“Don’t Forget Medicaid”

See the whole thing from Congressman Chris Murphy of Connecticut:

“As we wait for the white smoke to emerge from the ‘grand bargain’ negotiations at the White House, most Americans are already aware of the Republicans’ plan to dismantle and privatize Medicare and Social Security. But what many people may not realize is just how dangerous it would be to slash funding for a program that 60 million Americans rely on for their basic health care needs: Medicaid.

“While it seems that just about every major industry or interest group has teams of lobbyists in Washington looking out for them, some of our most vulnerable citizens simply don’t have a voice in a town where unfortunately, money still talks the loudest.

“Why? Medicaid covers only the impoverished and disabled, so it lacks a traditional advocacy base. This may be news to Republicans — but most poor people I know are spending all their time trying to find a job and put food on the table.”

Rural areas get plenty of Federal tax money

The point of the Commenter from Pennsylvania to this very informative post is well-taken.  The point of the rest is that rural Republican and tea-bag folks are hypocrites for denouncing others’ benefits “from the government teat.”  If they seceded, they’d collapse in just a few years.  The experience of the formerly-independent Dominion of Newfoundland is educational.

Looking down on State Recognition of Indian Tribes?

Sure, it’s not the same as a Treaty … er, Supreme Court ruling … er, Executive Order … er, Act of Congress … er, BIA ruling….

OK, now we realize anything government (pretends to) give* it can and will take away.

Be that as it may, check out what some Metis in Alberta, Canada, have got themselves!

(*–Including “recognize” as “inherent from time immemorial,” am I right?!)

Insurance cos. promote abortion to save money, killing disabled babies?

Looks mighty suspicious here.  I speak as a disabled person!

IOTM also to ask who’s more “disabled”: a person with special needs who maybe drives his family and neighbors and teachers and acquaintances crazy … or a world that would rather do without us?

“Suffering”?  I know a little about that subject, though definitely not as much as many of us disabled.  But killing us in the wombs of our mothers denies us even the chance that we’ll struggle and overcome it, or others will cure it or at least lessen our suffering.  Who ever said life was supposed to be free of suffering?

I also speak as an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  In original Christianity suffering has an honored place: it can make us more like our Founder, who suffered a bit Himself.  I don’t mean ‘Suffer like Jesus suffered’ — that’s just masochism.  But Orthodoxy teaches that suffering* may help cure us of our own will and inadequate understanding … and Orthodoxy itself directs us to the Will and Understanding of One Whose Will and Understanding are infinitely perfect.  In fact, many ancient Christians envied the original Holy Martyrs, and found the real and difficult Struggle was ordained for those who lived in the Faith to a ripe old age.  Furthermore, Orthodoxy says that even though we Orthodox with long-term illness/disability might not or ought not, for instance, participate in the Church’s fasting rules and Traditions (i.e., abstaining from certain foods at certain times), God Himself has as it were fitted us with this special ascesis to purify us of sinfulness,** He has allowed this to happen to us.  Some admired, sick Orthodox have taken this teaching so to heart that they have ceased desiring to be cured — again, understanding that it may be easier than the “normal” Orthodox ascetic spiritual path, and blessed by God.  If I may paraphrase St. Raphael of Brooklyn, ‘Man — or demons — may have meant this to me for bad, but God means it for the good.’  Orthodoxy also still teaches that miracles do happen, by the Graciousness of God.

(I don’t say this as someone who has reached such wisdom or dispassion himself yet.  But it does seem most reasonable.)

I also have some expertise in Western Christian ethics or moral theology.

As for calling aborting someone saving his or her life, that reminds me of “destroying the village to save it,” or “killing the Indian to save the man” — real Orwellian, and I don’t say this lightly to a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, even as an infant.  More than 40 million Americans have been electively aborted under color of law, few without the dubious benefit of genetic testing of them or their parents.  Now it’s being sold to us as a large-scale, historic, positive good?

(*–This is ‘redemptive suffering.’  In Peace Studies they talk about some “myth of redemptive violence,” which however I never heard of till then.  Violence does not redeem!  [And real “martyrs” don’t die killing others intentionally, even vengefully!])

(**–Orthodoxy also remembers and teaches that all creatures suffer sinfulness from the first moments of their lives, thanks to the choice of our first parents — what one Western wag once called “Christianity’s only self-evident doctrine.”)

Census 2010: Further thoughts

occasioned by Native American students in Idaho and an ’08 MSNBC piece on the increasing profile of ‘mixed-race/multiracial’ folks, what with Obama and all.

Fiduciary Responsibility

Global catastrophe is NOT “fiduciary responsibility”!

If Business kills-off its stockholders and customers, isn’t that bad for business???

ISTM the REAL bottom line is to HAVE a bottom line!!!  But right now it seems most American business is in a race to the bottom, period: ‘He who dies with the most toys wins.’  😦

SEIU next for ACORNuts?

OK, this time it’s personal.  The Service Employees International Union is one of my labor unions, and they came to my aid when I was being targeted by management on the job apparently because I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about … well, that’d go off-topic. 😉

As tonight’s Rachel jag continues(!), she’s revealed that, thinking prematurely that they’ve run ACORN into the ground [“Unless a seed falls to the ground…!”], the Right Wing Conspiracy — Big Business, Big Lobbyists, astroturf, AM radio, the Republican Party — may target SEIU (video) next for teaming up with ACORN to try to make poor people’s and workers’ lives a little less awful.  How does this hurt them?  Business has to pay slightly higher wages, sharing their massive profits (often already subsidized by one or more levels of government one way or another) with THOSE WHO ACTUALLY DO THE WORK THAT CEOs AND OWNERS GET THE CREDIT FOR.

And these guys attack US for “class warfare”?!! or “revenge”?!!

And if her guest’s idea that soon they’ll attack the National Council of Churches too, sounds exaggerated…  Conservative Evangelical leaders have long considered this Mainline Protestant ecumenical organization Communist.  (The Catholic bishops’ conference, too, though that group has swung Hard Right as they smell a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade, and in reaction against same-sex marriage.)  Furthermore, they’ve been dancing on the grave of the Mainline for about a generation now, even though it’s not really going away (even though many of the Mainline think it is too), and recent research suggests that the relatively slight gains of Evangelicals vs. Mainline proportionately, are only because Evangelical women/couples are adopting artificial contraception more slowly than Mainline women/couples.  The Evangelical ‘bulge’ (no pun intended) is already slowing, but will continue growing for about another generation before ISTM the numbers start returning to their classical proportions.  (This is research sociologist Andrew Greeley has been involved in, but where I read it I can’t recall now.  [Many Years, Father!])

Two other things: What they’re now calling living wage has sometimes been called family wage.  So much for “family values”!

And another Greeley truism is that Democratic bigwigs, candidates, campaigns, either take their Catholic voters for granted, or don’t care about/are embarrassed about them … risking losing them to the Reagans and Bushes of this world.  Are workers and unions in the same fix?  Just like Official Dems, natural allies of/advocates for “bitter” small town and rural residents, don’t give them reason to switch their generation-long Republican voting habits?  Folks, I don’t see WASP “Limo Libs” reproducing fast enough anymore to warrant such a cavalier attitude towards our Party’s traditional coalition, the “Patchwork Quilt Majority”!!!  And many People of Color who get richer go Republican….

Healthcare rationing as “New American Genocide”

Read all about it.  Except it isn’t just killing and threatening Blacks, but Native Americans, Hispanics, the disabled non-elderly like me, the poor like me, even the elderly who despite Medicare’s successes still can’t manage to get what they need, urban residents, rural** residents….  [*I* should be on Medicare, but that’s another story…!]

Yes, folks, we’ve been rationing healthcare all along: TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER, or in more “economical” terms, “as high as the market will bear.”  Reform ideally should care on the basis of need, without regard to class, party, religion, orientation, race, Tribe, language, Ability, age, religion, color, intelligence, or any other criterion.  Frankly, I think we get an NHS like Britain (once had), add the benefits of the French and Norwegians and Germans AND America … and KICK BUTT!!!!!  AND SAVE MONEY!!!!!

PS #1: Is Rachel Maddow getting cuter and cuter?  Sweetheart, if you ever want to give “the other team” a try….  I kid!  God grant you and your loved ones Many Years!

PS#2: “Whitey On The Moon” — ah, the ’60s, great larks!

(**–Now THAT’S going to make you “Bitter”!)

Hypocrisy on Sotomayor

One thing Judge Sotomayor’s defenders won’t say is that it’s OK with her critics for a Rich White Conservative Republican Man to bring his life experience and its insights to his job, in fact it’s expected.  But not a Latina Democrat from The Projects, even if Poppy Bush himself (not Papi!) nominated her to the Bench!  That’s because we all know who’s really in charge in this country and who isn’t, “that damned piece of paper” to the contrary notwithstanding!

Thank goodness Minnesota’s Republicans let Senator Sixty — er, Franken! — finally go to Washington, and just in time!

Aboriginal Title: Today’s word is…

USUFRUCT.  (Sorry, I grew up too Catholic to pronounce it that way! 😉  )

This is the Common Law principle on which is based the occasional English and successor Settler States (USA, Canada, Australia, I know for certain, maybe others) practice of deigning, that is to say condescending, to let Aboriginal Peoples in “their” countries retain (I say retain) certain rights with regard to their “former” territories and their tribesmembers.  It’s the theoretical basis of Reservations, remnant fishing / trapping / hunting / subsistence rights, regard for Tribes’ Sovereignty (to attempt to put it into European terms), Native Treaties, Lands Held in Trust (including royalties [at 18th-century rates]…if only Uncle Sam can remember where he put them!), etc.

The alternative might well have had to be full military defeat, actually wiping out all our ancestors … genocide in its simplest, bloodiest sense — I’ll say it — ala Hitler.  And I deduce that conundrum is where the idea came from, IOW, Settler convenience, politics, occasional conscience.  The earliest case I know of — though I’m no professional historian — where English courts upheld native legal status is only The Case of Tanistry in the early 1600s.  Here the Irish lost by winning (300 years before they won by losing!): the court employed traditional Irish Brehon Law to cheat a rightful traditional clan chief of his chiefly lands in favor of English-Law inheritance previously unknown among traditional Irish … four-and-a-half centuries after first invading.  My current point being, the English certainly have become experts at riding roughshod over Irish culture (which is why 1998’s Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement was such a monumental reversal for them).  I guess they didn’t always enjoy how hard it was, and so decided to take a (slightly) less harsh approach in Quebec and North America beyond (to the frustration of the greedy and anti-Catholic eastern seaboard “Founding Fathers”), and Down Under.  (In New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi is even considered technically part of the national constitution!)

Anyway, as Merriam Webster reminds us, a usufruct is Europeanly-considered technically only temporary — in our case, until the “death” of each Native Nation, envisaged by (unconstitutional) Blood Quantum laws, mandatory dispersion and exogamy, ethnic/racial cleansing, culturecide, divide-and-conquer, even leaving Tribes with the worst-quality land around on which to survive, as well as what I compare to illegal and unjust “constructive eviction” in attempting to claim a Native Community “abandoned” a temporarily-disused right or plot of land.*  Conveniently, the U.S. has never recognized Mixed-Bloods as such, as Canada has in its Métis since just 1982, otherwise Native Nations might never die!

(*–The Settlers of Maryland Colony did this to my Nanticoke people.  Once they interpreted an Abandonment Clause in a colonial treaty to mean temporarily going up the Susquehanna River for their traditional annual hunt relinquished one of their Reservations: But when they arrived to find one elderly man guarding the otherwise-empty village, they burned him alive in his home.)

“WE SHALL REMAIN” Public broadcasting series on Native America

debuts tomorrow night (Monday) on PBS-TV: as they say, consult your local listings.  The idea is a series of Native perspectives on the history of the settlement of what is currently the U.S.  The producers concede in a public email that they couldn’t cover all bases:

“With 560 federally recognized tribes in the US, it was impossible for us to tell everyone’s story,” says WE SHALL REMAIN executive producer Sharon Grimberg.

If you have Native roots, now it’s your turn to share your experiences through WE SHALL REMAIN’s Online Story Sharingtool. It allows Native people across the country to publish video, audio, or written pieces on the Web sites of public media broadcasters in their communities.

Not to mention the hundreds of Native communities/groups not yet “federally recognized”….  We ALL Shall Remain!!!

Recession Advice: Stay Home

As seen on KABC-TV Los Angeles previously, and on ABC News tonight probably courtesy of the NY Times Wednesday, now is not the best time to relocate if you don’t absolutely have to, unless you have money to burn, or if price is no object of course….

When I was a reporter in the suburbs and exurbs of one of this country’s major cities in the ’80s, “homeless hotels” and mega taxicab fares to jobs closer-in to that city were being picked up by some local Public Housing Authorities, but I don’t hear or read that in this week’s stories.  Were Bush/Cheney really worse for the needy — of whatever supposed “class” — than Reagan/Bush?!  Persons more in-touch with recent homelessness and hunger stats than I, might know.  Maybe it’s just the combined onslaught of the whole last 28 years (DLC/Clinton included).  I guess our REAL long national nightmare isn’t quite over yet….

Why would a good Catholic vote Democratic?

(Aside from the candidates’ personal qualifications to do their jobs, that is.)

Abortion shocks the well-formed conscience, especially when it’s not necessary to literally save the woman’s life.  Also, I never knowingly met a Gay person until I left the Catholic Church in the early ’90s.  And I’m a virgin, but I still feel a little weird about birth control, and sex ed in public schools.  And yes, I’m concerned about Islam’s progress in Europe and North America, when they don’t seem able to rein-in their radicals enough to prevent something as heinous as 9/11, the East Africa embassy bombings, the Cole bombing, 7/7, or Madrid.

Catholic radio is telling you to vote Republican for one, more, or all of the above reasons, or more, though they’re really not allowed to endorse candidates or parties.  Some or all U.S. Catholic Bishops are pronouncing abortion a transcendent issue.  Now, I’m a Catholic-trained ethicist.  I studied 5 years for the priesthood and religious life.  I attended 11 years of parochial school (Balto. Catechism questions and answers!), 4 of Catholic high school, 4 of Catholic college, and 2 of Catholic graduate school.  I don’t have a Ph.D., but I respectfully disagree with the idea of abortion as transcendent political issue.  Fr. Frank Pavone’s (of Priests for Life) logic that without “life” no other issue matters, is an emotional slogan, not a philosophical or theological or moral argument.  As such, it does a disservice to the Catholic tradition of moral theological reasoning.

I submit that the Global Warming Cataclysm and the restoration of (small-D) democratic, constitutional, law-respecting, internationally-cooperative government to the United States, are the two most important issues in this campaign, not only for Americans but literally the entire world, more than 6 billion people, exponentially more than are affected by the “conservative Catholic” issues.

Global Warming is expected to create at least a billion refugees by mid-century, and many will die of GW-related disease, hunger, thirst, war, and instability.  Some scientists believe it may transform much of the surface of the Earth, in bad ways.  And if my cumulative analysis is correct, by 2200 we will lose one-third to two-thirds of humanity because of the Global Warming Cataclysm and other parts of the coming “Perfect Storm”: Peak Oil, Third-World ‘dirty’ industrialization, the spread of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles and asthma and allergies, and the (temporarily) declining planetary magnetic field with rising cancer rates from reduced solar shielding.  To be honest, neither major party is positively addressing these latter issues yet.  And the Republicans have been at the beck and call of Big Oil for 8 years — Bush and Cheney are oilmen, talk about the fox in charge of the henhouse — and have dropped the ball even on the Global Warming Cataclysm, whereas the Democrats say they’ll start trying to work to lessen and counteract its effects, the most compassionate, realistic plan available.

Linked to this is the restoration of respect for law and international aid and cooperation to the U.S. government.  What Washington does or fails to do – politically, economically, militarily, culturally – affects the entire world like no other single country.  We are today’s Rome, for good or for ill … the world’s sole hyperpower.

In the U.S. about a million abortions take place each year.  Even if each involves a father, mother, doctor, nurse, etc., that’s still a few million, against 6 billion plus, and tens of millions of lives if not more; plus, the Global Warming Cataclysm’s effects have been building since the dawn of industrialization in 1750, and will continue building even after we start doing something about them, so the longer we wait, the worse it will be, especially for the world’s weakest and poorest.

OTOH, what have the Republicans really done about abortion anyway, besides use it to raise funds and votes – “red meat for the base”?  There appears little to gain even on the abortion front by voting Republican, whereas Democrats for Life is gaining traction within their party by proposing to prevent most abortions performed in this country by working to remove their social causes: The 95-10 Initiative.

So I conclude that morally a Catholic should vote Democratic, and support Democrats for Life.

Not to mention the Democratic stands on all the other Catholic Social Teachings of the last century or more!

Welfare accountability

Why do Republicans think there’s no accountability on Welfare, Assistance, etc.?  How many of them have ever been on it??  Since 2000 I’ve been on General Assistance, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and SSI/Disability (not all at the same time), and been turned down for Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability.  I’d also worked for a couple years helping other people try to get help from various governments and other agencies, so I knew what I was doing.  The questions they ask, the re-asking every few months to a year, the unreasonable rejections, the unhearing appeals….  Haven’t they even heard of the Intrusive Social Worker? — it’s so common it’s a stereotype!!!  There are few secrets, and little dignity left when you’re done.

I think this may be an example of something Ronald Reagan kicked into high gear, Government-by-Anecdote.  Sure, a few people game the system, and DA’s like to trot out the accused Welfare Queens with three Rolls Royces and such.  But probably government loses more money each year from rich folks and businesses gaming the system than people on various forms of Assistance!  Welfare Cheats vs. Tax Cheats?  You do the math!

When politicians or their surrogates trot out negative examples, suspect that there’s an agenda, and deception, going on.  Ask for total numbers, credible statistics, before collectively punishing all of us for the relatively-insignificant sins of the few.

McCain above his own law?

Apparently the campaign that’s calling us “socialists” and “communists” wants Russian money for itself?!  So much for the McCain-Feingold “maverick” Repug!

BTW, it shows what kind of people they are when they put down as socialism and communism, what many of us consider basic Christianity!

“Income Transfers”?

Realistically, I guess the only question is whether we want to transfer income from those who can spare it to those who need it.  Or from those who can’t spare it to those who don’t need it!  The latter is what we’ve been doing for most of the recorded history of taxation, effectively: trickle-down, supply-side, Reaganomics, voodoo economics, invisible hand, Thatchernomics.*  The former, U.S. critics call socialism,** class warfare, eat-the-rich, taking, pinko … others, social justice, solidarity, morality, love, “my brother’s keeper,” common sense, homeland security, prudente prudente, remedying the class warfare.

Speaking of which, there was a recent Doonesbury comic about McCain campaign lobbyists and the Bailouts….

(*–In the ’80s in Ireland they had a joke: In Ireland a thatcher is someone who keeps a roof over your head; in Britain it’s someone who takes it away!)

(**–Like it’s a bad thing!!)

Bitter? Hell yes!

At least according to this guy and this guy, who claim to know better than I.  Will the MSM cover it?  Pretty much, NOT!  (WARNING: Strong language.)

(BTW: I can tag “white trash” and “poor white trash” because that’s my own background, understand?  Same with the others down there.  It’s just that my background isn’t small-town.)

New Bushie ‘Business Plot’: Take Bailout Money and Run

It looks like Democratic leaders in Congress, and the MSM, are prepared to let them, too.  Here’s the details, and here’s a little different perspective.

I believe that “no review” provision is unconstitutional.  It comes from arrogant “conservatives” who propose using Congress’ power to delineate Federal courts’ jurisdiction, to exclude altogether pet projects like anti-flag-burning, public school prayer, anti-abortion, anti-pornography, etc etc etc.  But that’s at best a misunderstanding, at worst a vile perversion, of the provision, otherwise Congress could just explicitly exclude ALL its laws from judicial review, and do whatever it wants, the Constitution be damned.  But this power has never been seriously interpreted this way by Congress or the Courts.  Every act of the legislative or executive branches has to be reviewable judicially, even if just to say “It’s a political matter” or “It’s a Constitutional Amendment” (which would be obvious of course), “they’re allowed.”  If Congress (and the White House) sought to exclude a new bill from review by existing courts, they would be required to establish a new court just for that bill (like FISA), or designate State courts or something.  We can’t have NO review!

And a dictatorship of the Treasury Secretary, who works for the President?  Please!  I don’t see these powers granted in the Constitution.  Congress spends money.

As for the artificiality of the current “crisis,” you just know these guys were sitting around one day saying to each other, “What’ll they do, let us go under, and take the economy with us?!!”  This may be the culmination of W.’s “planned train wreck,” to totally “discredit” government by ballooning the deficit (incl. erasing the Clinton / Democratic surplus!), instigating a reaction to “shrink government small enough to drown it in a bathtub.”  (Of course, it all started with the Revolution of the Colonial Ruling Elites against The Crown and legitimate traditional government….)  They scream about “handouts” to us who are needy, but demand this total governmental giveaway to predatory corporations and the rich?!!!  This is right up there with trying to abolish Habeas Corpus and spy on us without a warrant.  And for the Democrats to just roll over and play dead on this when they have the majority in Congress would be a mortal sin.  RED states may not be buying it, but will they take that outrage to the polls in November and thrash the GOP that brought it on them?

Again, I have to wonder how much of this “bailout” money will find its way into Repug campaign coffers, or perhaps the corporate paychecks of Bush officials if they leave office in January?

Just more Republican “borrow-and-spend” “voodoo economics”!!!

Indigenous liberation through language-immersion?

That’s the premise of this essay from Andrea Bear Nicholas.  I can certainly say how “neat” it felt taking a weekend ‘semi-immersion’ course in Irish Gaelic in the ’90s, I who previously “studied” Spanish, Latin, Biblical Greek and Hebrew.  (Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams once commented how he “loved to talk Irish in front of the White House!”)

I might even extend the usefulness of the idea a little more, such as one time when I was involved in discussing labor union business in Spanish right in the lunchroom, in an Anglophone workplace that subsequently sought to ban this behavior.  I guess there’s more than one kind of community-identity that can be facilitated by “minority” language!

Bushies destabilizing Bolivian progressive government?

So it may seem.  Sign petition against it, and begin returning our country to the community of nations.

Indigenous genocide

Andrea Bear Nicholas teaches and works in Native Studies at/from St. Thomas University in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada.  Read through this brief talk transcript at least twice for an inside sense/feel of the genocide that’s still going on against Indigenous people and peoples around the world, including the U.S., as well as “kinder, gentler” Canada.  Against children as well as adults.  Even now, after the closure of the Residential Schools, even now, in “politically correct” government schools.

I think if there’s even ‘one drop’ of ‘Red blood’ left in you, it’ll “cry out to Heaven for” redress.

Professor Bear Nicholas’ talk also raises the question for me, as an Irish / Native American convert in the Greek Orthodox Church, of, What about more-recent immigrants and their languages and cultures?  (UPDATE: Also see FURTHER, below.)  Well, bilingualism, English-French, remains the federal ideal in Canada, although as we are told, there are probably more Chinese speakers than French in British Columbia!  (Tho BC is perfectly entitled to adopt Chinese as an official language … and Manitoba, Ukrainian … and Nova Scotia, Gaelic … etc.  How about Mohawk in Quebec?!  Send Gilles Duceppe back to school! 😉 )  As Bear Nicholas points out, when even school is a “cross-cultural experience” for an oppressed minority child, it’s alot harder: Look at how some majority adults need to receive special training in cross-cultural this and that!  So the alternative is not necessarily two – or more – “solitudes” in a country; she also points to so many Europeans who are multilingual.  (As British “executive transvestite” comedian and actor Eddie Izzard reminds us, “The Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana!”)  But it also reminds me how unnatural and perhaps unnecessarily difficult, such humongous and “diverse” conquest / immigrant countries are … maybe frees us to think of better, time-tested ways, tolerant rather than physical-force- or other-force-genocidal.  Can you imagine the Romans trying to impose Latin on the Greeks or the Jews?!  (Tho that scene has more to do with latter-day English schools than 2,000-years-ago Mideastern politics!)

Just thinking…!  Not advocating the violent overthrow of the government or anything.  (I need my driver’s license!)

She also shows how we *all* need Aboriginal education, not just Indians.

Finally, what kind of mental health can be expected from what imperialists have put the rest of the world through?  What blowback?  Suicide, schizophrenia, substance abuse, terrorism, rebellion, revolution, desperation, “unreasonableness,” dangerous romanticism, ideology, demagoguery, fragmentation, civil strife, sectarianism, overdependence, “fundamentalism,” “radicalism”…?

FURTHER

The difference between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples is just that, indigeneity.  In nearly every land there have been Indigenous peoples compromised by non-Indigenous settlers, conquerors, invaders, exploiters, overwhelmers, displacers, etc.  Sometimes their ancestors may not have relocated voluntarily, as with Slaves in the Americas from Europe and Africa.  But non-Indigenous peoples in one land are indigenous to other lands, or their families, their family cultures, languages or dialects, surnames, physical appearance, etc., are.  In theory – I say in theory – if they decided they didn’t like it in the new land, they would in some sense have a home … land … to “return” to, one where they might not stick out as much as if the Indigenous of their new land moved there, one where, if many Irish-Americans are typical, they might even feel an instant ‘mystical’ connection to, even before the plane lands there.  For Indigenous, where they are IS their home … land.  As hospitable as folks in other lands might be, it wouldn’t be the same, especially if the Indigenous in question have managed to retain some Indigenous sense of connection to their home … land … soil … etc.  In the ’90s I thought a little about emigrating to Ireland, but since I’ve learned more about my American Indian background, I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Americas permanently!  I’ve realized as never before in my life a relationship to this soil that goes back literally eons; it’s part of me.

All this may be one good way to understand the special status Indigenous peoples have in international politics, often in domestic law, treaties, countries’ customary law, social ethics or morality or social justice, racial or ethnic justice, etc.  Or should, or aspire to.  Indigenous peoples have been victimized in ways that prove to be fundamental to the very existence of the modern countries in which they now find themselves encapsulated, ways that in doing so fundamentally compromise Indigenous peoples’ way of life, spirituality, economy, language and self-expression, freedom and rights, homes and habits and customs, etc etc etc.  In former times often Indigenous peoples would simply be “terminated with extreme prejudice,” forcibly assimilated, exiled – all things we now consider criminally genocidal, or aspire increasingly so to do.

Obama “liberal” charge racist, groundless.

I’M a liberal (in America), and he ain’t!  Do they just presume because he’s Black, he’s “liberal”?  As if social justice is “liberal”!  Guess we know where that places the “conservatives”!!!

As for “Obama’s liberal allies in Congress,” we could USE some!  Congressional Democrats at large haven’t been “liberal” since the ’70s!

Then again, this might just be that syndrome where “conservative” talk radio mouths call anyone more moderate than themselves liberal.

Sweet Bailouts!

Funny how they don’t hesitate to give 800 billion of our and our grandchildren’s money to big business, the rich, and “investors,” while they nickel-and-dime us poor people to death!  Just four questions:

  1. How can the taxpayers be bilked without a Congressional Appropriation?
  2. Is there an election coming up?!! 😉
  3. How much of this money will come back into Republican campaign coffers?!!!  (I’m put in mind of the Canadian Liberals’ Sponsorship Scandal, and the U.S.-Canada softwood lumber deal that created a slush fund for W. and Harper!)
  4. For that matter, do campaign contributions determine which corporations we bail out and which we leave to “market forces”?!!!

Just let any one of you try and get help from the government when you’re in real need, disabled, unemployed, tied-down at home with kids, even trying to get off drugs, etc etc.!  Sure, there are programs, but talk about humiliation!

BTW, can we really have a President at this time who admits he’s economically clueless?!!!  Thanks for the honesty, McCain, but C-ya!!!

Oil Prices

Any excuse to raise ’em!  A butterfly sneezes in the Indian Ocean, and oil goes up here.  GOUGING!!!!!  SPECULATING!!!!!

UPDATE: Ah, so they say gas at the pump has been falling for the last two months?  Must be an election coming up….

Wednesday Night GOP roundup

With thanks to MSNBC:

McCain running mate speaks as someone unconcerned with public opinion

Is the public not going to be voting in November?  Or are our votes not going to count?  What do they know?

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, in her first real introduction to the American people as Sen. John McCain’s running mate, struck back Wednesday night at news organizations and a “Washington elite” that have raised questions about her qualifications to be vice president.

Ah, we should know not to ask such questions of a candidate for public office, especially the second-highest office in the Executive Branch, potentially second only to an elderly man not in perfect health.

As Palin accepted the vice presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., her experience — she has been mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, and has served as Alaska’s governor for less than two years — was front and center in voters’ minds. Palin’s personal life has also become a topic of discussion after she revealed that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter was pregnant.

Alaska, a state I love, but with fewer people than many cities and counties.  Also, “she revealed”: I don’t recall anyone asking if she was pregnant now.

Palin acknowledged that she had not been in politics for long, calling herself “just your average hockey mom [who] signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids’ public education better.”

Sounds to me like the right stuff to lead the strongest nation on earth!

But in a speech that connected strongly with delegates who interrupted her numerous times with standing ovations, she dismissed critics of her background as snobs who looked down on ordinary Americans and their concerns.

Guess what, dear, you’re not an ordinary American.  And I’ve already pointed out how the Obama “elitist” attack has racist undertones, overtones, or both.  Anyway, alot the Repugs have done for ordinary Americans and their concerns these last 28 years, with real wages falling, homelessness up, hunger up, malnutrition up, lack of health insurance up, insufficient health insurance up, sacrificing their children and spouses in senseless wars abroad from Grenada to Iraq and soon possibly Iran and Georgia, agriculture going to the corporations, small towns dying, etc etc etc.  Then again, “Republicans Against Snobs”: Maybe this *is* a ticket of change and reform and mavericks!!!

“I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment,” Palin said. “And I’ve learned quickly these past few days that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.

But as a Republican, you ARE a member of the elite.  But that’s not why you’re unqualified, but because you make Dan Quayle look like a Rhodes Scholar of vast experience.  It’s not your fault; if you had his privileges all your life, you probably would’ve made more of them than he did.

“But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion,” she said. “I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.”

First of all, that “little” is immature and girlish; that’s OK, you’re a girl, a young woman by Washington standards, even if you are about to become a grandmom; come back in a few years when you get some game and stop saying things like “little news flash.”  More importantly, if the people of this country don’t want you, will you be forced upon us by election fraud?  Who would Jesus cheat?

The campaign said Palin co-wrote her address with Matthew Scully, who has written for McCain and previously for President Bush. The Obama campaign picked up on that fact in its brief response, which it released during the roll call of the states that was making McCain’s nomination official.

“The speech that Governor Palin gave was well delivered, but it was written by George Bush’s speechwriter and sounds exactly like the same divisive, partisan attacks we’ve heard from George Bush for the last eight years,” the campaign said in a statement.

“If Governor Palin and John McCain want to define ‘change’ as voting with George Bush 90 percent of the time, that’s their choice, but we don’t think the American people are ready to take a 10 percent chance on change.”

As Senator Bob Casey said, “That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick!”

“Since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves,” Palin said. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

IIUC, not many, not in Wasilla anyway!  But then, a White girl in Alaska wouldn’t know about the need for community organizing; she should ask her Yup’ik Eskimo grandmother-in-law about it.  Now there’s a small town!

“I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening,” she said, alluding to an early gaffe by Obama during the primary campaign, when he suggested that working-class Americans tended to “cling to religion and guns” in tough times.

No gaffe.  I suspect he learned it from the recent scientific research of sociologists Andrew Greeley – an Obama friend – and Michael Hout, as in their recent book The Truth about Conservative Christians: What They Think and What They BelieveAnyway, I’m not sure Obama was putting down small-towners when he said it; I originally read it as profoundly sympathetic, considering the lip-service they’re used to from the GOP.  G&H believe that if Democrats restored their former alliance with rural and small-town America, offering them a positive reason to vote for them again, and not just a negative reason not to vote for the Repugs — It really is ‘the rural and small-town economy, stupid’ — they’d come back.

“Here’s how I look at the choice Americans face in this election. In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change. …

“There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you, in places where winning means survival and defeat means death, and that man is John McCain.”

McCain, change?  Doesn’t McCain-Feingold seem to have been well-designed to keep letting soft campaign money through, rather than stopping it as claimed?  (Sorry, Russ, it’s the truth, and you know it.)  Has he changed anything else?  He talks change now, but where’s he been for the last three decades there in Washington?  Talk about “permanent Washington elite”!  And what the ill-advised Vietnam War has to do with change, I don’t know.  It’s tragic McCain had to spend those years as a POW, with all that torture and deprivation of basic rights and counsel – conditions he feels compelled to inflict on others today – for a big mistake and political opportunism, just like our men and women around the world these last 28 years, thrown into the meat grinder by politicians without a clue, cynical politicians out only for their own reflected glory, no matter the human cost.  Real change wouldn’t be continuing The Wars of the House of Bush and Saud for another 8-16 years, for literally trillions of dollars our great-grandchildren will be paying-off, but ending the madness now.  But then, you “haven’t thought much about the Iraq War.”

“From the inside, no family ever seems typical,” she said. “That’s how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys.”

But at the same time that the campaign was pressuring reporters to stop asking about her children, Palin invoked her family several times in explaining why she was proud to run on the same ticket with McCain.

That’s the thing: “Most other families” aren’t trying to tell others how to be, especially while not succeeding in living up to it themselves – a tough standard – but neither ratcheting back the rhetoric as ‘older and wiser’ or having learned a little humility in ‘the school of hard knocks.’  Hopefully you will in future decades.  Speaking for myself, I’m surprised at how smart I’ve gotten versus how smart I thought I was 20 years ago … or even three!!!

Palin praised the senator as “a man who wore the uniform of this country for 22 years and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who have now brought victory within sight.”

“Within sight” of LSD trippers, maybe….

“Sometimes, even the greatest joys bring challenge, and children with special needs inspire a special love,” Palin said.

“To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters,” she said. “I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.’’

I read somewhere that both she and McCain cut special ed funding.  I thought it was on Huffington Post, but their search function seems on the fritz just now.  But with friends like that….

Even before McCain’s plane landed at noon, his campaign struck back heatedly at persistent questions about Palin, declaring that “this nonsense is over.”

Temper, temper, Senator….  If you didn’t want questions, you shouldn’t have nominated such a “questionable” candidate.

Levi Johnston, the boyfriend of Palin’s pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, got a pat on the shoulder, as well as a handshake. McCain told Bristol Palin that he was sorry for what she was going through because of the “intrusion of the media,” Steve Schmidt, a senior campaign adviser, told NBC News.

Yes, “the media” invited in by mom and her new friend from Washington.  Anyway, McCain repeatedly rubbed Levi’s upper arm.  What’s that about?  Wait, is he the one – McCain – who doesn’t know what to do with his hands?  You’d think after three decades in the limelight….

Referring to forum last month at which both candidates fielded questions from Rick Warren, a prominent evangelical leader, Romney said:

“And at Saddleback, after Barack Obama dodged and ducked every direct question, John McCain hit the nail on the head: Radical Islam is evil, and he will defeat it. Republicans prefer straight talk to politically correct talk.”

I would’ve thought not Establishing a religion would include not using taxpayer dollars or soldiers to “defeat” a religion either.  But as they say, the First Amendment is just an amendment….  As for Obama’s alleged performance there, I don’t make a habit of keeping up on Evangelicals, so I couldn’t say.  I’ve got my own fish to fry(!)….

Huckabee, meanwhile, cast doubt on Obama’s {alleged*} lack of experience and judgment in foreign policy, saying: “Maybe the most dangerous threat of an Obama presidency is that he would continue to give madmen the benefit of the doubt. If he’s wrong just once, we will pay a heavy price.”

I don’t see Obama saying that.  I see Obama saying that unless Huckabee wants a draft … or a nuclear holocaust … maybe a little in-person “reading the Riot Act” to Ahmadinejad et al. might bring the message home to them.  A little thing we used to call international relations, before Reagan and others decided speaking loudly and carrying a big stick was better than the other thing.  Though the rest of the planet thinks we’re the madmen….

Giuliani, meanwhile, took on the burden of answering the controversies over Palin’s background….

Oh, that’s rich.  I guess his job was to make her situation look normal! 

Saying Palin had more “executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket combined,” Giuliani said, “I’m sorry if Barack Obama thinks her hometown isn’t cosmopolitian enough.”

Earlier, Giuliani, in an interview with NBC’s TODAY show, called reporting on Palin’s daughter “indecent and disgusting.”

“Everything’s that come out is almost silly,” Giuliani said. “The whole thing with her daughter is just absurd.”

And Rudy has more “executive experience” than she, so why isn’t he on the ticket?!!  Because the “base” thinks he’s a flaming liberal!  (Ask Blacks in New York about that.)  And yes, exposing Bristol’s issues was absurd – but that seems the order of the day for these Republicans….  They think little of a young woman “in trouble,” and always have.  Levi has shown more manliness in his little finger by joining her in the maelstrom than McCain in all his years in Hanoi.  Because McCain can always run on his “prisonership,” as he does constantly, but what can Mr. Johnston do other than what he’s doing?

Romney said Americans would enjoy “expanded opportunity … when taxes are lowered and when every citizen has affordable, portable health insurance.”

And Giuliani promised that McCain would “lower taxes so our economy can grow.”

“He will reduce government spending to strengthen our dollar,” Giuliani said. “He will expand free trade so we can be even more competitive.”

Sounds like trickle-down, “voodoo economics” to me – as a man named Bush once called it!  And folks like us are tired of being trickled on!!!  In any case, why isn’t their man Bush II doing all this?  The fact is, he’s lowered the taxes of the rich and Big Business, and promoted free-not-fair trade, but not the affordable, portable health insurance, the economic growth, or the stronger dollar.  He has brought us six-dollar gas, unbridled corruption, denial of Global Warming, the housing crisis, offshoring, the “loud sucking sound south,” arsenic and mercury in our water (I hope not in Alaska, for those babies’ sake), regulatory malfeasance / misfeasance / nonfeasance, “lost” Indian billions, lies and coverups, war profiteering, election fraud and divisiveness and partisanship, etc etc etc.  And McCain’s been right there with him 90 percent of the time, his arms wrapped around him, his lips right on him.  “That’s not a maverick, that’s a sidekick!”

(*–So much for the “liberal media” myth!)

Obama campaign reax to GOP Convention

…in this excerpted email to supporters, since I wonder if it’ll get through in the McCain-loving MSM (And so much for Giuliani and Palin as working-class people!):

I wasn’t planning on sending you something tonight. But if you saw what I saw from the Republican convention, you know that it demands a response.

I saw John McCain’s attack squad of negative, cynical politicians. They lied about Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and they attacked you for being a part of this campaign.

But worst of all — and this deserves to be noted — they insulted the very idea that ordinary people have a role to play in our political process.

You know that despite what John McCain and his attack squad say, everyday people have the power to build something extraordinary when we come together….

Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack’s experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.

Let’s clarify something for them right now.

Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.

And it’s no surprise that, after eight years of George Bush, millions of people have found that by coming together in their local communities they can change the course of history. That promise is what our campaign has been about from the beginning.

Throughout our history, ordinary people have made good on America’s promise by organizing for change from the bottom up. Community organizing is the foundation of the civil rights movement, the women’s suffrage movement, labor rights, and the 40-hour workweek. And it’s happening today in church basements and community centers and living rooms across America.

Meanwhile, we still haven’t gotten a single idea during the entire Republican convention about the economy and how to lift a middle class so harmed by the Bush-McCain policies.

It’s now clear that John McCain’s campaign has decided that desperate lies and personal attacks — on Barack Obama and on you — are the only way they can earn a third term for the Bush policies that McCain has supported more than 90 percent of the time….

Thank you for joining more than 2 million ordinary Americans who refuse to be silenced….

David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

What makes poor Americans overweight?

Speaking as an overweight poor American, I’ve had enough of unknowledgeable right-wing BS on this point.  So let’s look at a few realities, shall we?

(UPDATE 3 October 2008 with another possible reason.)

  • Americans are overweight.  What is it now, two-thirds of all adults?  So all the reasons that apply to the non-poor also apply to us, and some even more to us, such as advertising, cheap and convenient bad food, the corporate-owned USDA “nutrition” guidelines all these years, little else available all these years what with overrefined grains and vegetables, an increasingly-sedentary workstyle and lifestyle, TV-watching, computer-watching like you and I are doing right now, no time for exercise, the automotive lifestyle, etc etc etc.  But more specifically:
  • Many of us poor have health problems that cause weight gain or interfere with weight loss, directly or indirectly; in my case, IBS and “nonspecific ambulatory painful foot syndrome” – an uncompensated work injury.
  • Many of us poor are from cultures / races / ethnicities especially sensitive to the traditional Northern European diet of the U.S.
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores move out of poor neighborhoods; “convenience” stores and liquor stores move in.
  • Sometimes when you’re down on your luck, you just say, “Screw it,” and indulge.
  • Even if you’re not so unlucky, we too have holidays, barbeques, birthdays, graduations, where we don’t wanna eat just broccoli like those Puritans would have us do!
  • We disabled or unemployed get more TV advertising thrown at us at home, including for bad food.
  • For those of us working two or three jobs to stay afloat, Whole Foods and PCC aren’t open 24/7, while 7-11 is.
  • And even if they were, who can afford them?!  Health food is more expensive than the crap.
  • As the Salon article points out, high fructose corn syrup and other bad things are federally subsidized, holding down their cost.  (Talk about gummint programs!)
  • Every time my SSI Disability goes up, my Food Stamps go down, robbing me of some of my “cost of living adjustment.”  The poor get poorer….
  • Some of us can’t stand at a kitchen counter long enough to prepare a “home-cooked meal,” like because of my feet problem, so we have to “outsource” some of that to convenience and microwave foods.
  • For us Indians, cows vs. bison!
  • Government butter and cheese and cow’s milk and peanut butter programs: Are they intentionally fattening us up?!!!  And then complaining about it?!!!
  • Of course they aren’t.  Fats are calorie-dense and thus tax-dollar-efficient; it takes fewer of them to provide basic energy than carbohydrates or proteins.  They also help you feel satisfied sooner when eating them.  Sounds like a hunger panacea, right?  WRONG!
  • This one from my own IBS-Diarrhea perspective: When health foods push “high fiber,” usually it means insoluble fiber, the kind that goes right through you, rather than soluble fiber, the kind that absorbs intestinal fluid and bulks-up, passing more slowly and humanely.  Perhaps when some had a bad experience with the former, they said, “Forget this!”  (NB: Everybody needs both.  The traditional US diet – starches and proteins, aka meat-n-potatoes – hugely lacks both.  The average “healthy diet” here probably contains too much insoluble and not enough soluble fiber.  Some packages are starting to list these separately.  Thank you!)
  • This one may date me, but for many perhaps health foods are associated with different people, such as health-food freaks, Fundamentalists, liberals, suburbanites, the rich, Protestants, the anal-retentive, perfectionists, Californians, the educated, etc.: an image problem.
  • If you’ve got a family, the cost goes even higher than for an individual like me.
  • How many health-clubs get built in poor neighborhoods?  And who can afford them anyway?!  And are they 24/7?!
  • City parks cutbacks.
  • A short-term or temporary mistake or bad luck, you can pay for the rest of your life: diabetes, overdrinking, overeating, blowing-off exercise, depression-eating, etc.  It’s harder to lose it than to put it on.  Maybe you weren’t poor when you started out, became poor, and now can’t get out so easily as someone with more money can.
  • Historically speaking, before the Enclosure of the Commons forced many of the poor to work for wages in the cities’ industries (owned or invested-in by their rural landlords!), they had family farms they worked, with all that physical exertion and relative self-sufficiency to boot.  Here in America we never even had a chance!
  • It’s possible many of us aren’t aware of what would be better for us, or aren’t used to caring about it.  That’s certainly the kind of lower-working-class eating atmosphere I grew up in, and I’m middle-aged.  Not everybody’s as ‘plugged-in’ to food/health media or information as I happen to be right now, disabled with time on my hands, or having worked as a journalist for a while, or spent much of the ’90s as a vegan.

There’s probably lots more I haven’t thought of.

State-by-state recessions now?!

A sure sign of denial.  Must be an election year!

Walmart coercing votes for McCain?

So says this article.  I think it would be illegal.  Other businesses might be doing it too.

Overview of Alaska Native Settlement

Al Gore on SNL: Perspective

Just in case you forgot what’s at stake in ’08 – easy to do – this video postcard from two years ago this month from the de jure 43rd President of the United States.

“The Real McCain II”

New video exposes MSM support for McCain despite his non-straight talking.  (If he’s not a straight-talker, is he a queer-talker?!!!  Inquiring minds wanna know!)

(Also includes a spoof Stephanopoulos interview that’s pretty funny!)

Religious Establishment conundra II

What if we funded ALL primary and secondary schools, those of all religions and none?  Then it wouldn’t be “an establishment of religion,” just universal funding of education.  Might not even need a Constitutional Amendment!

I would imagine schools would retain their existing governance structures, just requiring public fiscal accountability, ‘strongly encouraging’ economies-of-scale, and retaining a minimum of educational expectations like now for reading, math, science, etc.

This might result in a reduction in, though not elimination of, the need for non-elitist, nonsectarian schools, ie, the remnants of today’s “public” schools, governed by the same local Boards of Education or whatever.  But then, ALL schools would be public schools, so to speak!

I also don’t envision parsing the money so it doesn’t pay for religion-class-hours, chapels, etc., as sometimes happens now with nonsectarian aid to sectarian schools.  Most of that is driven by the (mistaken) Constitutional issue anyway.  Education is for educators and parents to decide, broadly speaking.

Could we bar aid to White Supremacist schools?  Muslim-Fundamentalist Madrasas?  Schools that teach against “race-mixing”?  “Afri-centric” schools?  Gay-affirming schools?  Atheist schools?  Polytheist schools?  Satanist schools?  Conspiracy-theory schools?  Legal, constitutional ways might be found to approach such questions rationally….

One thing this might do is spread “the most segregated hour of the week” – Sunday morning – to Monday-through-Friday, 8-to-3.  Then again, forming children really is a religious / moral / ethical task, is it not?  ALL education is religious in one way or another, even ostensibly non-religious education.  And national surveys say although Catholic parochial school alumni/ae have attended rather White schools (in this country), at-large they turn out among the most progressive, tolerant adults in America … so that way may lie hope after all!

And just as now, all these “public” schools should certainly be free to raise additional funds on their own voluntarily.

IOTM that all the non-public-school-aid Supreme Court cases I’ve ever heard of involved a single denomination or at most two at a time, namely America’s (despised) Catholics and Jews.  Has any State or school district or city ever proposed to fund ALL primary and secondary ed. in its borders???

All this education is being paid for already.  My proposal would merely spread the burden over the entire society that benefits – the whole country or State – and at the same time solve the old School Choice conundrum, the religion-in-school conundrum, the at-the-same-time-great-and-miniscule-expectations-of-public-schools paradox, maybe even much of the youth-sex-and-violence problem and the Melting Pot ideal (though this last indirectly, as I said above) … with all their unnecessary costs to everyone….

Of course, funded schools would have to be nonpartisan and not involve themselves in campaigns for or against candidates.

The Disability system is broken

For a very good description of the farce that is the Social Security Administration’s disability determination system (for both Social Security Disability and SSI/Disability), see here, both the article and the comments.  And my idea a year ago for a great fix!

“Muslim leaders want to curb ‘Islamophobia'”

From MSNBC.  Though they could start by working on their own people who give their faith a bad name, like the Saudis and their highly sectarian and provocative Wahabbism (a minority among the world’s Muslims), bin Laden and his ilk, get Ahmadinejad to tone it down a scooch, introduce those radical madrasa schools a little bit into the Reality-Based Community, stuff like that.

Then, just try to understand where “libertarian” Westerners are coming from: today’s Western Christianity and “post-Christianity” are built on the foundation of the Rennaissance of Classical pagan Greek and Roman culture, which was much aided by translations of Classics via the Muslim world at the height of its own culture.  As an Orthodox Christian, I see alot of problems with this too, but it’s there and it’s highly influential around the world now.

If the Islamic Conference just tries to beat countries over the head it doesn’t like with international law, they’re more likely to drive more countries into the U.S. camp, which largely disdains international law.  Then nobody benefits, as the Iraqis and Saddam Hussein have learned, and the Iranians may yet learn, sadly.

Maybe what they should do is work domestically, within countries, based on their own existing legal systems and parliaments.  Form “Anti-Defamation Leagues” in each country, like Jewish folks have in the U.S.

I personally have a growing problem with growing Muslim influence in the West, in particular the retrograde influence of Saudi / Wahabbist and other radical ideologies who take advantage of “liberal” Western immigration, speech, and publishing laws to oppose Western values, societies, and people’s lives and safety, and so-called honor killings (aka revenge vendettas).  But I oppose all false rhetoric, and favor critiques based only on truth.  In a Western country, if you can prove slander or libel in court, you can win some kind of award.  As for non-Muslim cartoonists or their publishers who violate Muslim rules, well, you shouldn’t just expect people who don’t belong to your religion to follow its rules, any more than Jews expect non-Jews to keep kosher; you have to inculcate genuine sensitivity.  We do that with White police; there’s no reason rational Muslim representatives can’t peacefully ask to meet with Western periodical publishers, etc., and help them voluntarily become more sensitive to your religion’s concerns, just like any other growing minority religion here.  But does a problem in Denmark have to provoke violence in Pakistan and the East Indies?  Is that reasonable?  Isn’t that just “Westophobia”?

OTOH, if you come to the West, you implicitly agree to the rough-and-tumble of Western democracy and political “dialogue,” which sometimes is “in your face” and offensive.  I oppose gratuitous, senseless offensiveness, but sometimes legitimate critique and questioning will offend, but in the end is helpful.  Where’s the rationalism and reasonableness of Medieval Islam, the cultural height of your civilization?  There were limits to potentially-scandalous criticism, but there was also literary give-and-take.  Embrace the best of your heritage; we’re supposed to embrace the best of ours as Westerners; challenge us to do so.

There’s productive confrontation, and there’s just unproductive point-scoring.  The latter feels good only for a short time, like self-gratification; the former can bring significant, permanent improvement for everybody concerned.  Ask American Jews and Blacks.

Insofar as “Islamophobia” is a “phobia,” it is an irrational fear, one not based in reality, and so in theory has a psychotherapeutic treatment and cure, even on a societal scale.  Outlawing it through the UN won’t cure it, only make it worse.  Treat the phobia, show it to be irrational and not based in reality.  What Westerners fear is terrorism, war, weapons of mass destruction, violence, unruly mobs, senseless property damage, intolerance, any real loss of rights or freedom or democracy, threats to their elected governments and to what they value in their own historic cultures, etc.  Is this unreasonable, irrational?  Don’t Muslims fear the same things?  Yet Westerners feel these things are being threatened by some people in the name of Islam, rightly or wrongly.  Help us out, please.

Then again, if all you’re going to be about is avenging 800 years of Western victories over Muslims, well then I guess it’ll be World War 3 and the end of everything.  Then the Promised One will come, and we’ll see who was right.  Is that it?  Do you want the same thing as American Fundamentalists, Armageddon?

Why can’t we both choose peace?

Poorest not eligible for Stimulus money

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not count as qualifying income for the stimulus payment.”

What’s wrong with this picture?  Economists say $600 or $1200 will most likely stimulate the economy (as much as it will at all, which is not much) in the hands of the poorest.  For those with higher incomes, it’s no big deal, “pin money” as it used to be called.

Of course, this isn’t a real Economic Stimulus Package.  It’s an Incumbent / Republican Election Package.  And alot of the poorest don’t vote.  Wonder why?  😐

Impeach ’em all for bribery!

The cause of clergy sex abuse

Power. That’s all.  Not liberalism, homosexuality, or in Catholics’ case, mandatory celibacy (or Vatican II).  Many have been married, Straight-identified, and conservative … and it’s been going on the whole time, long before the ’60s.

Makes sense when you think about it.  What causes it in the workplace, government offices, businesses, clubs and organizations, locker rooms, POW camps (Abu Ghraib), etc.?

There’s no denying that it’s especially disheartening when it’s people who spend their lives (and our money) telling us to control ourselves – or telling others to control themselves.  That’s why it’s called scandal – it tempts you to throw in the towel on your faith or virtue or morality, or makes you feel confirmed if you already have done so for other reasons.

FBI/Bu’ushist lawbreaking

Let me make sure I have this straight: The Executive Branch can issue so-called “administrative subpoenas” anytime it wants and do whatever it wants with the information, without prosecution for admitted illegality (link will break) … and can ignore real subpoenas from the Legislative Branch, ‘the high court of parliament.’

Got it.

Feed everyone

The Orthodox Herald in December pointed to recent statements by the Popes of Rome – John Paul and Benedict* – that we have a moral obligation to provide food and water – “nutrition and hydration” the doctors call it – to patients in a “vegetative state.”  (I guess if babies in the womb are no longer babies in the womb, food and water is merely “medical treatment”….)

But IOTM that what we have is a moral obligation to provide food and water to EVERYONE unable to provide it for themselves!  Whether they’re paralyzed, sick, poor, unemployed, frail, Disabled, children, drought-stricken, plague-stricken, unlucky or unskilled in agriculture, fulltime parents, mentally ill, retarded, insufficiently intelligent, underpaid, whatever.  We have so much wealth…!  And as St. Basil the Great said, Whatever of it we don’t need belongs to the needy.

How about a little human solidarity, love, sharing, generosity, philanthropy (yes, even in your voting and lobbying and taxpaying … unless you can come up with a better way), “consubstantiality,” God-like-ness (Think about “the liberality** of God“!), self-discipline, etc.?

(*–The O.H.’s readership includes Eastern Catholics [“Uniates”] in communion with Rome, traditionally possessing Orthodoxy theology, liturgy, spirituality, etc. … just not part of The Orthodox Church.)

(**–That’s liberality, not liberalism!)

Moving-to-Canada humour (sic)

Yes, I’m not totally without a sense of humour about it….

Nader go home

One of Ralph’s mantras is that it doesn’t make a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.

I guess we’ve all been disabused of that notion over the last 7+ years!

But I’ll take his single-payer health care….

Kosovo II

Lemme make sure I got this straight: Serbs and Albanians go to war inside Serbia, we take the Albanians’ side, bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age, dismember their country … and threaten to hold their government ministers “personally responsible” when their people by the hundreds of thousands don’t take it lying down?  Serb Christians, and Albanian Muslims – some of whom have been implicated in international Islamic terrorism and insurgency IIRC?

What are we gonna do, kidnap them?  “Rendition” them to Poland?  (Romania won’t work this time because they’re Orthodox like the Serbs, and not thrilled with our “Balkanizing” their neighborhood.)  Afghanistan?  Egypt?  Syria?  Israel?

Look, what we’ve done to Serbia in another time would be ACTS OF WAR.  Sure, we have the nukes and bombers (and we have schoolkids write Happy Easter on bombs before dropping them … on Orthodox Easter … while we honor Ramadan and Eid) and NATO and the EU (not looking down your noses at “Old Europe” just now, are ya) … but does might make right?  Excuse bad faith negotiations?  What, was the Treaty of Dayton too difficult?

What was the better solution?  At least trying good faith peace and final status negotiations.

Cuba transition

So, with Fidel Castro retiring from governmental office, how long before America’s Cuban emigres – or their children – along with its government, corporations, wealthy, Protestant churches, etc., move in on Cuba, to restore neoliberal (“neocon,” in US terms) elite rule there, or even prepare a “liberated” island for U.S. Statehood?  Stripped of health care, the respect of much of the world, and the dignity of sovereign nationhood, they’ll be in great shape to join the Union….  But how can it be otherwise, when so many of its ‘saviors’ will be US citizens?!

Can’t whatever new order finally gets established there try to retain what good there is, rather than try to make Cuba over into Florida, or Puerto Rico, or Tijuana?  (Great places all, of course – and each different from the others.)  Why not “one Greater USA, Two Systems,” so to speak?  Cuba can be a little more socialized, with those great doctors, a sense of peoplehood and distinct culture (and language), pride in Cuba for Cuba’s sake rather than compulsively running into Bush’s arms (or McCain’s), etc.  It’s not the 1950s anymore … nor the ’20s.  Let’s not be destructive, but improve on what good is there, and of course work on the problems brought to the Island by both Communism and the U.S. Blockade.  Obviously there needs to be greater individual freedom, freedom of religion, speech, assembly, press, etc.

Kosovo independence

I’ve already said at least once I’ve had second thoughts about Woodrow Wilson’s project to give every subethnicity in Eastern Europe an independent micro-state.  (And you thought “Balkanization” had something to do with Slavicness or Christian Orthodoxy or “Byzantineness” or something like that!)  In the case of Kosovo, of course, if the Serbs weren’t trying to exterminate the Albanians, the Albanians were trying to exterminate the Serbs.  (And the foreign ‘protective’ forces that have been there have not done so well at preserving the peace for minority Serbs and their ancient churches and monasteries.)  Though we must remember that we in the West have been the ‘beneficiaries’ of a decade and a half of professional PR against the Serbs, as well as amateur anti-Orthodoxy on the part of so-called human rights monitors.  Were the militant Serbs saints?  Of course not.  But it seems at least some of the militant non-Serbs also fell short of canonization, during and since the wars that tore Yugoslavia to shreds (with foreign help), for good or for ill.

Nevertheless, ISTM the West was going through the motions when it seemed to be trying to bring about a genuine agreement regarding Kosovo between Belgrade and the Albanians there, treading water till “an opportune moment” to finally end it – they hoped – by just tearing Kosovo away from Serbia permanently.  It seems the Republic of Kosovo will be an instant Haiti, with no economy.  And if anyone thinks the substantial Serb communities in its north are going to take this lying down….  I’m not calling for more war, but I don’t see how it can be avoided without a miraculous conversion on the Western/Albanian side, toward more moderation, and listening to the needs and interests and ideas of the vast majority of Serbs who are not guilty of war crimes.

I have come to believe the ideal situation for most world states and peoples is not independent micro-statehood, but constructive engagement within a larger State that protects minorities, as well as individuals regardless of background.  Maybe there was never going to be conciliation between the Serbs and the Albanians … but the evidence suggests the effort wasn’t even made by the parties with all the resources, the West – the US, UK, EU, UN – as well as the Albanians themselves.

In labor-management relations, we call that negotiating in bad faith.

Lord Have Mercy on all concerned in this matter … and the rest of us!

Another reason for Monarchy

Even if we leave politicians with the initiative, wouldn’t it be nice to know they have someone like Queen Elizabeth they have to run things by, rather than no one at all?

Nepal going down American road

The facts contained within this account sound extremely familiar to readers of this blog and critics of U.S. history and the “American Revolution”!  From decompensating government, regions, and society, to the dubious claims of democracy of the politicians and ‘revolutionaries,’ it’s 1776 all over again, tragically.

Is it too late for the Nepalese people to rescue their nation from false ideology, and reach perhaps a better settlement with the otherwise soon-to-be-deposed King?  Hopefully they will not make the mistake of the American Loyalists and wait for His Majesty to make all the moves: King Gyanendra’s hands are tied unless he knows he has the people behind him, even to take action – perhaps “People Power” style? – to save the day. 

There’s an “election” scheduled, supposedly to manage the transition to a Republic – a decision already made ‘for’ the people and nation by the power-hungry elites, some of whom, the “Maoists,” have been waging actual war for years.  But if this “election” only includes “allowed” parties and candidates, how different will it be from the coups d’etat that usurped the Crown and Sovereignty of the American Colonies a couple centuries ago.

Rolling Stone: FBI-induced Terrorism in the ‘homeland’?

You saw it here a year and a half ago.

God help us.

PS: RS’s writer says the FBI’s alleged behaviour is almost entrapment.  Maybe he knows law better than I do, but it ‘looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck’ as far as I can see….

Auto repair scams

Why should generic auto repair and maintenance advice be anything other than straightforward?  For instance, is a transmission flush (not just drain-and-fill) a necessary thing, a helpful thing but not necessary, risky, or plainly always very bad?

I will confess I am a total girl when it comes to cars.  (No offense, ladies … especially you Diesel Dykes!)  Speaking of which, why should auto repair and service be so dodgy to begin with?  If ever a field of business cried out for strict government regulation….

Anyway, ISTM a car is far less contingent than a human body.  “Ya canna defy the laws of physics, Captain!”  A car is a mechanical device, nothing more.  If it tells you, “Forty days more and Nineveh – or your transmission – will be destroyed,” repenting of your sins in prayer, sackcloth-and-ashes, fasting, and almsgiving will not change its mind!  (Unless, of course, God Himself decides to become involved in an unusual manner…!)  Onboard computers aside, “the anklebone’s connected to the shinbone, the shinbone’s connected to the kneebone, the kneebone’s connected to the thighbone, etc.”  Yet automotive arguments and disputations almost reach the theological level!  (Western theology, that is, which is just rarefied philosophy.)

I will add this to the Web ‘cloud’: The first time I was ever ‘informed’ by a servicing dealer (I bought the car slightly used from a dealer of other makes) about a ‘need’ to flush the transmission, something I’d never heard of before, and wasn’t in the Service Guide, though “changing” the tranny fluid had by then been “not required but recommended at 60,000 and 120,000 mile interval” by Ford Inc.,* and since I was still under warranty, “recommended” was required – this was in ’99 – I called Ford in Detroit (Customer Assistance Center: [800] 392-3673 at that time, although I think I actually talked to a girl in a call centre in Toronto, eh?), and she told me something interesting: “We only hear about it from dealers!”  Interesting, because quite by accident I recently had it alleged by a transmission specialist – the owner of the business – who seemed not to gain anything from saying so except my good feelings, that the concept of the transmission flush “was invented by the dealers,” “is a fraud,” a way to get customers to pay $200 for a $50 job, and not something he could in those terms convince customers to do, so he returned the $10,000 flush machine to his franchiser.

Why would I think this guy is trustworthy?  Maybe he thinks he’ll get my business in the future: What, $50 at a time, every 30k or 60k, on a little 100k+ Ford?  Hardly seems worth it.  The flush machine would pay for itself in a few months at most in that market, especially with his earnest-seeming gentle prodding.  But here’s something else: I’d been referred to him by one of the quickie oil-change places that all of a sudden seem to develop specializations in other fields as well … maybe … for service my new best friend said it turns out I don’t need.  (Was one of his workers getting kickbacks? or one of the quicky guys? Or did he himself undergo a religious conversion recently?!!)  IOW, he saw I was a total girl, and could’ve had me (so to speak) and made me think he was doing me a favor, coming and going.  And he didn’t.

I don’t know for sure about what I seem to have learned here, so I won’t mention names, but you’ve definitely heard of both franchises I’m referring to, the allegedly bad oil-change outfit and the allegedly better tranny place.

Frankly, I think auto shop should be mandatory for all high school students – male and female.  It could’ve saved me several hundred dollars at least, in the last 9 years, money I could really use now.

(*–Now every 30,000, according to their website genuineservice.com.)