Thursday, August 28, 2003

On the death of John Geogan…

“I could see that the Wasichus (“white man”--Sioux) did not care for each other the way our people did before our nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. They had forgotten that the earth was their mother. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.

There was a prisoner’s house on an island where the big water came up to the town, and we saw that one day. Men pointed guns at the prisoners and made them move around like animals in a cage. This made me very sad, because my people were penned up in islands, and maybe that was the way the Wasichus were going to treat them.”
---Black Elk, Sioux, as told to John G. Neihart and recorded in the book, Black Elk Speaks

Thursday, August 21, 2003

About Immature Politicians…

The network TV news replayed President Bush’s “Bring them on” comments made months ago at the beginning of the attacks on American servicemen in Iraq. I bristle every time I hear that. In case no one noticed, attacks on American servicemen in the aftermath of those statements increased. I had not doubt that they would.

That comment was both inflammatory and immature as were Bush’s comments several years ago about “the axis of evil”. That American bravado reminds me of a teenager’s., the kid believes he’s the toughest guy in town and can’t be hurt. Age and wisdom teach him otherwise, hopefully before he gets killed, though it too often doesn’t happen that way.

In this case, though, the people that are dying because of it are American soldiers in Iraq.

In context, the statement Bush made was to “Bring them on. We have the forces in place to handle the situation.” If that was and is true, why are we now considering adding more troops to try to stabilize the place?

This is starting to look a lot like Vietnam. No tropical forests here, just desert and a forest of people within which hides an enemy ready to destroy everything, including their own people, in order to repel The Invader.

Are we on the road to learn the lessons of Vietnam all over again?

About True Honor…

The Texas politician who has acted with true honor and with a sense of purpose and duty is a Republican. Texas Senator Bill Ratliff, who has a reputation for honesty and fair play, realized early in the game that the damage the redistricting issue would do was not worth the small politician gains the Republicans would make. Despite what must be tremendous political pressure to do otherwise, Senator Ratliff has consistently demonstrated that he had Texas’ best interests in mind. Of all the politicians involved in this fray, he is only one I would unhesitatingly vote for; and I do not usually vote for Republican causes or candidates. No matter what party a politician is involved with, though, he will get my vote if I am convinced he is fair, balanced, and open. Ratliff has consistently struck me as being just that.

U.S. Congressman Tom Delay, on the other hand, seems interested only in advancing his own power and his own political interests. His stance on the Middle East, just like his stance on Texas redistricting, will only tend to extend the strife and violence that infects that part of the world. I see little in his approaches that make me believe that as he gains power there can be anything good in it. He is divisive, and that fact is hidden behind his political power largely fueled by the money of large special interests.

I discovered this morning that our local phone carrier, SBC, has made some rather large political contributions to Delay. It’s enough to make me cancel my local phone service.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

About our inalienable rights…

Just north of Houston is a community named Artesian Lakes. A five foot alligator has recently set up shop there, and his human neighbors are bitching. One gentleman hown on TV’s Channel 13 was complaining that the alligator cramped his style because he could no longer send his grandchildren out to the dock to fish alone.

Well, gee, guess he might have to spend some time with them.

Why is it that people, especially as they build homes and businesses within wildlife habitat, suddenly think that the rest of the natural kingdom has no place? More and more, as we don’t control our populations and out cities continue to expand, we are encroaching on what little wild habitat there is left. We seem to have convinced ourselves that we are such marvels of evolution that if all other wild creatures die out, we’ll still go on.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I understand the community’s fears. Pets and small children are especially vulnerable. But they are more at risk from the two-legged predator called man than they are from alligators, whose presence in south Texas is not only natural but widespread.

Natural predators perform a valuable function in the food chain. If we wipe them all out, we will not be too far behind. If you want to live on a lake, there’s a price. You’ve chosen to live in Gatorland and snake country.

Even if the authorities did decide to relocate the animal, where would they take it? From Conroe to the Woodlands?

The thing for the folks in Atersian Lakes to do know is understand the risk to them and behave in a way that respects it. They might have to modify their behaviors a bit, but they’ll find they gain as much as they lose, if they’re open to seeing it.

The sad truth is most folks are not.

On honor and duty…

A man’s first duty is always to himself. I’m always suspicious of people who start invoking the words “honor” and “duty” when it comes to something they don’t like. U.S. Representative Tom Delay, the man most responsible for this whole, distasteful affair, told the press that the Texas 11 were violating their honor and duty by being absent. I learned a long time ago that when I was accusing someone of something and pointing my finger at them, three of my fingers were pointing back at me.

That certainly holds true for Rep. Delay in this case. He may not have done anything illegal, but nearly everything he’s done in this affair has been questionable.

I don’t remember seeing state redistricting as a duty on any U.S. Congressman’s job description.

On the Texas Legislature’s continuing version of “Days of Our Knives”…

The “Texas 11”, as they are now being called, are still gone. Governor Perry and the GOP blobjority have levied fines, taken away cell phone privileges, and deleted parking spaces for the Senators like a bunch of spoiled children trying to punish their pals. You would think that Perry and Company would have gotten the message by now. But this has become a pissing contest.

Never mind that the Texas Constitution requires redistricting every ten years, we were due in 2001, and the reason that judges did it back then was because Perry wouldn’t call a special session on redistricting and a lawsuit was launched. Never mind that two of the three judges involved were Republican. Never mind that they did their jobs and stayed impartial. Never mind that they are more to be trusted than the Legislature or the Governor. Never mind that by continuing the special session anyway, Perry is costing taxpayers much, mucho bucks that could be used for other things.

Perry may now know it, now, but I believe that his days as a politician are numbered. We’ll see if the voters agree.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Insanity….

Insanity is often defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. That definition fits the behavior of Texas Governor Rick Perry rather well. He insists that he will continue to call special sessions of the Texas Legislature until they take up the gerrymandered redistricting proposal that has fractured it. Enough is Enough, Perry. Time to move on.

One thing about this affair is certain. It will have an effect at the polls. I can’t really predict what it will be. Frankly, I’m more sympathetic with the Democrats in this instance than with the Republicans. The only fair thing to do, though, might be to vote everyone involved with this out of office, starting with U.S. Representative Tom Delay.

Monday, August 11, 2003

On the issue of gay marriage…

I’m always amazed and amused at how conservatives get so upset about the idea of gay marriage. They seem to believe that a person’s sexual orientation is based simply on a conscious moral and sexual choice. Further, their overzealous drive to “protect marriage” implies that they must really feel that being homosexual is so much more fun than being heterosexual, that if homosexual marriages were approved, every heterosexual would choose it. Why do you move to protect something unless it’s somehow threatened?

In truth, marriage has always been more advantageous to political and religious systems than to individuals. After all, the typical definition of marriage typically involves the generation of children. More children mean more converts and tithes for the church and more voters and taxpayers for political systems. Gay marriage poses a threat to that manipulation by those systems more than it poses any kind of a threat to spirituality or morality. Understand that and you will understand why the politicians and the churches are reacting.

The Catholic church’s stance on this issue, and the issue of gayness in general, is more immoral than the immorality it believes gays represent. At least gays are honest about who they are, something that has not been true about an organization that has apparently been covering up some of the worst institutional child abuse in history. I have more trouble with that dishonesty and judgementalism than any one person’s sexual orientation. One of the things I’ve learned over the years about the God I know is that everything that happens is supposed to, which means, too, that being gay is as much a part of God’s plan as being heterosexual. Even if it does nothing more than to teach us to look past our judgements of others whether based on their appearance or their sexuality, it will have served its purpose.