Wednesday, June 30, 2010

W.A.R.: Welfare Assistance for the Rich

¡Hola! Everybody...
Listening to conservatives badmouth people who have lost their jobs just doesn’t sit right with me. They’re fuckin self-righteous bullies, these dumb fuck muthafuckas!

* * *

-=[ Get the Rich Off Welfare ]=-

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ensuring there's enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country's entitlement system.

-- Sen. Boehner

Recently, a significant cadre of conservatives (and their enablers) blocked a bill that would’ve extended unemployment insurance (UI) for millions of former working stiffs who had the misfortune of living at a time and place where working people don’t matter.

The rationale offered for blocking this much-needed benefit (in the worst economic “recession” since the Great Depression)? It added to the debt. Yup, the fiscal conservatives, the very same idiots who brought you Reaganomics, Laffer Curves, and the Trickle Down con game are back! And this time, they’re gnashing their teeth and tearing at their clothes, decrying anything that adds to the debt. They also say that unemployment insurance acts as a “disincentive” to look for work. As if those receiving unemployment insurance are living in the lap of luxury.

Of course, these are the same hypocrites who were largely responsible for the economic policies that caused the last several financial meltdowns in the first place. But these cretins have no shame. No matter how much they fail, no matter the utter insanity of their failed ideas, like that junkie ex-wife/ husband of yours, they keep coming back demanding we continue to do the same and expect a different result. It will be different this time, honey...

By the way, extending UI adds less than 1% to the debt. Actually, it’s about .004% of the budget. The bill costs something like $25 million. Don’t quote me on that, I don’t know the exact figure, and I’m too lazy to look right now, but it’s not far from the actual figure.

Speaking of figures, let’s look at some numbers: About 7.8 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007. Over that same time, the country should have been adding about 100,000 jobs per month or about 2.9 million in total, just to keep up with population growth. As a result, today the United States is short 10.7 million jobs. Even with a bright April jobs report showing 290,000 new jobs created, much more is needed. Even if we added 290,000 more jobs every month, it would take five years to return to the pre-recession rate of unemployment.

Frankly speaking, I have to question the motivation of our conservative congress critters. If they really cared about the debt, then where were they when Bush the Younger was squandering away our money on two wars and tax cuts that mostly benefitted the top one percent of the population?

The short answer is that the military/ industrial complex is an elaborate scam -- it’s welfare for the rich, if you will. If you think we still live in a representative democracy, think again. Shit, our current Supreme Court recently handed down a the decision basically codifying wealth/ money as free speech. Yup, a legal fiction -- a corporation -- has a right to free speech. Check that, corporations are now more protected than real people.

While you were asleep, Welfare Assistance for the Rich* (aka W.A.R.) has become so deeply embedded into the American economy, there’s no way of stopping this runaway train. Where’s the sanity in a budget in which military expenditures exceed 23% of the budget, and no one objects, but there’s tons of media coverage and drama on something that represents less than one percent of the budget?

There are those who will point out that military spending creates jobs, and for the most part this is true. Military spending creates jobs throughout the economy, and many of those jobs are well-paying but at a time when unemployment is high, our infrastructure is crumbling, and global climate change has reached a crisis, the question we are not asking is if this is the wisest use of our national resources. Let’s not forget that little detail that military spending (and make no mistake: we spend more on defense than the next ten nations combined) compels us to war and that war costs lives. Besides, military spending is by its nature focused on short-tem goals.

If insanity is committing the same actions and expecting different results, then we have gone off the rails. Some more numbers: not counting the supplemental authorizations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan current levels of military spending are (adjusting for inflation) about 45% higher than the military budget when Eisenhower left office. Private military contracting absorbs about 70% of the Department of Defense (DoD) budget. Outsourcing to private contractors, no longer limited to the Pentagon, extends to all aspects of government.

And we’re screaming about less than .004% of the budget?!! To help people who were let go mostly because of the malfeasance of the economic elites? What have we become?

This isn’t just about compassion. It’s about sound policy. For example, economist Mark Zandi, McCain’s former economic advisor of Moody’s, found in 2009 that extra UI benefits were among the best mechanisms under consideration for boosting the economy, with each dollar of benefits providing a $1.61 jolt to the economy.

Similarly, studies show that dollar for dollar, more jobs are created through spending on clean energy, health care, and education than on the military. Furthermore, more middle income and well-paying jobs are created in all these areas. For each $1 billion of spending, over 17,000 jobs would be created in clean energy, close to 20,000 in health care, and over 29,000 in education. By contrast, that same $1 billion would create only 16,000 jobs as a result of military spending.

Military spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has reached approximately $1 trillion since 2001, not including the most recent surges in troops. Military spending accounts for 23% of all federal outlays.

Meanwhile, energy, resource conservation, the environment, education, training, and social services made up only 3%. If we’re looking to reduce the size of the deficit, then why are we doing it on the backs of the middle, working class, and the poor? Why are we still giving the richest 1% a tax break and go into a self-righteous fit when looking to extend UI benefits to families who are losing their savings, their homes, their children’s’ college educations?

Want to make America work? Then get the rich and powerful off the welfare dole. There are corporations paying less in federal taxes then some of the individual s now out of work through no fault of their own. Let’s use our tax dollars to rebuild our nation, to invest in our youth, to create jobs that will heal our nation and the world. It’s really that simple.

Stay classy America.



*H/T to my friend Sheldon for coming up with the acronym W.A.R.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Justice as Retribution

¡Hola! Everybody...

The most challenging aspect of blogging is the art of adequately articulating complex issues in everyday language in a short amount of space. I often miss the mark in this regard. Following this, I will post the second part on justice as social control.

* * *

-=[ From the Plantation to the Bing ]=-

“One of the interesting ways of settling the race problem comes ... in this period of unemployment among the poor. In Waterloo, Kentucky, the enterprising chief of police is arresting all unemployed Negroes and putting them in jail, thus securing their labor for the state at the cheapest possible figure. This bright idea... is used through the South and strong sermons and editorials are written against ‘lazy’ Negroes. Despite this there are people in this country who wonder at the increase in ‘crime’ among colored people.”

-- W.E.B. Du Bois, unsigned editorial, “Logic,” The Crisis, Vol. 9 (January, 1915), p. 132

Some of the poorest Brooklyn city blocks are also some of the priciest. You couldn’t tell by the surroundings or by the people who live there -- mostly people of color most of whom live below the poverty line. They are called million dollar blocks by criminal-justice experts who study this phenomenon: In Brooklyn last year, there were 35 blocks that fit this category -- city blocks where so many residents were sent to state prison that the total cost of their incarceration will be more than $1 million.

At the same time, a quick look at the surrounding schools and other social institutions in the area would bring shame to any right-thinking American, regardless of color.

In a relatively short period of time, we have moved from a nation that dared to envision a Great Society to a nation that now incarcerates more people than any other. While we have 5% of the world’s population, yet we account for 25% of the world’s prison population (most of those in US prisons are people of color). At the same time, we remain the most violent and crime-ridden of all advanced democracies. It’s not even close.

The following is an attempt to articulate a problem from a civil rights perspective with a hip hop sensibility.

How did we get here? Well, it wasn’t by accident and it didn’t happen overnight. In order to understand how we became a nation of prisons we have to look at crime and punishment from a historical context. A task I couldn’t possibly hope to do in a one or two-page Word document. Still, before I move on, I have to at least try.

Sociologist Loic Wacquant (2002) maintains that historically not one but several institutions have been implemented to define, confine, and control African-Americans in the United States. The first was chattel slavery which made possible the plantation economy and the caste of racial division from colonial times to the Civil War. The second was the Jim Crow system of legally imposed discrimination and segregation that served as the foundation for the agricultural society of the South from the close of Reconstruction to the Civil Rights revolution which toppled it a full century after abolition. America’s third mechanism for containing the descendants of slaves in the Northern industrial metropolis was the ghetto. It corresponded with the African-American Great Migration of 1914–30 to the 1960s, when it was rendered partly obsolete by the mounting protest of blacks against continued racism, culminating with the urban riots of the 1960s. The fourth, Wacquant contends, is the institutional complex formed by the leftovers of the black ghetto and the prison/ industrial complex with which it has become joined by a linked relationship with institutional racism.

What this suggests is that slavery and mass imprisonment are intrinsically linked and that we cannot understand one -- its timing, composition, and inception as well as the silent ignorance and acceptance of its harmful effects on those it affects -- without returning to the former as a starting point. In other words, from a historical viewpoint, the mass incarceration of mostly people of color in the United States is a direct offshoot from the roots of the institution of racism.

Now, you might be wondering what I mean by a “hip hop sensibility,” and if you bear with me, I’ll try to explain. I cannot, in all good conscience, profess to know much about contemporary hip hop. As a Nuyorican born and raised in the ghettos of New York City, I was there at its inception, long before MTV, and long before hip-hop culture was co-opted by the mainstream. I will be honest and say I stopped listening to hip hop before it made its way (via Yo! MTV Raps) or BET. Through the years, I have maintained an interest in some groups that I felt offered a powerful social message -- groups such as Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, and some others, but I don’t know jack about contemporary hip-hop, nor do I like much of it. For me, hip-hop was more than a musical genre; it was a ghetto scream for recognition, combining several elements of modern and traditional culture, not the least of which was technology. Hip-hop was an urban folklore expressing the gritty reality of life in the black and Puerto Rican ghettos of New York City.

I think hip-hop is relevant to a discussion of mass incarceration because its attitude and moral stance is often called into question and vilified by both black and white conservatives. I contend that hip-hop informs this discussion and has the potential to give it a proper philosophical framework.

Hip-hop as the dominant chosen form of entertainment and instruction of gifted young people, has both good and bad effects. If we look beyond the polemics, hip-hop also serves to resist (and sometimes reinforce) the effects of a postmodern world steeped in free-market fundamentalism, aggressive macho militarianism, and the increasing privatization of the social sphere (think BP). The racial dimension of hip-hop is unavoidable, and it is here where, if looked at as more than mere black cultural expression, it can inform and illuminate the discussion.

You ain’t gotta be locked up to be in prison / Look how we livin’ / 30,000 niggas a day up in the bing, standin routine / They put us in a box, just like our life on the block -- Dead Prez, Behind Enemy Lines

If we view criminal justice as retribution, then we have to acknowledge that justice as retribution mirrors the sentiment that vengeance is sweet, redeeming those who have been wronged. It is a desire often expressed by rappers themselves. Yet their desire for retribution isn’t proposed as part of a legitimate system of punishment. For one, the situations they portray are oftentimes outside the law. However, lurking under rappers’ desire to settle scores lies a steadfast belief that the law does not (and never did) protect them. If the law doesn’t protect you and won’t guarantee justice, then it follows that you may have to protect yourself from your enemies.

Many rappers are skeptical about justice in America and alarmed by our criminal justice system. Hip-hop lyrics strongly suggest that racial bias in our criminal justice system undermines the notion of equal protection under the law. They also question whether the historically unprecedented massive effort to incarcerate black men serves the purpose of public safety. For rappers, the notion of the public good and retribution appears as a facade for an unjust form of social control that helps maintain a system of privilege for whites. Rap music often aims to strip away the veneer of justice from a system that unfairly targets youth of color.

Circle the block where the beef’s at / and park in front of my enemy’s eyes/ They see that it’s war we life-stealers, hollow-tip busters. -- Nas, Every Ghetto

The popular idea of retribution as a legally sanctioned form of punishment is based on the assumption that criminal acts call for punishment -- separate from the consequences of punishment, such as permanent disenfranchisement and the enduring collateral consequences of imprisonment (i.e., obstacles to employment, education, and housing). From this perspective, the ends (retribution) justify the means at whatever societal cost. The point being that justice is served only when wrongdoers suffer.

In a lawless context, the line between retribution and self-defense is not so clear, but advocates of retribution (“retributivists”) are not interested in retaliation as a reaction to a perceived threat. They advocate retaliation for wrongdoing as a matter of justice. This led one of the most famous retributivists, Immanuel Kant, to stress the difference between vengeance and retribution (a persistent theme in the western and noir film genres, by the way). In Kant’s view, vengeance is emotional and personal, reckless and often disproportionate to the crime.

A civilized society, Kant argued, would replace vengeance with retribution. Yet the ideal of retribution carries more than a trace of vengeance, as the French philosopher, Michel Foucault, pemphasized in his Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1995). Some recent retributivists, Jeffrie Murphy’s Getting Even, for example, urge us to embrace the emotional and the personal value of punishment as retribution. These philosophers accept the connection between vengeance and the justification of punishment. They offer us four conditions that vengeance must meet in order to be considered justice:

  1. Communication. The penalty must communicate what the offender did wrong.
  2. Desert. The punishment must be deserved.
  3. Proportionality. The punishment must fit the crime.
  4. Authority. A legitimate authority must administer the punishment.

When these conditions are met, retributionists claim, vengeance leads us to justice...

However, rappers spin a cautionary tale -- the retributivist’s conditions aren’t met. In Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos, Public Enemy’s Chuck D implies that the authority of a government that doesn’t care about some of its people can’t claim legitimacy. A legitimate government serves the interests of all its people, including minority groups. A government that fails to provide equal protection for all manages only to exercise power, not legitimate authority. In other words, might does not make right.

The most basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution and associated with our criminal justice system are the following: people should not be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures (Fourth Amendment); people are innocent until proven guilty through due process of the law (Fifth Amendment); people should not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth Amendment); people should be equally protected by the law (Fourteenth Amendment).

Many rap artists correctly point out violations of these basic constitutional rights -- police and prosecutorial misconduct, lack of access to legal counsel, unfair sentencing policies, and inhumane prison conditions. These are well documented and disproportionately affect African Americans and other people of color.

Consider Mos Def description of racial profiling, “The po-po stop him and show no respect / ‘Is there a problem officer? / Damn straight, it’s called race.” Racial profiling is a policing strategy that is strongly correlated with excessive force and the disproportionate incarceration of minorities (Amnesty International, 2004). Problems such as these undermine not just rights in the US, but international rights as well. In addition, they call into question whether many punishments have been fairly implemented.

Grounds for doubt about punishment as retribution extend beyond racial bias in its application. How could we know whether the desert condition or the proportionality condition for justice as retribution has been justified? Consider the following articulation from a leading retributionist on fitting the punishment to the crime:

“Tailoring the fit appears to depend on the moral sensitivity or intuitions of the punishers. When is the fit right? When does a suit of clothes fit? When it feels right? Yes, but also when it looks right to the wearers and others... Morality is an art, not a science.” [emphasis added]

Statements such as this should give us cause for alarm. The lack of a shared basis for moral judgment in a multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious America dooms the justification of punishment. Our system of punishment costs us about 60 billion dollars per year. It destroys families and communities, and it deprives those caught in its maws their most basic liberties, sometimes for a lifetime. Biblical references to the scales of justice, “an eye for an eye,” or the art of morality are woefully inadequate as a justification for a system of punishment. My next entry will deal with punishment as social control.




“The Bing” is slang for prison and/ or solitary confinement

Unless otherwise noted, all statistic are from the Bureau of justice Statistics


Amnesty International. (2004). Threat and humiliation: Racial profiling, domestic security, and human rights in the United States. New York: Amnesty International, USA.

Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and punish: The birth of the prison (A. Sheridan, Trans. 2nd ed.). New York: Vintage Books.

Wacquant, L. (2002). From slavery to mass incarceration: Rethinking the race question in the US. New Left Review, 13(January-February ), 41-60.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Blame Game

¡Hola! Everybody...
A little economic ranting today...

* * *

-=[ Blaming the Unemployed ]=-

When my adult son was very young -- say 7-8 years-old -- we were at a picnic, and kids being kids, he didn’t want to wait until I set everything up in order to play ball. In his impatience, he kept swinging this large plastic bat perilously close to one of his cousins (who was zoning out, oblivious to the danger). I warned my son about swinging the bat and he stopped (or so I thought). Of course, a little time passed before I heard the thwack of plastic bat meeting said cousin’s head.

I disciplined my son and he was confused because he felt it was an “accident.” The hardest job of a parent, as far as I’m concerned, is teaching the “accountability lesson” -- the basic life lesson that actions have consequences.

This is forgivable in a young child, after all, they are here to learn, but I have to wonder what the fuck happened to the mostly conservative crowd who refuse to learn consequential thinking even as they pass judgment on everyone else.

Unlike the oil disaster, there is little talk about criminal investigations into the economic collapse, there is little sense that it was instigated by the same sort of greed, carelessness, and arrogance that is now ruining the Gulf of Mexico (and quite possibly changing life as we know it on the planet). Yet the economic meltdown will kill more people, create more chaos, and wreak more havoc on our lives than the Gulf oil “spill.” First, I have an issue with calling the BP oil catastrophe a “spill.” Spill denotes accident, and this was no accident. This is like an eight-year-old child claiming “accident” when he was swinging a bat perilously close to someone else’s head.

Instead, those (with the help of the media they own) who caused or helped enable the class war we call the Great Recession by parroting the talking points of the rightwing economic revolution are now treating the problem almost as if it were an act of God -- or an “accident.” Today the pathetically failed neocons now have only praise for tough and austere measures -- as if making ordinary folk suffer for the greedy indulgences of the rich was a noble cause. the deficit hawks have returned, and like most sequels, this one stinks to high heaven.

As Sam smith at Undernews succinctly notes:

There is a long line of economists, politicians, columnists, academics, and other powerful voices whose advice and encouragement directly led us to this economic disaster. You won’t read about it, however, because the very media that was complicit in the problem is now directing your attention away from its causes.

With a few exceptions (Dean Baker and Joseph Stiglitz come to mind) prominent economists and the major media has evaded saying the obvious: an economic policy that increasingly feeds the rich at the expense of everyone else can lead to nothing but trouble. Call it the “free market” or whatever other endearing name you want, but at its heart it was a vicious and brutal con game perpetrated against the majority of America.

The evidence is endless and endlessly ignored but here are a few examples:

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the gap in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928. Here’s what the change looks like:

In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s was about 30 to 1. Since 2000 that average has ranged from 300 to 500 to one.

According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two-thirds of income increases between 2002 and 2007 went to the wealthiest 1% of society, a higher share of income than at any time since 1928.

This is not sound economic theory put into practice but state-sponsored fascism. So when you complain about so-called lazy workers, save a little blame for all those economists, columnists, and politicians who told you to just let the free market be and it would all work out fine.

To the hypocrites stigmatizing those most impacted by failed economic policies of the right I say fuck you very much. In terms of action, it happens that the House is now considering single issues job bill. If you believe that hard-working people deserve a chance, then I would strongly recommend you call your representatives and demand action.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Sermon, pt. II [Gay Pride]

¡Hola! Everybody...
I caught the following repost from one of my contacts,
Joe.My.God. Some great posts there, mostly dealing with the civil rights struggle of the GLBT community. I'll let Joe tell it:

"It was June 27th, 1969.
The day that the fags, dykes, and queens of New York City finally said "Enough!" For some historical perspective, I'm posting the story that the
New York Daily News ran about the Stonewall Riots. Note how the story drips with condescension and ridicule. We've come a long, long way in 41 years and we've still got some distance to cover, but today we should all offer up a shout, a snap, and a moment of thanks to the people who started us down this road."

* * *

-- by Jerry Lisker, New York Daily News, July 6th 1969

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn't bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. "We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over," lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

"We've had all we can take from the Gestapo," the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. "We're putting our foot down once and for all." The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

The thick glass shut out the outside world of the street. Inside, the Stonewall bathed in wild, bright psychedelic lights, while the patrons writhed to the sounds of a juke box on a square dance floor surrounded by booths and tables. The bar did a good business and the waiters, or waitresses, were always kept busy, as they snaked their way around the dancing customers to the booths and tables. For nearly two years, peace and tranquility reigned supreme for the Alice in Wonderland clientele.

The Raid Last Friday

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.
Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn't protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn't want him to see her this way, she wept.

Queen Power

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

Urged on by cries of "C'mon girls, lets go get'em," the defenders of Stonewall launched an attack. The cops called for assistance. To the rescue came the Tactical Patrol Force.

Flushed with the excitement of battle, a fellow called Gloria pranced around like Wonder Woman, while several Florence Nightingales administered first aid to the fallen warriors. There were some assorted scratches and bruises, but nothing serious was suffered by the honeys turned Madwoman of Chaillot.
Official reports listed four injured policemen with 13 arrests. The War of the Roses lasted about 2 hours from about midnight to 2 a.m. There was a return bout Wednesday night.

Two veterans recently recalled the battle and issued a warning to the cops. "If they close up all the gay joints in this area, there is going to be all out war."

Bruce and Nan

Both said they were refugees from Indiana and had come to New York where they could live together happily ever after. They were in their early 20's. They preferred to be called by their married names, Bruce and Nan.

"I don't like your paper," Nan lisped matter-of-factly. "It's anti-fag and pro-cop."
"I'll bet you didn't see what they did to the Stonewall. Did the pigs tell you that they smashed everything in sight? Did you ask them why they stole money out of the cash register and then smashed it with a sledge hammer? Did you ask them why it took them two years to discover that the Stonewall didn't have a liquor license."

Bruce nodded in agreement and reached over for Nan's trembling hands.

"Calm down, doll," he said. "Your face is getting all flushed."
Nan wiped her face with a tissue.

"This would have to happen right before the wedding. The reception was going to be held at the Stonewall, too," Nan said, tossing her ashen-tinted hair over her shoulder.

"What wedding?," the bystander asked.
Nan frowned with a how-could-anybody-be-so-stupid look. "Eric and Jack's wedding, of course. They're finally tying the knot. I thought they'd never get together."

Meet Shirley

"We'll have to find another place, that's all there is to it," Bruce sighed. "But every time we start a place, the cops break it up sooner or later."
"They let us operate just as long as the payoff is regular," Nan said bitterly. "I believe they closed up the Stonewall because there was some trouble with the payoff to the cops. I think that's the real reason. It's a shame. It was such a lovely place. We never bothered anybody. Why couldn't they leave us alone?"

Shirley Evans, a neighbor with two children, agrees that the Stonewall was not a rowdy place and the persons who frequented the club were never troublesome. She lives at 45 Christopher St.
"Up until the night of the police raid there was never any trouble there," she said. "The homosexuals minded their own business and never bothered a soul. There were never any fights or hollering, or anything like that. They just wanted to be left alone. I don't know what they did inside, but that's their business. I was never in there myself. It was just awful when the police came. It was like a swarm of hornets attacking a bunch of butterflies."
A reporter visited the now closed Stonewall and it indeed looked like a cyclone had struck the premises.

Police said there were over 200 people in the Stonewall when they entered with a warrant. The crowd outside was estimated at 500 to 1,000. According to police, the Stonewall had been under observation for some time. Being a private club, plain clothesmen were refused entrance to the inside when they periodically tried to check the place. "They had the tightest security in the Village," a First Division officer said, "We could never get near the place without a warrant."

Police Talk

The men of the First Division were unable to find any humor in the situation, despite the comical overtones of the raid.
"They were throwing more than lace hankies," one inspector said. "I was almost decapitated by a slab of thick glass. It was thrown like a discus and just missed my throat by inches. The beer can didn't miss, though, "it hit me right above the temple."

Police also believe the club was operated by Mafia connected owners. The police did confiscate the Stonewall's cash register as proceeds from an illegal operation. The receipts were counted and are on file at the division headquarters. The warrant was served and the establishment closed on the grounds it was an illegal membership club with no license, and no license to serve liquor.

The police are sure of one thing. They haven't heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street.

* * *

That last sentence was prophetic indeed... though I doubt the reporter meant it in that way.

Sunday Sermon [Guilt Trip]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Today is the Gay Pride Parade here in the Center of the Known Universe. Let me reiterate here once again and express my support to my GLBT brothers and sisters. To my inbred, repressed brethren who are against gay marriage? Well… I would submit that if you’re against gay marriage, the simple thing to do is not marry one…


* * *

-=[ Guilt ]=-
Love and guilt cannot coexist,
and to accept one is to deny the other.

A Course in Miracles

Feeling guilty is just another way to rationalize behavior that defeats your happiness. Feeling guilty is an indulgence – a selfish and twisted way for you to continue beating yourself into the insanity of committing the same actions and expecting different results.

I once offered forgiveness to an individual who had wronged me and her initial response was to tell me how it cut her to the heart. She went on how nice I was (I’m not), blah blah blah. Her eventual response was silence. Years later, I ran into her by chance on the street and she began to cry. She told me that she had just come from her therapist and that she had been talking about me – about how she squandered what could’ve been something special and beautiful. How she always pushed what was good and decent away. She was so beside herself, all I could do was give her a hug and assure her everything would be all right.

I have a funny feeling I’ve become the subject of too many therapeutic sessions. For the record, I don’t want to be anyone’s therapist. All I want is for you to wrap your legs around my waist in lustful entanglement. *grin*

The sacred offering of forgiveness is not about allowing someone to take advantage of you. Few people know that forgiveness -- true forgiveness -- must be first cultivated internally before it could be given away. Once you forgive yourself, you come to the full realization that there is no “other” to forgive. Ironically, forgiveness is probably one of the most selfish of acts.

If you commit a wrong against me, my interest is in helping you grow out of that mode of living. Most people would rather continue to feel guilty than to actually grow. True growth is the process of becoming willing to have defects of character removed. It’s not even about having them removed! It’s about becoming willing to have defects of character removed. When you become willing, you shed the guilt and start doing the work. Lying, cheating, dishonesty, the whole cast of character defects -- become fodder for your growth:

Yes, I lied to you, this was why, and I want to stop. And I because I love you, I want to work with you so that we can become truly intimate and loving.

When you feel guilt, you’re in the grips of your ego. Guilt isn’t about someone else, it is about you because only your ego can experience guilt. Guilt will always disrupt your growth, will always sabotage you, and will always compel you to make the same mistakes.

You will be treated like shit, because guilt demands that you should be treated like shit. You will meet assholes who will defile you because your guilt demands it.

The end of your guilt will never come as long as you buy into the notion that there is a reason for it. For you to be released from guilt you must first learn that guilt is insanity; it always is and always has been and will always be. Guilt has neither reason nor rhyme.

And here’s why:

Guilt asks only for punishment and punish you will be – always. You will be punished and be lost in the world of illusions and shadows. The Ex wants to be punished. She doesn’t understand kindness. She’s not too different from many women and men I know. Be nice to them and they will run away. But if you want them to call you, or to fuck them, treat them like shit and they will be clamoring for more punishment.

I can’t do that – I’ve never been able to do that – to manipulate fear and guilt for sexual gratification. It isn’t worth my peace of mind. Like other women I know, the Ex replays the scene: she disappears for a little while, suffers some more, and then somewhere in her mind, she remembers the light and calls me. She suffers a lot. As do many of us... Maybe one day she will come to the realization that she does not have to suffer needlessly. I do not know. All I can do is keep an open heart.

A mind without guilt cannot suffer. Your freedom -- indeed, your very salvation -- depends on your escape from the self-made prison of guilt.



Friday, June 25, 2010

The Friday Sex Blog [The Sense of Smell]

¡Hola! Everybody…
I wear cologne everyday. Recently, I’ve taken to wearing
Verbena by L'Occitane . As with almost all of my favorite scents, this one is very much within the ctirus family. It has a fresh, clean quality to it and lasts longer than most citrus scents I used in the past. I also strengthen it by adding a few drops of the essential oils of lime and lemongrass.
Go to your nearest Sephora today and smell it while thinking of me and anal sex. LOL

For a while I was using Hesperides by Fresh. I favor citrus scents and my favorite for a while was Jo Malone's Lime Basil & Mandarin. I also loved their Verbenas of Provence . The drawback with the Malone line (and as with all citrus-based scents) is that it doesn’t last. In fact, it doesn’t last at all. The Fresh line (I also use their Sugar Lychee) lasts only slightly longer, but I love fresh, subtle scents. Over the years, I have made several different scents my scent, and women always comment.

There’s a method to my madness… LOL

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-=[ Sex & the Sense of Smell ]=-

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary, and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains.
-- Diane Ackerman

The best smell in the world is that man that you love.-- Jennifer Aniston

I’ll never forget the time I received a panicked telephone call from a former lover. I hadn’t heard from her for years. In fact, I had heard she married and was out of the singles game. We had an affair totally based on sex and she was almost as much of a freak as I was. I always remember her fondly because though ours wasn't a "love story" popularized by chick porn (i.e., romance novels and chick flicks), we shared many tender moments. Anyway, when she calmed down enough to explain, I discovered the source of her anxiety. Apparently, her husband (who, she assured me, she loved, like, forever) went out and bought a cologne that was my signature scent. The scent (by Paco Rabbanne) evoked images and memories of yours truly at the most inappropriate time and it freaked her out. Why she then called me is beyond my understanding, so… LOL! There’s more to this story, but this part is the relevant part.

The sense of smell is probably the oldest of our senses. It is the only sense directly connected to the brain. The reason why my ex-lover was thinking of me after so many years is because the sense of smell is highly involved in sexual function, pleasure, and irritation. It’s also closely related to memory. Scientists speak of the concept of “smell print” in which memories are associated with certain smells. As with my anxious ex-lover (who feared she was having marital doubts), a certain scent will vividly cause a person to recall a memory associated with it. Smells are like fingerprints, highly individualized.

To illustrate further, the sense of smell is involved with the deeply embedded limbic brain – what neuroscientists call the “emotional brain” or what has been identified as the emotional center of the brain. The limbic brain and the sense of smell go hand in hand when it comes to sex. For me there is no more erotic smell than the scent of a freshly washed pussy. There’s no greater aphrodisiac, at least for me, than the unmistakable and intoxicating mixture of soap and musk of a freshly washed chocha. It literally makes me drool.

On the flip side, an artificially scented vagina is a huge turn-off. It communicates to me that the woman is not comfortable with her own scent. There’s a huge problem if I have to wade through the artificiality of something Proctor &Gamble produced to get at your pussy. According to recent research, the part of the brain that is responsive to sexual-interest hormones is more than two times larger in men than women. Other research shows that the smell of cooked cinnamon is a natural aphrodisiac for men.

Certain smells are associated with sexual interest in both men and women, but since the brain works through association and within a cultural context, there is no immutable "sex smell." In the U.S., for example, the inordinate obsession with sterilization causes an aversion to natural smells. We spend a tremendous amount of money and exert a lot of energy and time in masking natural smells, and sterilizing surfaces (those soaps, BTW, actually increase bacteria ladies). I still remember my post on hair and vaginas and how so many women fiercely defended the practice of shaving their pussy bald. The major reason? Hygiene!

::blank stare::

Whatever, I love a little hair on the pussy I’m eating -- something to graze on while I’m down there. In addition, some women shouldn’t ever shave their pussy. If your pussy doesn’t resemble something virginal -- something that has never been sucked or fucked -- then go ahead shave that ass, but don't think you're gonna be able to pull off that virginal thing too well. For some, a shaved pussy is kinda like a sexual fashion fuax pas. At least a mustache or something to hide dem unvirginal-looking labia. For me, the hair adds a little flavor, a little “spice” to the pussy, something I enjoy.

Since ancient times, humankind has searched for the scent that elicited sexual desire. Many ancient societies believed perfumes were aphrodisiacs and some new research suggests they may have been right. The Romans and Egyptians used copious amounts of musk. The musk used was derived from the anal glands of the Ethiopian civet cat. Research suggests that the scent of musk closely resembles that of testosterone, the hormone responsible for enhancing the sex drive in both men and women.

Other studies have demonstrated the impact of floral and herbal essential oils on the nervous system. Sexual arousal and response is controlled by the two parts of the nervous system: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which is responsible for preparing us for physical action and emergencies (the fight or flight system); and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which stimulates relaxation. For those who need to relax in order to get in the mood for sex, the PNS should be used, while those who need to be physicallystimulated would do better by enhancing the SNS. According to the research, sandalwood, marjoram, lemon, chamomile, and bergamot stimulated the PNS. The SNS was stimulated by the scents of jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, patchouli, peppermint, clove, and bois de rose.

I guess the take away from this is that sensory stimulation is integral to the sexual experience and you should exploit this fact so as to make your sexing more pleasurable and meaningful. Go out and find the scents that are appealing to you. Scents (as with other aphrodisiacs) need to be tailored to individuals, not large groups. Experiment with different essential oils and use them in carrier oils to prepare massage oils (as a prelude to sex), for example.

I often smell my women as a way of committing them to memory. It’s almost a primal relic – something passed down by my hunter/ warrior ancestors. LOL Of course, I do it in a way that they don’t notice, but it’s one of the first things I do when I meet a woman. What an individual smells like tells you a lot about that individual. I may not remember your birthday, but I will always remember what yo ass smells like! LOL



PS: Sex is good for you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Moral Reasoning

¡Hola! Everybody...
One can tease out political differences quite simply -- how individuals view the role of government, freedom, and a just society is directly related to their level of moral reasoning...

* * *

-=[ Consciousness Unfolding ]=-

Not too long ago, I participated as part of a college panel with a woman. We were addressing college students, and what struck me about this particular woman was the extent of her self-centeredness. I found it interesting because she sought me out before we spoke and mentioned that she too was a “practicing Buddhist.” Her version of Buddhism, it seemed to me, was simply meditation. I had a teacher who once joked that practicing Buddhism without ethics was like trying to row a boat without first untying it from the pier.

From what I gathered her whole existence centered on her and she was oblivious to how she was connected to her environment; how her actions reverberated and caused ripples. In her world, what mattered was the conscious cultivation of her ego. In fact she could actually see the “logic” in the needless death of an infant. This is what happens when you mix Ayn Rand with meditation! LOL Nothing could be further from my vision of Buddhist practice.

Two people, two different worlds.

This got me to thinking and I have come to realization that “practicing meditation” or any set of practices isn’t enough. I have come to realize that we create our world according to our level of consciousness/ awareness. It’s the same with love. For some people, love’s reason is the satisfaction of the individual. Love is something that you go “out there” to get in order to satisfy a hunger for connection. Similarly, religion and everything else is filtered -- distilled -- according to where you stand in terms of growth.

I’ll explain. Let’s look at moral development as a starting off point. Let’s say, for the sake of this post, that moral development has three distinct stages. At birth an infant hasn’t been socialized into its culture’s ethics, standards, and conventions; let’s call this the preconventional stage. It’s also known as the egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely consumed with self -- self-absorbed. But as the young child begins to learn its culture’s rules and norms, it grows into the conventional stage of morals. This stage is also known as ethnocentric, in that it’s focused on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or nation, and therefore tends to exclude those not of its group. But at the next major stage of moral development, the post-conventional stage, the individual’s identity expands to include care and concern for all peoples, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed, which is why this stage is also known as worldcentric.

If you’re still with me, you can see that moral development tends to move from “me” (egocentric) to “us” (ethnocentric) to “all of us” (worldcentric). This is an example of unfolding waves of consciousness.

Using this consciousness “map” one can see how religion (or love) will manifest itself differently in a person who’s at the egocentric stage than a person who’s at a worldcentric stage. Both people can be just as devout (or “in love”), but spiritual practice will evolve according to any one individual’s level of moral development.

To further illustrate, imagine love from a morally egocentric perspective. Love at this stage resembles a yearning -- something like an addict's need for a fix -- an ego boost. Same thing with almost anything you look at in life: perception and meaning changes according to what level you are engaging the world. Religion from an egocentric perspective resembles the global wave of fundamentalism currently threatening our existence. And I mention fundamentalism in all its manifestations -- including our own home-grown Christian fundamentalism.

I find all this quite interesting because a lot of my work involves helping people move from one stage to another. But it’s also interesting because it helps me tease out the idiosyncrasies when someone says, “I love you.” Perhaps we need to know a little more about others and ourselves as we travel on our journey. For what may sound like “I love you” may in actuality mean “I love me.”

What would our national or global dialog resemble as people moved up the ladder of the stages of moral reasoning?




[un]Common Sense