Tag: op-ed

Sunday Op-Ed: Being Bold


There’s been a lot of back and forth about President Obama’s style.  I’ve heard some outlandish proclamations that he will not change his style, this is how he’s ALWAYS been, we must adapt to him, he’s not a drama queen, on and on.

I read an article today in the Times-Picayune and the title sort of captures my feelings on this subject:  “Obama keeps close tabs on New Orleans recovery — from a distance.”

It’s not a great article, that’s for sure.  It too often quotes Republicans and “experts” I’m not terribly impressed by.  It touts the fact that Mary Landrieu, she of the “oh I’m not sure I’ll vote for the public option” mentality as saying:

With “federal agencies finally working as partners and not adversaries, ” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, said, “in its first seven months, the Obama Administration has made significant progress toward making the Gulf Coast recovery effort quicker and more efficient.”

I have no reason to disbelieve that the Obama Administsration is trying to work as a partner and not an adversary.  I think, though, that’s setting the bar a wee bit low.  But that could just be me.  Well hell, who cares, this is my Op-Ed so of COURSE it’s just my opinion!  Jaysus.

Sunday Op-Ed: National Indecision


So I’m watching the health care “debate” in this country with my eyes half-screwed shut because some of the foolishness is downright painful to witness — aside from the real pain of knowing too many folks aren’t getting the medicine and medical treatment they need.

Hard to make a decision when politics exists nowadays simply to muddy the waters.  And while the circus goes on in the foreground, so does the power game in the back room.

President Obama has chosen to use his power cautiously in this “debate,” so that will limit the choices we will make when it comes to health care.  There are endless arguments of what could and couldn’t be on the table as far as single-payer and the watered down version of the public option (which gets more watered down every day), and those arguments try so hard to be definitive, as though there are no alternatives to what Obama has chosen to do (if you are an Obama supporter) or that Obama is simply a corporate tool (if you are among those who have had it with half-measures).

The past eight years in particular have seen each and every one of our political institutions debased and sold to the highest bidder.  And because we are not shining a bright light on the crimes of the Bush/Cheney misAdministration, we are seeing the effects of that in each and every political decision voted upon by Congress and signed into law (with or without signing statements) by the Executive Branch.

As far as health care is concerned, my view is that if there is anything at all that Obama can sign into law, he should.  I don’t think for one moment that we’ll get a real public option — but we’ll get our foot in the door when it comes to incremental change — and although I am NOT in favor of incremental change, that is the only thing that’s being offered from our government.

So I don’t look towards Obama or our government for my deliverance, big surprise.

I look towards myself and my fellow citizens of like mind.  In that, I have a great deal of faith.  The word “incremental” doesn’t even figure into our work, nor should it.

Sunday Op-Ed


I’ve been reading here and there about changing hearts and minds, about reaching out to those on the other side of the divide, communicating with our “allies” in the Democratic Party and on the liberal blogs.  The thought goes something like this, “You are not helping your cause by this tone, you’re only reaching those who already agree with you.”

There’s a big difference, I believe, between reaching out and caving in.

Particularly when it comes to the liberal blogs, I find it strange that folks act as though we are politicians who must compromise our values in order to effectively communicate for our causes.

I don’t have to worry about getting elected or re-elected.  I have no lobbyists threatening to cut off my funding.  I don’t have Rahm Emmanuel breathing down my neck and threatening me to take a particular political position or lose the support of the powers in the party.

I am an individual and a citizen of the United States with all the powers that affords me.  I not only have the right and the obligation to petition my government with my concerns but the freedom to state those concerns in the form of staunch advocacy and solidarity with those who I believe are suffering from injustice.

The only real communication that can take place between human beings is on the ground of equality.  As Activist Guy commented so eloquently in my essay When the debate is over:

Common ground can only be found

after ground has been taken and held.  Common ground can only be found between equals, and since one side in any issue is the side of hegemony, they start out holding all the ground.  Some of their ground must be taken and held, and shown to be beyond recapture, before hegemony will negotiate honestly as an equal.

Fire + Fire = More Fire

(Cross posted from DailyKos)

The Dhammapada teaches

Conquer the angry man by love.

Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.

Conquer the miser with generosity.

Conquer the liar with truth.

While most of us understand the logic of this approach in theory, it far too rarely spills over into practice.

The world is becoming an increasingly scary place. Torture and extraordinary rendition are being committed by the United States government, and through other governments’ forces as proxies. Mercenary armies such as the infamous Blackwater are on the rise and already operating within the United States, marking potentially the most horrifying trend in the commercialization of violence. Blackwater is even slated to begin involvement with the enforcement of prohibition, making the “War on Drugs” moniker seem increasingly ominous. Prohibition itself is a travesty of epic proportion that has lead to the incarceration of staggering numbers of non-violent citizens, caused suffering throughout the world, and halted virtually all progress in fascinating avenues of research that bear the promise of more effective medical treatments as well as breakthroughs in understanding of the brain. The U.S. Military now has a presence in nearly every country in the world, and there are countless cases of injustices committed by soldiers against innocent members of the local populations. Our healthcare system is in shambles leaving the demographic most in need of the wealth we possess struggling to afford a standard of care that should be guaranteed to all U.S. citizens. Don Siegelman, and so many others, have been wrongfully persecuted on an ideological basis while the crooks doing the persecution have thus far avoided being brought to justice. Despite refusing to serve a subpoena pertaining to the Siegelman case, Karl Rove remains a free man. George Bush has issued more signing statements than all prior presidents combined in mockery of American ideals of justice and balance of power. Pondering these things can be pretty overwhelming to say the least.

Its easy to get angry when contemplating the state of the world we live in. One could argue that anger plays an important, even necessary, role in the cycle of change. While I do believe that stoking the flames of our moral outrage plays a indispensable role in that it is a powerful impetus for beginning to work in earnest for change, we must all remember that anger is an emotion of limited utility valuable only when properly channeled and devastating when not. Anger can be one of the greatest enemies of reason. Actions born from even the most righteous sense of moral outrage so often have calamitous results. It is my argument that rather than acting out of anger, it is our duty as people of conscience to constantly strive to act compassionately. If we truly wish to change the world for the better, we must transmute our anger into compassion.

First let us consider that as bad as the state of the world appears, it has been worse. Overall violence is experiencing a sharp decline on a global scale. As much as we as a species are doing wrong, we’re clearly doing something right. During the early periods of human history when anarchism and tribalism were the primary forms of social organization, there were powerful evolutionary and cultural imperatives to establish restrictive categories of who is and is not deserving of compassionate and altruistic action. Establishing an “us vs them” mentality proved to be a highly effective survival strategy in the perilous and unforgiving natural world. However with the maturation of the goals of human society, what was once a vital tool for survival has become a blight on the flower of our civilization. Nevertheless evolution has equipped us with tools necessary to progress beyond our current limitations and bring into realization the ultimate goal of a society based on reason and compassion. Contemporaneous to the development of our tendency to divide the world into “us vs them” was the development of our immense potential for compassion to those we consider to be within our group. Thus I feel the solution is ultimately fairly simple: we must all work towards recognition of the inherent unity of the human family. This is of course far more simple in theory than in practice, but as reflected by trends in the decline of violence, this process of boundary dissolution has already begun.

Now the question becomes, how do we consciously expand our circle of compassion, and perhaps, more importantly, how do we encourage others to do so as well? Fortunately encouraging others to expand their circle of compassion may be as simple as nurturing our own compassion. In Tibet the Buddha’s teachings are traditionally called the lions roar, for just as the lions roar awakens the other animals of the jungle, spreading and, more importantly, practicing teachings of compassion and mindfulness gradually awaken the closed hearts of beings throughout the world. The most fundamental step in cultivating compassion is to simply learn to smile more. Religious traditions from the Christians, to the Buddhists, to the Taoists, to the Hindus have long known that simply smiling more throughout the day leads to a more joyous experience of living and more pleasant interactions with other people. In fact medical science has recently caught up and discovered that even the physical act of smiling improves mood. We can take this basic knowledge and extrapolate it further to expand our practice of compassion. Be more polite to people you encounter throughout the day, don’t take the services of other people for granted because they are profiting from providing them, be more willing to offer your time and energy to others, and so forth. Once the habit of practicing these small deeds of recognition of the inherent value of other people has been ingrained in your daily life, I am confident you will be amazed by the sense of mental peace and clarity that develops as a result. The hardest and most important habit to cultivate is embracing those with ideas that you find offensive. We must recognize that humans have an extraordinary capacity for unconditional love, even if it is deeply buried under a haze of ignorance and conditioning. It is far more productive to forgive people for their ignorance and try to transfer your understanding to them in a non-hostile way than to take offense and respond in anger, further expanding the rift of misunderstanding. As a final suggestion for the practice of cultivating compassion, even a few minutes a day of loving-kindness meditation in a quiet place with minimal distraction can provide immeasurable benefits.

In closing, fighting fire with fire is a futile gesture. If we wish to ensure that the culture of violence that has plagued humanity since time immemorial does not regain its foothold, we must practice small acts of compassion in our daily life, spread our wisdom through conversation and blogging, and participate in peaceful activism. As compassionate ideals begin to take root, the fear that has so long been exploited by those with greed for power will begin to wither and die, and we can finally achieve the desired fruit of our fore fathers and leave a peaceful world full of opportunity for posterity.

God loves you and, btw, sex is filthy…

Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.

Butch Hancock

The way I see it, the crises we face in this country and the world are symptoms of a power structure gone wrong. Way wrong.

We, the citizens, need to reconfigure the power structure. In order to do that, we need to understand how the invasion of theocrats, outsourcing of essential governmental functions, mega media ownership concentrated in the hands of corporatists, and global corporate domination/trade agreements have shaped the world right now: the war in Iraq, health care, education, taxes, war, poisonous industrial processes, environment and climate change, energy, et al. While all these issues are, on their own, daunting and urgent, none of these issues will be resolved without repairing our governmental infrastructure. Period. The story tonight is about the theocrats’ impact on our deteriorating social structures.

Divine Transmissions

PhotobucketWhat is most disturbing… about the Bush administration, is not merely its devout corporatism, but the way in which it uses religion in the service of the corporatist agenda.

It does so in a way that explicitly identifies the Bush agenda with God’s, and suggests that Bush’s every step is divinely inspired. Bush asks his followers to stick with him as an act of faith — he’s a good man with good advisors and he prays and he’s not Clinton, so he must be right.

It became apparent early on in George Bush’s presidency that he was facilitating the infiltration of our government by theocrats. Theocrats: evangelicals, but ramped up and with one looming objective: to legislate their version of control Christianity.

Theocrats are foot soldiers of the corporatists, a relationship that delivers a one-two punch. Social control satiates theocrats, while corporatists run everything else. And they all want it run brutally. Until the only thing left for us is the desperate hope that God will save us in the next life… as long as we subscribe to certain behaviors in this one. What a fucking set up.

Among the Ruins of American Democracy

I think I will say this as often as is possible.

Our government is broken. We will not be able to deal with issues, from Iraq to health care or from ecological to economic collapse, until we (all of us) restore Constitutional order, balance of power and, most importantly, accountability and consequences in Washington.


I hold these truths to be socially and politically evident…

it’s not weakness; the Dems are ashamed

It hit me out of the blue. The Democrats in Congress aren’t afraid of looking weak as the majority. They are ashamed for having been weak in the minority. Investigating BushCo and shining the light of day on this most corrupt of administrations exposes a Democratic minority without principles or courage. They are ashamed because their lack of action is one of the major factors in the world being as it is today.