July 11, 2014

"Good" Christians

I was having a discussion the other day with a colleague I have known and done business with for many years. A guy I thought I knew fairly well. Our conversations in the past, I guess, had never really ventured into politics, as what transpired frankly surprised me. My friend has never made any attempt to hide his Born-Again Christian beliefs, but to his credit, has never tried any serious attempt to proselytize. In fact, I’m not even sure he knows that I am an atheist.

Our conversation turned to the current situation at the border with Mexico and that’s when stuff got weird. First he started into the old rant about how broke the country was, and therefore could not afford to care for all these children. Okaaay, but doesn’t your Bible tell us to care for others that are unable to care for themselves?* Not, apparently, when those others should not be here in the first place!

His solution is that we should finish the wall that would shut down the border. Apparently we have enough money for this. When I pointed out that the existing wall has not yet even slowed the immigration, he exclaimed that illegals should be “shot on sight!” No exceptions. Man, woman or child. No mercy. That, by God would fix the problem!

Frankly, I was stunned to silence, which I suppose led him to think he had won the discussion by the force of his wit. Far from it, what left me speechless was that this man considers himself a devout Christian. Further, that it was obvious that this opinion could not be his alone, but was likely shared by his Pastor and the other members of his church. I have no idea which church this man attends or the size of its congregation, but I wonder how many others out there share those views? How can these people possibly consider themselves to be Christians? I may be an atheist, but I was raised in a Christian family, attended church until my teens, and have likely read more of the Bible than most. Nowhere in it do I recall any discussion of borders with guard towers and machine guns murdering any that dare try to cross.

*1 John 3:17-18

But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

February 22, 2014


Two topics in one today: So called "Clean Coal" & our Corporate Media. First off let me direct you to this article over at Media Matters.

Should you not care to read it, in brief it talks about yet another toxic coal ash spill in North Carolina. It is an example yet again of the callous disregard on the part of the coal industry for the environment and human health. Another example (as if we need it) of the poisoning of the environment caused not just by big coal, but by the production and use of fossil fuels in general.

The more important take away from this, however, is the complete lack of coverage, or even mention of this environmental tragedy in our network news broadcasts. They are content to keep us distracted with the crisis in the Ukraine, the pretty viedeos and heart-wrenching tales of triumph and defeat from the Olympics, and I see they have managed after all these years to capture "El Chapo." 

"panem et circenses"

February 20, 2014

Found this recently in an article on Huffington Post about the Conservative knack for re-ordering history. On this occasion, bemoaning the fact that the stimulus "failed to avert the recession."

It's just too cool not to re-post:

"Conservatism: a delusional force so powerful it can bend the space-time continuum." ~RJ Eskow

For the rest of the article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/five-years-after-the-stim_b_4812113.html

May 23, 2013

So what to do?

I was discussing the state of things this morning with another fella. Not sure of his views, other than he seems to watch Faux Noise. We were discussing the homeless here in town, and I said something about not having the money to pay for housing, he smirked and said "or drugs." No way would I deny that there is not some reality behind his comment, but it seems to stem from the whole "if they are living on the street, it's their own fault" mentality.

Let aside for the moment whether that is even a little bit true or not, how is it that in the richest nation in the world, a country that spends more on its military than all the other developed countries of the world combined, we can't find a way to provide adequate housing for those that need and want it?

We have an entire segment of our society that believes if you are broke and living on the street, or if you can't feed your kids, its your fault! Why should society have to pay for it?

As a nation we will be judged on, among other things, how much compassion we have shown for the least among us. I shudder to think how historians will view "this grand experiment" in the light of our inability to see further than our own selfish desires. From our refusal to educate the next generation, to our willingness to let those without medical care suffer and die from easily preventable or treatable conditions.

When I was young, I read avidly the works of authors like Asimov and Heinlein. I dreamed with them of a future so grand that robots and technology replaced grinding labor for all. When one could pursue any endeavor without having to worry about the next meal. A future where a person could dedicate their time to exploring, writing, painting, or just thinking. There are people who love to build things; let them! People who want to drive a taxi; have at it!

I know, I'm lost in a utopian dream, but it's a dream that could become a reality if there was just the national will to accomplish it. We have the robotics for the most part. We have the money, although it's locked away in the vaults of the super wealthy. It goes beyond socialism. It doesn't prevent one from becoming wealthy, if one wants. It merely establishes a baseline below which we allow no citizen to fall. A baseline that requires everyone to have adequate food, housing, and healthcare plus a stipend to pay for clothing and other items.

It could be done. In most Scandinavian countries, it is being done. Yes, Denmark, for example, has the highest tax rate in the world. But they don't blow it on a bloated military, either. It is spent on education, infrastructure, and social welfare. Guess what? Denmark is number one on the recent global happiness survey. The US did not even make the top ten.

Why can the United States not be the same kind of country? The very country that our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Not the corrupt Plutocracy that we currently are stuck with.

April 23, 2013

My Muse

Oh, be with me
My fickle muse,
and dance upon my mind.
Oh, frolic with me, you nasty bitch,
and see what we shall find;

You come and go;
sometimes a love,
sometimes a whore,
sometimes my best friend,
How can you be the same as these,
and still be my own mind!

My sometimes friend,
you ofttimes fiend,
leave me with thy blessing.
don't leave me with,
thy curse, thy horror;
My shallow thoughts depressing!

with words of glee,
shall all my words betoken,
The thoughts of gold
and worlds untold
unto the novice beckon!

Oh, shallow thought,
meaningless pot,
dry-well of creation.
My fickle muse,
my worthless dues,
my opus lies unwritten.

Come, say to me,
you capricious liar,
what have you brought to me,
A heartache, surely,
and a lot.
Of meaningless empathy!

April 8, 2013

On "American" Business

The rich don't care about America. Most hardly even consider themselves citizens except when it is convenient to be one. Most of the big corporations are now what we refer to as "multi-national." Even that icon of American enterprise; Coca-Cola, now does something on the order of 80% of its business in countries other than the U.S! That includes not just sales, but manufacturing, distribution, advertising, etc.

So what does that mean?

It means that when they are lobbying Washington, or trying to influence the vote through their PACs, they are not in the least interested in changing anything for the public good. Only their own. 

We don't allow Chinese citizens the right to vote in our elections, or make decisions on foreign relations. We don't allow Saudi citizens to dictate our defense policy do we?

Well, yes we do. When we allow these multi-nationals to have the slightest sway in the running of our government  we are allowing this and more. 

We have been selling off our infrastructure to foreign investors for years. The current system is a farce. These investors now have input and control on the very laws and regulatory systems designed to protect the U.S. from foreign malfeasance. Why do you think there has been such a concerted effort to gut EPA, Customs, and FDA inspections? Currently, less than 1% of all shipments coming into this country's ports are inspected.  More stringent inspections might hurt the profits of the Taiwanese owned company that operates the terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and Alaska.

I galls me when I hear Conservatives arguing for less regulation and more "freedom" for business when I know they are not thinking about the public good.

The fury over the Keystone XL pipeline comes to mind. Conservatives are so eager for more oil they don't even begin to consider that the forces that are pushing for this pipeline have not the slightest interest in the common good of Americans. The oil is not destined for the U.S. market. If it was, there would be no need to pipe it to the gulf coast. The pipeline is to be laid for one purpose: To mightily enrich a cabal of multi-national corporations and their masters at the risk to the environment of the United States. Little of the revenues generated will end up on these shores. And if the pipeline breaks? So what? The movers and shakers responsible won't have to live with the effects.

I don't know how we can fix this rigged system, but I do know we have to at least begin the dialogue!

March 26, 2013

Now for something different...


     The town hadn't changed much, just looked deader than he remembered. Yeah, there's the old Monte Vista hotel. I should stop in and have a beer, see if Roxy still works there. Later. There'd be time for that later. Besides, after all this time old Roxy probably doesn't look any where near as good anymore. Jack felt his face crease into a grin as he drove by the Romeo Savings and Loan. The big plate glass windows dark and lifeless. God! Did I do that? Just like the town, like a fossil, Jack thinks. Yeah, that's it, just a huge fossil. The town was dying a slow death, like so many other small towns in America as the young left for the big cities. Autumn leaves drift across the street and collect against the silent walls. The beer signs in the saloon windows garish spots of color on a cold gray day.