Jun 28, 2006

The Flag Represents America's Freedom & Tolerance (Thus Far)

The American flag stands for freedom which includes dissent! At least this is how we liberals think of a national symbol that deserves respect because of what it represents. Last year around this time, the US House of Representatives passed a “Flag Desecration Amendment” [sponsor, Randy “Duke” Cunningham: another “supper patriot”] and just this week the Senate failed by one vote to do likewise. We don’t need such an amendment that would weaken the Bill of Rights! Most Americans don’t see this as an urgent matter that merits amending the Constitution. Most Republicans in Congress don’t believe that this has any chance of passing [needs approval of 2/3 of both chambers of Congress and ¾ (38) of the states], but the Republicans don’t have much to run on this year. Oh, yes, they have the race card, the fear mongering, and the anti-gay campaign to try to confuse the voters once again this November.

Senator Specter (R-PA) and his cohorts argued that such an amendment would honor the veterans! Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be better to honor them by making sure they have the proper body armor & equipment before they’re deployed in battle? Wouldn’t it be better to extend health insurance to the National Guardsmen after they return home from service? Wouldn’t our fighting men & women be better off if the country kept its promises to them? Finally, wouldn’t we show a practical respect for the flag if we made sure that the men & women who fly it in the battlefield are not sacrificed because of false pretences in a war based on a pack of lies?

Love the flag, not the material it’s made of but for what it stands--which includes free speech and the right of a dissenter to burn the flag as a protest. Actually, flag burning is extremely rare in this country and it’s not a ..burning issue. Maybe half a dozen flags have been burned in anger in the US since the Vietnam war. The Republic has survived quite well and would be doing much better if it weren’t for the Conservatives who are chipping away our civil liberties and are introducing Big Brother—as their solution to the war on terror that has no end and takes place everywhere! Being patriotic and actually doing things to benefit your country, the commonwealth, is something that cannot be legislated. It has to derive from within!

<-Desecration Italian Style?

Many politicians seek cheap thrills and pass feel-good-but-worthless pieces of legislation. When a law is unnecessary not only it shouldn’t pass but our elected officials shouldn’t waste time on it; after all, we’re paying them to do something for the common good! Usually persons who promote themselves as ubber patriots do so in order to conceal their real agenda—which is detrimental to the interests of the majority of the people. Rep. Cunningham was one of them. While he was sponsoring the House bill on the Flag Desecration, he was robbing the taxpayers and violating the law as a common criminal! [he got 8 years in the slammer!]

Where it gets even trickier with this proposed amendment is the meaning “desecration." This is what I wrote last year when the House passed its bill:

Another problem with the desecration amendment is the practical application of the law. Who's to decide when a desecration of the flag takes place? It's much like pornography--in the eye of the beholder. As the 4th of July nears, I see the flag everywhere: on paper napkins that will wipe snouts & dirty hands and then promptly thrown into the garbage; on clothing that covers breasts, buttocks, and other sweaty private parts; on shoes, on chairs, and on funny hats at the Jersey shore. At the end of next week's celebrations, our streets, parks, and beaches will be strewn with plastic flags, and other disposable items decorated with our flag that will be trampled by millions of American feet!”

Unfortunately, the flag has been used often by those who trade on the emotional side, suppressing reason and free speech. The flag has been used as a distraction by those who ask us to sacrifice while they do no sacrificing themselves. It seems to me that respecting the flag requires a bit more that flying it, pinning it on the lapel, and talking big. America the beautiful, land of the free and home of the brave, should remain an open society, tolerant of dissent and a promoter of free speech--even if this speech is disliked by the majority. In the end, we will win more converts to freedom and our way of life than by imitating those regimes that forcefully dictate how their people behave politically. The flag's powerful image and symbolism derive from what it represents. You choose the meaning and act your conscience.It highly hypocritical to allow the flag (and all of our national symbols) to be used for any other reason except for political dissent!

PS. 1. The Supreme Court has decided that burning the flag is a protected free speech action under the Constitution & The Bill of Rights; 2. Fellow blogger Washingtonrox puts things into perspective regarding this ill-conceived effort and has the roll call; check those clueless Dems who abandoned reason for cheap political thrills!

Jun 20, 2006

All of the Internet Must Be Neutral & Easily Accessible

UPDATE 6/22: The Senate Commerce Committee is taking up the Ted Stevens (R-AK) telecommunications bill, or otherwise known as "another way to screw up Americans who want a free internet"! The vote in the committee will be a close one. Here's an easy & free way to make an impact: Call 888-355-3588, the Capitol switchboard, and they will transfer you to any Senate or House office. Tell your state senators to vote against the Stevens bill and for the Snowe/Dorgan amendment (S. 2917). The Senators on the Commerce Committee especially need to hear from all of us. A phone call to your senator's office will record your "vote" on this important issue.

I’ve been watching the World Cup [no, not those World Series that exclude most of the ..world] often by using my computer to live-stream the games. So, between the frequent matches, the heat and the cool beverages, I heard some noise about “tiered internet” and changing the way the internet works today. First, I noticed that the telecoms are pouring big bucks into buying the Republicans in Congress to “reform” the system. That’s a red flag to me. Then when the oligopolies talk about “improving your service” through competition, I certainly sit up and look carefully into the issue because instinctively I know they’re trying to fool us.

An Internet on a Need-to-Know Basis! Swell!
You know, I’m fond of my blogging. I also like reading several other blogs a day. Although I would have to shoot a heavy dose of Novocain through my brain before I read the many crappy blogs out there, yet, the quality isn’t much different than the so-called mainstream media! Faux News and the likes of Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, O’Reilly, et al, are actually much worse than a lone blogger who advocates any crazy idea. To repay O'Reilly the compliment he gave to Jon Stewart the other day, any reasonable person "must be stoned" to be able to sit through the crustacean* "logic" and incoherences of the most popular right wingnuts.

But, every surfer of the internet should be able to choose the c
ontent without interference by the telecoms. And, this is the bottom line. If the proposed legislation goes through Congress, then my blog may be downgraded to the speed of molasses due to the decision of an ISP or the telecom company that connects you to the internet. I would not like that, and I’m willing to bet that you wouldn’t either!

Better Defense Against the Telcos Needed!
I understand that if I want a DSL connection I have to pay more than a Dial-up one. Fine. But, what I do after I connect it’s my own business, and, I want to have the same speed/access to any site I want. I may buy a higher-octane gasoline for my car, but where I go with my car is my own business. It’s this simple. Can you imagine if Exxon-Mobil could tell you that once you bought their brand they would discourage you from visiting that ..liberal of a person down the street, or that a sensor/regulator would slow down your car once you turned on Liberty Lane?

The Internet today is a necessity. It can provide access to information and thus empowering people. It can give access to goods and services, employment opportunities, and connect people in ways not possible before. The fewer resources a person has the more important the internet has become. Having inexpensive and unrestricted access to it and through it to the world is of vital importance! Internet neutrality is a must!

Editor’s note: For more information on this issue, Save The Internet is a good place to start. Here's some contact numbers and a follow-up on the debate.

* I have to appologise. I got curious (you know, us liberals being inquisitive and all) so I looked into the crustacean intelligence and I'm afraid I made a mistake by comparing those right wingnuts idiots to the sea creatures.... Sorry. But, you have to admit, the former exhibit similar behavior to the latter: they crawl at the bottom and use their claws to attack anything in their vicinity!

Jun 6, 2006

Republicans: Gays Threaten Marriage! All Others Can Marry Multiple Times, Cheat & Then Divorce!

THIS DESERVES ATTENTION: Most media missed this one, but, hey, that's why you read blogs! Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (Washington DC) said that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that altering that definition would denigrate society... OK, so what? Well, he had the guts to say that it's the business of the secular state to allow same-sex civil unions! Wow! McCarrick said although it's not his ideal, the government needs to protect the rights of same-sex couples to care for each other or visit each other in a hospital. He said allowing civil unions would protect those rights! [here's the link]

When homosexual persons allowed to marry, all the other traditional marriages will fall apart at an alarming rate! No? If we let the “gays” marry each other then the traditional marriages will be worthless; so, some 50% of those marriages will fall apart and, god knows, how many will be held together not by love but by mere necessity. Marriage—the foundation of society, according to the President—isn’t doing well in these United States of America! Fortunately, this Republican Congress and Mr. Bush are coming to the rescue by proposing a Constitutional Amendment whereas homosexual persons will be allowed to marry someone of the opposite sex only! Nice!
Senator Rick Santorum [R-PA] delivered a passionate speech on the Senate's floor about moral values, riled against sodomy and all the other ..Biblical sins. I’m sure the theocrats were very pleased with Mr. Man-on-dog Santorum. He has often reminded us that if we allow two men to marry, then what would stop a man from marrying his ..dog?!! What would indeed?! I wonder, if those who want to merge our secular laws with religion—and let’s not hide behind the middle finger, they’re talking about Biblical law—are ready to tell us whether they have masturbated, had sex outside their marriage, and, if unmarried, they’ve remained celibate. I would like to see the so-called defenders of marriage resigning their posh seat in the Congress. I presume that all them sinners have already repented so they may not be stoned to death! [though I'm no expert on Biblical punishment]

A hedonist would say, “if it feels good do it!” I guess the theocrats and the political manipulators have something in common with the hedonists, because it may feel good to them to propose constitutional amendments that have nothing to do with reality and fixing a problem. Is marriage really being threatened by the homosexual community that wants same human & civil rights? Or, is marriage threatened by other forces, some of which are of our own creation? The political decisions we’ve made and the social order we’ve established carry many threats to marriage.

People are good and bad, make sound or imprudent decisions, and their character does affect the relationships they establish. But, what we, as a society, do to enhance people’s lives and help the married ones stay together in a healthy and stable family unit? The economic stress is one of the top reasons for divorce. Do we provide health care so the parents can be healthy to raise their children? Do we provide health care to the children so they’ll grow up to be parents themselves one day? How about day care? What kind of a social safety net do we have in our country? I think the answers to these questions reveal a lot about the root of the problem.

There are just too many wingnuts in our country that believe whatever feels good to them regardless of the proximity to reality. Many others fall into what the philosopher Immanuel Kant described as perpetual immaturity because they don’t like to think for themselves and let others tell them what to do. If it weren’t so, the likes of Pat Robertson, Falwell, Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, David Duke, would be in the margins of society, but they are not because they have millions of people behind them.

At any rate, recent polls reveal that, although 58% of Americans are against same-sex marriage (and civil unions), 51% are against a constitutional amendment and prefer to leave the marriage laws to the states. Yet, some 42% think that their marriage will be worthless if homosexual legal unions take place! However, there is a glimmer of sunshine in all of this as the majority of Americans under 30 years old would support a same-sex legal union!

Keep an Eye on those Queer Republicans
I believe that 50 years from now we’ll look back at this issue and as a nation will have the same reaction we have today regarding the racial divisions and the racial segregation of the past, ie. Florida’s state constitution (sadly one of many) that explicitly forbade the marriage between a white person and a negro (4th generation inclusive).

Obviously the issue of same-sex unions isn't a top priority in the agenda of Americans [only 3% see it as a very important issue], but the Republican demagogues feel that their only chance of surving in power is to play the cards of fear, race and thus motivate their very conservative base to come out and vote. This is a wedge issue! The Republican party has controlled all branches of government for the last 6 years and basically it has screwed up royally. They have no excuse for their failures and nothing good to show for. Fear and
confusion are their only hopes. Much of the rest of the country is more concerned about the war, energy costs, health care, federal deficit, terrorism, and education.

People can believe whatever they like, but religious dogma & religious laws should stay out of the secular state. A rational society with concerned and thoughtful people should debate the issues on their merits. A “divinely-inspired law” cannot be part of the public discourse. I mean, Zeus has given me a few a priori laws [and we all know that Zeus is the god of gods] but I prefer to follow those "laws" in my own domain, valuing my own relationships not by what others are doing but by how decent of a person I am!

Editor's Note & Addendum:

UPDATE: The Republicans managed to get only 49 votes in the Senate, but their leadership insists on bringing the failed amendment to the House for a vote! They know they've failed but apparently they think this issue has mileage with their conservative base. They're counting heads...

Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter said of gay marriage: "I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one." In other words, this catastrophy [<-please click on the link] pales in comparison. Yep, isn't rather obvious that most Republicans don't care to aleviate the human condition and truly enhance life--when it matters!

Jun 1, 2006

DHS: New York City Has No National Monuments to Protect!

The Enemy From Within Is of Our Own Creation!
If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere! This American city is iconic, has everything and more. But, it has no "national monuments" according to Big Brother's agency [the Dept. of Homeland Security] in charge of offering protection to the common citizen. I think someone's up for promotion in Caesar's palace; what an outstanding analysis of the security needs of NYC! No national monuments, hey? We're cutting your DHS allowance by 40%, the "hommies" decided. ABC News obtained a document that shows the DHS thinks there aren't any national documents in NYC, therefore it cut the anti-terrorist funding this year from $205 million (2005) down to $125 million (2006).

The DHS is much-ado-about nothing in the fight against terrorism. Of course we must defend ourselves but we have to do it smartly! The DHS is a bloated huge bureaucracy filled with incompetent but loyal-to-Caesar praetorians. Like any entity that has lots of power can create more problems than solutions if it doesn't tread nibbly and with competence. Generally, I'm not in favor of creating an overfed, humongous elephant and then bring him into our living room. He's bound to make a mess and break a few precious things, like our civil liberties. Who's responsible for this monster? All those who were scared out of their wits and allowed themselves to be manipulated by the politics of fear, and those who used 9-11 as an opportunity to grab more power by reducing our democracy, enrich themselves, and even consolidate the winner of the class warfare in our country.

If you look at the decisions being made under the Republicans who have controlled all branches of our government in the last 6 years, then it's rather obvious that we've entered into an alternative-reality universe. Like Bizzaro World! It makes sort of sense only if you try to predict the outcome of an action, like: Clean Air Act means more air pollution; No Child Left Behind, means less support for public schools; Pro Life, means no support for the ..living; Bringing Democracy to the Middle East, means less democracy at home and more terrorism in the Middle East; We know where they [WMDs] are, and Mission Accomplished.....

I have a particular affinity for New York and I know there are many ..structures worth protecting, not to mention the wonderful mosaic comprised of human beings. Maybe Bush got the memo, that New Yorkers (especially in the 5 boroughs) disapprove of him by a margin of over 80%! For me, counter-terrorism (like solving the immigration problem) should be a comprehensive approach, and the current administration has the wrong priorities while misspending billions of our money.

I'd like the White House to inform us when the award ceremony will take place. I'm sure the geniuses who didn't see any monuments worth protecting in NYC will get a promotion or at least a medal--like all the other failures in the Bush administration who screwed up royally but didn't criticize their superiors or had the courage to speak up and admit a mistake or two.

I intend to keep enjoying the city as much as I can. For those of you who visit, here are a few interesting places: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NY Public Library, Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty, the Museum of Natural History, The Guggenheim, Times Square, etc, etc, etc. Unfortunately those landmarks have been found on several terrorist lists. I hope this won't prevent you from visiting. The best thing to do about combating terrorism is to give Congress subpoena power (by restoring some check & balances, and a change of leadership) this November and to vote very carefully in the primaries and the general election to follow!

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —G W Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Addendum: Blogger Bill in Portland Maine (Daily Kos, 6/2/06) points out some of the possible targets the terrorist may add to their list... Like Key West's Chicken Store, Alamo's Toilet Art Museum... The "Freedom Budget" could be used to save our icons of American culture. Now, who could save us from the "hommies"?