Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oil spills, greed drills

Oh Obama...first nuclear power plants and now this. Who put weed in your cigarettes?

For those of you just joining us, allow me to introduce Obama's new plan to open up huge chunks of US coastal waters in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to natural gas and oil drilling. This plan includes thrashing a 20 year ban on drilling off the Virginia coastline and opening up the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska's North Slope. A moratorium on drilling in the Gulf would be lifted, allowing nearly two-thirds of the available resources to be drilled.
At Maryland's Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility, Obama said, "This is not a decision that I've made lightly...Given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth and produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we're going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel even as we ramp up production of new sources of renewable, homegrown energy."

Hmmmmm...oil, nuclear power,'re stumping me on the "new sources of renewable, homegrown energy." I'm sure Exxon-Mobil is really excited, and that Shell is toasting your name on their yachts somewhere in South America. Meanwhile, back on the farm, a few concerned citizens and I are wondering where you draw the line.
I agree that our dependence on foreign oil is unacceptable. Our addiction has caused more damage than I think any of us can fathom. However, should that addiction be supplemented with a domestic dependence on non-renewable pollutants? What about all the jobs you could create with green energy? Why don't I hear any press conferences discussing plans for light rail systems between major cities, that would create thousands of jobs? Why don't I hear talk of building wind mills and solar panels, that would create thousands of jobs? It is 2010, right? I'm pretty sure that innovation has long surpassed the viscous mess that is oil. Why can't we wipe the gunk out of our eyes and get with the program? Wake up and smell the pollution!

Abstinence costs $50 million

No wonder sex sells. It's a helluva lot cheaper than abstinence. Not to mention that it's been linked to multiple health benefits like boosting the immune system, curbing stress, lowering high blood pressure, burning calories, battling insomnia, and oh yeah, just being a damn good time.
Apparently the newly passed health care bill has a $50 million/year chunk just to tell kids that all of the above is off limits...until marriage.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, programs that are funded by this bill must "teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems." I can buy that. The only CERTAIN way to not die when you leave your house is to never leave your house, but we see how many even keeled folks follow that logic. They must also teach that pre-marital sex is "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." The only harmful physical effects I've noticed are the ones that come with a smile...if you know what I mean.
But, that kind of ruffage is probably the work of the devil anyway. Sex is for procreation. Oh, and god hates gays.
There is however, another $75 million set aside for "personal responsibility education" which teaches about both abstinence and contraception. It's nice to know that what could potentially save hormone crazed kids from having kids gets less funding than telling them "just say no." Have you ever met a teen? Have you ever been a teen?
One of my favorite memories from high school was when my psychology professor started class with saying, "I'm not gonna tell you not to take drugs. I'm gonna show you what they do and let you make up your own mind." I have respected him immensely since that day.
Choice is the catalyst for thinking. If you give someone only half of the facts, how can you expect them to make wise decisions? If you tell them what to do and don't allow choice, how are you teaching them? Trust that the minds you say you care so much about will be strong enough to handle the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Trojan condoms.

Thomas who?

It's a slippery slope my principal once said, glaring at me after I punched a classmate in the stomach for making fun of my nearly blind friend. Clearly, he was exaggerating. I am happy to say I haven't punched a kid in the stomach since that day.
After hearing what's been in the news the past week, I am left to wonder if that old saying doesn't carry some weight...
The big headline that stood out to me was the Texas Board of Education's ruling on the contents of history textbooks.
Here's why this really irks me. The Texas Board of Education is the nation's largest board and many textbook publishers and authors cater to their decisions and needs since they have such heavy buying power. Apparently, they have some guidelines for what their kids will be learning about regarding their own country's history.
For example:
Thomas Jefferson is to be entirely removed from textbooks. Apparently the whole separation of church and state doesn't sit well with the Texans, or maybe they have something against our founding fathers, or the third president, or...history in general.
The Civil Rights movement “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Yeah, why shouldn't you expect a person with a different skin color to have a separate drinking fountain? While we're at it, let's make boys and girls take different buses - they have coodies.
To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board will refer to “sex and gender as social constructs.”
Emphasize the superiorities of the “free-enterprise system” and the desirability of limited government.
"References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches." (quoted from the NY Times)

Sounds good huh? I discussed these decisions with my father who is a professor and also happens to write textbooks. He said that on the bright side, many teachers use the textbook as a guideline and teach what they want anyway. While this is somewhat reassuring, what happens when the kids who learned on these books get to teaching age? Or what happens when they read out of the book, which they're bound to do anyway? The slippery slope has these conservative Texans standing at the top of the hill with a garden hose, soaking our country's youth in the propaganda of right wing beliefs.
It seems odd to me that religious conservatives would backhand the monument of free will and forcibly push children towards ideologies while blatantly covering up the truth of history. "And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32)
Oh, the sad irony that is religious conservatism...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Healthy violence

So, apparently not everyone is stoked about the Health Care Bill passing. Who knew?
I admit, I'm not entirely ecstatic about the bill. I feel that it has its fair share of flaws and by the time it got past the road blocks and obstacles, it was bruised and battered. Not to mention that, still, nobody really seems able to tell the people what the hell is actually in there, other than broad subjects like pre-existing conditions.

Well, now violence can be added as a side effect to swallowing the bitter Health Care pill.
To list just a few occurrences: Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York got an envelope with a threatening letter and white powder, Rep. Russ Carnahan had a coffin delivered to his house and placed on his lawn by Tea Partiers, a bullet was fired through Rep. Eric Cantor's (a Republican by the by) window, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (also a Republican) received a death threat on her voicemail.
Apparently, these representatives (Democrats and Republicans, you may have noticed) are throwing blame at each other instead of at the ones responsible. Rep. Cantor accused the Democrats of "using acts of violence for political gain."
House Democratic Majority Whip, James Clyburn told CNN "We in this Congress have got to come together in a bipartisan way and tamp this foolishness down. It doesn't make sense. That's not what a democracy is all about."

I'm kinda with Clyburn, other than the fact that we're a republic, not a democracy. But over all, this is ridiculous. I'm all for moving forward and forcing people to notice the needs and issues of truly concerned citizens, as you may have seen from my rally blog. But this is not it. This is terrorism. Not to sound like a loon, but am I wrong? Targeting representatives' homes, offices and families leads to nothing more than violence and the writing off of all of us who do really care but aren't fucked up enough in the head to threaten someone's life.
If you want real change, if you want real results, organize, educate and fight the real culprits with real ammo: fight the corporate kings of America with the power of the people. We don't need a bunch of guns and white powder to get a point across. In fact, if you want to get a point across that doesn't just label you a complete stooge, use your head instead of your trigger finger.

A silent tyrant

I heard a quote from Gandhi yesterday that inspires me while I simultaneously recognized a disturbing reality. Here's the quote: "There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."
I do think about them, quite often... and when I do, I think of the big, text book ones: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Mao, etc.
After hearing this quote, I stepped out of the box.
When the words tyrant and/or murderers are mentioned, very rarely do we say to ourselves: corporate America.
I think that's probably the biggest problem we have right now. We are under the firm grasp of a tyrant, or I should say, a group of tyrants and murderers. Unlike many of the constituents of the aforementioned tyrants, most of the American people feel that they live in a republic, a free country. They go to Wal-Mart and spend money kept in Bank of America, buy houses with AIG. They pay for their high-risk gambling, their jets, and their continuous raping of third world countries across the globe. Our beautiful capitalism has been built on the backs of the nations we invade. We force our way of thinking and our way of life on the people we encounter, using our corporate power to turn a country into one giant cash crop. Meanwhile, in the past two decades, we have brought that thinking home. We've integrated corporate governance slowly but surely, while the people continue with their American dreams, like the frog sitting in the pot, slowly boiling.
There was never a big coups, with guns blazing and cannons firing. There was never a shift in form of government so that we noticed. This all happened over time, slowly and very meticulously, planned perfectly.
Now, when the shit has hit the fan, most Americans still don't notice. We say we don't want the bailout and that we think it's crap what's going on, but for the most part, we still don't think it's happening to us. Like the stubborn man standing atop a sinking island, we do not act and think as though our country is on a fast track (if not already there) to corporate dictatorship.
Why is that?
Is it because it's less tangible than Hitlers speeches? Is it because it doesn't come with tanks and guns and blood in the streets? It comes instead with the silent stealing of rights, money, lives and our republic.
These facts make it no less scary and no less tyrannical. The sooner we can look at these tyrants for what they are, the sooner we can move towards a time when they will fall. But they will only fall when we can admit to ourselves that it is our job to protect ourselves from tyrants, text book or no.
Stop denying, start acting.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The good, the bad and the rally

Yesterday was the Answer LA sponsored march from Hollywood and Vine to Hollywood and Highland, about six blocks, all told. A friend of mine and I got some really great footage, and interviewed some interesting people. We passed out about 60 fliers highlighting our group and prompting interest and thought with the question: What is your American dream? There were some incredibly dedicated and devoted citizens out there marching for change.
Now that all the positives are clear, let me get down to the negatives. Over all, it was crap. Let me explain why:

6 blocks on empty streets is not enough. The only people reading those signs and hearing those slogans are the people already there and the cops paid to be there. Many protesters used images and hearkened back to times like Vietnam, Civil Rights, 8 hr. work day, etc. Those were all more than 40 years ago. There has been no significant new legislation in over 40 years. Those people effected change because they walked past the barricades and made law makers uncomfortable. It's easy to ignore what you can't see and don't hear about. There were no big news people there and as I said, the streets were barracaded for blocks and blocks surrounding the protest. People wore shirts with peace signs, tie-die signs and all I could think is "what's new?" The Vietnam Era CREATED ideas, thoughts, demands that we're only recycling, and not even recycling in a productive way.
All the protesters stayed neatly inside the assigned areas, waving their signs and speaking their slogans, as if they were at a nice event put on by a friend that they'd later refer to as "lovely." The march was not organized, or streamlined. People were carrying signs and mock coffins, but in no orderly fashion. Everyone there had a separate agenda. I spoke with anarchists, socialists, communists, veterans, feminists, latinos, palestinians, all with separate goals and reasons for being there. That's fine, but when everyone is shouting something different, when everyone is pushing their own ideologies instead of a common goal, it becomes a shit storm of nonsense as opposed to an actual protest. A bystander asked what the march was protesting. I looked at him and said, take your pick. It made everyone there look like a complete idiot. Not only are we marching to no one but we're also marching for nothing. The only point in the whole protest that I felt emboldened was when the mother of a dead soldier came up to the mic and complained that this was not enough, that she'd been going to protests for 6 years since her son's death and nothing was changing, we needed to step it up. So, the people in the first few rows started shouting "step it up" while the people behind continued with whatever drivel they'd thought up.
Another thing that truly bothered me was that there were no American flags. What country are you supposedly fighting to change? The coffins were all draped with Iraqi and Palestinian flags. My friend asked me, "What about my friends that died?" No one seemed to have an answer for that. I had my customary American flag wrapped around my face and the only thing I got was "Why are you wearing that?" Well, first of all, it's our flag. Secondly, it marks the metaphor of how this march is reaching no one, how people that genuinely care for this country are not allowed to voice their opinions. Every true form of protest is illegal in this country. I don't wanna pour gasoline on a dying flame, but fucking come on! Wave your flag and be proud of it. Go out into the streets and protest without asking corporate government if it's ok with them.
So many people at that rally seemed more concerned with freeing Palestine and waving Iraqi flags, it makes me wonder if they even mentally live in this country. The Palestine/Israel conflict is none of our business. It is not our place to choose sides. These people choose sides merely because the American government chose the opposite. They are no farther above the left/right rift than the lobbyists and pundits in Washington D.C. I agree, let's get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and all the other countries we push our way into. Let's concentrate on our own issues, our own problems.
What I was hoping from this march was a form of togetherness, of moving forward, but all I got was a bunch of divisive groups, using the blocked off streets as an excuse to come and voice their opinions to empty streets and deaf ears.
The main good that came from this march is that it revitalizes my belief and my need to continue with this group and this idea of unified forward movement. If you're a socialist, fine. If you're a feminist, fine. If you're latino, fine. But if we want anything to get done, we have got to pick some issues, and goals and fight for them. It will take time, it will take hard work, but it will be worth it, if we can unite as one people and fight for what we deserve, what we believe in. It is better to move slowly in a deliberate direction than to move quickly in all directions. See you there.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Saturday rally and questions we all need to answer

Tomorrow, there will be a march/protest in Hollywood, specifically Hollywood and Vine if any of
you are local and interested. It will focus on protesting the U.S's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, if you've read my blog, you may have noticed that I focus on a wide array of issues with the economy usually front and center. While I do think the economy is still at the forefront, I'm going tomorrow because I believe action on the part of the citizen is imperative to change and a pre-requisite to building a better country over all.
As a people, it is up to us to change a system whose foundation rests on the mantra: of the people, for the people and by the people. If we do not stand for our own futures, how can we be surprised when those futures are molded in the interests of those powerful enough to benefit from them?

I will be posting more after the march tomorrow but in the mean time, I wanted to ask a few questions that I will again ask tomorrow and probably many more times. They are questions i would love to hear your answers to and would love to see what other questions you feel we, the people should be asking.

1. What is the American dream?
2. Are corporations inherently bad? Why or why not?
3. What caused this country to be where it is?
4. What is the biggest issue today in this country?
5. Why isn't anything changing? What do you wanna do about it?

Talk soon.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tea or Coffee?

Sorry, can't come up with anything more clever than that for the moment. I'll work on it...

As I'm sure you have all heard, the Coffee Party is gaining momentum as the "answer" to the extremist conservative Tea Party Movement. The Coffee Party had their official kickoff yesterday, which was apparently a great success, with between 350-400 meetups held across the country, aptly held at coffee houses.

Now, I have to say that I was rather skeptical of this group at the beginning, being that they started purely as a response to an extremist movement. I was waiting for a polar opposite, an exact pull in the opposite direction.
However, according to their description, they are not aligned with any party and the founder refers to the two party system as out of date.
The meetings were awash with people from all age groups and races, conservative and liberals alike.
Annabel Park, the groups founder, said "Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now. We don't feel represented by our government right now, and we don't really feel represented well by the media's a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation. And it requires people standing up and speaking up."
That sounds a lot like the Tea Party and I'm not gonna lie, sounds a lot like me too. However, I don't cite the Revolution or Constitution as much as these two groups do.

I feel that the return to certain ideals on which this country was founded on is very important, but we still need to move forward. This is not the 1700s. Our past brought us to our future but we can not re-live that past. We must continue to build upon it. I sometimes feel that groups such as these have good intentions but fail to differentiate between our country's past, present and future. The return to the good ole days mentality isn't what we need. We need a strong step forward with a clear cut, solid plan for our future.

I'm interested to see where the Coffee Party heads next. But for now, I'll wait before I jump on their bandwagon. How bout you?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Questions answered

I recently had a comment posted on one of my youtube videos with several important questions. I wanted to share those questions and my answers here on the blog. Continuously questioning people and ideologies around you and even in the mirror is vital to facilitating change.

The video focused on the Tea Party and former governor Palin being their ironic figurehead.

Palin's BS aside, what specifically do you mean by extremist? Isn't revolution as politically extreme as it gets? What should we be meeting in the middle of? What about people who want different things?


thanks for watching and the questions. an extremist to me is anyone who clings to one ideology with no willingness to hear arguments against their own viewpoints, or work with people who do not wholly adhere to one fanatical school of thought. meeting in the middle, in terms of leaving the left and right out of it. we're americans. our passports don't say republican or democrat. in reality, even those who are members of a party are moderate in their views, progressive in their thinking.
if we can be informed, active citizens, then i truly believe that we have the ability to facilitate change. we may all have different backgrounds, histories. i might want something from life that you don't. that doesn't matter. what matters is that i doubt either one of us wants to be fucked over by corporate america and the very people we put into power to help us, not abandon our needs and critical issues.
again, thanks for watching. hope to see you at our skype chat on sunday 14th, 5pm

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Making non-ideological headway

I recently read an article in the NY Times Opinion section by Frank Rich, a regular in that section.
It's entitled "The Up-or-Down Vote on Obama's Presidency."
Now, I think we can all agree that Obama hasn't proven to be the magical knight of change and hope that he promised to be in his campaign. Unfortunately, he hasn't even been much of an ordinary foot soldier for hope and change.
Rich makes some really great points about Obama and how he has thus far failed to make any difficult choices in the face of partisan attacks and serious issues. He has a great ability to talk to people, tell them that he understands key issues and the need to solve them but he doesn't act. He has yet to outline a clear-cut plan of action, a path to fixing a broken America, on anything from health care to finances. He seems deathly afraid to be called out as partisan. His fear is a great contributor to the stalling. I believe he confuses his ability to act with the appearance of extremism. Acting on key issues is not about choosing sides, it's about getting things done, regardless of who believes what.

Rich mentions FDR and Reagan, two people, who throughout their political careers, made decisions based on their own knowledge and convictions for what they felt was right. The New Deal was seen as extreme by both parties. FDR said "fuck it." In 1967, after Reagan had just been elected governor of California, he submitted one of the largest state budgets in California history, much to the dismay of his conservative pals. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying either one of these characters is infallible. I'm merely bringing up examples of partisan leaders who acted on issues regardless of what their party would bitch and moan about later.

Obama hands off key issues like finances to Congress that will in all likelihood just banter back and forth until they take their next vacation. He apparently didn't want to go up against the same people who filled his campaign piggy-bank. I say bullshit. You're commander-in-chief. It is your job to act on the behalf of the people, not pundits or partisan bullies who claim you're too right or left. Your people are depending on you to act. Like Rich says, Obama doesn't have another year to dance around issues throwing well written speeches our way. A firm stance is necessary to move forward. And, in the end, as commander-in-chief, he has to close his ears to both bickering sides, and go off his own mind. And as his constituents, we should do the same. Work to move forward, not left and right.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bullet points

Some bullet points for the meetup this coming Sunday March 14th.
Please comment on them and tell me your thoughts as well, and join us on the 14th.

One thing we discussed was what to call our movement/group. I came up with a couple of ideas, but I don't know if they work. Thoughts?

-ICU (Informed Citizens Unite) Also a take on the face that this country is in emergency mode, something has to be done fast, and efficiently...
-FWD (Forward We Demand) Doesn't really sound right, looking for another "D" word since I like the idea of moving forward not left or right as a bit of a slogan of sorts.

As far as the group is concerned,
-visibility, both on the ground and online.
-informing people in both those arenas.
-video blogs of our meetings and actions. give people insight to who we are and what we do. i think that's very important.

As far as key issues I feel we need to pursue:
-corpotocracy. this is an umbrella issue b/c as we discussed on the 6th if you were there, so many things touch on this one subject. it is responsible for much if not all of the problems we have today.
i. the bailouts: i choose this b/c it's a very rare unveiling of the clear cut
symbiosis of government and the corporate world
ii. the failing economy: this has a lot to do with the bailouts but i choose this
as a key argumentative issue b/c so many people on both sides and inbetween
can agree that this is a big problem. our information that we offer on a
centralized hub website can offer answers and further bring people to fight
for themselves and their families.

Again, please comment and bring ideas. I will be posting this on a few different forums, hope to hear from all of you soon, and see you on the 14th @ 5pm PST.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Commemoration Video

Anniversary of Bloody Sunday

Today is the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7th, 1965, 600 men and women began a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in the name of civil rights. As they began to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were met on the other side with tear gas and swinging billy clubs. State and local police had been ordered to break up the demonstration.
The bloody event was caught on national television. Ten days later President Johnson sent the National Voting Rights Act bill to congress.
As I sit and click through pictures of the event, one of which I'm including here, a few things come to mind. I think of the bravery of the men and women who marched, I think of what must have been going on inside the heads of those who were ordered to beat and gas their fellow citizens. I think of the untiring resolve, and how those who had literally bled for their rights must have felt when that bill passed.
Now, I know voting is still clouded by controversy and has a long way to go before it reaches the illumination of true equality. However, this anniversary gives me hope.
As a social and political activist, I truly believe that people have the power to change things. I believe that people can effect change if they organize, educate themselves and move towards a common goal.
And that is my goal. I hope to bring together a group of organized, informed citizens and move forward, not left or right, but forward. For there is something very wrong with this country and it is the people who must rise and change that, just as those men and women did in Selma. A silent people is a helpless people.
Have a reflective anniversary.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rooftop Revolutionaries

A group of concerned citizens just held our first skype chat. We discussed, for two hours, plans and ideas on how to move forward, not just left and right. Over the course of the next week, we'll be outlining bullet points for action on key issues. I strongly encourage anyone who reads this to join us, next Sunday the 14th @ 5pm PST and help us with this great feat of reclaiming this country for the people, by the people and of the people.

Friday, March 5, 2010

9/11 trial flip-flop

I woke up this morning to a dark, moustached, sunken-eyed character, with large glasses and a white covering on his head. Luckily, it was just a CNN update on my phone and not really Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in my apartment.
Apparently, there is some stipulation as to how he will be tried. Obama had said that he wanted Mohammed to be tried in NYC, as a symbol of U.S. rule of law. New York officials say that's bullshit and don't want the trial to take place there. NYPD estimate that the trial would cost upwards of $200 million per year and would in all likelihood last more than one year. They said they would need to install at least 2,000 checkpoints in lower Manhattan. Now, if you've ever been to lower Manhattan, it's hard enough to get into a cab down there, much less pass through hundreds of checkpoints.
Many Republicans also complained at the idea of trying Mohammed in a civil court.
Progressives, on the other hand, cringed at the idea of overturning the decision for Mohammed to be tried in a civil court. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union said "If the president flip-flops and retreats to the Bush military commissions, he will betray his campaign promise to restore the rule of law, demonstrate that his principles are up for grabs and lose all credibility with Americans who care about justice and the rule of law." Ouch.
Joe Lieberman, everyone's favorite independent said that trying Mohammed as if he were just a common criminal is "justice according to 'Alice in Wonderland.'" I wonder if he's seen it already...

Mohammed is no mad hatter though and speculation abounds as to how he should be dealt with. I have to go with civil court on this one. I can, however, see both sides. I don't want the American people to have to pay to try someone who killed their friends and families. Unfortunately, we'd have to pay for the military tribunal as well. It's simply a matter of proceedings. A civil trial awards him the same rights as an American citizen. In a military tribunal, however, there's a lot more leeway on how things are handled. Bush and his cronies supported the idea of a military tribunal in dealing with the 9/11 attackers. It's not just because of Bush that I think a civil trial is better. The U.S. is in a state of disarray at the moment. Our economy and infrastructure is fucked beyond description. We are not a city upon a hill, but we can try and climb from the trenches occasionally and stand by our own principles. If we start to decide who is worthy of what kind of a trial, whose to say that one day you or I won't be put before a military tribunal instead of a civil court? Mohammed is not an American citizen, but he is in American custody. He committed crimes on American soil. It's not like they're gonna give him 5 years with probation. He will mostly likely die. In both cases, he would be sentenced to death. In both cases, we have to pay out of pocket for it. Such is the way of things. So, why not avoid hypocrisy and another shove toward martial law and go the civil route? In my mind, if you put Mohammed before a military tribunal, you gotta put Bush and Cheney up there too. For, in my mind, they've done just as much, if not more to harm the people of this nation.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Not Alice's Tea Party

I've been trying to wrap my head around the Tea Party for quite some time. As I said, I used to be a member until I found out that they had taken a bus to loony-ville and weren't coming back any time soon. The idea for the basis of this movement seemed good: concerned citizens pissed off about the fact that their government was spending money they didn't have on issues their constituents didn't profit from, monetarily or otherwise. That sounds like a good start to me.

There can be books written on the derailment of this good idea but I'm not gonna be the author. I just want to point out some things that alarm and concern me.
The movement is not fully coherent, there is not one leader, there are small groups of people that run their own versions across the country. They do not have a clear cut goal, unless you consider their blatant hatred for anything not outlined in the constitution a goal. Their ideology is based on right wing extremism, with a popular shirt sold at rallies stating: "Proud Right-Wing Extremist." They seem to have no ability to see or care about an opposing viewpoint. It's the good old fashioned, "You're either with us or against us" motif.

Now, I have a fear of any extremist, whether it be religious or secular. The reason being is that, like I said above, they offer no place for opposition, for questions to be raised. How do you know God exists? He just does Timmy, get your ass to church. Same thinking here. What's wrong with this country? It's a corrupt socialist money sucking liberal hot bed! Where's your proof? Shut up, I have a gun!

I wish that last bit were just a joking exaggeration. At a recent Tea Party rally, Richard Behney, a Republican Senate candidate, told Tea Party supporters his plan if the 2010 elections didn't swing in his favor: “I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too.”
On, a Tea Party supporting blog, "fellow patriots" are encouraged to "grab their guns." Just one day after Stack crashed a plane into an Austin IRS office, Minnesota governor, Tim Pawlenty, told a group of Tea Partiers to take a page from Tiger Woods’s wife's book and “take a 9-iron and smash the window out of big government in this country." Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, said she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous." In Texas, the Tea Party gubenatorial sweetheart, reminded folks at a rally that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

These are just a few examples. Now, this scares the shit out of me already. But just wait, the plot thickens.
“I voted twice and I failed political science twice,” said Darin Stevens, leader of the Spokane 9/12 Project, Glenn Beck's pet project closely tied to the Tea Party.
Another Tea Partier, Leah Southwell’s admits that “I knew zero about the Constitution," having until recently been a top Mary Kay sales rep.

Ok, so here's how I'm reading this. Let me know if you think I'm off: Tea Partiers are turning to increasingly more violent rhetoric with increasingly less knowledge of their country or its past and what brought it to its current state of affairs that they are so ready to overthrow. Hmmmmm...They don't even seem to realize that one of their champions (Palin) used to be the running mate of a man they think is way too liberal (McCain)!

If you check out a previous post of mine, it shows a link to a video of a man interviewing some of Palin's supporters outside of a book signing. They know DICK about ANYTHING. It is absolutely amazing that they stand outside waiting to meet someone they know nothing about yet blindly support.

We are royally fucked (even more so than now) if the Tea Party movement ever reaches a place where it is legitimately considered a viable political party and not a cult.
Do we have no answer to this? Do we have no response to the "Proud Right-Wing Extremists?"

Bunning blocks bill

Senator Jim Bunning (R) Kentucky has blocked the extension of unemployment benefits that, due to the emergency nature, required a unanimous vote to pass. He stated his reasoning for blocking the bill, saying that Congress must first pay for the $10 million package, arguing that he didn't want to add to the defecit.
The bill not only extends unemployment monies, but also health insurance, federal flood insurance, satellite TV licensing and small business loans. The bill would also provide an extension for the Highway Trust Fund, responsible for transportation projects across the country.
Bunning stood on the floor remarking, "If we can't find $10 million to pay for something that we all support, we will never pay for anything on the floor of the U.S. senate."

I took this opportunity to check up on Bunning's voting record. While he did vote against the bailout bill, he has voted for almost every bill funding the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Hmmmmmm....
The mind reels.

By the end of this month, and/or by June, millions of people, including some of my own friends and I'll bet some of yours as well, will be without any money. I'm sure that will help our bottom line, as a country.
Transportation secretary Ray LaHood lamented that up to 2,000 employees will be sent home without any pay because of Bunning's decision.

Granted, I'm no economist, but I can tell you that Iraq and Afghanistan are doing a lot more to drag us further into debt than highway projects and laid off workers. How are we supposed to bounce back from economic downturn if 10 million people are added to the homeless list? How are we supposed to contribute to this faltering economy if we can't even feed ourselves?
People are so afraid that we're all gonna turn socialist and fall into a vicious cycle of spending, but here's a news flash: we already are in a vicious cycle of spending. What needs to happen is we need to spend on the right things, our own people. We don't need to police the world, we don't need to help corrupt institutions, we need to help the people. We are the ones that keep this economy going, not Saddam and Madoff.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Death of Conservatism

I just finished reading a great book that I'd like to recommend to all of you. It's a short, stirring read by Sam Tanenhaus called "The Death of Conservatism."
I'm sure there's no question as to why this caught my attention, but what I read has educated me much on the past 50 years of conservative politics in this country.

As a moderate, unwilling to cling to any one side, I have to admit that I used to be a die hard liberal. At times, I still find myself whispering sweet anti-conservative nothings under my breath as I watch footage of Palin, Bush, Romney, Cheney or any other one of those fantastic examples of political smarts and integrity. I have to admit, however, that I was not that educated on my opponent. I knew basics and broad facts on issues and standpoints but I never really dug deeper to see the roots of this movement. I didn't understand the basis to which these neo-conservatives clung to, the past that brought them to the conservative politicians of today.

I obviously can't go through the entire book but I would like to share some quotes and pieces that I found very interesting. It may come as no surprise that history does indeed repeat itself and that this death of conservatism came from the birth after a liberal death. This liberal decline occurred in the mid to late 60s as the Democrats had and had enjoyed a long stint controlling Washington. The Democrats were becoming cocky in their comfortable position at the top and made many mistakes that the people found unforgivable and unacceptable, including Vietnam and race relations (or lack thereof). What I found interesting is that the conservatives, in order to combat the waning Democrats, felt it would be most beneficial to guide the Right further towards the Center...
In the closing pages of his book, Tanenhaus gives some friendly advice to the now waning Conservative constituents, the same pitfalls that got the liberals booted out of office 30 years ago: "...listening more closely to the arguments being put forth by the other side." Again, this doesn't mean acquiescing to all conservative or liberal demands, it means working together - holy shit, what a concept! And I'm not talking about lobbyists and deep pocketed politicians in Washington, I mean us.

He says in a closing remark: "Most of us are liberal and conservative: we cling to the past in some ways, push forward into the future in others, and seek to reconcile our most cherished notions and beliefs with the demands of unanticipated events."

Is this not true? Do we not all have two sides? That's not to say that I'm pro and anti abortion, it just means that I, for example, believe that illegal immigrants do not deserve to use of a system they do not put into. That is a classically conservative standpoint. I also believe that government needs to govern and can not do so by slashing its own ability through privatizing essential government functions. That is classically liberal.

I'm not the only one who sees the world with both eyes, am I?