Rant. Muse. Eat. Sleep. Recycle.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you and yours! In 2007, besides our fine domestic team of blogging conservatives, progressives, libertarians and sundry others, we will be showcasing some international bloggers as well!
More to come!
Friday, December 22, 2006
Introducing Ray McCoy!
I am as pleased as punch to introduce a fifth member to the blog -- Ray McCoy! Ray will be waxing rhapsodic pretty much about whatever the heck he feels like and I am personally elated. Why? The man knows his way around a blog and his posts read like that of a very profound thinker. Between Graeme Anfinson, Craig Bardo, Kay Hansen and Ray, I can see I better step up my game! Now, I'll shut up and let Ray do the talking:
Earlier this month I gave a talk to a group of students about preparing for college. The students were 12th graders attending Higher Ground Academy. To my surprise my audience was primarily Somalis and Oromos. Higher Ground’s mission is “to create a socially committed, morally responsible, and ethnically diverse learning environment that values students individually and collectively.”
I wondered how I might connect with this group.
The students made it simple. They were, quite frankly, amazing.
They wanted to know everything about selecting a career path and the right college or university to help them reach their goals. My time with them was delightful. It gave me a glimpse of the future of the United States. We discussed the influence of racism on career choice, college matriculation and career advancement. We touched on the way in which the world views credentials as compared to “goodness of fit” or do we feel comfortable with religious differences, differences based on dress, culture and national origin. They presented a new energy and substance to the discussion about race, racism and Affirmative Action.
It was most evident that these new citizens soon to enter the adult world will push the boundaries of the age-old debates regarding race, gender, equity, access and opportunity.
As a Baby Boomer I benefited from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. My life chances were profoundly influenced by the willingness of Black Americans to march and die in an effort to end segregation and provide equal access to education, employment and the promise of democracy. The history of the Civil Rights Movement and the strategies employed to achieve the gains so hard fought for and won will have to be reexamined as we seek to include so many others.
That is a good thing too. The debates about the Iraq War, Affirmative Action, Gay Marriage, U.S. policy in the Middle East and various other hot spots around the globe will be forever transformed when this generation of high school students enters the political debate. These high school students represent an opportunity to reframe discussions about access, equality and opportunity.
My hope is that we will recognize this as advancement in and of itself. My hope is that we will recognize that those whose national origin is Somali, Oromo, Ethiopian, Mexican, Salvadoran, Uzbekistan and many others are now citizens of this nation, did not share in our history but will share in and in some cases bear primary responsibility for shaping our future. They must be included and must be given room to make their contributions.
There is no future in attempts to exclude, marginalize or set them aside. In doing so, we only sow the seeds of our destruction. Our opportunity lies in setting aside our longing for the good ole days and walking boldly forward with the new faces of the United States. These new voices are just a stones throw away from the front lines of the seats of political power.
Let’s make room.
Posted by Ray McCoy
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Need for Need
It's the season of giving again, or to be more accurate, the season of rampant consumerism. But along with this mostly mindless consumerism, one gets the feeling of a heightened sense of the “less fortunate” among us. I wouldn’t call it a class consciousness, but we are definitely more aware of the lower classes. We will gather last year's Abercrombie and Fitch jeans that junior has grown out of, or simply won’t wear anymore, and give them to the local thrift store. Or maybe we will give in to the unavoidable sound of the bell ringer when we are buying groceries and slip them a ten dollar bill. Hell, we might be so engulfed by the spirit of the season, we could even volunteer our time at the local United Way. It makes us feel better after the uncontrollable spending spree. It’s like taking a vitamin after you biggie size your quarter pounder with cheese value meal.
When December 26th rolls around, it is back to business as usual. The poor become invisible again. The “less fortunate” become the lazy. The cleaning people clean for a living because they simply aren’t as smart as the accountant. Our need for need has been temporarily fulfilled. Maybe we will leave an extra five dollar tip after our 2 ½ hour lunch disguised as a meeting- maybe not.
But if we truly cared, there is so much more we could do. Not handouts. Giving someone money for nothing suggests that you are above them, not only in the obvious financial sense, but also psychologically. No, people don’t want handouts- they want what they have earned. But you can’t complain about a welfare state if the companies in that state refuse to pay a living wage. Demand a living wage. Demand adequate care for the homeless, many of whom are mentally ill. They are the unseen victims of Reaganomics.
But do we need this class of people? Do we need them to make us feel better about ourselves? We would certainly never admit that. But if we are so concerned about illegal immigration, why don’t we take a harder look at the neoliberal economic policies that have kept money in the hands of the few and good paying jobs scarce in Mexico, forcing workers to leave their families behind and cross the border to the US? Do we think they want to do that? We could educate ourselves. In this age of information, we have the tools at our fingertips. But that takes time and energy.
We want a quick fix. We want the good feeling of giving and not have to think about it until next year. There will always be poor people we say. What can we do? We are all good people.
And so are they. They simply want what they have worked and died for. We apparently would rather keep our need for need. Our need to feel pity on those “less fortunate” than us. But they aren't simply less fortunate than we are- they are victims of a global thievery system known as free market capitalism.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
'Tis the Season
'Tis the season to go shopping, see Santa Claus, eat too much, argue
about what to call the tree and how to greet one another. 'Tis the
season to hope for snow (where possible), nice smells, decorating and
raising money for the less fortunate. 'Tis the season of A Christmas
Carol, The Grinch and Frosty the Snowman. 'Tis also the season for
Holiday tournaments, BCS games and e-commerce. I'm ok with all of that.
However, I am truly surprised that A Charlie Brown Christmas was aired
here in Nashville last week. It was not edited for the words 'God' or
'Christ,' they were actually permitted. When Charlie Brown asks in
desperation, "Doesn't anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?" Linus
answered from the book of Luke chapter 2 verses 8-14.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!"
Although it is not likely to have occurred during the winter, I believe
it happened just as Dr. Luke recounts. Its significance to me is
everything. Because, before time God created the heavens and the earth.
As Chris Tomlin penned: "King of all days oh so highly exalted, glorious
in heaven above. Humbly he came to the earth he created, all for love's
sake became poor."
The God I worship is an inclusive God; "whosoever believeth in Him
shall not perish but have everlasting life." He is a God who is not
confined merely to the words in a Holy book. Evidence that He is, is
everywhere. Science can't explain it or explain it away. Skeptics can't
obscure His light and goodness.
So let the Holiday cards be mailed and let the office parties begin.
Let the ACLU remove nativity scenes, let the grown men sleep in the
streets to get a video game for their own use. Whether it's X-mas
season, Easter or Halloween, I will worship Jesus because of all that
He's done for me.
-- Posted by CB
The death of Augusto Pinochet the other day, and Milton Friedman last month, has had me thinking of market fundamentalism. Although I believe the original market fundamentalist beliefs came from the Austrian school of economics, the modern beliefs have chiefly become a US export. And a deadly US export at that, making Saudi Arabia’s Wahabism seem relatively harmless. Granted, it is not nearly as overt in its deaths, but the deaths still remain- and in a much higher numbers.
I saw this essay by noted Indian journalist P. Sainath. The essay, titled “and then there was a market,” brilliantly takes the neo-liberal world view to task. Due to the fact that I am swamped with the last two weeks of school, I thought this week I would lazily link to the essay. It is real short and worth your time, I promise.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Kick the defenseless... it's fun!
A front page New York Times article yesterday investigated the rapidly diminishing caseload of the U.S. Supreme Court and attributed the light dockets to a couple of things including: 1. More conservative lower courts 2. A Chief Justice who has railed against hearing too many cases and 3. Congressional gridlock that has lowered the number of laws passed.
What I find interesting in this article is the statement that with fewer cases being heard, most of those have little impact on the lives of everyday Americans. This particular court seems to shy away from those high profile cases -- with one high profile exception: racial matters such as Affirmative Action.
I know I'm giving in to divisiveness here, but it strikes me that the current assault on Affirmative Action is the consolation prize for their fear of going after Roe v. Wade. With O'Conner gone, it would have been a more perfect time to go after that grail. It was perfect even when she was there because the court had a conservative "mandate." But, O'Conner, unlike the very sad case of Clarence Thomas, believed she was part of a community of women and even though very much a conservative, she protected that law with her vote.
Women maintain a solidarity that America -- and the Supreme Court -- respects.
Racially, however, it's been another story: from no-knock warrants, traffic stops, Affirmative Action, mandatory minimums for crack, racial harrassment at the job, it's been one thumb in the eye after another for African Americans and other people of color. And, Thomas has been on the front line of every assault.
It is so far out of whack now that the re-formed, ultra-conservative Department of Justice has made it a mission to go after instances of "reverse discrimination." Situations where white people are at a disadvantage. While it's not necessary to dump on white people and any truly discriminatory system should be abolished, Affirmative Action, particularly in the workplace and college admission, ain't it.
With African Americans already underrepresented in colleges, we are talking about fractions of a percent of admissions that some white students are haggling over. The woman who was denied entrance into the University of Michigan has really gone over the top. She said if she was an African American or Hispanic, she would have been admitted. The reality is that the inner city kids who had none of her advantages (she went to a good suburban school, had two parents, I'm guessing she paid for some college prep test materials) overcame much more than she ever had to to get the same score as she did. I'd choose them, too. Their success has potentially more effect on their communities than the woman who is suing.
Make no mistake here -- this woman DID NOT score higher than the African American applicants she claims "stole" her spot. Her argument is that despite her existing social advantages; she should also have the advantage of not having programs to help the disadvantaged.
I wonder how this woman feels about fire departments who have revised their requirements to make sure women can have a shot. I wonder how she feels about programs, such as mentoring programs, that have the aim of breaking up a history of discrimination that lead to the Glass Ceiling for women executives?
And, let me tell you. Michigan was one of the schools I applied to. I had a very good ACT score and I didn't get in. I'm African American. Should I have sued?
So, as I contemplate a Justice Department that sides with Ward Connerly (who admittedly sides with the Ku Klux Klan in regards to abolishing Affirmative Action), a slow-moving Supreme Court thatactively pursued an Affirmative Action case that had been settled in the lower courts, the inviolate status of Roe v. Wade, I come up with one conclusion: the latest war of division is to pit white women against people of color. It's not new, but it is apparently re-invigorated.
Wouldn't it be great if we combined forces and said "bullshit" this time?
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Only a pawn in their game
What is the best way to keep the poor, who vastly outnumber the rich, busy fighting each other and not looking at the man behind the curtain? Create conflict. Separate people into different sects. I remember when I visited the Dachau concentration camp; I wondered why such a large group of people allowed themselves to be controlled by such a small number of guards. The answer was, as I found out, that the guards had set up a system of hierarchy. They had turned the people against each other, convinced some that they were better than others. Pick up a newspaper and read about this happening in every corner of the world, only on a larger scale.
Sectarianism and hierarchy benefit the powerful and destroy the weak. Leaders enjoy the power while the people get slaughtered. Struggles can be within one religion or between religions. Struggles can be between tribes or clans, it doesn’t really matter. They can be about anything with any group of people. The only thing that remains consistent is that the people die and the power of the leaders multiplies. Why do we count on these “leaders” to provide solutions? It is quite clear the ruling class has an interest in keeping the lower classes fighting each other.
I am convinced the only was to combat this nonsense is through a grassroots, decentralized, international movement. We need a true democratic movement that allows the masses a voice in the world that they inhabit, a globalization of sorts. A globalization that is radically different than the one that is being forced on us today. There are several groups that have a history fighting for these goals (the IWW comes to mind).
I know, it is easier said than done and maybe a tad bit idealistic, but there has got to be something better than a world full of poor people killing each other for whatever reason the ruling class has come up with this year.
Friday, December 01, 2006
It's time to have some fun!
I am walking into the One Nation News prize vault (in your mind, read that with the voice of the most obnoxious morning DJ you can imagine) and selecting a prize especially for you! The first five people to answer this question correctly -- "What the *$@!% is (his/her/their) problem; why are they ________? I've got half a mind to ________. -- will win fabulous prizes!
There are wrong answers to this people -- I just don't know what they are.
The Grail in this contest is not a small, large-eyed French women, rather it consists of five DVDs, there are 3 Drumline and 2 Big Black Comedy Shows. One for each winner.
A caveat: Though this material must be mailed, your information is not going into any database. In fact, after I mail this crap to you, not only will I never mail you again, I probably will despise you for making me spend time and effort sending it off in the first place. So, a very real side effect of winning is drawing the unreasoned rage of a large, surly black man.