Friday, September 30, 2005

Hello America!

It was reported in the Washington Times that Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said of New Orleans "it's not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."

Now how does any one make that kind of comment? I think it's more than racist. I think it's a plan. Watch for the use of emminent domain. The money grubbers will use emminent domain to essentially steal what does not belong to them. You will also witness the destruction of affordable housing so luxury housing can replace it. Rezoning will occur. After all, if another hurricane comes, they'll have insurance and the wherewithal to get out of town. But you can bet your sweet bippy, they'll rebuild those dikes real strong like.

There was a reason Bush acted so slow. This is it. A power grab by money at the expense of the poor. Kompassionate Konservative Krystianity at work!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Pledge

Good morning America, how are you?

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States(of America), and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation(under God), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Every one knows this, right? We all said it every morning while facing the flag, our hands covering our little grade school hearts. And I'm sure we all understood what a republic was....
The parenthetical phrases are the ones that were added to the original. Hence it should read,

"I pledge allegiance to the United States, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

I like the second one better, to be sure. Let me tell you why. Let me also tell you why I think the way this is taught is irrepsonsible. And lets discuss what this means. Because this is an issue before the courts.

"I" is not we. The "I" here is a pro-noun that reflects the philosophical change that occurred in the 18th century, from that of group mentality to that of individualism. Yet we still live in a time where this is little understood, let alone lived. With all the mid-life crisis, menopausal crises, cults, sports, people in therapies, not to mention the numbers of prescriptions of Prozac, and other forms of vicarious living, it seems fairly evident that there is an "I" deficit in this country. And without the I, there is no we.

Being an I means, at a basic level, that I have learned to think for myself. I do not simply echo the thoughts of others. Rush Limbuagh, the addict of right wing radio, or one of them any way, stated that his listeners didn't need to read the news, because he would do that and then tell them what to think about it. But critical thinking is not something we are taught to do. And there is a difference between critical thinking and agreeing with others on an issue. If you arrive at a decision and discover others are in agreement with those thoughts, that is the way it is supposed to be. But we all must do our own thinking, and if need be, our own educating not just on the issues, but on critical thinking. Do not be distracted here by emotions. Emotions and thoughts can lead to two very different courses of action. Emotions can be used as adjuncts to thoughts, but it is reasoning that must primarily inform us.

"I" also means that I am a person with a voice. This is important in America because it is one of the founding principles of democracy. We all have a voice, we all have a vote. I agree that isn't necessarily reflected these days. It appears to be more an issue of how much money can I spend to buy a vote. But that can be changed by raising our voices in protest to our state legislator, and if they are suspected of being bought, then vote them out. Anyway, the point is that we as Americans all exist on a continuum of political viewpoints. The crucial point is to be able to think, to hear opposing arguments, and decipher the differences not necessarily according to a party line, but in accordance with what you believe. You must also be able to explain why you believe what you believe, and use your voice to do so. In days of not too old, the local bar or pub was where friends had these discussions. Friends had them. Rarely in church, rarely at home, a little at work. The important point is that you learn to say "I" insyead of we or us, and to be able to say why you believe what you believe.

Now, that sounds horribly selfish doesn't it? Remember, there is no 'I" in team. Let me share with you though a principal that exists in Buddhism as well as the national emergency repsonse organizations known as the fire departments and emergency medical technicians. The first rule, protect yourself! I must make sure that I am capable of responding to an emergency situation. If a scene is not safe, I do not enter it. Others may suffer for it, but if I endanger myself in the process of helping others, I have done nothing but add to the suffering and the work load of following emergency responders. In Buddhism, what good am I if I cannot speak from experience? Hence, I need to lead the way, and only after considerable experience that is verified by others can I begin to help others. I certainly can't help you toward enlightenment if I don't do it myself now can I?

Such is the core of our freedom and democracy. The ability to be an "I" that exists in a community of like individuals. Personally, I think that the mad rush in this country is toward addiction. I've noticed lately the ever increasing ads to play poker. To gamble. To get the rush. Another thing I have noticed is an alarming increase in the advertising of TV shows on the radio. The end result of that advertising is to make Americans couch pototoes. TV addicts. Look at the popularity of "reality" shows. They are not reality at all. They resemble nothing that exists in the real world, and yet look at how many stations now have them. This is why I don't watch much television. I watch M*A*S*H, and Frasier. Part of a Notre Dame game now and again. A good movie now and again. And obviously I sit here and create. The point here is, we all need to have our own articulate voice so that we can be a better society.

"I pledge...." Not many of us do this any more. Not regularly. Pledging is not common, though I have heard various reports of pledges being taken at rallies to screen out dissenters that would heckle the President. So what is a pledge? It's a solemn binding promise to do or to give or to refrain from something. Something thast is given some thought so that there is a willful choice to make the pledge. And of course, it requires an "I" that has thought out the words of this particular pledge to be able to make it. A pledge is not a jingoist emtional response that cannot articulate what the clauses in this pledge mean. It means I took the time to understand what the words mean, what I think about them, and whether or not I feel that I can make this pledge. For example, I don't care for the first phrase. A flag is nothing but a symbol. The pledge says so, "...for which it stands...." Along the lines of the evolving understanding of free speech, the courts have stated that burning an American flag is an acceptable form of free speech. I would have to look up that decision to read exactly the details of why they came to that conclusion, but the implication is that the flag in and of itself is nothing more than a symbol. I pledge my allegiance to what the flag symbollizes, but not necessarily the flag itself. But that it my opinion.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The American Legion's War

to the greatest people on earth!

Greetings from the Gonzo! I have been engaged with writing letters to the papers here regarding several issues. One is the statements from Thomas Cadmus, the National Commander of the American Legion.

As reorted from American progress, who linked to the Editors and Publishers article, the
American Legion had a conference in Hawaii. It must be one of those sacrifices that Bush suggested a day after "hanging loose" in Crawford. Anyway, I responded on a local level to the national Commander's comments, knowing there is a local Post here. The letter also went to the Seattle Times. And lo and behold, the local Post 141 repsonded.

In typical right wing fashion I must add. The entire text of my letter is below:

"According to the Bill of Rights, Americans are allowed to peaceably assemble. American Legion President Thomas Cadmus called for an end to all "public protests" and "media events" against the war. "The American Legion," he said, "will stand against any one and any group..."

One of the central pillars of fascism is the suppression of opposition by censorship and terror. The delegates at the American Legion at the convention Cadmus was addressing then voted to use whatever means necessary to ensure the united backing of the American people..."

Despite the recent polls that say 90% of America supports dissension, only 38% believe the war in Iraq is valid, and a slightly better approval rate for the President, the American Legion has decided to "declare war" against the Constitution and protesters.

This is one American that won't set foot in a Legion Hall again."

"In a recent letter to the editor it was suggested that the American Legion was in some was less than fully in support of our troops," says the first paragraph of this letter. It was signed by Tom Arhontas, Melody Bryant, and Jim Cooley, all local Post 141 administrators. Now, I ask you, what in my letter can be construed as implying that the Legion was not supporting the troops? This is how the right works. In a debate, they change the subject. Their sing-song talking points, like "support the troops" is what they have to revolve around. As you can see from my letter, I started by pointing out that the right to protest is in our Constitution, and how Cadmus' comments were in direct contradiction to the Constitution.

Then I was accused of taking Mr. Cadmus' comments out of context. Having quoted the Editor and Publisher article, where Mr. cadmus is quoted as saying that all public protests and media events against the war be ended. However, in their response they failed to say just how I abused that context. I also used the quote, which they also reprinted, that the Legion would stand against any one or any group that demoralizes the troops and encourages the enemies. In the full text, and in the midst of the histroical condition of camp Casey in Crawford being in full swing, the references and implications via memories of Jane Fonda to current pioneer Cindy Sheehan are missed only by those who can't read. So they satrted with a twist, and then ran. Here they are stating I took comments out of context, and don't support it. They claimed I made an inference, and offered no support.

Remember when talking to right wingers, that they have a hard time staying on task. Not necessarily Republicans, but Neocon supporters do. And that is the case here. They went on to say that they hoped Americans would voice their opinions by writing letters.

Well, not only did they miss the point that I made, they miss the contents of the Constitution. And this is how they like to communicate to the masses. They make accusations, yet fail to support them. Consistent tracking easily takes this to task. And that is what I did in a follow up letter. I asked for the evidence of their claims, and noted that they completely dimissed my second paragraph by ignoring it. A rather weighty omission in my consideration. I can fully understand their position in this. I exposed them to the light, and it blinded them, and they don't like being exposed as being un-American. Yet, they only brought forth accusations they could not support, and they never really addressed fully what I said. In my follow up letter, I asked for clarification as to what Cadmus meant by "whatever means necessary" to ensure unity.

Mind you, I was rather candid in my view of the political philosophy that drives the Bush adminisrtration. I basically accused the American Legion of supporting a fascsit government, and actually colluding with them. And that's how I see it. The Legion has no idea about my blog, so they aren't aware of how I see it in detail. That to me is neither here nor there. My point, and not overly stated in my opinion, was that the Legion is acting in ways that fundamentally contradict the Constitution. It does not matter one whit whether or not some one is demoralized or encouraged, the Bill of Rights guarantees me the right to peacably assembly. And one thing that the cons like to do is make you feel like YOU don't support the troops by protesting. They fail to make the disticntion that I can protest the policies of the President as well as support the troops. And when you consider that the New York Times reported as of a month ago that the Pentagon is STILL behind in updating armor for the troops, I have to ask, just how is the administration supporting the troops? I pay my taxes, which the rich don't, that these troops can do their job. That's my minimal support. Yet they go into battle unprotected. Or making their own armor. So remember that we are protesting the lies and policies that got us into Iraq, we have the right to do so, no matter what any one feels about it.

I just thought I'd share this with you so you can remember that debating with a neocon is easy. They like to emphasize the ireelevant or in my case, the incorrect. They play on emotions. They ignore the facts, and often, as in my case, the context.

I'll let you know if anything further develops with this. I have my doubts it will. The Cons are getting desparate though. This is seen all over the map, as they rush to make their image good regardless of their glaring shortcomings. They are scrambling to protect their voter base in light of declining polls. So they'll stay on the party line regardless of how stupid it sounds. They just can't think for themselves yet.

And remember, our goal is not to "defeat" right wingers. Our goal should be to point out the facts and truth. The kind that got Mike Brown of FEMA fired. The kind that now aims at Mike Chertoff of FEMA. Our goal should be to open their eyes to the truth. There will always be a difference of opinions. That is what makes America such a great country. But as we have seen, the Cons have hijacked the Republican Party, and their abuse of democracy is a threat to us all. But the polls show that Americans are waking upo and wil throw off this administration. Then we can again return to making this country a home of justice and liberty for all.

Just thought I'd drop this nugget I lifted off another blog. Interesting take from the Amerikan Legion:

President William J. Clinton
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:
The American Legion, a wartime veterans organization of nearly three-million members, urges the immediate withdrawal of American troops participating in “Operation Allied Force.”
The National Executive Committee of The American Legion, meeting in Indianapolis today, adopted Resolution 44, titled “The American Legion’s Statement on Yugoslavia.” This resolution was debated and adopted unanimously.
Mr. President, the United States Armed Forces should never be committed to wartime operations unless the following conditions are fulfilled:

-That there be a clear statement by the President of why it is in our vital national interests to be engaged in hostilities;
-Guidelines be established for the mission, including a clear exit strategy;
-That there be support of the mission by the U.S. Congress and the American people; and
-That it be made clear that U.S. Forces will be commanded only by U.S. officers which we acknowledge are superior military leaders.

It is the position of The American Legion, which I am sure is shared by the majority of Americans, that three of the above listed conditions have not been met in the current joint operation with NATO (“Operation Allied Force”).
In no case should America commit its Armed Forces in the absence of clearly defined objectives agreed upon by the U.S. Congress in accordance with Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution of the United States.


National Commander

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

No Matter how much...

things change they always remain the same.

Hey Americans!

I've been reading about Tom Paine, and from Tom Paine lately. It's been a breath of fresh air. I realized though, that the above proverb is true. The conflict between the Federalists(today's Necons), and the Republicans(today's liberals and progressives) was just as heated then as it is now. So the nature of political discourse has not changed. We see the evidence of that in a ruling here in Washington state when a judge recently stated that during elections, politicians don't "need" to tell the truth. That's up to the citizen to determine. Free speech and all that. Well, I guess that gives the watchdog groups employment and ensures an acrimonious political environment for years to come. Not to mention the level of distrust growing even worse.

It did strike me though while reading about Paine that the two groups he angered the most were the political Federalists, and after he published The Age of Reason were the fundamentalist Christians. Though it also angered others in the Church society, it mostly affected the more conservative literalists of the day. Both of these groups, the fundamentalists and Federalists, have something in common: they like centralized government. I believe the same is true today.

I have posted before about fascism. One of it's central tenets is centralized government. Back then the Federalists were resembling of the Loyalists, and were made up of aristocracy that liked the monarchial system and it's benefits. This was in direct opposition to the democratic system that developed in America that sought to level the playing field for every American in both economic and political terms. It is quite evident in the Bush administration that centralization is occurring, which I posted in that earlier blog. So I won't rehash the details here. It is however that very centralization that marries the Religious fundamentalists to these political centralists. The religious right have lately been called the Religious Reich, the Amerikan Taliban, the Religious Wrong, and fundies. I have also heard funny-mentalist charis-maniacs. I will not use these terms for now.

From the perspective of the the Christian groups, they would prefer to see a theocracy. Albeit it remains to be seen just how that would be administered, it has been floated by the likes of author and pastor Rick Scarborough in Enough is Enough, that a "chosen" pastor of sorts would serve as the national leader. A Moses figure basically. And how that choosing would happen is open to question as well. In the reality that a theocracy won't happen soon, having the government staffed by men of God is their second choice. Hence the willingness of the Christian fundamentalist groups to jump behind a candidate simply because he professes he was born again and despite his glaring characteristics that make him unqualified to be president. Especially when some of those characteristics run counter to the official doctrine of the Christian right. It seems though from remarks from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that doctrine, and the ethics it is supposed to inform, is forsakable for the greater purpose of standing behind a so-called man of prayer.

The fundamentalists were no different in Paines time than they are now. They lied about Paine like they lie now about facts concerning Terri Schiavo, the court system, and about whether or not they used the word assassinate. Never mind the video clip. They also lie about history, which actually may be the new twist. I have discovered in Scarborough's book I mentioned above certain quotes that are attributed to the founding fathers as we call them. Scarborough credits these quotes, not to the original author, but to another Christian history book! So I looked that one up and followed the trail to a self-appointed historian named David Barton. As it turns out, a lot of current Christian authors get their quotes from Mr. Barton regardless of the fact that Mr. Barton admitted that many of the quotes he attributed to the founding writers were quotes he made up to satisfy his theological leanings. I'm not so certain that back in the late 18th and early 19th century they were doing that. Today however, the practice of lying to support that this country was a Christian nation is common place by the fundamentalists simply because they want to believe it. This political path, as it turns out, is the path of least resistance.

What has changed to some degree is the reporting of the day. Back in Paine's time, papers were deliberately partisan. Certain individuals of certain political suasions would take it upon themselves to produce a paper to propagate their view. The federalists and Republicans both had them. What was lacking was the journalistic standards that have evolved whereby the newspapers became the supposed purveyors of unpartisan truth. Today we have seen how this standard is being engulfed by corporate profit, so much so that magazines like Time loose veteran reporters to internet news sites.

Another change seems to have occurred. In Paines time the people were given a voice. That is what made the Revolution happen, and the Constitutional Republic was born. The Federalists, and today's Neoconservative cult, despite their use of the word democracy and freedom, want a rulership by the elite in some form. I am greatly encouraged though by the words of the Declaration of Independence:

"...All experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. "

We Americans will put with this kind of administration rather than knee jerk it into the ashcan. The elections in 2006 will show that Americans have had enough of the lies, and enough of the corruption at the cost of American lives here and abroad. It has already begun in Colorado. This reality is why Senator Frist stepped away from Bush on the stem cell issue. It is also why the administration then stated they will fund it somewhat. It is why Chuck Hagel of Nebraska stated that Iraq looked like Viet Nam. It is why Rick Santorum stated he questioned the administration policies on Iraq from the beginning, even though he could produce no evidence of that. These men may not recognize this quality of Americans, or "mankind" as the Declaration says, but they recognize the reaction of that quality, which is ridding themselves of an abusive government. So to protect their political futures, and perceiving that the current administration is a sinking ship, they have chosen to step away from the party line. Then we will see over time just how much this administration did to try to permanently damage our Constitutional Republic. The news will finally get their integrity back, even as the corporate conglomerates try to pass legislation to control and own the internet. And bloggers will become the partisan harpies of old, as perhaps it should be. Republicans will return to being Republicans once they have purged themselves of the Neocon cult.(Make no mistake, it is a cult) Democrats will eventually be over run by the Progressives, and will finally gain some identity. Neither part will look the same, and that is good. Nothing stays the same, so why should political philosophies?

What will remain the same, despite all the changes going on around them, is the great American spirit. Despite the political battles, and alterations in philosophies, overall we will remain the freedom loving people that this nations birth was based on. At out core, we love the Republic which our flag symbolizes, and we truly want liberty and justice for all. I think to that end we would all pledge allegiance, and work toward what makes this nation one and indivisible.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Borrowed words...

"There is in America, more than any other country, a large body of people who attend quietly to their farms, or follow their several occupations; who pay no regard to the clamors of anonymous scribblers, who think for themselves, and judge of government, not by the fury of newspaper writers, but by the prudent frugality of it's measures, and the encouragement it gives to the improvement and proproperity of the country....When this body moves, all the little barkings of scribbling and witless curs pass for nothing."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Some rays of Hope

I got to pondering some ideas that were aligned with a comment someone left me. It seems apparent we need another revolution. It would be nice if it weren't bloody. And I think is started in Colorado already. But I'll come back tot hat.

On February 15, 2003, the world staged protests to the war in Iraq, which at that time had not quite started. In more than 100 nations, over 30 million people took to the streets in various ways to say no to war. Today in America we see Cindy Sheehan again saying no to war. She is unfortunately, a mother who lost a son in a war that has no nobility, no just cause. Again, people in America at least are rising up, and if the polls are accurate, then the majority say that the war is unacceptable. But then, aren't all wars?

Working for peace isn't easy. It means more than the absence of war. Children that grow up hungry have no peace. People who cannot get the health care they need have no peace. People who work minimum wage jobs and choose between rent and food, or rent and heat, have no peace. People who are working three to four jobs to live the American dream, and are one misfortune away from losing it all, have no peace.

Most importantly though, if we harbor in our hearts anger, hate, or violence, we will never have peace. I am still haunted by the question film maker Michael Moore asked at the end of Bowling for Columbine, "Why is America so violent?" The issue isn't the presence of guns or lack of them. It is the predilection to use them.

Gandhi said once that our thoughts determine our words, our words determine our behavior, our behavior our habits, our habits our values, and finally our values determine our destiny. In Buddhism it's called karma. The destiny of someone is the result their actions, or the result of their habituations. Which is why in Buddhism they stress the practice of developing compassion, as the most famous mantra, om mani pedme hung, is used in.

This compassion is what the next revolution needs to be about. Repressing the anger, and pain is not the answer, but much easier to do. We need to know why it is there to properly eliminate it. We can no longer tolerate any ignorant person, any starving child, any poor, regardless of where they live on the planet. We cannot tolerate any further development of means to kill one another until we have funded research to find the cures for diseases, funded all our schools, erased poverty, and insured that the citizens of this planet have access to health care if they want it.

Sound utopian? Damn right it does. But Gandhi was right. We all need to be the change we want to see. And that starts in our own minds.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The soft white under belly...

We hear today that Bush wants a yet unconfirmed nominate to the bench to be the Chief Justice. How intersting. In light of the fact that there are still a lot of questions regarding missing records as well as conflicts of interest regarding the allegations of torture in Guantanamo. What I find more intersting is that there is a growing movement to impeach Bush. As an untreated alcoholic, he is severely unqaulified to lead this country. The Iraq conflict, which is now about oil, and it's mounting death toll, are taking it's toll on this country. The public is finally waking up to the fact that we have been lied to, that the President is quite uncaring, and the reasons for invading iraq just keep changing. Add to that his obstinance in not answering a simple question from a grieving mother, and it's no wonder that his popularity numbers are the worst for any sitting President.

In all this activity, we have seen many behaviors that could easily be surmised as deliberate criminal acts, and so the impeachment petitions continue to gather names. In this regard, Bush has decided to protect himself by nominating Roberts as the Chief Justice. Why would he make such a choice over Scalia and Thomas? He picks a man who has yet to serve a minute on the Supreme Court to be it's Chief? The answer is found in the Constitution.

Section 3 of the Constitution, which concerns the Senate, states, "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present."

The Chief Justice shall preside. Mere coincidence? We have seen in the Bush administration how loyalty figures much higher than experience. Hence the emergency response expert James Hewitt, former head of FEMA, was replaced with an Oklahoma lawyer and a campaign manger. The most glaring example is former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. It's not new in the Bush administration, or to his administration. But in this case, it looks more like a personal favor than an intelligent decision.