Monday, August 31, 2009

The Tower of Babel

¡Hola! Everybody...
As summer officially winds down, it seems that no one is in The City. The trains are relatively empty, the streets less full. My summer fling ended much too soon (by mid-summer) this year, and weather-wise there wasn’t a heat wave worth remembering...

* * *

-=[ The Great White Hope ]=-

Republicans are struggling right now to find a “great white hope.”

-- Rep. Lynn Jenkins

For those with a lack of historical context, the phrase “great white hope” is associated with pre-civil rights-era racism and is widely believed to have entered usage in the U.S. when boxer Jack Johnson, who was black, captured the heavyweight title in the early 20th century. Many whites reacted to Johnson’s achievement by trying to find white fighters -- a “great white hope” -- who could beat him. The boxer’s story inspired a play, then a movie, with that title, both starring James Earl Jones.

Some will contend that Jenkins is an aberration, but I challenge that contention. There is ample evidence that racism is alive and well and in some cases even more pernicious than ever. In order to see the pervasiveness of white male privilege one only has to consider something as ordinary as consumer trade. It’s a known fact that blacks and other minorities are denied mortgages far more frequently that whites with comparable income. But even in something as seemingly mundane as buying a car, race plays a powerful role. A study of automobile dealerships in Chicago, for example, found that salespeople offered significantly lower sales prices to white men than to women or blacks, even when economic factors and bargaining strategies were held constant. Another study found that in the 1990s blacks paid significantly more for car loans arranged through dealers than whites did, despite having comparable credit histories.

That systemic racism exists is without question. The real question is how racism is manifested in these so-called post-racial days. Is Rep. Jenkins an aberration, or an expression of a large swath of white neoconservative America? I think the facts speak for themselves.

But this post isn’t necessarily about racism per se. My question is more along the lines of uncovering the meaning behind subtle and not so subtle racism. What is the meaning behind the yells of “nigger!” and “kill him!” at Palin rallies? How is it that disconnected mostly conservative whites are convinced at every turn to vote against their own interests? How is it that major league dimwits such as Palin, Limbaugh, and Beck can intentionally lie about “death panels” and so many neocons fall into line goose-stepping and yelling, “We’re no. 1”?

The standard conservative talking point against health care reform describes an America poisoned at every level with queers, liberals, socialists, and other traitors; a country on the precipice of European defeatism and no longer willing or able to defend itself from an international menace that so ardently wants their destruction.

And what is this America of old they keep talking about? Is it the America where my people weren’t allowed in certain areas, or women knew their place, and children died in sweatshops? Or perhaps the America they rave about was the America where blacks and other people of color knew better than to speak out. I don’t know, but this America doesn’t sound like a place or time I would want to revisit.

I see, with crystal clarity that the people who claim to be the biggest patriots -- the ones yelling at town halls, calling for Obama’s birth certificate, foreskin or placenta -- are the same ones who yell out “nigger! at political rallies. The pale-faced red-staters who feel the need to drape themselves in flags and rant “U-S-A!” can’t be feeling good about themselves. From where I’m standing, the disasters and humiliation of the Bush years -- from the 9/11 attacks, to Katrina (which made parts of the USA look like Calcutta on a bad day) to the collapsed real estate market, shit even the humility of a white man losing to a black in the presidential election -- all this has neocons in America aching for some way to feel good about themselves again.

The problem is that the only thing too many Americans really know how to do anymore is consume huge amounts of fast food and look for dates on the internet. If you think my estimation is cruel or unjust, I refer you to the countless millions being duped into believing the myths of health care reform.

Look, all this talk about socialism and death panels and, yes, great white hopes, is really a cover of one essential truth: the rhetoric of both political parties (especially at the center!) is mostly a fraud, that the true business of both is to repay the favors in the form of policies to their campaign contributors. These very same multinational corporations are spending one million dollars a day to convince you that a market-driven health care delivery system is best.

Good luck with that...



Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Sermon [The New Mythology]

¡Hola! Everybody...
I spent a pleasant eve with a good friend last night. Soon summer will awaken from its doldrums and leave us at that precise moment we most need change...

* * *

-=[ The Old Gods ]=-

The old gods are dead or dying...

I’ll start with a brief story. One day a group my leadership develop workshop graduates came to me with a problem. It seems they were concerned about a spike in gun violence and drug activity around their housing. What’s interesting is that this group was composed exclusively of men and women who had been formerly incarcerated. They wanted to do something about what was happening where they lived.

Ask me some day to tell you about that story. The important part here was that here was a group of men and women who had previously didn’t have a functional connection to their community or to social institutions. In fact, they were often the ones committing crimes, selling drugs, shooting guns. What had changed was that they now felt a part of rather than apart from. They had a stake in their community and wanted to feel safe and enjoy some measure of serenity and safety.

There’s an important lesson to be learned from that experience. Part of that lessons lies in the challenge to the assumption that punishment is a just response to failures in economics and education. The other part, the one I will concentrate on today, is about connection and spirituality. We have lived too long believing that our essential self is disconnected from our ecology.

Our religions seem to have gotten it wrong when it comes to our relationship to the earth. Those among us who have a relatively large forebrain have no doubt that the scientific story of evolution is true. Perhaps evolution can help us with an upgrade of our collective metaphysics. Haven’t we gone long enough believing that our purpose and our salvation lie somewhere outside the life we are now living?

Look around at the wreckage of our past and the ecological wreckage we are creating now. The only logical conclusion is that they old beliefs are dysfunctional. They rob the divine from the earth and place it in some other kingdom, in the process taking away the reverence of this life. Our major religions regard earth as little more than a training ground, a glob of mud where we come to learn a few lessons, or burn off some karma, or get saved by a messiah, or some other bullshit. The general idea is that once we’re gone from this little piece of greenery we can all go off to some kind of spiritual Club Med, where we truly belong, and enjoy the happily ever after of our old myths.

Wouldn’t it serve us better if we brought out spiritual attention to the earth? Perhaps we could then learn, as my leaders did, to feel a part of the life in this planet and in that way seek to take better care of our environment. I see many of you concentrating on witch-hunts, looking for rapists and pedophiles on the internet, for example. You want to make the internet safe for your children you blab. However, the fact is that the vast majority of you don’t give a fuck that we -- you and I -- are destroying our children’s birthright of a sane and safe earth. You will buy that gas-guzzler; you will blissfully pollute this planet and smoke cigarettes; you will spread deadly chemicals on the lawns your children play on and not give one fuck about it and the theft you're committing. If we were to bring our sense of the divine to this earthly existence, we just might find more joy in living in the here and now rather than waiting for a hereafter.

The story of evolution can offer us many gifts usually glommed from religion. It teaches us humility, liberates us from our narcissistic drama, presenting us instead with as much awe and wonder as any bible. Instead of resisting its truth, maybe we should be mining the story of evolution for whatever spiritual gems it offers, learning our role in the grand scheme of things.

So, stop it: stop looking for some high God-in-the-sky to punish or reward you. Those are old tales created in olden times. Those gods are dead... or dying. Drop your gaze at the wonder of this Earth and all the wonders she offers us. Celebrate Nature, the instrument of our creation and most obvious of all of our gifts.



Saturday, August 29, 2009

Obama's Penis and a Poem

¡Hola! Everybody...
I am at a complete loss at understanding how anyone with any measure of cognitive functioning can actually believe anything a Limbaugh or a Beck would say. This isn’t even a “left vs. right thing,” it’s a truth thing... I have lost what little confidence I ever had for neoconservatives... Apparently, the obsession now is all about Obama’s penis?! LOL Ya think maybe angry white guys are a little insecure these days?

::blank stare::

* * *

-=[ Courtesy ]=-

Danielle Pafunda (1978-)

I took a bite from the wormy part for the cur in my stomach.
My plastic, my porcelain stomach. My lover, he wore a buzzer
in the palm of his heart. A hot rod. My lover was a dry heave.
I pinned my hair for him, with a bat bone. I pinned the page
to the wall of the discount drugstore. An advertisement for tricks.

They put the broads on broad street and the clinicians above
the drugstore. The deference to the white coat and round eye
of the stethoscope. The chill in my lover's fingers was a false
negative. A falsie. I took a pint for the first five days and
a pint-point-five for the rest.

I slit my skirt. I slit the turf around my garden bed. I lay it
with torn news and vegetable scraps. I lit my tongue in the slit
of an envelope. A reverse. A recipe inside. My lover wore
chef's gloves, for fighting the eager meat. For the quick
he cut me.


Friday, August 28, 2009

The TGIF Sex Blog (The Heart's Truth]

¡Hola! Everybody...
I’m going to disappear this weekend...

* * *

-=[ Knowing, Feeling & Living ]=-

Go through the motions and look as if...

My father loved telling us to “go through the motions” and appear as if we knew what we were doing. I don’t think he meant it as a way of life, but as a way to adapt temporarily to a strange situation. I think what he meant was that sometimes taking your cue from keen observation was necessary before knowing the truth.

Everybody knows at least some truth. For example, most people know it’s unhealthy to overeat. Of those who know this truth, less feel the truth as they go through a gallon of Rocky Road ice cream. Fewer still are able to change their behavior based on knowing and feeling the truth.

The truth, as many of us know, is harder to live than to feel or know it. Knowledge is easiest. The mind is more easily changed than emotions or the body, so the mind is swift to change. Of course, political and religious fundamentalists are the exception. You can hear something and almost immediately, you know the truth of it. You might feel inspired to run around and tell others this truth. You might even write or blog about it. You can create a whole way of life based on this truth. And still not much will have changed in your life. For example, you might now the truth that exercise improves your cardiovascular fitness and still sit on your butt.

After your mind has understood a truth, the next to change are your emotions. It often takes years of suffering before the truth of something sinks in deep enough for your tears to flow and enthusiasm to grow in response to a truth. Yet even your capacity to feel truth with great sensitivity -- your emotional intelligence -- is not enough for real growth.

The last part of you to be touched by the truth is your body. Being more solid than your mind or emotions, your body changes last. You can know what you are supposed to do, and you can feel the truth of it, long before you are willing to live it with your body. You may know that you shouldn’t date that asshole, you may feel the truth sending you messages from the pit of your stomach, but you may not be ready to live that truth, so you go through the guilt-ridden motions for yet another bout of suffering.

Your body’s habits, the motions you go through, are the hardest to accept truth and last to change.

Because your body is the densest part of your self-process, sex is often the last part of your life to be transformed by the truth. For example, you might know that love could be the foundation for sex. Eventually, you learn to feel your lover emotionally during the clinch of passion. Finally, you learn to live your motions as love during sex.

Even during the most intensely erotic, pleasurable, or painful sexual moments, you can learn to breathe as love, thrash as love, thrust as love, receive as love, and speak as love with your entire body. Sexually, and in every moment throughout the day, you can be love by opening up, feeling, breathing in the moment whether it be pain or pleasure, and exhaling love from the deepest part of your heart as you go through the motions as love. Sex can become the doing of love with your entire being.

You can train your body, like an athlete, to reach the further reaches of love -- to go the distance as love. And when you feel you are about to collapse from exhaustion, you can give love through your breath and through your actions just a little bit more. Something as simple as the offer of a smile, the invitation of an open hand, or a caress, for just a moment more than your habit would allow you. What happens is that over time your life blossoms as love’s doing stretched -- again and again.

Today, and throughout your days, try to slow down and feel your heart beating. Go in and feel deeply the source of the stream of love flowing through you. Let you body open as love, soften your belly, and imagine breathing in and out through your heart. Offer that -- the deepest part of your heart -- through your breath, and allow more love to move your body every conscious moment.

How would love walk down the street? Walking, breathing love in and out of your heart, feeling the outer edge of your carnally fashioned form, how do your hips sway as you walk down the street?

How can you make a gift of the truth of your heart to your co-workers, even when you find them disagreeable? Should you smile, tell a joke, act kindly, touch, or walk away to give them space? Every day, practice opening as love as your body’s offering. From deep in your heart out to a moments infinite possibilities.

Knowing truth, of it self, is pretty much useless; feeling it is profound; but living it makes all the difference in the world.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009


¡Hola! Everybody...
As you have probably heard, Sen. Ted Kennedy, “the Lion of the Senate,” passed away earlier today. He may have been an imperfect human being, but he was a masterful legislator. Look at all of his legislative accomplishments: Voting Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Title 9, WIC for feeding the poor, CHIP for child healthcare, expansion of Medicare. Hundreds of his bills became law. His death is our democracy’s loss. RIP Mr. Kennedy.

Part of the “Summer Reruns” series...

* * *

-=[ The Art of the Flirt ]=-

Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.

-- Charles Reade

As most of you have probably noticed by now, I am a notorious flirt. I will flirt with anyone: age, sexual orientation, even species, has no effect one me -- if it moves, I will flirt with it. I’m also a bit out of control. Those who have met me in person and seen me in a group context know I am absolutely out of my mind. Most of you think of stuff; I actually do stuff.

One day, some friends and I went out and we met a group of young ladies. Of course, I was all over the place, pushing the envelope, laughing, doing stuff, and we were all having a good time. No sooner than a friend of mine tried to the same thing I was doing, he was slapped -- well, almost slapped. My friend wondered aloud why I get away with doing stuff all the time.

I think I know why. The reason why women allow me some latitude is that they sense that my flirting and carrying on comes from a good place. My intention is to have fun. My flirting is most often about poking fun at conventions and many women get that. I might take a woman’s hand or do outrageous stuff, but I like to think most women get where I’m coming from. In other words, I’m not coming from a creepy place.

What I’m saying is that not all my flirting is romantic in nature. Sometimes my flirting has more to do with making fun of a situation or myself in a way that makes people comfortable. What my friend doesn’t get is that women can feel his intentions -- that’s why he doesn’t get away with the things I’m allowed to do.

Besides, you really shouldn’t be following my lead -- I’m not exactly the ideal model here.

On the other hand, when I’m in a relationship, I am much more conscious about my interactions with the opposite sex. A lot depends on the woman I’m with. I would never want a woman to feel badly around me, so when I’m with someone, whether it be a casual date, or in a committed relationship, I adapt my behavior accordingly. The irony is that I find more women telling me it’s okay for me to act out. Even then, I like to think I am considerate of others.

I say this because I know many people who know me exclusively through my internet interactions see me as an incorrigible flirt, and to a degree, I am. However, that’s only one aspect of my personality. I mean, those who have chatted with me, or met me, or talked to me on the phone know that we could go for hours and I won’t bring up the topic of sex. I think people get that impression of me from my internet persona.

As I have stated previously, the aspect that I show most on internet is the performer side of my personality. I am actually quite respectful -- the perfect gentleman -- in person, and I challenge any woman who has me t me personally (except you. LOL!) to say otherwise. I was taught to be the perfect gentleman by the women who raised me, and I like being that way. Flowers, poetry, consideration, respect, being willing to listen -- these are all qualities you might not experience with me here on the internet, but those are aspects of my personality too.

I think people have lost the art of the flirt. Like kissing, or anything worthwhile in life, flirting takes practice. It takes a willingness to be bold, but in a way that invites participation. It takes a sense of adventure and also an evolved sense of humor because with flirting comes risks. Flirting is a way to laugh in the face of social conventions and sometimes also a way to test the romantic waters. I don’t like to flirt just to see how far I can go, that’s not fun. Like saying something outrageous to see if it’s permitted or not? I’m not like that. If I want to go to bed with you, eventually, I will bring up the subject in a very non-flirtatious manner. It will be more along the lines of, “I’m becoming very much attracted to you, your way of being, and I’m developing these feelings for you blah blah blah… ” I’m very much upfront about where I stand and what I’m feeling.

No, flirting is fun. It’s a way for adults to loosen up, break down some barriers, and push the envelope. Nevertheless, the most important part of the flirt is always maintaining an intention of respect. For me, that’s the sexiest form of flirting.

How about you? Do you like to flirt and do you think I’m out of control?

Flirtatiously Yours,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shame and Violence

¡Hola! Everybody...
I will be out in the field for most of the day. That's cool. The following is another “summer rerun.” It’s a edited (shortened) story about shame and violence. I’ve submitted it to an anthology on bullying. Let me know if you have any constructive insights...

* * *

-=[ Shame ]=-

We live in an atmosphere of shame. We are ashamed of everything that is real about us; ashamed of ourselves, of our relatives, of our incomes, of our accents, of our opinion, of our experience, just as we are ashamed of our naked skins.

-- George Bernard Shaw

The whole fifth grade class was laughing at him. Including me.

His father stumbled into the middle of a spelling test and began arguing with our teacher. His clothes were ragged and he was unkempt. He was there to make a case for his son, Kevin, who sat next to me. Kevin and I were the smartest kids in the class, but Kevin was painfully shy and no one really liked him to begin with, so now everybody, including me, was laughing at him because his father was a junkie and he showed up in the middle of a spelling test totally out of his mind. He was nodding out even as he argued his son’s case.

I don’t remember all the details, but I remember the shame. I remember the shame on Kevin’s face, the humiliation in the knowledge that now everyone knew his deadly secret – that his father was a junkie. I remember my own shame too, because I felt hypocritical.

It’s so easy to join the mob, so easy to feel a part of the crowd at the expense of someone else. The mob mentality has no mercy.

The fact was that I too knew that shame. My own father was a heroin addict, and I remember when all my friends one day encircled me and chanted, “Your father’s a junkie, your father’s a junkie,” and I remember the deep feeling of shame, of humiliation, and of anger. I was much too young and I had no way to resolve the anger and shame I felt about my father because I adored him so and all those feelings -- I just didn’t know how to process all those feelings. I just stood there in the middle of that circle and cried tears of anger until I lashed out at the first one fool enough to get close to me and I punched him in the nose. And that’s when the mob turned on me and I went home with a split lip and torn clothes.

I hated him – my father – for making me go through that, but I adored my father so much. He was so smart. I used to love to sit on his lap and put my ear to his chest and listen to the soft rumble of his voice as he taught me something or had a conversation with someone else. My father was like a God to me. And now I hated him and I loathed myself for that.

I was too young and didn’t have the psychological resources. So I guess somewhere, somehow, I internalized all those feelings and became ashamed of myself for everything: for my father and for my feelings.

My father was one of the greatest storytellers and on some days, he would gather all the kids on the block and tell us stories. I guess it was a testament to his storytelling gift that he could keep us transfixed on that Lower East Side stoop, and you could hear a pin drop. I was raised in a neighborhood where junkies were a common part of the urban landscape. As children, we would place bets on how far a junkie would nod. Some junkies would nod so far, bent over by the waist that you would swear they would tip over and fall.

But they never did.

My father would nod when he told my friends stories. At first, we would sit there for what would seem minutes because invariably there was a punch line, a moral, or a resolution to the story. At first, my friends wouldn’t say anything, but eventually my father’s nodding got worse and one day while arguing over a game or a rule, as boys are won’t to do, it came out: the unspoken truth that my father was a junkie. It was a hard lesson learned at such a tender age.

Yet I sat there and laughed at Kevin just like everyone else did and even as a fifth-grader I knew it was wrong. I knew that I was being a phony because I didn’t want to feel that shame anymore, I wanted to be like the others, so I joined in on the cruelty. After, I tried to reach out to Kevin, but he refused, sensing something worse: that I pitied him. Eventually, I told Kevin my secret and while we never became close friends, in the fifth grade we stuck it out together. I did so even though talking to Kevin made me an outsider, but that was OK, because I think it was at that time I decided I would always be an outsider. I reasoned that no one could really know me if I was an outsider, so fuck them.

And in that way, I began to build a wall of protection that kept others out so no one could ever know me -- a fortress surrounding my heart. I made sure no one could ever know me...

Shame is a prison. I don’t know for sure if this was the beginning, or the setting of the table for my own life, but I certainly know that our secrets kill us, as surely as cigarettes or drugs. Secrets kill because embedded in our secrets is our shame. Eventually, my shame would guide me on my own journey to destruction, addiction, prisons, and intuitions, and it almost killed me. Shame fed my inner rage. A rage I learned to keep secret deep inside of me. A rage turned inwards that almost destroyed my life.

Even now, sometimes it’s easy for me to join in with the mob and feast on another’s soul so that I could feel better about myself. It’s the easiest thing – because it trips that “You belong” button. I’ve done it before and felt stupid after when the object of ridicule was kind to me.

But really: how many of us are laughing or forming cliques because we too have secrets? How many of us can say we’re not ashamed at some level?



Monday, August 24, 2009

Freedom is...

¡Hola! Everybody...
The following story is totally fabricated... LOL

* * *

-=[ Freedom ]=-

I escaped prison the day I broke free of the shackles of my mind.

I laugh when people who know me ask, “How did, you know, how did you survive being in prison?” I laugh because most of the time what they are really asking is if I was able to avoid getting fucked in the ass while I was incarcerated. I don’t possess an imposing physique and my looks are not what people typically consider “jail material.” In fact, I could easily pass for the good guy next door. I’m also “articulate.”

::arches eyebrow::

My answer -- that I survived by using my most powerful tool, my intelligence -- doesn’t seem to satisfy most people. I believe that’s because most people aren’t aware of what life in prison is actually like. Sure, there’s always that palpable potential for danger just underneath the surface, but the most damning part of being incarcerated is that nothing happens. The same shit that happened yesterday will happen today, and the day after, and you feel your life oozing away. That dreaded monotony and the feeling of wasted life energy combined with the daily act of humiliation that is the core experience of being incarcerated is what makes prison a hell.

What’s worse is that you become accustomed to that existence. It’s a form of psychological conditioning that erodes whatever sense of humanity you might possess. That’s the hardest part of incarceration.

Yeah, I k now you watched the HBO series, Oz, and you’ve seen the films that depict prison rape and scenes of unspeakable violence, but that’s not the reality of being locked up. Most of the time, the horror of incarceration resembles a steady drip from the faucet rather than a torrent. And that drip is your life oozing away from you as if you were slowly bleeding out.

That’s not to say prison life isn’t violent -- it is! I’ve seen shit I can’t begin to tell you. One of the things I am most proud of is that I had only three violent encounters throughout my prison experience. All three were at the beginning of my sentences, before I began to practice Buddhism. Two of those experiences I felt were unavoidable, one I committed from stark fear.

The following is true...

I had just arrived at Sing Sing to begin a prison sentence and I was wondering why they fuck they had sent me to a maximum security prison, when my security clearance was clearly marked “minimum.” that meant I should be at some camp with no walls and cable TV, microwaves to serve out a relatively short prison sentence. But nooooo, these muthafuckas had sent me to a max. I was, like, what the fuck?!!

Being processed into the prison system psychologically resembles initiation into a cult. Your hair is shaved, your body sprayed with some lice removal solution, your clothes and name are taken away and you’re given a uniform and a number to replace them. In addition, the first asshole who says something smart-assed to a corrections officer (“CO”) is beat down as an example of what happens to wise guys. The COs are almost all white, all burly, and mostly mean in a sadistic kinda sorta way. One even had a tattoo depicting a black infant with the universal symbol for “No” superimposed over it. Like the “no smoking” signs you see in designated areas: the picture of a cigarette X’ed out.

You go through an orientation period wherein you’re locked up for 23 hours a day. You’re given one-hour recreation time, and three times a week, they would take a bunch of us to some dark subterranean showers. I never went to the showers. At least not during the orientation phase. I was too damn pretty, shit! LOL I would bathe in my cell.

Sensory deprivation is a bitch. Being locked up in a small cell for 23 hours does things to your mind. For one, you crave conversation, or at least some kind of human interaction. Secondly, it does things to your perception of reality. For some guys, it was downright hell. We spent a weekend like this while waiting to be sent to our permanent prisons. Once at Sing Sing they housed us in the “D” ward: a tier specifically for new people. Again, you were locked up for 23 hours a day until your permanent cell was determined. So, a group of us had been in 23-hour lock-up for almost a week by the time we were sent to our permanent cells/ locations and by then most of us were going a little stir crazy.

Noise is what really challenged me while in prison. “D” block was also very disorienting in that it was noisy. There was this guy in the cell across from me and I was having a conversation with him until the guy next to my cell informed me that he was crazy and wasn’t really talking to me. Slowly, I realized my neighbor was right: the man wasn’t talking to me, he was talking to himself. Your prison number was composed of a later followed by two numbers another dash and four more numbers. The two numbers were made up of the date you were admitted to the prison. The individual’s middle two numbers were “68” (this was the 1990s). I would never forge that.

My next-door neighbor wouldn’t stop chatting. For the most part, I would ignore him. he kept asking if I had a cigarette and I kept telling him I didn’t have any. He said something that was funny, something along the lines of needing a cigarette more than poor people in hell need ice water. That made me laugh. I told him all I wanted was my freedom. I noticed one day he was smoking pot. He had gotten pot from one of the inmate janitors that would pass in front of our cells everyday. He had offered me pot, candy, cigarettes -- all kinds of things, but I wasn’t interested.

When we were finally released into the general population, we sat down in the tier happy to be able to move around and watch the TV. My next-door neighbor, Manuel, sat next to me along with the others who had come along with me. I was so into reading a borrowed copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, I hadn’t noticed, and before I was aware of it, a group of three inmates approached our table. I noticed that everyone had scattered. I almost shit my pants literally, as the group of inmates produced knives and proceeded to stab Manuel repeatedly. I thought I was a goner, when one of the inmates asked if I was with him, and I shook my head “no,” as one of my friends dragged me away and we watched horrified as the gang of inmates slashed Manuel’s face and arms.

I still remember Manuel’s shrieks and pleas for mercy to this day.

All I wanted was my freedom...


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Sermon [Your Original Self]

¡Hola! Everybody...
Woke up late, and I’m headed out the door... the following is a summer rerun. I think the “exercise” at the end is pretty cool. What is your original self? Don’t answer! LOL

* * *

-=[ Original Self ]=-

“There is an inescapable sense of our original being in us, however much it gets battered by experience and repetitive conditioning. The original sense is that I’m good, I’m me, and within me that me there is the source of my health and well-being and vitality.”

-- James O’Dea

For centuries, we have operated on certain scientific assumptions about our reality. “A” causes “B.” An object cannot be in two places at the same time. Time moves forward, never backward.

No argument, right?

However, in the last few years quantum physics has made us challenge everything we take for granted about our reality and thrown it into a blender, forcing us to look at reality anew with a child’s eyes. In the same way, I have been encountering many people who are questioning the most basic assumptions about what it is that makes us human. To be sure, countless people talk to me about spiritual matters often taking place outside the realm of organized religions. People everywhere are searching for spiritual meaning in a very personal way.

Life 101…

For the most part, these seekers are asking questions: What do we all have in common? Why do we, unlike other species, have a dimension of life we call spiritual? What causes us to seek for something more? I think the answers to these questions have the potential to impact all of our relationships, not merely the romantic ones. I think that romantic relationships -- or the struggle to find them -- can illustrate what I would like to articulate today: our innate, or original/ natural self.

Think about when two lovers first fall in love: there is this unbridled optimism, the feeling of walking on a pink cloud, and the invincible sense that anything can happen, nothing is impossible. I am sure if you would whack someone in the throes the first blooms of love, that person would merely smile at you and pay thanks.

Juan and Juanita meet, and though they have both experienced betrayal and pain in their past relationships they are now certain of their love. “We are meant to be together, there is a destiny,” says Juanita before the wedding. “I know we can make it, I know we can. You can do anything as long as we’re honest with each other, we’re going to make it.”

Juan and Juanita could be anyone you know, they can be on Facebook, or live on your street. What happens to you when you read the story of their beginning? Perhaps, you may feel more than a little cynicism: you have heard this kind of optimism before and you know where it leads. But my point is this: can you also recognize the certainty Juanita -- bless her soul -- was feeling? This feeling is a peek into our original self, the part of our selves that is connected, that is at the same time a part of us and larger than we are. This is the way we really are and we do not have to wait until we “fall” in love to connect with this powerful aspect of ourselves.

No one starts off a venture, romantic or otherwise, expecting to fail. Everybody has a vision. We all possess a gut feeling about our real potential. We feel it when we start something new, before the ego-centered Mini Me starts its poisonous whispering. A relationship, a business, having a child, moving to a new house -- each opens a whole range of possibilities, of beginning anew. We all have a feeling of who we are, what our life can become, and what this planet could be.

Vision -- what I define as the creative ability to construct our reality -- is the fuel to our actions. It gives meaning to our lives, provides the inspiration to stretch beyond our self-imposed limits. Vision guides us in investing our energy, allows us to overcome obstacles, and, in a group of people coming together, vision is the glue that keeps them together and motivated. Just look around these loosely connected blogs, or social networking profiles for a minute and you will get an idea of what our collective vision is like.

This creative energy, vision, is also something that I feel is born within us. We are born with a sense of awe and wonder that is untouched by the limitations of the constructed world. This ability to engage in innocence is what makes childhood a time of wonder -- possibly the only time of wonder a person will ever know. Although this child-like wonder is unaware of the stresses and disappointments of the adult world, this is our true self; our true heart of wisdom. It actually knows something that is ultimately real.

This original self -- the wisdom of the heart is worth exploring. If we examine our own assumptions whenever we embark on anything new, whether a romantic relationship, a business venture, even a spiritual practice, tells us a lot about ourselves. If we pay close attention to how we feel and act when we are initiating something new, we will discover a great deal about our selves.

Try it!

Try this experiment before reading on. Think back to a specific time when you began something new. It could be entering a new relationship, buying a new house, starting school or a new career. Try to recall the imagery – the vision – you had of how things would go. How did you imagine how you would meet each situation? How did you anticipate being received? Just close your eyes and remember.


If you have a pen and paper handy, write some notes about these assumptions. You will discover something valuable about your heart.

It has been my experience working with people these last ten years that there is this ingrained habit of cynicism and disappointment. “It won’t work out,” they think, or, “I don’t have what it takes.” Oftentimes my work involves asking them to go deeper to the original vision before the voice of the Mini Me kicks in. It might be just an image or feeling. For some who have experienced extreme hardships, they might have to go way back to how they felt when they were much younger.

This innocent vision, the kind we live as children and later hide and repress as adults, emphasizes a playful approach to life: laughter, connection with the body, physical pleasure and the uncensored expression of life. In this state, we know nothing of achieving goals in a structured and imposed.

I will share with you what some people have shared when asked to reach back:

Happiness Happiness is the beginning and end point of our plans

Contentment We may desire things we could get in the future, but aren’t our futures desire-free? You are sitting on that fuckin’ beach with that special someone, watching a sublimely beautiful sunset. Do you imagine your mind as being distracted at that point?

Being fully present None of our fantasies, even of the perfect date, includes time spent worrying about other things. We often plan to be fully alive, empowered.

Harmony In our vision, we assume being in tune with others.

Fulfillment We do not expect dissatisfaction. We anticipate integration and feeling complete.

Success No one plans for failure

Honesty When we connect to our innocent, open heart, we do not plan to lie. Some have even said that honesty is the essence of being.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

Imagen Latina

¡Hola! Everybody...
Had a great time last night with my friends... sometimes our get-togethers are too freakin’ cool! I am blessed, for sure. Today, I have the option of going to Fordham Road for a series of free altin music concerts, a movie, or
a long walk by the beach... Hope you all are enjoying yourselves, whatever you do.

* * *

-=[ Imagen Latina/ Latin Image ]=-

by Bernardo Palombo

[Note: one of my fave Latin American poems. It was set to music by Orquesta Libre (see video). Below I offer it in Spanish and English]

Indios, Hispanos y negros
Nos vinieron a formar
Raza de todas las sangre
Y un futuro por lograr

A las entrañas del monstruo
Corno dijiera Marti
vinimos, a esforzarnos
A trabajar y a vivir

De Quisqueya hasta El Plata
De Las Pampas hasta La Habana
Somos sangre voz y parte
De esta tierra Americana

En el país de la nieve
Y bajo del sol del palmar
El Latino en todas partes
Busca por su libertad

Americanos todos somos
El Norte, El Centro y El Sur
Con un presente de lucha
por un futuro de luz

Esta es mi imagen Latina
Esta es mi nuevo cantar
Para decirte mi hermano
Busca y encuentra unidad.

* * *

Indians, Hispanics, and blacks
Came together to become
A race of all races
With a future to be won

To the Belly of the Beast
(as Martí called it here)
We have come to battle
So we can work, so we can live

From Quisqueya to El Plata
From Las Pampas to Havana
We are our blood, our voice,
Part of this American land

In the Land of the Snow
Under the Sun of the palm tree
Latinos everywhere
Must find their own freedom

All the Americas are here
North, Centrral and South
In a time of struggle
For a future full of light

This is my Latin image
This is my new way of singing
To tell you, my brother
Get together now.

Translated by Bernardo Palombo and Kurt Hollander

* * *



Friday, August 21, 2009

the TGIF Sex Blog [Blindfolds]

¡Hola! Everybody...
When did we become such a judgmental society? Have we all become so insecure that judgment is our default response to tragedy or misfortune?

It’s Friday, and it’s always about S-E-X...

* * *

-=[ Blindfolding ]=-

In order to know virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with vice.

-- Marquis de Sade

Blindfolding, or otherwise impairing the vision of a partner accomplishes several sexual goals. for one, an individual who temporarily loses their vision develops an immediate and increased awareness of their other senses -- such as touch. Additionally, the blindfolded person can experience a sense that their mind is detached from their body. Blindfolding can also serve as a release from sexual inhibitions and can have a depersonalizing effect on both partners.

Normally, blindfolding is used to reduce the power of the “bottom” (the submissive) and give it to the “top” (the dominant). The opposite is also true. An example being that of a dominant husband who wants to temporarily submit to his normally timid wife.

Blindfolding makes it possible for a top to act out the role of anonymous serial lovers in sex role-play without having to change clothing or appearance. It is also used in group sex for the reverse effect.

The blindfold most often used for its comfort is the adjustable leather blindfold lined with fur or silk padding. In my experience, blindfolding serves to help with trust issues. It is both scary and exciting for an individual who doesn’t trust easily to be blindfolded. In a visual-dominant society such as ours, ceding vision is a huge act of trust. I have helped many a woman work through trust issues using the blindfold. This “therapeutic” effect is enhanced with the use of ropes and a good working knowledge of knots. LOL!)

As with everything, caution should be practiced. Wearing contact lenses while blindfolded may cause damage to the eyes. In addition, there is often a slight disorientation that occurs after any extended period of blindness and care should be taken when removing the blindfold. If the person is under any other restraint, the blindfold should be removed first.

So, there you have it, another way to add some adventure to your boring, long-assed marriage sex life. Kidding! LOL



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Relationship Thursdays [The Single Life... Commitment]

¡Hola! Everybody...
It’s the summer and this here post is a “summer re-rerun”... been busy working my way back to you, girl. LOL

* * *

-=[ The Single Life... & Commitment ]=-

Most of you don’t know me in the sense of ever having met me in person. I do have a large percentage of internet friends who know me in real life, however. Truth be told, many of you who read me know me in ways my friends who don’t blog don’t. In my striving to be open here, there are aspects of me that you get to see in ways that people in the real world won’t or can’t. Not because I don’t put it out there, but because sometimes even those close to us have preconceptions that filter their perceptions of who we are.

Having said this I must also add that my internet persona, while real, is only an aspect of my total personality. The internet brings out the “performer” side of me, the side I show when with a group or in front of an audience. Those who have met me in a group setting know that I’m completely out of control. I push the envelope, do and say things I’m not supposed to do and say, and generally create mayhem and havoc.

But that’s only one aspect of my personality. Usually, I’m more reserved and thoughtful when it comes to one-on-one interactions. So much so, that those who know only my “performer” side tend to think something’s off or wrong.

In addition, and contrary to those vicious rumors flying about, you can talk to me for hours and sex will not come up as a topic. This is true, though I know hard to believe.

On top of it all, I’m not nearly the slut in real life that I am here. I’m pretty much upfront and clear about my needs and where I stand, but I’m not a whore in the narrow sense of the word.

I’m a big whore.

This brings me to what I’ve been mulling over in my head these past couple of days. I am single by choice and I do what single guys do -- I date and generally totally enjoy the company of women. In fact, I hang out a lot with women to the point where some of my girlfriends kid that I like being in the hen house too much.

Shoot me, I like women.

So, I’m single I love the company of women, and do admit to being sexually motivated. If that makes me a slut, then so be it! LOL However (!!), when I’m in a relationship, I commit to staying true to that relationship. To me that means I don’t go out whoring, especially if my significant other isn’t into open relationships. This makes me think about my friend. We used to hang out a lot, but now he’s in a relationship and I tend not to hang out with him as much.

When I was married, I did not hang out with too many single men. Why? Because when single men go out, they go out for one reason and one reason alone. And that reason is unhealthy to any relationship I may have at the moment. If I’m married, I have no business hanging out with mostly single men on weekends because single men are on the make.


And for you guys out there shaking your heads? Save it for the missus, because I know better.

Don’t misunderstand, when I was married, I did things on my own hung out -- guys’ nights out --occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t be hanging out all the time with single guys at clubs all the time because eventually you’re gonna fuck someone who ain't your woman!

Hang out in the barbershop long enough, and you’re gonna get a haircut, eventually. And as much as you or I say we love our woman, how much she means to us, and how we would never do something like that, if you’re hanging out in a single lifestyle often enough, you’re gonna act out.

Please, stop the bullshit, you and I both know is true, even if your woman will swear up and down you won’t do something like that, you and I both know it’s bullshit. You will stick your dick in that pretty young thing, and then feel bad after the fact.

Which makes me wonder why my friend insists on hanging out with me so much? To the point where he brings her along sometimes! People, don’t be bringing your woman to hang out with me when I want to do single type things because eventually I’m going to ditch you. And if you feel such a strong need to hang out with your single brothers so much, what does that say about your commitment?

You can’t be committed and act as if you’re single at the same time, brothers, get a grip. Moreover, while you’re at it, don’t bring your girl when I want to do my thing.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Racial Profiling: The Raw Facts

¡Hola! Everybody...
I felt compelled to revisit this one...

* * *

-=[ Racial Profiling: Racist & Ineffective ]=-

...Police deployment these days is determined almost strictly by rates of relative violence/crime in each police district. The rate of violence is not some subjective quotient created by a racist cop, but is determined by counting citizens reporting that they were shot, stabbed, beat up and otherwise assaulted, this is combined with citizen reports of burglary, robbery, theft, etc. You see, your racist conspiracy theory is illogical when you know that police resources are deployed based on crime as reported by citizens and not some racist plot to destroy minorities. That is logical.

-- Bubba

The above quote was taken from a response to my first post on racial profiling submitted by someone who chose to remain anonymous. I refuse to call anyone “anonymous” so I called him “Bubba.” Mostly because that’s a “Bubba” response. No amount of evidence would disabuse him from his untenable position. I illustrated that the enforcement process is far from “logical” or based purely on statistics. I showed how police deployment is not solely determined by “rates of violence.” I demonstrated where even judges state that the criminal justice process -- from arrest to sentencing -- is racially tainted. I showed where the individual who first used criminal profiling stated that using race to target crime is ineffective, but Bubba insisted and still insists that 1) he’s the logical and one, and 2) I have “chip on my shoulder.” Yeah, you know how us Latino/as get all too emotional and lose whatever little reasoning we possess.

If that isn’t a sense of entitlement, I don’t know what is...

In my original post, I demonstrated through the use of empirical studies that racial profiling is wrong and racist. Today I will show that it is also ineffective.

Racial conservatives -- both black and white -- maintain that racial profiling isn’t racist. They argue, like Bubba, that racial profiling is justified since we all know you black muthafuckas and slimy-assed Latino/as commit all of the crime! As Heather MacDonald of the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute puts it, “Judging by arrest rates, minorities are overly represented among drug traffickers”(MacDonald, 2001) . Black conservative, Randall Kennedy agrees. He goes so far as to say that arrest rates present a “sad reality” and justifies racial profiling on those grounds (Kennedy, 1999). Well, if this is true, scientific examinations of racial profiling should yield results that back up the claims of racial conservatives.

They don’t...

First let me point out that Bubba’s assertion that “Police deployment these days is determined almost strictly by rates of relative violence/crime in each police district,” is incorrect. That is not how police deployment is arrived at. Furthermore, the idea that “The rate of violence... is determined by counting citizens reporting that they were shot, stabbed, beat up and otherwise assaulted, this is combined with citizen reports of burglary, robbery, theft, etc.,” is pure bullshit. It shows this person is ignorant of police procedures across the nation. But I am getting ahead of myself...

Bear with me while I make an important point. Imagine for a moment that a society awakens to the hard reality of child abuse and makes stopping such abuse a priority. Legislators pass new laws criminalizing child abuse in new ways, increases sentences for the crime dramatically, and limit and even eliminate parole for all child abuse offenses. Prosecutors do their part by vigorously prosecuting all cases and asking for the maximum sentences, and police and other state agencies increase their enforcement efforts against child abuse. If we looked at prisons ten years later, we would surely find a higher percentage of inmates imprisoned for child abuse. But this would not necessarily mean that child abuse itself is more prevalent than it was ten years before. Rather, these numbers would be a reflection of the priorities and actions of the criminal justice system.

The above scenario, of course, is almost exactly what has happened in our society with drugs. Politicians at every level, including at least two presidents, identified drug enforcement at as the top law enforcement priority. The U.S. congress and other legislative bodies increased sentences, sometimes astronomically. New laws eliminated judicial discretion over sentences. Some of these new laws targeted crack cocaine, a drug more commonly sold in African American neighborhoods. Law enforcement focused almost entirely on the most visible aspect of the drug trade -- retail selling and use on the streets -- almost exclusively in communities of color. Though drug use and sale is about equal across all ethnicities, these enforcement policies resulted in the skewed, heavily minority prison populations the Bubbas of the world use to justify racial profiling.

As my friend Will likes to point out, math is a cruel bitch and arrest rates and crime statistics are facts, but the way we interpret these facts and the conclusions we draw from them are not. In moving from fact to interpretation to conclusion, racial conservatives supporting racial profiling miss something critically important.

Objective statistics do confirm that African Americans, Latino/as, and other minorities are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated. In 1990, for example, one in four black men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-eight were under criminal justice control (Mauer, 1990). By 1995, the number had grown to one in three, with even higher percentages in some cities. In Baltimore, for example, the percentage was 60 (Mauer & Huling, 1995).

The important question here is whether the rate of African American or Latino/a arrest or incarceration reflects actual offending behavior. At first glance, this might seem clear or obvious, but note that the vast majority of crimes go unreported. for example, almost three-quarters of all sexual assaults, more than a third of all robberies, and more than 40 percent of all aggravated assaults go unreported (U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999). This makes arrest figures an unreliable indicator of who commits crimes overall. Drugs and weapons possession crimes differ because they are consensual. That means all parties involved in such crimes do not want the authorities to know the crime is taking place. Not the retailer, seller, nor the consumer -- they all want the crime to happen. When it comes to enforcement against consensual crimes involving drugs, the police have to actively seek out such crimes (Kitsuse & Cicourel, 1963).

The great bulk of drug activity, including the transport of larger quantities of drugs by couriers, goes unreported, unseen, and undetected. Police officers may have general knowledge of drug activity, its locations, or people involved, but this tells them little of about any specific patterns of offending behavior. These crimes are least likely to be fully known and reported, so police use other tactics to find them.

Whew! LOL Still with me?

It follows then, that arrest and incarceration rates do not measure crime but the activity of police and other institutions responsible for criminal justice efforts. While this data tell us useful things, it doesn’t support inappropriate conclusions. Arrest statistics tell us that police disproportionately arrest African American males for drug crimes. This reflects decisions made by someone in the police department to concentrate enforcement activities on these individuals (Stuntz, 1998). Drawing any further conclusions based on these statistics, or using them to justify racial profiling, as do the Bubbas of the world, is just plain wrong and, in my estimation, racially motivated.

Now to the meat of my argument... LOL

If, as I have shown, arrest and incarceration rates do not tell us about the effectiveness of catching criminals, there are other statistics that do. And the story these statistics tell is a very different one than Bubba and racial conservatives would have us believe.

Until very recently, there was no data that gave us any insight into hit rates -- the rates at which police actually find contraband or other evidence of crime when they perform stops and searches. Therefore, when confronted with remarks made by the likes of Bubba, we had little to say in response. In other words, we had to take the word of law enforcement agencies and racial conservatives that racial profiling was justified. However, evidence from a broad range of contexts now allow for a statistical analysis of racial profiling. And the results of this analysis will come as a surprise to many: racial profiling, aside from being immoral, is neither an efficient nor an effective tool for fighting crime -- bitches.

Driving While Black

Statistics from stops and searches by Maryland State Police during 1995 and 1996 provided some of the first comprehensive data on hit rates. In terms of stops, the data, which came from the police themselves, showed that the state police stopped and searched African Americans disproportionately. Although they made only 17 percent of all drivers, blacks made up more than 70 percent of all those searched. The data were compiled from more than eleven hundred searches. Given the official conservative rationale that what they had been doing was merely sound policing -- not racism -- the hit rates should clearly have borne out the wisdom of the state police approach. Wrong! The hit rates showed something different: the hit rate at which police found drugs, guns, or other evidence of crime in these searches were almost exactly the same for blacks and whites.

Troopers found evidence on African Americans they searched 28.4 percent of the time; they found evidence on whites 28.8 percent of the time (Lamberth, 1998). The researcher found no statistical significance in the difference between the numbers for blacks and whites, given the number of stops and searches included in the data. If in fact there was any difference between blacks and whites, the data showed clearly that racial profiling were not uncovering it. What the data did show was a flaw in the basic assumption underlying racial profiling.

But I -- and many of my darker-skinned brethren -- coulda told you that, Bubba!

Recent statistics from New Jersey provide even more information on hit rates. After a controversial state attorney general report, the New Jersey State Police began to record data for all its traffic stops and searches. Data from 2000 concerning the southern end of the turnpike, the area were complaints on profiling first originated, show that blacks and Latino/as remain 70 percent of those searched *. And the hit rates absolutely contradict the idea that racial profiling is just good law enforcement. Troopers found evidence in the searches of whites 25 percent of the time; they found evidence in searches of blacks 13 percent of the time, and in searches of Latino/as just 5 percent of the time (New Jersey State Police, 2001). Whites were almost twice as likely to be found with contraband as blacks, and five times as likely as Latino/as -- clearly indicating that racial conservatives and people like Bubba are fuckin full of shit.

Data from North Carolina tells a similar story. In 1999, North Carolina became the first state to pass legislation making it mandatory for some police agencies to report basic data on all traffic stops and searches. A researcher, conducting an analysis required by law, found that African American male drivers were 68 percent more likely than white male drivers to be searched by the good ole boys (Bubbas?) in the North Carolina Highway Patrol. They found contraband on blacks in 26 percent of the searches; for whites, the hit rate was 33 percent (Zingraff, 2000).

Walking While Black

Even more telling were hit rates from the New York Attorney general’s study of stops and frisks in New York City, issued in 1999. The context of this study is somewhat different because the data concern stops and searches of pedestrians. However the practice, using race to focus police suspicion -- is basically the same. In addition, the data here is plentiful: 175,000 recorded encounters between officers and citizens over fifteen months. The study tracked hit rates by analyzing the percentage o stops and frisks that ended in an arrest. The data are even more damning than the numbers from Maryland and New Jersey. the attorney general found that police arrested 12.6 percent of the whites they stopped, only 11.5 percent of the Latino/as, and only 10.5 percent of the blacks (Spitzer, 1999). This is exactly the opposite of what Bubba would predict. When New York City police officers utilized racial profiling intensively, they found what they wanted less often on blacks and Latino/as than they did on whites.

I have a sneaking suspicion that those who champion racial profiling don’t do so because they think it’s “sound policing” practice based on cold hard numbers. I believe they support such practices because they want to justify racist practices. They are comfortable with such practices because, for the most part, it doesn’t affect them. They are not the ones being taken handcuffed from their homes, or being humiliated while driving or even walking down the street. They think it’s okay to commit such acts on certain Americans because they just don’t give a good goddamn -- until it happens to them...

There’s a price we all pay for racial profiling, the least of which it makes all of us less safe, as police are more determined to bust low-level black drug dealers in the streets while the big drug game is taking place somewhere in a sleepy suburban enclave or high roller penthouse loft.


Note: Much of what I have summarized in this post can be found discussed at greater length here:

Harris, D. A. (2002). Profile in injustice: Why racial profiling cannot work. New Press: New York.


Kennedy, R. (1999). Race, crime, and the law. New York: Pantheon Books.

Kitsuse, J., & Cicourel, A. (1963). A note on the use of official statistics. Social Problems, 11, 131-139.

Lamberth, J. (1998, August 16). Driving while black; A statistician proves that prejudice still rules the road Washington Post p. C01.

MacDonald, H. (2001). The myth of racial profiling. City Journal, 11(2).

Mauer, M. (1990). Young black men and the criminal jsutice system: A growing national problem. Washigton, DC: The Sentencing Project.

Mauer, M., & Huling, T. (1995). Young black Americans and the criminal justice system: Five years later. Washington, DC: The Sentencing Project.

Moorestown Station consent to search seizures for whies, blacks, and Hispanics, (2001).

Spitzer, E. (1999). The New York City Police Department "stop and frisk" practices: A report to the people of New York. New York: Attorney General of the State of New York.

Stuntz, W. (1998). Race, class, and drugs. Columbia Law Review, 98, 1795, 1803.

U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. (1999). National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal vicitmization in the United States, 1999, statistical tables, table 91. Retrieved. from

Zingraff, M. T. (2000). Evaluating North Carolina State highway patrol data: Citations, warnings, and searches in 1998: North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wealthcare: Shucking and Jiving for the Massa

¡Hola! Everybody...
OK! Let’s put aside the bullshit and get to some semblance of truth. We here in the US have the most cumbersome, expensive, and dysfunctional health care system in the free world. We pay more for much less and even countries like Cuba have better health outcomes than we do here in the good old USA.

Yet, we have the neocon Kool-Aid drinkers actually advocating against their own self-interest. Watch the video and check out getting the Canadian health care system right. This here is the undiluted truth, people. No Kool-Aid and sugar-free...

* * *

-=[ Wealthcare ]=-

We’re all corporate cheerleaders.

I watch in utter amazement and embarrassment as some Americans go out of their way to advocate against their won self-interest. And like many others, I wonder how it all came to be... How did we all become shills for corporations? Then I heard about Doug Rushkoff's new book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back, and it hit me. the corporate values of business, profit, and consumerism have so infected our lives that we are no longer can conceptualize life in any other way. We are victims of a dysfunctional societal relationship -- one that has come to seem so normal we are almost incapable of processing of how screwed up it really is.

If you are mugged, as Rushkoff was, your neighbors might be more concerned about property values than your health or safety.

The corporation is our new God -- I call it Korporate Kristianity -- my euphemism for fascism. Let’s take the current health care “debate.” corporations are spending $1.4 million a day to pay thousands of lobbyists to defeat any kind of health care reform. We have all heard the lies and misinformation: from “death panels” to rationing to utter disinformation about other national models. Specifically the Canadian and British models have been mercilessly trashed and misrepresented by a media that’s owned by a handful of (yup) corporations.

So, let’s start with our neighbors from the north in Canada. Let’s look at some of the myths being passed around by the gullible idiots on the right:

First? Numbers, as my friend Will likes to point out, don’t lie. If the only way we compared the two systems was with statistics, there is a clear winner. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to dispute the fact that Canada spends far less money on health care for better outcomes.

But let’s be clear: logic isn’t what is fueling this debate, if it was, we would’ve had a single payer option 15 years ago, when the insurance giants promised they would get their act together. Opponents of such a system cite Canada as the best example of what not to do, so it might prove useful to throw light on some myths about the Canadian system.

Canada's health care system is an unmanageable bureaucracy.

Wrong! The opposite is true: the U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn't when everybody is covered.

The Canadian system is more expensive than that of the U.S.

Bullshit! Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. Essentially, the U.S. system is significantly more expensive than Canada’s. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American neocon corporate shills don’t realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.

Canada's government decides who gets health care and when they get it.

This is the “I don’t want the gub’mint to tell me what to do” argument. While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don't get one no matter what your doctor thinks -- unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.

There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.

Part of the neocon “rationing” scare tactic. There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists’ care, and much longer waits for elective surgery. Yes, there are those instances where a patient can wait up to a month for radiation therapy for breast cancer or prostate cancer. However, the wait has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with the lack of radiation therapists. Despite such waits, however, it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined, according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and the Canadian Cancer Society. Moreover, fewer Canadians (11.3 percent) than Americans (14.4 percent) admit unmet health care needs.

Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.

I’ve seen too many neocon twats posting this lie on the internet; let me put it to rest. Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is. In any case, I don’t see any empirical proof that there are throngs of Canadians fighting to come to our hospitals or moving here en masse to escape their horrible (free and guaranteed) health care system.

Canada’s is socialized medicine! The evil gub’mint runs hospitals and doctors work for the gub’mint.

No, goober, you’re incorrect. Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not “socialized medicine” but “social insurance” systems because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of or run by the government.

So, there you have it, the undiluted truth. It might you feel uncomfortable and doesn’t jibe with what your daddy told you, but as Will would say: the numbers don’t lie.

Love You Anyway,



[un]Common Sense