Saturday, July 25, 2009

Through the Prism Darkly

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last July asked: "Have you ever felt you were stopped by the police just because of your race or ethnic background?" Sixty-six percent of black men said yes. Only 9 percent of white men said the same.

A prism acts to slow the speed of light and, in doing so, reveals the colors hidden therein. I've always been enchanted by prisms. Before I knew the science, I'd gleefully watch the rainbows on the walls of our dining room reflected from the cut-glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

The Professor Gates case is rattling AM radio speakers across the land and is titillating the race issue once more. I say 'titillating' because I think that lots of Americans want to raise race flags in order to test and verify some deep feelings that they ordinarily keep well-hidden in polite company.

What is it about skin color, anyway? It's not the color. It's the baggage. Rather, the emotional attachment one assigns to skin color which, of course, is a learned-experience. "They" is the word that often begins a discussion of issues that dance around skin color. Pigeonholing. I quite enjoy the definition of pigeonholing that says, "a neat category which usually fails to reflect actual complexities." Nicely said.

The 'actual complexities' are way-too tough to discuss. I note that President Obama has invited both Professor Gates and the arresting police officer to the White House for a chat. Bold move. Surely, substantive statements will be made. The rhetoric will be cleansed of the usual words and phrases. It will be interesting to see the actual transcript, should it be available.

What will be the response from the citizens? Will prejudices be mollified? How will the prism of truth display itself?

Right-wing Shills for the Medical Insurance CEO's

They are a gullible lot, the nuts who dwell in the fetid, dank caves of the far right wing of society. In fact, they are about equal in fleeceability as the Christian right. I wonder what causes the brains of these two groups to be so easily manipulated by propaganda?

Of course, for the fundamentalist christian, the poor child was propagandized at a very early age through Sunday school, parent instruction and those summer propaganda camps to which they were sent. They also have the Man in the Sky watching every move they make, every word they utter. And eternal Hell to pay for any deviation or original thought.

Yet, what of their cousins-in-dupe, the right-wing nuts? Hell and Skygods probably don't scare them and I doubt that they were indoctrinated in right-wing radicalism at an early age. No, theirs is a learned-behavior of late adolescent or early adulthood. I wonder if there have been any masters theses or doctoral discertations written on the root causes of right-wing-ism. Not only that, but there ought to be a dissertation waiting to be written by a psychology ABD on the personality typing of those with right-wing thought tendencies.

The insurance shills know that the right-wing is putty in their hands. Not only are they unsophisticated, but they are highly verbal and love to rant about their 'causes,' most often unwilling to examine issues deeply, preferring simple phrases and stock-words which are easily injected into conversations.

Take this so-called health care debate which, if fact, is no debate at all. Were it a 'debate' then one could examine the issues on both sides. Rather, it is a smear campaign led by the shills of the insurance industry and their co-partners. Right-wing talking heads and their absorptive audience are their agents of disinformation.

Here's what I have heard that smacks of this campaign:

• the bureaucrats in Washington

• another government intrusion in your life

• the government between you and your doctor

• socialized medicine

• raising your taxes

• look at how the government runs [name to be inserted]

• waiting in line at the doctor's office

• the Canadian health program

• more debt...trillions of dollars

• rammed down our throats

• rushed through

• rubberstamp Congress

• jamming stuff down our throats!

I wonder if I've captured all of the salient phrases? Anybody want to add one or two more?

Easily duped, open to propaganda, and vocal. An ad-man's dream.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Radical Left or Right?

The Southern Poverty Law Center's summer newsletter has the headline, "Terror from the radical right." I've blogged on this subject previously and pointed out just how dangerous to our society is this segment of the American population. Each fringe, left and right, represents the kooks of a society- people who cannot abide a centrist viewpoint on governance. The difference or the worry-factor between the right nuts and the left nuts is that the right wing-nuts are both mad and armed.

The SPLC details the recent actions of members of the radical right which always includes some nut shooting and killing another citizen. After the fact we discover that the man had a history of anti-social behaviors as well as a stockpile of weapons. 'Guns and ammunition have flown off the shelves since the election of Obama,' the report says. Of course, I say. What can you expect from these mentally unbalanced men whose imagined 'way of life' is threatened by a black man in the White House.

Their 'information' on what's happening in this land is gotten not from mainstream news sources, but rather the right-wing talking heads who, 24/7, fill their heads with emotional blather that stokes the fires of hate and doubt in the confused minds of the listener. A daily dose. Relentless hate-talk, fear-mongering.

It doesn't take a psychiatrist to understand the effect of that constant chatter on the well-armed, mentally unstable nut-cases of this nation. The next national headline is one trigger-pull away. Who will be the next victim? Which emotionally charged, propaganda-filled nut will be squeezing the trigger?

'Armed and dangerous in America' out to read, 'Armed, dangerous and mentally unstable in America.' Perhaps the most sad part of this entire somber story is that most of them believe that they are being 'patriotic' when they squeeze the trigger. Patriotic citizens trying to 'bring America back.' Bring America back. To what? To their vision of what this nation ought to be like?

Scary, very scary.

At Last Voinovich Casts Sensible Vote

Maybe he wants to be able to sleep well at night after he retires this year. Whatever, Ohio's Republican senator voted against an amendment that would have allowed gun owners to carry their weapons across state lines. He was one of only two GOP senators to do so; the other 38, in zombie-like mode, voted with the NRA, hoping that the organization would be generous to their re-election coffers.

Perhaps his years as mayor of Cleveland helped focus his conscience on the disaster of some gun-nut from Vermont walking down the streets of New York City with a loaded gun because he has a 'permit' from Vermont.

This was his second sensible senate vote in the same week. A few days ago he bucked his party again in voting against the obscene $1.7 billion funding of the F-22A fighter. He also voted against his party on the DeMint Amendment to require the completion of at least 700 miles of reinforced fencing along the southwest border.

Last year, however he voted with the GOP against the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009. Naturally, during the Bush years, he voted for every military appropriations bill and war-funding bill that the GOP proposed.

He's got a few more important bills to vote on before he retires in January. One can only wonder if he will vote for the American citizens or for the Republican Party.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Are We Doing?

Lately, over the past couple of months my comments
have fallen off. I have lost my enthusiasm for
intellectualism. Sure the posts are well written,
thoughtful and present interesting topics for
discussion. However, it seems to me that we have
to move beyond these topics. As we discuss these
topics and issues, the country continues to fall
apart. Some months ago, maybe even a year now,
in a comment or post I wrote that this country was
about to drive over a cliff. This term is now used
on many programs discussing the financial melt down.
I believe Obama even used the term tonight in his
televised news conference. At that time I wrote about
the terrible debt of the country and of the statements
of economists like Steglitz and David Walker. I even
wrote that it was hard to say what would drive us over
the cliff, but that it was entirely possible we would be
blindsided.. Then September 15 happened. We were blind

Now, we are being told by a Democratic Administration that
the country has avoided a meltdown. Every day we are
inundated with issues which hide the true state of the
country. Issues such as birth certificates, health care,
Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, Israel, abortion, religion, energy,
environment, democracy, black holes, and so on and on.
Today the hype was all about the Obama "show" tonight.
There was even countdown clocks on MSNBC and CNN...It
is a red herrings to cover up the real disaster that is
still coming.

The disaster is still the economy. I am now changing my
description of the United States falling over a cliff. It
seems to me that a more accurate representation of our
crisis is that we have hit an iceberg. What we are now
experiencing is the tip of that iceberg. We have collided
and taking on water seriously. It's as Carvelle said to
Clinton in 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." For us to
write about all these other issues is to ignore the obvious.
We are accomplishing nothing. Look, there is virtually
no real manufacturing being done or proposed. Within a few
years there will be hardly no one working full time. The
population of the United States will be working part-time.
And, this is what we are not being told. We will be a
nation of part-time workers. Moreover, incomes will drastically
shrink. This is already happening as wage earning income
has remained static for the last 10 years. How many of these
millions of unemployed will be rehired in full time positions?
In the next three months the unemployment benefits of all the
laid off workers will expire. Then what? Our challenge is
to fully explain what has happened and is happening to the
United States economically. This ought to become our mission,
our cause to be.......

Hang them for Treason

Democrat Max Baucas and Republican Mitch McConnell got ¼ of their political contributions from the Health Insurance industry. Both have resisted, blocked and deferred changes to the health care proposals suggested and called for by the American people and President Obama. Baucas is chair of the Senate Finance Committee and O'Connell is the minority leader of the Senate. Gate-keepers both.

Assuming that these two men have a conscience- which is a large leap of faith- one wonders how they sleep at night. I cannot imagine that I, as a member of the United States Congress, would fight for big business rather than the citizens of my country. What is our democracy all about? Maybe I'm naive but I thought our Founding Fathers spoke of the People, not a ruling class, not the wealthy and well-connected. Lincoln's memorable words, of the people, by the people and for the people ring hollow these days when the leaders of our nation are shills for business.

How did we lose our democracy? When did it happen?

We Americans are a gullible lot. Perhaps it was our over-exposure to television and all of those slick pitchmen hawking their products. We Americans become putty in the hands of slick-talkers including politicians. Look how easily the American people were goated into believing the pitch words and phrases spewing from the paid shills- the congressmen who are working for the insurance industry.

Just after the inauguration, a wide majority of Americans wanted solid health care reform; now, after being pounded by the slick rhetoric, they are willing to wait, to accept a crumb, rather than the whole cake. Six months and our citizens have grown complacent, willing to believe all of the hype and false propaganda spewed by our congressional health care shills.

And so I go back to those men and women in Congress who, during their swearing-in, stood in those sacred chambers, raised their right hand, and pledged to support the Constitution and to work for the citizens of this nation. They have become traitors. Traitors of this democracy. They are no different than other traitors who have been put to death for working against our nation.

Max Baucas and Mitch McConnell ought to be publicly hanged for treason.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Toledo Public Schools Reject Minister for School Board

Fortunately for the parents and children of the Toledo Public Schools, the Board of Education rejected a Christian minister to fill a board position. Rather, the board chose a retired, 35-year veteran teacher for the post. Brenda Hill, 62, was selected by a 3-1 vote to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Steven Steel.

Board member Darlene Fisher, always a renegade on the board, touted Christian minister Carolyn Eyre for the position. Wisely, the board chose Hill in a 3-1 vote. One can only imagine the trouble Fisher and Eyre would have caused had she been chosen. Prayer in school and Bible study classes would have been followed by Intelligent Design and Creationism in the science classes and Christian abstinence classes rather than sex-ed classes.

The suburban Toledo school district of Anthony Wayne Schools with +3000 students made that mistake a few years back. The parents were duped by Barbara Rohrs whom they elected to the Anthony Wayne Board, not knowing that she came fully prepared to unload her fundamentalist Christian agenda on the students of that district. Fortunately, before she was able to implement her Christian agenda, the voters uncovered her intentions and voted her out.

Thankfully, Toledo's parents and children were spared that threat to their educational freedom last evening by the board's careful vetting of the candidates. Chalk one up for the Toledo School Board.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Moral Axis of the Universe

In my previous post, God as a Figment of the Human Imagination, I ended with a significant line from The Evolution of God author Robert Wright; he said that there is a moral axis to the universe. "I believe that there's a purpose unfolding that has a moral directionality. I have barely the vaguest notion of what might be behind that and whether it could be anything like a personal god or an intelligent being or not. That's another question. I don't know. But I will say it's-- whatever is behind it, if something is, it's probably something that's beyond human conception."

Beyond our human conception. That explains my statement,"Most of us figured that out long ago, after we took a second look at all of the nonsense in the Bible. " Humans have been attempting to put a human face and human characteristics on that moral axis for eons even though it is 'beyond our human conception' to be able to. The fundamentalists, however, are convinced that the ancient, desert-wandering, nomadic Hebrew tribe 'got it.' For the fundamentalists, this tribe 'figured out' what this Moral Axis of the universe was like as well as how this Moral Axis communicated to them. They even wrote down the words the Moral Axis spoke for all of us to see. It was awful!

What an insult! What arrogant tribal pap!

Who, in today's world, some 3000 years beyond that rendition of the Moral Axis, actually gives any credence to that accumulated tribal babble? The man called Jesus of Nazareth surely didn't verify much of it at all. He talked with women, even a Samaritan woman. He told his fellow Jews to put away their swords. He embraced the diseased, the outcast and the marginalized of society. He instructed them to love one another. What a rebel. No wonder the elders of the temple had him arrested.

The Hebrew 'figment of their imagination' named Elohim reflected every longing and weakness, each prejudice, all of the desires and fears of the Hebrew people. They made Elohim in their image and it was a pitiful conglomerate of ancient myth, magic, malevolence and mayhem.

The 21st century world is becoming more unified, more homogenized. We are, as Wright said,
' approaching a global level of social organization. And if people do not get better at acknowledging the humanity of people around the world in very different circumstances, and even putting themselves in the shoes of those other people then we may pay the price of social chaos. So the system is set up that way. And that's just an intriguing fact to me that seems to create a kind of moral axis that we can't help but orient ourselves toward or try to orient ourselves toward.'

Biblical literalists or Koran literalists just don't get it at all. They are stuck. They are stuck worshiping a god who little resembles this 21st century world. They are stuck with a tribal god, a figment of the imagination of wandering tribes who needed a specific type of god who would legitimize their actions and upon which they could rest their worries.

Tribalism is dead. Insularity is passe. Boundaries are fading. Cooperation and codependency are today's standards. A literal 'new world order' is sprouting up all across the globe. Ancient tribal religions have no place in this changing world. We are newly-connected to one another. Religious isolationism flies in the face of this new movement.

Those who wish to hold on to the past, to embrace the god of Abraham with all of 'his' violent smiting ways, with 'his' intolerance for the other, are mere obstructionists in this unfolding reality. Their time is past, like the horse carriage. They need to move out of the way as we open the doors and windows and let refreshingly fresh air flow in.

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