Archive for March, 2011

Christian abortions

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

To get the 2012 Republican presidential campaign rolling, Mr. Santorum reports our national pension problem results from a proliferation of abortions. Without them, we’d have a new infant supply sufficient to pay for our own generation’s retirement. Personally, I’m more persuaded by research showing the dramatic decrease in crime these last decades results from the availability of abortions in poor communities, where mothers choose not to produce children doomed by circumstances to frustration, failure, and violence. Simply look at education in this country, and you’ll see people who like kids don’t go into politics.

The conflict over abortion rights isn’t about unborn babies, it’s about full-grown adults. The talk about ‘life,’ when it begins and ends, who created it, who controls it, ad nauseum, isn’t really about somebody else’s life. It’s about our own lives. We believe we’re talking about us, about that thing we share with all other people that makes us special, gives us meaning, sets us apart, and justifies every feeling and thought we have. That’s why people opposing abortion rights keep going round and round their topic in every imaginable, personal way; they’re trying to touch that point, where-ever it is for you, that you suddenly realize: they’re talking about my life! They’re talking about me! Abortion rights people want to kill me!

Opposing abortion rights is all about loving yourself. Jesus famously says, “love your neighbor.”

I question my morality.

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I was raised by a fanatical single mom who threatened me with eternal Hell if I didn’t do as I was told. Literally. I doubt I’ll ever get over it. But I’ve a fair rational faculty, and I’ve chosen to embrace my faith rather than recoil from it. I’ve discovered Jesus really isn’t the guy she said he is.

Still, I wonder about my motives. When I think I ‘should’ do something, perhaps I’m subtly pondering some eternal reward. If I believe I ‘should not’ do something, maybe I’m simply afraid I’ll have to answer for it when I die.

This is a heavy load to carry, so I’ve tried not to burden my children with it. I think the morality I’ve invited them into exists; that sensitive, relaxed people can intuitively feel and act according to the presence of genuine good and evil, as these confront them. But I don’t often see it around me.

Fear itself

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The only thing we have to fear is… our failure to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Let me be crystal clear about this: the Constitution must be the law of the land. Confused Democrats, frightened by the Republican Party – a genuine enemy of the country – stand behind a man betraying his most sacred trust.

Detention without trial is a violation of the Constitution. Search and seizure without due process is a violation of the Constitution. A presidential declaration of war is an explicit violation of the Constitution.

I observed we were waging war against Libya without a Congressional declaration to a friend who said, ‘oh that’s okay – it’s a UN thing.’ Subordination to a higher political authority is not part of the document. If you could contract away your civil liberties, the Bill of Rights would be a joke. If the Constitution permitted Congress to pass a law granting perpetual presidential authority to declare war, it wouldn’t explicitly state only Congress has power to declare war.

I think it’s too late. This administration’s actions on education, finance, and foreign policy make it clear we are now in service to some idea of a larger, global governing scheme. Power no longer derives from the American people.

The shores of Tripoli

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I think I remember something about Tom Jefferson and the separation of powers. Maybe Congress kind of waffled on the war thing, so he pulled Commander in Chief and ordered the Navy over to the North African coast, then dared them not to pay for it. Maybe that’s all a crock. Some day I’ll ask my kid to look it up.

Anyway I’m thinking I pretty much don’t know what’s going on. Sure, we don’t generally impose no-fly zones to protect African lives, but nobody’s saying a whole lot of wonderful stuff about Muammar, either. It feels a little like we sat around a month waiting for the accounting department, got a ‘go’ on the budget, and Obama figures the boys can wrap it all up for only fifty or sixty billion. Great practice for future no-fly zones, while we’re at it. A few more orders to the cruise missile companies?

Still, I feel like my position is never to take a position. I’m always lukewarm (lukecold?) and I can’t tell right from wrong when I see it. I just want to climb way out on this limb and say: it must be replaceable governments established by popular votes are better than hereditary anythings. So I’m saying it. I’m hoping for democracies in North Africa. Even though, well, look what happened to us.

Still looking over there…

Friday, March 18th, 2011

I used to go to parties and sit in a corner. Sometimes I’d be approached and someone would try to get me to dance or come over to the crowd. Sometimes I came over and after a while the crowd moved away and I was left standing, wishing I had the comfort of the chair over in the corner. After a few years I figured out I liked people, but I didn’t find most of them very interesting. I’ve spent a lot of time by myself. The party has moved pretty far away.

People have told me it’s a ‘social responsibility’ to carry a cell phone, and been frustrated because I don’t have one. I hear now, I can’t be in the popular crowd if I don’t have a Facebook account. I guess folks don’t use email anymore. They spend their time reading automatic website updates, streamed to them from ‘friends’ who get to be friends by talking about themselves. I remember when People Magazine was first published. There was a lot of concern the public would never buy a book with nothing but pictures of celebrities. Now those of us in the happening public spend our time looking at pictures of each other.

Anyway, I’ve been very lucky (‘blessed,’ if I’m honest about how it feels). I’ve got a great family and a comfortable income and a house in one of the most pleasant parts of the world. I work with the latest technology, play with latest toys, and try to give change to the panhandlers when it’s not inconvenient. I like video phoning, but if you want me to read what you’re writing, send me an email.

Why we wrote a Constitution

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Once upon a time businesspeople didn’t run the world. The Church ran the world, and stifled all other interests and activities with its monolithic power. So the American rebels announced power must reside in a voting public, and they wrote a document for people to defend instead of the Bible.

Today, a business oligarchy runs the world, and stifles all other activities and interests with its monolithic power. It claims the Constitution was written to enforce this. I think we wrote the document to divorce our people’s government from whatever the prevailing tyranny, not to endorse a particular one.

The idea is, if we trust human beings we’re going to suffer for it. Hero worship will get you enslaved every time. But if you can hammer out a set of objective rules, and get people devoted to them, you’ve got a chance at some longer term social prosperity. Probably not forever. If we can’t figure out the new money religion is as dangerous as the old Church of England, the experiment is over.

In the spirit of the Constitution we still have, the next amendment might very well best be, “Congress shall make no law preferring an establishment of business.”

A lot of ‘racist’ nonsense

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

It’s unwise to pretend you’re better than you are. It ends badly. We’re all racists. Of course we are. The overwhelming scientific evidence is we type people on similarities to ourselves, and respond antagonistically to those with differences, especially if times are tough. But we’re stuck – thank God! – with a social morality insisting all people are equal. So there is considerable pretense in our posturing.

There’s been a surge in public anti-black prejudice since the presidential election, and the Republican party is using it to push its anti-middle class legislation under the guise of being anti-Obama. We all see this. We all know, in fact, our generation’s politics are powerfully shaped by the demographic shift away from a national white majority. Grassroots Republican politics is often the terrified yelpings of privileged whites who fear the tables being turned against them.

These antagonisms are intentional, of course, since visual distinctions are only artificial differences. Somebody has to be standing behind us, screaming the guys over there are the enemy because they look different in a mirror. Personally, I’m a bit uneasy on the sidewalk approaching any group of self-consciously violent people, be they stereotypically outfitted white skinheads or black gangstas. It’s not skin color I’m worried about.

The politics of general welfare

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

It’s important to look for agreement, promote hope through persuasion, and offer support to good ideas from even the blackest perspectives. But I’ve chosen not to. Today’s Republican Party is the enemy of the American people. It is the political wing of a financial autocracy which believes it controls the nation, and acts only to increase that control. The Party exists to secure ownership of the national wealth by a tiny elite, and to enforce the perpetual servitude of everyone else. This should feel familiar. It’s been the objective of despots since time began.

Today’s incarnation is as ugly as any. Tyrants divide their public into competing factions, each fighting for scraps from the master’s table. They reward the most loyal minions with trifles for policing their neighbors. They succeed by persuading many they are the best hope for the desperate. Like Mubarak warning of chaos were he to leave, the Republicans warn of economic disaster if the big banks aren’t paid.

The Republican Party claims to be Christian, family-loving, austere, and faithful. It does so by proudly opposing liberty, choice, education, employment, and health care. Its addlepated puppets scream that paying debts – giving your taxes to the rich – is the only political good. The Party enlists the discontented with rhetoric about personal safety, the menace of state regulation, and threats from the poor, unemployed, and recently immigrated. It captures the allegiance of the frightened and angry by promising the simple solution of abandoning social responsibility, and trusting the boss.

I believe, in the long run, wiser folks than myself will prevail, through kindness, and achieve a self-conscious democracy where wealthy and workers share rights and opportunities as a single people. But I don’t have the guts to lie down in the road. We’re under assault by an identifiable foe which intends to destroy us. At every turn, without hesitation or regret, I will oppose it.

Hi, I am, and I’m an alcoholic.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

There was a time I drank a lot. Really, I drank a lot. I’ve been down there: no friends, no other interests, plain, physically, sick. It’s not romantic. It’s not inviting. It’s a bad thing. I enjoyed it. It’s who I am. If the rest of you didn’t exist, I’d be thrilled to go home to lie on the couch with a bottle of whiskey, babbling to myself until three o’clock in the morning, and waking up wanting to do it again. If the rest of you didn’t exist.

I’ve passed a landmark, of sorts. The number of years since I stopped drinking now exceed the number of years I had been alive when I quit. It was a long time ago. I spent a lot of time praying out loud about it, before I took my last drink. I wanted to be a ‘good’ person. There was an ache in my heart about that. I wanted to feel good, and I’ve never felt better than when I’m getting drunk. I’m not a coward. I didn’t hold back out of self-preservation. I stood in front of the mirror shaking and sweating, and I thought about choosing to live or die. It was a tough choice.

But I’m not ambivalent about it. When an old man gives up motorcycle racing because he knows he’ll have the accident that kills him, he doesn’t spend the rest of his life wishing he had the guts for one last wild ride. He’s happy to be alive. I know other alcoholics, and I’ve learned to listen with great respect. I think we’ve all made up our stories and they’re very important to us. I chose to live, and that was that. It’s who I am.