Dec 31, 2004

Happy New Year! Who Cares?

It's been a few days since the disaster in Asia occurred. As I write this, close to 150,000 human beings have perished with more at risk from disease as a result of the incredible devastation. You may think this is an occasion where politics shouldn't play a role, yet they do; it's our elected president and his self-appointed moralist allies that are part of the problem, and definitely not part of the solution.
Bush sat in that school class, reading "My Pet Goat" for 7 minutes after being told that "America is under attack". It took him three days to come out of his ranch and pledge a pittance of $35 million to help the stricken people! We're spending some $5 billion every week in Iraq. This was an opportunity for the US to prove to the Muslim world that we care. Some wars are won without bullets or military muscle, but this ignoramus of a president doesn't grasp it. If the $200 billion spent in Iraq already were invested in the Third World, I can guarantee you that America would be a lot safer! That's moral leadership of which Bush is so fond talking about!
Some may say that not all human lives are equal. Besides, not all of them are Christians and/or vote in Florida. Thus, Bush spent $13 billion there last summer after the hurricane disaster. OK, you can't help all people, and perhaps you can start by helping those closest to you. But, can you be indifferent to the rest of human suffering? Should there be a scale of response according to the degree of the suffering?
How about "his base" of the ultra-moralists and religious conservatives? You know, the ones that gave him "a mandate"! Thank you for asking! Well, guess who's doing most of the caring, the fundraising, the contributing? It's the humanists (including the religious ones) all over the world, the secular governments of Europe and Canada, and private business. The well-funded and organized U.S. Christian fundamentalists seem to have a compassion deficit!
Omigod, you're going to have sex, or an abortion? No way! They (American Family Association, the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Coral Ridge Ministries) are quick to organize and fight against same-sex unions. What's a couple hundred thousand dead Asians? These same organizations are not soliciting aid for the victims of the tsunami. As a matter of fact, there is no mention of this catastrophe on their web sites!
I was not fooled by the slogan "compassionate conservatism" because I knew most of the people using it (along with others who wear their religion on their sleeves) are just looking for a moral excuse not to care and not to act! Pick and choose in the convenience store of religious fundamentalism. Happy New Year!
[I'm not against happiness. On the contrary. I am going to celebrate the symbolic arrival of the new year, because I do have many reasons to be happy and I look forward to better things ahead. Yet, how can I not pause and take stock of this "xmas present"--this horrible natural disaster? I do get mad because of the inaptitude, the callousness, the short-sightness of my elected officials! Many people hate politics, but politics is what we do collectively. It does make a huge difference. Those in power were elected by Americans. I can complain, because it's my right! And, I do want to see some change soon.]

Dec 12, 2004

'Tis The Season To Celebrate The Human Spirit & Each Other

Celebrate HumanLight
From the ancient Babylonians, to the Romans, to the Pagans, the Jews, and later the Christians, laymen and those in power found many reasons to celebrate in December. What we have today is a mixed bag of folklore, fairy tales, rituals, superstition and a big dose of commercialism. Of course you can choose to believe in any myth you prefer whether you are in the majority (Christians in the US) or in the minority. Speaking of believing the ..unbelievable, check this Newsweek poll about the "Christmas Miracle." It's truly amazing.
The true "miracle" to me is that so many people hold beliefs which have profound effect on their lives and attitudes whilst those beliefs are based on misconceptions and indoctrination! Now, if you agree with the majority in the Newsweek poll, then you probably don't care about the facts, or you've chosen to believe in "something nice", like a good bed-time story. I know, it's so soothing, like warm milk and cookies! I loved being a kid too. Oh, the limitless possibilities of my imagination, sparked by all those great stories, made my childhood a fun place to be in.
For a historical perspective of how we arrived at today's xmas you might want to check the History Channel (and click on all the links of The Real Christmas Story ontop of the page). I "pray" that the minority I'm part of remains active and free of oppression, so we can continue to lead an examined life in the pursuit of happiness. Happy Holidays to all good-natured & warm-hearted people. PEACE.

Dec 11, 2004

For Security Reasons, Muslims Should Have Fewer Rights!

I hope they don't mind. Aren't you feeling safer already?
It's not only our elected government that wants to use broad strokes of security sweeps, but apparently many of our fellow Americans are willing to give up what we've been fighting for in the last 200 hundred years and change the nature of our free society. Should we be concerned about the spying on people simply because they are of a particular race, religion, or engage in a lawful political activity which is disliked by those in power?
Martin Luther King, to mention just one activist, was spied on by the FBI and got arrested for peaceful protests, while Nixon used the IRS to harass his political opponents. Is this the country we want? Are we that much afraid? Have we lost our sense and sensibilities regarding freedom and a democratic society? Benjamin Franklin said that if we were to sacrifice liberty for safety we don't deserve either!
Here's another depressing study by Cornell University that shows 44% of people favor curtailing some liberties for Muslim Americans!
Just in time for holidays! Enjoy (for as long as you can). Happy Festivus! [they can't get me for that, can they?]

Dec 7, 2004

The Future's So Bright--I've Got To Wear Shades (Not In Alabama!)

"Separate schools shall be provided for white and colored children, and no child of either race shall be permitted to attend a school of the other race."
This is yet another example of the mindset of many Americans--and I'm not talking about a few bigots here and there. The mainstream media won't talk about it, because it's unpleasant, gives a "black eye" to our myopic country, and it doesn't fit within the tranquilized view of our "moral-values America." But, sadly, it's true: There are too many of them amongst us. Call them racist or segregationist, they do play a major role in US politics. They voted for Bush by the droves, and voted to send their message to the world and their kin to represent them in government. How can we respect those who are in favor of white supremacy, bigotry, and theocracy?!! How can we find a middle ground with them? Sometimes it's just not possible.

Many Americans and whole sections of this country move towards progressive social change at a glacial speed if at all. Social changes sometimes have been achieved by the action of the federal government or through the courts. This, by the way, is another reminder of the devastating effect of the Bush administration will have on civil rights and democracy, especially after Dubya's probable appointments to the Supreme Court.

In the 1950s and '60s, the Supreme Court and the Johnson administration made null and void the "Jim Crow" laws in the South. Of course, this by itself didn't change the minds and hearts of many Americans. Yeah, but it's all in the past, you might say. Not really. In the last election, the majority of the Alabama voters rejected the removal of the statute providing for racial segregation from their state constitution! They did not approve Amendment 2 which would have removed the language that says the state's schoolchildren do not have an equal right to public education! That says a lot about "The Heart of Dixie", does it not? It is no accident that after president Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 the South moved over to the Republican side.
Another bigot, Tom Coburn was just elected to the US Senate by the majority of Oklahomans. He advocates the death penalty of all doctors who perform abortions for any reason at any stage of pregnancy. He got the support of the Dixiecrats, theocrats, and of hundreds of thousands of voters who want to keep their favorite past-time (cockfighting!) legal in Oklahoma! [Apparently this is a big issue there... Still legal in Louisiana!]

So, you want to remain inactive thinking that there is no cultural divide and that we should extend an olive branch to the other side? [I'm not talking about the traditional conservatives, who only have 3 or 4 "moderate" Republicans in the Senate and a handful of Congressmen who are powerless and disappearing fast] Hell, no! Are you ready to surrender our civil rights and allow them to turn this country back to medieval times? I am not. What can you do? Stay informed and engaged in the political process. Vote! Speak out! Participate locally. Organize to make your state blue(r), more liberal, more in step with the rest of the other advanced countries.

Dec 2, 2004

Oh, The Land Of The Free & The Home Of The Brave.

Is your road leading to Room 101? It depends on your actions (or inaction) today. Under the guise of protection from terrorism, our government is using its power to spy on people. So what? If you're not doing anything illegal, why worry, you ask? Those crazy pinkos, the ACLU, launched a campaign to expose and limit the government's spying on people and groups for practicing their freedom of speech and exercising their faith. Well, calm down now! They're doing this to protect us! Sometimes you have to limit your freedom to be safe! Right on, brother! How does this apply to you? Click here if you dare!

"The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live - did live, from habit that became instinct - in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and except in darkness, every movement scrutinized." Excerpt from George Orwell's, 1984.

This just in, from the Ministry of Truth: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.