Sunday, August 23, 2009

Living vs. LIVING

It's been said that the secret to life is living. Isn't that what we do just by being? We breath, we eat, we sleep, we live.

Yet no one talks about living in those terms unless the subject is life or death. When dealing with the great sleep, "still breathing" matters a great deal.

That dichotomy suggests there is more to life than just living - that there's a process, a vital process, that transcends survival and rudimentary functioning to capture and explain what's really important.

We all know what that is; it's everyone's favorite four letter pejorative that has become both the weal and woe of our species: love. I say that the secret to life is love.

That over-whelming passion is what lifts the human condition beyond mere survival and breaths vibrant emotion into our existence. We MUST cradle that spirit within us for someone(s) and/or something(s) if we are to claim our birthright.

Love represents all strong, genuine passion that flows through the bedrock of our souls and causes the rumblings deep within that drive us to action. Hatred, sorrow, love, joy: these are the keys to our true selves, the selves we yearn to inhabit and be.

So then, if this emotion is the secret, how do we use it? That is both easy and hard; it's easy to say "we must fuel our lives with this passion" but it's terribly challenging to grok HOW to do that. It's a simple thing to say "I love 'x'" but far more demanding to find ways to live so that our passion for 'x' is realized in our work, our leisure, our subconscious. And yet only folks who manage to collect the essence of these emotions within themselves ever fully experience life.

Everyone else just lives.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


How is it that in 2009, a year in which we have our first black President of the United States and have nominated the first Latina for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, we TOLERATE racism in the federal government?

I won't be so naive as to ask how it perseveres; I get that. So long as we have people from different races we will always have some measure of racism. I've resigned myself to that sobering truth. I simply don't understand how we tolerate it in our government once it's discovered! This of course stems from the news earlier this week about Sherri Goforth, a legislative aide for Senator Diane Black of Tennessee. In case you had not heard, this woman, an employee of the State of Tennessee for more than 20 years, used her work computer and her work e-mail address to send an e-mail to a large number of recipients, many of whom were also public employees. This e-mail contained portraits of all 44 of our Presidents; that last one, of President Obama, was nothing black a black square with cartoon white eyes in it.

Now, this seems pretty innocuous and on some levels I would agree. Were this person to have made a joke like this in private, on their own time, I would have been in favor of a private reprimand (as it still makes the government look bad). But this racist gag was perpetrated on the clock using official resources. That means it violates all manner of workplace ethics and could be taken to represent an official viewpoint of her boss and the Republican Party of Tennessee. Senator Black is, on some level, the real target of my scorn. She has stated repeatedly that he will not tolerate this sort of behavior, and yet has chosen only to "punish" his aide by written reprimand; to the best of my knowledge there is no suspension and no termination. Why not? Senator Black, if you REALLY want to show that you will not tolerate racism, fire Ms. Goforth immediately. THAT sends a real message of zero tolerance that will be believed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

For the second time in seven months, every ballot counted in a presidential election points towards social and political evolution for country. But the on-going presidential election in Iran contains ramifications far beyond the identity of their next chief executive; the electoral process moves women's suffrage to heights unimagined even ten year ago.

Women are lining up to vote in record numbers and beginning to express a political voice and conscious heretofore hidden behind the religious and ethnic ideology. And make no escape about it; these women risk much to publicly demonstrate against a decidedly non-secular government.

So I prey for these courageous women that their faith and bravery are not forsaken but rewarded. And I prey that I might learn conviction from them to apply in my own life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Free Speech

I sat incredulous today after hearing that a 88 year-old man walked into the Washington D.C. Holocost Museum and opened fire. That shock worsened when I learned he denies the Holocaust, advocates white supremacy, and served time in Federal Prison as a result of kidnapping charges.

Let me start by stating, without equivocation, that the Holocaust inflicted on the Jewish people (as well as others) by the Nazi regime before and during World War II represents the nadir of humanity's self-abuse. The Holocaust IS a terrible blight on our history and must forever be remembered as an example of something we, as a species, must vigorously prevent until the end of days. There can be no doubt it was real, it was atrocious, and it was intentional.

Having said that, I worry that tragedies like today's shooting will intensify a public outcry for a prohibition on "Holocaust denial speech". While I think such speech is deplorable and needs to be out-shouted and corrected at every opportunity, I also think that folks must maintain their rights to speak freely until such time as their words threaten public safety.

I believe it no mistake that Freedom of Speech is guaranteed first by our Bill of Rights. The ability of our citizenry to voice all opinions and represent every possible viewpoint in debate must be preserved at all cost. While I agree that all of the rights preserved by the Bill of Rights can be limited as necessary, I also agree that the necessity must be severe and the must present a real threat to the public before such limitation.

I believe it our duty to find these haters, to repeatedly demonstrate the deceit and vitriol contained in their "beliefs", and to shame them away from the debates over and over again until they yield. But we must not take away their right to have such a skewed and flawed opinion, nor can we strip them of their right to voice that opinion. We must be better than that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Divorce Agreement from the Conservatives and My Amendments

I received the following e-mail forward today that really got under my skin; my reply is below.


Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al:

We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way.

Here is a model separation agreement:

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy! Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate tastes.

We don't like redistributive taxes so you can keep them. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. Since you hate guns and war, we'll take our irearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael
Moore and Rosie O'Donnell (You are, however, responsible for finding a bio-diesel vehicle big enough to move all three of them).

We'll keep the capitalism, greedy corporations, pharmaceutical companies, Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have your beloved homeless, homeboys, hippies and illegal aliens. We'll keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, greedy CEO's and rednecks. We'll keep the Bibles and give you NBC and Hollywood.

You can make nice with Iran and Palestine and we'll retain the right to invade and hammer places that threaten us. You can have the peaceniks and war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we'll help provide them security.

We'll keep our Judeo-Christian values.. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley McClain. You can also have the U.N.. but we will no longer be paying the bill.

We'll keep the SUVs, pickup trucks and oversized luxury cars. You can take every Subaru station wagon you can find.

You can give everyone healthcare if you can find any practicing doctors. We'll continue to believe healthcare is a luxury and not a right. We'll keep The Battle Hymn of the Republic and the National Anthem. I'm sure you'll be
happy to substitute Imagine, I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing, Kum Ba Ya or We Are the World.

We'll practice trickle down economics and you can give trickle up poverty your best shot. Since it often so offends you, we'll keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along to other like minded liberal and conservative patriots and if you do not agree, just hit delete.

In the spirit of friendly parting, I'll bet you ANWAR which one of us will

need whose help in 15 years..


John J. Wall
Law Student (and a Loyal and Proud American )

P.S. Also, please take Barbara Streisand & Jane Fonda with you.

Dear American conservatives, right-wingers, elitists, McCarthy-ists, and Bush supporters, et. al:

It's true that we have stuck together since the 1950's, and we, too, see many of the schisms you mention in your letter. It's a shame we are unable to find means to surpass our ideologies for the common good of our country and future generations, but your proposal might be for the best.

I feel, however, that your model separation agreement, while sound in principle, needs a bit of amending:

You are not a fan of the "redistibutive tax", so we will keep that; you get the almost 11 trillion dollar deficit (since $8.6 TRILLION of it was amassed during Republican presidencies since the 1950's, including 8 trillion during President Bush's 8-years in office). We do hate guns and war; since you seem to feel that should deny us access to police and military, do you also feel that your love of guns and war should deny you peace and tranquility? If you decide to trade, we'll be here waiting. You DO, however, get the military draft to feed the war machine your industrial complex craves. We'll take Rosie, Oprah and Michael Moore along with David Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Bruce Springsteen; you get Rush, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. Oh yeah, take Reuben Studdard, The Gatlin Brothers, and Ricky Martin, too.

With your taking the corporations and Wall Street, do you intend to give back all of the money in the pension funds of millions of American workers lost to to deceit and theft? What about responsibility for the collapse of the banking industry through poorly regulated trading of securitized mortgages and other discretized risky investment bundles. And with our acceptance of the homeless, the homeboys, and the illegal aliens, whom do you plan to take care of the day-to-day jobs that these groups of citizens labor in day after day in the hospitality and food service industries and the civil services? You can SURELY keep the hot Alaskan Hockey Moms and rednecks; we'll keep Hollywood, NBC, and the rest of the entertainment sector, including all those damn video games you KNOW are corrupting your youth (and all of that revenue, thank you very much).

While you are giving us the Middle East, we'll take Europe, Asia, South America, and pretty much everywhere else since your folks are not so appreciated outside of our borders. And you will likely need your "rights" to hammer those who present a threat since you will likely be perceived as a threat to most of the above-mentioned countries. And when we are flourishing as part of the emerging global economy, we'll send you a road map so you might be able to find your way out of the isolationism dead since Washington.

Are the Judeo-Christian values you intend to keep the ones including divorce, teen pregnancy, and violent crime? Because, if so, I'm not sure you are entitled to sole custody. The national divorce rate average is 4.1% (according to 2002 data provided via the CDC); the top ten states: Nevada, Arkansas, Alabama, Wyoming, Idaho, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi. ALL are above the national average. I would guess that most, if not all, of those states would end up in "your half". What about teen pregnancy? I'm glad you asked; top ten states (highest percentage of pregnancy girls between the ages of 15 & 19, inclusive) as of 2000: Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, California, Georgie, North Carolina, and Arkansas. Again, most of these states would belong to "your half" of the country. Violent crimes: California, Florida, and Texas in that order. We will, of course, keep the U.N. and you can apply for inclusion once you explain Guantanamo Bay and your flouting of the Geneva Convention.

Along with the SUV and over-sized pick-up trucks, you get the air and water pollution generated by the carbon emissions from those vehicles; we'll bill you for the clean-up costs in our places. And since your stewardship of the environment is sketchy at best, we'll take the national parks; you can go vacation at the Mall of America driving there in your Hummer. You DO get the Superfund Sites, however. We'll take the hybrid cars and reduce our reliance on foreign oil; I don't know which part of that is funnier - the fact that Canada is our number one supplier of foreign oil or if the solution the right-wing attempted to implement was to take over the oil fields and turn it into domestic oil; we can ask Dick Cheney later.

You can have all of the doctors trained in YOUR schools; this would exclude Harvard, Yale, all of the California Schools (Stanford, UCSF, UCLA) and probably Johns Hopkins. You DO get Baylor and Duke, so (if you can afford them) you should be fine. We'll take public health care and turn it into the right it was meant to be. We'll also take The Olympics (since foreign affairs are soooo much trouble) and the trade agreements that go with foreign relations. I don't think you'll need the embassies much, so we'll take that as well as The State Department.

As for History, you should keep it. After all, you made so much of it: the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Assassination of Martin Luther King Junior, the Viet Nam war, the Cold War, the Cuban Embargo, resistance to the Civil Rights Movement, Reganomics, and this little economic hick-up we have right here. And, since you really don't seem to need it much, we'll go ahead and take that pesky Constitution while we are at it - I don't think you'll miss it much. But, of course, you DO get to keep your KKK and your religious right to keep the blacks, the gays, and the abortion doctors in their places (or dead, assuming you think there is a real difference).

Let's see who likes the terms now...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We Haven't Heard the Last of Mrs. Sarah Palin...

A new item on the Federal Elections Commission webpage reveals that Governor Palin has already filed candidate papers for the 2012 Presidential Election.

I don't believe her to be smart enough, focused enough, or moral enough to be the Leader of the U.S.; I DO think another 2-3 years of experience and a real preparatory process will make her a player in the next election cycle.

And I hope that neither the DNC or the RNC overlook her, as that could prove to be a costly mistake.

Hope from the White House

After President Obama was sworn in last Tuesday, I was amazed at how different everyone felt and everything looked despite there being no real change (as of yet) in the country; what we all reacted to must have been hope. I can only imagine those feelings were similar to what people felt with the election of President Kennedy.

In the week since the inauguration, President Obama has begun unveiling his agenda through a series of Presidential Orders, video addresses, cabinet member press conferences, and even an official White House blog. And while there is no guarantee of long-term commitment to these promises can't help but think his decision to be different, transparent, and proactive will, in the long run, be as important as any of the actual policies issued by his administration. He is redefining what the government CAN be and setting the standards very high; I suspect that our people will reject any real attempts to return to "how things used to be" with either this President or future leaders.

I'm excited! I can't wait to see what's next and to get my hands dirty with the minutia of running our country again. I trace this enthusiasm directly back to President Obama and what he's done so far. It''s inspiring and motivating, and I believe he was right on the mark with his comments challenging us to get involved and participate in the recovery effort, It used to be that voting was sufficient; I no longer think that's true. We need to educate ourselves, motivate ourselves and our friends, and get involved in the issues we care about the most.

These first 7 days have been a wake-up call. We have 93 days left of the first 100, and 1454 days left in Obama's first term. What are YOU going to do to help America realize Her promise and steer Her back on track? Make answering THAT your one of your Goals for the upcoming weeks and months.