Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Not exciting, until you consider the alternative

Full disclosure: I'm not overly stoked about her candidacy, except for the opportunity it presents to elect America's first female president. That is huge.

But I don't think she'll do nearly enough to fight the ever-accelerating trend toward outright plutocracy in this country. The best that can be said about her is that she'll probably stand in the way of the most destructive efforts of the Republican Party — such as a total dismantling of the social safety net, a hatchet job on governmental regulatory standards, voter suppression, or even more free reign for corporations and special interests to run roughshod over our democracy.

Frankly, I'd rather see Elizabeth Warren run. But it's clear that she's not going to. Bernie Sanders would be another pick of mine — but the idea that he'd ever run a competitive candidacy, much less win, is a pipe dream. Realistically speaking, he's most effective where he already is.

In short, as a dedicated progressive who regularly looks with despair on the direction this country is going, I'd love to see a fresh face who has the potential to do more than just hold the status quo. I want to see a candidate who will reframe the entire debate.

And I don't think Hillary Clinton is that candidate.

Friday, March 27, 2015

"Religious freedom" is not freedom to discriminate

Anti-gay measures proposed under the guise of "religious freedom" during 2015 state legislative sessions.
Source: Human Rights Campaign
I'm really, really getting sick of citizens, Republican politicians, and states that invoke the euphemistic cover of "religious freedom" as a justification to legally discriminate against other people in public service or accommodation.

None of the latest offenders are terribly surprising: Indiana. Arkansas. Georgia. And so on. The aforementioned three are hardly the only ones; they're just a few of the most recent (and most egregious) examples.

These states should all be held accountable — discriminated against, if you will. (In the case of Indiana, I really can't think of a good reason to spend money there in the first place, other than the fact that it's in the way of other states you might want to visit, which regrettably means that you might have to drive through it. That in itself is pretty awful.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Republicans will try to rig the 2016 electoral vote

The 2012 presidential election results
This Washington Post article details the uphill climb Republicans face for the foreseeable future in acquiring the requisite 270 electoral votes necessary to capture the White House.

How will the GOP respond to this trend ahead of the 2016 campaign? Simple. They'll try to cheat.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

When the Bible becomes an idol

This book is part of God's story, but it's not the whole story.
One of the main ideas I've learned thus far from my study of counseling psychology is simple but important: As human beings, we're inseparable from our own stories and contexts.

In other words, it's impossible to divorce ourselves from our families of origin, our cultures, our races, our ethnicity, our social classes, our religions, our nationalities, our genetics, the historical contexts in which we live, and so on and so on.

All of these factors — and many others — influence us deeply, and we carry pieces of them with us as we interact with the world. We're never, ever a blank slate — not even while we're still in the womb. The contexts into which we're born were already shaping us long before we were even a glimmer in our parents' eyes, so to speak.

As a 30-something white American man born and raised in a First World setting at a particular time in world history, I will bring my unique story and humanity to every encounter I have with patients in a future therapeutic context. My patients in turn will bring theirs. It's simply unavoidable; and no relationship I have with one patient will be exactly the same as the one I have with another, because all of our stories and personal contexts are unique.

The same would be true if I had lived millennia ago and had penned a document that would ultimately end up in the compilation we now know as the Christian Bible. My writing and the story and perspectives contained within would be heavily influenced by the context in which I live. There's simply no way around that.

It's through this framework that I approach the debate over scriptural authority, and it's by this standard that I make an argument that would inevitably be branded as heresy by many.

I have no problem with depicting the Bible as a source of God's revelation. However, I have a big problem with depicting it as the only source — or an "infallible" source that somehow trumps all others.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scott Walker: Not qualified to be president — or governor

Scott Walker is not a serious candidate for the presidency, which, of course, means he's leading in the GOP primary polls.

His already-extensive catalog of narcissistic gaffes notwithstanding, I recently noted that Walker never finished college, which, in my view, disqualifies him from holding his current office, much less pursuing the presidency of the United States.

And I stand by that assertion.

Predictably, he attacks as "elitist" his critics who say that it's relevant that his highest level of education is a high school diploma. In fact, here are his exact words on that point: "That's the kind of elitist, government-knows-best, top-down approach we’ve heard for years…"

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anthony Bourdain predicted Boris Nemtsov's murder

Don't cross this guy.
(Photo: www.kremlin.ru)
Oh. My. Word.

If you have Netflix, go to instant viewing, find Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown, select season 3, and watch episode 6 on Russia. Just…do it.

In that episode, Anthony Bourdain dines with Boris Nemtsov at a Moscow restaurant. During the dinner, Bourdain notes that they were "uninvited" from another establishment after the proprietors found out that Nemtsov would be in attendance.

"Critics of the government, critics of Putin," Bourdain says, "bad things seem to happen to them."

Replied Nemtsov: "Yes. Unfortunately, [the] existing power represent, let I say, Russia old 19th century, not of 21st."

Bourdain's voiceover: "Critics of Putin: Beware."

And later on at the dinner: "I don't think you need to be a conspiracy theorist to say, 'Whoever did this very much wanted everyone to know who done it,'" says Bourdain in reference to a series of suspicious misfortunes that have visited Russian opposition leaders over the years. "Everybody understands, and everybody is meant to understand."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Net neutrality is a B.F.D.

What this guy said.
There was some really good political news today — an exceptionally rare thing these days — and almost no one is paying attention to it, or even knows what it means (which, in itself, is a major part of the problem).

The FCC voted 3-2 to establish strong net neutrality rules, effectively treating the Internet like a public utility. I don't think it's possible to overstate how important this is.

Here's why:
Net Neutrality is the Internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online. This is the definition of an open Internet.

Net Neutrality means an Internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that Internet service providers should provide us with open networks — and should not block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn't decide who you can call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn't be concerned with the content you view or post online.

Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the Internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors' content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open Internet.