There is nothing more to this video than a piece of the world around us. I stopped for a moment yesterday and was amazed at what I found right before my feet.
The world is worthy of our wonder.
It is a time of fear in the face of freedom, a time of an emptying country and swelling cities, a time for the widening of previous roads and the opening of new paths, yet a time when these paths are mined by knowing algorithms of the all-seeing eye. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection. These are the times when maps fade, old landmarks crumble and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread. Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.
There is nothing more to this video than a piece of the world around us. I stopped for a moment yesterday and was amazed at what I found right before my feet.
The world is worthy of our wonder.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination today. By my count, that makes officially a whole buncha Republican presidential candidates so far… to be precise.
What makes Chris Christie different from all the rest? The following are the pros and cons of the Christie for President 2016 campaign;
USA Today is back, grinding out its daily “5 things you need to know” article. Here are today’s entries; according to USA Today, apparently I need to know that:
1. “N.Y. escapee is in the hospital”. I don’t need to know this. Even if I lived in New York State, I wouldn’t have needed to know this (and I did just spend a week’s time upstate while the two prison escapees were hiding out). Take a look at a map to see how large the state of New York is, and visit the U.S. Census Bureau to verify that 19.75 million people live in the state. I don’t need to feel danger when the danger is statistically ridiculous.
2. “Greek banks to remain closed”. I give USA Today a little bit of credit for this. As an American, I don’t need to know about the suffering of people in Greece due to the behavior of banking institutions. But although I don’t need to know this piece of news, it probably does my heart and brain good to think about the suffering of people socially unconnected to me.
3. “Supreme Court to issue final rulings of term”. This translates to “there are rulings the Supreme Court hasn’t made yet.” Why do I need to know this? The “news” is inaction, not action, so there’s nothing affecting my life here; the story is one of emptiness, not presence. The Supreme Court is so cloistered that I’m not going to be able to influence the decision of its members, either.
4. “Obama will host Brazil’s president”. That’s nice. I hope they serve cookies at the State Dinner and all, but I’m not invited to participate in or hear the discussions, and neither are you.
5. “Game, set, match! Wimbledon gets underway”. It’s a game with rackets on a lawn.
1 out of 5 articles in USA Today’s list qualifies here, sort of. If a newspaper is going to use the word “need” then it should actually share information that either affects a reader, or that the reader can act upon in some fashion, or both. It’s not hard to come up with 5 pieces of news that affect your life and/or that you can change. Here are my nominations:
1. “Your Representatives are Coming Home Soon. Here’s Where you Can Confront Them.”. In the summer recesses for the U.S. Congress and your state legislature, U.S. and state senators and representatives will be making visits to their home districts. You’ll see notices in your local newspaper of visits that your representatives in governments made to towns near you to listen to constituents. But those notices will largely be in the past tense. That’s because your representatives make appointments with the rich and powerful, who are informed of events, while you are kept out of the loop. But you don’t need to be. Find the websites of your U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative and state legislature here, here and here, respectively. Call your legislators’ offices and ask their staff when they’re coming to your town and how you can attend a meeting. You’d be surprised at how often you’re given the information you need to know and a chance to give a powerful politician a piece of your mind. If they decline to share that information, or if they tell you that there will be no such meetings for the public, on the other hand, now you have a useful piece of news to share in a letter to the editor of your local paper: your representative gave the kiss-off to one of “the little people.”
2. “Planning a Trip to the Nation’s Capital this Summer? Step Off the Fake Trolley and Add Your Voice to the Clamor.” Thousands and thousands of people travel to Washington, DC in the summer for some tourist fun. This can involve a cheesy megaphone-driven tour on a fake trolley, but it doesn’t need to. Why not add a bit of civic participation to your tourist experience? Here are three ways you can see DC in action while raising your voice on issues you care about. Laugh, cheer, scream. Make the noise a little louder:
3. “It’s Not Just Prisons: Three Quarters of a Million Americans are in Local Lockup.” When we think of the sky-high U.S. incarceration rate, we mostly think of people languishing in state or federal prisons. But the Bureau of Justice Statistics recently released statistics showing that on a typical day in 2014, 744,600 Americans were locked up in city and county jails. If these trends hold for 2015, then if you’re an average American, it’s a good bet that someone you’re acquainted with is going to end up in the local pokey this year, a result of the unusual decision by American politicians to starkly criminalize human behavior.
4. “If You Hate Corporations that Abuse Workers, Stop Buying Gildan Shirts”. U.S. retailers selling Gildan shirts typically make $6 or more in profit for every single shirt they sell. But in Haiti, the factory workers who make Gildan shirts are paid $6 a day for their sweat, and as a result are so poor that they can’t afford running water in homes that squeeze an entire family into a single room.
5. “It’s Not Just Gildan: Third World Factories that Make Your Stylish Clothes Endanger Children”. While sweatshop workers work hard for hardly any pay to stitch together your fashionable clothing, what happens to their children? In a report released last week, the Workers Rights Consortium shares its findings regarding child care provided by Gokaldas, a contractor making clothing for Puma, Adidas, Marks and Spencer, Columbia, Nike, Gap, H&M and Levi’s brands. WRC concludes in its report that Gokaldas disregards safety laws and thereby endangers children’s lives in the nurseries where workers’ children are placed.
In the 2012 presidential election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein wasn’t allowed to participate in the debates, but she made the news anyhow, because she got involved in the strongest liberal political movement of the time. She went to Occupy protests, and even got herself arrested through her participation in them. Stein didn’t win the election, but she was a full participant.
In 2016, Jill Stein is running for the Green Party presidential nomination again, but this time, the tone of her campaign isn’t at all the same. Take a look at the Stein campaign’s recent Twitter feed to get a taste of what she’s been up to:
Notice when Jill Stein’s last tweets were? Friday June 26 – the day when the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision that state governments do not have the constitutional right, because of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, to deprive homosexual couples of equal protection under marriage law.
Jill Stein didn’t bother to Tweet about the Supreme Court decision. Likewise, Stein has written nothing about the decision on her campaign’s Facebook page.
On the Jill Stein for President campaign site itself, the most recent piece of “news” is from a remote article, published on Friday’s about Jill Stein’s years-old demand that she be allowed to participate in debates with the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. There’s nothing at all about the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the United States.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, issued a positive statement about the Supreme Court decision right away, saying, “The Supreme Court has breathed life into the words engraved in the building’s marble pediment: ‘Equal Justice under Law.’ This decision is a victory for same-sex couples across our country as well as all those seeking to live in a nation where every citizen is afforded equal rights… For far too long our justice system has marginalized the gay community… I am very glad the court has finally caught up to the American people.”
Why should anyone become active in a movement to demand that Jill Stein be allowed into the presidential debates, when Jill Stein won’t herself become active in the politics of the country? What’s the point of getting Jill Stein into the debates, when she doesn’t even bother to fully use the opportunities for political speech that are available to her right now?
For years, right-wing preachers and political pundits like Stephen Bennett, Harold Camping, Graham Dow, John Hagee, Yehuda Levin, John Piper, Pat Robertson, Maurice Mills, Ken Crow, Michael Oard, and Ken Ham have insisted that God uses hurricanes and other weather disasters as tools of divine judgment against homosexual sin.
Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage must be legally allowed across the entire United States.
We’re in hurricane season right now.
Where are the hurricanes? Well, here’s a report from the Delaware County Daily Times of Pennyslvania:
Did you hear that? Hurricane-force winds! There’s been a hurricane! In Pennsylvania! And… oh, wait, there’s more.
Oh, it was one of those metaphors. No hurricane in Pennsylvania. Well, looking on, here’s another report of an anti-gay hurricane judgment of doom at LocalMemphis.com:
“At the center of a very big hurricane!” A gay couple! In Memphis, Tennessee! But wait again…
Curses, another metaphor. No hurricane in Memphis.
As a matter of fact, if we check the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center reporting page, we see something that might be surprising to the fundamentalist weather forecasters:
There’s a bit of storm activity around Cuba, but Cuba is one of the diminishing number of countries where marriage is banned.
Why, it’s almost as if God is… is… very happy.
“Reporter” Todd Starnes of FOX News has issued his prediction for the fallout from yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that because of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, conservative Christians can’t continue to prevent other people from exercising their own freedom to marry:
This statement says more about Todd Starnes than it does about the reality of the situation. Just as churches have maintained the absolute right to refuse to perform inter-faith weddings or inter-racial weddings (yes, refusals to perform inter-racial weddings still happen in American churches), so too they will maintain the absolute right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings if they choose. As for pastors being charged with hate crimes for preaching from the Bible, I can’t find a single report of this. Finally, if “all dissent is to be silenced by the government,” how did Todd Starnes’ column slip by the censors?
No, Starnes isn’t speaking from a perspective of objective reality. But he is speaking from a perspective of personal psychological reality. In his personal psychological world, Starnes holds on to a cherished reality in which his personal beliefs can and should be used as a basis to keep others from living their lives as they’d like. Starnes has lived for 47 years inside the bubble of this particular personal reality, and so he seemingly can’t imagine that, once unshackled, the people who’s freedom he’s strained to squash won’t try to squash him right back. Starnes can’t or won’t see the possibility of living his life freely and letting others live their lives freely too. Starnes can’t see the other way of living that the marriage equality movement has successfully forged.
Of course, I live inside my own perception of reality, too. I could be deluded. Todd Starnes could be right. We’ll see who’s right. Let’s check back in six months and see whether pastors who refuse to perform gay marriages or preach from the Bible are charged with a crime. Let’s check back in six months and see whether all dissent has been silenced by the government.
What do you think we’ll find in six months’ time?
Jennifer LeClaire, author of the book Satan’s Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft, is warning American Christians that militant atheists are waging “all out war”. She writes that Christians are coming “under fire” in these attacks.
The number of victims is not yet known, but LeClaire’s report sounds pretty bloody. All out war, after all, involves unrestrained violent rampages across the countryside, with violent seiges using guns, bombs, flying killer drones, amphibious assault vehicles, exploding rockets, and even hand-to-hand combat.
Just what has gotten into atheists these days, to make them become so combative, with this hateful warfare against anyone who disagrees with them?
Hold on… wait a minute…
The tactics of all out war that Jennifer LeClaire accuses atheists of inflicting upon American Christians are actually just restricted to this: Putting a letter in the mail.
The letter was sent by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to a county judge in Warren, Arkansas, where a flag representing the evangelical Christian “Appeal To Heaven” movement has been placed on the flag pole atop the Bradley County Courthouse. The letter asks for “assurances” that the flag will be taken down out respect for the separation of church and state.
Does a letter asking for assurances count as all out war?
After the Supreme Court decision yesterday, ruling that same-sex couples have the right to equality in the administration of marriage laws, a little group of right wing protesters ran over to the steps of the high court to show just how many people are determined to stop gays and lesbians from getting married. They held up a banner reading, “One Man, One Woman”.
Actually, I see two men, four women, and one person of indeterminate gender (and tight jeans) hiding his or her face.
If these anti-equality bigots can’t even get their numbers straight, why should we listen to their rantings about family life?
Count, Christian Soldiers. Count.
My long-term gardening plan where I live in Maine is simple in the abstract: let the woods grow in from the edges over time and find something other than grass in the middle.
As always in a garden, concrete reality becomes more complicated.
I’ve got dogs. Big dogs. Digging dogs. These big digging dogs have their favorite spaces to dig big holes, and it seems no matter how promptly I fill these holes up, the dogs will dig them back out again. I’m reasonably comfortable with chaos, but my patience has its limits, and I’m trying to figure out how to reclaim these spots.
This year, I’m trying out sunflower seeds. They germinate quickly and they grow quickly. My hope is that if something’s there, the dogs will be flummoxed and fail to dig. That’s my hope. Reality may be more complicated. When I went to snap this photo, my dogs followed me right to the spot and, seeing my attention to that spot, decided to roll in it. There’s always a surprise in the garden.
What are you hoping for this year in your garden? What have been your surprises?
“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” Huckabee said.
What Huckabee could not say was what exactly the Obgerfell v. Hodges decision would force him to acquiesce to.
The Supreme Court decision doesn’t require anybody to do anything except to stop discriminating against other people. The decision doesn’t require heterosexuals to get married to homosexuals. It doesn’t require heterosexual marriages to break up. It doesn’t even require bigoted priests to show some humanity and officiate at same-sex wedding ceremonies.
All that today’s Supreme Court decision requires is for state and local government officials in the minority of states that still have failed to pass marriage equality laws to stop denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Mike Huckabee couldn’t acquiesce to the Obgerfell v. Hodges decision if he wanted to. Really, how exactly does Huckabee expect to demonstrate his refusal to acquiesce – by stubbornly closing his eyes whenever someone he thinks might be gay enters the room?
Huckabee calls the Obgerfell v. Hodges decision “tyranny”, but tyranny is a condition of government under which people suffer terribly under rulers who refuse to recognize their right to live in freedom. Where is the suffering resulting from the Supreme Court decision? Where is the loss of freedom?
As I write this, I am sitting at a restaurant in Chicago’s Ohare airport. There are hundreds of people sitting next to me, or walking by. I don’t see in agony. It’s a perfectly peaceful and ordinary scene.
Look over there: It’s two men sitting at a table together. Maybe they’re gay, maybe they’re just traveling together. They don’t look upset.
I see two heterosexual couples – maybe romantically linked, maybe just friends – who are eating their lunches without sobbing, or shrieking in agony.
Oh, but then there’s that man, eating alone. Did his wife just leave him, because she heard that she can finally get married to her lesbian lover? It doesn’t seem so. He isn’t giving any signs of emotional suffering. He’s probably just traveling alone. Besides, if he really did have a marriage that was held together only by a state-level prohibition of lesbian weddings, you couldn’t really blame the Supreme Court for the breakup of his marriage, could you?
No one is suffering. Freedom in the USA has been increased today, not decreased. No tyranny has resulted from the Obgerfell v. Hodges decision. Mike Huckabee is just plain wrong when he claims that it has.
Huckabee is also showing astonishing stupidity by suggesting that his persistence in trying to deprive gays and lesbians of equality in the United States is morally equivalent to the American Revolution. In 1776, Americans were not fighting to preserve injustice and inequality. The British monarchy was not trying to impose new liberties upon the American colonies. It was the other way around.
If there is any historical parallel between Mike Huckabee’s homophobic tirades and the events of 1776, it would have to place Huckabee on the side of the redcoats, not the American patriots. Huckabee is trying to squash back the progress of American freedom. He’s decided that people who aren’t like him don’t deserve equality under the law.
We should be grateful that the Constitution has other ideas, and prohibits inequality under the law in the Fourteenth Amendment, saying that no state government has the power to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Mike Huckabee isn’t just on the wrong side of history. He lacks the basic intelligence to distinguish history from his small-minded fantasies of right wing Christian theocracy.
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