Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sorry for the Late Responses

Introduction

I created my
blog on June 20, 2004.

I belonged to a couple of poetry message boards and I received some positive feedback on my poetry.

One of the boards also afforded its members an
“Open Discussion Forum” . I not only posted my poetry, but I began posting threads or adding to threads that discussed social issues in the “Open Discussion Forum”. I found that I wasn’t alone in my outlook on society, political or otherwise.

Before I’d ever heard of internet message boards, I wrote letters to the editor expressing my views on social issues of the day, especially issues of a political nature.

So I was naturally very interested when I began hearing about blogs. People could actually keep a journal, a diary of sorts, on line for anyone and everyone to see. There was no charge to become an owner of a blog. Many people use their free internet diaries as just that, diaries. I've read about vacations that people take with family and friends. I guess people feel the need to share their happiness.

I've read blogs that are a bit sad as well. Writing about one’s personal trials and tribulations has always been considered cathartic.

Of course, there are the spamsters and the smutsters. Give people a forum and for sure they’ll try to sell anything from drugs to sex.

However, I see nothing wrong with anyone keeping a public journal. It’s part of that freedom that The Regime is murdering people to sustain. Kill Iraqis and get a free online journal, right?

Well, that sort of gets me into why I created my
blog. I wasn’t really interested in sharing vacation narratives with the general public, but I was extremely interested in sharing my views on social and/or political issues. This interest has become almost obsessive since the blatantly obvious takeover of The Regime. They’ve all but drawn pictures of their misdeeds and people still refuse to see them. It’s sad and a bit frightening.

A free public forum was available from which to expose the direction in which society, especially American society, is being driven and I took full advantage of it.

I created another blog for my poetry because I wanted to keep the two genres separate. Yes, some of my poetry surrounds social issues, some even political issues. But much of it is about romance, love, love lost and personal issues. Some of it is abstract, though still meaningful for me.

One of the message boards even allowed its members to upload their music so that readers could actually hear the lyrics being sung. Unfortunately, the board had so many members that it was a bit of a hardship for the web master to find the time to upload music.

My internet provider gives its subscribers a bit of what it calls “storage space”, 25 meg to be exact. So, between the message board and my internet provider, I could have several of my songs on the net at any given time and link to them from message boards or even a blog if I so chose.

I’ve since joined quite a few message boards, not all literary. I have a fairly sizable mailing list as well.

Although people who belong to the message boards were reading my opinions and poetry and listening to some of my music, I wasn’t getting any traffic on my blog.

I tested search words, including my name. I found that phrases such as “mind reading” or “public speaking” would get a person to my blog. People who were looking for sites to learn how to read minds or to speak in public were probably not going to be interested in my political rants.

I had to remove songs from my limited “storage” area because there was enough room for maybe five songs at a time to which I could link.

So I bit the bullet and created
The Mind Of Michael. Naming the site was a toss up between “The Mind Of Michael” and “World Conditions And Action Items”, the name by which I call my email list. With help from my wife, I went with “The Mind Of Michael”.

With the site came enough space to post all of my music. It also gave me the leverage to compartmentalize my modes of communication so that people who were interested in music could visit without having to read about social issues and people who wanted to read poetry could do so exclusively and those who were looking for diversity about sociopolitical issues could find one perspective.

As I wrote above, I’ve had my
blog since June of 2004. I created my site in August of 2005. I’ve received exactly five comments on my blog. Two comments disagreed with my point of view, one agreed with me and two were spammers. The spammers are the reasons why, if one wishes to comment on an essay, one needs to pass through a word identification gate. It’s why responders are asked to type a word that appears just cryptic enough to throw off robotic spammers.

Since August of 2005, I’ve had a fair number of comments submitted to my
site. It’s nothing like what I’ve seen at other sites and at many blogs, but it blows away the numbers of comments that have been submitted to the blog. I’ve tried to decide why this is.

One thing is that there’s no word identification gate to pass to submit a comment to my site. I had the blog for quite a while before I implemented the word ID gate. And, in spite of all of the comments submitted to the site, I haven’t had a spammer yet. I’m sure they’ll show up in time.
Another aspect is that comments that are submitted to the blog stay there for all to see. Comments submitted to the site are submitted and go away.

I don’t know why that would discourage anyone from submitting comments to the blog, however. Two of the comments submitted to the blog have been submitted anonymously. To this day, I have no idea who the people who submitted the comments are. I replied to one of the anonymous comments, but not the other.

This is what this essay is all about. I’ve definitely replied to those who included their email addresses with their submissions. I have been a little remiss in replying to those who haven’t given me a way to contact them. I’d like to reply to a couple of the comments that I’ve gotten which had no contact information.

Music

I would like to thank those who’ve extended much needed encouragement. I realize that the quality of my musical recordings isn’t perfect, but a few people have been able to see past that and to comment on, as one person put it, the potential. Thanks for that. I’ve learned more about using the mixing software and I hope that the recordings improve as time goes on.

I have to keep in mind, and I hope that you do as well, that I am recording my songs in my living room, not the best substitute for a professional recording studio. In addition to that, I certainly can’t hit some of the notes that I could reach when I was younger and my fingers aren’t as nimble as they once were - and they were never really all that nimble.

Maybe that’s why for one person my music is reminiscent of a dying ally cat. At least you’re honest with your critique. I’m not nearly as sorry about your critique as I am about your having to have gone through the torture of hearing an ally cat die. I said that I wanted “painfully honest” feedback and, well, that’s about as painful as I think that I’m going to get. I take no offense.

I do take offense at being accused of not producing my music. Good or bad, that’s all me folks. On the main
“Music” page, I made it a point to write that my music is “not played automatically. I do not program anything to play the music for me.” Yet one person insisted that, if it wasn’t for the computer, I wouldn’t even possess the “small amount of talent” that I have. That’s not true. I would possess that miniscule quantity of talent even without the aid of a computer, thank you.

Poetry

I suppose I’m most proud of my poetry. After all, 23 of my poems have been published in 30 publications, four poems in two European publications. Consequently, the encouragement I receive in regard to my poetry is very meaningful.

I’m especially touched to know that someone thinks “Tina is a very lucky lady”. I wrote
that poem because I feel like a very lucky man. Thank you nonetheless.

I know that 30 published poems hasn’t made me a threat to be California’s, or even Antioch’s, poet laureate. I also know that I requested honest feedback for my poetry. One such submission referred to my poetry as “sophomoric”. That’s OK. Don’t they say “you can’t please all the people all of the time”? I guess that was just a person who wasn’t pleased to read my poetry. I thank that person for the “constructive criticism”, however. I once worked for someone who often said that “the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” Without an honest critique, how can one expect to improve? I hope that you/he/her does return as there will be more poetry posted as long as I’m able to post it. Maybe you/he/her will find a piece to your/his/her liking.

Essays - The Contact Sport

Not surprisingly, my social commentary seems to be the most controversial of my writing and to promote the greatest vivacity. I’m sure that I won’t respond to all of the comments I’ve received in this area, but there’s one particular comment that I feel I need to respond to.

I’ve been called an “islamofascist”, spelled the same way, on three different occasions in three different postings.

The first time that word was used to describe me was in response to a letter I wrote to the editor of my home town newspaper, The Contra Costa Times.

Amazingly, I was referred to with the same word on my blog as well as my site.

I don’t mind a good debate, but I’ll respond to this typical character assassination just the same.

First of all, I’m not partial to anyone’s god. I guess one could say that I’m an equal opportunity atheist. It states as much on the About Michael page.

Keeping this fact in mind, how could I be an “islamo” anything? Or a “christo” or a “jewo” or a “hindo” anything for that matter? In my humble opinion, if it wasn’t for the love of god, there wouldn’t be so much hate in the world.

I find my being referred to as a fascist quite curious. I thought that the views I express in my writings would, if anything, inspire readers to call me a “commie” or a “pinko”, but not a fascist. I think that, given a choice, I’d rather be screwed by governmental incompetence than by corporate greed. I don’t feel that corporations have any business in influencing our government’s activities, especially when those activities mean the difference between life and death.

Folks, bureaucracy is bureaucracy, anyway you slice it and while the wrong government can misuse its power and/or act incompetently, most of us still remember that it’s supposed to work for “we the people”. We supposedly have the power to fire the bastards if we don’t like what they’re doing. Unfortunately, as I point out in my essay “Priority Number One”, our power to hire and fire our government is very limited by the methodology used to hire it. It’s all but out of our hands until we change it, but at least we have the potential to change it.

Corporations are hired by no one. Mergers are returning us to the days of the Robber Barons. Multinational corporations are growing way out of proportion to antitrust laws and they exist for one entity and one entity only - corporations. And the goal of corporations is singular. That goal is to make money which makes more money. If anyone is under that allusion that, if our government surrendered, blatantly and unabashedly, to corporate power, the same greedheads who cut work forces to gain wealth for themselves would be in charge of maintaining an employment level, or unemployment level. Those who do everything that’s “cost effective” and advantageous to their own income would be in charge of setting wages. Those leaders of corporate America, no, corporate Earth try their best to continuously increase profits by decreasing the numbers and wages of the people who do the actual work which have a significant effect on those profits. With government pulling back from keeping these new Robber Barons in line, we can already see that the minimum wage is remaining at a paltry $5.15 with no raise in site for the immediate future, we see manipulation of labor laws so that more “managers” are created at fast food joints so that they can become “salaried” employees, preventing them from receiving overtime pay for time worked exceeding 40 per week or 8 per day, we see the generosity of corporations in their donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, giving maybe a million bucks out of billions of dollars of profit while the CEOs and managers who dwell in the stratosphere receive multi million compensation packages, even when they’re let go for poor performance. I am not under the allusion that “smaller government” and a stronger “private sector” would be a change that would be good for Americans or for any of the citizens of the world.

We see “free trade” agreements like NAFTA take good, middle class jobs from Americans and move them to slave labor nations. We don’t see, as promised, the boost to those slave labor nations, the evening of the playing field, the philanthropy of the “private sector”.

I’m not a fascist. Mussolini, as horrid as the man was, was at least honest enough to call fascism what it was, “corporatism”.

To repeat, I can not be an “islamofascit” for the reasons stated above.

I just wonder, is it the same person who wrote that about me in all three locations? Hmmm.

Oh, by the way, the I’ve not been spared the labels of “commie” and “pinko”.

Patriotism, The Word to Die For

Unpatriotic has been another adjective which has been used to describe me. I know I’m not alone in that boat.

Patriotism is defined by Dictionary.com as “love of one’s country willingness to sacrifice for it.”

First, what constitutes “one’s country”? Is one’s country actually a piece of red, white and blue cloth? That’s a flag. Are sane people really willing to die for a flag? The flag is a symbol of the former United States of America, but it isn’t The United States of America.

As far as I know, the first nations who occupied this land had no flags, but were willing to fight the far superior invading Europeans. What were they fighting for? They were not fighting and dying for cloth. They were fighting and dying to protect their people and their land. Those are the entities that constitute a country. And the Native Americans were defending their country against invading terrorists. The European terrorists wanted the Indian’s land and wanted it without the benefit of honest and sincere negotiations. In defense of the Native Americans, many of them were willing to enter into negotiations so the White Man and the first nations could live in harmony. Many of them didn’t even demand that the White Man “go back to where he came from”.

The Native Americans were fighting for a Chief either. They were told by the tribal leaders that the invaders were set on taking what was theirs and the members of the tribes could see it with their own eyes. They could see it as the Europeans pushed westward, displacing the rightful inhabitants of the land. The Europeans connived members of the First Nations into referring to the president of the US as “the great white father”. Andrew Jackson, after his career in Indian genocide, ate that title up as president. And he made promises to the Indians that he not only didn’t keep, but that he had no intention of keeping.

But alas, the Europeans won and have kept the original inhabitants of this land from even enjoying the amenities that they have developed over the years. And where have the Europeans come. We have come to a point to where we feel our “patriotic duty” to not question the president, our government, especially in a “time of war”. We have gotten to a place where the word “country” is not only synonymous with the word “flag”, but it’s synonymous with the decisions made by a president or his regime, no matter how blatantly obvious it is that those decisions have nothing at all to do with protecting the people and/or the land.

What happened on September 11, 2001, if we are to believe the official account, was the first time since the Europeans invaded and terrorized this land, that there was a major attack upon the form US proper. We refer to Pearl Harbor, but Hawaii was a territory of the US at the time of Pearl Harbor. Finally, after over two hundred years in existence, the former US was attacked on its own land, killing innocent citizens of the US and other nations as well. And, in the true sense, we were not invaded. Planes were hijacked and flown into important buildings in important cities.

How many other nations of the world can honestly say that they’ve never experienced a destructive invasion by a foreign power?

Well, for starters, Japan can’t claim that. Germany and the UK can’t claim that. France can’t claim that. The former US, up until September 11, 2001, had never been outright invaded by a foreign proper upon its soil proper.

We credit The Patriot Act and the wonderful leadership by the front man for keeping us safe since September 11, 2001. It may be another 200 years before that happens again. Is the Patriot Act or the front man’s leadership going to be accredited for that as well?

Yet, I’ve been called unpatriotic. If patriotism is “love of one’s country willingness to sacrifice for it” and the elements which make up a country are its land and its people, then those who want to destroy more Americans who are fighting in a land which was never a threat to us are as unpatriotic as they come.

The land? Well, yes, some of our land was compromised on 9/11, but not nearly as much land as we’ve destroyed in other nations. New York and Washington didn’t look like Dresden and they sure as hell didn’t look like Hiroshima or Nagasaki did they? They didn’t look like Iraq looks today, did they? From where I stand, we’ve been damned luck. All of our interstate highways are still easily passable. Most of the buildings in our quiet little towns and cities are still standing.

If it comes to defending our land against a foreign invader, if it comes to defending our people against a foreign invader, then, with our deepest regret, we must go to war. That, people, is defending our nation. Believing the words placed in the mouth of possibly one of the most unqualified presidents this nation has ever seen is not, prima facie, defending our nation.

Congress is there as a check and a balance to see to it that one man’s or one regime’s word must be investigated for accuracy and legitimacy and congress failed miserably. As it did with Lyndon Johnson, congress ceded its power to “the president”, putting him, The Regime, into an almost dictatorial position. The Regime is taking full advantage of that position, saying that the killing and the dying must continue until some nebulous “victory” has been accomplished. And “victory” has been defined sufficiently vague enough to make it almost impossible to know when it’s arrived. Constant warfare.

I want to protect Americans by removing them from a position which increases the possibility that they’ll be seriously injured, maybe for life, or, worse yet, killed. I want to stop inciting the rightful inhabitant on the Arab nations from destroying more American land in response to the colonization of their land by the United States, with the help of the their totalitarian potentates.

I want to protect Americans and American land from the misguided actions of those who are truly unpatriotic. If patriotism means blindly following a person or regime, without questioning their motives, motives that have already been placed in question, then I guess I’m unpatriotic.

I have received submissions that have referred to my expressions as courageous and I thank you for that. Courageous or not, I’m absolutely certain that, given The Regime’s decision that spying on Americans without the approval of the FISA court is Okey-dokey, I’m on some list and will be disappeared some day. My wife worries every time we book a flight that I’ll not be allowed on the plane and may ever be held indefinitely. I don’t know if I would go so far as to expect that to happen. However, if it does, it would be a shock to me. Wouldn’t it be a bitch if The Regime was one of the view visitors that I get to my site? I do have a prosthetic knee which set off the metal detector each time I pass through one. Luckily, they’ve not asked me to remove it and show it to them.

I hope that this very long essay has helped to respond, at least in general, to all of the submissions I’ve received. I thank those, even those who’ve disagreed with me, for submitting comments.

One thing that all of the comments have in common is that I know to which poem, song or essay the submitter is referring. That is all but one. The most recent comment.

I Appreciate the Concern

The most recent comment simply stated “You are sick”.

Now, I do see doctors on a regular basis for various maladies with which I won’t bore you at this time. I figure that response can only have been made for reasons.

First, the page on which the comment was made was not identified. So it can refer to just about anything.

It may have been made by Bill Frist, a man who, as proven in the Teri Schiavo case, can diagnose a patient from the floor of The Senate. I don’t know, though. Why would Frist be diagnosing me, unless The Regime put him up to it.

I could be that one of my doctors told someone about one of my maladies. That would, of course, be a violation of doctor/patient confidentiality and may have to be answered with litigation. I think I know my doctors pretty well, though, and I just don’t think that they would do that. But, hey, you never know.

I could be one of my doctors, but why would any of them do that? They’ve already told me face to fact that I’m sick. Maybe one of them is just trying to rub it in.

I could be the “dying ally cat” person, referring to my music. I can see why that person would come to that conclusion if he/she thinks that I sound like a “dying ally cat”. But you’d think that person would have said it in the original submission. Maybe it was just an after thought.

Now some of my poetry may be offensive to some (you ain’t seen nothin’ yet). Maybe someone thinks that the poetry can only come from a sick mind. You/he/she may be right. I’ve heard that there’s a thin line between mental illness and genius. I don’t think I’m very close to the genius part of that line, though.

Or it could just be someone who possesses no platform from which to engage in a mature, dignified debate. I see this kind of character assassination go on all the time. I’m not saying that Rove or Cheney read any of my stuff, although it would, indeed, be an honor if they did. I’m more inclined to think that it’s a supporter of The Regime, taking just enough time from watching an invigorating reality show to “hurt my feelings”. They’re not hurt. I sort of feel sad for you, though. If that’s all you’ve got, I’ll cut you some slack as your intellectual reserve is very low.

I may or may not be sick, I don’t know how you’d know, but, judging from the little you let me know about you, you’ve expressed ignorance with a heaping helping of cowardice to go along with it.

But, nonetheless:

To friendship,
Michael

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

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