Category Archives: politics

Hallelujah, Mr. President

“As we speak, around the world, we see faith inspiring people to lift up one another — to feed the hungry and care for the poor, and comfort the afflicted and make peace where there is strife. We heard the good work that Sister has done in Philadelphia, and the incredible work that Dr. Brantly and his colleagues have done. We see faith driving us to do right.

But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation.

So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try. And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.


“And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends. And here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.

There’s wisdom in our founders writing in those documents that help found this nation the notion of freedom of religion, because they understood the need for humility. They also understood the need to uphold freedom of speech, that there was a connection between freedom of speech and freedom of religion. For to infringe on one right under the pretext of protecting another is a betrayal of both.

But part of humility is also recognizing in modern, complicated, diverse societies, the functioning of these rights, the concern for the protection of these rights calls for each of us to exercise civility and restraint and judgment. And if, in fact, we defend the legal right of a person to insult another’s religion, we’re equally obligated to use our free speech to condemn such insults and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with religious communities, particularly religious minorities who are the targets of such attacks. Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean the rest of us shouldn’t question those who would insult others in the name of free speech. Because we know that our nations are stronger when people of all faiths feel that they are welcome, that they, too, are full and equal members of our countries.”

(the entirety of the President’s remarks)


Unfortunately, it comes to no surprise that in a 5 page long speech, the so-called Christian conservative pundits so-often featured on Faux News centered a week’s worth of outrage on two sentances taken entirely out of context…

It is unfortunate that such close-minded and close-hearted individuals are so lacking in integrity and intellectual honesty. It is even more unfortunate that so many buy their crap. Putting your head in the sand regarding one’s own history when pointing out the atrocitites of others makes one a hypocrite.

Personally, I though it was spot on (even if I’m not entirely fond of the venue or the religiousization of politics).

Third of July Musings

I’m drinking tea… (is anyone surprised?) Peppermint and lemon balm

…and listening to music.

Why my daughter wants to learn to play the violin:

Get your munchkins to listen to Vivaldi, by listening to Frozen:

Same guys, different song, gorgeous video (Kung Fu Panda meets Chopin):

I’m pissed off about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. It does not bode well for the religious freedom of individuals when businesses are allowed to have religion.  Lets play this out to its natural conclusion…

  • I’m a Christian Scientist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover vaccinations because its against my religion.
  • I’m Mennonite and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any sort of plastic surgery because its against my religion.
  • I’m a Scientologist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover mental health services or medication because its against my religion.
  • I’m a vegetarian as per my religious beliefs (there are several religions that qualify here) and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any nutritional counseling that includes meat, or any transplant or treatment where animal parts are used.
  • I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover blood transfusions because its against my religion.  Because I am a particularly strict JW, I also feel that any organ transplant is against my religion.  I refuse to allow my business to cover those as well.
  • I’m a Catholic and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any birth control.  Also, I refuse to cover any treatment that puts an embryo or fetus at risk.
  • I’m a member of the Followers of Christ and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any medical proceedure, period.

Except that apparently only the Catholic example isn’t too “loony” for the conservative (Catholic) justices on the court (read Justice Ginsburg’s dissent for a short list of when the court has gone against the sincere beliefs of individuals).  Which leaves me to determine one of two things, the 5 men that came to this conclusion don’t think reproduction is something women have the right to control or they think corporations are more important than people (or some combination of the two).

Businesses are not people.  Businesses do not have religions, people do.  People are people.  People have “natural” rights (that’s a topic for another day), not businesses.  And your rights as an individual stop where mine start.   If your religion tells you to do X and not to do Y…then you do X and don’t do Y.   You don’t force your employees into a position where they are economically compelled to do X and not do Y in your stead.  If you can’t handle the division between you as an individual and your business as a secular and profit-generating legal entity, start a religious non-profit or get the hell out of business.

And fuck, religion should have nothing to do with health care anyway.

And fuck the broader implications beyond healthcare.

[/end rant]

And now, for something completely different… It looks like the worst of Hurricane Arthur will be out to sea when it works its way up to us tomorrow…

Thanks Poseidon!

Some pre-storm fun...

Some pre-storm fun…

Awesome quote (having mentioned Poseidon) I just ran across:

You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?

~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

6 Posts I really think you should read:

And a bonus because I laughed my butt off…

Soap Crayon Munchkin Magic

Soap Crayons

2 tablespoons water (or herbal infusion)
~1 cup soap flakes
30-40 drops of foor coloring

Blend til smooth and paste-like. Fill an ice cube tray or in soap molds and let dry several days.

Choose colors and herbs (if you choose the infusion route) for different purposes…lavender and lavender for peaceful sleep, pink and rose for healing a sad heart, yellow and sunflower for Sun magic. If you want, you can even charge the water before hand using a appropriate crystal as well.

Use the crayons on your tub or shower walls to mark vigils, pictures, phrases, etc for ritual baths or shower meditations to bring healing, blessing, etc.

Why I love honey (Part I):

I admit, this is gonna read like a one-woman infomercial, lol.

Honey is deliciously drinkable!  In the summer, forget energy drinks, add a teaspoon or two of honey and a splash of lemon or lime juice, and a dash of lite salt (check for contraindications before using lite salt, which can be replaced by sea salt in these sorts of recipes, though you’ll be missing out on the potassium then) to your bottle of water.

Big-batch Honey Lemonade:
1/2 c honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 c lemon juice
7 1/2 c water

Mix. Makes 8 8 oz servings at 60 cal per serving, 17 g carbohydrates, 16 g sugar, 72 mg sodium, and 85 mg potassium. (Very Tasty Recipe from the National Honey Board)

Honey is bake-able! If you are interested in baking with honey as a replacement for sugar, there are a couple of tricks to keep in mind: Reduce the liquid by 1/4 c for each cup of honey used, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees. Use less honey than sugar that the recipe calls for–usually no more than half. Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need as much….though replacement requires some experimentation.  (If you are diabetic, keep in mind that honey is still a “sugar”…)

Also, honey is cosmetic!  Honey is medicinal! Honey is magical!  But I’ll get to these another time…

Hope you have a Happy 4th of July! 

Hail Mr. Franklin, Presidents Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison!


…under gods, indivisible

…Kids are mystified by most everything in the pledge. But “one nation under God” has the distinction of being a phrase that not even grown-ups are clear on. Congress inserted the words at the height of the Cold War in 1954 to underscore the difference between American values and those of the atheistic Communists. But its actual meaning is up for grabs. Does it affirm our faith in God or assert that we have his special protection? Is it a ceremonial deist formula with no especial religious character? Or is it merely a historical nod to the beliefs of the founders, as the 9th Circuit majority said?

…That ambiguity has certain advantages. But it actually came about because of a linguistic misunderstanding. The words were taken from the Gettysburg Address, where Lincoln asked his listeners to resolve that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom.” Except that in the Gettysburg Address, “under God” didn’t modify “this nation” but the following phrase, “have a new birth of freedom.” In Lincoln’s time, “under God” was a common idiom that meant “with God’s help” or “the Lord willing.” People used it to qualify a bald prediction or promise, mindful of the admonition against vainglory in the book of James.

Actually, my guess is that Lincoln would have inserted the words “under God” if he had written the Pledge of Allegiance, too, although he probably would have put them at the end. He would have been uncomfortable about describing the country as indivisible, just and free without adding a “God willing” somewhere.
from NPR

the original flag salute…

By all accounts, inspired by a sermon he attended, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to change the words of the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954.  It was the height of the Cold War, and damn what the original author (ironically a Socialist) would have thought, we had to stick it to those godless Commies! And besides, it wasn’t the first time the thing had been changed.

Its been controversial ever since.  Fodder for both left and right.  Especially the Religious Right.

Source of annoying memes on social media.

like this one...

like this one…


Other than the irony I find in from people that repost this usually being offended about the idea of not saying the Pledge,  I don’t know what this person is talking about.   Sharkbait and Chickadee say the Pledge of Allegiance daily.

On one hand, I don’t care about the phrase “under god” because we (as a polytheistic pantheist family) have what is probably the most expansive possible idea of deity*.   But on the other hand, it pisses me off that we cater to the uber-Connies and the Fundies in this country and every time someone points that out, there’s some nutty “how dare you take my rights away, back in the good old days…” reaction.  At the risk of offending someone with my cursing (though if they are the sort of person offended by cursing, this entire post is likely to make them explode), Fuck ‘Em.

I’m sick of pandering.

Back in “the good old days”:

  • people owned other people as property
  • women could be beaten without recourse and sure as heck couldn’t vote
  • rape was something that happened but was almost never talked about or prosecuted (and there was a good chance she’d be married off to the bastard)
  • the government endorsed and participated in nothing short of genocide against the original inhabitants of this land
  • something like one in four or one in five pregnancies were aborted because there was no birth control
  • thousands of people died of preventable diseases (including STDs)
  • 5 year olds worked in factories and mines for pennies a day, 7 days a week, 12 hour work days instead of going to school
  • fingers and rats and sawdust regularly got ground up into your hamburgers
  • mothers drugged their children with opiates so they could be “seen and not heard”

So yes, the phrase “under God” offends me.  It offends me because I am offended by the people that would look back at our history as “the good old days”–something worthy of going back to or attempting to emulate in this epoch of our history.  Despite what these small minded people think, it doesn’t offend me because of the word “god”.  Unlike them, my faith and my identity is not threatened by the inclusion (or lack thereof) of a three letter word* in an oath that most kids can’t pronounce and don’t know the meaning of anyhow.

If anything, (linguistic incorrectness aside) the inclusion of the words “under God”, and the idea that every school child should be reciting it, should offend them.

Because when our family says it, we ain’t talkin’ ’bout YHWH.

Honestly, they should be considering the blasphemy that they are participating in as a result of kids like mine say the Pledge as it is written along side their children.  If they really believed in it as anything other than a (poorly phrased and overly conceited) political statement**, they would be worried about the wrath of their deity at being invoked as one of many, many gods–about this country being perceived as being under gods, not under God.

My daughter would be aiming for Poseidon…

And I really pity the fools should they ever manage to bring back school-led prayer to public schools.



*Just because this phrase doesn’t bother me theologically, does not mean that I am not troubled by the lack of regard for the diversity that this phrase causes.  We live in a country that is supposed to support freedom of religion and not believe in special tests of such…the recitation of the Pledge, whether it is legislated or not, serves as a social test of religion that children are forced into to satisfy the political and religious inclinations of some parents.  I just happen to be more troubled by the vile hatred that is spewed forth by those claiming special ownership over this country and what it means to be American (and Christian).

**If nothing else, these uber-Connie Fundie types should also be offended at the mere notion of a state-sponsored anything as antithetical to their vision of small government and whatever brand of True Freedom™ they are sniffing for the week and…you know, particularly the notion that this nation is indivisible.  Heck, one would think, in the interests of intellectual consistency, more of them would rally to abolish the thing in its entirety!

a thought for thursday

Where after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, closes to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person: The neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

Eleanor Roosevelt in remarks at the United Nations, March 27, 1958

The Abbreviated Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(from the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Resource Center)
(click here for the unabridged version from the UN)

Article 1 Right to Equality
Article 2 Freedom from Discrimination
Article 3 Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Article 4 Freedom from Slavery
Article 5 Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Article 6 Right to Recognition as a Person before the Law
Article 7 Right to Equality before the Law
Article 8 Right to Remedy by Competent Tribunal
Article 9 Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile
Article 10 Right to Fair Public Hearing
Article 11 Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
Article 12 Freedom from Interference with Privacy, Family, Home and Correspondence
Article 13 Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
Article 14 Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Article 15 Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
Article 16 Right to Marriage and Family
Article 17 Right to Own Property
Article 18 Freedom of Belief and Religion
Article 19 Freedom of Opinion and Information
Article 20 Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Article 21 Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
Article 22 Right to Social Security
Article 23 Right to Desirable Work and to Join Trade Unions
Article 24 Right to Rest and Leisure
Article 25 Right to Adequate Living Standard
Article 26 Right to Education
Article 27 Right to Participate in the Cultural Life of Community
Article 28 Right to a Social Order that Articulates this Document
Article 29 Community Duties Essential to Free and Full Development
Article 30 Freedom from State or Personal Interference in the above Rights

Maxim Monday: Do not trust wealth

The Delphic Maxims have a bit to say on the subject of riches, as well as advice that isn’t specifically directed towards wealth, but none the less can be applied towards what one does with it.  They remind one to govern their expenses, to work for what they can own, to shun what belongs to others while guarding what one possesses.  They tell you to give what you have, and to pursue what is profitable, and always…nothing to excess.

But there is one more piece of advice that they give on the subject.

delphic maxim 128

It seems particularly fitting given the political climate and fiscal situation (and, as far as the debt goes, somewhat manufactured) as we get ready to go over the fiscal cliff of sequestration (which really will harm the economy and people, lots of people) to discuss this maxim.  Now, there a number of ways to interpret this maxim–we could talk about the love of money as the root of evil (to paraphrase St. Paul), or perhaps the idea that wealth can be fleeting if one isn’t careful, or even that wealth can be a way to cover up ugliness underneath (the so-called Gilded Age).  But honestly, when I hear this maxim, I think of Enron and World Com and the housing bubble and Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers and…I could go on, but I won’t.

When I read “Do not trust wealth”, I don’t think of money itself, but the people behind the wealth.  Honestly, I’m reminded most of a Christian scripture–that its easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to make it to heaven.

Perhaps that is unfair.  Rich people are not, after all, evil.  I’m not trying to say that wealth makes one malicious towards poor people.  Instead, I’m saying that good deal of people with money (politicians especially, and many Republicans in particular) seem to have lost touch with the reality of life for the rest of us.


Studies of charitable giving are quite interesting in this regard.  Poor people often give more of their money to charity (generally through a church organization) than wealthy people (wealthy people give more money overall, but poor people give a higher percentage of their income).  But, when wealth people live in economically diverse neighborhoods, and are reminded of the day to day realities of being poor, they tend to give more than both groups because they a) can afford it, and b) see the disparity of wealth in a personal way on a daily basis.

I was raised in a lower middle class neighborhood, I’ve never gone to bed hungry from lack of access to food or been homeless.  But I know what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck.  I know what it is like to make the decision between an apartment you can barely afford so that your child can go to better school and a place you can better afford with an awful one.  I know what it is like to cross your fingers driving home from work because payday is tomorrow and the gas light has been on since you left in the morning.  I know what it is like to take half the medication you need, hoping it will get you to the point where you can afford to refill it, without landing in the emergency room.

And I count myself lucky, because I have a roof over my head, I have food in the pantry, and I have a job.  Simply by virtue of being poor here, I’m ahead of the game compared to the rest of the world.


But I’m still pissed off.  Especially about the sequester BS.  I four days, we will be laying off air traffic controllers, cutting the funding for Poison Control Centers,  a 22 day furlough for federal employees (BTW, this one reduces our family income by 20% over 6 months), reducing food aid for some 600,000 families, and nearly 400,000 people with assistance for mental disabilities risk losing out on needed services.  Instead, Congress (mostly House Republicans) is at a showboating stalemate over of closing loopholes in the corporate tax code and ending CORPORATE welfare (why the hell are companies like GE getting billion dollar refunds and why the hell are politicians giving multibillion dollar profit corporations like oil companies subsidies anyhow?).  This is completely and utterly asinine.  And the fact that a surfeit of Americans aren’t paying attention to this is infuriating.

We don’t make very much money, and we mostly live pay check to paycheck, but we already set our taxes up to take the max out–so at the end of the year, we get a pretty good tax return. We use it to pay bills and fix the car, and go out to eat a time or two, to pay the security deposit if we move apartments…but we don’t need all of it. Our family is compassionate and patriotic enough to let you raise our taxes, if it means feeding families that need food, ensuring that schools have enough money to teach kids, keeping ships and planes and tanks working and our military is ready and trained, preserving our wild spaces for future generations, maintaining our roads in good condition to promote transit and trade, ensuring clean air and water to promote health and welfare, and putting people back to work, so that they can take part in supporting the place where we all live.

Because, in the end…the wealth of our society–in its human capital and the worth of its natural resources for the future of that human capital matters more than how much wealth I have.


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