Monday, July 30, 2012

Why I am not a "liberal"

Growing up, we were taught that "liberals" were evil, scary people who performed abortions for fun and seduced innocent children of God into a despicable world of logical thought and godless higher learning. Once I grew up and realized that this was the biggest pile of steaming crap I'd ever experienced, even bigger than the tractor loads of literal bull shit I spread as a kid, I still didn't want to assume the label of "liberal".

Why you might ask? Because the "liberals" I knew back then, and even more so now, were fucking cowards. They liked to tout their beliefs amongst themselves but when faced with confrontation from rabid rightwingers, backed down and figuratively wet their pants. I've never been a hippie, vegetarian flower child like the midwife that brought many of my brothers and sisters into the world or a New Yorker reading, Hamptons trust child like many of the clients I've dealt with in my day job.

I am BBQ eating, whiskey drinking, gun owning, heterosexual Southern boy who never identified with the stereotypes of the San Francisco Castro District (although I admit I enjoyed my visit there) or the Hollywood elite (I'll pass on LA). So, needless to say, I never really found anything majorly in common with them, especially spending my first presidential campaign working for the Green Party. I sided with them partially out of my newfound disgust with the GOP and my distrust of the Democratic Party. Remember, I spent years around the rightwing prior to this.

As I've grown older, I've still refused to call myself a "liberal" because even though I support gay marriage, marijuana legalization, a progressive tax structure and a single payer healthcare system, I also have a few "conservative" positions. I enjoy owning and using guns, I believe in government staying the hell out of people's personal lives, and that people who take public assistance should give something back to the community in some form. Yet, most of all, I've refused to call myself a "liberal" because they had no fucking balls.

They've tried to reason with loons, signed meaningless petitions and politely carried signs asking for change. Needless to say, that doesn't jive well with my way of approaching things which involves standing up for yourself, refusing to be pushed around and denying quarter to those who would give none in return.

However, I have begun to see a small trickle, which I hope which will turn into a wave. It is a younger generation of liberals who refuse to shrink from the label and embrace it instead. They don't back down from a fight with phrases like "well, that is your opinion and you are entitled to it", then pack another bowl and turn on some Ani DiFranco on their iPods. Instead, they go on the offensive. They fight back. They aren't afraid of being politically incorrect or hurting the feelings of some random person on the internet. They've got the attitude of Henry Rollins, not The Coffee Party. They're punk rock, not washed up flower child.

Until "liberals" represent me a little better, I'll continue to shun the label, but they're making progress.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is not "class warfare"

Asking that those who spend more on private jets and catering than they do on taxes to pay more in taxes is not "class warfare". Demanding a fair wage from a company that posts profits quarter after quarter, yet balks at giving their workers any kind of raise, that's not fucking "class warfare".

So, what is "class warfare"? I'll tell you what it is. The real class warfare is billionaires shoveling unlimited dollars into political campaigns without disclosure. It is media outlets taking in billions in advertising from companies like Boeing, Northrup Grumann, BP and other heavy hitters to continue their siphoning of tax dollars for military contracts and subsidies. It is the constant cacophony of talk radio bigots persuading long haul truck drivers, overnight security guards and retirees that labor unions, immigrants and liberals are to blame for all of their problems, not the 1% or the constant race to the bottom for cheaper goods and labor.

Listen sometime, if you can bear it, to rightwing talk radio from time to time. Step outside your comfortable Twitter and Facebook feeds from,, or the left's version of Glenn Beck, Listen to the pompous windbag Limbaugh, Mark Levine, Michael Savage and really pay attention to what they're selling, figuratively and literally. The advertisements are for testosterone replacement drugs, survivalist gear, gold investments and hair loss therapies. Who is this target audience? Think about it. What are they selling? Fear, ego, and greed.

Convincing people to vote against their own interests, then getting them to believe that someone other than their corrupt representative is to blame, that is classwarfare. Getting people to give up their rights to a safe workplace and and an honest wage, that is class warfare. Tricking people into thinking that if they just vote for one more tax cut for folks who make more in a month than they will in a lifetime, that the manufacturing job they lost 10 years ago will come back, that is fucking class warfare.

Look, I will never, ever begrudge someone who made their millions honestly what they've lawfully earned. If you've worked all of your life to create a product that people want, without pulling strings to eliminate your competition, without getting a politician to earmark you some subsidies or a bailout when you tank, then good for you. You deserve to have your millions and there's very few people who think your lifetime's hard work should be taken away from you in the name of the fictional "wealth redistribution", despite what the pundits at Fox News will tell you repeatedly.

However, don't forget that every business uses our infrastructure, our roads, our highways and workers, all financed at some point or another by our tax dollars. You didn't get here solely on your own, especially if your money was handed to you by the work of your ancestors. So when it comes time to pay your taxes, which by the way, just happen to be the lowest since the institution of income taxes, stop bitching about "Taxed Enough Already" and pay your damn share already.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The end of the Third Great Empire

"The Republic will not end when ordinary people find they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury, but when corporations find that government influence can be bought, sold and manipulated like derivatives on Wall Street".

~Whiskey and The Morning After Blog

When The Man Doesn't Come Around

The song "The Man Comes Around" was on my playlist yesterday and it got me to thinking about how all the major religions, as well as most of the offshoot cults, teach things like "your reward is in the afterlife". They ram that message into your mind, over and over again, that you should accept your lot in life and not question it. One of the most popular pieces of Christian literature is The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.
Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Those are wonderful, comforting things to hear if you've been downtrodden, under the heels of oppression for all of your life. Yet, when those things are being told to you by the same people who are in bed with the oppressors, it is false comfort and it is placating the masses. The Beatitudes end up sounding more like this:

Don't ask why your little pension fund is gone and you will have stock shelves at Walmart with your arthritic hands until your life is over, at least you'll have treasure in the afterlife.

Don't resist when the riot squad comes to remove you from your home because you missed a few payments, yet your tax dollars bailed out the bank when they made mistakes. Just peacefully give up, live on the streets and in heaven you won't have a mortgage.

Don't mourn too much for your child who died in another useless war which further bankrupted your country and lined the pockets of billionaires even more. They're sitting up on a fluffy white cloud, just waiting for you.

Don't demand justice when you are ripped off, lied to by politicians, or your water and land has been polluted. No worries, this world is just temporary and Jesus will don his Hazmat suit and clean this whole mess up.

Don't ask why you haven't had a raise in years, the success of the company depends on you giving up more benefits, and the CEO getting yet another multi-million dollar bonus. You'll get to play on piles of gold in the afterlife.

Don't question why adulterous politicians are the champions of "family values" while a loving gay or lesbian couple are "destroying the sanctity of marriage". Just keep sending your money, so they can keep spending it on their sins and you'll get to see God, once they cure the world of the gay agenda.

Don't stand your ground, don't fight back, and don't question authority. Big Brother knows best. Now submit to another groping by the TSA and a warrantless monitoring of your internet history like the rest of all God's children.

And finally, stop bitching about being persecuted. You're gay, you "made a choice" and you'll burn in hell unless you find yourself attracted to women all of a sudden. The real victims of persecution are the people who are trying to oppress you, now just be quiet, climb back in the closet and pretend to be straight. Maybe if you pray hard enough, God will allow you into Heaven.

That's basically how people have taken the words of prophets over thousands of years and created a comforting belief system to keep the masses quiet, dumb and complacent. If there is an Almighty Being, it is certainly not interested in what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms and it certainly wouldn't approve of the suffering of billions for the sake of the luxury of the top 1%.

If there is a "Man" and "The Man comes around", I think some people are going to be unpleasantly surprised and if there isn't a "Man" and there isn't an eternal reward, there would be no more horrible feeling than to know you suffered all of your life, for nothing.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Escaping the "Reich-Wing"

I grew up as a member of the "Reich wing", so to speak. We were forbidden to go to public schools or even have a library card since the popular conspiracy theory was, at that time, that Hillary Clinton and the UN were trying to use public education to indoctrinate children and take them away from their parents to reeducation camps. We were told that "liberals" hated kids and rejoiced in every abortion that was performed.

I remember shooting targets and being told "pretend it is Clinton" or "pretend it is an abortion doctor" as I squeezed off .22 rounds at tin cans or pine cones. I still recall all the times that I was informed by the parish priest that sex was horrible, evil and I would burn in hell forever for my "impure" thoughts I confessed to having about that pretty blonde girl I saw every Sunday in church. My sisters were told that they didn't need to learn any kind of real math or science because "as a homemaker or a nun, you won't need to learn any of that stuff."

I was groomed for politics and attended a large number of GOP meetings, conventions, workshops and rallies up until the age of about 15. I met people like George Allen, Pat Buchanan, Bob Marshall, Alan Keyes, Jim Gilmore, Ralph Reed, Oliver North and the usual religious right nutjobs who loved to pat me on the head and say how I would be one of them some day. Honestly, I didn't give much of a shit about their politics and the messages being rammed down our throats. I went because I didn't have much of a choice when it came to deciding between sitting at home bored out of my mind or getting out of the house. Yet, I remembered all the hours of indoctrination where we were told that "liberals" were all tools of Satan, the people on welfare were all lazy drug addicts, birth control (including condoms) was a mortal sin, and only by basically reverting to a theocracy could America be saved.

The GOP politicians, the smarter Teabaggers like to pretend that this isn't so but I was there. This has been going on for more than 2 decades and they're only getting more organized and more desperate to keep every child like I once was from ever seeing the light.

I got out around 16 and while it took a few more years to completely rid myself of that old ideology, but between the smearing of John McCain in 2000 by the Bush campaign and the ridiculously jingoistic patriotism of the post 9/11 fallout, that was enough to keep me from ever voting GOP again.

I've learned that the world's problems and moral choices aren't in solid black and white but every situation is unique and a various shade of gray. I've learned that the road out isn't easy and that you will lose people who said that they cared about you but in the end, it has been worth every mile of hell that I've had to walk through to get here.