Over Half of U.S. School Kids Live in Poverty

Over Half of U.S. School Kids Live In Poverty

I just saw the above article over at Huffpo.  My senses were shocked, but I am not surprised.  Please remember that this is not because we are lacking sufficient wealth.  This is because we have allowed income disparity to reach ridiculous levels.  We also prioritize so many of the wrong things, like military might that far exceeds any sense of reality.  How can we let some people live like feudal lords, while so many children live in poverty?  It makes no sense.  It lacks all common decency.  I remember on the Daily Show when, in one of the bits, they mentioned that income inequality was higher here, between white and black people at least, than it was in Apartheid South Africa.  That is why for the rest of my life, and even if I was to die and be reincarnated several times over, I could never support the GOP.  I’m not saying Democrats don’t have their own issues, but the GOP seems to carry on as if this is not a part of an ever present reality for so many Americans.  It’s a flag, not a blindfold.

GOP: Deport Dreamers

House GOP Votes to Block Protections for Undocumented Immigrants

The above article is from Huffington Post.  The fact that the House GOP are again trying to stick it to immigrants would be funny, if it weren’t so hateful.  The reason it would be funny is that they are unknowingly creating their own doom.  Not only is it wrong what they are doing, it makes no sense politically if you look at the demographics that are coming down the pike.  They have only been able to hold on to power as long as they have because of all of the gerrymandering that they have done to protect their seats.  Eventually this tactic won’t work.  As America becomes more and more of a multicolored nation, they are dooming themselves to eventual irrelevance.

Now that explains why it is stupid.  Why is it wrong?  Spend some time reading what immigrants go through in this country all of the time:  How they live in fear, how families are broken up, how they are thrown into a labyrinthine injustice system that makes no sense.  These are people.  These are moms, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins, that mostly just want to live a life of decency and follow their dreams.  Immigrants, dating all the way back to before the Civil War, have long been the scapegoat for America’s problems.  Read about the American Party (or The Know Nothing) or if you don’t want to do that much work, watch Gangs of New York to see a fictionalized version.  Here is the wikipedia page for The Know Nothing Party:

The Know Nothing Wikipedia Page

Hispanics are the targets now, but before it was Germans, Irish, Italians, whoever was the latest group of huddled masses looking for a new start.  Well yes, going forward there needs to be some kind of sane immigration policy that actually works to keep people out that enter illegally, but these people are here and they aren’t going anywhere.  We can either treat them with kindness or surrender to the powers of hate and ignorance.  I know which side I would rather be on.

New York City Police Boo Mayor

New York City Police Boo Mayor

I just touched upon the subject of the, as of late, childish behavior of the New York City Police:

Police Turn Their Back On NYC Mayor

I pretty much said what needed to be said there.  I basically just want to catalog what is going on.  I want to point out that this kind of behavior by police is actually why so many people dislike and distrust these officers, people that should be a valued part of the community.

They say, ‘To protect and to serve’
But what they really mean to say is
Get back to the ghetto, the ghetto
Get yourself back to the ghetto

– Lyrics from the song Ganglord by Morrissey.

I hope there is a day when lyrics like these no longer ring true.  Maybe the police will eventually see so much backlash and ill will towards their current behavior that they will have to be reformed.  It is currently looking like it might have to be from outside forces.  Wouldn’t it be so much better for everyone involved if they took it upon themselves to make the necessary changes?

Exodus: Gods and Kings: A Second Look

I had 0.0 desire to see the new movie Exodus: Gods and Kings until I read the review posted below.  I’ve always loved Ridley Scott, but I’ve read all of the horrible reviews concerning this movie.  Also, the movie Noah that came out earlier this year, with Russell Crowe, was so terrible that it kind of made me gun-shy over Biblical epics.  However, even though the following reviewer was trying to make Scott’s new movie sound horrible, she made it sound so batshit insane that now I want to see it.  (If her review was an attempt to dissuade people from seeing it, she just did the opposite in my case.)  This is from Remy M. Maisel over at Huffpo:

Never have I seen a movie so profoundly, completely and utterly misunderstand the point of its own story as Exodus: Gods and Kings did. In fact, it’s so off that I can’t help but wonder if maybe the film has a different agenda than I thought it did.

Even setting aside that a white man named Christian — CHRISTIAN — was hired to play Moses, and that Ramses had blue eyes, and that there were Brits and Scots and Americans just in the mix to play the speaking characters, and that Aaron Paul was there (and didn’t play Aaron), this film made no sense. 

Every single person and idea in this story is so thoroughly mischaracterized that the basic, essential point — that the Hebrews have been long oppressed and are being deservedly liberated, hooray! — gets lost. Instead, we are left feeling deeply sad for Ramses, who twice tells his young son something like “You sleep so well. It is because you know that you are loved. I have never slept so well.” You want to cry for him. Ramses keenly feels his father’s lack of approval and affection, and it drives him in everything he does. We know why he is motivated to do the bad things he does. We can empathize. 

Moses, meanwhile, is completely unsympathetic. Christian Bale plays him like he is reprising his role in American Psycho. He has no rapport with Ramses. He doesn’t look or dress like an Egyptian in the beginning of the film, when he believes he is one. He doesn’t kill a taskmaster to spare a beaten slave: he does it out of aggression, and when he need not have. Like the rest of his actions, this choice is inexplicable and unjustifiable. 

We also see hundreds more shots of innocent Egyptian citizens suffering terribly because of the plagues than we do images of the Hebrews being forced to work or otherwise abused. Moses doesn’t seem to mind that the man he was raised with, as a brother, is enduring this. There is no emotional plea to Pharaoh to “Let my people go!” He never even says this. Why would he? He clearly does not consider them his people, or really care if they get to go or not. 

God doesn’t really seem to care, either. If possible, he is even less interested in explaining anything to Moses than he is in the Old Testament. It’s as if he doesn’t want Moses to know what’s going on, either. Instead of saying he has heard the cries of his people, and that he is ready to save them, he needles Moses for asking where he’s been for 400 years. He snidely points out that Moses hasn’t done anything to help the Hebrews, either. He never assures Moses that he will be with him, and help him on his difficult journey. He also yells at Moses that revenge feels great, which is entirely inconsistent with Judaism. (On Passover, we remove a drop of wine from our glasses for each plague, so as not to celebrate the suffering of the innocent Egyptians.) 

Not helping matters is the fact that Aaron and Miriam are rendered even less relevant than they were in the Dreamworks classic The Prince of Egypt — which, by the way, is my only complaint about that film. It is as if he has no allegiances or ties or sense of kinship to anyone or anything at all. At no point does Moses seem to belong to the Hebrews any more than he belonged when he was an Egyptian prince. Nor does he even have any apparent fondness for the Midianites, or chemistry with Tzipporah, who is as unsupportive as it gets. And once he leads the Hebrews through the sea, he seems indifferent about whether he collects her and his son before they head to Canaan or not.

Moses is also pretty staunchly and aggressively atheist for most of the film, even arguing with his wife about nurturing their son’s faith — that is, until he gets knocked unconscious by an avalanche, which is what happens right before he encounters God. So we can only assume he was concussed and hallucinating. Which I hope he was. Because God happens to be embodied by a creepy, petulant little British boy, while the burning bush in the background is totally ignored. The representation of God in the Old Testament is inconsistent, yes, but in this story, God is fire. He does not come to Moses as a person. God is a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” He is pillars of smoke. He is a staff that becomes a cobra. He is his “wonders.” 

So what of the wonders? Well, there’s no staff, so it doesn’t get turned into a snake. For some reason, the Nile turns to blood not because God had Moses do it with his staff, since there is no staff. Instead, it is because God sent some hungry crocodiles into the water to chew up the people in boats — here, there is homage to Jaws — and then each other, until the water is bloodied. There being no staff, that also does not part the Red Sea (!). He throws his sword in it. And then it does not part. Instead, it drains like a bathtub. Not super fast, either. It takes all night.

This movie is so tone-deaf, and so misses every mark you expect to see it knock out of the park, that it’s not even aggravating so much as it is baffling. So, Happy Hanukkah. If, for some reason, you wish to celebrate it with the Passover story, try The Prince of Egypt. Because we will all be happier if we just pretend Exodus: Gods and Kings was never made.

Here is a link to my thoughts on the film after seeing it:

Random Thoughts During Exodus: Gods and Kings

Israel Grabs More Palestinian Land


This above is an article from Huffington Post that is about how Israel is instituting a new land grab in the West Bank.  One can’t help but feel that a certain portion of Israel’s government is a criminal element that stands outside the law of nations.  It is not Jews in general or even all of the Israeli people, much in the same way that Rick Perry does not represent all Texans, that are responsible for this.  However, unfortunately, because these are the politicians that have the power in Israel right now, I believe we must treat the nation of Israel as pariah that needs to be checked if there is ever going to be peace in the Middle East.  Hopefully change will come from within.  In the meantime Americans should demand that our government quit sending Israel money.  

The Immorality of Our Israeli Position



The above article is about the suffering going on in Gaza, about Israel’s morally bankrupt policy there, and about how AiPAC has used its influence in America to paralyze us and prevent us from doing anything.  We give Israel $3 Billion dollars in direct foreign aid every year and another $12-17 billion in indirect aid.  If you remember I also posted a link to a blog sometime back, from Andrew Sullivan, which talked about how 23 Palestinians die for every one Israeli.  There is outrageous injustice going on in that part of the world and we are helping to fund it.

It’s a Queer World

It’s a queer world, God knows, but the best we have to be going on with. – Brendan Behan

If you read the headlines enough they become like a tickertape of the absurd.  I go to Huffington Post once or twice a day as it is usually a good place to see what the country is talking about.  I don’t really read many of their articles, there are way better places to get in depth knowledge, but it’s a good place to get the pulse of what is going on.  Just today they had a morning headline about how the Iraq War architects were being brought back into the fold by the media as if they had any credibility left.  They should be in shackles for all the poor men and women they sent to their deaths, not on TV voicing their opinions.  Then tonight I see the headline is that our country is going to execute three convicts within 24 hours starting tonight.  It’s like that scene in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart where the characters of Sailor and Lula ride through the desert flipping through the radio.  Every station features news darker and more degrading than the last, until they finally can’t stand it and decide to crank heavy metal music.

However, there are reasons to be hopeful.  President Obama finally made the speech that he needed to on climate change.  It obviously remains to be scene what he can actually accomplish, but it was a strong speech that no other President has dared to make.  It also looks that despite the media giving some voice to the insane warmongers who got us into Iraq, that there is also some genuine pushback to stay out of the Middle East for once.  I am no Thomas Friedman fan, but in the Sunday Times he mentioned that the two countries that are doing best in the Middle East, Tunisia and Kurdistan, are also the countries that we have largely stayed out of.  Hopefully some of those in power understand this.  

I just recently started a part time job canvassing for a political organization.  I thought it would be a good way to make a little extra cash and do something positive in my community on days I don’t have shows.  Going door to door I have found most people to be polite and kind.  Flipping though mainstream TV and paying attention to the headlines is an easy way to find oneself depressed.  However, there is good in this world and it is worth remembering that all hope is not lost.  You might have to dig for it sometimes, but it is there.  Don’t let the bastards get you down…