Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Sermon [The Core Wound, Fundamentalism & Bigotry]

¡Hola! Everybody...
My mother is in town and today I’m going out to spend some time with her... Have a great day, people.

* * *

-=[ The Core Wound and Gay Marriage ]=-

The core wound is not merely a psychological issue or birth trauma, it is the basic issue of our existence. It’s our realization that we are both material and spiritual, finite and non-finite. We are at once, limitless and limited. These basic contradictions create the core contradictions of our lives. Mostly, we don’t experience this as a conflict -- at least not in a conscious manner. Rather, we experience it as a wound, an almost inexplicable, unnameable pain. We endure it like a gash in the most intimate places of our being. As a species we are unique in this regard. We all suffer this wound.

I have written before that a response to this wound has been fundamentalism. Fundamentalism festers like an infected wound at the core of our being. This running wound is the violent fault line in our collective psyche from which the molten magma of our hate comes from.

A case in point in the news recently is the issue of “gay marriage.”

What “no gay marriage” means is that men who are genetically pre-disposed to putting their parts and hearts in the hands of other men, and women who are genetically pre-disposed to doing the same with other women, are considered not human enough to be trusted to say who makes them happy as a life partner in the eyes of the law.

Contrary to the hype, you cannot make assumptions on what defines “a heterosexual relationship.” Similarly, you cannot define the infinite varieties of what constitutes a “gay relationship.” The only thing you can say for sure about straight people is that they prefer getting their Twinkies creamed with someone of the opposite sex. The only thing you can say for sure about a gay person is that they prefer to get their jollies off with someone of the same sex. It has been pointed out to me by a gay human being that to consider “gay marriage” vs. “straight marriage” is quite literally a consideration of the sexual positions that people prefer.

Talk to a bigot and the first thing they mention is that gay sex isn’t “natural” so it is an abomination in the “eyes of the Lord.” Yeah, fundies are obsessed with sex acts, it seems.

Your God only knows what those California judges were picturing in their minds as they shivered in disgust and handed down their decision to ratify Proposition 8 (a double sausage dish?). Regardless of whatever lustful imagery they (and all the folks who voted for Prop 8) entertained to enable their decision, there’s only a few possible explanations for creating and supporting laws that deny others their happiness, and none of them have anything to do with how you like to perform a sex act.

The primary reason is known as “moral superiority.” You are sure that you have the universe figured out, and want to make sure that everyone else gets poked (or pokes) the same way you do. Though this worldview frequently masquerades as confidence, assuredness, and deep conviction, it is nothing more than bullying. And like all bullies (as we learned from watching after school specials) it is actually a learned behavior that hides a deep insecurity (i.e., the Core Wound).

Sweetie? Anytime you feel that your security is dependent on denying rights or happiness to someone else, you are acting out of insecurity and fear, which I think is at least two of the poisons mentioned in Buddhism. A genuinely secure person with a healthy sense of ego is able to live their life according to their own values, and not have to impose their values on others personal lives. Your church may not condone gay marriage, or letting women speak in public, but I don’t go to your church, nor would I want to. In other words, a healthy person has a healthy sense of psychological boundaries -- where their territory ends and another’s begins. An unhealthy ego compels an individual to extend their authority over other’s lives as well.

The gay marriage argument has absolutely nothing to do with where people put their cocks or poosies. It is simply another opportunity for people frustrated with the level of control over their own lives to spread the pain derived from their fear of their Core Wound. Like racism, war, and domestic abuse, it’s not about the issue. Rather, it’s all about power. If my friend marrying his boyfriend, and doing whatever they do between the sheets, in the kitchen, or the backseat of their car, somehow affects your marriage, then it is your “marriage” that most likely needs a little work.

::blank stare::

Another reason for the virulent opposition to gay marriage is that some have confused their habitual behavior with reality, and believe that what they believe to be reality is actually reality. This is closely related to the previous rationale but is a little more subtle. As human beings we choose certain habits and lifestyles. Many people in America eat beef all the time, while many people in India consider cows sacred. Some people in Puerto Rico eat morcillas (blood sausages), while many in America consider it an abomination against food. Wheat and marijuana both grow in the ground, but because of social conditioning some people say wheat is natural and to be enjoyed, while marijuana is a mistake to be outlawed.

You think what you do is natural and that’s only natural. But just in case you didn’t get the memo, that does not equate to “what other people do is unnatural.” Beating up on someone for how they were born is the most primitive kind of ego boost. Beating up on women, blacks and homosexuals, for example, is easy because when you deny someone something based on who they are, you’ve developed an airtight argument. My friend can’t become an “un-gay” any more than you can become “un-human.”

Finally, the religious argument against homosexuality is so silly as to not to merit validity. The bible also says you cannot shave, grow two kinds of plants in the same field, or be near a woman for seven days around her period. To the religious who say these are minor issues and homosexuality is a major one, I say, “Sez who?!!” The answer cannot simply be “those in authority.” That is evading responsibility for infringing on the rights of people whose major sin is to be in love. Following this logic, I could easily say, “Let’s outlaw marriages for clean shaven farmers whose wives are having their period while helping him harvest potatoes and carrots.”

Why not? It is writ in the bible!

There is nothing wrong with buying into the cultural and societal conditioning that is designed to make us each believe that we are right, and that our way of life is the best one. Though I will caution you that this way of thinking has often led to an endless road of suffering, war, and almost everything that is vile about us human beings.

To those who accuse me of being a radical making an intellectually dishonest and morally lazy argument in favor of gay marriage, I say you are absolutely correct! Marriage should be allowed between whomever the church performing the marriage wants to allow it and between those who desire it.

As an antidote to your reaction to your Core Wound, may I suggest that instead of beating up on those you deem different, that you please meditate, pray, or go for a fuckin' walk. Take some time to reflect and think about what really comes back to you whenever you “win” by taking away others happiness and come up with a different way to build yourself up.

You will be infinitely happier and that Core Wound? The Core Wound can be transformed into an energy that will help you evolve as a human being.



Saturday, May 30, 2009

You are Insinuating Yourself...

¡Hola! Everybody...
My beloved Mets are winning, the sun is shining, and life is good. On Saturday’s this blog is dedicated to things artistic. This one’s mine...

I am headed out. Have a great day folks!

* * *

-=[ Nows: no. 3 ]=-

You are insinuating yourself
into my reluctant life
and goading me toward a grin.

But we have a deal going,
you and I...

If you will squeeze my hand
I will coat your body with oil.

When you sing in my ear
I will kiss your eyelids.

And if you will hear my tears
I will surround you with hugs
that ask no more than
to be allowed a brief dance
to the rhythmic pulse
of your joy.

-- Edward-Yemíl Rosario

Friday, May 29, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog (Gay & Lesbian Liberation)

¡Hola! Everybody...
What a shame it is that in this country the nomination of a qualified and brilliant legal mind is met by the festering sore of racism... Scalia is “hot headed,” but Sonia Sotomayor is “ill-tempered.” Bush the Elder cited empathy as one of the virtues he considered in selecting Clarence “Slappy” Thomas. When applied to Sotomayor, empathy signifies that fave of linguistic code of angry white men everywhere: affirmative action.

This is more than madness; it’s a cancer poisoning our society. My hope is that when Sotomayor ascends to the highest court in the land (and she will), that she becomes a thorn in the side of the right wing mediocrity of the current SCOTUS.

* * *

-=[ Gay & Lesbian Liberation ]=-

A Letter to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters

-- Huey Newton, from Berkeley Tribe, September 5-12, 1970

[Note: Lost in the euphoria (for some) of Obama’s pick of Nuyorican Sonia Sotomayor was the setback handed down by the California Supreme Court for those seeking to create a nation that respects the rights of all citizens. In what has to be one of the most warped decisions in recent jurisprudence, California upheld the notorious Proposition 8 referendum -- even after it had previously held that gays should have the right to marry. In light of rampant homophobia in communities of color, I’m offering a piece was written by Huey Newton, a leader of the Black Panthers, a radical black political and social service organization of the 60s and 70s. This letter represents one of the first overtures made by a nationally recognized leader to the lesbian and gay communities, thus helping legitimize homosexuality as a political issue.]

A Letter from Huey Newton to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about the Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements

During the past few years strong movements have developed among women and among homosexuals seeking their liberation. There has been some uncertainty about how to relate to these movements.

Whatever your personal opinions and your insecurities about homosexuality and the various liberation movements among homosexuals and women (and I speak of the homosexuals and women as oppressed groups), we should try to unite with them in a revolutionary fashion. I say “whatever your insecurities are” because as we very well know, sometimes our first instinct is to want to hit a homosexual in the mouth, and want a woman to be quiet. We want to hit a homosexual in the mouth because we are afraid that we might be homosexual; and we want to hit the women or shut her up because we are afraid that she might castrate us, or take the nuts that we might not have to start with.

We must gain security in ourselves and therefore have respect and feelings for all oppressed people. We must not use the racist attitude that the White racists use against our people because they are Black and poor. Many times the poorest White person is the most racist because he is afraid that he might lose something, or discover something that he does not have. So you’re some kind of a threat to him. This kind of psychology is in operation when we view oppressed people and we are angry with them because of their particular kind of behavior, or their particular kind of deviation from the established norm.

Remember, we have not established a revolutionary value system; we are only in the process of establishing it. I do not remember our ever constituting any value that said that a revolutionary must say offensive things towards homosexuals, or that a revolutionary should make sure that women do not speak out about their own particular kind of oppression. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite: we say that we recognize the women’s right to be free. We have not said much about the homosexual at all, but we must relate to the homosexual movement because it is a real thing. And I know through reading, and through my life experience and observations that homosexuals are not given freedom and liberty by anyone in the society. They might be the most oppressed people in the society.

And what made them homosexual? Perhaps it’s a phenomenon that I don't understand entirely. Some people say that it is the decadence of capitalism. I don’t know if that is the case; I rather doubt it. But whatever the case is, we know that homosexuality is a fact that exists, and we must understand it in its purest form: that is, a person should have the freedom to use his body in whatever way he wants.

That is not endorsing things in homosexuality that we wouldn’t view as revolutionary. But there is nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. And maybe I’m now injecting some of my prejudice by saying that “even a homosexual can be a revolutionary.” Quite the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary.

When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement. Some groups might be more revolutionary than others. We should not use the actions of a few to say that they are all reactionary or counterrevolutionary, because they are not.

We should deal with the factions just as we deal with any other group or party that claims to be revolutionary. We should try to judge, somehow, whether they are operating in a sincere revolutionary fashion and from a really oppressed situation. (And we will grant that if they are women they are probably oppressed.) If they do things that are unrevolutionary or counterrevolutionary, then criticize that action. If we feel that the group in spirit means to be revolutionary in practice, but they make mistakes in interpretation of the revolutionary philosophy, or they do not understand the dialectics of the social forces in operation, we should criticize that and not criticize them because they are women trying to be free. And the same is true for homosexuals. We should never say a whole movement is dishonest when in fact they are trying to be honest. They are just making honest mistakes. Friends are allowed to make mistakes. The enemy is not allowed to make mistakes because his whole existence is a mistake, and we suffer from it. But the women’s liberation front and gay liberation front are our friends, they are our potential allies, and we need as many allies as possible.

We should be willing to discuss the insecurities that many people have about homosexuality. When I say “insecurities,” I mean the fear that they are some kind of threat to our manhood. I can understand this fear. Because of the long conditioning process which builds insecurity in the American male, homosexuality might produce certain hang-ups in us. I have hang-ups myself about male homosexuality. But on the other hand, I have no hang-up about female homosexuality. And that is a phenomenon in itself. I think it is probably because male homosexuality is a threat to me and female homosexuality is not.

We should be careful about using those terms that might turn our friends off. The terms “faggot” and “punk” should be deleted from our vocabulary, and especially we should not attach names normally designed for homosexuals to men who are enemies of the people, such as Nixon or Mitchell. Homosexuals are not enemies of the people.

We should try to form a working coalition with the Gay Liberation and Women’s Liberation groups. We must always handle social forces in the most appropriate manner. And this is really a significant part of the population, both women and the growing number of homosexuals, that we have to deal with.

* * *



Thursday, May 28, 2009

Relationship Thursdays (The Girlfriend Experience)

¡Hola! Everybody...
Well, well, well... I already like Judge Sonia Sotomayor! Apparently she’s a bigot/ racist just like yours truly! Yaaaay! In today’s political climate any mention of racism or privilege, or even having the fortitude to point out that the post-racial Emperor has no clothes, makes one a racist. Well, if that’s the case, then I am a flaming racist and proud of it!

* * *

-=[ The Girlfriend Experience ]=-

The Commodification of Intimacy in the Post-Capitalist Era

As reported by the Village Voice, for $60 an hour, a NYC agency arranges for a smart young woman to accompany you, laugh at your jokes, and make you feel interesting and special. It may sound like just another escort service -- complete with a negotiable “happy ending” sex service -- but it’s not. In fact, the young women who set up the agency spell it out on their website: “If there are any attempts at sexual activity, the girl has the right to end the date immediately.”

A colleague of mine has employed the same nanny for the past seven years. When he speaks of her, it’s almost as if he’s speaking a dear aunt or close family friend. His two sons adore her and have known her all their lives. They too see her as more than a nanny.

A few years ago, I joined a gym and, realizing that I needed more than a little motivation and guidance, I opted for a few sessions with a personal trainer. The trainer was very attractive in an athletic sense -- streamlined slinkiness expressed with cat-like grace in a body hinting at barely contained sex. At first, our relationship was purely business, but eventually I was able to convince her to go out on a date with me -- against her hard and fast rule about “dating customers.” Sometimes I can be persuasive. LOL

What all the above scenarios share is that they are paid situations that can easily lead to the blurring of professional relationships in ways that leach out into relationships that simulate or give the illusion of intimacy. We see this all the time in all areas of our hectic lives. For example, with an increased workload accompanied by decreasing wages, many people are using their places of employment as dating pools. It seems that one consequence of neoliberal uber-capitalism is that everything has become a commodity -- including intimacy or its simulation.

In the new Steven Soderbergh film, The Girlfriend Experience, the main character (more psychological study than lead actress) Chelsea (played by porn star Sasha Grey), is not only a consumer of top-of-the line merchandise, she is also a commodity: a prostitute whose specialty is implied in the title of the movie. She offers her wealthy clients more than sex with a pretty young woman. In fact, sometimes there is no sex at all. What she sells instead is a simulation of intimacy.

The first scenes are of Chelsea in the company of a handsome, well-mannered man. For all we know, these two attractive people leisurely chatting over dinner, then kissing on the couch before making their way to bed, are intimate lovers. Only when cash changes hands the following morning is the audience made aware of transactional nature of the affair.

Working out of a stylish Manhattan loft she shares with her boyfriend Chris, Chelsea charges $2,000 an hour. For something like $25,000, a “date” with this slim, pretty, perfectly-carnately fashioned 20-year-old can really be like a date. Chris (real life trainer Chris Santos), works as a personal trainer, tending to the bodies of some of the same kinds of guys who hire Chelsea for her services. The similarities between them are thought provoking. Both Chris and Chelsea belong to a segment of the economy that depends on the blurring of certain distinctions, between service and friendship, profit and warmth. As I noted previously, exercise instructors, nannies, life coaches, bartenders -- when you think about it, they are all paid for something that can easily be mistaken for love.

Up to now, Ms. Grey’s screen performances have been almost entirely in hard-core pornography (she calls it performance art) and along with her character’s profession, this adds another dimension to the movie. Is Soderbergh also commodifying Ms. Grey?

However, the film’s main interest is in money rather than sex, which is shown to be a far more powerful and dangerous cause of obsession and confusion. The movie takes place during the first glimpses of our current economic collapse, October 2008, lending the piece an anxiety riding just underneath the surface of a film that is all about surfaces. Occasionally, this palpable anxiety bubbles to the top.

The movie follows Chelsea from one encounter to the next, and with some clients, Chelsea plays the shrink, low-key and attentive; with others, she’s simply a source of physical pleasure. With most, however, she’s the ideal girlfriend which is more or less the role that Sasha Grey, music composer and winner of the 2008 AVN Award for Best Oral Sex Scene, plays in real life.

Grey is the only professional actor in the movie, playing a character who is always acting. Some of the most interesting insights come during the scenes where Chelsea is being pursued by a journalist (played by real-life journalist Mark Jacobson), who wants to write a profile and seems genuinely eager to discuss her “inner you.” At one point, repeatedly frustrated by his attempts to delve into her psyche, he mentions that by necessity, Chelsea has had to create an impenetrable psychological armor. Soderbergh’s camera lingers on Chelsea’s facial reaction to this insight and her spare approach to acting lends this scene power.

The Girlfriend Experience is a mosaic of short, largely a-chronological scenes. Flashbacks are impossible to differentiate from flash-forwards; the emphasis is on Chelsea’s behavior is in the here and now. Soderbergh’s camera placement reinforces the feeling of intimacy that is the escort’s product. This economic imperative rules nearly every interaction: Chelsea’s capital is her body and her persona.

Soderbergh also explores the two-way street/ nature of selling intimacy when he locks into Chelsea’s falling for a client. This could have been a weak point in the movie, but the minimalist approach to acting utilized by Ms. Grey combined with Soderbergh's almost clinical, apathetic distance, stops this from becoming too melodramatic. Grey's hard-won defenses keep the camera (and the audience) at arm’s length -- even when prying underneath the beautiful yet hard exterior of her character. Perhaps part of the price Chelsea and all of us pay is to be forever locked inside the character armor we erect to protect ourvelves from the very thing we desire -- intimacy?

I fear many people will not enjoy The Girlfriend Experience. Its subject hits too close to home and it’s not a movie in the traditional sense. It’s more character study and it poses more questions than it answers. In fact, I don’t know if the film answers any questions at all. However, it is exactly the questions that intrigued me the most.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lunatics, Hot Fun, Summer in the City

¡Hola! Everybody...
Two things: Puerto Ricans are not immigrants. Puerto Rico is part of the United States and Puerto Ricans are US citizens, you dumb muthafuckas. I was listening to CNN and MSNBC yesterday morning and so-called journalists are getting this shit wrong! This is a lot like the language the media was using to describe the (mostly African American) victims of Katrina. Would you call someone who moved from Armpit, Utah to New York City an immigrant?!!

Secondly, why does holocaust denier Pat Buchannan get so much air time? He’s as fringe as fringe gets. He's lunatic fringe! And how do they allow him to get away with saying that Sonia Sotomayor is an “affirmative action” hire? She’s one of the most qualified nominees in 100 years. WTF?!! Sometimes it seems to me that no matter how accomplished the individual, entrenched whites will find a way to denigrate the accomplishments of a member of a perceived minority.

Latino/as here are overwhelmed and rightly so. One of our shining lights will ascend to the highest court in the land...

* * *

-=[ Summer in the City ]=-

It is said that on any given day, there are at least 100 free things to do in The City. Everything that you can think of -- from free yoga lessons in Central Park to free concerts by some of the most famous acts in the world. Summer in the city means that the free entertainment heats up a long with the weather. For salsa fans, this means weekly concerts at the various downtown venues -- free concerts at Battery Park City, The Seaport, Wagner Park, and the World Financial Center. Summer in the city means the Mid-Summer Night’s Swing series, where you can spend warm summer nights at Lincoln Center and dance to the hottest bands in one of the most romantic venues the city has to offer.

Summer in the city means being able to see and enjoy acts from the widest musical and artistic range possible -- stuff you never even dreamed about! There are the free Sunday tango lessons by Central Park’s Fountain, for example, and the free tai chi at Battery Park City.

In a couple of weeks, Boricuas will be in full effect and there are the pre-Puerto Rican Day Parade concerts in El Barrio.

People, if you’ve never visited The Center of the Known Universe, then you should. There is no other city like The City -- there’s no place like it in the world, period. Please drop the hick assumptions and anything you may have heard about The City. The City has to be experienced. I was born and raised here, which is a lot different POV than even those who moved here later in life. Transplants could never know the New York I have known and know. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I will, however, give you all a quick rundown of free going-ons with relevant links.

* * *

Unless otherwise noted, events are free.

Lincoln Center (click here for more info)

LC’s Damrosch Park Bandshell and Josie Robertson Plaza and South Plaza are the sites for some of the best free offerings in NYC. The bandshell is a breezy space with a modernistic-looking bandshell. I’ve seen Eddie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Hugh Masekela and countless other acts for free here. Over by the fountain is the site of the Midsummer Night Swing concert series, if you need to move your hips to salsa and swing music. The concerts aren’t free, but you can stay by the fountain and still see, hear, and dance to the music. The South Plaza, which separates the bandshell from the fountain, hosts mainstream jazz and latin jazz acts

Central Park Summerstage (click here for more info)

One of NYC’s most legendary venues, the Summerstage can accommodate 10,000 fans! The acts are amazing in the diversity they represent, which is one of the luxuries of living here. I can go on at length of how nice spending a summer afternoon enjoying the sun, music, and the companionship of friends. I believe there is a minimal fee or requested donation.

Randalls Island (click here for more info)

Randalls Island is the venue for Cirque du Soleil and other multi-stage acts.

The P.S. 1Contemporary Art Center (click here for more info)

One of the best-kept secrets of Summer in The City, party-goers have been attending summer afternoon warm up sessions at P.S. 1. Held within the sunny atmosphere of its courtyard, up to 3,000 partiers come and party to some of the best DJs in the world! Past years have showcased the best in the underground music scene and live acts.

Hudson River Park’s Pier 54 (click here for more info)

Great venue overlooking the Hudson River and featuring Rock, Latin Funk, and R&B on Thursdays, Live salsa and swing bands on Sundays, and free movies (outdoors!) on Wednesdays.

McCarren Park Pool (click here for more info)

When I was a kid, everybody from all over would go to Brooklyn’s McCarren park pool in the summer. Its capacity was 6,000! LOL! Oh man! The stories we could tell! I don’t really care much for the acts here, but the real draw is the free Sunday up-and-coming acts (click here for more info) and a frighteningly competitive dodge ball tournament! LOL!

South St. Seaport, Pier 17 (click here for more info)

The site of the now defunct (I think) and wildly popular Wednesdays Tropical Nights, it’s now been turned into an indie rock crap. Thursdays are still cool with some great R&B acts and there’s nothing like sunset, ship’s masts and a couple thousand people grooving to the beat.

There’s much more -- I haven’t included the Salsa Sundays concerts at Orchard Beach, nor the great concerts at Central Park’s only conservatory (right by El Barrio!). I gotta go now, but there’s lots more stuff to be added, so stay tuned for updates to this blog!



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jurisprudence and The "Con" Game

Hola! Everybody...
I awoke to the news that Obama has picked Sonia Sotomayor, a “Nuyorican” who rose from Bronx housing projects to one of the most demanding US Circuit Courts. Let me just say that I am -- yes! -- I am proud of the Sotomayor nomination. she comes from my world, and perhaps we need more Nuyoricans/ Latino/as to serve as powers of example to our children.

Of course, before she was picked, conservatives were already whining -- gnashing teeth and tearing at their clothes.

Stay-tuned for a lot of mention of “judicial activism,” something very evil, right up there with satanic rituals involving the sacrifice of unborn lives (and stem cells), pulling the plug on Terry Schiavo, teaching evolutionary theory to our children, and, well, all that nasty, anti-Jesus shit we liberals engage in all the time...

* * *

-=[ The Judicial Activism (neo)Con ]=-

“... I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male... ”

-- Sonia Sotomayor

This morning Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor as his pick for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Even before she was nominated, there was a concerted effort to smear and disqualify her. The conservative attack strategy will be three-pronged.

The first smear is that she’s a “lightweight.” Evidently a woman of Puerto Rican parents who grew up in the projects of the South Bronx, diagnosed with diabetes at age 8, who then made it to summa cum laude at Princeton University, where she earned the highest award given to Princeton undergraduates, Pyne Prize, who then went on to get her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal equals lightweight.

Only in the alternative, reality-challenged universe of Republicans could this be true. This is a weak argument and won’t have much traction, though it will serve as a way to create the initial smokescreen to take away from what should be the focus: her judicial philosophy.

The second smear attack (“swift-boating”) utilizes the quote I’ve posted above. It’s a common neoconservative attack ploy: take a quote out of context and beat the public over the head with it. And one could make an argument that the quote, taken out of context, makes for a poor judicial temperament. However, read in its original context, it’s a powerful message. Here’s the full quote:

“... Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown. [...]”

Notice that she’s not advocating a view that one’s gender or race makes one better qualified. Rather, she’s pointing out that 1) life experiences count, and 2) even great white men have come to judicial conclusions that trampled on the rights of minorities and women. These are historical facts, not conjecture.

Finally, the last strategy, and the one with most traction, is the whole notion of “activist judge.” It is essentially a scam. The fact is conservatives only care to point out such “activism” when rulings go against their own political beliefs and principles. When rulings go the other way it isn’t activism, it’s justice, or it’s rooted in the Constitution, etc.

When was the last time you heard the phrase, “conservative judicial activism”? Probably never. Perhaps you should hear it more often.

In every case where a court issues a decision on a controversial matter that produces an outcome which right-wing ideologues dislike, they immediately start -- without bothering even to learn what those issues are, let alone bothering to read anything about them -- condemning the court’s decision as some sort of lawless expression of “judicial activism.” In reality, the only ones engaged in “judicial activism” -- which means, I suppose, determining the propriety of a court ruling based on outcome preferences rather than legal analysis -- are the ill-informed critics of the court’s ruling, who are judging the ruling based exclusively on their objections to the outcome.

“Judicial activism” essentially refers to the willingness of judges to overturn laws -- and to their actually doing so. It gets more complicated.

In its neocon usage (read: “liberal” form), judicial activism implies an approach to the Constitution that emphasizes the ambiguity of language, recognizes the flexibility of meanings and circumstances, and tries to respond to the spirit of the document. In certain cases, it has resulted in the establishment of legal principles, such as the right to privacy, which are seen to “inhere” in the Constitution, despite the fact that the words themselves do not appear there. What conservative commentators have done, with the Warren Court as whipping boy, is to wrap this all up as “loose constructionism” and then associate it with a general cultural permissiveness and a “politicization” of the law that they blame for the decline of post-Eisenhower America.

Whew! LOL!

But conservatives have their own brand of judicial activism, no less ideological and no less influential. It is distinct in its methodology (tending toward a narrow interpretation of text) and in its values (tending to give priority to property rights over civil rights, for example). Yet when it comes to the fundamental action of activist jurisprudence -- the overturning of laws -- conservative and liberal judges are equally powerful.

The methodical erosion of the rule of law in America has many aspects, and one significant one is that conservatives have been trained to believe that they have the right to have judges issue rulings that produce outcomes they like, and when that doesn’t happen, it means the judicial process is flawed and corrupt. Put another way, conservatives have been taught that they are entitled to have courts ignore the law in order to ensure the outcomes they want.

Either way, all this won’t work. Why? Because Sotomayor’s credentials are impeccable. Put this nomination in the books, folks. Sotomayor, imminently qualified, will become the first Latina Supreme Court justice!

Wepa! (<-- Nuyorican expression of excitement)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Whom Will We Honor?

¡Hola! Everybody...
Today’s blog art, Torture is not an American Value, comes courtesy of the artist/ activist, Natasha Mayers.

Today, I’m turning over my blog to someone I have great admiration for and consider a mentor -- historian Howard Zinn. I get sick listening to cowards like Cheney talking about courage -- he’s like the many people who never fought in a war (he filed for and got seven deferments during the Vietnam War) and think nothing of sending other people’s children to senseless death.

It’s almost as if it’s inevitable that this nation sends its expendable youth to die in wars but not for national security, honor, or the rights of free people anywhere. Let’s be clear: war is always for wealth and power and the privileged get to stay home safe and in comfort letting others do their dying. Then they shamelessly hold a day of remembrance honoring them for their sacrifice. This is the long tradition of a nation that since its inception in 1776 has been at war with one or more adversaries every year without exception from that time to the present.

For once let us honor the fallen by attempting to speak truth to power instead of mouthing empty flag-waving jingoisms.

* * *

Published on June 2, 1976 in the Boston Globe (from the Zinn Reader)

-=[ Whom Will We Honor Memorial Day? ]=-
by Howard Zinn

Memorial Day will be celebrated... by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.

In 1974, I was invited by Tom Winship, the editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. I did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year's Memorial Day. After it appeared, my column was canceled.

Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon's and Kissinger's war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.

"The shell had his number on it. The blood ran into the ground...Where his chest ought to have been they pinned the Congressional Medal, the DSC, the Medaille Militaire, the Belgian Croix de Guerre, the Italian gold medal, The Vitutea Militara sent by Queen Marie of Rumania. All the Washingtonians brought flowers ..

Woodrow Wilson brought a bouquet of poppies."

Those are the concluding lines of John Dos Passos angry novel 1919. Let us honor him on Memorial Day.

And also Thoreau, who went to jail to protest the Mexican War.

And Mark Twain, who denounced our war against the Filipinos at the turn of the century.

And I.F. Stone, who virtually alone among newspaper editors exposed the fraud and brutality of the Korean War.

Let us honor Martin Luther King, who refused the enticements of the White House, and the cautions of associates, and thundered against the war in Vietnam.

Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren.

On Memorial Day we should take note that, in the name of "defense," our taxes have been used to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on a helicopter assault ship called "the biggest floating lemon," which was accepted by the Navy although it had over 2,000 major defects at the time of its trial cruise.

Meanwhile, there is such a shortage of housing that millions live in dilapidated sections of our cities and millions more are forced to pay high rents or high interest rates on their mortgages. There's 90 billion for the B1 bomber, but people don't have money to pay hospital bills.

We must be practical, say those whose practicality has consisted of a war every generation. We mustn't deplete our defenses. Say those who have depleted our youth, stolen our resources. In the end, it is living people, not corpses, creative energy, not destructive rage, which are our only real defense, not just against other governments trying to kill us, but against our own, also trying to kill us.

Let us not set out, this Memorial Day, on the same old drunken ride to death.


Loewen, J. W. (1996). Lies my teacher told me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong ( 1 ed.). New York: Touchstone.

Zinn, H. (1995). A people's history of the United States: 1492 - present. New York: Harperperennial Library.

Zinn, H. (1995). You can't be neutral on a moving train: A personal history of our times. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Sermon [Uncovering the Heart]

Hola Everybody...
It’s a little cool here in the north, but life is good...
* * *
Uncovering the Heart

* * *
What counts is to strip the soul naked. Painting or poetry is made as we make love; a total embrace, prudence thrown to the wind, nothing held back.
-- Joan Miro

Uncovering the heart means exposing the very core of the self. For many of us, this is a scary move into unknown territory, though it is a part of our inner selves that we are uncovering. The heart symbolizes feeling and intuition. Though we may be fearful, the true danger is in the death, not the exploration, of the heart.

Sometimes our hearts remember, better than our analytical minds, the times and places of our deepest felt experiences. During times of crisis or personal breakdown, the heart insists on revealing itself to us; we are forced to pay attention. These are times of deep personal pain that most of us would rather avoid, because we fear that the load will be too much to bear -- that it may be possible to feel too much. 

Just as it is possible to close our eyes and not see the world around us, we can also close our hearts. We do so at a great price: we may choose to live in a world of flat surfaces, a clinically dry and angular world seemingly sterile until we peer under its surface.

To undress the heart is to reveal our inner history -- a history forgotten or hidden. We may be paying a price for relegating powerful forces to the shadow world for it is there they hold greater power. One of the aims of depth psychotherapies is to help us rediscover our lost selves gradually and integrate them again into our whole personalities.

The language of the heart may seem illogical. But if we listen to it -- really listen to it without losing our heads -- we just might find the faintly shimmering message in it that what lies ahead is a new and better way of living. It is in this aspect that there is strength in living with a naked heart.
However, there is that fearful vulnerability also. We take a chance when we open to others. We can be hurt. We may ask ourselves if we are risking too much. Who wants to be open and vulnerable?

I have found that in my own life, some of the most rewarding examples of creativity have been those moments when my heart was uncovered, when I was able to emerge and address those unique yet universal experiences that bind us together in the human condition. 

I have learned that the uncovered heart contains both vulnerability and strength. Its strength perhaps lies precisely in that ability to open itself to itself with an exquisite grace that invites the hearts of others to do so too.

My name is Eddie and I'm in recovery from civilization...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

To Be A Man

¡Hola! Everybody...
OK! I’m on the way out the door, leaving the city to visit my friend in Boston... Enjoy the weekend people.

* * *

-=[ Walking Around ]=-

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs.
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.
Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot, there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical cords.

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic shops,
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow dirty tears are falling.

-- Pablo Neruda
(Translated by Robert Bly

Friday, May 22, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog (Sexual Upbringing in America)

¡Hola! Everybody...
Looking to get away for the weekend! The office closes early today and I’ll be making a quick exit... Hope everyone has a great time... BTW, The Losaida (Lower East Side) Festival is this weekend and Eddie Palmieri, along with other big-name Latino/a acts, will be appearing free. Check out my calendar for details (click here). And while you’re there, head over to Adela’s, eat some of the best PR food, and don’t forget to tell them Eddie sent you!

* * *

-=[ The Cruelest Abuse: Sexual Upbringing In America ]=-

Once you are exposed to sex -- you’re never able to regain innocence again -- from then on you have sexual thoughts -- you have sexual feelings -- innocence is forever gone. It encourages sexual curiosity that would not have been there...

-- Oprah Winfrey on Teens and Dial-a-porn

[Note: This is part of a much larger post on sexual upbringing. I hope to follow-up with more in-depth posts on the subject in the coming Fridays]

I believe Oprah speaks for many American parents and the sentiment that if “you don’t try to shield them from ... all this explicit kind of stuff until they’re ready to handle it, then you’re robbing them of their innocence, their one time in life to be somewhat carefree.”

At this point, I would like to make the observation that as a nation our teen pregnancy and abortion rates lead the developed world. Many are trying to blame this phenomenon on a perceived sexual permissiveness and lax morals around sexuality. The point I will be making is that the exact opposite is true: we are a nation incapable of feeling comfortable with our own sexuality and we pass on our sexual hang-ups and dysfunctions to out children. I will make the case that, contrary to the blather that passes for sexual discussion these days, it’s not permissiveness, but rather, repression that is at the root of our “sexual problem” If you doubt me, just hold on for a second and absorb the following fact: the vast majority of teen pregnancies are the result of an adult impregnating an adolescent.

::blank stare::

Recently, there was a hue and cry around the new teen sex “epidemic” called s-exting. In fact, prosecutors across the nation began convicting teens as sexual predators. The fact is that even the experts concede that s-exting isn’t as widespread as reported in the mainstream media. In addition, I find it the cruelest abuse to criminalize what is normal adolescent behavior.

I think when adults say children can’t handle sexual content, they’re really expressing their own hang-ups about sex. We even fight about whether children should be taught about protecting themselves sexually.

People seem to mean by “sexual innocence” the absence of sexual thoughts, genital responses, and the awareness of how one is sexually aroused. A lot of parents would probably feel more relaxed if childhood did not have any sexual component and if sexuality magically appeared at puberty or better yet at marriage. Many parents have mixed feelings about their own sexuality and any recognition of sexuality in their children arouses their own unresolved sexual anxieties.

But let’s be honest about preadolescent sexuality -- were you “sexually innocent” prior to reaching puberty? Is that an accurate view of your pre- adolescent sexuality? When you were a child wouldn’t you have preferred learning more about the meaning of your sexual development rather than being blocked from such clarification by parents who were trying to keep you “innocent”?

Sigmund Freud shocked most of the Western world when he observed the reality of childhood sexuality over one-hundred years ago.

Almost all of the subsequent research of the twentieth century supported Freud’s assertion that children were sexual creatures. Alfred Kinsey, almost a half century after Freud, shocked this country with his own revelation of sexual responses involving erection and lubrication not only in preadolescent children but even in newborn infants. There’s even research of in utero sexuality!

I couldn’t begin to cite the overwhelming body of research supporting children as sexual creatures. Yet, this is exactly what we want to deny and what we want our children to deny. In the process, we teach our children that their sexual natures are evil and we drive the sexual conversation underground, where the shadow aspect takes over. It’s no surprise our children act out sexually, we don’t recognize nor do we support their sexual natures. Shit, even saying children are sexual creatures is enough to get you in hot water!

Even parents who claim to be open-minded about sex exhibit sexual anxieties -- for when they do discuss sex with their children, they often fail even to mention the pleasurable aspect of sexual experiences. They want their children to emphasize relationships and affection, and so they hesitated to mention pleasure too prominently. Since intensity of bodily pleasure is the aspect of sexuality that most clearly distinguishes it from other activities, this omission surely sabotages any realistic preparation for sexual behavior. Children experiencing these bodily pleasures must wonder why their parents don’t seem to understand what they are feeling.

Adult anxiety about childhood sexuality is not based upon any sane assessment of what is happening in their child’s life. Rather, because parents see sex as dangerous and threatening, they conclude that kids should be kept away from it. As a parent, I can certainly understand parents can have a realistic fear that other adults may take advantage of their child’s lack of knowledge about sex and may sexually exploit the child. But if that is your concern, it follows that you should talk more about sex with your child rather than promoting ignorance by acting as if childhood sexuality is a trampling of some mythical “natural state of sexual innocence.”

Finally, even parents who accept a more modern view of sexuality are hesitant to prepare their child for sexuality. For example, the typical response I hear from self-proclaimed modern, liberal parents is: “I am open about sexuality with my children and I will always try to answer any question at all that they raise about sexuality.”

Consider whether we would wait for questions to be raised in any other area of great importance to our children. We don’t wait for children to ask before teaching them how to tie their shoes, or how to add, or why not to play in the middle of the highway. How well would children know how to read if we waited for them to ask us before we taught them how to read? We think these are things they should know and we make sure they know them, whether they ask about them or not.

Why aren’t we adopting the same attitude when it comes to one of life’s greatest questions? Is it because we’re sexually permissive? I think not. And our children suffer for that.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Relationship Thursdays (The Experiment)

¡Hola! Everybody...
The weather here lately has been fantastic! Now, the weather is apart from our estimation of the day, right.


Today: more jacked up shit about relationships from someone who isn’t in one! LOL

* * *

-=[ The Joyful Experiment ]=-

The Seven Factors of Awakening are mindfulness, investigation of phenomena, diligence, joy, ease, concentration, and letting go.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

People think I’m kidding when I tell them that if they come to my workshop they may very likely leave their relationships.

It never fails. I have yet to hold a workshop where someone doesn’t tell me they left a relationship as a result of what they experienced in my workshop... this is true.

My workshops have nothing to do with relationships per se, but I used to think that part of the reason was that if you hold yourself to certain standards, you begin to hold others to the same standards and those that refuse or cannot be accountable, naturally fall by the wayside. I now realize that’s only part of the reason.

The other part is love. This is where it gets tricky, however. I hear people all the time say, “Today I love myself,” implying a past in which that wasn’t true. That’s cool, I can dig that. However, what I often find with such individuals is that they’re in love with their egos -- especially the dysfunctional parts of their ego. This is not cool. Let me put it this way: if what you love is the dysfunction, then how does that change anything for the better? I see a lot of angry people walking around these days, irreversibly in love with their anger. LOL!

Actually, loving in that way is not really love, it’s a form of clinging, something many of us (myself included) mistake for love. Loving yourself is important, but the real skill lies in exploring what you consider your self to be. For me (and this is part of my theoretical orientation <-- smart-sounding phrase), coming back to love meant that my sense of self changed as I let go of limiting beliefs about my self. How I perceive that mess of entanglements, coincidences, and floating pieces of conditioned debris I call “my self” today is very different from how I saw that nineteen years ago. For one thing, it includes more of my world: there’s me, my loved ones, my community, my state, my nation -- the world! I am not separate from all that.

Therefore, part of genuinely loving yourself is letting go of those parts that bring you unnecessary pain. When you love, there’s no clinging, there’s only freedom -- pure consciouness. We don’t see love in that way. We love somebody only if they agree to love us back. Or if we have someone that loves us, we guard that love as if it were a rare commodity. The upshot being that we sometimes live in fear of losing that love. For me, that’s not love, that’s a form of psychosis. If your relationship is based on mutual need, eventually that relationship will fail. any relationship not based on love is on shaky ground to begin with.

I’m sure by now someone reading this will be shaking his or head and thinking that I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about and they may be right. However, how has it worked for you otherwise? I am aware of the internet phenomenon in which people who respond are sometimes perfect beings, were raised without hang-ups, are in perfect relationships, or used to be in “bad” relationships, but no longer are, and are well-adjusted, highly realized human beings. If you’re one of these individuals, then you shouldn’t read my blog, this is for the rest of us deeply fragmented, clueless, and mistake-prone mere mortals.

Life, for me, is an experiment; joy its intended result.

You can approach life as an artist/ scientist. Scientists take action and then observe the results. If that action does not bring the desired effect, they keep changing the actions until they find one that brings the results that are wanted. With an approach like this, you can observe the results of your actions and in that way move toward the desired result.

Let’s assume the desired result is joy. If you are experiencing pain, you can change what you do. You can also note which actions result in joy and expand on that expression.

As an artist, you can paint the picture of your life. If there are some elements, colors, or textures that do not fit your artistic vision of life, then it’s probably not working for you. Artists take risks and experiment in order to get in touch with their inner expression. Take the artistic risk and get in touch inside.


Well, what ways have you tried in the past? How has going from one marriage to another, one relationship to another, worked for you? If your approach is to place the power of your vision externally (blaming others, God, etc.), the results -- joy -- will be limited by those outside factors. If your mood is dependent on whether it rains or not, for example, then it is safe to say that you’re going to be a crabby biatche a significant amount of the time.

Let's take loneliness. Oftentimes, we look for and stay in otherwise unrewarding relationships because we ant to avoid feeling lonely. Many people have confided in me that being with someone beats being lonely even if the relationship brings a lot of pain. My question then is: is that really true? How many times have you held someone in your arms and still feel a profound loneliness? Take a moment and look at everything you do and ask the question, “Does this bring me joy?” That is the only criteria to use, as you look at your life as an artistic scientist.



Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Truth or Consequences

¡Hola! Everybody...
I am a day late with this, but if you care about living in a just society I would suggest you go here, read the particulars, or watch the two-minute video, and sign the petition. Troy Davis, a 42-year-old man who has spent the last eighteen years of life on death row, will most likely be executed for a crime he very likely didn’t commit. No physical evidence. No murder weapon. Another man implicated.

Yet we’re (yes that’s “we” as in you and I) are going to kill this man. That’s me with an event volunteer for yesterday’s NYC rally for Troy Davis.

Which brings me to today’s post...

* * *

-=[ Consequences ]=-

“Complexity is the destiny of thoughtful individuals, from which they will never be rescued.”

-- Leon Wieseltier

[Note: I’m rambling a bit today... ]

Recently two women, unaware I could hear them, were talking about me . The first woman, a Latina, said, “He thinks he’s so fuckin’ smart!” My crime? I suggested that a statement she made (in front of large gathering) was incorrect (it was). Her friend, a white woman, chimed in, “Yeah, who the hell does he thing he is talking like that? Using those big words?!!” My crime? Speaking as I do in everyday life. The issue at hand? A public forum on children, education, and policy at City Hall.

I could care less what these women thought of me, this is about our children, get your shit together, or get the fuck off the pot. Secondly (and this happens a lot), if I say or write something that you think is “smart,” that is your estimation, not mine. In other words, it’s your shit, not mine.

It’s called projection, click the fuckin' link. I get that a lot: “You think you’re so smart!” Translation? What you wrote/ said made me feel inadequate; therefore, I’m going to project my feelings of inadequacy on to you.

I don’t suffer fools easily -- now that’s one crime you can rightfully pin on me. “Thinking” I’m smart? How the fuck do you know what’s inside my head. LOL!

OK! I got that out the way! LOL BTW, if you think this is about you, it isn’t.

Back to my post...

Not too long ago, I wrote about a mindset that dominates our approach to social policies. Bluntly put, we live in a culture of blame:

Poor? It’s your fault!

Functionally illiterate? It’s your fault and your parents’!

Racism and classism don’t exist because we all know that there’s no relationship between individual motivation and larger oppressive societal forces.

The state of education has everything to do with the stupid little meanies -- the over-sexed, willfully ignorant children of today. It has nothing to do with the adults that don’t have the will, nor care for a coherent education policy.

We all know it’s all on the individual, therefore, if individuals from your family/ community are going to prison at higher rates than others, it’s, yup, your fault. It has nothing to do with systems.

Yup, the new (and improved racism) is clothed in the language and myth of rugged individualism. If we made it without any "handouts," some seem to be saying, then you're inability to break into the mainstream is your fault and your fault alone. I guess the irony of a nation built on land stolen and then freely given away is lost on such people. Or the fact that the vast portion of social giveaways, go to the middle and upper classes.

But logic has no place at the core of a social movement marked by a resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality, as well as some common psychological factors such as: fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of uncertainty, among others.

Do you believe that a microscopic clump of cells in a Petri dish possesses the same rights you possess?

I first became interested in public policy during an undergraduate course in Metro Studies. I had the kind of teacher we all love: passionate, knowledgeable about his subject, and able to communicate complex concepts in ways that were both enlightening and easily understandable.

I was immediately drawn to the issue of consequences and public policy. As with everything, there are intended and unintended consequences to the public policies we implement. For example, declaring a “drug war” and taking a punitive approach as a response to addiction/ drug problem had the unintended (?) consequence of exploding our prison population to the extent that we now incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation in the world.

The drug war also had the unintended consequence of draining resources away from programs such as education (there’s a direct correlation between increased prison spending and decreased education spending), and early enrichment programs, after school programs, etc. In fact, we went from a nation seeking a Great Society to a nation of prisons.

Do you believe public schools should actively teach children to doubt the scientific theory of evolution?

The point being that while it may sound nice to get up on your cyber soap box and yell out stupidity such as “tough on crime!” these sentiments, so prevalent today, hold dire consequences for all of us. I think we like to stand apart from others and pass judgment. We de-fund education and then stand apart to chastise our young. We make it almost impossible to for poor single mothers to get ahead and then pass moral judgment on them. We sit back apathetically, while a right-wing religious fringe movement advocates “abstinence-only” programs that empirical research has shown to be at best ineffective, and then pass judgment on the resulting mess -- rates of teen pregnancy and abortions rates that are lead all developed nations.

Do you believe legally available contraception is producing a “culture of death” in the United States?

It’s as if we all have decided to live not as a society, but as millions separated nuclear entities, where the rule is the law of the jungle: get yours and fuck the rest.

Our social policies are the result of a nation of people who have been hoodwinked into choosing the very policies that do them the most harm, because, as global warming shows us, we’re all inextricably connected. What happens to you and to me and everyone else, affects us as individuals and as a society.

Do you believe that the United States should be a Christian nation?

As for the questions in italics? The answer is yes for many, many people. And that, not the fake bogeyman on CNN or MSNBC, should scare you...




[un]Common Sense