Terms and Conditions May Apply

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Do you agree? Check this box to proceed…after reading several pages of legalese rendered in 6-point type. Didn’t bother? If you care about the increasingly obscure concept of “privacy,” the film “Terms and Conditions May Apply” is mandatory — and frightening — viewing. Director Cullen Hoback carefully examines those “T&C”s that we “agree” to millions of times a day, and shows with chilling clarity how Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube, and all our other favorite Interweb sites are knowingly and happily serving as giant data collection centers for themselves and for the government. You may not care now, but one day when your browsing habits become the basis of an FBI visit you’ll look back at this groundbreaking 2013 film and sigh.

There Oughta Be a Law!

bizarre-law

Do you know what legislators do? Besides collect bribes disguised as “donations”? They make laws! We need each and every one of these laws, because they help all of us behave better. Without these laws, we’d all revert to our natural instincts and behave very badly toward everyone but ourselves. Thankfully, when we feel like behaving badly toward ourselves, there are other laws in place to discourage us. Laws, you see, are what civilize us. They distinguish us from the other great apes, who aren’t familiar with concepts like “justice,” “regulation,” and “economic warfare.”

Since we can’t all make the laws – that would be confusing! — each of us is lucky to be represented by professional lawmakers, probably more of them than most of us realize. These learned and exceptionally intelligent individuals, whose main job is to express the will of the folks . . . → Read More: There Oughta Be a Law!

Poem: Abdication

red green gold rasta

Brother man can’t be chained put in a cage vomiting rage.

Brother man is free.

Try to put the wind behind bars try to chain the sea.

Deflection misdirection missed connections.

But still they flow

immune from prison.

When stopped they go.

You could call it Zen.

The ineffable indescribable unpoemable Soul is free.

 

My friend my incarcerated Brother yearning to be

free free like Brother man we know you hurt and we know you’re scared

to be alone with your thoughts

as we all are. It’s OK. It’s all going to be OK. You can let him go.

Release the son to the sun to life beyond and now release him let him fly

free to find the next.

No Good Cops

I don't make the laws, I just enforce them

The comedian Todd Glass does a podcast I like for its improvisational spirit and quirky humor. “The Todd Glass Show” is popular with stoners, comics, anti-establishmentarians and everyone else who digs Todd’s antic energy and nimble mind. Todd is Todd. He’s real. He’s honest and open and entertainingly transparent, and what you mostly hear is a kind and compassionate soul who really does believe We, the collective We, can and will do better. Todd’s an optimist.

He’s also, paradoxically, a big fan of police “ride-alongs.” He’s done many over more than 30 years, and throughout the 140+ episodes of his show Todd’s talked about them occasionally, usually to convey the sense of excitement of being in a real live police car with lights and sirens and real live policeman with a uniform and badge and a gun.

Many of us have a thing for men in uniform, . . . → Read More: No Good Cops

Privacy Shmrivacy

Activists Rally In New York In Support Of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

The comedian Pete Holmes used to do a bit about how Facebook was actually a giant government conspiracy to get us to give up our privacy rights. Three years ago, it seemed funny.

That a shockingly large percentage of Americans believe Edward Snowden ought to be tried for high crimes – treason is the offense of choice – instead of lauded as an activist making all of us wiser suggests that Pete’s joke might in fact be the truth.

As Lawrence Wright recently reported in The New Yorker, the CIA knew Al Qaeda was in the USA two years before 9/11. None of the sixty or more people at the Agency who knew about the operatives cooperated with colleagues at the FBI. (Many of these folks were subsequently promoted for reasons that remain unclear.) Edward Snowden broke the law, and war-mongers like California’s grouchy . . . → Read More: Privacy Shmrivacy

What Has 2014 Wrought?

colorado-weed map

There once was a magic crystal ball that “fell” to Times Square on the stroke of Midnight. When the magic ball dropped, 2013 changed into 2014. And suddenly everything was different.

Well, not everything. Orwellian doublespeak was still flourishing. Time Warner was still telling their customers that an impending 18% price increase was in fact a new and, in their words, “great” promotional rate extended to their most valued patrons. Auntie Dianne Feinstein, she of the oxymoronically named Senate Intelligence Committee, was still insisting that Edward Snowden was a traitor, not an American hero, even though a federal judge had found that the secret government surveillance programs he exposed (the ones Auntie Dianne and her legislative cabal secretly authorized) were illegal, and even though the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Guardian were calling on the Obama administration to offer clemency to Snowden in . . . → Read More: What Has 2014 Wrought?

Poem: Poet Philosopher

alan-ginsberg-poet-philosopher-carole-spandau

Let this be my manifesto

to be tacked upon cathedrals and posted on digital walls

where everyone in the world goes to look

at what isn’t happening to them. It has thusly been decreed

that He is I and I is He – another way to say

that I is We, and He and You and all that ever was.

It’s all in here.

 

The decision has been made – by who or whom or what, no one can say.

Royalty or slave, predator or prey, your divine purpose

is to be of service to God, God being Nature and living creatures and

everything that’s here and everything that isn’t.

Your brothers and sisters, the ones who aren’t born yet, the ones whose shells

you might one lifetime inhabit – everyone is qualified, despite what merchants in the religion trade

claim. . . . → Read More: Poem: Poet Philosopher

The Slow Motion Holocaust

a typcial black male

Identification, ostracism, confiscation, concentration, and annihilation.

Those are the key steps in all genocides. We haven’t yet accomplished the final solution, the annihilation part, but we’ve done a brilliant job of the first four steps in our slow-motion holocaust against the American Underclass, the perpetually poor lowest ten percent of our society. The clever part, the really insidious part, is that while perpetrating our crime we’ve avoided the international community’s approbation. Indeed, we’ve earned begrudging praise for figuring out how to warehouse our unwanted black males and uneducated white trash behind bars, where they can’t hurt our precious children. And we’ve built a profitable, fast-growing new industry to boot: the for-profit prison business. So long as there are plenty of useless poor folk lying about playing dominoes and smoking weed, we’ll always have plenty of bodies to fill the cells, keeping the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, . . . → Read More: The Slow Motion Holocaust

The House I Live In

House Ilive in

Eugene Jarecki’s award-winning documentary, “The House I Live In,” is necessary viewing for anyone who mistakenly thinks continuing our disastrous War on Drugs, declared by Richard Nixon in 1971, is a good idea. The genius of this film is that it examines the toll our national folly and hypocrisy takes not only on entire communities of poor people, but also on the law enforcement personnel who do the manual labor for America’s splendid Prison Industry. By systematically dismantling the Drug War’s lies and propaganda, “The House I Live In” speaks truth to power. There’s plenty of shame to go around — but the bulk of it rests on the conscience of anyone (such as Barack Obama) who thinks incarcerating drug users accomplishes anything but the destruction of lives.

. . . → Read More: The House I Live In

More People in Metal Cages = A Better America

Exhibit at the Human Zoo

The new rankings just came out. We win again!

Of all the nations on Earth, the United States of America incarcerates the largest percentage of its population. Out of every 100,000 people, we put 716 in some kind of jail. No other civilized country is even close.

Nor are the uncivilized ones. Almost 25% of the entire world’s behind-bars population is housed in an American corrections facility – so named because we’re correct to warehouse unwanted blacks, druggies, and other assorted losers in human zoos.

Let’s be clear: We don’t have the world’s largest prison population because America is a nation of criminals. It’s not that we have more bad people than they do in other places. It’s just that we’re better at apprehending, convicting, and sentencing our bad people than everywhere else.

This is something to be proud of. Just when it seemed no one could . . . → Read More: More People in Metal Cages = A Better America