Friday, August 28, 2015

They Just Washed Away 
Katrina a Man-made Disaster: Before, During, and After
(See Laura Flanders GRITv , Democracy Now!, and Brother Lefty Videos below)

Hurricane Katrina Takes Aim on the Gulf Coast
It still breaks my heart to cast my mind's eye on the Horror that swept through New Orleans in August of 2005.

Sometimes I still come to tears as I attempt to sing "Washed Away", the song that wrote me as I sat there ten years ago in Queens, NY, choked with pain and anger, appalled at what was happening -- and trying to comprehend how this could happen in the wealthiest nation on earth.

Made in the U.S.A.

Although Hurricane Katrina, the ferocious vortex that was born over the Atlantic Ocean during the sultry days of late August that year was a "natural" phenomenon, what happened a decade ago was not. It was, from beginning to end, a man-made disaster, a glaring example of the continued institutional racism of the neo-liberal era.

The confederate flag may have been removed from the State Capital grounds in South Carolina, but the de facto segregation and the systematic patterns of power that disadvantages people of color shaped the nature of the disaster that emerged.

In line for evacuation buses at the Superdome
The catastrophic series of events that decimated New Orleans, killing 1836 people (nearly a 1000 of them in the City itself), and displacing a million and a half others in the region, had been predicted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  They knew that the 100 year old system of levees and flood control protecting the half a million residents of the City, nearly 70% of whom were Black, couldn't withstand the force of a hurricane of that magnitude.  They also reported that there no adequate system in place to evacuate the people at risk.

Then, they passed the buck -- or the bucks, rather.  Crony Capitalism at it's worst, FEMA privatized New Orlean's Disaster Planning in 2004.

This is all a matter of public record.  It's there in black and white. 

Those in charge knew.

In fact, just three months before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Agency responsible for flood control, had issued another warning to the Bush Administration which had not yet acted to implement a flood control plan involving extensive construction they had proposed years earlier.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"I Speak As Someone Who Loves America"

"When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, 
are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, 
extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
-- Dr. Martin King Jr., Speech at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

Although the events this year in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream"speech poignantly relevant this year, I would like more attention given to the words Dr. King delivered at the Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 as the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day.

On that day, Dr. King proclaimed, "these too are our brothers", and came out against the US involvement in the Vietnam War with a passion and an eloquence that many believe caused his assassination exactly one year later.

As it is, the corporate media has consistently whitewashed Dr. King's views on economic justice, materialism and militarism for decades now.  Rather than the blasphemous blather perpetuated by today's Psuedo-Christians of the Far Right, King's words were those of a True Christian Prophet.    Like Mahatma Gandhi, Kings politics emerged from the power of Truth and Love.  His stirring call for active protest by all people of conscience ring as true today as they did nearly half a century ago.  It is no wonder the corporate media today chooses to ignore this speech and remain silent. 

Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Let's Get RADICAL: Pope Francis ROCKS the Vatican -- and Corporate Board Rooms!!

Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! Features Pope Francis's Upcoming Encyclical on Climate Change.  (VIDEO BELOW)

"Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, 
but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities."
-- Pope Francis

"To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy."
--Pope Francis

Pope Francis
Although there are scores of Catholics that make it to my list of favorite Saints, Seers and Sages, it's been quite awhile since the Holy See and I saw eye to eye.  In fact, after John the 23rd shook things up with Vatican II back in the day, it's been pretty clear that the not-so-good old boy's club of conservatives grabbed the reins again to run the show -- and there was hell to pay.

Rather than foster the Liberation Theology that had emerged in South America, where the church was actually ministering to the poor and actively challenging the forces of oppression,  rope a dope popes quashed that movement, then just hung back and let the masters of mammon and their political minions do their thing. (Although, admittedly, Pope John Paul II did speak out against both Iraq Wars, he didn't really pull out the stops to put his money where his mouth was. )

Now, finally, it seems that the Good Guys have prevailed once again.  When the College of Cardinals sent up those white puffs and I learned that Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. S.J., had become the first Pontiff to choose Saint Francis as his namesake, I thought "Holy Smokes! The Hippies Won!"  

Saint Francis of Assisi, with his pantheistic and inclusive Love of Creation in all it's myriad forms (Brother Sun, Sister Moon, etc.), his uncompromising vow of solidarity with the poor, and his legendary bout of public nudity was a Hippie icon, our kinda fella.

Rather than cruise in the Limo, Francis opted for a Renault
Of course I don't expect Pope Francis to go skinny dipping with the Vatican Press Corps, but from all I've seen and heard so far, this guy really does get it.  A man of insight, humility and compassion, a Christian who clearly understands the Inclusiveness of the One Love, he seems to be the Real Deal.

With him at the helm, this could be an interesting ride.

Of course, the Catholic Church is an incredibly massive ship.  Even with this Good Dude's hands on the wheel, making course corrections isn't gonna be quick and easy. (Think: thousands of pissed off clerics and bureaucrats wanting to hold onto their pride, power,  and possessions...)  

My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago: "We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*