Friday, April 2, 2010

Republican's Unleash Their Base. Run For Your Lives.

Republican's have turned health care reform into the most divisive issue in recent memory. Though more than half of the electorate favors the health care bill or believe it doesn't go far enough, Republicans have argued falsely that the American public is against it. Forget the idea of joining in by helping craft the legislation, in this new era, rhetoric itself and obstructionism have taken over as the Republican party's platform. It's a most stunning turn. A party that a year and a half ago, in the waning days of one of the worst presidencies ever, still held to the view, publicly, that to question the President's decisions was "Un-American", has tacitly supported threatening speech and hate speech made by members of the tea parties, and media puppets of the conservative wing of the Republican party like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. And Republican's have contributed to this themselves. The Michelle Bachman's of the world have turned the discussion of legislation designed to help the U.S. join the rest of the civilized world into a three ring circus.

You could hear strains of it in the air, wild and vicious accusations flung helplessly and without mercy or thought; September and October 2008 at any McCain/Palin rally. Accusations so baseless that that at one point the candidate himself pulled a microphone out of an insane old woman's hands to correct her, that Obama was, "...a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with." Yet this continued. Sarah Palin's empty headed parroting of phrases like "Obama pals around with terrorists," struck fear in to many; many at her rallies who believed her insidious lies and to this day feel he is a terrorist and many living in the real world, who have memories of violence, racism, and the measure of response when the right wing of the Republican party is impassioned, mobilized, and afraid.

Since passing the healthcare bill Sunday March 21, several disturbing incidents have happened, single isolated acts (isn't a chain of single isolated acts really a pattern?), Republicans and tea party members alike insist, that have illuminated the true colors of the base of the new conservative movement in America.

Bo Perriello, brother of Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat who voted for the healthcare reform bill, had his propane line cut at his home days after members of a conservative tea party group posted his address on a website. The website mistook his address for his brother's and urged people to drop by. A brick with the words "No to Obama, No to Obomycare" (You have to love the far right's grasp of the English language) was thrown through the window at a Country Democratic headquarters in Wichita Kansas. Another brick was thrown through the window of the Monroe County Democratic Committee in Rochester, N.Y.. An attached note read, "Extremism in defense of liberty is not a vice." Bricks were also thrown through district offices of Rep. Louise Slaughter, and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Mike Vanderboegh, an Alabama blogger, railed against Congress working on the healthcare bill and urged his readers to "break their windows." Democratic members of Congress have received death threats. Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak received several voicemails including one in which a woman said, "There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill and all of those thoughts that are projected on you will materialize into something that's not very good for you." "Congressman Stupak, you baby-killing mother fucker... I hope you bleed out your ass, get cancer and die, you mother fucker," a man says in another voicemail. Stupak also received faxes (wow, Faxes? Really?) which include racial epithets used in reference to President Obama and show pictures of nooses with Stupak's name.

On the Day the bill was passed, protesters nearly blockaded the entrance into the House chambers. As the representatives were escorted in, tea-partiers and other conservative protesters screamed threats and profanities. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a leader of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, was called a nigger, as was Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. Another Protester Spat on Rep. Cleaver. As always Rep. Barney Frank was called a faggot. This is not new. A Republican congressmen once called him Barney Fag. Point is, these words, these tactics are not unexpected from the Right in this country. Bigotry, small-mindedness, inconsistent hypocritical thought are all par for the course. What else can or would you expect from people who fear healthcare reform as a take over of personal freedom and at the same time that they believe that allowing the government to read their emails and listen in to their phone conversations is perfectly alright. These people have no problem having inconsistent ideas coexist in their minds. Many of them are simply following what republican and right wing media leadership tell them to do and feel and think.

This is why the language and rhetoric of the healthcare debate, and the general tone of the right-wing conservative movement (including the tea-partiers) is so dangerous. You cannot tell the republican base, that they are losing their country. Not after 9-11. Not after the election of Obama. You cannot be a Glenn Beck, creating imaginary links among Obama and the Progressive movements in this country and Soviet Communism and Nazism. You cannot tell a dim, frightened group like the base of the Republican party to take revolutionary action against those who support the policies of the DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED MAJORITY!!! Republicans have steadily used the term "Totalitarian Tactics" in their talking points to describe how Healthcare passed. What were these "Totalitarian Tactics?" Voting? I sincerely cannot grasp what they are talking about. They are using frightening buzzwords like "Socialism", "Nazism" and "Totalitarianism" to rile up and frighten their base into voting for them in 2010. What they fail to realize, (I hope. If they do realize what they are doing and have done, then this is all far more sinister than self preservation and political positioning,) is that the Republican base can no longer distinguish showmanship from actual danger.

They are a sad group. The world has passed them by. It has moved on. Impossible things have happened and they are desperate and frightened beyond all rationality. The television beams into their trailers and isolated communities, images of the multicultural melting pot world that exists around them, just beyond them, outside of their grasp to understand. Ideals and visions that only previously existed in their worst nightmares. Homosexuals are treated with the beginnings of what might be called dignity and it is frightening to them. There is a Black president, sitting in the White House, a revolting, impossibility to their systems of thought, to their very existence. These people, whose beliefs were the norm in the 1950's, are now on the fringes of reality overnight. They have woken up in an America they cannot possibly comprehend with their small minds and even smaller hearts. The Christian in name only set. Those who would spit on Jesus and throw bricks at him and worse if they heard him speak because Jesus would sound like a progressive or a socialist to them. Their nation is gone. The impossible has happened and if that can happen then America can become whatever their twisted imaginations can think up. They believe any supposition proposed, no matter how fallacious, unlikely, or ridiculous, that will restore the world to their myopic vision. And they will take seriously, rhetoric, no matter how false, or conjured to procure votes, that tells them they are losing their America and must take revolutionary action.

Rep. Boehner has asked for restraint after riling up the lunatic fringe he relies on for votes. He has finally said that violence is unacceptable, and that these passions (passions he created with invented "facts") should be turned away from violence and threats and toward voter registration. Republicans and conservative talking heads alike blame the passage of the bill, and Democrats themselves for the violent reaction. The fires continue to be stoked. The Glenn Beck's and Michelle Bachman's and Sarah Palin's continue to spew nonsense that frightens the bejesus out of the already frightened and easily misled. Threats are still being made. There are still protests planned. ***(One is scheduled for April 19 by the pro-gun group Second Amendment March (SAM), a rally on the Washington Monument grounds. The rally, whose stated rules according to the organization's website are now; "1. NO UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF FIREARMS. 2. If you do not intend to comply with item #1, do not attend. 3. It is each attendee's own personal responsibility to be familiar with the firearm laws in the areas in which he/she will be traveling," was originally conceived as a march to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC while carrying their guns out in the open. A "let's see how close we can get with our guns" march, frightening in itself until you recognize the date. April 19th is the15th anniversary of the day that well known, homegrown right wing terrorists, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. They were spurred on by radical rhetoric. They too believed they had lost their country. They too were members of a vast lunatic fringe on the right fueled by racism and violent hate. To choose this date for a march on Washington with guns out seems more than overtly deliberate especially with the threatening nature of the Right's reaction to recent events.) *** See Comments for correction

No one knows what will happen. I certainly don't. I am a student of history. We have seen what happens when these people are riled up and let loose. We have sat, and discussed it; Our fears for our nation, for this administration, this President in particular. The second the joy of having elected the first black President of the United States wore off, the fears for his safety crept in. Assassinations are the children, not of policy change, but of climates of violence. They are built upon a foundation of mistrust and fear of the future itself.

And we wait. And we watch. And we hope that history doesn't repeat itself. For when Right wing lunatics fear they are losing their country, when they fear for the safety of their backward ideologies, when they are pushed into action, THEY TAKE LIVES! Abraham Lincoln, Medgar Evers John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and countless others can attest to the violence that can occur when the Right wing in this country is unleashed through irresponsible rhetoric. It has become frightening. The rabble has been roused and has already become unmanageable.

And we wait. And we watch. And we hope that peace and reason take the day and that these things do not come to pass.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Molecular Genocide: Don't piss on my doorway you hipster asshole

My eyes roll back
And I am looking forward
The world is still and yet
I can see it as it spins

White flashes, electric storms
We are just salt water
But in that flash, the arch of my back,
The wings of my wrathful state.

And the visions come.
Mild at first in comparison
with what follows.
But I am speechless.

And the first vision begins.

My hand grabs you by your hair
and I smash your head into my wrought iron gate
then demand your phone.
Humiliation, my old stand by.
As you bleed, I find your mother's number.
And I call her, to tell her what you've done
and to tell her to take you back home
to your Dairy Queens and Jack in the Boxes,
milk fed girls with round faces and big tits,
who never looked at you until you joined your frat.
And I tell your mother that I have her number
and will call her everyday to check on the progress
of moving you back to your Midwestern suburban shit hole.

And in a flash it has passed,
thought in a nanosecond,
fully realized.

But another flash begins, brighter in intensity.
Darker in the images it brings,
and I am sickened as it passes through me
but I can't shut it out,
demanding your sister and mother and girlfriend,
as restitution,
a ritual rape,
worthy of the finest genocides in history.

And then the last flash.

As I recede into a molecular, genealogical Gabriel
I end your family line....but that is not enough.
I chip away at your DNA.
Molecule by molecule.
I am in all time.
Dismantling every ancestor.
Adenine to adenine.
Cytosine to Cytosine.
Guanine to guanine.
Thymine to thymine.
The proteins of every member of your family tree
break down like leaves in autumn.
And I am everywhere, in all times,
so I can be the witness to what I have done.

And then it is over. And I am staring semi-catatonic out a window where I saw a Midwestern, scumbag, hipster, asshole wait on the sidewalk, while his Midwestern, scumbag, hipster, asshole friend pissed on my front door.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For When You Try To Sleep Darling

If you ever feel alone
think of my belly against the small of your back

If you ever feel cold
remember the heat that I give off

If you ever feel afraid
think of the place in my chest where you would rest your head

If you ever feel ugly
remember the way my eyes look at you

If you ever feel sleeplessness
think of how I pet you to sleep

If you ever feel inconsolable
remember how I cried with you

If you ever feel the distance
think of how my love can reach across the oceans

If you ever feel you are unlovable
remember the mountains I have climbed to love you

If you ever feel you have too much to carry
think of how I helped you take the weight

If you ever feel unquenchable
remember how I satiated those thirsts

If you ever feel exhausted
think of how your eyes close easily when we sleep

If you ever feel...

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Take The Fire, I Take The Flame

I think I miss you much more than you could know
At night when I'm hollow and I close the door
I thought that maybe you'd be by my side
When I'm at the market alone in the aisle

My left hand is shaking
When I reach for your fruit
I never drew pictures, I never drew pictures
My head hears the voices
The whispers on high
But they never told me, They never tried

I took your hand with me down by the water side
I knew that you might have been pulled deep down under the tide
I took my time delivering my bad news to you
What I never wanted, what you'd never do

My butter is melting
Inside this hot rain
I never moved on dear, I never moved on
I see their faces
I see their pain
I never moved on dear, I never moved on

I take the fire and
I take the flame
You never ate cashews, you never ate cashews
I fall apart here
As I take the reigns
My timing is awful, my timing is awful

And I smell the berries
And I smell your hair
Na na na na na na, na na na na na na
I take the car keys
And you clear the air
Na na na na na na, na na na na na na

I'll call the doctor
You call the vet
Their voices are louder, their voices are louder
You'll tell me your ready
And then make me wait
It wasn't my timeline, It wasn't my timeline

I drew the fire down when we laid ourselves back in bed
You said you were freezing I pulled the blanket up over our heads
You tried not to worry, you tried not to cry
But you never thought that I......would

I carried the groceries
You put them away
I never smiled harder, I never smiled harder
I cooked our dinner
you watched some TV
I never smiled harder, I never smiled harder

We turned down the volume
we sat down to eat
It made me so happy, It made me so happy
The Yankees were winning
I cleaned off the stove
The dishwasher humming, the dishwasher humming

Asleep on my shoulder
You started to snore
I write in the kitchen, I write in the kitchen
I jotted some lyrics then
Turned out the lights
Slept in the next morning, slept in the next morning

You bring me the virgins
I'll turn back the tide
In these little moments, in these little moments
You parted the Red Sea
I flooded the Nile
In these little moments, in these little moments

The kitchen seemed quiet I woke up the next day alone
Lydie was hungry she made it quite clear I woke slow
Cold tile in the bathroom a note on the door
Drank left over coffee wondering if I'd dreamed it all up

I look out the window
A cat plays in the grace
Of the sun that we made here, the sun that we made here
My slippers protect me
They keep my feet warm
We made our own home here, we made our own home here

Monday, January 19, 2009

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

I have been reluctant to be too excited, too relieved. Life is full of disappointments. I write this on Martin Luther King Day, a day that commemorates the life and work of a man who tried to end the three headed monster that holds us all down - racism, poverty and war. Yet, we cannot celebrate this man's life and work without acknowledging how his life ended. His assassination, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and of other men who fought to end these things were disappointments. They were more than disappointments. They were crushing blows to the human rights movement, crushing blows to anyone who believes in human dignity. So we are wary. We've been taught to be. We've been taught that hope is a dangerous thing, something in finite supply to be used only at the most critical junctures. And yet, that is exactly where we are.

So to quote an unlikely source:

Our Constitution indeed does work. Yet in order for us to be a nation of laws, we have no choice but to protect those laws. So we have some housekeeping to do. We have been left with a mess and in the weeks and months and years to come, we will be digging out from the disgrace that is the Presidency of George Walker Bush. Although it seems impossible, we are sure to discover things these disgusting men have done that are so vile, they will make what we know about the last eight years seem like a stroll in ethics-berg and morality-ville.

Tomorrow we will see the end to the worst Presidency ever. We will see an end to one of the darkest times in our nation's history. President Bush is a criminal. He is a murderer. We circle around these terms in our political discourse, downplay the importance of the power of the Presidency, of US government, US policy. But there is no argument. No qualifications. No sugarcoated terminology like "Enhanced Interrogation." Our President is a murderer. We can discuss the death toll on his watch. Argue about the numbers. But the facts are clear. President Bush used the US military and Intelligence organizations to murder people.

If we put the invasion of Iraq on hold for a second and focus strictly on torture, the path becomes clear. President Bush has admitted to authorizing torture. These torture techniques are illegal under our law as well as international law. There is at least one instance reported of a death, due to these techniques. And there you have it.  Murder. 2. Depraved indifference to human life. If we are to be a nation of laws, then it is clear that President Bush must be prosecuted for murder. This is quite simple. He ordered the torture of a prisoner that led to that prisoner's death. There are precedents to back up this course of legal action. The very same "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized by President Bush were prosecuted by the US government during the Vietnam War. That's right folks. We prosecuted US soldiers for using waterboarding during Vietnam. Are you sick yet? I sure am.

What makes this so insidious, so ridiculous, is the ease with which these policies were put into place. The ease with which President Bush turned our Constitution into a roll of toilet paper for his own desperate need to defend the failed ideology of Neo-conservatism. The Bush administration even used the names of their policies to mock human decency, human dignity. We were sold a Patriot Act that allowed the United States to prosecute illegal, un-American acts. It's like naming the Missouri compromise the "End of Slavery Act."

There can be no compromise on these issues. Are we a nation of laws or not?  If not, we should all start robbing banks tomorrow. We could even name our bank robbing policy the "Protection of Banks Act." We could go further. War crimes trials. Investigations into the handing out of military contracts to companies owned by members of the Bush administration. We could investigate Bush's reaction to hurricane Katrina, or Bush's dismantling of the SEC, or the implementation of the Enron loophole, or the falsification of intel in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq. The list goes on and on. We could investigate the erosion of our civil liberties as policy. We could investigate the allegations of racism in the Civil Rights office in the Justice Department. We could investigate rendition of prisoners to torture friendly nations. We could investigate the erosion of the separation of church and state. We could investigate. We could.

We could do many things, but one thing is clear. I believe that without at least an attempt by the Justice Department to look into the actual death of a prisoner in American hands, due to illegal torture, authorized by President Bush, we will not begin to free ourselves from our recent history, and get back on the path of civilization.

So the day before the heaping pile of steaming shit that has been the Bush presidency comes to a close we are left with two thoughts. The future and the past. Hope and Justice.

So we hope.

I hope for Justice....  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Don't Love Me This Way (New Song)

I knew you

sometimes better 
than you knew yourself 

you were hiding 
in your pain 

Oh...And I would surround you for a moment in time

you pulled me in 
into the ashes 
where you once loved

It swirled 
around me 
the short river of time

Oh...And I was beside you and miles away

And it was okay 
When we would play 
Where we would stay 
But don't love me this way...

Oh...Don't love me don't love me this way 
Don't love me this way...

(Listen to it in the Songs Music Box on the right)

Some Advancements

There is now a music player and the right hand info bar as well as links to some of the blogs I read. From time to time I will post new songs to it as well as some older things that haven't seen the light of day in ages. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Being a Zealot...

I sometimes don't know what I am. Don't know my own capabilities....But sometimes I do. Obama has won the election, the first step in what is sure to be a long process of recovery for our nation. How do we wipe away the backward thinking, the anti-progress of the last 40 years? We have had moments, bright spots in a sea of despair, a war of attrition against the American dream itself, the dream of equality, opportunity for all. And as I say these words, I reflect on myself; my instincts, my inclinations and impulses. I have been asking anyone who will respond if I am a zealot. A Fanatic. An Extremist. So what am I? What am I capable of?

I seek vengeance. I taste blood in the water and I want more. I want to punish those who have punished us for the last eight years. Punished us for hoping. For being creative, dreamers, believers in a fundamental human goodness. Where is the modern Nuremberg? Where will these crimes against humanity trials take place? "Would trials even be enough?" I ask myself knowing full well what an unlikelihood a trial or series of trials would be. Will there be any justice worthy of these crimes? Any punishment? I seek vengeance for those killed, and for us, our hands bloodied, our humanity maimed. These are my instincts, my impulses. I do have a pragmatic side. I understand the need for reconciliation. I even understand the desire for it in some. But my instinct keeps popping up. Slapping me in the face. I am aware of the cross I bear, my own hatred. It rains down on me in dreams. I descend to earth and as I do, my blackened, battered leathery wings open up and slow my fall. I am an angel of death, leaving heaven early, to pass judgment and sentence upon whom I see fit, ignoring the will of God. My sights fix in, not on personal enemies, the people who have injured me, but on the true evil doers. The killers of hopes and dreams. The wasters of life and limb. The ones who have engineered hell on earth and the ones who follow them out of fear or stupidity. These recurring dreams are visceral, nearly sensual. There is no fear. Only the near erotic satisfaction of vengeance. And as the smoke clears and the ashes of the dead float away on the gentle wind, I realize I cannot share in the earth's new found peace and freedom because I have transformed. That I have disfigured my soul beyond recognition. That I am a danger, a bringer of death. These are my sleeping dreams. This is what I sense, in my soul, I'm capable of.......perhaps.

In "The Candidate", after winning the election, Robert Redford's character asks his campaign manager, "What do we do now?" What do we do now? The pragmatist in me thinks that a modicum of reconciliation could go a long way in repairing this country. But I am also deeply concerned about this reconciliation process. So we reach across the aisle? We get input? We try to get the Right Wing on board, moderate our agenda for the sake of bipartisanship? Part of me understands that this is what a man like Barack Obama would do. Try to heal the nation. And yet I can't help but think that now is the time to fix America's policies, our problems, not to soothe the hurt feelings of these small minded, sleazy lunatics, at the risk of putting these course corrections in place at a glacial pace. How do you make a place for people so wrong about so many things? Let us set aside the question of what we do now for a moment. Instead, let us think of what has led us here, these policies, these issues.

Health care. Does anyone believe that there should not be universal health care? Seriously? Who in good conscience could be against everyone having health care? Can we not look at health care as a fundamental human right? I am going to be blunt. If Jesus himself came today to judge the living and the dead, would those who invented and support the for profit health care system not be among the first on the list to spend an eternity in hell? How could you explain to your Jesus, that a dying child should die because she hasn't got the money for a transplant or a surgery? And for what? So that a stock holder in an insurance company can have a larger dividend? A CEO can have a bigger bonus? That is what we are talking about, right? Profit margins made on the very lives of human beings. There would be a special place in hell set aside for these people, if I believed in such a place. If I believed in hell, I imagine their place would be to relive the pain and anguish of the mother of that child turned away, and of that child's death, over and over again for an eternity.

Iraq. A war started by lies. The stated reasoning for this deadly folly was that the United States was in danger, that Iraq was an imminent threat. Think about that for a second. Iraq was an imminent threat. What madman dreamed up such an unbelievable lie? The idea brings laughter. Iraq, flanked on each border by an enemy, monitored by US forces and UN forces and no fly zones. The claim was that they had weapons of mass destruction. There were UN inspectors on the ground, led by Hans Blix, who knew, and told us that this was not the case. And what about the intelligence info? The two mouthed George Tenet who said it was a slam dunk out of one side of his mouth and prayed to his God that what he made up would come true out of the other. And the second source of info? The second opinion? A newly created wing of the Office of the Vice President, specifically an intelligence gathering wing. This is the office that tried, again laughably, to float the idea that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. Namely, that lead 9/11 perpetrator Mohammad Atta had met with Iraqi Intelligence officers in Prague, and that they had trained in Iraq, intelligence gotten from prisoners that they knew full well had no access to this type of information. And on the weapons of mass destruction fabrication: the evidence of yellow cake uranium purchases in Niger, proven to be fabricated, aluminum tubes, the wrong size and type for the Bush administration's claimed uses....The list goes on and on. The only evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was fifteen years old. The weapons that proved what a bad man Saddam really was. The ones used on the Kurds. So sad really, especially when you consider that Iraq at the time was our ally. Think about the pictures of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam from that period. Think about the fact that the chemical weapons used on the Kurds were most likely bought and paid for by US dollars. The only WMD that we knew Iraq had were the ones we basically gave them to use on their own people.

We are nearing the 6th year anniversary of when this war began. And no one can explain why we were there in the first place. The so called "Left Wing Media" seemed to be in collusion with the Bush administration, overlooking these blatant fabrications and errors. Few voices mentioned the 1996 policy paper entitled “A CLEAN BREAK: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, in which Richard Perle, and other NeoCons outlined a strategy of sabotaging Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, eliminating Yassar Arafat, crushing the Palestinian independence movement, as well as an ambitious plan to invade Iraq, remove Saddam Hussein, and replace him with a US friendly puppet government. No one mentioned a meeting in 1998 when these NeoCons flew to Texas to "educate" one George Walker Bush. No one said a God damned thing before the invasion. Nothing. Not a peep. Not a peep was heard about Saddam Hussein's ties to the Reagan Administration, or the CIA, heavily involved in the Bathe party's rise to power as well as its longevity. Few said anything after the disgraceful "Mission Accomplished" speech, and those that did were ridiculed and called Anti-American. Those that dissented were swiftly marginalized. And no one said a word about the most horrific thing of all. We were allied with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, while secretly selling weapons to Iran. Imagine selling weapons to the Nazis and the British during WWII at the same time. Is there anything else more insidious to do during a war then sell weapons to your ally's enemy? To profit by selling weapons to the two opposing sides of a war? As with the health care profiteers, what does the hell I don't believe in have in store for these people?

With war comes incredible tragedy, heroism, and loss. We have brave soldiers fighting in Iraq for a lie. Every day when we wake up and look at ourselves in the mirror, we know this. I am not talking about what we do now. I am talking about what has been done in our name. As I am writing this, the US military death toll is over 4200. Not wounded. Dead. This is an American tragedy that will never be healed, lives that will never be recouped and for what purpose? The 9/11 attacks killed nearly 3000 Americans. We are approaching one and a half 9/11s worth of US military deaths in this horrible, unlawful, immoral war, and this is only half of the coin. The US government does not officially keep statistics on Iraqi deaths, a sickening thought in itself. The lowest number I could find on Iraqi deaths was 86,663 and those were violent, non-combatant civilian deaths. The highest number was 1,446,063, and was a toll of all of the deaths due to or related to the war including civilians and military combatants, caused by coalition military directly and infrastructure failure caused by the war. Even if you turn a blind eye to the large number (I suggest sitting somewhere in the center of the bell, most estimates are around 600,000), how many 9/11s is that? Divide 3000 into 86,000 or 600,000 or 1.4 million. How many people have to die before we call it a genocide? What number? And why are these people dead? Because of a misguided theory about spreading democracy through the world. Unlikely. Because Iraq was an imminent threat to us? Laughable. Because these people had something to do with 9/11? Fabricated. What are we left with? Who benefits from a perpetual war in an oil rich nation? Oil men like Bush? Military contractors? And guess who was the head of Halliburton, a military contractor, before the disputed 2000 election. That's right, the very same Vice President whose office fabricated intelligence to get us into Iraq. What does the hell I don't believe in have in store for the war profiteers responsible for more than half a million deaths?

Jeremiah Wright accused the US of being shocked that "Our chickens had come home to roost." And oh...The uproar. How could he say that? How could Obama have listened to things like that in his Church? How could anyone think that way? Oh, wait. The Mujahideen funded by the US under Reagan gave rise to the Taliban. Close family friends of the Bushes? The Bin Laden family. Pictures, Pre-9/11 of President Bush shaking hands with Taliban representatives. A long history of covert and not so covert actions in the region. The Bush family, an oil family, with deep ties to Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from, funded by petrodollars made amply available by decidedly anti-green policies. To say that 9/11 was a conspiracy from within the US may be plausible, but is still a huge stretch. To say that any nation deserves to have a 9/11 happen to them is certainly an odious, disgusting, and unfathomable suggestion. To say, however, that our chickens have come home to roost, to take stock of the history, of which the United States is heavily involved, that led up to the attacks is perfectly sensible. It would be irresponsible not to look at what led up to the attacks. Yet where is the study on the US foreign policies that led to 9/11? Are we that sensitive that we can't take into account our own hand in it? Even if it is a repugnant idea. Are we to squelch any and all dissent? Are these Pre-9/11 truths so painful that anyone who brings them up is demonized? And after the passage of laws allowing people to be spied upon, allowing others to be tortured, how was anyone shocked at a backlash against American policies? Are Post-9/11 policies so frailly conceived that they cannot stand up to the wind created by a million or a thousand or a hundred or one eyebrow raised? In this post 9/11 world we have tossed Habeas Corpus out the window. We have allowed our government to spy on us. We have allowed our government to set up secret prisons, with secret juries and secret sentences where torture is not only tolerated, it is applauded. What place is there for those who would use fear as a tool to wipe away any opposition, any dissent, any questioning at all, in the hell I don't believe in?

Economic Equity. Who doesn't want lower taxes? I defy you to find someone who wants to pay more. However, as anyone can tell you, a government needs money to run. In this election cycle, Obama faced criticism for wanting to raise taxes on the highest bracket. His proposal, to raise the highest rate from 36% to 39.6%, was tacitly called Socialism. Mind you that the top tax rate under Nixon was 70%. This type of idiotic, hypocritical accusation actually took off. It was somewhat effective in garnering votes for the ethically challenged McCain/Palin duo. Though slight, the use of the Socialism label did give McCain/Palin a bump. Mind you again, that Sarah Palin as governor of Alaska created a wealth sharing program where each person in the state got over $3200 culled from taxes on oil companies. Yet the official McCain tax proposal had more tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans and corporations. This comes down to an economic theory the was put into place by Reagan. Supply side economics, also known as "trickle down" economics. During the 1980 primary run, George Herbert Walker Bush, an opponent of Reagan, referred to supply side economics as "Voodoo Economics." Though arguments on the validity of supply side versus demand side rage on, there has never been an official study on the efficacies of what is still a theory in practice in a very early stage. At the same time that the wealthy get tax breaks directly from the government, the other Republican mantra of privatization lies in ruin. Privatized health care allows 18,000 people to slip through the cracks in the for profit health care system to their deaths. The 1st Amendment is blurred as federal dollars are funneled to faith based organizations with no accountability. The Republicans preach that we need school vouchers without explaining that this money will be pulled from an already underfunded public school system, and sent to private for profit schools as well as religious schools. Both, again, with no accountability, and in the case of religious schools, again, sending federal dollars to religious organizations. In the end we must ask ourselves, what is more important? The weakest among us or the strongest? Do we give tax cuts to the rich, the poor, the middle class or everyone? How can any well off, economically comfortable person in good conscience accept a tax cut while children still go hungry, people still die because they have no health insurance, education fails our children, families have no homes, and the list of the impoverished becomes longer and longer?

Issues of "morality" and personal freedom. Pro-choice? Pro-life? Those on the Pro-life side of this equation have two main problems with their arguments. They all too often side with the Pro-death arguments in Extra-Abortion issues, IE: Pro-death penalty, Pro-war, Anti-universal health coverage, and the list goes on. For people so interested in protecting unborn life, they sure seem to be indifferent to life once it is born. Secondly, if we are to grant these people the freedom to practice their religion (most Pro-lifers are religious fanatics after all), and it is from their religion, not science, that their conception of when life begins arises, shouldn't people who don't practice their religion have the right to choose that definition based on science? In other words, it is the very freedom of religion that allows us the option to not have to practice one person's religion or another's. No one is Pro-Abortion. We all feel that human life is sacred. We disagree on when human life begins. We all agree that the problem is unwanted pregnancy, and we all understand that the fewer unwanted pregnancies, the fewer abortions. Yet, by and large the Pro-Life community is Anti-sex education and Anti-contraception distribution, both proven to reduce unwanted pregnancy. So what we have is a community that wants to illegalize abortion and birth control at the same time. They want more unwanted pregnancies and they want them carried to full term. The minute these unwanted children are born, of course, they wash their hands of them.

On the most joyous election night of a lifetime, there was one major blemish. The passage of Proposition 8 in California. This despicable amendment taking rights away from fellow human beings is an unprecedented and immoral exercise in hate. And for what? In the name of sanctity of marriage? Whose marriage does it sanctify to take marriage away from some people? What reasoning goes behind this? Is this the work of sensible "Christians," people who believe in love? People who believe in the Golden Rule? What does it matter to them if gays marry? How could it? No one has asked Prop 8 supporters to be gay. No one has asked them to change anything they do. It only matters to those who would want to insure that gays remain second class citizens; that gays do not have access to the same rights as straights. That's what we are talking about here. Bigotry. Hate. These are the same arbitrary prejudices that are used by people who believe that blacks should be second class citizens, or Muslims, , or Catholics, or Jews, or that interracial marriage should be illegal (it was illegal in 16 states as recently as 1967). These are the ideas that breed slavery and genocide. These are the ideas that dehumanize one "stock" of humans, that lead to theories of racial or sexual superiority. To turn a group of people into outcasts, untouchables, is to strip humans of their very humanity. What place in the hell I don't believe in is set aside for these people? What punishment is deserving for the Mormon church that dumped $20 million dollars into the Yes on Proposition 8 Campaign? Are there chains on a slave ship in hell long enough to enslave these people for the eternal torment they deserve?

The United States of America. A nation with high hopes. Those hopes were best expressed in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, most poignantly in the first two lines and the last:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

This hope, this dream of a nation has endured. A government of the people, by the people, for the people has not yet perished. Yet it cannot endure if the people lose their ability to think, to question, to see fact from fiction. We as a nation, over the last half century have promoted a culture of stupidity, of anti-intellectualism where no one questions anything and consumerism runs rampant. This trend culminated in, among other things, the election of a man with no intellectual inquisitiveness as President of the United States. Those who adored him wanted to have a beer with him. These are the same people who love their country, but refuse to educate themselves about what their country does. Like people in Kansas who are poor and who align themselves with the Republican party for no conceivable reason. Are they for supply side economics? For the for profit health care system? For the occupation of Iraq? Why? Why do they allow themselves to be mislead? Is it all the American flags? Do they really believe in these ideologies or have they shut their brains off? A government of the people, by the people, for the people cannot exist if the people do not participate. The knee jerk flag waivers, the "never forget 9/11" crowd that refuse to ask uncomfortable questions about why 9/11 happened, or how it has been used by the Republican party since, have chosen to no longer participate. They have refused to use the modicum of intellectual rigor it takes to ask simple questions, to read a newspaper or a magazine. They have instead fallen in dogmatically with whatever the Republican party says. Ask them why they believe that 18,000 people should die, by being denied health care, for the sake of corporate profits. Ask them why they believe that gays should be treated as second class citizens. Ask them why Iraq needed to be invaded when they presented no threat. Ask them why the rich should pay less taxes while children still starve. You will not get an answer. You will be called a socialist or a communist or a Nazi. You will get hazy Republican talking points. You will be called anti-American or unpatriotic. You will be told that they believe what they believe. There will be no reason, no rational thought behind it.

So what do we have? A list of sins. The constant hunt for personal profit over the needs of the people. Over our very lives. Corporate profits over the lives of those who so desperately need health insurance to live. Personal profits for military contractors, oil executives, middle managers at companies that build bombs and make tanks over the lives of the troops, put in harms way for these profits. Outright hate like Proposition 8, framed with no subtlety at all. These sins cannot be wiped away. These are the sins of the Republican party. And they are the sins of any that would pick up the mantle of that label. What does it mean to take this name? To take up this belief system? If you are a Republican, you believe that gays shouldn't have the right to get married. You believe in supply side economics, and that tax cuts should be given to the wealthy. You believe in an end to public education, an end to the separation of church and state. You believe in the death penalty. You believe that the war in Iraq is justified. You believe that women should not be allowed to have an abortion. You believe in a for profit health care system. You believe that dissent is not to be tolerated. You believe in the unforgivable. There is no pardon, no special dispensation, no indulgences granted by the local bishop. If you choose to align yourself with evil, with sinners, you cast your lot with theirs. These men are sinners of the worst kind. The soulless calculations that have allowed them to do the things they have done prove that they are incapable of the guilt associated with these crimes against humanity that they should feel in their hearts. Their ascendancy, their power and affluence makes the likelihood that they will receive some sort of earthly justice, infinitesimal. We know there will be no Nuremberg trials for them. No Gitmo lockup, no water boarding, no electrocution. They will never know the audacity or evil of their crimes. Oh how I wish there were a hell, for these creators of hell on earth.

And I am falling....The air passing over me. Chilling my skin as I descend. There is no fear. I arch my back and my wings unfurl. Beaten, black, leathery. They reinforce what I am, an angel of death, and my mission, the reason for my presence. I am the destroyer. The destroyer of worlds, of life itself, a tool of the God I once believed in. He left us long ago, to fend for ourselves and we angels have been asleep. The soulless wolves have been given the power over life and death itself. And they've chosen death. They have proven over and over again their unfitness as leaders, their unfitness as humans. They have lost the right to eat at the table of humanity, to drink at the water hole. And this doesn't stop with the architects of these sins. The enablers, fools too involved in themselves to open their eyes, the supporters even in name only have cast their fates as well. To all that have stepped in the way of decency and humanity for personal greed or worse, my cup of wrath has overflowed. I spill my seed of annihilation. I am now the arbiter, judger of those who escape justice, with guile or stupidity. I rain down upon them. I breathe in and the putrid smoke of burning bodies fills my lungs. And it stings less than it should. The exhilaration of the kill in all of its bloody exultation. The destruction of the tyranny of the wealthy, the sycophants and lackeys, the meek thoughtless obedient sheep who follow hate as blindly as they would follow their favorite television show. The victory of freedom and life over fear and death. The ecstasy of killing for a just cause, of laying to waste those ruiners of life, those wasters of what we hold so dear. The orgasm is overwhelming and terrifying. And then it is over. I look over what I have done and I no longer know if it is good. The emptiness surrounds me. I stand on the blood soaked battlefield. It is accomplished. I have saved all but myself from their reign. I have stripped away whatever remnants of my humanity were left. I have become the danger, the tyranny I've fought so hard against. I have wiped away the tears from their eyes. The tyrants that have held them down are gone. But, I cannot wipe away my own tears. I cannot celebrate with my compatriots in humanity, for I have lost mine.....And I know what I must do. And as I remove my armaments, I reach down with all of my being to try to hear that child who believed in hope. I cannot. And I take my leave of this world....And then I awake....

These last few months have been strange. These last eight years have been stranger. We have been beaten and abused for so long, weighed down by the intricacies of this chapter of American history, as well as our universal history....the history of man. We have been subjected to realities, too grim, too dire, to know how to react anymore. We spy on each other and call it a "Patriot Act." We invade a nation for no reason, killing hundreds of thousands and call it part of a "War on Terror." We bail out the richest among us while people go without food or shelter and we say it's a necessity. We turn our backs on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We fail them all. The weak. The poor. The young and the old. The helpless and the hopeless. Until we are helpless and hopeless, prisoners of this regrettable human history. And we had let ourselves become hopeless until this election. And I am a zealot. And I am not a good man. And I have this hatred welled up within me, ready to explode upon the first person who does not believe in human rights, human dignity, justice. And this is all too real, and I wonder to myself if hope is enough. Because I have seen things. Incredible things. This election. This man. This voice telling me to believe in hope. To forgive. And that has inspired hope. But I have also seen horrible things, inhumane injustices, indignities of the spirit, the body, and the soul. And I wonder how I can reconcile them, how to let go of my pain, our pain. And I have cried tears of joy and tears of anguish. And I don't know how much of that eight year old that believes in hope is still there. And I worry..........

And I fall..........

And as I do my wings unfurl..........

But I want to hope...........

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Salad Dressing For Andrew

3 Tablespoons Tahini-Hummus

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1/8 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil

1 Teaspoon Sugar

Fresh Ground Pepper, Dash of Hot Sauce to taste

For you Andrew, my dear partner.

This was a concoction I had created before with varying degrees of success when dishes called for flavors with an Asian influence. It was perfected one late afternoon at a business meeting in my kitchen. Andrew, one of my business partners at the studio is a vegan. I admire him for it. It takes a strong sense of will to take a stand on principle, especially with the pressures of a society that asks him to give in, not to mention two maniac, carnivorous business partners. Anyway, on with the show!

You'll need two small bowls. In one bowl, mix the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce until the sugar is dissolved. Please use good soy sauce and good rice wine vinegar. With the proliferation of the Whole Foods' and Fairway's of the world, it shouldn't be too hard to find. Real brewed soy sauce is so far superior to the salt water with caramel color that some brands try to pass off as soy sauce. A note on hummus. People have different tastes as far as hummus goes but for this recipe, I like to use a hummus with a high tahini concentration. Most hummuses on the market have a little or a lot of tahini in them but for best results I tend to stick with the Sabra brand Hummus & Tahini.

In the second bowl, whisk a thin trickle of the olive oil into the hummus, slowly at first, making sure that the oil integrates into the hummus. Then, with the same process whisk in the sesame oil. Once incorporated, again with the same process, trickle in the contents of the other bowl, constantly whisking. Add the fresh ground pepper. Add hot sauce to taste. You are finished.

This will go great on just about any salad. I often serve it on a thinly sliced carrot and cucumber salad, but any leafy greens would be excellent. It's even good on, sorry Andrew, meats and fish. This goes very well with seared sea scallops, or a nice seared rare tuna, or even on some thinly sliced rare flank steak. As with any recipe, fool around with the numbers. Add a little more of this or a little less of that. As long as you use the technique of slowly whisking in the oils, then the water based ingredients you will have success! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Linear Nature of Time

The hours seem like seconds

I cannot catch up to the busy hands
of time itself.

She pushes forward, ever faster
She eats our pasts, leaving only the shell
of the essences of what once was.

These empty fragments, echoes of reality
stored in soft tissues, so fleeting
Informing every action, reaction
And we cannot escape them
no matter how we try
We are every moment that led up to this moment

We are made up of these
Cracks in our spirits, 
and yet she softens them with time
except for the unfortunate
with a recall too vivid
she attacks these soft tissues
Her march unyielding
until we are left with nothing