch over them. It ain’t gonna help when the pumps run dry and junior can’t read well enough to flip burgers at Krystal.

Does anyone else find it somewhat unsettling that we have as one of our most powerful Congressmen James Inhofe, who passionately believes in something that can’t be proven, yet calls science that has been proven over and over “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people “?

At what point do we as a nation say enough? Enough with using the Bible as “evidence” in Congress. Enough with wrapping your revulsion of gays in a Jesus sweater and calling it moral. Enough with nonsensical babble in times of crisis. Let’s move away from superstition and toward science. Instead of manufacturing fake rage, lets make solar panels.

I used to say stupid should hurt more. But I have a feeling its gonna hurt really, really bad. One day soon.

Obama doesn’t need luck. He has guns and cash.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Oh, so much hand-wringing on either side over the fate of the Obama presidency. First, from Time:

While he negotiates his way through the lame-duck session of Congress, prepares for his State of the Union address and budget, and braces for the new normals of 2011, the President had better figure out how to react when the moment comes. Without that moment — whatever it is — and strong leadership in its wake, Obama may find his luck has run out.

Or, from the short bus wing:

No, Obama won’t run in 2012, although he’ll be coy about it for at least a year. He has no taste for compromise and his over-weaning narcissism won’t allow him to be the head of a devolving minority party. Besides, I think his handlers are not pleased with the thwacking he took in the midterms, and will be looking hard for another puppet. In fact, George Soros, Obama’s premier benefactor and perhaps even the puppet master pulling his strings, just told a group of Progressives: “We have just lost this Election, we need to draw a line. And if this president can’t do what we need, it is time to start looking somewhere else.”

So many people, expending so much effort on nothing. People are considering Obama a weak president, based on what, exactly? Let’s see what he’s accomplished in two years:

Removed actual health care reform from discussion for our lifetimes by giving the very people who ruined it to begin with a signing bonus, and an entire nation of new premium payers- at the point of a gun.

Escalated the illegal and unnecessary wars into Pakistan and Africa, effectively making them his, not Bush’s wars.

Cut off all domestic and international attempts at holding the Bush regime to any sort of rule of law, making torture and rendition an actual debatable point.

Stage-managed the entire financial crisis to put his backers on track to having the largest year of corporate profits ever seen, only a few years past bringing the world to the edge of economic collapse.

Tap-danced on the “third rail” of American politics, on route to tossing your social security payments into the 3 card monte scheme that is Wall Street.

Anyone who thinks Obama is weak is a fool. Or he may be, but it really doesn’t matter. Because Obama no more runs this country than my dog. Obama was elected by Goldman Sachs and the shadowy “military-industrial” complex that Ike warned us about a generation ago. His few feints in the direction of actual liberal ideas are nothing more than bread and circuses meant to keep the Volvo crowd in line. If he wanted to end DADT, he could do it with the stroke of a pen. If he wanted Net Neutrality, it would get done. But in nearly every case, you can accurately predict how Obama will react simply by determining who will benefit from any given action. If he has the ability to fuck the majority and enrich the minority, that will be the side he picks.

And if his handlers decide that he’s given a sufficient return on investment, he’ll be our next President. And if the little people get antsy, then the national media will simply give Palin another show, or Newt will write another book of gibberish, and “just this time” the left will rally to save us from faux, unelectable celebrities masquerading as candidates. And the glib Barry O will just smile that sickening smile, put his feet up on the desk, and wait for the phone to ring.

And it sure as shit ain’t gonna be democracy calling.

Love ya Jon, but STFU about Wikileaks

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show, along with Colbert, are a required nightly ritual in our house. During the Bush years it was the only way I could stand to hear Dubya’s voice- without Jon’s “heh heh heh” following it, it all seemed too real and ugly. Of course, it was- and is- too real and ugly for sane people to tolerate. Stewart and Colbert are masters at skewering the pompous, mocking the endless propaganda of the right and the madness that is 24/7 TerrorVision cable news.

But when it comes to actual things that matter, TDS are nothing more than master gatekeepers– to the point you almost wonder if they have an Obama (or Bush) appointee on their writing staff. The notion of government involvement in 9/11 is mentioned only to deride “crazy” conspiracy theorists, the concept of Bush and Obama being war criminals (as they surely are) is mocked as “extremist” talk that they devoted an entire rally to quashing.

So I wasn’t too surprised when Stewart blasted Julian Assange and Wikileaks the other night:

If this is the diplomatic 9/11, sack up,” Stewart said. “I’ll give you it’s diplomatic mischief night … maybe. But most of the shit in there is non-policy chit chat and things we already knew.”

Really, Jon? You read all 250,000 cables and came to that conclusion? Imploring our diplomats to get DNA from UN members is “mischief”? Obama in league with GOP higher ups, quashing the Spanish investigation into the Bush admin for torture, that’s “chit chat”?

Fuck you, Jon. You’re wrong. And worse than wrong, you’re dangerous. Anyone who can gather hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall for what was essentially nothing, that is a powerful person. And when that person declares a false equivalence between liberal activists such as Code Pink and the Murdoch promoted goon squads, the astroturfing Tea Party, basically calling attempts to end the illegal wars and investigate torturers to be silly, you do a grave disservice to those who give a damn.

There is a nation of people who sat and watched in horror as the Bush, and now the Obama regimes discarded the rule of law on a whim, unaccountable to anyone. Wikileaks, and whistleblowers everywhere, are one of the few means of leverage available to common people. People who can’t get their faces on cable TV, or put a Congressman in their pocket. It is said history is written by the victors. And in the days of Gutenberg, that was true. But we don’t live in those times. We live surrounded by information, an entire internet of data, most of it crap to be sure, but amid all the tweets and Farmvilles sits a mechanism to fight back. To learn. To get angry. To get involved. To give a damn. We should be using it to get louder, not quieter. Angrier, not calmer. We should use this information to hound the guilty until there isn’t a place on earth a George Bush or Hillary Clinton can step without the threat of arrest.

So Jon, we still love ya. Keep sticking it to idiot pols from South Carolina, and Colbert, keep up the truthiness. But when it comes to real issues- and the dreams and passions of people who demand justice anyway they can- either lead, follow, or get the fuck out of the way.