Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
A cottage industry
If someone wanted to be the next Bill Gates, I suggest they would not have to go the extra mile to actually create something of value. In fact, (and conservatives will love this), all they have to do is help Americans roll the clock back.
The next billionaire will be the person who figures out how to keep me the hell out of the government's and corporate America's databases. With the mad bomber (Al-Jazeera being Bush's latest target) having stolen the White House and a remote controlled judge-jury-executioner robot named Predator patrolling the skies, it's too dangerous to be slightly out of the mainstream.
Shield me from prying electronic eyes when I google "communism;" wrest my demographic information from the DMV before they give it to the feds; bitch slap my physician before he can sell the chronicle of my ailments to Pfizer.
In about 20 years of "conservative" rule, we are being watched at a level that would make Big Brother resign from the family. Even more frightening is the fact that the Mad Bomber is going to Joe and Wendy Sue Sixpack and telling them with a straight face -- 'I need to spy on you.' And, they're buying it.
Trust me, when Alito is confirmed (and, I've got to believe even God is shrugging his shoulders wondering how that came to past), we are officially in the American Taliban century.
He and his cronies will strip away rights we didn't even know we had. The shameless corporation that bought the water rights to a river near a South American village and nearly had them die of thirst because they couldn't afford to pay their fees will see the new, America 2.0 and wonder if they can get a licensing fee paid to them for breathing.
A call to action people -- this crew of thieves are not your friends. Instead of wishing for invisibility, it might be better to fight for human dignity.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
No conservative left behind
In a variation on the Bushie's No Child Left Behind, but without the elements of scam, disingenuousness or downright cynicism, I say we have to save the conservatives from themselves.
Renegade Eye, one of the most thoughtful and precise bloggers I've had the pleasure to encounter, suggests it might be a waste of time to try to convert the unconverted. I disagree. While you can't spend all your time dragging a dead mule you have to pull on the rope a couple of times.
Not to do so is to fall into the conservative trap of "otherness." As in - 'those bastard conservatives!' But, otherness is a trick of the light. My good friend CB gleefully reminds me that the neocon movement is based on the thoughts of former liberals -- Jewish, East Coast Liberals, even! But, I refuse to see them as irredeemable.
I respect the intelligence of those founders of the neocon movement, but I despise their politics. Still, it's my belief they didn't suddenly wake up with a hard-on for Ronald Reagan (my God! That's distasteful image!) Over the course of their days, I'm sure traditional conservatives badgered, cajoled and pushed them incrementally to the dark side. Hell, not even Hitler woke up one day to be Der Fuehrer. It was a process.
Call me soft - and conservatives will do just that -- but you shouldn't leave even the CREATORS of darkness in the dark if you can help it. You should add your own little push to the process of their redemption. Most won't budge, but you've got to try. Mahatma Gandhi preached to the choir AND the oppressors. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s major triumph was convincing the unconvinced.
I think my challenge is to balance the actions I choose to take to help get us the hell out of hell with the proselytizing I do to.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Profits! Not people!
I think the most disappointing thing about our current political state is that we are living in the 21st Century and acting like it's the 19th Century. In the 1800s, the Robber Barons - Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt - were setting the tone for throwing away human capital by valuing profit over people. Then, child labor was a legitimate industry and education was basically a privilege.
Fast forward two centuries and the exterior might have changed, but it is still the privilege of the Political and Corporate Robber Barons to de-value people over profits. Shorthand here: Halliburton, EPA, global warming, the unfunded No Child Left Behind, school vouchers.
The proletariat are supposed to be wiser and smarter in my view. We're supposed to see through things like compulsory sentencing for SELECT drug offenses; we're supposed to see through things like the Patriot Act; we're supposed to see through things like (the very scary) Judge Alito confirmation process.
Actually, we should be wiser, because smarter hasn't been cutting it. We have a lot of very smart conservatives who have cornered themselves with their own intellect. By separating themselves from their fellow humans, conservatives (by dint of better education, better jobs, better-looking wives) have made themselves into androids who are able to consider those OTHER humans in the abstract. 'Why waste taxpayer dollars on those dark-skinned kids who just can't seem to learn?' 'Why not accept war as a fact of human nature -- and maybe make some money on it?' 'Life isn't fair and it isn't government's role to make it fair.' 'If we cut out that one percent of government spending that goes to welfare, I can fill up my SUV's tank one extra time over the course of a year.''We are guaranteed no rights by our system of government, so any rights they take away aren't really ours, anyway.'
You know what? I'm tired of being told by smart people that I need to be scared. I have a new mantra -- 1919. Why 1919? Because America and the world was in sorry shape - a world war, a flu epidemic that killed millions (more than the world war) and we survived. We didn't shut down the Constitution. We didn't spy on Austrian or German citizens. We didn't have the president tell the populace they were too stupid to understand his need to become a dictator rather than first among equals.
Hell yes, it is hard being a liberal today and watching people on different journeys make mistakes that can be pretty boneheaded. But, that is what liberals do -- they value the journeys because that process has gotten us amazing things -- democracy, technology, jurisprudence (read your history books and tell me any of these things sprang from a conservative system.)
Conservatives are on a journey that has been serving as an anchor to slow down societal progress.
A better analogy might be that they've slowed progress down just enough so the political lions can separate them and kill their ability for human connection.
Hey. Here's a radical idea. Maybe we should try and engage EVERY element of our society because we can't afford to waste anymore lives. Maybe we should overhaul a system that sharpens cynicism so that only the most cynical white man in America is elected to lead us every 4 years into some Robber Baron abyss.
It doesn't have to be this way, you know. Women won leadership postions in Germany and Liberia. Evo Morales -- an indigenous person -- won in Bolivia. Come on conservatives, try something new. You might like it. After all, a person is a terrible thing to waste.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Care to dance?
Discussing politics is kind of like doing the samba in a closet. What should be a roomy discussion -- with the opportunity to go far afield into areas such as trust, philosophy, finance, death, fairness, equality, futurism -- is a cramped bit of business that looks more like hand-to-hand combat than political discourse.
Case in point: I scratch my head over conservative Republicans and their Bush/Reagan uber alles support of people and administrations who actively flout their supposed ideals of "honest government" (Rusty Cunningham); "smaller government" (George W. Bush); "fiscal responsibility" (Bush, DeLay, Hastert et al) and "social conservatism" (a pro-gay Dick Cheney).
Notwithstanding, their social conservatism as I interpret its meaning, is American Facism, I am suprised at the fervor with which social conservatives support their champions.
A more reasonable strategy would be to scatter support amongst candidates who more perfectly reflect a voter's prevailing beliefs. But, we don't do that. Not only do we avoiod taking the time to peruse individuals, we limit the conversation so much -- cramp it in a closet as it were -- that we're not even talking "governance," we're always talking "politics."
That is the height of stupidity as a voting body. We are broadcasting our need to be manipulated by politicians whose singular strength is to manipulate. Am I the only one who is amazed by push polling? Or assassinations from above via the Predator? Or, "stealth" candidates? Or, promises that are ROUTINELY broken? Or, giving a series of emphatic rationales for war -- until one of them sticks?
That is the province of politics. But, governance is about how a bunch of disparate, pushy, occasionally frightened Americans -- living in world that is mostly non-American -- can pull together and make a reasonable society that does good things for itself, its people and the world.
Right now, through ill-advised wars, death penalties, police violence and clandestine "intelligence" operations, America is a leading killer of Americans. That's not right.
But, conservatives who run the country are not talking about anything substantive locally, nationally or globally about improving quality of life for all (what else is government for?). Conservatives want to make money and to hell (literally) with anyone who isn't them.
On the flip side, after reading the posts in this blog and reading some recommended material, I am beginning to believe there is virtually no true, liberal power element in either of the national parties. Nancy Pelosi's "concession" speeches after the 2004 election were a key indicator. She was floating the notion that the Dems needed to be more like the GOP to get more voters. Another indicator was that the "liberals" on the Supreme Court voted in favor of super-charged eminent domain.
Well, Nancy, in your political utopia you're probably going to want to kick out pretty much every African American in the party. Still, given the "political" success of the conservatives, I can see why you want to go there.
If we don't start talking about governance instead of quotas, gay marriage, abortion, affirmative action and a bunch of other issues -- we deserve what we get. I love the African American viewpoint, because it really is about helping the least fortunate among us. Regardless of whether that is because it represents many of us, it is STILL the true test of a democratic government to raise the quality of life for ALL of its members.
With true discourse, a conservative can change his or her dance partner just as easily as liberal because we would get beyond the BS the parties are distracting us with and start questioning why incumbents never lose, term limits are never passed and why federal public servants are becoming millionaires and billionaires.
Care to dance?