Monday, May 10, 2010

In Defense of Empathy

My next book to read is Jeremy Rifkin's The Empathetic Civilization. I'm very excited to get started on it, as everything I've been reading about it seems to confirms some things I've been thinking for a while. I also think there's a lot in it that could be applied to theology. Anyways here's a quote from Rifkin writing about real freedom in his latest piece on Huffington Post.

"Freedom requires that one is treated by others as an end not as a means. One can't really be free in a society where everyone treats each other in an exploitative or instrumental manner. True freedom, therefore, is only possible in a society that lives by the "golden rule." "By doing onto others as we would have others do unto us" we express our support for the optimizing of each other's life. This is the embodiment of what freedom means. A society that lives by the golden rule and embeds it in its laws and public policy is a free society. The golden rule is rarely exercised in authoritarian regimes."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It has obviously been a while since I last blogged. Most of the time people go on a blog hiatus because they are really busy and just don't have time. That is not the case for me. I have had time, and plenty of it. Another reason most people quit blogging for a while is because they just don't have anything to blog about. That also is not an issue. I have plenty of things bouncing around in my brain to post on. The reason I haven't blogged is simply because I don't know what I believe about so many things and I A. don't want to blog on my thoughts and feelings at the moment only to look back and regret doing so and B. I often feel I just don't have enough information.

I've also been thinking about my intellectual and spiritual journey. I've come from a conservative back ground and have steadily journeyed leftward. What I don't want to be is a pendulum, and I think, on this blog at least, I have come across that way. I don't want to be a liberal fundy anymore than I want to be a conservative fundy. What I believe to be true, what I think makes the most sense, however, tends to always fall on the left rather than the right. It's just the way it is. I don't only listen, watch and read liberal sources of information. I go out of my way, like listen to Glenn Beck, to get a broad range of opinion. I read columnists like Robert Samuelson and David Brooks-- not liberal guys! -- and often agree with them on certain issues. Yet, at the end of the day, liberals often make the most sense and represent the most moral point of view.

What I've come to realize is that the only thing I can offer on my blog is my honesty. What I write represents how I view the world, and as long as I am listening to all sides and doing my best to make sense of them, then that's all I can do. If I'm wrong then that's o.k. If I mostly agree with one political view then that's o.k. as well. I can only offer an intellectually honest point of view with the information I am given. So that's what I'm trying to do, not offer a liberal or progressive point of view, just mine.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Is it perfect? No. Is it even that good? Eh, I think it's ok. History was definitely made last night with the passage of the healthcare reform bill, but the bill doesn't do anywhere what needs to be done like ban basic healthcare insurance for profit, like every other developed country has.

The pluses are that discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and other nasty insurance practices will be done away with; thirty some million people in the next four years will have coverage; and healthcare insurance will be mandated. With the first and third items in effect, hopefully we can get some of the people with poorer health off medicaid and medicare and onto private plans. Oh and this plan actually seeks to pay for itself and not add to the deficit. Something that can't be said about Medicare part D which was passed under Bush.

As for the "American people's" feelings. I honestly could give a crap. I don't really care what the polls say. There's been so much disinformation put out there by the fear factory known as Fox News that I don't think most people have the slightest clue what they are talking about. Also most people have insurance that they are happy with, and it seems that unless one has personally been screwed by the current healthcare system one is less likely to be for changing it.

I thought Chuck Todd made a valid point yesterday on Meet the Press. A Democrat and Republican leader were on earlier in the show stating that they could maybe find some agreement on energy and immigration. Todd pointed out that those issues were regional, so we should expect some agreement, as where healthcare is philosophical, so we should expect the intense partisanship we have seen. My feeling is that next year this will be all history, and Americans will be as happy with this legislation as they are with another piece of legislation the Right said would take our freedom away-- Medicare.

Lastly, out of this whole mess also comes proof that pro-lifers do have a real voice in the Democratic party. So much for the Obama is the most hardcore pro-abortionist ever crap.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Healthcare Summit

I'm watching the healthcare summit. The president has pointed out that where the gov't steps in is to create a baseline standard of care. I've thought this should happen even when I was still a conservative. It seems like an obvious point. I have yet to see a Republican take this point on. Instead I hear from Republicans: "if people pay less then they will get less coverage, and if people pay more they'll get more coverage." But the people paying less are only getting high deductible catastrophic coverage which doesn't do crap for preventative medicine and routine medical needs. And that's a big part of the problem.

But to be fair. I would like to see a Democrat address the claim that employers will be more willing to drop people from their coverage and pay the fine because the fine will be cheaper.

Monday, February 8, 2010


From Politico--

PALIN: It depends on a few things. Say he played, and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day.(Good job Sarah, you read a newspaper) Say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran, or decided to really come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do. But that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years. Because I think if the election were today, I do not think Obama would be re-elected.

But three years from now things could change if on the national security threat --

WALLACE: You're not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card.

PALIN: I'm not suggesting that. I'm saying, if he did, things would dramatically change if he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies. I think people would perhaps shift their thinking a little bit and decide, well, maybe he's tougher than we think he is today. And there wouldn't be as much passion to make sure that he doesn't serve another four years --

WALLACE: But assuming he continues on the path that he going on and we don't have that rally around the flag (ph) --

PALIN: Then he's not going to win.

The prospects of this woman actually being nominated as a presidential candidate is terrifying. Obama should "toughen up", and start a war. Nice. Palin's take on foreign policy sounds like a drunken college frat boy playing alpha male and trying to impress a girl.

And then there's this gem--

Palin, who slammed Emanuel last week for calling liberal activists "f---ing retards," declined to ask conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh to apologize for using the term "retards" on his nationally syndicated show, saying Limbaugh used the word as satire.

"I didn't hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people who he did not agree with f---ing retards and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, it's been reported, did say that. There's a big difference there," said Palin, whose youngest son Trig has Down Syndrome.

Palin made the comment after Wallace asked her about this Limbaugh quote: "Our politically correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards. ... I mean these people, these liberal activists, are kooks."

"Should Rush Limbaugh apologize," Wallace asked.

Palin responded, "They are kooks so I agree with Rush Limbaugh."

I can't even comment on this because I know people who support this woman, and I don't want to insult them. I don't even know what to say. She is an absolute joke. The hypocrisy is just astounding. Just decry Limbaugh's comment! But she can't. And that's how bad it's gotten.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I used to support Don't Ask, Don't Tell on the grounds that it would be just weird and gross to shower with openly gay men. I argued that since we don't put men and women in the same bunks and have them shower together, then we shouldn't allow gay men and women to shower with other men and women. Later, however, I changed my mind. For one, I argued that the policy was dumb because gay men and women already serve in the military. The situation already was a reality and there hasn't been any huge incidents that I'm aware of. Two, we have fired many valuable soldiers who just wanted to serve their country like their hetro counterparts, and this is especially troubling since our troops are spread thin. And three, because we wouldn't expect any hetro soldier not to talk openly about his wife or girlfriend, so why should we force gay soldiers to stay silent on the subject of their loved ones. But as of late, I have kind of been on the fence about this issue.

I was listening to NPR today, and they did a story where they interviewed several marines concerning Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Many of the soldiers preferred not to talk about it, one said he was for repealing it, but another said he thought we needed to leave it alone... at least for now. His argument was that soldiers are increasingly becoming more and more stressed. And indeed, suicide among soldiers is up, and many are suffering from PTSD and other psycho-social problems. This soldier believed that if DADT is repealed right now, then we could possibly see another Matthew Shepherd incident. Repealing DADT right now, he said, could be bad for the military, the country, and the gay community.

Yet often times doing the right thing comes with a price. Should we have kept slavery legal because a lot of people died making it illegal? Still, we've lived with this policy for well over a decade, gay people technically can serve in the military, and I have to heed the warning of an individual who has been a marine for a long time and knows what that life is like. So while I'm for repealing it, maybe it won't hurt to wait.

Monday, January 25, 2010