Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Country Tis of Me

Cruz, Conservatives, Corporations and Christians Want You to Die

I Me Me Mine

"A nation, as a society, forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." - Thomas Jefferson

”In this country we rise and fall as one nation, as one people” – Barack H. Obama

“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink… I was sick and you visited me.” – Jesus H. Christ

“I think the first and principle objective is to repeal Obamacare.” - Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz

“Where's your messiah now, Moses?” – Edward G. Robinson

 Pardon the purposely provocative, sensational and incendiary, clearly exaggeratingly comical, alliterative subtitle. Truth be told, it’s not so much that the factions cited want you to die, it’s more as if they don’t care if you do – particularly, if healthy maintenance of your Earth-bound existence results in them having to sally up a shilling or a farthing or two from their own secured monetary reserves.

The notable exception being, of course, the Christians, who pray to perish, and that’s nothing personal; they desire that everyone expire, especially themselves.  As true believers, journeyers with Jesus are jazzed and juiced about the hereafter, and their accompanying assuredness of a Second Coming and an eternity spent in “a better place.” Well, first off, as a born and bred, native New Yorker, I feel quite confident that there is no better place. And, as far as a Second Coming, the only thing that’s coming for a second time is your Obamacare health insurance rebate check.

For this partisan pontificator, the Affordable Care Act debate is a very serious and personal matter; and even, at its heart, more of a people issue than one of government policy.  I have a very close friend who, due to a layoff and the inability since to secure regular employment in this still weak economy, has not had health insurance in over 5 years. It's very worrisome that a simple illness or a broken bone could mean complete financial calamity and regular preventative care becomes impossibility. When someone expresses the desire to kill or defund Obamacare they are effectively preaching from a position of prejudice, superiority and self-centeredness with the preposterous, mercenary and mean-spirited claim that this insurance-lacking individual is neither deserving nor worthy to receive the crucial and critical safety-net, and Supreme Court confirmed, American right – to finally get the insurance and proper healthcare that she's been without for far too and dangerously long.  And this "I've got mine, too bad for you" attitude has never before been a part of the American fabric, the American culture; never a part of American Exceptionalism.

Should God, Gloria, righteousness and religion be your mis en scene, yet you quote Cruz's crafty, anti-Obamacare crankiness after wailing scripture, get thee down to your neighborhood milliners and be fitted for your hypocrisy hat; then, once properly chapeau’d, please contact me, nycityman, and let this Atheist fill in some of the obvious knowledge that you are sorely missing when it comes to the teachings and lessons of your favorite Messiah, Lord and Savior and Broadway musical superstar. Or perhaps, even preferable, play pretend non-believer for a day and pursue goodness and light and morality, not because of the exhortations of an outdated, antiquated, ancient tome, or for fear of eternal damnation and Hellfire, but simply to do what is right. For us unholy, unsanctified, holdouts and heroes of heresy, words and deeds are not by-products of threats and fears, but merely proper behavior and treatment of one another. “I’m not giving in an inch to fear. I promised myself this year. And I feel, like I owe it to someone.”
Arrrhh... Fire Bad!!
In the event that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is erroneous in their optimistic assessments of the coming lower premiums through the conscientiously, capitalistic competitive insurance exchanges; and of the billions projected to be cut from the federal deficit due to full implementation of the ACA; and, instead, the price of millions of our uninsured fellow citizens now being safely covered results in my rates slightly escalating, so be it. That is the cost, responsibility and privilege, of being a member of a community and a civilized society.  I realize that Conservatives, from sea to shining sea, are now seizing smelling salts for fright of fainting spells at such a profane thought of giving and shared sacrifice, but we are, by purposeful design, all in this together; to quote, worldly and randy, Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, “We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”

We are Americans, and as such, share in a great, generous tradition, long a part of this laudable land of the free. But now we are engaged in a great civil war, and are mightily tested by an entire political ideology opposed to that philosophy; so to put it in terms that Republicans, Tea Partiers and Conservatives may be able to appreciate – if you Fox, Beck, Limbaugh and Palin devotees (combine the IQ of all of the above, and you might just crack three digits. Combine the hearts of the aforementioned and you might just detect a faint pulse) should someday find yourself in less fortunate financial circumstances, (impossible as that is to imagine as you are all such wealth-wizards and masters and mistresses of your domains, and lords and ladies of all that you survey) you too shall be cared for in your rare time of need.  So, right-wingers, there is a way to look at it in terms of the self-interest that you are naturally and innately much more comfortable with. Empower and embrace your egocentrism and greed, and make it work for the greater good.

Alas, there was once upon a time in America when faith, hope and charity were more than just the three best darn pole dancers in Secaucus, New Jersey. And although not a fan or follower of faith myself, I am quite smitten with the blonde and the redhead, hope and charity, and expectantly anticipate that reports of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated.
Yes, we've got trouble...
If Cruz continues on his current uncharted course and un-merry way, he will destroy the once great Republican Party (oh, Lincoln and Roosevelt and Eisenhower, where oh where are you tonight, why did you leave me here all alone?) Son of Canada, Rafael Cruz is a pure out and out con man, a heinous Professor Harold Hill, of Capitol Hill, intent on making trouble right here in River City, with a capital T that rhymes with P, that stands for Presidential Aspirations. As ringmaster of this pack of pachyderms, Cruz may ensure that the Grand Old Plutocrats (Gives Oral Pleasures?) never place an occupant in the Oval Office again. President Clinton deux will be calling 1600 home once more from 2016 through 2024 and, of course, immediately after that we’ll finally be in the long-promised Jetsons/Space 1999 futuristic time at which point either the cyborgs or simians will have surpassed us.  While initially sounding a tad, if not a ton, far-fetched to you, let us not forget that in Willard “Mitt” Romney, this land that was made for you and me already had our first robot candidate. So, once again, the future promises – Hillary, cyborgs, “damn dirty apes,” but no Republicans. 

Not so long ago, when I was but a greenhorn - na├»ve, trusting… a young and callow fellow, when life was slow and oh, so mellow, I honestly believed that Conservatives, like Liberals, sincerely wanted the best for this nation and all of its vast variety of citizenry; equally benevolent of mind and intent but with a separate belief and ideology -a different path in which to achieve the same goals of equality, happiness and success. But now, after a long lifetime of living, as days grow short and I approach the autumn of my years, realizations change with shifting realities. The new reality -  If you take all of the worst, most base instincts of humankind – selfishness, greed, inhumanity; lack of compassion,  caring, community, empathy and sympathy – the traits that a maturing society overcomes upon progressing and becoming more civilized - you get Conservatism. 

The United States of America in 2013 has an actual, true, enemy within – the current GOP, the Neo-Cons, the purposely unenlightened. The Tea Partiers, and the corporations that they represent – and for the possible, healthy continuation of this noble experiment, this charitable and righteous republic, these Regressives must surely be defeated at the ballot box, as surely as past enemies from without have been defeated on the battlegrounds, in their attempt to transform our noble Republic into a corporate Plutocracy.  “Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice but to carry on”

We close with two sources of musical inspiration and lyrical quotation - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young "Carry On" and the Beatles perform, "I Me Mine."

Any comments, questions, criticisms, compliments, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Syria and September 11th: The Past, the Present and the Weariness of War

“Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.” – Woody Guthrie

At this time, when we commemorate another anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, it’s hard to separate those heartbreaking and heinous events of 12 years ago from the difficult and frightening international calamity in which we currently find ourselves embroiled.

The Mideast in 2013

Amidst the American political posturing about Syria, where because of whom the present White House occupant happens to be, we are seeing the uncommon circumstance of the traditional war hawks on the Right, who automatically disdain any proposition by Obama, suddenly becoming awkward peaceniks; while many of the more conventionally dovish Democrats, in support of their party leader, are trumpeting a call to action. 

But what’s being lost in the now, typical and expected, bitter and divisive, biased bickering and battling, is the humanitarian viewpoint - the fact that the devastation in Syria is not really about whether the Republicans are, once again, attempting to weaken, if not destroy, the presidency of the man that they so irrationally detest, but rather about the people of Syria, our fellow citizens of the world.

Somehow, as we now collectively recognize the sacrifice and sorrow of the thousands of American lives lost we, simultaneously, lack pity, empathy and sympathy regarding the more than one hundred thousand deaths in Syria and the countless others currently in harm’s way.  Judgments have been made here that there is no direct American interest in this conflict, completely ignoring humanitarian compassion and concerns, inferring  then, that human lives are unequal and inequitable; that a Syrian life, an Arab life, a Muslim life is not as worthy as a Christian American’s; and no thought could be more anti-American than that. Still, we are, understandably, a nation awash in weariness of war.

The Syrian situation couldn’t possibly be more complex or complicated and it honestly appears that there is no right decision, no correct course of action, or even inaction. Is there any plausible scenario in which the United States or our President emerges from this state of affairs not diminished in some way – intervention or isolationism, neither seems a positive approach with a prospective, constructive conclusion. The questions and concerns continue to mount - simply put, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, or are there even good guys in this murkiest of struggles? If the U.S. comes to the aide of the rebels, are we providing support to some of the very same people who 12 years ago so brutally and heinously attacked us? As alarming a possibility as that seems it would not be a first as, regrettably, it was the Reagan administration that trained and armed the fighters and leaders who went on to form Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, when they fought the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

What of our relationship with Putin, as vile a supposed friend as we could ever be cursed with; and Russia, who arm and are strongly allied with the Syrian government? If we attack, are we then beginning a defacto cold, or even hot, war with our former long-time antagonists? And if Congress doesn’t authorize American military intervention, and we don’t back up our words and principles, does our country appear weak to the rest of the world, especially Iran, who’s closely watching our every move as they prepare for nuclear armament? Alternatively, if Congress votes nay, but Obama strikes anyway, does he lose the support of the American people for the remainder of his presidency; and if we do intervene, to what long-term purpose, and with what inevitably unknown consequence? Do we choose to ignore a humanitarian disaster or do we chance involvement in yet another war in this highly volatile, explosive and unpredictable area of the world? Is this, when examining every possible end result and outcome, but a lose/lose situation?

And yet, despite such pessimistic forecasting, is there still some hope for a bloodless denouement? A new wrinkle has arisen in this treacherous, challenging and chaotic global chess match, in which the innocent civilians of Syria are the imperiled pawns, with the Russian proposed peaceful handover of the country's chemical weapon stockpile to the international community. That, however, involves placing great trust in two very untrustworthy players, the aforementioned Vladimir Putin and murderous, Syrian despot, Bashar Asaad. 

  9/11- One Nation. One People.

Now and for all time, we honor those whose sacrifice and whose bravery and courage and conviction rise above petty, political partisanship to truly define the word - American.  An American is not white or black or brown or yellow.  An American is not a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or a Sikh or a Hindu or an Atheist.  An American is not a Republican, a Democrat, a Conservative, a Liberal, a Libertarian or an Independent – an American is all of those things and more. An American is not even necessarily born within the borders of our 50 states. We can let the worst of us – the biased, the bigoted, the blowhards – the radio talk show hosts, the TV pundits, those in power who are willing to sink to the lowest of levels just for one additional vote – divide us; or we can look to the best of us, to those who displayed authentic patriotism, to those who lost loved ones and to those very loved ones who have left us – and allow them to unite us.  Let’s reject those prophets of doom who make profit from doom.

I also commend my fellow New Yorkers who behaved so boldly, calmly and resolutely. We came together, we pulled together and we supported each other - as we always do - we of the most diverse population in the nation - we of every language, religion, culture, and ethnic background - we who join as one, time and again because our differences aren’t a weakness but our greatest strength. We may in some ways be dissimilar but ultimately we are the same - with our regard, our respect, our embracing of our differences and the eventual melding of them that makes us the richest and strongest culture in the word. It is the might and power of our diversity that bonds us and makes us above all - New Yorkers.

“Even right near Ground Zero and all over New York today, New York is alive more than ever, that is the Mecca for everybody on the East Coast, for every kid from all over the United States and still from around the world. The sense of creativity and possibility in NY remains undiminished.” -  Howard Fineman, Huffington Post

“The first time I arrived in America…I landed in New York and I went down to Ground Zero and I met New Yorkers and it just struck me how Al Qaeda had basically picked the wrong place, they picked on the wrong people. They just didn’t understand the mentality of New Yorkers… they are themselves, they are unique to this country… New Yorkers were like, ‘is that it. Is that all you’ve got? We are going to move on, we are who we are, and we are going to continue.’” - Jamie Tarabay, National Journal,

In tribute to the heroes and victims of that dreadful day, and to my fellow Americans, and Americans yet to be, those who dream a dream as all our forebears did, those "tired, poor, huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." no matter their affiliations or ideologies, we must never forget that this country belongs to us all, to “we the people,” as is so well expressed by  Woody Guthrie’s lyrics in his “This Land is Your Land.”