Monday, November 17, 2008

Thomas Paine

Thomas Edison stated:
"I have always regarded Paine as one of the greatest of all Americans. Never have we had a sounder intelligence in this republic."

Thomas Paine-

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and row brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Christopher Hitchens wrote, "The noblest verdict on Paine is that he wanted the French Revolution to be more temperate and humane, and the American Revolution (by abolishing slavery and being decent to the Indians) to be more thoroughgoing and profound." Thomas Paine, in a letter to George Washington wrote, “A share in two revolutions is living to some purpose." Paine had a hand in both revolutions and he thought the American revolution did not go far enough in its fight against slavery. To his critics he stated, "Let them call me rebel." Thomas Paine is certainly the father of secular progressives not only in America but in much of the world.

A human has no property in another human.

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Thomas Paine died in New York in 1809. The body of Thomas Paine does not rest in America, England or France. It was lost at sea and it seems just as well for a person such as Paine.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vide Cor Meum

Vide Cor Meum (From "Hannibal") - Patrick Cassidy

The lyrics are from Dante's La Vita Nuova:

And thinking of her
Sweet sleep overcame me

I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
Obediently eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.

Joy is converted
To bitterest tears

I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace
See my heart

Dante to me is speaking about life, love and death. Difficult to separate them. They are interconnected. To live is to love but love in its clarity and finality is death. To love is to die and live at the same time. Dante swings and rocks the soul to sleep between the bitterness and the ecstasy of life. Sweet sleep. Death. I am in peace. Letting go. Desire is but a flame in the darkness of oblivion that will be put out. It is a resignation not to despair or to confusion but to the clarity of human fraility and the courage to rest in its inevitable fate. A passion for life must include a resolute acceptance of death. The past a dream, the future a hope, this moment is life.

The beauty of independence, departure, actions that rely on themselves.

The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul.

Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.

-Walt Whitman

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stoic Chaos

The stoic and chaotic skepticism of Tupac Shakur:

We probably in Hell already, our dumb asses not knowin it
Everybody kissin ass to go to heaven ain't going
Put my soul on it...

The preacher want me buried- why? Cause I know he a liar
Have you ever seen a crackhead, that's eternal fire
Why you got these kids minds, thinkin that they evil
while the preacher been getting richer you say honor God's people
Should we cry, when the Pope die, my request
We should cry if they cried when we buried Malcolm X
Mama tell me am I wrong, is God just another cop
waitin to beat my ass if I don't go pop?
Memories of a past time, givin up cash
to the leaders, knowin damn well, it ain't gonna feed us

It's hard enough to live now, in these times of greed
They say Jesus is a kind man, well he should understand
times in this crime land, my Thug nation
Do whatchu gotta do but know you gotta change
Try to find a way to make it out the game
I leave this and hope God can see my heart is pure
Is heaven just another door? I leave this here
I leave this and hope God see my heart is pure
Is heaven just another door?

Heed- from out the bible I read
See the meek shall inherit the earth
But the strong will lead...

What's the game
Lost souls
Who controls our brain?
Who can I blame?
The world seems strange at times
Somewhat insane
I'm hoping we can change with time
I'm living blinded

mercy is for the weak when I speak I scream
afraid to sleep I am having crazy dreams
vivid pictures of my enemies and family times
God forgive me cause it's wrong but I plan to die
need to take me in heaven and understand I was a g
did the best I could, raised in insanity
or send me to hell cause I ain't beggin' for my life
ain't nothing worse than this cursed ass hopeless life

Homies died in my arms, with his brains hangin, fucked up!
I had to tell him it was alright, and that's a lie
and he knew it when he shook and died, my God

They got me starin at the world through my rearview
Go on baby scream to God, he can't hear you

I was born an inmate, waitin to escape the prison
Went to church but don't understand it, they underhanded
God gave me these commandments, the world is scandalous

Dear Lord if ya hear me, tell me why
Little girl like LaTasha, had to die
She never got to see the bullet, just heard the shot
Her little body couldn't take it, it shook and dropped
And when I saw it on the news I see a busta killin 'Tasha
Now I'm screamin fuck the world ***

What is potent about Tupac is his possession of a keen perspective that is a fusion of defiance and courage mixed with skepticism and desperation at what he must face. He has no choice but to go there so to speak. His soul and his intellect are both strong enough to go there but the question is-is it strong enough to live there and stay there. Can one breathe in the abyss? His quest for truth could be explained by Nietzsche, "Not when truth is dirty, but when it is shallow, does the enlightened man dislike to wade into its waters." Tupac did not shrink back or hesitate to go to the dirty deep waters of truth and he despised the shallow waters where the babies wallowed in wishful thinking. Henry David Thoreau stated that most men live lives of quiet desperation. Tupac lived a life of loud desperation.

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Obama Brand

United States

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Barack Obama- Nov. 4, 2008

"Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me that no association has ever meant more to me than that."

John McCain concession speech on Barack Obama

Post Election Leaks

Palin did not know which countries were part of NAFTA.

It had to be explained to Palin that Africa was a continent, not a country

She was angry at staffers over the Gibson and Couric interviews, yet she previously refused staff requests to prepare for the interviews.

Palin went "rogue" by attacking Obama for his loose "association" with Ayers, before the McCain camp had a plan of attack.

Source: Fox News, Daily Kos

The following from Newsweek:

The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. "Why would they try to make people hate us?" Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

On the Sunday night before the last debate, McCain's core group of advisers—Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis, adman Fred Davis, strategist Greg Strimple, pollster Bill McInturff and strategy director Sarah Simmons—met to decide whether to tell McCain that the race was effectively over, that he no longer had a chance to win. The consensus in the room was no, not yet, not while he still had "a pulse."

Palin launched her attack on Obama's association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.

Obama was never inclined to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate, not so much because she had been his sometime bitter rival on the campaign trail, but because of her husband. Still, as Hillary's name came up in veep discussions, and Obama's advisers gave all the reasons why she should be kept off the ticket, Obama would stop and ask, "Are we sure?" He needed to be convinced one more time that the Clintons would do more harm than good. McCain, on the other hand, was relieved to face Sen. Joe Biden as the veep choice, and not Hillary Clinton, whom the McCain camp had truly feared.

McCain was dumbfounded when Congressman John Lewis, a civil-rights hero, issued a press release comparing the GOP nominee with former Alabama governor George Wallace, a segregationist infamous for stirring racial fears. McCain had devoted a chapter to Lewis in one of his books, "Why Courage Matters," and had so admired Lewis that he had once taken his children to meet him.

On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow.

The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Obama

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Struggle for Progress

Obama will not be the answer to every problem with race relations in America but the response from the older generation of African-Americans is very moving and should make people appreciate the long struggle of the Civil Rights movement and the progress of Obama on the national stage. I hope even party loyal Republicans can appreciate this.

This man could not help his emotions as he watched on television Obama accepting the Democratic nomination, Times Square, August 28th.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Shield of Skepticism

It has been said as a rule that those selling the advice often profit more than those buying the advice. This can be applied to financial advisors but all you have to do is go to the televangelist church parking lots and see the preachers expensive cars versus the flocks vehicles. The poor giving to the rich for misleading advice is part of society. When it comes to prosperity tv preachers, get rich schemes and books, or those in positions of self proclaimed authority this is often the case and it is why the shield of skepticism and doubt combined with the sword of reason and free inquiry are the weapons to fight off this lazy numb servitude to the superfluous and sophomoric pushers of false status. Who benefits? The saying goes, “it all depends on whose ox is being gored.”

The advice of authority or those who claim authority usually benefits those in authority. Obey my law, pay me, give me, trust me, and somehow all this servitude will benefit you. The divine right of kings, the pope is always right, the teacher never makes mistakes and other platitudes based on titles are empty without the respect of reason and common sense. The shield of skepticism is of more value than the shield of faith because one gives you the protection against charlatans, con artists, demagogues and authoritarians of all stripes and the other makes you more likely to become a victim of the former and succumb to these vultures who feast on the naive and the gullible. In a world such as ours skepticism is a virtue and faith is a vice.

Christianity seems to have lost its claim to universal truth when it has limited itself to only a specific time and a specific place in America. Can you imagine any of these American preachers being transported to Auschwitz in 1942?? Or how about the killing fields of Rwanda in 1994? One realizes how irrevelant and limited the christian american message really is. Charlatans and political power lead the way to the frugal and passive Jesus of Nazareth? If Christianity is credible it should be above time and culture not dependent on it.

God wants you rich. Your best life now. Steps to success. These platitudes are limited to geography, time and culture and are not grand or true enough to survive the reality of the whole human experience. This american christianity is not universal in time or place. It does not deserve the respect of reason nor does it pass the test of justice.

A message for Just Us is not justice. It is solipsism.