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Nate Timm on the Doug Cunningham show!!!!

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Can We really Believe a Liberal like Ronald Regan?

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Flashback - a 1960s' perspective on current TX legislation debate - with cartoon

Flashback One: During the 1960s, my alma mater offered a course called "Marriage & Family Life." One of the classes was a showing of the film 'The Birth of a Baby," provided to the university free of charge by a pharmaceutical company that made birth control medications and devices. 

One of my roommates took this course and reported back to the room after the showing of the film that one of the women in the class had attended the movie with her spouse. The woman (with spouse) was also very obviously with child and had dragged her spouse along for his edification.

After the movie was over, the spouse whispered to his wife, "Honey, do you really want to go through with this?"

Flashback Two: A similar film (or the same one, not sure which) was also offered to various residence halls as a free, public service. The film was accompanied by a spokesperson from the pharmaceutical company who would offer a talk on birth control alternatives, if the university and residence hall wished him (not a generic 'him') to do so. My residence hall decided to show the film and offer the birth control lecture.

As the room was filling with students (both male and female), the front rows were, of course, the last to fill up. Just before the start of the program, a group of young men came sauntering proudly in and seated themselves in the front row seats, as if these were the seats of honor in a medieval court. Their whole demeanor was "We're going to get to see the 'dirty' parts of a woman in a room full of women!" 

The speaker began his lecture by saying that he had shown the film hundreds of times and had never had an adverse reaction from women in the audience. He continued by explaining that he had seen males in the audience have to leave the theater, faint or even become physically ill. The young men in the first row began to nudge each other with their elbows, as if to say "Not us, man. Not us!"

The lights dimmed; the film began; the first birth was a normal head first delivery - the boys started to slide down in their seats; the second birth may have been a breech birth - where the baby's feet come first, with the danger of the umbilical cord becoming kinked and cutting off the baby's blood/oxygen supply before the head comes out - the boys slipped deeper in their seats; the third birth was an emergency caesarean section - one of the boys left his seat in a hurry and the others followed shortly.

The point of this prologue is that women know from the time they are toddlers that most likely they will have children someday. They will hear their mothers talk about the birth process with other women. They will pay close attention in sex education classes (if their school actually provides a class with real education).

Most men, as toddlers, do not usually have the same opportunities to hear those discussions between their fathers and other fathers. If their fathers were in the delivery room, it was likely with a video camera to film the birth of "my son" or "my daughter" and not to provide physical and/or psychological support to their wives. In sex education class (again, if their school offered real education), they raced each other to find the 'dirty pictures.'  

With these thoughts in mind and given the history of conservative legislators' comments over the past few years, I offer the following cartoon:




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The Fourth of July - from NSA's Viewpoint! - a cartoon


I could not resist posting this one - the burning brat was just too irresistible! 

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One Consequence of the War Without End - A Cartoon


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What If Rapists Got Treated Like Their Victims Do? - A Cartoon


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A Saga from North Carolina

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Some Humor for the Day


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Alternative American History

This is a version of an email I sent to a small group of friends that includes some quite vehement libertarians and a nutty tea partier or two, as well as at least one progressive supporter.  (smiley face here)
One thing I think I detect that separates liberals from conservatives in our country is that liberals acknowledge the reality of some of the nastier things to be found in an honest perusal of U.S. history, to wit:

  1. Racism and bigotry
  2. Tribalism
  3. Aggressive wars
  4. Genocide
  5. Slavery
  6. Wide disparity between the rich and the poor
  7. Discrimination in the workplace, schools, and in the community
  8. Xenophobia and isolationism
  9. American arrogance
  10. Special privileges for the rich
  11. Tyranny of the majority
  12. Cover-ups and propaganda
  13. Intrusion of government into the sexual lives of consenting adults
  14. Welfare for the wealthy and privileged

This list was paired with another list of positive U.S. values in an essay I found by searching "traditional American values" on the internet.  Here is the list the author of that essay offered by contrast as good, conservative American values:

  1. Belief in the god of the Bible, regular church attendance

  2. Sex permitted only within the confines of heterosexual marriage

  3. Hard work and sacrifice
  4. Ambition
  5. Capitalism and free-market competition
  6. Frequent and open displays of patriotism
  7. Generosity toward the disadvantaged
  8. Democracy
  9. Honesty
  10. Importance of family

There are probably other items that could be put on both lists.  And, of course, not all conservatives sweep the bad realities of American history under the rug.  Liberals, though, are more apt to recognize and acknowledge the imperfections in the American character as revealed in a realistic study of American history.  I strongly urge you all to read Howard Zinn's, A Peoples' History of the United States.  It is a classic and a must-read for all serious liberals (progressives) like me.  If you want to know what I am talking about, read that book or at least dip into it here and there.  It is the history that "they" do not want you to read who want you to think in only idealistic, rosy pipe dreams about where we came from and the fine things on the "good" list.

As my brother the libertarian has pointed out to some of you, I was more or less conservative in most things until I began to read some of the alternatives like Zinn and especially some things about the history of the labor movement in the USA and now the "occupy" movements around the world.  I also highly recommend The Occupy Handbook, edited by Janet Byrne, for an understanding of current liberal thinking expressed in numerous essays by numerous authors.  Of course, there is always Noam Chomsky too, although his name lights a fire for some of you, I know.

I dare you to try some study outside your comfort zones.  For those who do not read much, maybe you can get it on DVD :-) .  Come to think about it, there are some good sources on DVD too: The Grapes of Wrath, or how about that movie with Kris Kristofferson, Heaven's Gate, about the Johnson County war of 1892 in Wyoming.  Do a search on the Johnson County War for some interesting history and how that bit of history influenced Hollywood and American mythology.

Anyhowever, that's it for me for now.  Hasta la vista.  That's until next time for those of you who do not speak America's second language (thus speaks the provocateur :-).


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"Somethin's happenin' here ... "

Taksim and the Left

By: Kemal Derviş


The small park in Taksim Square in the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul is one of the few green spaces left in the city center. On May 28, a handful of Turkish environmentalists started a peaceful protest against a redevelopment plan for the park that would replace the greenery with a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks, a shopping mall, and apartments. But heavy-handed police repression launched a massive civic movement that has spread to the entire country.
The redevelopment plan for the park triggered a huge protest against what a large segment of the Turkish public, particularly young people, considers paternalistic and authoritarian political leadership. The movement’s rapid growth was fueled by widespread opposition to what many regard as official efforts to regiment lifestyles, as well as by frustration over perceived economic inequities.
Indeed, though environmentalists and secular youth spearheaded the protest movement, it became remarkably diverse and inclusive almost overnight. Pious Muslims – particularly those who believe that Turkey’s urban development has created too much rent-seeking and too many easy fortunes – joined the demonstrations as well, as did some far-left groups.
Some of the protests became violent. Overall, however, the movement has remained peaceful and even joyous. Moreover, important figures in or close to the ruling Justice and Development Party expressed their willingness to hold a dialogue with the protesters. President Abdullah Gül, in particular, played a calming, statesmanlike role.
A striking feature of the protests has been the distance that the demonstrators have put between themselves and existing political parties, including the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the largest force in the center-left secular opposition. In this sense, the Taksim “sit-in” resembles protests elsewhere, particularly in the advanced democracies, from the “Occupy Wall Street” movement to the protests in Spain and Italy.
To be sure, there are country-specific features to such protests – including, in Turkey’s case, the reaction against lifestyle paternalism. But social democrats must understand why the protests developed quite independently of existing, organized, center-left politics. Without such realism, the center left in Europe and the emerging world cannot regain political momentum.
Modern production systems, in which information technology plays an increasingly crucial role, are totally different from the large factory floors that characterized the birth of trade unionism and social democracy. The way much of GDP is now produced has made it significantly harder for the left to organize in traditional ways. That has weakened center-left parties.
Yet information technology and global social media have empowered people to overcome social fragmentation along occupational, residential, and national lines. On some recent days, posts about Taksim Square have reportedly occupied a huge part of the entire world’s “Tweet space.”
In this corner of cyberspace, there is, of course, everything under the sun, including calls for the worst sort of sectarianism. Nonetheless, what dominates is a desire for individual freedom, an acceptance of diversity, great concern for the environment, and a refusal to be “organized” from above. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the CHP’s reformist leader, quickly recognized these dynamics: “The demonstrators don’t want us on the front lines,” he said, “and we have much to learn from these events.”
And yet, while civil society can be a trigger, sooner or later democratic politics has to drive the process of change. Whether in New York, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Istanbul, or New Delhi, a feeling of unease and a desire for change has emerged in societies that are becoming increasingly unequal, and in which politics and business mix in non-transparent ways. Rising youth unemployment and cuts in pensions and social expenditures come at a time when many large multinational corporations legally avoid taxes by shifting their profits to favorable jurisdictions. In the eurozone, stock prices are soaring, while joblessness is at a record-high 12.2%.
The democratic opposition can address the flaws of the existing order only if it recognizes the need for very different forms of mobilization from those of the past. It must recognize a strong popular desire for individual autonomy, more leadership positions for women and the young, and greater support for individual enterprise (along with reforms of social insurance that make it cost-effective and truly inclusive).
Finally, the environment, climate change, and global solidarity will be defining themes of the twenty-first century. Acting on their own, nation-states can successfully address neither tax avoidance nor carbon emissions. The renewed patriotism seen in many places  – a response to the unfairness and dislocation that globalization can generate – must be reconciled with human solidarity, respect for diversity, and the ability to work across national borders. The success of Germany’s Green Party reflects the focus that it has placed on many of these issues.
The events that started in Taksim Square are specific to Turkey, but they mirror aspirations that are universal. The same can be said for the challenge facing the democratic left.
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