Archive for the 'rants and ramblings' Category

March, Organize, Resist

February 5, 2017

It’s hard to believe that we are only 16 days into the presidency of a ‘person’ who lost the popular election by roughly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College because of 77,000 votes. I use the term ‘person’ loosely, because the so called president is really an animated caricature of an actual human being. And I refer to him as the ‘so called president’ because if you account for all of the voter suppression tactics employed against us, then the so called president most likely wouldn’t have won the Electoral College either.

So here we are in what can be called a coup. Our democratic processes have been hijacked, our election stolen, and every single part of our government and all of its institutions are under siege. Forces beyond our shores have crippled our national dialogue through deceit and manipulation, and internal conspirators have fed into, and used for their own nefarious purposes, our distrust, our ambivalence, and our disorganization, to achieve the goal of rendering us voiceless and powerless.

We are a divided nation, a conquered people. For decades many, if not most, of us have bitched and moaned about bureaucracy, have complained endlessly about the tone deafness of D.C., and have watched with disdain as our tax dollars were pissed down the drain by a greedy and power hungry cabal of empty suits who always promise the moon but rarely deliver more than a few rotten crumbs for the huddled masses to fight over.

We have always known that there were people among us who wished to do this nation harm. But instead of focusing on the few who would rule us, we have often fallen into the trap that it is our neighbor who is to be feared. That the person who looks, speaks or worships differently than us must somehow be trying to take something from us. The tactics of fear and paranoia keep us at war with each other. Meanwhile the 1% steal our rights and plunder our national treasures.

Though most of us may have hated the way Washington works, few if any ever gave up on the notion of representative democracy. We never called for the complete destruction of the institutions that make up our government. What many of us have always called for is recognition and reform. We have fought for the recognition of all people, regardless of race, class, creed, or gender, as equal partners in, and equal members of, this self governing experiment. And we have striven to reform the system to make it better represent and serve everyone, not just a chosen few.

What is happening now did not materialize over night. It has been a long game, a campaign by the most craven and zealous fought both in the open and behind the scenes. While most of us are worried about paying the bills, the elitists concern themselves with their own enrichment at our expense. While we vote in each election with the hope that our representatives will use their time in public service to make life better, fairer, for everyone, an army of lobbyists representing the moneyed interests seeks to undermine democracy and shift the profits of our labors into the pockets of their masters.

I wish I could provide a sense of hope in these troubled times, say that our marches, our letters, our phone calls will save us. And maybe they will. If we find focus, if we become organized, if we stay engaged and don’t give into fatigue and despair, then we might just have a chance in hell of resisting the forces that have seized control of our government. The so called president, his minions, and the power brokers will not tire of the fight, so neither must we.

The history of the last century has shown us the dangers of fascism, of totalitarianism. It has laid bare the dangers we all now face. Unfortunately that history also shows us how easily people can be convinced to give into the worst of human nature. How in our longing for something better, something or someone to save us, we become willing participants in our own enslavement.

The question is, will we as a people unite in our own defense? Will we find common cause, realize that we are all in this together? That our greatest strength is unity? That regardless of whether you live in a small town in the mid-west or a coastal city, your rights, your dreams, your future are in peril? We breathe the same air, drink the same water, depend on the same structures and have the same fundamental yearning to live a full and meaningful life.

My goal over the coming days, weeks and months is to find that common cause, and to figure out how to voice it in such a way that I find unity with my fellow citizens. Screaming at each other is what got us here. Perhaps it’s time to listen to each other. To learn to speak with each other, not at each other. Because otherwise we all loose. Maybe I am being idealistic, but I do believe that the majority of people are decent, and that ours is a shared struggle. I refuse to be dragged into nihilism, to give up on my brothers and sisters.

Whatever you do today, be kind to those around you. If they call you names, don’t call them names back. If they push you, don’t push back. Lead by example. Show everyone around you that decency and compassion are greater that hate and fear. Most of all, refuse to accept the notion that all is lost. This is my biggest challenge for sure. We are still here, every one of us. Our government may be currently infested with a tyrannical disease, but that doesn’t mean we have to give ourselves over to its sickness. Continue to speak truth to power. Your voice is your weapon. Focus its strike at the true enemy, not those around you acting out of their own sense of loss and desperation.

March, organize and resist.

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So That Happened

November 17, 2016

I have been trying to put to words my thoughts and feelings on the election. For now this video will have to do:

Aftermath November 2016 from Steve Cohen on Vimeo.

A Trashed World – The Human Legacy

June 23, 2015

Our world is warming up. Most likely because of human activity. And yet there exists a rather large segment of our population that gets foaming at the mouth mad when this is brought up. We can’t seem to have a conversation because we get stuck on one point: man-made global warming. Which to me seems like a distraction from the real discussion.

Let’s try and look at this from a couple of angles. First off, let’s say that our atmosphere is warming up, but that it is not because of anything humans are doing. OK, we are not at fault. But we still have an issue. Our world is still getting warmer, and this creates a very real problem for us. At some point it gets too hot and we are pretty much screwed. So we really should be talking about what to do about this. We have a lot of mouths to feed, and if we don’t come up with some ideas fast, a lot of people (possibly all of us) are going to die a horrible death.

Second angle. Our world is warming up and it’s because of our activities. Which means we, at least in theory, have the power to change this. I say in theory because we would have to exercise some self control in order to accomplish this. Which we humans are not known for. If we don’t a lot of people (possibly all of us) are going to die a horrible death.

If our world is not in fact warming up, then there is no issue and proceed as normal. Right? Well no. You would have to be pretty willfully blind to not notice the pollution that surrounds us. Our air is filthy, our rivers and lakes are filthy, and our oceans are strewn with trash. Species are dying off at an alarming rate. Regardless of whether or not our atmosphere is warming up, we still have what I’ll refer to as a trash issue. Sure, we may not die from the effects of a warming planet, but we could still poison ourselves. Which could lead to a lot of people (possibly all of us) dying a horrible death.

Which leads me to the point of this post. Regardless of whether or not you ‘believe’ in global warming, you have to be pretty fucking willfully ignorant and blind to not notice how we are trashing our environment. And it just so happens that the solutions to our trash issue are the same as the ones for stopping man-made global warming. So if we are causing the atmosphere to warm up, then we can change our ways and stop this. Which would also lead to a reduction in the trashing of our world. And if we are not causing the warming, we still benefit from a cleaner world.

Unfortunately, if the world we live in is in fact warming up due to some natural cycle, then we need to figure out how to survive this. But since we seem unable to have any real conversation on this, if it is happening we are pretty much fucked. Now, I know the more cynical of you out there are thinking, “Well, if we’re fucked anyways, let’s just party till the end!” And that is an option I suppose, if you don’t give two shits about the survival of our species. Which is a common attitude, given the amount of support that exists for endless wars. Many of us seem to have no problem with killing one another. Getting rid of all of us is the next logical step.

So we as a species are left with a couple of choices. Do we act now to clean up our world and benefit from the effort even if man-made global warming does not exist? Or do we keep on going down this path to a poisoned world and see what wipes us out first, ourselves or nature?

Since I too am a cynical bastard, I am guessing that we choose the second option. Because nothing is more human than fucking up a perfectly good thing.

Updated – Just Another Riot in America

April 27, 2015

Oh Wolf Blitzer. It’s not amazing that this riot is happening in a major US city. It is amazing that riots like this aren’t happening in every major city as a response to the systematic racism, police brutality, imprisonment and overall disrespect and contempt hurled at minorities in this country. Do I condone this behavior? Fuck me. Who cares what this white man thinks. Who fucking cares what you think Wolf. Condemn away.

And this bullshit about “This isn’t how you bring about change.” Well then how? It’s not like things haven’t been screwed up since the inception of this country. And continue to be. And will continue to be, because the powers that be don’t want things to change. They just don’t fucking care as long as white privilege is maintained.

When Republicans say they want their country back, they mean they want an America that is pre-Civil Rights. They want a country where women, blacks, all others, know ‘their place’. Where a white man doesn’t have to compete against ‘others’ in the workplace. Where they can be sexists, homophobics, bigots and no one will dare challenge them on it.

I mean my god we elected a black man President and the Right has done nothing but try to delegitimize him ever since. Question his status as a citizen. Check. Claim he’s a Muslim. Check. Claim he’s a fascist. Check. Attack his mother. Check. Bring the country to a halt. Check. Circumvent the office of the President in international treaty negotiations. Check. Throw out every damn fridge ass conspiracy theory someone can pull out of their ass no matter how racist or insane. Check.

Never mind that people are hunting other people at the border. Or that the War on Drugs has ravaged the black community. Or that states are bringing segregation back in schools. Or that women still don’t have control over their own bodies. Or that the gay community is still fighting for basic civil rights. Or that our democratic process has been given away to the rich on a silver platter. Nope. Let’s believe that things will change if all the ‘others’ would just sit down and talk.

People have been talking for over two centuries. And things are still fucked up. Black men are still being gunned down. Women are still second class citizens. Gays are still vilified as child molesters. Immigrants are still blamed for all our ails. Maybe if things actually changed riots like this wouldn’t happen. But judging by the rise in militias, by the words spoken by Republican Presidential candidates, by the rise of the Tea Party in American politics, the Right just doesn’t give a fuck. They want their country back and to hell with everyone and anyone who they don’t deem ‘real Americans’.

This riot is a blemish Wolf? You want to know what’s a blemish? The fact that so many Americans not only seem completely ignorant of our shared history, but that they are proud of that ignorance. They wear it like a badge of honor. That is what a fucking blemish looks like.

But please Wolf, go back to the fainting couch and continue acting so shocked by this kind of thing. Yep, there probably are a bunch of provocateurs involved here. But why? What event or events occurred that gave them this opportunity? Why do these riots happen? Ask yourself that. Then look in the mirror.

Update 1: Apparently the Baltimore Orioles’ VP and COO gets it:

That said, my greater source of personal concern, outrage and sympathy beyond this particular case is focused neither upon one night’s property damage nor upon the acts, but is focused rather upon the past four-decade period during which an American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.

The innocent working families of all backgrounds whose lives and dreams have been cut short by excessive violence, surveillance, and other abuses of the Bill of Rights by government pay the true price, and ultimate price, and one that far exceeds the importances of any kids’ game played tonight, or ever, at Camden Yards. We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the U.S., and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don’t have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights, and this makes inconvenience at a ballgame irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.

Update 2 – Steven D over at Progress Pond lays out a hell of an argument for how a militarized police force creates riots.

The American Taliban Strikes in Las Vegas – Updated

June 9, 2014

Updates below.

No doubt the shooters in Las Vegas will be dismissed as lone wolves, as nothing more than aberrations. Because admitting they are in fact years of right-wing hatred and fear-mongering made manifest could lead one to realize that maybe, just maybe, we have a real and serious problem in this country. That just possibly the ‘Liberty’ and ‘Freedom’ fuck-fest that has enriched a few might actually have real-world consequences. Like, for instance, two police officers being gunned down in cold blood.

No, these two asshats are the end product of an entire industry that prays on the worst of humanity. Within their twisted ideological rants are contained everything that has spewed forth from hate radio, from Faux News, from World Nut Daily, from countless would -be politicians, talking heads, ideologues, grifters and bottom feeding conspiracy peddlers. Their call for ‘revolution’ is the same as heard daily from any number of sources. They hoped to get a response that would be brutal, that would fill television screens across this nation with an overly aggressive governmental response in order to finally stir the blood of their ilk to a boil and bring about their blood bath wet dream.

This is what is hoped for at the Bundy Ranch and OAS. This is what is trained for by countless militias. And this is what is prayed for by those that hope to come out on top in the Mad Max version of reality these people have in their fucked up heads. This is the American Taliban, fundamentalists who would destroy everything to impose their dangerous and down right disastrous beliefs and views on the rest of us. They see themselves as martyrs, no different than suicide bombers who give their lives for the cause. They are the true believers, warriors who sacrifice themselves and anyone else who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because we are all expendable, even condemnable, if we are not as self-righteous as they.

What result do they ultimately seek? What is the end game of their call for revolution? Who the hell knows. They didn’t. None of them ever do. Because to see that their so-called war against pretty much everything would inevitably lead to a ravaged society, where the most opportunistic seize control, would be to understand the history of these types of movements, and the dangers. Facts are anti-thesis to these people, reality but an inconvenience to be swept under the rug once they have burned all the history books.

But, as is usually the case, they will be forgotten soon enough by the media and the public. Because tomorrow there will be another crazed shooter, another lone wolf. And another. And another. They will always be held at arms reach by those that fed them the hatred that drove them, at least until there is enough of them acting together to finally fill the streets with blood, to cleanse society of the unwanted, the unworthy. Meanwhile gun sales will go up, more will prepare for the inevitable war, while the parrots on the Right continue to dish out dose after dose of poisoned Kool-Aid.

Update – It seems I am not the only one who gets this.

Update 2 – This article about the driving factors behind mass shooting seems pretty relevant to these two fuckers.

On ‘White Privilege’

May 21, 2014

Here is my reply to this post stating that we should stop using the term ‘white privilege’:

I think I get what the diarist is trying to convey, though I disagree. I can understand why whites, especially white males, get defensive when confronted with the term ‘white privilege’. I used to as well. After all, I came from a pretty piss poor background and had to work my butt off to get what I have. So I never felt ‘privileged’.

As I have grown older and had time to really reflect on my early years, several things have occurred to me. The big one being that I was privileged, I just didn’t recognize it at the time. I ran around with a pretty rough crowd, which led to numerous confrontations with the police. And magically we never got arrested. That magical part comes from my being white. There are times I can look back and see where a person of color would not have been let go. Hell, they would more likely than not have had to fear for their life.

The times I was followed in stores were times I should have been. We were generally up to no good and didn’t do a very good job of hiding the fact. The store employees weren’t being assholes. They were doing their job, trying to stop us from stealing.

I did get in a couple of fights where I was attacked for being white. As I see it now the guys who started them where targeting me for my race, but not as acts of racism. They were pissed off black youths, often living in impossible situations, who were lashing out against the people who they saw as oppressing them, white people, and I was a target of convenience. Hell yes they knew full well they were getting the short end of the stick and had little if any recourse. So getting a few licks in on a white kid gave them some kind of outlet. I don’t agree with their methods, but I can fully understand their frustration. I watched time again as black kids were kicked out of school or arrested for offenses that myself and other white kids were given detention for, if punished at all.

We always said that rich kids go to rehab, poor kids go to jail. I think it’s equally true to say white kids have a better chance of getting into rehab instead of jail, with the opposite being true for black kids.

Sometimes we have to look deeper to see the privilege. Sometimes it’s glaringly obvious. Sometimes it’s subtle. But I think most times we don’t see it at all because we are not looking for it. It’s not something white people necessarily experience in their minds as a ‘positive’. I don’t get free money from the bank (as Eddie Murphy comically assumed in a skit once). But I may very well get a loan that a person of color may not. Sure I still owe the money, but at least I got it in the first place.

But for someone on the other end of the spectrum ‘privilege’ is a direct negative on their life. I can’t ever recall not being able to get a cab. No one ever follows me around stores anymore. No one sees me as threatening when I walk down the road. Cops are generally nice to me, and I often get warnings for speeding over a ticket. If I wasn’t aware that this is not the normal experience for people of color I could claim that I am not privileged. But the opposite is true.

By not being white the person is subject to a plethora of negative experiences and treatment I am not, for no other reason than skin color. I am not aware of this on a daily basis as these experiences do not happen to me. But that does not mean they don’t happen. And I can choose to ignore the existence of this bias because of my skin color. That my friend is the privilege of being white.

There are some really great replies in the original diary. Read the thread if you have the time.

Thoughts on the OAS

May 16, 2014

Um, what? Read this article and see if you can figure out what exactly these people want to achieve. My biggest problem with this and similar movements is the conflicting, manic, and utterly incoherent nature of their stated grievances. They throw around words like tyranny, freedom, liberty, revolution and the like as if it’s a contest to see who can use them the most per paragraph. Yet they never seem to have a real answer for what would happen the day after if their little fits of rage actually achieved their purported goals.

They all seem convinced that America was paradise right up until President Obama got elected. That somehow everything suddenly went to shit in 2009. I’m not in any way saying there are no problems in this country. There are real issues that need addressed, both here and globally if humanity is to continue to survive, not just thrive. However, what these folks seem to be selling has more to do with listening to too much hate radio than actual facts.

What do they really want? What does their dream America actually look like? I am guessing the 1950’s is as best a vision as we can find. Back when women and minorities knew their place, the MIC was never questioned in their drive to kill us all, this country was laser focused on destroying communism to the point that things like human rights and democracy abroad meant nothing. A fever dream of American might, of industrial strength and fanatical patriotism.

The echo chamber they live in pumps them up more and more each day. And this I fear will eventually lead to real trouble. We worry about lone wolves, but at some point, especially if a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, this will boil over into more. One of these days a group of these angry white guys will actually try and follow through with their threats.

I am going to guess that these same folks all voted for the very politicians that have sold the heart of this nation to Wall Street time and again. That they cheer when taxes are cut but then bemoan the crumbling of the very institutions those taxes support. And no doubt their versions of freedom and liberty will do nothing to further the causes of civil rights, environmental stewardship or universal peace.

No, they are our version of the Taliban. Fundamentalists clinging to an ideal that never really existed, willing to take up arms and force their own view of paradise on the rest of us, with no regard to the hell they would in fact create. Revolutionaries who would in the end create another failed state, one where real tyranny would rein supreme. History books are filled with them.

The Difference

May 12, 2014

I normally don’t care about sports related news, but I have to take issue with this article discussing Don Jones’ reprimand by the Miami Dolphins concerning his comments about Michael Sam.

“Expect plenty more of this, along with plenty of talk that Sam is “courageous” for being open about his homosexuality. I suppose you have to say he has some guts for not hiding what he does, but that goes only so far. How much courage does it really take to do your thing when the forces of cultural correctness are ready to enforce cultural correctness – including fines, suspensions and sensitivity training – against anyone who has a negative reaction to you?”

First off, it’s not ‘what he does’, it’s who he is. Michael Sam is a man who is attracted to other men. To say ‘what he does’ is to still make homosexuality about a choice. Which it is not. Michael is gay. To state otherwise is no different than saying he chooses to be a black man.

Second, there is this:

“But it is different. For one thing, many of us (and I am one) refuse to ignore 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 or Romans 1:27. The one is not just as good as the other because God’s Word says it isn’t. If you have a problem with that point of view, take it up with God. Don’t talk to me.”

OK, let’s play this game. God made Michael a gay man. So if you are so damn bothered by the existence of gay people, how about YOU take that up with your God.

“And they dare us to say that it is different, and attack us as backwards Neanderthals if we do.”

Because this is no different than attacking someone for their race. We as a society have woken up to the reality that racism is bad, that hating people for who they are is wrong. That’s why Don Sterling is banned from the NBA.

“And because this comes from God, so too does the natural inclination of the human being to look at two men kissing and say, “Ewwww!” Many people don’t want to see it. That’s why we chose not to show the kiss in the photo above. I can’t rail against the media for shoving that image in our faces and then shove it in your face.”

Wrong. Your reaction is a cultural construct. Period. As for the media I will have to admit that they will get as much mileage out of that image as they can. That said, does the author of this article also bitch every time someone mentions that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in MLB? I doubt it. At least not publicly.

And finally:

“I’ll leave you with this question: How come they can show pictures of two dudes kissing, and we’re not allowed to have any negative reaction whatsoever . . . but when we show pictures of aborted fetusus, they go ballistic? Hmm?”

Because this is done by people hell bent on interfering with the rights of over half the world’s population. It is done as part of a campaign to subjugate women camouflaged with religion, which is the same argument being made here.

‘My version of God as I interpret the Bible says these things are wrong.’ That my friend is a choice you are making. And that is the difference.

A thought for today…

November 25, 2013

I posted this on the Old Faceplace earlier:

“Remember all those times liberals called for Shrub to be shot and killed? Yeah, me neither. But we are exactly like the fringe right supposedly. Sure we wanted him to face the music for his illegal and unjust wars, torture regime and fleecing of the American people (and still do). I am just having a hard time remembering when we said it was totally acceptable, and desirable, to march on D.C., arrest, try and execute the president.

Yes, we also thought, like the right does with Obama, that Shrub was an illegitimate president. What happened in Florida in 2000 was a fucking travesty. And yes we formed grassroots organizations, held protests and attempted to put people in office that shared our views. We also ran into the reality that the establishment only liked us when we got people to vote their party into power. But to me that is where the comparison ends.

But time again I hear that the left and the right are the same. I guess people calling for peace and security, for basic fairness and equality, for universal unity, and for environmental sanity are exactly like the fringe right with their racism, xenophobia, misogyny, cruelty and utter disregard for anyone or anything that doesn’t fit into their American exceptionalist world view.

The sad thing to me is that there are so many issues that really do affect everyone, from the degradation of our environment to our crumbling infrastructure, from our economic servitude to corporations to the alarming amount of money being spent keeping the revolving door between those corporations and Congress greased. We are a people who are slowly and steadily getting less educated while being forced to compete for stagnant, even dwindling, wages as our world dies around us.

I would think that we could all come together and demand things change. But that won’t happen because there are those amongst us that see hate and discrimination as good things, who see violence against the ‘other’ as acceptable and desirable, who see the world as a thing to be profited from and not an ecosystem that we are part of and dependent upon.

We, the people of not just this nation but the world, are in this together. We need each other more than ever. Personally I don’t feel violence is ever the answer. Education, civic, economic and environmental responsibility, equality – these are the things I find most important. Threatening to kill those with whom you disagree with, not so much.”

Then I found this on a conservative friend’s wall. In a sense they are companion pieces. I do not address everything in the conservative’s blog entry with my above post, but I do believe I have addressed much of it in previous posts. Perhaps, time allowing, I will bring the two together.

Thougths On The Shutdown II

October 2, 2013

Maybe we should give the far right what it wants. Let’s sell off all federal land. Let’s get rid of all taxes. Let’s get rid of all regulations. Let’s make this a fundamentalist Taliban, I mean Christian, nation. No right for women, for workers, for minorities. Let’s make voting a privilege reserved only for the rich that vote the ‘rightway’.

Let’s wage wars for profit, because we will have to pay for that military somehow. Let’s all sit in our personal bunkers with our arsenals, at least those of us that can afford guns.

Maybe break the country up into tribal regions, where strongmen rule with iron fists. Hell, let’s re-institute slavery.

Because if you really listen to the far right that is what they seem to be pushing us towards.