Saturday, December 17, 2016
Friday, December 16, 2016
Many people all over the world have been horrified by the carnage in East Aleppo over the past days, weeks and months. Your blogmaster has been trying to witness, posting as much as possible to Facebook from the BBC's coverage. It's so little and I feel so helpless. Apparently, a great many other folks also feel helpless, but there are things to do:
- Sign this petition to Pres. Obama and other world leaders: World leaders: Please act to save our lives in Aleppo
- Contribute to one or more of these Organizations Working in Syria and Assisting Syrian Refugees
- Read this article from The Independent - Five things you can do to help Aleppo
- read this article from World Vision - Syrian refugee crisis FAQ: What you need to know
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The US political and media establishment is in a state of mounting frenzy over alleged Russian interference in the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The source of what has been called a “swell” of “circumstantial evidence” is the CIA, an agency which has been known to interfere with an election or two itself, and isn’t really a paragon of honesty.
And what exactly are the claims made by these Putin-did-it stories? That were it not for Russian chicanery, Hillary Clinton would have won the popular vote by five million and not almost three million? That displaced machinists on the banks of Lake Erie were so incensed by the Podesta emails that they voted for Trump instead of Clinton? That Putin was pulling FBI director James Comey’s strings in his investigation of the Clinton emails? That those scheming Russians were clever enough to hack into voting machines but not clever enough to cover their tracks?
It’s strangely reminiscent of the days of the Red scare, minus the Reds.
Each of those questions opens up an interesting line of inquiry. Though it’s not gone unremarked upon, the fact that the loser of the popular vote has won the election for the second time in 16 years is an entirely home-grown disgrace. It would be nice if we spent at least as much time talking about how the electoral college, a bizarre institution originally designed to protect the power of slaveholders, perverts democracy. But it is widely considered an immutable feature of our political system.
Julian Assange denies that the Russian government was the source of the hacked emails to and from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta that WikiLeaks published. Of course, there’s no way of knowing if he’s telling the truth – but regardless of their source, how much influence did they have on the election outcome?
We can never know, but it sure seems like only a handful of connoisseurs read through them. And those who did discovered precisely how cynical and empty the Clinton operation was, like the moment where campaign manager Robby Mook asks Podesta and several other senior operatives “where we landed exactly on trade. Is she going to say she supports it?” (“it” presumably being the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton supported as secretary of state but came to oppose for electoral reasons).
The displaced machinists in the industrial midwest, whose votes helped put Trump in the White House, believe that free trade deals are responsible for their economic woes and they never trusted Clinton’s turn against the TPP. But that was Clinton’s campaign for you, bereft of principle and pathologically concerned with “optics” at the expense of substance.
They were so confident of their inevitable victory that they wrote off the old industrial states in favor of luring upscale suburbanites who normally vote Republican. They hoped they would be so revolted by Trump that they would vote for her, but they didn’t.
The president-elect claims he will be leaving his business interests ‘in total’, but the Trump Organization still stands to cross paths with the US government on multiple fronts
It’s easy to blame the FBI for the trouble that the private email server scandal caused the Clinton campaign, but the decision to set that up was hers and no one else’s. It was entirely consistent with her long history of secrecy, of trying to evade public scrutiny for her actions, one of the reasons that so many people dislike her.
Of course there are questions about our voting machines. The American balloting system is a chaotic mess, with an array of state and local authorities conducting elections under a vast variety of rules using technologies ranging from old-fashioned paper ballots to sleek touch-screen devices.
The former take forever to count, and the latter are unauditable – we can have no idea whether the counts are accurate. The whole system is a perfect example of a quote attributed (probably falsely) to Joseph Stalin: “The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” It’s not a system that inspires trust, but we barely discuss that.
It’s probably a near-universal feature of human psychology that it’s easier to blame others for our problems than look inward for their origins. Democrats would rather point to shady foreign operators than think about why Clinton will not be the one taking the oath on 20 January.
The establishment Republicans who’ve joined the bandwagon demanding inquiries into Russian interference apparently prefer that, too. It’s better than figuring out how their party nominated a volatile loose cannon who will become president in a little more than a month.
And Americans across the political spectrum are happy to use Putin to distract them from reflecting on how baseless our self-image as the world’s greatest democracy is. But as with many psychological defenses, these sorts of evasions are very damaging to long-term health..
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
On this date in 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in Connecticut. Twenty-eight people, including the gunman, were killed.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence reports: "Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, six states have taken action to enact strong, common sense laws. Today eight states have expanded Brady background checks to cover all gun sales." But, as these figures suggest, gun laws differ wildly from state to state. As with most such legal patchworks, the vulnerable suffer,. "...it is a fact that those with weaker gun laws on average lead to more gun deaths."
Fire arms laws and regulations need to be uniform across the country and gun safety must be the top priority for those who own them. The Brady Campaign has had noteable successes since its inception in 1981; Yet by its reckoning,some 32,000 people are killed by fire arms every year in this country, an average of 31 every day. That is unacceptable., not to say unsustainable.. Pro-life (sik) campaigners use the term "culture of death." The gun culture is the true culture of death. It must be changed or we won't have to worry about neuclear bombs - we'll all shoot each other instead.
Posted by Catreona at 1:00:00 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Saint Lucy's Prayer:
Saint Lucy, you did not hide your light under a basket, but let it shine for the whole world, for all the centuries to see. We may not suffer torture in our lives the way you did, but we are still called to let the light of our Christianity illumine our daily lives. Please help us to have the courage to bring our Christianity into our work, our recreation, our relationships, our conversation -- every corner of our day. Amen
Tradition tells us that St. Lucy often wore a crown of candles in order to have her hands free as she worked to succor and assist Christians in the Catacombs. As she carried her light with love, balance and grace dispelling the darkness of oppression and despair, let us as Progressives bring our light into the coming year with love and nonviolence but also with rock-solid conviction and set it against the gathering darkness of bigotry, hatred and self-serving greed.
Monday, December 12, 2016
Visit Code Pink to learn about the Peace Ball and other activities planned for January 19, 20 and 21, 2017 to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Love, Rise, Resist!