Sunday, March 21, 2010

Day 200/365 Tonight.....

The "hopey-changey thing" is working out pretty damn well.

Thank you to President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and 219 brave Democrats!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 199/365 Texas Religious Right Erases Thomas Jefferson

On Friday, March 12, 2010, the Texas Board of Education removed Thomas Jefferson from curriculum standards and textbooks.

They also voted 10-5 to refuse to teach that the United States Constitution prevents the American government from promoting one religion over another.

They also decided not to teach the separation of church and state, as well as to omit all references to "democratic", instead referring to our country as a constitutional republic.

In a state that is largely Hispanic, the Texas Board of Education (and I use that term very, very lightly), also deleted Hispanic names from biographics of influential historical figures.

Lest the reader think "I don't live in Texas...what care I that they parade down the trail to revisionist history?", Texas is the second-largest buyer of school textbooks. Textbook publishers print one version of each textbook, and they print to satisfy the largest buyer.

What is written for Texas is taught everywhere.

Let's look at the accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson (it's cyberspace, I have plenty of virtual paper):

1) Third president of the United States

2) Principal author of the Declaration of Independence

3) Viewed America as a great republic that would lead the way to liberty for the world

4) Favored states rights and a limited federal government

5) Co-founded the Democratic-Republican party (yes, the two started out as siblings in the political arena)

6) First U.S. Secretary of State (under George Washington)

7) Horticulturist (imported many European species, including stock for vineyards)

8) Architect (Monticello, University of Virginia, Virginia State Capitol)

9) Archaeologist (sometimes called the "father of modern archaeology" because of his excavation techniques)

10) Paleontologist

11) Founder of the University of Virginia (not only its architecture, but its curriculum as well)

12) Inventor (rotating book stands, swivel chairs, polygraph (the first copier),automatic doors)

13) Lawyer (graduated with honors and tried hundreds of cases for promenient Virginians)

14) The only president to serve two terms without vetoing a single Congressional bill

15) Consistently ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents by presidential scholars

16) His presidential terms saw not only the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but the Louisiana Purchase

17) Spoke French, read Greek, wrote in Gaelic, and was devoted to his studies, famous for spending up to fifteen hours a day at his various intellectual pursuits.

18) Built and designed Monticello, one of the four World heritage Sites in America, two of which were designed by Jefferson)

19) Enslaved approximately 600 slaves at Monticello - as well as encouraging both Christian and African religious practice among them, and known for having slaves that could both read and write

20)Wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1774, offering the radical idea that colonists had the natural right to govern themselves.

21) Served as delegate to the Second Continental Congress in 1775.

22) Elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1776 where he drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to establish freedom of religion, streamline the judicial system, eliminate the death penalty except for murder or treason, and succeeded in passing a law banning the importation of new slaves.

23) Served as Governor of Virginia, and moved the capitol from Williamsburg to Richmond.

24) Appointed to the Congress of the Confederation in 1783 to oversee currency, and recommended the United States use the decimal system.

25) Appointed Minister to France in 1785. While there, he negotiated the U.S. and Prussian foreign trade agreements. In 1789, during the French Revolution, Jefferson sided publicly with the revolutionaries.

26) Jefferson and James Madison anonymously wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which declared that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it by the states, i.e. the entire basis for the "states rights" argument.

27) As president, he repealed many federal taxes, and signed a bill banning importation of slaves into the United States.

28) Menber of Benjamin Franklin's American Philosophical Society, also served as its president.

29) Published A Manual of Parliamentary Practice in 1801 that is still in use.

30) Donated his personal library of 6,487 books in 1815 to re-establish the Library of Congress after it was burned by the British in 1814.

Should I go on? 'Cause I can. I have not even begun to touch on Jefferson's accomplishments in this list.

However, since Texas in all it's pseudo-religious intellectualism has decided to erase Thomas Jefferson from the U.S. history textbooks, let us ask who, pray tell, are they replacing him with?

And the winner is....... John Calvin.

So let us look at John Calvin (for those backsliders of you not sufficiently versed in ultra-conservative religious dogma):

John Calvin was raised Catholic, but as a young adult lapsed big time. He lived in the 1500's which was a dangerous time for heretics (the Catholic Church tended to burn it's opponents).

Calvin wrote his own book of his religious views,"Institutes of the Christian Religion". He basically wanted a society controlled by the clergy (him), a theocracy.

His opponents, the Libertines, wanted a society controlled by the magistrates (the law).
Short-term, the Libertines won, and Calvin fled.

It took Calvin 14 years to consolidate his power in Geneva, Switzerland, but he eventually returned and imposed his views on both church and society. He believed all authority came from scripture, immediately banned music from church services, and only allowing the singing of psalms.

During this time, Calvin drew up the Ecclesiastical Ordinances, which set up the structure of his church: preacher, elder and deacon. At the same time, the consistory was established, i.e. a group of preachers that judged others. Every sin was now a crime. Lewd singing was punished by piercing the tongue. No work or pleasure on Sundays, mandatory church attendance, no extravagance in dress, and blasphemy was punishable by death. At one point Calvin shut down the taverns, and required every public meal to be preceded by prayer.

Calvin's code literally mandated all aspects of every individual's life, with no allowance for personal privacy.

Enter Michael Servetus in 1553, Spanish scholar and phsyician, and an individual in total disagreement with John Calvin. The remnants of the Libertines backed Servetus in an unsuccessful effort to be rid of Calvin.

Servetus was burned slowly at the stake (the slowly part was a request of John Calvin's), on a pyre built of his own books.

Calvinism was based around the absolute power and supremacy of God.

But here's the interesting part:

In Calvin’s view, Man, who is corrupt, is confronted by God who has predestined some for eternal salvation (the Elect) while the others would suffer everlasting damnation (the Reprobates).

In other words: you might have led what you might have considered a perfectly good life that was true to God but if you were predestined to be a Reprobate you remained one because for all your qualities you were inherently corrupt and God would know this even if you did not. However, a Reprobate by behaving decently could achieve an inner conviction of salvation.

But an Elect could never fall from grace.

Somehow I'm thinking Calvin saw himself as an Elect.

From 1531 until his death in 1564, John Calvin managed to turn Geneva Switzerland into a religious police state, and he alone was solely responsible for the execution and burnings of thousands of people he deemed heretics during his regime.

He particularily singled out women, pointed to independant or educated women as witches, and summarily burning them at the stake.

If this is the person that the Texas Board of Education thinks is a suitable substitute for Thomas Jefferson, we should all be fearful. What exactly are they contemplating for our future?

Anyone got a match?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 198/365 It's Our Day!

Happy International Women's Day!

In honor of that, here's a collection of some of the women in my life that have influenced me....

Josephine Ellen Green Muncy great-grandmother. In a time when women were not even actual legal entities, and were expected to stay at home and wait for a husband...she took off across the country, traveling through what was then the edge of the American frontier.

Jess Muncy great-aunt, daughter of Josephine. After seeing Katherine Hepburn wearing pants in a film, she immediately got rid of her dresses and never wore another one. That came in handy while training her championship Tennessee Walkers ( in this photo that's Kentucky on the left and Prince on the right).

Leona Adeline Muncy Newton.... another great-aunt, sister to Jess, and keeper of the family sense of ironic humor. She passed on her love of history and politics to me. One of nine English teachers in my immediate family. Leona (Onie to family) married later than most, shared her wedding with family in the homeplace parlor, and immediately set out with her husband driving across Virginia to their new home on the coast. Enroute, they were involved in a horrific car accident that cost her new husband his life, and caused her to walk with a pronounced lameness and pain for the remainder of her life (40 years). After being brought home to recouperate, she never mentioned the accident again, and never regarded it as an excuse or justification for not achieving her goals.

Inez America Hazelwood grandmother on my Dad's side. Don't let that angelic pose fool you. My grandmother was one of the toughest women I ever met. She graduated from teacher's college, and skipped graduation to get to her first assignment, across the state,in a remote rural county where she would teach in a one-room schoolhouse, and travel to work on a horse-drawn sled in the winter. During her life she would raise four sons, watch them serve in World War II and Korea, start a business with her husband, build their first home by hand, and buy a deep sea fishing boat she loved to pilot on the Gulf of Mexico, all while playing the accordion, harmonica, organ and ukelele, debating religion with her preacher and authoring two books of poetry.

Sadie Gusler great-aunt on my mother's side. I'm not sure there are words to describe Sadie. Everyone in her county knew her. Literally. And she knew everyone, and everything that was going on. Somehow, no matter what happened, Aunt Sadie had the inside scoop, the who-what-where-when and why. She loved yard sales, made beautiful quilts, drank moonshine and did not suffer fools. More than one person has a clear memory of hearing Sadie's opinion.

Mary Lee Carper beloved grandmother on my mother's side, older sister to Sadie. I think of her as the one who was shortchanged. She was a product of rape, and grew up with the rapist in her immediate family. Raised with the idea that it was her and her mother's fault (in the 1920's it was always the woman's fault), she struggled with depression and what today is called "lack of self-esteem". Nevertheless, she married a moonshine runner, lost her first baby to spinal meningitis, lived in log cabins and cooked over an open hearth, helped her husband and three daughters build their first home by hand and worked in the fields till she was 80 years old. She was 73 before she traveled outside her county. She never learned to drive, never voted, never learned to swim, and had few outside interests outside of her family. I always wonder what sort of life she might have had without the mental abuse she suffered as a child.

And, of course, my mom. Raised on a rural Appalachian farm, so poor that shoes were only for wearing to school, and dresses were made from flour feedsacks. She was the first in the family to be educated past high school. The first woman in the family to move across the country. The first woman to travel to another country. And definitely the first to catch a giant fish. Mom takes after her aunt, Sadie, and is much more outspoken and confident than her mom. Like most of the women in our family, my mother has no shortage of opinons. This is a good thing. I've always thought people without opinions must lack the ability to reason and think.

Dr. Lois Tiffany.......sometimes your BFF's mom is just as important as your own mom. I met Dr. Tiffany when her daughter and I were in the same sixth-grade class. Her mom did mushrooms, my dad did fish and they both taught at the university. My own mom was a housewife, but my friend's mom *worked*, making her ten times more exciting to me than my own mother. She was the first mom I ever knew who had a *real job*. In some bizarre twist of the universe, her daughter ended up being a stay-at-home mom, while I, the daughter of the housewife, ended up being the corporate slave. Years later, in another twist, about the time I quit my job to homeschool my daughter, my stay-at-home mom BFF started working outside the home.

And speaking of daughter's......mine. The reason I celebrate International Women's Day.
The hope for the future. The reason I expect and demand equal pay for equal work, equal access, equal funding, equal opportunity, an equal education and an end to gender discrimination.

Anything else would disappoint all those women that came before her.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 197/365 I Am Angry

Reprinting this article from Reader Supporter News, because.......well, just 'cause it's perfect in every way.

I Am Angry
By John Cory, Reader Supported News
06 March 2010

I am angry.

I'm tired of pundits and know-nothing media gasbags. I'm tired of snarky "inside politics" programming. I am sick of the bigotry and hatred of "birthers" and faux patriotic cranks and their GOP puppet masters. And I'm really pissed at the Democratic Party that confuses having a plate of limp noodles with having a spine.

I'm going to vomit if I hear the word "bipartisanship" one more time.

It was "bipartisanship" that gave us this activist conservative Supreme Court. A Supreme Court that says money is free speech and corporations are persons except when real people try to hold them accountable for their greed and poisonous ways.

"Bipartisanship" gave us the Patriot Act and FISA and illegal wiretaps and two wars and "free speech zones" and "no fly" lists. God bless bipartisan America.

I get nauseated every time the Senate explains how it takes a super majority to do anything for the American people. Tell you what Senate Bozos, if it takes 60 votes to pass legislation than it should take 60% of the popular vote to get you elected.

When some Tea Party crank says, "I want my country back," I respond, "No madam, you want your country backward."

When a deficit-mongering politician says, "How do we pay for this?" Why not ask, "What did you Republicans do with the surplus we Democrats left you?"

When a compassionate conservative says, "Healthcare reform is socialism," why not answer, "No, sir it is the moral and American way to care for people."

Yes, I can hear it now: "You are naïve and simplistic. These are complicated matters and require sophisticated solutions. Democrats are a big tent and strive for balance. But Republicans block our path at every turn. We are thinking and considering new ways to work in harmony with everyone."

Bite me.

The only thing you get with "harmony" is a Barbershop Quartet.

Democrats stop being Republican Lite. Stop whining about that mean GOP and their nasty messaging. Grow a pair, get a message, get a bumper sticker and hang it out there. Get some strong vivid talking points.

G-O-P = Greed Over People.

Greed Kills - jobs, people and the economy.

Terrorism is Viagra for Republicans: The more fear - the more excited they get.

When a soldier dies for America, who dares ask if they were gay or straight?

Don't act so shocked, Democratic Party. Have you looked around lately?

You're losing the young vote that showed up to elect Obama. You're losing those old enough to remember real Democrats. Why? Because you don't talk to them any more than you talk to me. You talk at me. You talk around me. You talk down to me. You talk about me. You don't talk with me. And you don't inspire and you don't champion and without that you are nothing more than an arbitrator of compromise and abdication.

You are facing a bully. Deal with it!

Republicans want the country backwards. They champion superstition over science because it entrenches ignorance and bigotry and captures the easily frightened.

Republicans treat the Constitution the way they treat the Bible, with selective interpretation and selective application to others while exempting themselves from judgment and accountability.

Republicans preach the gospel of fear because fear is darkness and darkness covers their theft of civil liberties and Constitutional principles.

For thirty years the Republican Party has claimed the mantel of law and order but now quake in dread of the American judicial system when putting terrorists on trial. How criminal is that?

Torture is illegal. Period. John Wayne and Jack Bauer were not our Founding Fathers - only in the make-believe world of Republican drugstore-patriots.

DADT needs to be repealed. Now. It is unconscionable, immoral, and disgusting.

Empathy, compassion and equality are not pejoratives. They are American values proven again and again throughout our history.

Republicans believe that bake-sales and cookies for chemotherapy best determine the value of life and healthcare because life is a pre-existing condition and the "free market" should not have to take on such a high risk - after all, no one gets out alive, so why should the corporation be left holding the bag? Unless of course the price is right.

Republicans believe that government should keep its hands off healthcare but should put its hands inside a woman's body.

Republicans believe in small government - small enough to hold the "right" people and small enough to be owned and operated by the "right" people. And who are the "right" people? Them. Not you.

Democratic Party, DNC, DLCC, DSCC or whatever your acronym - I have only one question for you: Really?

You can't win against these guys? You can't get your message out against these guys? You can't give America leadership against these guys?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 196/365 Winter, 1962

On October 1, 1962, James Meredith became the first black student at the University of Mississippi. Violence and riots erupted in response and President Kennedy sent 5,000 armed federal troops into the South to keep order.

It was the height of the Civil Rights struggle and most of the major cities in the Deep South had enforced curfews. In our city there were not only curfews, but checkpoints going into and out of black neighborhoods.

Just after Christmas 1962, I was taken to my first grown-up movie by my parents. We passed through a checkpoint, next to a large searchlight. We sat in the balcony in reverse segregation, since it was a black theater. None of the downtown theaters would show that movie - yet.

That was the first time I met Atticus, and Scout, and Jem and Dill. To this day, I can feel the summer heat and dust rolling off the screen. Watching the film is like revisiting my childhood.

I remember thinking Atticus was just like my dad, an opinion I still hold some 48 years later.

I also remember dad having to talk to an armed police officer when we passed back through the checkpoint, returning to our white neighborhood, the one without curfews and blinding searchlights.

A couple months later in April 1963 Martin Luther King was confined in Alabama, writing "Letter from Birmingham Jail" which argues that individuals have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws.

That's something I also still agree with 48 years later. Probably a result of a southern childhood in the early 1960s. I'd like to think so.

More from To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.