Friday, September 30, 2005

Scary stuff

Last night, on ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel, Senators Frist(R, TN) and Reid(D, NV) discussed the possibility of the feared panedemic like the one experienced in 1918, following the First World War. Alarm bells are sounding. The WHO is trying to allay fears by predicting only 7.4 million deaths, but would not say the prediction of 150 million by David Nabarro, of the UN is a far-fetched prediction. I personally suffered from the flu last winter for over a week and thought I was gonna die(not really, but I sure felt like it). I've been meaning to read the latest books about the 1918 pandemic, not that historical information would matter. My grandfather was an infant that year, but he survived (still alive, thank the Lord). There's no time for a vaccine if the avian flu reached us now(6-9 months minimum for HALF the populus), but the Senate has passed a bill for $3.9 Billion in a defense appropriations bill to provide the anti-viral agent to save lives. Our system is unready for an outbreak for the moment, according to Frist(a noted doctor, except for the famous video 'diagnosis' of the unfortunate Teri Schiavo, RIP). Certainly more details upcoming.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Unlikely Angel"

Check out this article from Commercial Appeal in Memphis about Ashley Smith, who was held hostage by the Atlanta courtroom killer(and rapist) Brian Nichols. Seems she did more than read religious texts and scriptures to her assailant. She gave him methamphetamine after he asked for marijuana. Glad she survived, but the interviews of her after the ordeal began to grate on my nerves. Her husband was killed in a brawl in which his killer pulled a knife and stabbed him. I hope she has once-and-for-all given up her drug abuse. After three near-death experiences(including her wreck,being near her husband's fatal brawl, and Nichols), it would be wise to change her ways. All this and more in her new book (as if there has ever been a previous).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Masterson's Final Word

I have a lot of respect for Mike Masterson, particularly thru the last election cycle and his berating of "Christian" conservatives and their "judgmentally arrogant" venom spewed at any sense of decency or dialogue within a dissenting electorate. Mike has his reasons for wanting to censor sexually explicit material from the Fayetteville high school library and I don't totally disagree with him. However, in this time in American history where conservatives, long stewing over their several beatings in a row after their impotent administration of America from Wilson's time to the end of Hoover, feel like they've got our liberal democracy by the throat and are itching to kill it once and for all as John Adams and his anti-seditionist(sedition meaning ANY disagreement or public voicing of dissent) Federalist mob tried so many years ago. Stifling speech is an old time remedy for all that ails us. All the Biblical whining in the Old Testament concerning God's people clamoring for a king certainly reflect difficult times in America when people whine about the need for a dictator or an imposed governance without representation. I've heard it before from people; once I heard a member of the church I attended as a child discussing his rationale for the need for dictatorial rule in America. Part of his rationale was the Media (monolithic as people believe it to be) are a pack of liars and so are all the politicians, thus we need one person to make all the decisions for us moronic Americans---"wouldn't have been no protesters to cost us the Vietnam War," he continued. Unfortunately, the group of assembled deacons engaged in the age-old need to escape church as soon as the last "amen" is said and bolt to a hasty congregation in the parking lot to have a cigarette, talk about the Razorbacks, fishing, hunting, etc., etc.

I spent the majority of my youth as a "born-again" budding Xian Conservative who equated salvation with uncompromising right-wing political correctness. I am no parent, like Mike or Laurie Taylor, but I grew up with the patronizing attitude that parents knew best for me. Unfortunately, as I've aged, I've discovered, particularly citing the smoke-circle meeting I joined one afternoon on a church parking lot, that adults don't have all the right answers. I read some truly graphic non-fiction writings during my Hard Right Christian days and they had no negligible deleterious affect because my lost school district made an effort to teach children HOW to think, not WHAT to think and I'm truly thankful for the experience. I read details of rape, pillage, and plunder that will curl the hairs on the back of any sane humans neck, particularly my extensive reading about the Holocaust and other wartime disasters. These things are difficult to comprehend for people like me who have never engaged in combat(though I've had my share of close-calls in the violent death department in my short lifetime). We have a new crop of Americans scarred by war and death returning from the frontlines of Bush's War in Iraq. Should their accounts be edited for a high school audience? The answer is HELL NO! If this libertarian-inspired eschewing of an outright draft to cover our nations troop-strength needs will be fair, our children must hear ALL the truth. Lately, I've heard right-wing whining on how reporters can't be completely barred from the battlefield or the military can't suppress all information gathered about the true occurrences of war. The musings are "what if we really showed all the carnage to Americans at home during WW II?" As if anyone but the fascist- leaning corporate heads(people like Ford or Wood, and others) who lobbied to keep America neutral during WW II, so as not to offend their beloved Hitler, would have pushed to remain neutral and out of the war, particularly after German ally Japan swept the Pacific one December day in 1941. Americans during the Civil War or WW II were fully aware of the consequences of inaction, despite the carnage.

I'm certain Mike would say my scenario isn't comparable to his concerns, however, I wasn't that age so long ago and I know it's best to have MORE knowledge, not LESS. The first time I heard really dirty words was in first grade. Other children grew up surrounded by foul language and possibly worse. You can send your kids to a "Xian" school or church camp and hear the same foul language from high school kids and the same locker-room talk and description of sexual experience. Some children have to suffer hell because they have faced sexually compromising encounters and have probably contemplated suicide over some sense of guilt. I won't name the books here, but I knew kids who were facing terrible times in their life and were somehow shown a different way because of a book they read that might never have been on a school library shelf if Laurie got her way. Laurie should teach her children the best she feels she can to react in her prescribed fashion to experiences they are bound to face with sexually active teens around them at school, at church, or at activities(if Laurie lets her kids out of the house, ever). Banning material other than downright pornographic materials is providing no service to children. Pornography has been defined as well as it can be and graphic passages in a particular context are not necessarily pornographic. Merely describing cunnilingus or fellatio doesn't necessarily render a work pornographic. Intent and context are important to the determination.

Addressing Mike's slippery-slope argument concerning gun-cleaning class in high school, please don't laugh Mike, we may someday finance such silliness in curriculum. The right-wing populist hatemongers in the GOP would someday enjoy seeing such education and less of that "liberal democracy" talk or historical bashing of their conservative heroes or sex ed or any of that other communist stuff. I'm not totally against an after- hours hunter safety course offered on school grounds, sans personal weapons. The instructor should definitely control the weapons and have no ammo nearby to accidentally load. Unfortunately, either side can present the slippery-slope argument that if "X" occurs, then Y, Z, V, etc., etc. will result. Allowing ONE book to be banned will give Laurie's grass-roots effort directed by Eagle Forum, Free Congress, "Christian Coalition", or the LaHayes' Christian Fiction Society a victory that will certainly slide our district into a Texas dumbass school board political mold none of us can be proud of. Jingoistic yellow journalism didn't die with Hearst; Murdoch certainly has taken his turn and he's no American. I heard a jackass from Attila the Hun-esque conservative Ft. Smith the other day telling anyone who'd listen that Fox News is the only "unbiased"(my words) news source in America and the ACLU runs the rest of them. First, at least the ACLU are Americans, not true of Murdoch, second, the imbecile had not one stitch of facts or sources or any of all that worthless stuff. Facts are the last thing right-wing populists want to hear.

Stop contributing to the end of our democratic values as we know them, Mike. I appreciate many of your opinions and columns, but I believe this is an issue where people should trust themselves. Laurie, trust yourself to provide a proper grounding of your "values" for your children. Trust them to make correct decisions after learning all the facts. My baseball metaphor of the day is that no self-respecting major league manager is going to keep his players in the dark about a dangerous player on the opposition. Let your children see all the facts, so there are no surprises. Tell them what the "Devil" will do to them or expose them to; don't let them be caught off-guard by willfully imposed ignorance. I've seen so many cases where children were dangerously sheltered thru their formative years and were wholly lost when they gained their freedom from parents, making preventable mistakes which cost them dearly. A free society DEMANDS MORE truthful information, not LESS.

No one is persecuting those Christians who accept the requisite responsibility of arming themselves with necessary facts about issues which all of us ultimately decide elections over. Parents who hide in a shell should not be involved in their children's education in a formal setting, except to support the work of the teacher in the classroom or to provide hints as to why their child is failing or to encourage the child to study. Most children attend school because their parents couldn't POSSIBLY provide a top-notch education because the education of the parents is inadequate compared to six teachers during a semester or 20 different teachers with expertise in various fields thruout the child's high school educational experience. Parental support is crucial and no parent, Christian or otherwise, who participates positively is going to be discouraged from involvement. If a parent is annoyed that their child has learned what a crook (tax evasion) or a despot (Watergate) Nixon was certainly deserves some upbraiding by the teacher and the district if the parent becomes an obstacle to learning. Every complaint by parents is not necessarily worthy of consideration or action. Parents are not always the proper judge of what should be taught when the child is learning to live and behave in society. Sometimes, parents should be ignored.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Now that much of the horror of Hurricane Katrina have passed into the need to rebuild the Mississipi and Lousiana coastal region and the aftermath, a few reflections are in order. Our state once was part of Louisiana and many people have forgotten the hope people who located to Jefferson's newly acquired lands were looking for better lives and the rich lands of Old Louisiana provided the opportunity. Unfortunately, natives of North America were battered and kicked off their ancestral lands. Nothing can be done to remedy the harm inflicted on native populations by the American people and their presidents, particularly Andrew Jackson and the Republicans who fought the Indian Wars thru the last half of the 19th century.

Presidents, good or bad, inspire actions and George W. is no exception. His inaction has certainly spurned debates over what a colossal failure his administration has been for the U. S. domestically. American foreign policy is run by those who don't mind experimenting with American lives. Iraq was a bloody place for British troops during their mandate days and Americans seem to have been completely oblivious to the history of the region, outside the Saddam age and the difficulties with Iran and the Palestinians. It seems most people have forgotten about the landmark treaty of President Carter, despite his apparent ineptitude, and its proven results for the people of Egypt and Israel. Carter was not a successful president overall, but to malign his foreign policy is foolish. Carter didn't aid a coup in Iran that toppled an elected prime minister, Mossadegh, which greatly hindered any peace with those folks. The shah was a pusillanimous, brutal dictator and America aided the U.K. in toppling him because Anglo-Iranian Oil Company were greedy for cheap oil and didn't give a damn about the suffering of rank-and-file Iranians. New Orleans seems to be very similar.

NOLA is the port of America by all accounts, particularly in tonnage of goods transported thru the region. Coffee drinkers who have pilgramaged to NOLA to see the largest green coffee port in the world know exactly how important a stop NOLA has been thru the years. The numbers of Arkansans who have spent honeymoons, vacations, conventions, and Mardi Gras in the Big Easy all know how important a city NOLA is to the history of the South. Artists such as Tennessee Williams, Louis Armstrong, and William Faulkner have found inspiration in the great American melting pot the city has been for all the years of American history. I am deeply dismayed with the whining about the expense of helping the coast dig out, like Brad Coburn of Oklahoma. If one loves America and the ideals we represent, despite problems living up to our own rhetoric, NOLA should be a pilgimage to put on the list of things to do in a lifetime. I have witnessed the kindest of acts for those who lost everything and I have heard a bit of old time populist cultural bigotry(which replaced genetic bigotry over the years), which certainly upset me to hear about the refugees in our great state.

It seems I'll hear the statement: "My heart goes out to the refugees, BUT..." I have heard enough of the buts for one lifetime. The but always describes how murderous NOLA is--might have something to do with King George II's refusal to spend money in placing 88-100,000 officers on the streets of America as the Clinton Crime Bill allowed. Violent crime dropped precipitously thru the Clinton years because he put his money where his mouth is concerning "law and order". Republicans talk and blame; Clinton pushed the Crime Bill thru Congress. Bush is a fool and anyone who tries to defend his colossal failure as president will have to be called a fool also. Our fellow Americans in NOLA, particularly in areas like the 9th Ward, seem to be living in a third world country, which squanders whatever aid trickles into their countries on Swiss villas and lavish luxuries. It was a sad sight for the "richest" nation on earth. We certainly are rich when it comes to aiding people in need and fools like Bush take our generous nature as something to be exploited for his cronies' benefit rather than celebrated and exploited for the benefit of our nation and the world.

The time has come to boot the phony jackasses from office and trample the hateful wing of the GOP underfoot forever. They have put America at grave risk. Pay them back at the polls next election cycle. Gov. Huckabee has had his problems during his tenure, but no one can question his heart. People like Huckabee have no chance of nomination in the GOP because he's a proven moderate. NOLA's tragedy (as well as the Mississippi folks and other LA coastal region) should be a remembrance of the humanity Americans have ever been capable of displaying. Don't forget the lessons we have relearned about the GOP. George W. Hoover Bush should be reviled in history.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mixed Messages

Last Sunday, with the swirl of NOLA's tragedy and the Hogs home opening so-so performance, I was enjoying an early morning drive eastward on Fulbright Expressway when I glimpsed inspiration. I wondered how the richest nation on earth failed its citizens so miserably. The FEMA director whines about the blame, Chertoff, Bush, any of a number of Bush talking heads begging for camera time to push this "message". I wonder how a Christian Conservative darling and purveyor of "compassionate Conservative" virtue like Bush can be such a failure in providing the basic human response to NOLA's disaster.

I got my answer on the Fulbright Expressway as I closed on a minivan from Oklahoma with "Bad Calvin" flipping the bird to the world on her back left glass and on the middle of her bumper prominently displayed: I Pray...Get used to It. Maybe she prays like our beloved Christian fraud and friend to W. African war criminal, Charles Taylor, Pat Robertson who "prayed" a hurricane away from the east coast years ago: Perhaps she prayed FOR such a cataclysm to harm the U. S. with that mean, hateful spirit she displays because America has "sin in its camp". Perhaps I'm making much out of little, but the past election cycles and those who proclaim their devotion to the Christ have simply disappointed the Christ I discovered as a child awakening to family virtue. It was a simple message as a child- -somewhat edited for childish minds--little talk about Ai and other incidents in the Old Testament that a literal translationist sentiment can be really a scary proposition with all the murder and intentions of murder of the Bible supposedly ordered by God. If these are not taken as literal history, a truly lifechanging transformation can be in order; if literal, real ethical and moral dilemmas exist in the Christian believer. Enough theology; the actions of people who proclaim Jesus as Savior and Lord have certainly been helpful to scores of refugees, including the Southern Baptist Convention, the Methodist churches, etc., etc. But the message of minivan mom from Oklahoma certainly chapped me a bit and explains the scape-goating populism of the entire 200+ years of U. S. existence seethes within the fabric of normally mainstream conservatism and it is definitely a danger to our nation's well-being.

The tone of, say, Barbara Bush, who would be delighted to live in the Astrodome, if only she knew anything about privation or living in one community for her whole life. Barbara's not a Southerner, where her money leads her is fine for her: Kennebunkport, a Houston hotel room, the local Ritz-Carlton. Want to discuss class scape-goating? The Bush's easily provide that fodder. Hell, her husband had never experienced a grocery store UPC scanner until his brilliant "photo-op" of so many years ago--one incident that aided his ending after a first term economic failure and complaints that he didn't feel our pain. The Christ had no problem hanging among lepers and whores without so much as depriving them for not hearing his message and accepting him on the spot. The Christ's compassion was without hesitation or reservation for the "least" among us. It's sad to see the positive actions of American Christians on one hand and those sympathetic with their worldview displaying callous attitudes toward the people left in NOLA on the other. I've heard comments like: :They're all gangsters... they stayed to loot..did you see that footage of the guy flashing gang signs...they shouldn't have lived in a city below sea-level; it's their own fault...Louisiana and NOLA are to be blamed for the failure, "etc., etc. Not that some of those remaining behind weren't looking for trouble, but the vast whole are not gangsters, hooligans, or evil people. I grew up within a church family where'd you'd hear anti-libertarian, racist, even murderous acts approvingly winked at--both hypothetical and real.

Hate is not a virtue: Another bumper sticker I've seen among the swirl of vehicular art commonly seen across the nation. Hate isn't virtuous and shouldn't be tolerated by any sane human. For the good of what's left of our nation's integrity, it's time to see moderation take hold of the mob before we encounter yet another horrible event in our nation's history we never thought we'd experience.