Monday, February 8, 2016

The United Nations Prayer of Sorrow

In June 1990 the UN held an Environmental Sabbath Service.  A “prayer of sorrow” was part of that service, and Linda’s pastor, the Rev. Margie Good, used the prayer in a service in January.  I thought the night before the New Hampshire Primary would be a good time to post it.

We have forgotten who we are.

We have alienated ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos.
We have become estranged from the movements of the earth.
We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.
We have forgotten who we are.

We have sought only our own security.
We have exploited simply for our own ends.
We have distorted our knowledge.
We have abused our power.
We have forgotten who we are.

Now the land is barren,
And the waters are poisoned,
And the air is polluted.
We have forgotten who we are.

Now the forests are dying,
And the creatures are disappearing,
And the humans are despairing.
We have forgotten who we are.

We ask for forgiveness.
We ask for the gift of remembering.
We ask for the strength to change.
We have forgotten who we are.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Roger Goodell and Ken Stabler

In 1970 I moved to Alameda, an island just west of Oakland.  Naturally I became an Oakland Raiders fan.  For most of the 70s the quarterback for the Raiders was Ken Stabler,r known as “the Snake “  He was an amazing player, now in the Hall of Fame.  

Stabler died this past July of colon cancer, but his family also noted that he was “not himself.”  After his death the family donated his brain for analysis.  He suffered from C.T.E., the brain disease afflicting hundreds of former NFL players.

Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, was asked about C.T.E. at the pre-Superbowl press conference.  Goodell rather glibly suggested that all of life is a risk, and that you could be in danger just sitting on your couch.

Today the New York Times magazine ran an article on just how wealthy the NFL owners are.  All of them have franchises worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars.  Surely they can use some of that money to make the game safer.

I like football.  I am amazed at the skill of the players, and I often find the games tense and exciting.  Nevertheless, I did not watch the Superbowl.  I can’t watch a hard tackle without thinking about the long term damage to the players.  I don’t enjoy the game any more.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Franklin Ave. canvass

Today Carol and I canvassed Franklin Avenue in Palmerton.  We were collecting signatures on nominating petitions for Democratic candidates for both federal and state office.  

Canvassing is one of the political activities I enjoy the most.  You never know what you will encounter.  For example, one guy who was sitting on his porch smoking said he didn’t get involved in politics, but then he thanked us for what we were doing.

One woman opened the door slightly, then closed it in our faces.  Maybe she thought we were religious proselytizers.

A Bernie Sanders supporter chatted with us at length, and bemoaned the fact that so many of her neighbors were conservative.

Three people invited us in while they signed the petitions.  It was a cold morning, and I wasn’t wearing gloves.  Bless those people.

Most of the people were polite, signed the petitions, and wished us well.  I think one of the reasons I like to canvass is that it reaffirms my faith in democracy.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Playboy covers up

Playboy Magazine no longer contains pictures of barenaked ladies.  Or, if they are nude, the photos are done in a such a way as to hide the naughty parts.  The March issue centerfold is Ernest Hemingway’s great-granddaughter, but she’s photographed artfully in a pose that probably wouldn’t embarrass old Ernest.

None of this really matters to me.  I always bought it for the articles.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Marco Rubio

In the strange analyses that often follow the Iowa caucuses, Marco Rubio, third place finisher, is considered to have won a great victory.  The received knowledge is that Cruz is too mean, Trump’s support is too shallow, but Rubio, attractive younger generation Latino, is poised to be the Republican nominee.

OK, first of all, Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans together, make up less than 1/2 of one percent of all the registered voters in the U.S.  Most of them are white and Protestant.

But let’s talk about Rubio.  I have heard a number of Democrats express some positive statements about young Marco.  In the interests of dampening their enthusiasm, let me tell you a few things:

Rubio is anti-choice, even for victims of rape or incest.

Rubio, at one time “a committed union activist,” now opposes raising the minimum wage and wants to eliminate “rules that empower unions.”

Rubio would not only like to reduce the capital gains tax, he would like to eliminate it.  This, of course, is popular with the kind of PACs that support him.  I hope it isn’t popular with working people who will have to make up the difference.

Rubio in 2013 pushed for immigration reform.  As part of the”Gang of Eight,” he pushed for a path to citizenship. In 2016 he says he hates “amnesty.”

Rubio is a panderer on religious issues.  In one of his ads, he talked about “the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ.”  He is so religious that sometimes he attends a Baptist service on Saturday nights and a Catholic Mass on Sunday.  

His personal finances are a mess, but luckily, he received an $800,000 advance for his memoir, and he has a billionaire benefactor who helped him find jobs for him and his wife to pay off loans.

In short, he makes Jeb Bush look like a real statesman.  Let’s hope the voters of New Hampshire see through his bullcrap.

I am indebted to columnist Gail Collins for much of this information on Rubio, although I must admit I have detested him for years.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fighting Poverty

The other day a friend of mine said, “Why can’t our leaders sit down and just work on solving our problems?”

Today Eduardo Porter, an economic columnist for the Times, reported on just such an effort.  After meeting together for months, economic advisors to both Republicans and Democrats issued a statement in December calling for an increase in the minimum wage along with a job requirement attached to the food stamp program.

These liberals and conservatives also recommended increasing the earned-income tax credit for adults without children.  They agreed on more federal investment in early childhood education and in community colleges.  They supported the “common core.”

Where would the money come from?  Cutting corporate tax breaks and individual tax deductions that benefit mostly the wealthy, like farm subsidies and mortgage interest tax deductions would be a start.

Divisions are deep.  Conservatives and liberals don’t even agree on what causes poverty.  Liberals generally see the cause as larger than individuals.  Globalization, poor education, lack of parental resources, discrimination, and the judicial system cause poverty.

Conservatives see the cause as a lack of personal responsibility and government programs which increase dependence.  

I’m more on the liberal side (surprise, surprise), but what impresses me is that the two sides were able to agree on as much as they did.  Now if we could get Congress to sit down and work on these issues.  Unfortunately, given the polarization in this country, don’t hold your breath.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Importance of Iowa

Here’s how important Iowa is.  In 2012 the winner of the Iowa caucus was Rickie Santorum.  Remember him?  That’s right.  He beat Romney.  

On the other hand, the demise of Trump has begun.  People have been predicting it for months, and here it is.  Already he’s being talked about in the past tense.

And Cruz?  Do you think Cruz will be the Republican nominee because he won about 1/4 of the the caucus vote in a small state that we fly over on the way from the east coast to the west coast?  You really think that?