Sunday, March 24, 2013

Age-Old Question: Are Republicans Born Or Made?

The harm that conservatism does to the well-being of all Americans can be seen everywhere. Just watch the news some night. Last week there was a report that many states are now adopting laws that make it illegal to use cell phones while driving (except in an emergency). I thought, "Well, there is something that we can all agree on." Some Tea Party advocate came on and fervently claimed that this was yet another government-enforced infringement on our freedom. His selfish and dangerous exclamation clarified something for me: the difference between liberals and conservatives is quite simple. Liberals are macro thinkers, and their concern is for the greater good. Conservatives care only for themselves, to the detriment of the greater good. Whether the issue is gun control, taxation, cell phone usage, market regulation, or corporate greed, Republicans always take the side which will do more harm to the greatest amount of people. They can't bring themselves to ban texting while driving, even though it endangers everyone within driving distance of the texter. They can't bring themselves to ban assault weapons, even though it endangers anyone near a madman with an AK-47. They can't force the super-wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes, even though it stalls the economy and makes it harder for all of us to access services we need. In short, they stand united against the people while serving themselves and their rich masters. The greater good be damned. In America, Republicans get to hold us all hostage to their mania. This mindset smacks of sociopathology--the human disorder/disease that renders one incapable of compassion for other human beings. They have no heart, conscience or soul...and their only genuine feelings are for themselves. They are utterly incapable of empathy. They are manipulative, self-serving prevaricators. They are greedy, conniving, and narcissistic. We see these traits in murderers and other criminals (Ted Bundy was a rising young star in Washington state's Republican Party before he was apprehended for mutilating scores of women...and notice that Jodi Arias liked to wear hats with the Republican logo on them). Thankfully, not all Republicans are murderers; their rapaciousness overrides their violence. But in America it is not a crime to be greedy, self-absorbed, and cruel. And, sooner or later, Repulicanism brings us all to our knees. This gets to me thinking, is Republicanism a disease, and can it be cured? Should we be organizing telethons, like the MD Labor Day telethon, to eradicate this plague? If we fund research, can we find that there is a Republican gene? Or are Republicans made, not born? I would like to think that we are all born innocent, compassionate people, looking for the good in others and capable of promoting the greater good. But if that is so, then something happens to Republicans in childhood which turns them away from their better angels. Sociopaths are typically verbally and/or physically abused in childhood. Many grow up in tryannical homes, totally devoid of empathy for others. These children neither get nor give love. They feel the poor get what they deserve. (Prescott Bush used to drive his son, GHW Bush, around the seedier sections of Hartford, Conncecticut, and tell him that the impoverished were not deserving of our help because they made their own beds.) Unloved kids learn that power is all that matters in family dynamics and the world at large, because it is power, privilege and status that will protect them. They grow up distrusting others, and looking for all the ways to believe the worst in all of us. They become the tyrants who raised them, and, in turn, raise their own kids the same way. This is a depressing thought because it means we will never be rid of Republicanism. It is more comforting to think that there is a Republican gene, and that some day we can find a cure for it. Though funding for this project would be opposed by Republicans...after all, government is not in business to look after the greater good.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Good Review For My Short Story

My latest short story, "Back To Lopez Island," will appear in the soon-to-be-released horror anthology The Speed of Dark. Here a few samples of what reviewers had to say: Mario Guslandi of Horror World Book Reviews wrote: "Tim Fleming's 'Back To Lopez Island' is a remarkable, enticing whodunit blending horror, violence and the supernatural..." "This [The Speed of Dark] was a horror anthology I was mightily pleased to have read... There is a lot of scope and dimension in these short stories." - Jess Scott, author of To IRAQ and Back. "The Speed of Dark is an anthology of short tales of horror by Cynthia Ainworthe, Kenneth Weene, Clayton Bye, Micki Peluso, Mary Firman and more than a dozen other great writers. It's one of those hard-to-put-down books that keeps you up all night reading... and trembling. From the computer generated green terror in Retrovirus, to the dreadful secrets in the cellar in Taking Care of Mother and the unexpected fate of the man in room 627 in Hansom Dove, readers are sure to find that each of these macabre stories will keep them wanting to read one more before, if they dare, turning off the lights." - T.R. Heinan, author of L'immotalité: Madame Lalaurie and the Voodoo Queen. "In The Speed of Dark I got two things. One was excellent presentation with very good editing, and the other was well-written work that in most cases wasn't overly graphic, but which was interesting, involving and rarely over the top. Much of it was quietly creepy and, therefore, very effective." - Glenda's Bookshelves. The book will be available for sale on Amazon and Clayton Bye Productions by the end of March.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Case For The Existence Of God...And Other Thoughts On Religion

So the new Pope is from South America, and he has expressed his concern for the poor. What exactly does that mean? Damned if I know. If you've ever visited the Vatican you'll know that it is adorned with some of the most valuable treasures and relics of art and artifact imaginable. Meanwhile, thousands starve to death each day across the globe. It is my opinion that if a single human starves to death while the Roman Catholic Church hordes it riches, the Church is a fraud and serves no real purpose on this earth. As a lapsed Catholic, I feel so disconnected from the religious spectacle of Rome (and the pseudo-suspense of Papal elections) that I think of it in the much the same way I think of beauty pageants--overhyped, sexist and devoid of any real meaning. Watching what I could stand of the media coverage the last few days, I got the impression that it was nothing more than a ratings grab for TV networks. Like a mid-season mini-series: "Who will the new Pope be? Find out tonight on the nightly news, sponsored by AT&T." Mindless sycophants who watch know nothing of the sordid history of the Church--the Inquisition, the ratlines Pius ran to evacuate Nazi criminals to South America, or the long legacy of pedophilia facilitation and denial. Come to think of it, I wonder if Pope Francis knew Eichman in Argentina? At least he wasn't a member of the Hitler youth like the previous guy. What would Jesus think of what the Church he founded has become? I can't imagine Him letting people starve while the Vatican bank stashes cash collected from the faithful. What's all this got to do with the existence of God? Well...though I talk like a heathen, I believe in God. One must believe in God, or else the SCABs will get away with it. Who are SCABs? Soulless, conscienceless, avaricious bastards (mostly white, conservative males) who run the world. And yes many of them are religious nuts--televangelsists, Baptist preachers, Catholic prelates, and all manner of scoundrels. They are about as interested in the humanist well-being of mankind as Mitt Romney is about the indigent. No...SCABs who run religious organizations, and the organizations themselves, have nothing to do with spirituality. Spirituality comes from within. It springs from genuine concern for others...from a deep desire that one further the causes of justice, equality, and benevolence in the world. Good people don't have to be religious, just selfless and caring. They don't have to make a show of their faith; they just have to know that profit and power will not procure the Kingdom of Heaven. And there really is a heaven. I have to believe this; I do believe this. Heaven is a place where no person reigns over another. Where injustice does not exist. Where truth prevails. And it is a place that SCABs (read Hitler, Limbaugh, Pope Pius, Glenn Beck, Wayne LaPierre, John Boehner, Todd Akin, Pinochet, Franco, et al) cannot enter. For their carcasses will eternally burn in the Netherworld. Don't believe me. Read your Scriptures. The righteous will sit with Him. You will be judged by how you treat the least among you. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gun Nut Shoots Gun Nut

It was bound to happen. In fact, it has probably happened thousands of times since the musket was invented. Someone with a gun and a grudge shot someone else in an impulsive moment. The following story is from the Associated Press, dateline Helena Montana: "A northwestern Montana man shot and killed the host of the Sportsman Channel show 'A Rifleman's Journal' in an apparent jealous rage while the TV personality was visiting the shooter's wife, police said Friday. Wayne Bengston, 41, then beat his wife, took his 2-year-old son to a relative's house and drove to his home about 25 miles away in West Glacier, where he killed himself, Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial said. 'It's pretty much an open-and-closed case. Homicide and suicide,' Dial said. Police identified the shooting victim as Gregory G. Rodriguez, 43, of Sugar Land, Texas. Bengston's wife told police that Rodriguez was in town on business and visiting her at her mother's house in Whitefish when her husband showed up Thursday at about 10:30 p.m." Beware of middle-aged men with anger issues who are packing heat. They are deadly, and can pull the trigger in a rage at a moment's notice. Even "The Rifleman" himself was not safe, because there is no time or warning to prepare to defend oneself in such cases. This is the reason why the argument that carrying a gun for self-defense purposes is bogus. It is much more likely that a gun owner will be murdered intentionally or unintenionally than it is that he will successfully defend himself against attack. Just ask The Rifleman. Oops...too late.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Consevatives Long For The Good Old Days Of Jim Crow and Poll Taxes

In an audacious affront to the old maxim, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," right wingers are trying to overturn the Voting Rights Act of 1964. Why? Well, apparently because too many African-American citizens are voting and too many African-American candidates (especially the President of the United States) are getting elected. Naturally miffed by the outrageousness of democracy working as it should, conservative interests have brought suit, and the case is being heard by the Supreme Court now. Justice Anton Mussolini...uh, er...Scalia said this: "The Act has engendered a sense of racial entitlement." Entitlement? Did that bloated fascist Scalia actually say that blacks should not be entitled to vote? Where is the outcry against this racist? He should be immediately tarred and feathered and run off the bench. Or, better yet, lynching would be more appropriate, because that's what they did to African Americans who tried to exercise their right to vote before the Voting Rights Act was passed. The usual chorus of right-wing scoundrels are chiming in. George Will wonders if "Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still constitutional, given the disappearance of the conditions that once made it acceptable." Where has George been for the last five years? Has he not heard the Tea Party's palpably racist utterings against a President of color? Has he not noticed states trying to restrict black voters' access to the polls? Is he ignorant of the GOP's latest gerrymandering of districts to minimize the impact of African-American voters? Will writes, "...defenders of Section 5 merely shrug about the fact that race is no longer a barrier." And why is that, George? Because the Voting Rights Act works. I guess George would like us to stop administering flu shots because we have virtually eradicated the flu. Or maybe we should revert to using the wooden wheel again because rubber tires have just been too effective, and thus have outlived their usefulness. Scalia, the epitome of an activist judge who interprets the consitution according to his own narrow political agenda, may cast the deciding vote (just as he did in 2000 when he stole the election for George Bush). If he does, it means that once again the Judicial branch will have stuck its nose in a place--the free, legitimate, and democratic will of the people--where it does not belong. This is the latest in a series of attempts by the far right to steal elections because it can no longer win them fair and square. Even Congress, which is controlled by right wingers, voted 390-33 seven years ago to extend the Voting Rights Act. If the Supreme Court overturns the Voting Rights Act, Scalia should meet the same fate as his ideological cousin: hanged upside down in the public square, by those whose liberties and lives he tried to destroy.