El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Politics (page 2 of 3)

Whatever politics, Puerto Rican, American. I might praise, but if you know politics, I’m probably more apt to complain. Beware!

How Many Articles Can I Begin with “Oh holy shit, they’re at it again”?

Imagine if you will a place where the boundaries between Legislative and Executive where blurred, wrapped, and crossed with the Judicial – a place of sound, a place of fury, and place signifying nothing.  You have just stepped off the boat one thousand miles southeast of Florida… somewhere into the Twilight Zone.

Tomorrow, in the semi-autonomous territory and commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a referendum will be held.  Imagine if you will in our parallel sister Twilight Zone where odd and bizarre things occur, if president of the United States, decided to hold a nationwide referendum.  At stake was the decision to change Congress to a unicameral assembly or change the form of government to a parliamentary system. 

Imagine it!  NOW!

What do you mean you can’t? 

What’s that?  You say that the president has only some limited powers over the Legislative Branch?  You mean he has veto power, which can be overridden by a 2/3 majority. You say he can set executive policy, govern the military, and write the budget?  Well, I guess.  Bush has overstepped his bounds on occasion, but even he has not tried to void the Constitution (well, without a good reason… okay, I’ll concede that too… sheesh).

So how would one go about changing the structure of the legislative branch of government?

First, the Congress would have to propose, debate, and vote on the change (2/3 majority in both houses).  Next step would be for 3/4 of the states’ legislatures to ratify that change.

I can’t imagine it’s too much different in Puerto Rico, but tomorrow, there is a referendum on changing the legislature from bicameral to unicameral.  Huh?  Wouldn’t it just be great that if every time the president didn’t like what Congress was doing he could call a nationwide vote and threaten to disband it?  What the?

Well the short of it is that in Puerto Rico the governor can’t do it either, but what he can do is propose to spend $4 million tax of tax payers’ money to execute what amounts to a poll.  If the people were to favor a unicameral legislature, the next step would be for the legislature to vote on it, then do whatever process is required to amend the Puerto Rican constitution.  Oh, yeah, but we have one more step here.  All changes to our constitution must be approved by the United States Congress.

The only reason for a vote tomorrow on this issue is pure and simple intimidation of the legislature.  It is nothing more than executive branch thuggery.  Personally, I couldn’t care less what system the legislature runs.  It couldn’t get any worse. 

But don’t kid yourself.  If anyone votes either yay or nay, it is a vote for the governor, a vote for intimidation, and a waste of money.  Don’t for one second think you’re deciding anything.  You’re just playing into the governor’s hands, perpetuating the folly, the circus, and furthering our decent into a banana republic.

Ah, but everybody loves a show.

Executive, Legislative, and Judicial, oh my!

There is method in the madness that is American politics.  Among all the posturing, partisan rhetoric, back-biting, and power struggles, there are some basic truths that I think have been forgotten through it all.

The US Gubment is broken down into three branches.  The Executive branch executes, that is, enforces laws, makes priorities and sets the tone.  The Legislative branch makes the laws according to the will of the people.  They are a body that represents a cross section of age, class, and culture.  They write the plan so to speak.  The Judicial branch is the final say through it all with the US Constitution and judicial precedent as its authority.

Think of the three branches as the hands on a clock.  The Executive, transient and ever changing with the whim of the people, is the second hand.  The Legislative, more measured less fickle, its movement almost imperceptible, is the ticking of minutes.  The Judiciary, conservative and lumbering is the ever steady indication of hours.

The President can effect change only through executive order or policy insomuch as it doesn’t break any laws.  Executive orders, such as a policy on gays in the military, may be removed with a stroke of one man’s pen.  Policy changes of that type could possibly change every four years.  Gays are in, gays are out.  The President can also decide which laws are important or not.  The business of the Federal Government is such that not all laws are enforceable.  Where are our priorities.  For one President it might be social services.  For another it might be immigration.  They are transient and subject to rapid change.  We have a saying back in Missouri.  If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.  The same goes for Presidents.

Why is the President such an important figure?  One: there is only one.  Two: in the big scheme of things seconds are important because they are the only thing that happens right now.

The Legislative branch is a slower beast.  If you look close enough at it, you can just barely see its movement.  Like VH-1’s retrospectives of the 70’s etc. you can only see how silly you were given the shift of a decade.  So it is with the Legislative branch.  It is made up of young and old, male and female, different cultures, different socio-economic classes, and political ideologies.  It is hard to get them to cooperate, to find an issue upon which they can all agree.  When they do, you can bet with a reasonable amount of certainty that it is the will of the people

And, damnit, I like it that way.  I want my Legislature to be slow, not too efficient, not too unified, not too smart.  I want them to reflect us, and our spirit is pretty constant – at least over the decades.  Change is good, but changing too quickly is disruptive.

The Judiciary has been in the news recently.  Conservatives decry "activist judges" as violating the constitution by forgetting their place as the creeping hours of the day.  I actually agree, but not for the reasons conservatives say.  Conservatives only complain when activist judges are doing things contrary to their wishes.  There are numerous "activist judges" with political and social agendas who run with the conservative posse.  These are the judges who proudly display the Ten Commandments in the courtroom and let religious or cultural values flavor their decisions.  Defendant living in sin?  Well perhaps you will not be looked upon as favorably. 

Frankly, I think most judges do the right thing though.  Teri Shiavo?  Mr. Judge says, "Sorry, doesn’t matter what my personal feelings are on this matter, and for the record, I don’t personally agree with the husband’s decision.  But according to Florida law, upheld by other courts and passed by the Florida legislature, this woman’s fate has already been decided by her legal guardian."  That’s it folks.  There’s no activism there.  I’m just a judge, he would say.  I don’t enforce laws.  I don’t make laws.  But I make sure that when I take that brick and place in in the construction of history it fits and will stand the test of time.  It has to fit with the other bricks.  It has to hold up to the specifications written by the building’s designers.  That’s a lot to do on its own.  I’m not interested in activism.  Leave that to the politicians.  I’m a curator.  I am the slow hand of time, sweeping deliberately ever forward.  You can build on that.  Do we have flaws?  Sure we do.  There where some gaping holes and errors in our decisions throughout the years, some of which took until 1963 to fix, but only because some judges, and I’m not naming names, Taney… ahem, couldn’t stop being activists, beholden to special interests.

Take this example.  This is the opinion and decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Scott v. Sandford case.

The Supreme Court dismissed the suit on jurisdictional grounds. Chief Justice Taney explained that the parties were not citizens of different states because the Constitution did not consider blacks to be citizens. The Chief Justice also added that the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude in certain parts of the Louisiana Territory, violated the Fifth Amendment because it deprived slaveowners of their property without the due process of law.

Now that’s activism.  The US Constitution never said blacks weren’t citizens.  That fact is a convenient assumption based on the current values of the day.   He goes further to decide that blacks are not only not citizens, but neither are they people.  They are property, and as such the rights of property owners are protected by the Constitution.  Yikes.  That’s some activism sure enough, activism for slave owners.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."  Eventually slavery as a legal practice with the sanctioning authority of the Judiciary of these United States was abolished.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The only problem with the 13th Amendment was that it was not a court decision. Maybe if there had been fewer activist judges in the land during the 19th century, we wouldn’t have had to write this thing. Hello? All men are created equal? These are men. Are they equal? End of story.

But I digress.  The judiciary should not be subject to the whims of current thinking.  They must be of studied character, dispassionate, and moreover taken to, at any time and in any situation, question everything they have ever believed or known.  All assumptions must be abolished and the building reconstructed piece by piece slowly and deliberately, like the slow moving hour hand. 

Or I could be wrong.  I dunno.

Why China / Russia / Middle East / Insert-your-boogie-man-here is Not Going to Destroy You and Never Could

Frequently I write up responses to things that interest me or pursue a
thought that pops into my head during the day. More often than not, I
write it up in a hurry, reread it, and discard it. Occassionally, I go
back and check out the drivel that I had written and think, "Hey that’s
not so bad, why did I throw it away. Good thing I saved it." This is
one such occassion, and the theme a recurring one. China’s growing
economic might and progress. Chinese technology

Go ahead and read it. It’ll sound about the same as every other
thinly veiled awestruck/fearstruck warning to the western world, to
"get off yer duff and take these bastards seriously, or they’ll run the
world in a few decades, while you and your familly drown in your own
excrement." You’ll find things like, "There are 300 million cell phone
users in China." "If even 10% of the Chinese population did _blank_
then that would turn the word market for _blank_ on its ear." They
always talk passingly about "our market opportunity" but belie it with
"if only China would open its doors to the west." Sprinkle in "human
rights," "nuclear weapons," and "communism" and you’ve got the makings
of a nice little pseudo cold war in the brewing, a nice sun brewed ice
cold war.

You see, our problem is that we are really afraid of China, but
it’s not just China. Before them (or concurrently) it was Russia.
Before that, it was the Vietnamese, Native-Americans. Before that, it
was the Turks… It’s always somebody, and hindsight has always proven
our fear was all for naught.

So, back to China. What was it about this article that irked me? –
Cell phone users – I got this image in my head of 300 million folks
walking around with little black gadgets stuck to their heads. I see
them, a sea of thin, slight, Chinese people hustling and bustling with
little portable hot-pocket roasters yibber yabbering away about
important stuff concerning world affairs and their plans for global
domination and our own subsequent subjugation.

Unfortunately, their plans are probably more in line with, do you know
who X has a crush on, or did you get the new album by X, or hon, pick
up some rice on the way home from the office, or hi, mom, the phone
company told me that it would be another ten years (or never) before
they extended service to our area, so I just got this cell phone.

So people aren’t doing anything but using these cellphones to perform
the same things that you or I do in the same circumstances. But what if
the Chinese dumped cell phones onto our markets, got a lock on the
global cell phone market, why, they could… hello? These are cell
phones, people!! These are communication devices. Like ALL tech, it
doesn’t have the ability to DO squat by itself. It can’t invent
anything new. It can’t create. It can’t motivate. It can’t thrust. It
is a TOOL, a tool for people, subject to their follies, their
strengths, their weaknesses. A cell phone cannot DO anything to you. It
cannot change your way of life. It cannot subjugate you. Unless…

And that brings me to another point. If technology is essentially
impotent, what CAN China possibly do with it or any other piece of
technology they acquire? The short answer is this: What their president
tells them to do.

We should not fear a people without true freedom, for it is the most
important attribute of success. One person cannot make decisions for 2
billion people. He can’t even begin to comprehend the lives of his
living relatives. The only way China can succeed in any lasting way is
if they are free to pursue their inalienable rights of life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. Will they pursue folly? Sure. Will they
do great things? Sure. Will they be a threat to us? Surely not.

Why Bush Won

This whole election thing has gotten to me. Here in Puerto Rico,
the sure bet win for the Statehood party (PNP – Partido
Nuevo Progresista
) candidate Pedro Roselló was
basically in the bag… only the bag had a hole in it. The Puerto
Rico Independence party (PIP – Partido
Independentista Puertorriqueño
), fearful of moving
toward statehood for Puerto Rico, whored themselves… err… pooled
their votes and voted for the Commonwealth Party (PPD – Partido
Popular Democrático
) candidate. As of this morning,
the final results are not in, but it’s looking bad for our candidate.
Sigh, it’s got me depressed. Do you people live on the same planet
as I do? Are you blind to the way Puerto Rico has fallen apart in
the last four years?

I did my part though. I did my civic duty. Laura and I were
election officials and we tallied and counted and certified the
results for our voting unit. We were part of the process, and it was
fair as far our little corner was concerned. I trust that it was
equally fair throughout the island as well.

What more could we have done?

As for the national US election, being residents of a US
Commonwealth, I may not vote even though I was born there, lived my
entire life there, and am an officer in the US Army Reserve. If I
lived abroad in any other country, including Israel, Britain, France,
Germany, Brazil etc, I would be able to vote absentee in the last
state in which I resided. This would remain true even if I were
never to return, nor had any intention of returning to the US. But
since I live in Puerto Rico, I have no vote, no voice.

Still, I followed the US election with much interest. Puerto Rico
is still governed by the mainland just as if we were a state… but
we have no vote in Congress or the Senate. Was I Bushie, or was I
for Kerry? I would have been one of the famous undecideds – up
until Monday night, when I decided I would cast a ballot for Kerry if
given the chance. I finally came to the conclusion that Kerry was
just smarter, more prudent, and less of a loose canon than our
current President. Kerry, in my mind, was the more respectful
candidate, the more thoughtful candidate, more of a consensus
builder, more a team player. Bush on the other hand, seemed to
appeal to Americans’ fear, fear of gays, fear of terrorists, fear of
loss of religious values. I am particularly worried by his “Mission
Accomplished” attitude, by his recklessness, his smugness, his
bully pulpit from which he feels ordained to bring religion and
government together, one nation under God. Gives me shivers.

This I decided coldly without hatred, without malice. I decided
it with my mind. I drew it out and calculated pros and cons.

But there was this incongruity, something for which I was not
prepared. As I watched the returns, I kept sub-consciously rooting
for Bush states. There was this little voice that kept saying,
“Whee!” and when a state fell Kerry’s way, I felt a tiny
little twinge of pain. From where do you spring to strike me, I wailed,
thrashing at the dark shadows that assailed me. I have decided with
my rational mind to vote for Kerry, but there was a sweetness from
Bush victories.

I reflected upon my pain and joy, and it brought me back a week, a
week in which the team of my youth, the St. Louis Cardinals faced off
with the hapless Boston Red Sox, a team with a very long dry spell
for world series titles. I said to myself, “I’m a Cardinal,
but I hope the Red Sox win. They deserve it. I hope the curse
ends.” I didn’t really care though, I tried to convince
myself, but I kept checking online and flicking to the channel to see how the Sox were doing. If I
was honest with myself, I could tell my heart was rooting for the
Cardinals. Every time Boston would score a run, I felt the pain, the
disappointment. Come on, let’s get this thing going, I would
secretly hope. When the Sox clinched it in four games, my mouth
said, good, but there was this dry lump there stuck in my throat. It
would have been nice to have made a series out of it, gone to seven
games, but hell – good for them. But my heart was crying, a
little depressed for the loss of the team of my youth.

So it was last night and today with Bush and Kerry. I still say
Kerry would have been a better president, but my heart keeps rooting
for Bush. What the hell is it that has hijacked my subconscious?

Politics is a contest for the Strong-man. I think it secretly
appeals to us. The high gentlemanly road is seldom traveled by the
strong-man. The strong-man consistently beats his chest in the
jungles below, battling tigers, getting bloody, and growling in surly
unintelligible tones (note Bush’s debate performances). He is
beating up on his opponent, hitting him below the belt, attacking,
attacking, attacking. The opponent traveling the high road has been
waylaid by our marauder… and we cheer. Damn that son-of-a-bitch is
tough. Did you see that, we whisper to each other. That fellow
didn’t stand a chance. Sure the low blow was ugly, and we winched
feeling the pain of the high-minded fellow cupping his ‘nads in his
hands.

Bush won because politicos are nothing more than alpha males,
strong-men who rise to the top not for their big ideas, their
compassion, duty, service, high ideals, or academic vision. They get
there because they defeat their opponents with clubs, and sticks, and
rocks, and in any manner with whatever tool or whatever deception.
It’s the ultimate fighting championship in the political arena, a no
holds barred, knock-down drag-out, brawl where the winner is decided
by who pummeled whom into a bloody pulp. Do we kind of fear the
winner a little? Do we like the winner? Does our mind tell us that
this is the person we want leading the country? Or do our little
monkey hearts beat faster with exhilaration as we scream and screech
throwing up our arms and dancing upon the bloodied corpse of John
Kerry?

We love a strong-man, it exhilarates us in ways we can’t control,
can’t reign in, can’t comprehend. And they know it, damn them.

Protection Welfare State

When did the Republican party become the anti-intellectual party, hmmm?

When did we get associated with brain dead policies and never
admitting a mistake, skyrocketting deficits, and religious wacko, quasi
fascist, morons? When did this all happen, because I didn’t get the
memo.

I want to help the poor, but I don’t want to JUST take care of them.
Entitled living can lead to even bigger problems down the line as we’ve
seen. A deep seated sense of entitlement is the biggest soul draining
evil the modern world has ever known… and it sneaks up on ya, get’s
in there slowly, and before you know it you start demanding that your
gub-ment protect you from, Big Macs, dirty cigarettes, rude comments,
and terrorists. Send the poor and lower middle class to shoot the
bastards. I deserve this SUV.

Protect ME, dammit. I deserve it!!

When did this happen? When did EVEN the Republican party become such
a federalist morass of "Don’t worry ’bout nutin’. We’ll take CARE of
them, and we’ll take care of YOU," while we happily shop at Wal-mart
and whine that the government isn’t doing ENOUGH to protect me and my
children.

We need more power to take care of you. We need need more money to
take care of you. We need more wiretapping to take care of you. We need
more bombs to take care of you. We need more government, bigger
government to take care of you.

What happened to "We the People"? I guess it’s now "We the
Government." So instead of shrinking welfare, Bush and crew now have
the whole country on it, a sort of "protection welfare." In fact,
that’s what I’m going to call it. Protection Welfare. Now we’re all in
it, and we think we are entitled to it.

Has anyone stopped to ask if I want those idiots to take care of me?
I don’t need them to take care of me. I don’t expect it. I reject it.
And I reject it because it makes me lazy, robs me of my volition,
steals my thunder.

Do people need a helping hand every once in a while? Sure we do, but
we are not entitled to it. We should be thankful for any help we
receive and try to repay it in kind, because it is a gift from our
fellow citizens.  We don’t deserve anything, except maybe a peaceful eternal rest.

Why Rumsfeld is going Down.

smug_bastard.jpgI watched the testimony and questioning of Secretary Rumsfeld today
and it became crystal clear to me that his people just dropped his
pants. Either he’s not paying attention to what’s going on, or he’s
pissing people off who could be his friends. Somebody leaked this
investigation. Maybe he wasn’t managing the situation closely enough,
and it just "got out", or his people decided that going over his head
to the public would embarrass him. Either way it shows a failure of
leadership and he’s got to go.

When I was mobilized in Puerto Rico there were numerous
problems with the facilities, training, and planning. Even before my
unit had gotten there, there were news stories about the conditions,
strict restrictions on free time, and severe morale problems. After
having had the pleasure of spending a few weeks there, and hearing
about soldiers vandalizing toilets and showers, I became convinced it
was a failure of leadership. Demming said that 85% of your problems are
management and only 15% come from labor. This to me was never clearer
when the commander of the brigade showed up one day to "lay down the
law" to all of the bad little soldiers who weren’t playing nice. He
promptly got back into his car and drove his fat ass home to his cozy
house. My point is this: soldiers will endure the harshest conditions,
the strictest rules, and the worst possible conditions if they know
their leadership cares, is in it with them, and will sacrifice
everything for them.

Good officers know soldiers are the ones who fight, are the
ones who sacrifice, and are the ones who die. They are the point of the
sword. We officers wield it. Would we blame the sword for our pathetic
failures? The sword was too heavy. The sword wasn’t sharp enough. The
sun was in my eyes. I’ve heard it all, and you know what? It’s a poor
officer, Secretary of Defense, or President who blames soldiers for
problems.

It should tatooed on the heads of all leaders: "My
success is due to this fine sword. These is no equal to it in all the
world." and conversely: "My failure is mine alone. I did not do honor
to this sword. In more capable hands it would have yielded victory."

The failures in Iraq go all the way to the top. They go all the
way to the cowboys in charge, who believe a big sword makes them
somebody. It is the unconquerable soul of man, and not nature of the weapon he uses, that ensures victory.

And Secretary Rumsfeld does not understand that the sword HE
wields is a human sword. The sword is not made of metal, Apache’s,
F-16’s, Strykers, or any other technological "magic bullet." He has
forgotten, throughout his rampaging through the defense department, who
he works for, who’s the one fighting the war, who’s the one dying. He’s
forgotten, pissed off, trampled, belittled, and made a mockery of the
entire military.

And they fucked him. They fucked him hard.

Soldier’s will do that to you when you don’t have their respect.
Sure, heads will roll for not, "keeping this in-house,", but you can be
sure there’s an officer worth his salt staring Rumsfeld down saying,
"You can take me down, but I got you, you bastard. I got you!"

Johnny Said, “Flame On!”

spyvsspy.pngOh holy crap, how I am annoyed by both political parties.

On
the one hand, conservatives are for the rights of the unborn, which is
good. On the other, they are against gay marriage, which is bad.
Liberals are against the rights of the unborn, which is bad, but for
the rights of gays (maybe), which is good. What’s a conscientious
person to do?

How come these incongruent beliefs naturally
group like Cheerios in a bowl of milk? Is there some natural
attraction, some political Vanderwaals force or something? How come
there’s nobody out there that’s pro-animal rights, anti-death penalty,
anti-euthanasia, pro-life, pro-gay marriage, and pro-equal rights. Or
just to be internally consistent, pro-euthanasia, pro-death penalty,
pro-abortion, anti-animal rights, anti-gay marriage, and a member of
the KKK. I’m a big believer in internal consistency. How come both
wings of our political system are so off balance? I’m a tree hugger
personally, but I’m also a baby hugger, a lover of dogs and animals,
appreciative of the meat that I eat, anti-death penalty, and see that
those among us that are most disabled, weak, or oppressed are those
that deserve the full measure of our protection.

What is
going on in this country, where what the majority decides, or the
whimsy of popular opinion, can trump the constitution that guarantees
equal rights to all. In California, Gov. Schwarzenegger advocates for
the rights of the voters who voted to uphold that marriage is between a
man and a woman. What?! Their rights? How in the hell do their rights
have anything to do with the liberty of Americans to marry whom they
choose? How can anyone rationalize a certain right applying to one
group of Americans but not another? Pick a right, any right, I dare
you. I dare you find something that is not strictly biological or
geographical (like men can’t bear children or you can’t swim in the
ocean because you live in North Dakota) where you are not allowed some
right by law afforded to some other Americans.

We might say
to gays, "If you want to get married, no one is stopping you." And as
an aside, with a snicker, "Just let them marry someone of the opposite
sex. Men marry women. Women marry men. Simple." You have all the rights
I have, as long as you agree with me.

And in an earlier time
we remember all too well, "Well, since you were born a little black
boy, you can’t go to school with little white Johnny."

"Why?"

"’Cause that’s jus’ the way it is, boy. It’s God’s law."

We
as a nation grew up and it became apparent to us that such attitudes
were wrong-headed. We had blinders and hadn’t seen the truth. We see it
now though. Whew! Glad we’ve realized it. Weren’t we fools back then?
So ignorant, so bigoted. Gosh, we’re so superior now. We get it!

Do
you actually have a GOOD reason for not wanting to let gays marry? Come
on, I’m open-minded. I’d like to hear this Truth that gay marriage will
lead to the death of society and the institution of marriage. I’ll
listen, and I’m open to any explanation on how gay marriage will affect
you in your marriage, or your kids marriage, or your grandkids, or or
or. My only caveat is that you can’t use the Bible as proof. The Bible
will only work if its laws are binding in U.S court, and the last time
I checked the U.S. was not a theocracy, and not everyone was a
Christian.

Mayor Daly of Chicago, put it like this, "Don’t
kid yourselves, divorce has done more harm to marriage than anything
else." I’d agree with that and tack on, TV, popular culture,
consumerism, false expectations, and co-habitation as the true dry rot
of the institution of marriage. What is that bible quote about noting
the splinter in the eye of another but failing to see the log in your
own.

So what can gay marriage do for marriage? I see these
long lines of people in San Francisco, standing in the rain, the cold,
looking to bind their lives to one another and witness before the
state, profess their devotion, and go one better than just shacking up.
They are taking a leap of faith, making a commitment in love. I don’t
see them as subverting marriage. I don’t see them making a political
statement, trying to tear down OUR beloved institution of marriage,
like some ancient barbarians at the city wall just waiting to loot and
sack. No, watching all the couples in San Francisco getting married
does not turn my stomach. It fills me with great hope. Here are people,
who through all the shit that we little monkeys throw at them, given
the opportunity, their first step is toward devotion and commitment to
each other. They are taking a leap. What could be more noble than that?

I’d say we have much to learn from their example.

Rant mode on… or ala Johnny Storm, "Flame on!"

Well,
while we’re contradicting ourselves, let’s talk about animal rights
groups. "Trees have rights. Dogs cannot be owned (only cared for) etc.
in California" While at the same time saying that human beings in fetal
form have NO rights and are useless, disregarding the fact that as soon
as they pass the arbitrary barrier of the birth canal, wham, magically
they have lots of cool rights, unless of course they end up being gay.
Damn, sucks to be you. Glad I’m not an abortion or worse… gay. Tsk
tsk, equal rights don’t apply to you.

All the contradictions only
serve to confirm one fact: Humans will do what they want to do in any
given circumstance because we believe we have the right to do what we
want, that MY rights trump all of your rights, when I deem it so.

  • When we needed land, we decided that the native inhabitants were only savages and killed them, moved them.
  • When
    we needed manual labor for agricultural work, we went and got slaves
    because we had conveniently deemed them non-human, and then later we
    compromised and said they were 3/5th of a human. Hey, give us a little
    credit, huh? Such nobility.
  • When we (humanity) decided that our woes were Jew-induced, we decided they were not human and killed them.
  • When we decided we were offended by those different than ourselves, we decided to call them immoral and abominations.
  • When we decided that a human life was causing us inconvenience, we decided it was tissue.
  • When we needed votes, we appealed to the basest instincts, the lowest prejudices, the most primitive emotions.

This,
my friends, is why religion and government should never ever mix. This
is what we get, governments that persecute and oppress those that are
deemed outside of the moral fabric of some arbitrary belief system
based on an ancient book. Jesus didn’t say ala Dr. Phil, "Buy my book."
He said listen to my message. And his message takes the form of two
rules:

  1. Love each other.
  2. see rule 1.

Ah,
but the list of contradictions goes on and on. Instead of elevating our
lives, our aspirations, we debase them, pawning our tiny little hearts
for a bit of instant gratification at someone else’s expense.

Don’t
kid yourselves. Both we and our parties are big bags of contradictory
hot air. It’s time for us to stand up for what’s right, human dignity.

In Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

‘Cause
somebody has too. It seems in Puerto Rico, that this day passes without
so much as a glance. Only Federal facilities are off today, while most
businesses (including banks) comport themselves as if it was a normal
workday.

Hispanics in the U.S. complain that THEY don’t
have a DAY. They ask why the influential Hugo Chávez who fought for the
rights of immigrant workers doesn’t have a day… as if everyone needs
a DAY, a special day to call their very own, to love him and pet him,
to squeeze him and hug him. Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day just a token
black holiday?

Our honoring of Martin Luther King Jr. is not
an acquiescence to black pressure, an ethnic hero of choice for those
darker Americans so that they may feel like they are somebody. I shout
an emphatic NO! even though the road to a national holiday was frought
with much debate over this very topic. He’s just a black leader. He’s a
womanizer. How can we put him on a pedestal with the likes of
Washington, Lincoln? America finally "gave in," and bit by bit they
adopted the national holiday that was to become Martin Luther King Jr.
Day. I imagine there are many still grumbling, and I wonder if white
folks don’t like the feeling that maybe there’s a black man telling
them what to do.

Folks, Martin Luther King Jr. was not a
great Black American, he was a great American. Martin Luther King Jr.
restored OUR sullied, tattered, torn constitution to what it originally
intended. Martin Luther King Jr. restored your rights, whatever your
ethnicity. He restored your dignity whatever you call yourself. He gave
back to you what was stolen from you. He fought, suffered, and died for
YOU, you Americans, you Hispanic Americans, you Native Americans, you
Chinese, Korean, Philipino, Croatian, Polish, German, Italian, Irish,
French, Scandanavian, Russian, Indian, and Arab Americans. Martin
Luther King Jr. wrestled with the soul of a nation, a lethargic broken
lost shadow of its former self and fought to restore its heart, its
core. He struggled to return to YOU what you deserved, what every
person deserves.

I say to every American citizen that did not
take time to reflect on what Martin Luther King Jr. did for you
individually, shame on you! Shame on your shortsightedness. Shame on
your selfishness. Shame on your cluelessness.

The arc of
the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Martin Luther
King Jr. pulled many a long night by himself, hands bloody, arms weary,
against apathy, hatred, bigotry, and even physical death. He pulled and
pulled and pulled a sinking America kicking and screaming back into
focus, back toward justice, back toward righteousness,

For you.

Observing the Primary Election for the New Progressive Party in Puerto Rico

Laura and I woke up early, 0530, to get to the polling place and begin what was to become a very long day. We had volunteered to be observers for our particular candidate, Carlos Pesquera, in the gubernatorial primary for Puerto Rico. It is customary to have observers from your campaign to "assure" the election officials do their jobs and don’t try to pull any funny business.

The funny business began right away for us. Agustín, our polling place "head dog," tried to put us to work right away counting and initialling ballots. I refused. "Hey we’re not election officials," I said. "Our campaign bosses were very clear we were not to be doing your jobs."

It turned out that they had not done, nor planned to do their jobs, and since our candidate stood to be hurt more, we acquiesced and did what we needed to do to have the polling place open on time at 0800.

Things continued to bump along herky jerky. Agustín flashed his rural rotten toothed smile at me. "See that wasn’t so bad."

They hadn’t enough secret booths for people to vote in private, so hoards started taking seats in the 2nd grade classroom to fill out their ballots, twenty at a time, huddled close together. I was already shaking my head. This was out of control. It was obvious Agustín was this little barrio’s don. I caught him "suggesting" candidates for the little old ladies that trusted his judgement. "Agustín, you can’t do that. That’s fraud, you know. Do it again and I will file an infraction."

"You know, you’re not so innocent yourself. By helping people put their ballots in the boxes you are violating the rules as well."

This is a well worn and tired tactic in Puerto Rico. So lawless and disorderly is the conduct, so liberal are the gentry with rules and regulations, that there is more than sufficient culpability to go around. No one ever enforces these laws, for fear of themselves being caught in something. Everybody is dirty here. Everybody’s got something in their closet. So accustomed are the people to playing ball, negotiating everything, they are beholden to no ideals, only necessities in the constant flux of the moment. Do what you have to do to get by. And a common game they play is whenever accused of wrongdoing, quick turn it around on someone else or your attacker, no matter how small. Put them on the immediate defensive.

So, Agustín’s admonishment to me for helping these same old ladies get their ballots in the rickety cardboard slots was my "infraction." Agustín had met his match. I don’t know why people here are flummoxed by this sophmoric redirect, but they are.

I’m not.

"Okay, I won’t touch the ballots. You tell another person how to vote, and I will report you."

Then he went into the guilty conscience blither blather, where he wouldn’t shut up trying to justify himself. The process is damaged, he’d say, he’s just helping. Why should a "wrong" candidate get elected just because he’s better looking. If people don’t take the time to study the candidates, then the wrong person get’s elected by accident. "I’m just helping to avoid an accident." And he would go on and on, flapping his deformed, cavity ridden mouth at high velocity. I told him if the people didn’t know the candidates, they shouldn’t vote for them. Leave that box blank. He kept on, trying his best to persuade me, his guilty conscience and pride going on and on. All the while giving me more and more dirt on himself. I just listened, carefully crafting the hammer that I would bring down upon him soon enough.

I soon caught him again with a little group of people around him. He had been pretending to count blank ballots (we were running out), seated in the little desk of the second grade classroom. All were huddled around him, hunched. I stood at the front of the room, in front of the blackboard giving directions and noting irregularities. Children!! I almost said.

"Agustín," I said, "You can’t do that. I see you." And in a more formal spanish that sounds like a fine afternoon spent at a nobleman’s estate, "The gentleman shall refrain from offering advice on selecting candidates. You, sir, are damaging the electoral process."

He stopped immediately. I flagged down Laura and told her the story. Then I reported it to the electoral unit head. He was shaken and surprised, but as Agustín is clearly the "go-to-guy" at this polling place, I have my doubts about how this will be resolved. It’s kind of like when a hotel says to you, "Yes sir, we’re really sorry about that, you can be assured that he will fired immediately."

I figured I didn’t have much pull and myself being a newcomer, it would have been an uphill battle. All I had at that point were threats and pieces of paper. I started to hatch a plan.

Earlier, the director of the polling place had expressed interest in Laura and myself to help with the general elections next November. We are young and involved, contrary to the older folks that always seem to run these things. I had been cagey, expressing reservation. I didn’t want to get chummy with these people. They were after all, enemies for the day.

How do I remove Agustín from his position as chief purveyer of fraud in Barrio Tortugo? How do I get rid of this little latin dictator wannabe?

It would have to wait, as the day was only half over and there were ballots to be cast. Mostly the people coming through were extremely uneducated, lazy, borderline shouldn’t-be-allowed-to-vote. It was a pretty depressing affair. These are the people who are deciding the future representation of Puerto Rico. These same people who are complicit in fraud, who haven’t taken the time to read up on the candidates, and resort to trying to get away with cheating. Good thing the teacher was there. It was shameful. I should have punished them to write a thousand times on the chalkboard, "I will not cheat the electoral process. I do not wish to live in Haiti."

After all was said and done and all the ballots were cast, it fell upon Laura and myself to observe the counting. It is still a hand counting system here in Puerto Rico. It works pretty well. The polling places are divided up sufficiently that the results come in for over 1.5 million votes cast in just a few hours.

Agustín was getting no end of pleasure handing us stacks of ballots to count and sort. He was like a grand arch-duke waving about his servants while he dealt with important matters, such as the bloom on his roses. Laura and I didn’t protest the counting of the ballots for our gubernatorial candidate. We had a vested interest.

It soon became apparent that our candidate was losing by a landslide. 3-1. My heart sank. After so much effort, so much toil, is this how it is to end? Napoleon has returned from St. Helena… even after so much ruin, he is still a strong-man. So it is in Puerto Rico, Rosselló, like Napoleon, conquered much in his early years only to meet his Waterloo and seek the refuge of exile. Our Napoleon, however, has seen fit to come back from his exile and save us. And our candidate? Carlos Pesquera was like the honest reformer trying to put back together the country Napoleon had destroyed. All the people can remember is the glory of the past. The poor want heros, glory, not reform.

After "helping" Agustín count most of the rest of the election results too, I became increasingly frustrated by his lack of graciousness, laziness, and assumption at our servile role. I told Laura, I’d had it. We’re out of here. Look at these people. We’re just observers and we’re doing all the work. They’re just sitting there watching us like slavers. They can stay up to 3am for all I care. We’re out of here.

On the way out, I told the director of the polling station, "Here’s the deal, Marcos. You get rid of Agustín, you get both Laura and myself. That’s the deal. Two for one."

He jotted down our number and we were on our way.

Remedial School for the Critical Thinking of Liberals

www.townhall.com

I read this essay linked from fark.com (silly news site with
interesting links all over the web, highly recommended). Its basic
premise is that liberals are naive and narcissistic. He raises some
interesting points, but I think makes a couple of subtle errors that
conservatives always make when naysaying liberals.

“Liberals are always looking for excuses.” That is,
they excuse bad behavior or failure as the fault of society,
education, television etc. Many liberals will take this sophmoric bashing and fail to achieve an argumentative upper hand.
I sometimes wonder if they have not been properly schooled or had
their weapons sharpened to the precise edges necessary to do battle.
Conservatives love to slice and dice you on the value of your words.
A-ha, I nailed you through that chink in your armor. You must be
precise. Your imprecision is your failing. Your anger unbalances
you, grasshopper, or some such nonsense.

Your taxes benefit the rich!

Who are these rich?

Your policies hurt poor people.

Which policies?

Sometimes liberals have a difficult time answering these
questions. They feel they are right, but haven’t polished their
game. Conservatives know this and set back at a safe distance
hurling precise questions to which they know their opponent has no
answer.

You see, liberals feel things. I’m going to tell you how to feel
things and still make your case. I’m going to give you a tool
straight from the golf bag of your conservative rival. You are going
to use this club and you are going to beat him with it.

Let us begin.

First, yes, I agree with you. There are never excuses. People
make choices and some of them are bad. They sometimes make these
wrong choices because of things in their environment, but there are
never excuses. You are never excused from abiding by the law. You
are never excused for not giving your children all the possible
advantages that they deserve. You are never excused for your
failings. So, yes, I agree with you Mr. Conservative. People should
stop making excuses, looking for ways to peddle cupability to some
other unlucky soul or business or institution. You are not taking
responsibility for yourself and what is worse, you are handing your
power to that which does not have the right to retain power from you.
You are setting yourself up as a hapless victim by continuing to
abdicate your hard earned volition, your precious vehicle for success,
your humanity. You have become just one of “them,” one
of those powerless, victimized masses to whom much happens but the
flurry of motion disguises the true lack of forward movement.

To you, you tragic characters in a tragic play, I say, you are not
absolved. You are not excused. You are not through.

What a wonderful point you make. I couldn’t have made it better
myself.

Good, because now I am going to ask what are you going to do about
it?

Do about it? Why nothing, you said it yourself, people must take
personal responsibility.

But you see, we have a problem. This country has a problem. This
problem is here and now.

A problem created by you liberals. You and your social programs.
You’ve created a cycle of dependency, a cycle of crime, a cycle of
poverty.

It’s OUR fault? I thought it was THEIR fault?

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