Sunday, April 30, 2006

WWJD? He'd kick Chimpy in the balls, that's WJWD.

The gentleman on the left is Denzel Washington. The woman on the right is an American soldier and an Iraq War veteran. Not pictured is Jesus Christ (a/k/a The Prince of Peace), in whose name the Bush Administration makes its decisions, including the decision to send this young woman to Iraq.

Now, if you are of the Christian persuasion, you may well respond, "Jesus had nothing to do with this!" And that's fine, as long as your particular Christian sect has been vocal and outspoken in its condemnation of your fellow Christians who have so heartily endorsed our Resident and his filthy little war. Alas, such sects seem to be a little thin on the ground.

I suspect the problem is that professing ones love of the bleeding Jesus is the only requirement for acceptance within the communion of Christ. You don't have to really mean it or anything. It's not like a Christian would actually call out any other Christian as a fraud, a hypocrite, a Pharisee, a wolf in sheeps clothing, etc.

Here's what I expect to see from Christians; I expect real followers of Christ to stand up and say, "The president's course of action is an abomination in the eyes of Christ, and support for that course of action is a sacrilege." In other words, I'm talking a full-on schism.

See, if I understand it correctly, Jesus was all about love and peace. But many of the major Christian denominations see nothing wrong with what the United States is doing in Iraq (and threatening to do in Iran). Where are the Catholics, for example? The sanctity of life was deemed to be a fit subject to be preached from every Catholic pulpit the week before the 2004 Presidential election, but only in the context of abortion. Now, here's my problem:

The largest single Christian denomination in this country has no official position on the war! And it's extremely likely that your denomination is equally gutless. If you guys really believe all that stuff, how can there be any argument? How is it that the Christian majority in this country is afraid to even debate, much less express an opinion on the morality of elective war?

If you are a Christian, and you take your faith seriously, it's up to you to point this stuff out. And if you're an honest Christian, you'll recognize that the institution of Christianity is a long damn way from holding the moral high ground on this issue.

Yeah, I know. The Muslims are evil, they started it, yada yada yada. Explain to me where that gives you a free pass from observing the primary tenet of your faith: "Love one another."

I'd love to hear it, but I don't expect to.

Friday, April 28, 2006

An avalanche is made up entirely of snowflakes....

When circumstances create opportunities (even small ones) we should take advantage of them. Not all of us have the wherewithal to communicate on a grand scale like the Freeway Blogger. But like snowflakes in an avalanche, every reinforcement of the message has a cumulative impact and makes a contribution to the whole. Thus, the advent of the "Gas Pump Blogger."

All you need is a package of Avery Stickers from your local office supply store. The 2' x 4" size should run you less than $15.00 for a package of 250 stickers. Throw in another couple of bucks for a Sharpie. Then take your message to the place where it will have the most impact; the gas pumps at your local filling station.

Your messages may vary, but I encourage you to reinforce the role of our Republican President, Republican Senate and Republican House in allowing oil company greed to trump the public interest.

"$3.00 gas, brought to you by Rick Santorum and the Republican party!"

You get the idea. Please don't cover up the prices on the pumps; we want people to see exactly how badly they're being screwed by Dim Son and his GOP cronies.

It's such a small thing, but it means so much....Share your examples and help spread the word.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ask me about my IMMIGRANT roots! (UPDATED)

The immigration issue is far from the biggest problem we face in this country. Our Constitutional democracy is under threat from within. Talk of an impending nuclear strike on a sovereign country is treated as a real possibility, not a tinfoil fantasy. Wages for working people are stagnant at best, while executive income has soared 28%. 45 million Americans have no health insurance, a vital service which is available to all in EVERY OTHER WESTERN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY.

But immigration is at center stage, for a number of reasons. For the left, it's a question of keeping El Sueno Americano alive; for the right, it's a powerful wedge issue which breathes new life into the racist code-language of the GOP. Fear of the "other" is their bread and butter, whether the other is gay, black, brown, or Muslim.

As an old-line, traditional lefty, I've had some difficulty grappling with this issue. An expanded labor pool tends to suppress wages for working people; an unacceptable outcome. Indeed, some Republicans are serving in the unaccustomed role as front-line shock troops in this class-war struggle, threatening working-class Americans with the image of a brown horde, taking their jobs while diluting their racial purity. Other Republicans, recognizing that cheap labor means high profits, are advocating a guest worker program, which will create a semi-permanent, semi-serf pool of powerless workers.

It seems that there is a progressive position that recognizes the fact that immigrant labor is doing much of the work that enables American business (especially small business) to survive. In other words, they're already here, they're already working, and they neither have nor want your job. The way to protect working people (native-born, naturalized and undocumented) is to protect working people!

We protect existing jobs by eliminating the incentive to hire cheap replacement labor. We eliminate that incentive by making sure that every worker has the same rights. If undocumented workers have the same protections as all other workers, they will not have to accept slave wages, and will, therefore, be less attractive as replacements for native born and naturalized labor. By the same token, they will be employable based on their skills, their diligence, their dependability, their work ethic, etc. Just like anyone else. The playing field will be, at long last, level.

JFK said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." My Irish immigrant forebears benefitted from the gains made by the organized labor movement, without regard to whether they were documented or not. It's likely that your family tree was similarly lifted up. If this is true, how can we, in good conscience, pull up the ladder that our tempest-toss'd parents and grandparents used to elevate their status and, by extension, our own?

I'm a Griffith, I'm a McGrath, I'm a Ryan, I'm a Hart...I'm an IMMIGRANT! Wanna make something of it?

UPDATE: Immigrants rights groups have called for a general strike of immigrant workers on May 1, 2006. Since we're all immigrants (either your family crossed the border, or the border crossed your family), we should all make arrangements to be absent from work or school on that date. For the first time in a long time, the government has been forced to take notice of an actual, grass-roots, people-powered initiative. As noted above, immigrant rights are workers rights. Preserve the momentum and support all working people by participating in "Una Dia Sin Immigrantes" on May 1.