Do you want to write for Ink 19?

Truth To Power

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

Archive for November, 2011

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.

The craven bootlicking of the status quo

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The “Occupy” movement is a cancer. The “occupiers” are criminals and terrorists. The Obamaville is a creeping death made of Nylon, placards and human waste. This movement is a third-world rot that will infect us all if we do not sterilize it now.

Phil Elmore, The festering Obamavilles

Phil Elmore writes for World Net Daily, which gives you pretty much everything you need to know about him. WND is a place where facts and reality take a back seat to spurious rumors, internet get rich scams, and of course anti-Obama racism. It’s a playground for the reality-challenged among us, home to the 25% of citizens that just can’t accept and instead read Chuck Norris. As the Occupy movement has grown, the crowd at WND has upped their condemnation of it, of which “The festering Obamavilles” is just the latest example of their blind panic that someone might upset the status quo. “Protesters” and “occupiers” in quotes, because they aren’t really protesting, instead they’re “shiftless losers who don’t care about anything” who “comprise countless lesser terrorist campaigns whose goal is to intimidate and punish the public“.

“Call out the National Guard. Turn on the fire hoses. Send bulldozers. Bring flame-throwers, for pity’s sake. Men and women who give a damn about their country, wearing Hazmat suits and respiratory gear, empowered by the lawful government of this nation, should be marching in ranks on every Obamaville this very moment, prepared to beat with truncheons and shoot with rubber bullets every last filthy hippie. Put a stop to this miserable army of miscreants before they are permitted to rape, infect, or ruin one more person.”

Goodness, methinks Phil- self-proclaimed martial arts “expert”- is frightened. He’s frightened that his Horatio Alger/God Bless America fantasy is finally being shown to be rubbish. Every paragraph in his screed contains a lie, even the title. “Obamavilles” is a misnomer- they can’t stand him, and for all his “understanding” of the movement, he still sicced the DoJ on the protesters in a coordinated effort across the country. Phil can’t seem to find any “message” in the movement- “Their targets range from shadowy corporate interests to equally ill-defined powers-that-are“. Oh no, someone said something mean about a corporation, thank goodness Elmore springs to the their defense. The fact that big business- and particularity the big banks- will grind him up just like everyone else matters not to Phil, as long as “filthy hippies” get crushed.

“They are lib hippie left-wing protesters, and lib hippie left-wing protestors are notorious for flouting basic standards of human decency.” Those “standards” are defined by a good American such as Phil Elmore, one suspects. Drawing attention to the income inequality in this country and stating the common-sense “Corporations Aren’t People” is “endangering the public” whereas his censorship of free speech by flamethrower is a-ok. It’s as if Elmore was in a coma since Woodstock, and like the Japanese troops stuck on islands that didn’t know the war was over, you can almost imagine Phil shouting “Get a haircut!” and racing home to watch Lawrence Welk.

Conservatives and liberals literally have different brains. Liberals cope better with change, whereas conservatives enjoy the status quo, and have a larger part of the brain that deals with fear and recognizes threats. Change to a conservative means potentially abandoning long-held beliefs and practices, and is something to be viewed with uncertainly and doubt. If one begins to question authority, then who will protect you when times are tough? For all the Ayn Rand dribble about “going it alone” and the “individual over the masses”, conservatives crave a big government that can stomp out “the filthy rabble” that dares voice another opinion.

I hate to break it to Phil and his fellow armchair patriots, but their days are numbered. The greed and selfishness that has mired this country in the economic toilet since Reagan is rejected by the 99% movement. They don’t want endless wars, they don’t fear Sharia, or gays, or “illegals”. They don’t want Citizens United to be the law of land, they don’t want BP to poison the Gulf or a pipeline to pollute the midwest. The 99% want equality, not entitlements. They aren’t against corporations, but they don’t want them to own our government. For Phil and his followers, it’s ok to provide socialism when Goldman Sachs gambling goes south, but if a single mother needs healthcare, it’s “not with my taxes!” Billions and billions to fight little brown people in caves, but none to feed a homeless man. They think it’s fine for our tax dollars to go to rebuilding Afghanistan- but not Detroit.

One feels almost sorry for the Phil Elmores of the world, trapped in a make-believe world of “us vs. them”, trotting out tired, disposed of slogans from battles already lost, craving the comforting dominance of authority to make sense of a world that has passed them by. Almost sorry. But not really. Because it’s these people with their craven whimpering for the mommy/state to keep them safe and quash “the hippies” that holds us back, and drags the inevitable evolution of society to a crawl. It might take 5 years or 50, but in time the Phil Elmores and his ilk will be no more.

As someone who will always identify more with the “filthy hippies”, I say good riddance. Your generation has received your final grade- and it failed. Be a man and admit it. Or continue to read World Nut Daily in your mom’s basement- just get out of the way. Some people have had enough of the status quo.

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.