Monday, November 16, 2009

Filtering the Red Mist of Rage

Social networking sites often present unscientifically executed polls among their users. A recent poll on Facebook asked, “Is it a good idea for a 9/11 terrorist to be tried in a CIVILIAN court in NY?” A friend of mine whom I’ve known since we were each in middle school, vehemently replied:

“Absolutely not!!! What kind of society have we become. [sic] They attacked us. It was not a civil act. It was an act of war. There are International laws for that. If a terrorist declares war on us by attacking our land and gets captured; [sic] they are prisoners of war and should be treated accordingly. It is not a matter for the ACLU or any other organization that deals with civil matters. We have become weak in the last 50 or so years. sure [sic] we have the weapons but, the social mind set has become to [sic] timid to do what is needed. Of course that does not mean that everyone is like that. I blame our elected officials, all of them, for where we are going. Many great societies have fallen because the leaders became weak and military resources spread too thin. National pride in this country still exists but, there is a cancer in the land. We have become so use [sic] to demanding our civil rights that we now want to extend them to our enemies. Too many people want war to be nice. It is WAR not a time of peace. Maybe if we were in the same situation our parents were during WWII where everything was rationed and we in this country would have to suffer because we are at war, people would wake up and see that our country is in danger of going into oblivion like so many before us. Treat a terrorist like an enemy from another country because, [sic] he is. He has NO American rights. I leave this question. How would Hitler, Romel, or any of the Nazi leaders be treated today if captured by us in war?”

It’s very distressing to see displays of deep misunderstanding on how the Constitution of the United States and its described rules of law work. A distracting difficulty is our recent history of government wilfully and impetuously ignoring rule of law in service of bravado and hubris which ended undermining the very goals those breaches of law were supposed to realize. It has been established and documented that these breaches of legal procedure and precedent not only violated the perpetrators’ oaths of office, but poisoned the use of any information gathered in these incidents from legal admissibility in trial court, whether military or civilian. Because of tainted evidence alone, there are ample reasons, specifically beyond the issue of jurisdiction, which make use of the Southern Division of New York Federal Court the best place to hold these initial trials.

That notwithstanding, jurisdiction still trumps all other arguments.

The United States is a land governed by the rule of law. Our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution based on fairness and egalitarian rule: All Men Are Created Equal, and equal protection under the law. Those tenets, with the various articles and amendments, are the law of the land. One need not be a citizen to be governed by these laws, whether law abiding, miscreant, criminal, seditious, or traitorous. Equal protection under the law applies to everybody, citizen or not, regardless of behaviour, who fall under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States.

No true patriot would undermine the Constitution of the United States. Recent official lapses in this ethic have damaged the United States internally, causing Constitutional Crises to a scale unprecedented in American History. These diversions from the hard and fast rule of law have also globally damaged our credibility and prestige. These perpetrators of sedition and traitorous treachery have yet to answer in court due to their former official positions. Perhaps they’ll never be made to answer for their behaviour. Failure to bring them to task undermines further the stature of America’s rule of law both internally and internationally and portends repetition at all of our peril. Most importantly, it remains for our nation to return to our roots and observe once again the ethics and mores prescribed by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution of the United States. Rule of law and egalitarian status for all inhabitants, citizen or not, is what makes our nation great.

The people who perpetrated the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center are criminals by any metric. It is established that they were supported and commanded by nongovernmental sources, even though those sources were established, in turn, by American tax dollars as well as aided and abetted by foreign governments. The fact remains they were neither then nor currently a part of any established government. As such, their attacks on American soil were acts of terrorism, but not, by any factual or applicable definition, acts of war. The organization which commands them is unable to declare war on America by any definition enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, any justice administered upon the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks must be applied through the civilian justice system. It is immaterial that the United States Armed Forces have been brought to bear on Al Qaeda and their sobriquets abroad. The use of the military is appropriate as the entity provided for the common defence in the Constitution. The military keeps order internationally and defends American interests abroad. Internally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the various regional, state, county, and municipal agencies keep order and defend sovereign interests internally, as proscribed in the Constitution. What remains is that the individuals world wide who are part of the many terrorist factions, working individually or in concert, remain civilian entities and are to be meted justice solely by the civilian Department of Justice. This is the law of the land as delineated by the Constitution of the United States.

Administration of justice toward these criminals by military courts martial is contrary to the law of the land and would further undermine the authority and sovereignty of the Constitution of the United States. No amount of emotional reaction, however justified (and I wholeheartedly agree strong outrage is appropriate toward these issues), changes the appropriate application of American rule of law. To act contrary to anything delineated by the Constitution is seditious (in that it undermines the authority of the Constitution), treasonous (as it acts against the integrity and defence of the Constitution), and is inherently un-American. No amount of emotional outrage changes these facts. To ignore this reasoning, to undermine the rule of law, is to undermine the Constitution upon which our nation draws its strength; It is to reduce us to the level of those who seek to destroy us, and they win.

I had Mrs. Graff for Civics in my junior year at Brownsville High School. That’s where I learned these principals first in a comprehensive manner. What I learned there has guided me in my political philosophy and decisions ever since. What guides you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Righting Wrongs

Courts in New Delhi recently struck down the enforcement of the 148-year old Section 377 regarding “Carnal intercourse against the order of nature.” Religious homophobes are organizing, some even going so far as to petition those same courts to reinstate enforcement of the Section. Others are calling for the need to discuss the issues in face of the resultant requirement by Parliament to reconsider the law in its entirety. 

No, they don’t. They don’t have to consider anything. All they have to do is act. Repeal these hateful laws. Just do it. Quit whigning. Shut up and sit down.

Let’s look at the issues here. It’s about (1) the difference between religious dogma, which in all respects is the driving force behind both the law and vestigial social stigma against homosexuality, and civil regulation of the populace, and (2) public perception of the effect gays’ behaviour has on their lives.

My position regarding the need among religious persons to control the lives of those who haven’t succumbed to their way of thought is well established. In simple terms, those guys want me to toe the line of their inhibitions because, according to them, somebody said that somebody said that somebody said that somebody said…(back six thousand years of hearsay) that it’s said to be bad. Somehow, it just isn’t good enough justification to abdicate my freedom and liberty on their behalf, to justify and edify their chosen beliefs. Besides being intrinsically unfair, socially unjust and morally myopic, legislating religious dogma is just plain Un-American. Making any religious discipline the law of the land is no different from the Taliban enforcing Sharia Law in Afghanistan. Only the names are changed to shield the despotic. 

Why is this such a big deal, then? It is said to offend the righteous. So what? Ask any psychology professional: nobody is responsible for your feelings but you. The concept of homosexuality hurts the acquired sensibilities of those who have been brainwashed into believing in devils and demons, fire and brimstone, heaven and hell. That’s just a pity, isn’t it? There is professional help to alleviate the problem. While one doesn’t choose to be brainwashed (subjugation of children to religion is child abuse in my book) one does choose what one believes or what one does about and with what one believes. Ask any mental health professional: gays are not responsible for the feelings of religious zealots. Or of any other homophobes of any stripe. 

The fact is that discrimination is wrong. Limiting others’ lives because of their existence, because some aspect of their state-of-being makes another uncomfortable, is reprehensible as it is unconscionable. In many cases, most recently regarding LGBT, the zeitgeist is just awakening to the reality of it. For some reason, recognition of injustice in the moment doesn’t translate easily to recognition that whatever the issue has therefore ALWAYS been wrong, regardless of general public sentiment. Immediate resolution, if not restitution, is in order. Justice delayed is justice denied.

This claimed need to discuss these matters is at best a delaying tactic. Those stirred from not having to bother thinking about the uppity oppressed into acknowledgement, toleration, acceptance and integration merely seek to keep their feathers as unruffled as possible. Lighten the blow. Make the transition as painless as possible. Sod those fudgepackers, it’s still only about us. It’s a bother, but we can still carry on as if nobody exists but us. The tyranny of the masses, like the wheels of justice, moves slowly. Mustn’t upset one’s mother, or molest our saintly nan or rattle dear aunt Aiofe. Dad and uncle George mustn’t have to consider there might be poofs and fags near to them on the bus! The lads would never accept poofters at a footy match. The feelings of important, normal people are at stake!

But, what of the feelings of the millions of gay, Lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, curious, questioning and sympathetic people who have withstood loss of livelihood, housing, family, friends, emotional support, civic security, literally life and limb; Endured public ostracism, censure and all the other slings and arrows of being different in a better-than-thou stratified society? What about the discomfort -- even unto death -- parsed to all those like myself? When is society going to offer me back the jobs I’ve lost (2), the housing of which I’ve been deprived (3), the personally received as well as general, public heckling from plain citizens (uncounted), elected officials (2) and uniformed police officers (1)? 

And, they’re worried about the offense taken by people who suddenly have to acknowledge their poisonous attitude is wrong? Criminalization of an oppressed group for intrinsic, immutable characteristics of their state of being is cruel, inexcusable, immoral, unconscionable. There is no applicable justification for delay in righting such wrongs. The feelings and sensibilities of the general public be hanged. I’m just one among millions, and your discomfort at having to acknowledge you were wrong in attitude, and must adjust your behaviour toward me is NOTHING compared to even a single instance of injustice I have personally endured by institutionalized condemnation of what I am. 

Make the changes, stop whigning. Just ‘effin’ grow up and get over it.

Repeal Section 377.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Letter to a new friend

Sometimes exchanges of ideas with new acquaintences inspire enough of a shift in the kind of everyday thought patterns one has to make one realize there's alot more going on in one's brain that it seems. Like they say, two heads *are* better than one. 

I referred my blog to a new acquaintence, an Irish expat living in The Netherlands, I believe, who expressed the opinon that issues confronting America are best left to that continent. To which I replied (plus additional comments)

I've been in Ireland for almost eight years, and in that time there's been significant upheaval in the structure, adminsitration and oversight execution of the EU with much prognostication, wringing of hands, and gnashing of teeth over the unknown outcomes as issues arose and subsided. Each time my opinion was solicited, I referred to my American History studies of yore, applying what happened from the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation to the Constitutional Convention which resulted in the United States Constitution as a guide to how things would eventually pan out, regardless of the issue at hand. The parallels are striking and almost completely lock step the whole way. 

I think that all the issues, to some degree or another, that are bouncing back and forth over there in America shall eventually rear their ugly heads over here in Europe, either in the context of the challenges to the Irish State as it wends its way through the current financial morass, or the EU at large, it's continued expansion, the civil rights issues hindering some states ascension to the Union, and the myriad cultural clashes among the sometimes-allies-somtimes enemies but perpetual rivals are bourne. 

Considering, also, the HUGE effect immigration and the persistant Irish culture has had on the United States, there is a surprising amount of connection, most recently the American influence on the Irish economy which essentially enabled the Celtic Tiger and is unfortunately leading the current financial malaise. Like it or not: There is, therefore, most definitely something applicable. In lock step parallel.

The similarity of issues surrounding social dynamics are remarkable. Travelers are the Hibernic equivalent to Blacks and include a turmoil of tensions, albeit exclusively cultural rather than also physiological in nature . All the immigrants from newly admitted Eastern European states mirror issues around Mexican and Central/South American immigrants who are accused of robbing citizens' jobs and draining government social welfare resources. The difference being that people who had a short while ago been illegal were suddenly fully vested EU citizens with the same rights and privileges of any Irish Passport holder. But, then there are those Nigerians who perportedly only come here to have their babies and qualify for free housing, free mobile phones, free automobiles, free dole and enjoy an "in-your-face, I don't care, you can't touch me, I have mine you get yours, suckers" attitude. Same old ignorant hogwash. Only the names are changed to affect the innocent.

There's the effect of the Church on Same Sex Unions. Polls show over two thirds, a full 67%, of Irish citizens support Gay Marriage. That is, the full monty, the whole enchilada, the big lebowski, not some half-baked, let-them-eat-cake, separate is not equal, half-assed substitute. But, look at what we're getting instead: codified second class citizenship. And the government and national/corporate media spin is that the gay community is happy and grateful to get that much. Fifteen years ago you queers'd go jail, afterall. Don't make a fuss so we can pat ourselves on the back. We must protect the children!

Don't get me started. Except that's the conservative, merchant class elite dictating public perception in order to maintain the status quo. Oh, jeez, don't get me started.

Regional rivalry, large states v. small states, federalism v. centralized authority, the role and power of state courts, the role and power of appeals courts and courts of last resort, individual sovereignty, statute recognition across state borders, levying taxes, raising-arming-funding defense forces... The list seems endless.

I believe the rise of the European Union is a crucially important counterpoint to American imperialism, multi-arena world domination, especially its financial sector hegemony. The UK is being extremely silly holding out, not joining the Euro monetary standard, especially for such transparently egotisitical reasons. Eventually, they must acquiesce, and the longer they wait, the more humiliating it's going to be.

The older I get, the plainer the simple truth: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It really is like deja vu all over again, even if we're doing it again for the first time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The American Political Right Wing is NOT the friend of middle class America. Consistently luring the gullible conservative and moderate middle class into its boudoir with promises of safety only to find red herrings designed to distract from betrayal of even the most basic middle class needs and ideals, the very fabric of honesty, freedom and liberty continue to be undermined thoughtfully, systematically, wilfully. The Right has worked its magic of public manipulation with well practiced procedures, techniques and machinations established decades ago but made an art form in the first half of the last century, taking cues from a variety of sources.  

Step one: Label the opposition as purveyors of exactly the behaviour in which you first wish to engage to immunize that behaviour from effective criticism. For instance, the Right touts itself as righteous, ordained for blessing, a cut above and uniquely virtuous while labelling those who criticize and in any manner dismiss their claims as elitist. The Right’s spokespeople, like Sarah Palin, admonish the other side to “quit makin’ stuff up,” and then claim Reform is all about undermining middle class, populist ideals, eliminating free choice, “Death Panels” and pulling the plug on Grandma. In blatant denial of reality, mind you. 

Nicolo Machiavelli, in his seminal work, The Prince, posited whether it’s better to be feared or to be loved. Manufacturing gratuitous fear, according to the practices of the political Right, is obviously more effective.

Unable to compete on the merits of any argument, purely because every issue the Right supports is intrinsically corrupt, they ignore the issues outright and throw out misinformation and lies in order to obscure and obfuscate any discussion, undermining any chance of meaningful debate.* An prime example is the Republican Party’s refusal to offer any alternatives to the current Healthcare Reform debate. Healthcare Reform is intrinsically in the interest of the consuming public and counter to Health Industry corporate profits, especially for pharmaceuticals and the Health Insurance Industry, which stands to be eliminated as the superfluous, essentially parasitic middleman that it is. There is absolutely no constructive-to-the-voting-public alternative to Healthcare Reform. 

All of this is designed to scare the public into supporting policies that are inherently contrary to the public’s-at-large best interest. It’s scaring legislators, too, with threats to their future office seeking viability: corporate campaign contributions. Everybody is saying that the Healthcare Reform issue is complicated and shall inevitably raise concerns and anxiety among everybody potentially involved. 


Absolute, unadulterated bullshit. The ubiquitous anti-reform stories describing negative effects on individuals’ health and security should this reform be enacting are generating the anxiety. They are manufactured inaccuracies, distortions and lies cut from whole cloth perpetrated to protect the profit margins enjoyed by health insurers, pharmaceutical vendors and other Health Industry purveyors who would rather do without competition that’ll drive prices, and their profits, down. Unequivocally, there is no excuse for a single Congressperson or Senator to oppose, in any manner or to any degree, a complete and comprehensive overhaul of how healthcare is paid for and how health care costs are regulated and how distribution of money to cover those costs is handled. 

The way it is now, insurance companies control who gets paid how much and for which procedures, if at all. The insurance companies employ bureaucrats to determine, based on cost benefit analyses, what treatment may and may not be dispensed. This includes procedures and medication dispensing based on how said treatment, procedure or medication affects the insurance companies’ bottom lines. The insurance company clerical workers decide according to the insurer’s own rules that are formulated without their customers’ input. The insurance policy contracts, signed when customers are healthy and in no pain, often allow little or no recourse beyond arbitration, if that, once their bean counters deny benefits to the policy holder. The insurance companies make profit from this, charging a fee for providing the service of arbitrarily limiting what you get in exchange for premiums you pay and what your doctor is allowed to deliver. This is true regardless of how badly you need what your doctor orders.

There is ample documentation describing how each of the Conservative Right’s arguments against populist, progressive and (dare I say it?) liberal changes in society are false, dysfunctional and destructive to America as a nation, the American dream as a philosophy, and the American way of life as a state of being.

Why is Congressional support of Healthcare Reform not proportional to popular support for it from the general voting pool, much less the better informed (and coincidentally better educated) public? Perhaps the time of the Right inspired, anti-intellectual bent afflicting America since the Reagan era has run out. Finally, middle America is speaking out about how they’re fed up with anti-American ideas wrapped in patriotic clothing. Corporate demigods are finding it more and more difficult to pose as ordinary citizens as they rape the citizenry of rights and wealth. 

It’s about time.

Oh, yeah. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Of whom does it remind you?
• National Socialists, aka Nazis, were Germany’s conservative, family values, God and Fatherland party in the 1930s.
• Combining organized violence and political extremism, Nazi supporting, party organized, so called grassroots activists shouted down and otherwise drowned out opposing viewpoints in public to silence alternative viewpoints.
• Intimidation by strength of numbers (mob rule), carrying weapons in public, especially political gatherings, was used to silence dissent.
• Intimidation of dissent by branding it unpatriotic, seditious, anti-country
• Universally ‘anybody but us is a threat’ White Supremacy racists.
• Repeat a lie often enough and it will be believed. –Josef Goebbels

Here’s some documentation on how the Right message delivery system has developed and why it does what it does the way it does and with such efficacy. 

Who's behind the attacks on a health care overhaul?
Obama-Nazi Slur on
Why the Right's Propaganda Works on

All the bits slot in rather nicely, don’t they? For so long, we among the populace didn’t know. This kind of stuff only works in secrecy. We’re only just getting the details, and it’ll take a long time to undo the damage.

Nathan Garcia, 21 August 2009

*This vilification technique brings to mind the Monica Lewinski affair, in which President W. J. Clinton was actually impeached resultant of a blow job in the Oval Office. He didn’t think oral sex was having sex. Republican powers-that-be, namely Richard Mellon Sciafe, who also bankrolled through The Arkansas Project, failed gotcha investigations into Whitewater land deals and Vincent Foster suicide/murder/conspiracy fantasies, and Republican Senators financially beholden to Sciafe and his Right Wing cohort, were behind the effort. The Republican leadership equated their disagreement in the definition of a blow job to “High crimes and misdemeanours” as defined by the United States Constitution. Never mind the issues at hand were not related to his job, his job performance, and were only related to his popularity because the Right hated him so much. Kinda like they hate Obama just ‘cause he ain’t one of ‘us.’

Swiftboat Veterans for Truth, initially funded by Houston home builder, Bob J. Perry, who has also given millions to the Republican party and Republican candidates, mostly in Texas, including President Bush and former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose district was near Houston, were instrumental in neutralizing Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry’s exemplary Viet Nam war record, with VN War Veterans who claimed Kerry had lied to get commendations and medals, every claim which was contrary to eye witness accounts and official DOD records. Never mind that the Republican candidate was a draft dodger, used his father’s political connections to acquire a commission instead in the Texas Air National Guard, was cited for repeated Absence Without Leave, and again used political influence to avoid desertion charges, courts-martial and jail time. This was Conservative payback to Kerry who renounced his decorations and spoke out publicly in protest of that war.

The Right tried that again in the 2008 elections by claiming Obama is closeted Islam, was friendly and supportive of Weather Underground terrorists, and counselling community action organization ACORN to defrauded elections in Illinois. These incidents are the first time this kind of crap didn't stick. 

It's about time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Power of the Boldly Disingenuous

I get a lot of mail from People for the American Way, and all those liberal mobilization organizations. I agree with each and every one of their positions I’ve been contacted about. The latest is about Diane Feinstien’s interview the other day on CNN with Jon King. She is giving legs to the weak willed Democrats who are feigning fiscal reservations regarding the Health Care Plans proposed by the Obama White House.

Let’s get real, people. There’s not a single logical reason to deny universal health care to every resident, and I mean not limited to citizens, but every single person who just happens to be on American Soil. The issue is loss of control by the Health Care Insurance Industry, and the concern expressed by Democrats is at the behest of lobbyists who are paid huge fees to keep elected officials aware of how much money the lobbyists’ masters have contributed to the elected officials over the years. That’s money that ensures the insurers tight control of the legislative process: Strictly In Favor of the Insurance Industry and Absolutely at the Expense of the Middle Class Population of the United States. 

If anybody tells you differently, they’re lying.

So, I wrote a letter to dear, sweet Diane. And, it went something like this:

Dear Senator Feinstein:

I moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 1978. I was near the podium on the steps of City Hall when you spoke of fortitude in the face of death before the assembled crowd on the night of Nov 27 that year. I voted for you every election in which you’ve stood, and I continue to proudly stand as a constituent of your office as Senior Senator from California.

The Republican party is a deservedly truncated vestige of its former self. It has little or no real Congressional power. And, the members are spending all their energy obstructing progress to repair the damage done by their party’s policies these last twenty-eight years since the beginning of the Reagan White House. The health care corporate king makers are somewhat diminished in influence because of the financial crisis, though they're not as strictly affected as the banking sector. However, because of the concerted efforts of the Republican party to diminish and marginalize the middle class, it is imperative to take the current circumstances into consideration and act accordingly.

There is absolutely no reason, no justification, no excuse to undermine President Obama's health care plan. Whether it's true or not, declaring there is enough 'concern' by the Democratic caucus to prevent the reform bill from passing at its strongest on the side of the have-nots in America is giving aid and abetting the opposition that hasn't anything to offer but a return to the policies that has brought our nation almost to its knees financially, militarily and in terms of morale. Saying anything except the most bold support with no equivocation for the President's reform plan is unconscionable. Your acknowledgement of the naysayers' position gives it the very power to survive. If this bill is defeated or significantly weakened, it is directly resultant of attitudes like yours that acquiesce to those who would deny normal Americans their rights to life without sickness, liberty to choose how to pursue health, and the happiness a supportive government ensures.

Yes, the insurance companies donate alot to campaign funds, and yes, they have your ear. But, the votes they control are miniscule among the electorate that casts votes in California. It's the interests of the people of California that you're sworn to protect, and not the corporate heads and the paths their dollars take into campaign funds. 

Once this is over, you'll still be the incumbent; you're still the front runner whether in a race to return to the Senate or a run for governor. Where the hell else dare they go? They'll necessarily be donating to your campaign as well. Especially true if you garner the support of the middle class by ensuring them this much needed, long overdue reform of American Health Care.

Talk up the plan's viability. Your stature in the Senate carries much too much weight for you to be seen in any way wavering from the fullest, most staunch support of President Obama's Health Care Reform Plan. Give him all you've got. It's the least you can do for those of us who have given you all we've got for so many years. 

Regards, and wishes of the greatest health for you possilbe,
Nathan Garcia
San Francisco

Alright, so I don’t currently live in San Francisco, but I *do* vote by absentee ballot. So, I still count. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Power = Information Exchange^2

Technology is changing everything. The Internet is all about information. Information is power. Despotic governments are having a hell of a time keeping a lid on free dissemination of information. China’s having the hardest time, requiring all new computers sold after July 31 to be configured with “filter” software that keeps out the bad stuff, and they don’t just mean pornography. In Iran, protests survive and threaten the government enough for government agencies to adopt strong arm tactics. But, the official government disinformation branding protesters as rioters, looters and violent criminals just doesn’t wash considering all the phone cam-captured evidence to the peaceful contrary. Well, peaceful and organized until the police and Revolutionary Guard get there, that is. Dozens of journalists have been ejected for publishing what the government describes as lies. But, YouTube doesn’t lie.

Twitter threads available for all to see describe moment to moment details of what’s happening on the streets. Twitter dispatched calls to rally have kept some protests one step ahead of the Guard and the authorities a bit clueless.

It's grassroots activism that'll make a difference in this kind of battle. It's my firm conviction that we're all in this together. I'm trying to monitor this stuff daily, but it helps to catch a glimpse of what catches other peoples' eye. So, thank you for any and all references to articles that catch your eye. Blog them. Twitter them. Keep the issues front and center in the consciousness of the people you care about. It is these loved ones who are affected by the political machinations of those who would deny you rights and fundamental services. 

A long lost friend with whom I’d only recently, after almost thirty years, regained contact, cited on his Facebook wall a story about so-called centrist Democrats stonewalling the public option of healthcare reform in the Senate. I just don’t get it. Just whom are they working for? Of the two senators cited in the Op-Ed piece, one is obviously protecting his interest in healthcare insurance companies at the expense of his constituents. The other is just spouting disingenuous, obscure-and-obfuscate, reflexive reasoning gobbledygook hogwash. 

So, I sent the two senators noted in the piece a message in support of the public option in the pending healthcare reform bill. Once again, technology rules! I Googled the senators’ names, picked the page, clicked on Contact, and sent them the email. Easy as pie. Somebody said it takes a hundred letters or email messages to counter one minute of face time between a Senator or Congressman and a lobbyist. So, send a message every chance you get, whether it’s to your own representatives or to elected officials in other jurisdictions. Every little bit helps.

Here's a copy of what I sent, tailored to correspond to the senators' home state. 

It is immaterial that I am a Californian and cannot vote in your state. I am still an American outraged at the obvious loyalty shown by any number of Senators for the corporations that line your campaign warchests over the constituents you're sworn to represent. 

What the hell is wrong with you? Americans NEED the public insurance option. It's your SWORN duty to protect American Citizens and not the insurance companies. Sure, this competition will cut into insurance companies' bottom lines, but it won't threaten their viability as ongoing concerns a bit. Not one iota. Not a whit.

Sure, insurance companies contribute to your campaign, but the boards there only account for one or two dozen votes, if, indeed, they vote in North Dakota/Nebraska at all. Even when you vote FOR the public option in this healthcare reform movement, where the hell else are the health insurance companies going to go? You'll still be the incumbent. You're still going to run for reelection. And, by being on the vangard for protecting your constituents, you'll be on good ground to be reelected. Knowing this, the insurance companies will STILL contribute, as always, to your campaign.

Do your sworn duty, and serve the ethics for which you were elected to act. Support with all your faculties the public option in healthcare reform!

Etc, etc, etc.

NYT The Lede Blog: A Young Woman's Fate Resonates

YouTube: million person silent protest in iran

NYT Healthcare Showdown

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tyranny of a Closed Loop

Late last month, a conference promoting techniques for homosexuality cure was held in London by the Anglican Mainstream Organization with special focus on how religious professionals’ and relatives or friends of gays can respond biblically and pastorally to those struggling with unwanted so-called SSA, or Same Sex Attraction.

This stuff rends at my insides. I once lived the evangelical life. I was a born-again Christian. My week consisted of at least one church service and Sunday School on Sunday morning. Sunday evening included a bit of Choir practice, another service, and MYF, the youth group for a lighter hearted version of Sunday School. Wednesday evening gave up more choir practice. Any festivals involved more midweek worship. And summers involved Vacation Church School at least at the Methodist Church, and sometimes at the Spanish speaking Presbyterian church (maternal grandparents and family), the English speaking Presbyterian church (maternal side cousins), Lutheran and Episcopal churches. Once in a while there were things to do with my father’s side of the family at one among several Catholic parishes. And, there were occasional missions into Mexico to rebuild homes or churches, clothe people and generally make thing better.

I’m related to these people, and am well acquainted with many others. Well meaning people whom I’ve known my whole life. I tried my first twenty-two years to assimilate, to fit in and become one among the many. I tried to pray myself into a state of grace, to deny the hated self within. 

I remember one day puzzling my mother with, “If I were somebody else who knew me, I wouldn’t like me.” She couldn’t understand why, and I couldn’t tell her it was because I had this black secret that I’m getting no help for, that nothing I’ve been told should work is making a difference. It was ruining me from being pure, from being whole, from being complete

Had I told her, had I been able to, she would surely have sprung into action and deepened the effects of the Stockholm syndrome of which I was already ensconced. I was a captive in a cult of archaic metrics of right and wrong, good and bad, pure and debased. My sin of being was compounded by my insidious silence. True to the doctrine of original sin, I was indelibly blemished beyond redemption. I could repent, but the offense of abomination would never disappear, never go away, never recede. I could never measure up. No amount of prayer washed away this sin of Same Sex Attraction. It was ruining me from being pure, whole, or complete. I truly believed I was at fault; somehow it was my doing that I had these feelings. All I had to do was figure out how to control them. Prayer. Girls. If I practiced enough, it didn’t seem like I was forcing it anymore.

Until the day I added up all the little inconsistencies, even before I began investigating the merits of these scriptures that had so dominated my life. The scales fell from my eyes. First there was the change in the church discipline, the official “this is what we believe” document that mysteriously (for a pre-pubescent) changed from one set of talking points to a discreet different set of beliefs one June Sunday at midnight. It was the merger with the Evangelical United Brethren formed the United Methodist Church.

Then, there was the church membership meeting which discussed the admission of a reformed prostitute into our congregation. One prominent member had objections toward protecting the innocence of his precious little Anna. That day I realized our holy, blessed communion under God had turned and our congregation, when he prevailed and the woman was barred admission to membership, became no more than a social club of which I was born into the lucky I’ve-got-mine crowd.

Then, I studied trigonometry, chemistry, biology and physics in high school. For the first time I was exposed to logic oriented thinking.

It wasn’t a sudden, psychotic-episode-on-the-road-to-Damascus that cleared my focus. Rather, it was a step-by-step process slowly building toward the pivotal, age old question: How could such an inconsistent, capricious, perniciously hateful set of stories and so-called guidelines capture, invert and stunt the imaginations of so many well meaning people? I could understand young children being taken in, but even I was able to think for myself after a while. And I came to significantly different conclusions. 

And I think on the self esteem of these people who submit to Same Sex Attraction cleansing techniques. It rather reminds me of the story of Monctezuma, the Aztec king who peacfully greeted the invading Spanish Conquistadores. He’s seen their arrival in a dream and in that dream they were unstoppable. So, he surrendered to them, gave up all his people, his land and his riches without a fight. His acquiescence bought his murder and brought the Old World its first middle class. Within a few short years, the entire Aztec culture was wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of Aztec Indians dead from hard labor and disease. Thus was the cost of being saved.

Likewise, the Indians along the California coast, tamed and subdued by Junipero Serra who established the chain of twenty-one missions from Baja California to San Francisco. In his fourteen year crusade he counted just over 5,300, mostly Indian ‘neophyte,’ confirmations. Nobody has counted how many non-baptized, non-converted natives died under confinement and hard labor pending their seeing the light. Among the 5,000, how many were products of the Stockholm Syndrome? 

How many faithful sufferers of unwanted Same Sex Attraction similarly turn to homosexuality cures because of the Stockholm syndrome? There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reality v. Magic

George Tiller’s death should not have come as a surprise for anybody who’s taken all the antecedents and provocations into account. He’d been shot before, years ago in both arms, by an anti-abortion protester during Operation Rescue’s Summer of Mercy in Wichita, KS. Operation Rescue has also been linked to Dr. Tiller’s recent prosecution and quick acquittal of abortion law violations. Fox Network’s Bill O’Reilly, among other conservative talking heads, has been relentless in branding Dr. Tiller as a baby killer comparable to a Nazi death camp doctor. The Twitter traffic expressing horror or supporting the killer reached up to one tweet per second in volume for hours following the news item’s first break, significant proportions of it hashtagged to “Top Conservatives on Twitter.” News stories following online releases of the story have been attached with a revealing divide of opinion, both in contempt of the incident and in support of the killer’s motives.

This whole debate is absurd beyond belief. The truth of the matter is that the law of the land grants any woman the right to control her body, largely without restraing, and without having to answer to anybody for exercising this right. It's nobody else's business whatsoever.

Religious zealots strongly disagree with the existence of this law based on their religious viewpoint. Unfortunately for them, the law of the land also prohibits the government use of religious opinion strictly as the basis to change or in any way regulate the establishment or execution of civil law. As far as the law is concerned, specifically religious guidance of morality is contrary to the very essence of the constitutional guarantee of Freedom of Religion and its corollary guarantee of freedom from religion. The law of the land establishes religion as no more than just another opinion, among many, with no more weight than any other opinion. This is also the cornerstone of protection of the few from the tyranny of the masses. The founding fathers guaranteed the citizens and residents of the United States to be free from governance based on religious precepts because of their caprice, arbitrariness and the propensity of the religious to pick-and-choose their morality among a laundry list of archaic, paternalistic, dysfunctional, anachronistic traditions.

The long and the short of it is that abortion is legal and largely unrestricted in America by law. No one is forced to have an abortion who disagrees with its availability and protection under the law. Religious zealots who disagree are trying to circumvent the constitutionally guaranteed freedom FROM religion by codifying into law their various opinions on a woman's right to choose under the guise of morality. Killing a doctor because he practices services guaranteed to be available by the law of the land is murder. Anybody who supports, abets, encourages or otherwise enables even the smallest limitation to liberty, pursuit of happiness, and especially the life of people merely for engaging in protected freedoms is immoral, hypocritical, and Un-American. Forcing anybody to act according to a tenet held by a religion to which s/he does not ascribe is immoral, hypocritical and Un-American. To do so with lethal violence is absolutely no different from any other religious terrorism whether in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza, Spain, or England.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Truth About Activist Judges

I’m really amazed at how easily educated professionals in the media, many whose job description includes impartiality and accuracy, forget the very basic lessons from civics class regarding the Constitution, the branches of government and the separation of powers. As far as that goes, I have to include the professionals, as our elected representative in the House and Senate, most of whom possess Doctorates of Jurisprudence and are members of at least one Bar Association, who yet forget all the Constitution nuts-and-bolts details they studied to get their degrees, but conveniently forget in alignment with the common sense folksiness of the prevailing zeitgeist. Making readers and voters feel you’re as dumb as, or at least no smarter than, they sells. Newpapers or votes, doesn’t matter. As long as the public feels you’re one of them, whether it’s real or an act, they can trust you and you can get away with a lot. And, they do.

In his confirmation hearings, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, by all accounts the most conservative Constitutional literalist on the current court, described how his life experience informs and tempers his decisions. Even though his most telling quote is that the American Justice system isn’t about Justice, it’s about rendering a decision. Just the facts, ma’am. Yet, Justice Scalia professed inclusion of empathy. You’d have to look really closely, but the guy really does have a heart. I meant: REALLY closely. That’s okay, according to conservative ideology, because he’s the least likely among the Justices sitting the bench of the Court-of-Very-Last-Resort to grant any kind of right or privilege to groups or individuals not expressly delineated by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution of these here United States. The status quo shall be maintained. No sneaky new math, fluoridated water, implied rights to privacy or hanging chad surprises here. John Wayne, Chuck Heston, the Gipper and Pappa Bush can all rest easy.

But, then, an uppity, swarthy skinned woman of questionable Suma Cum Laude Ivy League credentials who claims heightened empathy for those who live in public housing, as she did, in an ethnic ghetto, as she did, and worked hard to transcend hardship, as she did, by saying essentially the same thing, however more elegantly, is a racist and an activist judge.

Unbelievable. These are well educated, professional prognosticators as well as members of the most elite professional societies in the land. But, as long as they act as ignorant of the minutiae of reality as the other ninety-eight percent of the population, they can get away with it. And, they do.

The difference between what Justice Scalia said and what Judge Sotomayor said is that one came from an Angry White Male putting forward his softest face, and the other came as a candid quote from a liberal minority jurist being spontaneous, open and honest. Oh! My! God! That can only be threatening to Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Nothing will ever be the same. Next thing we’ll have to grant all the protections of the Constitution to foreigners on American soil abroad. Activist judge!

Let’s make one thing completely clear: There Is No Such Thing As An Activist Judge.

It’s the mandate of the courts to interpret laws in the context of the supreme law of the land, whether in the jurisdiction of a state’s Constitution, or the federal Constitution. That is, does a law in question, or an issue pertaining in part to any law, abide by the protections of individuals, responsibilities of the general population and the myriad details set out by each jurisdiction’s codes of conduct and boundaries of rights. The court places each issue before it in the context of applicable constitutional constructs, and delineates how that issue measures up to those constructs. It’s called setting policy. It’s not making law, but interpreting scope and limiting departures from the limitations and protections described constitutionally. Setting those policies is the fundamental, crucial function of the courts. In other words, it’s the job of the courts to rein in deviant law established by the elected officials of an activist legislature, radical commission or department whose regulations carry the power of law.

The most basic limiting factor regarding how the courts are able to affect their work is regarding the content of what is brought before the bench. No judge can prop himself or herself up in the morning and start making pronouncements. A judge can’t ethically say anything about any legal issue out of the context of the courtroom and what is heard there, even on their own time. There has to be a complaint, presented in proper form in a forum of closely proscribed jurisdiction, in an adversarial context with two sides presenting arguments. The decision rendered is necessarily in the context of those arguments. It’s all very formal, the form and procedures hammered out for over two centuries of executing and refining those procedures. 

One does not rise to the prominence of Supreme Court nominee by deviating from established traditional judicial procedures or rendering radical decisions out of context of the arguments presented in each and every case. Judges are mandated to contextualize law and how law effects individuals and society. It’s their job. It doesn’t make them activist, it makes them competent.

Anybody who tries to tell you differently has either ditched civics class or is lying. 

©2009 Nathan Garcia All Rights Reserved

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Oh, yeah...

And, it's my mother's 82d birthday. Rest in Peace.

It's been a long road...

I've been in Ireland for seven years, and it's been a long haul. 

Ireland isn't the easiest place to live, I'll tell you. There are significant culture shock fault lines permeating the landscape. Some are glaring, in-your-face issues that you can see and smell from miles off. Others are very subtle and will catch you unawares. 

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean nobody's out to get you. It's true. And, sometimes there are enough indications that indicate they're ganging up on you so that one would actually believe it!

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer in the influence and stanglehold bind chaos and entropy have on our everyday lives. If it (any it will do) can catch or bind or get stuck or impede or just get in the way, however seemingly unlikely, it will. It will. IT WILL (as in choose to just because it can!)

Go ahead! Prove me wrong!

Believe it or not, I'm a very positive person, always finding the silver lining. Good thing, huh? Things are always darkest before the dawn, and the sun is a'comin'. I can FEEEL it!

So, I've been out of work since September. My last job found out I didn't have a work permit, but promised me I could come back as soon as I sorted it out.

It was a rough job. I was bone tired all the time. But, i was good at it. I was a street fundraiser for charity. It's a dog's job. The kind only the unemployable get. Or, so they say. Yeah, I was one of the unemployable. I didn't have a work permit. I got the job anyway. I didn't lie. I didn't deceive. The form they gave me at orientation had the spot where one indicates one's right to work in the state. I left it blank. Nobody asked. They even lost the first copy of the form and asked for another. I left it blank both times. Nobody asked. Amazing.

Until last September. It was the day I got back from vacation in Scotland. We were driving to some podunk spot in the midlands not so used to us predators sucking up the life blood of hard working Ireland for the benefit of never-to-be-seen foreigners in hot, dusty places. My collegue in the back said, "Did you see the memo?" I looked and my heart sank, my stomach twisted. 

The deadline for showing proof of right-to-work was two weeks away. I pressed it an extra week just to have the extra hours. But, I came clean. Went to HR and 'fessed up. I was suspended immediately that day and laid off two days later. They had to research whether they could submit for a work permit on my behalf. No dice. The director gave me the contractual one month severance, I got about ten days' vacation pay. He invited me to come back when I got my permit sorted out. I had a little money still in Texas. We'd be okay for about six months.

Eight months later I'm flat busted broke. Conor's been saving my ass, bless him. I've been pushing my CV around and have a couple freelance bites from a couple of computer magazines in London and Bath. The Herald 'Street side Field Marketing Supervisor' the guy who team leads the folks who hand out papers in the morning, says I'm next in line to fill an opening. Hell, it's €25 for a couple hours in the morning, enough to pay rent for the month. It'll get me out of the house. God knows, I GOTTA get out o'th' house!