Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fear and Loathing

On Monday, September 27, 2010 the KQV, a local radio station here in Pittsburgh, conducted a listener poll which asked, "In your opinion, does the steady string of inflammatory remarks by Mamoud Ahmadinejad only further the dislike of Muslims in the western world?" 92% percent of their phone poll listeners said yes.

This question is inappropriate, because it inflames the stereotyped prejudices that Americans have against Muslims. A more appropriate question would be, "Do you equate a few crazy people like Ahmadinejad or the 9/11 bombers to the entire Muslim world?" There are 1.4 billion Muslims in this world, and most of them are just like us who want to raise their children in peace. KQV should stop playing into the race baiting and hatred. It feeds into the fears and ignorance of each side and divides the country, thereby creating a dangerous situation.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Least Among You

Republicans are now blocking the extension of unemployment benefits for workers who, through no fault of their own, have been laid off during this terrible recession. Many Republicans are proud to call themselves Christians, but are they actually Christians, not only in word, but in deed? How do we know who is truly following Jesus? Simple. Are they obeying the clear teachings of the word of God?

There are over 3000 references to the poor in the Bible.

Here is the clear message from Jesus himself, from
Matthew 7:21-23
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Then later in that same chapter, Jesus said in
Matthew 25:41-45
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'

1 John 3:17-18
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Proverbs 21:13
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 14:31
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 28:27
He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

Proverbs 31:8-9
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Republicans are also pushing for more tax cuts for the wealthy, and ending the estate tax. In that regard here is 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Republicans are also pushing for states to enact their own draconian immigration laws, superseding federal law, thereby inviting the racial profiling of aliens.

Deuteronomy 24:14
Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is a brother Israelite or an alien living in one of your towns.

This elitist attitude was summed up succinctly by the self professed “Christian,” George W. Bush:

“Thank you all very much. This is an impressive crowd-- the haves and the have-mores. (Laughter)
Some people call you the elite. I call you my base." (Laughter)

Here is a video of that event.

sndd0138 commented “look at these arrogant fucks laughing their asses off“

And websuspect responded, “Yep get a good look at it. There laughing at you SLAVES.”

This is not the behavior of true Christians.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

God - The Ultimate Socialist

He Owns Everything. You Own Nothing.

These days the word socialism has become a very controversial buzzword. Fox “News” and right wing pundits have demonized Barack Obama as a socialist in their propaganda so successfully that 55% of Americans now believe that our president is a socialist.

Obama is far from a socialist. In fact, he is a bit to the right of the Republican president Dwight Eisenhower. That shows how far the Republican party has tilted to the right, if they think Obama is a socialist. Obama has given a huge gift to the insurance and pharmaceutical companies with his health care legislation, propped up the “too big to fail” banks with his weak financial reform, cow-towed to the energy corporations with the weak energy bill now stalled in the senate, and by sending more troops to Afghanistan, he continues to feed the military industrial complex, which is exactly what Eisenhower warned about . This is not socialism. It is more like monopoly capitalism, and this is a symptom of a disease that is in it's cancer stage right now in America.

The whole idea of proprietorship was unknown to Native Americans, who didn’t believe in land ownership, because they knew that mother earth belonged to God.

Due to the current barrage of misinformation, brought on by the corporate and media monopoly interests, most people believe that they too can become rich owners, do not believe in sharing the the fruits that God has given us, and don't even understand what socialism is.

So what is it?

The dictionary definition of socialism is

“1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”

In this economic system, everything is owned by the community. I agree with this system only in the sense that since the community, we the people, and everything else that exists was created by God, therefore everything belongs to God, the father, and the community, comprised of His sons and daughters, share in the property of the father.

This philosophy has also been called “spiritual communism.” Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, amid the antiwar protests of late 1966, put out a mimeographed leaflet (among the very first of his publications in America) from his small storefront temple on New York’s Second Avenue. His followers and sympathizers handed this leaflet out by the thousands on the streets of New York in front of the United Nations building, and later in San Francisco, Montreal, and other cities. His “Peace Formula” was an entirely new approach to the antiwar question, and for thousands of Americans, it provided the perfect solution.

“The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon other’s property as though it were one’s own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is God conscious can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature and thus become happy and peaceful in the world. As a state is protected by the department of law and order, so is the state of the Universe, of which this earth is only an insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material nature is one of the different potencies of God, who is the ultimate protector of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God’s property as our own, under both and individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of foolish and so-called civilized men who are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless. You cannot be happy and peaceful in a godless civilization. Although there are many civilizations, there is only one God, although He may be called many names in different countries. In the Bhagavad-gita, the holy book of India, Lord Krishna delineates the peace formula. He says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail.”

This idea was expanded on in Prabhupada’s “Journey of Spiritual Discovery”

“Our God conscious philosophy is also a kind of spiritual communism, because we regard Krsna as the supreme father and all living entities as sons of Krsna. And Krsna says, sarva-loka-mahesvaram: He is the proprietor of all planets. Therefore whatever there is, either in the sky or in the water or on the land, it is all Krsna’s property. And because we are all sons of Krsna, every one of us has the right to use our father’s property. But we should not encroach upon others. This is the formula for peace. Everything belongs to God, and since you are sons of God, you have the right to use your father’s property. But do not take more than you need. This is punishable. If anyone takes more than he needs, then he’s a thief.

When we forget this philosophy—that Krsna is the supreme father, Krsna is the supreme proprietor, Krsna is the supreme enjoyer, and Krsna is the supreme friend of everyone—when we forget this, then we come into this material world and struggle for existence, fight with one another. This is material life.

Nor can we get any relief through our politicians, diplomats, philosophers. They have tried so much, but actually nothing they have tried has become fruitful. Take the United Nations. It was organized after the second great war, and they wanted, “We shall now settle everything peacefully.” But there is no such thing. The fighting is going on, between Pakistan and India or between Vietnam and America or this and that. Mundane politics and diplomacy and philosophy—this is not the process. The process is Krsna consciousness. Everyone has to understand this point, that we are not proprietors. The actual proprietor is Krsna. That’s a fact. Take America, for example. Say two hundred years ago, the European immigrants were not the proprietors. Somebody else was the proprietor, and before that somebody else was the proprietor, or it was vacant land. But the actual proprietor is Krsna. Artificially we are claiming, “It is my property.” This is called maya, illusion.”

This principle is taken from the first verse in one of the elementary books of Vedic philosophy, called the Sri Isopanisad.


isavasyam idam sarvam
yat kinca jagatyam jagat
tena tyaktena bhunjitha
ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam

isa- by the Lord; avasyam—controlled; idam—this; sarvam—all; yat kinca—whatever; jagatyam—within the universe; jagat—all that is animate or inanimate; tena—by Him; tyaktena—set apart quota; bhunjithah—you should accept; ma—do not; grdhah—endeavor to gain; kasya svit—of anyone else; dhanam—the wealth.


Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.


One should be intelligent enough to know that but for the Lord no one is a proprietor of anything. One should accept only those things which are set aside by the Lord as his quota. The cow, for instance, gives milk, but she does not drink that milk; she eats grass and grain, and her milk is designated as food for human beings. Such is the arrangement of the Lord, and we should be satisfied with those things which He has kindly set aside for us, and we should always consider to whom those things we possess actually belong.

A house, for instance, is made of earth, wood, stone, iron, cement and so many other material things, and if we think in terms of Sri Isopanisad, we must know that we cannot produce any of these materials ourselves. We can simply bring them together and transform them into different shapes by our labor. A laborer cannot claim to be a proprietor of a thing just because he has worked hard to manufacture it.

In modern society there is always a great quarrel between the laborers and the capitalists. This quarrel has taken an international shape, and the world is endangered. Men face one another in enmity and snarl just like cats and dogs. Sri Isopanisad cannot give advice to the cats and dogs, but it can deliver the message of Godhead to man through the bona fide acaryas (holy teachers). The human race should take the Vedic wisdom of Isopanisad and not quarrel over material possessions. One must be satisfied by whatever privileges are given to him by the mercy of the Lord. There can be no peace if the communists or capitalists or any other party claims proprietorship over the resources of nature, which are entirely the property of the Lord. The capitalists cannot curb the communists simply by political maneuvering, nor can the communists defeat the capitalists simply by fighting for stolen bread. If they do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme personality of Godhead, all the property which they claim to be their own is stolen. Consequently they will be liable to punishment by the laws of nature. Nuclear bombs are in the hands of both communists and capitalists, and if both do not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord, it is certain that these bombs will ultimately ruin both parties. Thus in order to save themselves and bring peace to the world, both parties must follow the instructions of Sri Isopanisad.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Right Wing vs. Left Wing Media

National and Local

Most of the talking heads in the media talk about it being dominated by the “left wing.” But when we look at the actual numbers, it is actually the opposite. The influence of FOX News is amplified as their antics and outrages – “birtherism,” climate change denial, baseless accusations of “socialism” or even “fascism” – are uncritically reported far and wide by the mainstream media (MSM). In addition to FOX, the airwaves are crammed solid with right-wing talk shows – about 90%, by some counts. Leading these is Rush Limbaugh, with an audience estimated from fifteen to thirty million. Rush and these other 90% would have you believe that the overwhelming majority of media has a left wing bias, but facts have never gotten in the way of their propaganda, and they have repeated it so many times that the majority of Americans believe it.

To be sure, there are many admirable broadcast voices on the left, in addition to the MSNBC team: Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman, Bill Maher, Stephanie Miller, Bill Press, Mike Papantonio, Cenk Uygur, and Randi Rhodes. But their messages are uncoordinated, dispersed, and poorly promoted. And unlike FOX and Limbaugh, etc., there is almost no corporate media amplification of progressive talk radio and cable TV. Strange to say, some of the most incisive liberal commentary seems to originate with the comedians, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.

That being said, I would like to report what is going on locally in my home town of Pittsburgh, PA. The last vestige of progressive media disappeared from this town a couple years ago when WPTT changed it’s format to exclusive financial coverage, dropping the local talk show host Lynn Cullen, and nationally syndicated Thom Hartmann.

The only thing remaining in political talk is right wing WPGB 104.7 fm. We have the regional tea party hosts Quinn and Rose, as well as nationally syndicated Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and of course, Rush Limbaugh.

Then there is the news station KQV 1410 am. Right wing millionaire Richard Mellon Scaife owns a controlling interest in that station, as well as the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. If you listen to them, they seem to be a normal news/traffic station, much like 1010 WINS from New York. In fact their programming was based on that model.

KQV has an opinion poll every day, and most of the time, the question is reasonable and relevant, although most of the time the results leave you wondering why most of the answers tend to be overwhelmingly conservative. People who have been listening to this station for years never think anything is abnormal, until one day they are shocked and outraged at a particular poll question and the number of Pittsburghers who agree. Again, it is not a scientific poll, (people can vote as many times as they want, on the phone or online).

Let me give you some examples of shocking questions and results. Just last Friday, June 18th, KQV asked, “In your opinion, did the White House ‘shakedown’ BP by urging the company to create the $20 billion compensation fund for those facing economic losses resulting from the oil spill?” Despite the outrage over Joe Barton’s “shakedown” comments, and repudiation even from his own party, two thirds (67%) of Pittsburghers agree with the congressman that we should apologize to bp, who should not pay for the damage of it’s own catastrophe, rather the taxpayers should foot the bill. This is the MO of a typical Karl Rove tactic - attack the opposition's strength, as he did against Kerry's war record in '04. After I saw this poll, I submitted a feedback thread, and stated that I thought the poll was rigged - I couldn’t believe that many Pittsburghers would vote like this, and if they did, I would move.

A few years ago, I saw another KQV poll that I found hard to believe. On April 11, 2006, the question was, “Should the U.S. consider using nuclear bombs to halt Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?” This would appear to be an Onion headline, but it wasn’t. The Onion did comment on the issue however, saying that they didn’t know if this would pass the U.N. Irony Council. My comment on this poll was published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

The mother of all poll questions was asked on March 26, 2010. This was in response to a Harris poll involving 2,320 adults who were surveyed online between March 1 and March 8 by Harris Interactive, a market research firm. Respondents were read each of 15 statements and asked whether they thought they were true or false. The sample of people was selected from among roughly 4 million people who agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys and are given "modest incentives," according to Harris. The results were then weighted to reflect the composition of the U.S. adult population.

Americans have some extreme views of President Obama, with a new controversial survey suggesting that 40 percent of adults believe he is a socialist, and about a quarter of survey participants thinking the president is a racist, anti-American and even doing things Hitler did.
The whammy: 14 percent of Americans say President Barack Obama may be the Antichrist. When split by political party, 24 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats viewed the nation's leader in this way.

KQV felt compelled to ask the same question, and the results were even more shocking. “Had you been surveyed, how would you have answered the question ‘is President Obama the Antichrist?’” On the phone poll, of 1440 responding, a whopping 70% of Pittsburghers said yes. That’s 3 times more than just the Republicans polled by Harris. Unbelievable. I voted for Obama, so this means one of two things. Either the poll is rigged, or it isn’t. If it isn’t rigged, I may have made a terrible mistake when I cast my vote, and either Obama is indeed the Anti-Christ, or Pittsburgh has way more racist whackos in it than I thought, and I need to get the hell out of town.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why are we in Afghanistan?

This is the question that plagues many American people. We supposedly went in to fight those who attacked us on 9/11. Actually, 9/11 was masterminded by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan. Should we bomb Pakistan? I guess you could say that we already are with predator drones. The plot was also hatched in Spain, by Farid Hilali, who was extradited there to face charges. Should we bomb Spain too? Obama has called Afghanistan “the good war,” because that’s where Al Qaeda was, as opposed to the bad and unpopular occupation in Iraq, that had nothing to do with 9/11. The only problem is that Al Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan, so it doesn’t make sense.

Unfortunately, Obama’s “good war” is going from bad to worse. There have been more U.S. military deaths in the last 10 months of the Afghan war than in the first five years of the conflict. More boots on the ground than in Iraq. It is the longest war in American history, and the cost of both wars is now over 1 trillion dollars. Just New York City’s share of that debt would be enough to pay for a half million school teachers for a year. Where are our priorities?

The military industrial complex has searched and searched for a way to justify and continue this debaucle. One thing they’ve come up with to continue the war are the predator drone strikes. When they use those against terrorists, they not only kill them, but they usually end up killing scores of bystanders, which the military calls collateral damage. This is a great recruiting tool for Al Qaeda, and perpetuates the war, because there will always be more terrorists to kill. So it’s a win-win situation - a win for Al Qaeda, and for the military industrial complex, because it will keep bleeding our economy to death, which is apparently what Bin Laden, and other Masters of War want. The American war mongers know that if another country, say Mexico, was concerned about our drug problem here in America, (and we have one), and they decided to help us out by taking out a drug lord in New York city with a predator drone, and in doing so, took out a few buildings and families around it, that Americans would not applaude that action as cool technology. We would declare war on Mexico. That’s one way they make sure the war on terror continues forever.

Helen Thomas recently asked Obama, “When are you going to get out of Afghanistan? Why are we continuing to kill and die there? What is the real excuse? And don’t give me this Bushism that we have to fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” Asking the “why” questions was a Thomas trademark. Many self-censoring journalists avoid controversial “why” questions, thereby allowing evasion, dissembling and just plain B.S. to dominate the White House press room. She rejected words that sugarcoated or camouflaged the grim deeds. She started with the grim deeds to expose the doubletalk and officialdom’s chronic illegalities. That is why we miss her, despite her recent gaffes.

Obama didn’t really answer her uncomfortable question.

“Why do we never get an answer
when we’re knocking at the door
with a thousand million questions
about hate and death and war?” -The Moody Blues

But never fear. The military industrial complex has ridden in on a white horse to provide a justification for this war.

Afghanistan is sitting on 1 trillion dollars worth of minerals, especially lithium, which will be needed to power our future electric cars. We’ve known about this for years, ever since the Russians reported it in the 80’s. So why come out with it now? Because we need a justification to stay in our longest war for even longer. "There is stunning potential here," the New York Times quoted Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command as saying. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant." No shit, Sherlock. Iraq has 8.5 trillion dollars worth of oil, and that was enough justification for us to invade that country. How pathetic. It’s all about the money.

It’s all about usurping God’s natural resources for our own nation’s selfish imperialistic greed. We are no better than thieves, because are claiming God’s property as our own, and killing people in other sovereign countries in the process. With this mentality, there will never be peace. As Swami Prabhupada wrote in his pamphlet entitled “The Peace Formula” that he passed out in front of the U.N. in the middle of the anti-war movement in 1966, “The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon others' property as though it were one's own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them.”

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The American Dream - Fact or Fiction?

The great American Dream first expressed by James Truslow Adams in 1931, was the idea that citizens of every rank feel that they can achieve a "better, richer, and happier life." The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The American Dream has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience, but has also been blamed for over inflated expectations.

There are a few problems with this assumption. First of all, if “all men are created equal”, then why is the American Dream exclusively American? Then there is the problem of over inflated expectations. In the late 1800’s, Horatio Alger wrote stories of fictional characters from impoverished backgrounds who, through self-reliance and hard work, were able to realize the American Dream in this land of boundless opportunity.

The idea of self-determination and rugged individualism is idealized in the Republican party. They want less government, less government regulation, and more free market economics. This is epitomized in a story floating around the internet called “A day in the Life of Joe Republican.”

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of water, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to ensure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for the laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks on the government-provided sidewalk to subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.

If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It is noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime. Joe also forgets that his in addition to his federally subsidized student loans, he attended a state funded university.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards to go along with the tax-payer funded roads.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

We are addicted to this rag-to-riches myth in this country. That is why we bought into the Reagan theory of “trickle down economics.” The idea that if the rich are allowed to make as much money as they can, some of it will trickle down on the rest of us as they steal into the night with their huge bags of cash. George H. W. Bush called this “voodoo economics.” We have seen the result of 30 years of Reaganomics - the rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer, and the middle class has all but vanished.

Although this economic theory has been proven wrong time and time again, people have been brainwashed into believing that the American Dream still can apply to them too. Most people outside of America don’t live their lives based on fairy tales. They live in reality, where there are only going to be a few rich people, and you are not going to be one of them. So get used to it.

The rich have gotten richer, and as a result, they have destroyed the American Dream and have sent the world economy into a tailspin that hasn’t been seen since the great depression. The rich, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at city gates, they have gotten a big wet kiss in the form of record tax breaks from Congress, and no one has said a word. Why? Because we’re still addicted to the Horatio Alger myth, that someday, I can make it big after all. So don’t attack the rich man, because one day that rich man may be me!

Let me burst the bubble of this myth once and for all.

The Declaration of Independence says that we are "endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." This acknowledgement of the creator’s endowment is certainly true. Not a blade of grass can move without God’s sanction. It says nothing about how each individual is self endowed with this ability.

The ancient Vedic wisdom of the Srimad-Bhagavatam clarifies this point. The 6th Canto, 12th Chapter, 13th Verse states:

“Just as a person not inclined to die must nonetheless give up his longevity, opulence, fame and everything else at the time of death, so, at the appointed time of victory, one can gain all these when the Supreme Lord awards them by His mercy.”

In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes,

“It is not good to be falsely puffed up, saying that by one’s own effort one has become opulent, learned, beautiful and so on. All such good fortune is achieved through the mercy of the Lord. From another point of view, no one wants to die, and no one wants to be poor or ugly. Therefore, why does the living entity, against his will, receive such unwanted troubles? It is due to the mercy or chastisement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that one gains or loses everything material. No one is independent; everyone is dependent on the mercy or chastisement of the Supreme Lord. There is a common saying in Bengal that the Lord has ten hands. This means that He has control everywhere—in the eight directions and up and down. If He wants to take everything away from us with His ten hands, we cannot protect anything with our two hands. Similarly, if He wants to bestow benedictions upon us with His ten hands, we cannot factually receive them all with our two hands; in other words, the benedictions exceed our ambitions. The conclusion is that even though we do not wish to be separated from our possessions, sometimes the Lord forcibly takes them from us; and sometimes He showers such benedictions upon us that we are unable to receive them all. Therefore either in opulence or in distress we are not independent; everything is dependent on the sweet will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

The American dream is a myth in as much as it is interpreted as being achieved as a result of one’s own endeavor, and that is the status quo belief. We must debunk this myth. It is only God who can give or take away the American Dream. Man proposes, and God disposes. We can work like asses for our own sense gratification, which is all taken away at the time of death, or we can serve God, for his pleasure. If we serve God, we will be given all that we require for our maintenance, but that should not be equated with the opulence given to those who have worked for their own selfish gratification. One type of work is binding (that of the karmi, or fruitive worker), another is liberating, (that of a devotee), who can use anything in the service of God, and is not entangled in the reactions of that labor. The devotee is free from karma, and will be liberated from the hard struggle for material existence, and go back to Godhead, to be in his constitutional position, as an eternal servant of God. The karmi will continue to rot in this material world, life after life. That is not the American Dream.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Memorial day is a three day holiday marking the unofficial beginning of summer that Americans celebrate by traveling and relaxing with friends and family with a cold beer at a cook-out.

Traditionally Memorial day means remembering the service and sacrifices made by our veterans.

Memorial day 2010 is marked by two milestones. The 1000th death in the longest war in American history - Afghanistan, and the combined cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now surpassing 1 trillion dollars. Suicides among soldiers is setting record highs each year, now doubling the national rate.

As we sit at our cook-outs, who among us is remembering the costs of these wars, both in flesh and blood, as well as national treasure, and what are we doing to stop this terrible loss?

Most Americans are disconnected with the wars. There is no draft, and the bill is going on the national credit card, so we don’t have to worry about anything right now. Less than 1% of us have any skin in the game. It is out of sight and out of mind.

This memorial day let’s start to think about why those thousands of young men and women lost their lives. What purpose has it served? No amount of money can bring them back. But what could we have done with the trillion dollars that has been wasted? How would you spend 1 trillion dollars? Take this questionnaire and see how much you can buy.

It is time to get out of Iraq and rethink Afghanistan, bring our troops home from all over the world, and focus on rebuilding America again. Our gulf coast is dying, hurricane season is approaching, and our roads and bridges are falling apart. Rebuild America first.

In case you missed a parade this year, here's a compilation put together by Neil Young called Flags of Freedom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Rand Paul Phenomenon

Libertarianism Run Amok - Business Trumps Government Every Time

Since “Super Tuesday,” every time Kentucky senatorial tea party nominee Rand Paul opened his mouth, he put his foot in it. Now he has decided to shut it, cancelling Meet the Press - only the third time a national figure has done so in Meet the Press’s 60 year history.

Perhaps silence is a good move for his own sake. Even the Republicans are not quick to embrace him after his victory. He’s like a live grenade. You never know when he’s going to go off.

First, he couldn’t answer Rachel Maddow’s question about whether the government should be allowed to tell private business to quit discriminating against whomever they please, in essence to go back to the bad old days of not allowing blacks at Woolworth’s lunch counters. It seems he’s quite O.K. with that, although he’s quick to point out that he’s not a racist, he’s simply against the government telling private business what to do. From my experience, whenever someone prefaces a statement with "I'm not a racist, but..." some racist shit is about to follow.

Second, he is against the fair housing act which prohibited private property owners from racial discrimination. As a child in the sixties in the Midwest, I marched with my father and father Groppi for open housing. Resistance to open housing laws was despicable in the 60s and its despicable today.

Thus far Dr. Paul has distinguished himself as being a proponent of business’s right to trample over the rights of minorities, adding that the government has no right to get in the way of business’s right to deny minorities their rights.

Third, who else besides blacks and minorities should private business be permitted to run roughshod over? Cripples? Yes, Dr. Paul is also against the Disabilities Act. He suggest that instead of providing them with an elevator, let them have a first floor office.

Finally, before cancelling his appearance on Meet the Press, Dr. Paul made the most extreme libertarian statement I’ve ever heard. He criticized the Obama administration's blaming the oil spill on BP, calling it “un-American” to attack business in that way, and justifying it by saying “accidents happen”. I guess his conclusion is that BP is not responsible, and that the taxpayers should pick up the tab. In other words foreign transnational corporations who drill in our backyard shouldn’t have to protect that backyard, and if they are negligent, or cut corners to increase profit, and then lie about the damage, it is the taxpayers who should clean it up, not the foreign corporation. Keith Olberman put it succinctly, “in essence, he endorsed an oil spill.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tea Party Denial

On Friday's front page, "Tea Party brews a 'really inspiring' day" Patty Weaver, the organizer of Pittsburgh's rally was quoted, saying that the accusation that some in a Washington demonstration had greeted African-American members of Congress with "the n-word" on the eve of passage of landmark health reform legislation was "a total lie."

Michelle Bachmann, (R-MN) was chided by Steny Hoyer for denying John Lewis' n-word experience. "I don't think there's any doubt that what John Lewis said happened and what others saw and heard happen did, in fact, happen. That's why I think the credibility of that assertion is questionable."

Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches. During the first march police attacked the peaceful demonstrators and beat Lewis mercilessly in public, leaving a fractured skull and head wounds that are still visible today. To question John Lewis's credibility in this instance is an insult, and an indication of the denial of tea party leaders.

While I support the tea party's right to free speech, they have no right to hurl racial epithets and spit on African-Americans. This is incendiary behavior, and leadership from both sides should make an effort to discourage it, rather than denying it and fanning the flames of racist extremists and militants. They do so at our peril. On April 19th, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, gun toting tea partiers will get as close as they can to Washington DC to express their outrage over health insurance reform. This is tantamount to a celebration of domestic terrorism, and leadership should stop denying this mob mentality and dial it back before it becomes even uglier.

Monday, January 11, 2010

GOP calls for Reid's head over remarks

During the '08 presidential campaign, Harry Reid described then-candidate Mr. Obama as a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect" whom many voters would embrace. In the January 11th edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reprinted an article by Ashley Powers of the LA Times entitled "GOP calls for Reid's head over remarks".

My question is, where was the GOP's outrage at Rush Limbaugh's song parody called "Barack the Magic Negro", or Glenn Beck's accusation that Obama has a "deep seated hatred for white people," then calling him a "racist"? Is there a double standard when it comes to these types of accusations? Does this simply allow Michael Steele to go out and express his righteous indignation to score political points for the GOP? Where does the media call out this kind of hypocrisy?