Free Speech and Fast Saints

Winter                                                 Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Cameras and inks and papers, oh, my!  Then, new glasses and seven bags of groceries.  We’ve been gone and the larder was bare of important items like milk, turkey slices for the dogs, veggies and fruit, bread and bagels.  Now it’s not bare.

JPII is on a fast-track for sainthood.  Just like today.  Fast foods and fast saints.  Just can’t wait, can we?

JPII’s successor, the German Shepherd, has taken on major moral issues recently, like, the right name for your kid.  No weird ones.  He’s also cranked up the heat, already at record highs set by JPII, on theologians teaching at Catholic schools, gays at mass and those pesky liberation theologians.  Whoever said the divine right of kings is dead?  It lives on in its last bastion, Vatican City.  (pic.  Yikes!)

The whole Gifford/Tucson shooting controversy.  We have rule of law and one of those rules is no prior restraint.  This means that we cannot stop someone from committing a crime until they’ve actually committed it.  This gives us big trouble with at least two categories of persons:  pedophiles and psychotics, especially paranoid psychotics.  We know the probability of their offending is high, but until they act out there’s nothing we can do.  Anyone who has dealt with the seriously mentally ill knows the difficult line walked in their care and treatment, a line between limiting freedoms and giving the individual a realistic chance at living in community.

Does this mean that the gaseous explosions protected as free speech had no affect on Loughner?  I doubt it.  Some peoples minds are more porous than others, more open to outside influence.  It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a paranoid psychotic decides that Rush Limbaugh actually knows what he’s talking about, that Sarah Palin is a respectable political figure.  O.K.  Maybe only a paranoid psychotic would think either of those things, but it only confirms my point.  His actions did not exist in a vacuum.  Neither did lynchings in the rural south nor do gay hate crimes in many (most?) parts of our country.

Can we or should we stop Limbaugh, George Beck, Sarah Palin, the tea party gas bags from using inflammatory rhetoric?  Regrettably, no.  Part of the idea of free speech is that discerning citizens will tell the demagogue from the statesman, the propagandist from a public servant.  It does appear that discernment may well be at an all time low in the current US, but it’s not the first time.  Those of us with other views must speak, too.  And act.

Never Ending Terror

Winter                                                                 Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

The big day has arrived.  Kate’s last shift.  She’s off right now getting her nails done–her constant scrubbing in and out of rooms made fancy nails silly–and her toes, since she wears sandals almost all year round.  This way she’s dolled up for tonight and for the next week in Colorado.

Back a bit I bought a print by a Minnesota artist, Mike Elko.  It hangs to the right of this computer and looking at it right now triggered a major aha.  The print is the faux cover of a magazine, Practical Paranoia.  It features a cartoon woman with sixties hairdo and clothing, a tear trickling down her face and this copy next to her:  He keeps saying, “If you question me, then the terrorists have won!”  Is all of this really necessary or is he just trying to make me crazy?  I live in…

NEVER ENDING  TERROR!

A Bush era piece, I bought it in part as a lest we forget, a cautionary tale about government gone loony.  As I looked at it right now, I realized a huge difference, a huge positive difference between the Bush and the Obama eras.  We don’t feel this way anymore.  There is no longer the Cheney–Rumsfeld–Bolton–Wolfowitz–Kristol nexus, a sort of demented nerve ganglia that twitched and pulsed cries of alarm at every shadow.  Obama has calmed us as a nation while continuing to actively pursue terrorists, and a sober analysis of the Bush methods.

Inaugration Day. Bright, Sunny. Cold

Winter

Waning Wolf Moon

The day has begun well.  Sunshine comes from a sky with cirrus clouds, a nice break after the cloudy weather.

Today Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States.  After our discussion last night at the Woollies, I realize I do run on a different political path than most.  The politics I care most about happen because citizens, folks like you and me, make them happen: neighborhood economic development, movement toward single payer health plans and initiatives that promote a sustainable human presence on mother earth.

The players in Washington create the atomsphere in which local politics occur.  That is, a president like George Bush can make federal level policy and bureaucratic administration so obstructive that local politics become shoring up of dikes, attempts to stave off catastrophe in poor communities or in rivers and streams, woodlands and lakes.  In the best case a president like Obama can make local politics the art of adapting federal level initiatives to particular places, particular situations while continuing the local political level work that has no federal equivalent.

Whether Obama can turn the great ship US Bureaucracy and Law very far from its collision course with the natural world remains to be seen.  Presidents don’t matter much to me unless, as in George W. Bush’s case and Ronald Reagan’s, they ignore science, shove aside the poor and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t matter.   Yes, they entangle us in wars and produce fiscal policy that either mainline’s greed or provides reasonable checks and balances, and, yes, these matters are of crucial importance to certain people in certain situations; but my day to day reality, the politics of economic justice and the politics of sound ecology, must go forward no matter what the national government does.

So, I hope Obama will prove helpful in some way, but I’m not counting on it.  We still have to push the Clean Car initiatives and Mining without Harm.  Programs to help folks get back to work have to get money from somewhere.  Affordable housing has to get built.

In my youth I believed, along with many of my contemporaries, that a mass movement could push the federal government into stopping a war, creating a just economic society and dismantling racial barriers.  Now I understand that it is much more important to keep on working at the local level, doing those things that are necessary to  move what can be moved.  Why?  Because anticipating the federal government will, with a single whoosh, solve a problem is like imagining Daddy can come and solve everyone of your problems.  Can Dad help?  Sure.  But only if you’re ready and able to receive help.  That’s the local politics.  And it goes on whether Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton is in office, Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, and, yes, George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

Gratitude

One sunny day in January, 2009 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.”

The Marine looked at the man and said, “Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.” The old man said, “Okay” and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.” The Marine again told the man, “Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here.” The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the
very same U.S. Marine, saying “I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.” The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, “Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?”

The old man looked at the Marine and said, “Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.”

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, “See you tomorrow, Sir.”

thanks to Paul Strickland

Say Again?

What we will do after January 20th?  Somewhere in Texas a village will get back their idiot.

“It’s very important for us to be able to pass this piece of legislation so as to stabilize the situation so it doesn’t get worse and that our fellow citizens lose wealth and work,” Bush said during a brief appearance in the Oval Office with a NATO official.