Tag Archives: balance

Emergency Petition to Save the Courts

MoveOn.org has got a petition drive going that’s worth looking in to. I did, and here’s the message I sent to my Congresspeople:

Checks and balances means when one branch of the government is conservative, another is by necessity liberal. When Republicans control the executive and legislative branches of government, by necessity they MUST NOT be allowed free reign to appoint the members of the judicial branch. They should KNOW this, if they are in fact believers in democracy. If they are NOT supporters of democracy, they have no business running this country.

It does not matter whether you agree with the conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic platforms. That is NOT the issue. It is not about who WINS. It is about maintaining DEMOCRACY, about sustaining bipartisanship, about encouraging dissent, about preserving the checks and balances which are so imperative to safeguarding the Constitution. The Constitution is at stake here, NOT some party line. And without the Constitution to back it up, without people who are willing to go to the mat, to fight to ensure that it is NOT freely interpreted except in the interest of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL Americans, there is not much of a democracy to speak of. And worse off, there are a lot of people drawing paychecks for protecting that democracy that aren’t doing their jobs.

The Senate must oppose the “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster, and preserve the checks and balances that have kept our courts fair and independent for centuries.

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Folly’s Promenade

What folly perpetrated in my youth,
before thoughts of mortality began
to permeate my eager thirst for truth
and close the width of my attention span,

has wrought its retribution over time
and haunts me on occasion? What old song
that lingers from that bygone, careless prime,
seems fractured now, its notes awry, gone wrong?

My karmic debt is, doubtless, still unpaid,
compounding interest daily even now.
And no one, not a saint, nor sacred cow,
will pay the bills that at my feet are laid.

There are no luck, no miracles, no chance;
the universe is more or less mirage.
If you would join the party, you must dance,
and pin the universe with your corsage.

And folly? What is that to never try?
What worse regret than acting the wallflower
for so long that the grand ball passes by
and you need not corsage, but funeral bower?

15 May 2005

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Such Times Are These

Such times are these that rich men gloat
to turn great woods to creosote
and laugh to see the world take note
as style takes substance by the throat.

Such times are these that poor men work
their fingers fleshless for these jerks
who waiting in the shadows lurk
to claim as theirs both purse and perk.

Such times are these that men and boys
forgo their fortunes and love’s joys
to strut about and make loud noise,
their goal to other men destroy.

Such times are these that pious words
are used to pardon the absurd:
that war brings peace, that freedom’s bird
would choose to nest in such a turd.

Such times are these that there should be
cult worship of celebrity
where children want as destiny
a fleeting moment on TV.

Such times are these when young and old
accept as truth what they’ve been told
and do not mind that they’ve been sold
a fire that brings not heat, but cold.

Such times are these that perpetrate
the myth that might is right and great,
that the one path to truth is straight,
and those who rule control the gate.

Such times are these when poets must
regard their words a sacred trust
to speak against their culture’s lust
to turn what’s left of gold, to dust.

08 MAY 2005

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Mother Father Breathing

With each breath, opposites are reconciled:
like the unconscious seeping under the door
that the river makes as it rises during the night,
then at first light ebbs slowly away
as the sun’s heat pulls it into its glowing bosom.

To dub the inhalation Da, to sense its quiet strength,
then name it Ma as it comes forth from the lungs,
its motion merged with infinite atmosphere,
warm tendrils seeking out atom by atom
the molecules that shape the space,
flesh out the illusions of matter
and the world’s wide mask of being and nothing,
is to lower a string into a lake
and think you’ve split the water.

There is a moment, between sighs,
where there is only one expanse of air,
samadhi in a pregnant pause;
and in that instant what divides
a flame from its penchance to burn
becomes the only line between
the different forms of god.

22 DEC 2004

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Neo Politics

Neoconservatism is not a threat to the free-living, free-wheeling, bleeding heart liberal philosophy of us drug-crazed, sex-minded hippie freaks.

No, despite its definition as “an approach to politics or theology that represents a return to a traditional point of view (in contrast to more liberal or radical schools of thought of the 1960s)”, it is not the left wing, per se, that is the target of neoconservatism. It’s target is not to return us to before 1960, but before 1760. After all, the traditional point of view in politics or theology is not democracy. It is monolithic, totalitarian and unquestioned rule. It is fascism, painted with a nostalgic brush called “the good old days” — those days before liberal science gave us the conveniences that gave us the free time to sit around and reminisce without having to actually experience the minor setbacks of medicine, culture, diversity, equality, and economic well-being that were in those halycon days available only to the extremely wealthy, or extremely lucky (and luck would be defined as in the right place to benefit from the temporary whims of the current dictatorship). It is belittling, beheading, excommunicating, exiling, or executing any who disagree with your point of view. And it is the point of view of rich, white men — who have convinced, somehow, the remaining 95% of the population of this country (that’s right, 95% of the wealth is controlled by 5% of the people, remember, and those aren’t people living in Harlem, or Watts, or Chinatown) that this is the agenda upon which America should settle. The course which we must steer by. Our mandate.

Let me get this straight — our mandate, as a democratic nation, is to abandon democracy, much as the Anasazi abandoned New Mexico.

Under a banner of religious self-righteousness, jingoistic nationalism, military might and xenophobic paranoia — particularly regarding people of Semitic origin and language.

Careful with that swastika, Eugene.

You will not successfully barter the illusions of freedom and liberty for the illusions of control and safety on my watch. The former may be undisciplined, untamed and only nebulously defined, but even in that raw, feral state they are worth ten times the most alluring manifestations of the latter.

That’s what I call a Neo-Liberal agenda. Fixing the broken left wing so the eagle doesn’t have to spin in circles and wear itself out trying to leave the ground.

Or to put it more bluntly, you can have the Constitution to wipe your ass with when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

The right to bear arms is NOT the same as the right to own or use a gun.
Schools and hospitals should be a greater priority than prisons and graveyards.

The ends never justify the means.

A Democracy is more fragile, and therefore needs more protection, than a Republic. The former is an idea, while the latter is a thing. That’s why the Pledge of Allegiance is somewhat misleading. A symbol, such as a flag, stands for an idea or ideal, not a thing. A thing is a limited interpretation, a casting in the temporary stone of time, so to speak, of an idea. It is not the idea itself, only a small part — in the same way that a religion is merely a bucketful of seawater mistaken for the entirety of the ocean.

Once you disregard ideas in favor of things, you stop thinking. Once you stop thinking, it doesn’t matter what the polls say, because the opinions you are offering are not your own, anyway. Most likely they have been given to by someone who does not know of, care about, value, respect, understand, or have any responsibility for, your life.

The responsibility, at least, they can never shoulder anyway. Responsibility is the price you pay for ideas — whether your own or someone else’s.

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School of Osmosis: A Declaration of Purpose

So often, the concept of education is limited to a model where information flows one way, from an educator to pupils, with the assumption that what is being taught is a set of static instructions that must be imparted in a specific way, with specific focus, disseminated from trained minds to shape and mold untrained ones. But in reality, learning does not REALLY occur that way. Wisdom, as opposed to book knowledge, is acquired by absorption, by immersion — one could almost say, by contamination. And often, those who fulfill the “teacher” role end up learning more about their subject in the process than those who are labeled “students”.

And it is only in the antiseptic, sterile halls of academia where one branch of knowledge is not intimately interconnected with other branches. Only in such a classroom is art separate from history, mathematics separate from philosophy, physics separate from spirituality.

Education is about learning as a multi-disciplinary pursuit. It must include self-teaching. It is about soaking up information from a variety of sources and acquiring the facility to interpret reality as an individual. For oneself. It is a step beyond the preconceived notions of how we learn, what we should be learning, and the ways in which those bits of scholarship fit together to construct the unique, complex and individual puzzle that is human existence.

It is also about “coming of age.” Not as a poet, writer, philosopher, scientist, priest, historian, musician or any separately defined area of “expertise.” But coming of age as a complete human being. With the goal of the lesson to learn the meaning of humanity. Not just its purpose, or its origins, or its current state of affairs. But to glean from the school of experience, the process of osmosis by which each separate occurrence or instance of data becomes part of a larger whole.

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Rambling on Politics

Democracy is dependent upon a single, basic premise: that those with power as a result of wealth and social standing are willing to reject the advantage conferred by the possesion of this power and reject the use of any such advantage in the defense of their position against others with differing viewpoints and agendas who do not possess similar advantage. In short, democracy demands equality before the law. Despite the obvious fact that individuals are NOT equal with respect to environment, education, race, religion, intellect, physical prowess, social standing and/or graces, financial wherewithal, and so forth, the intention of a TRUE democracy is to ignore those factors and regard each person as legally interchangeable.

There are, of course, safeguards built into our legal system to ensure this. But unfortunately, they do not address the fact that there is in practice, if not in the theory upon which that practice is based, a great disparity between the resources available to some versus others. In our democracy, for example, a defendant is provided with legal counsel in matters of criminal court. In a true democracy, it would be either ensured that this legal counsel vouchsafed an indigent defendant is comparable (in education, experience, and expertise) to the counsel for the prosecution, or that the party prosecuting the case would be no better than the individual produced by the defense. Likewise, for a wealthy defendant, it should be ensured that the quality of their attorney should be correlative with the quality of the prosecuting attorney.

With respect to democracy by representation, true democracy requires that the agent, or representative, be truly of the people they represent. For example, a congressman should be of similar educational background, financial status, cultural milieu and so forth of their average constitutuent. That means no congressperson should being wearing suits that the majority of their district cannot afford. Likewise, the salaries of government officials should never exceed the average per capita income of their “flock”. In regard to campaign contributions, no political candidate should receive from ANY contributor (personal, or corporation — which legally is the corpus or body at the head of which is the representative of any number of stockholders who have chosen to invest their individual monies and/or opinions in the legal person thus incorporated) more than the equivalent of one week’s salary of their average voting bloc. That would eliminate the campaign finance issue altogether, perhaps — and salary increase issue as well — because the only way for a candidate or congressperson or president to get more money (either in salary or contributions) would be to actively improve the living wage of their constituency. Now of course, you might say that will increase the jostling over “prime districts”. Well, I think it only need be sorted out at the smaller district level. Larger districts, such as states or countries (i.e., senators and presidents) typically include a wide range of income, including much that is NOT wealthy. In California, for example, it is probably likely that the district that includes Beverly Hills would have a high median income, versus the district that includes Compton and Gardena. For a Senator, that would probably wash out at some level. For a Representative, however, Beverly Hills represents a cushier spot. However, the basic premise of democracy as defined above can be applied here. The point is that financial, social, etc., inequality MUST not influence legal equality. Therefore, the average amount of campaign contributions from the wealthiest quarters CANNOT exceed the average contribution amounts from the poorest quarters. That means that if Pickens County, Arkansas as a whole contributes only $500, then Los Angeles County, California can only contribute the equivalent per capita amount (for example if there are 500 contributors in Pickens County, Arkansas that roughly equates to $5 per contributor; to apply that to Los Angeles County assuming a population of 5,000,000 means that the most that could be used by that constituency is $5 each, or $25M. But that is a VERY wild theory that probably in five minutes will make no sense.

The point is this, I guess. To me, it’s like televangelism. There are no circumstances when a preacher should be wearing a Rolex unless the majority of the constituency to which they preach ALSO not only can afford Rolexes, but chooses to spend their monies on such things. By the same token, under no circumstances should an elected official be wearing a suit, driving a car, living in a home, that the majority of their constituents could not afford. Not on the distribution of wealth, but the distribution of numbers. Because, you’ll remember, democracy is about legal equality. Which is a numeric base. 1 = 1.

Of course, military service should be determined on the same basis. Particularly in a draft. There is no legal way, in a true democracy, for a wealthy child to get a deferment when a poor child does not. As far as the law of democracy goes, they are absolutely equal. Anyone who bends that system does not believe in democracy. And should NEVER be elected mayor, governor, senator, congressperson, president or even head of a homeowner’s association in so-called democratic nation. Or something like that.

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