Saturday, December 16, 2006

On privilege and empathy

Recently I've been checking out the web site of the Diocese of New Hampshire--that's the Diocese where the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson is bishop, and I recently started reading his biography. Well, today I discovered and downloaded a PDF of the most recent diocesan newsletter, and was really impressed by one of the article in it, called The Consequences of the Death of Empathy, by Robert Jenson. I wanted to share it, and hoped to find a non-PDF version. When I did a search, I found it at Counterpunch. I also found that it was published there way back in October. So maybe some of you have seen it already, but I'm guessing a lot of you, like myself, will be seeing it for the first time...

Too many people with privileges of various kinds -- based on race or gender, economic status or citizenship in a powerful country -- go to great lengths not to know, to stay unaware of the reality of how so many live without our privilege. But even when we do learn, it's clear that information alone doesn't always lead to the needed political action. For that, we desperately need empathy, the capacity to understand the experiences -- especially the suffering -- of others.

Too often in this country, privilege undermines that capacity for empathy, limiting the possibilities for solidarity. Two examples from my recent experience brought this home for me.

Click here to continue reading.

Alternate link for comments

Hell really DOES freeze over

This made me smile, so I wanted to share it. No other reason. This post is not meant to be deep, or ponder the big questions about the nature and existence of an afterlife that may or may not exist. I just thought it was funny, and, frankly, I think we need more laughter these days. I saw a post on the Flying Spaghetti Monster web site entitled "On going to hell"

I am becoming increasingly confused when I keep reading the comments many people leave on your website saying that we are all going to go to Hell. While their offers are quite generous, I’m a bit hazy on the details. Will they be supplying us with airfare and accommodations? Will a rental car be provided, or will we be left to our own devices once we arrive? And most importantly, in my mind, is the issue of adequate clothing to protect us from the often bitter cold.
The post included a link to this Wikipedia page about Hell, Norway

Hell is a small village in Stjørdal, Norway with a population of 352. It has become a minor tourist attraction because of its name: people like to take the train there to get photographed in front of the station sign. What was possibly Norway's most popular postcard, at least among English-speaking tourists, showed the station with a heavy frost on the ground—Hell frozen over in fact, though there was no caption to make the point.
Click here for the rest. My favorite line: Temperatures in Hell can reach -20°C during winter.

At least it's safer to discuss in polite company than that town in Austria. ;)

Crossposted at Daily Kos.

Alternate link for comments

Happy Holidays!

Alternate link to comments

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holy Night

Demetrius created a new design today, which you can see here

In searching for readings to reflect upon each evening of Advent, I've been reading some of the Christas Eve services and sermons that have been used at our local Unitarian Universalist church. The following is a song from Christmas Eve 2004

Each night a child is born
is a holy night.
A time of singing, a time for wondering.
A time for worshipping. Each night a child is born,
is a holy night.

For so the children come and so they have been
coming. Always in the same way they come,
born of the seed of a man and woman.
No angels herald their beginnings,
No prophets predict their future courses.
No magi see a star to show where to find
the babe that will teach humankind.
Yet each night a child is born is a holy night.
Fathers and mothers sitting beside their children’s cribs feel glory in the sight of a new
life beginning.
They ask “Where and how will this new life end?
Or will it ever end?”

Each night a child is born
is a holy night.
A time of singing, a time for wondering.
A time for worshipping. Each night a child is born,
is a holy night.

Alternate link for comments

Atlanta Zoo panda baby has a name

From the Lun Lun and cub updates at the Atlanta Zoo web site:

Her name is Mei Lan!

Cub watchers of Atlanta, and voters around the world. In case you somehow missed all the pomp and celebration surrounding today's 100 Day Naming Ceremony here at Zoo Atlanta, our cub has been christened "Mei Lan," which roughly translates to "Atlanta Beauty."
Click here for more, and here to see the Atlanta Zoo's photo gallery of Lun Lun and Mei Lan.

Alternate link for comments

We "otter" smile more

Via Cute Overload, I discovered the Cute Otters site. I love this picture:

I found it after looking at a number of different sites looking for something meaningful to post about. Something hopeful. Eventually I came upon this web site, and this picture. And I thought, hang it all, somebody else can keep on top of the important issues of the day in these last weeks of 2006. I don't wanna. If I post, it's going to be things that make me smile. And otters make me smile. Just look at 'em. Cute, and even kinda zen looking. At peace with the world--at least at this moment in time.

Y'all are welcome to post important news items of the day, if you come across any that may be of interest to the community. And I'll keep reposting the link to Rene's candle page as long as Thankful and her family wish.

Hope everyone is having a lovely Friday.

Alternate link for comments

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Light a candle for Senator Tim Johnson and family

Here's a Yahoo news article about Senator Tim Johnson's surgery. With the amount of speculation and news coverage of the potential *political* implications of his illness, I felt it was important to set up this virtual candle page for Senator Johnson and his family, to let them know we wish them well and are holding them in the light.

(And here's the link to Rene's candle page again.)

Alternate link for comments

Thursday evening links

Click here for Rene's candle page

George Lakoff on the Narrative of a Democratic Realignment

John McCain wants to shut us down

Johnson having "uncomplicated post-operative course." No further surgery needed.

Just how bad a President is George W Bush? (from the London Telegraph)

Laura Bush blames the media: “I’d like to see the media get a little bit more balanced “

Bush seeking $100B in emergency funds for Iraq

Latina High School Student: “What Rights Do I Have?”

From floridagal, in the comments...

Here's a video of Howard Dean speaking to Democrats Abroad when they went to Australia last year. Looks like a very good time was had by all there. Speaks about 20 minutes, answers questions to much applause for about 20 minutes more.
Alternate link for comments

Has "The Decider" already decided to send more troops?

Via Git out the shovel at Firedoglake which discusses Tony Snow's recent press conference:

"Q Is it possible that the President does not want to announce the deployment of thousands of more U.S. troops to Iraq before the holidays?

"MR. SNOW: No, it has nothing to do with that. Cynical, but false. . . .
Alternate link for comments

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Please use this thread to share your favorite holiday cookie recipes.

Alternate link for comments

Out of the mouths of babes

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

P.S. Click here for Rene's candle page

Alternate link for comments

Ciro Rodriguez Wins

Via Firedoglake, Chalk up another "W" in the progressive column

Ciro is a true pro-labor, pro-choice progressive and having him in the House again is wonderful. We raised a lot of money this year on his behalf and thanks to everyone who answered the recent call to phone bank for him.

And, it must be said, thanks to the DCCC who went in and used their resources to pull Ciro through. It's one more kick in the nads to Tom DeLay and his redistricting scheme, which makes it an extra delight.
Alternate link for comments

Cynthia McKinney's Full Remarks on Bush Impeachment Bill

I haven't seen much discussion of this, but having found Cynthia McKinney's full statement on Democratic Underground, I thought it was worth posting.

Mr. Speaker:

I come before this body today as a proud American and as a servant of the American people, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Throughout my tenure, I've always tried to speak the truth. It's that commitment that brings me here today.

We have a President who has misgoverned and a Congress that has refused to hold him accountable. It is a grave situation and I believe the stakes for our country are high.

No American is above the law, and if we allow a President to violate, at the most basic and fundamental level, the trust of the people and then continue to govern, without a process for holding him accountable, what does that say about our commitment to the truth? To the Constitution? To our democracy?

The trust of the American people has been broken. And a process must be undertaken to repair this trust. This process must begin with honesty and accountability.

Leading up to our invasion of Iraq, the American people supported this Administration's actions because they believed in our President. They believed he was acting in good faith. They believed that American laws and American values would be respected. That in the weightiness of everything being considered, two values were rock solid: trust and truth.

From mushroom clouds to African yellow cake to aluminum tubes, the American people and this Congress were not presented the facts, but rather were presented a string of untruths, to justify the invasion of Iraq.

President Bush, along with Vice President Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Rice, portrayed to the Congress and to the American people that Iraq represented an imminent threat, culminating with President Bush's claim that Iraq was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon. Having used false fear to buy consent, the President then took our country to war.

This has grave consequences for the health of our democracy, for our standing with our allies, and most of all, for the lives of our men and women in the military and their families--who have been asked to make sacrifices--including the ultimate sacrifice--to keep us safe.

Just as we expect our leaders to be truthful, we expect them to abide by the law and respect our courts and judges. Here again, the President failed the American people.

When President Bush signed an executive order authorizing unlawful spying on American citizens, he circumvented the courts, the law, and he violated the separation of powers provided by the Constitution. Once the program was revealed, he then tried to hide the scope of his offense from the American people by making contradictory, untrue statements.

President George W. Bush has failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; he has failed to ensure that senior members of his administration do the same; and he has betrayed the trust of the American people.

With a heavy heart and in the deepest spirit of patriotism, I exercise my duty and responsibility to speak truthfully about what is before us. To shy away from this responsibility would be easier. But I have not been one to travel the easy road. I believe in this country, and in the power of our democracy. I feel the steely conviction of one who will not let the country I love descend into shame; for the fabric of our democracy is at stake.

Some will call this a partisan vendetta, others will say this is an unimportant distraction to the plans of the incoming Congress. But this is not about political gamesmanship.

I am not willing to put any political party before my principles.

This, instead, is about beginning the long road back to regaining the high standards of truth and democracy upon which our great country was founded.

Mr. Speaker:

Under the standards set by the United States Constitution, President Bush, along with Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Rice, should be subject to the process of impeachment, and I have filed H. Res.1106 in the House of Representatives.

To my fellow Americans, as I leave this Congress, it is in your hands to hold your representatives accountable, and to show those with the courage to stand for what is right, that they do not stand alone.

Thank you.
Alternate link for comments

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday night open thread

Last night, I noted the following in a thread at Firedoglake about the latest evangelical minister to step down after admitting to affairs with other men.

I have recently started reading Going to Heaven: The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson the recently published biography of the Bishop of New Hampshire. His view of God stands in such stark contrast to what we see in these self-hating closeted gay preachers. Something definitely went right in his upbringing.
Oh, update on the "disgraced minister" story. John Amato of Crooks and Liars wonders if it was the soy that made him gay. We discussed soy in the comments of the previous thread. Just to clear things up...

Soy sauce is fine. Unlike soy milk, it's perfectly safe because it's fermented, which changes its molecular structure. Miso, natto and tempeh are also OK, but avoid tofu.

My thoughts? Trying to deny who you are is not healthy. And, as much as I see Gene Robinson vilified, he strikes me as a much better representation of God's love for all people than those who attack him. And, he's just cool. I mean, there's a guy who really knows where his towel is.

The picture below is from his consecration. His partner, Mark Andrew, is presenting him with his mitre (bishop hat).

In other news, puddle has some new posts up at her blog, including a picture of her with Edwin, which David A. Stevenson just sent her.

Click here for Rene's candle page.

What else is going on this rainy evening?

Alternate link for comments

The "true on the inside" story of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Click here for Rene's candle page

December 12 is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here's a news story from the Houston Chronicle about today's festivities: Mexicans gather to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe on annual holiday. I've posted about it on my Religious Left Blog, and crossposted at Daily Kos, Booman Tribune, and Street Prophets.

Alternate link for comments

Group seeks probe of evangelical military video

I just read about the Christian Embassy in this post on Crooks and Liars. In that post, you can find a link to the video which is mentioned in this Reuters news story, Group seeks probe of evangelical military video.

A watchdog group that promotes religious freedom in the U.S. military accused senior officers on Monday using their rank and influence to coerce soldiers and airmen into adopting evangelical Christianity.

Such proselytizing, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has created a core of "radical" Christians within the U.S. armed forces and
Pentagon who punish those who do not accept evangelical beliefs by stalling their careers.

"It's egregious beyond the pale," said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "We apparently have a radicalized, evangelical Christian Pentagon within the rest of the Pentagon."
See also the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's website and blog. Weinstein is the author of With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military.

Alternate link for comments

Fitzmas Update

Been a while since we heard anything about Patrick Fitzgerald and the Scooter Libby case, but there seems to be some action now. Via a Kos diary by seesdifferent, entitled Scooter's graymail defense fails...

When last we left the Scooter, he and his vaunted defense team were trying to foist the dreaded "greymail" defense on Judge Reggie Walton. Briefly, "greymail" is light "blackmail." The defendant claims that in order to present a defense, he must disclose the ubiquitous "classified information." Since the court obviously can't have our valuable classified information disclosed, the case get dismissed. Clever, yes?

Now, in the other corner, weighing in at heartstopping 6-1, 205 pounds, is the light heavy weight champion of government litagation and master of the all the women he surveys, Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Well, the black hats and the Mighty Fitz have been mixin it up for many months, submittin and rebuttin and filin and all that stuff. Judge Walton opined that Scooter had to get SOMETHING....But, in the tenth and final round, Fitz submitted a laundry list of substitutions and redactions that he felt would fill the bill of allowing Scooter to plead "I was busy", yet would not be classified.
See also looseheadprop's post, No Greymail For You, over at Firedoglake, where commenters are once again breaking out the Fitzmas carols.

Graphic courtesy of Political Humor.

Alternate link for comments

Monday, December 11, 2006

Breaking: Jonathan Swift advocates baby eating

After seeing it mentioned on a couple of different blogs, I just watched the Beat the Press video on political blogging. See Joke "all MyDD bloggers are really Jerome" post suckers MSM for the story.

So Carroll got suckered by something that (1) is obviously a joke, and (2) could easily have been verified as such had Carroll bothered to undertake the most cursory investigation, which led to Carroll's falsely accusing Armstrong of gross deception. And what sticks in my personal craw is that Carroll then used that false accusation as the lead-in to a quote from me which, in its original context, had nothing to do with the Armstrong story. Armstrong was never mentioned in the interview with me; what I was responding to was a question about whether secret blogging-for-dollars in general gives blogging a bad name. What I said, and what I believe is true, is that astroturfing and other forms of fake blogging (like the Charlie Bass incident up in NH) usually get sniffed out pretty quickly. But the way my quote was used, it looked as though I was excusing Armstrong's (nonexistent) bad conduct by saying it's no big deal because it'll all come out in the wash. Not so -- I disapprove of astroturfing, and I said so in parts of the interview that ended up on the cutting room floor.
Here's a direct link to the satirical post that was quoted in the piece.

By the way, if you watch the video, they flash the name of our own Aldon Hynes as a blogger who received money from the Lamont campaign. Aldon addresses the issue here.

The thing is, John Carroll is apparently somebody who should know better.
John Carroll is currently an Assistant Professor of Mass Communications at Boston University. Prior to signing on with BU, Carroll was the executive producer for Greater Boston. Previously John was a commentator for WBUR-FM, as well as Public Radio International's Marketplace, and National Public Radio's On the Media. As a freelance writer on advertising, John has been an advertising columnist for The Boston Globe and Adweek and was a commentator for National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His advertising career included work at William Filene's Sons, where he was a copy chief, KK&M Advertising, where he was a senior vice president and creative director, and Carroll Creative, an advertising consulting firm he founded.

During his years with Greater Boston, John was awarded the prestigious local and national Edward R. Murrow awards for Writing, in addition to a series of New England Emmy Awards in both the News Writing and Commentary/Editorial categories. He shared the 2005 National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism with Emily Rooney.
So, this isn't Fox News we're talking about. We're talking about a journalist who, had he been around in the 1700s, would hopefully have had the good sense not to report on the "shocking" story that Jonathan Swift was advocating the eating of babies as a solution to poverty.

From the post at Crooks and Liars, where I got the link to the video"

Via Kos: Ask Carroll directly how he plans on holding himself accountable, given how accountable he and his ilk supposedly are. Be polite.
And, someone has probably mentioned this already, but it seems like this story would be a good one to mention to the people at Countdown on MSNBC.

Update: There's a new post on this at Crooks and Liars: Questions for Carroll

Another update: The Greater Boston blog now has posted a correction, adding that We will run a correction on tonight’s program (Dec. 11), and discuss the story on Friday’s “Beat The Press.”

Alternate link for comments

Happy Monday

Happy Monday. Here are some links that might be of interest...

The bubble boy in the Oval Office
Try to mend Iraq all you want; just don't tell Bush the war was a mistake.

Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes

Report on the so-called "War on Christmas from the Wall of Separation, the blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Making A List And Checking It Twice: Falwell Knows Who’s Naughty And Nice

From Subway:

Just a reminder that I'm mailing out "Love Songs From Ground Zero" either tomorrow or Wednesday (Depending on a doctor's appointment) so if you'd like one or more of the CD's before Christmas, please let me know.
Click here for Rene's candle page.

Alternate link for comments

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tom Delay has a blog

I saw a link to it on Crooks and Liars. Just read the "about" blurb to Demetrius (emphasis mine)...

The importance of the blogosphere in shaping and motivating the current conservative movement is unquestionable- not only has it served as an important tool in breaking through the liberal MSM clutter but it has helped to keep our elected officials true to principle.
Demetrius commented, "Notice they didn't say *honest*."

Okay, now I've soiled the blog with the ickiness that is Tom Delay. How to take the curse off now?

How about this, from Stuff on My Cat...

Alternate link for comments

Today is Human Rights Day

Today is UN Human Rights Day. When I mentioned this in the comments of the last thread, Holly commented that it was cool to find out that her birthday was Human Rights Day. So a very happy birthday to Holly!

On the subject of candles, here's that link to Rene's candle page again. In the last thread, puddle wrote:
I just talked to Thankful, she sez to tell you she's internets deprived, but wanted you all to know she showed Rene the candle site, and he was really moved, kept saying Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Very thankful family Thankful comes from! She came by her name honestly, lol!
puddle | Homepage | 12.10.06 - 12:09 am
Anyway, since Human Rights Day *is* a UN thing, this seems like an appropriate place to post the UN Millennium Development Goals:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

I encourage everyone to read more about the goals, and do what you can to support them. And I will leave you with part of a sermon by Desmond Tutu:

And, God says, God says, "Yes, I do have a dream. Like, Martin Luther King, Jr." God says, "I, too, have a dream. I dream that my children one day will discover that they are family."

Now, that, actually, is not sentimental. It's one of the most radical things that Jesus ever uttered: "They are family." Family, you don't choose your relatives. Sometimes you wish you could. Family: a gift from God to you. And you: a gift to them from God.

And, in this family, there are no outsiders. Just all, all… all belong. It's an incredibly radical thing. All, all, all. You see, when Jesus spoke about… "If I be lifted up, I will draw…" he didn't say I will draw some. He didn't say I will draw some. He said, "I will draw all, all into this incredible divine embrace of love." All. Beautiful, not so beautiful. Tall; stumpy, like me. … Rich, poor, white, black, red. All, all, all, all. All belong. All. All. Gay, lesbian, so-called straight, all. [Laughter and applause.] All, all. All. All. [Applause.] All. All. All. All. All. Sharon, Arafat, all. Roman Catholic, Protestant in Northern Ireland. All. All. Bush, bin Laden. All. It's quite serious because, you see, God has no enemies.

Secondly, my enemy is not God's enemy. That's incredible: That we are family. And, if we are family, we are not doing our sisters and brothers a favor when we help them out of their poverty. The ethic of family: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. If we are family, how the heck do we justify spending as much as we do on what we call defense budgets? Budgets of death and destruction. [Applause.] When we know, we know full well that a minute fraction of those budgets would ensure that our sisters and brothers, those people out there, would have clean water to drink, would have enough food to eat, would have a decent education and health care, would have a safe environment in which to live. It's our sisters and brothers out there in those refugee camps. Those are not statistics. It is the mother of someone. It is the child of someone. Loved. And this God that we worship says, "I have no one, except you, to help me realize my dream."
You're family too, Oscar, so please come back to visit as time permits. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, you don't get to choose your family. And God never said it was going to be easy.

Alternate link for comments