Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Great Abyss

Shortly will another year
Pass away and disappear
Set thine house in order, man
Life is but a fleeting span

The end of another year is usually the time to look back at the momentous events of the past 12 months. It is also the time to take stock of one's mortality, especially if that one is at the post-child rearing, looking-forward-to-retirement in another decade or two age. And with thoughts of mortality comes the question of what's next after mortality.

To fully explore my current state of mind on this subject, it is helpful to go back to the beginning of my religious indoctrination. We are all subject to this, every child in every society. It is a tradition and, like our political views, our religious beliefs are inculcated by our parents and then either accepted without question and clung to forever, or rejected. Or something in between.

As a child I was raised "Roman Catholic". This was my parents' religion, and it was of course, their parents' religion. But my mother had a falling out with some priest over some issue before I was born, so we didn't attend church regularly. My mother's mantra was "I believe in God, but I don't believe in the Church". Although I was baptized and went to catechism, my religious experience was pretty much limited to praying every night to a small statue of the Virgin Mary on a bureau in my room. I prayed the Lord's prayer and often added an addendum prayer to please watch over me and my family. Sometimes I would make a special request, such as asking to let me do well in a little league baseball game the next day. Eventually, I developed a social conscience, and my faith in religion as a force of good was severely eroded by the wars and suffering it caused. Then there were the unsettling questions like how there could be so many religions if there was only one God. The realization came to me that religion was a ritualized superstition, gradually discarded as I got older and more widely-read. Prayer was left unsaid except for an emergency, basically when someone's life was in danger and science and technology in their current state were being stretched to the limit. My faith had gradually been transferred to laws of physics as I learned of them and better understood them. The supernatural was still lurking there behind the curtains of the natural world.

So it remained until my final religious epiphany came. Fittingly, it happened on a mountaintop. A mountaintop dedicated to scientific exploration; Cero Tololo in northern Chile, an observatory overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With little humidity, far from any cities, and at several thousand feet elevation, the sky is dark. So dark that the Milky Way galaxay, our island of life and light in the vast and eternal darkness of space, casts a shadow on the ground when the center of the galaxy shines directly overhead. From this perspective, you can see our galaxy as any other more distant edge on galaxy. There are one hundred billion galaxies like ours, with one hundred billion stars each. The image presented is profound and awe inspiring to the very core of your being. What are the odds we are the only ones alive and that someone, somewhere else isn't looking back from this void? I was inspired to write a poem from this experience.

From solid ground I stare
Upwards through the Great Abyss
Asking the meaning of creation
Seeking acknowledgement of struggle

But this infinite power
Whose sparse molecules shined above
Gave nothing more of an answer than
Overpowering, Silent Ambivalence

I demanded redemption from the void
To have my nearly impossible random chance
of Existence given a momentary glance but

The gaze never shifted
It looked away and past
On parallel paths
Unable to receive me

And yet I felt not rejection
But the most profound acceptance
As part of Creation
And a part of the infinite

Love in a vacuum
Redemption in space

Our molecules, in fact all elements heavier than hydrogen or helium, were forged by the pressure and heat at the center of a long dead star. That, and many other wondrous processes described by the laws of physics, is how and why we exist. We need no other purpose than that we appoint to ourselves, for better or worse. The concept of religion became something new, and something very distant on the night I got my answer on that mountain.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Change you Can Deceive With?

Well, you knew it was coming. The day of reckoning. And I'm not talking about November 2010 and the mid-term elections. I'm talking about the growing feeling that President Obama has become one of THEM, rather than one of US. A Washington insider/Wall Street water carrier like all his predecessors, which he promised not to be (like all his predecessors). I must admit, I never expected a radical change from what had gone before. If you go back and read some of what I wrote in 2008, you will see that I never expected even a slight change in the most importnant policies. So I am not disappointed.

No, I never believed in much of Candidate Barack Obama's promises to forge a new kinder, gentler brand of capitalistic economy. Only young, idealistic people who hadn't been around long enough to become old and cynical actually fell for the schtick. Now they are learning the hard way, the Rahm Emmanuel way, of how it is Wall Street uber alles. And the rest of us get no bailout, only empty speeches.

What irks me is not the fact that it is business as usual. What irks me is that there is no need for business as usual and every need to break with the past. There is a dramatic, pressing need to chart a bold new course away from the Wall Street chicanary and towards a self-sustaining economy based on paying people a living wage. Candidate Barack Obama needs to find President Barack Obama and give him a good dose of soaring rhetoric from last year's campaign trail. Or forget them both and let's exhume the withering, skeletal remains of Franklin Delano Roosevelt to give some life to actual change worth believing in.

As it stands, there's far too many entrenched, powerful bastions of corruption in the way of real reform. What is making people angry these days is the lack of fire coming from the White House directed at these bastions, and the unnecessary capitulations towards them without putting up any fight whatsoever.

Then there is the whole, baffling effort at bi-partisanship. What is the point of trying to placate people who will not only never support you, but actually do everything they could to obstruct what you are trying to do? That doesn't make you look magnanimous, it makes you look WEAK, if not downright foolish. The lastest fiasco along these lines is another disgusting cave-in to Joe Lieberman. Instead of letting him play God with thousands of peoples' lives, Obama should tell him to get on board...or else. Remind him that you gave him support in his primary challenge and that he was allowed to keep committe chairs DESPITE his campaigning for Republicans. Tell him that his ass is OUT and that every Democratic resource will be used AGAINST him in 2012 if he decides to oppose actual health care reform. This is supposedly the Rahm way of doing things. We need to see some of that right now. Or else you can bring back the Republicans in 2010 and the country can go into a real depression. Torches and pitchforks, anyone?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Santa's Elves: Always on the Move

Ahh the Christmas season, when the birth of the almost-officially state-sanctioned Messiah is honored by the mass purchase of toxic-painted plastic from across the wide, wide ocean. As one of the Wise Men said, "cheap labor maketh the world go 'round". And so those good, sturdy Taiwanese and Mexican toys we fondly recall from our youth are now a memory. One wonders where in the world the source of our grandkids' amusement will come from when such junk can be churned out more quickly and cheaply in another dank and dangerous elve's sweatshop.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Call 202-456-1111 ASAP and tell the President to dial back the Cheney/Bush looting of the treasury and sacrificing on the altar of the MIC even one more life in a self-defeating war. End the bullshit. Now.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Half the Story Has Never Been Told (Until Now)

Thanks to Howard Zinn for writing the definitive "People's History of the United States" and bringing this work to television next month on the History Channel. For those unfamiliar with the book here's a quick review.

We have of course read countless versions of the standard scholastic historical texts telling us about the Founding Fathers throwing off the yoke of British colonialism, and establishing a paradise on earth of freedom and liberty. Here is the other, darker and more realistically detailed side of the story. A chapter titled "A Kind of Revolution" details the exact how and why of the merchant/plantation owner quest for self determination that resulted in annual commemorative fireworks displays. Similarly illuminating are chapters on the Civil War, which was fought at least as much for the interests of northern industrialists as it was for the issue of slavery, and the mobilization of workers during the awful conditions of exploitation in the late 19th/early 20th century industrial age. The epic labor struggles are included here and are from a perspective that is seldom if ever seen; that of those on the other side of the National Guard bayonet charges. Yes, believe it or not, governors and presidents of these United States used our own military to crush strikes and kill workers at that time. Why is this part of U.S. history barely mentioned or completely ommitted from most history texts? Later chapters bring us up to date on how both political parties have essentially melded into one when it comes to foreign policy and the barons of Wall Street. A cursory look at the day's headlines proves the veracity of the line of reasoning that is present throughout the book. An added bonus is the classic quotes peppered throughout the text from all eras. These allow the voices from the other side of the story to be heard loud and clear across so many years. This should be required reading in all schools. But especially in those places that want to teach Creationism.

Go here to get more information on the upcoming TV show.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Please Don't Eff This Up (Any more than you have to)

A quick couple requests of some top Democrats: Harry Reid would you for once in your life please stop being such an ineffectual wussie. Barack Obama would you please tell the Republicans to either get on board or go jump off a damn cliff already. Get this DONE and get it done THIS MONTH.

That is all.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Why do things always seem better after you are 10 years removed from the situation? Music, relationships, life in general...all seem so much better once they are all relegated to the cobwebbed section of your mind. Memory has a way of erasing the negative and accentuating the positive. If only the mind would allow things to look so shiny/happy when you are actually living in the moment. Anyway, I always wondered why when I hear a song that brings me back a decade or more, I get this warm, fuzzy feeling when I know damn well I had just as many problems and worries (and probably more) than I do now. At least I can tell myself I am older and wiser than I was back in the day. So here is Lyte and Missy taking me back to the '90s groove. Ahh the 1990s, things were soooo much better then. Yeah right! Well actually the music was MUCH better than the crap passing for entertainment these days. That much no one can argue with!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Can't We be "Too Big to Fail"?

Banks get bailed out, people get kicked out. That's a lesson I learned during the financial crisis of the past year. I have seen families in my town go through the humiliation of having their furniture carried out and piled near the curb in the rain. Some of them were kicked out the day before Thanksgiving last year. The scene has been repeated ad nauseum and continues to this day, while 2 trillion dollars of our tax money is largely unaccounted for. This was money given to the banks by their buddies, in our name, to not only help the biggest (read greediest) of them stay solvent, but also to ostensibly give loans to people who need them. The only chunk of that 2 trillion that has resurfaced has been in the form of big bonuses for Wall Street execs! What a surprise! Did we truly expect anything less, given the track record of these people who, thanks to the revolving door between big business and government, are all intimately interconnected?

Meanwhile, the foreclosures continue with no end in sight. Disappointingly, but not really unexpectedly, the policies of the current administration are all too similar to Bush and Clinton before, which is why it is so laughable and frustrating to hear the wingnuts call President Obama a socialist. Here's the socialism he is presiding over: The ill-advised speculative risks of large financial corporations are socialized, while the ill-advised financial decisions of the underclass are paid in full. And the cost to them includes the emotional trauma of the innocents; children whose lives are disrupted. How do you even put a price on that?

If you are in or near Chicago this weekend, let the bankers know you are paying attention.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Please make this STOPPPPPPP

Some of you may have seen this story. It goes to the heart of my problem with the fashion industry, i.e., their continuing attacks against women and girls' self-image by pushing these unreal (literally) photos of glamorous stick figure-women. My question here is...who really thinks the feminine ideal should be that of a prepubescent boy? Besides child molesters. No heterosexual man would find a bony ass attractive (unless they are hung like a fruit fly, but I digress). Real men want curves, especially in the hips and butt area! I apologize in advance if this sounds homophobic or anti-caucasian, but I think the problem comes from two places...old white women and gay men. They are the two demographics that dominate the fashion industry here and in Europe and they are the ones imposing these ideas of the feminine ideal on the rest of us. These old Salukis (google it) hang out at the gym and starve themselves to maintain as flat an ass as possible and they expect women of child bearing age to look just as dried up and barren as they do. Gay men like the young, svelte, narrow-hipped boy look. So young women are brainwashed to the point of anorexia and bulimia to meet these standards. I've had enough of this bullshit! Bring back real women models with butts and breasts NOOOOOWWW!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Their Money or Your Life

The United States is the laughingstock of the world these days, thanks to the health insurance companies that have thoroughly subjugated our democracy. The changes that the large majority of people want are being drowned out by a lunatic fringe that represents about 3 percent of the population. Meanwhile, thousands of people die every year thanks to the for-profit industry that dominates health care in this country. This state of affairs is nothing short of domestic terrorism, and it is supported by some Democrats and virtually all Republicans, who are being showered with one million dollars a day to keep things exactly the way they are. Washington, D.C. has proven itself again as nothing more than the world's largest whorehouse. Then there is the wonderful mainstream media, which is conglomerated with the same insurance companies that brought us this horror show. Which explains why they don't ask one obvious question: Why can we have trillion dollar wars, yet we can't have single payer or the public option? Why don't we hear anything about the deficit when the next 100 billion dollars leaves the treasury for Iraq and Afghanistan? No, we only hear about it when it comes to actually saving people's lives rather than killing them. What a disgusting joke of a civilization we have allowed ourselves to become!

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Real Swine Flu: Why Capitalism Must be Eradicated From the Face of the Earth

Here's the state of the nation on May Day 2009: the financial terrorists that ruined the global economy still aren't in jail. In fact, not only are the immune from criminal prosecution, they have been rewarded. With our money. Billions of dollars of our money. The so-called socialists in our government gave it to them. It seems hard to believe, until you realize how things work here. While the less fortunate (lower class schmucks) die from lack of adequate health care, the power brokers in the world of finance own both political parties and all the branches and of our federal government and get to be bailed out on our trillions of dimes. It's a good thing most people aren't paying attention or there just might be a real revolution here. We can always blame the Mexicans for spreading some scary virus or whatever other diversion CNN is trumpeting. It helps to get our minds off our retirement/college funds being wiped out and our home foreclosed on.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April is National Shooting Spree Month: Have you hugged your Assault Weapon lately?

"I'm not afraid of Al Queda, I'm afraid of Al Cracka"
~ Chris Rock
Ahhh Springtime, the time of flower blossoms, birds singing...and violent, bloody, bullet-riddled rampages. Why is it that a time of year known for the renewal and promise of life is also the time most likely to result in mass murders? The sad litany of place names includes Waco, Columbine, Oklahoma City, Virginia Tech, and about a dozen more places have been added so far this month. The problem appears to be that we we have a lot of guns and a lot of crazy people, and we tend to allow that combination to occur more often than most places on earth. But it's more than just crazy people, it's a societal ill that is borne out especially harshly this year. With the economy tanking, the alienation and contradictions of a very cold system of competition is intensified. Not only has the safety net for the lowest 98 percent of the economic order been torn away in the last 30 years of bipartisan attacks on us native working schmucks, but the fallout from the loan scams have added to the ferment. Things get bleaker each Spring it seems as the greedfest of Wall Street is relied upon by our government to drive the economy. As long as that remains the case, and there is NO sign of it changing anytime soon, the Easter Bunny will need to wear kevlar.
Another scary development is the recent gun buying binge of right wing lunatics. These are the people that are genuinely afraid that Obama is a Muslim who will outlaw the Jesus-declared right to own a machine gun, and then ship them off to concentration camps where their women flowers will be pollinated by swarthy Muhammadians or some such outrage. So they stock up on ammo and semi-automatic weaponry. The good news is that statistically they are much more likely to accidentally kill themselves than purposefully kill anyone else, but the bad news is that they remain a danger to innocent family members and to you and I. If only the authors of the Second Amendment could have foreseen these nutjobs and edited the document to read:
A well regulated Militia*, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
* a well regulated Militia does NOT refer to some beer-swilling yahoo with his car up on blocks and an old washing machine on his front porch who wants an assault rifle because he thinks he saw a black "heldicopter" watching him!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our Long National Nightmare Continues: Neocons Still in Control

"Now is the time...for Babylon to fall"
~Aswad, "Three Babylon"

The very cautiously tepid attempts of the Obama foreign policy team to give the appearance of being a sea change from the strident genocidal maniacs of their predecessors are a sure sign that U.S. foreign policy is still firmly plowing down the same disastrous path at nearly the same speed. The Neocon agenda is the de facto bipartisan agenda of our foreign policy, which is largely controlled by two main forces, transnational capital and Zionism. That much has not changed one bit and until it does, there will be nothing to celebrate for the long suffering of the world.

So it is safe to assume that all the worst aspects of our entanglements in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be brought to any real conclusion in the next decade, or longer. More blood and treasure will be lost in the drifting sands of time. New fronts will open up with new conflicts as regions are made safe for those who control the flow of international capital. Meanwhile, there are some positive developments in Africa and Latin America where democracy continues apace in providing change we can actually believe in.

The repressive policies of the IMF and World Bank that caused so many financial meltdowns in Africa and Latin America, the so called "emerging nations", are being soundly rejected and sent to the dustbin of history. These nations are now truly emerging as they throw out the representatives of corrupt oligarchy and the policies of their puppetmasters. For the first time since the Monroe Doctrine, we are actually letting the people decide how they shall be governed without invasions, coups and assassinations in our self-annointed sphere of influence. We have gone an entire 5 years without forcing a coup in this hemisphere! An incredibly long time for us. Perhaps we are finally reaching a new level of maturity and "leaving such childish things behind"?

If only we would be as wise and mature in our dealings with the problems in the Mid-East.