Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Right wing slips ever more rapidly into madness

This smearing and insane fear propagated by the right over judge Sotomayor does nothing but show how desperate they are and how diseased their minds have become.


Let them continue to rant and rave and foam at the mouth, so that everyone can see how crazy they are!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Buck O'Neil displays the joy of Baseball

There is just something so pure about this:

We miss you buck!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Old Friend Inspires me!

An Old Friend of mine, Eve Parker, has given me inspiration today. Eve, we are all very proud of your activism and moved by your example. Let us keep up the fight for equal rights for everyone!

Here is the story from East County Magazine (in San Diego):

May 26, 2009 (San Diego’s East County)—“This is a time where we need equality,” says Eve Parker, lead organizer of the East County Equality Torch Relay slated for June 6th in Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove. The relay is part of a county-wide event for supporters of equal rights for gay and lesbian people. “I am actually a heterosexual, but I felt so strongly that I believe it is important that I stand up and take the lead,” said Parker. She points to the women’s rights and Civil Rights movements of the past, noting that it took the support of men and white Americans to help secure equal rights for women and African-Americans.

The June 6th date for the relay commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, events that many consider to be the start of the gay rights movement. Organizers say the Equality Torch Relay event aims to "inspire courage" and foster reflection on impacts of discrimination.

“Some think this relay is happening at the wake of the Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage in California, but the timing is ironic; we have been planning this event for weeks,” Parker said, referring to today’s high court decision upholding Proposition 8, which bans future gay marriages in the state. Two of East County’s state legislators, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth and Assemblyman Joel Anderson, have been vocal supporters of Prop 8, maintaining that marriage should be reserved for unions between a man and a woman. The torch, which is unlit, will travel to every city in San Diego County including segments via foot, bicycle, car, rail, air, sea and more. In East County, stops will include 20-minute rallies at each City Hall. To date, political leaders who have confirmed that they will speak include Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil and Assemblyman Marty Block, said Parker.

Asked whether organizers anticipate counter-protesters in East County, a bastion of religious conservatism, Parker said law enforcement will be on hand to protect the rights and safety of participants.

For additional information or to sign up as a participant or volunteer, visit

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Tyranny of the Majority

By now everyone is aware that the California High court ruled to uphold Prop 8. Naturally many of us are angry that gay couples continue to suffer legal discrimination. And we should be angry. But there is more cause for concern than the present discrimination.

The California high court has set a dangerous precedent: Majority opinion can dictate legal rights. Such a decision is truly chilling. Imagine if we allowed interracial marriage to be put to a vote? Or Abortion? Or segregation? Can you imagine what the right wing would say if voters chose to ban firearms or prayer in school, or to allow partial-birth abortion ... and the court decided to uphold the majority opinion?!? I do not think we would hear the right wing complain about "activist judges" if they did not honor such votes.

The matter is simple: Democracy is NOT mob rule. Neither this democracy nor any other modern democracy has ever been built on the principle a simple vote decides all laws and rights. We are not now and have never been a country that decides human and civil rights on the basis of a majority of voters. This is not how we decided segregation nor the end of slavery, it should not be how we decide gay marriage.

It is an atrocity that same-sex couples are being denied their rights; and it is just as great an atrocity that the court has decided to support the "tyranny of the majority" as a guide to law and public policy where rights are concerned.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

George Takei responds to the California Supreme Court

Thoughtful response from George Takei (famous for his role as Lt. Sulu in the original Star Trek). Odd ending to the video though:

California has disappointed us all today. The State has taken a major step backwards by allowing a civil rights issue to be decided by majority vote.

Imagine if this had been done regarding segregation, votes for women, or interracial marriage?!

Better yet, can you imagine the outcry from the right wing if the courts upheld a ban on prayer in school or owning firearms solely on the grounds that 52% voted to do so!?!


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Bill Moyers Journal: Single-Payer Health Care

I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts!

When the big insurance companies promised to "work with" the white House to cover more people and reduce health care costs many rejoiced. I winced. I feared. I felt my stomach churn. The reason? Obama "welcomed" them, and since then I have heard nothing about the promised public plan. In fact the Rhetoric from Obama seems clear: he will work with the insurance people and leave it up to them! I treat this more fully in a Huliq News story

This is bad news indeed. Paul Krugman has recently written at length on this:
here’s the question: Will Mr. Obama gloss over the reality of what’s happening, and try to preserve the appearance of cooperation? Or will he honor his own pledge, made back during the campaign, to go on the offensive against special interests if they stand in the way of reform?

The story so far: on May 11 the White House called a news conference to announce that major players in health care, including the American Hospital Association and the lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, had come together to support a national effort to control health care costs.

The fact sheet on the meeting, one has to say, was classic Obama in its message of post-partisanship and, um, hope. “For too long, politics and point-scoring have prevented our country from tackling this growing crisis,” it said, adding, “The American people are eager to put the old Washington ways behind them.”

But just three days later the hospital association insisted that it had not, in fact, promised what the president said it had promised — that it had made no commitment to the administration’s goal of reducing the rate at which health care costs are rising by 1.5 percentage points a year. And the head of the insurance lobby said that the idea was merely to “ramp up” savings, whatever that means.

Meanwhile, the insurance industry is busily lobbying Congress to block one crucial element of health care reform, the public option — that is, offering Americans the right to buy insurance directly from the government as well as from private insurance companies.
Krugman is surely right to be alarmed. The problem with our current system is that private companies run the show. Private insurance is driven by one goal ... profit. The way to maximize profit is to avoid paying for health care whenever it is possible to do so, but to take as much money (via premiums, deductibles etc) from the "consumer" as possible. And this is what Health insurance corporations do. Without a public plan and a federal committee to regulate private plans, they will continue to rob us blind in this way.

Krugman continues:

Back during the Democratic primary campaign, Mr. Obama argued that the Clintons had failed in their 1993 attempt to reform health care because they had been insufficiently inclusive. He promised instead to gather all the stakeholders, including the insurance companies, around a “big table.” And that May 11 event was, of course, intended precisely to show this big-table strategy in action.

But what if interest groups showed up at the big table, then blocked reform? Back then, Mr. Obama assured voters that he would get tough: “If those insurance companies and drug companies start trying to run ads with Harry and Louise, I’ll run my own ads as president. I’ll get on television and say ‘Harry and Louise are lying.’ ”

The question now is whether he really meant it.

The medical-industrial complex has called the president’s bluff. It polished its image by showing up at the big table and promising cooperation, then promptly went back to doing all it can to block real change. The insurers and the drug companies are, in effect, betting that Mr. Obama will be afraid to call them out on their duplicity.

It’s up to Mr. Obama to prove them wrong.
Let me here state my own thought: Obama will cave. He will not come through. He will let big business take the lead and Health reform will NOT happen. I hope I'm wrong, but I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that Obama will fail us here.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Padres acquire Tony Gwynn jr

The San Diego Padres today made a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers get Left-handed outfielder Jody Gerut. The Padres get Tony Gwynn Jr, son of the twenty year Padre and first-ballet hall of famer!

Gwynn jr has yet to prove himself as a major leaguer, but he has some obvious skills. And the Padres, still struggling with a poor record, really have nothing to lose.

The Padres lack a legitimate lead-off man, and Gwynn jr has promise as one. Beside that, of course, is the moral booster of once again having a Gwynn roam the San Diego outfield.

As a native San Diegan and life long Padres fan, it really hits the nostalgia button to have Gwynn jr play for the friars.

I will be watching this move attentively.

I hope Gwynn Jr proves himself and earns a place as a valuable member of the San Diego Padres!

In other news, Trevor Hoffman saved his 11th tonight for the Brewers. He has yet to blow a save or even to allow a run.

The baseball world is bringing me much joy tonight!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Shameful and Disgusting Catholic Sex Scadal

A report has been issued about sexual abuses in Irish Catholic Schools. Child abuse, both physical and sexual has been "endemic" in these schools for decades. This video from the BBC explains the situation:

It seems obvious to me that the reason these abuses are hushed up is because the Roman Catholic Church is a rigid hierarchy that insists upon absolute obedience to those above you. In other words, things are hushed up and people are told to silently and humbly obey. The only way then to stop these scandals is to loosen that Hierarchy. The church structure must be fundamentally altered in radical ways.

This is NOT by the way to condemn Catholicism as a whole. This is merely a criticism of the power and structure of a hierarchy that is so constituted that it's natural reaction is to hush up and conceal thousands upon thousands of physical and sexual abuses.

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Pro-Sex women and moderate republicans.

Interesting interview of Megan McCain on the Colbert report. Defining herself as a"pro-sex woman," she offers her vision of what the GOP could be. Basically her vision is of a Republican Party that is fiscally conservative, staunchly pro-military, and socially liberal.

I have some very different views, but this is a Republican I can respect, and a conception of the Republican party that is genuinely respectable. If the party does turn in her direction, things will be looking up for the country:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Meghan McCain
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Failings of Obamanomics

Very informative interview from Democracy Now. The importance of this interview is that it offers a very different perspective than the clash between Obama and the Republicans gives us. This more nuanced position is critical of both those parties. And rightly so. After all both parties assume the same system and don't think outside of it.

Watch and learn:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Death of Ivan Ilych: Book Review

I first read this book when I was 19 and have since returned to it several times. Currently I use it in an intro to philosophy course that I teach - so I find myself reading it 1-2 times per year.

This simple and short tale is about the death of a judge named Ivan Ilych. Specifically, it is about his coming to face his death as he slowly dies from some unspecified terminal ailment.

The book can be read as a chilling description of the recognition and process of dying. Tolstoy convinces us that we have entered the psyche of a dying man, and Ivan Ilych’s awareness of his approaching death is truly frightening ... Tolstoy forces us to watch a man slowly die and demands that we apply this experience to ourselves.

There is more to the story, however, than a man facing his approaching death.

Until he is confronted with his mortality and imminent death, Ivan Ilych is a vain little man. Concerned only with conforming to the status quo and doing that which is socially approved, Tolstoy informs us that Ilych's life was "most simple and commonplace - and therefore most horrifying."

The central theme of this little novella is that our denial of our own mortality - our pushing ourselves away from the fact of our death - is intimately bound up with living inauthentically. Ivan Ilych and his entire social circle completely distance themselves from the fact that they will die, to the extant that they even feel, at a raw emotional level, that it will never really happen to them!

It is only when he recognizes that he is dying that Ilych is finally able to see that his life was empty and inauthentic - and only when he fully admits to this inauthentic life does he finally experience freedom, joy and love.

Having finally, albeit at the very end of his life, lived authentically Ivan Ilych dies in peace and achieves a kind of victory.

Tolstoy tells us that the corpse of Ivan Illych wore an expression that served as “a reproach and a reminder to the living.” A reproach no doubt to stop being dishonest, to come to terms with our mortality, and thereby to be forced to live authentically.

Despite the novella’s dark tone and somber themes, Tolstoy concludes with a strong note of optimism and joy. At truly rewarding read! Indeed, so much is packed into this short little tale that much more could be said. The best thing I can say, however, is read it yourselves and prepare to be deeply moved and powerfully challenged.

View all my reviews.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek on Class Struggle, Torture, and Terrorism

Very relevant clip from he original Star Trek Series. We learn in this episode that exploitation an oppression breeds desperation and therefore violence, and that torture is never permissible.

The entire episode is worth watching, check it out here.

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Why Martin Luther King Jr loved Star Trek

I sometimes find empowerment in unexpected places. My friend Jay reminded me of an anecdote the other day. The anecdote is about a meeting between Nichelle Nichols (who played Lt. Uhura on Star Trek) and Martin Luther King Jr.

This video recounts the anecdote and speaks for itself:

Some object to the fact that Uhura was portrayed in a tiny mini-skirt and thus cannot be considered a figure of empowerment, contrary to what Nichelle Nichols claims here. But remember the time, there were no black women portrayed in positions of equality and authority then ... there were few women portrayed in such positions period!

Remember that civil and human rights dimension the next time you see Star Trek and if you should see the new film (which I enjoyed) ask yourself, is the presentation of Uhura faithful to that original spirit of empowerment?

One final thought: The first interacial kiss on American Television was between the characters Uhura and Jim Kirk ... "boldly going where no one has gone before" indeed.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Should we want Limbaugh's Kidneys to fail?

By now everyone knows what the comedian Wanda said about Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner. How should we react?

Obviously no compassionate and humane person would actually want Limbaugh's kidney's to fail. But what are we to make of her joke?

Did Wanda go "over the line" in saying that she hopes Limbaugh's kidney's fail? Yes. Of course she did. Should we liberals hope this happens to Limbaugh? No! I don't and I'm sure most don't. I even wager that Wanda does not want this to happen to Limbaugh.

My hope for Limbaugh is that he is visited by the repentant ghost of William F. Buckley Jr and then 3 spirits who show him the error of his ways.

Interestingly however, right wing nut jobs like Alan Keyes, Sean Hannity, Limbaugh himself, Glen Beck, and their fellows say things as bad and worse than Wanda did. Furthermore, these "pundits" say such things repeatedly and frequently. And they mean what they say quite literally and not as an inappropriate attempt at humor.

Take a look here for a small sample of this frequent right-wing hate speach. Media Matters regularly compiles such lists.

Now ... will the right-wingers also admit that Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Coulter and others go "over the line?" You know, every time they speak.

It's hardly surprising that someone - particularly a woman of color - would hate a bigoted blowhard like Limbaugh. Wanda did indeed go too far with her joke, but Limbaugh and his brood of vipers go too far almost daily and with far more villainy in their hearts.

For the far right to complain about Wanda's "joke" is for the proverbial teapot to call the kettle black, or to attempt to remove the speck from your brother's eye while at the same time being oblivious to the beam in your own.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny Ramirez is a fraud!

Big news today: Manny Ramirez is guilty of taking performing enhancing drugs and has been suspended for it.

I've long suspected Ramirez of this. Given the widespread availability of such drugs, we would have to believe that Ramirez was either taking them or was too ethical to do so: anyone who knows anything about Manny Ramirez cannot honestly believe he would refrain from using performance enhancers on grounds of principle!

Baseball has always been thought of as a game of ethics, integrity, teamwork, fair play. It is always sad to learn that this great game has been betrayed - even when, as in this case, it is not surprising.

Shame on you Manny Ramirez! Like so many others you disgraces this noble game!!!!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

God and Empire

God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now by John Dominic Crossan

This is one of Crossan's finest works. The basic premise is that the Kingdom of God as understood by Jesus and the "Lordship of Christ" as taught by Paul are anti-imperial - not just anti-Rome, which of course they are, but opposed to what Crossan aptly calls "the normalcy of Civilization."

Crossan argues, quite compellingly, that the normalcy of civilization is both a hierarchy which privileges some and oppresses and exploits others, and is also committed to violence - the claim that peace can only be achieved by violent conquest of one's enemies and violent punishment of those who upset the established order. Anyone who knows anything about human history will see that Crossan is clearly correct that this is indeed the normal way human civilization operates.

The alternative vision of Jesus and Paul negates the normal ways of civilization. Jesus and Paul preach an egalitarian vision in which all stand equal before God and are called to share equally in each other's resources. Furthermore, Jesus and Paul eschew violence in favor of a non-violent (but nonetheless fiercely resistant) approach to living and being. (Simply read Matthew 5-7, Acts 4:32-35, and Galatians 3:28 and you will quickly see that Crossan has solid textual support for his position).

In short, for Jesus, and Paul after him, God is known to us in a life of non-violence and distributive justice. They offer us a world where all share God's resources equally and live together peacefully. And they offer this world as the divine counter vision of "the normalcy of civilization."

Near the end of the book Crossan contrasts the non-violent Jesus who walked the earth with the fantasy of violent retribution found in the Jesus of Revelation and much current theology. We cannot have both, we must choose either a violent or non-violent Jesus. The former is the Jesus of apocalyptic vengeance, the later the Jesus of history. The two are not compatible.

The choice is important, Crossan argues, not merely because only non-violence and egalitarianism can save the human race, but also because the choice determines how we see God. Is God a patriarchal and violent deity? Or a non-violent and egalitarian deity? How we see God is crucial, for we act out what we think God is like.

A fine read and a must read for anyone who, as we all should be, is worried about the rise of "violent religion" in much of the world today.

Here is a nice summary of one of the main themes by Crossan himself:

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Desmond Tutu: Only Ubuntu can solve our problems

Desmond Tutu explains the root of our world problems and tells how we must turn (metanoia) our hearts to begin the path of healing and wholeness.

We must stop living for ourselves and looking out for "old number one." Let's get seriously, the Archbishop Emeritus tells us, about "life together."

Pay special attention to his notion of "ubuntu" or interdependence.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Did American Agricorps create swine flu?

According to the following segment from Democracy Now, American pig farming in Mexico may very well be responsible for Swine Flu.

I leave you with the video and you can decide whether the case for this claim is good or whether it is as misguided as the right-wing claim that illegal immigrants caused it (which of course they did not!):

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Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day: Workers of the world unite!

In most of the world today May Day will be honored as a celebration of the rights of working people. This is a day to champion their cause, to celebrate their labor, and to think of ways to improve working and living conditions for working people everywhere.

In honor of May Day, I offer the following book review:

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan

It is no secret that nearly all human societies - including our present societies - favor the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

The dominant institution for implementing this type of exploitation today is the corporation. Corporations get politicians elected, take over our minds with advertising, dump pollution into our environment, and routinely commit crime upon crime.

The basic Premise of this book is fairly simple: Corporations are not run by evil people, but are systematically designed in such a way that harming and exploiting people is a necessary component of their operation. Corporations are created to maximize profit and minimize cost. Corporations are legally bound to put profit above all other concerns. These claims are backed up by an enormous amount of legal data.

The second point is that currently Businesses are insufficiently regulated and not remotely penalized severely enough for their crimes. This means that, given that their structure is to maximize profit, they will lie, cheat, fraud, and harm consumers and employees - as this is in the long run the most profitable course.

What is the solution to this? A rethinking of and legal rewrite of the purpose and function of a corporation. Instead of merely a profit making machine, a corporation, the author argues, should be highly regulated, and subject to severe penalties when it violates the law. Furthermore, social responsibility must be legally written into the charter of a corporation and the common good, not merely profit, must be part of their tasks as a social institution.

Only by so re-creating the corporation and its structures can we remove the horrible harms corporations do and make them a force for good, rather than a force for harm and destruction.

As we celebrate the workers of the world this May Day, let us not only honor their labor and speak out for their rights; let us also come to understand the systemic problem of the corporate structure which keeps them exploited.

If we are to have true rights for working people, then we must restructure the corporate machine into something very different.

View all my reviews.

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