Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Politics and Poetry: The Peace Keepers

Happy hump day all - as I perused the cacophony of news stories this morning, I began tracing a red thread through all of the military, police and other various "peace keeping" and "law enforcing" headlines. And now, I will share them with you. Enjoy...

"The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis."
- Dalai Lama

The Cradle Will Rock: Egypt smells a bit like South America, and it's not just the summer heat rolling in. There is widespread contention over who won the seat of the first democratically elected president in Egypt, and the military is stepping up to settle it...well not settle, really just dictatorially mandate. Mohammed Mursi, the candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, claims to have won 52% of votes while Mubaraks former aide, Ahmed Shafiq accuses the Brotherhood of "organized and persistent election fraud," further declaring his victory in the election runoff. Now, this might not sound like Chile or Argentina yet, but try this on for size: The Supreme Constitutional Court (aka a collection of Mubarak appointees and military muscle) dissolved both house of parliament last week, which are controlled by the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. The junta (hmmm...seen that word before) then announced a new "interim" constitution that gives generals the ultimate seat of power, basically making any official or unofficial winner a frivolous figurehead. According to this new constitution, generals now have the power to pass laws, control the budget, declare war and steer the drafting of a permanent constitution. 
Now, the issue here is a little sticky. Unlike Chile, for example, neither the Brotherhood nor the ex-Mubarak monkey are attractive choices. The people were deflated about these two before the military stepped up their game. However, the question is this: do you allow someone like the Brotherhood to gain control of the presidency and both houses, thus feeding fear that Egypt will devolve into an Islamist state, or go the military route? In effect, the military staged a coup, usurping the rights of the people and declaring their choices, whatever they may be, a wash. 
Many feel that based on Egyptian activism in the past few years, even if the Brotherhood had gained control of the whole country, laws and customs that would push bitterly won progress back wouldn't fly with such an engaged populace anyway. 
Verdict? My take is that military rule is never a good thing. As one protestor bittersweetly remarked last year, "Military has no problem taking power - but can they let it go?" 
That remains to be seen, but doesn't look promising. 
I may sound naively romantic, but a true government by the people, of the people and for the people is the best - a true republic, where peoples wants and needs are reflected in the decisions of the rulers, not by a military, not by a corporation, by the people. 
Eyes are on you, Egypt. 
Speaking of Chile: For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Chilean coup, I strongly recommend Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine. I won't get into detail now, but long story short. On September 11, 1973 (yes, 9/11), the CIA helped back a terrorist coup of the prosperous and democratic nation of Chile based on economic dissatisfaction with their government. Now, 40 years later, they are still struggling. Last week, Chilean lawmakers were happy to announce a victory over the military that has ruled the country since the 70s. Their victory: repealing the "copper law," that guaranteed the military 10% of the annual income from the nation's copper mines. Instead, the Congress will set the military budget every 4 years. Sounds great...but according to Andres Velasco in La Tercera, it's not as rosy as it looks. Every other aspect of Chilean government is funded yearly. So, let's say another earthquake hits and it's another two years before you can meddle in the military budget. Education, health care and pensions would be slashed before military funding in order to finance rescue and reconstruction...yikes. Furthermore, the new law guarantees that defense spending be no lower than 70% of what it's been for the past 6 years, when copper prices were sky-rocketing and the military was richer than Trump. As Velasco chillingly writes, "Cutting social spending while keeping the military flush is exactly what Pinochet did." Pinochet, the CIA appointed dictator post-coup is casting a lasting shadow on the people of Chile. Like many seeming victories, the vast corruption of this disjointed government overwhelms the small triumphs...unfortunately, the whole damn thing needs an overhaul. 

This side/That side: Well, just in case you were still holding on to any mushy feelings about our two party system, here's a good one for you: Virginia took steps to research the growing flooding problem in the state by funding a study that would investigate causes and possible prevention. However, lawmakers had to omit any reference to "climate change" and "sea-level rise" in order to be granted the funding. Scientists, in and outside of the study say that sea levels along the coast of Virginia have risen more than a foot, and continue to rise. While Republicans agree that flooding is a rapidly growing issue, they refused to allow such terms as "sea-level rise" because it is....drum roll please...
"a left-wing term." 
Well oh my - some would say, hey, be happy they're at least looking into the problem. Well, that's not really true is it? Let's say they find that the cause of flooding is due in large part to global warming...but oh shit, they can't say that. So instead, they'll say - build an ark, God is mad, buy another Hummer and Go America! 
You can't solve a problem if you don't look at the god damn problem to begin with.
Literally undercovers: British minster of policing, Nick Herbert, said last week that undercover police trying to infiltrate, for example, animal-rights or anti-globalization groups have every right to have sex with group members in order to protect their cover. This announcement is met with widespread dissatisfaction and disgust after 8 women lodged a legal action against the Met (Metropolitan police) claiming that they had been "duped into forming long-term loving relationships" with undercover cops. The women feel violated, claiming that they would obviously never have slept with an undercover cop - one woman actually had a child with a policeman who just fucked off as soon as his stint was over.  Herbert's response to the suggestion of banning undercover sex was that such rigid rules would out undercover agents. Barbara Ellen, a writer for The Observer, offered this response. "I'm sure activists don't deliver ultimatums: 'Shag or we'll think you're from the filth.'" Now, maybe they will. 
I take this stance. Is everyone you've had sex with exactly who you think they are? Are facades not a part of our inherent mating ritual? I don't know anyone who is their absolute true self on a first date - I mean come on. Sex can just be sex - it doesn't have to turned into a "long-term loving relationship." Police should not lead them on to the point of having kids or picking out curtains, but let's be honest here: people lead other people on all the time. 
The only thing I would say is wear a rubber and don't promise her the world. 
And ladies, don't get all gushy with a guy who only seems interested in the secret hiding place of those Hummer bombs. 

Don’t Call Me Baby

Twisted glass and broken beams
This smoke don’t taste like steam
Let the sirens mock your lies
And please don’t call me baby

Lookin’ down on a Tuesday night
Eyes tear that face the sky
I know that it ain’t alright
And please don’t call me baby

Thinkin’ were they afraid to fly
Jump up to close my eyes
But this is far too real to hide
And please don’t call me baby
No, please don’t call me baby

I’m not the one to save
My innocence has caved!

City’s quiet as a grave
I ain’t seen you smile in days
And you don’t know just what to say
But please don’t call me baby
Please don’t call me baby

It’s sick and it’s true
Hell’s written all over you
Rip Tide tears my mind
This ain’t no lullaby
I won’t be sleeping tight
Wide awake on this endless night
A new day reaps what’s sewn
Ain’t how you dreamt it but now
I’m grown

Twisted truth and broken dreams
That seat’s as empty as it seems
I feel your eyes now let me see
And please don’t call me baby
Please don’t call me baby

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Politics and Poetry: Around the world

A weekend sampler platter from around the world - mind the sassy American fare and the Russian herring - could be cause for indigestion.

Rose Garden Rogue Reporter: Obama announced new immigration laws yesterday that would allow illegal immigrants who entered into the US as children, to stay as long as they meet certain criteria. Many conservatives, and well, Americans in general, are rolling their eyes at this election year "hand out." One such man is Neil Munro, a conservative blogger for the site the Daily Caller. Wearing a temporary press badge, he interrupted Obama while he spoke, asking: "What about American workers who are unemployed while you employ foreigners?" Obama didn't appreciate the interruption and made it blatantly clear, chastising the reporter before ignoring the question and waiting till the end of his statements to respond, saying how much these young immigrants contribute to our country, from building businesses to serving in the military. Once he answered that question, he quickly turned his back and walked away, taking no further questions.
Now, Munro claims that it was certainly not his intention to interrupt the President, that he was merely trying to get a question in at the last moment, knowing how seldom Obama takes questions at these events. He also, however, told CNN: "I have to ask the questions that you all won't."
Now that, I agree with. No one is asking questions here, at least not ones that matter. In a way, Munro's question is kind of a non-starter as well. Here's one I'd like to ask: "What happens if/when this law is overturned by subsequent administrations, as is often the case?" or "Why has it taken this long to come up with something you feel is so obvious - why now, in election year?"
I'd wager a bullshit response for both, but if a question is going to be aired to the nation, those are more valid, I think. Munro's question is a clearly aimed torpedo at the left with "fuck you, from the right" painted on the side. It's more of the same left/right banter and hectoring that always happens in an election year, a 8 or 9 month pissing contest that ends like a bad prom night: broken promises, faded dreams and a lingering hangover.
I'm with Munro on wanting to ask questions regardless of whether the President is ready for them or not. Propriety be damned. This nation needs more action and less pomp and circumstance.

Just a red herring: US intelligence (wait, don't stop reading yet) believes that Russia has deployed a ship with weapons and troops en route to Syria. According to who's who, the ship has been sent to protect Russia's naval base as the situation in Syria continues to plummet into utter disaster and mayhem. The worry is that Russia has other plans for the troops and weapons once in Syria. This news comes after flying fur between Secretary of State Clinton and Russian officials over Russia shipping attack helicopters to the fascist regime. Russia claims that the helicopters are not new and are simply part of an outstanding contract between Syria and Russia. The director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation in New York, a Kremlin-backed, non-governmental organization (which means a government backed, non-government backed organization) argues that Russia is opposed to sending troops to Syria, understanding that it would prompt other countries into responding with force, something Russia doesn't want to get in the middle of. Never a dull moment, eh? Here's my problem with this - the two issues are not mutually exclusive. Let's say you send the troops to protect that base, vital to Middle Eastern operations for Russia. OK - let's say that Syria takes that as a threat, or even if they don't, introducing large weapons and troops into that kind of situation doesn't speak of tea parties and sit down conversations. If and when the base is attacked by Syrian forces, Russian forces with fight back. And then, there you have it. They weren't meant to start shit in Syria, but oops, that gun I have just kind of did what it was meant to and here we are now - civil war turned outright international war. Now, I'm not a big fan of our ambiguously spineless stance on Syria but I don't want 18 year olds sent to Syria when they should be at home interrupting Obama in the Rose Garden. The UN has already pulled its observers, there to check on Kofi Annan's peace plan (sorry, but that was a joke from the start). Children are being used as human shields, doctors killed for aiding the wounded. If you're going to show force, show force. Don't send in UN observers, and don't tease a rabid animal with 'protecting your naval base.' Do something or don't. Half assing it does no one any favors, least of all, the dying civilians on the inside.

A mile in our shoes: Egypt will vote this weekend between "the lesser of two evils," a Mubarak man or an Islamist brother. It seems that their democracy is faltering before it has a chance to stand - somewhat like ours, only that ours is crumbling from a self made pedestal. Either way, the lesser of two evils argument is a well known one. Many Egyptians feel that they're back at square one, in fighting and disillusionment rampant as the imminent hand over of military to civilian rule draws nearer. The fear is that the military will not relinquish power, thus forcing a violent end to the attempted democratic proceedings. As polling began Saturday, a third option arose that seemed quite the popular choice: boycott. Still, Egyptians are showing up to vote, one man explaining his choice as "the best of the worst."
Another issue is that polling takes place with no parliament or constitution in place, just the military. The new president has no clear cut role or description, only that he will answer to the military leaders until a constitution is drafted and parliament elected, two things that have no set deadline as of now.
Unrest simmers, but the streets remained relatively quiet in comparison to a year ago. I, for one, hope that unrest doesn't fizzle into apathetic acceptance. Though both our nations can relate to choosing between two steaming piles, at least they seem to be concerned about that predicament.


I won’t go where you are leading
Your two faces are deceiving. 

Whip me, beat me with your faith.

Freedom tastes of chains and death.

Bottom line’s your holy scroll
Greed soaked tyrants find a home
Liberty, justice take the stage
Figure heads in your crusade.

Schizophrenic hypocrites
How dare you kill in our name
Democratically insane
We all lose while you few gain

Here we go
Follow me...follow me...follow me

Divide et impera
Democratia fide est

God Bless America
Defend Freedom

Divide et impera
Democratia fide est

Monday, June 11, 2012

Politics and Poetry 3: Across the spectrum

Hey Revolutionaries, feeling a bit splintered today. Could be the zen yoga countered with the running of the retards on the local Metro. Regardless, here's some headlines from all across the news spectrum, finished up of course, with some poetic license. Enjoy!

Doctors without borders: First of all, watch this video: Syrian mobile hospital.  Even as a lover of words, I fall short, grasping at suddenly weak verbal descriptions of the images in this video. Dr. Kasem is a doctor in the city of Al Qusayr, couched in a torrential province under constant attack by Syrian government forces. It is against the law to treat the wounded civilians. Dr. Kasem holds his oath to save lives above any oath to his violently corrupt government. He works in kinetically make-shift conditions, noting that the hospital is now used by snipers to rain down artillery shells on everyone and anyone, including a 6 year old in Dr. Kasem's care who was badly wounded - his liver, kidney and stomach all hemorrhaging. "You see this boy - is he terrorist?" he asks pointing to the boy, wrapped in blood stained gauze. "They are terrorists," he says motioning out towards the streets where gun fire can be heard in a never-ending sweep of mind-splitting ambiance. "After the revolution, before the revolution, during the revolution, I will help" he says, resolutely looking into the camera of photo journalist Robert King.
Sitting back and letting his words and actions cascade over me, I can't help but think...we aren't bold enough to challenge this regime, but we happily challenged Afghanistan and Iraq...there must be no pot of gold at the bottom of the Syrian rainbow...

Squeaky clean racists: The KKK has put in a bid to adopt a stretch of highway in Union County (is this irony hitting anyone else?) Georgia. The request was filed on May 21 and would give the KKK state recognition for its efforts. According to the white cloaked crusaders they're doing it "to keep the mountains beautiful." State officials have agreed to discuss this rather controversial bid. In my opinion, let 'em clean it up - I didn't realize they were environmentally inclined, but hey, I don't think the trash cares if white trash shuffles them along, might be a happily symbiotic relationship. I would simply state that any credit will be given to the individuals and not the organization, which is probably fair since I don't see the Grand Dragon out shoveling shit on highway 515 very often.

A politician's promise: No really, he promises tax reform. Senator Max Baucus (Democrat), the top Democratic senate tax writer, has promised a comprehensive tax reform bill that will please and gain support from both sides of the aisle. Yeah, and when I was little, I was promised a castle by some fat powder puff in the mall. I have to say, he makes good and valid points, but talk is cheap - our ever growing deficit is not. "Tax breaks have doubled since 1986. They now cost as much in revenue as the entire income tax brings in." And since 1986, there have been about 15,000 changes made to the tax code, one of which brought the number of "temporary" tax breaks from 14 to over 132, with seemingly never ending extensions. Although Baucus is confident, I'm not the only one who's skeptical. According to Howard Gleckman, editor of the blog TaxVox, there's no set foundation to discuss tax reform, like for example, how much taxes should be brought in. With such a fluid and ethereal tax paradigm, how can people with deep rooted and steadfast ideologies grasp this airy musing? And that's not even talking about the cave dwelling, blood sucking lobbyists who will descend on the capital like the walking dead in a Rob Zombie movie, groaning and demanding tax breaks for their thick walleted keepers. I appreciate your fervor Max, but I think it'll be more effective if we raze this bitch and build her up from the ground. A broken system can't fix itself.

Interrogation Room

Close these doors and 
let’s go
Caged room
tense -
to the bone

or you’ll burn
if you stay
mark my words
Our world
Can’t be saved
Mark my words!

There’s no need to fight
they say, cutting the lights
You know life would be grand 
if you just took my hand
There’s no need to fight
they say, cutting the lights
and if I die in this cave,
I just wanna know

Who’s slave am I?

Have you made up your mind?
Give up,
Shut Up!
It’s time...

or you’ll burn
if you stay
mark my words
Our world
Can’t be saved
Mark my words!

There’s no need to fight
they say, cutting the lights
You know life would be grand 
if you just took my hand
There’s no need to fight
they say, cutting the lights
and if I die in this cave,
I just wanna know

Who’s slave am I?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Politics and Poetry 3: Rant and Rave

For those of you who know me, I have an opinion on everything. From politics to spreading peanut butter, it is rare that you find a topic I don't have a comment on deck for.
That being said, I have learned to pick my fights over the years. Believe it or not, I was once an arrogant, far left, borderline extremist who didn't wear shoes, thought all Republicans were evil and all Southerners racist bigots.
From that time, I grew up, put on shoes and moved center ; moved forwards and realized that this country isn't going to fix itself from the see-saw extremes of right or left. It has to be balanced and progressive (no, not the party). From a center stand, you can survey both sides and move with a decision that reflects the best of a nation, not an ideology.
Today, while perusing the internet in search of topics for this post, I grew irritated and depressed. It happens now and then, never to my surprise but always to my disappointment. The political pages of this digital expanse were plastered with nothing more than left/right rubric, the exasperating back and forth of extremes: birthers, racists, and anti-mormons, oh my. Useless and petty commentary that had about as much to do with election issues as what I ate for breakfast.
I noticed another open tab, almost pulsating with disgust, a number which I used in another article I recently wrote: 82,000. That's how many people are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles, just Los Angeles.
Now that, is an issue.
I don't give a rats ass who Romney prays to. I don't give a damn who Obama used to pray with. I'm not electing a god or a priest. I'm electing a president - a president who will make promises now that will fall through the cracks later, just like the people I see outside my window.
And that's ok?

Understand that silence is a response. 

What about jobs? What about education? What about the kids I used to babysit for eating dust in Afghani caves? What about trillions of dollars in debt with my name on it?
With all this on the chop block, all we can think to consume is gossip on forged birth certificates? Come the fuck on, people.
And don't push the blame off. It's on us. You can't blame the host if the guest agrees to eat shit.
Instead of throwing some facts and commentary down - today, I'm simply going to leave you with this rant and rave, this little morsel to chew over, in the hopes that it won't just end in talk.


Apathy is a cancer that kills the soul

These are the lies
you eat
when they feed you

You didn’t wake up when
our freedom died

How DARE you now
question why

This is not a game
no “other side” to blame

We chose this course by never
Demanding more

...would you LISTEN?!

there’s so much wrong
how could you write another song
sex, drugs and rock n roll
welcome to the tearing of my soul

come in, come in -
guilt tastes like fault
take a seat right there by the bank vault
would you hold up your hand

I miss something I’ve never known
a country with no corporate throne
I see it - every day -
my mind peddles truths that aren’t real

Do you dream in freedom
Do you see in ideas of change
Do you get sick from reality -
born from our slavery