Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm the Decider 2.0

Well ladies and gents, in case you missed the riveting speech our dear President Obama gave this evening, allow me to walk you through the highlights.
Really, it's quite difficult to pick only a few, as the whole speech, I mostly sat bleary eyed and motionless, unsure whether I should simply be disgusted or contact the X-Files claiming that "W" had somehow inhabited the body of Obama.
Nevertheless, here's some of the kickers:

"Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks."
My response: Horse shit. Obama is about as mindful of military action as an elephant is of the flies buzzing round it's shit. Secondly, you shouldn't be using ANYTHING to solve the world's many challenges - you should stay the fuck out of it. The mere suggestion that using force is even an option to police the world smacks of an atrocious arrogance I hoped to solely attribute to Obama's predecessor. I do however, have to give him props for admitting that we act in accordance with our interests. He didn't quite come out and say our "monetary interests," but all the same, he hinted that we are that fucking brash. Just to proudly say that when our values are at stake, we have to send in fighter jets suggests that you have bigger balls than a well hung steer. Our values? Since when do have shit for values? And even if we were that city upon a hill that Winthrop so eloquently (yet again, arrogantly) waxed poetic of, what the fuck gives us the right to take military action when another country exhibits values other than our own?
What about Saudi Arabia? Is stoning women in public part of our treasured values? Is dictatorial religious law part of our constitution? Oh no, wait - it's the opposite.

And that's just the opening of his speech.

For the next, what seems like endless paragraphs, Obama gives a play-by-play of the occurrences in Libya and how Gaddafi's tyranny and arrogance somehow allows us to pull out our aces of tyranny and arrogance.
He shoots down the questions brought by concerned Americans, opposed to a third conflict, opposed to the idea of policing the world when our own country is in a vortex towards absolute economic fall out. He says that as a leader of the free world, we can not simply stand by and watch, we must act on behalf of humans rights concerns since that is what we stand for.
This coming from the same guy who just announced the second grand opening of Gitmo, now with brand new water barrels and deprivation cellars - book your room today! Room and board (pun intended) paid for by the people - don't call us, we'll call you, and break your door down, rape your wife, kill your kids and keep you indefinitely without trial. God Bless.

In closing, Obama makes sure to note his "successes" in Iraq and Afghanistan, using the key words "Al Qaeda" to make sure the fear factory churns out some golden oldies.
In a tawdry attempt at inspiration, he closes with this comment:
"...when the news is filled with conflict and change – it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I have said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength at home. That must always be our North Star – the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring of our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear."'re full of shit, Mr. President. Allow me to introduce you to reality: there is no North Star beacon above your blessed purple mountains majesty, there is no city upon a hill. Our country has no values. The people that inhabit it might, but they are clouded over by apathy and inaction. You represent corporate cronies and are a disgrace to the republic this nation was founded to be.
True leaders lead by example. The contradictions so evident in your speech prove that you are either not aware of your own hypocrisy or you feel, as so many other presidents did, that those rules do not apply to you. You can wage wars and win a peace prize, you can preach change and be stagnant. You can talk of prosperity and pride when people sit homeless, dying from curable diseases in an infrastructure that feeds on the weak.
Shame on you Obama, shame on you.
If I were religious, I would not pray for you. I would pray for the soldiers you put in harms way in vain, I would pray for the people you promised prosperity to, that will never know it. I would pray for the people in the countries you invade and allow corporate interests to rape, under your watch.
But alas, I am not religious, and I do not think that God is watching. God does not bless us, God does not bless America. No one will make sure that everything will be OK. That's on us - you and me. Because, I can tell you right now, Obama and co. sure as shit won't do anything. We, the people, have to Do Something.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Worst of both worlds

The US on paper, is a republic. According to the dictionary, that means:

"a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of
citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives
chosen directly or indirectly by them."

Of course, as we know through historical trials, what things are on paper isn't always what they are in real life - take communism, for example. On paper, it sounds really nice - all working for the common good, no one is treated more special than their neighbour. However, in practice that can never work. Leaders will rise to the top, and in the appropriate conditions, fashion a dictatorial regime through the cruel and abrasive use of power.
As I've said before, we have dictators. The fact that we choose to ignore their existence doesn't make them any less real. Corporations have been dancing around the law and hoarding power since the late 1890s, and 20 years later had already grown to a point where Woodrow Wilson painted the bleak picture of "a very different America from the longer a scene of individual enterprise...where comparatively small groups of men...wield a power and control over the wealth and business operations of the country...rivals of the government itself."
How prophetic of you Woodrow. But my, how times have changed.
Our government no longer rivals the corporate stronghold, but embraces it, getting paid finely for their allegiance. Now, that's progressive.
And as we marked the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire a few days ago, I feel it's an opportune time to mention unions.
While I tend to have a rosier outlook on unions than I do corporations, due to their reason for being (protecting the worker as opposed to protecting their bottom line), I do not find them to be without fault.
For example, as Stephen Goldsmith writes in The Wall Street Journal, "In New York City, seniority rules force us to base any layoff on when a public worker was hired, not on whether he or she does a good job." The same holds true for bad teachers that contribute to the dumbing down of our cities and so our country.
Then again, look at who else walks the streets of the Big Apple - the big businessmen on Wall Street who robbed the people of money, homes, jobs and rights.
So, here we stand in the middle of two extremes. On the one hand, you have unions, whose existence is important to the well-being of workers, but can stand in the way of its own aims at bettering public life, through ill planned bureaucracy and unwavering ideological stubbornness.
On the other, you have corporate America, whose existence is a travesty, and does fuck all to better society, using violence and governmental back door dealings to secure ever more blood money and rape ever more freedom and rights from all people.
End result: where we are today. While polls show that Americans are by-in-large moderate, the policies that blanket this country with debt, blood and shame, would suggest otherwise.
The extremes are the loudest. Neither extreme is acceptable.
The red tape that protects unworthy employees should trot over to corporate America and tie it down. There needs to be accountability on both sides. There has to be regulation, for both sides. While I do not advocate a dictatorial government telling people when to do what, I do advocate a government that regulates business and organizations that directly affect the rights and freedoms of the people of this country. That's why we have a government. Of the people, for the people and by the people - to protect our interests and to make decisions based on our needs, not on the needs of organizations and corporations.
If unions are out of control - the people must speak up.
If corporations are out of control - the people must speak up.
Cricket, cricket...
Do Something.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Look first...then read below...

Now that you've seen...

Can you tell which one is Syria? Libya?
Wanna know who's burning that flag? That would be Libyan students condemning the Western air assault on much for winning hearts and minds.
Guess we're just too damn good at breaking hearts and raping minds of not only our own people but the people of the world - sharing is caring.
And that other picture of Libyan rebels praying on a road side, I just put that in there to show how little we understand our supposed friends and enemies. We educate ourselves in the art of destruction, corruption and profit. We do not look into the circumstances we fly into. We do not take time to understand the situations we fire upon. This is not our war.
Meanwhile, in Syria - protests continue with security forces firing on their own people, killing and wounding demonstrators. According to Syrian authorities, demonstrations of any kind are strictly prohibited, due to 48 year old emergency law...a cozy dictatorial decree.
Despite the iron hand of the Syrian government, even bigger protests are planned for this coming Friday.
So...should we march in there too? I mean why the fuck not? Obama doesn't even go to congress before sending troops so really all it takes is a laid back phone call from the Oval Office and you've got more little green men suited up and ready to go - taking their corporate check lists with them: profit, kill, profit, kill, profit, get the two-step.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cartoons to take the edge off...or to give you one...

The double standard

Isn't it interesting how, as a people, we have fewer and fewer rights every day - yet as a nation, we have the right to do whatever the fuck we want, whenever the fuck we want to whoever the fuck we want to do it to?
And how we can look on remotely at catastrophic events the world over, feeling comfortably apathetic and removed, ignorantly sure it could never happen to us...
A troubling double standard...
Since my last blog post, it seems that the world is growing ever closer to that apocalyptic climax, where mother nature and our own stupidity will team up to shrug us off this earth like water droplets off a dog.
The three-fold catastrophe in Japan served as a wake-up call in most educated circles. Alternative energy gurus across the globe sarcastically quipped that you can't get cancer from a windmill. Japan is probably the best constructed country in the world to deal with natural disasters. There are some towns, even by the ocean, where if it weren't for the long lines awaiting food, you'd have no idea anything had happened.
As I sit here in downtown LA, perusing the time torn relics hobbled next to fancy top-heavy sky scrapers, I wonder...what are the chances that I'll be out of town when this shit falls into the ocean? I hate to be so doomsday about it, but that's pretty much what will happen. In a recent interview with a foreman at one of California's two nuclear power plants, San Onofre - on the beach by the way - a reporter asked how that power plant would do against a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami. In retrospect, the question seems silly. This particular power plant has had dozens of violations in the past few years including failed emergency generators, improperly wired batteries and falsified fire safety data.
I can almost smell the radiation. Fun news tho - between that and the new airport scanners, maybe we can afford to live without electricity as we'll all probably be independently luminescent by then - fuck!
Back to the riveting interview: the foreman of the San Onofre plant admitted that the power plant had been constructed to withstand a tsunami wave of 30 feet, having built reinforced concrete walls around it. In regards to the earthquake, apparently it was constructed to withstand a 7.0...
BUT - he said it would more than likely handle a 9.0. As the camera panned back to Wolf Blitzer in the studio, he cocked his head to the side and said, "I'm not really sure how those facts match up."
Well, no shit, Wolf. Because they don't. We are royally screwed when mother nature shakes her angry fist in our direction. The South Pacific has been getting a lot of shakes...we're due. All seismologists agree it's not "if," it's "when." And they feel with all the seismic activity as of late, it'll more than likely be sooner.
And as Germany this week, shut down all nuclear power plants that are over 30 years old, we look on with nonchalant arrogance, scoffing at security issues at the majority of our power plants.
Could it be that we're too tied up in our THIRD GOD DAMN MIDDLE EASTERN WAR?!
In a grotesquely eerie timing, on March 19th, we set off 110 missiles into Libya. The very next day marked our 7 year anniversary of the shit storm in Iraq. Happy Birthday middle east - we just can't get enough of you!
A journalist from the week noted that "The majority of Americans agree, whether liberal, conservative or in between" that we have no business being in the Middle East, that Libya is not worth the life of one American soldier. "The U.S. has just spent a decade at war, trying to save Iraqis and Afghans from themselves. Enough."
Well, it apparently isn't enough for the corporate cocks up top. They smell more oil, and more opportunities to use these freedom hungry rebels to their advantage.
It is the same tune as it has always been: we don't give a flying frisbee about the rights of people - particularly dirty foreigners. We care about dollar signs and bottom lines. The rebels in Libya have not proven that they can run a country any more effectively than any mob. I'm not saying I disagree with or dishonor their plight, but fighting for your life and for your freedom is a lot different than running a country.
So, once again, with complete disregard for facts or public opinion, Obama gives the OK to send in the cavalry. On a side note, is there any way we can get his peace prize revoked? If this is the criteria for a peace prize, I think Bush should get one too - to put next to his little green soldiers and his oil tankers.
The dangerous disregard for life and Middle-Eastern public opinion (never mind our own) continues to drown us in a corporate quicksand that is increasingly harder to survive in. It wrecks our own economy and infrastructure while simultaneously doing the same to all those we touch - for the top 1% we are Midas. For the 99% of the rest of us, it is death.
And, what do we have to say about it?
Cricket, cricket....
I would normally put some sort of expletive here to show how my face looks as I write this. But today, it's just sad and disappointed. Yes, we do disagree with the mandate in Libya. Yes, we overwhelmingly feel nuclear power is stupid and at the very least that security has to be flawless! Yet all we do is mutter our opinions to ourselves and then continue on with our day, as if doing something is too pre-emptive for problems that don't really seem too pressing.
You don't feel that damn pressure? You don't feel the raping of your rights, your wallets, your future...if you don't, check your nerves, b/c it's fucking painful. But make sure you have priceless health care (i.e. unless you're a corporate cuddly, you don't) , otherwise you'll end up homeless after a nurse tells you to cough.
So, what are we doing? Honestly. What the fuck are people doing to make them so blind to their own demise? Nothing...and that is the problem.
If you think things are bad now, just wait. Sit and do nothing - be nothing. Continue on with your meandering days, go ahead and plan your next 10 years, buy that baby stroller for the poor bastards who will come after us. And then just sit back and wait.
War, famine, natural disasters, nuclear explosions, lack of water, shelter, power, hospitals - not to mention the workings of an industrialized society: education, roads, public works, social programs.
The ascent of man reached its peak, and now we are nose-diving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The fine print

While I make it a point to point out the weaknesses and ills of our country, I'd like to point out that in actuality, I am a patriot. I wholeheartedly believe in the United States, in its potential to promote justice, freedom, hard work and the pursuit of dreams and happiness, not only to its own people but to the rest of the world.
I just don't think we do any of that. Like I say to many people, I love the idea of my country, I hate what it's turned into.
And I know many people out there feel the same way. We cling to good news, the glimmers of our advancement through economic trenches, the lights at the end of the tortured war-mongering tunnels. So of course many of us were very excited last week to hear that in February, the Labor Department happily announced that the US had added 192,000 jobs, the most in more than a year.
You're probably thinking - fuck, she's not gonna rain on that too? - yes, yes I am.
The fine print:
Private Sector jobs added: 220,000
State and Local government jobs added: -30,000
But, but - yes.
The public sector lost 30,000 jobs in the month of February while corporate America surged ahead adding over 200,000.
So what? Jobs are jobs right?
Put simply, this is bad news.
As many of you have noticed, what's right for corporate America is rarely right for the 95% of us who don't enjoy multi-billion dollar salaries. Someone asked me the other day, what's the difference between politicians paid off by unions and politicians paid off by corporations?
Well, think about it. Unions, although they can be a royal pain in the ass, are there to protect the rights of the worker, the public sector worker, the middle class (if we still had one). Corporations are built on the concept of protecting their bottom line - it even says so in the definition for fucks sake!
That's the difference, and just by looking at the facts, you can see it in action.
Have you noticed the rising food prices? Oil prices? The continuous failing of our infrastructure, our schools, government jobs and public services? Police may not be able to get to you in time - but I bet if you had the phone number to a private security firm rent-a-cop, he'd get there quicker than you can pull money out of an ATM.
Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon. What Naomi Klein named "Corporate Shock Treatment" is actually a tried and true method, tested back in the 70s and 80s in places like Argentina, Chile, China and Poland. The CIA backed coups and corporate run revolutions to secure funds that democratically elected leaders in those countries didn't feel like coughing up. The IMF is effectively a global corporate loan shark, something John Maynard Keynes would start a war over if he was here to see it.
And now, these lab tested theories are coming to work at home. What better way of making money than reaping from your very own crop? With total control over a still-considered superpower, corporate America, without rules and regulations is free to continue pillaging without worry from government interventions. Why did the Supreme Court rule that corporations are people? Why would Obama lift even more regulations from corporate rulings? Put simply, government is corporate. The US government is not a free enterprise run by the people, for the people and of the people. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it is frighteningly true.
Government regulations on corporate actions help keep people safe, and a country functioning properly. A free market economy, a la the Chicago School and Milton Friedman does not fucking work. Friedman is a greedy hawk, not interested in how the free market will regulate itself but in the corporations he can make rich by giving them the reigns to regulate it themselves. Markets don't regulate themselves, they're not artificially intelligent beings that can dictate how to effectively price bread and oil. Humans made the market system ergo they need to regulate. Period.
The attack on the unions is yet another step in breaking down the public workings of a state and then rebuilding it with corporate agendas. Just like you would electro-shock a patient suffering from anxiety and then attempt to rebuild with pills and therapy.
The blank slate idea doesn't work for humans and it doesn't work for governments. It breaks them down and causes mass poverty and hysteria.
Sorry to say folks but that's where we're headed.
I urge you to look into the happenings in Chile, September 11, 1973 (ironic...), Argentina, March 24th 1976, China, June 5th 1989. Check into the shadowy caverns of the Internet and find our involvement - it's there, the arrogant pricks don't even try to hide it. Read up on it and then compare it to what's going on now.
If you see, as I did, the eerie similarities and the fucking terrifying foreboding of events to come, let me know. Leave a comment, an idea and let's start this revolution.
We can still fight for the rights we have and steal back the ones that have been taken. But, we, the people, have to Do Something.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The deciders shadow

Libya continues on its way to an all out civil war: Gaddafi’s forces using tanks and rockets to push back rebel forces between eastern and western Libya. A revolutionary recently told a reporter that they are severely outgunned, holding up a light machine gun, shaking his head, “See this? This is no good. People are dying.”
Even though some rebels are equipped with heavier artillery, they don’t have access to, say, warplanes and tanks, often times mounting found anti-aircraft guns onto pick-up trucks.
There are mutterings suggesting that Gaddafi might be trying to leave the country, but without concrete evidence, the firefight continues. To make matters all the worse, rebels are running short on oil, making their advance slower and more trying.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Obama is being pressured by some to do more about it. Critics suggest that his talking points are about as helpful as throwing a spit ball at Gaddafi. Others say he shouldn’t even be doing that.
At a time when our presence in the Middle East is less than popular, rumors are being thrown around that the US is in fact behind ALL the revolutions, the main gust that rocked the cradle.
While I think that’s mostly horse shit, it’s best not to puff up considering our already unstable footing in the Middle East.
And speaking of our growing infamy, Obama announced today that he will be keeping Gitmo open, resuming military trials and keeping prisoners indefinitely, some without trials. The executive order came with deep disappointment from the cabinet’s liberal supporters and vindictive “I told you so’s” from conservative critics.
Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union commented on the decision: “The detention of Guantanamo detainees for nine years without charge or trial is a stain on America’s reputation that should be ended immediately, not given a stamp of approval.”
Rep. Peter King - Republican, N.Y., a loud and obnoxious opponent of the federal court hearings in NYC, of which the supposed 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was a part. King was nice enough to give Obama a back handed compliment, praising his decision as a continuation of his predecessors policies to defend our country, “The bottom line is that it affirms the Bush administration policy that our government has the right to detain dangerous terrorists until the cessation of hostilities. This is clearly a step in the right direction.”
Ummmm...a cessation of hostilities? I’m no expert, but aren’t we the jack offs over on their soil blowing the shit out of their civilians every day? What would we allow them to do in the name of protecting their own till we get the fuck out of there? Oh yeah, that’s right - we don’t.
I guess since under the newly released Patriot Act (another cracker jack move by Obama), the government is allowed to jail their own citizens without trial, it would seem grossly unfair not to condemn accused terrorists of the same thing. Even if there’s absolutely no hard evidence against about 90% of prisoners in Gitmo. Clearly, it’s a pre-emptive thing...
With this news, I wouldn’t really be surprised if Obama were to announce within the next few days the unilateral takeover of Libya’s government. For as much as his cabinet claims to hate being compared to “W,” they certainly don’t do much to try and avoid it. From playing corporate lap-dog, to upping military presence in the Middle East, to approving tax cuts for the wealthy, and now this, Obama seems pretty comfortable in Bush Jr.’s shoes.
The closer we inch towards 2012, the more I see things being pushed back to the right. Conservative governors have got more balls than a batting cage and seemingly liberal lawmakers appear to be bending more and more in the conservative winds gusting our way.
So, what do the people say? Well, as usual, not much. Politics has almost become a spectator sport, although a withdrawn one, like tennis. We merely watch the back and forth, take a break here and there to grab a snack or stretch our legs. We don’t get in the middle, we don’t meddle with the professionals as they play their game.
Again, as much as I’d like to only blame politicians for these dick stick moves, it’s really our fault for not doing anything about it. It’s like getting hit in the face with a tennis ball repeatedly and not moving or complaining about it.
I for one am tired of being a guinea pig, punching bag for bad ideas and partisan bantering. Both sides are fucked. Both sides are fucking paid off idiots. Our silence only supports the idea that the people are even dumber. Apathy can quickly be confused for ignorance. And at the end of the day, when our ever growing pool of enemies washes over us, it won’t be the Bushes at the front lines paying for their mistakes. It’ll be the people. Are we ok with that?
Do Something.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The tangled web we weave

A reporter for the magazine, The Week (a fantastic read I highly recommend) wrote in the latest issue that the US has gone into "superpower bully mode." I didn't quite realize that that had just now happened - I was rather under the impression it had been an ongoing shit show since we first set our eyes on the cradle of civilization, dreams of black gold rocking us to sleep at night.
All the same, apparently we've added a few shots of roids to our trigger happy nature ; all in the name of rescuing a CIA contractor who stupidly blew his cover while murdering two Pakistanis in Lahore.
Apparently this cheery character used to work for Blackwater, that cuddly private mercenary firm famous for its diplomacy. Still, Obama claimed that Raymond Davis was a diplomat with immunity and demanded he be returned to the US immediately.
The glaring inconsistency Obama doesn't seem to notice is that most diplomats don't go on shooting sprees in foreign countries. But hey, as WikiLeaks has proven, our diplomacy is a little rusty - maybe he just needs some sensitivity training...

Meanwhile, US press was "forbidden to mention the killer's connection to the CIA," and being the obliging wieners we are, didn't, until the big balled Brits ran the, what's that smell? Oh, that's the smell of burning rights...1st Amendment is so over-rated anyway - oh, unless you're a religious fascist from Kansas.
As more stories leaked out, more questions were raised, not least of all by Pakistanis, wondering what the hell a heavily armed CIA agent is doing roaming the streets of Lahore.
The big bully responded like all dumb shits with muscle - said nothing of consequence and flexed. The US State Department, since the incident, has canceled ministerial meetings, suspended all high level contacts with Islamabad, and even went so far as to threaten our own ambassador with termination.
But Pakistan isn't flinching at the show of bicep - they remain resolute in wanting to prosecute this haywire American spy for choosing their country for a killing spree.
So, the question is, does he deserve, or even have immunity?
Hold on, I'm stuck in this web...fuck, it's getting thicker...
In another sterling show of intelligence, directly following the crimes, the US Embassy freaked out and told the Pakistani Foreign Office that Davis was an employee of the US consulate in Lahore. This basically means that he is only privy to limited immunity, totally invalid for more serious crimes, like fucking shooting people in the street.
However, when Davis first arrived in Pakistan, the Embassy told the Foreign Office that Davis was their employee, giving him full immunity.
The other question on many Pakistani minds is why the hell was he over there in the first place? In a ballsy but ultimately useless effort, ISI (Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence) has demanded that the US "come clean" about how many CIA ops we have in Pakistan. The only thing the CIA has and probably will ever admit to is that Pakistan is home to one of the "most blatant and biggest CIA covert operations ever."
I could probably hazard a guess as to why - if you read my earlier blog entry regarding Pakistan's unique place in the Middle East quagmire, you'll remember reading that Pakistan does a phenomenal job of playing both sides without playing any. They openly hold no loyalty to terrorist organizations but certainly not to us either. Given their location as well, they are a strategic stronghold for our forays into Afghanistan.
What we really should be doing is actually using diplomacy to earn some brownie points with the effective equivalent of a behemoth swing state. But instead, we trounce around waving our flag and crying that Pakistan caught us in their room breaking their toys, and now we don't want them to tell mommy.
Judging by the protests against the US in the streets of Lahore, I'd say "mommy" knows. And judging by our arrogance and complete disconnect with reality, I'd say we don't care. Even Pakistani journalists such as Yousuf Nazar have come to terms with how we play ball. He has no illusions on whether we will continue with our covert operations, of course we will. We're not gonna throw away a fun scavenger hunt just b/c of one bad egg. But he warns against our arrogance in playgrounds not our own: "Uncle Sam does not have the right to roam at will, and if he thinks he does, he may find himself pondering his folly inside a jail cell."
Poetic words, although I think they are unfortunately falling on deaf ears.
The US is not prepared to live within the confines of rules and regulations - just look at corporate America...and what are private contractors?
Our bullying ways have so far netted us losses far below what most people would expect from the amount of violence we dole out. The fact that we are hated is not a tangible enough reason to stop or curb our actions. Our arrogance is at its peak, and as we puff up our chests, the hate of the oppressed grows as well; hate breeds hate.
If I was to hazard another guess, I would say that Davis' fate will have little to no effect on our dealings in the Middle East, and we will continue to spin lies, and weave deceit and violence from our crooked nest - a place that one day we'll find we can bomb our way out of.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where to draw the line

Ah, the problem with freedom is that it's too free. As a Hitler youth once said, "We love Hitler. He makes us free from freedom." Speaking of Hitler, here's some people he surely would've enjoyed not drinking and slamming minorities with. The Supreme Court just OK'd the anti-gay picketing at funerals of dead soldiers by extremist groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church.
The father of a dead Marine had sued members of Westboro Baptist Church for picketing outside his son's funeral with signs such as "Thank God for dead soldiers," "You're going to Hell," "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11" and so on.
According to Rev. Fred Phelps, the crazed piece of shit that runs Westboro Baptist Church, soldier deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are God's way of punishing the US for tolerating homosexuality.
The marine's father, Albert Snyder filed a lawsuit for intentionally causing emotional distress. Initially he won $11 million, further brought down to $5 million, before the case went to the Supreme Court where it was thrown out on the grounds that our Constitution protects the church members from liability.
I'm not gonna lie - I wouldn't wanna be the guy deliberating this case. And I can just hear the cries of "slippery slope" if he had judged the other way.
I think the Phelpses (the church is mostly just family members - scraping the bottom of the gene pool) should be air-lifted into Iraq and Afghanistan, put into combat situations with their dumb shit signs and slogans and then see how they feel about the tragic deaths of young kids in uniform.
However, since I don't see that being a verdict anytime soon, I find myself reluctantly agreeing with the judge.
Unless picketers or preachers or nut-jobs advocate violence or insight rioting, freedom of speech should be upheld. I only wish it would be upheld more globally - for example, here in LA, where you can now go to jail for protesting - considered disturbing the peace (trust me, there's no peace in LA anyway).
Unfortunately, I don't live anywhere near where these ignorant, soulless crusaders are, but if I did, I'd go out there and yell right back at 'em.
If they can constitutionally stand there, so can we. It might even turn into a nice little soiree for the right and left. Regardless of where you stand on the wars overseas, you can stand together against those brain damaged yahoos.
For example, I am vehemently anti-war, but I bow my head at each mention of another dead soldier. I remember putting name tags on "Arlington West," a symbolic graveyard in the sand of Santa Barbara, a cross for each dead soldier, their names rubber banded to the cross. I broke down half way through - average age, 19.
I would be the loudest, most obnoxious protester at those funerals. I would plant myself in front of them, occupy their simple minded hate with contradictory verses from their own damn bible, bring signs that were bigger, louder, brighter.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Freedom of speech might not be around much longer, while it is, enjoy it. Do Something.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The parallels

Fast Blast: News 3.1.11

Having perused today's biggest stories, I feel confident in admitting that I have absolutely no idea which one to focus on - ergo, I give you many.
But first, I wanted to share a strange experience from last night. I went to a hockey game, which could seem odd for the simple fact that I live in LA, but something else happened, just before the game that sent chills.
As with any professional sporting event, there is the time before the first pitch, puck, punt or plunge where some adorable or fittingly famous person steps up to sing the National Anthem.
It was quiet, eerily so. I could barely even hear a chair squeak in the cavernous echo chamber that is Staples Center. Everyone stood, having sprung up at the mention of the Anthem, as if it were a knee jerk reaction, almost involuntary. I stood, slowly, surveying the crowd.
The little girl vibratoed her way through the Anthem at a snails pace, giving me more gloriously grotesque time to clench my fists and shudder.
Why are we standing? For what are we showing respect? What does the flag mean - to you, to me, to anyone in that crowd? It doesn't really have to mean anything. It's a program, a system. We stand and stare blankly upwards, at a strategically placed flag, mumbling the words to ourselves, eying the nachos on the floor, fidgeting with our keys. We become empty. And to ponder the inverse of this phenomenon, what are we full of? I'm not trying to be cheeky, I'd really like to know - what goes on in the hearts and minds whenever something nationalistic or patriotic is mentioned or performed? As a lyricist, I have an almost incessant need to dissect and analyze the lyrics to any song. If one were to listen to the lyrics of our National Anthem, really listen to them, not just through our ears but into our minds...would we still stare blankly - would it make us feel uncomfortable at the mention of a Utopian land of the free? A hearkening back to the days when our forefathers fought for the ideals we either don't have any more or are too far removed to protect and enjoy.
It made me wildly uncomfortable. If we, the people, if only for a moment, pondered the stark contrast between the lives we lead today, and the foundations of this country, we could start that revolution so desperately needed to effect change. Break the corporate chains, and do something.

Now for the news outside my head:

Two week notice: Just in the nick of time, the House has approved a measure to fund our gross spending another two weeks so they can talk and order more takeout, keeping Smokey the Bear in uniform and avoiding a shutdown...for now. In those two weeks, the bill will trim spending by $4 billion. It passed the House with a 335-91 vote. Republicans had originally hoped to pass the bill with $61 billion on the chop block but Obama vowed to veto that bill saying it would only escalate the economic problems by cutting back on necessary funding and programs. Ummm, I have a question? Is history still taught in schools? Or did the Texas board of education throw that out along with the mention of "separation of church and state," fossils and Europe? I seem to remember something called the New Deal, a series of public works projects aimed at bolstering the economy while putting the country to work...seemed to work pretty well. But hey, cutting education, health care, police, fire fighters and funding for MORE JOBS seems like a totally awesome idea too - keep up the good work!

The blame game: Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh blames the US and Israel for the growing unrest in the his country.
Apparently, the spread of uprisings are " managed by Tel Aviv and under the supervision of Washington," Saleh said. "What do you have to do with Egypt or Oman? Are you president of the United States, or are you president of the world?" Well, to be honest, I don't even think he's doing a cracker jack job at the former. It must come as a shock to us, these fighting words, considering that last year alone, Yemen received $150 billion in military aid to fight Al Qaeda's insurgency, and just last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates pledged another $75 million aimed at doubling the U.S.-trained Yemeni counter-terrorism unit. So, that's where that money goes - wonder if that was on the chop block...hmmm, probably not. Teachers are easier to cut off than military - they only have brains, not guns. Meanwhile, back in Yemen, there seems to be mixed feelings for the future. Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a "global terrorist," according to Washington, gave a speech promising that "an Islamic state is coming." However, more secular demonstrations have sprung from many of the Universities seeking the seemingly simplistic ideals of freedom. "We need freedom. Freedom from Saleh." Good luck my friend - I'm sure we'll be there when he eventually does fall to spend more money we don't have and piss more people off in the process. Until then, keep fighting the good fight.

Underground Dungeons: Further evidence of Gaddafi's cruelty was unearthed as revolutionaries in Benghazi wandered into the previously blockaded government and military areas of the city. Along with tales of torture, police brutality, and unexplained disappearances, the revolutionaries found underground dungeons - really just holes in the ground - held up by wood beams, with single pipes from the outside world providing air, keeping prisoners alive long enough to suffer the maximum. The revolutionaries had found bones and skeletons along with 7 men, still alive, who were taken immediately to the hospital. A 26 year veteran of Gaddafi's armed forces happened to be there as an ABC news reporter surveyed the scene. He had his four children with him, showing them the ruins of Gaddafi's home and compound. He told the reporter that they used to just throw people into the holes, forget about them - no one would ever come out alive. I wonder what dark secrets are lurking in the compounds of our red, white and blue...

Republicans hate nature: House Republicans want to sever ties with the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), pulling all their funding from the project. "It (IPCC) is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for," Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer said. He also said, that "More than 700 acclaimed international scientists have challenged the claims made by the IPCC. These 700-plus dissenting scientists are affiliated with institutions like the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, the U.S. Air Force and Navy, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency." Ummm...since when were the armed forces the go-to-guys on climate change? Especially when their salaries lie in your grubby hands? Fuck, they'll tell you that goblins are falling from the sky if it gives 'em an extra bonus at Christmas time! The EPA? Really? They've been castrated and useless for years. The only difference between any of these agencies is who the corporate dick stick behind them is. As another thinly veiled fuck you to mother nature, tucked in the pages of the budget cuts, Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, authored the prohibition of any funds to implement the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Service, on the 2012 requested budget from Obama....I was gonna write more but I think I'm gonna go outside while I can still suck in some clean oxygen without a tank on my back.