Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zionism, Christian Fundamentalism and the Apocalypse

Recently, members of the GOP presidential nomination field, with the exception of Ron Paul, have been falling all over themselves to talk about how much they "support" Israel. They blather on and promise the armchair warriors that they would bomb Iran into the Stone Age if they were given the chance as president.

Their so-called support for Israel isn't based on some sense of responsibility out of respect for the originations of their Judeo-Christian heritage. It is catering to the right-wing, neo-c0n, fundamentalist Christian coalition of their party which salivates at every chance we get to go to war in the Middle East. There has been a very powerful alliance with the chickenhawks and the likes of Ralph Reed/Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson and others who have a bizarre "End Times" fantasy involving the return of Christ which requires a massive conflict in the Middle East first.

If you believe in the omnipotent power of an Almighty Being, then it is presumptuous to think that you can somehow alter or expedite a master plan that has already been predetermined. Yet, that is what these people think. They cheer for every war that possibly brings us closer to WWIII and the return of their blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus through this scenario which was never really outlined in the Bible. They believe in an Apocalypse which involves the rebuilding of the Temple and the formation of the Jewish state over 60 years ago plays into the script they've created.

The religious right supports the expansion of settlements in areas already deemed to belong to the Palestinians. They cheer at every clash between the IDF and stone-throwing youths or anything else that brings things closer to the boiling point. It is really a sick, sick little enabling/fantasy combination that keeps the conflict going. This isn't really a war over territorial rights, or a conflict between mainstream Judaism and Islam. It is a proxy war fought between radical Christianity and radical Islam, pitting the hardline Jews against hardline Muslims, in hopes of igniting a religious "Final Solution" in which Christ returns to Earth, but not before we Jews are slaughtered or converted to their religion.

I've had other Jews laughingly tell me that they think these Christians are idiots but they are more than happy to keep taking their money. If it wasn't responsible for years of war, and millions of deaths, this little fantasy would be one I would laugh at. Hell, if I had religious fanatics handing me money and support because of some bizarre dream they had, I'd gladly take their money also. This isn't a laughing matter though, especially when you have these folks being tricked into voting for candidates who support wars that will never actually bring back Christ, but quite possibly the end of the world as we know it. It could end in an Apocalypse, but not the one they want. Dear Jesus, I really like you but your followers scare the hell out of me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Tea Party "jumps the shark"

"Jumping the Shark" is when something has peaked, moved beyond it's original purpose and is on the downward spiral. This phrase comes from the episode in "Happy Days" when Fonzi jumps the shark tank, the point where the series was so far past the original intent and began to become irrelevant.

The refusal of the Tea Party controlled GOP House to continue the payroll tax cuts without getting all of their irrelevant amendments passed flies directly against the very acronym they touted for their movement, "Taxed Enough Already". This same slogan is on the vehicles of their supporters, most of whom will be directly affected by this tax increase. Yet, these members of Congress have shown with little attempt to hide it, that they don't care about the 99%, including the same suckers who voted for them. They screamed bloody murder at the thought of allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, but now they vote to block an extension which would allow people like me to bring home more money on each paycheck.

They've shown that they don't have a problem with tax increases, so long as it isn't on the people who are the least likely to have to worry about if they'll have enough money to make it to the next payday. They have no qualms about letting taxes go up, just not on their donors, the folks who put them there. What they fail to realize is that when the middle class has less money to spend, that's less money to purchase goods and services, which will mean less of a demand and eventually translates into layoffs and further unemployment. Eventually this is all going to blow up in their face and they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is just a matter of time.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blurring the lines - Occupy 2.0

The thing that angers the media the most, besides specific leaders they can target, is the non-partisan/bi-partisan/independent/I'mjustpissedthefuckoff demographic of the Occupy protests. The likes of Hannity, Limbaugh, you know, the usual folks who want to resort to character attacks instead of the message, they're baffled by this.

They were thrilled to find a convenient target in the "dirty, lazy hippies who don't want to work". Quickly though, it got confusing for them when that same "dirty hippie" was marching next to a priest or a minister, who was marching next to a veteran, who was marching next to a Ron Paul supporter.

"We need leaders to speak to" they clamored. Yeah, appoint a leader and then the media attacks that person, vilifies them and distracts from the message.

"Why are these people protesting when they could be looking for jobs?" they said in snarky sound clips. We either can't find jobs or we have jobs and protest on the weekends. Ever notice how big the protests are on Saturdays and Sundays?

"We need a clear set of demands or we can't take this seriously" they said. Gee, the name "Occupy Wall Street" wasn't obvious enough for you? There's many demands but the fixed, crony game of cards that is our economy is the main one.

They want to say that we're "jealous of success" and participating in "class warfare". When the bully who has run the playground for years suddenly finds himself confronted by all the other kids who he's victimized, he usually runs to the teacher for help. Same tactic.

We've transcended the lines between "conservative" and "liberal". We're beyond "left vs. right" and it is pissing the media off.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


The hypocrisy of hope

Thinking back to the Bush years, I remember the caustic attacks against anyone who dared to criticize anything he did. I thought the tax cuts for the wealthy were dumb, the Patriot Act was an assault on personal privacy, the war in Iraq completely unjustified, and I had no problem stating those facts. For my bluntness, I was assailed as a "traitor, a "terrorist-loving liberal commie fascist" and just about anything else in the pro-Bush playbook. Having my vehicle vandalized and threats of violence for stating my opinion were par for the course.

Fast-forward to present day. The Patriot Act is still being renewed with little debate, the Bush tax cuts are still in effect and we continue to slowly lose personal freedoms. The NDAA was, and could still be interpreted to mean the indefinite detention of people who are deemed a threat. The SOPA bill also extends the ability of the government to shut down websites it also deems as threats. Threats, threats to what? A threat to national security or a threat to the industries that depend on the government to be their muscle in shutting down dissent or forcing people to buy their products and services.

So I criticize President Obama for going along with some of these things, and I get attacked again. This time it is by the "professional left", who make a point of crucifying and spinning everything the GOP does while acting like a human shield for the President. In fact, if you just changed the things they took positions on, they'd sound similar to the "brown shirts" of the Bush era.

Guess what, I voted for Obama. I have the right to criticize him when he does things that are wrong in my eyes. I voted with the hope that he'd do better by the people than Bush did, and in some ways, he's done that. The repeal of DADT, saving the auto industry, killing Osama Bin Laden and other accomplishments are deserving of praise. Yet, when he does something I see as wrong, I have no problem coming out and saying it.

I will anger some readers by saying this. Undoubtedly I will lose a few fans, so be it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

If you can't lead, follow. If you can't follow, stay out of the way

Of course they're going to fight back. You didn't think was going to be easy did you? This isn't a Disney movie where you pull a sword out of a stone or kiss a princess and suddenly all is right with the Universe again. You have a status quo which relied on a generation to calmly accept whatever fate is assigned to them, thanks to a few pills and more MTV.

Instead of striving for true greatness, our new accomplishments are making it to the next payday, becoming the next "mayor" of some spot on Foursquare or getting some image of our cat or a sunset on Instagram to go viral. They want us to continue this cycle of false empowerment. As we rely more and more on social media and a false sense of reality, they encourage "reality" shows and hype the conversation of spray-tanned skanks from New Jersey that contribute absolutely nothing to society other than the taxes they pay. They want us to remain transfixed by steroid-ridden "ultimate fighters" and Oompa Loompa looking MTV celebrities to keep our attention off the real problems. They want the conversation to be about who wore what dress which costs more than many of us will make in one year to what awards show or what contrived confrontation on their ad-ridden musical tournament was more important.

To that I say, "fuck the rubbish". If you don't agree, if you can't pull the wool from over your eyes, just sit down and keep watching football or American Idol. If you can't lead, follow. If you can't follow, stay out of the way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Peace IS an option

As a Jew, I find it disgusting and scary at the same time when I see the GOP candidates lining up to swear their allegiance to the state of Israel. If it was support of a Jewish state living in harmony with their neighbors, that would be different. Their support of Israel isn't a pro-Jewish agenda, it is a twisted, fucked-up little screenplay under construction which doesn't end happily forever after for those of us who are still waiting for the Messiah.

They are paying lip service to us while catering to the evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who believe that there is a final conflict involving the extermination of all Jews who do not convert to Christianity. It is an "End Times" scenario that is extremely popular in the circles of most right of moderate Christians. Both the Democrats, and Republicans, have courted the hard right with their "support" of Israel but it isn't to the peacemakers. Any politician that tries to bring real peace is demonized as a terrorist supporter or anti-Israel.

In my mind, there doesn't need to be a Jewish state any more than there needs to be a Muslim country or a Christian country or any country that is religious-centric. Yet, the old guard and the fanatics on both sides keep pushing the politics and spin to further their careers, goals and to keep the money flowing in.

My generation and those to follow are not taking the bait. We have started to realize that there's more than what our ancestors fought and died for in vain. In the age of world-wide social media, we've made acquaintances all around the world and found out we aren't that different. The powers that be have realized that the battle lines they have drawn for us have been bridged and neutralized by Twitter and Facebook, and they're very, very scared.

Monday, December 5, 2011

There is no "War on Christmas"

There isn't a "War on Christmas", despite what the self-appointed defenders of all things Christ-related on Fox who blather on and on have to say. You see, it is hard to even call it "Christmas" when it stopped being about Christ and his message so very long ago. These days, it is has become about convincing people that a holiday which is no longer about Christ but instead about massive consumption is under attack in order to get them to spend more time and money on it. Christmas throughout the ages was never the over the top production that it has become in this time.

I respect the people who keep it a simple celebration of the birth of probably the most influential man in history and mark it by going to church and/or doing charitable acts in honor of the day. I may not agree with them on the bullet points of their religious faith, but I do respect them.

I enjoy listening to the Christmas Eve celebration and service on NPR. I enjoy the time I get with the family members who have gone on with their own lives away from our respective childhoods, for the most part.

But, the whole "put Christ back in Christmas" mantra sounds so utterly hypocritical when the same people drive their SUVs down to Target, Best Buy, Walmart and the shitty mall stores to buy things on credit. Spending thousands of dollars on goods made in foreign countries off basically slave labor but dropping the leftover change from your grande peppermint mocha purchase into the Salvation Army bucket on your way out of Target doesn't make you a good Christian. It doesn't relieve you of your responsibility to the less fortunate, the beggar along the road. In fact, if Christ were to come back one day as you have repeatedly planned and fantasized about, he wouldn't be happy with you, not one bit. I believe he'd give you the "least of these" speech and then proceed to picket the local mall.

If you want to "put Christ back into Christmas", I'd suggest spending the money you would have used to purchase that new flatscreen on abandoned veterans and the less fortunate. If you want to end the "War on Christmas", I'd recommend starting with yourself.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me again, call me a GOP voter

They don't care about us. They just want us to do their bidding, march for their causes and die in their wars. Nothing could be more apparent with this propaganda campaign surrounding "Obamacare". They keep telling us it is about "personal freedom" and the individual mandate that requires people to have health insurance, something that was originally proposed by conservative thinktanks and isn't really an issue to them, although the opposite is what they want us to believe. What the issue really is to them is the part of the bill that requires them to spend between 80 and 85 percent of revenue on actually paying for the medical services their clients signed up for.

As it stood before, there was no reason for an insurance company to have any interest in paying out claims, especially when it came to medical bills. In 2006, I was a victim of a hit and run driver who totaled my vehicle and caused spinal and nerve damage which will haunt me for the rest of my life. The day after I made the report to my insurance company, an adjuster came out to my house, told me I looked OK and after looking at my vehicle, told me he would cut me a check for $2K on the spot if I just signed a waiver. Even after I involved an attorney, I still wasn't paid even a dime of the additional $25k insurance I had paid into above the basic $10k auto policy I purchased.

Same goes for health insurance, home insurance, etc. This law requires them to pay out a portion of revenues to instead of paying incentives to agents to deny or delay as many claims as possible. Yet, the people opposing the healthcare law want you to believe it is about personal liberty, but want you to forget they were the ones who originally proposed the idea of the individual mandate which forces people who may not need coverage to get it in order to pad the profits of the insurance corporations. This is a far more complex game than the average voter grasps but it continues to boil down to the old shell game where the working class person is once again tricked into voting for having money taken out of their wallets in the name of "liberty".

Monday, November 28, 2011

What's next for Occupy Wall Street?

As I've said in a previous article, Occupy Wall Street has already won by shifting the national discussion. It has gone from the thoughtless drumbeat of "let's cut taxes and shrink the government" to a more in depth dialogue of what our tax structure is like, how we're spending our money and 800lb gorilla in the room which is income disparity.

At first, it was easy for the media to ignore it. Certainly a few hundred people camping out in a New York park to protest the excesses and crony capitalism of Wall Street wouldn't last more than a couple of days, or so they thought. A couple of days turned into a couple of weeks, then a couple of months. An occupation of one city turned into the occupation of hundreds of cities worldwide, and a few hundred protesters turned into hundreds of thousands.

Occupy Wall Street has woken some of America up but we still have more people to reach. The TV pundits who initially looked the other way, have now realized that this is something they couldn't afford to ignore. It was intellectually lazy, as is much of our national conversation tends to be, to just dismiss the protesters as just a bunch of homeless people, students with useless liberal arts degrees, "dirty, lazy hippies" and spoiled kids who didn't want to work for a living. In fact, it presented a very convenient target for the likes of Breitbart, Coulter and Limbaugh to lob their freshly-squeezed verbal feces at, similar to a bunch of demented monkeys in a zoo.
Yet, when veterans like Sgt. Shamar Thomas or retired police officers like Capt. Ray Lewis stepped into the picture, the detractors lost their credibility.

Granted, there will always be the people who will believe whatever is spooned out to them from Fox News and but even people who would have never thought they had anything in common with left-leaning folks like Michael Moore have realized that there is something seriously wrong in this country that needs to be fixed. When you have Code Pink lefties standing next to working class moderates and Ron Paul libertarians, you know something has shifted massively. Even some of the more sensible Tea Party folks have come to the realization that while they may not agree with the dreadlocked guy beating drums and calling for the banning of animal testing, they have found some issues they do have common ground on, and for those who are profiting from and driving the status quo, it scares the hell out of them.

We've been a nation divided for quite some time now. We've been pitted against each other as pawns in a much bigger game. We've been fighting the wrong enemy and perhaps now folks are starting to wake up. Yes, it may be hard for a West Coast vegan to realize that many of us Southern, gun-toting, truck-driving meat lovers have something in common with them other than being a carbon based, oxygen breathing multi-cellular organism. It can be hard for some Ron Paul libertarians to accept the fact that not all Harvard-educated government employees want to take away their AR-15 rifles and not every government regulation is a plot to force their children into Communist re-education camps. Every day, a few more people figure this out on both sides and understand that this is beyond the classic trench warfare of "Left vs. Right". Then they see peaceful grandmothers, college students and war veterans being peppersprayed and teargassed. They get the point that this isn't just disgruntled kids looking for the "next big thing" and they're willing to have a hesitant, but honest conversation about what we need to do put our differences aside for awhile to fix things.

It's getting cold throughout most of the US and much of the Northern Hemisphere. For many, the prospect of camping through blizzards and sub-freezing temperatures is not a viable one. I speak for myself when I say that the tent cities have served their place in time but it is just the first step. A movement that does not evolve and adapt, is doomed to eventually fade into insignificance. By all means, we should continue to protest. By all means, we should be out there on the streets against the barricades, constantly reminding those who control the puppet strings that we are on to their game. We need to let them know we know the game is rigged and that despite whatever they say, the system does not work for the rest of us 99% of the time.

However, if all we do is protest, then nothing changes. Things change when people take protest and turn it into action. We will get a government "for the people, by the people" when we put together a coalition which agrees on a few basic principles and demands our elected officials follow them or seek employment elsewhere. I think that's the next step.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse fantasy

One day you get up, put on the coffee, wake up the kids and drive to school. Your neighbors are a little extra haggard in appearance this morning but in this recession, you just figure they're either really hungover or perhaps they're just "dirty, lazy hippies" who just need to get back to work. As you swing your SUV up to the school, you are suddenly surprised to see your child's teacher isn't a "brainwashed Communist", they're actually a real zombie. In fact, the entire population, as far as you can tell, has turned into zombies.

Finally, all those canned goods and ammo boxes you've stored away are going to get to be used. As you dispatch that Subaru-driving art teacher you never liked anyhow and her partner with that 5.56mm assault rifle you bought during the height of the "Obama is gonna take all of our guns" hysteria, you remind yourself that even though you paid double the real price for it, it's worth it now.

You may chuckle a little but haven't we all enjoyed the last couple of seasons of "The Walking Dead"? Zombie films are very popular, but why? My theory is that they play to a darker side of us, a part of us which decent society frowns upon. We all have people we dislike or have been taught to hate. However, in a functioning society, we can't dispatch them without repercussions such as a lifetime in prison, lethal injection, or having to flee the country forever. But what if chaotic anarchy reigned? What if that person was suddenly no longer human and/or there was no government to enforce any rules?

As I've said before, there's people who cannot wait for the day that they can turn their guns on their neighbors and others who don't share their religious or political beliefs. The "Zombie Apocalypse" itself isn't a real scenario but it is sort of a code word for those who joke about hunting zombies while stockpiling guns and bullets. Just a little something to think about...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The monster under the bed

This week, a photo went viral. It showed a sticker on a man's truck stating that he wouldn't be hiring anyone until President Obama was out of office. While this showed a lack of basic economic and business management sense, both of which he was completely free to practice, it also peeled back the lid on the bubbling cauldron of racial bigotry which continues to stew just below the surface of the media's view. The comments by people supporting him, and the subsequent postings by this clown, proved enough for a little visit by the Secret Service.

People like Mr. Looman aren't uncommon. Sadly, they're a little more frequently found in the southern range of their habitat although the northwestern subspecies tend to be more violent and prefer swastikas whereas the southern subspecies prefers white hoods and crosses.

In their minds, a "Racial Holy War (RaHoWa is their code word)" will explode shortly and they will finally get to rid the United States of the racially impure (all non-whites). Of course, that's the basic version. What they also intend on doing is pretty much what Hitler did and eliminate the intellectuals, gays and anyone else who isn't a white heterosexual who subscribes to their bizarre and lunatic ideology. Meanwhile, I secretly giggle as their kids pop out bi-racial children.

In the general population, folks who truly believe in this racial purity nonsense are a very small portion. However, there's plenty more who in some ways, sympathize or partially agree with some of the bile they spew on local cable access programs, internet forums like Stormfront, or Facebook pages like the very one Mr. Looman set up calling for an armed uprising should President Obama be re-elected.

They love to pull out a Bible and the Constitution and point to their interpretation of these documents as justification for what they want to do, while conveniently forgetting the parts about separation of church and state or anything else that directly contradicts their lunacy. These are people who harp on about "smaller government" because smaller government or anarchy means an environment in which their ilk can survive. They want the government "out of our lives" so they, with their stockpiles of weapons and ammo, can form their own version of government to dictate to us how we will now how have to live our lives.

Don't believe me? Just cruise a couple of their sites for a few minutes. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The #OWS "Crucible"

There is a grueling final test at the end of Marine Corps bootcamp known as "The Crucible". For 54 hours, potential Marines march day and night, endure severe weather conditions, evacuate and care for simulated casualties, etc. Only after this is successfully completed will a recruit have finally earned the title of a Marine. You don't show up at Parris Island or San Diego, put on a uniform, pose for a photo and automatically get to be a Marine. You have to endure weeks of hell, tear gas, being woken up at ungodly hours and other unpleasantries in order to get there.

So it goes with the folks who are out at Occupy Wall Street and other protests across the world. Change doesn't just happen because you stand on a corner with a sign for a couple hours on the weekend or make a cool "99%" sign which makes the rounds on the internet. Don't get me wrong, a collection of those actions moves the dialogue forward and every bit helps and it is appreciated.

My hat is off though, to those who have gone through the "Crucible" of being a protester. Being arrested, beaten, peppersprayed, shot with rubber bullets and coming back for more abuse is a sign that the repressive tactics aren't working. In fact, they're backfiring and the frustration of the oppressors is showing. They are ironically building a more determined group of protesters and support for the Occupy movement at the same time. Whether it be waves of pepperspray rolling in with the Pacific mist in Seattle or batons clanking against barricades in Manhattan, every image or video clip of a grandmother being sprayed or a retired police officer being arrested makes us stronger, more determined and it's free publicity.

The thing is, the powers that be don't seem to grasp that this like aikido, as I wrote in a previous article "The Strength of Peaceful Protest". They don't understand that their overwhelming strength and weapons are their greatest weakness. They can't just walk away because they believe that means they lost. So they keep on fighting us, we keep growing stronger and more disciplined. They've taken "lazy, dirty, entitled rich kids" and turned them into politically aware and motivated individuals who are all leaders. These people who may have been politically apathetic before are determined now, more than ever, to change the status quo.

So keep on pepper-spraying, keep on arresting, keep on making us realize why we are doing this. We'll thank you one day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All is fair in love and war but this is revolution!

Recently I was sent to jail. No, not the jail where you go after a night of doing shots with your broskis and then making the mistake of trying to drive home, only to wake up with a splitting hangover and being spooned by a large tattooed man. I went to Facebook jail where I cannot comment on other pages or share links with them for 15 days.

However, there is something in common and that is in both cases, someone got something up their ass. One figuratively, one literally. It seems that some groups got such a case of butthurt that progressive and independent groups were banding together to recall politicians who were busting unions. I guess the vote in Ohio to repeal the anti-union law (SB5), the recall effort under way in Wisconsin and the spread of the Occupy movement was more than they could handle.

For weeks now, blog pages such as mine, and other independent/progressive pages have been under attack on Facebook. Before, we just dealt with the occasional troll who showed up. We'd play with them like a cat toys with a mouse before we finally banned them. Then they realized that if enough "spam" reports were filed against certain users or pages, they'd manage to silence that person for a couple weeks.

Facebook has a certain formula or algorithm to determine who it will suspend or ban. I am not sure what it is exactly but my guess is that if a user and/or page posts more than X number of times and gets more than X number of spam reports filed on them, they get suspended. Posts and/or links that mention a certain controversial subject are high on the list, right now OWS is probably leading the pack. There is a certain ratio of posts to complaints in this formula and multiple spam reports on the same post probably move you up that list.

I have learned that all pages are infested with trolls to some extent and you can never be rid of them completely. Some will even lurk on your own page, follow your activity, and then report every one of your posts outside of your page. However, you can possibly limit your liability by not posting on pages that are in direct conflict with your own. Posting on Rick Perry's wall is a good way to get possibly 50 reports for "spam" in less than an hour.

If you are a page admin, monitor your users, especially new ones coming in. While you may catch potential troublemakers at the door, it doesn't hurt to check up on random people and what they post elsewhere. I've banned quite a few people within minutes of them joining my page when I've seen them on other pages starting trouble, before they even got the chance to post on mine.

I believe in the freedom of speech and while Facebook and other social media sites are privately owned, suppressing the rights of others to share their political ideas is just fucked up. I hate to be hypocritical but I think it is time to use the tactics of our antagonists right back on them.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shrugging at "Atlas Shrugged"

When you read "Atlas Shrugged" at the age of 16 or 17 to rebel against your parents or your Berkeley-educated teacher, that's one thing. When you are in your 30's or older and live your life by it, that doesn't make you counter-counter-culture any more, it makes you a sociopathic douchebag.

Self-interest to some extent is normal and healthy. Of course you're going to look after yourself to make sure you stay financially stable and ensure that you aren't being taken advantage of. Normal and mature self-interest dictates that you take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others.

However, the self-interest of Ayn Rand goes beyond self-preservation and headlong into the pit of narcissism and greed. It doesn't say "I'll help you so one day maybe you can help me". Instead it says "Fuck you, I got mine." It doesn't say "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" as Jesus said in the Bible. Instead it says "Do unto others before they do unto you." It is an unhealthy atheistic nihilism which dictates that the ends justify the means and that he who dies with the most toys wins. It teaches that there is no moral code which binds us as species to look out for the less fortunate and that crawling to the top on the backs of others is ok.

I suppose if you are a complete nihilist which believes in no higher power, authority or any responsibility to those you use on your way through this life, maybe "Atlas Shrugged" is your thing. Yet, you cannot call yourself a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim or a member of any other religion without acknowledging that you are ignoring the teachings of that religion by being an ego-centric prick. Man is not an island. We weren't predestined to start making "good choices" and working hard at the age of 3, we had help along the way. Nobody got to where they are today without a little help from the right people at the right time. There's many people who worked hard for decades, only to see their jobs shipped overseas or people like myself who worked hard and did the right thing, only to have it come back to bite them in the ass.

Remember how I said in a previous article that the "Anti-Christ was already here"? Well, that entity is here but it isn't a person, it is an idea. It is the perception of the vast majority of the public that they are number one, that they are the most important entity in the universe. It is the belief that the individual is responsible to no one and fucking over other people is OK if that is what it takes to survive.

Personally, I would prefer to shuffle off this mortal coil with a clear conscience and poor, surrounded by people who love me than to die rich and alone. I hope I am not the only one.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We have met the enemy and he is us

There's still some places in the South, tucked away in little out of the way towns off the beaten path where it seems that not much has changed since the days of segregation. These are small towns that used to be on the major highways before the interstates of the great expansion cut swaths down from the North in their march to the sea. The little mom and pop stores are gone now, boarded up and overrun by kudzu vines that swallowed the rusty '57 Ford left behind decades ago.

There's a shop, still desperately clinging on, where an old man with a non-ironic trucker's cap still rolls his own cigarettes by hand. You can get pickled quail's eggs and a six-pack of PBR with the gas that is 20 cents more expensive than the Walmart down the road but if you ask him why his friends are no longer in business, chances are he won't blame Walmart. Instead it will be the government, "liberals", blacks, Mexicans or whomever else he was told was responsible for his predicament. Easy answers, like the easy moral choices faced in the tattered and yellowing John Wayne movie poster that still hangs by the old icebox in the back room.

There's a hunting and fishing store down by the lake with a gray-haired woman and an old hound dog that will always perk up his ears whenever you stop in to buy that last moment bag of ice before you head out to catch a cooler full of catfish. There's one pack of plastic worms and box of 12 gauge shells still on the shelf that were the hot items from 10 years ago, before the new Walmart super center paved over farmland 4 miles away. She will also probably blame the government, gun control, regulations and everyone else except who the real culprits are.

So it goes, through the country where we're fighting and blaming the wrong people. Last night, I was at a small town festival in a town that lost their Fruit of the Loom factory 20 years. There's no real economy left in that town and poverty is rampant. Some kids still fight the racial battles of their grandfathers as if it is still the most important issue of their time, all while both sides share the same poverty in addition to everything else, including the multiple variations of their skin colors.

They say "the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing us he didn't exist" but I believe the greatest trick he ever pulled was convincing us that our neighbor was our enemy and the source of our problems. Why spend valuable time and resources fighting a war at home when you can just brainwash every ethnicity, social class and every subdivision of those groups into believing that their potential greatest ally and friend is really to blame for their troubles?

Now that, that is the real class warfare.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

99% vs 53% vs 1%

In an effort to undermine or disqualify the Occupy Wall Street movement, a few people have signed on to a new astroturf "we are the 53%" group. This 53% is supposed to be the percentage of Americans who pay a net income tax at the end of the year. The irony of the slogan is that it states, by logical process, that 47% of Americans live below an income level to which they would have to pay incomes tax. Saying that 53% of Americans pay a net income tax isn't something to be proud of, it is a condemnation of the economic situation that we find ourselves in. I used to be in the 53% tax bracket. I used to end up getting back only a portion of what I paid in over the year and do you know what? I was fine with that and I would happily go back to that bracket in a heartbeat if only I could.

Yet, politicians and their backers want to play class warfare by painting those who don't make enough money to pay income taxes as lazy. I hate to break it to you but not everyone can become a CEO, an investment banker, a trial lawyer or win the lottery. Some people are going to have to flip burgers, bus tables, scrape roadkill, fix flat tires, bag groceries or work as a security guard to make our society continue to work as we know it. Guess what? Some of us are OK with the cards that life has dealt us. Some of us have accepted that the "American Dream" may not be realized for us but we're still trying to get it for our kids.

Occupy Wall Street isn't protesting to ask for a handout, it is protesting to ask for a handup instead of the current system that primarily rewards people who climb the ladder, only to kick out the rungs below it. The 99% represents the people who the system isn't working for anymore, not those who want a free government check every month.

It is too easy to be mentally lazy and let Fox News tell you that we are a bunch of "dirty, lazy hippies". The problems we face are far more complex than some pasteurized 30 second sound bite. It is intellectually convenient to just write off a social issue that has come to a head as the bitching of a few who want something they aren't entitled to. It isn't that simple. Think for yourself.

Abandoned vets

If you come back in a box, you're a hero. It is easy to make a hero out of someone who has died. There's no responsibility to that person, no moral imperative to take care of them. Putting a Chinese-made plastic flag on their grave once a year seems to be the accepted token of appreciation.

But what about the abandoned vets? The men and women who manage to survive the hell of war, only to find themselves in a new hell at home. Physical wounds heal but mental scars are forever.

I have not been a member of the military but many of my friends are/were. My first experience with a PTSD victim was when I was still a teenager. My father took in a Vietnam vet as a tenant in one of his apartments. A former Green Beret, he was fiercely loyal to us but was prone to panic attacks, violent drunken outbursts and flashbacks. This was probably 15 years ago, before PTSD was even an accepted disability. Back then, they called it "shell-shock" and dumped them out of the military on a medical discharge.

Fast forward to 2004/2005...My friend and coworker Dan comes home from Iraq after an Army tour. Formerly mild-mannered, he came back with all the same symptoms. He'd drink himself into blackout fits where he'd lash out at everyone, then sob his eyes out on the bar before passing out. I moved away that summer but often wondered if he would finally get the help he needed. I got a call that fall, Thanksgiving evening to be exact. Dan took his own life by hanging himself in his parent's closet that morning.

He was one of many. We have veterans homeless on the street, in jails and mental institutions and there is very little attention brought to this. The Angola State Prison has their own color guard, comprised of incarcerated veterans.

So why aren't we running TV campaigns and sleek Facebook pages to draw attention to this? My answer is, it isn't something that people can make money from or use as political campaign fodder. It is convenient to slap a Chinese-made yellow ribbon magnetic sticker on your SUV and say you support the troops. It is easy to glorify the dead because they can't speak. They aren't shivering by a dumpster by your favorite Starbucks or asking for change outside the local Taco Bell. The homeless and the mentally ill veterans aren't a sexy dress blues photo, forever remembered as such and forever out of the way. They're here now. For the dead, their suffering is over. For the living, it has not.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I am what I am

I take shit from all sides. I have the "conservatives" and the Ron Paul folks wanting me to endorse their idea of basic anarchy, a government that is a shell of what it is now. On the other hand, I have the "progressives" and liberals who want me fight for gun control and other issues they hold dear.

The thing is, I don't get paid by either side. This page and blog are for me, by me. I don't get paid anything to write the things that I do and I write this to talk about what I think is right, not some thinktank in DC that is funded by the Koch brothers, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros or anyone else.

I express what I think is right. I fight for what I believe is the correct way in my opinion. I believe in some things that are a platform for the left, some things that are a platform for the right but when I started writing, I didn't sign a piece of paper saying I would be a mouthpiece for either side. I'm doing this for me. I am on the side of personal freedom and the little guy.

I hate hypocrisy and partisan politics but push me hard enough and I will swing left, or right, depending on the issue. I've been publishing this page for a little over a year now and I have taken shit from all directions. Guess that means I am doing something right.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Know your enemy

For years, we've had some mysterious and distant enemy to be afraid of. Someone out there who wanted to do harm to our way of life and only some flag-draped politician could save us. First it was Communist Russia, then it was Al-Qaeda, now it is our neighbors.

We've been divided, for the sake of politics, against each other. Republicans vs. Democrats. Fox News vs. MSNBC. Intellectuals vs. rednecks. Blacks vs. Whites. Gay vs. Straight. Christians vs. Atheists. Catholics vs. Protestants. Jews vs. Muslims. Hippies vs. skinheads. Crips vs. Bloods. East Coast vs. West Coast. Yankees vs. Southerners, etc. Every made up enemy is supposed to want to do harm and force us to live under their ideals.

The fact is, we're mostly all human beings who want to live our lives and raise our children right. The problem has been that over and over and over again, we've had it pounded into our heads on a nightly basis that there is so much to be afraid of. Stop being afraid. Yes, there are people out there who would wish harm upon us out of some mental psychosis but for the most part, we're all just trying to get through our lives the best we can.

Now that we are almost 2 months into "Occupy Wall Street", the people who have been setting us against each other for so long have been putting the spin machine into overdrive to try to stop something that could finally break us out of this mess. They've tried to paint supporters and protesters as "dirty hippies" and conveniently leave out the elderly who are front lines as well. They ignore or vilify the veterans who have come home and are now unemployed because a private contractor making triple their salary has taken their place in Iraq or Afghanistan. They love to preach patriotism, until it comes time to actually fund veteran's benefits, PTSD therapy and job placement.

We have politicians from both parties who have made very comfortable careers for themselves pretending to be representing us, all while taking contributions from the very people who are dividing us against each other. Even if we catch on to their game and vote them out, they are usually assured jobs working as a lobbyist to perpetuate the cycle with their replacement.

This has to end, someway, somehow. We can institute term limits, reform campaign finance laws, bar members of Congress from ever working as lobbyists and take money out of politics but that won't be enough. Only until we wake up, realize that our real enemy is the culture of fear and stop voting for the politicians who reinforce that, will we ever be truly free.

This is why we are Occupying Wall Street.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We are the 99%, here's why we Occupy Wall Street

We've already grasped the fact we aren't all going to be millionaires, movie actors or rock stars. Our generation has come to terms with the fact we are going to work until we're 70 or older, and as much as it sucks, we've accepted it grudgingly. We've realized that thanks to the Baby Boomers, Social Security may not be the safety net it was for our parents and grandparents and we're kind of OK with that, even as we pay out of our checks every two weeks to support your grandparents in Arizona or Florida or wherever else America goes to die.

We accepted the fact that "Hope and Change" rolled quietly into "Hope for some change down the road". We aren't OK with that, but hey, we'll live with it. Yet, when our homes get foreclosed on us because the banks who got a bailout won't return the favor to the same taxpayers who helped them, we're going to be pissed off. When the same financial institutions and trade schools who talked us into getting credit cards and student loans to get through college, only to now come and bully us to repay them when we are working minimum wage jobs despite our degrees, we'll probably finally have had enough.

We bought into the same "American Dream" that our parents and grandparents subscribed to. The one where if you work hard enough, save some money and go to school, you also can live the dream. The thing is, the "American Dream" set sail with Reagnomics and NAFTA. Now, if you work 10 years for a company, thanks "right to work" laws, they can dump you at any time, for any reason, and you're back at square one again while your job gets shipped off to an intern or someone who will work for half the price in Bangladesh or India.

In the old movies, the guy who found something crooked going in his company, or his politics, went and made a stand. Eventually, he turned out to be the hero and was usually rewarded for his efforts. In my case, I cut the losses of the company I worked diligently for by millions of dollars every month and I was rewarded with a boot out the door.

That isn't the "free market" and the capitalism our parents grew up with. This is a new system and one that rewards the cheaters, not the hard workers. We've finally realized that fact, and we're very, very pissed off.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why Occupy Wall Street has already won

We've already won. We've already shown the hypocrisy of those in our country who cheer for protesters in other countries, then demonize those who would do the same in our own.

If the movement stopped tomorrow, shut down and went home, we've still won. We've got kids who never voted interested in the political process. We've woken up apathetic people who are starting to realize the system is broken and perhaps even some politicians have awoken to the fact that we're on to them.

Credit unions have seen an uptick in business and big banks have been forced to back off adding fees to the accounts of the middle and working class. The rabid attacks on #OWS and the participants shows just how scared those who benefit from the status quo are right now. First they ignored us. I remember the snarky comments from Ali Velshi on CNN about 6 weeks ago when the first occupiers showed up and he told me it wasn't a news story worth covering. Then they mocked us as being "commies" and we responded with military members supporting us. Then they fought us and created pictures of police brutality that blew up Facebook and Twitter. Now we've won and everything from here on out is just icing on the cake. We've changed the national dialogue, and we're just getting started.

The kids who are marching, taking rubber bullets and being vilified by Fox News are future members of our government. They're learning the art of peaceful protest and the harsh realities of the system of democracy. I couldn't be more proud.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We are all Scott Olsen

Every day we go to work, pay our bills and struggle to get by. We live paycheck to paycheck. The lucky ones get a vacation once a year to go spend their money in some tourist trap like Myrtle Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami or Panama City Beach. The rest of us, we dream of a day or two away from the shift work.

Even the people who were idealized by the likes of Fox News for fighting in a useless war in Iraq are now coming home and finding the American Dream left them far behind. At first, we were just disgruntled. Then we raised our voices a little, only to be mocked by the media. Now we're angry, and with the possible death of a Marine, we're gonna be pissed the fuck off.

The working class has been treated like the toilet paper of the rich. We are useful for the time between when we are bought and when we wipe the ass of the more fortunate. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate and applaud the people who have worked their way from rags to riches, but that story has become more and more rare as the years go by.

We are not just cogs in the wheel. We are not resources to be used up and then thrown away. We are human fucking beings. We just want a little slice of the pie. We are patriotic Americans and when we realize that we no longer have a real purpose or place, we'll take to the streets.

You can't kill us all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The strength of peaceful protest

In aikido, one learns the process of self-defense by using their opponent's strength against them. With the proper practice, a 100 lb woman can defeat an attacker 4 times her size. The purpose is not to kill, but to disarm, to neutralize. Aikido is not about performing spectacular leg kicks or destroying your enemies in a flurry of punches and screams. It is the "gentle way", the "path of least resistance".

This applies to the art of peaceful protest, the kind we see going on now with Occupy Wall Street. This is how we will take the violent actions used against us and with gentle guidance, disarm those who attack us, in a figurative sense of course.

First there are the attacks upon character. Calling those who protest "dirty hippies and communists", "lazy" or whatever other ad hominem charges is a common technique used in propaganda. We have already defeated that by showing the world that we are a collection of people from all backgrounds and social groups.

Now they have brought in the police and riot gear. This is the only other way the status quo knows how to confront dissent. Ironically, with every arrest, with every video of police brutality on the evening news or Facebook, we will win. This is the way of aikido, using the attacker's strength against them. Stand together, stay peaceful, and vote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Saving capitalism and the true free market

I believe in capitalism, a system where one is free to make as much money as they want off an honest idea or product. I believe that if you are willing to put in the effort to create a successful business, you should be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

At the same time I believe you also have responsibilities. As the saying goes "with great power, comes great responsibility." If you are a successful person, you should make sure that you are not exploiting others in your trip to the top; and once you are there, help others climb the same ladder, instead of kicking out the rungs on your way up.

This is what Occupy Wall Street is about. Sure there's people in the crowd that believe in Communism but most of us know that isn't a successful economic model. We are trying to save true capitalism from corruption, corporate socialism, and greed. A true "free market" would never have bailed out banks who made terrible business decisions, got saved by the taxpayers, and then thanked us by foreclosing on our homes instead of negotiating new mortgages.

Our issue is not with the people who have legitimately accumulated wealth through hard work, reward the employees who helped get them there and don't try to find ways out of paying their taxes. That is what makes America great, that is the "American Dream". Our beef is with those who have made their wealth by manipulating financial markets, exploiting their workers, employing lobbyists and accountants so that not only do they not pay taxes, they manage to get corporate welfare that we the taxpayers end up paying for. That's not capitalism, that is the very "socialism" that their most brainwashed supporters ironically denounce.

The "free market" is one in which consumers get to choose which company they want to do business with and there are more than just one choice. The free market should be one where a business thrives because of the product it produces, not by using politicians to pass regulations that stifle anyone else who tries to compete. In the free market, the bad apples would be allowed to rot, without contaminating others.

We are the 99% and we support the honest 1%.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A little revolution is a good thing

Sometimes, the status quo doesn't work for most of us. In the 1700's, people like the Founding Fathers decided that being a colony run by the East India Trading Company, with no representation in Parliament wasn't acceptable. This led up to the events that included the Boston Tea Party, then the America Revolution.

People like today's "Tea Party" forget that little piece of history. It wasn't that we had representatives and were taxed unfairly, it was that we had no representation; America was little more than a plantation and policies were dictated to us by the company through Parliament.

That is pretty much where we are today. We have a representative government but it isn't representing us any more. Just like back then, it represents the interests of the rich and powerful. The East India Trading Company is still around but today's lobbyists come from other major companies like GE, Bank of America, Goldman Sach's, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and others.

We've been taught that our vote doesn't matter, our voice cannot be heard and the little protests that we have from time to time won't change anything. Instead of acknowledging and negotiating with the disaffected, media tends to belittle and demonize those who challenge the status quo. It isn't just Occupy Wall Street, it was the hippies, the Civil Rights movement, the women's equality movement, the push to ban slavery, etc.

The status quo will react with spin and force to ensure it remains. It will seek to divide us against each other and try to exploit our differences even as we try to find our common ground. We can fall back on our old fault lines, point fingers at people being Commies, Hippies, Punks, Skins, Liberals, Conservatives, Racists, Yuppies, Rednecks, Coonasses, and whatever else. Or, we can put aside those differences, find that our shared interests all involve a representative government once again, and demand that.

The Founding Fathers didn't all see eye to eye. There were slave owners and Abolitionists. There wasn't one America, there were 13 colonies and it took some time to unite them against Britain. There were huge differences but they got together to form a "more perfect union". Note it was written "a more perfect union" meaning that the union wasn't perfect and there was always room for improvement.

That's what we are trying to do today. We are trying to unite people of all demographics behind a common belief, that we are a government for the people, not the corporations. We are trying to put our religions, racial beliefs, politics and everything else aside to take our government back.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The hippies were right

I admit, I have never cared much for hippies. Maybe it was the kid on the bus in highschool who fit the stereotype of being burnt out, unwashed and reeking of patchouli oil. Maybe it is my next door neighbor who lives in what looks like an abandoned house, has drum circles at 2am and gets upset when I want to shoot the coyotes that roam the local fields. Perhaps it could be that we've been taught that they are all lazy pot smokers who have no ambition to attain the "American Dream".

But what if the "American Dream" is really the "American Nightmare", an endless cycle of work, debt and consumption that ends with death, and the realization that you've never truly lived? If that is the case, perhaps the hippies, the beatniks and the other "losers" were right. Maybe the rest of us have been hoodwinked into believing being a "success" was buying into that cycle of consumption, work, debt and becoming just an another cog in the wheel, another brick in the wall.

I'll never be a hippie. I like my hair cropped close, my music often aggressive and I'm not into drugs. I don't need to take pills to make my world weird, it is weird enough as it is. Yet, I respect them for realizing "this is all bullshit man" and tuning out. I think we could all learn to consume less, be less dependent on the system and that maybe a peaceful protest now and then is a damn good idea.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rise up and be counted

The Revolution is here. Despite initial resistance from major news sources, it is now being televised. Across the country, across the world, tens of thousands of people are marching in the streets.

At first they ignored us. On Twitter, you can see my heated exchanges with a CNN News anchor (Ali Velshi) who told me in a snarky manner that Occupy Wall Street was not a story. Then the mocking began as they tried to paint everyone involved as "dirty hippies", "leftist lunatic Communists" and other ad hominem attacks. Now that they've failed in that, they're ready to unleash the dogs.

Yet, with every arrest, with every use of pepper spray, the crowds grow larger and pop up in new cities. This is a wave that cannot be stopped and the people who stand in opposition will be swept out. They will find themselves on the losing side of history. Politicians are suddenly paying attention and trying to co-opt, to harness the energy of the movement for their own gain. President Obama has said that he sides with the protesters, but he has got corporate money in his coffers as well. I dare say that the vast majority of incumbents do as well, this has to end.

The ideological purists of the Occupy movement are angered at the thought that politicians are trying to use the energy for their campaigns but unfortunately, that is how the system works. Every major social change started with protests and discontent of some sort but ultimately, it took votes cast by Senators, members of Congress or decisions made by the Supreme Court to make it law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the product of activism, protests and sit-ins. So was the abolition of slavery, the repeal of Prohibition, etc.

Occupy Wall Street is the first, and necessary step. We are learning to shake off our apathy and abandoning the myth that one person does not matter. Yet, I do not believe the current system of inequality can be changed by just protests alone. Next, we have to get involved and make changes through the political system which ultimately decides what is law and what is not. If you have a representative who will listen and vote for the changes that are needed, support them and make sure you keep them honest. If you have a representative that will not listen and is too deeply in the pockets of those who have a vested interest in the status quo, help remove them from office via the ballot box.

The difference between the Arab Spring and the American Autumn is that in the Arab countries, they were under dictatorships which allowed little or no participation in the political process. Here, we have the ultimate say with our vote. We just have to learn not to be tricked into voting against our self interests. We have to learn that our neighbor is not our enemy for whatever reason we've been told in order to divide us against each other. We can reclaim our country, if we really want to.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The story so far

On the morning of October 4th, 2010, I boarded a flight for San Francisco from Orlando. I promised myself that by the time I hit 30, if I didn't like where I was at, I would turn everything upside down and start again.

It was still dark when the plane left, and as I watched the lights of Orlando fade behind me, I wondered when I would see it again. It was a misty and cold dawn as we switched planes in Charlotte. The mist in the trees reminded me of my childhood home just a few hours up the interstate from where I currently stood. I could maybe switch my ticket or hop a bus in that direction instead. Maybe I could get my old job back and see the friends that I hadn't visited in years. No...time to press on. I knew there was no turning back at this point and I fastened my seatbelt as the the plane began the ascent to 30,000 feet.

I'd flown across the country before. This wasn't my first time on the West Coast and I was looking forward to it. Surely here, I would finally walk down through Chinatown and relive the haunts of my idol, Jack Keroauc and Ginsberg, the crazy Beatniks that changed my life forever.

The plane descended through the fog and we landed in the city on the bay. To my left was Google, Apple and San Jose. To the right was Oakland and East Bay. Ahead was the promise of something better and a family member who convinced me to make the plunge and do something so completely radical and life-changing in relation to anything I had ever done before.

I spent the next couple days trying to find jobs and a place to live. Other than the rather creepy offers of sharing a bed in the Castro District and hesitant maybes of working as a host in the Marina District, I was striking out. Suddenly, the same family member who I had counted on decided I wasn't worth helping any more. Off to the hostels.

I walked through every district, searching for jobs. Nothing. The hostels at night were an interesting place to be and having almost a decade of life on most of the kids who came through them made for both an entertaining and sobering experience. A few friends sent me money via Paypal but time was running out.

There was nowhere else to go and other than living in a homeless shelter, I had no other option but to leave town. But how? Finally, my mother wired me the money to buy a bus ticket and at 12pm the next day, I was on a bus, headed southbound to LA. 53 hours later, bedraggled and unshowered, and without my luggage I found myself in Louisiana. We still don't know where my luggage is but somewhere in the Houston area, someone is wearing some oxblood combat boots and a Florida Gators hat, in possession of my college diploma and whatever other documents I had.

The next few months were hell. Finding a job, even in Louisiana, was hard. I finally managed a part-time gig waiting tables which allowed me to buy a vehicle. Even transferring my driver's license from Florida was a headache in itself.

In January, I decided that even though I was not financially stable, I still needed someone in my life. I took it upon myself to go to the internet in search of love, since my previous experiences had been a failure. To my surprise, I found it. We've been together almost 9 months now, and I couldn't be happier with her.

Yes, there is still a long way to go. Life is not perfect now, nor do I ever expect it to be. However, I've seen more than I have ever expected to and lived more than most of the people I went to high school with. The story isn't over. Don't count me out. There's more adventures to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

United we stand, divided we fall.

When our eyes are finally opened, we will see the lie we have been living in. We've been taught from the beginning that our neighbor is our enemy. We've pledged allegiance to a flag from an early age and then sold products and philosophies wrapped in a flag that are anything but good for us. Every ethnicity has been stereotyped, every way of life has been vilified in one way or another. White people can't dance, black people are welfare bums, Mexicans are lazy and Arabs are all terrorists secretly.

Rednecks are all inbred, Cajuns are stupid, everyone who lives in San Francisco is gay, hippies never take a bath, punks are all lazy rich kids and skinheads are all racist crossburners who worship Hitler. All liberals are PETA nutjobs, or gay, or anything and everything else contrary to your way of life. All conservatives are gun-toting country folk who didn't finish highschool and other ad hominem attacks. Once you get past the lies, it becomes very obvious that we've been brainwashed into a state of division so we can't unite against a common foe. If you are outnumbered 99 to 1, the only way you can win is to convince the 99 that you are their friend and that the enemy is actually the same people they share so much in common with.
Time to start thinking for yourself, stop allowing other people to tell you what the "truth" is, and start experiencing the world as it really is.

We are not asking for communism, despite what you may be told in an attempt to discredit the movement. We are not just "dirty hippies", we are the overqualified unemployed, people who are one check away from disaster, those who have been foreclosed on and the rest of the working class. You cheered for Egypt and Libya and everyone else in the Middle East during the "Arab Spring". The revolution has spread, it is here, it has finally come.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ignorance is strength

It is a common stereotype to pain Americans as lazy. Perhaps we are but when you look at other countries with shorter work weeks and vacations measured in months, not weeks, we're definitely overworked. Some of us are addicted to chasing that dollar and a 70 hour work week isn't unheard of. Yet, we're intellectually lazy.

Just as we are addicted to quick and easy pre-cooked food, we're just as addicted to quick and pre-processed news, if we even pay attention to begin with. Just like junk food, we're overloaded with poor choices because we'd rather have someone else tell us what to think rather than take the time to research the facts. Ask almost any viewer of any major news channel about an issue and ask them to explain the history of it, chances are their knowledge would take less than a minute to explain.

How many people cheered to go to war with Iraq, even though they couldn't find it on a map, because they figured all Muslims were the same? The armchair patriots, the mental sloths who went along with whatever the news said because it was easier that way, those are the people who are lazy. We're suffering from a health crisis in this country and it isn't just obesity or physical inactivity. It is also a lack of mental exercise. We see people glorified who are in shape, the steroid freaks who sell their excercise programs on TV but at the same time, being smart is usually frowned upon. Unless, of course, you're smart in a way that can be put to use for commerce or war.

Being able to bench 400 lbs and catch a football is celebrated with millions of dollars but the intellectual equivalent of that is often mocked, or ignored. Why do we celebrate those who fought in a war and died more than those who find a way to avoid a crisis through diplomacy? Are we really an idiocracy?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

True conservatism and the moral bankruptcy of the Tea Party

As the saying goes, "The only thing evil needs to triumph is the indifference of good men". Last night, I saw the most disgusting display of absolute selfish callousness when the hypothetical question was posed to Ron Paul about an uninsured person and whether they should be allowed to die. I know Ron Paul is consistent in his ideology of Libertarianism and while I don't agree with him, I at least salute his consistency even if he is wrong.

I know there are many, many decent people out there who call themselves conservatives and Republican, or Libertarian. I know some of them personally and again, I don't agree with them but I know that in a crisis, they'll help those around them. Yet, there are those people who are so neurotically morally deficient, clinging to the notion that everyone who is poor or sick, deserves what they have because somehow they didn't try hard enough. The craziest thing is that many of these people call themselves "Christians" and justify their position by claiming that "God helps those who help themselves", a quote which is NOT in the Bible.

I actually agree with true conservatives on to some extent on issues which include limited government (and I am almost completely Libertarian when it comes to civil liberties), the death penalty (and not just for violent murders but child rape, etc.) and gun rights (within reason). I have no issue with war, when justified and I believe that those people who succeed should be held up as an example to others. I believe in small business, fair immigration policy and responsible capitalism.

Yet, those people in the GOP have been incredibly silent and allowed the rabid people like Bachmann, Palin, Beck, Santorum and other loonies to drive the bus and dictate policy. These are people who call for making government "inconsequential" in our lives, unless you happen to make lifestyle choices they don't agree with. They are all for letting people raise and educate their kids in religiously nutcase environments but God forbid you want to smoke a joint in the privacy of your own home. They believe that if you are baptized as a baby into their religion, you can't change that but somehow being gay is a choice. They believe that someone born over 2,000 years ago was the Son of God but someone born 50 years ago in a US state isn't an American. They think it is perfectly acceptable to spend trillions of dollars on failed foreign policy and prop up dictators or people like Bin Laden who eventually turn on us, but it is a travesty to use tax dollars to take care of our own people or rebuild our infrastructure. They oppose abortion, yet simultaneously oppose birth control or sex education that would prevent that pregnancy from happening in the first place. They call themselves "pro-life" but clamor for the death of prisoners or even people who can't afford healthcare. Believing that you are not your brother's keeper is the greatest hypocrisy of those who wrap themselves in a flag and wave a cross.

"Screw you, I got mine" is not true conservatism, that's not working class or Middle America values and if the GOP ever wants to get back to possibly gaining my vote, they need to realize that. I know there are good, decent people who call themselves Republicans yet they are allowing the nutcases to speak for them. I don't know if it has become a majority or just a rabid and shrill minority that has come to dictate policy but the reasonable people need to take the wheel back before it is too late. My fear is that it is indeed, too late.

The Real McKenzies - "Drink Some More" Fat Wreck Chords

Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11, ten years later

For many of us, our coping mechanism when dealing with tragic events is not to think about it. When it comes to 9/11, I don't like to think about it but I remember some of that day. I was working out the gym when I heard something about a plane hitting the WTC. I thought it was some kind of freak accident and that, as usual, being a slow news day, the media was over-reacting as usual. I went to the showers, cleaned up and came back out, just in time to watch the second plane hit.

We stood around the TV, nobody wanted to work out, just stare at the unfolding carnage. I remember a TV crew walking in from their office next door, they interviewed me and others. We were all in a state of shock and as more information came in, like many other people, I was uncertain what was happening but this was a day that would change everyone's lives forever. I suspected some type of fanatics, wrapping themselves in misguided interpretation of Islam had something to do with this. I knew my small town was probably safe from attack but as I drove up to my girlfriend's house there was already a National Guardsman standing with an M-16 across the street, guarding the armory which was rapidly filling up.

We turned on the TV, already the pundits were trying to pin blame on someone but then, weren't we all? Everyone wanted answers and my brain was on overload. I turned it off, I didn't want to know anymore but down deep, I knew we were going to be striking back. We went upstairs and being the somewhat theatrical person I am, I turned on John Lennon and we made love.

I don't remember much of the rest of that day, or the days that followed. I do remember thinking to myself how proud I was of this country and how we came together in the face of this tragedy. Then the cynicism set in...

Shortly afterwards, the profiteering started. The gym I worked out at, and was employed by, decided to drape the place in little plastic flags (made in China, of course) and announce they would be putting on a weight-lifting competition/fundraiser for the Red Cross. I was skeptical but went about the task of taping the flags up and making my donation. My suspicions were confirmed on the day of the event when the manager cared more about signing up participants for gym memberships than the amount of money we had raised for the Red Cross.

As the days and weeks went by, I still held out hope but it faded with the barrage of calls of war against anyone and everyone that didn't wholeheartedly support a new crusade against Islam. Yet, I didn't have a problem with the initial war in Afghanistan. Once we had identified Osama Bin Laden as the mastermind, I had the hope that our special forces would produce his corpse within a few weeks. Back then, as I do now, I do believe in revenge, as long as it is focused and done with a legitimate purpose.

The part that embittered me forever was a combination of the attempts to make money off the tragedy and the rampant pseudo-patriotism. Unlike most people, I didn't have that much of a problem with Bush until his speech in which he declared "you are with us or you are with the terrorists". Even then, I chalked it up to the emotion we all felt.

It wasn't until the run-up to the war in Iraq and the calls to "nuke all the ragheads" that I had finally had enough. Up until then, I was a registered Republican but then, 9-11 had finally changed everything.

I still cringe every time I accidentally see a replay of the second plane hitting the WTC. I still get tears in my eyes almost every time I am reminded of that day. It is a scar that I can never, ever forget.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The GOP Nigerian scam

I used to be a "scambaiter", someone who would pretend to be a potential victim or even another scammer in order to waste the time of internet fraudsters. Although wasting their time was my original intent, I became trusted enough by some of them for them to share information on their victims, including sending me emails from their "magas" (Nigerian slang for "fools") which I was able to use to warn those people.

Some folks were suspicious and after being warned, dropped contact with the scammer. The resulting moaning and groaning from the "lads" (a scambaiter name for the scammers) was always a sign that they had lost another source of ill-gotten income. However, many people were so emotionally and financially invested in the scam that no amount of warning could dissuade them, including visits from local police or even members of the clergy. I talked to some that had well over 6 figures worth of income now sitting in the bank account of some "oga" (Nigerian slang for "boss") in Lagos, Nigeria. I suppose the decision to keep their heads in the proverbial sand, even in the face of overwhelming evidence and bankruptcy, was preferable to dealing with the crushing reality that they had been scammed. Emotionally they'd prefer to go on sending money and believing that with that one last payment, they would finally get that huge payment from that inheritance left to them by that previously unknown distant relative who mysteriously died and left all their money to them.

I know voters who have also been duped the same way, whether it be on social issues or the economy. They continue to believe that if they keep voting for the GOP and their policies, they'll finally become rich and can move into that gated community they were previously only allowed into to cut the grass or fix the plumbing. They believe that if we give tax cuts to their wealthy bosses, they'll get raises and more people will be hired to ease the workload they're currently under. They're convinced that just one more election and somehow abortion will be totally banned across the country with some executive order, completely ignoring the fact that only a Supreme Court ruling, in complete violation of precedent and the Constitution, would actually accomplish that fact. Yet, the American "maga" goes to the polls every year and votes for politicians and policies that continue to push us as a nation towards bankruptcy, both financially and morally. This is the perfect example of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, yet still somehow expecting the outcome to be different.

I miss scambaiting and warning but now I just do warnings, except it isn't to people sending the last of their life's savings to Nigeria, it is to the millions of American voters holding out for a windfall that will never come.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Man in the middle

I used to be a bouncer. Yes, I know it sounds funny for those of you who know me in person but I was pretty decent although not physically intimidating. I specialized in talking people down, especially with the reminder if they didn't heed my warning, they had the bigger bouncers to deal with. "Listen to me or deal with them. Trust me, I'm pretty nice compared to them."

When it comes to politics, once again, I'm kind of the man in the middle. I'm not the most liberal, compared to others I know but having the experiences I've had, I like to think of myself as rather "common-sense". So those on the far right would do well to listen to those moderates who are telling them that they are out of line and to start representing the working class, not the elites.

I suppose it is a pretty sweet gig, work in Congress for a couple terms, collect that government check, and get nice fat contributions to ensure your re-election by people who fall for the ads run by your sponsors. As long as you vote the way your fat cats want, if you ever do get voted out, you'll have an even sweeter job as a lobbyist, pressuring your former colleagues to vote the way the bosses want. Most of us common sense people realize that while ideally every vote cast would be for the people, and politicians would always do what is in the best interests of the country, that it isn't the case. I know that politicians have always done what is usually in their best interests and power corrupts. I know that it has been, and likely will be that way for all time. What I am saying is that when you stop tossing the working class a bone here and there, you get a cage full of angry dogs.

Listen to those of us who are telling you that we realize you will always be corrupt and self-serving. We aren't idealists, we're realists. Stop constantly shitting on the people who you are supposed to represent in favor of those you really represent. You honestly can take all the bribes you want and go have $600 bottles of wine with lobbyists, I don't care that much as long as my family can pay the bills. I have come to accept that this is a broken, fucked up system and it will stay that way as long as reforms aren't enacted by the same people they would affect.

We're the dogs at the table and we've become accustomed to getting kicked around in exchange for the occasional table scrap but when those scraps stop altogether and the kicks keep coming, don't be surprised if the mood starts changing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A prayer for rain

Dark clouds approach low
With flirtatious hints of soothing rain
And downgusting breaths humid
Scattering dust ahead
From parched fields
Longing for her liquid touch.
Cicadas rattle a 17 year cacophony
Which seems like the last time it rained.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This is America, an idiocracy

This is America. We like simple slogans, simple ideas, simple solutions and fast food. We like saying "Don't Tread On Me" without knowing what it really means or the historical context. We like the idea of drug testing needy people because we've been told over and over again that anyone who isn't successful must be lazy or taking drugs. Any solution or idea that requires complex discussion and deep thought is dismissed by the very people who would benefit because they've been told that ignorance is bliss. We stop at fast food drive thrus on our way home from a job where we sit on our ass all day because we can't be bothered to stop at a grocery store and then cook something healthy. Salads and sushi are mocked as "rabbit food" or "bait" by people who have bellies that have blocked their view of their genitalia for years.

People willingly believed that Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were both behind 9-11 because any voice that explained there was a major difference between a secular regime in Iraq and a theocracy in Afghanistan was shouted down as a "terrorist-loving liberal commie". Folks don't go out of their way to better themselves intellectually or physically any more because we have been taught that the only people who do are "elitists". Even beer. Yes, even beer has become "elitist". It is considered cool and patriotic to drink cheap beer from foreign-owned corporations and anyone who drinks something besides Bud, Coors or Miller is some "fancy Yankee".

Yes, this is America and we are already in an idiocracy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Christian Right is neither

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. The greatest trick the GOP ever pulled was convincing the working class they had their best interests in mind and then using those same people to become their foot soldiers, an army of "useful idiots". The shock troopers, the true believers,also known as the religious right, not only fight their personal interests but also violate the very teachings of Christ himself by doing so.

Jesus specifically supported things that these same people oppose. Ideas like taxes "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar", personal wealth "You cannot serve both God and money" and military retaliation "turn the other cheek". It is all too obvious that the Christian Right is neither. If they wanted to really be right, and Christian, they
would continue to do things like oppose abortion but at the same time work for social change and equality.
You cannot say you believe abortion is wrong, then not be equally outraged when both civilians and soldiers
are killed in our military campaigns. You cannot call yourself a Christian and be greedy. You cannot call yourself a Christian and think it is ok to trample on the rights of others just because they are different from you.You cannot ignore the plight of the poor because some politicians and their lobbyist buddies have convinced you that they are lazy and don't want anything better for themselves.

So, members of the religious right, if you want to shirk your taxes, cast judgement on others while ignoring your own flaws, hate people who aredifferent from you and just be an overall hypocrite, then by all means go ahead. Just don't call yourself a "Christian", I believe there is a specific Commandment which forbids lying. Unless of course, you were cherry-picking the Bible to justify your own greed and overall nasty behavior, which is what you were probably doing all along, you brood of vipers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Those who control the past control the future

"Those who control the past control the future. Those who control the present control the past." - 1984

So by this same token, this explains the need of those in the Tea Party and Christian Dominionist theology to rewrite history. If you can control the "facts", then you can control the dialogue and steer it in a direction that supports your platform. Remember that little document Michele Bachmann signed which stated black children during slave days were far more likely to have a father and a mother in the home than they do today? Yet another example of what I am saying here. Now I want you to leave in the comments section your historical facts, as written by the likes of Bachmann and her kind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The American Berserkers

"Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." Alfred Pennyworth - The Dark Knight
That pretty much sums up dealing with religious fundamentalists and hardline political ideologists. Whether it is the Tea Party, Christian Dominionists/Reconstructionists, Al-Qaeda or the Taliban; you are not dealing with rational, sane people who can be negotiated with. These are people who make demand, after demand, after demand and then still execute the hostage once it is over. They are not motivated by money, they are motivated by the looney idea that they are on a mission from God and only the complete destruction of the enemy is an acceptable conclusion to the crusade. Like a Viking berserker, folks like Rick Santorum set off political rampages that have the end goal of installing theocracy, dismantling the parts of the Constitution they don't like and replacing it with their strict (and surprisingly inconsistent) interpretation of the Bible. The only real difference between them and the Taliban is one wears sweater vests, the others wear suicide vests.
These are the people responsible for grabbing the wheel of the GOP bus every election year for the past 3 decades and steering it as hard to the right as they possibly can. The mistake the GOP and Wall Street made in 2010 is letting them drive, thinking they could be controlled and making concessions to them. They played to the hard right like never before last cycle because they knew they had to in order to get their votes. Evangelicals and fundamentalists had been repeatedly given just token pieces of anti-abortion legislation and if they weren't given what they wanted this time around, they were going to walk and take their Tea Party with them.
I remember standing on the floor of the Virginia state GOP convention in 1993 and listening to the likes of Ralph Reed and Michael Farris thunder on about how we were a "Christian nation", while watching the homeschool lobby act like we were at a Pentecostal service. Even "middle of the road" candidates (by evangelical standards) like George Allen or Oliver North knew they had to at least pay lip service to the attendees who showed up in their 15 passenger family vans and raised their hands towards the sky like God was going to handpick the nominee right there and then. This isn't a group that can be usually bought off with earmarks, special considerations, or anything like that. They want the end of government as we know it. They want a "Christian" version of Afghanistan under Taliban rule. They would have their own version of the "morality police" to ensure that only married heterosexual couples were having sex and probably only for the purposes of procreation.
I know it sounds nutty to some people but if you've been behind the lines, which I was up until around the age of 17, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I know the inner workings, I know the unwavering faith that these useful idiots have that they are doing what God wants. And if they don't get what they want, they'll be happy to watch the world burn.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Growing up with Fundamentalists

When I was a kid, we were taught many of the things that people like Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck and the wacky right still believe today. "Facts" like the UN and Hillary Clinton were in league to brainwash kids by giving them access to the library with their own library cards, instead of having their parents check out their own books. How groups like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Little League and others were secret liberal plots to teach kids to accept things like equal rights for women and recruit kids into secularism and/or homosexuality. We were told over and over again that public education was an evil liberal plot to create a new generation of communists, pagans and homosexuals.

Yet, many of us who grew up in that kind of nutty atmosphere grew up and found out that *gasp*, those were all a bunch of nutty conspiracy theories and outright falsehoods used to brainwash a younger generation. As we grew up, we had experiences in the outside world that caused us to realize that gay people weren't Satan's evil minions bent on turning every child into a homosexual, that most gay people are born that way and education is a blessing, not something that would cause you to go to Hell. We learned that the Earth is more than 6,000 years old, birth control wasn't a sin against God and that masturbation wouldn't make you go blind.

Some people, like Bachmann and the Christian Dominionists, apparently never got that memo. Either that, or they have been so busy repeating the lie over and over to themselves, that they have come to believe their own pile of maniacal religious B.S. This allows them to excuse racism as something else, a rejection of evil in the world or secularism, because they can paint it as that and not a deep-seeded prejudice against people who aren't exactly like them. They go further still, into a perpetual blood-letting versus people of their own ranks who aren't as ideologically pure, who aren't as radical as they are. I believe that what finally got my family away from that nuttiness is that my mother was Catholic, and therefore not as completely "pure" as they were as Pentecostals or Southern Baptists.

This fanaticism and eating of their own will be on full display when the 2012 primaries come around and they primary members of the GOP who didn't toe the crazy line for them. As a person who grew up in a religiously fanatical environment, I look forward to this with morbid anticipation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bring on the Apocalypse

The "Tea Party" is nothing more than a rebranding, a reformulation of the religious right movement that was losing patience with the GOP; a fact which became apparent in the 2006 and 2008 elections when the GOP lost big. So if they could no longer dogwhistle people with "social conservatism", what better way to drum up votes again by blaming the current economic downturn not on hedge fund managers and speculators, but instead on all of those social safety net programs, especially on those not popular with the religious right. The Tea Party is the same old formula as before. Religious fundamentalists, chickenhawks, armchair patriots, nativists, separatists, conspiracy theorists, Neo-Confederates, Neo-Nazis and grumpy old people who just want the welfare kids to get off their damn lawn, these are the usual suspects but this time they're driving the bus. They're driving it towards the cliff and the likes of Boehner and the establishment party members are sitting in the back of the bus as it hurtles to the brink like a suicide bomber's vehicle, except they don't know it is social and political suicide. They're gonna get what they want or they're gonna take everyone down with them.

If the government ceases to exist, they'll be happy then too. No public schools? That's fine with them, they wanted those gone years ago. I remember listening to the likes of Ralph Reed and others saying how Christian schools and homeschooling were the only way to go and they would be more than happy to abolish public education. No public safety? No worries, they have enough guns. Bring on the Apocalypse, that's what they REALLY want.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We have no one to blame but ourselves, Pt. 2

I wrote once before how we have no one to blame for our current social/political situation other than ourselves and the closer we get to another major election cycle, I wonder how we are ever going to break the cycle. When I see people casting blame on their favorite targets of opportunity for anything and everything they see as wrong with society in general, I ask myself when are they going to finally accept responsibility personally?

I watch when the religious right and their associates say that gay marriage is somehow dangerous to the institution that has traditionally been one man and one woman, unless you're Muslim, or Mormon, etc. Gay marriage has been legal in a few states for awhile now and I don't see heterosexual marriages disappearing. Society's overall perception towards marriage has changed over the last several decades and it wasn't until 1967 that interracial couples could get married legally in the South. 2 states even had constitutional amendments banning interracial marriages, the last one finally being removed in 2000. Guess who won that prize? Alabama.

I'm sure there were similar arguments then and now but guess what? Gay people getting married isn't going to be the end of our society. Greed, apathy, selfishness and willful ignorance will be. Social Security and entitlement programs aren't going to bankrupt our country. Tax rates that are at historic lows and loopholes that allow companies that make billions in profits to still receive tax refunds from the government, that will bankrupt our country. When people stop voting against baseless fears, stop blindly following the talking heads and start voting for the good of their communities, we'll stop the slide into the abyss.