Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just watch it. Please.

The word "reprehensible" is not nearly strong enough:

Bush and Cheney really ought to be prosecuted. Really.

Oh, yeah. Rumsfeld too.

Some progress, some setbacks

I want to call your attention to an article entitled "10 Defining Feminist Moments of 2009" that is published on Alternet. Here's how it gets started:

This year, I’m not keeping score of feminist victories and defeats. That strategy feels artificially black-and-white and imposes a false sense of closure on an ongoing process. Instead, I’m looking back on those times in 2009 when feminism felt strong and when feminists spoke out -- the times when feminists asserted ourselves and our belief in equality, often in the face of powerful opposition, and even when it seemed like no one was listening.

It is my sincere hope that the young women who think there's something wrong with being a feminist will learn about these defining moments (as well as other such occasions) and lend their energy and commitment to the cause of equality.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The sensible, obvious question

Now if only the Mainstream News Media would think about this:

If an underwear bomb means we're not safe under Obama, does a shoe bomb mean Bush didn't really keep us safe after 9/11?

-- David Kurtz

"Democracy belongs to those who show up."

Oh, I really like Jim Hightower. Always have.

There's a brief article of his re-printed on Common Dreams today entitled "Six Things to Do in 2010". It's about how to make a difference (politically, that is) on a grass roots level.

Here's his number one suggestion:

1. Start by considering what's reasonable for you. Few of us can be full-time activists, and the list of issues and problems is long and complex. So, just take one bite, choosing an issue that interests you the most, then start contributing what you can (time, skills, contacts, money, enthusiasm, etc.) to making progress. Every little contribution helps - it all adds up. As a young Oregon woman said of her half-day-a-week of volunteer door-knocking in a legislative race: "I was only a drop in the bucket, but I was a drop. And without all of us, the bucket would not have filled up."

That is so, so true.

I've really learned that in spades since we registered St. John's Center with the GoodSearch organization. I'm amazed at how much resistence I have encountered even from very loyal Center participants to using GoodSearch and GoodShop even occasionally. They are convinced it's not worth it because each search only raises about a penny for the Center. The thing is, those pennies add up. Even with the few people using it that we now have, the Center has raised over $1,500 since we signed up. Wow. If all of our supporters would get involved we could help ourselves enormously.

Just sayin'.

(By the way, if you'd like to participate in the program I've mentioned above, it's much easier if you download the GoodSearch tool bar. Also, I often tell people that even if they really prefer Google as a search engine, they can still help us by using GoodSearch for just one or two searches a day - you know, for very obvious searches that you know any search engine will find. One more thing: be sure and use our complete name, St. John's Center for Spiritual Formation, when you type in the charity of your choice.)

Tell a big enough lie...

You know, I just don't get these people. I really, really don't. Would you believe that right winger Mary Matalin is now claiming that 9/11 didn't happen on George Bush's watch? Un-freakin'-believable:

I was there, we inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation's history. And President Bush dealt with it and within a year of his presidency within a comparable time, unemployment was at 5 percent.

Um, in actual fact, Bush inherited a huge surplus from Clinton and the recession didn't begin until March of 2001 - yes, while Bush was president. And it wasn't Clinton who ignored repeated warnings that led up to the attacks.

Here's a comment to the Alternet post quoted above that makes a lot of sense:

Bush did inherit the situation, but HE and his ENTIRE STAFF decided to IGNORE repeated warnings from the the intellegence community. So, yes, he did inherit the situation but he failed to pay attention as the executor read the will. Oh. And let's not forget that he was so focused on Iraq, that within days of Sept. 11, 2001, he was already planning to wage war with a country that had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ATTACKS.

Matalin is not the only one, by the way. Dana Perino (White House press secretary under George W. Bush) said the following in reference to the Ft. Hood shootings:

PERINO: And we had a terrorist attack on our country. And we should call it what it is. Because we need to face up to it so that we can prevent it from happening again.

HANNITY: I agree with you. And why won’t they say what you just so simply said?

PERINO: They want to do all of their investigations. I don’t know. All of the thinking that goes into it. But we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term. I hope they’re not looking at this politically. I do think we owe it to the American people to call it what it is.

Honestly! Can you believe it? Heck, you can see the footage right here.

These people are either completely delusional, cynical beyond all description, or out-and-out evil.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I think there's a story here...

Look, folks. The New Year celebrations are fast approaching. Please be careful out there and use good sense when it comes to any alcohol or other drug consumption, okay?

Stupid, stupid, stupid prohibition

Okay. In case you missed this when I said it before, I have never used an illegal drug - ever. This is not due to some kind of great virtue or principle. I just have never had the opportunity or the motivation at the same time. But I really believe very strongly that marijuana needs to be legalized.

Now go on over to Alternet and read this article: "10 Reasons the U.S. Military Should (Officially) Use Pot". Here's the lead:

Medical marijuana may have a host of advantages over other treatments for traumatized vets, but the VA won't even study its efficacy.

When I read about the drugs they WILL prescribe, this stance becomes even more ludicrous in my mind.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Choosing a charity for peace

Someone named Sandy Stonesifer writes a column for Slate Magazine called "My Goodness" that contains advice about how to make the world a better place. The most recent offering starts off this way:

Dear Sandy,

President Obama just accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, which comes with an award of $1.4 million. The White House has announced that he will donate this money to charity. What is your recommendation for where this money should go?

— Caroline

Click on through to see what Sandy suggests. In addition to Sandy's recommendations, I'd like to call to your attention the work of any of Dr. Helen Caldicott's organizations. Dr. Caldicott has worked for many years to educate the public about what would really happen if we used nuclear weapons.

Something about freedom

This is so, so true:

The price of freedom is to allow freedom.
Very few people are willing to pay the price.

-- Leonard Jacobson

Wonder why that is?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Childe Hassam
Image from Wikimedia Commons

A reminder about war

I've emphasized the health care reform situation a lot on this blog lately and have neglected other issues. Here's something that will help us focus about the reality of something else that is going on:

In olden times when there was a war, it was a human-to-human confrontation. The victor in battle would directly see the blood and suffering of the defeated enemy. Nowadays, it is much more terrifying because a person in an office can push a button and kill millions of people and never see the human tragedy that he or she has created. The mechanization of war, the mechanization of human conflict, poses an increasing threat to peace.

--The Dalai Lama

Year after year we sing about "Peace on earth" during Christmastide. We really need to cultivate a sense of urgency about it.

Finally a name for the decade

I'm suggesting this article mainly for the title: Well, That Sure Sucked: Good Riddance to the Devil’s Decade by David Michael Green*.

There's a lot in it, actually, but here's the point that really gets to me:

These two presidencies [Bush and Obama] really do illustrate all too nicely the pathos that is twenty-first century America. Consider their respective situations, and what each did with those circumstances. Bush came into office after marketing himself as a moderate, after one of the most contentious election meltdowns in American history, with a Congress almost exactly evenly divided (and the Senate soon to fall into the hands of the Democrats), with no particular crisis going on short of a mild recession, and with really no mandate of any sort, apart from hopefully not acting as ill-suited and unprepared for the job as he seemed to be during the campaign (no worries there, though - Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell would be keeping him on the right path - remember?). So what does he do under these circumstances? He adopts a radical regressive agenda. He polarizes the country. He lets loose a marketing campaign of epic intensity, he hammers Congress, he aggrandizes to himself probably more unilateral power than any president in history. And he gets virtually everything he wants. If you can hold your nose long enough to get past the results of his policies, it's quite an amazing story of boldness and presidential success, made all the more remarkable because of how astonishingly bad his ideas were for the country, and how transparent that fact was even at the time. This guy was selling melted poisonous ice-cubes to Eskimos in wintertime, and he not only made the sale, he got them to want the purchase.

Obama, on the other hand, is dealt almost the opposite hand when he comes to office. He is elected in a clear and compelling victory. He gets a Congress with his party controlling both houses by lopsided 60-40 margins. He receives a clear mandate for change, and he is backed by a stunning outpouring of goodwill, both at home and abroad. He's got crises that everyone agrees need some serious tending to. In short, you could hardly come up with a better set of circumstances for presidential success if you sat down and created them yourself. So what does he do with this gift? Again, the opposite of Bush. He demands nothing. He fights for nothing. He negotiates with everyone, including those who have zero intention of voting for a bill that he is nevertheless allowing them to dilute, and those (generally the same folks) explicitly trying to ruin his presidency.

Such a pity. Such a real pity.

* David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University.

We can improve the bill later, huh?

So, let's watch and see how it ends up working for health care.

Words and human rights

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I came across the following this morning:

The art of man is able to construct monuments far more permanent than the narrow span of his own existence; yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail, and in the boundless annals of time, his life and labors must equally be measured as a fleeting moment.

-- Edward Gibbon

Yes, the one who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
UPDATE: Another Gibbon quote for your contemplation:

There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times.

It's hard not to, isn't it?

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Queen's Christmas Message 2009

Christmas in Tulsa

Interestingly, this vintage postcard really looks like Tulsa today! The little birds in my yard were so grateful for the suet I had put out. They gathered around the bird feeder yesterday as the storm was beginning to work on getting their strength up!

It is beautiful outside today. And I'm very grateful that I didn't lose power through it all!

May everyone's day continue to be wonderful.

"God bless us everyone!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cherishing peace and good will

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.
To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy,
is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

-- Calvin Coolidge

Let Congress give up its socialized health coverage

I just read a Jim Hightower piece called "Hoping for a New Ethic in 2010". Here's my favorite part:

Let's start, then, with those proud-and-loud members of Congress who've adamantly opposed real health insurance reform for workaday Americans. Not only do I include the entire block of Republican lawmakers whose vocabulary is limited to the word "no," but also those pathetic Democrats who've compromised the reform idea into corporate mush. It would be neat (and only fair) for each of these stalwarts of the status quo to make this vow for 2010: "Since I helped kill reform, I will give up the excellent government-paid, socialized health coverage that I get so that I am in the same leaky boat as my constituents."

It'll never happen of course. But I think a movement ought to be started that demands it. A little shaming wouldn't hurt these "stalwarts of the status quo" one little bit.

The problem with insurance

I just read the following article over on the Common Dreams site:

Now you go read it because I can't really get its point across with an excerpt. And it's short.

See, here's the thing: Having some form of health insurance is not the same thing as getting the health care you need. And this article demonstrates why.

That bill. Sigh.

I've admired and respected Rep. Louise Slaughter for a long time now. This morning she offers a short (sane) statement about the health care mess. It's published over on Alternet. Here's some of it:

Even though the House version is far from perfect, it at least represents a step toward our goal of giving 36 million Americans decent health coverage.

But under the Senate plan, millions of Americans will be forced into private insurance company plans, which will be subsidized by taxpayers. That alternative will do almost nothing to reform health care but will be a windfall for insurance companies. Is it any surprise that stock prices for some of those insurers are up recently?

I do not want to subsidize the private insurance market; the whole point of creating a government option is to bring prices down. Insisting on a government mandate to have insurance without a better alternative to the status quo is not true reform.

By eliminating the public option, the government program that could spark competition within the health insurance industry, the Senate has ended up with a bill that isn't worthy of its support.

I do recommend that you go on over and read the whole thing. Taking a look at the comments after the article might also be valuable.
UPDATE: My goodness. Here's a curse worthy of the name. I found it in the comments:

What should be done is to suspend health coverage for every sorry ass Senator and Rep until they can fulfil the sustainable health needs of the nation that they supposedly serve.

Let the bastards experience non-coverage. Let them watch their children languish in untreated illness. Let them sell everything that they've worked a lifetime to own in an attempt to save a loved-one's life.

Let them live on the street in the cold, and die in a gutter.Let them eternally burn in Hell listening to Lieberman.

Ha! That last one made me laugh!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Remember Good King Wenceslas?

You might like to check out all the lyrics right here.

The gift of life for someone

Okay, folks. Do me a favor, okay? Do yourself a favor. Do humanity a favor. Fill out your organ donor card. Get it on your driver's license. Make an advance directive. Make sure it's on file with your doctor, your attorney and your regular hospital. Let your family know.

To get you motivated, read this:

One of the stories is about Christy Farley who had a heart transplant at age twelve. That was twenty-four years ago. Today she is healthy, is a nurse, and has a two year old daughter. How amazing is that?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Even Jay Leno gets it

Just look:

In Washington, it looks like the Senate is almost done with the healthcare bill. Otherwise known as the Joe Lieberman Insurance Company Preservation Act.

–Jay Leno

Man, that's harsh.

Nurses speak out

A very short article from The Nation that I want to recommend is called "Nurses Say Senate Bill Entrenches Chokehold of Insurance Giants". Here's one paragraph:

"It is tragic to see the promise from Washington this year for genuine, comprehensive reform ground down to a seriously flawed bill that could actually exacerbate the health-care crisis and financial insecurity for American families, and that cedes far too much additional power to the tyranny of a callous insurance industry," says National Nurses Union co-president Karen Higgins, RN.

Specific flaws are listed. But what will really raise your awareness is the comments section. A lot of people are very, very concerned.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Shameful. Just shameful.

It is so embarrassing to be from Oklahoma sometimes. Take a look:

At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon -- nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation's passage -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight," he said. "That's what they ought to pray."

It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) who has been in and out of hospitals and lay at home ailing. It would not be easy for Byrd to get out of bed in the wee hours with deep snow on the ground and ice on the roads -- but without his vote, Democrats wouldn't have the 60 they needed.
Durbin, learning of Coburn's prayer, went to the floor 45 minutes later to challenge him to a rhetorical duel. Coburn declined to return. "I don't think we should be wishing misfortune on either side of the aisle," Durbin said of his absent colleague.

Coburn was wearing blue jeans, an argyle sweater and a tweed jacket with elbow patches when he walked back into the chamber a few minutes before 1 a.m. He watched without expression when Byrd was wheeled in, dabbing his eyes and nose with tissues, his complexion pale. When his name was called, Byrd shot his right index finger into the air as he shouted "aye," then pumped his left fist in defiance.

It's all from Dana Milbank's column in the Washington Post.

That wonderful Senator Byrd can't really last much longer, can he? He will be so, so missed.

Let's hear it for Al Franken!

On Saturday, President Obama signed into law the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010. Look what's in it:

Within the Appropriations Act is Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment prohibiting defense contractors from restricting their employees’ abilities to take workplace discrimination, battery, and sexual assault cases to court. The measure was inspired by Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. Many Republicans opposed the legislation — saying it was an unnecessary attack on their allies in the defense contracting business — and faced intense political blowback over their positions.

Now would you believe that the Republicans who voted against that ammendment were shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to learn that many of their constituents were horrifed by their "no" vote?You can read about that right here.

The paragraph quoted above is from this posting found on Think Progress.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday art blogging

Artist: Paul Gauguin
Image from Wikimedia Commons

"The Corporation"

Someone known as "Learning to See" left a comment today urging us all to see "The Corporation" - an award-winning Canadian documentary that offers really important insight about global capitalism. Quite a large number of contemporary thinkers who are prominent critics of the way corporations exist and operate appear in this film.

Here below are both the trailer and Part 1. You can then watch the entire documentary by following the other parts in the section of the actual YouTube site called "related videos":

I've long been both troubled and confused by the legal "personhood" of corporations. (And also that their right to give vast sums of money to political campaigns is considered protected "free speech".)
(Double click to enlarge)

Not mincing words

I just read an article entitled "Now I’m Really Getting Pissed Off" by David Michael Green. Here's a small excerpt:

But here's a little riddle that any sixth-grader can easily figure out, although it seems to have eluded the brain trust at the White House: If insurance companies are winning big-time, then who is doing the losing? Something tells me that if Democrats are dumb enough to pass their own legislation, voters will provide them the answer to that puzzle in November of 2010, and then again two years later. What could be stupider than saddling thirty-five million Americans with a new monthly bill that will probably represent the second or third biggest item in their budget, in exchange for crappy private sector health insurance that is unlikely to pay out when needed, and wastes a third of the dollars paid in premiums on bureaucracy and profits anyhow? Slapping big fines on them if they don't pony up for the insurance, perhaps? Yep, that's in there too.

This bill alone could mobilize legions of people to go to the polls and vote for whichever party didn't do it, and I'm pretty sure the GOP won't be shy about reminding Americans who that is.

Why can't the administration see this? Gosh. It seems so ridiculously OBVIOUS.
UPDATE: Here's something else along the same lines:

To the Democrats in Congress: Pass a strong health care bill, that puts the needs of the American people ahead of the large corporations, while making certain that you point out the ongoing obstructionism of the Republicans, and you are guaranteeing a Democratic Party majority in Congress for a generation. Use the "nuclear option," use reconciliation to offer "Medicare for all at a fee" as an option for the uninsured, fill the "doughnut hole" in Medicare Part D; do this, and the Republican party will be reduced to George W. Bush's "haves and have mores" and the religious theocrats who want the Constitution replaced with the Bible.

It's from an article called "Forcing Their Hand" by Richard Girard.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A summary of how things stand

Here's what a commenter named "myrddin" said over on Huffington Post:

This bill allows insurance companies to charge up to 3 times more for those who get sick. I allows yearly and lifetime caps on payouts. It forces everyone to buy insurance from those who have been gouging us for years or pay a penalty. In exchange the insurance companies have to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions, if those people can afford the premiums. The bill also keeps insurance companies from dropping coverage if you get sich. Though once again they can raise your rates up to three times that of someone who is healthy and if that doesn't work there is that problem of a yearly and lifetime cap. KILL THE BILL.

It's not right, people. You know it, I know it and the folks who've put this bill together know it. But they don't care. They care about staying in the good graces of the corporations and the wealthy.

A really, really good question

I found it in the body of a comment someone left after an article over at Alternet:

Isn't it ironic that the public doesn't blink when it gets the price-tag for two useless wars, but worries that giving health care to its citizens will break the bank?

Only I don't don't think I would use the word "ironic". I'd be more inclined to say "outrageous" or "shameful". Maybe even "stupid".

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday cat blogging!

Santa as economic indicator

Well, folks, I don't generally recommend article from the Wall Street Journal on this blog but today I want to call your attention to one entitled "Please, Santa, get Dad his job back". Here's part of what it says:

As a longtime Santa Claus at a suburban Chicago mall, Rod Riemersma used to jokingly tell children they would get socks for Christmas if they were naughty.

This year, he stopped telling the joke. Too many children are asking for socks.

"They've probably heard their parents say, 'Geez, I wish I had some money to get them clothes,'" says the 56-year-old Riemersma.

A wintry measure of hard times can be found this holiday season on the knees of white-bearded, red-suited men around the country. A couple of years ago, children were shooting for the moon, asking St. Nick for Xboxes, iPods and laptops. But with the economy still fragile, many children are requesting basics such as shoes, library cards and even eyeglasses, say dozens of Santas who work at malls or on the party circuit.
The Kriss Kringles of America are doing their best to help children cope. Anticipating a deluge of recession-related questions, Connaghan in November sent advice to his e-mail network of 1,800 Santas.

The tips included telling worried children that "things will get better" and asking if Santa could "bring a surprise," instead of promising specific gifts. The job of a Santa "is to make the child feel better," he counseled. He suggested that Santas refer children to local charities to find Christmas gifts.

That's what Jim Lewis did. A Santa at a Bass Pro Shop outdoor-goods store in Denver, he blanched when a blond girl in a red plaid dress recently asked for a pair of eyeglasses so she could see the classroom board. He recovered in time to motion over one of his elves, who told the girl's mother about the local Lions Club, which helps provide needy children with prescription glasses.

"It would be wonderful if we could grant more wishes like that, but unfortunately, this is the exception to the rule," says the 60-year-old Lewis, a real-estate appraiser when he takes off the Santa suit.

There's more. Some of it is really very sad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"It's about the people in America who need health care NOW!"

UPDATE: This was the final sentence in a comment I found over at Democratic Underground:

Greed is rampant in Washington. The big corporations own our government, and that includes bought and paid for Obama. So much for change.

Can't argue with it. No, I can't.

Yep. Just kill the bill.

I want to call your attention to David Lindorff's article entitled "The Democrats' Health 'Reform' Bill: Kill It Before It Comes to Life!" Here are some snips:

Give credit to Howard Dean. This still practicing physician, former governor of Vermont, former chair of the Democratic Party and former Democratic presidential candidate has called for progressive members of Congress in both houses to join their Republican colleagues in killing what he rightly says has become "an insurance company's dream."
Doctors will get richer under this "reform." Insurance companies will get vastly richer under this "reform". Pharmaceutical companies will get richer under this "reform". But there will still be millions of people left with no access to health care. There will still be tens of millions of people who will get substandard or even pathetically trashy health care. And the cost of medical care, both for individuals and for society as a whole, already the highest in the world, will continue to soar.
Dr. Dean is right. This is indeed a bad bill. But it's not just a bad bill. It is a morally outrageous, politically disgusting and economically dangerous bill. It moves the country in exactly the wrong direction--not towards the socialism that the right has been decrying, but towards an increasingly costly corporatist system that will be even harder to reform down the road.

I agree. I really do.

And, sadly, I think we're looking at a single term presidency.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Okay, so it's hopeless; watch this anyway:

Then go send the fax. I did. You can take "VIRTUAL MEDICARE SIGNUP ACTION" by completing the form you'll find right here.

The problem with trying to stay "neutral"

This is an important point, I think:

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

-- Elie Wiesel

And it just a true between friends as it is between nations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Remember this?

UPDATE - I just found the following:


You can check it out right here.

What can I say but no kidding.

I so agree with this rant

And he's right; the word for it is "pathetic".

The problem with abstinence only "education"

Oh my goodness. There's an article on the CNN website today in the health section entitled "Gaps found in young people's sex knowledge". Here's an excerpt:

Myths about pregnancy and sexual activity continue to permeate circles of young people. For instance, 28 percent of men incorrectly believe they will get extra protection from wearing two condoms at once, a practice that actually leads to condom breakage. At the same time, 18 percent of men wrongly believe that having sex standing up reduces the chance that they will get a female partner pregnant.

These are the kinds of myths often heard in [Dr. Yolanda] Wimberly's office. Wimberly, who sees young people from age 12 to 30 about sexual health issues, commonly hears rumors like these that have spread among friends. Anecdotal evidence that a behavior is safe is sometimes more convincing for young adults than the recommendations of health professionals.

"If other people have been doing it, and nothing bad has happened, then they'll do it," she said. "We have definitely got to do a better job of dispelling myths."

[Chief program officer of National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Bill] Albert said it was shocking that about four in 10 respondents said it doesn't matter whether people use birth control, believing that people get pregnant when it's their "time."

Shocking. Yes, indeed, it's shocking. And you're less likely to get pregnant if you have sex standing up???? Good grief.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Copenhagen is REALLY about

The very thoughtful and insightful Sr. Joan Chittister has an article entitled "Copenhagen: The Beginning of the End, and, If So, Whose?" over on Common Dreams. Here's an excerpt:

The Conference on Climate Change isn't about climate change at all, you see. The overwhelming body of scientists and politicians know that global warming is real, that it threatens rich and poor countries alike, that it is inevitable unless something is done to reverse the process and soon. No, this UN conference on global warming is not about science. It's about money. So, on Friday, the demonstrations started.

The generation that knows that they will be the people left to pick up the bill for the decisions not made here are being carted away in police vans in order to lower the din of the world's cry for equity, for help. So, the generation of young that will not be allowed to make the decision whether to save the planet or reduce it to dust have come to Copenhagen from all over the world. Along with the voices of so many others.

People from island nations, for instance, facing immanent danger from rising water levels in the world will be the first to have to deal with the effects of dislocation. People in lands going to dust and stone from the dried up river beds around them, will soon be unable to eke out a living in those parts of the world. People sweltering from rising temperatures and shorter growing periods will watch as the Garden of Eden shrivels around them. But as the world fills with ecological refugees, the rest of us will bear the costs of what we do not spend now to avert it, as well.

It's a short piece if you want to click through and read all of it. Sadly, it's very disheartening.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Climate change is still very real

Yeah, but will the deniers listen?

Hacked e-mails show climate scientists in a bad light but don't change scientific consensus on global warming.
The messages, which span 13 years, show a few scientists in a bad light, being rude or dismissive. An investigation is underway, but there’s still plenty of evidence that the earth is getting warmer and that humans are largely responsible.
E-mails being cited as "smoking guns" have been misrepresented. For instance, one e-mail that refers to "hiding the decline" isn’t talking about a decline in actual temperatures as measured at weather stations. These have continued to rise, and 2009 may turn out to be the fifth warmest year ever recorded. The "decline" actually refers to a problem with recent data from tree rings.

The above is from and you can read a thorough discussion of the matter right here.

This you gotta see!

Oh, my. I watched with my mouth hanging open. Really:

One step forward, two steps back

Well, I'm glad to say that Uganda is doing some things right. Take a look at the following excerpt from an article on the CNN website:

The Ugandan parliament unanimously passed a bill banning female genital mutilation, a traditional rite that has sparked an international outcry and is practiced in some African and Asian communities.

The practice, which involves cutting off a girl's clitoris, is also called female circumcision. In some communities in eastern Uganda, it is practiced in girls up to age 15.

Convicted offenders face 10 years in prison, but if the girl dies during the act, those involved will get a life sentence, according to officials in the east African country.

"A majority of Ugandans felt it is a disgusting act, but you have to remember that this is a cultural belief that has been practiced for generations," said Fred Opolot, the government spokesman. "That's what took the bill so long to pass."

Now, here's the problem - and it's a big one. You probably already know that Uganda is all set to pass a bill that will put gays in prison for life - even execute some. Also the bill criminalizes any one who is supportive of gay rights (regardless of their own sexual orientation) and who neglects to report a person believed to be gay. You might like to read the Guardian article on that right here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The need to change our farming practices

Here's some information I truly didn't know although, now that I think about it, it's fairly logical. I refer to an article entitled Small Farmers Can Cool the World published over on Common Dreams today. Here's part of what it says:

Industrial agriculture may emit nearly half of climate-heating greenhouse gases, but that reality has gone unrecognized by negotiators at the climate treaty talks here, say farmers with La Via Campesina, an international movement of hundreds of millions of small-scale peasant farmers.

"Small-scale farmers use 80 percent less energy than large monocultures," said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian farmer with Mouvement de Paysan, through a translator.
"The evidence is irrefutable. If we can change the way we farm and the way we produce and distribute food, then we have a powerful solution for combating the climate crisis. There are no technical hurdles to achieving these results, it is only a matter of political will," said Henk Hobbelink, coordinator of GRAIN*, in a release.

Governmental policies and trade agreements the world over support industrial agriculture production and the study shows this must change in order to stabilize the climate, [Camila] Montecinos said. "No governments are talking about this," she noted.

It's very disheartening indeed that the governments are not talking about it. No doubt that's due to pressure and lobbying from Big Agriculture.

* an international non-governmental organization that promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity to support local communities.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Now here's a quote on religion for you

Take a look:

In dealing with the issue of religion one is always faced with the fact that there is a significant difference between a religion, teachings of its prophet, and the organized activity of that religion.

It kicks off an article by Abbas Sadeghian, Ph.D. entitled "The origins of human religious behavior; Organized religion & magical thinking: Part IV" that is published over on OpEdNews.

I haven't read the entire article yet. I'm about to do that now.
UPDATE: Well, I don't think English is Dr. Sadeghian's first language. (He could really use an editor for help with spelling, grammar, and punctuation.) But I'm still glad I read the article. I'm going back now to read the first three parts. Interestingly, as a neuropsychologist, he believes that Mohammed had a seizure disorder and that this accounts for the Prophet's religious experiences. This has been hypothesized about quite a number of mystic types so I don't think that is far-fetched at all. For what it's worth, I don't think that invalidates the experiences at all. But that's another post!

"It's time to start shoutin' louder."

Oh, this is rich! Enjoy.

You know, sometimes I think that YouTube is the best thing that's happened to popular culture in a long time.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hey, makes sense to me:

There is actually a story on the CNN website about this today.


An astonishingly powerful editorial has come to my attention through the blog my dear friend, Paul. It was published on Monday in the Guardian as well is in fifty-five other papers.

Take a look here at part of what it says:

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

I don't think those words "profound emergency" were chosen lightly.

Apparently only one newspaper in the entire United States ran the editorial.

Do go read the rest of it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Gore takes on the climate change deniers

This poor man must just want to tear his hair out:

In a wide-ranging interview with Slate, [fomer Vice-President Al] Gore talks about environmental policy, why the Copenhagen meeting matters, and the hacked climate science emails. The emails, Gore stresses, were "taken wildly out of context" and the uproar surrounding them is "sound and fury signifying nothing."

His frustration with the hacked-email fallout is palpable. "The basic facts are incontrovertible. What do they think happens when we put 90 million tons up there every day? Is there some magic wand they can wave on it and presto!--physics is overturned and carbon dioxide doesn't trap heat anymore?" Gore asked, and pressed his point harder: "And when we see all these things happening on the Earth itself, what in the hell do they think is causing it?

More on this right here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Remember Frances Moore Lappé who wrote Diet for a Small Planet so many years ago? Well, I just came across an article she wrote for Ode magazine entitled A Call for Guts that makes so, so, so much sense that I want to urge you to go read it. I can't really convey the message here with an excerpt but I'll tell you how it gets started:

Like a lot of us, I keep asking myself, How did we get into this mess? Since humans have innate needs and capacities for cooperation, empathy and fairness, which science now confirms, why does so much suffering and destruction continue? For many, the answer seems obvious: Humans just aren’t good enough; we need to become better people; we need to overcome selfishness and evolve into more caring and cooperative creatures. I disagree. Since these positive qualities are hard-wired in virtually all of us, maybe what we really need more of is something else: backbone.

Have you ever considered we’re too cooperative? Maybe we’re hard-wired to follow others, even if we should say “no way.”

Please go read the rest of it. It's short. And makes a truly powerful point.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Today's CNN Quickvote

Take a look:

Is the U.S. doing enough to combat climate change?

No - 68%

Yes - 32%

It's hard for me to see how 32% of CNN website visitors can believe that we're doing enough. Of course, the global warming deniers are really going crazy with those hacked emails just lately and are convincing those who don't understand how data are collected that climate change is a hoax. This is very disheartening.

This just makes so much sense

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sunday art blogging

Artist: C. Junghans
Image from Wikimedia Commons

A creative approach to Afghanistan

Really, this writer has a good point:

If you want to choke off the terrorist elements operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, you have to treat them like any piratical scourge. You have to disrupt their operations, deny them safe haven, and destroy their supply lines. We know where the money is coming from. It comes from the opium trade. That supports the corrupt government that provides safe haven. It is also a major source of revenue for supplies.

For about $6 billion USD we could buy the entire wholesale value of the opium crop for the next 10 years. That is about what we'll spend in 2 months covering the cost of deploying 30,000 combat troops.

I found this in an article entitled "Mr. President, why not buy out Afghanistan instead of invading?" that is published over on OpEdNews. You might like to click through and read the whole thing. It's interesting.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

That law of unintended consequences

I'm very concerned about this:

Next year's midterm elections could be a disaster for the Democrats. That's what happened to Lyndon Johnson. After winning by the largest plurality ever in 1964, bringing with him huge majorities in the House and Senate, in 1965 he escalated the Vietnam War. The next year, Democrats lost 50 seats in Congress.

That's just one of the possible effects of this fateful decision, one that could scuttle Obama's campaign promises of social and other reforms just as surely as the Vietnam War did President Johnson's. Guns and butter, LBJ said; for a time he thought we could pay for both. We could not.

Money that could be spent generating jobs, improving education, fighting global warming and world hunger is poured into this bottomless chasm of war. Some estimates put the ultimate cost of occupying Afghanistan at a trillion dollars. Add that figure to the mind-numbing numbers we've already spent on the occupation of Iraq. It keeps mounting even as our cities and states are running out of cash, unemployment benefits are drying up, and we're trying to figure out how to pay for health care reform -- which some politicians are suggesting we back burner so that we can "focus" on the war in Afghanistan.

The above excerpt is from an article entitled The Afghan Ambush by Michael Winship.

Then someone said this in one of the comments:

Obama could have stuck with the folks who elected him and offered change, but he has not.

So is this going to be a one-term presidency?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Leno rules!

Take a look:

New reports on Sarah Palin's 'Going Rogue' bus tour. They say she's been traveling on private planes to various stops and then just hops in the bus at the local town. So, let's see what you got. You have Sarah Palin, who's no longer governor, who's promoting a book she didn't actually write by going on a bus tour which is not really a bus. Her big complaint? Politicians who aren't real.

–Jay Leno

Hat tip to Lisa Casey at All Hat No Cattle.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ya gotta watch it, folks. Ya just gotta.

I found it over at MadPriest's place who found it at Fran's place.

If this doesn't absolutely knock your socks off, there's something truly wrong with you! Wow. Just plain wow!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Founding Father on the subject of war

For those who have forgotten:

Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people.
No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

-- James Madison

You are a constitutional scholar, Mr. President, so I know you've read James Madison.

Please read him again.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Kucinich would have made a VERY good president

Whose recession?

I want to call your attention to an article called "This Is George Bush's Recession: Why Doesn't Anybody Talk About That?" by Joshua Holland.

Here's the lead:

If the partisan tables were turned, the GOP would waste no time laying the blame on Democrats. We need to do the same to build political capital for key fights ahead.

How very true. I don't know why the Democrats are not howling about this.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Tragic commentary on humanity

Oh, my. This is disturbingly moving:

I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.

- Stephen Jay Gould (American evolutionary biologist, 1941-2002)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Time for some comic relief!

Ha! It's really an extension of Friday cat blogging:

Sent to me by good-friend-of-the-Center, Paul Rogers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday cat blogging!


It's been a while since I've featured Cynthia's wonderful kitty as part of the Friday Cat Blogging tradition. High time, I say! I particularly like like the sweet boy's position in this photo. And, as far as I'm concerned. Simon has the most magnificent whiskers in the universe!

Wish we could:

Those stolen emails

Have you been following the story about the climate scientists whose emails were hacked? The climate change deniers among us are now claiming that this proves global warming is a hoax. Well, I like what Eugene Robinson has to say about it:

The fact is that climate science is fiendishly hard because of the enormous number of variables that interact in ways no one fully understands. Scientists should welcome contrarian views from respected colleagues, not try to squelch them. They should admit what they don't know.

It would be great if this were all a big misunderstanding. But we know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and we know the planet is hotter than it was a century ago. The skeptics might have convinced one another, but so far they haven't gotten through to the vanishing polar ice.

You can read the rest of his opinion piece right here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Two quotations for Thanksgiving Day

Oddly enough, I had not come across this one before today:

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments.

~Mark Twain

And this one makes a very, very good point as far as I'm concerned:

I have strong doubts that the first Thanksgiving even remotely resembled the "history" I was told in second grade. But considering that (when it comes to holidays) mainstream America's traditions tend to be over-eating, shopping, or getting drunk, I suppose it's a miracle that the concept of giving thanks even surfaces at all.

~Ellen Orleans

Well, however you have observed the day, I hope it was truly happy.

Palin's religion is VERY disturbing

I just came across an article entitled "Olbermann Wants To Know About Palin's Religious Beliefs. Well, Keith..." and it doesn't surprise me but it does disturb me a lot. I think people are forgetting about the Dominionists out there and their strategy for imposing a Christian version of sharia law on the rest of us.

Here's a summary of the article:

All evidence indicates Sarah Palin's Christianity isn't about the "Rapture" : it's about Christians achieving dominion over the Earth.

I really don't think I could begin to explain what this is all about with an excerpt. I do urge you to click through and read about it yourself.

In honor of the day:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

This is actually a very good idea

Let's just all stay home on Black Friday!

(It will be better for your mental health, anyway.)

Now here's a quote for you

Take a look:

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

I found it in an article entitled "Boycott Black Friday and Celebrate Buy Nothing Day Nov 27th, 2009".

When you think about it, it's so, so obvious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In anticipation of Thanksgiving

Here's a quote that was emailed out by Sojourners today:

This nation is affluent and has more than it needs. The realization that what we have is a free gift can deepen our desire to share this gift with others who cry out for help. When we bless the fruits of the harvest, let us at least realize that blessed fruits need to be shared.

- Henri J.M. Nouwen

And another: "From whom much is given, much is required." This is definitely worth remembering.

Just because it's intriguing

Our own Cynthia Burgess shot this photograph some time ago and I happened to come across it again this morning. She wonders if perhaps beavers are responsible for the condition of the tree on the right. What do you think?

Do visit Cynthia's blog entitled IMAGEPLAY PHOTOGRAPHY. She truly does wonderful stuff.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The politics of whining

This morning I found an article newly published on Alternet entitled "Why Do Conservatives Love Sarah Palin? Because She Never Stops Whining" and I'm experiencing it as very illuminating indeed.

I want to share with you how it gets started:

The really beautiful thing about the culture war, from an entertainment standpoint, is that it is fundamentally irresolvable. There isn’t a concrete set of issues involved, where in theory both sides could give in a little and find middle ground, reach some sort of compromise.

That’s because there are no issues at all. At the end of this decade what we call “politics” has devolved into a kind of ongoing, brainless soap opera about dueling cultural resentments and the really cool thing about it, if you’re a TV news producer or a talk radio host, is that you can build the next day’s news cycle meme around pretty much anything at all, no matter how irrelevant — like who’s wearing a flag lapel pin and who isn’t, who spent $150K worth of campaign funds on clothes and who didn’t, who wore a t-shirt calling someone a cunt and who didn’t, and who put a picture of a former Vice Presidential candidate in jogging shorts on his magazine cover (and who didn’t).

It doesn’t matter what the argument is about. What’s important is that once the argument starts, the two sides will automatically coalesce around the various instant-cocoa talking points and scream at each other until they’re blue in the face, or until the next argument starts.

And while some of us are old enough to remember that once upon a time, these arguments always had at least some sort of ideological flavor to them, i.e. the throwdowns were at least rooted in some sort of real political issue (war, taxes, immigration, etc.) we’ve now got a whole generation that is accustomed to screaming at cultural enemies as an end in itself, for the sheer dismal fun of it. Start fighting first, figure out the reasons later.

Please go over there and read the rest of it. You won't regret it. Honestly, this really helps clarify a lot for me.

You know, I frequently tell my meditation classes that the two most dangerous mind states a person can cultivate or indulge in are self-pity and resentment. This article helps tease out just why that is.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oh, this date

Younger people may well not have this experience but I cannot ever be conscious of today's date without remembering with enormous sadness the day President Kennedy was assassinated.

I was fourteen years old and in the ninth grade. I got the news during geography class. There had been rumors among the students in the hallway between classes; someone had a transistor radio. And then the principal came on the P.A. system and told us that it was true. Not only had the president been shot but that he was dead. I remember sitting there in shock, tears welling up while praying the Kyrie over and over, looking out the window and noticing with amazement that the sun was shining.

Here are two powerful things this great man said that, as you can see, are connected and that we have often forgotten since his death:

The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.
If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all — except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.

I can't help but wonder if Kennedy's objection to censorship is part of what got him killed.

I have read recently that certain members of the religious right are actually urging people to pray for President Obama's death by referencing Psalm 109. I wonder if those people were alive when Kennedy was shot. I wonder if they remember how traumatized this nation was. I wonder if they care. How these people can consider themselves Christian is utterly beyond me.

Oh, how lovely

I'm offering this in memory of JFK. It's a variation on Taps:

Il Silenzio from Brandon Noonan on Vimeo.

The trumpet soloist, Melissa Venema, is only thirteen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And that's not all ...

Oooh: very snarky snark

It's from Letterman, of course:

Sarah Palin's book is big, 400 pages. She wrote the book herself and agonized over every word, and so will you.