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Friday, January 31, 2014

What Is This, Family Guy?

What Is This, Family Guy?

By David Glenn Cox
OpEd News.com
January 31, 2014

We no longer live in a reality based society and because of this, it
no longer finds itself fettered by the rocks of reality, the sky's the
limit.

Torquemada might as well swing for the fences.

"An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech start-up and did
her part to add to the more than 8 million new jobs our businesses
have created over the past four years." ~ Barack Obama

Eight million jobs when we needed sixteen, mostly part-time,
without benefits in a sea of hard to get, a sea of twelve million
officially unemployed.

Millions more struggle each day, to have a meal and keep the
heat on.

The President is saying the entrepreneur is doing something
wonderful, so don't blame me, if you're not.

But for every entrepreneur flipping a switch, there are millions
more flipping burgers, trying to stay alive.

Because they work part-time the margins are always close,
the utility cut off date is always the first thing they read.

Because they are older, they fill positions once held by teenagers,
making it harder for the young to become established into society.

But what are the youth to become?

What is the central organizing principle of our society? Capitalism?

Can a populace be motivated by wealth, if it becomes more and
more difficult to get?

Can media so fully indoctrinate the message of wasteful
commercialism in the bare face of subsistence poverty?

In his praise of the entrepreneur, the President is praising
the one in a million that lands an NFL or NBA contract.

A non reality made for TV illusion, that millions can all be
entrepreneurs, selling things to each other.

To become a successful entrepreneur you need money and
luck, but mainly money.

You need capital to live on and capital to work from, but
most of all, you need customers with money to spend.

We have a failure to communicate, a broken, defective
operating principle, which neither, motivates nor inspires.

Seniors no longer look towards retirement as golden, they
look with trepidation.

They've watched as the middle class, the home owner, the union
worker and the non-union workers, have all been systematically
thrown under the bus.

They no longer believe in much of anything, but nobody wants to
talk about, many of us having long-term unemployed friends or
relatives.

Families impaired by members unable to find a job at subsistence
wages, you can't move out because you can't afford to or you can't
move out because they can't afford for you to move out.

Or maybe there's a job for you, but you can't afford to move
period.

Because of the length of this malaise, a generation grows up
without knowledge of either prosperity or peace.

How do they set goals with a future so nebulous without any
reasonable hope of success? What are the good American jobs?

What is our plan for the future?

Just drift aimlessly, judging the quality of our lives by
the Dow Jones average?

This American reality was created by Free Trade agreements,
sold to the American people, sealed by the bipartisan promise
of jobs, which never arrived.

The entrepreneurs and big corporations are all in favor,
it will bring jobs.

You see, you can't even read that line without seeing snark.

That's my point, there is reality and then there's what the
President was talking about.

The President talks about Autoworkers, farmers, and rural
doctors, in a pure Timmy & Lassie fantasy.

"A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone
tired but dreaming big dreams for his son."

Most factories aren't on the bus line and even if they were,
the buses probably don't run third shift. A Sophic Hershey's
syrup of hog wash,

"And in tight-knit communities all across America, fathers
and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their
spouse, remember fallen comrades and give thanks for being
home from a war that after twelve long years is finally coming
to an end." ~ Barack Obama

Oh come on now, we deserve better than that.

What a rip off, I mean, at least in all the dystopic novel scenarios,
the leader is dark and ominous or at least interesting, we get this
cruel reality, Opie Taylor's state of the Mayberry Address.

My Aunt Bea sure does make good pies! What is this, Family Guy?

"It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built
this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your
responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come
from, no matter what you look like, or who you love." ~ Barack
Obama

This is a recurring theme from Obama, meeting your responsibilities.

You're the one under the gun; you're the one under scrutiny.

Why did you lose your house? Irresponsible.

Why did you lose your job? Irresponsible.

Why are we in the situation we're in? Don't blame us; you're the one
who's irresponsible!

But no matter where you come from (Birds sing, cue music)
no matter what you look like (Cue, ugly kid slide) no matter
where you come from (cue Obama slide) or who you love (cue
Gay couple slide) and our children and our children's children
with amber waves of grain and purple mountains, we can't
forget the purple mountains.(Cue flag) and if you don't get
ahead, there must be something wrong with you.

A blind puppet with an open contempt for the people, a low-grade,
satirical tent preacher, openly hostile towards the crowd.

This wasn't so much of a speech as a performance unsurpassed
in its delicacies, escaping nobly from any construction of goals
or priorities.

When the central organizing principle becomes corrupted and
government so clearly living in a fantasy land, there is no
chance for meaningful reform.

You could no more stop them than you could stop Fred Flintstone
from running off with Betty Rubble, you can only try to hold on
and understand we don't know who is really in charge here.

"Hence I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that
will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to
stand up under the weight." ~ Malcolm X

http://www.opednews.com/articles/What-is-this-Family-Guy-by-
David-Glenn-Cox-Family_Fantasy_Future_Money-140131-120.html

Thursday, January 30, 2014

State of the Union: A Bankrupt Ruling Class Talking To Itself

State of the Union: A Bankrupt Ruling Class Talking To Itself

By Bill Van Auken
WSWS.org
January 30, 2014

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech was a cynical
propaganda piece, filled with fraudulent claims and promises that
no one, least of all his audience at the US Capitol, believes in the
slightest.

The annual address has long since become an ossified ritual, a
kind of national pep rally into which social and political reality
seldom intrudes.

With Obama’s speech Tuesday night one had more than ever the
sense of the president as chief representative of the financial
aristocracy that rules America, speaking to a house filled with
millionaire congress members and bought-and-paid-for
representatives of big business.

It has more and more come to resemble a political echo chamber,
in which the ruling establishment celebrates and talks to itself in
utter indifference to the needs and concerns of the country’s
working people, the overwhelming majority of the population.

In the run-up to the speech, the media had worked to build up
expectations with wild predictions that Obama would use it to
launch war on social inequality or, as the Washington Post put
it, a “sustained assault on Republicans over a populist economic
agenda.”

The day after, the old adage, “the mountain labored and brought
forth a mouse” came to mind.

According to some accounts, Obama’s speechwriters were
instructed to tone down references to social inequality and
emphasize the concept of “opportunity” the old Horatio Alger
myth that with perseverance anyone can become a millionaire.

This was combined with a reassurance to the Wall Street criminals
that “Americans understand that some people will earn more than
others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts,
achieve incredible success.”

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an editorial entitled
“The Diminished State of the Union,” and the Washington Post’s
was headlined “Obama’s muted call.”

There was no denying that the days of the “audacity of hope”
are long gone.

Among the exceptions to this reaction was that of the official
trade union apparatus.

Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO tweeted at the
end of the State of the Union speech, “Best #SOTU to date for
@BarackObama. All the right points to lift up middle class but
one: collective bargaining.”

Trumka was in the gallery Tuesday night and was shown on national
television beaming with joy as Obama congratulated one of his wife
Michelle’s “guests” all of them used as political props for the
president’s phony rhetoric a pizza parlor owner who had raised the
salary of his employee from minimum wage to $10 an hour.

No doubt Trumka sees this as good for business, salivating over
the prospect of benevolent employers allowing him to collect
union dues from such workers, pushing their take home pay back
toward the old minimum.

Obama’s move to require federal contractors to pay a minimum
wage of $10.10 to employees under new or renewed contracts,
not existing ones, was promoted as the boldest of his initiatives.

Expected to affect around 250,000 workers, a tiny handful of
the nearly 50 million Americans classified as “working poor”
while still leaving them poor, the proposal is the clearest
proof that no section of the ruling establishment has any
intention of addressing the scourges of inequality, poverty,
and mass unemployment.

The reality is that, if the minimum wage had risen apace with the
compensation of America’s CEOs, the top 1 percent, the poorest
paid worker in the US would now be making more than $33 an hour.

If it just kept pace with the increase in productivity, it would be
over $22.

The speech included the obligatory reference to the state of the
union being “strong” along with an assertion that 2014 can become
“a breakthrough year for America.”

Who does he think he is kidding?

Poll after poll shows that some two-thirds of the population believe
the economy is anything but strong, with their well-being declining,
the phony indicators cited by Obama notwithstanding.

A poll conducted at the end of last month found that over half the
population is being forced to reduce their spending, and fully 36
percent are cutting back on food and medicine.

One of the few true statements Obama included in his speech was
the observation that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely
been higher, and those at the top have never done better.”

That the president felt compelled to note in the same breath the
stagnation of wages, deepening inequality and continuing
unemployment is an expression of the growing unease within the
ruling establishment that the present conditions are unsustainable
and must give rise, sooner rather than later, to social upheavals.

The charity Oxfam issued a report just last week noting that the
world’s richest 85 individuals have amassed more wealth than the
poorest 3.5 billion.

In the United States, the most unequal of all the advanced
capitalist countries, the 20 wealthiest people possess as
much wealth as the poorest 150 million.

Under Obama’s presidency, the top 1 percent has monopolized 95
percent of the growth in income, while the bottom 90 percent of
the population has only been further impoverished.

To cast the hodgepodge of micro-initiatives and empty promises
cobbled together in Obama’s speech as an attempt to confront
these staggering levels of inequality would be ludicrous.

More substantive preparations are being made to deal with the
political consequences of unprecedented social inequality through
the buildup of a totalitarian police state apparatus, parts of which
have been exposed in Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive
domestics spying by the National Security Agency.

Preparations are being made to counter a challenge from below.

In the final analysis, Obama’s fifth State of the Union address
has exposed his presidency as a politically spent force.

He will be remembered first as a president who was able to exploit
illusions in his phony promises of change to carry out the biggest
swindle in history, the Wall Street bailout, which has seen the
transfer of trillions of dollars in social wealth from the majority of
the population to the banks and the super rich.

Secondly, his legacy will be the buildup of a police state and the
shredding of the most basic democratic and constitutional rights.

Obama’s attempt at this late date, in the run-up to the 2014
midterm elections, to cast himself and the Democratic Party
as the champions of the poor and crusaders against social
inequality will be embraced only by a thin and privileged layer
that includes the trade union officialdom and the pseudo left
elements whose personal fortunes are bound up with the fate
of the Democrats.

Today’s malignant levels of social inequality are inextricably
bound up with the capitalist profit system and the unceasing
growth of financial parasitism to which it has given rise.

The struggle against it can be mounted only by the working class.

It must mobilize its independent strength in an offensive aimed at
impounding the ill-gotten fortunes of the Wall Street and corporate
oligarchs and reorganizing society on socialist foundations to meet
the social needs of the vast majority rather than the profit interests
of the few.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/30/pers-j30.html

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rulers' Ideas Rule

Rulers' Ideas Rule

By William J. Astore
Truth Out
January 28, 2014

I can’t remember where exactly, but I stumbled across this
apothegm of Karl Marx:

“In every era, the ideas of the rulers are the ruling ideas.”

Striving for even more brevity, I truncated it to rulers’ ideas
rule.

Contrarians of the world should unite to identify and challenge
these ruling ideas.

When they serve only the needs of the powerful, we should
be prepared to mark them as dangerous and most likely as
undemocratic.

And we should work to change them.

What are some of today’s ruling ideas?

I challenge you to come up with some, but here are ten that I
see as ruling our lives:

1. That capitalism is the only economic system that works, and
that rampant consumption is necessary to keep the economy
growing.

2. Related to (1) is the idea that GDP and similar economic
measures are the best measure of America’s strength.

3. That “success” in life is measured by money and titles and
possessions.

4. Related to (3) is the idea that education that doesn’t end
in a lucrative career is largely worthless.

5. That poor people and other disadvantaged groups are the
way they are because they refuse to work.

6. That it’s absolutely necessary to spend nearly a trillion dollars
a year on national defense, wars, homeland security, intelligence
agencies, and nuclear weapons, all of which are justified in the
name of “keeping us safe.”

7. That privatization is the way to improve everything, including
public services like education, the prison system, and health care.

8. That corporate spending in elections is the equivalent
to freedom of speech for individuals and is therefore
protected by our Constitution as our nation’s founders
intended.

9. That there’s no such thing as class warfare in the United States.

10. Related to (5), that there’s equality of opportunity for
everyone in the United States, regardless of race, ethnicity,
economic background, and so on. Thus those who “fail” do
so because of their own failings, not because the system is
rigged against them.

That’s my non-rigorous, somewhat off-the-cuff rendering of rulers’
ideas.

Contrarians of the world unite!



Professor William J. Astore, is a retired lieutenant colonel
(United States Air Force), writes regularly for Tom Dispatch.

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21493-rulers-ideas-rule

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Umpire

The Umpire

By Michael D'Angelo
The Smirking Chimp
January 27, 2014

Who serves as "umpire" in the great American experiment in
democracy?

Is the umpire adequately protected from big money interests to
complete the great unfinished business of the nation, achieving
equality of opportunity?

Thomas Jefferson felt that the happiest society was one where
inequalities of condition were not great.

As president, he considered what was needed for the happiness
and prosperity of the people.

Jefferson talked about "a wise and frugal government, which
shall restrain men from injuring one another."

Further, that government should leave the people "otherwise free
to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and
shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned."

Are these the government and conditions we are experiencing
today?

Jefferson believed that the status of aristocracy, based as it was
not on merit but inherited privilege, made it doubtful that this
class would exercise its public obligation for human progress on
its existing foundation.

Consequently, his ideas sought to restore what he called "the
natural order of freedom to give talent and virtue, which were
scattered through all ranks of society, a chance to rise."

He described his purposes in terms of "natural philosophy."

Throughout his life, Jefferson never ceased to believe that men
(white men, that is) by right were free in their minds and persons
and that human society should guide its steps by the light of reason.

Today's news media heaps praise upon America as a land
of opportunity. This praise is earned on merit.

The constitution requires all citizens to be considered equal under
the law, that they should be afforded "equal protection of the
laws."

But did the founding fathers designate anyone in particular to
discharge the responsibility for fair dealing on a level playing
field?

In other words, can we identify the umpire?

Jefferson, for one, argued that it was the legislature, working
in unison with the executive, which was best suited to play the
unassuming, under-appreciated role of umpire.

On the important condition that proper policy was in place by the
combined efforts of this pair, working together, then thereafter,

The path we have to pursue is so quiet that we have nothing
scarcely to propose to our Legislature.

A noiseless course, not meddling with the affairs of others,
unattractive of notice, is a mark that society is going on in
happiness.

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of
the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they
must become happy.

To this noiseless course approach.

It must be added, however, that unless the President's mind in
a view of everything which is urged for and against (a particular
bill) is tolerably clear that it is unauthorized by the Constitution;
if the pro and the con hang so even as to balance his judgment,
a just respect for the wisdom of the legislature would naturally
decide the balance in favor of their opinion.

It is chiefly for cases where they are clearly misled by error,
ambition or interest, that the Constitution has placed a check
on the negative (i.e.: veto) of the President.

So, it is the legislative branch which serves the role of umpire,
calling balls and strikes, fair or foul, letting the citizens "play"
and using its authority to maintain a level playing field.

But the ordinary citizen must be mindful that the "science of
human nature" will be silently at work in the democratic process.

This involves an expectation of reasonable men acting reasonably
in their own best interest.

That is to say, lawmakers face natural corruption by self-interest.

The primary, big money, self-interest components of American
democracy include the financial interests of capitalism, the
resulting onset of political parties, large corporations, labor
unions, lobby groups, political action committees, etc.

Each has evolved only after the constitution was enacted in 1789.

Together they tend to undermine the transparency necessary to
understand how and why laws are made, or not made.

The ordinary citizen may draw certain conclusions when wealth
and income disparity are presently at an all time high, and
those conclusions are not all positive.

For one, the situation is morally indefensible.

And for another, the legislative branch is inadequately protected
from big money interests.

This confounds the quest to complete the great unfinished
business of the nation, achieving equality of opportunity.

How can the rules of the game be revisited to assist lawmakers
with their inherently difficult role of impartial umpire in a level
playing field society?

The good news is that sound, practical measures appear to
be readily available.

Does the ordinary citizen possess the courage to meet the
challenge of our time?

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/lifeamongtheordinary
/53587/the-umpire

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Trifecta of Evils

The Trifecta of Evils

"The people of the world think the U.S. is the most significant
threat to peace.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Glen Ford
Information Clearing House
January 23, 2014

When Dr. Martin Luther King died at the age of 39, he was quite
clear about who and what was at the root of human suffering.

He believed that “racism, militarism and extreme materialism”
were the “giant triplets“ of “interrelated” evil that had to be
overcome if society was to be transformed.

Dr. King said the United States was host to all three resident evils,
and that America reigned as “the greatest purveyor of violence in
the world, today.”

Forty-six years later, the United States clearly leads the world in
all three of Dr. King’s categories of evil. And, we can prove it by
the numbers.

It is true that racism is hard to measure, but the effects of racism
can be quantified.

If a racist government is defined as one that consistently uses its
powers in ways that harm a particular racial group, then the U.S. is
indisputably the most racist major state in the world.

The U.S. prison population is by far the largest on the planet, in
sheer numbers and in the proportion of Americans locked up.

No other country comes close, which makes the United States the superpower of mass incarceration.

America’s police and prison custodial forces dwarf the militaries of most countries, which tells us that militarism is now so deeply embedded in U.S. domestic structures that you can’t tell where the military ends and the police begin.

Nearly half of U.S. prisoners are African American, although Blacks
are only one-eighth of the total U.S. population.

Since Americans make up fully one-quarter of the world’s prison
inmates, that means one out of every eight prisoners on the planet
is an African American.

This could only occur in a thoroughly racist state, whose institutions work overtime to produce the biggest and most racially unbalanced incarceration numbers on Earth.

Clearly, America has racism, triple evil number one, covered.

“The United States is the superpower of mass incarceration.”

Number two is militarism.

The U.S. military budget is almost as large as the military
spending of all the world’s other nations, combined.

Together, the U.S. and its NATO allies account for more
than 70 percent of global weapons spending.

At last count, the U.S. spent six times more on war than China,
and 11 times more than Russia.

In fact, if you count up the U.S. and all of its allies, they are
probably responsible for about 90 percent of total moneys
spent on war.

Therefore, today, 46 years after Dr. King’s death, the United States
is not just the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, it is right
at the center of just about the totality of militarized violence in
the world, today.

Which is why a recent international poll shows that the people of
the world think the U.S. is the most significant threat to peace.

Finally, the third of the triple evils: Extreme Materialism.

By that, Dr. King meant great disparities in wealth and income.

According to the Suisse Global Wealth Databook, wealth is so
unevenly distributed in the United States, it no longer resembles
a First World country.

Of all the rich nations, the U.S. is dead last in terms of material
equality.

So, by Dr. Martin Luther King’s measurements, America is in bad
shape, more bedeviled by the triple evils than back in his day.

In fact, things are much, much worse because...it’s the silence
that kills you.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37454.htm

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Injustice of US Justice

The Injustice of US Justice

By Laura Finley
Consortiumnews
January 19, 2014

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. saw the injustices in American
society and sought to correct them.

He succeeded in many ways as laws were changed to eradicate
overt segregation, but other problems proved more intractable
as witnessed in the criminal justice system.

Many commentators have referred to the U.S. as a throwaway
society.

Typically, they are referring to our excessive consumption of
disposable products.

We are a society in which the average family throws out a quarter
of its food, and each individual generates around 4.5 pounds of
trash every day, all year long.

As bad and unsustainable as this is, even more bothersome is
our penchant for throwing away people.

One in three black men in America will go to prison during his
lifetime.

This means families left fatherless.

It means that when they are released, these men will likely
not be able to vote, hold office, serve on a jury, or obtain
many professional licenses.

Consequently, job opportunities are severely limited and the
chance for re-offending is maximized.

Although not nearly as staggering, one in six Latino men will
also end up in the wasteland that is an American prison.

Critics might contend that these statistics reflect higher crime
rates, but the primary thing they reflect is a system in which
Blacks, and Latinos, are more likely to be stopped, searched,
arrested, tried, and convicted, than their white counterparts.

Indeed, a new study conducted by researchers from the University
of South Carolina found that nearly half of all black men in the U.S
had been arrested at least once before the age of 23, and about 30
percent had one arrest before their 18th birthday.

Sadly, studies have shown that while we are throwing these young
men into the abyss of the corrections system, prison is actually the
safest place to be a black man in America.

A study conducted in North Carolina in 2011 found that black men
were half as likely to die in prison than they were out in society.

This isn’t the first time that researchers have found lower death
rates among incarcerated marginalized groups, who often receive
healthcare and square meals routinely for the first time in their
lives when they are inside the big house.

Mahatma Gandhi once commented that you can measure the
greatness of a nation by the way it treats its most vulnerable
members.

Given the statistics presented above, we are, so far, an epic fail.



Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department
of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by Peace Voice.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/01/19/the-injustice-of-us-
justice

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Abundant Hope

Abundant Hope

By Maya Angelou
January 19, 2014

Reverend Martin Luther King

The great soul,
Flew from the Creator,
Bearing manna of hope,
For his country,
Starving severely from an absence of compassion.

Martin Luther King

The Great Spirit,
Came from the Creator,
Proffering a sparkling fountain of fair play,
To his country,
Parched and deformed by hate.

The whole man came forth,
With a brain of gentle wisdom,
To persuade quiet,
Upon the loud misery of the mob.

A whole man stood out,
With a mellifluous voice,
To bind the joints of cruelty.

A whole man came,
In the midst of a murderous nightmare,
Surrounded by demons of war.

He dared to dream peace and serenity,
With a heart of faith,
He hoped,
To resurrect his nation.

I open my mouth to the Lord,
And I won’t turn back.

Martin Luther King

Faced the racial,
Mountain of segregation,
And made it move.

The giant mound of human ignorance,
Centuries old,
And rigid in its determination,
Did move, however slightly, however infinitesimally,
It did move.

I will go, I shall go,
I’ll see what the end will be.

Martin Luther King

Brought winds of healing,
To his country,
Reeling unsteady,
With the illness,
Of racial prejudice,
Screams of vulgarity,
Could not silence him.

Fire bombs and dogs,
Could not take his voice away.

On my knees,
I told God how you treated me,
On my knees.

He knew himself,
A child of God,
On a mission from God, and,
Standing in the hand of God.

He spoke to the hideous hearts,
And to the bitter monstrosities,
And asked them to transform,
Their ways and thereby,
Liberate his country.

Representing the grace of heaven,
He spoke to the evils of Hell,
Representing gentleness,
He sang to brutes.

He brought the great songs of faith,
Persuading men and women,
To think beyond,
Their baser nature.

Lord, don’t move your mountain,
Just give me strength to climb it.

He hummed the old gospels,
Encouraging the folk to act,
Beyond their puny selves.

You don’t have to move,
That stumbling block,
Lord, just lead me around it.

Leader to those who would be led,
And hero to millions.

Martin Luther King

Was father to,
Yolanda,
Martin, III,
Dexter, and,
Bernice.

He was lover,
Friend, and,
Husband To,
Coretta Scott King.

He spoke respectfully,
Of the Torah.

He spoke respectfully
Of the Koran.

In India, walked in the footprints of,
Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi.

Christianity made him patient,
With all religions.

And his tremendous heart,
Made him believe,
That all people,
Were his people.

All creeds and cultures,
Were comfortable in,
His giant embrace,
And all just causes.

Were his to support and extol,
Through sermons and allocutions,
With praise songs and orations,

He preached fair play and serenity,
From hand cuffs and prison garb,
From leg irons and prison bars.

He taught triumph over loss,
And love over despair,
Hallelujah over the dirges and,
Joy over moaning.

Fear not,
We’ve come too far to turn back,
We are not afraid, and
We shall overcome,
We shall overcome.

Deep in my heart,
I do believe,
We shall overcome,
Someday.



Maya Angelou, is an American author and poet. She has published
seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books
of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television
shows spanning more than fifty years.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Inner City Blues

Inner City Blues

By Marvin Gaye
Metro Lyrics.com
January 17, 2014

Rockets, moon shots,
Spend it on, the have-nots.

Money, we make it,
Fore we see it, you'll take it.

Oh, make you wanna holler,
The way they do my life.

Make me wanna holler,
The way they do my life.

This ain't livin,
This ain't livin.

No, no baby,
This ain't livin.

Inflation, no chance,
To increase, finance.

Bills pile up, sky high,
Send that boy off, to die.

Oh, make me wanna holler,
The way they do my life.

Make me wanna holler,
The way they do my life.

Hang ups, let downs,
Bad breaks, set backs.

Natural fact is,
I can't pay my taxes.

Oh, make me wanna holler,
And throw up both my hands.

Yea, it makes me wanna holler,
And throw up both my hands.

Crime is, increasing,
Trigger happy, policing.

Panic, is spreading,
God knows where, where we're heading.

Oh, they don't understand,
Make me wanna holler,
They don't understand.

God bless you,
And Lord keep you.

And may you live,
A good life.

God bless you,
Lord keep you.

And may you live,
a long sweet life.

Don't let the things, get you down,
Hold your hands, baby, walk around.

Say God bless you,
And I'll keep you.

I'm praying a prayer for,
each and everyone of you.

Heaven bless you.

Heaven keep you.

http://www.metrolyrics.com/inner-city-blues-lyrics-marvin-gaye.html

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Weapons of the Poor

The Weapons of the Poor

By Rev. Howard Bess
Consortiumnews.com
January 11, 2014

Many on the American Right define themselves as Christians
and angrily defend the religion’s symbols and myths, but this
Christian Right ignores a core reality about Jesus, that he spoke
to and for the poor, decried the rich, and demanded social
justice for all.

Jesus spent nearly all his life with poor people, and these were
the truly poor, eking out a subsistence living, struggling just to
survive.

In Nazareth where Jesus grew up, there were no people of wealth;
there was no middle class; the people were rural and illiterate.

These people of Galilee were not simply poor, they were
expendable as far as the ruling elites were concerned.

As such, they were not a happy, contented lot.

They lived at wits end, which is why Galilee gave rise to
the Zealot movement of violent rebellion.

It was from this population that Jesus drew his disciples
and found the audiences for his sermons.

His relationship with the poor people of rural Galilee became the
context in which he advocated for justice or what he called the
kingdom of God on earth.

Somewhere in my theological/religious journey, I found a truth
in reading and interpreting the Bible.

It was that a text without context is a pretext.

As applied to Jesus, that means that if the reader does not
understand the context in which Jesus taught, his stories can
be twisted to mean whatever the reader wants.

It is the knowledge of the context of the life of Jesus that ought
to keep every Christian minister honest.

That seldom happens, however.

Hiding from the context of the ministry of Jesus – i.e. ignoring
that he spoke to and for the poor and oppressed, is a safe harbor
from which Christian ministers and leaders are hesitant to depart,
because it is much riskier to venture out onto the sea of Jesus’s
advocacy for the downtrodden and disdain for the rich.

Yet, when the parables of Jesus are examined and placed into his
historical context, we find that the issue of wealth and poverty
(what we would call “income inequality”) was one of his favorite
topics, and the messages were not comfortable for the rich.

Jesus spoke about the unfair relationship between employer and
employee, about inequitable wages, about the absurd excesses of
wealth and the terrible consequences of poverty.

Recently I reread the parable of the dishonest steward as recorded
in Luke 16:1-9, in which a rich man prepares to fire his manager
who then, to gain the favor with the rich man’s creditors, lets them
reduce what they owe the rich man, such as slashing a debt of 900
gallons of olive oil to 450 gallons.

There are long-standing disagreements about the ending of the
parable as it was first told by Jesus.

Some scholars insist that the story actually ends with verse 7
and that verses 8 and 9, in which the rich man commends the
manager for his deceit, were tacked on by Luke in a lame effort
to make sense of the story two generations after the death of
Jesus.

Yet, when the story is placed into the context of Jesus’s ministry
among the poor, it becomes a different kind of story about
dishonesty, one about a corrupt system.

To Jesus’s audience of peasants in Galilee, the rich owner would
be understood to be the crook who stole property with the help of
the Roman rulers.

He would have lived in luxury in one of two large cities in northern
Galilee and would have hired thugs to extract all the money they
could from the peasants who tilled the land.

The steward would be one of those thugs who did the dirty work
oppressing the peasants, while stealing as much for himself as
he could.

The poor peasants, who were trying to survive, would not be
concerned about the difficulties of the two men nor with the
laws prescribed by the rich rulers or, for that matter, the
religious rules set by priests and other religious leaders who
collaborated with the wealthy and the powerful.

In the ears of Jesus’s listeners, the story takes on an ambiguity,
even an irony, as the corrupt steward betrays the corrupt
absentee landlord by seeking to gain favor with the people
in the landlord’s debt, though the volumes cited in the
parable suggest that these are debts far beyond what peasants
would be allowed to accumulate.

So the debtors may be viewed as part of the corrupt scheme,
too.

Thus, the parable becomes a great cartoon portrayed by
exaggerated characters and inflated numbers, with a critical
message roughly parallel to “no honor among thieves.”

Jesus probably told the story as a discussion starter among
his poverty-stricken friends who surely found themselves in
difficult predicaments confronting the rich, the powerful and
their “stewards.”

Surviving In Poverty

In an attempt to understand the poor, scholar James Scott has
looked at the weapons that they use to survive, including foot-
dragging, false compliance, pilfering, feigned ignorance, slander,
arson, sabotage, lies and half-truths.

In real life, when people are truly impoverished and oppressed,
they will participate in any of the listed activities to get by
without feelings of guilt, sensing the injustice inherent in the
economic and political structure that surrounds them, and the
imperative to survive.

It was surely the same in Jesus’s time.

You might think also of the scenes in the movie, “12 Years a Slave”
when the African-Americans find themselves with no choice but
to deceive their white slave masters in order to avoid brutal
punishments and even lynching, actions that were tolerated by the
legal system of the American South at that time.

Survival ethics are very powerful, the laws of political and religious
rulers notwithstanding.

But Jesus was not a law keeper or an enforcer.

He was an advocate of a justice that demanded dignity for
everyone and insisted that their basic human needs be met,
heaven on earth.

Since my youth, I have tried to take Jesus and his teachings seriously.

That has meant friendship with the poor.

I found a lot of them in jail.

In the past, very intentionally, I was a regular visitor of those
who found themselves locked up.

I have welcomed them when they left jail.

My wife and I have hosted and befriended thieves, rapists,
prostitutes, drug users, alcoholics and drug dealers.

I have spent a good bit of time in courtrooms and have taken
legal actions on behalf of the guilty poor.

Some have become long-term friends.

Some have stolen from me.

I have found that what James Scott said about poor people
is true:

Poor people will do most anything to survive and do so with
a clean conscience.

What every Christian must realize is that poor people with
seemingly dishonest ways are the people of Jesus.

The “weapons” used by these poor to survive often clash with
the priorities of nice society, which then responds by putting
the poor into jail.

During my trips to jail, I never met a rich person or even a
middle-class person who was incarcerated.

I suspect the simplest way to reduce our jail population is to
make friends of poor people, invite them into our homes and
churches, share our food with them, and help them meet their
human needs through social programs, such as raising the
minimum wage to a living wage.

Being a disciple of Jesus begins by placing him in the context
in which he lived and taught.

When we do that, we find lots of poor people surrounding him.

To understand the message of Jesus, we need to know and
understand the poor people whom he was addressing.

Until then, most Christians will remain frauds in the kingdom
of God.



The Rev. Howard Bess is a retired American Baptist minister,
who lives in Palmer, Alaska.

http://consortiumnews.com/2014/01/11/the-weapons-of-the-
poor

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Take Me To The King

Take Me To The King

This post is dedicated to my Dad who passed away 26 years
ago yesterday, which is why I will always love you Dad more
than yesterday, and even more than the day before.

Rest In Eternal Love and Eternal Peace, Edward R. Whitcomb.

By Tamela Mann
Metro Lyrics.com
January 5, 2014

Take me to the King,
I don't have much to bring,
My heart is torn in pieces,
It's my offering.

Take me to the king.

Truth is I'm tired,
Options are few,
I'm trying to pray,
But where are you?

I'm all churched out,
Hurt and abused,
I can't fake it,
What's left to do?

Truth is I'm weak,
No strength to fight,
No tears to cry,
Even if I tried,
But still my soul,
Refuses to die.

One touch, will change, my life.

Take me to the King,
I don't have much to bring,
My hearts torn into pieces,
It's my offering.

Lay me at the Throne,
Leave me there alone,
To gaze upon Your glory,
And sing to You this song.

Please take me to the King.

Truth is its time,
To stop playing these games,
We need a word,
For the people's pain.

So Lord speak right now,
Let it fall like rain,
We're desperate,
We're chasing after You.

No rules, no religion,
I've made my decision,
To run to You,
The healer that I need.

Take me to the King,
I don't have much to bring,
My hearts torn to pieces,
It's my offering.

Lay me at the Throne,
Leave me there alone,
To gaze upon Your glory,
And to sing to You this song.

Take me to the King.

Lord we're in the way,
We keep making mistakes,
Glory is not for us,
Its all for You.

Take me to the King,
I don't have much to bring,
My hearts torn to pieces,
It's my offering.

Lay me at the Throne,
Leave me there alone,
To gaze upon Your glory,
And sing to You this song.

Take me to the King.

http://www.metrolyrics.com/take-me-to-the-king
-lyrics-tamela-mann.html

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Interpretation and The Allegory of The Cave

Interpretation and The Allegory of The Cave

By Charles Sullivan
Dissident Voice.org
January 4, 2014

The ideological chains that bind and subdue us are stronger
and more effective than any chain forged from steel.

These manacles are more freedom inhibiting than a prison
cell or solitary confinement.

Belief, faith, and hope can imprison as well as liberate us.

By the power of suggestion, a thin cotton string can effectively
tether an elephant.

Politicians and their associates in the corporate media are
master manipulators of language and images.

Anytime you hear them speak, think of Plato’s Allegory of
The Cave.

Virtually everything that we see and hear, nearly everything
we have been told, is an officious lie, an illusion created to
deceive and control us.

The purpose of deception is to promote the dogma and welfare
of those in power, while implicitly disempowering those who are
being deceived.

Language is rarely, if ever, neutral. Coercive ideology lurks
behind every sentence.

In a sense, all language is propaganda, even the words on
this page.

For instance, in this short essay, I declare my intention to
lead my readers to a conclusion that I hope will awaken them,
promote consciousness, and encourage principled behavior
that is conducive to the collective emancipation of the working
class.

Our faith in capitalistic institutions promotes the pretense of
democracy, while it delivers plutocracy, corporate fascism, and
militarism.

Similarly, imprudent belief in the American Dream induces
people to behave in ways that promote the welfare of those
in power rather than the perspectives of those of us struggling
to be free.

Belief in this discredited notion keeps workers from
organizing against their oppressors.

The puppeteers casting shadows on the cave wall
know that the images they project are not real.

By contrast, the indoctrinated audience interprets the
shadows as authentic figures rather than the phantasms
they are.

The purveyors of myths and propaganda, the authors of
the sanctioned historical narrative that defines reality for
the masses, are consciously misleading us.

The empowered are aware that we are attempting to navigate
a house of mirrors with trap doors, but we continue to believe
that the flickering images on the cave wall are real.

Interpretation is everything.

Americans believe that we are a free and representative republic,
because that is what we have always been told, despite evidence
to the contrary.

But choosing our oppressors every few years makes us
neither free nor democratic.

Electoral outcomes that are determined by capital do not give
us a real voice in fashioning an equitable economic agenda,
taxation, or foreign policy, including decisions about war.

Participation in bogus systems of power binds us to delusions
and keeps us ideologically imprisoned.

They prevent us from taking meaningful action.

In America, working people are excluded from all of the
important decisions that profoundly affect their lives.

Legislators at all levels of government are beholden to the
corporations and wealthy individuals who fund their campaigns.

To the power elite, “we the people” are little more than
background noise to be tuned out.

Cast a stone at the mirrors and the illusion immediately
dissolves into shards of broken glass.

A perplexing chain reaction is set in motion; worlds fall like
rows of dominoes and fill the vacuum vacated by appearance
with new images, new ideas, and new possibilities.

Polaris abruptly appears with the stars of Ursa Minor wrapped
around her like a jeweled necklace glistening in the velvet black
darkness of eternal night.

She was always there but concealed behind striated walls of
silvered glass in the great American funhouse of lies and
delusion we call reality.

Bearing the Allegory of the Cave in mind, consider this: If a
worker puts his faith in an economic system that exploits and
alienates him, his faith shackles rather than liberates him.

Correspondingly, if a man believes that his oppressor is his
liberator, or protector, he ideologically imprisons himself,
and promotes behavior that benefits and strengthens his
tormentor, rather than himself or his socioeconomic class.

If he believes that the systems of power serve him and promote
justice rather than work for his capitalist masters, he will not
attempt to dismantle them.

The worker must then not only overcome his oppressor, he
must first transcend his own ideological beliefs and ignorance
before he can even begin to extricate himself.

In many ways, us workers are our own worst enemy.

We lose our humanity, become alienated from our highest self,
our families, our communities, our coworkers, and the Earth
Mother.

As participants in and recipients of unfettered capitalism, we have
become the unwitting tools of universal oppression and militarism
we claim to disdain.

Our demise stems from the misinterpretation of reality and our
shifting location within a volatile matrix of phantasmagoric
holograms, none of which are real.

We believe what we hear and do what we are told rather than
think critically about anything.

Questioning authority makes us uncomfortable, and there are
always consequences to challenging the dominant paradigm.

We have an abiding psychological need to believe that everything
we think we know about our country and the world is as advertised
because the alternative terrifies us.

We thus surrender our conscience and our life to become
a tool of the unscrupulous sociopaths in power.

The American worker must comprehend that his assigned
role within the capitalist system is not to be a thoughtful or
conscious human being, but rather an efficient economic serf,
a dehumanized automaton concealed within in a human husk.

Painful as this reality is, it does not behoove us to believe
or act otherwise.

The worker’s plight is like being a solider in the war-torn
Middle East: take orders and do what you are told.

Check your conscience and your humanity at the door.

We all know where that leads.

Armed with this knowledge, perhaps we may finally begin
the vital work of our individual and collective emancipation.

Our subordinate role in this unequal economic, social, and
political arrangement must be challenged and subverted.

No one is born a slave.

The only power anyone has over us is that which we allow
them to have.



Charles Sullivan is a Master Naturalist, community activist, and
free-lance writer, residing in the Ridge and Valley Province of
geopolitical West Virginia.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/01/interpretation-and-the-
allegory-of-the-cave