Friday, May 11, 2012

Aladdin Theater

Aladdin Theater, originally uploaded by Erik Kurtz.

I've been taking pics from my walks based on the Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Wild, Crazy West

We here in the U.S. of A. (not necessarily standing for a$$holes) sure do love our Second Amendment. More than any other amendment we tend to view it absolutely. Any idiot should be able to get any type of gun and carry it into to a bar in Arizona. It's pretty well known that we've had a long romance with guns. We glamorize them in our pop culture and then the local news covers the daily destruction of gun violence without a hint of irony. Our politicians fail to do anything about it because the NRA is a very powerful lobby. And so we've grown numb to all the random gun violence that fills up the local news.

A sane country would think that now would be a good time to reform our gun laws instead of kicking granny off social security or getting involved in reproductive decisions, but the influence of money has no healthy relationship with sanity. The senseless killing of Trayvon has brought into focus the Stand Your Ground laws that pretty much okay shooting anyone who threatens you (in public!) Be careful about insulting someone in a Walmart parking lot. Walmart, through its involvement in the now notorious ALEC, helped push Stand Your Ground on the public without much controversy. Nothing moves guns out the door like lax gun laws and a constant dose of fear, fear, fear as a result of all the gun violence on a local and national level.

The gun lobby would like you believe that if everyone had a gun then we'd live in perfect harmony (because their logic has it that everyone would be too afraid to pull the trigger). If that logic appears to collide with reality, then the fallback argument is The Second Amendment is a God given right (because nothing gets the religious up in arms like inserting God into the discussion). In reality, The Second Amendment allows for a "well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state." The intention of the law is stated clearly. Guns must be well regulated for the security of a free state.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Space Odyssey 2012

If you're anything like me, you've been riveted to the television watching the Republican debates and wondering why you can't come up with brilliant ideas such as Moon Colonies. Newt Gringrich, nevermind his personal failings (forgiven by Jesus), is indeed one of the most intellectual thinkers of all ages. Channeling JFK, he wants to not only land a man on the moon, but he wants an entire colony there by 2020. Plus, a new Bay of Pigs, because the logical conclusion is that everything old is new again. See, if you begin thinking like Newt, the mind reels like an astronaut spinning backwards in time and space. Think of it as The Butterfly Effect in reverse.

Me with my subpar intellect and doldrum daydreams of getting a survival job cannot compete with the obvious genius of Newt. If I try logic on his level, I can only imagine an astronaut spinning against some Hollywood set of infinite space, and that's as far as my mind can reach before I get sleepy from overstimulation or exhausting time travel.

A moon colony, aside from the obvious perks for NASA – saving Florida from a future economy of mere orange juice and Dexter shootings – will also have trickle-down effects for NAPA. The auto parts store will carry all sorts of replacement parts for a DIY culture ready for space travel. And as everybody knows, aspiring astronauts tend to spend money lavishly – doughnuts on the way to the store, diamonds from Tiffany's – so it's a win for the economy all around. Even Mitt Romney can win, if he dare dream as big. (Paper clips will be a hot commodity in space.)

Also, the moon sounds like an ideal haven for Billionaires. They can take time out in an oxygen sealed container and count all their money as the copyrighted voice of Hal 2000 reminds that he wouldn't do that if he was you, Trump. This former jet set cum moon set can pay the help for the return trip ticket in cash from suitcases poured out on motel suite beds, so no worries. But to support such lunacy, we can even make it a matter of national interest to frack a pipeline to the moon that will allow these super wealthy job creators their illegal immigrant chefs a gas flame to stir fry all the organic produce made possible by the oil pipeline that generates enough power for the space garden and provides shade in the form of smog, as well.

Who knows, if there are enough Billionaires to exceed the population of D.C. we mere earthlings could even allow them to vote and be represented in Congress back on Earth. And all the necessary SuperSpaceyPACs that come with that responsibility. As Earth increasingly begins to look like Mordor, there will be no other option that to listen to, pardon the pun, lunatics. At least there will be some respite on The Moon. One can kick back in a Barcalounger and watch the End Times go down on satellite as well as the living room window. It's the inevitable final chapter to History. It's a win-win for CNN. And lunatics.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blaming Obama

To blame Obama for the economy is a cheap political trick. Voters, whether out of apathy or frustration with the slow recovery of the U.S. economy, allowed Republicans to seize control of the House of Representatives in 2010. Back then Republicans were running on jobs, and that must have appealed to enough voters to put Republicans back in charge of the nation's fiscal health. Since then, the House has been focused on their own pet projects, such as defunding NPR and Planned Parenthood, while pursuing an agenda to make Obama a one-term President. They are banking on the hope that low-information voters will blame Obama for all the nation's economic ills and elect a Republican executive in 2012.

Article 1 Section 7 of the United States Constitution is clear that "all bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." This is high-school civics 101.

Obama has been trying to negotiate with House Republicans, but Republicans refuse to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy. Instead, they insist that the President cut programs that benefit the most vulnerable and inflict pain on the majority of us. Their political strategy lies in the hope that voters will blame Obama for the economy in 2012.

Why would they want to rebuild the economy before 2012? For them, it's all about winning, and if the economy is doing well come election time Obama, an incumbent, has a good chance of re-election.

The hypocrisy of Republicans is outrageous. Some of the very same Republicans who are opposing raising the debt ceiling voted 19 times during the Bush presidency to do just that. Past Republican presidents have run up the deficit by lowering taxes for the wealthiest without finding ways to pay for them, and waging political wars that will ultimately bankrupt the country.

There are legitimate arguments for reining in the nation's debt, and Obama is not opposed to sane fiscal policy. I would hope that he would end our seemingly endless wars and rebuild a green economy. Subsidizing cheap oil means that it's economically viable to ship Northwest lumber to China to be made into sushi chopsticks for pennies an hour to be shipped back to the U.S. consumer. Domestic job creation depends on a serious discussion of our national priorities instead of the petty politics of Republican vs. Democrat.

Raising the debt ceiling should not be lumped into budget priorities. The U.S. has never defaulted on it's debt so it's hard to know the true consequences from studying history. Republicans are set on ruining the U.S. credit rating and destroying the country's fiscal health if their demands for cutting away at the social safety net fabric is not met.

Frustration with current politics is completely understandable. Washington is in gridlock while politicians engage in election year politics. In general, the media -- what should be the Fourth Estate -- cares little about educating voters and much more about having a high ratings horse race. And understandably, voters would rather not be bothered because we have lives outside of having to be politically savvy and actively involved. I have the feeling that most people would just hope that the people they elect are the grown-ups in the room.

Instead of statesmanship, we have a blame game. Obama is not to blame here. The POTUS can show strong leadership and encourage negotiation, but the House of Representatives is ultimately responsible for the country's fiscal health. And therein lies the rub: Republicans are beholden to the wealthy, corporate base that funds their elections.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zap Republicans

If you've been paying attention to the debt ceiling debate you probably already know that Republicans want the government to default on it's debt unless Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and services that benefit the middle, working and poor classes are cut.

Republicans will not budge on raising taxes on the wealthiest and closing corporate and individual tax loopholes. As usual, they claim raising taxes on the wealthiest will kill jobs. We have had 30 years of supply side economics, aka "trickle down," and it hasn't worked. We've had ten years of Republican tax cuts on the wealthiest, and while corporate profits and income disparity are at their highest levels, we continue to lose jobs. Obviously, Republican ideology is the failure.

Republicans don't care about the economy or jobs. Eric Cantor is short selling in hopes of a default. And Republicans will not accept any deal that raises taxes on the wealthiest, or even closing a tax loophole that benefits private jet owners. Republican Orin Hatch says the poor should do more to shrink the debt, not the rich.

There is a class warfare going on here, and it's being waged by the very ones who cry out class warfare whenever shared responsibility is asked from them. It's clear who the real welfare queens are and it's Republicans and their lobbyists.

I wonder what would happen if the millions of us spent the next few weeks tying up the phone, fax and e-mail communications of the GOP with the message: Pay your share!? Can we disrupt the GOP so much that they can't raise funds or communicate? Can we get them to listen?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stonewall Uprising

My boyfriend and I saw Stonewall Uprising at The Living Room Theaters last night, and although we came out a generation later, we appreciate the generation of gay activists who took to the streets for our equality. We're not there yet, but a great deal of progress has been made since the dark ages of the mid-20th century.

During the 1960s in the U.S., sexual minorities were treated as mentally ill deviants who were to be incarcerated and subjected to shock treatments and torture. They either had to blend in or move to The Village or Haight-Ashbury to find any sense of family or community. Newsreel-type public service announcements, such as Boys Beware, helped form negative stereotypes that led to brutality against us.

Gay bars such as The Stonewall Inn were run by mafia, and police would frequently raid and make arrests for political purposes. By 1969, The Sexual Revolution had led to a relaxation of attitudes towards sex, and it is no surprise that in this climate sexual minorities were no longer content to be treated as second-class citizens.

Stonewall Uprising reminds me of the larger struggle for civil rights, and that this struggle is ongoing and global. In most of Africa, my brothers and sisters are dealing with many of the same forces that oppressed us in the U.S. decades earlier. And even here in present day U.S., there is DOMA and DADT. I am not about to take my rights for granted, and I hope that we will use whatever resources necessary to resist oppression and achieve justice and equality for all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Doomsday: How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a world-killing event - by Terrence Aym - Helium

The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.

Things couldn't be much worse.

Posted via email from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Sunday, July 11, 2010

t r u t h o u t | Camillo Mac Bica | We Who Advocate Peace

We Who Advocate Peace

Sunday 11 July 2010

by: Camillo "Mac" Bica, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: annstheclaf, mtsofan)

They wage preemptive war, occupy and bomb sovereign nations, utilize video-game technology and robotics to murder and then dehumanize hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children as collateral damage. We who advocate peace and justice say that such acts of war and occupation are illegal, immoral and a barbaric and paranoid response to contrived evil . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They chose to avoid military service themselves or had "other priorities" when their country called, yet cavalierly send our children, not theirs, to kill and to die in their war for oil and empire. We who advocate peace and justice say that if the threat is real and the peril imminent and grave, then our chickenhawk leaders and their privileged children should be the first to go. Only then will we follow . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They continue to use the fear of terrorism, prey upon the anxiety and distress of the American people post-9/11to "justify" continuing, even escalating, their wars and occupations, and to deny fundamental human liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. We who advocate peace and justice say that the exploitation of a vulnerable citizenry, and the disregard and abuse of basic human rights is un-American, uncivilized, and a clear violation of the very values they allege to be championing and defending . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

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They send our military into harm's way to kill and be killed in pursuit of goals that are ambiguous and ill-defined in an endless war and occupation they sell to the American people and to the world as a response to terrorism. We who advocate peace and justice say that our troops are not cannon fodder; that terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy or an ideology; that war, occupation, and the indiscriminate use of violence by the military promotes rather than abrogates the terrorist threat . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They fail to honor their commitment to our servicemen and somen, "stop loss" deployment after deployment with insufficient dwell time, and provide inadequate resources to meet the medical and readjustment needs of our returning wounded and veterans. We who advocate peace and justice say that providing effective care and treatment for those physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually wounded by war is a moral and legal obligation and should be our first priority. . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They torture prisoners at Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay and "black site" secret prisons around the world, denying "detainees" even the most basic right of Habeas Corpus. We who advocate peace and justice say that such heinous practices as water boarding and unlawful restraint are immoral, violates the U.S. Constitution and international law, increases the risk that our troops will be ill-treated and tortured should they be captured, and that those who ordered, endorsed, sanctioned, or supported such methods of torture are hypocrites, deviants, and war criminals . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They refused to meet with and comfort the families of our soldiers wounded or killed in battle, denigrate their memory, sacrifice, and dignity by fabricating heroic fantasies of their death and suffering to increase recruitment and bolster support for their senseless war. We who advocate peace and justice say that exploiting the deaths of our soldiers and the grief and suffering of their families in order to mythologize war and lure other young men and women to slaughter is unconscionable and depraved . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They have and continue to award no-bid contracts to favored corporations for personal and political benefit. Contractors who kill without mercy or accountability, whose greed for profit influences decisions on foreign policy, promotes war, and prolongs quagmire. We who advocate peace and justice say that we must heed President Eisenhower's warning to beware of the military industrial complex, that such corporate cronyism, war profiteering, and political corruption, is criminal, fiscally unsound, and not in our national interest . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They sell America to foreign investors, waste billions of taxpayer dollars on an ever-increasing military budget to wage illegal war and occupation, and to furnish the weapons of genocide and oppression to dictators and rogue nations around the world. We who advocate peace and justice say that America must end its preoccupation with militarism and war, use its wealth and influence to protect life and property rather than to kill and to destroy, and become a sane and compassionate voice for peaceful coexistence in the world . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy and tax incentives to the oil industry despite record profits. They bail out corrupt Wall Street bankers but remain apathetic to Main Street workers who lose their jobs and their homes. They "compromised" away meaningful healthcare reform and see fiscal responsibility as cutting social programs such as aid to education, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We who advocate peace and justice say that benefiting the affluent at the expense of the poor and the middle class is inhumane, short-sighted, a violation of trust, and of basic human decency. . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

On "National Holidays" such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, they parade, stage air shows, weapons displays, and celebrate the technology of death and destruction to commercialize patriotism and to glorify war and the military experience. We who advocate peace and justice say that these national holidays are not for celebration, commercial marketing, or deceptive recruitment practices. Rather, they are for remembering and for grieving the loss of all who were sacrificed to the tragedy and insanity of war . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They refuse to "look back" and to investigate the crimes of those who violated the law and the trust of the American people by choosing war unnecessarily; crimes against humanity that cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of human lives. We who advocate peace and justice say that we are a nation of laws to which all are subject equally, that such crimes must be investigated and the guilty held accountable for their transgressions. Prosecute the war criminals! . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They sat idly by as the city of New Orleans and thousands of its inhabitants died; ignore global warming, choosing rhetoric rather than effective action while the gas and petroleum industry continues to profit from polluting the planet and destroying its fragile ecosystem. We who advocate peace and justice say that this indifference to human pain and suffering and failure to defend the planet and its diverse species against ecoterrorism is unconscionable, inexcusable, and ultimately suicidal . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

They spout the meaningless rhetoric of shallow patriotism, arrogantly waving the flag of "freedom" or pasting it to the bumper of their gas-guzzling humvees, and think it belongs solely to those who unquestioningly beat the drums of war, from a safe distance of course, while their leaders sacrifice lives and treasure and violate the laws of god and of humankind in mistaken wars of choice and greed. We who advocate peace say that all war is anathema and unnecessary sacrilege, those leaders who dare unleash its horror upon humankind are criminals, and those who blindly follow are sheep who fail to understand the moral and legal obligations of their religion, of humanism, and of citizenship in a democracy . . . and they say we are unpatriotic, treasonous, and unsupportive of the troops.

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Posted via email from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness