Monday, December 19, 2011

12/19/2011: Avarice, Unemployment Anniversary, Lee Camp

Seven Deadly Sins by Rox Steady
Image by dingler1109 via Flickr
These GOP presidential candidate hopefuls like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michelle Bachmann enjoy preaching to their religious base about the inherent sins of homosexuality. They smile and wave as they insist that they have nothing against gays themselves, but that allowing gay marriage or gays in the military would only weaken the sacred institutions of marriage and international warfare by allowing a level of acceptance to leak into society's collective consciousness.

As much as I don't agree with these judgement, I want to approach this under the assumption that I actually agree with and understand their desire to prevent sin from gaining a foothold in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere. Because (and I think this is very important) if we are going to be concerning ourselves with major sins that decay the soul from within, then why are none of the Religious Right's avid pundits raising a clarion call against Avarice?

That's right, Avarice is a sin. Not only is it a sin, but it's a fairly topical one. The unfettered lust for greed and wealth has been running rampant through our culture for decades now, and has played no small part in the near destruction of our economic stability. The US population's income disparity has become so vast that even the Cable News channels are bothering to mention it now and then in between their hour-long masturbatory editorial programs, and Occupy protest have sprung up all over the country to deliver a clear and unyielding challenge to the exploitation of the many by the few that reporters and politicians are unanimously pretending not to understand.

Clearly, Avarice is what you might call a "Hot Button" topic right now. Just the kind of thing that political speech-writers like to jump on to make their clients seem less elitist and out of touch with the general populace. So why don't I hear Perry or Bachmann or Gingrich speaking out about the sin of Avarice?

You know the reason as well as I do. Because these candidates are all sinners. A blind, unyielding urge to accumulate wealth and power beyond their need is sewn into the very fabric of their beings. These people aren't devoted civic leaders or dedicated political activists; they are CEOs and businessmen, power brokers looking to increase their negotiable value in their endless pursuit of even more wealth and power. The Presidency isn't a goal or achievement to them. Rather, it is merely a means to an end, a stepping stone on the way to their ultimate goal: accumulating more wealth.

Because that's the other reason the word Avarice will never leave their lips: they are beholden to those who seek wealth and power. They ca not speak out against the greedy and corrupt, for it is they who pay their bills, fill their war chests, and secure their post-presidency positions. At the end of the day, it is the sin of Avarice signs their paychecks, the love that dare not speak its name in the halls of power.

So the next time Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann call homosexuality a sin, just remember that they are back a far greater evil. In their eyes, a man screwing another man is an abomination in the eyes of God, but a board of executives screwing over thousands of workers is just something you do in between mistresses and gold outings. Avarice, thine name is Government.


This Christmas marks the third anniversary of employer of fifteen years laying me off due to his inability to plan ahead for an economic downturn. Not only a great example of company loyalty, but an inventive way around those pesky Christmas bonuses, no?


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

12/8/11: Drug Testing the Lower Class

Yay drug tests!
Image by elaine a via Flickr
Holy shit. Yet another Republican politician pulls fake numbers out of his ass regarding drug usage and the less fortunate:

"I had an employer tell me of an overwhelming response for job openings," Georgia Republican Jack Kingston excreted in a statement the other day. "There was just one problem: half the people who applied could not even pass a drug test."

Sound familiar? It should. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made a similar baseless claim awhile back when proposing that those collection Unemployment Benefits should be drug tested, only to back down when her supposed source claimed to have said no such thing. Then there's the requirement that passed in Florida that all welfare applicants had to prove they weren't on drugs. By the time a federal judge put a stop to the policy on constitutional grounds, the amount of applicants who tested positive (including those who refused to take the test) was a third below the national average.

So why do these otherwise presumably (one would hope) intelligent people continue to make shit up? Especially when the media eventually gets around to proving the statements as baseless and unsubstantiated?

Two words: Class Warfare.

I know, these days you only seem to hear that phrase when Republicans speaks out to defend their rich friends and puppet-masters (and yes, the Democrats have them as well, so shut up) from accurate allegations of not paying enough taxes and rigging the system to their own benefit. But this is the Class Warfare the media doesn't feel the need to point out.

The point of these proposals and their false rationals isn't to actually to pass legislation. These politicians know that such restrictions won't pass and will not be tolerated by the system (at least, until it becomes completely corrupt, which might not be too far own the road). The game here is to get these statements out into the news cycle and spread the insinuation that those who are poor or unemployed aren't the victims of an economy completely shit-canned by greedy market manipulators and wealth-hoarding billionaires, but rather useless drug addicts attempting to leech off of society (and your hard-earned tax dollars, sir!) in between bong hits.

Because the unemployment problem and homeless problem and poverty problem aren't going away anytime soon the way these jackals are running things, and it's been dragging on so long that the min-numbed American population is starting to actually realize that these increasing numbers of destitute and needy people haven't simply been caused by a sudden spike in laziness and irresponsibility.

So these politicians need to distract and misinform through soundbites that are rarely followed quickly enough by corrections in this lightening-speed multimedia world. They need to confirm the ignorant beliefs held by their dwindling minority of steadfast supporters that other people's problems are nobody's fault but their own, and that anybody seeking help from the government is a moocher and a slacker. Because it isn't about fixing problems, it's about hiding them.

This is not an attack on the poor or the unemployed. It is much greater than that. This is an attack on the very foundation of a system designed to prevent America from descending into the depths of a caste system permanently separating the rich from the poor, and ensuring that the American Dream (whatever the hell that is) can no longer be reached by those at the bottom of the pile.

Welcome to the New America. It is arriving sooner that you might have expected.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/6/11: Horrible Bosses & Cheese, Authors & Cats, Gays & Bachmann

Cheese on a market in Basel, Switzerland
Image via Wikipedia
One morning, years ago, my former employer of fifteen years held a brief Monday morning office meeting in which he declared a new company policy. "From now on," he stated, "'I don't know' is not an acceptable answer for any question. Understood?"

I still remember wondering to myself which management self-help book he had pulled that little nugget of inspirational go-getter wisdom from over the weekend. You could always spot them buried under invoices on his desk or stuck between business-to-business directories on the single bookshelf in his office, pseudo-informative guides like The Art of War, or Seven Steps Towards Effective Management. I guess I should be thankful that this was back before Who Moved My Cheese? became the popular corporate handbook on motivating workers through mindless platitudes.

Looking back, I guess I'm thankful that he read those books for as long as he did before finally listening to the advice of his small business owners buddies. Handling the occasional pointless procedural directive was much more preferable to him laying off all of his full time employees and staffing the entire company with part-timers, interns, and freelance contractors when he suddenly discovered that he had no funds saved up to the run the company in the off chance there was a sharp economic downturn that would effectively cripple the industry as a whole.

I guess when the question was "What are you going to do if business suddenly slows down for an extended period of time," "I don't know" was an acceptable answer.


Why do certain authors feel compelled to include the names of their cats in the bios? Is it because of that T.S. Eliot poem? Whenever I read an author bio that ends with "...lives in a cabin in Wyoming with her Siamese cats Lucinda and Paprika," I have a sudden and overwhelming urge to actively avoid their entire body of work. I'm not saying it is a rational impulse, I'm just expressing my overall dissatisfaction with authors who identify themselves with their pets instead of their achievements.

The only thing that bothers me more than cats in author bios? Book cover author pictures taken with their dogs. I'm just saying.



You've got to love it when mindless bigotry and prejudice is stopped dead in its tracks by the simplest of acts. Imaginary Republican Presidential Candidate Michelle Bachmann found herself on the receiving end of a face-full of rationality at a South Carolina book signing. The well-armed activist? An eight-year-old boy.

Now, let's get the obvious out of the way. Yes, the child was undoubtedly coached to say this to Bachmann by his mother. That goes without saying. But unlike many Bachmann supporters will likely claim, this reality does nothing to lessen the importance of this confrontation. Because what it all comes down to is that Elijah undoubtedly feels this way about his mother.

When Bachmann, one of the odious politicians running on the Anti-Gay Parents platform, actively campaigning against allowing gay couples to adopt and raise children of their own, is shamed into silence by one of the no-longer-hypothetical children that she supposedly wants to save from the evils of gay parental influence, there is a lesson to be learned. You can speak out against gay parents and propose legislation to prevent gay couples from adopting in order to drum up support from your homophobic far-right followers all you want, they're an easy audience to win over with false science and moral posturing. But none of that works with the child you are openly accusing of being damaged because Mommy, whom that child loves and adores with all his heart, just happens to be gay as well.

It isn't about morality, it isn't about politics, and it isn't even about gays. It's about Elijah. And he just slapped you down, big-time.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

12/3/11: Coffee, Salt, Sugar, Prayer, Going Undercover

coffee in paper cup
Image by davedehetre via Flickr
I ordered a fast food coffee this morning, which I never do. They gave me four creamers and six creamers with the McDonald's-Crotch-Hot 20oz cup of Joe, but filled it all the way to the brim so I couldn't possibly add anything to it without letting it cool and drinking a bit first. I know it's a stupid thing to complain about, but I guess I'm just a Glass Too Full kinda guy.

By the way, anyone even thinking of suggesting that I could have simply poured a little bit of coffee onto the ground to make room for the additions has no true respect for the sanctity and integrity of morning coffee. So keep it to yourself, philistines.


I've been seeing headlines about the Los Angeles Police reportedly going "Undercover" at the Occupy Wall Street Encampment before the massive police-state violation of civil rights raid. Can we really justify using the term "Going Undercover" in this instance?

Usually, when we hear that law enforcement has gone undercover, we visualize brave detectives spending months and months subtly insinuating themselves into the midst of highly exclusive organizations, risking their very lives as they infiltrate organized crime syndicates, foreign terror cells, armed separatist groups, or volatile religious cults, often in secretive or heavily fortified locations, all in an effort to glean valuable inside information that might possibly help authorities prevent catastrophe or corruption on a massive, even global scale.

In this instance, what we are talking about is some cops wandering into a completely exposed outdoor crowd, striking up some conversation with random people, and ultimately discovering that a few protesters were contemplating fashioning crude spears from bamboo poles in the event of a late night massive police-state violation of civil rights raid. Considering that there were no feverish reports of confiscated spear arsenals resulting from the raid, and taking into account the how plentiful bamboo must be in the middle of City Hall Park, I am inclined to assume that the person who revealed this particular nugget of clandestine information recognized the "New Shoes" for what they were and decided to just make shit it up to mess with them.

It appears that the LAPD agrees with my assessment, seeing as how they reportedly "downplayed the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked." It's probably the same reason that they've been declining to comment on these reports. I'm guessing it might be a little embarrassing for them to try and explain why they felt the need to assign undercover agents to openly public and exceedingly easily monitored protest meetings.


The same fast food chain that overfilled my coffee also gave me seven packets of salt with my single order of bite-sized hash-browns. Exactly how much salt am I expected to consume with my speedy breakfast meal? Do you really need to dole out a fist-full of salt to every individual customer? The owners would probably see a sharp increase in annual revenues if their servers weren't so generous with the salt packets. Of course, they probably such a ludicrous amount out as overall policy. I can easily imagine how many customers must of angrily approached the counter during the one-or-two-per-customer salt packet days, loudly complaining that they weren't given enough salt. So now, because of these taste-bud-deficient heathens, I now find myself possessing seven packets of salt that I am presumably expected to ration equally among the dozen or so hash-brown-tater-tots that came with my sad breakfast burrito. And they wonder why other countries view us as a wasteful, gluttonous nation.

Of course, those paying attention have by now noticed that I did not level the same complaint against the six sugar packets that accompanied my coffee, Which is probably why we are also perceived by many as a nation of hypocrites.



A friend posted on their Facebook page the other morning that they had to take their child to the ER after discovering an unwisely placed play bead in the child's ear. Turns out the bead is wedged pretty tightly, so they're going to have to perform a small surgical procedure later in the week to remove it.

I posted a simple "Hope she okay" to be supportive and polite, but then someone after me posted "Praying for her." Now, I understand how seriously some people take child illnesses and the like, and the mere suggestion of a friend's child going into surgery can seem scary and dangerous. Also, I hate to knock anyone who is acting with the best intentions. However...

Is Prayer really necessary in this instant? Yes, the child will technically be 'going under the knife'. But it isn't as if we are talking tumor removal or joint reconstruction, or anything involving organ donors and blood transfusions. It's a toy lodged in the kid's ear. If this kind of minor procedure warrants prayer, then where is the cut-off line? Should I, for example, expect those close to me to offer me their prayers the next time I go to the dentist? If so, will they be praying for me only for root canals and extractions, or can I count on them praying for me during a routine cleaning?

I'm not saying that people shouldn't pray for the safety and well being of their friends and loved ones, and the children of those people. All I'm saying is, if I make a Facebook post next week about having a filling replaced next Tuesday, and I get less holy promotion than the kid with the toy stuck in her ear, I'm going to be slightly annoyed. I'm just saying.


Did I mention that the fast-food restaurant also gave me two after dinner mints with my single breakfast meal? Either the people assembling the meals are just lazy, or my breath was noticeably pungent over the drive-through speaker.
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