Monday, November 29, 2010

Week of 11/29/2010

Why NOT Thank A Human?
– by David Matthews 2

My friend RJ Evans is more than just a fellow libertarian and my boss for ShockNet Radio. He is also an unashamed atheist.

This past week on our weekly Friday show, RJ gave his editorial about the things and people he was thankful for this past Thanksgiving. I wasn’t listed by name (and I won’t hold it against him), but I paid more attention to something that he said about giving thanks, and to a point that he really didn’t pick up on too much.

Religious people, even those we call friends and family, continually interject their own faith into every aspect of our lives, and on special days, like Thanksgiving, this is even more so. Politicians of all stripe are equally eager to name-drop the politically-expedient personalized deity for thanks as well. Everyone loves to give thanks for the meal put before them, and the company around them, and their general lot in life, no matter how abysmal things may really be.

And yet something key is missing here…

What about the PEOPLE?

That turkey dinner that you enjoyed didn’t just magically appear on the table. Someone had to raise the turkey. That person had to then deliver that turkey for evisceration and plucking and bagging. It then had to be delivered to the store, handled by various employees to put it on the shelf, where it ended up in a shopping cart, and rung up by someone else before taken home. Then someone else had to cook it, carve it, and put it on plates for you to enjoy it. A deity didn’t do any of those things. Humans did them all.

The friends and family members that surrounded you during your day of thanks… they didn’t just magically appear around you, did they? They weren’t just sitting at home and then all of a sudden found themselves teleported over to your dinner table, were they? No, they had to fly or drive or even walk over to your home. And they didn’t get there by angel-power. They got there by man-made devices.

When you watched the various parades and sporting events and celebrations of the week, were all those being conducted by angels? Or were they done by human beings who took time out of their lives for the sake of celebration and competition?

Were any of those above-mentioned groups amidst your list of thanks this past Thanksgiving? Did you thank the farmer for your feast? Or the grocer for selling it to you? Or the people behind the means to bring your friends and family to you for that feast? I would hope that you at least thanked the person or people who cooked that feast that you so enjoyed!

You didn’t? You mean you completely forgot about those other people?

Well I’m really not surprised.

That seems to be a common problem. So focused are we on ourselves or on our beliefs that we forget about those “other people” who REALLY helped to make the day what it is. Or, for that matter, ANY day. It’s not just the special occasions that we seem to divorce ourselves from our fellow man and woman.

Think, for a minute, about a successful business. Big Corporate loves to dote all the attention on the people up at the extreme top of that business. The executive president, and vice-president, and directors, and the Board of Executives, and, of course, the CEO and CFO. They get all of the perks and bonuses. But what about the people who actually DO the work? The unnamed masses at the extreme BOTTOM of that business? The ones that barely get paid minimum wage with or without benefits and are told they have to work for free or without overtime or get laid off so those at the top can keep their profit margins. What sort of appreciation do they get for their hard work and sacrifice? Why, none at all! None except for “the opportunity” to bask in the glory of their executives.

I’m sure you’re wondering where we developed that kind of social disconnect, where we can literally de-humanize others, and you really don’t have to look very far. Just pay attention to what goes on at your own dinner table and ask who you really thank.

Let’s get brutally honest here… it’s really easy to give thanks to a deity that is viewed from our own biases and life experiences for simply ending up where we are today than it is to recognize and thus appreciate our fellow human beings, who were the ones that actually put in the effort to physically MAKE the things that we are enjoying. In fact it’s quite narcissistic.

If there was someone that you knew that did nothing at all, that neither contributed to your fortune nor helped you in times of trouble, would you be annoyed with that person demanding continual appreciation simply for being there? Sure. And yet when that “person” is a being perceived only through our own personal filters, we put IT over everything else and everyone else, and we expect others to do it too. And who really gains from that? Only ourselves.

Of course it’s easy to say that it’s not about “ourselves” when we use religious references. And yet our fortunes neither improve nor degrade if we inadvertently fail to thank that same being for some element of our lives.

Ask a CEO how he or she got to where they are today and they’ll be the first to tell you that it was through “hard work and determination”. They’re never going to say “Well I was cleaning toilets for minimum wage and I prayed to be rich and the very next day I was in charge of a Fortune 500 company.” That never HAS happened and that never WILL happen. But religious leaders will tell you that those kinds of things COULD happen just like that.

In fact the best way to describe what this personalized being contributes to is to say that it does… nothing. So we can either be thankful for that being doing “nothing” and watching as humans do all the things that is taken for granted, or we can be thankful for that being doing “nothing” that would intentionally cause harm to us or the people that we know. I mean, yeah, we COULD be hit by huge asteroid tomorrow. But does that mean I have to give thanks to some force in the universe that it hasn’t happened yet? That sounds a little bit like blackmail.

So the next time someone asks you to give thanks, how about putting some thought into the human beings who PHYSICALLY helped to make the event that you’re grateful for happening? After all, they had a LOT more do to with it than a metaphysical being that may or may not have done something… or nothing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week of 11/22/2010

Airport Of The Future?
– by David Matthews 2

Welcome To YOUR Local USA Airport!

For speedy processing, please observe the following rules and requirements.

By going beyond this point, you voluntarily forfeit any and all protections provided under the United States Constitution for the duration of your time within any and all USA Airport branches. Any rights or privileges provided during time within any and all USA Airport branches are at the sole discretion of USA Airport and can and will be revoked at any time with or without a stated reason.

All citizens, non-citizens, visitors, guests, refugees, and members of the US Armed Forces will be thoroughly screened for safety and security considerations. This is in compliance under all authority provided under the USA PATRIOT Act, the USA Airport Safety and Security From Terrorism Act, and the US Department of Homeland Oversecurity.

Prior to screening please turn off any and all cellphones, pagers, laptop computers, Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, iPods, iPads, iPlats, and any device used for recording or storage of data, including and especially any device used to store video and/or audio recordings. Recording security procedures by persons not employed by USA Airport is illegal and perpetrators will be arrested on the spot. Posting of said security procedures on social networking websites can be considered a death penalty offense.

Please be sure to provide the following documents and/or information upon entry into this or any USA Airport: your full name, the names of any other names you are known as, your address, all previous addresses you have lived at for the past ten years, your occupation, the address of your occupation, annual salary of your occupation, your National Identification Number (formerly your Social Security and Drivers License number), any and all phone numbers you currently use, any and all email addresses you currently use, the username and passwords to all websites that you are signed up for, any and all bank accounts you currently hold, any and all credit card information you have, your measurements (if female ages 18 or older), your marital status, the name of your spouse (where applicable - plural if in Utah), the names and ages of all children (where applicable), any and all social or political memberships you may currently or previously been associated with, the dates and number of times you called a radio or television station featuring a talk show host, and your position on the Instant Replay rule for all professional sports. Failure to provide any of the above-mentioned information can result in detainment. (Note: USA Airport cannot be held liable for any potential abuses or public mockery of your personal information.) Form TSA-666 will be provided for you to provide said information, which you will be able to fill out while waiting for your security screening.

Upon arrival to the screening area you will be required to remove all clothing, hair pieces, makeup, and prosthetics. Portable surgical equipment will be available to remove any breast implants, metal plates, and surgical pins. Please remove all said items and place them in the personalized container which will be handed to you prior to screening.

All persons going through screening will be subjected to visual and X-Ray scanning. This is required under the USA Airport Safety and Security From Terrorism Act and the authority of the US Department of Homeland Oversecurity. Any and all X-ray scans or photos taken during this screening by USA Airport personnel are for security purposes only and will be deleted after thorough review. (Note: USA Airport cannot be held liable for any potential abuses or public mockery of screening procedure. All scans are provided under officially licensed equipment provided by Beijing-Tijuana Security, Inc. and are not liable for any medical complications that may coincidentally arise during this time.)

Upon leaving screening, you will be provided official travel apparel containing your tickets, boarding passes, National Identification Number, and next-of-kin information. Official travel apparel will be based on your passenger status. First-Class passengers will be wearing neon orange coveralls, and all passengers flying coach will be wearing white coveralls with black stripes. Disposable feet coverings will be provided for all passengers and will be required to wear at all times within all USA Airports. All personnel not employed by USA Airport will be required to wear said travel apparel during all time within any and all USA Airport to avoid offending Airport or Airline employees with any social or political messages expressed or implied by one’s personal apparel.

All baggage will be searched upon check-in. Passengers are required to leave all baggage unlocked and available to be searched at all times. Due to security reasons, USA Airports will no longer allow carry-on luggage. Please do not transport any liquid, edible, or electronic substances in your baggage. All items will be thoroughly searched for explosives, counterfeit material, political paraphernalia, or potentially sensitive information. All suspicious material will be immediately seized and detained under current federal laws. USA Airports cannot be held liable for any material found missing, damaged, or exploited.

For a safe and event-free time during your travels at all USA Airports, please refrain from the following subject material: discussions about politics, discussions about sports, discussions about the economy, discussions about the security procedures at USA Airports, discussions about talk radio, references or impersonations of either comedian Jeff Dunham or any of his puppet characters, and any conversation that uses religious epitaphs, profanity, sexually-suggestive tones, or the phrases “hopey-changey”, “you betcha”, “Tea Party”, “shock-and-awe”, “lets get brutally honest here…”, “let’s roll”, or “Get’r done”.

(Note: The requirements listed above to not apply to members of the United States Congress or their immediate families.)

Thank you for visiting USA Airports, a division of the US Department of Homeland Oversecurity and the Federal Department of Corrections. Please be sure to visit often and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week of 11/15/2010

The New Holiday Monster
– by David Matthews 2

When it comes to the holiday season, there are two well-known monsters.

The first monster is Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge was the protagonist of the classic tale “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. He started out as a miserly old coot who hated Christmas and everything connected to it. He was a child of business. He was abandoned by everyone that he ever loved; his mother, his father, his sister, his girlfriend, and eventually the only friend he ever knew. Only money stayed with him, so that was all that he ever cared about. He lived miserly, and he hoarded every shilling he had, and he expected those around him to do the same.

Dickens created Scrooge as the personification of the new mentality of the Industrial Society; as the thing that people should not become. By the end of the story, of course, Scrooge found his place in society again.

The second holiday monster is the Grinch. The Grinch was the creation of famed author Dr. Seuss in the story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Unlike Scrooge, there was no real reason WHY the Grinch “hated” Christmas; just that he did. There were speculations about his clothes, his head, and his heart, but Seuss never developed a reason why this green furry creature would have a mad-on disgust of all things seasonal, only that it offended his sensibilities and he needed it to go away.

There are other enemies, of course, but for all of the Burger-Meister Meister Burgers and Winter Warlocks you could come up with, people identify Scrooge and Grinch the most because they represent the kind of people that they occasionally see in real life. They see the miserly curmudgeon that thinks money is more important than humanity, or they see the eternal grouch that hates celebrations and wants them all to go away.

But there has been another holiday monster that has reared its ugly head of late. It’s a self-centered creature that sucks the life and merriment out of the season. Ironically enough, this monster claims that it is acting in defense OF that same season of merriment and fun.


Now note that I did not say “HOLIDAY” Cleric, because that is the Cleric’s WORST WORD EVER! The CHRISTMAS Cleric will tell you in no uncertain terms that they are champions of CHRISTMAS! Not the “Holiday Season”, not the “Winter Season”, not the “Winter Festivities” or any other politically-neutral term. No, this Cleric will say CHRISTMAS, with the heavy emphasis on CHRIST-mas, because they are unashamedly CHRISTIAN, and they want everyone to know that this is THEIR SEASON!



Oh, you are more than welcome to participate, and in fact the Cleric WANTS you to take part. But it has to be according to the Cleric’s terms.

That means you MUST say CHRIST-mas. Heavy emphasis on the word “CHRIST”.

You cannot say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Winter” or even talk about a “Yuletide Greeting” or a “Winter Event”. Those other words are obscenities to the Cleric. You don’t EVER mention those words around the Cleric. EVER!

You MUST… MUST… have a CHRIST-mas Tree. Not a Chanukah bush, not a decorated Norse Odinsleep tree, but a CHRIST-mas Tree with either a star or an angel on top. No bows. Bows are for the wreaths, which are another requirement of the Cleric.

You MUST… MUST… play CHRIST-mas music! Not remixed pop versions of generic songs like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Winter Wonderland”. No, no, no. You MUST play all of the CHRISTIAN music! You MUST play “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Away in a Manger” and all of the other CHURCH-inspired music. And preferably the organ versions so you get that CHURCH feeling. Oh, and this is the one time that the Cleric will actually insist that the music be blasted on a volume level normally reserved for heavy metal rock concerts, because the Cleric wants EVERYONE to know what and WHO’S time of the year this is!

You MUST… MUST… say “Merry CHRIST-mas” to other people! And every store not only HAS to have CHRIST-mas material available, and it has to actually SAY “CHRIST-mas”, but they also MUST… MUST… wish ALL their customers a “Merry CHRIST-mas”! The Cleric DOES NOT TOLERATE anything less! Your free speech ends with the Cleric’s periphery. The Cleric needs to see it, the Cleric needs to hear you SAY it, and the Cleric expects you to do it in all sincerity and meaning.

Now in case you’re ready to just write the Cleric off as being a holiday fanatic, here’s another little wrinkle… the Christmas Cleric also suffers from a perpetual persecution complex. The Christmas Cleric is firmly convinced that there is a WAR going on by “godless heathens and atheists” to destroy society. The Cleric is goaded on by self-righteous evangelical ministers to believe that ANYTHING except an out-and-out CHRISTIAN celebration of this time of the year is nothing short of an ASSAULT on THEIR PERSONAL religious beliefs. The Cleric REFUSES to accept the REALITY that the season was full of STOLEN concepts, even material condemned by the Cleric’s own Bible, and declares it… ALL of it… EXCLUSIVELY CHRISTIAN.

Once upon a time it would have been easy to ignore the Christmas Cleric. We used to dismiss this bitter person as someone who was just overly anxious of the season. But the Cleric is the product of some truly evil forces with ulterior dreams of Dominionism, and they are the ones that send the Cleric to stores to badger employees and managers to meet the Cleric’s personal religious standards. They are the ones that encourage the Cleric to suck the life out of the enjoyment of this time of the year from those that don’t adhere to the Cleric’s religious standards.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the Christmas Cleric is just as much of a seasonal monster as a Grinch or a Scrooge. The Cleric is fueled by Dominionists, wound up by propaganda and FoxNews stories, and sent forth not to celebrate the season, but to CONQUER it. The Cleric is just as much of a jihadist as any Middle East terrorist, minus the bomb and gun; although if ignored long enough that could be subject to change.

Sadly, in the Cleric’s obsessive quest to get everyone to adhere to the Cleric’s specific religious DETAILS, the Cleric loses the whole purpose of the season. It’s no longer about a celebration. It becomes indoctrination.

The problem is that the Cleric is someone we know; someone we have to live with or work with or that we have to deal with on a continual basis. The Cleric is a friend, a co-worker, a family member, or a business customer. And the Cleric knowingly uses that connection to get his or her way. We can’t ignore this kind of person, as much as we want to, because the Cleric REFUSES to be ignored.

The truth of the matter is that the Cleric is not just the creation of the Dominionists, but also those of us who have an unrealistic expectation of the season. Nothing stops the Cleric from celebrating the season in his or her own way. It’s just a pity that the Cleric cannot find it within himself or herself to reciprocate.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week of 11/08/2010

Too Big For Jail Too?
– by David Matthews 2

Adlantus Newton was the victim of auto theft.

The Tacoma mother had just worked to pay off the loan she had on her 1999 Chrysler LHS and had gotten the title to the car back from the bank when her car was stolen from her.

It wasn’t hard to find her car or the people who stole it from her. In fact they were pretty blatant about stealing the car and were preparing to resell the stolen property.

She went to the police, but they weren’t any help. In fact the police sided with the criminals!

She was finally able to get her car back, but it would take the fear of exposure for it to happen, and, even then, NOBODY will go to jail for this heinous crime. Justice will clearly NOT be served in this case.

Because the criminal in this case is not a hardened gang member or professional auto thief looking for a quick score.

The criminal in this case is her bank.

The same bank whose loan she had paid off and gave her the title was the one that then declared her in “default” of that loan and sent the repo men to seize and try to re-sell that car.

Legally, the bank engaged in auto theft. That is a felony under Washington State law. They did not have ownership of that vehicle, they had already transferred the title to the rightful owner of that vehicle, and yet they still seized it and attempted to re-sell a vehicle that was legally not theirs under the false pretense that it was.

It took a television reporter and the fear of bad publicity to convince the bank to give Adlantus’ car back to her, with an empty gas tank no less. And the reporter ended his report with a chilling footnote: that his office has been hearing PLENTY of these kinds of crimes.

Even more disturbing is that law enforcement in the area not only ALLOWED this blatant criminal act to go through right under their noses, but they WILL NOT bring these admitted criminals to justice! By doing that, the police are guilty of being an accessory to a Class B felony under that same state law.

Then again, the government is protected from accountability. They have a built-in “Get Out Of Jail Free” card called sovereign immunity.

What’s the bank’s excuse?

Adlantus’ plight is the most blatant example of the systematic abuse of power and the continued and seemingly malicious action being carried out on behalf of banks against the very people they claim to be their clients. Adlantus was one of many people who did everything according to “the rules”. She paid off her loan. She got her title as proof of that completion. And yet the bank was determined to take her car away, by hook or by crook, simply because the payments stopped.

Across America, hard-working people who also tried to play by “the rules”, who struggled to keep up with payments, are suddenly finding themselves served with foreclosure notices, even though they’ve been keeping up with payments. They find themselves the victim of a bank foreclosure machine that doesn’t even bother to determine if they own the loan on the people they’re taking action against. And even when proof exists that these abuses are happening systematically, the banks are more interested in keeping the process going than to determine if they actually are right.

And they are allowed to get away with all of this with complete impunity… because governments large and small REFUSE to do their jobs!

In Pennsylvania, a debt collection company is being accused of sending out sheriff deputies to bring in people for debts they claim are due. They are taken to a courthouse and told that they could face jail if they do not settle those debts on the spot. Except the deputies are fake, the courthouse is fake, and the “judges” are fake. This is false imprisonment and false impersonation of law enforcement, both serious criminal charges.

And yet Attorney General Tom Corbett is only filing a “consumer protection lawsuit” against this predatory company. No criminal charges; just civil ones.

Yeah, that’s really “taking a bite out of crime”, huh? That’s showing you “REALLY” mean business!

Let’s get brutally honest here… the negligence of law enforcement to take action regarding these blatant criminal acts being committed by or on behalf of banks is UNACCEPTABLE! These are CRIMINAL actions!

If it was a street gang that stole Adlantus Newton’s car, do you really think that the Tacoma police would be sitting back and doing nothing? Or would they be reaching for their flack jackets and hauling out the heavy assault rifles? If it was a gang of grifters pretending to be sheriff deputies and judges, do you really think that AG Corbett would be wasting his time with civil lawsuits? Or would you see him handing the State Police the battering ram and looking for a trophy to impress the media with?

But no, we’re not talking about street gangs or a gang of grifters. We’re talking Big Corporate. We’re talking the all-mighty BANKS! And they’re special, aren’t they? They can’t be touched. After all, they’re “too big to fail” according to the federal government!

Forget plutocracy; this is KLEPTOCRACY we’re talking about here! This is government by THIEVES, of THIEVES, and for THIEVES! This is the same kind of selective governing you see in African nations.

And it’s not just a local problem. Big banks are getting big bailouts and getting a blind eye by the government for their abusive treatment of the very people whose taxes are supposed to be PAYING for those bailouts. Rather than prosecuting them for their predatory ways, they’re actually NEGOTIATING with those banks.

Remember the romanticized bank robberies of the 1930’s? Names like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde were propped up as heroes not because of what they did, but of whom they targeted… banks. They were seen as GOOD GUYS because of the unrepentant predatory nature of the banks. Those sentiments are back again, and, in case you’re wondering, bank robberies are once again on the rise.

In order to turn around our collapsing economy, we need CONFIDENCE, not just in the lending institutions, but also in government in being able to DO THEIR JOBS! The various lending institutions need to be held to account for their actions. There needs to be ARRESTS! There need to be executives from these predatory businesses frog-marched out in front of the media. And if these branches of government FAIL to do their jobs, then they need to have their sovereign immunity stripped from them so they too can be prosecuted and convicted for their roles as willing accomplices in these criminal acts! Our society will continue to degrade until there is actual JUSTICE.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Week of 11/01/2010

Just Focus On The One
– by David Matthews 2

Every year at election time I hear the same old tired mantras from the statists in the political world when it comes to alternatives to their usual zero-sum “lesser of two evils” argument. That “they’re spoilers”, that “they take votes away from the other candidates” (boy, talk about an ENTITLEMENT program), and of course the most pompous of pompous pronouncements…

“They cannot win.”

Good luck on using history to refute their arguments. They have their own to fall back on. Good luck on using voter dissatisfaction. After all, the whole purpose of negative campaigning is to get those dissatisfied voters so disgusted that they will stay home instead of voting.

No, these political cultists have their minds fixated on their zero-sum “with us or against us” extremist mindset and they will go to their graves reciting those mantras.

Even worse is that these political cultists are in positions of influence in the media, able to recite their zero-sum “two-party only” beliefs to the masses and having it unquestionably accepted as being “truth”. The destructive effect of this mantra is even magnified by the glaring corruption, abuses, and gross incompetence of both halves that of that “two-party only” cult. When you are convinced that there are “only two sides” and both of them end up being detrimental to human discourse, there’s really no incentive to fix things.

But things DO have to change. These “two-party only” evangelicals need to be shut down, or at the very least hounded away from center stage so that REAL change can take place in society. THEY certainly don’t want change, because it takes power away from them. But change MUST be made, because the way things are today, it is just not healthy for any society to continue like this.

So how do you do it? How do you TRULY fix a problem this extensive?

The quick-and-dirty way would be to say “government”, but that’s really not a solution. That’s actually another part of the problem. In fact every attempt to impose a government solution has ended up reinforcing that same extremist “two-party only” cult. That’s because the government is also infested with status-quo cultists, and getting them to accept more than two political parties is like getting Christians and Muslims to accept Buddhists as equals.

So how do you bring about change given the insurmountable odds stacked against it?

You do it in the same way that the status quo crept into society in the first place…

You start with yourself.

Let’s get brutally honest here… these “two-party only” evangelical cultists have a vested interest in getting you to vote their way. Their power rests in convincing you to give up your own when it comes to the ballot box. So the first step to bringing change is for you to not give them that power.

Bringing about change first must from YOUR OWN vote. Not your neighbor’s vote; YOURS. Change doesn’t just happen because you want it to, and change is not going to be easy. It means having to explain why you aren’t following the “preferred” choices, putting up with accusations of “wasting your vote” or of being a “spoiler”.

Yes it means enduring the slings and arrows of making your choice, but if you think about it… making a change against a destructive system means weathering some abuse. Look at some of the biggest changes in history. How many of them were without misery or torment? Being accused of “wasting your vote” or of being a “spoiler” is pretty much on the low-end of consequences.

Besides, if your vote is ultimately so inconsequential to the “bigger picture”, why are the statist evangelicals so concerned about it? Well the answer is simple: because EVERY vote counts, no matter how small they are; and their sense of entitlement demands that they lay claim to EVERY vote out there, including - and especially - YOURS.

Consider one of the previous elections where there were “X” percent of the populace that did not vote, thus fulfilling the ultimate goal of those negative ads. What if half of those non-voters actually showed up and wrote in “NOTA” to any particular office? Sure “NOTA” wouldn’t win, but it would send a message to both sides of that “two-party only” cult that there is a segment of the populace that isn’t happy with the choices being forced on them. Plus it would open the door for better candidates that would normally be excluded from running by those party bosses. Just by you writing in “NOTA” (or “None Of The Above”), you send that message of dissatisfaction that starts the wheels of change rolling.

All of that starts with just one vote… your own.

Once upon a time this commentator believed that a truly “wasted” vote was the one that didn’t vote, but after listening to the statist evangelicals over and over and over, I have been forced to revise that definition. A truly WASTED vote is not just the person who doesn’t vote, but also the person who sells out his principles and votes for the “lesser of two evils” instead of voting for the candidate that he or she feels best represents them.

True change starts not with the collective, but with the individual. Don’t worry about the million votes needed to win, or even a thousand votes. Just focus on that one vote… your own. And make it TRULY represent you.