Monday, August 30, 2010

The Tillman Story

Smoke screen men

Last night I was torn between going to see The Girl who played with fire and The Tillman Story. I wasn't sure if I wanted a Swedish rip-roaring psychological thriller or an all too true to life psychological shit storm. As a masochistic activist, I chose the latter. I was very disappointed. The documentary was a triumph: brilliant story telling, well organized with clear cut vantages from all characters involved. The story is what was overwhelmingly disappointing.
I don't cry often. In fact, I can't remember the last time that I did cry, but yesterday brought me damn close. For those of you who don't know the tale of Pat Tillman, he was a football star who gave up a multi-million dollar career to go serve in the armed forces after 9/11. That is of course the abridged version of his background. For more info, I highly recommend the movie.
In any case, Pat Tillman was as one of his army friends notes, "the most famous enlisted man." After his enlistment, he got a personal letter from Donald Rumsfeld, the current Secretary of Defense, thanking him for his patriotism. Tillman was first sent out to Iraq, where, according to friends and family, his skepticism as to our legal involvement in the middle east grew daily. He returned home, and despite offers from the NFL, went back for his second tour of duty, this time in Afghanistan, because that's what he had promised to do. On April 22nd, 2004, Pat Tillman was his own men.
The circumstances surrounding the exact happenings of that day are still clouded over by cover ups and smoke screens, but one thing is certain: it was fratricide. Unwilling to send the coffin of their most famous enlisted man home with no "evil taliban" to point the finger at, the smoke screen men fabricated a complex web of lies that worked in their favor.
They painted a picture of a corageous hero who led his men into battle against enemy forces, risked and lost his own life to protect those of his men. In reality, Pat Tillman died screaming his name into the echoic canyon of a desert land neither he, nor any other American soldier, should ever have set foot in.
What followed was a rollercoaster of military back door deals, back scratching, fact finding, truth digging, and propoganda spinning that eventually led to a congressional hearing on the facts and falsities of Pat Tillman's death.
At this point in the movie, I very nearly lost it. Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin, made opening remarks. Kevin had been in the same canyon on April 22nd. He had arrived at the scene 10 minutes later and simply sat down next to his brothers body. On the plane ride home, he said nothing. He went into seclusion, making this his first public appearance since the death of his brother. Pat Tillman's mother, father, widow and younger brother were also there. His mother commented that she just wanted the truth, that she wanted the American people to bear witness to this injustice and for those responsible to drop the smoke screens and fucking stand up to what they orchestrated. What her and her family got was the most atrocious display of justice since the days of witch burnings.
The head generals of the country and Donald Rumsfeld all sat in front of the panel, evidence of their cover up on the table in front of them, and lied, again. "I don't recall." "I can't be sure." "That's a guess." "I don't know." "I really couldn't say." Not one straight answer. And instead of holding them accountable, instead of shoving the evidence in their faces and saying - you fucking bastards - how dare you stand in front of this congressional hearing and lie to the people whose son you murdered? No, none of that. "Thank you general." "I understand, secretary." "I see." "Thanks for clearing that up, general."
At the end of the hearing, Rumsfeld and the generals stood up, shook hands, smiled and laughed before leaving the room. They'd gotten away with it. The Tillman family sat at the back, bewildered, betrayed. Their country, the country their son died for, raped their freedom, their justice, their grief, their suffering.
And this country, as it did with the fable of Jessica Lynch watched, shrugged their shoulders and moved on. How? Why? If you go to a party and some guy shoots your friend, or even a friends friend, would you not care? And then if they try covering it up with some bullshit story and tell you you're wrong, would you take it? If you answered yes, then you're an asshole...but you do have the continuity of apathy going for you. B/c that's what this country did. They watched as congress and the top echelons of our government walked over Pat's grave and spat, laughing and congratulating each other on being masters of the universe. As I say quite often, in a republic, it's our names that are behind the smoke screens, it's our fault if our country has blood on her hands...because this is our country. Regardless of whether we take advantage of it or not, we are the people that stand for this country. Of the people, for the people and by the people. That's what it says (it being the constitution). That's who we are. How did we lose sight of that? How are we now so overfed, under educated, over pious and under attentive that we don't know or care what our country is doing or saying?
The Tillman story is therefore not just gut wrenching because of the players at the top, but gut wrenching because of the players down here, us, we the people, have blood on our hands.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I have a dream...

...that someday in this country, the people will look back at their past and actually read it. That people will respect cultures and creeds that do not match their own, that they will educate themselves on more than bible verses and McDonalds menus. That people like Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck will not be heralded as great Americans, that we will not need to support our troops because they will be at home, as intended in the constitution, to be not a part of a standing army but as state and city militias, to fight only when protecting their rights and homes. Oh yes, I have a dream.

Unfortunately, Glenn Beck decided to celebrate the iconic day of MLK's speech by desecrating it. That is par for the course when it comes to good old Glenny but I must admit, I didn't even expect this from him.

This orgy of extremists giving speeches and arrogantly chanting USA was marked as part of Glenn Beck's highly advertised "Restoring Honor" event this morning. As he continuously mentioned how non-political this event was, I was reminded of my good friend Marc Anthony who in Shakespeare's play, stood over Caesar's grave continuously remarking on what a good man Brutus was. It's one of those things that if you say it enough, the audience begins to see that it's more of a tongue-in-cheek bullshit comment than the actual truth. Of course, this suggests that the audience isn't already a bunch of "I love Brutus" t-shirt wearing extremists that think that gathering in huge groups in front of heavily political figures isn't political at all. No no, this was all about faith.
Beck urged the crowd to "turn back to God" to right the wrongs of this country. He said that this country has been wandering in darkness for too long, and only now are we finding God's path again and moving towards the light.
I wanna shower, vomit, scream, cry, throw things and stab at the air with a steak knife. Maybe not in Glenn Beck's cushy world, but in reality, the last thing this country needs is more religion. I'll let my previous blog entries stop me from using this opportunity to get on my soap box, but come on! Anyone who has ever been in the South knows that religion is far more than an opiate for the masses. It's a robo-tripping, IQ dropping, hallucinogenic, reality-squashing, thoughtless, individual killing heavy ass drug that is stripping this country of the little sanity we have left to cling to. We can bomb the shit out of countries, we can stage coups, organize genocides, lie to our own people, fuck our own infrastructure but as long as we all hold hands and pray at the end of the day, it's all ok.
And what darkness is he talking about? I haven't noticed a spike in the bubonic plague or demons eating babies out of prams. The only darkness I've noticed has been the veil of lies and greed swept over this country by corporate interest and I hate to say it, mostly religious CEO's and lobbyists wearing crosses and cutting losses, by slicing and dicing everyone below the top 1%.
A woman at the rally said: "I believe it's hopeless unless we get back to our roots, and that means our faith, and it means, reorganize our time. We have been so busy earning a living and raising our children that we have let different small groups overpower our opinions. And we're here to ... reclaim what's wonderful about this country."
Lady, read a book. Actually, just read. Roots is not faith. If it was, I'd be a very confused Lutheran Jew Atheist. As it is, I'm only the last one and damn proud of it too. Earning a living and raising children is called life, and I know plenty of people that do that while still staying engaged in the world around them. If your IQ can't handle it, that's your problem, not America's. Oh and another thing - what small groups? I'd love to hear her take on the "small groups" that are destroying this country. Because according to my reality, it's the big groups like, oh, say, corporations like AIG, Bank of America, Citi Bank, Halliburton, oil companies, fuck, even our own government is now a corporation and they're sure as shit not a "small group." Oh but right, this isn't a political rally, it's a loving social gathering of gun-toting, arrogant, religious nuts who know God's on their side.
I don't know a lot but I do know that God is not a republican or a democrat. If he exists (which I don't think he does - case in point, Glenn Beck), I'm sure he's fucking sick and tired of being stretch armstronged across party lines. Furthermore, if you did read something other than the lord's prayer, you'd know about this guy named Thomas Jefferson who famously coined the phrase, "separation of church and state."
If these wack jobs are so eager to wave the constitution around and hold the founding fathers up on pedestals, shouldn't they at least know what the old guys would've thought about them holding the bible and constitution in the same grubby hand?
Our country was founded on the ideals of freedom, freedom from persecution. However, we're hypocritical: slaves, native Americans, religious uprisings in the 1800s. Yeah, we're imperfect. We've got blood on our hands, and it might not wash off, but covering it up with more blood and hypocrisy doesn't make it go away.
Government and religion should be kept away from each other. They do not play nice together. They're not supposed to play together. Ignorance, arrogance and blind support of any ideology is not forward thinking, it's stupidity. Ideologies are not the same as ideals. As far as I can see, Glenn Beck has no ideals, he has extremist ideologies. He doesn't want togetherness, he wants a clear cut ruling on all the god fearing, right wingers vs. everyone else. At the core, we are all Americans. These so called non-political political rallies only fuel the fire that burns whatever ties we have to each other. It's not about God, it's not about left or right. It's about this country being in a rut. No amount of bible reading or tea drinking is gonna change that.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I would like to ask Glenn Beck to step off the podium. Stop pushing your agenda and let us pay homage to an icon without the politically soaked verbal dregs spewing from your extremist mouth.

Educate yourself, know your country and those your country deals with. Know yourself better than an ethereal God you can't prove exists. You exist. We exist. This country exists and she's sick. The truth is there if you look for it. And believe it or not, neither God nor his prophet Glenn Beck has the answer.

So who's the mad scientist?

Or could it be that we are the mad scientist and the patient? We dig our own grave in this broken republic...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bailout a good idea?

So, the snuggly insurance giant, American International Group (AIG) has paid back about $4 billion of their bailout debt, leaving them with an outstanding balance (including interest) of about $21 billion.
So, what the fucks with the heading of this post?
Well, some analysts are saying that because of the amount of interest already gained and to be gained from the payback of bailout funds, the government will come out way on top. So far, the Treasury Dept. has raked in $1.4 billion on its investment in Goldman Sachs, $1.3 billion on Morgan Stanley and $414 million on American Express. The five other banks that repaid the government: Northern Trust, Bank of New York Mellon, State Street, U.S. Bancorp and BB&T, each brought in $100 million to $334 million in profit.
That sounds like a lot of money...until you look at the figure that was doled out for the bailout: $700 billion. Now I'm not a math major but the reclaimed funds, plus AIG's recent payment does not equal $700 billion. In fact, if you take into account the precipice we stand on with giants such as Citi Bank, Bank of America, American International Group, the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the automakers General Motors and Chrysler, we're still closer to fucked than home free. Tack on toxic mortgages that the Treasury Dept has guaranteed for billions of dollars and that rosy $4 billion starts looking like a flea loogie in giant's bucket.
On the flip side however, having read and researched the possible unspeakable madness potential had the banks not been bailed out, I'm not necessarily saying the bailout was a complete failure. In the cluster fuck situation we were in, any decision would have yielded significant cons outweighing the pros. The question now is, what does the future hold?
For some, the idea of government getting the fuck out of the private sector is a much anticipated and pushed for scenario...
“The taxpayers want their money back and they want the government out of our banking system,” Representative Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican and a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel examining the relief program, said in an interview.
Ummmm, representative Hensarling, fuck you.
Your precious little private sector banks wouldn't even be living and breathing if it weren't for the corporate pawns at the top handing out meal tickets. The private sector is the reason we're in this cluster fuck to begin with! The Federal Reserve remains a private corporation...oh, do you think that maybe they had something to do with the tumbling of Wall Street and our economy? No, they only handle our money! Privatization of the economy is synonomous with the top 1% greedily hoarding and dealing our money with little to no say from the other 99%. Sounds great, sign me up!
The bailout was not a good idea. It was a bad idea in a terrible situation. Letting all the banks and monster corporations fail...also a bad idea. The only way to stop this from happening again is to show corporate America that this handout wasn't a friendly donation. It was a disaster loan, needs to be repaid and will not be repeated. They need to be put in a choke hold, not given a longer leash. Put the lobbyists and corporate puppets where they belong, as far away from our government as possible. Of the people, for the people and by the people. Not of the corporations, for the corporations and by the corporations.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Religion ruins everything

This wouldn't necessarily be true in a country where people educated themselves on the ills of religion while accepting and respecting the good (if any) that can come of them. However, we are not that country. Unfortunately, with our population and pull, that's an especially bad place to be standing in. If you haven't noticed the headlines in the past few weeks, there seems to be a mass hysteria enveloping the proposed Muslim center in new york which has in turn somehow fueled heated discussions regarding President Obama's true religious beliefs. Of course, not missing a chance to pounce on the idealistic combo of religion and race, the religious right has been shooting off vehement commentary denouncing Obama as an evil Muslim. In the words of Franklin Graham, “The teaching of Islam is to hate the Jew, to hate the Christian, to kill them. Their goal is world domination.”
Hmmm, I guess good old Graham hasn't read the passage in the Qoran where Muhammed preaches to his followers to accept those who do not see eye to eye with them, that they will come across believers from other walks of life and they should be civil and respectful. But oh wait, maybe he could've read that if the religious right didn't BBQ books rather than reading them. I smell the familiar scent of Nazis and burnt paper...
Since we Americans gobble up everything fed to us by the trick dealing hand of the media, recent polls show a significant spike in the number of Americans who believe that Obama is in fact Muslim. Furthermore, even those who don't think he's Muslim don't necessarily think he's Christian...I say he's Wickan...I mean why the fuck not?
In the 60s, some Americans were afraid that JFK would dig a tunnel to Rome, now we're afraid Obama has a couple secret service guys digging their way to Mecca between coffee breaks. What the fuck people?
As usual, right and left continue to go back and forth: he is, no he's not, he is, no he's not, he is...shut the fuck up! Who gives a dick stick whether he goes to church every sunday? I personally don't care if he goes to mosque, or temple or any where else. He can pray to his coffee maker if it makes him a better leader.
I will never understand the average American's incessant curiosity with everything about the president other than his presidency. Yeah, he sent another 50,000 troops to Afghanistan? Whatever, did you see his vacation photos? Yeah, he signed a health care bill? That's nice - what about this Muslim thing?
Meanwhile, peace loving Muslims here and around the world are shaking their heads at our ignorant arrogance and terrorists are finding more fodder for their hate with every newscast we send over our sickened airwaves. Islam is not the Muslim religion. Extremism is not synonymous with Muslim religion. Islamists are crazy fucks who took the Qoran, burned the pages, and stuck their own psycho manifesto in the same if you think about it, our religious right and their religious right has way more in common than the poor bastards imbetween...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sad tale of an addict

You may think that you live a healthy lifestyle here in the US of A, that you buy organic foods, exercise, drink purified water, live outside the city...but in reality, each one of us is an addict, an arm itching, nose twitching, sweat soaked addict fiending under the umbrella of or master, black gold. Like most addicts, we have a short term memory when it comes to the ills brought by our seething addiction. For example, the oil spill in the Gulf Coast - remember? Oh, it was so long ago, I know. God forbid we try and remember the spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in the 60s...that's pre-historic.
So, under the guise of a helpful hand, TransCanada, a Calgary based oil big wig, has laid out plans for the Keystone XL project. Sounding more like a super mart where folks in the Heartland would shop, instead it's a proposed pipeline to run through the Heartland. The company is currently awaiting U.S. permission to build the new pipeline originating in Alberta, Canada, and fanning out to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, more than 1,600 miles to the south. Hmmm, Gulf Coast...rings a bell...wait, no, it's gone. TransCanada claims that the pipeline would greatly decrease our reliance on mideastern oil, giving us the ability to drill our own oil on our own soil. How nice. Isn't that kind of like saying you're gonna drive down the street to get coke instead of to Vegas? You're still getting coke - you could still see the consequences of your dumb shit actions. But hey, at least you'll be close to home. Residents, mostly farmers, are worried that not only their homes, but their livelihoods are at stake with this proposed pipeline. After all, many of them depend on the soil to survive and if that shit's soaked in oil, not too many people are gonna want their corn on their table.
TransCanada claims however, that even though two small leaks have been reported it wasn't enough to cause alarm. They were, "very, very small, isolated incidents." Well, that's nice. I feel so cozy and safe. Furthermore, the source of this oil pipeline is Canada's fuel-rich sand, home to what the Natural Resources Defense Council calls "some of the dirtiest, most destructive oil on the face of the Earth." In order to process and refine the oil, it requires strip mining valuable forests. Also, burning this form of oil yields more pollution than other kinds of oil. Oh, goody. Here, I have an idea - why don't we go score some coke, but on the way, let's stop and set a couple of houses on fire, shoot an old lady and overturn a dumpster in a national forest. Coooool.
On the oil spill side, guess what? Oil companies are in charge of their own safety measures so we don't have dick to say about how secure those pipelines are. Normally the cause of a failed line is corrosion, but when you've got heavy farming equipment poking around in the soil, you could easily scrape the line and get more than your usual harvest. And in the path of Keystone XL lies the High Plains Aquifier, which
covers an area of 175,000 square miles, supplies water to more than 1.9 million people, includes 27 percent of all irrigated land in the U.S., accounts for about 30 percent of all U.S. ground water used for irrigation, lies in a region that supplies 19 percent of U.S. wheat, 15 percent of U.S. corn and 18 percent of U.S. beef.
It's no secret that big oil has the nuts of this country in a salad shooter. When oil company reps came and knocked on the doors of the homes that would be affected by previous pipelines, it wasn't so much a question as it was a statement: "this pipeline's gonna run through here, get used to it." Many families feel let down, not only by their local governments but by the system as a whole. The idea that the land of the free has no freedom to discuss whether or not they feel comfortable with thousands of barrels of oil rushing through their backyard everyday, doesn't seem particularly free.
The State Department will have the final say in the matter regarding Keystone XL, but as for the other pipelines already laid, it's a ticking time bomb. Pipelines fail, as we've noticed, people fuck up, computers break down. There is no fail safe for environmental and economical disaster. When was the last time you heard a junkie make an honest, sensical proposal on how his addiction can be maintained and orderly? You don't. We don't. The only cure here is to kick the habit. It will take time, for sure. It will take a long time. But you don't treat the illness with more venom. Stop this black gold drug fest. Step away from the pipe syringe. Step away.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm not a conspiracy theorist.

I don't think aliens built the pyramids, I think we've just devolved. I don't think milk is a government plot to give women osteoporosis and ruin singing careers, I just think it's stupid to drink the milk of another animal after you've been weened. I do think, however, that coincidences are your brains way of telling you to pay attention and look again. I talk a lot of shit, but hopefully it's taken as intellectual shit talking, emotion stirring, thought provoking shit talking. I saw this video and wanted to share it. Aside from the glaring, dispicable coincidences, it is yet another example of how the government can railroad any people: socialist, communist, monarchic, democratic, republican, if the people are misinformed and/or dumb enough to let them. Yeah, that's us. Don't Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Philosophical musings

As I sift through the news, there's a barrage of current events to choose from, most of them bad, as per usual. Since I've been particularly interested in extremist mind sets and actions as of late (in a non-extremist kind of way), I thought it appropriate to dedicate this post to the extremist headline-makers, the soldiers at the front of this ideological war. To quote a wise man, Eric Hoffer, "It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible." How true that is. Extremists make it an art to completely disregard the world around them, while simultaneously trying to make the news...a slight anomaly? Of course - that's the point. Extremists do not live in the present. They focus on the future when their superior ideology will reign supreme over the dark graveyard they created through the slaying of the lesser non-believers. Anyone who has ever entered into an ill-advised conversation with a religious extremist or extreme leftist or liberal knows what I'm talking about.
Logic bounces off of them like arrows at Mt. Everest. Their self righteousness and arrogance rivals the far reaches of that great mountain as well. The more you try and present logical reasoning, current events or just plain common sense to rebut their arguments, the stronger they hold fast to them. There is no truth outside of their beliefs, no question that can not be answered with a steadfast pledge to their doctrine. Their every day lives and experiences are not a part of the present, nor are they - everything is tied to their beliefs. It is a sad irony that the people most engaged in trying to blow the present to smithereens are the people least familiar with it.
So, am I just sitting here depressingly writing this post, saying there's no hope b/c it's only a matter time before the wack jobs get the bomb? No. It's more a question of how to fight extremism. Hate breeds hate and war breeds war. What are we proving by invading countries preaching democracy? What business do we have policing countries we know nothing about? Corpotacracy is our extreme religion and our extreme government. We are so entrenched in it, we can not see the present for what it is, we do not see the headlines of thousands dying under a US flag. We do not see this. Ignorance is no excuse, apathy is an even shittier excuse. You can't expect someone to give up their gun when your hand is firmly on the trigger. The longer we escalate with our false do-gooder mantra, the longer we extremely and dangerously ignore the present truth: we are as much the extremist mad men that our enemies are...and we have a bigger red button.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our guns, their people

The U.S. has officially handed over control of combat operations in Iraq. General Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq attended the ceremony to watch the final American combat team, the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, transfer power over to the 6th Iraqi Army Division.
The number of US troops is said to drop from 64,000 to 50,000 by September 1st. This wonderful news comes amid a terrible cluster fuck of a time in Iraq. Between us just plumb losing billions of dollars to continued violence and crime, we're not exactly handing over a sterling example of democracy's finest fruits. It's more of a fumbling hot potato we're tossing over and saying, "uhhh, here - we couldn't figure this one out. sorry bout the invasion. bye!"
Don't get me wrong. I think we should get the fuck out of there asap. However, I think we also need to call it what it is. Mission is not accomplished. War is not won. Democracy is not spread like a phoenix rising. We need to get the hell out of there and then work on diplomatic solutions to bandage our blunders. The longer we stay, the more we earn the reputation of being a bully and general pain in the ass. Odierno said that he felt the US had come a long way, accomplished a lot and reminded us all that we're there to improve the lives of John and Jane Iraq. Awwww, how sweet.
Gosh golly, that makes me feel a whole lot better!
No. Something smacks of bygone days with this. Who else did we give weapons to and train and then...oh...right.
Would it be so far out of line to ask the Iraqi army that we fucking disbanded (big fuck up there) to take it from here...I mean it kinda is their country. And what if, what if we just admitted that we had fucked up and try to open up the doors of diplomacy instead of having dumbass ceremonies to show how awesome we are for handing over a country that isn't even ours back to those who really own it.
And to read between the lines of all the pomp and circumstance, they may have their "combat operations" back, but what does that really mean in the grand scale of a country? Oh, right. Jack squat. It just means that they get to look all nice and pretty holding a giant gun while we sit in the Green Zone passing Dinars back and forth, soaking our feet in oil and eating McDonalds.
There are a lot of burned bridges, and we shouldn't be just passing guns down the assembly line. The fact still remains that we are in control of that country, and we haven't handed over anything but a nice ceremony and handshake. And the fact still remains that training people in the art of blowing peoples heads off is not diplomacy, it's playing with fire, literally.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is marriage gay?

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is set to make an incredibly controversial decision today: whether Prop 8 - the prop to ban same sex marriage - is unconstitutional. Basically, does prop 8 violate the Constitution by creating separate classes of people with different laws for each.
Needless to say, a lot is hanging on his decision. Both sides have stoutly claimed that it's not the end of the battle, regardless of how Judge Walker votes. However, the vote will mark an important legislative step towards the end scene where ultimately, one side will lose and the US will either be a gay marriage country or a Dick and Jane safe house.
As far as I'm concerned, marriage is about as outdated as taking a horse to work (unless you're a mountie). However, if you still feel the need to get a piece of paper proclaiming your love for someone, I could give a shit whether you're male, female or both. What you do in your bedroom, kitchen, closet or car is totally up to you. I don't wanna know and I don't care. So, I say shut the door on Prop 8, stop being nosy, uptight, biggoted asses. Let people screw and marry whoever they want, as long as it's consentual.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

9/11 mosque

Some things just leave a bad taste in your mouth. Like the mystery jam at the back of the fridge that you swore was ok when your mom claimed the white stuff on top was crystallized sugar (yes, this actually happened to me). Yeah, like that. This is one of those instances.
Building a mosque and community center down the street from ground zero would be a great idea in a perfect world. But then again, in a perfect world, 9/11 would never have happened. I do not think this only on behalf of the victims of the terrorist attack, nor the residents of lower Manhattan who can still see the images of falling concrete and glass in their minds eye. No, I think this on behalf of ordinary Muslims as well. That's right.
Just as one can separate the logical distinction between members of the KKK and Christians who go to church every Sunday (and whose extracurricular activities don't include lynchings and burning crosses), we should be able to know the difference between Muslims and Islamist extremists. As I said in an earlier post, Islamist extremists are the furthest from the Muslim faith of any. If you research any extremist organization, that is usually the case. The loudest, most self righteous, extreme members of any creed are usually the ones who have mangled and raped the original message of that creed the most. Islamist extremists are no different.
What happened on 9/11 is and will always be a tragedy, a heart wrenching, mindless loss of human life. Those responsible should be severely punished...that's why we flew the Bin Ladens safely out of the country and have invaded almost every country in the Middle East other than Saudi Arabia where most of the terrorists were from...right.
One of our greatest faults is our mixed cocktail of arrogance and ignorance. This elixir can make the most affable American a real pain in the ass if he drunkenly walks into a Muslim right by ground zero.
I do of course see that there is always a possibility that the tables could turn but regardless of who strikes first, walking into a lions den wearing gazelle blood cologne is just a bad idea, no matter how good your intentions are. The spokesman for the Cordoba intitiative (the name of the community center project) said that the project would build bridges. I disagree.
Before you build bridges, you gotta test what you're building on. And right now, you're suspended in mid air over a swamp. Americans need to be educated on the Muslim culture before its shoved into their faces. The only thing that comes to mind in most people's heads when you say Muslim is 9/11, suicide bombings, terrorist. You'd be hard pressed to find someone talking about the incredible culture of a faith rooted in the cradle of civilization. And it's a two way street. Muslims also need to understand and accept that theirs is a sticky situation. I hate getting stopped at airports and groped by some overweight, underpaid security guard who smells of McDonalds and hairspray. However, if swedes and jews were responsible for terrorist attacks across the world, I would offer myself up for searches. Like Derek Jeter in line for drug testing, I would request that my bags be searched and my boobs groped. Why? Because I wouldn't be angry with those protecting themselves, I'd be damn pissed off at my countrymen or fellow jews for making my culture and my beliefs look like a bad slaughterhouse video game.
Until this mutual understanding of cultures and lifestyles happens, the only thing you're going to get from an initiative like this is a whole helluva lot of trouble.
You can't run before you crawl and you shouldn't act before you educate.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Big business drills

Let me start with the mostly good news first: The House approved a bill this past Friday heightening safety standards for offshore drilling, imposing new fees on oil and gas production and removing the federal $75 million cap on economic damages to be paid by oil companies after major spills, increasing it to $300 million. It would also create new "conservation" fees on oil and natural gas extracted from land or water controlled by the federal government. Another quasi-plus: companies with significant workplace safety or environmental violations over the past 7 years would be banned from new offshore drilling permits. As usual, there was the left/right banter about killing jobs, big government, save the whales, no drilling, yada yada yada. The bill now moves on to the Senate where they'll probably sit on it till it's nice and thinned out and ready to do jack squat...pardon my cynicism. The bill is a move in the right direction, although I wonder how many more catastrophes it will take before we say to ourselves, "you know what, maybe we should just leave that the fuck alone?" History repeats itself - especially if you do the dumb shit over and over again.

On to the other news: The Senate (previously mentioned as 1/3 of our government that does fuck all for us) has blocked the Disclose Act, an act that would require corporate political advertisers to reveal their funding sources. Now, some on the right suggest that it's not just about that - it's a ploy to gain votes in November by putting more restrictions on corporate activity than on unions. Ummmm...ok.
A corporation is by definition an entity whose sole responsibility is to make money - the bottom line. Unions are by definition there to protect the rights of the worker. Now, I admit there is a gray area where unions can be assholes and corporations can be menches but overall, let's be honest here. I'd rather kick a corporation in the nuts than hang a union out to dry. But that's just me.
Furthermore, this bill wouldn't even bar corporations from making contributions, it would only require that they own up to it. Only the naive will say that our government isn't for sale, but at least we could take a first step and know who the hell is buying. But, of course, since we're not naive, we also realize that the who's who in the guilded chairs aren't gonna let any "first steps" be taken that might put their bottom line in jeopardy. I mean, what are they supposed to do, govern? Please...