January 1, 2010 archive

DISTRACTIONS behind the gates.

First, I hope doors, passageways, paths & portals open for you in the new year ahead.

This does not mean we should shut them behind us, nor simply look forward.

I`ll ‘open’ with a door that should be reopened to clean up the detritus of the past.


My friend painted his garage door right after 911

It was a perfect banner of solidarity, now it`s in tatters.


The Awful Truth

Original article, by Ralph Nader and subtitled Liberals Begin to Bail on Obama, via counterpunch.com:

Those long-hoping, long-enduring members of the liberal intelligentsia are starting to break away from the least-worst mindset that muted their criticisms of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Holiday? What Holiday.

Best Buy, open.

Home Depot, open.

God forbid there should be a single non-sectarian day of commerce interruptus from the pigeon Latin of the dying Roman Empire we have become so like.

A day to do nothing.  Spend with the family or perhaps other people you might like.

Anyway strange times call for strange news sources from unlikely allies.  Oh, what state?  Massachusetts.  The pilot program state for the you gotta buy insurance and support big pharma national/globalization of medicine/medical control program.

A New Year’s Resolution for Activists

In this New Year, I resolve to learn the balance between that which I can positively effect and that which I cannot.  I make this resolution not in a desire to shirk my responsibility to my fellow person, but out of the understanding that life is too short to hold myself to a series of arbitrary, exacting rules that remove the joy of daily living.  This goes beyond the familiar language of the Serenity Prayer and has application to every activist cause of which I espouse.  Though we may be tough on the offenders, we are even tougher on ourselves, and that inevitably leads to burn out and soul-killing cynicism.  There is no sin in recharging our batteries periodically or at least recognizing that the greater problems which face us will remain no matter how many hours we devote to their eradication or how intensely we seek to amplify the volume to raise public awareness.          

For example, dietary laws were extremely important to the First Century Christians, and indeed in still so in many Jewish and Islamic circles (as well as some Christian ones).  Moreover, the idea of unity with God by eating a meal was an integral concept within Jewish, Christian, and Pagan traditions.  Those who had converted to Christianity from Paganism were uncomfortable consuming food that had been presented as a sacrifice to Pagan gods and asked for guidance.  To this, Paul replied,      

Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth.  People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.  Eat anything that is sold in the market without letting your conscience trouble you.

I’m not talking about your conscience but the other person’s conscience. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience?  If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

I understand the importance of social justice, particularly social justice through food purchase, which has driven a cottage industry.  Organic food, for example, was hippie food first, then became yuppie food.  Aside from the obvious, however, it is a curious quirk of humanity that we often cast aside one form of rote legalism for another form of it that closely agrees with our current sensibilities.  I know of Atheists who are themselves converts from conservative Christianity and in rightly pointing out the restrictive elements of their upbringing, they then adopt a philosophy of their that is no different in its basic construction.  We often focus on that which is intolerant, but living a life dictated too heavily by rules and restrictions doesn’t just eradicate freedom, it also removes the pleasure and fun of life.  I firmly believe that life is to be enjoyed.  Enough problems exist with our time here on earth than to be further dragged down and burdened by looking for problems.  Furthermore, if we focus on law, we adopt a neurotic posture that revolves around ourselves first and foremost.  If, however, we focus on unselfish love, then our concern shifts to other people.      

This isn’t true just for that which we take into our bodies.  Far too often the fear of climate change and global warming leads to its own a kind of legalism that assumes that through an well-intentioned obsession with minimizing our potential damage to the planet that we can somehow fulfill our obligations.  Global warming or some form of environmental decay has led some to rush to turn off lights, micromanage the settings of thermostats, and turn noses up at products likely produced by objectionable means.  This is, of course, not to say that aiming to be environmentally friendly and less conspicuously consumerist is not worth our time.  However, when our lives become Sisyphean to no good end, then we ought to concede that it is our own salvation through works that is predicated on personal conduct that leaves no room for error.  If I could teach any lesson to those of us who ascribe to an activist philosophy, that would be it.

In my own life, it is a big temptation to rush to judgment towards those I deem not conducting their own affairs in the manner in which I demand they should.  In particular, among online activist forums, a kind of extreme skepticism takes hold among participants.  It stems from a collective understanding of just how easy it is to pull the wool over the eyes of the ignorant and the ill-informed, and with it comes understandable feeling of despair that nothing one can possibly do will change that fact.  Still, if we adopt that stance, we are assuming that people are forever prisoners of their fate and that they can never change for the better.  Even though many may never revise their beliefs and may cling to that which we deem unenlightened and maddeningly stupid, we must never forget that there is always a chance that some may see the light.  Perhaps it is we who must modify our expectations and take a more realistic position regarding our poor power to add or detract to the tally.        

A year or so ago, I taught an online course of American History to technical college students.  My students were predominately working class, blue collar toilers who were seeking to further their education by means of attaining certification to achieve a specific higher paying vocation.  They were far from the typical college freshmen of which I had once been.  With my middle class education and background, I recognized quickly that it was highly unlikely that I would have ever befriended even one of my students, nor gravitated towards the same things as they in my own life.  At the beginning of the course, the views of many of my students were identical to those that Progressives often lament or caustically dismiss as hopelessly backwards or offensively naive.

Yet, after I was fortunate enough to really engage and reach my students, I noticed many of those old prejudices were being openly challenged and few were resisting this exercise in liberty and personal freedom.  I never sought to change anyone’s mind, but what I did note with much satisfaction is that until that instant, no one had ever bothered to expand and broaden their understanding beyond soundbytes and inexact, hackneyed rhetoric.  Once the complexities of human nature and historical reality became known to them, one could almost observe the metaphorical light bulb going off.  It was a thrilling thing to observe for me, the instructor, and after I took some degree of pride in my hard work, I recognized again how much class differences and economic disparities go into forming a concept of identity and system of belief.  Many of those who may have thus far taken a completely opposite political stance to mine never had the opportunities I had.  What I often find most frustrating among those who consider themselves worldly and intelligent are that they are usually the most stubbornly intractable regarding entertaining the notion that they could be wrong or that their own personal canon of wisdom might not be as airtight as they claim it is.  Those who, like my students, almost have a hero worship of the educated are much easier to enlighten and empower, though with that blank slate comes its own set of responsibility and ethical conduct.

Jesus spoke to those who felt as though they knew-it-all,

Then he said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

This is not to imply that I am infantilizing my students in some kind of exercise of mock pious Paternalism, but rather to note how much easier it is to open the minds of those who have not kept theirs resolutely snapped shut.  We are never too smart, nor too old to learn or to be taught a lesson.  Elitism begins to creep in whenever we act or think otherwise.  Elitism is a enemy of Progressivism as sure as any of the well-documented offenders that never leave our radar screens.  Constructing hierarchies of influence locks out those who wish to belong and want a spot at the table.  Who cares if they don’t fit the profile up front!  So what if they can’t write a brilliantly crafted blog entry or propose some pithy statement in comments!  If we, myself included, were a bit more patient with each other and embraced the idea of a loving family rather than as an outlet for people who desperately want their own views to be validated in a public forum, then we might be making some serious progress.  No one doubts how desperately we seek and need a community and how many of us find it within activist political circles, but the shortcomings and the problems cry out for reform just as badly as any number of the worthy causes we demand be addressed.  

This then, is my greatest New Year’s Resolution,

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.  

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”  

The People Speak

The People Speak


Outdoor Ice Open Thread

For Undercovercalico

Fenway.  Bruins v. Flyers

All hail the Great God Citgo!


Also Capitol One, Penn State v. LSU, on ABC and Gator Bowl, West Virginia v. Florida State on CBS.

This will be Bobby Bowden s last game.

Open Dawn


In 2009 “Main Street Got Shafted.”

Robert Reich, professor at the University of California and former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton in the 1990s, has an excellent blogpost about how working people got screwed in 2009 and a pessimistic view of the future unless people force change:

As long as income and wealth keep concentrating at the top, and the great divide between America’s have-mores and have-lesses continues to widen, the Great Recession won’t end — at least not in the real economy.

2009: The Year Wall Street Bounced Back and Main Street Got Shafted

Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, generally agrees with How We Got Here:

In other words, merely rebuilding the same economy will not help working people.

More, after the fold.  (x-posted from Daily Kos:  


Down through all eternity, the crying of humanity…

Tournament Of Roses Parade Open Thread

What?  You up?

You didn’t party hard enough!

Well, time to grab your Bellinies and hangovers (out of peach nectar?  Mimosas then) and stare bleary eyed at vegetable covered cars, horses, and marching bands.

On broadcast your two choices are NBC and ABC.  Travel Channel has been carrying the pre-parade preparations since 9 am as has TLC.

Next door on Discovery you have the far more entertaining Mythbusters Marathon, but maybe that’s just me.  History Channel is doing Ice Road Truckers and Cartoon Network Looney Tunes.

Of course my great regret is I don’t get BBC so I’m totally missing their Doctor extravaganza.

As my act slowly comes together I’ll bang up some Bowl threads at inappropriate moments and if I have a chance some of your New Year’s essays.  Tomorrow I’m planning on partying down myself so you’ll have to make your own amusument.

Sunday I would suggest that you spare your blood pressure, turn off the TV, and come up with your own Top Ten reasons for why the ‘Oh Noes’ really sucked.

U.S.: ‘arranged secret prisoner exchange’

Minimizing the Blowback one step at a time?

According to U.S. sources what’s being said by the father is not what happened.

Peter Moore: US ‘arranged secret prisoner exchange’

Docudharma Times Friday January 1

Friday’s Headlines:

The ‘coalition of the willing’ becomes an army of one

British universities sometimes seen as breeding grounds for radical Islam

C.I.A. Takes On Expanded Role on Front Lines

TSA nominee misled Congress about accessing confidential records

Exclusive: Secret Army squad ‘abused Iraqis’

Vatican reveals Secret Archives

How should we deal with the emergence of China as a superpower?

UN to withdraw staff from Pakistan

In reversal, Egypt allows some foreign activists to enter Gaza

In Israel, embattled Sderot comes back to life after rocket barrages of Gaza war

Book takes Mexico drug war to task

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