Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

During the 2000 election, I was living in Florida. A lot of talk was made about Al Gore being the lesser of two evils. Like the Clintons, he was deeply connected with Big Banking, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Guns, and Big Prisons. In short, despite his pro-environment talk, Al Gore was in bed with all the moneyed interests that have worked so hard to turn America into an oligarchy. He was influence and controlled by the same powers controlling Bush.

Looking around at the problems that existed in America in 2000, I decided I didn’t want more of the same. I didn’t want an oligarchy. I didn’t want the kind of welfare reform and “tough on crime” nonsense that was a thin cover for the ongoing oppression of black people in this country. I wanted change, radical change. (The same reason I supported Bernie through the primaries this year. I still want change.)

ralph-nader-buttonI supported Nader, and not just at the voting booth. I campaigned for him. I knocked doors and rang phones for him. He was by no means a perfect candidate, but he was not part of the oligarchy.

On Election Day 2000, I voted for Nader. In Florida. I justified it to myself with the excuse that Gore was the lesser of two evils, and in doing so, I overlooked the fact that a lesser evil is inherently less evil.

I don’t know what the moral of this story is. You vote however your conscience or your pragmatism tells you to vote today, but remember Florida in 2000.

Hindsight, being what it is, how many of us Nader supporters think Gore would have been a worse president than Bush? More than 537 of us?

Read Full Post »

I keep seeing people posting images in support of net neutrality, but beyond making people more aware that big money interests are trying to create fast and slow lanes on the internet, those images don’t do much to stop it from happening.

What can you, as a lone private citizen, do to protect net neutrality? The answer is surprisingly easy. You can tell the FCC that you want net neutrality. Courtesy of my friend Lucy Pick, here are the simple instructions for doing that.

1. Visit the FCC’s website here: http://fcc.gov/comments

2. Look for Proceeding 14-28

3. Enter your personal information. Yes, you will need to speak up as a citizen, and that means the FCC wants your name and address. Don’t be more scared than you are any other time you divulge this to the federal government.

4. In the comments section write, “I want internet service providers classified as common carriers.”

You can write other things as well, but the most important thing is to indicate that you want internet service providers to be considered common carriers. If that happens, internet service providers, like other companies which transport goods, would be prohibited from discriminating against customers based on what goods they want transported.

That would mean lowly bloggers have the right to expect the same service as big name companies. It’s essentially what we have now, and what we’re in danger of losing. Additionally, it would make it harder for disapproving providers to silence unpopular opinions. We never think about this until our opinion becomes unpopular.

So, if you’ve seen all these posts about net neutrality, but you weren’t sure what to do, now you do. It will take you less time than reading this post did.

 

Read Full Post »

I always struggle with what to do to commemorate Veterans Day. I’ve never understood the whole “big sale” concept as a fitting way to honor military veterans, but I often feel anger and frustration when I attend the more traditional Veterans Day events. As a society, we like veterans neatly wrapped up in faded photographs (in the case of those who have died) or in crisp, but somehow archaic uniforms. We want to see them at parades and speeches and the openings of war memorials. We do not like to see them in mugshots or sleeping on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk. Yet a disproportionate number of veterans become homeless or end up in prison.

This dilemma returns to me today, because I just received the final full cover for Lie Lay Lain. I had seen the front cover, but the back cover came as a surprise to me. There in shadow is the image of a paramedic. All of which has what to do with Veterans Day?

LieLayLain_Cover.fh11

Beyond my two point of view characters, Jennifer and Olivia, the third main character of the book is Rindell James, a paramedic and a Marine Corps veteran. The character developed out of me asking the question we all ought to ask ourselves: what becomes of our veterans?

In Lie Lay Lain, Rindell is still carrying the baggage of two tours of duty in Iraq, including post-traumatic stress disorder and a drug addiction that was born out of a combat injury. Throughout much of the book he is just a few missteps away from homelessness or tumbling back into drug use. These elements of his character are not things I cherry picked or over-dramatized to heighten tension in the novel. They are part of the everyday lives of many veterans. You don’t have to go far or look hard to find veterans who are suffering from combat injuries or PTSD, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed.

Combat injuries can lead to lifelong pain and in the pursuit of relief, many veterans become addicted to a variety of drugs. The psychological wounds of combat can also lead to self-medication with legal and illegal drugs, as well as alcohol. Combine pain, stress, addiction, and emotional troubles, and it’s not surprising that veterans disproportionately become homeless, unemployed, or incarcerated.

What is surprising is America’s somewhat cavalier attitude toward the lifelong fallout of going to war. People seem eager to thank veterans for their service, and they occasionally want to buy dinner for them, or contribute to adapting a home for a disabled vet. We do not, however, seem to have a united front on the absolute necessity of providing all veterans with the services necessary to keep them healthy and contributing members of our society.

Instead of thinking about veterans on one special day a year, we need to think about them more often, and more openly discuss the obstacles they face. We can do this by being more involved with local veterans groups, by being informed about veterans issues, or by communicating to our elected officials that veterans are important to us.

Read Full Post »

According to recently released minutes from one of Henry Kissinger’s meetings with Chinese premier Mao Zedong in 1973, Mao offered several million Chinese women to America, as China “had too many.”

It seems like an amusing anecdote in retrospect, if you don’t think too much about the possibility that Mao was apparently sincere and that slavery had only been illegal in the US for 111 years.

When you’re looking back on Mao’s offer and trying to decide whether it is funny, consider these two elements: America’s trade deficit and China’s woman deficit.

China currently has a trade surplus with the US in the neighborhood of $1.4 trillion, and that increases by about $1 billion a day.  (If it makes it easier to laugh, you can say those numbers in your Dr. Evil voice.)  According to The Atlantic, the Chinese government has mostly parked that deficit in American treasury notes, and the end result is the equivalent of every American borrowing $4,000 from someone in China.  (I borrowed mine from a goat herder in Guangxi Province, how about you?)

We don’t seem likely to turn the trade deficit around in the near future, so if America’s in hock up to its eyeballs, what do we have left to bargain with?  Women.  According to China’s own Family Planning Commission the current ratio of 118 men to 100 women will result in a shortfall of 30 million women by 2020.

This leads me to two questions:

  1. How far in debt to China will the US be by 2020?
  2. What is the exchange rate of US women to Chinese yuan?

Of course, I’m a fiction writer, so I’m always contemplating the ridiculous as likely and the absurd as possible.  Sadly, we’re not that far from the days when people were a commodity.  When people could be held as collateral on debts.  When women couldn’t vote or hold property.

I don’t know that the US will ever find itself trying to trade 10 million American women for debt relief, but if I had daughters, I might consider teaching them Chinese.

*For those who don’t recognize it, that’s from The Blues Brothers, when Jake and Elwood are at a fancy restaurant trying to convince Mr. Fabulous to get back together with the band.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: