Sunday, August 05, 2012

Climate Change: Time for a Consumer Guide

I am living through a drought, here in Missouri, like I have never seen before. My garden is on life support, shrubs are struggling, and I have already lost many plants due to the heat. A couple of weeks ago I had to put a soaker hose on my Privet hedges because they were starting to wilt. I have never had to do that before, and I have lived in several places with Privet hedges. Fortunately they perked up and seem to be doing well now, but it was a sobering experience.  I am certainly open to the idea that this summer may be an anomaly, but equally open to the idea that it may not be. Have we crossed the Rubicon when it comes to climate change?

Denial of global warming is still rampant, and it is clear that our government lacks the political will to do anything even when some others are preparing.  For example, in England the government is making some practical suggestions for their particular situation.  In Germany the dialogue has begun too (like England they have moved beyond dickering if it is going to happen and assume it will), but Der Spiegel has been critical that Bonn is not doing enough.  For a lot of reasons we are on our own here, and I am ready to start planning now what it is I can do myself.

A few years ago I read somewhere that Missouri was expected to become like Oklahoma if the Earth warmed up one or two degrees. I have no idea if that is true, or even much of an idea of what weather is like in Oklahoma, but that proves my point. We lack good information about what we need to do to prepare in the event that our weather is changing - that the world is warming up. Also, we are told by many scientist that it is not just an increase in the temperature, but there is also a prediction of increased volatility.  Some scientist are predicting we will have more extremes with  more severe weather events.  What is the point?

I believe I am not alone in being concerned, and not alone in thinking that if things get bad with climate change the government is not going to respond effectively.  At least not for a long time.  Think about it.  So far government response has been anemic at best. Unfortunately, the government is too preoccupied with internecine concerns, and hubris, to govern wisely. We may very well be on our own. What to do?  Do what we can to prepare for the possibility, and start preparing now. Also, to help one another.  Here is my own preliminary list of what I want to do:

1. Prepare for Missouri to be one zone hotter than it has been and for even more unpredictable weather.
2. Being planting drought resistant plants.
3. Eliminate what grass I can, where feasible, and replace it with  more practical (preferably edible) plants that can take hotter and drier weather.
4. Create more shade.

That is as far as I have gotten. My next step is to do a web search, and find what credible sources I can that might help me plan. Moving moderately in this direction is, I think, prudent, and can do no harm, will will probably do much good.  I also want to start talking with other like minded people so that we can share ideas.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vertical and Horizontal Economies

For most of the history of the United States there has been a vertical economy. Something like an elevator where people went up, and people went down, according to their luck, and perhaps even their hard work and determination. The people at the top were connected to the people at the bottom in such a way that if the bottom economic strata did too poorly the wealthy would feel the pinch. In other words, if the working person could not afford to buy goods and services the corporations producing those goods and services faltered as did their owners. People of modest means sometimes did become wealthy, and our history is full of examples of that. This system did not work perfectly but there was a feeling that everyone had a chance, and that we were all in this thing together. During that time character, hard work, and determination could actually make a difference. That has changed.

Today we have a stratified horizontal economy. The upper economic echelons have managed to decouple from the lower echelons to such an extent that the economic wellbeing of the top (1 -3 percent perhaps of the total population) in this flat economy is not dependent on the other. The economic well-being of the economic elite in this country has nothing to do with the economic well-being of what has been lately called the 99%. Through the mutation of the political process, as well as the mutation of economic institutions (including their structure, their regulatory environment, and other factors such as corporate globalization) we have gone through a radical process which has brought us to the Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission decision. You see, corporations are people too, and they should have the right to spend as much money as they want while all we are left with is one vote, and increasingly empty pockets. That is, when the voting machines have not been tampered with, or we have not otherwise been prevented from entering the voting booth.

In this new economy wealth is modular.  Money can be moved around, manufacturing can be moved around, and cheap pliable labor can always be found somewhere. Everything is portable – including, especially, profits. It is an amazing system, cleverly designed, and viciously propagandized. For all practical purposes the economic elite in this country can prosper even when those with less wealth suffer here or wherever operations happen to be. Under the current economic system the wealthy have no motive whatsoever to fret about those less fortunate than them.  This is even more true with the new jazzed up market based institution that often passes nowadays for Christianity that views wealth as a just reward bestowed upon those who deserve it.  Poverty is of course the just reward for those that deserve it.  As a matter of fact, it is increasingly popular to view those who are not doing so well economically as having nobody to blame but themselves. The remarkable thing about this phenomenon is that it would not work without the paradoxical support, and participation, of a middle class that lives increasingly poorer, and votes increasingly richer.

Obama isn't perfect, and he gives a lot of conflicting messages. However, he is the last man standing who is a vestige of that old vertical system where talent, chutzpah, intelligence, and hard work could make a difference. His opponent is a clueless member of the power elite who has no idea of what my life is like, and who never will. He doesn't get it, he doesn't get me, and he doesn't get my vote. Romney is not in my best interest because he lives in a strata way above me in this new flat, horizontal, economy.  He does not know the context of my life.

We are on the verge of becoming economic serfs tied to student loans, debt, and under/unemployment unless we somehow manage to defeat Romney. Romney is a symptom of a system gone terribly wrong.  If Romney is elected it will be because he waged a marketing campaign rather than an election.  If Obama is elected it will be because we the people have finally reached a limit of what we will allow money to buy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cain and Rotten Tomatoes

The effectiveness of Cain's campaign staff has come under scrutiny. Politico, as well as other media outlets have criticized how poorly his staff handled the crises that has come about from Cain's alleged womanizing. I do not think that is fair.

If I have a rotten tomato I cannot sell it because it is, well, rotten. It is a bad product nobody wants.  No matter how I market that tomato the fundamental inadequacy of the product is the real issue, not the way I am packaging it.   Arguably Cain's staff was inexperienced, but I don't know if even a political master mind like Karl Rove could salvage him. 

Message to Occupy:  Change Tactics

In military tactics a fixed position is vulnerable.  The physical tactic of occupying a given space by the Occupy movement makes it vulnerable.  Also, police are adapting their tactics to the peaceful  movement, and finding that a kinder gentler approach is more effective than the beat, pepper spray, grab, and snatch approach. Another issue is accessibility.

In Egypt the economy was, and is, even much worse than it is here.  This left multitudes of people with nothing better to do with their time than to go to Tahrir Square and hang out. This is not Egypt. At least not yet.

Not everyone can actively participate - the way the movement works now excludes many of those who would like to do more. But, who can afford to camp out for weeks on end?  Most occupy supporters have day jobs, families, kids, or at least gold fish that need some care. Therefore, the number of people who can participate is very limited. Expanding the protest toolbox might also might help what is at least a perceived problem.  There is a perception that the the Occupy movement has a tendency to attract some people that are unemployed not because there is a bad economy, but for other reasons that are not so palatable.

I don't have the answer.  All I know is that Occupy tactics need to change. The Occupy movement needs to involve more of the middle class, and also find a way to connect with the African American community as well as other minority groups.  Those things will not happen on there own without deliberate steps being taken.  Some tentative progress in that direction was taken when the unions became involved, but it was not enough.

I don't think the Occupy movement has the resources to take the next step.  I think that it is time for such groups as the NAACP, and other truth & justice movements to reach out to join our brothers and sisters who have been out there alone putting themselves on the line. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Open Letter to Brutality

I am talking to the “authorities” in New York, and in Berkley

We are going to put our bodies on the gears. 

 You are not keeping the peace when you order, and when you participate, in brutalizing the people. Following orders is not an excuse, and complaints about people peeing on the sidewalk are no excuse. In fact, you are looking  for  A N Y  excuse because you r masters, the ones who have bought you, are demanding you do something to earn your keep.  You are no better than the despots of the Middle East, nor the hate mongers of the south during the civil rights movement.  In “just” doing your job, you are giving up your humanity.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The New Frugality and the Ruppie

       The election of Ronald Reagan was a seminal shift in the American experience.  That shift in thinking was reflected in Family Ties where Michael J. Fox portrayed an unabashedly materialistic young man by the name of Alex P. Keaton . Let us call Alex P. Keaton the first prototype of what we will now call a ruppie.  I will define the term shortly.

       Around the time of Reagan, and the fictional ruppie Mr. Keaton,  I witnessed the death of progressive thinking, and activism, on the college campus.  This shift was not entirely due to Reagan, and certainly the character of Alex P. Keaton is a symptom rather than a cause. The mechanics, and logistics, of that shift is a fascinating thing to ponder.  Regardless of the reason though, we have to deal with the effects. The effects have been enormous.  This process of shifting to the right has continued to the point that any program to help ease the plight of the less fortunate is viewed as socialism, and the average American now identifies with the causes of the rich. We maintain our believe in the myth of a classless society. The shock troops for this move to the right have been the ruppie.

       Now it is not unusual to hear young authors, and thinkers, scold us while they pitch their book or views.  We are called on the carpet for our excessive spending, and not living within our means as if social programs were a luxury we cannot afford. There are older critics to be sure, but the young modern day ruppie is more interesting. So, what is a ruppie?  A ruppy is our modern equivalent of the old yippie.  A ruppie is a yippie in elected office. Ruppies have the answers. Rand Paul, and Eric Cantor are poster boys for ruppies.

       Ruppies are wiser than us.  They read Ayn Rand, they wear cuff links, and they smell good.  They are fit.  They are rich, and we know of course that the rich are smarter than us, work harder, and deserve everything they snatch out of our hands. We know that even though it is naughty to say it out loud. We all want desperately to be ruppies ourselves.  Ruppies presume to tell us  how we are like children who squandered our allowance for frivolous and childish things.  We are told that we need "adults" to be in charge since we are incapable of running our own monetary affairs.  American is going to hell in a hand basket because of our spendthrift ways.  We have been bad. Not even God can help us, because God cannot make campaign contributions.  Business and greed will save us with the help of well paid ruppies.  Or at least those of us that are worth saving. Our evil socialist ways have been our downfall.  Only the stern Calvinistic intervention of the very brave (and the very well funded) will save us all from disaster.  They are our last hope.

       Most people in the establishment now parrot the ruppie message which has become our operative axiom.  It has become accepted that healthcare, and social security are an extravagance, while every advantage is given to the monied class to rape and pillage us, the environment, and even the whole world financially in a scorched earth policy that is nothing but the gospel of greed.

      Extremism on the left and the right are dangerous.  What alarms me now is how deviant our culture has become in its rush to embrace a materialistic worldview (which was, by the way, a legitimate criticism of Marxism).  I object to the soulless ghouls who believe in social darwinism.  The business of America should not be business.  The business of America should be people, with business taking a supportive, but secondary role.  I do know we have to pay the bills and I resent being talked down to by the ruppies and their elder allies. There is at least one possible antidote that I know of to the ruppie, and the nonsense they bring with them. That antidote  is the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The youth are waking up, and they are concerned about what they see.So am I.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Everything is for Sale

Interesting Dylan Ratigan interview with Tom Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, about how "in politics everything is for sale."

If congress is for sale the question is who is buying them?  It certainly isn't you or I unless we are a corperation or a multimillionaire.  The plutocracy reigns.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Perry: Good News for Obama and Bad News for Romney

     The Republican lineup for the upcoming presidential election is filled mostly with nut cases or dilettantes.  Rick Perry, or "Bush on steroids" as one pundit called him, is now leading the pack in the Republican field for the nomination. However, Perry also calls to my mind the fictional character of Elmer Gantry.  Despite all that there is one fatal flaw in Perry's campaign.  Perry.
     Perry is so divorced from reality, having suffered sun stroke in the Texas heat (which is not caused by global warming by the way because that is a myth) that he will self-destruct in a general election.  His new book, Fed Up, is a childish rant filled with nonsense, and his stance on the issues is so untenable to the average person that he will end up failing in his bid for the presidency if he wins the nomination. He could win the nomination though.  That might be Obama's only hope.  Perry is so bad he makes Romney look good.  I am not kidding.  We are scrapping the bottom of the barrel.
     Obama has shown himself to be all show and no go.  He inherited a mess, but failed to capitalize on the fact that Bush created it.  Even with the house and the White House his presidency faltered while Boehner continues to bully him.  Boehner is disdainful and dismissive of Obama.   Most Republicans hate the president, and are more concerned with seeming him fail than that you or I have a job. 
     Richard Nixon was more liberal than Obama.  And, despite his personality disorder issues, it seems maybe a better president when you factor out Watergate and Vietnam. Obama has decided to be everything for everybody and as a result he is nothing to anybody.  Can he change this?  Maybe, but this time around people are going to want to see action rather than words.  Obama has talked enough.  Time for him to be president and lead rather than try to mediate or build a consensus.  The person who has the most power in a relationship is the one who cares about it the least.  
     The Republicans, and their devil children the Tea Party, have no respect for the president and will hound him out of town if things continue to go the way they are now.  That is unfortunate.  Not because I am such a big fan of Obama anymore, but because he is maybe the lesser of two evils.  The defeat of Obama could likely usher in the most right wing government this country has ever seen, and a government bought and paid for by the plutocracy which now mostly rules us anyway.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gunslinger Wannabe Sen. Tom Coburn

This brief quote from Politico says it all:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) ripped his colleagues during a tour of northeast Oklahoma, calling them “career elitists,” “cowards” and said, “It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.”

Where do these people come from?  Whatever happened to courtesy, and respect for others?  Coburn is not only guilty of bad manners, he is guilty of inflammatory speech in the lowest form of demagoguery .It is very sad that a person elected to national office uses that type of language..

I grew up with guns, but parted ways with the NRA years ago because of this kind of thinking.  I am not anti-gun - I just do not worship them.  I have taught my kids how to shoot. Unfortunately, guns are a tool capable of doing much bad, and much bad they do in the hands of irresponsible people.  Talk like this only trivializes the criminal use of guns.  Now, Coburn will argue he is only kidding and that his words are not to be taken literally.  I do not think that is totally true.  I think there is a part of people, that he is appealing to and that he is exercising, which would like to resort to brutish behavior when handling disagreements. 

Fox news, and talk radio have fanned these flames of anger for years. MSNBC is not much better.  America is angry, the tea party is about anger, but anger is one of the most destructive emotions we have.  Everyone is angry, but nobody is doing anything constructive.  That includes the president.

I am told that Tom Coburn is a member of the First Baptist Church of Muskogee, Oklahoma.  I would suppose then that he is a Christian, and believes in Christian values.  Would you call his behavior Christian, or is this what Christian values go for these days? It is a sad day.  It is a sad day when in this country our political rhetoric includes talk of getting a gun and going after those we disagree with.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cameron Perfidity on London Riots

David Cameron has been able to take cover, using the smoke rising from the London riots, from the attention that was being turned toward his administration regarding the cell phone hacking scandal in England. I think that his comments to Parliament are hypocritical.

In his address he blamed parents, and promised unprecedented police powers  to get things under control. Cutting short his vacation he quickly tried to stake out the high moral ground sounding like a parson from the pulpit as he condemned the riots.  The actions of the rioters are in fact deplorable, but his public explanation of what is going on is too simplistic.   What he does not understand, or chooses to ignore, is the social conditions in England have led up to this riot with a large segment of the population feeling disenfranchised. 

What concerns me is that the rich and powerful are getting away with their criminal behavior using their power, influence, and control over the political process.  For them, the riots could not have come at a better time.

Riots like those that are happening in England, and those that occurred here in the United States during the tense days of the civil rights movement, do not happen in a vacuum.   They are deplorable, and they do need to be controlled.  But, there also needs to be an honest look at why people take to the streets.  Look at the lame excuses that middle east tyrants used to explain why people were rioting in their countries!  Their explanations were ludicrous, as are the explanations being given by David Cameron. 

Riots do not occur because of bad parenting.  They occur because of bad governing.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Truman University Students Pulled from Summer Jobs

Correction to this story:  The current president was NOT at the helm when John Ashcroft was invited to speak.  My first version of this blog erroneously assumed that he was.

Under the guise of protecting students, Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., pulled students from summer jobs which would have had them scientifically monitoring odor from corporate hog farms.  The hog farms have long been viewed by some locals as a public nuisance, and possible health hazard.  Please view the excellent article from the Kansas City Star that outlines the details. It is a complicated story, but deserves your attention.  My point here is to address how a university, which should be a champion of truth, caved into political pressure when it ended up rejecting the $20,000 grant (that it had already agreed to) which would have paid the Truman students to perform the monitoring. 

Here is an excerpt from the Kansas City Star article which quotes Truman's president:

"We came to the conclusion that by having our students participate, there was a risk they could be brought into the middle of ongoing legal disputes between PSF and the attorney general and citizen groups," Paino said. "We didn't think that would be in the best interest of the students."

In today's world everyone bows to money, and the will of the people is subverted through a  political system that is available to the highest bidder.  In the words of economist James Galbraith, we are now in a situation where "there are only lobbyists and the politicians who do their bidding" (The Predator State, p. 5). Instead of taking the opportunity to go against that trend Truman State University gave into pressure, and then gave the very weak excuse that it wanted to keep the students out of a difficult situation.  I do not think that is true, or is at least only a small portion of the truth.  By all appearances Truman University succumbed to political pressure orchestrated by a corporate lobbyist, and executed by elected representatives who did their masters biding. The excuse given was, well, hogwash.

We should expect more from academia.  Academia serves as one of our searchlights, with its emphasis on academic freedom, assisting us as we explore diverse opinions in our search for truth.

I am sure the president of Truman is a good man.  I am sure that he was in a difficult situation, and received lots of pressure.  But, such crucial moments is when real leadership should come forward.  Unfortunately this kowtowing to power and money has become part of academic culture as we experience the commodification of education at all levels.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is going on with pensions?

For years now companies have been finding ways to get out of pensions and recently the Pentagon has been complaining about pensions and rising healthcare costs. It is rare now for a company to even offer any kind of retirement plan other than the Russian roulette we call the 401K.

Back to the military.  I find it disingenuous for this country to use and abuse the people, and families, in uniform with all of our foreign adventures and then complain about the long term costs.  Didn't anyone think about that before we began our shenanigans in Afghanistan and Iraq?  Clearly a commitment was made to those people we have put in harms way, those that have been wounded (physically, mentally, and spiritually) knowing that there would be a cost down the road.  Rising health care is not some new phenomena that appeared all of a sudden taking us all by surprise.

All of a sudden decent pensions, good paying jobs, and good benefits are seen as luxury items.  Conversely, insanely expensive weapons systems, policing the whole world, tax breaks for the wealthy, and tax breaks/subsidies for business with a made to order congress to do its bidding are seen as necessities.

Life is not about profit.  It is not about power.  It is about people.  Yet, our political system ignores the plight of the average citizen while working overtime to create a system which is toxic morass for people, but  in which greed and hubris flourish like the noxious weeds they are.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Congressional Investment Geniuses

Evidently members of congress are investment geniuses as evidenced by this story that was covered by the Huffington Post:

Four university researchers examined 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House representatives from 1985 to 2001, and found what they call "significant positive abnormal returns," with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually.

Here is the citation for the article which was the source of the Huffinton Post story:

Ziobrowski, Alan J.; Boyd, James W.; Cheng, Ping; and Ziobrowski, Brigitte J. (2011) "Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives," Business and Politics: Vol. 13: Iss. 1, Article 4.

This article only added to my disgust of how power in this country has corrupted the political process and money is absolutely the king, or the god, to which we all now must bow. I read stories about people being charged with insider trading while congress has been doing this for years.  I thank the authors of the study for their painstaking work which documents just one of the many abuses

I want elected officials who:

Do not have fake tans
Do not wear cuff links
Are not millionaires
Do not have better healthcare or retirement benefits than I do
Do not show naughty pictures of themselves on social media
Do not cheat on their wife, and take part in raising their kids

We continue to have a political process that elects people who are completely  out of touch with the average citizen. The Tea Party folks are rightly upset at the current political process, but have hitched their wagon to the wrong star.   Also, their movement is one that is being turned against the citizenry rather than one that will liberate it.  Why is the middle class so enamored of cannibalism, so fond of fratricide, and so averse to seeing the truth of their situation?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Democracy In Egypt

In Tunisia and Egypt we have seen unprecedented spontaneous popular revolts against moribund dictatorships. What kind of hubris makes a person think that they can rule over millions of their fellow citizens for decades without elections? These leaders not only rob the national wealth of their countries, they steal the national soul.  Whenever the people rise up to throw off their chains of oppression it is a time for the rest of the world to support and applaud their efforts.

It is time for the American people to support these movements.  Dr. Martin Luther King famously battled with President Kennedy and then President Johnson regarding civil rights reform.  Both leaders urged patience cautioning that the time was not yet right.  There is a famous picture of Johnson and King together at the White House and you can tell from that image things are not going well.  They are disagreeing as to the pace of reforms.  But, those reforms came in their own good time. 

I have been disturbed to hear how it is not in the best interest of the United States for Mubarak to be kicked out of office. Some say that it will destabilize the region and cause problems for Israel.  I do not buy that.  It is immoral, it is evil, to stand in the way and block the will of the Egyptian people as they struggle to throw off their oppression.  Years ago my ancestors strove to throw off the oppression of another Egyptian leader - Pharaoh.

If Mubarak is not removed from office he will go onto punish those who have participated in the uprising and take evasive action to prevent further revolt in the future.  Egypt is not his private fiefdom.  The future of Egypt is not dependent on Mubarak and he is not the savior of the Egyptian people.  They will save themselves if he will only get out of the way. They will save themselves if we gave them our support.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nothing but Victims

A gentle reply turns away wrath, but a distressing word stirs up anger.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 15:1 

The shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is such an immense tragedy because it leaves behind nothing but a trail of victims.  This includes everyone killed, injured, witnesses, the community, and even the nation as it struggles to come to terms with it.  Including Jared Loughner and his parents.  The suspect, from all the information available so far, is mentally ill, and for whatever reason went untreated with tragic consequences.

Who is to blame?  Not Sarah Palin, not the other conservative pundits, not thirty round clips, but rather a complex matrix of interrelated circumstances which have created an atmosphere not just of incivility, but something more sinister.  We just do not give a damn about other people anymore.  Everyone is mad as hell, everyone hates the other side (liberals hate conservatives and conservatives hate liberals) and the tone of the discourse is horrific.  We use such strong rhetoric, myself included, and we forget that words are powerful. 

The Torah teaches us that the world was created with words.  Words are the basic technology of human communication and everything else, including this medium, are just variations of a theme. It still all comes to words. And we are careless with that precious gift.

When you start using words that talk about killing, "taking out", "in our sights", and all those other phrases that allude to violence you are asking for trouble.  We carelessly use those  euphemisms as if they have no real consequences.  But, it is really not cute, and it is really not clever. Not anymore. It is dangerous. It is no longer just rhetoric, it is fighting words, and words that shape and form the way we deal with each other. It creates an attitude and an atmosphere.  That atmosphere was something that  Jared Loughner picked up on - it was in the vary highly charged and polarized air of Arizona he breathed in everyday. Then he acted upon what everyone else was just talking about.  The symbolic talk of violence, and killing suddenly became real.

Society failed to respond to Loughner's decompensation because of our distraction.  We have other things on our mind.  Jared Loughner is a disturbed person in a society that has been at continuous war for ten years, where people use maps with gun sights (please Sarah, ... your better than that,... they were not surveyors symbols,... they were gun sights) on them in political advertisements,  think they need thirty round clips for their pistol, and where materialism reigns.  One thing by itself is not so insidious, but all together look at the big picture.  It is heartbreaking.  We are arrogant gun slinging cowboys and we scare the crap out of the rest of the world.

This is a great country that has squandered its wealth and reputation.  We are broke.  We cannot heal the sick, feed the hungry, and we are not even willing to try anymore.  We have given up. 

Ostensibly this is a nation guided, at least in large part, by Christian values. I am Jewish, but I admire very much what seems to me to be the core values of Christianity which are beautiful.    Things like the Sermon on the Mount and the blessings it contains such as the Beatitudes.  What would Jesus do?  I don't think Jesus would have much use for a 9mm Glock, or spend the wealth of a great nation  fighting wars in two countries. I don't think Jesus would talk about killing Michael Moore.  I don't think Jesus would go to a political rally with an assault rifle.  I think Jesus would have other things to do.  Things that might make a positive difference. I think Jesus would try to heal rather than hurt or blame.

We appear to be a vindictive, mean spirited, nation of intolerant bigots. We sound like it, and we act like it.  Maybe we are, but I am not ready to concede that yet. Not entirely.  I think that we have allowed our values to be hijacked by leaders in politics and popular culture who are only after money and power.  They steal our soul. The tea party is right about one thing - the leadership of this country has failed us.

So we are all victims of this shooting.  We are all responsible as well.  Whenever we gossip and use the power of language to degrade or dehumanize another for whatever reason we do great harm. Words count.  This incident has renewed in me a respect for right speech.  It must begin with me, then I must work with my family and those within my sphere of influence not by preaching but by example in curbing my own talk.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Preamble to the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Preamble to the Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords
(A found poem)

By Mike Perkins


"Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could." – Glen Beck


We the People of the United States,
"This is just the first salvo in a fight to elect people across the nation who will bring common sense to Washington.”  - Sarah Palin

in Order to form a more perfect Union,
"I just wish Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had flooded them out, and I wouldn't have rescued them." - Bill O’Reilly

establish Justice,
“Capital punishment is our way of demonstrating the sanctity of life." - Orrin Hatch

insure domestic Tranquility,
''The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.'' —Pat Robertson

provide for the common defence,
"When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I'm just like, 'Oh shut up' I'm so sick of them because they're always complaining." – Glenn Beck

promote the general Welfare,
 “God says, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.' ” – Ann Coulter

and secure the Blessings of Liberty
“If you think the United States has stood still, who would have built the largest shopping center in the world?” - Richard M. Nixon

 to ourselves and our Posterity,
"I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus - living fossils - so we will never forget what these people stood for." - Rush Limbaugh

do ordain and establish
“Let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do — let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work. “ - Rush Limbough

this Constitution for the United States of America.
"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee,’ That's just a joke, for you in the media."  - Ann Coulter



"I went to Safeway the movie this weekend with a gun." - Glenn Beck