Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ban Christian Extremism

Finally, Bill Frist returns to medicine. After replacing Trent Lott as the Senate Majority Leader, Frist gradually aligned himself with the Christian extremists that push for revoking science and reading literally a book that begins with the premise of a geocentric universe. This past week, Frist returned to a speech he delivered in 2001, pushing for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research and in doing so, reconciled his policies with the Hippocratic oath.

While Frist lacks my admiration, I applaud him for taking a firm stance against a regressive administration's attempt to quash medical progress. Perhaps even more encouraging, Frist's action represents yet another instance of the hardline moving away from the Rapture Right. Remember, Frist attempted to offer a diagnosis of Terry Schiavo based on video tape shot 5 years prior to his viewing. Frist's actions engendered the fiasco we now know as the Terry Schiavo Circus and spawned a new breed of macabre Christian extremist.

The Republican base, formed by representatives of "corporate America", recognized that the Rapture Right alienated "mainstream America" with their shenanigans and sought to, ever so subtly, push the nuts back into the proverbial closet. The "mainstream" American sees hope for their ailing friend or family member in embryonic stem cell research; "coporate America" understands the economic opportunities the research could create for pharmaceutical companies. Either way, "mainstream America" and "corporate America", stand to gain.

After reading Frist's speech, only the most primitive Christian extremist would object to his proposal. He suggests funding for research, "...only on embryonic stem cells derived from blastocysts leftover from fertility therapy, which will not be implemented or adopted but instead are otherwise destined by the parents with absolute certainty to be discarded and destroyed." First states that research would only be allowed with "transparent and fully informed consent of the parents."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Who Represents Me?

Everyday, I fight "the good fight", dissenting against the regressive policies of an opressive regime. For fun, I wage intellectual warfare with conservatives nationwide, educating those lost souls still nibbling on the carcass of a morally bankrupt political ideology. I represent a true brand of progressive politics custom fitted for the common man. Often, I find myself at odds with the leaders of both the "left wing" and the Democratic Party, but I refrain from attacking the "left" the way I have the "right." Until now...

During the 2002 mid-term elections, I watched quitely as the Democrats tried in vain to run a campaign against an opponent beyond their realm of understanding. Similarly, in 2004, I followed orders working with the Kerry campaign, even though I knew the party's presentation of John Kerry and his public policy alienated much of the region I knew as home.

I know the "rural South"--the heart of "Red State America." Born on a bayou, raised mid' the pine hills, my rural uprbringing engendered an understanding of the economic hardships, racial tensions, and religious concerns relevant to the "Chicken Fried Nation."

How can a Harvard educated, white male, from an affluent Northeastern family, expect to relate to my people? Men like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy probably never associated with their first African-American until well after their teenage years. Men like Howard Dean and Patrick Lehay rarely step outside their economic circle. Imagine women like Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein trying to comprehend the importance of God, high school football and the Dallas Cowboys to millions of Texans. Can Ralp Nader possibly understand the importance of the timber and oil industry to the economy of a place like East Texas?

I grew up in a town that was 60% African American, where 5% of the population controlled 95% of the wealth, where the town shut down on Friday nights for football games, and on Sunday the churches overflowed. My family owned stakes in both the timber and oil industry. I understand the frustration my people have when looking at the left or Democratic Party.

I understand that as Democrats, we need to exploit as much money out of Hollywood as possible, but that doesn't mean allowing them to be a mouth piece for our party. The average East Texan turns in disgust each time they see the smug and pretentious manner with which Alec Baldwin carries himself. Lectures on the benefits of a vegan diet by Gwenyth Paltrow have no relevance in a land where beef is king. Vietnam vets boil at the mention of Jane Fonda starting a new "anti-war" tour. Clearly, Hollywod prevents the Democrats from truly relating to the common man.

While the Bush administration wages an illegitimate war abroad, Democrats ignore the domestic issues most relevant to the "red states." Ignore the idiots on the right and focus on what brought you to power in the 20th Century. Help the common man, fight the corporation and improve education.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Most, if not all my post on this blog, deal with my critiques of the current political environment. Allow me to post one non-political thread.

Football is king in Texas! Whether it's traveling the roads on Friday night to see you favorite high school team, filling Kyle Field, Royal Memorial Staidum, or Jone Stadium on Saturday, or of course watching your beloved Dallas Cowboys on Sunday--football will shape you as a Texan.

My earliest memories revolve around the Dallas Cowboys. Sundays, after church, my parents, sister and I would walk to my grandparent's house where we would eat Sunday lunch glued to the TV to watch the Cowboys take the field. My early heros were men like Tony Dorsett, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Danny White, Randy White, and of course "the man in the hat", Tom Landry.

Somewhere around 3rd grade, the luster started to fade on the star on the helmet--a few years laters, Landry was gone . The Cowboys posted a 1-15 season the next year, but I still watched every game. Led by a young quarterback and passionite wide-out, fans caught a glimpse of the glory to come. The next year, a highly-heralded running back stopped into "Big D". The pieces were set for one of the most dominanting runs in sports history.

Three Super Bowl titles in four years, these three men restored the Cowboys to the team of glory I had known as a child.

Today, I learned that these three men--Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin will be inducted into the Cowboy's Ring of Honor at half time on September 19, when the Cowboys host the Washington Redskins. To me, the Dallas/Washington series is what the Yankees/Red Sox series is to Northeasterners. To have "The Triplets inducted into the Ring of Honor at halftime of a Washington/Dallas game on Monday Night Football is the ultimate experience. The only thing that could be better would be a 6th Lombardi Trophy being brought home to Valley Ranch at the end of the season.

How 'bout them Cowboys!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Initial Thoughts on John Roberts

While he appears to be physically fit, sports a full head of hair, and trots out two young children to prove his virility, George W. Bush's Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts appears to be the typical neo-Con, the Rapture Right hoped for. His cheesey comb over elicits memories of a fellow hardliner, John Ashcroft. His wife's choice of dress, suggests a Puritan, fixated on the Victorian ideas of modesty and chastity.

This entry serves as the first of what will be numerous posts dealing with Bush's attempts to trick the opposition into supporting a candidate who , ultimately, seeks to overturn a century of American progress.

Since I lack the necessary information to write an informed dissent on Judge Robert's noimnation at this time, I wish to offer an apology to the generations prior to mine,who worked so tirelessly to ensure future generations enjoyed freedom, liberty and equality.

My generation failed you; my generation failed this nation.

November represented a chance for my generation to turn out at the polls and confirm the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Freidan, Rachel Carson, Stokely Carmichael, and other great Americans. Instead, our generation stayed at home.

November represented a chance for my generation to affirm the values of LBJ's "Great Society" and destroy, once and for all, the dangerous "Cult of Domesticity." Instead, our generation chose apathy.

November represented a chance for my generation to choose a leader who would recognize the importance of places such as Seneca Falls , Selma, and Stonewall. Instead, my generation chose not to choose and in doing so, allowed an administration the power of the Legisilative, Executive and now Judicial branches of our government.

We failed you! My generation spoke by not voting; we allowed four Kent State students, brutally murdered by our government on May 4, 1970, to die in vain--their cause forgotten. We failed to follow the example set forth by the SDS. We lacked the balls of previous generations.

As George Bush attempts to turn the back the clock on social progress, the time dawns for the rebirth of the New Left, the SDS, and counterculture. I leave you with the one of my favorite counterculture songs. Take the words to heart with you everywhere you go.

Jefferson Airplane

Look what's happening out in the streets
Got a revolution Got to revolution
Hey I'm dancing down the streets
Got a revolution Got to revolution
Ain't it amazing all the people I meet
Got a revolution Got to revolution
One generation got old
One generation got sold
This generation got no destination to hold
Pick up the cry
Hey now it's time for you and me
Got a revolution Got to revolution
Come on now we're marching to the sea
Got a revolution Got to revolution
Who will take it from you
We will and who are we
We are volunteers of America

Monday, July 18, 2005

Satan's Svengali

One of the hallmarks of Conan O'Brien's late night TV show is a segment where Conana and his team imagine what a baby would look like if two celebrities mated. The more I look at Karl Rove, the more I am convinced that he is the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney, but I'm not here to critique Rove's look, I want to examine the recent events surronding the man I consider, "Satan's Svengali".

Republicans hail Rove as the most "brilliant man alive." I counter with, a truly "brilliant man" doesn't drop out of college nor does he lose a campaign to a dead man (Rove was the campaign mananger for John Ashcroft's unsucessful bid for a seat in the Senate from Missouri in 2000. Ashcroft lost to Mel Carnahan who died in a plane crash before the election). Don't let Rove's failings fool you--what he lacks in formal education and "juice" he makes up with a cunning, criminal nature that will devour anyone or anything that tries to stand in his way. Ask Anne Richards! Ask John McCain! Ask John Kerry! While Cheney and the rest of the "Big Oil" industry serve as Bush's handlers, Rove serves as the bulldozer who clears the way for the Puppet President to dance across the stage.

Like all Republicans, Rove realizes that Bush lacks the cognitive skills necessary for balancing a check book, let alone running a totalitarian regime and quashing detractors. Rove steps in, attempts to destroy the character of anyone attempting to stand up to the Bush administration, and Bush walks to the podium and butchers the English language once again.

As you know, Rove recently came under fire for his involvment in the "outing" of a CIA operative. While Republicans view homosexuals "coming out" as a bad thing, "outing" of CIA operatives is apparently condoned by this band of villians.

In a nutshell, here's what happened. In the midst of the Bush administration build up for war with Iraq, the CIA wanted to investigate a set of documents from an Italian agency (later proved to be forged documents) that indicated Sadam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium from the African nation of Niger. The CIA wanted to send someone to Niger to investigate, so an operative recomended her husband, a man named Joseph Wilson who had built strong ties in Africa, serving as a diplomat in the Clinton administration. Wilson travels to Niger, finds the claims to be false and returns to the US to report his finding to the CIA. The CIA in turn tells the White House that the claims of Hussein buying uranium were bogus; the White House refuses to listen and instruct all mouth pieces of the GOP and of the administration to stick with the uranium story and push towards a war in Iraq.

Wilson, acting as a patriot, decides to let the American people know the truth of his findings and writes an article for The New York Times discussing his findings. The Bush administration immediately searches for ways to discredit Wilson; Colin Powell orders an investigation of Wilson's past and the search reveals that Wilson's wife, Valarie Plame, serves as a CIA operative. Rove leaks this information to certain reports and Robert Novak runs a story identifying Plame as a "CIA" operative. Time magazine reporter, Matthew Cooper contacts Karl Rove, initially for an interview on welfare, but then finds interest in Novak's claim; Rove confirm's Novak's claim to Cooper.

What would posses someone to commit such a travesty?

Bitterness! Revenge! Low self esteem! All make up the Republican mantra.

Conservatives, such as Rove, exhibit many similar traits--obesity, male-patterned baldness, and often impotence, which leaves their life void of pleasure and meaning. They view the world as one that has long since passed them by--progress ripping at the core of the archaic, Victorian values. Scared of change, they respond with a vehement charge that seeks to destroy all those who do not share their "old world view." Since they lack a proper appreciation for the humanities, these men fail to see the beauty of change and fail to understand the world around them. Like leeches, these men search for a host to suck dry to sustain their lives. For the conservative, the religious right serves as the host, drained to a point of delerium, the religious right turns from God's love to outright hate. Instead of focusing this hate on the parasite, they project their hate on secularists and progressive Christians.

The conservative leech, now at full strength, looks for ways to feed its own hedonistic desires (bolstering the coffers of corporate America). This gives the conservative leech the necessary nutrition it needs to advance a level in the evolutionary heiarchy, to that of serpent.

Think of the modern conservative as a black mamba. Yes, they are cursed below all animals and forced to crawl on their bellys, but they can also strike at the heel of mankind with a mighty blow full of venom, often leading to death.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

How Do You Read The Newspaper?

As long as I have been able to read, I have read the newspaper. It started as a kid reading the sports section to keep up with the baseball standings and soon grew to accomodate my interests in current events and the news.

Since high school, it has been my daily routine to read The Dallas Morning News and whatever small, East Town's I may have been living at the time daily newspapers over lunch. Living in East Texas, not many people read the newspaper at lunch. If they did, it was just the Sports section.

Working in downtown Dallas, I often eat lunch at large food courts and tend to take in a bit of "people watching" as I eat my lunch and read the newspaper. I watch with interest at the section each person reads first; I think it can tell you a lot about a person.

Personally, I start with the front page. I then turn to Page 3, which in the Dallas paper gives you all the latest celebrity gossip. After I've had my fill of Lindsey Lohan's love life, I go straight to the Op./Ed. section and look for letters from conservative writers that will anger me and make me laugh at the same time. By this time, I need something that will cool me down, so I go to the Sports section and read how the 3-4 defense will bury my beloved Cowboys further in the hole. After Sports? Texas Living--this is where Dallas-ites hide their Arts & Entertainment section, followed by the Metro section. I then go back and read section A completly. Finally, I turn to the business section.

For some reason, people who go to the Business section first really disgust me. I get so mad when I see someone sit down, pull out the Business section and discard the rest of the paper.

After lunch, I usually read the on-line version of the New York Times and Washington Post, but "hard news" and Op./Ed. only. I find the Sports section of the Times and Post to be mediocore at best. While the Times has the best Arts & Entertainment section in the world, I usually wait until I buy a hard copy of the Sunday Times to read that section.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Reflections of a Friday

Allow me to preface this post with the following, I spent the past week hosting an "ex" who was in town doing research for her thesis. While it was nice to spend time with an old love, it was also very straining mentally and emotionally. Following her departure on Thursday, I sat aside Friday night as "Josh Time", free from any outside intrusions.

The night began simple enough, a trip to the store for a pack of cigarettes. As I walked from my car to the store, I noticed a man running from the store, carrying boxes to a truck parked directly in front the door. Internally, I felt somthing pulling me back away from the door. Sure enough, the running man threw the boxes in the bed of the truck, jumped inside, as the drive "peeled out" and several clerks ran out of the store trying to stop the truck.

While my life was never in any real danger, I couldn't help but to think, "what if I had continued to walk and not stopped?" Would the truck have hit me? Obviously, the truck wanted to flee the scene as quickly as possible and any parking lot obstacles were fair game. It took me back to high school and the countless sermons I heard, and even some that I preached, involving some variation of the line, "...if you were to walk out these doors right now and die, do you know where you would go?"

This wasn't a spiritual reflection as much as it was a cultural reflection. The evangelical church preys on fear and guilt. It incapacitates communities all over the South and Midwest to a point where they literally choke social, cultural and economic progress.

Come with me, if you will, to the 1880's in the United States. Fresh off the the Civil War, our nation stood on the edge of becoming what we now know as the greatest nation in the world. This time period marked the beginning of a great revolution in America both socially and economically. This revolution would transform the United States from a rural to an urban nation.

The rapidity of the transition of America from a rural to an urban nation created pressures in the society that influence social, cultural and political conflicts even today. The economic revolution caused a shift in power, wealth and status from rural to urban America. The shift included a transition in values from corporate to individualistic and resulted in a culture war we still struggle with today. Moreover, the gap between the promise and problems of the economic revolution influenced the development of the modern day American notions of conservative and liberal political ideologies. Basically, this laid the ground work for what we know as "red states" and "blue states" today.

If you don't understand this division, then you cannot understand any of American 20th Century History nor can you understand the political climate of today.

Well, I still had a movie to catch, so I left the store, cigarettes in hand. I'll spare you a movie critique, but will recomend that everyone go and see "Heights" with Glenn Close--it is an amazing movie. The movie, set in New York City, caused me to yet again examine this city we know as Dallas and make comparisions to that great center of culture we know as New York City.

Originally, I am from East Texas.

Before you go any further, I recomend you first read my post entitled "Your Redneck Past." If you don't, you will miss many of the cultural references.

If you have ever driven through East Texas, you have probably noticed sporadic disruptions in your cell phone signals. Chalk it up to the majestic pine trees towering towards the sky that dot the East Texas landscape. The same pine trees have been blamed for blocking out the signals of change—politically, socially, & artistically. This was my home for the first 26 years of my life and as I grew up and built an extended network of associates, I listened as they lampooned and criticized this area.

Perhaps, my business associates in Dallas offered the harshest criticisms. Most had never been to East Texas except in passing on their way to the casino boats in Shreveport, yet they were able to offer a cultural critique and weigh a towns’ merit based on its local Dairy Queen.

I finally moved from East Texas to Dallas in February, looking for a new start to my life. I came in hopes of finding an environment conducive to engendering and fostering ones’ artistic self based on the talk of my aforementioned associates. I quickly learned that Dallas is not as big as Dallas-ites like to think and that East Texas is not as small as Dallas-ites believe.

As one local radio personality puts it, Dallas is the heart of the “chicken fried nation.” Living in the Uptown area of Dallas, I have the great privilege of observing some of Dallas’ most pretentious and misguided citizens. While I usually refrain from using a broad brush, watch as I paint this picture.

The typical Uptown resident is somewhere between the age of 25-35 and unlike any other major city in the US, these “kids” are still attached to their parent’s umbilical chord. I love standing in my parking garage and playing “Count the Audi’s” and determining how many were bought with daddy’s money and how many were actually earned through hard work (I estimate that only 10% of Uptown residents have earned what they own.) This lack of independence is sure to affect one’s emotional maturity and their attitude towards life. Uptown residents desire to make money, present an image of success, and in engage in drunken acts of debauchery Thursday thru Saturday, but these kids lack culture.

Try and stop an Uptown resident and question them about Sartre, Moliere, Botticelli, Anguissola, Gentileschi, or even Whitman or Ginsberg and you are bound to be faced with silence. Even though we live in a metro area of over 3 million people this is still Texas and the same basic ground rules apply. These Uptown simpletons subscribe to the same values and moral code as their neighbors in East Texas—but like my friends to the East, Dallas-ites try and cover their “Redneck past” as well.

In Dallas, they cover their “redneck past” with Audi’s, Mercedes, Land Rovers, with Louis Vuitton, Coach and Prada, with various hair gels, mineral waters, and imports, and to top it all of, an accent that defies logic. They don’t want to sound like they are from Texas, so they turn to a pseudo-West Coast meets Texas accent that defiles the rules of the Standard English Dialect. I feel like Professor Henry Higgins and Dallas is my Eliza, I must shape her into a lady presentable to the world.

My first week in Dallas, Bright Eyes played in Fort Worth. Lead singer Connor Oberst took a lot of heat from the local media for his remarks about the state of Texas at the show and the more I reflect on his comments, the more truth I find in them. Dallas will never be mentioned in the same breath as New York City, LA, Miami, or San Francisco, because her conservative roots will cause her to show up in boots and ruin the black tie affair.

If Dallas wants to truly bury it’s redneck past, it must be willing to cut its conservative roots and move into the 21st Century. Otherwise, she’s just the twin sister of East Texas, only with fancy clothes and a nice car.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Ultimate Protest CD

I figured the best way to christen this new blog was to unveil my latest creation, the "Ultimate Protest CD." Every progressive should own a "Protest CD". Put it in when you have a friend in the car with you, play it at work, play it around your roommates. Music can give those yet-to-be-progressives the added boost they need to leave the "Dark Side" and come enjoy peace, harmony, and the American way.

Most of the songs I put on this CD are from the 60's. The "artists" of our day seem too scared to write "protest songs." Anyway, here we go.

1.) Almost Cut My Hair--Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: " I Feel like letting my freak flag fly...I'm not giving in an inch to fear..."

2.) Volunteers--Jefferson Airplane: "One generation got generation got sold...this generation got no destination to hold."

3.) Eve of Destruction--Barry McGuire: "The Eastern world/It is exploding/ Violence flaring/Bullets loading..."

4.) For What It's Worth--Buffalo Springfield: "There's something happening here/What it is ain't exactly clear/ There's a man with a gun over there/ Telling me ...I got to beware."

5.) Vietnam--Country Joe and the Fish: Perhaps the greatest lyrics ever..."Put down your books and pick up a gun...we're going to have a whole lot of fun"

6.) War--Edwin Starr: War? What is it good for? Absolutely ...NOTHING...tell them Edwin.

7.) San Francisco--Scott McKenzie: Take me to the Promise Land...the land of the Beats and Haight Asbury...the land of Berkley....this is my Mecca....all the "gentle people with flowers in their hair."

8.) Heart of Gold--Neil Young: "I want to live/I want to giver/ I've been a searcher for a heart of gold...."

9.) It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)--Bob Dylan: Can I quote the whole song?

10.) Subterranean Homesick Blues--Bob Dylan: "YOU DON"T NEED A WEATHERMAN TO KNOW WHICH WAY THE WIND BLOWS."


12) We Won't Be Fooled Again--The Who: " I tip my hat to the new constituion/Take a bow for the new revolution"

13.) Aqaurius--The 5th Dimension: If you have never seen the musical Hair, this song probably doesn't mean much to you, but seeing it performed in the context of the musical, protesting another illegitimate war, and the finale when the chorus sings Let the Sunshine In,'s truly powerful. Rent the movie!

14.) Let's Not Shit Ourselves--Bright Eyes: The lone modern day addition to the CD....."Well I should stop pointing fingers/Reserve my judgement/For all those public action figures, the Cowboy President/So loud behind the bull horn/So proud they can't admit/When they made a mistake"

15.) Alice's Restaurant--Arlo Gutherie: When the Bush administration brings back the draft in the next year or so, go in front of your local draft board and sing them a chorus of Alice's Restaurant and see what happens.

I welcome any and all comments.