15 04 2018

There are a number of seemingly disparate issues affecting the country these days. When I examine their roots, and the way our society is attempting to deal with them, I see that they actually have a lot in common, and that the commonly accepted responses to them are failing to have their hoped-for effects, for a common reason. Likewise, the optimum solutions to all these very real concerns, while individualized according to the particular manifestation they treat, all spring from a common root. I am going to describe these problems, the conventional-wisdom solutions to them, look at the unintended consequences that these solutions engender, and, as best I can, suggest a Green,  radical–literally “to the root”– solution to them.


Gun violence has been a hot-button heart breaker for far too long. The natural, and obvious, response is to make it more difficult to obtain firearms, or at least, as comedian Chris Rock has suggested, to make the price of ammunition prohibitive. Five-thousand-dollar bullets would certainly rearrange a lot of people’s priorities. Hey, the Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms–it doesn’t say anything about ammunition! I have no problem with making  high-tech rock throwers, or the rocks they throw,which have no other purpose than to harm or kill other beings, a lot more difficult to obtain.

But, in spite of the tremendous hue and cry about this devastating fact of American life, legislatures, especially Republican-dominated ones, remain deaf to the appeals of the growing clamor for gun control. Read the rest of this entry »


5 06 2016

Things are reaching a pitch in the American political arena. Trumpenstein will be the Republican nominee, and, while the last chapters have yet to be written, it is now almost certain, as it really has been all along, that Ms. Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. The next phase of the contest, the Big Face Off Between The Democrat And  The Republican, is about to begin.

In social media, however, the contest between Bernie and Hillary seems far from over. Clinton supporters are upset by the expressed concerns of Sanders supporters and Greens like me, who feel that there is good reason to be wary of a Clinton Presidency. We are told that we are helping Trump get elected, that we are misogynists, that we need to deal with the world-as-it-is and not cling to “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” to steal a phrase from Charles Eisenstein. That’s all well and good, Clinton supporters say, but you must support Hillary or all hell will break loose. A la Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative.tina

In an effort to respond to the many people I know who are telling me to get with the Clinton program, as well as those who seem to think Bernie would have won if only I’d supported him, and those who think I’m crazy, stupid, or sentimental not to back Trumpenstein, I want to examine all three of these candidates, as well as The Green Party’s Jill Stein, (cause, hey, this is a Green Party show/blog!) and talk about how they look from the ol’ Deep Green Perspective.

Let’s go for Trumpenstein first. I’m calling him that not just to make fun of him, but because he, like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, was, in  a sense, brought to life by people who had their own motives for creating him, and who did not realize that he would get away from them and chart his own course. Trump was born (in the public mind) as a commercial, comedic figure, a Falstaffian man of bluff and bluster who was not afraid to say what he thought and exercise power, a man who drew viewers and made money for the network. When he chose to enter the political arena, he cut a sharp contrast with conventional politicians, who carefully shape what they say in a formal language that is intended to offend no one who might vote for them, but has begun to offend a lot of people for its vacuousness. Read the rest of this entry »


1 11 2015

First, a short news article from Democracy Now:

…in New Hampshire, an intruder armed with a hatchet was caught inside a Planned Parenthood clinic early Wednesday morning after smashing computers, furniture, plumbing fixtures, medical equipment, windows and walls. The Claremont clinic, which provides a range of services, but not abortions, was spray-painted with the word “murderer” earlier this month.

The perpetrator turned out to be a teenager.  In Israel, the police routinely shoot Palestinian teenagers who act like that.  They call them “terrorists.” So….sure, the vandalism in New Hampshire was just plain stupid, but isn’t it also “terrorism”? And, if it’s ” terrorism,” shouldn’t those who incited it be prosecuted along with the perp? I’m looking at you, Republicans andFaux News.

Planned Parenthood has not done anything illegal or unethical, but it has been condemned in the court of right-wing opinion, and legislatures across the country are effectively vandalizing the organization by cutting off state funding, eliminating a whole spectrum of health care services for low-income women.

They claim they’re doing this in the name of “Christianity,”a religion whose holy book says:

Read the rest of this entry »


5 07 2014

obama-gun-control(note: this is an expanded version of a post that originally appeared in my “Holsinger for House” blog.)


The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  I believe the operative phrase here is “a well regulated Militia.”  Allowing any frightened person in the country to carry a concealed weapon is not “a well-regulated Militia.”  It is the very opposite of “a well regulated Militia.”

The framers of the Constitution included this amendment in part because they had lived through the circumstances that sparked the American Revolution, when British troops attempted to seize Colonial weapons caches at Lexington and Concord.  The framers wanted to decentralize the possession of weapons and ammunition in order to avoid a repeat of this situation.  Weapons were intended for use by “a well-regulated militia.”  The other purpose for these “well-regulated militias” was to assure the slaveholding states that they could maintain a local armed force to keep their slaves, i.e., their African-American population, from rebelling.  While this fear is strangely echoed in the subtext of the debate over gun control, for instance in the “stand your ground” laws that have resulted in the deaths of numerous unarmed African-Americans at the hands of trigger-happy whites, the intent of the Second Amendment was clearly to allow individuals to keep and bear arms for legitimate purposes, not to create a nervous and over-armed citizenry that actually detracts from “the security of a free State.” Firearms are basically high-tech rock throwers.  Imagine a large percentage of the population walking around with a half-dozen or more fist-sized rocks in their possession.   Would that be a desirable state of affairs? Read the rest of this entry »


22 12 2012

music:  Terry Allen, “Xmas on the Isthmus

Here it is, almost Christmas, that day when so many of us celebrate the birth and teaching of a man who said “You cannot serve both God and Mammon”  )Matthew 6:24).  For some reason, this has become a time of year to give people lots of things, although Jesus, the ostensible centerpiece of the occasion, also is reputed to have instructed his disciples to “sell all you have and give the money to the poor” if they wanted to follow him.  And sure, the story tells us that “the three wise men” gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but these are traditional offerings to a venerated being or deity, unlike, say, an Xbox or a Victoria’s Secret gift card.

But the American economy is dependent on xBoxes and Victoria’s Secret, not on incense or even gold, for all its potent symbolism.  The Christmas season is when money changers in the temple, excuse me, I meant to say  merchants, count on earning a substantial chunk of their annual income.  Christmas has become a peculiar crossbreed of a holiday, with Jesus on the outside and Mammon on the inside.  That is because, for all our culture’s protestations about Jesus and Christianity, when you come right down to it, it really is money that we worship.

Let me quote to you, verbatim, one of the dictionary definitions of “worship”:

extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem <worship of the dollar>

There is no question that money, and the accumulation of more of it, is what far too many Americans esteem, admire, and are devoted to. Read the rest of this entry »


10 05 2007

Is everything connected?  Is there a link between a butterfly in Mexico and a tornado in Kansas?  Is there a connection between the mounting tension of the gathering showdown over misuse of the US Department of Justice and Seung-Hui Cho’s decision that he just couldn’t take any more?

I don’t know, although my poor paranoid’s almanac response when I first heard the news that the Gonzalez hearing had been postponed on account of Virginia Tech was “Manchurian Candidate!  Distraction!”  I think I was wrong about that part—but if that were true, it would be less troubling than the truth revealed by the case of the late Mr. Cho, who apparently has been on the same trajectory most of his life.  The troubling truth is that nobody knew him well enough.  We were all just too busy to really sit down with the five-year old, the eight-year old, the twelve-year old, the sixteen-year old, the twenty-year old Seung-Hui Cho and really get to the bottom of what was going on inside him.  Maybe I’m just as weird in my way for blaming society as Jerry Falwell is in his, but I believe that in a saner, less distracted and preoccupied society, this tragedy would never have happened.

And sure, stricter gun laws might help.  Let’s face it, the only reason pistols exist is to hurt or kill other human beings.  Nobody hunts with a pistol, y’know?  Pistols, like coal-fired power plants, shouldn’t just be heavily restricted, they should be shut down entirely.  They should not be manufactured. All existing pistols should be melted down.  Turned into frames for solar panels, or bicycles.  No more pistol ammunition—without ammo, a pistol is just a funny-shaped club.  And sure, some crazy somebody somewhere will keep producing them somehow—I mean, I hear you can still get LSD if you know where to look, and that’s been illegal and heavily suppressed for forty years now.  But there is just no reason for pistols to be commercially manufactured, any more than cigarettes.

How much safer would this make us?  How about thirty times safer?  In England, where handgun ownership has been illegal for ten years, there is one firearm death per million people annually.  In the US, there are thirty handgun deaths per million people every year—so Mr. Cho’s little spree accounted for only about one third of one percent of the firearm deaths in the US this year—what’s everybody so upset for?

Meanwhile, thirty-two people are dead and twenty-five injured, and it’s a tragedy for families,friends, and survivors–and I can certainly understand that.  In all my nearly sixty years of life, no one close to me has been murdered.  I feel very lucky to live in such a safe part of the world.

It’s when I start looking at other parts of the world that I see just how safe it is here, how easily we are shocked by one outbreak of violence.  In Iraq, during the same week as the Virginia Tech shootings, according to a fairly conservative estimate, there were five hundred civilian deaths from violent causes, over seventy a day, more than twice the Virginia Tech massacre every day of the week—and five hundred civilian deaths a week is on the low end for Iraq.  In order to put these numbers in perspective, let’s factor in the differences in population between the US and Iraq.

There are about three hundred million Americans, and about twenty-six million Iraqis, making the difference between the two populations a factor of twelve.  Per capita, then, the death of thirty Americans is equal to the death of about two and a half Iraqis—but the death of five hundred Iraqis is the equivalent of the death of six thousand Americans, and the total number of Iraqis killed—it’s hard to know, really—some estimates run around seventy thousand, some were saying a hundred thousand three years ago, and some have estimated as high as six hundred and fifty thousand—translate to between 840,000, 1.2 million, or as many as 7.8 million American civilian deaths.  Forget thirty unlucky students and teachers at Virginia Tech.   That’s the entire population of the state of Virginia.

Think about that—for the equivalent of the death of two Iraqi civilians, America is traumatized—and responds with attention and compassion—counselling, days of mourning, outpourings of help and sympathy.  And all the while our tax money is going to feed dozens of Virginia Tech massacres every day in a small country, far away, and the Democrats won’t even do anything to stop it.   Getting US troops out of Iraq wouldn’t precipitate a bloodbath, as some imperialists claim.  There’s already a bloodbath going on.  Removing US forces and substituting a Muslim peacekeeping force would likely go a long way towards settling things down in the Middle East.

While we’re on proportions, think of the refugees.  An estimated two million Iraqis have left the country, while about the same number have fled one part of Iraq for another.  That’s like having forty-eight million Americans displaced, half to Canada and Mexico and half internally.  By contrast, the largest mass evacuation in US history occurred when 1.2 million people were evacuated for Hurricane Katrina—the equivalent of a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees—a small fraction of what’s going on there now.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is said to be one of the guiding principles of Christianity and Judaism.  If we’re going to get back what we’ve done to Iraq, you’d better brace yourself.

I’m done with that comparison,  but I’m not done.  I was talking about Seung-Hui Cho—who only did what our military trains people to do—kill people he didn’t know.  Oh, sure, the military conditions its recruits to only kill when they are following orders, but we have unleashed a monster in Iraq and Cho is likely not the last American who will be overpowered by the zeitgeist and kill, kill kill.  According to the American Academy of Neurology, about forty percent of returning Iraq War vets have some kind of “mental disorder,” and not all of them are getting—or even seeking—treatment for it.

On one hand a lot has already been written about denial of mental illness in the military, and on the other, the mainstream mental health diagnosis and treatment paradigm leaves a lot to be desired, but what it boils down to is this:  serving in Iraq drives a lot of people violently crazy, and the government not only doesn’t give a hoot, it lacks the resources to do much about the problem if it did care.  As these veterans return to civilian life, they are going to bring the terrors of the Middle East to middle America—and considering how devious the Bush junta is, maybe that’s how they want it.

Terry Allen, “This Ain’t No Top 40 Song

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