If You’re Not Outraged – Oh, Put a Cork In It!


Who Isn’t?

Some random thoughts.

I think being liberal/progressive means wanting to make the world better, not complaining that it isn’t, by taking care of each other. It’s more about cooperation than competition.

Most of what I see on Facebook and in liberal news sites and e-mails is all about how we have a better plan for putting things right, explanations of those plans, and examples of where we have implemented them on a smaller scale and tinkered with them until they worked the way we wanted.

I wish. No, it’s all about the worst things said by the most absurd conservatives. Admittedly, if you just focus on the environment or women’s issues, there is an excess of grist for that outrage mill. After handing these morons (I mean Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, Todd Akin, Ann Coulter, et al) megaphones, these sites then ask for money to combat this message that they are helping to spread.

Instead of feeding each other’s outrage by sharing every stupid, mean, and crazy thing the worst conservatives say, how about touting that other stuff? What accomplishments are people achieving, or what promising things are scientists doing? Or something else. Be creative. I’m tired of being outraged all the time. That bumper sticker? If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention? Well, are we going to have a revolution and do something with that outrage? Or is the outrage just an end in itself? Usually it’s just an end in itself, or is used to ask for donations. OR it’s a dog whistle to give people a reason to say, “Yeah! Those guys SUCK!” And round and round we go. Meanwhile, our energies are spent in complaining instead of in making things better.

Facebook is where people take their outrage for a walk. Everyone wants everyone else to be outraged. Who can sustain that, day in, day out? But what other reason is there for liberal sites to post every crazy thing these people say?

I don’t mind outrage, if it precedes revolution. We could use a revolution.

I have no desire for what Barbara Ehrenreich called Bright-siding. I’m half-Irish, half-German: you think I want to be CHIPPER? Fuck you. I want to make things better. There is a place for bitching. But it has become a cultural habit, An industry. If we want to prove that we are better than the other guy, parroting what they say and then condemning it, while failing to articulate our own priorities and how we’re going to get there is a waste of time.

A Warning and Plea to U.S. and World Leaders


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/03/there-is-little-hope-left-of-keeping-global-temperature-in-the-safe-zone/273860/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/03/new-hockey-stick-graph-scarier

I saw both of the above-linked articles today.

We Are Toast. Burned toast.

I still believe – though that’s all it is at this point – that we can reverse this. We have done remarkable things in the past. But we have to get on a true global war footing to do so, and we have to date shown no signs of being willing to do so. That must change now.

We think we will survive and die peacefully of old age in our beds while the bees die, the rains stop, the seas rise, the crops fail, and the wildfires rage? Some form of the world will go on without us. Life, of some form, will likely survive even this – though not the forms we love, or not many of them. What environmentalists are really fighting for is not Nature, which will survive us, but a fighting chance for human civilization to continue its journey.

Congress and the President – and the leaders of other industrialized nations, as well – Must Act Now and put us on a war footing. No compromise, no more time wasted.

Forget Keystone XL. We cannot permit that. If the government permits it, the people must prevent it.But the problem is, by all scientific accounts, so much more dire. We must be proactive. We must do more than we believe to be necessary, faster than we believe possible, because we have less time than we thought. Time’s up. We cannot delay another month.

  • We must reduce our emissions of CO2 this year, this month, in real terms, and help China, India, and the EU to do so.
  • We must begin building 4th generation nuclear plants, if we can do so responsibly and safely, decommission all coal plants, and go all in on renewable energy.
  • We must now stop and reverse the exponential growth in the population of humans.
  • We must reforest the nation and the world, beginning this year.
  • We must ground planes and park cars in significant numbers – 20%? 50%? 75%? – without any delay.

We must not wait for anything before acting. No new Earth Summit. No new studies. No economic impact studies. We may already have delayed too long. We must hope we have not. We only have the present in which to act. We are increasingly foreclosing the possibility of a future in which to act.

I do not understand: the President and Congress must have in hand facts that are even more detailed  and disturbing than the information I have linked to above, and what I heard from NASA’s Dr. James Hansen a couple of weeks ago. President Bush’s administration was vilified for ignoring the warnings of Al Qaeda flying planes into buildings. Surely President Obama is receiving dire warnings about the march of climate change. The consequences of ignoring these warnings will make 9/11 look like a minor tragedy in comparison.You and I will live to see the catastrophic effects of inaction. This is a current, not a future problem. We, not our children or grandchildren, are responsible for taking action. We Must Act. Right Now.

Humans have risen to great challenges before. We have shown an enormous capacity for courage, self-sacrifice, and vision. We have developed the capacity to see farther and deeper, and to make finer measurements, than even scientists a hundred years ago would have imagined. We must now heed the warnings that our long quest for knowledge have brought us. This is our generation’s challenge, and it is greater than any that have come before. We will either respond in a manner worthy of mythic story, or we will twiddle, while all stories and knowledge come to an end in us.

Consider what and who you love, and act with all urgency. Do not wait for others, or for permission. The decision is yours. The lives of those you love depend on what you do right now.

Urgently,

John McAndrew

[To see how to contact your elected officials, go to this link]

We Hit 7 Billion in 2011 – two years early

Fleeing Colorado Wildfires

Texas Drought of 2011

Superstorm Sandy: Not a Thrill Ride. A Disaster

Noon in Beijing. How Can We Think This Has No Consequence For the Planet?

 

Quislings, or an Aikido-Based Eco-Resistance


If we don’t act effectively and convincingly, we will be witnesses to our own oblivion. Life, the planet, and many of its species, will survive even this. Maybe even some of us will. But we are on the cusp of a great loss.

Good morning. Enjoy the beautiful planet, the snow in Northern New Mexico, the festooned trees and puffed-up birds. Life, in every case, is ephemeral, for many causes; some are preventable, some are not. We are coming face-to-face with the death within us. It has always been there, will always be there in one way or another, as with every living thing. It needn’t depress or distress us, except as grief will, for a season, and then it is a natural thing to go on with our lives and enjoy them.

But if, in your everyday life, aware of death, dying, and grief, joy, birth and happiness, you find in yourself a ferocity for a worthy, noble fight, a natural inclination toward preservation of self, family, and the landscape and creatures you love, and you have a sword near at hand, now is a good time to do battle for those things. With others if you can. Alone if you must. The odds are against winning. But most battles are undertaken under threat, without any certainty of winning, but with certainty that many in the battle will die trying.

Even with institutionalized violence against our health and our future bearing down on us, few view this as a real battle to the death. We resemble a woman in an abusive relationship who believes that this is the way the world is, and that she can redeem or reform her tormentor or die trying. Her life is being threatened: “Earl’s Gotta Die.” We’ve been colonized by corporate and governmental powers that are literally killing us and many other species, and we are trying to fine-tune the conditions of our oppression rather than seeking to liberate ourselves.

We have a right not to be harmed, and to use the amount of force – and no more – that ensures that those who mean us harm, and mean to profit from our harm, are stopped. Period.

Happy Human Rights Day.

Mom’s Christmas Legacy


People have complained about Christmas spending for years. Yet, far from addressing the problem, it seems worse than ever. Fox TV has even conflated Christmas (December 25) with the holiday shopping season, taking offense at people not calling days other than December 25 “Christmas,”  and seeing a hesitation it as an assault on the religious meaning of the holiday. The commercialization of Christmas is complete.

We have models for celebrating Christmas differently. In Spain, Christmas (December 25) is a day for family to gather and to go to religious services. Gift-giving happens in January on a day commemorating the gifts of the Magi, Dia de los Reyes. You’d think American commercial interests would be all over that idea – extending “Christmas” by two weeks? Plus they would get credit for separating the religious from the commercial observance – a win-win.

Mothers always have better ideas than advertisers. It took a national tragedy to provide my mother with the catalyst.

After the attack of September 11, 2001, our 85 year old mother spoke to my brother and me about what we were going to do for Christmas that year. She told us  that, after the terrorist attack, gift-giving didn’t feel appropriate, and she suggested an alternative.

Mom loved Christmas more than most. She loved baking Christmas cookies, decorating the house, and buying great presents for her boys and other family members. There was that one lime green sports coat – which fit perfectly, alas – but she was usually almost psychic in her ability to pick just the right thing. She wasn’t anti-consumerist at all, but she kept it in check because she was a devout Catholic and the real reason behind the holiday was never out of view for her.

But after September 11, pretty little things in pretty wrappings just seemed wrong. Maybe she intended her suggestion to be taken just for that year, but my brother and I found it so obviously right that it has persisted beyond Mom’s death 5 years ago. It is a simple, unoriginal, idea: instead of buying stuff, let’s give the money we’d have spent on gifts to a charity in each other’s name.

My brother and I have very different priorities: the charities I favor are not in keeping with his priorities, and vice versa. We decided to give to charities on which we could both agree – an exercise with its own merit, as it required a conversation to discover a thing or two on which we agreed. It turned out not to be difficult at all, and I recommend it.

We also agreed that we still enjoy getting a little something from each other for Christmas. We haven’t set a firm dollar limit on those gifts, but we keep it under $50. Jim also suggested that his son, who was in his teens at the time, be excluded from this arrangement – something on which we disagreed, but on which we found middle ground.

I recommend Mom’s idea for its many benefits. You may think of other reasons, but this is why it is so appealing to me.

  • It puts the control of the commercialization of Christmas in our own hands, not in the hands of retailers and advertisers who want a commercial Christmas.
  • It focuses gift-buying on quality and expression, not on quantity or expense.
  • It makes “Christmas” purchases tax deductible in most cases. We can double up on year-end donations by sending a favorite charity a bit more.
  • It eliminates the belief that we must accumulate more debt during Christmas if we are to “do it right.”
  • It does away with the awkward questions of Christmas: what do I give to one who has everything? What if someone gives me something but I have not bought anything for them? What if they spent more on me than I spent on them? “I give to charities for Christmas” answers all those questions, and may give others a similar idea.
  • You might feel embarrassed if you can only afford a very small gift; but who would criticize a person for giving some of what little you have to charity? We know from the New Testament story of the widow’s mite, and O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi, that generosity’s virtue is not diminished by coming from those of modest means.
  • It makes it easy to request small things for Christmas, since you don’t have to worry about seeming greedy. For example, one year I asked my brother and my nephew and his new wife for photos of themselves, so I can complete the rogues’ gallery of family portraits on my wall. This lets them know what I want, in case they were stumped, and they can control the minimal cost. It provides a way to open the discussion about which charities we are choosing for each other. And you know it won’t add a burden to their budget since they are only getting you one small thing anyway.
  • Rather than stressing about lines at the mall and getting the latest geegaw before it’s sold out, Christmas became an occasion for giving to the Tiny Tims of the world – and isn’t that what the true value of Christmas ought to be? Even for those who are not Christian?

It is a simple transition to make. It requires only a conversation with family members, most of whom will be relieved at not having to deal with “Christmas” mall mobs and glad for the chance to do good rather than buy stuff they’re not sure you want anyway.

This year I will split my donations between two charities.

The first is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Those of you who know me won’t be surprised at my continued support of this outstanding organization.

The other is Rolling Jubilee, a new organization that is raising money to buy and dispose of distressed debt. This latter is particularly appropriate during a season when so many often make purchases they cannot afford, adding to their other debt. Instead of our giving adding to our national weight of personal debt, let it be used to settle the debts of those who are struggling. If the organization does well, I would hope that in subsequent years we might begin tracking how much debt is canceled, rather than accrued, every Christmas.

I have shared this with friends over the years. One decided to buy a family tree each year, some to make sure they shop at local stores, and so on. I would be interested in hearing if you decide to adapt this to your family, and what form it takes when you do. If you need ideas for charities, see the site at Charity Navigator, which will tell you which charity in many different categories is best at spending donations on the cause, rather than on administration.

That is the story of Mom’s greatest Christmas present. She passed away five years ago, at midnight the night of December 2nd, during her favorite time of the year. I share this now, not just because it’s a great idea that deserves wider use, but as a way to honor Mom’s compassionate spirit. I miss her most around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wish you a very happy, relaxed, contented holiday season, and a very merry Christmas. God bless us, every one.

You’ve Got Spam 2!


More creative spam comments, as delivered. I swear I am not making this up. I am not nearly so creative.

In response to my first You’ve Got Spam post:

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In response to American Exceptionalism:

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In response to Voter Suppression and Intimidation in New Mexico:

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What Do Rape and Polio Have in Common?


As it turns out, God would rather have you suffer the effects of both.

In Pakistan, half the children were not vaccinated against polio due to the threats of the Taliban.

And in Indiana, the GOP candidate for US Senate, Richard Mourdock, thinks women who become pregnant as a result of a rape must bear the child, whether they want to or not, because it is a gift from God, and apparently you can’t refuse God’s gifts.

Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism.

GOD of the GOP, and a Dilemma for Indiana


Richard Mourdock is Indiana’s GOP candidate for the US Senate. He’s the one who defeated the relatively moderate Richard Lugar in the GOP primary.

He and his Democratic opponent, Joe Donnelly, are both pro-life, and both believe in allowing abortion when the life of the mother is at stake.

Where they diverge, and where Mourdock enters Todd Akin territory, is with regard to pregnancies resulting from rape. Donnelly would allow abortion in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the mother’s life, though his view on birth control – he endorses letting employers decide if a woman should have access to contraception – is as 1950’s as any Republican’s. But Mourdock is a different matter altogether. According to an article on Huffington Post,

“The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother,” said Mourdock, the Tea Party-backed state treasurer. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

If you are a woman in need of an abortion or birth control, Indiana is a tough place to be: even the Democrat seems to take his positions on women’s rights from the Ozzie and Harriet handbook.

Even the Libertarian candidate, Andrew Horning, thinks abortion decisions are best made by the state n a one size fits all manner. (Because these decisions are so cut-and-dried, so simple. But women, the poor dears…)

Mourdock wants to be sure he was not misunderstood. According to the same article,

Mourdock tried to clarify his comments soon after the debate, saying God does not intend sexual assaults.

“God creates life, and that was my point,” Mourdock said in a statement. “God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”

Well, that’s good to know, sir. But that’s all theology, and interesting as that is to discuss after dinner with cigar and snifter, it’s not the point. It’s the policy that concerns me, and presumably concerns the women of Indiana.

You are a young woman in Indiana. A college student, let’s say. You get raped. You get pregnant. You decide, like most victims of rape, not to report the crime and go through the additional trauma of dealing with the rapist and the event in court. You decide, for whatever reason, to have your rapist’s baby. You give birth. According to an article in Mother Jones, Indiana restricts the parental rights of rapists to custody and visitation . . .

but law requires rape conviction, and only applies if rape victim is a minor and adoptive child or step-child of the rapist.

If you are a minor and the rapist was not your parent or step-parent, they may get shared custody and visitation rights for the next 18 years. Actually, even if the rapist was your father or stepfather, if he was not convicted of rape, he could demand custody and visitation rights. In Indiana. In 2012. This is the law now. It can get worse.

If Mourdock is elected, the unlikely choice to have your rapist’s baby would no longer be a choice. Because you can’t be permitted to turn down a gift from God.

Democrat Donnelly is no knight in shining armor – unless you are raped. Then even a pro-lifer, who at least understands that the thought of bearing your rapist’s child is a horror flick or an Edgar Allen Poe story, will look like a hero.

The day after the election, I would love to see a breakdown by county of women voting for Donnelly or Mourdock, so I could compare it to the following map, which shows the number of abortions per county. I would like to think that more women in counties where more abortions are performed will better understand the importance of leaving that pivotal choice up to the individual woman.

 

You’ve Got Spam!


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Is Romney Like Hitler?


No. Not remotely. Not in any sense What.So.Ever.

This piece of crap was posted on Facebook today:

This shit has to stop.

Just because someone doesn’t agree with your politics does NOT – repeat, NOT – make them even remotely similar to a genocidal maniac.

Have a modicum of decency and reason. Can you imagine what people in Germany, who live with reminders of the Holocaust in their daily lives, think of idiocy like this? Or Jewish people whose family members died in the Holocaust?

The idiot who put this meme together doesn’t even know that Hitler served in the military. Moral and mental invalid. Must we prove over and over and over that we don’t have the most rudimentary grasp of even the most well known episodes of recent history? Then people re-post this crap without a moment’s reflection.

Stop it. Just stop it.

Between Pollyanna and Cassandra


Climate Change is, of course, a disaster. As such, it is easy, even reflexive, to wax apocalyptic in every observation or statement about it, or everything we share on Facebook.

Just today I saw these headlines

  • UN Warns of Looming Worldwide Food Crisis in 2013
  • Brazil Plans 60 More Dams In the Amazon
  • September 2012 Tied for the Warmest Ever Recorded
  • Food Scarcity: The Timebomb Setting Nation Against Nation
  • California Expected to Lose 100 Dairy Farms

These are important stories, and we must somehow take in this information, make sense of it and let it inform our plans for our lives. However…

It Is Critically Important to Remember  . . . that people are not often motivated to action by becoming depressed or despondent. Nor is there any use in taking refuge in fantasies or escapism. There is a middle ground between Pollyanna and Cassandra, where we can acknowledge the awful scope of the challenges before us while seeking out and joining those who are taking action to avert or reduce disaster. And we must never forget to take joy in living at the time and place we live, and with the marvelous people with whom we share the planet.

There is a quotation I cherish from Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!

The passage just preceding this one is all about his desire for “a world that produces ecstasy and not dry farts.” The Germany of the Nazis, developing as he was writing this next door in France, was a simulacrum of humanity, of the life, passion and fury that Miller craved and grieved for – as an environmentalist would grieve for an endangered species.

Louis C.K. says of our culture that “everything is amazing, and nobody is happy.”

Adlai Stevenson once said,

In classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke,’ but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march.’ Read more of this post

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