Sunday, August 30, 2009


Holy shit, look what Amy and I just did! Zoey! She glows, she is an angel, she is perfect. Ye Gods, I was the first one to see her face. WHAM! Instant love. I could sit and just look at that face for hours. She is like an extension of me, we just sorta fit. My heart swoons when she opens her eyes and looks at me, and gets it's ripped from my chest when she cries.

The thing is, there are things, very important things, like say food, that daddy, at least at this point, can not provide her. He can make a hell of a funny face, daddy is great for afternoon naps, and a little kidding around, but at this early stage, Zoey is totally dependent on her mom. Daddy is biologically useless, he is still figuring out his place in the delicate dance that is your brand new life. He tries hard, he always means well, but he is a mere mortal, no matter what your older brother might say, he can not karate chop a car into two pieces... yet.

But where was I, oh yes, Zoey. Should I return to the beginning? Her beginning at least? Zoey Eliza Lane was born at home at 7:50 pm on August 28, 2009. Her father (that's me!!) was the first to see her perfect little face. Her mother and I gently brought her into the world. She coughed twice, maybe spit up a bit, then took a wee nap. It is hard work being born. Zoey woke up about 10 seconds later and searched her mom's chest for boobs. Oh how she loves the boob.

Mom, baby and daddy than spent the next half hour or so in pure awe. We stared and touched, and grinned and cried. Relief would be the wrong word (although mom, I am sure felt 10 pounds, ok, 8 pounds 2 ounces, lighter), the right word would be more ecstasy or maybe bliss. Zoey's birth was exactly what he had hoped for.

Haven't you heard? Yes, we are that crazy couple that had an unassisted home birth. What, you ask. What about, this, and that, oh and this thing here? Sure, you can live in the fear of the what ifs, but we prepared ourselves as best we could for those. In the end however, we had the utmost faith in each other and in human biology. We weren't really trying to make a political statement, or be anti-establishment (oy, how many times did we hear that?), we did the research. YES it is safe (probably safer) to deliver babies at home. Again...STOP with the what ifs, we were prepared for the what ifs, we live 10 minutes from the hospital, we would not have hesitated a second if we felt that Zoey was in any sort of danger.

So there! I am as proud as I have ever been. Zoey is my greatest accomplishment. The birth was beautiful, words can not do it justice. Have you ever watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Well if you have, I am sure you remember the scene where the Grinch's heart grew 4 times... that was exactly how I felt when I saw Zoey's little head emerge. Every time I look at her I could burst. I love you Zoey Eliza, you are daddy's special little girl.


I was "introduced", you might say, to the Kennedys when I was thirteen, in 1960.

My father, who had supported Eisenhower in 1952 and Stevenson in 1956, was supporting Kennedy in the 1960 election. JFK and my dad both graduated in the Class of 1940 from Harvard. Although I was born in California, to where my father had escaped his Bostonian parents after World War II, there was a little Kennedy in both of us. I inherited mine from my dad, of course. As for him, it was impossible to grow up a middle-class Catholic in Boston without being touched by the politics - Honey Fitz, the Saltonstalls, the McCormacks, James Curley, the Cabot Lodges, the O'Neils.

My dad died in November of 1960, just days before Kennedy became president. Three years and 11 days later, Kennedy was dead. By then, Teddy Kennedy had been elected to John's Senate seat and I had been taken to Boston with my grandparents - the same people from whom my dad had fled after the war.

My father, Paul, and the Kennedys had something deep and abiding in both their souls and hearts: a sense that one's purpose was to be of service to others. Paul did that in the only way available to him, as a high school teacher (and just before he died, a college professor) dedicated to the highest level of education for all his students. He was always on the edge of trouble with his employers, because he saw and fought the evils of educational institutions' morphing into corporate training camps and statistically tracking children into segments destined to be marched into predestined careers. My dad, you see, was not a "go along, get along" sort of guy. He died, I think, of a broken heart.

My father's sudden death of a heart attack triggered a depression in me that I carry a bit even to this day. I miss him. The violence and unearthly suddenness of John Kennedy's death, when I was sixteen, in turn, triggered a month-long psychic break that nearly hospitalized me with fear and grief. It was impossible, but shattering, that two men so young and with such depth of value could just cease to exist without reason or warning.

My father and JFK did share other similarities, but dedication to helping others be the best they could be was key. My dad did that is his way, Kennedy in his. I think they both died because of that dedication. The ruling class did not much appreciate an up-start Irish Catholic rich boy challenging their power and agenda ...

I have had much in common with Ted Kennedy. I guard my anonymity carefully in these pages, but it seems appropriate to reveal that, in "real" life, I share his nickname. We also share a history of debilitating struggles with alcohol, as well as late-in-life resolution of those struggles; failed marriages ('though Kennedy's second turned out a lot better than mine); and some serious life mistakes.

But most of all, we shared a common vision - that a society which works for the happiness, safety, justice, and health of all is a society which will endure and flourish. One which does not, one which nurtures divisions, competitiveness over cooperation and consensus in social matters, and hatred, will wither and die.

Let me share one of my personal experiences with Ted Kennedy, for having worked in Massachusetts and national political settings, I had the opportunity to meet him several times:

In the late seventies, I served as a program director with a community action agency in the "war on poverty" effort, as it was being strangled by the Nixon and Carter administrations. In this position, I traveled several times to Washington in lobbying efforts to attempt to restore funds that had been stripped from pending federal budgets.

On the first trip, we were scheduled to meet with Senator Kennedy at about eleven a.m., just after he finished with a senate judiciary committee hearing.

We went to the committee room about ten o'clock to listen and wait. We noticed that Kennedy seemed saggy and pale. Sure enough, after ten minutes, two very large men approached Kennedy from the aisle and, obviously physically supporting him, escorted him from the room. A minute later, an aide informed us our meeting would be on the senate office building steps later that afternoon.

We had some lunch and kept our other appointments with George McGovern, Jacob Javitz, and others, then gathered in the appointed spot at quarter after three. At exactly three-thirty, three men, the senator and his two "assistants" strode toward us at a lively pace, Kennedy at least ten yards in the lead. He bounded up the steps with that massive grin of his and greeted us, all twenty, with a hearty "Great tuh seeyuh!". Then he shook each of our hands with a personal quip to each (mine was about our nickname) and talked to us for a solid half hour about our concerns for the budget and strategy to restore funds. He knew the issues thoroughly and pledged support. He later followed through with masterful floor moves.

During the meeting, I looked in his eyes several times. He was thoroughly stoned, undoubtedly on painkillers he took for a back injury sustained in a small plane crash several years earlier. Although I had several years of sobriety under my belt then, I felt a kinship. He was a very human individual who took his job very seriously. He carried a heavy burden with a zest that seems to have been lost to the public servants we see now in those rooms on the Hill.

Because of the myopia of the media, Ted Kennedy may be narrowly remembered: Chappaquiddick, drinking problems, womanizing and ... health care. But, know it personally or not, Kennedy was involved in every aspect of American politics. I might be dead if it were not for public funding for jobs programs, social and mental health services programs, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other programs that help people who need it, all championed by Ted Kennedy.

I do not agree with every stand he took. He voted to become involved in Afghanistan; he initially support No Child Left Behind; he was a strong friend of Zionism. So be it. There's not one woman or man on this planet with whom I totally agree. And Ted Kennedy, better than most people, knew instinctively how to deal with that.

I will miss Ted Kennedy - for his dedication and commitment; his integrity; and for all the joy and sadness that he, as a human, presented to so many millions.

Good night, Senator


[originally posted at P! ...]

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Why the presses have stopped...

Zoey Eliza Lane, she is perfect. She has also dominated my world for the last day or so. I promise to get back to writing, I even promise to write a post about the whole beautiful experience that was her home birth. But first, I am gonna hang out with her and her mom. Thank you everyone for your kind words and wonderful support. Bliss all around!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I don't much like folks in costumes

Here goes, Goddamn it, I did promise a blurb about the family outing to King's Landing. Ye gad what a crew we where. Amy 9 months pregnant, 2 days overdue. Her master plan was that, perhaps by hiking around King's Landing things might then start moving. (didn't happen) Me, 'whatever works darling' I want to meet that little bugger already. But where were we? - Yes, right, King's Landing - sorry for the diversions. The place itself was a bit of a bore. I am filling the page as best I can. Consider this report as you might processed meat, 75% filler. - Who else? Are you keeping up? Somebody do a head count. - Amy, ready to pop. Me ready for her to pop. The two children aged 10 and 6, who just wanted some pop. Gramps, or pops, I suppose to Amy and Erin. Erin, aunt, sister, daughter, who constantly drank diet pop. -pop goes the weasel- Head count? - If you said 4 adults and 2 and a 9/10ths children, you have been paying better attention than me. More filler, hell, we haven't even entered the village yet. - Oh and no Zach ( the 6 year old) we aren't going in to the gift shop yet. I am bored, he screams. Just wait buddy, it gets worse.

To be fair, the folks at King's Landing do a very good job maintaining and conveying an early 1800s Maritime village. The employees do a fine job staying in character... try as I might to trip up some of the younger villagers, they wouldn't bite. Maybe that is what bothered me about the place. I felt like I was wandering around a set on a huge stage. These villagers weren't real people, they were characters, they were playing a role, they had their spiel, and damn it they were gonna make you listen to it. I hate being lectured and lied to, even if it's for the sake of art and history. - But wait there is more, I think that my life long fear of people in costumes overwhelmed me. I dislike interacting with fictional characters, whether it be Santa Claus, a life sized Mickey Mouse, a Hostess Munchie or an historical town villager. It freaks me out.

Would I recommend a family trip to King's Landing? Of course. It is a neat little spot. The kids liked it. The adults, at least the ones that aren't as socially awkward as I, loved gabbing with the villagers. Go, have fun, but leave the neurotic writer type at home, all he is gonna do is bitch and moan. The bastard.

On special assignment

I will be spending much of the day at King's Landing (link) a historic village. A place trapped in time. I will take pictures, I will try and figure out the riddle as to why the rest of the world moved forward, but this wee little village just stopped. Something tells me the answer to that riddle has a lot to do with the perfecting of the gift shop. More later...

Dog Days and Grade School (The Heisenberg/Hunter Uncertainty Principle)

TORONTO – I was just sitting here listening to Verdi’s Rigoletto - Questo A Quella, when it suddenly dawned on me that summer is almost over. Soon the little rug-rats will be off to school again, pissing and moaning about homework, and clogging up the public transit system with their particular brand of insanity.

Lucky little bastards.

I never would have admitted it at the time, but sitting on my ass all day scribbling 2+2 is 4 in a notebook and making google eyes at the girl next to me seems like a pretty good deal right now. A PB & J sandwich and milk for lunch, a quick game of “Murder Ball” (Dodge Ball to all you Americano’s out there) and the day is complete. No worries, no fucking bills, nothing; except the occasional dust up with a monosyllabic troglodyte bully, or not getting to the bathroom on time and shitting your pants in school. But these are minor trifles compared to what we deal with in the adult world. Admit it, who REALLY gives a shit about you at work? Sure people are nice, but deep down they hardly tolerate your very existence. They got their own shit to deal with. There was nothing like grade school; it was a smelly three ring circus. Have you been to a grade school lately? It’s where they herd the little tykes through hallways that smell like Plasticine and unwashed humanity.

God how I miss that.

Fall, 1984, St. Dorothy’s Elementary, eighth grade, Toronto; It’s my first day at this new school. It’s an old place, built in the early sixties, and cramped as hell. The halls smell alternately like Hubba Bubba bubble gum (before the Gum Prohibition) and melted pencil erasers. Its lunch time and they have herded us into this squashed little room to eat since this place has no cafeteria. There’s twelve feet of snow outside, but you can’t see it because this particular room has no windows. My buddy Sal sits beside me, chomping on a Salami and cheese sandwich. The stuff smells like shit, but I don’t care because Cathy Stewart just walked in to the room. She’s a cute girl, despite being crossed-eyed.

There’s a record player in the room with a Beatles 45 on it, Revolution, (B-side to Hey Jude for all you Beatle nuts) that this Idiot Mike discovers has a John Lennon scream on it, so he plays it over and over, scratching the disc as he lifts the needle to replay the scream again. The fourth time he does this he is serenaded with a chorus of “Yeaaaeaaeaaarghs” in a pale attempt to reproduce Lennon’s throat-tearing yodel. I’m trying to eat my fucking lunch and Sal is belching Salami particles at me; so all in all, a good afternoon of chaos and hilarity ensues.

They kick us outside, despite the sub-atomic temperatures; what to do? A snow-ball fight erupts in which there are not actually snow-balls but chunks of ice the size of the Larson-B Ice-shelf being hurled at my forehead. Good thing I’m quick, but Sal, being quite slothful and dim-witted, manages to get one right in the noggin. We all get in deep shit, and are all herded back inside the stuffy and musty catacombs of St. Dorothy’s halls.

Back in those days Toronto had an exceptionally large population of kids; we were the children of the Boomer generation, 65 million of them, and there were a lot of us; the schools were crowded. I mean I’m talking CROWDED. St. Dorothy’s was no different; it was like a mini-Calcutta. Result: We were crammed into small rooms a lot. We were not unlike hobos jammed into box-cars. The result was hallway-chaos; kids screaming, teachers yelling; complete madness. Even as a kid in the Eighth grade I pondered the wisdom of squeezing so many children into these tiny halls and the future implications that would be visited upon us. Sal would usually tackle me at moments like that, shattering my chain of thought, and causing me to stop all such pondering: a head-lock and a noogie in a teeming diaspora of unwashed eight graders will do that to a fellow.

The library after lunch; it’s Friday, and they don’t know what to do with us, so they pile us in to watch a movie, “Freaky Friday” with Jodie Foster or something. There aren’t enough seats, so we scatter, strewning ourselves across the floor like mud-caked hippies at Woodstock. I sit on the floor next to Laurie, who has blue eyes, dark hair and a smattering of freckles across her pale cheeks. Bonus; she smells like strawberry bubble-gum and dove soap. I am entranced. Most of my (male) compatriots haven’t learned to use soap yet, so I sit close to her through the movie. It’s dark and warm in here; the film projector is chittering quietly. Most of us fall asleep.

This is how I remember school.

Nowadays, such reverence is rare. The workplace is populated with dour-faced middle-aged people with far too many problems and not enough time for anything resembling fun, let alone making new friends. I miss guys like Sal, who, despite the constant Salami-like waft emanating from him and his large frame was always there to give me a big fat smile and a hello. I didn’t think much of him then, but I miss him like hell now.

That’s my story Mac. So tell your kids to enjoy their time in school, that someday they’ll be shoved out into the cold reality of life burdened with back-breaking debts and perhaps an ex-wife who’s taken him to the cleaners. He might even get jacked by the IRS.

And when they meet a guy like Sal, don’t shun him because he smells different. Be his friend.

Post-script: I’d like to hear any memories of school you have, and share them with us. Take care.

David Hunter

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Biometrics in middleschools, huh?

September is fast approaching. Hurray, says those of use that have children of school age. A huzzah for the teachers who for the next 9 months will act as sitters for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. Thank you for the reprieve, we appreciate it, really we do.

But enough of all that, what's all this about biometrics?

Let me first set the story up for you. Sometime late in the school year, my kids brought home a notice to parents explaining that because of budget shortfalls, the school board was cutting bus service for those students living within a 1.3 km radius of the school. Ouch, we live within that radius, ugh, our children are 6 and 10, fuck, we have to figure out how/who are we going to walk these guys back and forth to school 5 days a week. Needless to say we and some of the other parents in and around that magic 1.3 km radius are kinda cheesed at the whole idea. Classy how they slipped the notice in late in the school year, allowing for basically no debate, or discussion. What can we do? A few brave parents did their best to fight it, they formed a mini grassroots movement. There were lawn signs made, the odd heated discussion at wading pools, or while drinking iced tea in kitchens. No one listened, there aren't enough of us to make a stink. Sad really.

The summer rolled on as it does. We as parents had finally come to terms with the fact that we had to trudge our children up and down the hill, come sun, rain, sleet, or snow. OK, we might get the odd snow day off. The battle was lost, bureaucracy wins again, just think of the exercise.

The BIOMETRICS, ye Gods man!

Right, right, biometrics. So ya, my partner was at the pool (where most of the summer's great discussions take place) and she was talking to another parent. That parent brought up the fact that all the other cuts that the school board had purposed had been rescinded except of course for our bus route... did we make too much of a stink? Are we on their naughty list? I dunno? But wait, here is where the biometrics comes in. After listing off all the things the school decided to again fund (aside from our bus route, the bastards!) this parent mentioned that the school board was spending a bunch of new money completing a new middle school, and get this, the cafeteria at this school will be fitted with a biometric thumbprint system. Huh? Wait a minute, what, why? My inner Orwell just about putzed. (link)

The idea, as far as I can tell, and I apologize for the rather weak news link provided, is to have a moneyless, and therefore safer, more efficient cafeteria. So fingerprinting and systematizing kids is cool, but offering them basic transportation back and forth to school is not? Oh, I am sure that the fine folks at the school board will all but guarantee that there is nothing at all sinister about the idea of thumbprinting each and every student in their brand new multi-million dollar school. It's the future, you sir look liberal minded, what then is your problem? My problem is this, it's FUCKING BIOMETRICS, these kids aren't criminals, they are going to school, not trying to go through customs. I do not want my kids prints on file as soon as they enter grade 6. If the school asks, I will refuse, if they refuse my money in their fancy smancy cafeteria of the future, my kids will brown bag it. Yes, I would rather hear them complain, then risk adding them to the biometric list of some unknown lunch lady new world order.

Thoughts while doing the dishes

Should I make another pot of coffee?

When are the children going to burst through the door?

Any second now, I bet. Oh, and an of course, to the coffee.

What's with the celebrity deaths lately? Does the swine flu hit harder, those with an inflated sense of self worth?

Why Are people Twittering on about Aaliyah? Really, and I mean no offense, but the most socially significant thing, that poor little thing did was die too young. And it's been what, 9 years already? It's time to move on from all the death, dear pop addicts, there are still many, many semi-talent pop boys and girls on which you can obsess.

Coffee is brewing.

Curse the cat and its incessant meowing. Its feed, its watered, bugger off.

When is this baby coming? Yesterday was the due date. I am as ready as I will ever be. I wanna meet the little bugger, get a running start at becoming the root cause of all its neurosis.

God I hate cleaning pans with fried on scrambled eggs. Much elbow grease, and cursing.

Coffee is ready, back I go to the sink.

Coffee is weaker than I like. Shit, you'd think I'd have the machine sorted out by now. Distracted, but by what?

An open ended blog post perhaps? I dunno? This assignment seemed sketchy from the start. Who the hell cares about the musings of a man doing the dishes?

Oh right, the dishes. Whoops.

A pox to eggs, scrambled or otherwise. Oh and the chicken, to hell with them too. Mumble, mumble, curse and scrub.

Nearly done. Starting to wonder if there was a point to any of this? But why be a slave to form, or structure, why produce the expected? Is it so odd to opine while washing the dishes? If so, a pox on you too.

Quick good nights and thank yous

Wow, big fricking day for guest writers. Huge thank yous going out to ddjango, I am still not sure if he wants to stick with the fancy one word name, but to call him Pat just doesn't seem right. And to Derek or Ndege (Oi, has social media reduced us to this?). I feel blessed that there are gifted folks out there who are willing to share. That there is the goal. Thanks chaps for allowing it to happen. Good night world, the news desk is now closed.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Taking a Stand

By Derek H. Frey

When even the most fantastic lies about Barack Obama’s healthcare reform don’t rock people sufficiently anymore – or when rumours about his Muslim roots or continued forgeries of his alleged Kenyan birth certificate don’t stir the pot like they once did – the last resort left to his opponents appears to be to aim their squeamishness about Obama being the President at… his penis.

As historians who specialize in animosity between the races have pointed out in numerous papers, the members of members of the darker races were always a centre of attention – and suspicion. Supposedly, because they are assumed to be huskier, more impressive, and more productive. In other words, it is hypothesized that from the moment it entered the white world, the black penis was treated as a threat. To the white penises. And the men attached to them.

In fact, some of said historians have suggested that darker penises are a real, albeit subconscious, basis of all "white" racism. –– A tempting speculation, isn’t it? Given that also white men, being men just like any other men, define themselves – and their worth – a good bit based on their good bits.

Come on, we all know it is so: From an early age on, most men look at each other covertly, measure each other up as it were, trying to determine who amongst them is the most viril, the most strong – who among them is the alpha male. In that respect, size is a good indicator. In fact, often it is the only indicator tangible. Oh yes, it matters.

Be it fundamentally justified or not, deep down most men take it as fact that the one with the biggest one will get the best ones – women that is. Therefore, to imagine that a group of men reportedly being above their “white” average in that certain respect certainly demands respect – and some action. Lest, as the saying goes, their women go black. And never come back.

Let’s be compassionate! What are these poor lads to do, really? – Feeling as most men do that their prospective women-folk will only come to them if they are sufficiently equipped to satisfy their demands (and desires, it is assumed) for manly protection, virility, and steadfastness. Isn’t it understandable, thus, that they give it all their best to fight, suffer, and work, and that they are, in a metaphorical sense at least, hard on themselves for being the best man?

Fighting for survival, men have forever done everything to get their girl, and to keep it. Competitors with more to offer have always given them the willies and reduced their options considerably, at least in their perception. In fact, in this equation of evolutionary contest, the only way to fight a big penis would be with a bigger one. Which is harder then it seems. Because despite all those (rather recent) offers of enlargements available, most penises, I mean most men, will have to live with what they have for as long as they can hang in there.

So, to some, the best offence in that sense may be defence – and to get those dark-skinned Tom, Harry, and their dicks out of the way so they may never present themselves as the insurmountable object they are feared to be. Let’s bond, bind, and belittle the competition – it! – beforehand. Let’s talk him down, the black man (and by way of association, his penis too). Let’s withhold membership to the club from him. Let’s send him into the fields, the streets, the alleys, let’s discard him to the realm of dark fantasies of dirty animality and dreaded disease.

Therefore, at this stage, to talk about Barack’s penis may be the only option certain members of society have to hold on to; guided by primal instincts, primal fear may be all they have left. Their brains, that much seems clear from all their previous attempts to deal with the competition, are too limp to take a stand.

August, 24th, 2009 –– © by Derek H. Frey


If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation, and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. ~ Dwight Eisenhower

We're back to school. This semester is going to be a long one. The mid-terms are in fourteen months, on November 2, 2010; the finals are in thirty-eight months. The mid-term exam counts for 70% of the final grade. If you ain't got it by then, you don't have a chance with the final exam in the Fall of 2012 ...

In 2010, all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives are up for sale; the Senate is raffling off 38 desks. I would imagine that most of those seats, however, are already spoken for, in spite of the rantings and ravings of disaffected "progressives", libertarians, and frothing remnants of the repugnant party. The Greens? Well, you know. For what it's worth, my bet is that Republicans, if only by default, are gonna gain some seats. Apostate dumbocrats just don't have anywhere to go.

The last semester was short, but all of us, I hope, studied hard and learned a lot. We learned that presidents are appointed, not elected, by corporate media propagandists funded by elitist power brokers. We learned that "hope" and "change" don't feed the bulldog. We learned that we have to ask very specific questions, then doubt the veracity of the responses. We learned to follow the money - because we've been fleeced of most all of it, then it was laundered, and reinvested in programs and policies designed to suck every last vestige of freedom, independence, and dignity from us.

We learned that people don't change systems - systems change them. The case study on this one was imagining that Wowie Howie Dean would "transform" the Democratic Party into a responsive, populist champion of the politically disenfranchised that would get us out of useless wars, engender government transparency, turn the economy around, restore the Constitution, and, in short, stop lying. Thanks for playing. Next?

Let me tell you exactly what the mid-term exams will be about. There's just one question: "Will the American people continue to play ring-around-the-party, splashing in the fouled waters of Denial River, hoping to effectively replace a few fornicators and con artists with new souls clean as the driven snow or will they rise up to create a populist movement to completely overhaul a failed system? Discuss."

Here is what the mid-term will not be about: gay rights, women's rights, animal rights; legalizing marijuana; taxes; health care "reform"; guns; swine flu; climate change.

The mid-term won't be about war, as Stephen Sniegoski, writing for infowars, points out:

It appears that most liberal opponents of the wars in the Middle East/ Central Asia have ceased their opposition with the Obama presidency. The liberal Democrats who abhorred Bush’s war policy (and most grass roots liberal Democrats did vehemently oppose the Bush war policy although this was not always the case with liberal politicians and media figures) apparently were simply opposed to wars led by Republicans ...

... Obama can say such things as the war in Afghanistan is “fundamental to the defense of our people” and not be savaged by the former critics of the war. This is not to say that the former anti-war people have become cheerleaders for war. Rather, they have become largely indifferent to it. Their attention has been largely diverted to the health care issue, the economy, the environment, or some other liberal cause ...

The mid-term won't even be about the economy as such. All of these issues are important, of course. But what most folks seem still unable to grasp is that the mid-term will be about all these issues as mere subsets of the bigger issue of whether we will take back control of our very lives.

In a way, the mid-term will be about the "new world order". Not about whether it will occur - because it already is here - but about who will be in charge of it and us. It will be about democracy and capitalism, about society and anarchy, about freedom and slavery.

Of all people, Larry Flynt, writing at HuffPo, has it right:
The American government -- which we once called our government -- has been taken over by Wall Street, the mega-corporations and the super-rich. They are the ones who decide our fate. It is this group of powerful elites, the people President Franklin D. Roosevelt called "economic royalists," who choose our elected officials -- indeed, our very form of government. Both Democrats and Republicans dance to the tune of their corporate masters. In America, corporations do not control the government. In America, corporations are the government.

This was never more obvious than with the Wall Street bailout, whereby the very corporations that caused the collapse of our economy were rewarded with taxpayer dollars. So arrogant, so smug were they that, without a moment's hesitation, they took our money -- yours and mine -- to pay their executives multimillion-dollar bonuses, something they continue doing to this very day. They have no shame. They don't care what you and I think about them. Henry Kissinger refers to us as "useless eaters." ...

The reason Wall Street was able to game the system the way it did -- knowing that they would become rich at the expense of the American people (oh, yes, they most certainly knew that) -- was because the financial elite had bribed our legislators to roll back the protections enacted after the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Congress gutted the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial lending banks from investment banks, and passed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed for self-regulation with no oversight. The Securities and Exchange Commission subsequently revised its rules to allow for even less oversight -- and we've all seen how well that worked out. To date, no serious legislation has been offered by the Obama administration to correct these problems ...

I'm calling for a national strike, one designed to close the country down for a day. The intent? Real campaign-finance reform and strong restrictions on lobbying. Because nothing will change until we take corporate money out of politics. Nothing will improve until our politicians are once again answerable to their constituents, not the rich and powerful.

Let's set a date. No one goes to work. No one buys anything. And if that isn't effective -- if the politicians ignore us -- we do it again. And again. And again.

The real war is not between the left and the right. It is between the average American and the ruling class. If we come together on this single issue, everything else will resolve itself. It's time we took back our government from those who would make us their slaves.
I must admit that Mr Flynt is the last person I ever imagined I would quote in these pages. Heh.

I like the notion of a general strike. But it would be just a start. The changes we need - in order to simply survive - will certainly not be won with assault rifles, or mobs, or street demos. It will take more than that to reclaim our bodies and souls from the rich and powerful ruling class. We cannot beat them on their turf.

We have to stake out our own battlefield and make up our own rules. We have to frame the debate. We have to decide the issues. We have to control the game. We cannot beat them with money or violence or anarchy. We can't beat them with better propaganda or political savvy.

We can win, though ... if we drop the factional posturing and rhetoric of "left" and "right", "socialism" and "fascism", "Democrat" and "Republican". It's all a carefully and cynically orchestrated shell game. We must fully reject politics as usual and find a way to meet on common ground and throw out the establishment - completely.

Study for the mid-term, please. Vow to actually learn something. Flunk the mid-term and the finals won't matter.

Categories: , , , , , ,

[originally published at P!]

A coupla quick hits.

Bernie Madoff, is he dieing of cancer?

The Globe and Mail (link) is reporting that Bernie Madoff has been telling his fellow inmates that he has cancer and is not far from death. My first response: damn, right after he signed that lucrative 150 year contact, way to let down fans down Bernie, geesh. Oh, should I be more sensitive? Really?

Oh and to the Birthers

I could stomach your neurotic obsession with the President's Birth Certificate. But what's this I hear that now you wanna take a look at his penis (link)? You are a sick, twisted and vile lot. However, I bet that if you wine and dine the 42nd President he might willing show you the goods. Sorry Bill, but some of your actions in the Oval Office are the perfect punchline. God love ya.

One Tough Old Bird

A cool little story by the BBC with film of Fidel Castro where he appears to be 'fit' and healthy. (link)

Castro will always be a cool fella in my books. He has his warts, as many of the greats do, but hot damn he sure faced some mean, tough opponents. The fight was unfair from the start. Somehow, magically, he has lasted this long. He is one of the great anti-heroes, the bad guy you couldn't help but cheer for. A hat tip to Fidel Castro.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back from assignment

I will have you know that the woods are in fine form. Insects, small hairy critters and trees abound. It even seems less humid; that, though, might just be because of the foreign sensations of peace and quiet. Nothing seems as oppressive (as long as there are enough provisions) while amongst the trees.

But that is not the story. What was the point of this assignment, other then a few beers and good conversation with friends? Like the peace and the quiet, beer and time for good company, are commodities that have become harder and harder to come by. The children were away so the parents went out and played. This new one (haven't you heard?), is going to change all that for a couple or so years. Samuel or Zoey, (no we aren't sure if it is a boy or a girl) is going to be a permanent appendage for awhile, things are gonna change, and fast. Am I ready? Of course not, am I ever ready for anything? Nope.

But forget all that. Babies aren't the point of this piece. Or are they? Isn't everything one big barn dance with the chance of copulation? Boys leaning on one wall, girls giggling from across the room. Music blasting, drinks consumed, courage amassed, then lost, then found again. Awkward first moments, sweats and stutters. The first hand hold, the first kiss, etc, etc, bees, birds, then babies, a stork here or there.

There find theme or meaning in this post. I dare you.

The News Desk is open.

Blast away!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The News Desk is closed...

for the next 17 hours or so. I have an assignment in the woods. Provisions to be purchased. Until then. Peace.

The Pumpkin Papers

“A Googling of Obscurities”

By David Hunter

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." ~ George W. Bush

TORONTO -- It is indeed an honor to have the inaugural guest blog here on The National Affairs Desk, or the NAD, for those of you who are into the whole brevity thing. I’m hoping now that I’ve gotten the first few tentative sentences out of the way that this drink teetering in my hand will loosen my tongue, and a point will become a little more evident. Until then I guess I’ll ramble.

The National Affairs Desk is the brainchild of one Joseph Lane who I’ve never met in person, but who trusted me to write this post in his stead. It is an honor, of course. I’m not above (or below) helping someone out, especially if it’s for a noble cause, but it would help if I knew what the hell was going on around here. That’s where you, dear reader, come in to the picture; we need you to argue, scream, yell, rant, and even bark obscenities at us. This way we can codify an ethos here at the NAD, and be better equipped to verbally spank you back in the future. Until then we remain at your mercy, so be kind. I suppose we’ll just have to take our lumps, whatever those lumps may be.

Joseph has professed a love of Hunter S. Thompson, and has adopted the credo “the only good rule is no rule” much in the same vein as my literary hero Edward Abbey; writer, author, self-professed elitist and naturalist whose last wish was to be buried in the desert, in complete disregard for all state and federal burial laws so the buzzards could eat his bones. Quite a set of heroes we’ve adopted, Joseph and I. Ed was an Iconoclast of the first order, and so was Hunter. You could say Joe and I are two peas in a pod as well; we’ll definitely learn something from each other before it’s all said and done. Until then I suspect we’ll fight and fuss, which is only natural between two kindred spirits. As for no rules, I kind of like that; I don’t often truck with rules. It makes the world, and The National Affairs Desk, a much more interesting place to be.

So here is a run-down of stuff floating around in my transom; I won’t rant about the state of health-care (which sometimes can double as an oxymoron) but I will say this; in Canada, if you need it it’s there, but a better tact would be this: don’t get sick, it’s not healthy for you. Politics? Ugh. Politicians? Double ugh; although I did have a love/hate on for Pierre Elliot Trudeau, even though I was too young to understand him or his ways. I still don’t. I can only tell you that a lot of old-timers around here are polarized by him. Half loved him because he stuck his middle finger up to the Canadian terrorist sect the FLQ, or Front de Liberation du Quebec, the other half hate him because he let too many immigrants into Canada. Some feel both ways. I just liked him because he did a pirouette behind the queen of England, and he could string a few well spoken sentences together, plus he did a decent job of not embarrassing us, y’know? Actually being a statesman for our country. Plus Nixon called him an arrogant son-of-a bitch on the Watergate tapes, which makes him a hero in my eyes. Another thing, pop culture; I am a pop culture junkie, old movies, TV shows, writers; if it’s safely dead and obscure chances are I will embrace it. No gossip, no paparazzi-like activity, nothing of the sort. You may have to do some Googling of obscurities while reading any of my posts, which may not be such a bad thing. We may learn something before it’s done.

Well, I hope our supreme commandant Joseph Lane finds this post all good and well, he is a good man, and a talented individual, so I will try my best not to embarrass him, or Canada, or myself.

I pirouette behind you sir!

David Hunter

Note: To all our cousins below the border, I’d like some American thoughts about Canada, if you have any. Take care, and may the good news be yours… (See? Les Nessman. Google it!)

Yes, no. Black, white. Huh?

So I skim through the news as I do. I am a journalist, it's my job don't cha know? I muddle through the muck, the lies, the bright lights of the sexy stories du jour, and every now and then I find something that punches me in the gut. That makes me either shake my head with a 'what?' or makes me raise my fist in a 'bull shit!'. It is these stories that I have decided need to be pulled apart, and dissected like a frog in a high school biology lap. The cancer that are the lies, ideological biases, or just the over-emphasis on that which may be the sexy, controversial bit, yet do nothing but stand in the way of the truth, are to be surgically removed. Truth? Ya I know, I don't believe any of it in the first place. How about truth as I see it, which could look like complete bullshit to everyone else?

What got me today, was not a story, but a poll which was an appendage to a story. (read this) It is not even so much the results that bother me with this poll (I always seem to vote with the minority, funny that), but that this poll only allows immigration to be viewed in two lights: 1. The republic way (USA, France)/melting pot, where yes immigration is permitted, but when the immigrant becomes a citizen, as soon as the last bit of paperwork is dotted and signed, culture be damned you are one of us now. Or 2. Respect for the cultural diversity of the immigrant (Canada? I thought, but where have all the Trudeauites gone?), where immigration is promoted and citizenship granted, but cultural diversity is allowed, if not celebrated.

This is my problem. It's the duality of the whole thing. It's the yes or no, the black or white or shudder, the us versus them.

You will be either an abiding citizen, or an immigrant living in my country. That, or you are both a citizen with all it's rights and privileges and thus encouraged to express the traditions of your culture (sounds utopic, that would explain the 19% in the poll). The first option is too cold, the second too saccharine. There has to be a third option, or a fourth, even a fifth. Sure it isn't an easy question, but the answer is more all the above, than true or false. We are forever building walls in order that they are there to tear down in the future. The circle of life?

Hurricanes, Tropical Storms and Tornadoes oh my...

First things first, be safe dear friends. Second thing, have fun, take pictures, take it in.

It is that time of the year citizens. Mother Nature has decided to let summer tussle with fall, the battle early on, tends to be epic. High humidity, loud booming thunder, bright crashes of lightening, barn lifting twisters, tree hurling hurricanes, guitar solos, sex, drugs and yes rock and roll.

Hide in the basement if you must, but film everything. There is no better action than the action that Mother Nature and her minions can conjure up. BANG, CRASH, WHOSH, weeeeeee!

ps ~ No sign of my friend David Hunter. Contact was made last night, so yes he survived the tornadoes that ripped through Southern Ontario. I can only assume that the post he is writing will be nothing short of epic. Whoops, I hope I didn't scare him away.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Tonight's Special Guest???

A huge part of the premise for this blog was that it was to be open to everyone, a place with no rules. I want people to freely participate. So hurray, yippee, I am excited to announce that my good friend David Hunter, if you are a member of the Twitterati @TheWritersDen, his fine blog (link), might contribute a post tonight. Fingers crossed, stay tuned.

Basic Human Empathy

I have been kicking the around the idea of writing a health care post for a couple of days. Wondering how, if not why I should cover it. Should I write a comprehensive, stat heavy opus that lays out the for and against evidence in support of both the public and the private systems? How many of those pieces have already been written, and read? Oh and really, why should I give a shit about how my American cousins go about caring for their own? Really? Then it hit me. It's empathy, I want those same American cousins to not have to worry about anything when they are sick or injured other than receiving adequate medical attention. It all amounts to basic human empathy. We have to take care of each other, if not then yes, we are really all in this thing alone, every man for themselves. Yikes! I see it like this: If your friend or even a stranger has fallen and scraped their knee, or twisted an ankle, would you demand they give you a $100 before you help pick them up? I wouldn't, but maybe that's just me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A grinning Nilhilist

Another vocabulary listen. They will stop, I promise.

Nihilism (from the Latin nihil, nothing) is the philosophical doctrine suggesting that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. (link)

Grin, to smile broadly, often baring the teeth, as in amusement, glee, embarrassment, or other strong emotion. (link)

I have been describing myself as a grinning Nihilist lately. Others have called me a Socialist, a leftest, a liberal, a pinko, a Communist et al, and etc. I thought I might need something to counteract those slurs. Not that being a Socialist, a leftest, a liberal, a pinko, or even a Communist are terms that bother or insult me. I just hate being pigeonholed. Oh and yes I like to make folks, go huh, hmm, what, then Google.

Here is the thing. I don't really subscribe to any organized form of thought. I tend to distrust most human institutions. I am not an anarchist, I believe the human herd needs some sort of wrangling, but I am not convinced that one form of government has any more merit than any other. Sure, I could do all the research in the world, I could produce stat after stat that would make say Capitalism look far superior (mathematically) than Communism. I would be hard pressed to do so under a moral or even metaphysical microscope, so there. See is it not all bollocks?

What do I think, what do I believe? Nothing? Not exactly. I believe in the things I can see, hear, taste or touch. I believe in the infinite beauty that is Mother Earth. I believe in art as an expression of the fuzzy spiritual. That is the grinning bit. The Nihilist in me refers to a pessimism towards human concepts. For example, I do not believe in God, and I abhor organized religion. Religion is a system of human control that thrives because humans want the easy answer to the question 'why?'. Politics is a similar racket, one simply replaces the spiritual with the metaphysical. Voila a shiny new way to keep the masses in shackles.

But I am not defeatist, I do not think we are trapped in an all-consuming black hole of meaninglessness. My feeling is that, sure we have no idea why or how we are here, but Goddamn it we might as well enjoy the fact that we are. Like children set free in a candy store, take it all in, consume as much as you can, PARTY your ass off.

~We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different~
~ Kurt Vonnegut

One quick thing...

Hunter S. Thompson fans out there might notice that the title of this blog is a direct reference to HST's National Affairs Desk. I choose the title with great respect and love for the man and his work. He is a hero of mine. Much of the inspiration for this blog belongs to him. If it looks like I am trying to steal some of his legend, I could only wish.

~There was no time for scholarly details, and, besides, I have always believed that a man can fairly be judged by the standards and taste of his choices in matters of high-level plagiarism. ~

Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The misuse of words and ideas

... in a last ditch effort to save face in an argument.

First some truth from Barney Frank:

Now a vocabulary lesson:

Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, public or common worker (through cooperatives) ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation. (Link)

Communism (from Latin: communis = "common") is a family of economic and political ideas and social movements related to the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, or stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general, as well as the name given to such a society. (Link)

Nazism, National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), refers to the ideology and practices of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party or NSDAP under Adolf Hitler, and the policies adopted by the dictatorial government of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945.

Nazism is often considered by scholars to be a form of fascism. While it incorporated elements from both left and right-wing politics, the Nazis formed most of their alliances on the right. (Link)

Fascism, comprises a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology and a corporatist economic ideology.

Fascists believe that nations and/or races are in perpetual conflict whereby only the strong can survive by being healthy, vital, and by asserting themselves in conflict against the weak. (Link)

Democracy can denote either the power or complete rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía (info)), "popular government", which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos), "people" and κράτος (krátos), "rule, strength" in the middle of the fifth-fourth century BC to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens following a popular uprising in 508 BC. (Link)

Capitalism typically refers to an economic and social system in which the means of production (also known as capital) are privately controlled; labor, goods and capital are traded in a market; profits are distributed to owners or invested in new technologies and industries; and wages are paid to labor. (Link)

There, I suggest that before freely slinging 'insults' like Commie, Nazi, Pinko Socialist, or Capitalist Pig, that you first know what the systems behind those 'insults' mean. That is all I ask. Seems fair enough, right?

For the love of Twitter

Ok I will admit it, I am shamelessly addicted to Twitter. I love making smartass remarks in 140 characters or less, then waiting for the world to ignore or respond to me. But Twitter is more than just that. Twitter has introduced me to some amazing people. Guys like David Hunter, aka @theWritersDen or Nickolas Furr aka @nickolaswriter to name but only two. Twitter I dare say has given me the confidence to put my words and thoughts out there. So there, a brief thank you to Twitter, and more importantly to all my dear friends on Twitter whom have shown such wonderful support.

Now fuck off and start arguing.

Like a coffee house for the perpetually pissed off...

I want folks to yell at me. Tell me I am wrong, that I don't get it. They can even try insult me, question my intelligence, my patriotism (warning I am Canadian, isn't as big an insult), my overall sanity. But be warned, I am going to fire back. The goal, if not to simply talk in circles, which it might be, but maybe focus on an idea or event and beat the crap out of it from every direction. Shake the shit, the lies, and the neurotic emotional attachments out of it... maybe then the truth will be known. A romantic notion? Perhaps, but lets debate it!

Ready, Set, Go!!!

We have lift off. I had an idea (yes I was on the toilet, where else?), I thought it would be cool to be part of a place where people of all political, or social ilk could meet up and rant, rave, tease, and debate without moderation. Free speech, without limit. But be warned, ridicule is just a post away.