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Monday, July 23, 2012

STEP UP, ORDINARY NRA MEMBERS!

For the past 48 hours, I have been smoldering with anger. Yesterday, I was in church rendering up that anger to God. Today, it might be less voluble but it smoldereth yet; I believe God has refined that anger and returned it to me.
This morning, I read that huge preponderances of both rank-and-file NRA members and non-NRA firearm owners favor sensible gun-control legislation including information-sharing between federal authorities and local police, the keeping of lists of those forbidden to own firearms and also the closing of the gun-show loophole. In short, most of the members of our 'national militia' favor proper regulation as the authors of the 2nd Amendment presupposed there would be. Huge majorities favor laws to at least curtail, if not end altogether, the ease with which psychos and other criminals and/or nutcases (psychos are often both) and maybe even the vile-tempered paranoiacs I call smackwaters (thank you, Carole King) can all buy guns and ammunition.
If it is not a sin crying out for at least justice (if not vengeance) that James Holmes was able to buy a military-grade semiautomatic weapon and six thousand rounds of ammunition on the Internet--I don't know what is! I call upon the decent people who are the NRA's rank and file to take back their organization from those who now control it and wield it as a club in Washington. Namely, the mercenary liar Wayne LaPierre with a pumping apparatus (I don't believe whatever pumps his blood can be called a heart!!) probably given away by his name, which means 'stone' in French, his minions and, most importantly, his masters! And who are his masters? The arms manufacturers, who now show themselves to be merchants of death indeed on a scale which would turn Sir Basil Zaharoff green with envy! And by telling outright lies and (at best) half-truths they have cowed nearly every local, state and national representative from even discussing sensible control measures by the constant shout of 'NO regulation, nowhere, nohow!' LaPierre is succeeding with firearms in doing what Taney might have liked to do with slaves: annulling nearly all state and local gun-control laws!!
I plead with the NRA rank and file and other non-affiliated gun owners to show how guiltless of the innocent blood shed in Aurora (and other mass shootings) they are by deposing LaPierre, drawing whatever clear lines are necessary to keep the arms manufacturers from ever owning your organization again and supporting sensible regulations to keep arms in the hands of sober,solid and coolheaded citizens and at least making it harder for smackwaters and worse to get hold of them!
Wayne LaPierre, your hands are caked with innocent blood and the pockets of your masters are stuffed with BLOOD MONEY!! And when you and they stand before the Judgment Seat the blood on that money will be on YOU and I can imagine part of your 'reward' may be to clean the blood off the Judgment Hall's floor and never be able to finish it! Mull that over, O ye bloody-minded and hatefully greedy bipeds, and repent while you still can!!! Maybe you should begin by helping ordinary NRA members to take back their organization. Then we can rationally discuss ways to regulate our 'national militia'!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SERVITUDE AIN'T TRANQUILITY

"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude as opposed to the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
Sam Adams said that in early 1776, probably to a group of Tories and maybe highly placed ones, though I don't know for sure and anyone who does is most welcome to say as much. I think it highly relevant to our situation today, although not necessarily in ways one might think.
First, let me suggest that the Wall Street Wild, Wild West, where crooked riverboat gamblers now pretty much run the whole show, is not what cousin Sam had in mind by 'the animating contest of freedom'. No, I think he meant the stress that comes with not following a crowd and making one's own decisions as opposed to just following with blind obedience. If there's no choice to make, that can remove some stress. I think it highly unlikely that a man whose dream for America was to have it a 'Christian Sparta' could be in favor of such gross Belshazzarian excess. Let me hasten to add that such a dream is not shared by me; even Sam's cousin John was cool to such an idea. John agreed that we neither were, are nor should be 'Spartans in contempt for wealth'. I agree with John that wealth is a useful spur for honest work and creative talent; I happen to feel we're in trouble when it's treated as the only legitimate reason for industry and I'll venture cousin John would agree. The Founders' feelings on 'luxury' were very mixed indeed, with good reason.
Second and most importantly, cousin Sam was only partly right in characterizing servitude as tranquility. To the millions of us now working for a pittance we need to stretch like bubble gum toward the end of each pay period and having to stretch less further all the time, well, that's not tranquility but it sure feels a lot like servitude. When so many of us have only just enough (and not always that, not by half!) to keep ourselves and our families barely fed, clothed and sheltered and there's nowhere else to go because the economy is still so anemic, isn't this servitude?
And our masters in their unslakeable greed have made our servitude progressively more stressful. As the late great Senator Kennedy asked on the Senate floor, when does the greed end? The answer may prove to be, when the greediest do the airdance before a large crowd. Let us hope that justice needn't be as severe as that, although I don't bar the possibility of it. And those who need to stretch their little ever further know how stressful their lives are and how the stress continues to grow. No, indeed, servitude ain't tranquility.
Finally, I must disagree with cousin Sam about the last thing he said. No, let's not forget that such were our countrymen; indeed, I say we forget that at our peril. As one Founder (I forget which) said, we have no inherent virtue in ourselves rendering us immune from temptations--including those which soften our spines and drain, slowly or quickly, our will to resist those who now, indeed, bid fair to take everything from us as they seek a back door through which they may well attempt such evils as reintroducing outright slavery. And this is not from government but from the buying up of what should be our government by men already superrich and seeking ever more, more, more. It may be necessary to crush them completely, although I hope simply clipping their wings will do this, in order to restore domestic tranquility--and freedom-- for most of us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

AMERICA v. AMERIKKKA

"I can say without equivocation that the president hates this country."
So said the pill-popping, obese descendant of Missouri slavecatchers with a veritable passion for their jobs. I have to ask myself, just how deliberate is that lie? I have something to tell you: Limbaugh and his minions and imitators are not American. Yes, you read that right. Whether or not they know how American they aren't is a debatable matter, but they're definitely not American regardless of whether or not they know it!
No, what they are can be called one of two things: either resurgent Confederates or Slaveocrats OR Amerikkkans. Amerikkka and Amerikkkans are, by definition, anti-American!! They detest everything that makes America what it is: equality of opportunity backed up by strong laws and an infrastructure (including an educational system) kept in good repair by fair taxation and open to all, liberal welcome for the stranger who seeks a new life here, and a relatively rigorous separation of religion from the state from which follows the integrity and vitality of the sciences which leads to an abundance of scientific creativity and discovery. Indeed, I think is safe to say they want to stifle nearly all that is open about our country as they seek to privatize the commons as much as they dare. There's an old English poem that shows what they are:
The law locks up both man and woman
That steals the goose from off the common
But lets the greater felon loose
That steals the common from the goose.
The only thing they want to open is the freedom to deceive, humbug, pollute and bully the naive, the not-too-bright and the humble so that the con artists, polluters and bullies become unimaginably, and indeed unrighteously, wealthy. They seek to rebuild and expand a planterocracy as it was in the antebellum South, with no public education, technological stagnation, close collusion between churches and the state and the newcomers and people of color returned to slavery while the 'whites' of modest means are again humbugged into believing that they're also 'planters', equal to the rich in all things but wealth. Yeah, right. It is with deep feeling I beg my 'white' brethren, especially in the South, not to fall for this jive again!! Last time you fell for it, you took up arms and died for a system not only unrighteous, but which actually kept you down along with the slave. Were there schools where you could learn to read, write, think and cipher? You know there weren't. The planters deliberately priced education out of your reach so you wouldn't figure out what was really going on!! And because you were marginally higher than the slave, you believed the hokum the planters fed you!!
'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.' Well, what'll it be this time? Will you have the courage to treat those who are different as equals and fight against our common enemy (the greedy planters) this time? Or will you fall again for the planters' lying racist narcotics? This election is America v. Amerikkka. That means all of us working together helping each other v. everyone trying to rob each other, or trying to rob a large number of us, by force, lies and/or legal stealth while most of us sink back into poverty, the commons become irredeemably polluted, and death by starvation makes a comeback--which many might not hear about because Faux News would never mention it!
This November--choose America. Tell Amerikkka to get lost and stay lost!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

WHAT KIND OF LIBERAL?


     Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a    Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You  believe in equality, fairness, and preventing  neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights  gains.
Take the quiz at
About.com Political Humor

Thursday, July 5, 2012

'BETTER THAN....???'

"If you ain't no better'n a n****r, who you gon be better than?" If I'm not mistaken, the father of Gene Hackman's character in Mississippi Burning asks him this--and feel free to say so if I am.
But to the point: "Who you gon be better than?" How much of our system and our psyches is built on at least trying to answer this question? Most of us already construe being 'better than him or her' in a deeply mistaken way; some of us try to use the question in hopes of avoiding the justice which we see coming our way. One of our major political parties is built almost completely on the desires of plutocrats and peckerwoods to continually show the rest of us how much 'better' and more deserving of life's benefits they are (even while most of them know otherwise in their hearts but will be drawn apart by wild horses before they admit it) than all of us.
Wanting to show oneself 'better than' isn't the original sin, but it's (literally) damn close. Original sin was wanting to be like God and know good and evil for ourselves long (?) before we were ready for it. However, the desire to be 'better than' appears in the story of Cain and Abel. Here are some things to know and remember about this story: Cain was a farmer, Abel a herdsman. Farmers and herdsmen have been in conflict probably since large-scale agriculture began. If herdsmen drive their animals through the farmers' fields of grain, expect the farmers to be pretty p.o.'ed about it. And the field--the place of contention between farmer and herdsman--is also where Cain kills Abel.
In addition to this, farming people have traditionally looked down on more pastoral people. This may be a subtext in early Sumerian stories such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, but I became aware of it by reading a historical article with quotes from medieval chronicles that bespeaks that attitude quite clearly--in this case, how the agrarian French, Normans and (some) English looked down on the more pastoral Welsh and Irish. Especially, they pulled no punches on how lazy pastoral peoples were when compared with their allegedly more industrious farming neighbors.
"In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Gen. 4:3-7, NIV)
Now there are some jackleg, and should-be jackleg, preachers who'll say Abel's sacrifice was accepted because it involved bloodshed, but I for one refuse to buy! However, I think it can be said that while Cain offered God a dividend, Abel gave over some of his working capital to God. Still, that's not even the main item yet. No, the main point here is (if farmers' attitudes towards herders is anything to go by) that Cain probably offered his fruits with thoughts such as, 'Here, Lord, are my firstfruits which the ground has produced through my hard work. See how much harder I've worked than that lazy dreaming brother of mine!' That is, whatever real gratitude he might have felt was shot through with and consumed by jealousy of, and desire to exalt himself above, his brother. If that ain't a wrong attitude with which to put offerings to God on the altar, I don't know what is! Abel's sacrifice was accepted because he offered it with real gratitude, and let us hope some joy as well.
And I suggest that wanting to 'prove' oneself (to borrow Tina's line) 'better than ALL the rest!' is NOT the same as wanting to do one's own best at whatever tasks are at hand. Nor is it the same as pushing oneself forward because of what one wants to do and, let's hope, share with as many others as possible. But if someone just wants to be king or queen--LOOK OUT!! My ignorance is NOT equal to your knowledge; likewise t'other way round! We are all blessedly different, but no individual is set above the rest, either politically or economically, by other than human hands either actively participating or silently agreeing. And the desire to be thought 'better than' is, well, maybe we can call it the 'original + 1 sin'?

Monday, July 2, 2012

STEP OUTSIDE!

"What is this capacity for self-delusion that we are not about to be sold into serfdom?"
I know I'm quoting not quite accurately but I think I've the sense right. Anyhow, so crieth out Chris Hedges this morn in Truthout. Let none here mistake me: I consider Truthout a valuable source of honest and true information and I agree with Mr. Hedges on quite a few points. I even agree in large part with Mike Papantonio about Hedges being something of a prophet for our times, even while I need to point out that Hedges and co-defendants recently won a great victory for freedom in the courts they also call 'completely rigged'. Not that they aren't skewed by race and class; we all know otherwise. But I'd also say their happy victory argues against total rigging. Chris, I can even understand you discouraging yourself from resting on your laurels, but if you ever do I'll squint at the sun to see if it's standing still. Take a few breaths at least and dance a bit while I take a stab at answering your questions, which I have also asked somewhat less hyperbolically.
I live in what is actually quite a pleasant middle-sized town. It's a university town, a county seat, something of a gastronomical mini-mecca and part of a large metropolitan area to boot. Yes, I read the news online from Alternet, AddictingInfo, Truthout and The Daily Beast. I watch news on Current and MSNBC. Still, even for what angers me, it can seem somewhat remote. But what do I see when I leave my house and tool around the town? Fellow citizens of every shade (I admit mostly 'white') going about their everyday business as we have all done throughout my adult life. Services are still present and quite functional, thanks ever so. Even the public transportation buses are still present (fewer than formerly, yes) and operating. Back in the spring repair even finished on a pair of bridges (over creeks, I admit) which had needed them! My point here is, at first glance and on the surface, things at or close to home still seem pretty OK to a lot of people.
However, I can think of one sign of an at-least slow economy still: vacated commercial spaces stay vacant quite a lot longer than they used to. It also takes a lot longer to sell or even rent houses than was the case before the crash. But unless one's own property is involved, noticing this probably requires stepping out from, or at least enlarging, the circle of one's own concerns. And one has to be willing to do that. And, perhaps, that's where an answer to these questions begins.
When our own concerns feel heavier and we're used to being able to and/or believing we should be able to deal with them ourselves, we may feel a greater sense of guilt, shame or other inadequacy but will we share such feelings? In this culture, mostly no. Maybe women, being so acculturated, will share them amongst themselves more but men mostly won't. I forget who said 'silence always serves the oppressor' but in this case it's only too true. All of us--every race and both sexes--need to break out of the sociocultural atomization we're all too used to and really speak with and listen to one another! It's not an easy thing to do; I can feel the difficulty of it within myself. I'm trained not to inflict my rantings on others who don't ask for them and 'ranting' is defined by the listener. But we all need to learn and/or remember, and inwardly digest, the necessity of breaking out from our individual circles of shame if we are to be a free people again as opposed to a malnourished (in more than one way)and disorganized lot of serfs!!
West of my town, my county has two other 'cities'. Both were once industrial towns. One (the one closer to us) has experienced a partial renaissance; the other hasn't. It is horribly easy for those of us who are still doing all right to forget those who aren't and to think of our fellow citizens living there as seldom as we think of the other side of the moon! But that's also another thing fast becoming a necessity for all of us: to ask, both inwardly and outwardly, how are the rest of us doing? And it's important to phrase it so as well: the rest of US!
Chris, one thing you're right about bigtime: the cost of comforting lies as opposed to hard-to-digest truths is now way too high. I thought it was too high in 1980, but as Stevie sings, it's only me-e. And now the cost of those security blankies is through the roof and I don't know about you, but I'd sooner swallow and digest the truths than compel our descendants to pay the heavy price tag for comforting lies. So let's tune out the TV and start some real conversations about the state of things, individual by individual, lunch-table by lunch-table. Pray for the necessary strength to step out of one's shame and to concern ourselves with our neighbors' welfare as well as our own. Once the 'honeycomb' of such conversations reaches a critical mass we will reclaim our government for ALL of us and either banish big money from politics or cut its role far down to a manageable level. Start now; time is short before climate change may be irreversible! And as you see, this does and will involve a number of issues.