Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

¡Hola! Everybody… Like many other people in businesses across the nation, we’re having discussions about how to function in the middle of a huge credit freeze. People’s livelihoods are in the balance…

* * *

-=[ The “Free” Market Ain’t Free ]=-

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… ”

It’s an almost unspoken assumption that part of the “American Dream” that every working stiff should be able to earn enough to own his or her own house and support his or her own family. That’s what it meant to be middle class -- and part of the reason why Jefferson put “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” into the Declaration of Independence.

The people who wrote and signed that document knew that the middle class -- the bedrock of any democracy -- doesn’t materialize out of thin air. That’s why, in the preamble to the Constitution, they wrote that one purpose of government was to “promote the general welfare.” Unfortunately, the reality today is quite different from that sentiment. For more than thirty years the middle class, working poor and poor have been under an assault that has seen this guarantee evaporate. The bedrock of this country -- you and I -- has been subjected to undeclared class war that has eroded our freedoms and our ability to pursue happiness.

When compared to thirty years ago, we -- the middle class and working stiffs -- make less money for longer hours in jobs that are less stable. This is a fact, not an opinion.

That’s why I find it almost reprehensible that I’m still hearing sheep bleat bullshit about the free market. What has to happen before the conservative mantra is seen for the con job that it is?!! Folks, let’s make this clear: the current financial mess is the result of years of the anti-government, anti-regulation con that has effectively dismantled the government and any oversight.

They’re still saying the answer to this mess is more of the same. I say this is insanity. I hear people parrot this bullshit and suddenly I’m able to understand why some people willingly drank the Kool Aid. Let’ e make this perfectly clear: the logical end of the free market is not a democracy but a fascist state run by corporations. We’re almost there.

To listen to the right-wingnuts -- the people who put the con into conservatism -- they will tell you something different. Their belief is that a middle class will miraculously spring into being when the corporate lords are freed from government restrictions.

The way to “grow the economy,” according to these cons, is to “free” the market. “Let business do what it wants!” the cons rail. Freeing the corporate fat cats from government oversight will create wealth, and that wealth will trickle down to us, thereby creating a middle class.

Their belief in “free” markets is a lot like people’s insistence that the world was flat. The free-market propaganda is widely accepted by those in power and many of you reading this today. Anybody who challenges this orthodoxy is labeled unpatriotic or worse, a socialist! ::shiver::

Well here’s the reality for anyone interested in truth and reality:

There is no such thing as a free market

Markets are the creation of government

Governments (i.e., we the people), for example, provide markets with a stable currency for financial transactions. Governments (we) provide a legal infrastructure and a court system to enforce contracts that make the market possible in the first place. We (the government) provide an educated workforce through public education, and those workers get to work by traveling on public roads, rails, and airways provided by the government (us). Business that use the “free” market are protected by police and fire departments provided by the government (us), and they send their communications -- from phone to email -- over lines owned by the public (us) maintained by the government (us).

Most importantly, the government (us) defines the rules of Wall St. As anyone who follows sports knows, without rules, sports wouldn’t be much fun to watch. Similarly, the situation we face today, business without oversight (rules) will not work. A nation run by corporations is not a democracy but a fascist state -- a corporatocracy. In a corporatocracy the rules are made by the corporations themselves and they will always end of screwing you -- the worker -- in the arse. In a democracy those rules are made by the government (We the People), both through our elected representatives and through the power of collective bargaining with the Lords of Business.

Today we have a presidential candidate, McCain, who has spent the better part of the last quarter century fighting every regulation that ever came up before him. He is part of a movement that wants to quash government. He allies include the influential conservative, Grover Norquist who stated, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

A government run by corporate lackeys who hate government will never result in a democracy.

For those saying there isn’t much difference between Obama and McCain, I say look again. The lines are clear here. One candidate represents a continuation of a regressive tax policy that benefits mostly the wealthiest 10 percent of the population and the dismantling of government (us). The other candidate is, at the very least, offering a resistance to more of the same policies that have created the current financial mess.

Ain’t nuthin’ free you fools!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Moral Politics

¡Hola! Everybody…
Freakin’ Mets broke my heart… AGAIN

On another note, one former CEO of the failure formerly known as Shearson/ Lehman received something like $20 million compensation package after heading the company for 18 days! And will people please stop calling this a “bailout” and call it for what is -- Corporate Welfare?

* * *

-=[ Moral Politics ]=-

“When confronted with evidence disproving a cherished belief, most people will throw away the evidence and keep the belief.”

Most of my readers know how much I detest overly simplistic explanations. Take these for example:

An idiot was voted into office twice? Must be the people are stupid.

The subprime meltdown was the consequence of clueless borrowers.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

I could go on and on with a list of the foolish and narrow-minded shit people pull out of their arses in their quest to form opinions. I believe that the greatest postmodern danger facing us is our inability to apply our sociological imagination. That is, our inability to view issues from a wider perspective -- inclusive of divergent points of view -- is what’s creating our greatest crisis.

We blame “a nation of idiots” on the election of an idiot; conveniently ignoring the massive propaganda machine that idiot is tied to. We blame borrowers in what is the greatest financial scam in our nation’s history, ignoring the decades of deregulation and dismantling of government insight that paved the way, not just for the subprime meltdown, but also Enron and every other corporate malfeasance, since McCain’s involvement in the S&L catastrophe in the 80s.

In fact, it is a common practice of conservatives to set up government agencies for failure (via taking away funding) and then blame any failure, not on deregulation, but the very agencies they set up to fail. We ignore the fact that a gun gives people -- many unstable -- a power to inflict destruction like no other instrument. Sure pencils don’t make people misspell words, but let me see how many people you can shred with one pencil as opposed to an automatic rifle.

::blank stare::

The genius of the conservative movement lies in how they have convinced you that a regressive rather than a progressive tax structure is better for you (they call it “tax relief”). It’s how they convinced a number of you to go along with trickle-down economics -- an economic theory no real economist has ever backed.

In any case, our opinions are most often driven by the beliefs -- or better put -- by the metaphors -- we live by. Conservatives have known this for some time and that’s partly why you voted for Bush and why you vote against your own economic interests. Conservative operatives discovered that people vote their values, not on the issues. Therefore, if you can frame, say, “family values” in a conservative way, you have co-opted the most important metaphor we all live by -- families.

Progressives have labored under the false notion that reason or issues should come first. Yes, issues are important, but people vote on values (frames) and if you can’t connect with people on values, you will never get your agenda on board. Let’s take the following facts as an example:

On the Iraq War, an overwhelming majority of Americans want a timetable for pulling out our troops. On economic policy, most Americans support stronger government regulations to protect citizens. On trade, polls consistently show the public is very suspicious of the free trade agreements that have hurt the middle class. On health care, surveys consistently show that about two-thirds of those asked desire a government-guaranteed universal health-insurance system -- even if that means higher taxes.

If the mainstream is more left of center, then why aren’t these issues on the tale for public discourse? Why? Because they haven’t been framed adequately. One of the ways issues are framed is through repetition. Jon Stewart from The Daily Show has made a career showing hilarious video clips of right-wing leaders using the same words over and over on the same day. McCain used this technique during the last debate. He kept repeating his belief (frame) that Obama is not prepared to lead. His key words included “reckless,” and “dangerous.” This is a very effective way to express and embed an idea. The words come with frames of reference attached. Those frames in turn latch on to and activate deeper, subconscious frames. When repeated over and over, the words serve to reinforce deep frames by actually strengthening neural connections in listeners.

In that way, I can stand up on a stump and yell out catch phrases like “family values!” or “tough on crime!” and immediately in your brain a barrage of conservative-framed issues appear. I can blurt out, “tax and spend” and immediately conservative frames come to your mind.

In the coming days, I’m going to write on how progressives can take back the values game.



Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Sermon [Spirituality & Disobedience]

Hola! Everybody…

Well, my dear Mets won yesterday and their fate rest in their own hands today. A win today guarantees them another day.

* * *

-=[ Disobedience ]=-

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

-- Abuelita

Every election cycle I am reminded of the political naiveté and apathy of Americans. Nowhere else is cynicism so deeply ingrained. I am a skeptic, I question everything, but I am no cynic. Cynicism is the disease of defeatism. And much of the American electorate suffers from it.

We all like to point fingers. We love to talk about the stupidity of the American electorate, how we are like so much sheep. But the very same people pointing fingers are also the ones doing jack shit about the situation. The finger pointers are the worst cynics because they’re the first to spout their disappointment about the “lesser of two evils.” They’re the first ones to whine because the slate offers candidates that don’t satisfy their preconditions for political engagement 100%.

For me this is indicative child-like thinking. Welcome to the real world where things don’t exactly fall in place as you would like to, and where unsavory forces co-opt power! Duh! It’s also thinking that contradicts itself. Why? Because it’s the very same thinking that creates the apathy and cynicism contributing to the current political mess.

Those in power want you to feel defeated; they want you to be turned off to politics because it’s easier for them to control the less than half of all eligible voters who actually vote. And if you’re going to sit there and tell me that you vote and write the occasional letter, I will tell you, sothefuckwhat?!!

Democracy is a participatory venture. If you allow someone to handle your freedom for you and that individual tramples it, then what’s to be done? (<--- rhetorical question).

Would you allow someone else to care for your car? Would allow someone else to take care of your lover’s sexual needs? If your answer to these questions is in the negative, then why would you turn over your precious freedom over to the care of a politician?

::blank stare::

We like to complain and avoid political discourse because it’s a bore -- it’s such a turn off. But who the fuck told you freedom was easy?!! You think you can sit on your ass, ignore your community and everything else that's going on, vote every four years and that equals freedom or democracy?!!

Too many of us are turned off by politics and that’s the whole scam you ma’fuccas. That’s purpose of modern American politics -- to keep you turned-off and cynical. Let me turn you on to a secret: political discourse is often not pretty nor a feel-food-kumbaya-let’s-jerk-each-other-off process. Moreover, it shouldn’t be! It’s supposed to be contentious and it’s supposed to elicit uncomfortable feelings.

This election cycle is different from past ones, however. For one, you couldn’t find two more ideologically opposed opponents than we have to day. Forget the fact that perhaps neither candidate creams your Twinkie; this is politics, not the dating game. At stake are two diametrically opposed and competing ideologies. One side (the conservatives) idolizes the market and sees it as the answer to all our problems. The other (moderately progressive) side sees that good government is the only entity able to rein in unchecked and unbridled power. One side abhors government, while the other sees government as the steward for our basic freedoms.

Make no mistake about it: those sitting on their asses and ignoring this historical moment because it makes their belly flip are the problem. That’s the problem even if those people vote.

I’m going to break my unofficial rule of keeping my blogs to no more than a one-page Word document and leave you with something you can do rather than just railing, as I have done.

The cynics’ major weapon is their complaint regarding the intelligence of the general population. After all, who else but a nation of idiots would elect an idiot to the highest office in the land?



I think it’s more important to talk about how people experience the times we live in -- times of unchecked free market ideology as the fundamental principle guiding our values. The problem with free-market idolatry is that we forget that it dehumanizes people. Because increasingly radical models of efficiency propel free-market ideology in order to maximize profit, it becomes easier to consider human beings as commodities rather than individuals striving for dignity. All other human attributes -- certainly the spiritual and the creative -- become unimportant.

This is the logic -- the underlying moral principle -- that even parents and school boards apply when they decide that music, art, and teaching critical thinking is extraneous to public education. It’s what rationalizes the thinking that its a luxury to consider your own children as living, thinking beings and more efficient to see their education solely in terms of future “workforce development.”

This is brutal -- a cannibalization of what is most precious and most fragile about our humanity -- our children. In case you didn’t get it the first time: through education, we the protectors of children, subject our young to the brutal conditioning that makes them commodities for the market.

Then we complain that our children don’t think.

I know a barely literate woman fight and win against her own school board so that this wouldn’t happen. She did it because she said that teaching to a pen and paper test wasn’t education. This is where you come in. You don’t have to wait for the perfect candidate who changes everything in one fell swoop. I have news for you: this will probably not happen. In addition, even if such a candidate would appear, most of you would not vote for him or her. There’s no Santa Claus and your soulmate was hijacked and sodomized on his/ her way to meet you. I know that’s messed up breaking this news like this to you, but somebody needs to smack you in the face.

However, you can make a difference in your life. Don’t just vote, get involved. See something you don’t like? Work to change it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be something as simple as making sure the traffic light on the corner works, that the books in your library are up to date, or that the computers work.Or, it could be as big as something like causing your community to think differently about education.

And when you do vote, get involved, talk to people, argue, disagree, agree, whatever, just stop bullshitting yourself and pointing fingers because all I want to know is: what the fuck are you doing to make difference in your life and community?

Some of you put more value and care in your car than you do in the protection of your freedom and that’s the tragedy because while you been washing your car, they’ve co-opted your world.



Get your own playlist at snapdrive.net!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Debate

¡Hola! Everybody…

My Mets are fucking losing!!!! DAMN! As I’m writing this, I just got word that one of my favorite actors, Paul Newman, has passed away. Thanks for all the beauty Paul...

* * *

-=[ The Art of Debate ]=-

“Ten days ago, John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. I just fundamentally disagree.”

-- Barack Obama at the debate

So I watched part of the beginning of the presidential debate last night. My thinking is line with the majority of the polls out this morning scoring this one for Obama. Obama came out of this debate looking better than McCain, who looked extremely uncomfortable and came off as belligerent at times. McCain looked ill at ease and I think he didn’t parry what I felt was the line of the night, as delivered by Obama. McCain came out with a silly double speak attempt to sound “deep” on the economy saying, “This isn’t the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning... ” -- arrrghhh! Is Palin rubbing off on the old man?!!

::blank stare::.

Compare Obama’s response, “This is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policy promoted by (President) George (W.) Bush and supported by Senator McCain.”

For the most part, I think Obama came off looking more “presidential” than McCain and did a lot better than I thought when it came to foreign policy. I do, however, think McCain dodged a bullet because Obama’s debate style let him off the ropes. Obama needs to stop agreeing with his debate opponents! That’s just not smart at all. He also missed some real opportunities to nail McCain on the economy. For example, Obama allowed the economic portion of the debate to turn to taxes, and of all things, earmarks! Arrrrrgh! Obama should’ve been able to point out that McCain isn’t so clean when it comes to earmarks and could’ve brought up many instances of McCain bringing the pork home.

I also think Obama could’ve done more pointing out McCain’s connection to the core issue of the current financial mess -- deregulation and the dismantling of government. He didn’t, for example, point out that McCain’s chief financial advisor, Phil Gramm, wrote the bill that paved the way for the subprime fuckfest. A bill McCain voted for!

Still, though my impression was that Obama was too soft and was too much on the defensive, I also think he came out on top. Mostly (and wisely), he consistently returned to his strength by emphasizing his argument that -- in his vision for the future and leadership -- the Republican represented a continuation of Bush’s policies, which Obama said have badly affected average Americans in every area of their lives.

“Over the last eight years, this administration and Sen. McCain have been solely focused on Iraq ... that is where their resources and their priorities have gone,” Obama said. “In the meantime ... we have weakened our capacity to project power around the world.”

One of the harder blows landed by Obama came after McCain criticized Obama judgment suggesting we go after extremists in Pakistan was reckless. McCain jabbed, “Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government. To which Obama responded, “And, John, I -- you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.” (Emphasis added)

That was a powerful message that served him well in deflecting McCain’s attack-style of debating. In addition, McCain did himself a major disservice by the use of his body language. He wouldn't even look at Obama squarely. Bad form.

Finally, I would have to agree with the talking heads that this was a debate grounded squarely on the issues. In the end, I don’t think either candidate convinced people to come over to their side. However, I believe this bullshit line they trot out every election cycle is just that, bullshit. Independents usually vote one way -- they’re independents in name only.

The real key in winning this (or any U.S.) election lies in the candidate’s ability to energize their base. On this issue, I believe Obama’s campaign has done a remarkable job.

Gotta go!



Friday, September 26, 2008

The TGIF Sex Blog [Vagina]

¡Hola! Everybody…

OMG! I’m sorry people, I have to say that Palin gives women all over a bad name. Did you see the second Katie Couric interview?!! Utterly, painfully clueless… Someone described Palin as “Bush with tits.”

Speaking of cunts…

* * *

-=[ Pussy ]=-

“Feeling a little irritated in the airport? Just say, ‘cunt!’ everything changes.”

Eve Ensler, Vagina Monologues

Pussy, cunt, chocha, toto, beaver, the jade throne -- whatever you call it, the vagina has had a pivotal role in human history. Despite its crucial historical location, you might as well have been talking about the dark side of the moon when talking about what we knew of the vagina. This changed somewhat during the late 1950s and early 1960s when William Masters, M.D., and Virginia Johnson devised an experiment that allowed them to observe directly what happens deep inside the vagina during sexual arousal and intercourse. They did this by having women masturbate to orgasm using a camera-equipped plastic penis, complete with a special (cold) light to illuminate the mysterious, lightless interior.

They reported that the vagina is “a potential rather than an actual space” -- its soft, velvety walls (yummy) are collapsed together, touching each other. However, during the first stage of the sexual response cycle, shortly after initial sexual stimulation, two things happen: the vagina begins to lubricate and to expand. According to researchers, vaginal lubrication is the first physiological sign of arousal in women: within 10 to 30 seconds after stimulation begins, the researchers found, little beads of fluid begin forming all over the vaginal walls, giving them the appearance of a sweat-beaded forehead. The little beads rapidly spread to form that deliciously smooth, glistening covering men love so much.

[Note: for the sake of brevity I am using the accepted “stage model” of orgasm. I have problems with this stage-model (as do others) but I am using this model now only because it’s more convenient for my purposes today.]

As a woman becomes increasingly aroused, the deepest two-thirds of her vagina begin inflating, almost like a balloon -- lengthening and expanding in what Masters and Johnson described as a “tenting” effect. The uterus and cervix pull slowly up and back, out of harm’s way. (Some women have retroverted, or tipped, uterus, causing the cervix to stay where it is, suspended in this widening vaginal cavity -- where a man’s penis may batter it, sometimes painfully, during intercourse.)

During all this, the vaginal walls dramatically change in color form their usual purplish red tint to a distinctly darker purplish hue. This is the result of vasocongestion -- the damming up of blood that’s the central event of sexual arousal.

As sexual excitement reaches the plateau stage (the second stage of the sexual cycle), the outer third of the vagina swells as it engorged with blood, to the extent that it actually narrows the vaginal entrance by up to 50 percent. (The deeper part of the vagina is expanding; the outer part is narrowing.) Masters and Johnson called this outer third the “orgasmic platform,” and it was this area that reacted most dramatically during orgasm. At the moment of climax, this whole outer ring begins spasmodically contracting at 0.8-second intervals, anywhere from 3-15 times. At the very highest level of sexual excitement, some women experience a sort of superorgasm: the orgasmic platform explodes into a spastic contraction lasting 2 to 4 seconds (knocking them knees! LOL!), then downshifts into the 0.8-contractions of “normal” orgasm.

After, during the third (“resolution”) phase of the sexual response), the orgasmic platform rapidly drains of blood, the vaginal opening expands, and the inner, distended part of the vagina shrinks back to its original state.

Whew! LOL

These findings point to one erroneous, but common, misconception men have about the vagina: that it’s deep, pounding penetration that drives women wild. Much of this misconception is the result of male-oriented erotic material that emphasizes the imagery of deep penetration: spikes, spears, lances, swords all plunging to the hilt.

But the truth is that for most women, the deepest two-thirds of the vagina are practically numb to the touch. Researchers have found that deep inside, the vaginal walls have few nerve endings. By contrast, the outer third of the vagina and the vaginal opening are exceedingly sensitive to touch.

On the other hand, more recent research have established that some women do find deep vaginal penetration incredibly pleasurable, reporting that it triggers a “deep” orgasm that’s different from an orgasm touched off by clitoral stimulation. Because the vaginal walls have so little feeling, sex researchers believe that some women enjoy the deep muscular contractions of the uterus and muscles of the pelvic floor (this can also be due to the more recently discovered “clitoral wings” that form a semi ring extending close to the anal area). Other women seem to be especially responsive to firm pressure on top of the front wall of the vagina, also called the G-spot.

I guess what I’m saying here is that basically when it comes to sexual enjoyment -- and sexual equipment -- all women are alike… but also different.



Check out the video to see a demonstration of the various vaginal moans:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

There's No Crying (or Time Outs) in Baseball

¡Hola! Everybody…
JaysusfuckinCherist! Is that Palin skank stupid or what?!! Even Laura Bush called her a dumb c*&t! LOL! I almost wish she would be VP, just for the comedic effect.


As is usual on Thursdays, I will be gone all day today.

* * *

-=[ There’s No Time Out in the ‘Hood and in Presidential Elections ]=-

“Character is not made in a crisis it is only exhibited.”

-- Robert Freeman

I once received a threatening phone call from an irate husband because his wife and I were doing the horizontal mambo. His exact words were, “Watch your back, because I know where you live.”

Now, I have this thing with threats. I just can’t abide by them -- it’s a button-pusher for me, yanno? So I hung up the phone and immediately went to his house (after all, I definitely knew where he lived cuz I had been there several times).

I knocked and as soon as he opened the door, I didn’t let him say anything, I didn’t say anything, I just punched him in the nose with all my might. That kinda shocked him and while he was recuperating from the violence of the punch and the shock of all that blood, I grabbed him by the neck, dragged him out to his front lawn and proceeded to kick his ass like an unwanted stepchild.

At the time, this was a pretty decent neighborhood near Brooklyn’s Highland Park. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and my arriving with all this violence caused quite a stir. However, I wasn’t going to let Joe Neckbone off the hook because 1) he was a lot bigger than me, and 2) why he had to threaten me?!!

Anyway, by the time he was able to get to his feet, I had busted his nose, cracked one of his molars, and by the looks of his labored breathing, his ribs weren’t doing too well. He gets to his feet and you know what he does?

He does the “time out” signal with his hands and asks for a “time out”!!! Ma’fucca! There’s no crying in baseball and no time out in street fighting!

I slapped him around a few more times, then I just felt bad about the whole thing, and walked away (the shite called the police on me!). By the way, at that time, I was weighing about 130 lbs soaking wet and in the throes of the worst part of my active addiction.

I don’t say all this to brag. In fact, I am not proud of my actions that day. I’m not proud of screwing another man’s wife (though she was foine!). I’m not proud of resorting to violence to handle my affairs, or the harm I caused this individual. I will be the first to admit that at the time I was living foul.

I bring it up because yesterday, one of the presidential did the equivalent of calling a “time out” in the midst of a hard-fought fight. I think it speaks volumes of McCain’s lack of character that he would attempt to opt out of the democratic process using a crisis as an excuse. It’s not about being a coward as much as it is about having the right character and the temperament to lead.

What would he do if another opponent had him on the ropes? Would he call a “time out”? Would he call a “time out” on our constitutional freedoms if the shite hit the fan? Sorry folks, we have to shred the constitution cause I can’t respond to a crisis and protect our freedoms at the same time.

Wait! That already happened! It’s called the Patriot Act!

Obama and others put it best when they observed that now, more than ever, is when the American people need to hear what these two men have to offer in terms of this financial meltdown. I actually think having McCain and Obama thrust into the process of hammering out a solution to this financial meltdown would be counterproductive. In any case, we all know the reason for McCain’s attempt to slink away from confronting his opponent, right? Ma’fucca! there ain’t no crying in baseball and no time out in street fights and presidential politics! Grow a pair, dammit, or borrow Palin’s! LOL

On a more serious note, this is what’s known in my profession as avoidance behavior. It’s a lot like your kid all of sudden getting a tummy ache on the day he has to take a test he didn’t prepare for. This is not the hallmark of a leader.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why I Write

¡Hola! Everybody…
I am purging my friends list. I’m not going to give some bullcrap excuse that I have too many friends or I don’t have the time crap. I just feel like deleting some people from the roll.


If you’re deleted, you should feel really fawked up, insecure about it since I am a notorious attention whore, and haven’t deleted people in quite some time. LOL!

-=[ Lineages ]=-

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

-- Thomas E. Lawrence

I am a radical progressive descended from a long line of radical progressives.

I stand proud on this heritage because my lineage has a long and legendary history. Its narrative is driven by the liberal principles of freedom, equality, dignidad (human dignity), and the celebration of diversity, and by the immovable conviction that our common wealth should be used for the common good. Our species’ greatest moments occurred when these values prevailed. I write so that these principles may endure.

I write because voting isn’t enough.

Whoa! You might say. Whadaya mean voting isn’t enough, Eddie?!!

I mean exactly that. Voting is important, but my ancestors and mentors taught me long ago that freedom isn’t guaranteed. Nothing can guarantee your freedoms. The Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if you’re not actively engaged in the democratic process. Voting every four years for the lesser of two evils will not ensure your freedom. The principles I adhere to can only be attained through action -- participation.

My lineage has shown this to be true throughput the ages. My ancestors are those that have stood to speak truth to power throughout the ages.

These principles do not belong to particular nation or political party. They belong to no race, class, or gender. They certainly do not mirror some bullshit red state/ blue state dichotomy. I write today to remind myself that it has been the progressive principles that have always elevated us to a higher moral position. And today I look back in the hope that we can leave our children with a better future.

My lineage, composed of some of the greatest men and women, have been those who were able to articulate and act upon these principles. They were the ones who gave life to our Constitution through the courage of their convictions. The legacy of my lineage is my proudest heritage. It humbles me. I write so that I, too, may at on my deepest convictions.

The central individuals of my lineage have been common people. First, there were revolutionaries. Revolutionaries who dared dream with their eyes open who inspired later revolutionaries in France and later on in the colonies of the so-called New World. My lineage includes proud First Nation peoples, who were here before, whose methods of governance inspired the founders of the United States.

My lineage includes the abolitionists, like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, who insisted that no democracy could respectfully call itself one so long as slavery endured. My lineage includes the suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought to expand our understanding of quality and won for women the right to vote.

There are many others. The Rev. Martin Luther King, jr. and Rosa Parks who marched for tolerance and inspired a nation and a world to celebrate diversity. My fathers include people such as Malcolm X and Albizu Campos, both of whom who spoke eloquently of action and of “taking your freedom.” and both of whom paid with their lives for articulating such a vision. Mother Jones, Cesar Chavez, the Yong Lords and the Black Panthers and Sojourner Truth -- all living at different times -- all championing the inalienable dignity of all human beings.

I write because the beliefs, the convictions, he values that inspired my lineage can inspire us today. While it is true the issues we face today are different, the guiding principles remain.

Our most significant challenge today is the dark cloud of authoritarianism that hangs over us as a nation, making it almost impossible to address issues without major political change. Radical conservatives have taken over the reins of government for too long and have been controlling the terms of debate for far too many years. For real change to happen, the progressive ideals of my lineage must be brought back to the center of our political conversation. This will be neither quick nor easy and I despair that it will ever happen.

However, if you believe in the progressive principles of freedom, equality, human dignity, tolerance, and the celebration of diversity, then this is also your lineage -- your heritage. It leaves us with the clear realization that it is up to us to create a greater future for our children and to save this world.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Second Oldest Profession

¡Hola! Everybody…

BTW, anybody seen Osama bin Laden lately? I’m sayin’… I know McCain is dying for another video to come out. Obama has a double-digit lead in terms of who would be better fit to guide the economy and his lead in the polls overall is inching past the statistical tie. I’ll tell you: the Islamic extremists aren’t as stupid as we would have them. After all, didn’t they elect an imbecile twice?

::blank stare::


* * *

-=[ Mugwumps, Debauchers, and Plumed Knights ]=-

“We do not believe that the American people will knowingly elect to the presidency a coarse debauchee who would bring his harlots with him to Washington and hire lodgings for them convenient to the White House.”

-- New York Sun on Grover Cleveland

To listen to people tell it today, one would think there was a time in American politics where the grab for power was a genteel affair. Nothing could be further from the truth. I will admit that the methods have grown more sophisticated (for lack of a better word), but mudslinging and outright lies have always been part of presidential elections. In fact, a look at past elections would shock many here.

One president’s wife, for example, was charged with being a bigamist (technically she was). It was said of one of the most revered political minds of our history, Thomas Jefferson, that he would set the “seal of death on holy religion” if he were elected. Abraham Lincoln, considered by many historians as one of greatest presidents, was characterized by his opponents as “a low-bred, obscene clown,” and a “dishonest baboon.”

Truth be told, there are countless elections to choose from in terms of plain meanness, but one that stands out for its pure salaciousness is the election of 1884. One historian called it “the dirtiest campaign in United States History.” According to their opponents, the choices offered were, on the one hand, “the town drunk” and “a coarse debaucher,” and on the other, “an unrestrained public plunderer.”

This was an era known as the Gilded Age, one that parallels the times we live in today. It was a time of unregulated greed and robber barons, and abject poverty for the many, riches for the few. One writer, speaking of the times, wrote, “The Standard [Oil Company] has done everything with the Pennsylvania legislature except refine it.”

Sound familiar? LOL

The Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland, who had been governor of New York. At 5 feet 11 inches tall and 260 pounds, he was a huge figure. Called “Grover the Good” because of his honesty and commitment to the often cited but seldom adhered to belief that “a public office is a public trust.” He dismayed family and supporters with his stubborn refusal to accept political favors and his efforts to root out graft and promote civil service reform. For this reason, independent Republicans nicknamed “Mugwumps” (because, it was said, they had their mugs one side of the fence, and their “wumps” on the other) deserted their party and joined the ranks of Cleveland supporters. Which goes to show that republicans have always cannibalized their own.

In a “mass meeting of maniacs” (as the editor of the Nation put it), the Republicans nominated James G. Blaine, previously a Congressman and then Senator from the state of Maine. Unlike his opponent, Blaine had a reputation as flamboyant (supporters called him the “Plumed Knight”) and corrupt (opponents called him “Slippery Jim”). In fact, Blaine was considered so corrupt that one prominent New York power player famously replied, I don not engage in criminal practice,” when asked if he would support Blaine.

In the beginning of the campaign Cleveland’s enemies couldn’t bring up anything on him worse than the charge that he was a “cowardly bigot.” On the other hand, the Democrats and the Mugwumps had a field day with Blaine’s history of shady financial dealings. To his enemies he was the “tattooed man” famously depicted in a political cartoon with “corruption” written all over his disrobed body.

Blaine’s troubles began in earnest when it was reported that the Union Pacific Railroad had given him a “loan” of $64,000. Apparently, in return for what amounted to bribe, Blaine had used his influence as Speaker of the House of Representatives to provide a railroad land grant. The scandal resurfaced in the 1884 election when transcripts of letters, the most damning a letter from Blaine himself that ended with the incriminating postscript: “Burn this letter,” were made public.

After, the Democrats took to chanting “Blaine! Blaine! James G. Blaine! The continental liar from the state of Maine!” in response to the Republican rhyme “Blaine! Blaine! The man from Maine!

But the worst for Cleveland was yet to come. Ten days after the Democratic convention a Buffalo broke the story that Cleveland had an illegitimate son, then ten years old, from an affair with a young widow named Maria Halpin.

But Cleveland did some thing that surprised both his supporters and enemies: He instructed his campaign adviser to “Tell the truth.” Yes, Cleveland (a bachelor) had been involved with Maria Halpin (as had quite a few other men, apparently), and although he could not be sure the child was his, nonetheless he did “the honorable thing” and provided financial support. This had the effect of taking much of the air out of the scandal (something Clinton could have learned from, by the way).

The Republicans were beside themselves with rapture. Paraders chanted, “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?” to which the Democrats replied, “Gone to the White House, ha, ha!” [Refer to the cartoon, “Another vote for Cleveland.”]

Eventually, Blaine’s “financial dealings” would be his downfall. Even so, both men were even outside of New York (Cleveland, 183 electoral votes, and Blaine, 182). On election day, a driving rain in New York suppressed the republican vote. Blaine lost New York by 1,149 votes and with it the election.



Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Madness [Free Market Myths]

¡Hola! Everybody…
There’s been a lot of gnashing of teeth, tearing of clothes and hand-wringing over the fat cats cluster fuck resulting in a global financial meltdown.

I have yet to hear one talking head question the validity of bailing out the Wall St. Welfare Queens! Everyone agrees that this must be done for the good of everybody. Mention even thinking about bailing those who will lose their homes and people will get a razor sharp hair up their collective arses.

If it were a middle class couple, or [gasp!] a black single mother being helped, there would be hell to pay (complete with bonfire) and cries of Socialism! and Government Interference! by the likes of McCain and the rest of the corporate bootlickers. The very same talking heads would be waxing poetic over the “free market” and how we shouldn’t interfere with the “sound principles” of our market.


How is this not socialism for the corporate elite? A SEVEN-HUNDRED BILLION DOLLAR CHECK WITH NO OVERSIGHT?!!

* * *

-=[ The Free Market Isn’t Free ]=-

“Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.”

-- John McCain, 2008

McCain, like his conservative peers, idolize the so-called “free market.” You hear it all the time from them: “Leave it to the market.” Health care: Leave it to the market. Social Security: Leave it to the market Minimum wage: Leave it to the market!

There is no “free market.” It doesn’t exist. As McCain’s own reversal recently, conservatives know it’s myth and they understand that government regulation of and participation in the market can be beneficial. The current financial collapse, brought upon by deregulation and lax oversight is a case in point. However, this isn’t new; conservatives send a large percentage of the federal budget year after year to private defense companies, shifting public wealth to private owners, for example.

We have spent about a trillion dollars in the Mess in Mesopotamia and now we’re going to spend close to that bailing out the Welfare Queens in three-piece suits. I have a better idea on how we could such money. In fact, I’m pretty sure we all could come up with better ideas on how to spend our money (health care, education, etc.).

What if we took a trillion dollars and help small businesses instead?!!

Let’s look at some facts:

Small businesses (defined as businesses with fewer than five hundred employees) accounts for about half of our GPD (gross domestic product).

Small businesses have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually for the last decade. Looking at the most recent data small firms accounted for all of the net new jobs. Yup, all of them. Some large businesses grew, of course, but that growth was undermined by large businesses that laid off workers.

Nearly half of all small businesses, 49 percent, as of August 2007 had experienced no employee turnover during the twelve previous months. None.

Thousands of new businesses are founded in the United States each year, and over the last decade, the rate of new venture formation has increased.

Due in part to downsizing at large firms and rapid technological advancement, the trend toward more new business start-ups is likely to continue.

There’s a flip side, however:

Between 20 and 30 percent of new start-ups close during the first year of existence.

So what do we have so far? Well, here’s a sector of the economy that accounts for half the wealth and most of our job growth. Due to the increasing challenges and opportunities in our modern, “global” world, our economy will need this sector to expand, despite the fact that it is subject to a high rate of failure.

With a trillion dollars, we could have the largest pool of venture capital in the world -- perhaps in the history of humankind.

The average solo start-up in America these days needs only $6,000 to get off the ground. Even in businesses started by a group of people, the average required is just $20,000.

In theory, we could fund more than 50 million new businesses. Unlike the current financial bailout, we would have to put some restrictions in place. We can’t have crackpots like my brother-in-law walking off the job to follow a hair-brained scheme. So, sure, you would have to put in some of your own money into it. You’ve got to have a sound business plan written down. But if we’re going to bail out fat cats that have bungled billions of dollars, why isn’t just as valid to consider supporting the American entrepreneurial spirit for those with a good plan and sound head on their shoulders?



PS: Much of above was shamelessly stolen from the book, What We Could Have Done with the Money, by Rob Simpson. Check it out for more ideas on how to spend a trillion dollars (click here)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Sermon [Audaciousness]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Hmmmm… it seems we now we have a
Road to Nowhere that connects to the Bridge to Nowhere. Sarah
I can see Russia, Charlie! Palin has repeatedly told the lie that she killed the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” The reality is that she was for it initially until it became too embarrassing and congress killed the funding. Once the project was practically dead, she decided it wasn’t good for the people of Alaska (after a cost of astronomical proportions). Well, it turns out that we now have a three-mile bridge in the middle of nowhere linking to a bridge leading to nowhere. Maybe that’s what they should call the Palin/ McCain campaign: The Road to Nowhere.

You do the math: 3.1 miles at a cost of $25 million dollars. Here’s your money at work:

(The road to nowhere connecting to the bridge to nowhere)

Maybe the money would've have been better spent on comprehensive sex education? ::blank stare::

* * *

-=[ Living Audaciously ]=-

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing that one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills. It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.”

Robert F. Kennedy spoke those words over thirty years ago. He went on to add, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, strikes out against injustice, or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

At the same time, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to the “fierce urgency of now” and passionately articulated a need for “vigorous and positive action.” These two men were cut down in the prime of their lives, but they weren’t the movement they served. We -- you and I and people who desire a more just world -- we are that movement. Those days, while filled with turmoil from deep tectonic cultural shifts, are not as critical as the world we live in today.

There is a sickness in this world so systemic, so widespread that most folk don’t want to acknowledge it. Everyday, as we sift through the mess of a disconnected and mechanistic society that costs countless lives, another chance appears to reclaim our right, to grow a relationship, to become more whole, more connected. Each act is another chance to speak louder, become stronger and more comfortable with loving truths. Each act you take is another chance to nurture the power, hope, and focused positive action necessary to create some sense of sanity in our daily lives.

But we seemed to have fallen asleep for a bit there and now that we are awakening, we want to blame everyone but those who should be held accountable. Truly, huge swaths of people in this country are still asleep.

There’s a slogan popular with the huge fellowship of the 12-Step movement: walking the walk. What it means is having the courage to live your principles. It’s about dropping the nonsense and, one day at a time -- sometimes one breath at a time -- living fully. Walking the walk to me is living audaciously. It’s getting out of your head and into your life, living your principles. Are you the change you want to see in the world? And if your answer is in the affirmative, is that change embracing of others and not just confined to your narrow demographic? What good is your child’s school, for example, if they’re being raised in a society that is failing millions of children? Eventually our children will pay for our fear-based narrow-mindedness. Of that, I am certain.

As nature is clearly showing us, we live in a world that is deeply interconnected in ways we’re only beginning to recognize. What we say and do affects countless others. Your actions can be life-affirming or they can be life-denying. The true challenge facing you today and every day you wake up is if your actions and thoughts will serve to make a better world, or if your actions will add to the fear and isolation that threatens to destroy us.

Every day, you’re given this chance to make a difference.

Every day…

This isn’t going to be easy, it will take every tear, every chuckle, every exalted and painful moment, for all of us to become more fully human, but it can be done. In fact, there are people already doing it:

· A group of teens takes action and help raise funds for an elderly woman who was assaulted and robbed -- giving her the $900 she lost.

· A small community-based organization helps a young couple buy their fist home.

· One grief-stricken mother begins a movement to end drunk driving, possibly saving countless lives in the process.

· One sober addict helps another stay clean.

Every day there are people everywhere making a difference, being the change they want to see in the world and that is the only way we will effect true change. Whether you’re a conservative or liberal, or radical, we have to come together respectful of our different values in a life-affirming spirit in order to save this planet. It doesn’t matter your views on abortion or God. Those are distractions fabricated to keep our wills away from enacting change. There is common ground, but that ground can only be inhabited if we respect our differences, white, black, or brown, gay and lesbian or heterosexual. In short, we have to walk the walk or become lost on the Road to Nowhere.




[un]Common Sense