40 Year Old Gandhi
Can only find an audio clip, but this makes always me giggle:
Cal: Gandhi baked is good.
Paula: Yes, isn't it?
Cal: I always feel bad when I watch it baked 'cause I get really hungry and I'm eating a lot and poor Gandhi is fucking starving his ass off.
Paula: Starving, I know.
No Summer Any Day
In trying to remember if it had stopped raining at all today, I could only think of Bradbury's All Summer in a Day:
The children pressed to each other like so many roses, so many weeds, intermixed, peering out for a look at the hidden sun.
It had been raining for seven years; thousand upon thousands of days compounded and filled from one end to the other with rain, with the drum and gush of water, with the sweet crystal fall of showers and the concussion of storms so heavy they were tidal waves come over the islands. A thousand forests had been crushed under the rain and grown up a thousand times to be crushed again. And this was the way life was forever on the planet Venus, and this was the schoolroom of the children of the rocket men and women who had come to a raining world to set up civilization and live out their lives.
“It’s stopping, it’s stopping!”
I'm not entirely convinced it ever will.
We Don't Mean Passive
The nut of this scene:
PATEL: [I]t seems to me it's gone beyond remedies like passive resistance.
GANDHI: If I may – I, for one, have never advocated passive anything.
GANDHI: I am with Mr. Jinnah. We must never submit to such laws – ever. And I think our resistance must be active and provocative.
AZAD: And what "resistance" would you offer?
GANDHI: The law is due to take effect from April sixth. I want to call on the nation to make that a day of prayer and fasting.
JINNAH: You mean a general strike?
GANDHI: I mean a day of prayer and fasting. But of course no work could be done – no buses, no trains, no factories, no administration. The country would stop.
PATEL: My God, it would terrify them!
Just imagine what we could do together...
PS--Embed code not working?
Days Of Prayer And Fasting
Congress, June 7, 1775:
Resolved, That Thursday the 20th of July next, be observed ∥throughout the twelve United Colonies, as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer: and that Mr. [William] Hooper, Mr. J[ohn] Adams, and Mr. [Robert Treat] Paine, be a committee to bring in a resolve for that purpose.
Congress, December 11, 1776:
Resolved, That it be recommended to all the United States, as soon as possible, to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation; to implore of Almighty God the forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks, and to beg the countenance and assistance of his Providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war.
If you search the Library of Congress, you'll find myriad resolutions calling for days of prayer and fasting during the Revolution and after the Constitution. We have a rich history of "official" fasting, as well as that by activists...
Explaining Fasting To My Toddler
I explained this morning to Sam that I was fasting for the next few days. When he realized I wouldn't be eating he replied, "but you CAN eat!" I agreed, and noted that I had the freedom to decide not to as well. I told him I was doing it because there were some other people who had no freedom that I wanted to help, and it's one way to show solidarity with those who can only exercise power like this (something a toddler who often refuses to eat actually understands quite well).
I spared him this history from Gene Sharp's The Politics of Nonviolent Action:
Fasting was on several occasions...practiced by American colonists...[In response] to the action of some Bostonians in dumping tea belonging to the East India Company into Boston harbor, the British government had decided to close the port of Boston on June 1, 1774, and published the Boston Port Act to that end.
This news reached Virginia while the House of Burgesses was in session. Thomas Jefferson later wrote that the lead in the House was no longer being left to the older members. A small group of younger members which included Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Jefferson himself, and four or five others, met to consider what to do. They were determined to take a bold, unequivocal stand in support of Massachusetts. As Jefferson described it, they gathered to
consult on the proper measures in the council chamber...We were under the conviction of the necessity of arousing our people from the lethargy into which they had fallen as to passing events; and thought that the appointment of a day of general fasting and prayer would be most likely to call up & alarm their attention. No example of such a solemnity had existed since the days of our distresses in the war [against the French] of 55, since which a new generation had grown up...
After [the Governor dissolved the House to prevent it from taking other "hostile" actions], the members of the House met elsewhere and agreed to call for a meeting of an American Congress of Deputies for all colonies; and they returned to their own districts to arouse the clergymen and people to patriotic feelings...
Later Jefferson himself wrote: "The people met generally, with anxiety & alarm in their countenances, and the effect of the day thro' the whole colony was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man & placing him erect & solidly on his centre."
Fasting is not a very direct form of intervention that will immediately bring desired results, obviously. Yet one must remember that humans are creatures with a complex psychology, so even symbolic actions can provide a great deal of moral force.
We put pressure upon opponents, who sometimes view themselves as highly moral and doing the right thing. It's particularly important when trying to reach out to those in power that passive efforts like calling and writing, while valuable, gain a bit more force if they are backed up with action that shows your own skin in the game. If somebody living a relatively comfortable life decides to sacrifice, even just a day or two or few of normal necessities like eating, it carries more weight than a mere registration of opinion. It can also be a down payment of sorts on future, escalated actions.
Fasts can also have impact on allies. Fasting shows solidarity with each other (and of course with the hunger strikers in this case, though I doubt they get news about it), and can even convince some people who agree with our position to become more actively engaged. Again, if somebody makes a deliberate choice to forego food, it makes more of an impression than mere exhortation to do something. It can encourage people to consider making a little extra effort to change things, even if it doesn't involve fasting.
I hope Sam and Sadie learn as they grow up that they can give up things, even necessary things, if they find a cause worth fighting for. Because there will always be a struggle for justice.
And so...can you join over 1300 people trying to hold Obama's feet to the fire on Gitmo? Even if he's making some encouraging noises, speeches are not action. It is a useful exercise to continue reminding him and the American people that we are all morally responsible for some reprehensible policies--even if they began under Bush and Congress is dragging its feet--and we have the power to change them.
Medea, Of Course, Is My Hero
Dick Cheney's Mentor
Another Fast For Slow Justice
A few days ago I committed to my first fast in a couple years:
I pledge to join the global hunger strike and actions for justice for Guantanamo prisoners by fasting for at least 24 hours.
I acknowledge that I will never know what it is like to hunger strike under conditions as inhumane as those within Guantanamo, but hereby join the global hunger strike in hopes that it, among a variety of other efforts, will provide an impetus for policy change.
I call on President Obama to release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release, formally charge and try the remaining prisoners in fair and open proceedings, and close the shameful prison in Guantanamo -- as he promised to do when he ran for office.
Usual caveats about effectiveness, expectations, the need for escalating, strategic action, etc.
Anyway, I'm going to enjoy our regular meal with Papa tomorrow night, then not break my fast until Monday morning. Not a long one, but I need to show solidarity with the victims of our immoral policies down in Cuba as well as my Pink sisters and brothers, plus it's always something that breaks up the mundane routines of a comfortable life and realigns perspective.
For those of you who remember my old 198 Sundays feature at Pax, which highlighted a different Method of nonviolent action each week, this would be an example of the "lowest" level of the tactic: the fast of moral pressure. Compare and contrast to the hunger strikes going on to our south, and Gandhi's satyagrahic form.
First They Came For The Forms
So the more info that comes to light, the more it seems people are pissed that the IRS did its job, albet to a lesser extent than it could/should to enforce the law. But, you know, questionnaires are an essential element of fascism...
One Could Argue He's 2/5s Correct
I agree with my esteemed colleague from Virginia.
- Founding Father, John Quincy Adams (age 9)
“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.
Indeed, and the General Welfare clause was pro-slavery. Everybody knows that.
This is a deeply misleading telling of American constitutional history.
The inclusion of the clause greatly enhanced the South’s political power and made it harder to abolish slavery.
Understatement of the last 10 score years.
Freedom ain't free, so take 600k lives out of petty cash (a few million in bondage notwithstanding)! And the liberty to remain willfully ignorant? Priceless...
Here Comes The Rain Again
Punching Peter: An Oklahoman Treatise On The Bankrupting Of Man's Conscience
To robbe Petyr & geve it Poule, it were non almesse but gret synne.
- From Jacob's Well (1450)
Yeah, what Betty Cracker said:
It’s no surprise that Coburn is a liar and a hypocrite: That’s what we expect from politicians. It’s what our grandparents expected, and their grandparents too.
But what does seem somewhat novel — to me, at least — is the brazen callousness in today’s breed of Republicans, a rigid orthodoxy combined with a rich man’s insulation from trouble that renders them utterly indifferent to the fate of others, even those who look like them and share their origins and cultural pretensions.
People like Coburn and Tea Partiers forget that an essential part of the American experience has been pulling together to help people hurt by disasters or otherwise. And we have always done so with the help of our Federal government's unique ability to draw upon national resources through its power to tax and spend money to promote the general welfare.
Punching Peter--by taking away his SNAP benefits or what have you--to pay for Paul's disaster relief is un-American.
The time to hesitate is through
Disaster Porn Redux
This is all I've got to say about the big tornado. Oh, and Coburn can bite me.
Indeed, Because The IRS Shoots So Many People
“You know, thank goodness that the IRS was not around to have helped the Founders when they founded the country or otherwise they would have probably shot the Boston Tea Party participants, they would have killed off over half of the signers of the Declaration of the Independence,” Gohmert added.
Speaking Of The Moon
As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.
But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.
Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.
But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."
The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.
At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.
Like God couldn't make a lesser light out of a fucking reflector, or stars that are actually other suns, far away...
In Other Words
Rocket Science Isn't Rocket Science Or A Facebook Meme
Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down. That's not my department.
If NASA thought going to the moon were as simple as "rocket goes up, up, up!" we'd never have gotten there. Some things are actually complex.
It's not super easy. Yet it's obviously not impossible to get to the moon (or beyond) if we put our minds to solving each problem one by one, put all the steps together ahead of time and write 'em on checklists, practice, execute. We did it. With 1960s technology.
So I sometimes say, "even rocket science isn't rocket science." In other words, even difficult, complicated things, often represented by ROCKET SCIENCE, aren't really all that bad when you get down to it. Many steps, not something you bang out in an evening over a few beers, but achievable. Still, something that takes some real thought and appreciation for all the components that have to work together.
Now, it's pretty funny to ask, "If they can put man on the moon, why can't they invent a parking meter that can make change of a dollar bill!?" Juxtapose something apparently miraculous, magical, with something that seems so easy. Low hanging, humorous fruit. And, of course, they can do those simple things, if there's any margin in it.
Or we ask different questions like, "why don't we use some sort of smart meter technology that can read a wireless ID in your car and debit your account?" Or something. We figure stuff out. It's not undoable, just takes doing.
Which brings me to why, as much as I love social media, I really detest Facebook memes. Instead of putting a bit of neural energy toward an issue, just boil that down to fit on a bumpersticker or picture of a famous person and VOILA! You have an "argument" that "proves" your "point."
But it doesn't. 9 times out of 10, it's a misattributed quotation, an oversimplification, some bad paraphrase. Or flat out factually inaccurate. The latest is Umbrellagate.
HAHAHA! Obama is so uppit...er, entitled, he thinks he's better than an Anglo-Saxon Queen! LOL!!!!eleven!!11!
We have so much information and context at our fingertips today. 30 seconds of googling can unearth pretty much everything you need to know about something. Yet we're so busy data collecting that we stop as soon as we find an item that agrees with our preconceived, boiled down notions, and miss the forest for a single convenient tree.
Quite frankly, it's amazing we got to the moon at all. And I wonder if we ever will again when we can't be bothered to put a little more effort toward defending our policy positions and beliefs.
Like and share if you agree!
Mel's Char Palace
Happy birthday, Seth Warner:
Immediately after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, [Ethan] Allen and Warner became primarily conspicuous among the Green Mountain Boys (as settlers in that region denominated themselves), who were as ready to seize the musket in defence of American liberty as were any in the regularly organized colonies, and, indeed, were the very first to assail His Majesty's forces, in the surprise and capture of Ticonderoga, led by Allen, and seconded by Warner; and Crown Point, the next fortress held by the British arms, was on the following day taken by Warner, to whom that honor was conceded by the other officers engaged in that affair.
Both Allen and Warner were made colonels by the self-assumed authority of the occupants of what now constitutes the State of Vermont, and were recognized as such by the army, soon after those events, destined by Congress for the invasion of Canada, and as partisan officers did good service therein. Allen's career was, however, short, he being made prisoner in a rash attempt to surprise Montreal during the progress of the siege of St. John's, by Gen. Montgomery, and sent in irons to England to be tried as a traitor.
But Warner, who was as much distinguished for cool courage as Allen was for impetuosity, continued throughout that and the two succeeding campaigns to render excellent service its a partisan commander, in many of those conflicts between small parties on each side which are not particularized in the history of the war —and not only so, but for the part he acted in some truly celebrated conflicts.
Appropriately enough, Warner was head of Warner's Regiment, an "extra-continental" regiment (one of several not directly attached to a particular state) established by Congress on July 5, 1776. All part of the "Vermont Question" wherein Congress had to dance around the issue of New York's claim on our territory.
Why Hasn't Obama Been Impeached Yet?
When will he just get a BJ and be done with it?
Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day
Clear And Present Danger
Conservative activist Tom Zawistowski, the former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, compared the Obama administration's ongoing IRS scandal to Nazi Germany during an appearance Thursday afternoon on Fox News.
Zawistowski appeared on Neil Cavuto's show to say that he believed his group was among those targeted by the IRS. He said it took two-and-a-half years for his organization's tax-exempt status to be approved.
After describing the delay as "onerous intrusive and politically motivated", Zawistowski, called the responses he received from the IRS as "frightening".
"This is unbelievable. This is Nazi Germany," he said.
If there's one thing Hitler was really good at, it was taking a long time to process tax-exempt applications. Truly, the mark of absolute fascist dictatorship run horribly amok with its jackboots stomping on the throat of freedom-loving patriotic liberty.
Anyway, if you want real tyranny in the USA, consider the Sedition Amendments to the Espionage Act of 1917, upheld by SCOTUS, 7-2. Holmes dissented (along with Brandeis):
I do not doubt for a moment that by the same reasoning that would justify punishing persuasion to murder, the United States constitutionally may punish speech that produces or is intended to produce a clear and imminent danger that it will bring about forthwith certain substantive evils that the United States constitutionally may seek to prevent. The power undoubtedly is greater in time of war than in time of peace because war opens dangers that do not exist at other times.
But as against dangers peculiar to war, as against others, the principle of the right to free speech is always the same. It is only the present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about that warrants Congress in setting a limit to the expression of opinion where private rights are not concerned.
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care whole heartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.
But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas-that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment.
Every year if not every day we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.
Only the emergency that makes it immediately dangerous to leave the correction of evil counsels to time warrants making any exception to the sweeping command, 'Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.'
Douglas concurred in Brandenburg several decades later (making an allusion to Holmes whilst defending greater speech protection):
One's beliefs have long been thought to be sanctuaries which government could not invade...The line between what is permissible and not subject to control and what may be made impermissible and subject to regulation is the line between ideas and overt acts.
The example usually given by those who would punish speech is the case of one who falsely shouts fire in a crowded theatre.
This is, however, a classic case where speech is brigaded with action...They are indeed inseparable and a prosecution can be launched for the overt acts actually caused. Apart from rare instances of that kind, speech is, I think, immune from prosecution. Certainly there is no constitutional line between advocacy of abstract ideas as in Yates and advocacy of political action as in Scales. The quality of advocacy turns on the depth of the conviction; and government has no power to invade that sanctuary of belief and conscience.
Being thrown in jail for dissent is tyranny. Delays in application processing is what you should expect from bureaucracy (lemme tell you how long disability filings take, both with the government and for-profit corporations). A little perspective, please...