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28 July, 2013

One Love Loop

Truth be told, it was just the odds catching up, I guess, but yesterday it felt like a spell was broken. For the past few laps around the sun, I've found out about concerts right after they happen. I'd be listening to Camper Van Beethoven one day when the computer was handy, I'd look up their tour dates, and see that they'd been in Seattle the night before. D'oh! At one point which I will memorialize as El Tiempo de Los Losses, I missed Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys in rapid succession, and then later the 20th Anniversary Lobos tour for Kiko, one of my favorite albums ever. Fucking D'oh.

This week, I looked up them and a bunch of other bands, because I had a hankering to see some music. Luckily, I hadn't just missed the Hackensaw Boys or some other band I've been waiting to hear for years. On the other hand, there was nothing going on that I wanted to hear.

So I went with the flow, which led me through the garden for a while, and then into the garage, where I turned on KAOS and looked for something to carve. As Chef Moss laid down the reggae beat, I picked up a piece of milo wood that I've probably had for 15 years. It's a little sapwood scrap, chainsawed flat on two sides, no bigger than my hand. The reason I kept it is that it has this nice teardrop hole through it, and because it has a strong resemblance to certain Hawaiian ki'i (tiki). Strong enough that maybe that's why I never laid blade to it.

Yesterday, though, I picked it up and saw something completely different, and I sat and carved while the music played and the ripe sun shone softly.

Then I thought I heard the DJ say something about Mike Love and Paula Fuga being in town. KAOS being a friendly community station, I called in and found out that yeah, they were playing in a few hours at the Olympia Ballroom. Touring as a trio this time around, I've been listening to them as Dubkonscious since 2005 or so, when I was mapping a Kona village with two other guys who played in the band. For years since, CDs of their two performances on University of Hawai'i's Monday Night Live show (on KTUH, another friendly community station) have traveled with me all over.

So getting to see them was incredible. It was a good (and not crowded) crowd, there to listen and dance. Paula's voice was beautiful and her style, just like it is in Dubkonscious and her solo album Lilikoi, is strong and individual. Mike Love's voice spoke in words, whistles and beyond (including a killer horn riff with no horn), while his hands played and thumped the guitar. Which is enough for most people, but he was busy with both feet making loops and adding effects, affecting several additional players up on stage. Sorry to say, I don't even know if percussionist and non-virtual trio member Sam Ites was in Dubkonscious back when, but now his beats and vocals transformed the duo into something much more.

During their break, I picked up a Dubkonscious album, and talked to Paula and Mike for a while. Actually, I got them to sign the first KTUH disk, and found out that they don't have the second one, so I can burn one for them. I think they were happy to see a disk (the Kona-mapping bass-player's handwriting on it) from so far back, and know that a person has been listening to the whole time. Paula told me that the guy who made the CD for me now lives in Washington!

Maybe there's nothing special, and it really was bound to happen that I'd find out about a concert before it happened, but I'm not gonna look at it that way. As I sat and carved that wood, looping around the hole, the spell broke and the flow was restored. The music played and looped, a recording from years away circled back to find it's singers, and I found an old friend living in the NW. I'm gonna be all non-sciency and think that this is One Love at work.

25 July, 2013

Forsake Fossil Fuel

Of all the energy sources powering the blogosphere, dissatisfaction with the status quo ranks pretty high. From carefully constructed criticism to ad hoc rants, blogs complain about where we are, where we were, and where we're headed. Often as not, the blogger thinks that by calling out some flaw, highlighting a problem, readers might be inspired to change their minds, maybe even take positive action. But the status quo is one hell of a grindstone, and while a brilliant critique may nick it, more often the critic is worn down. Once in a great while, some random or sudden event may lead to change, but more often it is action, collective and directed and occurring in the non-cyber world, that re-shapes the monolith.

The ways we power our society, by burning fossil fuel and by coaxing electrons from rivers or water, wind, and photons, has been a recurring subject here at Mojourner Truth. Sometimes, I've argued against continuing to rely on oil and coal, but of my small audience, I have a feeling that many agree already, and doubt that my words pulled anyone off the grid. Other times, I've extolled the virtues of renewable energy and low-tech efficiencies, but how many people have a heatilator? Blogging is impotence, published.

Recently, though, I actually took action that may make a real difference. For the past year, I've gotten a small block of my energy from renewables. The utility offers you the opportunity to purchase your energy just from wind, hydro, solar, and reclaimed methane, $4 at a time. A month or two ago, I switched to 100% renewable. It costs marginally more, but since I'm not much of a power consumer (no air conditioner, no TV, and a near-Ludditic reliance on muscle-powered gear rather than electro-gadgets), electricity overall is a minor part of my cost of living.

I am not quite so green as Ed Begley in that Simpsons episode where he speeds off in a car "powered by my own sense of self-satisfaction," but my 100% renewable electricity does have me feeling pretty smug. And the more people who do this, the less incentive industry has to drill and frack up the earth. I don't share many Americans' belief in the magic of The Market, but I do understand that changes in consumer choice affect what's for sale, and if we collectively choose renewable energy (imperfect as it may be), maybe a mountain in West Virginia doesn't get flattened, maybe a midwest aquifer won't be pumped full of frack-chemicals, maybe the climate will stabilize.

An extra 1.25 cents per kilowatt-hour buys me this non-fossil energy. The energy company says that for a typical house, the environmental benefit is equivalent to taking a car off the road. But there's also no military cost to using power that is 100% domestic. It's a small act, but it's meaningful, and in aggregate, it will help shift us away from our dangerous reliance on oil, gas, and coal that are killing us and ruining the earth for our progeny.

If you live on the Puget Sound Energy Company grid, the way to do this is here. Everywhere else, just do a search on "green power" plus your local utility.

23 July, 2013

Building a Treehouse

That dog is one hell of a supervisor.

A couple weekends ago, the kids and I built a treehouse. I guess "house" is an exaggeration: no walls, no roof, and not much room. But, it is attached to a tree, and you do have to climb a ladder to get there.

Some people think vice is not a good foundation, but occasionally it works out. (That black thing in back is the bumper-seat, not haging beneath the structure.)

The treehouse begins with the tree. In this case, no dendritic cradle, and not even any useful branches, just a slightly off vertical pillar of conifer. For that reason, and because I rent this place and may be required to tear it down someday,* my idea was to use 2" x 8" boards more or less like a vice. Four threaded steel rods, bolted tightly together clamp the boards to the tree (a couple of nails held them in place during drilling and tightening, but would not be enough to support weight by themselves). The result is that the treehouse is minimally bothersome to the tree; as it grows, the bark below will swell a bit, increasing the support. The bolts could be loosened if it looks like the tree is getting squeezed too much, but I doubt that will happen.

Architecturally, I think treehouses should be vernacular and adaptive, expressions of the tree and the inhabitants, and not a static imposed design. So the basic cantilevered vice idea, which may have supported the kids, but not me, required some changing, and we added posts to the outer end of the beams. The joists, rather than being parallel and evenly spaces, radiate slightly to accomodate the geometry of our platform, and the sheet of plywood for the floor has a cutout that hugs the tree.

Those posts express another aspect that I've always thought crucial to a genuine treehouse:they are salvaged. Each consists of a couple of 2 x 4's that used to be a neighbor's bathroom wall, nailed together and cut to fit the odd lengths between beam and the rocks I dragged into place. Ascent is by means of half a step ladder whose braces and other half were getting rickety, and wwas removed; it is lashed into place with some rope salvaged from a boat headed to a landfill.

Almost done. The skinny post was a temporary support, and the real ladder is not in place, but you get the idea.

The treehouse will continue to evolve, and the kids will accesorize it. Already, we added a seat beneath, consisting of a big floating boat bumper suspended from more of that rope. The space beneath the floor, I should mention, was designed so I can stand up under it, out of the rain. The campfire ring nearby may need to scoot over a few feet for safety's sake, but will remain along with the sod-sofa that has been in place ever since I dug the last garden bed. Together, they are becoming a nice little outdoor living space.

21 July, 2013

What the President Said About Race

There has been a lot of punditry and partial reporting, but I finally got around to reading President Obama's remarks about the Zimmerman-Martin case. As a whole, I think it's the best speech he's ever made, and I hope more people read it fully and closely. He spoke as an African-American man, but not just to African-Americans. He was honest about some painful history and present, and made some useful suggestions for the future. He spoke as a true leader, and not just a politician.

But don't take my word for it. Read the original words:

Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session.  The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues -- immigration, economics, et cetera -- we'll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week -- the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.  I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday.  But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case -- I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.  The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.  The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.  The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.  And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works.  But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. 

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact -- although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do. 

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. 

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing. 

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.
So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let's figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. 

I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "stand your ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see? 

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three -- and this is a long-term project -- we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I'm not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I'm not sure that that’s what we're talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I've got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed -- I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we're going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that. 

And then, finally, I think it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.   There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are -- they’re better than we were -- on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

15 July, 2013

Low Expectations

Even before the jury returned it's sad verdict in the Zimmerman-killed-Martin case, news media were salivating over the net story: would those emotional black people riot if there was no conviction?


It's sad that even the allegedly liberal media fell into this sick waiting game. Consider the words of Scott Simon, better known as sensitive host of NPR's news-lite program Weekend Edition than occasional war-monger or racist, as he 'interviewed' reporter Greg Allen:

"Is there concern there in Sanford, Greg, about community reaction to the verdict, especially if Zimmerman is acquitted?" (Weekend Edition July 13 transcript, retrieved from
"Especially if Zimmerman is acquitted." Delivered as a hurried afterthought, but Simon is a radio pro, and knows that sometimes this is just the way to communicate emphasis added. What he meant is that if a non-black guy was convicted of killing a black kid, civil unrest would not be expected, but if he were let go, those emotional black people, with their hysterical mistrust of our vaunted American legal system, would probably freak out.

But they haven't.

Maybe because they're accustomed, tired, or resigned to the low value everyone else places on their young men. I dunno. I am not African American, and unlike pundits, I'm not willing to talk about what that community will do, what motivates them. All I know is that there have not been riots.

Simon and plenty of others not singled out here, including the conservative media that frame so much of our national debate on the issue of the week, feel entirely comfortable predicting that black folks, when upset at the legalized murder of one of their own, will get unreasonable, emotional, and violent.

Not once did I hear a journalist or pundit predict violence if Zimmerman were convicted, yet there are white supremacist organizations who espouse violence, faux news organizations dedicated to the premise that white people are victimized, and white Americans rich and poor who simmer under the rule of a black man. Why did the news not muse over the possibilty of violence if Zimmerman were nailed for murder?

I cannot think of a reason, other than racism.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (of Our Legal System)

If you didn't preface your shot by telling witnesses "I am killing this guy for no particular reason," then you are innocent.

For the people who will read this a week or more after the fact, when everyone has forgotten what happened, I'll recap: In Florida, a man was found not guilty of murder, or even manslaughter, after he shot and killed an unarmed teenage boy.

I don't doubt that the jury did the "right" thing acording to the state's "Stand Your Ground" law, which forced them to let the shooter go if he had the slightest inkling that he was in danger. Like similar laws in many states, it gives a free pass on murder, as long as the murderer says he felt threatened. Not in imminent danger of death, just threatened.

Ironically, part of the prosecution's case was that the victim, a kid, himself felt threatened by a grown man who was following him around, and that was why he punched the guy. The boy's mistake was that he attacked with his fists. Had he had a gun and shot the man, he could have claimed that he felt threatened, so murder was necessary. Stand Your Ground would then have protected him (but for the extenuating circumstance that the boy was black and the man was not).

Anyway, a killer walks free, and will be lauded by many for his firm resolve. The fact is, he was about to get his ass kicked by a kid, and instead of taking it like a man, or fighting back, the wuss whipped out a gun and killed a kid. No warning shot, no aiming for an arm or leg, but straight through the heart. Problem solved, United States of Handguns style.

Our nation has a serious problem with laws designed to permit immoral behavior. During the last presidential election, another aspect of that was on display, when super-rich candidate Romney explained that he paid all the taxes he was legally required to pay. Like Apple Computers and most corporations and wealthy individuals, he availed himself of "legal" means to hide his income and avoid paying anything close to the rate that we working people are stuck with. In the midst of the worst financial crisis in decades, with government revenues lagging far behind what it would take to emerge from trouble, corporations and 1%-ers legally availed themselves of government bailouts, incentives, and subsidies while avoiding their fair share of the burden.

Again, perfectly legal (well maybe, if the government really looked, I suspect they'd find tax havens and financial tricks that could be prosecuted, but Mitt and his ilk are not un-armed black kids, so they enjoy a certain level of immunity).

No doubt there are conservatives who look at my state and bemoan the legal pot and marriage equality. But legalizing a drug that is around anyway removes an underground, dangerous economy, removing the incentive for crimes that hurt people. Gay people getting married? That doesn't hurt anyone either. These laws just reflect changing values in society.

If laws allowing murder, possession of military firepower, and cheating on taxes also reflect where our society is headed, I worry about the future. It is legal, if you have sufficient means and the mean spirit, to deprive the poor while you increase your wealth. It is legal these days to own handguns and assault weapons, and to use them on unarmed people.

But is it right? Not by a long shot to the chest.

13 July, 2013


Much of the internet is about getting somewhere immediately. Instant updates, surfing around the globe without the time-consuming travel, clicking straight to the cute/funny/shocking cat image (a meme is pure punchline, no build-up). Porn sites are about the act, not the foreplay.

Outside, meanwhile, in the reality-based community, Nature reveals herself more slowly. Even the ephemeral bloom of a poppy has a dance if you slow down enough to watch. The green parts, revealing a hint of petal one day, then the outer layer drops away, and the flower unfurls, shedding dewdrops and beckoning bees.

The petals' embrace becomes open arms. More bees visit. Wind shimmies some dew the the ground as sun leads the rest skyward.

The petals begin to wane, the danced-out anthers fade, and they drop away to reveal the next act, the seed pod. Because all this allure, the tempting and teasing, the growing siren call, leads to re-creation (any recreational enjoyment the bees or flower-watchers may experience is just the by-product). It's meant to be fruitful, not just gratify an instant.

A few days of promise, one glorious day of flowering (and deflowering), and then weeks of setting seed. Not as showy, but not over, either. The bulb swells, it's crown grows. Skin touched by the sun tans from green to silvery blue, more moon-like with each day. The crown clothes itself in delicate velvet. Inside, clinging roe becomes rattling seed, each one no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence, each one the source of next year's dance.

04 July, 2013

Freedom IS Free

It's Independence Day in the US of A, occasion for cook-outs and drinks, games and fireworks, and maybe a moment to think about how white landowners shed the yoke of tyrrany.* In fact, I just heard a collection of tourists on the DC Mall read the Declaration of Independence on NPR.

Then they cut to Boston, where coverage focused on the increased security following the marathon bombing. As in many other places, the celebration is marshalled by multiple police forces and monitored by more cameras and copters than ever. People on the street were a little bothered by this, but nobody who made it on air was upset enough to question the necessity of such measures, and one woman summed it up with the words, "Freedom isn't free."

This phrase is the teflon of the Security state, slippery doublespeak in the service of un-freedom. To enjoy our Freedom, we are told, we must accept overseas wars and sacrifice privacy at home. I feel for the kid blown apart in the Afghani mountains, or the one who survived the fight for Fallujah, but the people they were fighting weren't a threat to my Freedom. Not compared to the Patriot Act passed by our own Congress, or dismissal of freedoms including the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, or the prerogative to listen in and even kill us claimed by the Executive. And that's not even getting to the corporations who own all of the above.

The fact is, it's bondage that isn't free. The costs of militarizing our borders and our police, maintaining force around the globe, and watching every bit of communication are enormous, both to our lofty ideals of freedom and to the bottom line. The impulse to classify so much of this activity makes it even more expensive on both accounts, especially since that secrecy compromised so easily (but selectively, and as often to achieve specific political outcomes as to shine a light on mischief). Meanwhile, my freedoms are trumped again and again by the freedom of corporations to shed the expenses of pensions or keeping air and water clean, and to use infrastructure purchased with government revenue that they themselves avoid paying (along with the environmental and social costs routinely excluded from the ledger).

And what if we stopped acting like freedom comes from guns and surveillance, and went into the rest of the world with food and music instead? We'd be pulling the recruiting rug from beneath Islamic extremists and other terrorists. What if we invested in educating citizens rather than incarcerating them? We'd have a more productive society. What if we stopped transferring our national wealth to Lockheed Martin and their ilk, or legislating on behalf of Monsanto? We'd free up money to make our chunk of earth a better place to be for generations to come. What if we tolerated diversity and dissent instead of fencing it into oxymoronic "1st Amendment Zones?" We'd have a more vibrant democracy, and more people would feel like they have a stake in freedom.

If Freedom isn't absolutely free, it sure as hell is a lot cheaper than Security as the Bush and Obama administrations have sold it to us. For every uprising against British oppression, for every beating endured in Selma, there are many more senseless dead among our own young and those unfortunate enough to be in the way of our war machine wherever it happens to be that month. There are times when protecting freedom requires a sacrifice, but rarely one that involves blood. More like talking with your kids about how the government operates (or should, anyway) instead of having another beer and blowing something up. Or deciding to get up, stand up, and speak out against complacency with AmeriCo's brand of fake Freedom.

* Setting in motion that process that would break the chains of human bondage in less than 90 years, guarantee women's right to vote after a gross 144 years, grant citizenship and voting rights to Native Americans even later, and finally protect minority voting rights from 1965 until last week.

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