Tag Archives: solutions

The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is…


I have written before on the purpose that fairy tales served in our not too distant past before they were sanitized and Disneyfied.  In short, they were very useful for keeping children in line.  Fear.  Our first method of discipline as children is often fear.  It is typically the same method that many western religions use.  It is the reason that the phrase “god-fearing Christian” still exists in our lexicon.  (That, and it is baked into the Judeo-Christian religion at a fundamental level.)  As we grow and mature, we can develop into more complex and reasonable ways to discipline and learn.  Fear need not be the way we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, nor should it be the way we govern ourselves, or our society.

Decisions made on the basis of fear are almost always knee-jerk reactions, and more often than not, short of truly critical individually life threatening emergency situations, they are wrong.  Fight or flight responses are almost never appropriate for a society.

This is precisely what we do though.  We elect people more often than not based on fear.  Fear of “the other guy”.  Fear of what will happen if we act on the courage of our convictions.  Fear that “this election is too important to take a chance”.  Fear that we are “at war” with al Qaeda, on drugs, on poverty, on women, on ________ .

All too often, those we elect, and worse yet, those we do not elect, but that are in positions of extraordinary power, are more than happy to use this fear to manipulate and control the populace in the ways that they see fit.  In fairness, some of them are dong so because they sincerely believe that it is necessary.  They truly believe that “the world is a dangerous place” and that “the ends justifies the means”.  These are the people that I most feel sorry for.  They fail to understand that they are actually creating or exacerbating the problems that they are seeking to protect us against.

Yes, there are bad people in the world, and yes, we do have to take steps to protect ourselves against them.  We do not, however, have to go overboard with that.  We do not have to start sacrificing our liberties and our minds in that pursuit.  With complete honesty and not the least bit of hyperbole, it is these people, the ones that are supposed to be protecting us, that scare me far more than the al Qaedas, the M-13s, or the Somali pirates of the world.  I literally have no fear of walking through Chicago’s Auburn Gresham or Shanghai at 2:00 am (which I have done), but these people at the NSA, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the other nearly 1,300 other governmental organizations plus 2,000 private companies?  Yeah, they cause me a great deal of alarm.  Read those numbers again, and stop to think about that.  That is a security apparatus that is not transparent.  It is not even fully known how widely it stretches.  You will not find anyone, any where, who can eve tell you how much money is being spent on these operations.  You will find estimates, but no accurate totals.

And, it is, by its very nature based on fear.  What do animals that are fearful do?  Have you ever seen a cornered dog or cat?  One that is afraid?  That is a dangerous animal!

Then, there are the other types of people who are involved in this community.  Those are the people who should be removed from their positions, stripped of their wealth and prosecuted for a variety of crimes.  In many cases, crimes against humanity.  These are the people who have used fear to manipulate and control simply to enrich themselves and their friends.  They have used fear to maintain positions of power, wealth and prestige.  These people are rightfully called terrorists.  For they use terrorism, and the dictionary definition of terrorism is clear:

terrorism

1.   the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.

2.   the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

3.   a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Osama bin Laden was “on the run” for more than a decade after having been identified and claiming responsibility for the attacks on America on 9/11/2001.  During that time we launched three wars – The War on Terrorism, the War in Iraq, and the War in Afghanistan.  (Though the right has tried to revise history, the Bush cabal clearly made an effort to tie the War in Iraq to al Qaeda and sold it as part of the War on Terrorism.)  All three of these wars were to have two purposes.  First, to defeat al Qaeda, and by extension, any and all terrorists who would attack the US, and by extension, any Western interests anywhere around the world.  Second, to find and capture or kill Osama bin Laden.
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More Failed Political Theatre


July 24, 2013 – The “Amash Amendment” was voted down.  What was this amendment, you might wonder?  It got very little coverage really, so you wouldn’t be so out of line to ask.  The Amash amendment, surprisingly, was offered by a Republican representative despite the opposition of the Speaker of the House, Boehner.  It would have limited the NSA’s ability to collect the so-called meta data on phone and internet data usage, and otherwise reduced the funding and scope of the NSA.  It drew, as politics sometimes is wont to do, a strange series of bedfellows.  Right wing “libertarians” and “left wing liberals” joined together to support this bill and still it failed by a vote of 205 to 217.   Here is the roll call so you can see how your own representatives voted.

On the one hand, it really didn’t matter how this vote turned out.  We should all understand that.  Should this have passed, and then succeeded in the Senate, which was far from likely to begin with, the POTUS had promised to veto it.  Of course, he has promised to veto numerous things in the past and then signed them any way.  However, this one, I find his threat much more credible as it is more in line with his right wing totalitarian regime approach to things.  “Trust me.  We’ve got your best interest at heart.  We’ll give you some pretense of good faith, such as lip service about believing in same-sex marriage, but in reality, we’re going to call out the militarized police to control you and beat you into submission, while half way around the world, we kill children in your name.”  {Some Afghan kids aren’t bystanders, indeed!!  You right wing, murderous bastard!}

–  Deep breaths  –  Deep breaths  –  Deep breaths  –

It is also very likely that he would not have vetoed it because he has come out so strongly in support of the program.  For example, on June 18, 2013:

Charlie Rose: So I hear you saying, I have no problem with what NSA has been doing.

Barack Obama: Well, let me — let me finish, because I don’t.

Or, on June 7, 2013:
“In the abstract, you can complain about ‘Big Brother’ and how this is a potential program run amok. But when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance,” he said.

Except, we are not allowed to look at the details, so you are asking us to take your word, and since you have shown yourself to be a liar, we can’t trust that, Mr. President.

So, if you think that there was really any chance that this amendment would have succeeded, then I would like to discuss a lake I have for sale.  You might be interested.  It has a beautiful view, and several ships are included.  Details here.

Okay, so it didn’t really matter because president Napoleon the Pig, er, I mean Obama would have vetoed it.  However, it also didn’t matter, because if the POTUS is to be believed, and he has been backed on this by many in the congress, then:

“The programs are secret in the sense that they are classified. They are not secret, in that every member of Congress has been briefed,” he said during a speech in San Jose, Calif. “These are programs that have been authored by large bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.”

Understand what that means is that each of those 205 members of congress that voted for the Amash amendment is one of two things.  Either they are so spineless that they couldn’t act without sufficient support around them.  They couldn’t stand on their own two feet to say, “This is wrong, and I must stand against it.”  Or, they are still conducting political theatre.  They saw that there were enough people in their constituencies that were at least a little upset that they would benefit from making it appear that they were trying to do something to end these programs, without actually trying to do something.  Then, they can return to what is much more important to the Republicans in the House of Representatives – a 40th attempt to repeal the ACA, other wise known as Obamacare.

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Into the Looking Glass


I watched a video this week that I think was very powerful.  I would really like you to take the 7 minutes 37 seconds of your life to watch it, and then let us have an intimate little chat, shall we?

Let me start by saying, I am one of either the lucky ones or the strong ones.  Take your pick.  Either way, I have been through my share, and I do not need anyone’s pity or even sympathy.  At this point, I will give at least as good as I get, and I don’t necessarily say that with any pride.  I simply state it as fact. To be honest, I recognize that sometimes, I can go overboard and tend to escalate the situation, because I simply refuse to back down.  As my father said, I didn’t learn to duck, even when I should.

Understand?

So, yeah, that’s me now.  It wasn’t always so.  In elementary school and all the way up until about half way through the 8th grade even, I was the target of the neighborhood bullies.  Yep.  I was beaten and verbally abused.  I was the nerd.  And, I took it.  I did; I did.  Something happened one day out on the track field, and I am only vaguely aware of the specifics of the events.  It isn’t the haze of time.  I wasn’t entirely certain what happened even on that day.  I remember leaning on the fence out at the track field, and the little shit, neighborhood bully, Marcel, came up behind me.  He grabbed me in a “full Nelson”, locking his arms through mine and behind my head.  From there, I am not sure how, but I got out and the next thing I know, I have him down on the track. I’m using the asphalt as a grater for his face.  A few moments later, after some screaming from the crowd, the coaches were separating us.  I’m not sure who was more shocked – Marcel or I.  I went over and sat under a tree.  And, that, was the end of that shit.

A lot of other kids haven’t found it in themselves to do the same.  That certainly isn’t to say that I haven’t dealt with other situations.  Other people who thought they were going to bully or intimidate me, or others, into control of a situation.  It is only to say, that was the last time that was going to have any effect on me.

Do you grok?

Martin Niemöller

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,    First they came for

habe ich geschwiegen,                                   the communists,

ich war ja kein Kommunist.                         and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                           because I wasn’t a

.                                                                          communist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, Then they came for the

habe ich geschwiegen,                                     socialists,

ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.                    and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                             because I wasn’t a

.                                                                             socialist.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,                Then they came for the

habe ich geschwiegen,                                     trade unionists,

ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.                     and I didn’t speak out

.                                                                             because I wasn’t a trade

.                                                                             unionist.

Als sie mich holten,                                            Then they came for me,

gab es keinen mehr,                                            and there was no one left

der protestieren konnte.                                   to speak for me.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

When I was 12 in 1984, a full 20 years after the voting rights act that the SCOTUS so injudiciously recently gutted, I was playing in my yard with my brother who was 11.  We lived in a predominately black neighborhood, and we were the minority.  A black family had just moved in next door, with a young daughter.  She was maybe 9 or so.  She came up to the fence tentatively.  Almost fearfully, and asked, “Are you allowed to play with black children?”  Did you read that?!  It brings tears to my eyes as I type it now 28 years later.  “Are you allowed to play with black children?”  That child should never have had that thought much less have had to ask it, and yet, she already knew that in some places, that would have caused problems.  Problems not only for her, but for her family.

How deep does the rabbit hole go?
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Same as The Old Boss


You thought you were getting something different?

“Hollywood” hasn’t been giving you anything different for years, and you bought it.  While the critics have analyzed it all and told you how great and new it all is.  Yet, it has all been done before, to the point where many of the movies have literally been recycled (Here’s a bonus 20 more).  Fashion hasn’t been giving you anything new for decades, and you bought it, while the fashionistas raved about how the beautiful people were decked out in daring new styles never seen before.  Music on the radio (terrestrial and satellite) have become more and more homogeneous with every passing year as they have become more and more consolidated, while you bought it.

And, your political parties have become more and more impossible to distinguish from one another, while the pundits have screamed louder and louder about how different they are, while you bought it.  When the reality is that if you removed the party labels, and the names; if you simply listed their “accomplishments”, you would be hard pressed to distinguish any of the last 5 presidents from each other.  In fact, with two exceptions, you would be very hard pressed to distinguish any of the last 9 from each other simply by their accomplishments or policies.  Those two exceptions are Carter and Nixon.  One being simply too nice to have accomplished anything in such a tarnished and cut throat office, and the other being so criminal that he made the others look almost decent.

For an excellent, though brief, analysis of those policies and achievements pop over here.  I’ll wait.

I disagree with the conclusions that the author has reached, because I see that history has taught us one very important truth.  The power is always with the people.  The people always have the ability to change the government at their will.  The only questions are whether it will be done peacefully and what form will come after.  Other than that, it is matters of details – how, when, and at what cost.

It is not too late for “we the people” to change the course of America.  It is not too late to reclaim it from the “corporations are people” group.  It doesn’t have to even be done in a violent manner.  We can do it through grassroots efforts and through the ballot box, but to do so, we have to actually wake up and pay attention.  We have to get our noses out of the boob tube, and care more about this:

NSA Rejecting Every FOIA Request Made by U.S. Citizens

than we do about this:

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

I talk to people and they tell me we need to change the way we vote.  Some one suggested the other day that we should change to the Instant Runoff Voting system.  There are several problems with this, but the largest is that it doesn’t actually address the problem.  People are still funding and voting for Democrats and Republicans because they believe they have no real alternatives.  This plurality voting system isn’t really going to change that.  People are still going to place the R or D at the top because they’re still going to believe that those are the only two viable alternatives.  It is that belief that has to be broken through.  Until that is done, people will continue to hold their noses and vote for one or the other, and then continue to bitch and moan about it for the next two or four years, whining the whole time about how “we have no control” and “they only give us these choices.”

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Occupy Every Day


Every once in a while it is important to revisit older topics, that we’ve discussed before.  Today, I would like to come back to a couple of those, because they remain important and relevant.

If we are going to maintain pressure and relevance, then we have to continue to remember to act, right?  One of the major knocks against the Occupy movement, for example, is that it lost focus.  Certainly the occupation of major parks, and the various actions that were taken beginning in September of 2011 were breathtaking and stoked the imagination.  They fired me up.  They captured the hopes of many who were struggling to find “hope and change” in an America that had yet again been lied to and misled.

And, then, they fell apart.  As with most inclusive movements, it fell prey to its own grand ideals.  Instead of staying focused on the financial purposes that it started with, it wanted to be leaderless and then it became amorphous and had so many tentacles and purposes that it lost its relevance.  Oh, to be sure, it still exists.  The movement that is.  I believe that there are still a few active occupations.  Somewhere… Maybe.  Even I have lost track, and interest.  They lost me when they got off track.  And, yes, I admit that I boisterously proclaimed that it was the last great hope for America.  I even went so far in my fervor at the time as to say that if it failed, then I would start voting for the most evil right wing candidate I could find in order to simply hasten the fall of America.  “Bring on the burning,” I said.

I retract those words, and acknowledge my own foolishness in having said them.  I can only say that I was fired up and hopeful.  I was excited and trying to get others equally fired up and motivated.  I do still believe that it had great potential.  Had there been some strong hands to guide it and maintain focus at the core, then it could have accomplished great things.  I do think that it had impact, in changing the focus of the conversation ever so slightly.  It was not the impact though that it could have had, and the damn Tea Partiers are still holding too much sway.  Largely that is because there was too heavy an influence in the Occupy movement that simply felt that they could somehow change the system without actually being participants in the system.

There are only two ways to change a political system.  One can either participate in and change it from with in, or one can violently overthrow it.  That’s it.  There are no other alternatives to changing it.  If you play a pussy-foot, half-in-half-out game then what happens is that you wind up supporting (whole heartedly) the status quo.  That is what happened with the occupy movement.  Too many wanted to try to maintain the illusion that they were above and beyond the system, while still enjoying the benefits of that system.  They wanted the technological benefits (the iPods, the smart phones, the lap top computers, the internet, the wifi, etc), they wanted the Constitutional protections, the responsiveness of the elected representatives, and all that the system had to offer.  They screamed for and demanded their rights.  “Whose park?  Our Park!” and “This is what Democracy looks like” they screamed.  Hell, I screamed, for I took my boys and went down to the streets, too.  But, for all too many of them, they didn’t then want to exercise their responsibilities.  They didn’t want to vote, or participate in the jury pools.  They didn’t want to pay taxes or support that same government that they railed against.  They didn’t want to participate by electing the candidates that would support the views that they wanted supported.  They were only half-in.
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