Gay Marriage Approved In Ireland

Ireland has just voted in favor of gay marriage.  This is a victory for sanity, dignity, and love.  Ireland, a country that was oppressed by the Church for many years, is now officially more progressive than parts of our country on this issue.  Although I know we will get there eventually, it is shameful that so many people here in the USA are still firmly rooted in the ideas of the past.  All sane people know that those who were against Civil Rights in the 60’s will look eternally foolish when remembered in history books.  So will those that oppose gay marriage now.  However, today is a day to celebrate.  Today brings the world one step closer to justice and equality.

GOP: Deport Dreamers

House GOP Votes to Block Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

The above article is from Huffington Post.  The fact that the House GOP are again trying to stick it to immigrants would be funny, if it weren’t so hateful.  The reason it would be funny is that they are unknowingly creating their own doom.  Not only is it wrong what they are doing, it makes no sense politically if you look at the demographics that are coming down the pike.  They have only been able to hold on to power as long as they have because of all of the gerrymandering that they have done to protect their seats.  Eventually this tactic won’t work.  As America becomes more and more of a multicolored nation, they are dooming themselves to eventual irrelevance.

Now that explains why it is stupid.  Why is it wrong?  Spend some time reading what immigrants go through in this country all of the time:  How they live in fear, how families are broken up, how they are thrown into a labyrinthine injustice system that makes no sense.  These are people.  These are moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, that mostly just want to live a life of decency and follow their dreams.  Immigrants, dating all the way back to before the Civil War, have long been the scapegoat for America’s problems.  Read about the American Party (or The Know Nothing) or if you don’t want to do that much work, watch Gangs of New York to see a fictionalized version.  Here is the wikipedia page for The Know Nothing Party:

The Know Nothing Wikipedia Page

Hispanics are the targets now, but before it was Germans, Irish, Italians, whoever was the latest group of huddled masses looking for a new start.  Well yes, going forward there needs to be some kind of sane immigration policy that actually works to keep people out that enter illegally, but these people are here and they aren’t going anywhere.  We can either treat them with kindness or surrender to the powers of hate and ignorance.  I know which side I would rather be on.

Ted Cruz Will Oversee NASA and Science

ted-cruz-america

Ted Cruz Will Oversee NASA and Science

Just in case you were in a good mood this Monday, the above article is about how Texas religious freak and corporate shill Ted Cruz is scheduled to oversee NASA and science in the new Congress.  Remember in the 60’s when we took science and NASA seriously and put the first man on the moon?  Yeah, while those times are over.  We replaced those with magical thinking and corporate handouts.  This is why the rest of the world is kinda scared of us right now.  USA!  USA!

As someone living in Texas, and who vehemently opposes Ted Cruz, I almost wish the government would “disappear” me.  I don’t want future generations thinking I’m responsible for this shit.

And for those of you that think all politicians are the same, that voting doesn’t count:  I now give you Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Ted Cruz…

Top Ten Torture List and Other Related News

I am getting ready to go on the road today, so time is a little short.  However, I have been reading various articles about the torture report that just came out.  Here is just a sample of the many articles out there.

10 Truly Terrible Things the CIA Did In Our Names, Because Freedom

The above link is a very brief overview of some of the worst parts of the report.  Below is a reposting of Andrew Sullivan’s from 2005 about how Freedom and Torture are at odds:

“Torture is the polar opposite of freedom. It is the banishment of all freedom from a human body and soul, insofar as that is possible. As human beings, we all inhabit bodies and have minds, souls, and reflexes that are designed in part to protect those bodies: to resist or flinch from pain, to protect the psyche from disintegration, and to maintain a sense of selfhood that is the basis for the concept of personal liberty. What torture does is use these involuntary, self-protective, self-defining resources of human beings against the integrity of the human being himself. It takes what is most involuntary in a person and uses it to break that person’s will. It takes what is animal in us and deploys it against what makes us human. As an American commander wrote in an August 2003 e-mail about his instructions to torture prisoners at Abu Ghraib, “The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken.”

What does it mean to “break” an individual?

As the French essayist Michel de Montaigne once commented, and Shakespeare echoed, even the greatest philosophers have difficulty thinking clearly when they have a toothache. These wise men were describing the inescapable frailty of the human experience, mocking the claims of some seers to be above basic human feelings and bodily needs. If that frailty is exposed by a toothache, it is beyond dispute in the case of torture. The infliction of physical pain on a person with no means of defending himself is designed to render that person completely subservient to his torturers. It is designed to extirpate his autonomy as a human being, to render his control as an individual beyond his own reach. That is why the term “break” is instructive. Something broken can be put back together, but it will never regain the status of being unbroken–of having integrity. When you break a human being, you turn him into something subhuman. You enslave him. This is why the Romans reserved torture for slaves, not citizens, and why slavery and torture were inextricably linked in the antebellum South,” 

In my mind anyone that condoned or performed torture should be prosecuted, plain and simple.  I am aware however, that these crimes will probably go unpunished, or if they do, those at the highest level will probably be exempt.  We paid 80 million dollars to psychologists to advise the CIA on torture.  Those are the kind of tax dollars that people should be up in arms about, not implementing things that will benefit citizens like public transportation.  Hopefully someday that will be the case.

If you are interested at reading a more in-depth portrait of the CIA, I recommend Tim Wiener’s book Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.  It not only contains a wealth of fascinating information, but is extremely readable.

Fire From the Mountaintop and Platinum Tanks

Some years ago the rapper Master P had a video in which he and his crew were astride a platinum tank.  I thought at that point the human race had reached the furthest limits in a culture of worshipping wealth and consumerism.  Once you have a platinum tank, how much further as a species can you go in that direction?  It seems we sailed on past that point.  We went over the waterfall and somehow just kept on going downstream.

There is nothing wrong with making money.  I am in two rock n roll bands.  Bands, if you are trying to run them so that you can survive, are businesses.   If you have a product in any field that you believe in, and try to sell it at a fair price and run your business with some integrity, you are doing society a good service.  You are creating jobs and providing people with services and goods that they desire.

What I’m talking about is the kind of hero worship of the wealthy that we see in this country.  As if those people, just by the fact that they are rich, are deserving of some kind of acclaim.  Reality TV is filled with people that certain people fawn over just because they have money and act outrageously.  Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Donald Trump’s The Apprentice are two such vile places one can spend time.  Those are easy targets.

We also seem to have hero worship for financial advisors like Suze Orman and Jim Cramer.  These are people that sell us the empty dream of becoming rich without standing for anything.

I’ve seen several studies that show how wealth relates to happiness.  The numbers vary slightly, but one such study claims that after $75,000 a year money ceases to affect your day to day happiness.  You need to have enough money to pay your bills, have freedom from fear of want, and have a little extra money for fun.  After that, money doesn’t necessarily make you any happier.

When people become wealthy, if they are not getting an inheritance, it is because of a combination of hard work and luck.  The hard work shouldn’t be discounted, but neither should the luck.  Luck is not something to worship.  If you were born in the USA, instead of Somalia, you probably have a better chance of getting rich.  That’s just one example.

Instead we should look up to those that have brought new ideas into the world, that have tried to make the world a better place, or that have made others happier.  A great teacher, that has brought the light of knowledge to many students, is more deserving of our applause than some kind of rich mutant like Donald Trump.

Hopefully, some day there will be a new age of heroes.  I’m looking for an age where we look up to people that have brought fire down from the mountaintop to us; a fire of peace, tolerance, and knowledge.  I’m not counting on it, but I’m dreaming.