Tuesday, August 31, 2010

…And the Republic for Which It Stands.


I am living with a very terrible, nagging feeling these last months. We are in a state of division these days so acute that Republicans and Conservatives cavalierly propose secession and cite states' rights, as if Jefferson Davis were still walking the earth and the Civil War had been but a prelude, and not settled history. These Republicans were the same people who accused the softest critics of the Bush administration of treason in the post 9/11 twilight of the 00s.

As I hear poll after poll indicating that Republicans and the Right likely stand to gain seats, if not a functioning majority in the House, I ask myself:
“Who are these excited fools, and how exactly did they apply their amnesia so selectively?”
“Doesn’t the future of a country matter more to these “patriots” than their declared party’s influence?”

And I am dealing with other terrible, nagging feelings. Among them the suspicion that we may no longer lack the maturity as a nation of citizens to either wait for policies to take effect, or listen to reason of any kind. Emotion and fear consistently trump the facts; and our beliefs, no matter how archaic and unenlightened, drown out news and information. We won’t consider any single simple thing unless it comes to us from someone we want to hear it from at the podium. This is one of the things that is making it so difficult for the population to even agree on a common, concrete, empirical reality.

Not everything is a matter of opinion or belief, and saying so is an act of puerile desperation. But the desperate are outlasting the sane in America today. Voters are insisting on acting like children, citing their refusal of inconvenient facts as philosophical strength and ideological resolve.

The “news,” as it is today, it not helping. The global and national media apparatus is in fact providing the most effective means of disseminating lies, legitimizing contrived inaccuracies and promoting the distractions of the Establishment.

Months ago, I made a list of Republican Senators from around the country and called and emailed each and every one of them about Healthcare reform (some wouldn’t let me email if I didn’t place a zip within their state, so it took some doing.) I started with John Boehner’s office. My feeling was that I had to say something to contradict the lie they kept repeating over and over again, -that the overwhelming percentage of Americans did not want health care reform. I did not want to be unheard by these spectacular liars even if my communications were ticks in the seas of their blind supporters’ screams and yells at town halls.
I asked many writers online to do the same: -not that they call Democrats, but that they specifically call the “opposition” and make reality a thing that much more obvious to disavow. I suspect no one else did this, because I know how long it took me: 3 days.
All I hear is how demoralized, disappointed and unenthusiastic voters are now that the Obama administration has shown it can only pass part of a healthcare reform package, part of a financial reform bill.

Well maybe Obama could have cured cancer in the last year if every single person who ever complained about it called all of their representatives.

Do not forget that "part" of a lazy public is sitting back and saying “Well, I voted” and doing little else since the White House changed hands.
And Now...

...Now those masses who forever want someone to make them feel comfortable, those familiar millions who are always clamoring for some leader to tell them they can have everything they want if they only shut up, if they only listen, if they only follow like supplicants in the presence of God are excited again. The American Right’s goal is enchantment, belief, obedience, uniformity, a homogeneity all in the service of allowing the rich to get richer, and ensure the poor remain raw material for whatever purposes the ruling class see fit.
How could Democrats, Progressives, the Unions, the working class, the poor or the Left, ever have hoped to keep its resolve in the face of that kind of stalwart, idiotic devotion presented as a political movement?
Honestly, I figured it would last longer than a year and a half, but from what I’m reading online, I was dead wrong.

I was as na├»ve as the armies of suckers who lined up to hear a comedian “restore honor” this past weekend in the nation's capitol.

Somebody save this country from its stupider, short-sighted impulses.
Somebody wake it before this idiotic nightmare runs its toxic course.
-SJ
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nice Try.


I recycled a photo I created for the last piece I wrote on Glenn Beck, because that’s just how much time and attention this clown deserves this morning.

The most dishonorable and criminal thing that Conservatives, Republicans and all the hordes of Establishment propping shills in the media; like the whole of the Fox "News" Network, Newsmax and other purveyors of right wing fantasy, do is lie. The Right lies so brazenly and openly about their motives and their intentions and they do it with such sustained dedication, that the truth is often obscured by the simple exhaustion of journalists tired of reminding people of the facts.

Glenn Beck wants you to accept his excuse that his event today is just a coincidence in scheduling, but unless you are the kind of fucking fool who actually watches his cable show with the rapt attention more appropriate for actual news, -you can see this is a lie.

Can I or anyone read Beck’s mind and prove otherwise?
Of course not.

But childishly citing the absence of telepathy as the reason to accept this jackass’s excuse that he is trying to organize a “take back” of the Civil rights movement while unknowingly doing it on the anniversary of one of the most important dates in American history and Civil rights history, -is just more lying by Beck, Fox News, Rupert Murdoch and their PR teams.

The result and consequence of this rally is the same, -a desperate attempt at thinning and obscuring an important date in civil rights history with bullshit because there is an African American in the White House.

“Nice try, asshole.”

While Glenn Beck may have succeeded in fulfilling the wishes of Americans so scared to think for themselves that they’ll watch some unqualified jerkoff like him scribble Conservative paranoia on a black board, the vast majority of the world and Americans remain keenly aware that Glenn Beck’s time on TV, his public appearances, his “books” are all just one big publicity stunt. Like Sarah Palin, no paid hypocrisy, or promise of exposure is too immoral or dishonorable to turn down for Beck. …Otherwise why would Beck try to glom off of Dr. King’s legacy?

What I’ll do today, is what I do with all of the contemporary Right’s recent sad attempts at intellectual legitimacy, and political legacy: I’ll ignore it, just as I ignore the cheesy car dealership ads that pop up on Lincoln’s birthday every year.
-SJ
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 20:  Volunteers unfurl a ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIn one word, no. The human condition seems to be predicated on conflict. A few years ago I started this blog to write about whatever came to my mind. It was mostly insignificant stuff. The last presidential election transformed this blog into a political forum for SJ and I to express our thoughts. Recently I have found it more and more difficult to write about political topics. Oh, I slip up every now and then, but I have tried to stay away from strictly political issues. I do realize that no matter what is said on this blog, it won't please all of the people, all of the time. So, just for shits and giggles, here are some random thoughts that have crossed my mind recently.

Abortion: I am pro-choice. However, we need much better sex education and family planning in order to  try and limit the number of abortions that are performed.
Guns: The right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution (even though I think the rationale in that document no longer holds much water), so therefore I support it. I do not believe that it is an absolute right and I see no reason at all for the general public to have access to automatic weapons.
Health Care: It should be a right. All citizens should have the right to, at the very least, a basic level of health care. And emergency room care is not nearly enough. 
Immigration: We should allow people to work toward citizenship if that is what they desire. Our country is made better by diversity, not worse. 
Gay Marriage: Marriage, according to the Supreme Court, is one of the "basic civil rights of man". I think that says it all. 
Gays in the military: Gays have always and continue to serve our country proudly in the various branches of the military. Our armed services have not crumbled because of it.
Size and scope of government: The government should be allowed to operate within the powers described in the Constitution. They can raise and lower taxes, regulate or deregulate industries, invade or not invade countries, etc. WE THE PEOPLE can then decide whether to continue lending those politicians our support at the ballot box.
Religion: It's not really for me, but if it provides some people with a level of comfort then I have no  issues with that. Of course when it's used like a battering ram, then I feel it's my duty to point out my exact thoughts about the less than factual basis of said religion.
DH: I happen to like the DH. Watching a pitcher hit is not exactly my idea of an interesting at-bat. 
Steroids in sports: I honestly don't care what athletes take. I've never heard someone make the argument that they aren't going to watch a movie or a concert because the performers have had plastic surgery. Entertainers do what they feel they have to do to put forth their best performance. No difference with athletes.
Music: I'm not a big fan of most of what's popular today. That is to say that I'm an old fart who thinks things were better when pop music was targeted towards him. 
Movies: I think that Lawrence of Arabia and the two Godfathers are the best movies ever made.
Food: I'm partial to Chinese.
Superheroes: I'm partial to Superman. And I personally think that Captain America would kick the shit out of Batman any day of the week.

That's all for today boys and girls. Have a great weekend.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

For the Love of Jebus

Some New Yorkers and others around the country are up in arms about the so called "ground zero Mosque" that is going to be built close to the former world trade centers. I find it somewhat amusing that those who are so adamant about the government staying out of their lives would now clamor for that very same government to step in to block what is essentially a private real estate matter. "Less government interference" they scream (unless it involves Muslims, of course). "Keep the government out of my church" they bellow, (unless that place of worship happens to be a mosque).

I don't remember any religious outrage when a christian blew up the federal building in Oklahoma. That's not exactly true. There were a lot of calls for retribution against Muslims until it was discovered that it was a a couple of white Christian males who carried out the attack. I don't remember a general wave of outrage and hatred against all Christians. Perhaps I'm just (to quote our former President) misremembering.

Islam is just as legitimate a religion as all the others that are based on some all knowing superman who lives in the sky and actually listens to and cares about your problems. The actions of extremists should never be taken to represent the thoughts of the whole. There are Christian extremists who feel it is their right and duty to kill doctors who perform abortions. Should all of Christianity be held accountable for their actions? There are Christian extremists who think that all non whites should leave America. Should all Christianity be held accountable for their thoughts and actions? The constitution guarantees us certain freedoms, among those are freedom of religion and speech. The mosque has a right to exist and people have a right to protest its existence. However the hypocrisy of those who would damn an entire religion over the actions of a few is shameful. There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. I'm pretty sure most of them were not involved in the 9/11 plot, just as I'm fairly sure most of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world weren't in on the Oklahoma City bombing either.
 
I understand that people are very sensitive about the WTC site, but this mosque has nothing to do with the events that took place on 9/11. As far as I'm concerned, all religion is pretty silly, so this debate over who can worship what God seems an incredible waste of time and energy. How far away from ground zero does the mosque have to be before it's okay? 10 blocks? 20 blocks? 1,000 blocks? Just utterly ridiculous.
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We Can Only Hope

I wrote this piece back in May of 2008. I stand by every word. Let's hope he means it this time. 

 Brett Favre announced his retirement in a tearful press conference yesterday. The press covered as though Lou Gehrig was announcing that he was retiring because he had a terminal disease. Bret Favre has long been one of the most self centered athletes in sports and I will certainly not miss him come the fall. His yearly tease of the Packers with his "will he retire or not" nonsense has cost the Packers a few years of development of their QB of the future. I have no idea whether Aaron Rodgers can lead the Packers to playoff glory and thanks to Brett Favre, neither do the Packers.

Somehow Sports Illustrated saw fit to name this former drug abuser it's sportsman of the year. I haven't seen a less inspiring choice since they picked the steroid twins (Sosa and McGwire) as their co-winners in 1998. Somehow the press seemed to buy that "I'm just a good old boy from Mississippi" line. After all, he didn't know no better. They gave him drugs and he just kept on taking them. Also, his badgering of teammates to sign contracts instead of holdout was pretty easy for someone with one of the richest contracts in NFL history. I never heard him say that he would be willing to donate some of his own contract to help the team sign one of those players.

Brett Favre stayed around until he broke Dan Marino's records for TD's and yardage. The fact that the Packers were very competitive this year was as much a shock to him as it was to everyone else. He could not have thought that his team, which was coming off a losing season and didn't sign any major free agents, would make it to the NFC championship game. He came back to break the records, the rest was just gravy. And now with no more records to break (he could continue to add to his all time record for passes intercepted), the 19th rated QB of all time (behind such legends as Marc Bulger and Jeff Garcia) will quietly retire to his estate in Mississippi. So long Brett, and try to stay away from the Vicodin if you can.
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Original Musiquarium

Random thought for today is to wonder how anyone won a grammy in the seventies in a category that Stevie Wonder was competing in. The aptly named Mr. Wonder put together a string of albums in the seventies that may never be matched by a solo artist ever again. From 1972's "Music of My Mind" through 1980's "Hotter than July", Stevie put out masterpiece after masterpiece. From "Superwoman" through "Lately" it was a period of creativity that frankly boggles the mind. There were some fine singer/songwriters at work during the time from Paul Simon to Bruce Springsteen to James Taylor to Billy Joel, to Elton John but none of them can match what Stevie did for pure artistry and consistency.

Stevie hasn't been quite the same since and doesn't put out music very often and has even produced some downright terrible songs like "Ebony and Ivory" and "I Just called to say I love you" (which was one of his biggest hits and actually won an academy award), but all transgressions can be forgiven for the absolutely stunning body of work that was completed in that ten year, six album span. I'll put that run up against anybody including the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or anyone else who has toiled in the Rock and Roll era.
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