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Truth To Power

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

Archive for June, 2011

Now, about what actually is destroying society

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

After the state of New York came to its senses and allowed its gay citizens to actually have some of the rights that the rest of their populous enjoyed, the tiresome, predictable bigots crawled to the surface, stepping over each other in a mad dash to see who could be the biggest hater, fuming over everything from the lights on the Empire State Building to some bizarre ramble about plugs in a socket from that odious cretin and child abuse supporter Bill Donahue. And of course, right on queue comes the whackadoo Pat Robertson, fuming that “There isn’t one single civilization that has openly embraced homosexuality that has survived,”.

Now, grown ups understand that all such hateful rhetoric is nonsense, of course. Not all of us require a pretend Sky Daddy to tell us how to live, we take responsibility for our own lives and decisions. All of this talk about gay marriage from fundamentalists is mainly a recruiting tool. They spewed the same hate before blacks or women got to vote, and before interracial marriage. They were wrong then, they are wrong now, and until our society stops allowing a book of mythology- written by men for a political purpose- to have any bearing on how reality in this nation (and world) operates, then we’ll constantly be subject to hate speech and bigotry wrapped in the FSM sweater.

So, what is destroying society? Two words: Greed and envy.

One need not look far to see the effects of greed in today’s America. The rich keep getting richer, sitting on more and more of our nations wealth, sheltering it safe from the clutches of the state, waiting on another “tax holiday” to return their money back to the US, where they can continue to off-shore jobs and underfund the communities in which they operate. They hire the lobbyists who write the laws that a bought and paid for Congress enacts- its a tidy circle of greed that enriches a tiny sliver of our population at the expense of, well, everyone else. And since our mainstream media is consolidated into so few players, we get treated to spurious “reporting” based on greed, blathered up from Cato and Heritage Foundation Randian stooges, whose motto can be summed up as “I got mine, fuck you.” Societies have collapsed because of greed- Greece at this very moment, anyone?

Which brings us to envy. Some people can accept that they are free, some people can’t. Some people do things- get a tattoo, watch pornography, smoke pot- because it feels good. No one else on earth is impacted by these decisions, just as the tattooed pot smoker isn’t impacted in the least if their next door neighbor goes to church twice a week and watches American Idol. Some folks want to marry, or kiss, or hump someone of their own gender. They do so because it feels natural- because it is natural, to them. And somewhere somebody is hating them for it.

Why? Envy. Call it religious indoctrination, or some faint echoes of a Calvinistic past, but to a strata of our population, people doing something simply because it feels good, with no other benefit beyond that- is by nature wrong. Because they can’t imagine taking the risks of say, falling in love with the “wrong person” or smoking a joint, or watching Hustler videos- because they are afraid- they envy those who can. By being unable to free themselves, they instead order that the “pursuit of happiness” is a privilege to be meted out by decree. Because they are too afraid to actually use the gifts given them at birth to make a better place for themselves in the world, they allow their fear to ruin those who feel no such restraints. My life was severely impacted by thus such people, who at some point made my father so ashamed of his sexuality that he never mentioned it to me, even as he died of AIDS. His repression of himself to his family brought a tangible, destructive element to all our lives- something the pious claim will happen to them, if Adam and Steve can wed. It’s a lie. It’s a lie brought about by fear manifested in envy, covered in fairy tales and sadly applauded by too many who should know better.

If our society is to evolve- perhaps even to survive at all- it will take us confronting these notions of greed and envy, denouncing them, and moving past them into a freer, more balanced place. Will we get there, before our infrastructure crumbles and our children starve as the Steve Jobs and General Electrics horde their pennies? Will our national debate revolve around the envious, fearful minority restricting the rights of gays and women because they are too afraid of freedom for themselves? Can we move ahead, past envy and greed to something better, or remain stuck in pointless debates about things that matter not, while we ignore our real problems?

Only time- and not hateful slime like Pat Robertson- will tell.

Oh, to be Iceland

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Did you know- and if you rely upon our pathetic national media, you most likely didn’t- that there is a nation that actually said, in essence, hell no we’re not paying off the banks? That actually pointed fingers at the thieves and arrested them? That marched in the streets until they re-wrote their constitution?

Oh, to be Iceland.

Pressenza Reikjavik, 3/28/11 Last week 9 people were arrested in London and Reykjavik for their possible responsibility for Iceland’s financial collapse in 2008, a deep crisis which developed into an unprecedented public reaction that is changing the country’s direction.

In this country, the banks elect our leaders. They elect the President, Congress, anywhere that there is a human near a government checkbook, they funnel cash to them. In return for being funded via usury and unregulated financial “devices”, our ruling class keeps the elites in their gated communities safe from the restless rabble, safe from even the most modest of regulatory agencies, and bail them out when they go bust at the craps table…I mean Wall Street. Our nation limps along in endless recession, but somehow, corporate profits are surging, the stock market looks pink, and the rich keep getting richer.

Now, Iceland is a vastly smaller nation than America, of course. Yet somehow they manage universal healthcare, legalized gay marriage, and generate nearly all their energy from renewable sources. They clearly have a will that is either not evident in this country- or more likely, squashed by our national discourse of nonsense. Now, Iceland has its share of nonsensical beliefs as well, such as the folks there who still believe in elves. However, probably not in as large numbers as your fellow citizens who believe in angels.

America of course will never become the common-sense nirvana that is Iceland- we’re too big, for one. And dim-witted, for another. But we can start down the path with a few simple steps.

First, never again vote for a candidate who takes contributions from the banking and energy industries. Never. They are all, top to bottom, crooks. Its just the nature of the system. Their interests are not, and never have been, yours.

Second, stop the endless- and corporately funded fraudulent- debate over climate change. The science is against you, so take your “The Greens only want to kill capitalism!” gibberish and go put sandbags around the nuke plant in North Dakota. You know, something useful.

Finally, everywhere you go, teach people to ignore our fascist, corporate media. Turn off Fox, CNN, all of them, anywhere you find them. Read independent media. Read about the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, and imagine such a thing in this country.

Oh, to be Iceland.

Why the right fears the Fairness Doctrine

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Republicans Seek Specifics From FCC on Fairness Doctrine Departure

Top House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans thanked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Wednesday for saying he planned to strike the Fairness Doctrine from the Code of Federal Regulations, but said they wanted more info on when and how he was going to do that, as well as on other regs that could be ripe for repeal.

Among the questions they want answered: “When precisely will you eliminate the Fairness Doctrine and related regulations,” what is involved, do the other commissioners support it and how long it will take.

The doctrine required TV stations to air controversial issues of public importance and seek out opposing viewpoints. Also still on the books are corollaries to the doctrine providing for free response time for personal attacks and providing equal time for other candidates if a station endorsed a candidate in an editorial. The corollaries were repealed by the FCC in 2000 but the legislators want those deep-sixed as well, which Genachowski said he expected would happen.

Now, right off the bat, let me say I find the Fairness Doctrine- which is basically just the state telling us what can or cannot be said in public- to be profoundly unconstitutional. So before my libertarian friends heads explode, I have no desire to see it return, purely on constitutional grounds.

I only wish the right felt the same way. See, conservatives have no problem limiting free speech, be it that of a doctor in Florida asking about guns in the home to new parents, or potential protesters at their debates, but the notion that their ability to spew nonsense 24/7 on cable news without debate could be challenged by an alternative viewpoint, well, that’s just a bridge too far for these fair weather defenders of freedom.

To some, this would appear to be yet another example of GOP hypocrisy in action, and to some extent it is. But beyond that, and far more chilling, is what this disconnect really points to- the actual motivation behind all right wing actions for at least the last thirty years- winning. The right has adopted Lombardi’s “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” as their motto, and its their guiding principle on everything. Free speech requires debate- it can’t be called “free speech” if only one side gets to talk- and in the process of debating someone, you are forced to not only discuss their side of an issue, you’re forced to defend your own.

And therein lies the rub. I recently read Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, and while I had been aware of the notion before, his 1964 examination of the topic really drove the point home, that rather than being a by-product of conservative belief systems, it was the underlying foundation of them all. Conservatives tend to be more of the “true believer” type than liberals; its been this way since church leaders railed against education in our early days, because they knew that an inquiring mind may well one day discover fault in their previously held notions and abandon them, thus diminishing the power of the church, or the state- or the GOP. Much of the true believer mentality is rooted in religious faith, and since the bedrock tenet of faith- “a belief in things unseen”- means it cannot be proven, its understandable that any group vested in this belief would not welcome debate, for it would ultimately lose. This is the reason the right fears the Fairness Doctrine- not out of some liberty loving Constitutional fervor, but rather the fear that honest open debate would leave them on the losing side, and that would mean that not only their ideas, but they themselves would be forced to change, and for many, that is a terrifying notion. A popular bumper sticker states “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”. That is the belief system of a closed mind, fearful of debate.

And when the true believers are forced to defend their beliefs and lose, then suddenly debate is vital. Take the fraudulent “teach the controversy” movement among creationists. There is no debate over evolution, the science of the issue has been repeatedly tested, thousands of times. And the faithful know this, it is why they have to rely on the power of the state to force people to hear their erroneous notion of the origins of life. Same with climate change, peak oil, WMDs, and the “choice” of homosexuality. These topics have been debated, tested, and conclusions reached. Just because a small, yet very vocal minority of people don’t happen to like the answers, doesn’t mean the debate is still open- it just means their viewpoint, after examination, was found to be false.

So when Rush Limbaugh begins yet another harangue about the perils of liberals forcing the Fairness Doctrine back into law- as he sees it, a part of a master plan to kill conservative speech- take it for what it is. It’s just fear of being shown to be wrong. As the saying goes, “Any belief worth having must survive doubt”. So the next time you hear some right wing blowhard clutching their prayer beads and bemoaning “fairness”, understand its just fear talking, and take pity on them. Because to live your life by principles and beliefs you know in your heart you cannot defend, that must be a scary life indeed.

God dammit, quit your preachin’!

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain told Hotsheet Wednesday that homosexuality is a sin and a choice.

“I believe homosexuality is a sin because I’m a Bible-believing Christian, I believe it’s a sin,” he said. “But I know that some people make that choice. That’s their choice.”

Cain was asked: “So you believe it’s a choice?”

“I believe it is a choice,” he responded.

Not that anyone cares what some pizza-slingin’ bigot thinks, particularly one who has about as much business running for president as my dog, but I don’t know if I can take another year and a half of hectoring haters attempting to gobble up my tax dollars by telling me how I should live my life. And because none of this holier than me scolds actually have read the document they supposedly are running to defend, lets make sure we all understand something:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Not going to get into the tired, already settled “discussion” about the separation of church and state, that is a non-starter. The Herman Cains and Michelle Bachmanns of this country have made a career of picking and choosing what parts of the Bible as well as American history they deign to accept as, ok, lets call it gospel, and they even have their own fraudulent “historian”, David Barton, to funnel them more bullshit to preach to the converted. This issue has been settled, regardless of the antics of the faithful. And no, Herman, you can’t discriminate against one religion by forcing them to chant an some unconstitutional oath just so you can toss more American Exceptionalism Jeebus nonsense to your close-minded, anti-American base. And by the way, if you think some pinched face Midwesterner is ever going to vote for your darkly complected ass, you’re a bigger goof than I thought. Nope, they’ll stick with Tim “Check my pulse” Pawlenty and his “Give all your money to rich people and God” economic plan or if they are really full of the spirit, the impotent Rick Santorum. (Politically impotent, at least. At seven children, I shudder to ponder his carbon footprint.)

Sad truth is, we all will have to put up with sort of queasy nonsense for another year and change as one GOP gasbag rises above the others, only to say something stupid and get bashed against the rocks of piety, with another waiting behind them to out-hate the others. They’re all frauds, hypocrites and fools, and since not a one of them can run a business successfully- it’s the economy, stupid- not a one of can bring anything to the table to defeat Obama, although I sincerely wish they could. Bachmann takes federal money, Cain ran his energy company into the ground, and on and on. So, in absence of anything remotely tangible to challenge Obama with, they’re hoping that we’re actually a nation of evangelicals, all awaiting the call to join together and defeat the forces of evil. Luckily for the majority of this country, we’re not. Sure, there is that 25% or so of the population who will always vote for the most devout sounding of the candidates, who actually respond to the dog whistles of hate pouring from these morally repugnant losers yaps, and there always will be. Thankfully they aren’t enough of them to actually elect anyone, but in forcing these marginal candidates into greater and greater signs of faith, they are keeping people from actually discussing issues that matter- such as our latest illegal war, the debt ceiling, and the coddling of the Wall Street criminal class. No, keep on talking out your ass about the “choice” of homosexuality, or toss up another draconian abortion bill, and the true believers will yip in unison, while our nation rots.

God dammit, quit your preachin’ and actually do something constructive, why dontcha? Or are you all just pander and pious masturbation, and nothing else? Our nation has never more needed someone to speak reality than it does right now. But instead we get hate-filled fairy tales.

I don’t really see this ending well, do you?

An amazing statement

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Seeking to avoid a showdown over Libya, House GOP leaders have pulled back from a floor vote on a resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) that would bar U.S. involvement in the NATO-led campaign to topple Muammar Qhadafi.

Citing “lots of unrest on both sides of the aisle,” a senior House GOP aide said Republican leaders are still working through their options.

Another senior Republican staffer said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “is concerned that if this were to come to the floor now, it would pass” and could adversely affect the NATO mission in Libya.

Did ya catch that part? The part where House Speaker Boehner essentially said that democracy be damned, we’re gonna have this illegal war, like it or not? And it is an illegal war– illegal the moment Obama started it, more so when the 60 days called for in the War Powers Resolution was up (not that the WPR applies, since it only allows for a president to use force when there is an immediate threat to the United States, which Libya has never posed). And seemingly only Dennis Kucinich has the moral decency and frankly, the stones to actually mention the fact.

In a statement, Kucinich said he was “disappointed that the President and leadership feel the need to buy even more time to shore up support for the War in Libya. It’s not surprising that some are now wondering if a preliminary vote count on my resolution came out in favor of defending the Constitution.”

Exactly. Remember how with great fanfare the Orange Man and his Wrecking Crew opened their tenure at the helm of the House with a reading of the Constitution? Funny, you’d have thought folks so enraptured by the document would actually attempt to give it validity, but perish the thought. Boehner sat on his hands for the Bush presidency as amendments were rendered superfluous, at least he’s consistent now. To his ilk, the Constitution exists as cable news fodder and something to be amended in case Adam and Steve want to marry, but to actually use it as the law of the land, well, that’s just something open to negotiation, apparently.

Because the Kucinich proposal relates to the 1973 War Powers Act, it is considered privileged under House rules, meaning that Kucinich could force a floor vote even if Democratic and Republican leaders are opposed to doing so. The resolution “ripens” next week, making it possible for Kucinich to bring about a vote when Congress returns from next week’s recess.

Kucinich’s resolution, introduced last week, “directs the president to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption”

So what if the resolution is voted upon- and passes? Nobody in their right mind actually thinks Obama would feel compelled by it to actually bring the troops home- he’s proven himself a war criminal over and over again since taking the office- so the bigger question becomes, “Whatcha gonna do about it?” Because it would be a clearly impeachable offense, no dithering on the definition of “is” at this point. It would be Obama’s Iran Contra, only he wouldn’t be able to quash it in some late night, last hour bit of chicanery, as HW Bush did by pardoning all the perps, calling it the criminalization of policy differences. No, this is Obama’s war, no weak tea of “he only inherited it” bullshit to be accepted.

And what of impeachment? Clearly no Dem, save Kucinich, would vote for it- and I’m betting not enough Republicans would either. Despite it being a slam dunk way to rid themselves of their primary foe, it would also put them in line to actually occupy the White House in 2012, which probably fills GOP undies with flop sweat. The GOP may be completely unprincipled whores to corporate power, but they ain’t entirely stupid. They can read a chart as well as the next guy, and realize that with leadership comes responsibility, and if there is anything the GOP considers repellant more than gays, its accepting ownership of their awful method of governance. Nope, “that boy” is going to sit in the White House for two full terms- he’s the best thing they’ve had to run on since abortion. Until 2012 the economy is his problem, all they have to do is bring up go nowhere “budgets” that no sane person would vote for, and hurl invective in the press. As Boehner’s quote shows, they have no stomach for actually governing.

Apparently, only Dennis Kucinich does.