Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Friend Ed And I Disagree (and it's ok).

Ed and I are New Yorkers by birth and met in college. Earlier today he wrote the following about the plans for a Muslim cultural center a few blocks out of eyesight range of the Twin Towers site:

"this cultural [center] does not need to be so close to ground zero. It is not about religious freedom but rather about being sensitive to those who lost loved ones on 9-11."

Here's my reply:

There is no mosque planned for ground zero. None at all. No minarets over downtown, no muezzin calling believers to prayer over loudspeakers... and no line of sight between the twin towers site and Park 51. Also, the people building the cultural center are 100% American, like you, and me. If you don't like the idea of a Muslim outreach and community center-- don't join. When they come for my neighbor, they are coming for me. My Muslim neighbors' freedom is tantamount to my own. Be an American and stand up for the rights of your neighbors.

BTW, loved hanging with you and meeting your beautiful family. Go Bearcats! Go Tau!

Lest one mistakenly conclude that Liberals don't care about what's right, or that Conservatives are the sole custodians of morality in America:

Ted Olsen, Republican legal genius extraordinaire, whose wife died in the 9/11 attack, strongly rejects the idea that banning the cultural center is the proper way to show respect to the memory of our lost loved ones. In fact, we can show the dead our respect by NOT succumbing to racism and religious intolerance. Allowing bigots of any stripe to prevail would be the ultimate disrespect of their sacrifice.

Obama: Christian Racist or Muslim Extremist? The GOP Can't Decide.

Is ANYBODY in the Mainstream Media fact-checking the paranoid extremists at all anymore?

Remember when the controversy over the President's religion centered on his twenty-five year relationship with the incendiary black preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright?

I seem to recall the deep "concern" on the part of his GOP adversaries that Obama's membership in Rev. Wright's Christian congregation -- and the pastor's speeches daring to call attention to America's racist past and present -- were proof of Mr. Obama's deep-seated fear and hatred of whites.

The question is almost too obvious to ask (which means of course that no one in the mainstream media has asked it). Nevertheless, here we go:

How can a person with a demonstrated twenty-five year history of Christian church attendance and a close relationship with a Christian minister suddenly become a radical Muslim?

If you're like me, the answer is obvious: He can't. He isn't.

Shame on every media hairdo who lacks the brainpower and guts to cut through the distractions, the flim-flam and lies, and do the sacred job of telling truth to power, and providing the people with the facts they need to fight against the lies of the Powerful.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wake Up, America!

There are no Islamic foreigners building mosques at ground zero.

1. The site is not at ground zero, and is not visible from ground zero.

2. The site is not a mosque, it is a community center. Pool, gym, dancing lessons... and some prayer space. Not a mosque. No minarets over Wall Street.

3. No foreigners involved. THE BUILDERS ARE AMERICANS.

Thank God for Al Franken and Keith Olberman, for telling it like it really is.

Friday, August 13, 2010

capitalism. Say it soft and it's almost like praying.

Matt, I know a lot of people feel we have disastrously veered off course in this country, and they use the language of freedom fighters as if the government had been overthrown by enemies and saboteurs. They speak of unprecedented constitutional crises.

As hard as it may be for people to stomach, the Democrats and Obama (I'm not a Dem, BTW) swept into power fair and square by a margin of millions of votes from a nation desperate for their ship of state, riddled with holes and sinking fast under a thick flak of Voodoo Reaganomics (since discredited by none other than Greenspan himself) and Republican deregulation and derivatives trading schemes, to remain afloat.

To me, the only new or shocking thing about Obama is his race. He is a far more centrist, level-headed thinker than his predecessor. His "socialist" tax plan is to roll back the tax rates to those instituted by Ronald Reagan. Some Socialist!

But I digress. In my view, the REAL constitutional crisis is the total takeover of our government and economy by Big Business and the Rich, who own the media and are by far a right-wing bunch. So they howl about "liberal media" -- a canard to distract us -- while it's their own Limbaughs and Becks and O'Reillys who are the real dominant force... there is a media bias in this country, and it's hopelessly Right-Wing... and instead of holding the Big Business predators accountable, we spin ourselves into hysterics in a stupid "culture war" that leaves the goal totally undefended.

Which works too beautifully to not have been the plan from the beginning.

My political policy is this: whatever strengthens the middle class is good for the country, whatever weakens the middle class is bad for this country. There is no organism in nature in which the weak exploit the strong. Think of that. The powerful, the rich, always go too far -- if no one stops them.

I also appreciate Capitalism. I love it. Really. Capitalism is the greatest economic source of energy in the world. Capitalism is great because it rests on competition. Under Capitalism the businessman says (unless he's not REALLY a Capitalist but a... fascist...?), 'Hey, I'm an energy company. Regulate fossil fuels all you want. Write the strictest pollution laws you can, ones which our great-grandchildren will thank us for. Protect the planet, the oceans, the ice caps. It doesn't matter how costly the upgrades willl be, because we have CAPITALISM! COMPETITION! And Capitalism posits that if I can't figure out a way to profit despite regulation in the public interest-- then someone else who can, WILL! And I won't! And that's okay! That's entrepreneurship!"

Capitalism. Say it soft and it's almost like praying.

Capitalism is like Plutonium: incredibly powerful and capable of creating virtually limitless capacity for expansion (on the one hand), but also highly dangerous and requiring enormous, redundant safety apparatus (on the other hand) in order to not be destroyed by the very power we would harness and control for good.

Capitalism thrives under regulation because regulation protects the market from excessive risk and mitigates the risk of using such powerful fuel. Regulation is also intended to fol the greedy and corrupt wall street raider from doing too much damage. Remove all that protection and we have... Bush economics...in fact, we live today in Republican Heaven... GOP Utopia... because they got what they wanted. Deregulated industry, fear on Main Street, and war all the time.

Why aren't they happy?

I Waste My Blogging Juice At Facebook.

I have readers, I know, because you come up to me and ask where I've been. Well, the title up there tells the story. I've been spilling my seed, as it were, politically as it were, over on people's comment streams on Facebook. Well, I just posted the following reply to a new friend who firmly believes in objective morality. The subject came up while chatting about Muslims' right to build mosques in American cities. It's edited a little. Hope you enjoy it. Give me some feedback and I'll respond!

Matt, I also like your turn of phrase regarding defending the rights of those who would destroy us. I think this subject is a little wider than one lane and can allow a bunch of opposing ideas to co-exist and still bear operational fruit.

I agree that there are ideologies which seek to destroy our country. In fact, there are lots of groups of Right-wing hotheads in our own country, talking about open war with the U.S. government, and calling on "patriots" to water the tree of liberty with blood. These are invariably sore-headed and benighted white men who feel, perhaps a bit justifiably, that the country isn't as nice a place to to be a white man in as it once was. (disclaimer: I am a white man.) They offer a nice "vanilla" option to our menu of mostly brown terrorists, and interesting "period" clothing too, like the tricorner hat, for example.

To me, these people are more dangerous than Islamists. For one thing, they fit in better (when they take the tricorn off). They also have voting rights and a stake in American culture. If Osama bin Laden walked down the street, we'd recognize him. Tim McVeigh, I'm not so sure.

The question we arrive at, Matthew, is where we decide to curtail these dangerous groups' rights to speak and assemble. As you would surely agree, the Constitution is not a suicide pact and we have the unquestionable right to defend ourselves, and that includes the right to silence a group or arrest their leaders when it is necessary to national security.

That necessity, under our constitution, is decided by the judiciary branch. If the Supreme Court denies your case, it's over. It ends. You stop funding the Contras or torturing gang leaders or water boarding Iraqis or whatever. God bless America.

Even Conservatives can fathom that the constitution isn't "just a piece of paper," despite what their most recent president would have them believe. Taking away a human being's constitutionally-protected rights is no small matter. It is a grave and serious matter. In my line of work (psych hospitals) we can hold you in locked confinement for 72 hours against your will. If after 72 you still wish to be released, a judge comes to the hospital for a hearing. If the hospital prevails, you remain locked in. Otherwise, you are released at once.

In practice, the hearings occur far less often than you would imagine. The hospital usually caves, knowing that the bar at which a judge will take away a patient's right to self-determination is very high. Frankly psychotic people have the same rights we do, as long as they are not a danger to themselves or others. You can wear a tinfoil hat to your hearing and soliloquize about the coming Alpha Centaurian Sex Monkey Invasion and still sleep in your own bed tonight. (Unless the Freemasons get to you!)

So I know how precious the right to speak and assemble is. And we have to tolerate anti-American ideas. To be America, we must protect everyone's rights equally or they are not "rights." We can stop anti-American acts, but not ideas.

That's why America is great. In America, think and say whatever you want, even if what you want is to destroy America. Just DON'T BREAK THE LAW.