I wept for America this morning

twin_towers_gettyI wept for my country this morning.

To say I feel sucker punched by Trump’s win is an understatement. “Sucker punched” falls so far short of how I actually feel today that it’s absurd.

Let me try to describe how I feel.

Remember at around noon on September 11, 2001, after all the planes had crashed, both towers had fallen, and the Pentagon was in flames. Remember how you felt a sense of dread, of horror, of unfathomable grief that seemed like it might never fade. That’s how I feel today.

But worse. Continue reading

Help me Governor McCrory, you’re my only hope

refugee_children_from_syria_at_a_clinic_in_ramtha2c_northern_jordan_28961347726329

image courtesy of wikimedia.org

The Syrian refugees who are currently undergoing a two year vetting process had nothing to do with the attacks in Paris. They are the Albert Einsteins trying to get out of Nazi Germany, and we are stopping them. This is how we lose the war. We burn a whole city to get revenge on two already-dead homicidal maniacs. There are a limited number of brainwashed suicide bombers. Remember Japan. It’s an act of desperation. It’s the hallmark of a General out of options. Continue reading

Without ordination, women can’t contribute equally in decisions on religious dogma

By Whitney Downard

Despite political and social gains elsewhere, women cannot hold many high religious offices because of their gender. By limiting leadership positions to men, churches erode women’s role in defining worship.

The priesthood, a cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, grants the holder the power and authority to act in the name of God. Only those who hold the priesthood can administer priesthood blessings, bless the sacrament (the passing of bread and water) or perform baptisms. Most importantly, a majority of leadership positions within the LDS church can only be held by those possessing the priesthood. Only worthy male members, 12 and older, can be priesthood holders.

The LDS church isn’t the only church to limit women. Several major religions in the United States don’t allow women to hold meaningful leadership positions. The authorities in power – men – dictate what, how and if women can contribute to religious dogma. This prevents women from performing important spiritual rituals or practices.
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Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Re-examining the axioms of modern liberalism – an introduction

When one looks at the US Constitution, it’s abundantly clear that it’s a product of a bygone era. The outlawing of slavery and universal suffrage are perhaps the most obvious examples, but there are other, less obvious examples. Would the authors have written the Second Amendment as they did if they knew the public might have had access to machine guns or military-grade explosives? Are bloggers worthy of “free press” protections accorded to journalists? And how would they have looked at the rise of corporate personhood and power? We can look to what the Constitution’s authors wrote and said in their own time for guidance, but ultimately we are reduced to guesswork. Furthermore, if we always rely on the brilliance of the past, we ignore our own brilliance in the present.

An argument can be made that it would be a good idea to reassess the totality of the US Constitution in a new Constitutional Congress in order to make our government responsive to modern realities. Given the political stagnation in the US today, the form and content of any new Constitution is probably impossible to predict and could easily be much better, or much worse, than what we have today. But even if you think an open Constitutional Congress is a terrible idea, the process of examining the modern shortcomings of our governing Constitution would still be a valuable endeavor.

I think it’s time to similarly re-examine the many axioms (a statement accepted as true as the basis of argument or inference”) of liberalism and how they relate to the modern world. Continue reading

Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field

Pulitzer- and Emmy-winner William Henry‘s famous polemic, In Defense of Elitism (1994), argues that societies can be ranked along a spectrum with “egalitarianism” on one end and “elitism” on the other. He concludes that America, to its detriment, has slid too far in the direction of egalitarianism, and in the process that it has abandoned the elitist impulse that made it great (and that is necessary for any great culture). While Henry’s analysis is flawed in spots (and, thanks to the excesses of the Bush years, there are some other places that could use updating), he brilliantly succeeds in his ultimate goal: crank-starting a much-needed debate about the proper place of elitism in a “democratic” society.

Along the way he spends a good deal of time defining what he means by “egalitarianism” and “elitism.” Continue reading

Justice Department on net neutrality: “Trust us”

By Martin Bosworth

Yesterday the Justice Department filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission opposing the principle of “net neutrality” and urging the FCC not to sanction regulations to protect it. In a report and press statement that sound like they were written by executives from AT&T and Verizon, the DOJ regurgitates telecom talking points that falsely claim net neutrality will hamper innovation and that the market is somehow working awesomely: Continue reading

Breeding for Christ, conservatism and consumerism

By Martin Bosworth

An interesting piece came across my desk the other day that paints a chilling picture of how strong the religious right’s death grip is on American culture and politics…and how that death grip is actually maintained by business interests who want to ensure that the American machine keeps rolling along. Continue reading

The mockingbird’s song isn’t heard in Jena, LA….

mockingbird.jpg Today is the 46th anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s iconic novel about Southern race relations, To Kill a Mockingbird.

This particular anniversary seems a bittersweet one, since the Jena 6 case suggests the central issue that Lee’s novel explores – the inability of Southern whites to see blacks as fellow Americans with equal rights – hasn’t changed:

Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand. – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird Continue reading

Recent statements from morons

I understand the embarrassment that it caused the party. I will work diligently to make sure that these things don’t happen again.

— John Irish, chair of the Lucas County (Ohio) Democratic Party, in an apology for hiring strippers to work a party fundraiser at a public golf course, an event at which at least one of the strippers “raised her top and lowered her shorts for a group of golfers.”

Here’s the thing, when you’re dealing with a world leader, you wonder whether or not he’s telling the truth. I’ve never had to worry about that with Vladimir Putin. Sometimes he says things I don’t want to hear, but I know he’s always telling me the truth.

— President Bush about the veracity of Russian President Vladimir Putin after their meeting this week in Kennebunkport, Maine.
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Martin Luther King, Jr. – our newest Scholar Rogue

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our newest scholar/rogue is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most Americans, no matter what they think of him, know King’s story well. The son of a Baptist minister, King attended segregated schools (graduating high school at 15), then attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. From there he went to seminary and then to Boston University from which he received his PhD in theology. Barely more than a year after accepting his first pulpit, King accepted the leadership of the first great civil rights “direct action” campaign, the bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, in 1955. In 1957 King became president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a new organization founded to offer leadership and guidance to the burgeoning civil rights movement and a group that took its ideals from Christianity and its operating procedures from those of Gandhi. Over the next eleven years he “traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.” Continue reading

Cult of the Fetus

By Rori Black

Using only the third veto in his 6 years of presidency, Bush shot down legislation to expand federally funded stem cell research. The bill would have allowed research using donated embryos already slated for destruction. He went on to issue an executive order encouraging the use of stem cell research without the destruction of human embryos.

In his message to Congress, Bush disingenuously blasted the bill as crossing an ethical line.

The Congress has sent me legislation that would compel American taxpayers, for the first time in our history, to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

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Bush to the law of the land: not in my backyard…!

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” – George W. Bush, Dec. 19, 2000

Where to begin?

We could pimp it Hollywood style:

FROM THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU ATTORNEYGATE – THEY THOUGHT THEY’D REIN HIM IN BY PASSING LAWS. BUT GEORGE DON’T NEED NO STINKING LAWS….HE’S GOT SIGNING STATEMENTS! NOW PLAYING IN AN ADMINISTRATION NEAR YOU….

Or we could do what the Democrats always do – roll over and ask to have their bellies rubbed:

We are Americans. We have the right to participate and debate any administration. – Hillary Rodham Clinton Continue reading

Liberalism is dead, long live Progressivism

By Martin Bosworth

We’re genetically and sociologically oriented to think of things in duality. Two arms, two legs, a base-10 mathematical system that comes from multiplying 5×2. So there has to be a “right” and a “left,” and because the majority of people are right-handed, the “left hand” is considered strange and different. Did you know the word “sinister” originally meant “left”?

Is it any wonder, then that the modern liberal movement is so unable to really grasp the hearts and minds of the people? We’re the “left hand.” Strange, different, abnormal, not the normal part of the body politic, and our influence, while pervasive, is fractious and hard to coalesce into a single unified voice. Continue reading

America To Immigration Bill: DROP DEAD!

By Martin Bosworth

And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened. As this AP article points out, the failure of the immigration bill was due to massive divisions among all the constituencies it tried to please. The only people that really benefited from this bill would have been the Bush regime, which would have claimed a political victory in the face of near-constant reminders of their incompetence. Everyone else would have gotten the shiv to one degree or another. Let’s take a closer look: Continue reading

Latino civil rights groups finally see the light on Gonzales

by Amaury Nora

After breaking ranks with with other civil rights organizations two years ago, it looks like Latino civil rights groups have finally swallowed their pride and admitted that their beloved Al “Torture Guy” Gonzales is not the person they thought he was, according to a New York Times article.

Two years ago, major Hispanic groups broke with other civil rights organizations and supported Alberto R. Gonzales’s nomination for attorney general, primarily because he would become the highest-ranking Latino ever in a presidential Cabinet.

I have to say we were in error when we supported him to begin with,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Continue reading

Hubris: something both Democrats and Republicans have in common

US interests, as beforeThe image to the right is a Japanese representation of the “black ships” commanded by Matthew Perry which, in 1853, forced open trade with Japan for US commercial interests. A few may scoff that this sounds like Bush policy. Some of us think that it is US policy no matter who is in charge.

What unites the wing-nuts; left-wing Democrats, right-wing Republicans, and shrill Internet pundits from the Huffington Post to Michelle Malkin? The idea that the US is the centre of the universe. That everything that happens is somehow because of US engagement, lack of setting values, overt interference or rampant consumerism.

Get over it. The US isn’t that important.

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When equality becomes unfair: South Africa’s two economies

Peculiarly enough, it is better than unemploymentSouth Africa is a microcosm for all the world’s greatest unresolved itches.

Here we have fair-skinned folk living in shiny new cities with first-rate infrastructure and access to all the best that science, technology, literature, art and innovation have to offer. These people are the nominally wealthy living idyllic lives that would be perfect save for their concerns about the people “living over there”.

Those folk are dark-skinned, living existences like so much distaff flotsam washed up against a pearly beach. Their homes are corrugated iron and plastic sheeting lean-tos higgledy-piggledy scattered, cheek-by-jowl. Clothes are scrubbed raw-clean but there is little room for more than one shirt, one pair of pants and one desperately shiny pair of shoes. Unemployment is widespread. These are the relatively destitute poor.

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