23 November 2008

Autism Blog Comments Article By Yours Truly

Could be wrong, but I think that every aspiring writer, artist, or other creative type has at least the occasionaly day-dream about being discovered by a working writer, editor, agent or producer, and being given a chance by that person to show a sample of some of his or her stuff to the world.

Well, it happened to me last Thursday evening, when I went onto one of Lisa Jo Rudy's old blog posts on the Autism section of About.com, the link to which is enclosed, here,http://autism.about.com/b/2008/05/26/autism-parents-and-two-kinds-of-love.htm,
which was, in its turn, a discussion of a New York magazine article, “The New Wave of Autism Rights Activists” by Andrew Solomon, the link to which is here at http://nymag.com/news/features/47225/index1.html.

So, I went back to Ms. Rudy's blog, and, mind you, was in a bit of a furious tizzy at some of the various comments I had seen, as well as at various posts on an autism forum that had joined several days prior to seeing these articles, and dashed off a lengthy commentary on the sorts of nastiness between the various camps in the Autism community, to whose on-going debates am still a newbie, I'll admit.

Well, I was pretty surprised and flattered when I received an e-mail from Ms. Rudy the next morning, saying how much she enjoyed my comments and asking me if I would mind having them printed in an article of their own on her blog.

I immediately said Yes, and quite a bit more beyond that, I can assure you, and, yesterday afternoon, they were.

Am just tickled pink, as can be imagined, by this, and by the positive comments about them(5 thus far, as of last night), left on that post.

Now, whether or not this will ever lead to anything else beyond this, I will have to wait and see on.

It may not, in which case, that's fine, as I can continue doing whatever it is I do anyhow.

If it does, well, I will have to see and decide upon if and when, and only thus, more such opportunities come my way.

Can get myself worked up over what may appear to be a new opportunity for self-expression, and yes, -advancement, as I would love nothing more than to be able to support myself by writing and other creative pursuits.

But, as my therapist has often told me in the past, "Let's cross that bridge, when we come to it", and not before, which I think is sound advice.

So, am enjoying this for what it is, and while it lasts, and am trying not to expect anything more to come from it, which can be quite hard for me, but is necessary, I think.

Anyhow, enough blather about all that.

Here's the link to the article,http://autism.about.com/b/2008/11/22/an-adult-with-autism-makes-a-case-for-moderation-in-the-autism-wars.htm#gB3.

Would very like like to thank Ms. Lisa Jo Rudy for reading these comments in an old post, seeing whatever merit they may have, and for publishing them in her blog at About.com.

That was, and is, a very kind and gracious set of things for her to do, particularly as she didn't have to take either the time or trouble to do them.

Ms. Rudy, you've my thanks and gratitude for doing this.

In closing, I would like also like to thank a Twitter friend/follower of mine, "disability", who designs and constructs web-sites for disabled people, and who has Cerebral Palsy himself.

If it weren't for the links that he posts from his site(am going to give you the address to the site's Autism section here, http://www.disabilityresourcelinks.com/autism/, I would never have found Ms. Rudy's article, and the last two posts here simply wouldn't exist.

So, many thanks to "disability" for the links, and bravo to him for all he does!!!

Please read the articles at the various links, see what you think of the various arguments, including my own, presented therein, and decide for yourselves.

Be seeing you.

18 November 2008

On The 30th Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre

To-day marks the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre, in which a little over 900 people, who were members of the San Francisco-based People's Temple, either committed suicide by drinking a cynanide-laced, imitation Kool-Aid brand soft drink called Flavor-Aid, were injected with poison, or were shot by members of the People's Temple security force at the settlement in western Guyana, at the behest of the church's leader, the Reverend Jim Jones.

The settlement had been established in Guyana two years prior to the massacre, as a refuge from what Jones and the People's Temple's members considered to be a ruthlessly racist and fascist-minded America, and it was hoped by those same people that a new, egalitarian, socialist society could be successfully founded and run there.

Because of media and US government investigations into the Temple's finances and other practises, as well as allegations by former People's Temple members of various forms of abuse by the church's leadership, all of which culminated in a visit by Congressman Leo Ryan to Jonestown a few days before the massacre, which ended when Congressman Ryan, the staffers accompaning him, and a number of news media personnel, were gunned down by People's Temple security personnel,as they waited for an airplane to take them back to the US, at Kaituma airstrip, only a few miles from Jonestown, on 17th November, 1978.

In the fear and paranoia already running rampant among Jones, the people immediately around him, and among many of the ordinary church members, Jones made the decision that, in light of what had happened to Ryan and the other members of his party, it would be best for the settlers at Jonestown, himself included, to commit an act of “revolutionary suicide against the conditions of an inhumane world,” as Jones himself put it in his address to his followers that day, rather than, and most especially in the case of the People's Temple's children, being subjected to potential interrogation and torture by American troops, whom Jones imagined would be dispatched to Guyana once news of Ryan's death had got out.

That, along with a high-ranking People's Temple leader, who killed herself and three children in Georgetown, Guyana's capital, that same day, is what happened 30 years ago to-day.

The temple dissolved itself very shortly thereafter.

But, the cultural after-effects linger to this day, especially in the many popular culture references to the Jonestown Massacre(at least two theatrical and television films giving a fictionalised depiction of the People's Temple and the Jonestown Massacre have been made, and there have been any number of depictions of fictional cults based on the People's Temple that have appeared in many more films and television programmes since then), especially in the phrase, “Drinking the Kool-Aid”, which means an unthinking willingness to swallow what beliefs a given belief system has.

However, there were real people who died in Jonestown and in Georgetown on 18th November, 1978, and who died, not necessarily because they were a bunch of wackos with bizarre beliefs.

That's the most superficial and wrong-headed take on the Jonestown Massacre, I think.

The People's Temple, especially what it became in the early-to mid-1970's, was an outgrowth of, first, the idealism and hope for change brought about by the civil rights movement of the 1950's and '60's, and, second, of the despair, fear and cynicism brought about by the Viet-Nam War, the political, social and cultural conflicts born of that war, and the revelations in the early and mid-1970's about Watergate, the CIA's dirty deeds in many parts of the world as revealed in the Church Comission report of 1975, and many other similar events.

Many People's Temple members, leaders and led alike, had begun as activists and supporters of the civil rights movement, the anti-Viet-Nam War movement, and other, similar contemporary movements, or, at the very least, had the experience of being African-American or Latino and poor in a country that barely tolerated their existence before and during that period.

In that regard, they were actually quite similar to many Americans who lived through that period, who had felt that initial rush of optimism that America and the world could be changed for the better, and who saw those hopes dashed, not just once, or twice, but again, and again, and again.

Some of the People's Temple's contemporaries continued on in their involvement with the Democratic Party or various civil rights, feminist and other organisations; others still went farther left-ward, whether to the various political sects like the Bay Area Maoist Alliance(to-day's Revolutionary Communist Party),and a few even went so far as to join urban guerrilla groups like the Symbionese Liberation Army, to-day most famous for kidnapping Patty Hearst in 1975, and most of whom were killed in a shoot-out with police in Oakland, California in 1976.

Others yet, simply dropped out of politics entirely, and either went into self-improvement belief systems like Gestalt or Esalen, or tried to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives.

Cynicism and boredom, along with a feeling of doom throughout much of general American culture, thanks to the ever-present shadow of nuclear anihilation in the middle part of the Cold War years(please remember that this is around the same time that the survivalist movement got its start), were the hallmarks of the day in American culture.

Every major institution that most Americans had been raised to believe in and trust had been shown wanting in the 1960's and '70's, and, when combined with Nixon's two electoral victories in 1968 and 1972, and the Watergate scandal that toppled his presidency in 1974, I think that a fair number of Americans, People's Temple members included, could understandably become very, very cynical about the American political and social systems, and their capacities for any meaningful change.

Most Americans who felt that way, however, didn't take the People's Temple route, just as they didn't take the Weathermen's or Symbionese Liberation Army's route, either.

Nonetheless, those People's Temple leaders and members, even with the extreme version of those beliefs, weren't alien creatures dropped down from another planet, lunatics just released from an insane asylum, nor vicious criminals out of a comic book or thriller novel, like the Executioner series then popular and widely sold in supermarkets and other such stores in 1970's America.

They were people who, in their disappointment, frustration, rage, and fear at what had happened in America in the 1960's and '70's, and who were afraid that America would become even more viciously reactionary and racist, ended up following a man who had a set of beliefs in the ideals of equality and socialism, which later on ended up evolving into a declared belief in communism.

However, this same man, the Reverend Jim Jones, was also paranoid, and, as time went on, and the Temple's members and resources grew, one who let the power he had over the member's lives and resources corrupt him in ways great and small.

Jones and his flock didn't just wake up one morning and decide, “You know what??? To-day's a GREAT day to kill ourselves!!! Whaddya think???”.

This was the end of a process of years of feeling persecuted and hounded, and, in the last two years of the Temple's existence, those feelings would certainly seem to have had at least some objective backing by the US government's, and media, investigations into the church's financial and other practises, all of which culminated in Congressman Leo Ryan's ill-fated visit to Jonestown in November, 1978.

I am, by no means, defending Jones's, or the People's Temple's, beliefs and practises.

From what little I know of them, there was much going on within the church that was indefensible, at the very least.

What I am trying to do is explain, however badly on my part, how and why the People's Temple's leaders and members felt the ways they did, and their rationale behind the suicides and murders that took place in Jonestown and Georgetown, Guyana on 18th November, 1978.

I had no family, friends nor acquaintances whom I lost there on that day.

I've no intimate, nor, as far as I know, even distant, connections to the People's Temple and its members.

I was just a little over a month older than 14 on that day, and was living with my mother, father, and two of my sisters in a trailer outside of Reno, Nevada, when this happened.

This was simply another tv news story to me, and, when the television movie starring Powers Boothe as the Reverend Jim Jones appeared in 1981, it was another tv film, albeit one I thought, at the time, that was quite well done, to me as well.

It wasn't until seeing a documentary on the People's Temple and the Jonestown Massacre on PBS two years ago that I became interested in the People's Temple and the Jonestown Massacre, and it was in the course of noodling around for information about both on-line that I came across this site, “Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple,” at http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/, that I began acquiring what little sense I have about the People's Temple, its leaders and members, what happened throughout the church's existence, and how it came to its grisly end.

There are documents, textual, pictoral and audio, on there, and on other sites linked to it, from a variety of viewpoints, including those who were People's Temple members, defectors from the Temple, and many others, including some from a perspective not generally given at all in accounts of the People's Temple and the Jonestown Massacre-the Guyanan perspective.

To those who would say, “So who cares what the Guyanans thought about this???”, I would rejoinder that the settling of Jonestown, and the Jonestown Massacre, happened in Guyana, on Guyanan soil, and that it was Guyana Defence Force troops who first came into Jonestown after the massacre, and saw what had taken place there.

Therefore, this event is as much a part of Guyanan history as it is American, and any viewpoint that doesn't take this into account is incomplete, at best.

It was on this site that I began to see the People's Temple members as they were, fellow Americans and fellow human beings with whom I had this in common-we had been through, from very different angles, yes, many, if not all, of the same historical circumstances and events.

What particularly struck me was coming across, in the photos section of the web-site, photographs of children and teen-agers, many of whom either would be my age, or just barely older or younger than I am to-day, and realising that, for them, there never would be a growing-up.

That stopped, along with their lives, at an agricultural settlement in western Guyana on 18th November, 1978.

They didn't deserve to have this happen to them, whatever the beliefs, follies and crimes of their elders, and none of these people, whatever their role in the People's Temple, and whatever their deeds or mis-deeds, deserve simply to be dismissed as a bunch of nuts who threw their lives away for nothing.

Yes, they threw their lives away for a paranoid, frightened leader who had long ago succumbed to the temptations of egotism and arrogance that power, even a relatively small-scale power such as Jones had, over the lives and destinies of others; a man who, in his frightened foolishness, ordered murderously foolish deeds, including the mass suicide-murder of himself and his followers.

They were wrong, and wrong-headed, to follow such a man.

But, they weren't mere nuts.

They were human beings, as full of grace and graceless, as you and I.

Their death was a sad, needless one.

Jones, in life, preached a form, of egalitarianism that later became socialist, and finally, communist, in form.

But, at the end of the day, he didn't practise what he preached very well. Not at all.

So, in closing, I would say this to my friends and colleagues on the Left.

Don't always take someone for the genuine article because he or she has a fine rap that gets all of the brothers, sisters and comrades jumping up and down for joy.

Watch his or her actions, and especially the way in he or she treats those around him or her, carefully.

If there is too much of a conflict between the fine words used by this person, and the shabby ways in which he or she treats those around him or her, walk away from them, and have nothing more to do with them.

Encourage others to do the same, as well, especially if the leader involved has knows what he or she is doing is wrong, and has absolutely no intention of changing his or her ways.

Jones wasn't the first, nor the last, leader who used socialist ideals and beliefs, just as other politicians and leaders have used their respective ideals and beliefs, to justify the worst offences of which they were capable.

But, we can, and must, avoid letting people of Jones' calibre lead others down the garden path to no-where, and we must avoid succumbing to the same temptations that power, especially unbridled power, can bring.

To those readers who are not on the Left, I would say this, please remember that people,even idealistic, well-intentioned, reasonably intelligent people, are quite capable of making decisions and taking actions that, in the end, result in sheer horror.

To me, these are the lessons of Jonestown.

Others are free to draw their own conclusions from this, but these are the ones I take away.

Here Endeth The Lesson, and Be Seeing You.

14 November 2008

An Apology For The Mis-Information About The Anti-Prop 8 Protests

Earlier this afternoon, I posted a trio of links about various and sundry anti-Prop 8 protests to be found, both nationally and in the Las Vegas and Reno areas.

Well, I left the house and headed over to where the protest was going to be held, only to find out that they are scheduled for to-morrow afternoon, not to-day.

This, some of you may already know.

To them, and to the rest of you out there, I wish to apologise, because it was my stupid misunderstanding of the day and my rush in posting the links so I could get out the door to attend the protest that caused that.

No-one held a gun to my head. I got in a hurry-scurry mode, and passed out bad info.

That is my fault, and I wish to sincerely apologise to all of you out there for doing that.

Thank You for your time and attention.

Yours, D.

Three Links To GLBTQ Anti-Proposition 8 Protests, Both Nationally and in Nevada, To-Day

Here are a trio of links, which I got from a People For The American Way e-mail this afternoon, to Join The Impact!!! web-pages for info about anti-Proposition 8 protests being held nation-wide to-day.

The first is to the national page, http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/?t=anon, where one can click on the name of one's state or other territory to be taken to the appropriate page for more information on where and when these protests are taking place in one's area.

The second is to the Nevada page, where one can find the times and locations of anti-Prop 8 protests in either the Las Vegas or Reno areas, at http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/page/Nevada, and the third's to the Las Vegas, Nevada page at http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/page/Las+Vegas, where one can find the protest location, complete with Google Map of the area in which it will be held, and start and stop times for the protest.

If you can't make it to any of these, please diffuse this information as widely as you can, if you are able and willing to.

Be seeing you, or at least some of you, at the protests, and thanks for reading this.

08 November 2008

An Apology To My Californian Friends and Readers

Received a graciously critical reply to the message enclosed along with the Courage Campaign Repeal Prop 8 link I sent out this afternoon from an old and dear friend of mine, who justifiably criticised the use of certain nasty terms in it, as well as its loose grip on the facts regarding civil unions and its pedantic tone.

Have already apologised to her in my reply to her message, and promised that I would send out a similar apology to you all as soon as I was done with my reply to her.

So, here it is, in plural form, addressed to each and every one of you who read the earlier message.

The only defensible reason I can and will give for the use of those terms is that, in confronting the many attitudes that support Prop 8 and other measures, including Nevada's own Defense of Marriage Act, far too often, these attitudes are disguised by language like "Defense of", and "Protection of" "Traditional Values", "Family Values" and the like.

All of these are euphemisms, as you and I, and indeed, the other people to whom I sent this message already well know.

For me, the idea in using those terms is to strip away the euphemisms masking the attitudes and beliefs underneath.

I don't endorse those attitudes nor their expression, either verbally, rhetorically nor physically.

My intention was, and is, to say to those who may hold such attitudes, "All right, you don't like such people. Fine. Doesn't give you the right to keep them from making an honest living, getting married, having kids, or doing anything else that isn't harmful to you or anyone else."

Thinking about it now, this is the approach that I'd have best taken to start.

So, when this reply is done, I will publish what I've just written above, along with apologies for the use of those terms and the factual errors about civil unions, in my next blog post, which I will publish this evening.

I will offer no excuses for the terms nor for the errors, period.

Will also do so in a shortened version which I will send to the others to whom I sent this message.

The more I think about it, the more I can see that the use of such terms, while meant to strip away the polite veneer masking the ugliness underneath, not only hurts those who are direct targets of those terms, and worse, and alienates those who support the victims of such abuse, such as yourself, but also, by using them in an attack on those who do hold those beliefs, only strengthens those beliefs, because no one likes being called a son of a bitch, even if one is a son of a bitch, and only gives rise to a "Screw you!!!" mentality on the part of the person or persons being called that.

Now that I think about it, I think that I can see, however dimly, that, by stripping away any legitimacy of belief or choice on such people's part, I deny them the same amount of humanity and capacity for change that I would like for myself and others to enjoy.

In short, am doing, albeit rhetorically, the same damned thing some of 'em do to others-taking away their rights and humanity.

That, too, will be acknowledged in the follow-up essay to come, and in the message I send out to the others.

I also apologise for the pedantic tone of the essay.

Thought I was writing a corker of an essay, when, in fact, I pulled a bone-head stunt.

For perpetrating something like this, and for wasting your time, I most sincerely apologise.

It wasn't my intention to cause anyone any harm in any way, and most certainly not to waste time, energy and effort on your parts by indulging myself in bad rhetoric.

I did, and that's my responsibility.

I can be an over-enthusiastic jack-ass at times, and this was definitely one of them.

If you can forgive me for this, I would be honoured.

If not, I entirely understand.

Life's too short to put up with junk, even well-intentioned junk, and that was what I put out this afternoon.

Be seeing you.

Yours, D.

To My Californian Friends

This is the text, very slightly edited for blog form, of a message I included along with a link to the Courage Campaign's Repeal Prop 8 petition web-page link, and sent to some friends of mine of who live in California this afternoon.

Have already signed the petition, though, since am a Nevadan, have scant confidence that it will qualify to be placed on the petition, and rightfully so.

Nonetheless, I think that, by sending the link to them, and by including the message to them that went with it here, I can do my tiny bit for the cause of greater equality and democracy, not only in California or Nevada, but in the US as well.

Hey there!!!!

Hope you're all doing better than well out there.

Mr. Amigo and I are still alive and still kicking back here.

Anyhow, just wanted to give you a link to the Courage Campaign's Repeal Prop 8 web-page, in the hopes that you might sign the petition to repeal Proposition 8 there.

Now, you may be asking yourselves, why have I singled you out here??? Well, mainly because you live in California, and this is, at least in my opinion, an affair of no small importance to your state and its people, including yourselves.

So, you may be asking yourselves and me, "Why should I care whether or not a bunch of nancy-boys and carpet-chewers get to marry???".

OK, here's the answer: marriage rights confer, not just the right for one individual to permanently co-habit with another(if that were the case, one might as well not bother getting married at all), but confer the power of attorney in legal, medical, and financial arenas, if one of the partners involved becomes incapacitated or dies.

Well, I don't know about you, but it seems to me that that's a pretty whopping amount of rights and duties involved there, and married status carries with those a certain amount of legal protections and privileges(tax deductions, for example)not given to singles or people living outside of legally-recognised wedlock.

Civil unions, which are the proposed substitute for marriage rights for gays and lesbians, don't, as far as I know, include the same amount, if any, of those same rights, duties, privileges and protections, as does marriage, period.

One could say that civil unions are the legal equivalent of saccharine or near beer-a poor substitute that only barely approximates the look, taste and feel of the real thing, and, like all such substitutes, is at best, a poor copy of it.

Also, this fight for marriage rights for gays and lesbians is, I believe, part of a much longer, broader struggle for greater equality and democracy in this country that has taken place from the very beginning of our Republic.

How so???

Please don't forget that, when this Union was founded in 1789, only propertied European-American males above the age of 21 could vote, women's social, economic and political statuses were tied to their fathers' or husbands, and African-Americans and Native Americans had no rights whatsoever under the Constitution, and were counted as being only 3/4ths of a person in the various national and state censuses.

It took well over a century of fighting, first with Dorr's Rebellion in Rhode Island in 1838, to end the property qualification for European-American males suffrage, a brutal and bloody Civil War, and the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution before African-Americans were no longer legally regarded as mere property, the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, before women 21 years and older could vote, and the passage of the 1964 Voting Rights Act that ended the system of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means of suppressing African-American suffrage in the American South, among many other struggles, many of which continue to-day, to bring about even a partial realisation of the promise of a more perfect union, founded on liberty and justice for all.

There are those out there who have, for reasons of their own, deep-rooted antipathies towards gays and lesbians.

These reasons may be religiously, culturally or aestethically-based.

So be it.

Some of you may share some of those reasons and the feelings behind them. I don't know.

To those who do, I say this.

Your objections to homosexuality and lesbianism are yours, for reasons that best make sense to you. Fine and dandy.

What isn't fine and dandy is when those objections, in whatever form, are made into public policy and law, because they affect EVERYONE, in some way or another, in this culture, and not just the objects of one's disdain.

This isn't just not allowing some mincing bum-stuffer or bull-dyke into one's own home. That's a private area, in which one has a certain amount of discretion.

But, when one's prejudices are made into law, as Proposition 8 has been, that impacts on people whom one will never meet, let alone know, not just for to-day or in the short term, but quite possibly for generations yet to come, and it makes the legal system the enforcement arm for those prejudices, thus prostituting it in the furtherance of bigotry, and making a damned lie out of the promises made in the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the various state constitutions about equality before the law and all that.

It's the enshrining of power and privileges for one segment of the population over another, and it is wrong for many reasons, but especially because it makes(again)a DAMNED lie out of the promises made by this country to its citizens.

To let Proposition 8 stand unchallenged, one might as well endorse a return to the social orders of 1789, or 1837, 1860, 1866, 1919, or 1963, and openly, proudly, say so and mean it.

At least then, one would be entirely consistent in one's devotion to a social and political order rooted in power and privileges for some, and a good, swift kick in the arse for others.

I have one final point to cover, and that is my enjoining you to please remember that those who deny rights, privileges and responsibilities to others may, at one point in time or another, find those same things denied to them, whether "gently"(there can be no truly gentle denial of rights, privileges and responsibilities, only a less brutal one)or brutally, and the reasons, justifications and excuses for that will be just as paper-thin, and just as wrong, and wrong-headed, in so many ways, it ain't even funny.

If you'd not be a slave, don't be a master, to paraphrase a saying by Abraham Lincoln.

Any political system that calls itself a democracy, whether of the liberal, representative type found in the US and much of the developed world, or the old socialist "People's Democracies" of the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, must ensure that the rights and needs of all of its people are put first and foremost in its ideas and practises.

Those that, for whatever reasons, don't, are, at best, limited democracies, and, at worst, grotesque, lying parodies of democracies.

This recent Presidential election was, I believe, a chance for us to truly strengthen and deepen our democracy in the US.

Here's another chance, albeit on a slightly smaller stage and a different issue, for you and yours to keep on doing those in your state.

The link follows below.

I thank you for the time and trouble you've taken in reading at least some of this, and my apologies to you for its length.


Be seeing you.

06 November 2008

Petition To Open The Presidential Debates Link

If you happen to have a Facebook account, please head on over to the following link below to sign a petition urging that the presidential debates be opened up to any and all viable presidential candidates in future elections, not just the Republican and Democratic ones.

Why is this important???

Because, one of the best ways of strengthening and deepening our democracy here in the US, is to ensure that the American people get to see and hear from as wide a range of presidential candidates from the various parties, major and minor, as possible.

That way, potential voters will have a solid idea of the range of ideological, policy and other choices available to them before going to the polls.

One may not like some of the candidates and what they represent when seen in the debates, but it is better to see and dislike them, than to not even know they exist at all.

The address follows below. Be seeing you.


05 November 2008

On Obama's Victory

In the aftermath of Obama's victory last night, I have the following things to say: the first being-OUTSTANDING!!!!

This is a victory that was long in coming, and not just for Obama's supporters, Democrats, and their sympathisers, but for the vast majority of the American people, who are lower-middle-class, working-class and poor, and who have generally been either ignored, used as pawns, or lied to in this country for much of its history.

That said, one thing to remember about Obama, and that he is a centre-Left Democrat, not a socialist, not a communist, and most definitely not an anarchist.

This means that one would be best advised not to expect huge changes in US domestic and foreign policies right off the bat, and that, depending on how and where one stands on any number of given issues, that there will be disappointments, and even times where one may stand up and scream at the top of one's lungs, "What the Fuck are you thinking???!!!" about some of them.

The New Millennium and the New Jerusalem are not here, and we'll not be led into them by Obama, nor anyone else.

But, especially after the last twenty-eight years of the Reagan Revolution and Republican dominance of American political ideology and politics, especially since the Congressional elections of 1994 and the Presidential election of 2000, there is now, both in the White House and on Capitol Hill, a breed of folks who are willing and, I hope, able to take on the many important issues that seriously need addressing in this country that have gotten short shrift for so long.

Many of these problems are of long-standing and will NOT be solved within the first three or six months of the Obama Administration, nor even within the confines of a first Obama Administration.

There will be no magic-wand waving, automatic problem-solving solutions served up, like a short-order cook serving up a plate of liver and onions to go, by the new Administration, and one is best advised to take that into account from the get-go.

All that said, the Obama victory represents to me, not just the expulsion of the Republicans from the White House, and the further decrease of their power in the House and Senate, but a victory over some of the worst and nastiest parts of our collective psychology.

For all the race- and religion-baiting that went on in the campaign, Obama's victory proved that those tactics work less and less well in many parts of the US.

Screaming "Nigger!!!" at the top of one's lungs, however directly or indirectly, and bashing people for being "socialists", "communists", etc, don't quite have the Pavlovian-reflex, "Can't let THAT happen!!!" response from much of the American voting public that they used to get, and thank God for that.

Much of the appeal of the Reagan Revolution, as well as the Goldwater and George Wallace campaigns before it, were rooted in a nostalgia for a seemingly simpler time in American history, with MGM-esque ideals of small, mainly-, if not all-white, towns, where Just Plain Folks worked hard, went to church on Sunday, obeyed all the laws and rules, and everyone knew their place and got along.

That picture of 19th and early 20th Century America was, at best, a half-truth, and, at worst, a damned lie told, by the folks at MGM and other Hollywood studios, to sell movie tickets, and by politicians and pundits to advance their agendas.

We know what those agendas are, because so much of what was in them has been made into reality over these 27 years past.

Either way, the American people, at least a goodly percentage of them, bought into this, in one way or another, and, as a result, this country is in quite a mess at home and abroad.

The time for nostalgia for a time and place that never really existed is long over.

There is the present, and the future, and, depending on the ideas, words and actions that the Obama Administration, Congress, the various state and local governments, business and other institutions, and we so-called ordinary Americans decide to undertake, we can, by mid-century, either have a soundly functioning, though imperfect, nation that continues to improve, a badly functioning one that barely works in any area of endeavour at all, or, worst of all, a Balkanised collection of successor states born of failures of ideas, policies and actions at every level, including and especially the popular level.

These are the choices that we and our posterity face that stand out most strongly to me in the years and decades ahead.

The changes that I believe are necessary to have the US better live up to the ideals and promises made by our Founding Fathers and their successors, right down to the present day, must in one form or another be implemented, and they probably won't be implemented in either a first, or, if it should come to pass, a second Obama Administration.

Many of them, I hope, will at least get their starts during that time, and will be further improved upon and deepened over the course of time.

But, only if our governing classes, business classes, media classes, and especially we, the American people, are willing and able to do that.

If either none, or too few, of any of us are, we will find ourselves far worse off than we are now down the road, and we will have no-one, and I repeat NO-ONE, but ourselves to blame for that situation.

John McCain, however bitter and at times nasty, he and his campaign could get during the election campaign, gave, in my view, a lovely and gracious concession speech last night.

For that, if nothing else, he has my respect.

I would hope that some of his supporters might feel the same way and act in a likewise manner.
However, I don't expect many of them to do so.

What I do expect out of them is to at least disagree with the Obama Administration and its supporters in a relatively civilised manner, without resorting to racial or religious bigotry.

If they cannot do that, they are worthy of neither attention nor respect whatsoever.

No one political party, faction, racial, ethnic, religious or economic group is entitled to for-ever hang onto power in the US Constitution, as far as I know, and that includes Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, or any other party presently active in the US political system.

Oh, there are those that have tried, but, in the end, have failed to do that

In time, the Democrats will eventually lose power, as happens in any reasonably functioning representative democratic system of government, and be succeeded by either the Republicans or one of the many minor parties.

But, in the meantime, they are in power, and it's my sincerest hope that they will use it wisely and well.

If not, they will deserve to lose power, as have the Republicans.

To my fellow Democrats, and to my colleagues and comrades on the greater American Left, we now have a chance to make this country, and to help make this planet, safer, saner, better places than when we found them.

Let's not blow it.

To the Republicans and other conservatives, I say this; the best conservatives, it seems to me, wish to keep the very best aspects of their societies and cultures going. That can best be done by recognising that the larger the number of people in their culture who can either only barely earn a living or not earn a living at all, the more violent, crime-and-vice-ridden, and ultimately unstable it will be, especially over the long-term.

They don't, as Thomas Paine remarked about Edmund Burke's attitude towards the French monarchy overthrown by the French Revolution, "pity the plumage but forget about the dying bird."

They recognise that the more economically and socially secure their people, and not just the upper classes and their supporters, are, the more stable and happier their society will be.

Those who fail to recognise that fact, and insist that solutions involving more police, more prisons, and/or the exclusive use of military force in foreign and domestic affairs, are the ONLY solutions worth considering, are setting themselves and their posterity up for a very hard fall indeed.

There is much work to be done, and it is time to get to it.

Be seeing you.

04 November 2008

To-Day's The Day

That's right. It's Election Day in these fifty United States, plus Puerto Rico and the various territories associated with the US.

So, if you're eligible to vote, and haven't already done so, especially in those parts of the US like my home state of Nevada, where one can vote early(which I did on Thursday last), go do it to-day.

Don't procrastinate about this. MAKE the time and take the trouble to vote, because of the importance of this particular election's out-come to not only the US, but the world.

I voted for Obama/Biden, and I would urge all those who call themselves progressives, whether of a moderate, liberal or radical stripe, to do likewise.

If you can't bring yourself to do that, at least vote for Nader/Gonzalez, Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party's Presidential nominee, or the various nominees for the Peace and Freedom Party, Communist Party USA, Socialist Workers' Party, or any of the other Left parties that may be on the ballot in your particular part of the Union.

If you're of a rightist bent, then vote for Bob Barr, the Libertarian Presidential nominee, the American(Independent American Party in Nevada)Party's nominee, or whomever else you feel will do the job.

As for McCain/Palin, I won't endorse votin' for 'em. But, if that's whom you support the most strongly, then vote for 'em, nonetheless.

Either way, and for whomever you go and vote, just get out there and vote as soon as possible.

Authoritarian types love small electoral turn-outs, because those results, and those constituencies that do participate, are just that much easier to control.

So, what are you waiting for??? An engraved invitation from the Czar of All the Russias???? Well, forget about that, 'cos, the Czar's long-gone, and so's his staff, so forget about the invite.

Just go down to your local polling place, get in line, and take the time and trouble to cast your vote for the candidates and causes you want.

Do it TO-DAY, 'cos to-morrow's gonna be too damn little, too damn late, and the polls will be closed.

Vote, so at the very least, you'll have earnt the right to bitch about the results, policies and out-comes of this election, and the people put in as a result thereof.

If you don't, that's on your head, and yours alone.

Finally, to any Californians reading this, please vote NO on Prop. 8. Marriage is for everyone, or at least should be.

That's it from here.

Go vote, and be seeing you.