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.