Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leave a Light On In The Window


Leave A Light On In The Window

It's that time of year again when the sun has gone away, packed up and moved to some other country where the people wear bathing suits and shorts from sun up to sun down, their daylight lasts for 14 hours every single day, they are warm all the time, and have to put lotions all over themselves to avoid getting too much sun, getting burned by the sun. But for the rest of us, it is now cold and dark, and our days are short.

We're now given just a few hours of daylight, or so it seems -- barely enough to travel to work maybe even in the dark and certainly in the cold, bundled up, face looking down so the cold wind does not sting our eyes, arriving early to our place of labor where we likely stay until it's dark again, when we reverse the route, getting home to eat, watch TV, go to bed, do it again. Some desperate souls buy expensive lamps that are supposed to trick their brains into thinking it's still summer, always will be. The rest of us know it's winter, it's dark, it's cold, it feels like we're in a coffin that's being lowered into the ground, dreaded pallbearers efficiently disposing of what's left of our pale cold selves, and who knows if we'll ever see daylight again. Or we're huddled in caves eating something warm from a pot and packing on fat to survive in case we face terrible storms and cannot leave our caves for months, sitting in the dark, waiting, waiting.

Maybe winter is the true test of faith: do you believe? Do you believe, despite everything to the contrary, that the sun will return and we will be warm again? Do you believe, while huddled in a cave without warmth or light, do you believe that babies will be born and bulbs will peek through the once-frozen ground to reveal their stunningly glorious colors just in time for spring? Do you believe the trees will bud and produce unimaginable quantities of fresh juicy delicious fruit. Do you believe that you will walk barefooted in your house and yard, and forget to put on shoes because life is just so good? If you believe all that, then you have faith.

How do we show this faith, of the not particularly religious type, the faith of the human spirit, that part of our soul that is so tied to nature and to the lives of our ancestors stamped onto our bones by DNA that it is neither conscious nor particularly rational, unrelated to race or ethnicity or country of birth or political party or religion or gender. The faith of humans that life will go on, even when we see none of it around us, and it seems this must be the very end, the absence of light, the absence of warmth, yet the faith buried deep inside our heads quietly says: Wait, Wait, it will get better, life will come back again, this is not the end. Intermission, not game over. A trial separation, not a divorce. Serious illness but not fatal. Faith in what we have not seen because it does not yet exist, but despite that, we have absolute certainty on this point.

The practice of putting lights (originally candles) on indoor Christmas trees is attributed to Martin Luther, who broke with the Catholic Church in the 1500s and started the foundation for the new branch of many religions known as Protestantism. The first electric Christmas Tree lights came from Edward H. Johnson who decorated his Christmas tree with electric red, white, and blue bulbs in 1882. It did not become common in most homes until the 1930s. (Source: Wikipedia). After World War II, when the suburbs sucked all the families out of the cities, out of the apartments and into the tracks of stucco homes, the practice of lighting the exterior of homes became popular and, eventually, competitive.

I like the Christmas lights. I have a neighbor who lights his up the day before Thanksgiving, every year, and I'm so happy when he does. More a shack than a mansion. No sound system, no blinking Santas with reindeers, no virgins with babies or prophets with camels, no scripture, just bright colored lights, red, blue, green, white, big bulbs strung around his house announcing to the world: I'm still here and I won't let this winter turn the world dark. I will stand in defiance, all by myself if necessary, and light the world or at least this little part of it.

I suppose it's just another expense in a year when most Americans have seen their income slashed, savings stolen, pensions eliminated by the upper 5%, the scum, the real un-Americans among us, the Wall Street Boys and the politicians they've bribed, the warmongers, those who embrace the death of others to grab a few more pennies for themselves. But I don't think those people could ever understand or appreciate the concept of one neighbor lighting up the way for another, for no particular reason, but just to stand against the dark for one more night. So I say light 'em if you've got 'em.

The song below was recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943. That must have been a tough year for many families in this country who had husbands, sons, fathers overseas fighting in World War II. And all these years later, we're in other wars. So keep a light on for someone special even if it's someone unknown to you, who we hope will be coming home to spend time with their family for the holidays.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Woodstock 1969: Three Days of Peace and Music.

In August of 1969, a music festival was scheduled to take place on some open land, rented from a farmer, near the town of Woodstock in upstate New York. Outdoor music festivals were relatively common at the time, but the promoters did plan to draw a large crowd because of the terrific line-up of performers they had scheduled.

As it turns out, the number of young people who decided to go to this music festival grossly exceeded what had been planned. Hundreds of thousands of young people traveled to upstate New York for that three-day festival in brightly-colored vans, some hitchhiking, all planning to celebrate with other young people from around the country and listen to some good music. The rumor has it that the New York State primary freeway was shut down for a time because of the enormous number of vehicles headed to Woodstock. Eventually a half a million people ended up at the Woodstock Festival.

The young people who attended, cheered, celebrated Woodstock soon became known as the Woodstock Generation. They have been vilified, demeaned, ridiculed by the right-wing fascists who took control of this country under Reagan and kept control through two Bushes and one Clinton. But the Woodstock Generation was possibly the smartest generation in this country for decades. Had their ideas and views been followed, we would undoubtedly have a better country and more peaceful and humane world.


Among the performers at the Woodstock Festival were the following:
Richie Havens
Ravi Shankar
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Canned Heat
Grateful Dead
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Janis Joplin
Sly & the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane
Joe Cocker
Country Joe and the Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Blood Sweat & Tears
Johnny Winter
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Jimi Hendrix

Nice shot of the crowd:

The Woodstock Generation, although consisting of a loose connection of young and not always so young people, embraced certain beliefs and principles about life which at the time were considered revolutionary, and which terrified the ruling powers in this country. Here are just a few of the principles of the Woodstock Generation.

1. Stop Polluting The Environment. Rachel Carson brought the nation's attention to this issue in her book "The Silent Spring," and the Woodstock Generation was the first to demand that changes be made. Stop polluting the air and water. Simple concepts, but at that time the people who ran this country tried to cover up the truth. How much of the cancer in this country, and disease in the world, is the direct result of corporations dumping chemicals and poison in the earth and water?

2. Live Simply. Don't spend your life chasing more or competing with the neighbors. Consume less and contribute more. Help your neighbors. Don't hoard. Don't take more than you need.

3. Local Food Control. Eat simply. Eat locally-grown produce. Don't buy the corporate-produced food which is packaged or sprayed with poison. Take back control of food. And help people in other countries do the same.

4. Population Control. The churches oppose this, and encourage their members to breed as if there was no limit to our resources. But the fact is all people should be limited to 1/2 of a child. After that, get yourself fixed. We should cut the world's population in half immediately, and possibly cut it by another half after that. We are well on the way to destroying every living plant, all food stuff, and every single animal or fish in the world, because of gross and excessive and obscene overpopulation. And in the meantime, the Republicans on TV celebrate the stupid Americans who have 12 kids, or 18 kids, and act like this is all good fun. It's suicide. It's also likely to destroy the entire earth and all living things. If the demands of the Woodstock Generation for population control had been followed, we probably would not be facing the extinction of so many animals on this earth.

5. End All Wars. The Woodstock Generation was against the war in Vietnam. But they were also against all wars, preferring the idea of creating strong international organizations with the authority to send in peacekeeping troops to protect civilians. Possibly mandatory mediation of disputes.

War consists of one macho male sending the young men from his country into another country to kill the women and children. That's always what it comes down to. Killing children and babies is wrong. We have the sophistication and wealth to end war for all time, if we wanted to. If this principle had been adopted, think of the millions of lives that might have been saved. (Burning a draft card, refusing to go to Vietnam).

6. De-Criminalize Drugs. Who came up with the stupid idea that we should use the military to fight against addiction? The U.S. has troops all over Central and South America propping up dictators and despots, providing security for U.S. corporations that are stealing resources from those countries. And this military occupation is done under the guise of a "war on drugs." Nonsense. There is no war on drugs. Drug addiction is a medical condition and should be treated as such. If this idea had been adopted, our country could have saved billions of dollars that has been wasted on guns and wars used against poor people in other countries. And our massive prison population includes way too many young non-white people whose only crime is that they liked to get high.

7. End Racism. This went way beyond the minimal rights acquired during the 1950s civil rights movement. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people were equal, were the same, and should and must live together in peace. This included the idea that black and white or hispanic or Asian people should date, marry, form families without regard to racial or ethnic identities. This was an idea that was considered shocking to much of the country at that time.

(Huey P. Newton, Black Panther Party. The members of the Black Panther Party, standing in defense of their communities, were framed, imprisoned, assassinated, and exterminated by an illegal program of the U.S. government known as Cointelpro.)

8. Equality For Women. Again, this was a radical concept. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, women had to belong to some man, provide unpaid slave labor for life to a man and to however many children her body turned out, in order to have a place in society. Women had few opportunities to work or earn a living, often had no birth control, had no legal rights to prevent their husbands from beating them. Divorced women were considered whores and single women past a relatively young age were considered spinsters, completely banished from the rest of society. No options for women. The Woodstock Generation promoted the idea that all people, regardless of gender or race, are equal, and should have equal opportunities.

(Angela Davis)

9. Create And Nourish Community. It had already become apparent that the single family suburban neighborhood was destroying community. Imagine people living in cubicles, not even knowing their neighbors, working in cubicles and being prohibited from even speaking with their co-workers. I worked on a lawsuit once in which a worker was fired by a big retailer which claimed she was guilty of "theft." Based on that charge of criminal behavior, the worker was even denied unemployment compensation. But it turns out that the only "crime" the employee had committed was that she spoke with a co-worker during working hours, asked how her week-end went. The company's employee handbook said any conversations among co-workers unrelated to work were considered to be "theft" of company time.

People have no community, live in isolation, and they therefore have no power. How can people organize to protect their own rights or their community when they don't even know who lives right down the street?

(Grateful Dead)

10. No Nukes. If only this idea had been pursued at the time, think how different the world might be today. Because the right-wing took control of our country, they promoted the widespread distribution of nuclear weapons to our "friends," which now means we live every day within minutes of having the entire world annihilated by some moron, either in a cave or in a government office.

11. Recycle. Stop Consuming. Stop filling the ocean and the earth with crap. Re-use. The U.S. corporations hate the idea of people using their own independent judgment to decide that they will not spend their lives buying the crap sold to them by the corporations.

12. Free Love. It is not the place of the government or the "community" to dictate to other adults when they may have sex, with whom, or in what manner. It is also not the place of the government or the community to dictate to other adults whether they may use birth control (as late as the 1960s, some states still made birth control illegal) or whether, or when to have children.

13. Workers Rights. The Woodstock Generation marched and demonstrated and boycotted along with the United Farm Workers to demand that all workers get a decent paycheck, have safe working conditions, healthcare, decent pensions, vacations and holidays.

14. Freedom And Independence For Other Nations. The Woodstock Generation promoted the view that all people are entitled to be free and independent, to run their own countries without interference from other nations. If only these views had been adopted, how different the world would be today.

(Che Guevara, hero of the Cuban revolution.)

In this 44th anniversary of Woodstock, the right-wing fascists who control the media and the Republican party will undoubtedly take this opportunity to ridicule everyone who was part of the Woodstock Generation, and to reaffirm the concept that "real" Americans love war, guns and violence, and hate their neighbors. The Republicans are trying to create a fascist nation, and the Democrats aren't doing much to stop them. The fact is that the Woodstock Generation consisted of true patriots, people who loved this country and democracy, and who were creative and innovative in trying to find new ways for all of us to live in peace in this world. Make Love Not War. No Nukes. Peace.

The Who:

In addition to having important and creative ideas about how to change society and the world to be cooperative instead of combative, there was also a tremendous flourishing of music, film, and fine arts during this time. The idea was that art became fun, a part of people's lives rather than something to be shut away inside museums and judged by a small panel of upper-class white men as to whether the art did or did not have merit. Young people all over the country decided for themselves whether they liked some art and, if they did, collected the reprints and posters and tacked them up all over their rooms. People's art, as it were, shown throughout this post.

During the entire history of the U.S., under or after slavery, it had always been understood that black and white people should live completely separate lives. In the 1950s, blacks spent years demonstrating and marching for such minimal rights as the right to sit down on a public bus, the right to buy food in a restaurant, the right to vote, the right to not be murdered by white men. Black people were often legally prohibited from buying homes other than in "black" neighborhoods, their children were legally prohibited from attending schools with white children, and they were legally prohibited from marrying a white person. Even in states which did not have those laws, segregation was strictly upheld in all classes of society.

The Woodstock Generation took enormous leaps forward on the issue of race, and demanded that all racism, all segregation be ended. This was a radical position at the time. The Woodstock Generation had a view that all people were equal and should live together in one community, in peace. Not that this was necessarily successfully implemented, but just the fact that these people embraced that idea was horrifying to the white men who ran this country.

For example, Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock to wild acclaim. Just a short time later, by the 1980s, under the regime of Ronald Reagan and the white boys who re-took control of our country, a black performer like Michael Jackson had to physically alter his appearance to make himself look white and female, in order to be "acceptable" to be presented to a white audience. Jimi Hendrix didn't appear white or female. He was a hot black man, sexy, publicly celebrating his sexuality, and he was worshipped by many of the young white people who made up the Woodstock Generation.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Remember Aaron Swartz.

Remember Aaron Swartz.  He was the young internet and political activist who advocated having all information free, open and available to the citizens.  After all, information is knowledge, and it should belong to the world.  His "crime" was to download online certain academic papers.  Yawn.  But the Department of Justice decided to destroy him because he was young, bright, dedicated, and committed to transparency in our world.  In a nation in which the government claims everything is a secret, the idea of transparency is horrifying to the people in charge.  So Carmen Ortiz, prosecutor for the DOJ, filed ludicrous charges against Aaron Swartz and threatened to send him to prison for over 30 years.  For posting a few academic papers.  An example would be made of him by ending his life, essentially.  But he did it first, dying at 26 rather than spending the rest of his life in prison.  Another notch on the belt of Carmen Ortiz and Eric Holder, and those to whom they report. 
It is likely that Aaron Swartz has inspired other young people to be courageous in their defense of freedom and of the constitution, of the right of the public to know the truth about what is going on in this country, what is being done by their government.  Those who take the difficult stand of disclosing truth even when they know that to do so, in today's world, is to put a target on their backs.  Literally -- when the President of the United States carries around a Kill List, and adds the names of anyone he wants, with no consequences to him, no possible judicial review, just the complete usurpation of power to murder at will -- then anyone who offends the established order may be killed.  Or kidnapped ("extraordinary rendition" they call it to hide what it really is), tortured, thrown into secret blackhole prisons run by the CIA and their thugs around the world. 
So hats off to these young people of such incredible integrity and courage, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange for publishing the information, Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, all the unknown people throughout the world who stand against tyranny and for freedom. 

"I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you ... has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it."  Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Obama's Big Foreign Policy Speech: Authorize Him To Wage War Everywhere In The World.


Obama's major foreign policy speech today:  he will establish rules for using drones in his assassination program; and he wants congress to revise the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to authorize the U.S. government to use force in "many" smaller battlefields, instead of just Afghanistan.  Very sneaky, scary, horrifying proposal.  The AUMF limited the war to al Queda and those who attacked us on 9/11.  A revision would expand it to authorize permanent war any place in the world.

 A few days ago, an Obama administration official publicly stated that the government's plan was to continue the U.S. Wars Against the Middle East for an additional 20 years -- 30 years total.  Today's speech hid the lead.  Lots of promises to rein in the assassination program, to release some prisoners from Guantanamo, but the lead for this speech is today Obama is officially requesting congress to revise the AUMF which was passed by Congress immediately after 9/11, and authorized war against those who had attacked us on 9/11.  It's obvious that the AUMF has been stretched way beyond what was authorized originally.  Those who attacked us on 9/11, as far as we know, were al Queda, and al Queda was almost wiped out before the U.S. helped strengthen them by sending money and weapons to the al Queda affiliates in Libya and Syria.  Nonetheless, the AUMF is out of gas, and the wars must end.  Everybody involved in the 9/11 attacks has been killed, and it's time to end these wars.

Now what Obama wants Congress to do (and what most of Congress wants to do) is to revise the AUMF to say that the president has the authority to wage war against any individual anywhere, in any country, bomb any country, any time, if he thinks that person might be a threat to the U.S.  This would eliminate the constitutional checks on war, would eliminate the ability of citizens to oppose wars, because the war would simply never end. 

Our constitution does not give the president the authority to take this country into war.  Instead, it specifically states that only congress has the authority to declare war.  Further, the only war authority given to the federal government is to provide for the common defense, which means they must defend this country.  They were not given authority to start wars of aggression against other nations, or to go search the world to try to find a possible enemy,  then start a war wherever that person happens to live.  Permanent war means a permanent elimination of our civil rights as citizens.

This is Obama's biggest move, and the most dangerous one to our nation.  Everybody needs to oppose this and write your senators and representatives to demand that they do not revise or amplify the AUMF, but instead end the wars, end the AUMF, and bring our troops home. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Irish Proclamation, 1916

At the start of Easter Week (the week after Easter Sunday) in Dublin, Ireland, in 1916, a group of Irish people struggling for Irish independence from England read the Irish Proclamation, declaring Ireland to be a free nation.  The English reacted to this announcement with a brutal assault and murdered most of the people involved in the Irish Easter Uprising (or "Rising").  Because of the heroic stand taken by the people on this day, within a few years the Southern Part of Ireland did obtain its independence, although England continues to occupy the Northern part of Ireland.  

Padraig Pearse stood outside the General Post Office in Dublin and read this Proclamation.  Note the reference to the exiled Irish children in America.  Irish people were forcibly removed from their own land for generations, and millions were sent to live in exile because England claimed the land of Ireland for itself.  As a result, there are today 80 million Irish people living in exile, throughout the world. 

Poblacht na h √Čireann (Irish Republic)

The Provisional Government

of the

Irish Republic

To the people of Ireland.

IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.

Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.

We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty: six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and its exaltation among the nations.

The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.

Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Christopher Dorner: We All Cheered When He Was Killing Muslims, Gave Him A Parade And Medals.


Chris Dorner, ex-military, former LAPD, allegedly murdered several people including cops, then was tracked by the LAPD to a cabin in Lake Arrowhead where he was burned to death.

I don't support Dorner's acts in killing Americans. But if this incident is to be anything other than the public viewing of the hunting and burning to death of yet another black American man, we all should step back and try to look at the events which led up to this week's murder.

To begin, Dorner joined the military in 2002, apparently in response to the 9/11 attacks, presumably with the idea in mind that he wanted to defend his country. So what happened next? Go view his military records released by the military. He has two periods of service which have been blacked out, presumably classified, one for two years, combined with two medals for service in Iraq and in "The War Against Terror." What did our government teach this man to do? Murder. But also kidnap? Torture? Slaughter?  Be brutal? 

You see the photos of him with the enormous muscles on his arms, sleeves rolled up so everyone can see what a tough guy he was (steroids?). Lots of pictures of him with guns. I'd say he was trained to be a killer. And guess who embraced him? One of the most violenct police forces in the nation, the LAPD.

Beyond that, why this manhunt, why the $1.0 million reward? Was somebody worried that not only would Dorner expose the criminals inside the LAPD, but also reveal to the world what he did in the military, what he was trained to do by our government.

The murder of a cop is no worse than the murder of a civilian. The LAPD is notorious for killing civilians. The funeral of the one cop (sheriff?) this week was reportedly expecting 8000 people to attend, was televised, and was preceded by a miles-long parade of cop cars and cops, motorcycles and cops, and motorcycle "patriots" who love the violence of cops. And the funeral was televised live. I do not recall ever seeing the funeral of a victim murdered by the police in which police from all over the state insisted on attending to pay their respects to the victim.

Make no mistake: the Los Angeles police kill lots of civilians.  "Killings by local police jump sharply: Officers and deputies in L.A. County fatally shot 54 people last year, nearly 70% more than the year before." L.A. Times article June 10, 2012; 

54 people killed by the police in Los Angeles alone in 2011, while only 72 police officers were killed in the entire country in the same year. I'd say the cops are doing a lot more killing of civilians than vice versa.

The worshipping of cops and military is just one of the unfortunate side-effects of our nation being committed to waging war against everyone, all the time. The chickens do come home to roost. The violence we commit against civilians in other nations will inevitably be committed against us.

When I saw hundreds of cops flooding into the area where this guy was supposedly holed up yesterday, standing with guns and rifles ready to kill him if he tried to escape (no question that's what they were going to do), watching the building burn, I was sickened.  All the television stations carried it live.

I don't think anyone should be killed or be killing, and I don't see this guy as a hero. He strikes me as typical of the worship of guns and violence among the police and military. But nonetheless, he should have been given the chance to give himself up. There should have been police negotiators there to try to get him to give himself up. Like they did with the guy in Alabama who kidnapped the kid and murdered the bus driver -- they waited 8 days on him.

But for this L.A. cop, black, they decided to either burn him to death or shoot him down if he tried to escape. That's the way it looked to me, and it was pretty disgusting. Was race an element in how this played out? Without question.

We made this man. As long as he was slaughtering muslims in the middle east, our country threw him parades, mindlessly shouted out at him "Thank you for your service," put stickers on their cars saying "I support the troops [murdering Muslims in the middle east]." But when he used what we taught him here in the U.S., killed a few people, suddenly the nation is up in arms. A black man with a gun? Kill him, burn him to death.

You cannot look at this episode without realizing that we create monsters by our wars against everyone. We train men to be killers when we drop them into a nation of poor unarmed people and tell them that everyone is the enemy, because those people do not want us there, we are their enemy. When those trained killers come back home, what do we see?

20,000 U.S. military service women raped every year. Nobody's bothered to count the number of women in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been raped by Americans, but eventually we'll see their half-American children wandering the bombed out rubble we have left behind. One U.S. veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes in this country. Suicide is simply another form of homicide. And let's not pretend that racism is not an ongoing oppressive burden on all black people in this country, because it is, and the LAPD is notorious for its racism.

I don't support killing by anyone. But calling Dorner a coward or pretending he is not the product of the U.S. Military War On Terror and the LAPD misses the mark. We made him, he's our guy, we gave him a parade and cheered him for slaughtering Muslims, so we shouldn't act so self-righteous when he comes home and starts murdering Americans.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Owning A Gun Is Not An Accomplishment. It Is A Failure.

Owning a gun is not an accomplishment. It's a failure.

Gun owners are so self-absorbed and unfortunately misinformed about the constitution that they think owning a gun is the same as being named Jesus Christ, back for a second trip. Owning a gun is not the most elevated form of citizenship. Anyone whose idea of citizenship is that they are ready and willing to murder their neighbors is not my idea of a good community member.

Gun owners claim, preposterously and without any authority, that we, the other people who live in this country, are forbidden to regulate or restrict gun ownership. They are ignorant and wrong. Just because the constitutions refers to certain rights of citizens, that does not in any way mean the government cannot regulate or restrict the exercise of those rights.

People have the right to travel, yet we have extensive regulations on the subject. If you drive a car, the government can require you to wear a seat belt because the rest of us are the ones who have to scrape up your idiot bodies from the freeway if you get in a wreck. The government also can set and enforce speed limits, for the same reasons. They create driving laws so we don't have people driving on the left or right side of the street, depending on their moods. All done in the interest of public safety. One of the responsibilities of the government is to protect the public health and safety. When constitution "rights" conflict with the public health and safety, the constitutional "rights" can be regulated.

People have freedom of speech, yet you cannot set up a porn shop next-door to an elementary school because the government can create zones which are porn-free, in the interest of public welfare. You can't scream from a bullhorn at midnight in front of people's homes, because reasonable time place and manner restrictions of speech are allowed, again, for the public safety. People have freedom of religion but if they smoke pot as part of their ceremony, they can be arrested, or if they serve food in a food kitchen to the poor as part of their religious practice, that food service is subject to the health and safety regulations.

I don't like guns. But if somebody wants to own a gun, it's okay with me. As long as they keep it in their house; keep it in a safe; carry liability insurance to compensate me in the event of an accident; meet licensing requirements to show safety compliance and the ability to use the weapon; as long as it is not an assault weapon; as long as there is no one in their home who is a substance abuser or mentally ill. Other than that, I don't really care.

But I am sick to death of gun owners acting as if they are great patriots when the truth is they generally are just bullies who are afraid of their own shadow, paranoid, racists, and like to use violence or the threat of violence to compensate for their obvious inadequacies. As the saying goes.

You want to be a tough guy? Go take care of someone who is seriously ill. Go help people who are out of options, sleeping on the streets, and hungry. You want to be a tough guy? Go to an elementary school and offer to be the cross-walk guard, or monitor during recess, or read to children who need help with reading. Or go to a nursing home and help the old people, do something nice.

Owning a gun is not an accomplishment -- it's more a sign of a lack of will, compassion, or decency. The mere fact that someone embraces the idea of murdering others is a failure of morality on all counts.