Friday, January 30, 2009

Where is the promised Health Care reform?

The stimulus has passed in the house and is poised to pass in the senate. Some aspects of the stimulus are good, like education and Medicaid, others are far too little - i.e., infrastructure, other aspects are concessions - tax cuts. But on the whole it seems a big stimulus package is needed.

Still, we need much more for infrastructure, and I want to hear soon that Health care reform is underway - RADICAL Health Care reform!!!

Granted, there will be more money for health care directed toward children, the poor, and the unemployed. And that is a very good thing. But where is the promised comprehensive reform that Obama spoke of throughout the election and transition team periods?

I see no sign of the needed change. And I'm not alone, in the N. Y. Times today, Paul Krugman expressed some deep concerns that we will not see health care reform:

Krugman notes that the reform may still be coming, but why was it no part of the stimulus? why is there no mention of a bill yet? Of course it is still less than two weeks into Obama's presidency, so we can be patient, but let's be vocal too!

This should make many of us uneasy. Let's hope our doubts and fears are wrong, but let's recognize the need for them.

Rove still spits in the face of the law

I wrote a news article for Huliq News a couple days back celebrating the fact that Karl Rove was called to testify before congress:

In that article I expressed my hope that this would be the beginning of those who engaged in illegal acts in the previous administration finally facing justice.

But we now see a setback, it appears Karl Rove still thinks himself above the law! And says he refuses to go before congress!!!

Keith Olbermann explains:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Twilight Zone: Eye of the Beholder (1960)

I just recently watched an episode of the Twilight zone that I'd not seen in some years. It is one of the more famous episodes, and considers our notions of beauty. Particularly, the episode conveys the notion that physical beauty is in the eye of the beholder - that it is subjective.

But the episode - and I did not pick up on this when I was younger - is not simply a statement about the subjectivity of physical attractiveness.

This episode of the twilight zone powerfully conveys the idea that our concept of beauty is ENTIRELY a social construct. And not merely that, it is a social construct designed to impose conformity on the populace, to drown out divergence, to crush individuality and personal - as opposed to collective - purpose.

I post the episode here (from Yahoo video). Watch carefully and note how the social ideal of beauty is part of a broader effort on part of those in power to mold people into the "normal" state of conformity:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jon Stewart's interview with Jimmy Carter

As I mentioned last week, Jimmy Carter was on the daily show last night. The interview was about his newest book We can have peace in the Holy Land

Here is that Interview:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Embryonic Stell Cell research finallly begins!

This is very good news. Embryonic stem cell research has enormous potential for our most deadly diseases and crippling injuries. Of course some pro-life advocates will regard using such cells as supporting or even committing murder, so it is not without controversy. I respect their concerns and perspective, but being pro-choice, I see the matter differently. I see tremendous hope in this new research:

A note on the ethical issue at stake here: does using Embryonic stem cells in research and/or healing of adult humans, constitute murder? There is no way to answer this question without first doing some metaphysics and asking what a person is, what rights if any non-persons or potential person might have (which in turn requires an analysis of what rights are and how we come to "get" them), and when personhood begins. To be for or against stem cell research is to have a definite position on these matters. And naturally we need to know something about Embryology if we are to know the facts of development.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Occupation 101

I shared this video once before, but I think I ought to post it again, given that we now have a new administration in power - one that would do well to consider the case presented here:

Obama orders Air Strike in Pakistan

This has not really been remarked upon in the American media, but the British Media has had quite a bit to say about it:

Essentially President Obama gave the green light on air strikes in Pakistan. These strikes killed 18 people.

I have no problem with pursuing terrorists. But are these air strikes likely to do anything more than kill innocent people and increase hostility toward the United States? I find that very doubtful.

It is sad to see the president already responding to world affairs with militarism. Predictable in an American leader, and consistent with what Obama has said all along about Afghanistan and Pakistan, but sad nevertheless.

Let's see how far Obama goes with this militarism. Signing the order to close Gitmo was a very positive step; and in general I'm impressed with Obama's first week, he's off to a good start. This air strike, however, is a bad sign and not a wise decision on Obama's part. It's likely that Obama will be better Diplomatically than Bush and Clinton, but that is not really saying very much for him.

Finally, why isn't the American media saying more about this air strike? Why are they silent? I sometimes like to imagine that we actually have the free and independent press that our constitution advocated and championed - then I watch the news and am reminded how far away from our ideal we are.

Jimmy Carter to be on the Daily Show Monday night

Jimmy Carter will be the interview on this upcoming Monday night's Daily Show. The Subject will surely be his new book which offers a solution for peace in the holy land - -

This will be an interview well worth watching. I'm curious to see how the Obama administration might respond to Carter on this issue.

Here is a clip of the last time Jimmy Carter was on the Daily Show

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

HBO Cuts Gene Robinson, but youtube delivers him

HBO cut the prayer given by Gene Robinson. This is of course appauling. However. someone taped it there and put it on youtube. Proof that the internet can bypass the corporate media and networks.

I particularly like that the Bishop asked us to dissent and to question the platitudes we are fed. In fact, I suspect his statements of doubt and dissent are the reason HBO did not televise his prayer, rather than any issue with his sexual preference; though that is also possible of course.

Now compare Robinson's very thoughtful prayer to Warren's prayer:

I think Warren's prayer was well spoken. Solid rhetoric, and some nice sentiments about unity, inclusiveness, and the truly marvelous victory of our first African-American President. He was a lttle too "America is better than everyone else" for my taste, but not a bad prayer.

Still, I wish that Bishop Robinson would have been featured equally with Warren and not relegated to "off-air" status.

Even the Ewoks are Celebrating today

The whole Galaxy is celebrating freedom from Bush!!! Take a look here, even the Ewoks are happy about it!!

The Reign of Terror is over . .. Joy to the world!

How to celebrate the absolute joy and sweet relief I feel now that Bush is no longer our president. How to enjoy the moment of freedom from that inept, corrupt, and horrific man and his pathetic adminstration of lunatics, demons, and bunglers.

This is what I've been wondering: What expression of joy fits?

Take a look at the following video, change the setting, the characters, and the cause of celebration, and you will quickly get the drift - it is the mood of celebration and the satisfaction of being suddently liberated from something horrible that suits the day.

The Mayor of Munckin City is right: This is a day of independence for all of us and our descendents!! Let the joyous news be spread, the wicked administration at last has fled!!!!!!

Bush officials should be prosecuted

Keith Olbermann makes the case that Obama must prosecute Bush officials who knowingly authorized and commanded torture. Can anyone seriously disagree? Does anyone think that these officials should be allowed to get away without any penalty for torturing people?!

I think Olbermann makes his case here:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Remember Dr. King . . . but really do so.

This Martin Luther King Jr Holiday is obviously extra-meaningful. Tomorrow we swear in our first African-American President. Clearly this a quite a step forward for the United States of America.

We are a step nearer to the realization of King's "dream." Though we are still far from the whole of that dream. If you'd like to know just how far, do a little research on King the man. Read some of his speeches and sermons against the war in vietnam and American foreign policy generally. Learn what King meant by "economic democracy".

He was far more than a guy who just objected to segregation. King sought a radical reconstruction of society, a massive change. A world in which all people had not only the right to vote, not only did not suffer segregation, but had control over their economic plight; freedom not only to be left in peace, but to flourish. He was more radical than the tame image of him we are exposed to would let us believe.

So with the dawn of a world in which a Black man holds the most powerful office on earth, let us remember Dr. Martin Luther King jr. But let's move past the domesticated and tamed version taught in grade schools and remembered in history.

Study the man's writings and sermons, speeches, and letters, and find a man whose vision is far more radical than we suppose, and whose dream is far larger than we had imagined.

His speeches against the war in Vietnam is a good place to start - note his claim about America's arrogance - I share some of these here:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Freedom and Democracy

I spent five days in Philadelphia at the end of December. It was quite remarkable. I stood in a the house where Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, saw the first congress where that same declaration was read and signed, and the constitution was ratified. I stood at Ben Franklin's grave, and at Washington park, sight of revolutionary war battles, and now a burial ground for soldiers who fell in that war.

Two words - constant in American rhetoric - haunted me: "freedom" and "democracy". I think we use those words too cheaply, to vaguely, without sufficient meaning.

Democracy is government by the people, a government where the rights of everyone are legally protected, and all have power to have their voice heard by government. Democracy is far more than the right to vote and free speech. Democracy is nothing less than the freedom to matter, to make a difference. to have one's voice heard, one's life and interests protected, one's worth affirmed.

Likewise with freedom. We cannot simply proclaim that we believe in freedom. We must say what freedom means. Freedom from what? Freedom to what? Freedom for whom? How much freedom? what kind of freedom? Freedom to be simply left to ourselves? Or freedom that requires the help of others?

The founding fathers of our nation were flawed and faulty men, but they did create something quite remarkable. They did give us a democratic republic.

But it is not sufficient merely to wave our flags and chant stock phrases. Let's ask ourselves what democracy and freedom really mean, what liberty really consist in, what rights really are. What is this gift that the founding fathers tried to provide us?

If we do not come to understand what these concepts really mean, then we will lose them. Even now we are not really fully free, not really fully democratic ... and how could we be, if we don't know what it means to be free and democratic?

Food for thought as a new administration comes to power.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Unity and Dialogue? Could it be?

Bishop Robinson was on Rachel Maddow tonight. What he had to say was quite interesting:

equally interesting, Rick Warren has reached out to Bishop Robinson and seems to approve of Obama's choice here:

I confess that this news has lifted my spirits. Is it possible that we might see real dialogue? Real growth and change? Do we dare to hope??

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gene Robinson: Gay Bishop Giving Obama Prayer

Barack Obama has picked Gene Robinson to lead the prayer at the Lincoln memorial!

I have to say that this is rather inspiring news. The first openly gay bishop to lead the prayer!!

I was quite critical of Obama's pick of Rick Warren, thinking it was an insult to gays and lesbians. Now I see clearly that I was wrong to be so critical of Obama, he seems genuinely to want to include everyone, to be "everyone's president." And if Robinson and Warren can perhaps sit down and dialog in good will, find common ground . . . . just maybe there is hope for us all.

Good job President Obama!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spiderman saves Obama.

o.k. This is just plain funny. Besides . . . Spiderman was my favorite superhero as a kid, so I can't help but be entertained and even a little bit moved by this:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

These are War Crimes

Some important perspective on the invasion of Gaza can be acquired from the following video (Reuters), and article (N. Y. Times). Read for yourself and decide:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama speaks out on Gaza .... sort of

Obama has finally deigned to present us with an official statement about the Invasion of Gaza. It's not much. He tells us he is sorry for the wounded and dead, and that he will work for peace when in office. What does that mean? Does it mean anything? He has said nothing about the root cause of the problem - 40 + years of illegal and cruel occupation. Nor does he give us any hint of what his position or policy will be.

We will see what Obama actually does and says when he takes office. But this statement is anything but satisfactory.

Here's the video of Obama's statement: