Archive for 'political' Category

2012.03.13

Preaching to the Choir

ХудожникThis weekend I went for a walk with Ainara along Valencia Street. There were several Greenpeace folks canvasing for signatures. I blew them off in my usual way: spoke bad English in a foreign accent. Afterwards, though, I wondered why they bothered trying to get signatures in San Francisco.

San Francisco has a reputation for being liberal. While it is in many ways, we aren’t nearly as liberal as people outside of the city think. Sure, a lot of people smoke pot and we have a lot of crazy people here, the hippie history and all that rot but… We’re more libertarian in many things than liberal. You live your life how you want and so long as you don’t bother me then, well, have fun.

Still, trying to get signatures for a liberal cause here is like a Mormon going to Utah to try and convert people. Most are just going to ignore you or find you a bit ignorant for your misdirection. What you aren’t going to do is find many converts. It reminds me of what my friend, Sean, said about when the Prop8 opponents were doing. They were all along the coast in the more liberal areas trying to get people to oppose the passage of a law that would deny civil liberties. What they should have been doing was going to the heavily conservative center of California and trying to get signatures there.

These Greenpeace folks were doing the same thing. Why are you here in San Francisco? Go to Fresno. There you will have people to actually convert to your cause. And if they reject your position and give you good reasons why you just might have to think about what you’re doing.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  political  thoughts

2011.11.13

My Obsession with Wealth Inequality

I realize I haven’t posted much in quite a while. This doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing. I’ve read a lot of articles that I’d love to post… I just never get to it. I have noticed that, in one form or another, they seem to deal with the wealth inequality in America (which is even more inordinate in comparison to the rest of the world). Things like how the wealthy get various government handouts or how the wealthy think they are brilliant innovators and wealth creators (and some, but probably not most, are) but that they have more in common with psychopaths. I find this interesting considering the corporations they run have already been diagnosed as psychopathic.

All of this ties in to my worry about America’s potential decline, some of the history, etc etc etc.

I just wish I had time to read more books…

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2011.10.11

I Am the 0.0000003%

I haven’t had a lot of time to write recently, neither here on the blog nor with my story writing. Sometimes I find this frustrating because there’s a lot I’d like to be doing but reasons, taking care of my little girl Ainara and my wife Rosa, are so worth it.

In the meantime I’ve been watching with interest the Occupy movement taking shape and developing into a national phenomenon. This leaderless, agenda-less movement is a manifestation of people’s inordinate frustration with how things are going in America right now, especially economically. Thus it’s no surprise that the movement started in New York City, our financial capital, and spread around the country. We even have it going on in San Francisco.

The people participating have been called mobs, thugs, malcontents, punks, freeloaders and many other, worse, names. Certainly these kinds of people are participating, but they are a minority. The majority of people are just like you and me, worried about our future as a society when corporations and politicians seem to be in cahoots to help themselves as they like and ignore “we the people”. They are calling themselves the 99% because the 1% of Americans control a vast majority of American capital, power and influence. For a republican democracy this is wrong.

I support them.

This movement’s slogan seems to be, “I am the 99%” and I understand that. I don’t know if I could honestly say I am one of the 99%, though. Better that I say I am the 0.0000003%. That’s what I am, approximately, as a percentage of the United States population. That’s what we all are, regardless of our wealth, our skin color, our beliefs, education, age or abilities. It reminds me of a cornerstone of American culture, actually… “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Further, from the same document, “…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

99% is not enough. 0.0000003% is a beginning. Join up; we need a revolution.

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2011.08.12

Wealth Entitlement

A lot is said over and over again about entitlements in America. From Medicaid and Social Security to public schools and libraries. Conservatives want to axe entitlement benefits for unemployment, feeding children in poverty, a clean environment and scientific research that could save lives and better everyone. If they could they would even deny you the “entitlement” of freedom of religion; after all, they are all Christian and that’s good enough for them so it should be good enough for you. Do I need to make links for all of these issues or are we basically on the same page?

The one entitlement they will defend with their dying breath is wealth for the already rich. Partly this is because they are already rich and their Congress members make $174,000 a year minimum (in the private sector many of them make loads more). Wow, I’d like to make that much! Another reason they defend the rich is because the wealthy pay for their campaigns, whether individually, as PACs or as groups (lobbyists, corporations, etc). And what do the wealthy want? Aside from a very few who get it, they want to keep their money and grow it at all costs. Wall Street creates a financial disaster and cries, “We’re too big to fail!” So they get bailed out with tax money, grow their business with that tax money and give themselves fat bonuses. Yay money!

As America approached debt default in recent weeks, it’s notable that tax increases were off the table. The rich don’t feel obligated to contribute to the society that allowed them to make their money. They don’t want to help anyone else make money when it could be theirs. What money normal Americans do earn we are encouraged to spend. Seriously? Isn’t government spending exactly what they are railing against? Well, so long as we buy their shit they won’t complain. After all; yay money!

Kill the country already. Bankrupt us. Convince some minority like the Tea Party to keep fighting for your rights. Make us tear our throats out, distracting us from your gluttony and greed, and keep making your money. The Tea Party, most Republicans and not a few Democrats are going to fight anything that will actually save this country till they are dead.

Sadly, it seems no one has the balls to fight this wealth entitlement. There hasn’t been a fighting Democrat in my living memory. Libertarians lack the moral compass to guide their financial system (where amorality is beneficial). Republicans long ago bent over to the wealthy. I hope it feels good for them; it sure hurts the rest of us.

Sadly, the bulk of America is apathetic, ignorant, zealous, or too busy living paycheck to paycheck. So someone put me on that wealth train already (vote me in to Congress!) so when the time comes I can cry that I deserved my wealth rather than earned it and can pass it on to my kids who absolutely deserve to not earn anything but still be outstandingly rich.

Yay money! I deserve it! More than you! Give it to me! You love me, you really do! Yay money!

PS: What’s sad is it isn’t any better anywhere else it seems, at least right now. Better the fracked up system you know than learn a new one?

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  political  rights

2011.07.22

LA’s New Bicycle Law is a Bad Idea

I’ve grumbled plenty about bicycle riders in the past. That’s why the news that LA has passed new bicycle laws without regulating bicyclists as well is a very bad idea.

The ordinance, which backers described as the toughest of its kind in the nation, makes it a crime for drivers to threaten cyclists verbally or physically, and allows victims of harassment to sue in civil court without waiting for the city to press criminal charges.

This takes into no consideration the sometimes dangerous riding habits of bicyclists, nor their sometimes verbal abuse or threatening habits. In fact, it encourages this behavior because any sort of defense by a driver, whether guilty or not, is now instantly cause for a lawsuit. Critical (M)ass must be creaming their spandex pants.

It is my opinion that bicyclists should obey the rule and law of the road, just as drivers must. Drivers have to stop at stop signs and red lights; so must bicycles. Vehicles are not allowed to weave out of control through traffic; bicycles should have the same restriction. Drunk drivers are rightfully punished by law; so should bicycle riders. Drivers must have a valid drivers license, issued after passing written and practical tests; so should bicycle riders.

I agree that vehicle drivers need to be more aware of bicycle riders. I believe there should be more bike lanes in cities. I think there should even be bicycle-only arterial roads through cities. It is my opinion that these things could actually help everyone, drivers and riders.

However, this new law in LA doesn’t help anyone. Enforced niceness isn’t nice at all. Bike riders may think it helps them and their cause, but I can see it making drivers nothing but more aggravated and hostile. Don’t make the situation worse. LA already has a reputation for hostile drivers shooting each other on the highways when someone cuts them off. Get rid of this ill-thought law and put something in place that might actually work.

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2011.07.07

National Debt is a Cancer

Dear Mr. President and members of Congress,

Our national debt is a cancer.

If a person had cancer then any doctor would recommend treating it immediately. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other treatments are not comfortable. They are painful. Yet they must be done. Cutting our national debt, even stopping it from growing, will be painful. Mr. John McCain thinks Americans voted Republicans into office to prevent tax increases. You are wrong, Mr. McCain. You were voted in to create solutions. Now quit fucking around with the future of America and DO THE HARD WORK. DO THE PAINFUL BUT NECESSARY THINGS. Get off your asses and do the right thing.

Our national debt is a disgrace and it will herald problems you can’t even imagine. The debate has turned into negative polemic and no one is putting forth realistic solutions. While the Republicans are rightly saying spending must be curtailed (though only against things they don’t like which is wrong) they are also against any sort of tax increases.

Spending decreases and tax increases must go hand in hand. Cuts must be made across the board, including sacred doves like the military. Consider a simple 20% cut across all levels and in all government sectors. That would reduce our $3.82 trillion spending to right around $3 trillion. Meanwhile increase revenue through taxes and other means by 20% and the $2.17 trillion in government income goes up to $2.6 trillion. Those base numbers are from here.

A $400 billion deficit is much more manageable than the estimated $1.48 trillion. It could be reduced further if the upper echelons of government took a voluntary pay cut, such as to the national individual average (maybe that will motivate you to improve American’s lives a bit). It could be reduced even further by canceling waste, selling hard assets (heck, selling a dozen F-16s at $10 million a pop to our allies would cover a huge portion of it!) and create legislation to stop your pork spending.

If I were diagnosed with cancer I wouldn’t sit around and hope the cancer just went away. I wouldn’t slap a bandage on it. I would go after it, aggressively. I would hate my doctor if only because I hate surgery and all the rest, but I would do it to save my life; in the end I would appreciate that doctor, more than I would be able to express in words. I want to live so I can see my daughter grow up, to help her through life and teach her the values that matter.

America is that patient, and America has been diagnosed with the cancer of national debt. Now be good doctors and do the right thing.

Thank you,
-doug.

4 Comments | Catergorized: grrr  political  thoughts

2011.06.10

Patriotic Millionaires

Certainly, I have spent more than my fair share of time ripping on the excessively wealthy. I have made the mistake, as I have on numerous occasions, of generalizing. It’s a useful tool and I’m not afraid to recognize that there are always exceptions to the rule. Especially when it comes to these greedy, nepotistic, patriarchal criminals called the rich.

Ahem.

Like I was saying, there are exceptions and in this case it is the Patriotic Millionaires.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT, HON. HARRY REID, AND HON. JOHN BOEHNER

We are writing to urge you to put our country ahead of politics.

For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000.

We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.
Our country faces a choice – we can pay our debts and build for the future, or we can shirk our financial responsibilities and cripple our nation’s potential.

Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have.

Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.

They’ve even put together some videos like this to get their message out. My favorite quote from the video: “Rich people are not the cause of a robust economy but the result of a robust economy.”

Not all rich people are evil. Someday I hope to be one of those not-evil people with scads of cash on hand. In the meantime the Patriotic Millionaires can ignore my rants and if any of them want to hire me please contact me.

5 Comments | Catergorized: political

2011.05.25

Magical Conservatism

After reading this article I can’t help but wonder how America would develop if the Republican agenda were to succeed.

Our education system would be in shambles as we cut more and more funding to public education, at least for the majority of students; the rich ones would be able to afford to go to private schools.

The government would shut down as Republicans continue to cut taxes, especially for the rich. The rich will become the phenomenally rich, the middle class will whither and vanish, and the poor will become the majority. Further, following the recent Bush legacy, they would probably increase spending in key areas like the military and private industry subsidies. Meanwhile the so-called entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, programs for unemployment and poverty would be cut entirely. This would have the effect that our deficit wouldn’t grow as quickly as it could, but would still grow.

Religion, at least conservative Christian religion, would flourish. Especially as it, too, would get tacit support from the pathetic government (does anyone remember Bush’s faith based initiatives?). It would further grow as the vanishing middle class joins the abject poor in praying for a solution to their ills. People will no longer ask how they can better themselves and society, they will simply pray to a silent god, “Why?”

Scientific advancement of all sorts would grind to a halt. In fact, it might actually reverse considering the fact that many conservatives deny evolution, that 18% of Americans still believe the sun revolves around the Earth and a good percentage still believe in magic, ESP and ghosts. We’re already shockingly behind in comparison to many other countries. It’s already started with deniers of climate change and the creationism museum. You’ll know science is in trouble when the book burnings begin.

Under a Republican run America, after several decades, the country will be bankrupt. There will be a wealthy elite running things and the rest of us will be grateful for any job that prevents us from starving. Many of these jobs will be in the military, and much of the military action will be policing other Americans. We will be far more religious than at any other time in history, but we will be essentially ignorant of our own religion. As the rest of the world advances in science and technology we will fall way behind, to the point where we won’t even understand how things work and, if you could even afford to travel, visiting a foreign country and seeing how they live would literally be like visiting a magical fairy land. We will be poor, be ruled by the rich, and yet we will still believe in the American myth that we, too, could be rich simply because this is America.

I would have to write another one of these for how America would look if the Democrats vision worked out. It’s different, but also bad. Better than the Republican’s vision, but not by much.

We need a revolution.

1 Comment | Catergorized: grrr  political

2011.05.03

Left Versus Right Chart

Left Versus Right Chart
Left Versus Right Chart
Apparently this chart has been around for a while, but I only recently discovered it. Click on the image to the right or, even better, follow this link to view larger versions. The chart was a collaboration between Stefanie Posavec and David McCandless.

The chart, while limiting in many ways, illuminates many of the core differences between the ideals of the Democrats and the Republicans. Bear in mind the word ideals because many, many people think that there is almost no difference between these parties. Even I am often inclined to agree.

Still, the chart is pretty awesome because it shows something I believe to be generally true, which is that while maybe the two parties express many of the same ideals, though certainly not all, they have different ways of getting to the expression of their philosophies. It reminds me of something Mookee and I used to say about our friendship. We believe in many of the same things but have completely different ways to getting to those same beliefs.

A basic flaw of the chart is that it succumbs to a very conservative myth; the world is black and white. So, for example, social conservatives who are gung ho about dictating and enforcing their views on America clearly fall under the “interfering with society and social lives”. Meanwhile, someone like me, who thinks government should stay the hell out of people’s social and personal lives would fall on the Republican’s side of the chart for “does not interfere with society or social lives”.

Still, awesome chart. I thought more people should know about it.

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2011.05.02

bin Laden is Dead

On Friday Rosa and I were with friends and somehow we got talking about America’s military involvement in the Middle East. It’s a topic that gets me a little heated and I reminded everyone of our first target in Afghanistan and the primary reason we went there in the first place: to find and bring to justice Osama bin Laden. It’s a topic that most people I talk to seem to have forgotten but that I never have. He was par exemplar of hostis humani generis.

Then last night, just before going to bed, Rosa and I checked the news and saw that, at long last, this scourge to humanity had been killed. His compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan had been raided by members of SEAL Team Six and his body identified by genetic comparison to his sister’s brain. Shortly after he was buried at sea.

My first thoughts are: About f*cking time. Almost TEN years after what is now called 9/11, this terrorist was finally tracked down and, as the pundits are saying, brought to justice. I am loathe to call it justice at this point, but I am… glad…? to see it finally done.

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