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.