Saturday, November 20, 2004
Sometimes You Just Have to Say, "What The..."
In the words of that great philosopher J. Durante, "Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go? And still get the feeling that you wanted to stay?"
Your Angry Buddhist has been off these past few days contemplating where we go from here, what routes we take and what snacks we should bring. At the same time I am also asking, is this trip really necessary?
STAND AND FIGHT?
It's true, I've been titillated at the thought of standing and fighting - battling Bush and his deserve-ative cabal tooth and nail, mano a mano down in the muddy, dirty trenches. Knowing how few on the Bush side have ever fought in a war, I like my chances. Sure they're mean and vicious, but they still underestimate our anger. And from my elitist point of view - if they're stupid enough to be conned by the Neocons then I'll make mincemeat out of them.
Like I've said before, there's never been a better opportunity for fresh blood to get in there and make a difference. And the radical religious right is going to overplay their hand like only someone empowered by eternal self righteousness can do. Iraq will not work out well and you can go ahead and script the inaugural address for whichever Ayatollah they elect whenever they do have what passes for elections there.
And since Bush has never had to personally pay for anything out of his own pocket in his whole damn life and has never actually had to do any real work warranting a salary, there's no reason to think he's going to get hit with a lighting bolt of fiscal sanity. That means he'll keep pumping up the deficit and just keep printing up more money when he's got to pay the military. He's not going to be able to fix Social Security. He's not going to do anything about health insurance. He's not going to have any money to do anything for education.
SAME SONG, DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENT
But you know, the fight doesn't stop with Bush and company, it just begins there. Because truth be told - and really, isn't that why I'm here - we've got to stage a mutiny in the Democratic party too. We've got to blow it into smithereens and rebuild it with fresh brains and a new organization. John Kerry is never going to give me or the rest of the progressive people a woody. Neither are any of the other democrats that ran in the primaries. Neither is Hillary.
I do not see a single Democrat anywhere in the country worth getting excited about or who I think can make a real difference.
WHO CARES? MAYBE NOT THIS BUDDHIST
And then I start to think "Why bother?"
I wonder if the United States of America is even worth keeping together. I think maybe not.
I ponder just what I have in common with the born agains who are so confident I'm going to hell for being an unbeliever they'd swear to god about it.
I start to ask myself "What the fuck do I care about what happens to all those stupid selfish bastards all across this country who really believe no new taxes is one of the keys to life? Who are happy to shop at Wal-Mart for rock bottom prices while they watch all the local stores close down and the local emergency ward at the hospital become the doctor's waiting room for all those low wage low benefit Wal-Mart workers." How exuberant their celebrations are when they're able to score that new plasma screen for only $4,000 at Costco! Praise Jesus for high definition 700 Club.
PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN?
I mean lets ask the hard question - isn't it already hopeless?
Hasn't America already gone too far past the point of no return? Isn't big money, corruption and influence peddling rampant not just at the federal level, not just at the state level, but at the local town, city and village level? At the condo association level, the PTA level, and at the school council level?
Yes it has.
There's never going to be any meaningful election reform and you know it. They may pass some more windowdressing laws, but they're never going to get the money out of politics and if you don't the money out then you don't get the influence out. You're never going to put the lobbiests out of business.
Ralph Nader was pretty much right-on regarding all the key issues and he has never stood a snowball's chance in hell of getting elected President of this country. America's will vote for a former body builder and action movie star as their President before they'd even consider a nerdy, skinny hawk-faced dude who has no celebrity appeal.
GEORGE CARLIN AGREES
Is it any wonder that even George Carlin himself has thrown in the towel and given up on any hope for humanity itself? [LINK]:
"I try not have an emotional stake" in the world, said Carlin, dressed in all-black clothing. "I've turned off the feeling part because I refuse to be voluntarily heartbroken by what we're doing to ourselves and each other. So I'd rather divorce myself from it and wash my hands of it, which isn't very responsible, but that's the way I feel."
George Carlin has made more sense for a longer time than any other American I can think of. When George bails, it's time to look for lifeboat options.
9-11? WHO GIVES A DAMN?
Not Bush and not the Republican party.
While the rest of us were heartened when people from both sides of the aisle made up the 9-11 Commission and worked together to study what happened and then make the recommendations of what needs to change. It seemed remarkably non-political. It seemed like they were working for the good of America.
But that's not the way the morally bankrupt phonies in power saw it.
Bush could have championed the commission's report and campaigned on it. But he did not. He couldn't. He didn't believe in the commission to begin with and he wasn't about to do anything they recommended. (Not like that kind of truth matters to Bush supporters, they never let facts get in the way of their beliefs.)
Yesterday Duncan Hunter, a knuckle-dragging Congressman from El Cajon California, who previously made news when he didn't like the media attention given the Abu Garib prison abuse scandal, made sure the bill wouldn't pass the house. [LINK]
"Congressional officials said that Mr. Bush had telephoned a leading Republican critic of the bill, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, from Air Force One on Friday en route to a economic summit meeting in Chile to urge him to compromise.
They said a similar call was made Saturday morning by Mr. Cheney to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter of California, who has long warned that the creation of a national intelligence director could interfere with the military chain of command as American troops continue to fight in Iraq."
Personally I think both phone calls by the President and Vice President were actually to thank the two GOP terrorists for doing what Bush wanted all along. It's complete bullshit to think that Bush couldn't use some of the "political character" he bragged on to make this happen. There's only one reason there was no vote and it is because opposes the 9-11 reforms. He and his pals just don't have the balls to admit it.
But it's true and only suckers will deny it.
Nobody publically gives Bush and his Christian Crusaders the finger and gets away with it. We've all seen what happens to people who dissent from the administration party line.
Nope, this went down the way the President wanted because he never did give a shit about a bunch of dead New Yorkers. New York didn't vote for Bush in 2000 and it's no surprise that he'd say "fuck you" to making changes that would really make them safer. This was never about the 9-11 victims, this was about seizing the moment for political purposes.
And since all the major terrorist targets in this country are in states that voted against Bush in the 2004 election it should be no surprise to anyone that Republicans now turn their back on a bill that would help protect the people in those states from another terrorist attacks.
You can call that cynical or you can review the record. Or at least the record they haven't kept classified.
But it doesn't matter what you think.
And it never will.
Those days are over.
Just ask George Carlin [LINK]:
"While describing himself as left of center and someone who would have preferred to see Sen. John F. Kerry elected, he said it all didn't really matter anyway.
"They" American corporations control events. Oh, yes, "they" would back off slightly, said Carlin, if pushed hard enough as during the civil rights movement or the Vietnam War, but the idea of the people determining events is naïve.
Even the environment is a lost cause at this point, he said. Polluted and destroyed beyond hope. In fact, the human record on Earth should argue against any colonization attempts on other planets like Mars.
"Let's keep this infection local," he said."
I GOT NO FRIEND IN JESUS
There's now a real disconnect for those of us who are NOT born again, those of us who do not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of god or part of any holy trinity. There's a real problem in America now for those of us who do not believe that only people from certain religions who pledge their allegiance to Jesus in a certain way will be allowed into heaven.
Frankly, there is never any equal footing in talking to people who believe that they have been saved and that you are going to hell. There is no common ground with people like that. There is nothing in our American history or woven into the fabric of this nation that trumps that. We have so much more that divides us than we do that unites us.
It might be different if the majority of those people were Christians in anything but name only. But they're not. There are at least as many evil, ruthless assholes wearing a cross and going to church as there are otherwise. Maybe more.
For The Angry Buddhist, there is zero difference between those who believe that aliens regularly visit our planet and abduct humans for experiments and those who claim to have been born again and firmly believe that they will be whisked straight up to heaven when the rapture comes.
It's time to define "faith" as what it really is - somebody's decision to believe something supernatural that they just have a feeling about but cannot prove. There's no reason to respect faith in Jesus Christ any more than we respect people who believe in leprechauns, fairies or the Chicago Cubs ability to win the world series.
The real truth of George Bush's "ownership society" is that if you don't own, you ain't shit. That's the kind of Christianity the Jesus Jihad crowd really believe.
Homeless? Who cares? You don't own nothing, you don't count. Hungry? Too damn bad. If you owned some food and a kitchen you wouldn't be such a burden on our faith-based safety net.
Need a ride somewhere? Buy a damn car and help our economy.
And if you don't own nothing in today's America then today's America owns you and you just better do as you're told - boy!
MAYBE IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER
So you can see why I now contemplate whether there's a reason to waste any time trying to change things or if it's time to cut my losses and just resign myself to the fact that we're on the down slope of this civilization and there's nothing left to do but party on and do only what's best for me, mine and those we care about.
You know... just look at it like Republicans do - 100% in my own self interest.
I don't have any kids so why care about what happens to public education? I don't even like kids. Why don't we just put them to work in American factories so we can compete with China and the third world? Public parks, after school programs, the arts? Screw the little tykes they should be in bible study or home schooling anyway.
Social Security? Keep it, I don't care. I won't be counting on government money in my retirement. I hope all the instant gratification types who financed their lifestyles on credit cards all wind up in the poor house with no medical insurance.
The environment? Drill, dig and exploit every acre of it. I've already seen plenty of beauty and I took tons of photos and video. I could care less what happens after I'm gone. Why fight to protect the wilderness for all the generations coming from Christians who are breeding like rabbits as you're reading this?
Abortion? Why the hell should I care? I have a vascetomy. I've been married 23 years. No one I know is getting any abortions. Nobody I know is getting anyone pregnant that doesn't want to be.
You can see where all this leads... Why even bother wasting my time writing this when I could be out playing?
Saturday, November 13, 2004
I've never cared for him as an actor. He was not my favorite body builder. I know for certain that the stories about his history as a groper are true. Frankly I thought it was ridiculous to consider him qualified to be governor of any state in America, let alone the one with the most people. But hey, that's what makes a Buddhist pissed.
How many idiots in California and across the rest of the country think Arnold made up all the movie lines he uses in his speeches over and over and over again? They believe he named himself "The Terminator" and cleverly said, "I'll be back" when the thought entered his mind.
Arnold is in Japan right now on a trade mission for California. It's been fun reading about his adventures in the L.A. Times:
Meeting with California reporters, Schwarzenegger was asked about the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.Whether it's a piece of crap movie, an inferior chain of restaurants, his own race for govenor or pushing new inititives, Arnold relentlessly promotes, promotes, promotes, markets, markets, markets until he strong arms his way to pay off time.
He steered the discussion back to his home state.
"I haven't thought about it," he said. "I only think about California. The key thing is I'm here to promote and promote and promote. Market, market, market. This is what I know how to do and I know that it pays off."
They say Arnold's more popular than President Bush is over there in Japan. Here in California too.
And in today's Pre-Rapture world nothing has to make any fucking sense any more. It doesn't matter that Arnold just doesn't have the skill set for the job. It doesn't matter that he says one thing and does another. The man is an abuser of power who has always felt above the rules and that has never seemed to matter. The rules are for smaller than life people like you and me. Arnold is bigger than life.
Which is why other people want Arnold to be President of the United States of America. This is what happens when George WMD Bush helps to set the bar at such a new low. And of course this is what happens in this era of the talent-free celebrity.
As it said in Saturday's L.A. Times:
SACRAMENTO — Television ads supporting a constitutional amendment that would allow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other foreign-born citizens to run for president will begin appearing next week on cable stations across California, a newly formed group based in Silicon Valley announced Friday.It was cool to have that article in the very same Times California section as the article about how Arnold doesn't see anything wrong with his staffers taking gifts from businesses and lobbiests trying to curry favor:
The ads feature Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones, a mutual fund manager from the Bay Area and major donor to Schwarzenegger's campaign, telling viewers: "You cannot choose the land of your birth. You can choose the land you love."
TOKYO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said today that he sees no need to tighten his administration's gift policy, nor is he worried that some of his top aides have accepted thousands of dollars worth of meals, basketball playoff tickets and other items from special interests seeking access to his government.This is the guy that was going to beat the crap out of special interests right? This was the guy who raised more money than Gray Davis but said he didn't need anyone else's money to run. This is the guy that talked about pay as you go and then borrowed money to pay for his budget. This is the guy who was going to convert his Hummer into hydrogen power, but never got around to it. This is the guy whose mantra above all else is "No new taxes." He just didn't tell us about the great free gifts program that brings money into Sacramento without needing to raise anyone's taxes.
Sounds like Arnold's act is already big time enough for Washington, don't you think?
But I'm just not sure President is big enough for Arnold. It has so many restrictions. Like having to deal with Congress. Arnold won't like that at all. That whole checks and balances deal is for girly men. Who or what could possibly dream of checking or balancing Arnold? And term limits won't cut it for Arnold. Hell, he's been playing the damn terminator robot guy for twenty years now.
Nope, the more I think about it, the more I'm certain Arnold would be much happier and much more at home being King. King of the Republic of Kallyfornya with our 5th largest economy on the face of the planet, every possible resource a great country could want and of course Hollywood. Without all those red states we and Arnold could really go wild. And without paying any federal taxes to D.C. we might be able to pay off all those bonds Arnold paid for everything with. Then with the money we make from all the stem cell breakthroughs we can buy Hearst Castle for Arnold and Maria to live in and probably even pay for the giant sized crown we'd have to have made to fit Arnold's head.
You may laugh and say it sounds far fetched, but my friends I have seen it all since I became an adult and moved to Sourthern California. The unimaginable is commonplace here and more wrong something seems the more likely it is to occur. The Buddhist will be pissed... and it won't be the first time.
Friday, November 12, 2004
BAGHDAD — Iraq's media regulator warned news organizations Thursday to stick to the government line on the U.S.-led offensive in Fallouja or face legal action...First the Baghdad Times then the New York Times.
This edict could not have been more in line with Geroge Bush's media agenda. It's exactly the same policy that Fox News follows. No surprise from a guy who considers newspapers evil spreaders of terrorist propagnada.
And it won't bother folks in the red states or conservatives anywhere in the USA. Because they have no respect or love for freedom of the press.
Exactly what you'd expect from religous zealots whose faith is unquestionable because they never ask any questions about it.
One of the most basic rules of all Christian religions is - NO QUESTIONS. Accept whatever the authority figure tells you and do not show a lack of faith by having a query. The god Christians worship gave them all the answers they need in the bible.
But The Angry Buddhist says that their god has real ego problems and needs to be constantly reassured that he is the one and only true god and that no other gods come before him. His ego requires worshipping with a constant reinforcement of his greatness. It's very important to this god that you know who butters your bread.
Asking questions? Poking around the details of a story? Drilling down for the facts?
Thursday, November 11, 2004
The Meaning of Life
Why am I energized while so many others are at best demoralized and filled with dispair? Is it my furious zen nature?
No, I am amped because the persception is that the Democrats suffered such a stinging and sweeping defeat that everything is up for grabs now - which means it's suddenly within the grasp of The Angry Buddhist who is not afraid to reach for it.
With Moral Values scoring the headlines and holding the news cycle hostage since the electoral bitch slapping, the very souls of Democrats have been called into question along with our spiritual soundness - not to mention our chances in the afterlife - and The Angry Buddhist says it's about damn time we ennunciate our answers so even the most simple minded understand what we're saying.
But I submit to you that here, in the now, the real question is - What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What is our purpose? How should we be spending our time?
Gay Marriage? Abortion? Those are kid stuff. The Angry Buddhist says, let's get down to the real nitty gritty and talk about what we really stand for and why. Because without that discussion the rest is pretty damn trivial.
This is the golden opportunity - one I don't remember ever having before - and I welcome this wide open chance to help answer those questions or at the very least to ask the questions that haven't been part of the conversation before.
I've been searching for answers, reasons and direction and reading blogs, newspapers, magazines and commentaries from all around the globe. Most of what I hear on CNN, MSNBC and Fox-News is crap and just talking points propaganda with hardly anything resembling legitimate journalism or reporting from any source. But they do serve to dish up the convential wisdom from all the usual suspects.
In the blog world, Chris Bowers writes for the My DD website and he had a great post-election strategy memo about demonizing the religous right the same way the right has so successfuly demonized liberalism:
We destroy conservatism itself by defining it as being a member of the reactionary religious right. We tarnish the notion of being conservative to the entire nation. We trap all conservatism inside the reactionary right-wing ideology of the Christian Coalition with a permanent campaign that seeks to define that ideology as negative to the vast majority of the country that does not hold that ideology (it doesn't). Thus, our amalgamation of minorities will become the mainstream, while their homogenized national plurality becomes fringe.Beyond his take on strategy Chris does a great job of laying out how much easier it is for the homogenous right to stay unified and connected than it is for the patchwork quilt left, or the "everyone else" as he refers to us.
To me the issue basically comes down to calling them on their own shit. You know where I stand - that the majority of so called conservative christians don't walk the walk and don't live the life they want to dictate for everyone else. Hypo-Christs as I like to think of them. They talk a good game of values but they can't back it up. They wear their self-appointed moral superiority like American flag lapel pins.
Of course that's not going to stop them from demanding the spoils that they believe go with their victory. The infamous Bob Jones III of Bob Jones University, wrote President Bush a letter dictating his demands and direction from the Lord:
In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.But The Angry Buddhist thinks the God Squad is overplaying its hand and underestimating the power of the real god Bush and company worship - corporate money. Don't just take my word for it, check out what Frank Rich has to say in his New York Times Piece for next Sunday, On Moral Values It's Blue In A Landslide":
Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.Rich also makes some great points about who the real liberals and conservatives are.
So no one is happier than me, The Angry Buddhist, that this debate is now scheduled for prime time, because the fact is I've been bemoaning the coarsening of our culture for the last 20 years. While others give lip service to real conservative values, The Angry Buddhist lives them every single day. And it's about time I got the credit and halo for it.
It's not the Angry Buddhist or his children who are playing ultra violent and depraved video games. I've said for decades that they are breeding generations of desensitized killers. X-Box, Playstation, Nintendo? All perfect for teaching conflict resolution through total destruction of your enemies. Tell me, how those games selling in the red states?
I also don't watch the horror films and slasher movies that make death, dismemberment and disgusting acts on human beings their biggest drawing cards. How well do those movies do in the South and the Midwest states?
Rap music and the videos that go with them? I'm too conservative for that. I think they promote a thug and pimp lifestyle. I think they're too loud and too profane. Eminem seems like a foul mouth punk to me.
I think Britney Speers and her ilk are sluts and role models for hookers only. Anyone know if her stuff sells any in the red states?
I think society is generally oversexed throughout the culture. It's so pervasive kids can't escape it from television to magazines to billboards to the Internet. Tits and ass seem just as popular in middle America as they do elsewhere.
I think gambling is a blight on society and a ethically empty way to find entertainment. I think it gives false hope to the poor and elderly while taking their money with ridiculously stacked odds.
I get no joy watching the pain, discomfort or embarrassment of others - the core attractions of TVs highest rated reality shows. I don't watch them - ever. Think they get any kind of ratings in the red states?
South Park? Too offensive and stupidly juvenile for my taste. I'm no fan of bathroom humor or the scatalogical. American Pie/Wedding? Not funny to me. Call me a prude. But do tell me how popular that brand of funny is in Texas or Oklahoma or Nebraska or Wyoming.
I find movies in general less and less entertaining or creative and today's movie going experience is too rude and discourtious for my taste. 2004 is the first year I did not see a movie in the theatre. I did not miss it. Sound conservative or liberal to you? How's the movie attendence in all those morale values states? All those tickets for the "Passion of the Christ" only?
I am not now, nor have I ever been a fan of comedians who use the word "fuck" as a substitute for being funny. How totally uncool of me.
I have been married once, for the last 23 years. But I hear the divorce and infidelity rates in the red states are nothing Jesus would be happy about.
If you ask me the religious right is morally bankrupt and totally vulnerable to the tough questions that they can never answer.
Chris Bower has an excellent take on that too, "Real Conservative Values":
To all of this I say hogwash. George Bush is a self-proclaimed conservative. In this election, 84% of those people who identify as conservatives voted for George Bush, thereby endorsing his policies. I say, and my Catholic upbringing says, that your actions are your beliefs, and there is no difference between the two. Considering this, it is time to face some facts:Bower deals with the reality of what constitutes conservative values that include record deficits and unprovoked wars among other things. He may not be a Buddhist, but he is indeed angry.
There was a piece in yesterday's Los Angeles Times that asked some of those tough values questions, "Moderates, Liberals Hear Call to Morality Debate" and the most surprising part was that the questions came from so called moderate and liberal Christian religious leaders:
The Rev. Robert W. Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said the election had opened a public dialogue on the meaning of values: "Do you mean private piety, or values locked into civil unions, abortion or homosexuality? Or do you mean public values, like eliminating poverty and healing the earth and seeking nonviolence and peaceful collaboration?"But the person who made the most sense to me, and who I actually found inspirational was Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the magazine Tikkun. In his Op Ed piece from Nov 7 he wrote:
Tens of millions of Americans feel betrayed by a society that seems to place materialism and selfishness above moral values. They know that looking out for No. 1 has become the accepted wisdom of our society, but they want a life that involves more -- a framework of meaning and purpose that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them. Many of these voters have found this "politics of meaning" in the right. In the right-wing churches and synagogues, these voters are presented with a coherent world view that speaks to their needs.I urge you to read the rest of the Rabbi's piece because he is the only one talking about the Meaning of Life and man, does he get it.
Imagine a Democratic Party that could talk of a New Bottom Line, so that American institutions are judged to be efficient and productive not only to the extent that they increase financial performance, but also to the extent that they increase people's capacities to be loving and caring, ethically and ecologically sensitive, and capable of responding to the universe with awe and wonder.I submit that the whole Moral Values issue is a Trojan Horse, a red herring to cover up the immorality behind the tax cuts for the rich, destructive pork barrel breaks for the corporate kings, and the complete invisibility and deafness towards those living in poverty, and under reigns of terror from gangs and thugs.
The American way of life has become a greedy, poccession gathering treadmill of unfulfilling gestures, statements and poses. Living in fear does not give life meaning whether it be fear of terrorism or fear of hell. Living for the bling-bling gives no meaning to life either.
The Angry Buddhist knows what wise men and women before him have long understood. That the meaning of all of our lives is enhanced through the help, kindness and caring we extend to others. Knowing that I feel that assholes abound and surround us you can imagine how it pains me to admit this.
Millions of Americans live quiet lives of lonliness and desperation and yearn for something along the lines of Frank Capra's "Meet John Doe" and its John Doe clubs. They long for something that transcends all the pettiness, fear and hostility and brings people together in a sense of shared community and brotherhood. Something with the bonding power of 9-11 but without a tragedy to provoke it.
That's what The Angry Buddhist says the Democrats, liberals and progressives need to offer as the alternative to the right and the appeal their platform holds for those seeking the meaning that eludes them inside.
Monday, November 08, 2004
And So It Begins...
The time has come for the enlightened to share their wisdom.
Thus the Angry Buddhist now invites you to become part of his cybertemple of knowledge and the now.
Isn't South Central L.A. the Fallujah of America? When do the good guys storm in to save the innocent civilians? Or does the new prime minister of Iraq have to give the go ahead?