Saturday, April 30, 2005

And still they die in Darfur

Imagine, being betrayed by your own government. Imagine, fearing your children will be raped to death. Imagine, starving and trying to find water that hasn't been poisoned. Imagine, waiting to die of diseases preventable and treatable.

That is what millions (if there are that many left alive) are experiencing right now while I sit here enjoying my coffee and a delightful afternoon of comments and opinions on a number of blogs. I truly cannot understand why we let this continue. Oh to be sure there are a number of plans, resolutions and great ideas that have amounted to nothing more than retribution from the janjaweed militias and more death. For more than two years and over four hundred thousand dead this atrocity has continued and by all appearances it will continue until there is no one left to kill. There is no such thing as a culture of life in a society who swore this would never happen again and yet has allowed it in Darfur, in Rwanda and in the hearts of those who could stop it but choose instead to hope it just goes away.

Shame, shame on us who call humans superior to "lower mammals," I dare say no other creature on this planet would ever engage in something as obscene as what us humans are capable.

Continued @ 12:30 PM
Thanks elayne

We live in scary times. Or maybe all times have been scary. After all, it happened in Rwanda and nothing was done to stop it. I find it incredibly depressing that none of the institutions I grew up believing in actually exist. The church I grew up in was rife with hypocrisy, the America I learned about in school doesn't exist. Instead the ownership class has taken the religious right in tow and decided that they would convince them to go against every tenet of the bible. The religious right has been duped into promoting a society that is the antithesis of biblical principal. They claim some "culture of life" and yet they deny health care to an increasing number of Americans, they lower the prevailing wage (it doesn't keep up with inflation} and they let all these people fucking die. They allow fucking obscene atrocities that have made my insomnia worse by far than it has ever been because I can't help thinking, while I lay there trying to sleep in my relatively comfortable bed, that RIGHT FUCKING NOW there are countless lives contemplating their demise at the hands of their own government.

I've always been the optimist, believing, or choosing to believe that humanity can grow out of this. But lately I really wonder. How can we be here in these times, in this place and say ah, I can see the way for humans to evolve and grow as a race.

I weep. I weep for my son who inherits this damned earth. I weep for the children of Darfur who inherit nothing, instead to die, to die in horror so obscene it literally hurts just to imagine. Fucking children for christ sake. I weep for me as I try to make sense of a world gone mad with the expansion of my own awareness. I weep for the mothers and fathers of Darfur, the helpless fear, anger, horror of watching their children and partners die along side them. I weep for a human race that would allow this to happen over and over again.

A life of love, growth and the expansion of human potential

So I spent much of last night involved in an interesting discussion at Shakespears Sister about freedom of speech at blogs. I just have to say that I don't believe that most rightwing blogs have many compunctions about banning folks they don't agree with from commenting on their blogs and yet SS has been lamblasted for doing that to someone I would have banned without compuncion. It is ridiculous to assume that because someone believes in free speech they should put up with abusive people who have no interest in respectful dissembling of their own beliefs.

I don't have a lot of patience for labels, I believe they are mildly inaccurate at best, grossly misleading most of the time. If I were to be labeled though, I expect I would prefer to be called a moderate anarchist. I really figure people should be and not be bothered for being. The main problem with labels is they become a divider to segment people away from each other. What the hell is the point of that. We are human beings, we should learn to get along, accept and celebrate our differences. We have to live together anyways why not enjoy it.

I have no time or patience for people who just want to bring others down. If you don't have a desire to grow and contribute to the growth of others then there is really no point in talking to you. If on the other hand you are open to others and willing to engage others for the edification of everyone involved you give life, the very concept of, meaning. People don't always agree, it really isn't necessary, but there is no excuse for bashing others because of what they believe. I have found no one whom I always agree with. I can also get quite riled about a variety of issues that I feel strongly about but I chose long ago to attempt to never bring others down through my words and actions. I am human which means I am not always successful at this but I have found that I am surrounded by people who love me and even those who disagree with me on most everything respect me because I respect them. I can't imagine life without the love I share with my friends and others.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The New Deal - they want to repeal

I thought the President's press conference tonight seemed contrary to what you are saying here, that he would want the judiciary to overturn the New Deal.
April 29, 2005 2:11 AM

The beauty of using the judicial nominees to further the neo-con agenda is that the politicians can wash their hands of the whole thing and let it be blamed on the activist judiciary. They can even then turn around and use such extreme measures by the judiciary as an excuse to reign in the judiciary. That is exactly what Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and John Conryn would like to see happen.

As for the desire to repeal the new deal one only needs to look at the judicial nominees to see the agenda behind them. Here are a few links about these nominees, more to follow:

That President Bush nominates conservatives to the bench is no surprise. But, Brown, Claude Allen, and Charles Pickering have spent their careers on the radical edge of the right wing. Brown is an outspoken supporter of a return to a pre-New Deal – that’s Franklin Roosevelt – perspective of the law. For those who don’t want to dwell in the first third of the last century, that should be frightening. She argues that America has become a “nation of whiners” and that policymakers are “handing out new rights like lollipops in the dentist’s office.”

I will be happy to find some more evidence of what the neo-con agenda really is but it may take a few days because I have a lot to do. The key is not what Bush says it is what he doesn't need to say because he has judicial nominees to do it for him. When you take that into account it's really a scary picture. And like I said this way they can have their cake and eat it too because their hands are clean.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My Books, oh, my books

I am having a very difficult evening. I am getting ready to move in about five weeks. By far, most of what I own is my book collection. We have an estimated 3,500 books between my son, his mother and I. I am now going throhg what Amy (Cay's mama) is leaving behind of hers, all of mine and most of Caleb's. I really enjoy my book collection. I really, really enjoy my book collection. I am only taking about five maybe six hundred books with me. The thing is we have weeded through the book collection several times over the past two years and while we have a steady flow of brain candy through the house we have also weeded our core collection. I am not enjoying letting go of all these fucking books. I don't want to but I must.

The positive things about the situation is that a. when I get to Portland I will have a book collection that only contains really great books and b. Portland boasts the largest used book store in the country. But I'm still really bummed out. And by the way so is Caleb.

Monday, April 25, 2005

A long overdue post for Prudence - or why Caleb is so neat

I will preface this by saying while I don't think it makes that much of a difference for a child's potential empathy, as we have been preparing to start his formal education we have had rudimentary intelligence testing done. The estimate places him at what is called "exceptional" in lu of an actual digit i.q.

Since even before he was born, Caleb has been the recipient of conversations, tirades and all manner verbal expulsions. His mama and I have talked to him incessantly his whole short life. We have also read to him from the point that his eyes were first able to focus on the pages in books. To say he has become an able communicator is a major understatement. He didn't start talking until he was about 13 months old but when he did he started right off the bat with rudimentary sentences that always managed to convey what he meant. I theorize that he didn't want to attempt speech until he had a firm grasp on how it all fit together. This theory is supported my the fact that on occasions when he was left in a room alone one would often here him experimenting with the formation of words, but never when anyone was in the room with him.

We have also always made it quite clear how much he is loved. He enjoys nothing quite so much as going through the litany of those who love him and who he loves. Part and parcel in that is the fact that he is the most important person in our lives and we never let an opportunity go by to let him know that. We also make it clear that what he says and does are of the highest order of importance to us. He matters and he knows that.

A case in point is the house we are getting ready to move out of. (we are moving 3,000 miles away to Portland OR) When we moved in we had a hose connected to the water main. We had to flush the toilet by filling a bucket and pouring it into the toilet. I made a deal with my landlord/close friends that we would work on this house and a few others to cover our rent. From the get go Caleb was encouraged to help and we made it clear that any help he gave was helping to keep a roof over his head. In effect he knew that what he did directly contributed to our living and what he did was important to all of us. I have never hesitated to punish him when it is warranted, in fact I am rather strict with him. But I also take every opportunity to praise him when he uses particularly good behavior or decides he wants to help and does a good job. (occasionally his desire to help is trumped by his desire not to listen - I do not put up with such behavior) To me it is of the utmost importance that Caleb understand that what he does is important to his mama and I.

Over the last ten months we have also started a new system of story telling. For every story I tell him he must tell me one. Over the last couple of months I have begun requiring his stories have a rudimentary plot and some sort of climactic ending. I in turn, tell him stories about a variety of neat people who have done good things for others. If he has been behaving well or has done something exceptionally cool I tell him his favorite stories, which are about a big boy named Caleb. They take place anywhere between age 7 to 15 and in those stories Caleb goes mountain climbing, camping, plays songs with papa or his friends, goes to school or does really nice things for other people. I have been telling him these sorts of stories since he was born (a few before) but then I thought one day that I would like to know what sorts of stories he might tell. His stories are very thematic they almost always involve semi-animate construction machines and either a dragon or a giant spider. Usually the dragon or spider break a building or road or some cars and then it turns out that it's all ok and everyone is happy.

I would like to say that his mama and I are responsible for how sweet Caleb is but a lot of times it is in spite of us. We don't fight in front of him often but on occasion we do, more important is the fact that we don't like each other. When we move out west we will be separating which is a good thing and I hope he will be even happier when mama and papa aren't miserable from their proximity.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

No, really I'm not a liberal.

I realized after reading a post by Eric at Fear of Clowns accusing Prudence of being a liberal rather than the "compassionate conservative" she prefers that anyone reading my blog would probably assume I am a liberal. For the same reason I would have to argue that Prudence is in fact a conservative I would argue I am not a liberal. It has nothing to do with our respective opinions on a lot of social and political issues. It is founded in our respective mind sets.

I will briefly explain my argument for Prudence being a conservative. Prudence is a conciencious Catholic. Her ego or self has been strongly influenced by church doctrine and founded in biblical principles. From this foundation she looks at herself, who she is, what she believes in from a perspective only she (and her God) can judge. Only she can see what the motivations are for her stance on any issue and from that perspective she sees herself as conservative.

I can explain this better from my own perspective. I am (if I really must be labeled) a humanist who's ego is founded in biblical principle. (ie I really think the bible has profound and important things to say but really can't call myself a christian) I am pro human plain and simple. I believe in a number of "liberal" causes but my motivation is generally pragmatic. I also happen to believe in a few conservative causes. (guns for one)

The best way to explain myself is to give an example:
I am an ardent environmentalist. This is not because I want to save the planet for the planets sake. I have a book about the history of the geology of the earth. In the front there is a spiral graph that shows the various stages of life and unlife on earth. It goes back 4 to 15 Billion years. (science has a hard time dating back that far, the further back you go the less sure dating becomes) two thirds of the spiral is prelife then after you get through to life most of the spiral is pre life as we know it. Life as we know it is represented as an infinitesimal sliver at the very end of the spiral. The Jurassic period is about four or five times bigger. By the time you get to life on this planet as we would recognize it there is only a tiny sliver you can barely percieve. from the point we climbed out of the trees till now isn't even a drop in the bucket in regards to the history of this planet. So when it comes to environmentalism on a planetary scale it really matters not a whit what we do to the planet. I am an environmentalist because I would like the planet to remain habitable to humans for as long as possible. My motivation is pragmatic rather than the traditional liberal save the planet for the planets sake.

Personally I believe labels in general are at best partially inaccurate and usually are just plain misleading. When one attempts to label others they will always be limited to what they observe. The only person who can see into the heart of the one being labeled is that person.

Bush / Dean?

Eric Seymour at In The Angora makes a good (if rather snide) point about Howard Dean's stupid impression of Rush Limbaugh snorting cocaine while speaking at a fundraiser for the ACLU in MN last wednsday. He is even quoted as admitting he's not very dignified. Then in the comments someone who seemed to be trying to defend Dean brought up a stupid comment that Bush had made at one point, I really wouldn't call it smart to defend somone with a Bush comparison but hey let's go with it.

The best way to compare Bush and Dean for me is that neither seems to know when to keep there mouth shut. Although Dean doesn't seem quite as stupid as Bush every time he says something unscripted I don't think either man is really qualified for their current positions. I won't go into the legion of other reasons Bush in unqualified to be the U.S. president as it's not the appropriate venue.

People in important representative positions don't have the luxury putting their emotions ahead of their responsibilities. They need to watch every word that comes out of their mouth, those they represent are judged by their words. Bush, who claims to represent the American people, lacks even a semblance of eloquence. He also seems to be inexcusably uninformed. While Dean's style and demeanor would be more appropriate to an old fashioned tent revival than a major representative of the democratic party. And his sophomoric drug poke at Limbaugh only drop him down to Limbaughs level.

Personally I like to rant. It kind of makes me feel good. But of course I'm just a high school drop out who works in construction. I'm neither liberal nor conservative, (I doubt I'll really bring down the staunchly moderates)I'm not a republicrat, in fact I represent nobody but myself so it's ok for me to rant. It's even ok for me to say Rush is a juvenile, simian jackass with no redeeming qualities. It reflects on me and me alone. Anyone who represents others on the other hand has a responsibility to consider those they represent every time they open their mouths especial in public. At that both Bush and Dean fail miserably.

Monday, April 18, 2005

And another judiciary post, from Brad Plumer @ MoJo

You know what I find rather frightening, since the republican talk of eliminating the filibuster seems to be waning, republican talk of holding our judiciary accountable to congress seems to be on the rise. Somehow they seem to have decided that if they can't appoint the activist judges they want they should just dismantle our system of government. What I find really scary is that those (albeit few at the moment) voices in our government who are talking about this are the types who would be likely to pursue the scenario I posted here.

Judicial Activism/Judicial Restraint

Between this post and the attached comments alone I have seen judicial activism defined in various shades from meaning when a judge actively strikes down a law because they believe it to be non constitutional across the spectrum to when a judge does not strike down a law which is blatantly non constitutional. In fact in the long essay by Sowell one will find, rather than a definition of judicial activism, an attempt to obscure the definition.

"Judicial activism" and "judicial restraint" raise logically obvious but often ignored questions: Activism toward what? Restraint toward what? Are judges deemed to be activist or restrained toward (1) the current popular majority, (2) the legislature representing the current popular majority, (3) the statutes passed by present or past legislatures, (4) the acts of current of past executive or administrative agencies, (5) the meaning of the words in the Constitution, (6) the principles or purposes of those who wrote the Constitution, or (7) the legal precedents established by previous judicial interpretations of the Constitution?

One would think an essay posing such questions at the beginning might try to clarify. But instead Sowell seems to at turns support then decry each of the above points. Makes me wonder why the hell I wasted 20 minutes reading a meaningless essay that doesn't provide even Sowell's own opinion on what judicial activism means.

I do find it amusing that most of these "liberal" activist judges the right is whining about are in fact republican appointees. In fact 94 of the 162 federal judges are republican appointees. Now I'm not a lawyer (actually I'm a highschool drop out who works construction) but even I can see through this rhetoric to the core problem. It's not the "liberal" judicial activists that the right is worried about. It's the supposed shortage of "conservative" activist judges. But that doesn't really define the problem either. I know folks who would argue for example that denying homosexuals the right to get married is un-constitutional, yet the courts have always ruled against allowing same sex couples to be legally married.

The real problem lays in the fact that the right wants judges who will overturn more than 70 years of legislation. They want to be rid of minimum wages, environmental legislation, the 40 hour work week, social security, OSHA's workplace safety regulations and a host of other laws that most Americans take for granted and have no idea could possibly be in jeopardy. The same logic that calls for regress back to the '30s would also have to repeal child labor laws. I think most people would agree having orphans working in sweatshop firetraps instead of going to school is insane. Of course that same logic would pretty much need to abolish public schools so we might as well find something for the little tykes to do. I know it sounds so very Charles Dickens but hey, that's what we had before these laws were past.

Big Brothers Alive and Well

Big brother is in fact alive and well in the twenty-first century. I have to admit though that RFID chips scare me more than a "black box" for cars. CASPIAN shows us what in my mind is the least frightening use for them, (though, it is pretty scary) product placement. Wired talks about the use of RFID chips in personal documents and passports. Slate magazine and NPR's talked about this last November. Veri Chip is developing a subcutaneous RFID transmitter that could be tracked by satellite. Now the theory is this could greatly enhance efforts of law enforcement to find children of others who have disappeared or been kidnapped. Realistically this means instead of tracking your car they could find you with a satellite and watch you from such a distance that you couldn't possibly know your being surveiled.

With "traffic" cameras going up at an accelerated rate, (Georgia even calls then what they really are) and satellites providing ever more detailed images of what they see on this planets surface, we really are moving at a rapid clip towards Orwell's dystopian nightmare. At this time the technology exists to watch people from space and track their movements all over the planets surface. Three satellites is all it takes to see the entire planet's surface and there are thousands of satellites in orbit right now.

Even just a decade ago this conversation would have been relegated to a few crackpots and crazed conspiracy theorists, but with the advent of the war on terror it's reality. Our civil rights have reached new lows and there are newer and better methods for watching all of us. Really kind of makes you miss the days when you could just smile and nod at a person purporting whacked out theories about being followed by the government, I know I do.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Yet more bullshit from the pharma industry

Majikthise reports yet more corruption involving big pharma here. Apparently, a Pennsylvania state official was accepting money from a drug maker and other outside sources. Another fine example of the people who's job is to make sure our medicines are safe taking money from the companies who make our medicines.
I do believe that the FDA needed an overhaul to move more quickly on getting drugs to market, but shit, it would have been nice if the legislature hadn't completely castrated them. Apparently our legislature thought it should be all or nothing. Of course it helped that big pharma helped to overhaul the FDA. The regulations involving an investigators dispensation of reports requires they file it with the drug's sponsor, not with the FDA. The drug sponsor is then supposed to be sent to the FDA but remarkably they don't always seem to get there. Section 21 of the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) explains that the drug sponsors are required to disclose which investigators are the sponsors employees. They also have to disclose which are not but as the investigative bodies are hired by the drug sponsor in effect everyone investigating the safety of new drugs are employed by the sponsor or manufacturer of the drug.

So now more than ever I am depending on the "twigs & roots" approach to medicine. Not only is plant medicine generally more affordable (though a lot of work if you extract, tincture or otherwise prepare yourself) it is also often safer and causes less adverse side effects. In many plants, from which our "modern" pharmaceuticals are derived, there are chemicals other than the desired medicine. Often these chemicals can be instrumental in alleviating negative side effects. There are a number of drugs in fact that come with a companion drug, derived from the same plant that will alieve some side effects of the original drug.

I happen to be blessed with a doctor who is happy to discuss plant options and the ability to make plant meds. I also have researched a lot of the companies that manufacture plant meds and have a good idea what the potency and quality of many on shelf plant meds really are. Most people are not so lucky. Self diagnose and medicating can be very dangerous. Using plant medicines does not mean one should avoid going to the doctor at all, this can be extremely dangerous even fatal in some situations. But it would be good to see more doctors concerned more about their patients than they are with pandering to big pharma.

Just what might happen if congress controls the court

Since becoming aware of the growing grassroots movement to dismantle our country by holding our independent judiciary accountable to congress I began looking into accusations of judicial activism. I discovered that conservatives hold no monopoly on that phrase. In fact, it seems to be used as often by the left as it is by the right.

This phenomenon seems pretty indicative of the health of our system of checks and balances and the judiciaries role in it. The judiciaries role is to, objectively, weigh legislation against the constitution and decide if it measures up. Now I realize that absolute objectivity is about as attainable as absolute perfection. But to be able to piss off most everyone, sometimes on the same issue, the judiciary as a body has to be doing an admirable job. The selection process (under fire by the political wing of the religious right) ensures that most judges given seats on the higher courts are known for setting aside their personal prejudice and hand down rulings based on the rule of law defined in our constitution. It is not an absolutely perfect system. Life would be awfully dull if we had one. But our independent judiciary is an intregal part of the system we have. Personally I think our system is a quite preferable to the one in say, Iran. Yet if congress manages to "reign in" our judiciary we could conceivably get just that.

Lets imagine for a moment, America with a congress able to overrule the supreme court. The house introduces legislation that would extend the terms of office for our elected officials indefinitely for the duration of a national emergency, say the war on terror. It passes with a simple majority then breezes through the senate to be signed by the president. Of course it ends up in court and when the court rules to the negative the judges are removed/overruled. Soon new legislation is introduced, in the interest of unity in government, that those in the legislature who to often dissent from the majority should be replaced by those who can be more agreeable. Thereafter the U.S. could be molded into a theocracy to rival the wildest ambitions of Kahmenei. The "best" possible outcome of the aforementioned scenario is all out civil war.
I realize this seems an entirely unlikely scenario but it is one of many possibilities if we have an accountable judiciary. And at a time when 78% of highschool students poled believed that journalism should be government approved it doesn't seem nearly as implausible as it would have a decade ago.

The potential for abuse is staggering. The courts are and always have been the last line of defense against tyrannical government. The courts are and always have been the third and arguably the most important check in our system of government. I don't always agree with the courts, no one will always agree with their rulings. If suddenly one group of people were able to agree with the courts it would in fact signal a major breakdown in the system. It would in fact mean that the courts were no longer objective and impartial. So those who would dismantle our better than two hundred year old system need to think long and hard about exactly what that would mean.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Favorite Authors/my early heros

A recent e-mail from Eric, made me realize that I neglected several authors in my profile. I don't often think of one of my very first heroes as an author but Bill Moyers as well as being / having been one of the most important journalists of our time (mostly on television) has also written several books.

My very first hero was Carl Sagan. I went to see him speak twice. The first time I was nine, at that time I picked up a little from the talk but became infinitely interested in the cosmos because of the great pictures. The second time I was eleven and that's when he became my hero. I watched "Cosmos" before my dad and I went and had prepared a list of questions for the q&a.
Dr.Sagan answered all six of the questions I had in his presentation but I came up with a few more and when I got to asking him I warranted a blurb in the Detroit Free Press to the effect of "watch out Magic, Sagans the new hero" because I told Dr.Sagan he was my hero. And he was and still is. He made a clear enough lecture that I came out with a firm, laymens understanding of celestial mechanics.

When I was twelve I had a class project about myths. The topic I chose was the hero journey. I used "The Power Of Myth" as my main source. In it Bill Moyers interviewed Joseph Campbell. I have read Campbell and found him relatively dry and dull, but Bill managed to format a brilliant interview in which he made Campbell's work come alive.

I also read Orwell's 1984 that year (I actually first found that copy in 1984 but it was a little to heavy when I was 8) which led me to attempt to tackle Thomas Moore's "Utopia" with only moderate success. Then six months later I read Huxley's "Brave New World." I then wrote a paper entitled "The Anti-Utopian Novel - A modern fable" for my seventh grade english class. I knew nothing about Aldous Huxley at the time and even less about Orwell. The premise of my paper was that the social warning about the likely consequence of the "ideal society" would be the loss of the "sacred experience." I hypothized that both Orwell and Huxley were in fact writing a defense for Christianity. I got a D. My seventh grade english teacher marked me down for making up a word in the title, then basically told me I was wrong. She was a fundy and I think she mistakenly thought I was bashing Christians.

Reading Huxley's "Heaven and Hell" and "The Doors of Perception" at fourteen naturally led me to investigate mescaline. I knew less than nothing about hallucinogens and didn't firgure out for over a year that this and the psilocybin mushrooms I actually managed to get were in the same category as the stickers that had LSD on them that we heard about on the 700 Club. I had a friend in my first hour english class who lived on a small farm and who cultivated mushrooms in one of the barns. (his parents were hippies) I ate shrooms once or twice a week for nearly six months when I was fifteen. Then that same friend offered me some acid which freaked me out. It hadn't occurred to me that this was a bad thing, that it could be considered drug use. I had smoked pot before that but I had asked god's forgiveness. It simply hadn't occurred to me that what I had experienced on mushrooms might be sinful but I knew that LSD was cause good old buddies Pat and Ben had told me it was so and we even prayed for those caught in trap of drug addiction. I also re-submitted my Anti-Utopian paper for my sophomore english class with some minor changes in my suppositions regarding Huxley's spiritual motivations and got an A+.

Each of these people coming into my life had a profound impact on my life both individually and collectively. Individually they each made me question who and what I was in different ways. Collectively they made me question the fundamental belief systems that defined me. I love all of them dearly for their gifts but I am not always grateful.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Our responsibility in a democracy

Look, we have a responsibility as citizens of a representative democracy. We must engage each other and work together to make our community a better place on every level. Since this country was founded people the world over have sought citizenship in the United States. Well with that comes a responsibility to use that citizenship, that voice to effect change in the world around us. My family and I hover around the U.S. poverty level and yet here I am drinking coffee made with clean water, writing at the computer in my living room while no one is trying to hunt me down to kill me. We have less than most Americans and yet we have more than a lot of people the world over. The least we can do with our privaleges is to use them to better the world community.

I'm not saying we should involve ourselves in every conflict, stick our noses in everyone else's business. But after WWII we swore that we would never again allow any nation to kill off entire ethnic groups. We must live up to that commitment.

I will discuss this further later but I want to leave you with this for now:
Please write to your elected officials to tell them we have to put a stop to he Genocide in Darfur. Please do not use mass mailings, these are all to easy to make into a statistic to be ignored. It needn't be long, but it should come from you. Make phone calls, do whatever your legally entitled to do to make it clear that the American people cannot allow this to continue.

Never again my ass, we're fucking complicit

Children raped to death, a death toll of 300,000 plus in two fucking years and we get this from the Times: "Ms. Rice did not hold out much hope that the administrations strategy would accomplish a great deal. The Sudanese leaders, she said, "have learned that much of what we consider terribly wrong they can get away with."

We play world police when it suits our business interests but when it comes to genocide we can't fucking well be bothered. This is what the fucking so called
culture of life" is all about. We can occupy a country to foster so called democracy, but we had to be dragged into the weak U.N. resolution 1593 regarding the genocide in Darfur. How fucking dare we. And how dare the Jewish community remain silent while this continues.

Millions live in terror, hungry, thirsty wondering if their family will be the next to be slaughtered. When I hold my little boy I often am forced to think about the horror that has marked the end of many young lives in Darfur. I have wept uncontrollably a couple of times now for children raped to death, bodies mutilated before they are killed. It's quite hard to explain to a three year old why papa is crying for no apparent reason. We have an absolute responsibility to make this stop. If we do not we are as complicit as the janjaweed militia perpetrating this slaughter.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Women's reproductive rights is not just a women's issue

One of the first comments I made on a blog led to a misunderstanding that led a couple of people to assume I was a woman. I was subsequently led to a couple of sites that led to to more. It was an eye opening experience. Sure I had some idea that women's reproductive rights were under fire but I really had know idea how badly. Here is my problem; it was because I misspelled my name that I was led to these sites at all. Why? The comment I made combined with the belief I was a woman caused me to be directed to these sites. It shouldn't make a damn lick of difference if I have a uterus or not because this effects all of us.

I don't like abortion. Ultimately I don't think anybody really does. But there are a number of things I like even less. Girls dying or very ill after tearing themselves up inside with coathangers. (still occasionally happens) A huge influx of unwanted children who place a tremendous burden on all of society. (all generalizations have exceptions, but unwanted children are still born every day)

I know the arguments. But unfortunately the arguments don't hold up at all when applied to the real worl. Like all rhetoric they look great on paper, lets have another campaign, have a conference or two and sing songs around the fire. Mean while back in the real world babies are having babies, our prison populations are exploding and children around the world are dying of AIDS. So lets look at these arguments.

Practice safe sex stupid. Wow! I hadn't thought of that, only when I was growing up I didn't really. My dad didn't have an opinion my mom would have been keen on him expressing so he didn't really. My mom was big on abstinence only. My brother had the most meaningful advice, but we have the same mom and that colored the discourse. (he did introduce me to the idea of safe sex) My highschool health class devoted two class periods to safe sex/sex-ed, and my health teacher took a lot of heat from parents for teaching the bare minimum of the curriculum. I even signed an abstinence pledge when I was fifteen. A little late though I lost my virginity at thirteen. (thumbs up I used a condom that time) But when I repeated the experience a little more than a year later it was with a girl who said she was on the pill. She got pregnant a few months later, though not by me, lending to the belief she was lying. She said she didn't like condoms and I knew nothing about venereal diseases at the time, (my brothers talk touted condoms as birth control not protection) thankfully I didn't then nor have I ever contracted any. I'm 29 and pretty typical for my generation, what's scary is that I grew up in a comparably liberal, open community. Add to that our federal and many state governments pushing to adopt the same abstinence only education policies that mean already kids in many places all ready know even less than I did when I started having sex and more of them are having than when I was a teen. Oh and it was only after dealing with a mis-carried pregnancy when I was sixteen that I got serious about safe sex. (that's when I dropped out of highschool)

Just don't have sex. "Estimated number of young Christians in 1995 who had pledged to wait until marriage to have sex: 2,500,000 - estimated percentage who waited: 12." 2.5 million kids with a similar up-bringing to mine. 2.2 million having sex, often unprotected. I'm not certain how accurate that estimate is I got it from Harpers index (March '05 but it would go a long way to explain the figures for young, single mothers. And yet Dubbya and Co. Would have us inflict this on all of our children. I do believe that sex ed should begin at home but all to often parents whether out of moral indignation or flat denial refuse to approach the sex discussion with the understanding the very likely this child is going to engage in sexual activities at a relatively young age.

I would love nothing more than to see abortion eliminated, all STDs eradicated. I would dance for joy were all this discourse a footnote to history. But until that day we all must fight for our reproductive rights.

Some educational links:
more later...

Some links to evil men and women who hate in the name of god:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Churches I've known and loved

When I was young the Christians I was exposed to (i.e. my mom's friends) in every way I could observe at the time exemplified living according to the word of God. As I've gotten to know many of them as an adult I've found that for the most part they do in fact live according to biblical principles as well as humans are capable.

I was taught that there are in fact hypocrites, who call themselves Christian, in the church but I assumed that only happened in other peoples churches. I was also taught that; a. my relationship with God is between me and God and only he is qualified to judge me, b. love is more important than anything, even faith, and living a life of love for all is the highest possible calling c. faith, while taking a side seat to love is a critical component of living a "Godly" life d. treat others no worse than you would like to be treated.

To be clear where I am coming from. My mother is a fundy in recovery, she as she gets older lives in increasing alignment to the bible. (thus she becomes less fundy every day) My dad is an atheist with slightly agnostic leanings. Part of my independent thinking is a result of learning at a young age that I should just be me because I'm not going to please both of them. After a few years in the Methodist church my mom moved us to a talking in tongues, jumping up and down Pentecostal church. I even spent 4 years going to my churches parochial school. Then inexplicably my mom decided we would go back to the Methodist church till we could find a suitable replacement. Found out later that our minister had committed adultery causing a rift when he was driven out of the church. We soon found a non denominational, Pentecostal church. I was twelve and my mom had made me a part of the process.

I thrived at our new church. Within a few months I was old enough to join the youth group, I joined the worship and praise team and began private music theory lessons with the music minister, a PhD candidate of music theory from the Eastman school of music. (he subsequently used his work with me as part of the research for his dissertation which included a comprehensive curriculum for private music theory lessons) I made a number of new friends and soon became a part of the core in that church.

When I was thirteen I both lost my virginity, smoked pot for the first time and drank for the first time. They were isolated incidents that were not repeated for a long time but they marked the beginning of a shift in my mode of thinking. By this time I had started writing songs with the help of Dan (the music minister) and performed my original music in front of the congregation and even at six or seven conferences and youth rallies. I became firmer than ever in my zeal for the lord.

When I got to highschool I started smoking tobacco and dabbled a little more in the use of drugs. Oddly it took a little longer for me to experiment more with sex but a number of kids in my youth group were becoming sexually active. Around this time my popularity in the church began to wane. (I showed up to youth group a few times smelling like what I'd been smoking) I was asked to quit the praise and worship team and parents were a lot less keen on their daughters showing interest in me. I understood the P&W team but a number of parents dislike of me didn't make any sense, I was a part of about 35% of the kids in the youth group practicing strict abstinence.

Then the bombshell, one of the sexually active girls in the church got pregnant. When this came out all but a handful of us in the youth group ganged up in condemning her for being a whore. And at a time when this seventeen year old girl needed the love and support the Christ commands us to provide, the core of the church with few exceptions made it quite clear that she was no longer welcome in our church. Without exception everyone who was sexually active were the loudest in they're condemnation.

My entire world shattered, after using the first opportunity I'd had in several months to address the congregation (in collaboration with Dan and our youth minister Allen) to chastise them for their actions concerning Bree (the preg. One) and pleading with them to apologize to her and offer her the support she so desperately needed. (I quoted scripture and everything) I didn't even get to sing the song I was up there to sing. Instead the pastor of the church made some reference to the likelihood I was stoned and one of the deacon's actually asked me to leave the premises. Five families including the youth minister's left with me that day, Dan and his wife left the church five weeks later after he found a new job.

I do not and never have believed in a god of hate and condemnation. I do not believe in a god who sets us up for failure. I do not believe in a god who would put a little bigger bottom line and multi-million dollar ahead of the health and well being of those who actual make the profits possible. I do not believe in a god who would put those profits ahead of the health and well being of the planet he called us to steward. I do not believe in a god who would have us kill each other over what to call him and how to worship him. I'm no longer certain I believe in God at all.

The God I grew up believing in was a God of love who expected me to reflect Christ's love that others would come to know him. The God I believed in gave me support in my endeavoring to live by the word and when I failed forgave me every time. The God I believed in called the pursuit of gross wealth evil. The God I believed in would consider killing in his name an absolute abhorrance.

Between the failure's of the church and the realization that the country I learned about in school didn't exist I went off the deep end. Twelve years later I have yet to recover.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The "culture of life" really has lost it

I am dumbfounded. I feel like I am watching my country, this republic melt right in front of me. Our house majority leader sent out a veiled call to arms. Apparently because he was unable to do it legislatively he wants to see militant right wing extremists eliminate our independent judiciary. At least if that's not what he wanted he may just get it. But if Senator Cornyn's (R-TX) statement, on the senate floor no less, then he probably meant exactly what it sounded like, a call for divine retribution. There are any number of folks who would just love to be an instrument of divine retribution.
You get the idea. These are the same people, part of the very small percentage of Americans who believed it was o.k. for both our legislature and our executive branch to attempt to undermine both states rights and our third branch of government, the independent judiciary.

Our founding fathers formulated a three tiered system of checks and balances; The legislative branch to make laws, The executive branch to approve them, The judicial branch to enforce and when necessary judge the constitutionality of said laws. Judges are given lifetime tenure and rather than being elected are instead appointed by the sitting President with the approval of the legislature. The rules surrounding this process are such that appointed judges have to be accepted in part by even the minority party weighting the judiciary to the center and ensuring most of it's members will be objective and enforce the rule of law.

With Cheney only reluctantly renouncing violence against judges, it becomes increasingly clear that the neo-cons and so called culture of life would tear out an integral part of our republic, the independent judiciary. What would be left behind would make us envious of the Chinese. Tom Delay's statement is a criminal incitement, and if one judge dies in the aftermath Delay should be held culpable. But the open attacks on our independent judiciary by congress and the president are outright treasonous. God, Allah, Kali, save us all.

Tall Monkeys, what is he dreaming about

I really am quite curious what my three year old son dreams about. He just woke up and when I went to his room he downed a cup of water, then he looks at the cieling and says; How did those monkeys get so tall like that? Then he giggles (borderline maniacly) and says; Thats funny isnt it? he then fell asleep immedieatly after the second statement.

Yesterday he told his mama he was putting his privelages away in the 'frigater.

My son his mama and I live in a small section of a township that is seperated from the rest of the township by 13 miles of the city our township is derivative of. Meaning we live in a virtual cop free zone. This in turn means we have a large homeless population hanging out in our nieghborhood. When my son was 29 months old he befriended some of our homeless nieghbors who hang out in the park near our house. His initial reaction was to invite them to live in our basement. Our new friends and I quickly explained that this would not be possible and they made it clear that while they appreciated his sharing our picnic with them they all had various places to sleep and would be just fine. This seemed to satisfy him until winter set in, he was absolutly horrified that his friends might be sleeping outside in the snowing blowing cold. He had an unholy fit when I had to tell him we still could not invite our homeless friends to live in our basement. It was hard not to cry with him.

My son does not fully comprehend the meaning of the word privalage but he does understand what his privalages are. (he really dosnt like losing them) He also understands that having a roof over his head and food to eat are also privaleges, ones that not everyone has. I am indescribably proud that my son wants to share his privelages with everyone.

I have (by choice) been homeless. I dropped out of high school for what were good reasons at the time. I have made a number of very foolish choices. I am now attempting to dig myself out of the consequences of those choices, something I never intended to do before I inadvertantly procreated. Were it not for my son I would be dying of youthfull idealism and like as not homeless again.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I often find myself embarrassed to be human

I have just read U.N. Security Council resolution 1593 which refers prosecution of the "situation" in the Darfur region of Sudan to the ICC (International Criminal Court). As if referring to genocide as a "situation" wasn't bad enough the council "5. Also emphasizes the need to promote healing and reconciliation and encourages in this respect the creation of institutions, involving all sectors of Sudanese society." Anyone for kum ba yah round the campfire. Oh and their imposing sanctions, but they won't hit 'em where it really hurts because China wants Sudanese oil.

I would feel better about the Bush regime's agreement to the use of the ICC were it not for Condi's comment last week that the genocide in Darfur is "really just a horrible situation." To me it seems 300,000 dead http://www.motherjones,com/mojoblog/index.html#87 would warrant a really, really horrible coming from a member of the "culture of life." A frightening aside to this is that this is in fact the same Condoleezza Rice who may very well run on the republican presidential ballet in '08.

The people of the Darfur region of Sudan have been slaughtered and starved, there are fields so littered with human remains they cannot be traversed without crushing bones beneath ones feet. Little girls are often raped to death. Imagine this, the horror, the utter abject terror that marks the end of these precious young lives. I would apologize if I've given you a sleepless night or two but while you lay awake tonight, while your eating dinner, while your playing with your children, (if you have any) while your worrying about your bills, there are hundreds of thousands of families in Darfur who are worried about getting a little more food before they starve to death or are raped and murdered.