Friday, July 30, 2010

20+ UUs arrested; some jailed overnight

So many UUs (and others) were arrested yesterday that the backlog clogged Sheriff Joe Arpaio's system, delaying his planned raids. Some--not all--UUs were allowed to leave on their own recognizance; some were arrested and arraigned (see photo of President Peter Morales); some were jailed overnight, to be arraigned today. Many UUs remained outside the prison, in a vigil to stand with their jailed comrades.

To donate toward bailing out the protestors (or simply to support the work in many ways), please use the "Standing on the Side of Love" donation page.

(Morales pic courtesy of Standing on the Side of Love's twitpic.)

My stomach clenched when I saw this photo of the Rev. Ms. Susan Frederick-Gray in handcuffs. Her body posture and the grim look of determination on her face affected me powerfully. Many people are unjustly arrested everyday, and I am grateful that my life has been largely untouched by that kind of injustice so far. Seeing friends and colleagues put into such positions makes this more real somehow. Thanks to everyone who protested, especially to those willing to be arrested. Let us all keep up the pressure to end this travesty of a law, and to start a sane and compassionate conversation about race in our USA...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

judge blocks; gov appeals; many still protest

Judge Bolton's injunction "does not stop immigrant communities and their supporters from being terrorized in Arizona, it just limits the reasons for which they can be terrorized," according to Colin Bossen's excellent post from Arizona.

Some of the most onerous parts of Arizona's SB1070 law have been temporarily blocked, including the necessity of carrying identification papers at all times, and the requirement of Arizona police to ask the immigration status of all those who have been stopped for other reasons, if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they might be undocumented persons, according to this Arizona Republic article. The injunction allows immigrants to seek work, but it left standing the provision making it illegal to stop to hire such workers, or to transport any undocumented persons.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's office "will file an expedited appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals" today, according to the article.

Over 100 Unitarian Universalists have traveled to Arizona, joining our human cousins in protest of this law--more than any other religious group. I am still in Michigan, but I support all those protesting SB1070, whether in Phoenix, elsewhere in Arizona, or at protests in other cities, around the nation. Todos somos Arizona!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Mad Men" season 4 premiere

The world of Mad Men is a horrible place--and yet it makes for compelling television. I was born into that world, just a few weeks after JFK was assassinated, and I *cannot* imagine how restrictive it must have felt, to live in those times.

**minor spoiler**
In the show, Betty Draper has divorced her husband, Don, to marry Henry Francis. Henry's mother does not approve: "She's a silly woman. Honestly, Henry, I don't know how you can stand living in that man's dirt." I physically flinched when I heard that line. My mother was divorced, a few years after this was supposed to have taken place. I wonder how many comments like that were aimed her direction.

...and yet, my mother lived through it, and survived, and raised two children. The women and men in MM seem to find ways of coping. Life always sloshes over and past and around the boundaries we humans (attempt to) place around it. Like all good art, Mad Men relates the human struggle to get our needs--and desires--met, and how we evolve, almost in spite of ourselves, in the process.

See more about Matthew Weiner's Mad Men at the TV club and another discussion (including a nice debate about the show's gender dynamics) at the Wall Street Journal's MM blog

In the WSJ blog, Evangeline Morphos compares MM to Harry Potter: "Harry Potter stories presented kids with a truth they had always known—the world has mean kids in it and can be a very dangerous place. Harry Potter proved that you can come of age, even in difficult times." MM may show how we--males, females, blacks, whites, homosexuals, heterosexuals, amputees and temporarily able-bodied persons--must evolve through whatever contemporary mess we inhabit.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

libraries crucial, *not* expensive

A functioning democracy *requires* an educated public. Doug Muder, in his weekly sift of the news, writes, "Under the early presidents, America built the best postal service in the world, and had one of the highest literacy rates. That wasn't just the result of our rugged individualism or our protestant desire to read the Bible for ourselves; it was social policy. Because, as Jefferson put it, 'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.'"

Muder continues, "Today we hear a lot from the Tea Party about the Founders and the Constitution and how 'freedom isn't free' -- which always means that we have to fight a war somewhere. To the real Founders, though, freedom wasn't a strong military (quite the opposite) but an educated public with access to high-quality information."

...which is part of the reason he is angered by Fox News Chicago's report questioning the value of libraries: "keeping libraries running costs big money. In Chicago, the city pumps $120 million a year into them...That's money that could go elsewhere – like for schools, the CTA, police or pensions."

Muder also writes about current events, like Mel Gibson and the (now ex-)Tea Party leader, Mark Williams: "Ever notice how often somebody portrayed as an innocent victim of political correctness turns out later to have been a flaming bigot all along?"

...and his "Disinformation Watch" should be required reading.

Thank you, Doug, for your work (and thanks, Tom for the tip about Doug).

Friday, July 16, 2010

US wealth gap increasing

The wealth gap in the USA is the worst since the Gilded Age, writes Gus Lubin in this Business Insider article, complete with 15 charts to anger and/or sicken us.

Unlike many other nations (France is shown, in chart 13), where the wealth gap is not increasing, the richest people in the USA now control the largest percentage of wealth since the Roaring Twenties. Half of the folks in the USA, combined, own a mere 2.5% of the country's wealth; the top 1% owns a third.

Real average earnings are about where they were a half-century ago (adjusted to 2008 dollars, the average hourly wage in 1964 was $17.54; in 2008 it was $18.52). CEOs and business owners have seen their income triple and double, respectively--and the wealthy have paid less and less in taxes. Normalized to 1979, the top 1% has had its share of US wealth more than double; the top 10% has kept even--and the bottom 90% has seen its share shrink.

Yet people are still worried that the U.S. is perilously close to socialism?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harvey Pekar, RIP

I never met Harvey Pekar, but I haunted many of the same bars and bookstores, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. His comics were sometimes depressing, usually acerbically humorous, and always painstakingly real.

As Joanna Connors wrote, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer obit, "Pekar could neither leap tall buildings in a single bound, nor move faster than a speeding bullet. Yet his comics suggested a different sort of heroism: The working-class, everyman heroics of simply making it through another day, with soul -- if not dignity -- intact."

If Harvey did not always cheer me up, he did let me know that there others engaging similar human struggles.

A film was made about his life/comics, American Splendor, starring Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis (as Harvey's wife, Joyce Brabner). Harvey and Joyce helped write the screenplay, and also appear throughout the film. More links to online content can be found in this CNN article by Damon Brown.

Monday, July 05, 2010

tweeting independence

"We protested taxation without representation; we have been patient; we appealed for justice; now we declare ourselves free" is one way to tweet the USA Declaration of Independence, according to Karen Sullivan, in's recent contest. Rebecca Kaplan judged the eloquent and humorous entries ("@KingGeorge If you liked it then you shouldn'ta put a tax on it." by @grammarninja). Here are two more of her favorites:

"We seek independence based on noble and universal ideas combined with petty and one-sided grievances." (by @Boston1775)

"All peeps are equal. Sick and tired of your tyrannical BS. Seeking independence. Your permission requested, not required." (by @TJMonticello)

Check out a few more, including the winner, at the original article.

btw, we are not independent, but we must first be strong enough to be relatively independent to recognize and embody our full interdependence--IMHO.

Friday, July 02, 2010

actions of immediate lament

Long, heartfelt debates about AIWs speak to a need for lament, rather than procedural votes. Moving testimony on all sides of our Actions of Immediate Witness may have helped the speakers feel better, but a good lament process would deepen that relief *and* reduce the time spent on actual votes.

Last Sunday afternoon, delegates in plenary debated anti-immigrant measures at state and federal levels, the blockade of Gaza, gulf coast environmental justice, the clean energy bill and the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. All are compelling issues; all are issues on which our vote will have little effect. The main value of these efforts, IMHO, is to allow people to voice their feelings. Perhaps doing away with the messy vote process, and deepening the opportunity for lamentation, would better serve our delegates and our movement.

The Rev. Mr. Jose' Ballester delivered an impassioned lament on Saturday afternoon, and has created stirring laments in previous settings. I am sure that there are some people who disagreed with some or all of his comments, and I am sure that many people were moved and found some healing in them, too.

It may not be appropriate to abandon the AIW process entirely. Perhaps we could stage a time for lament in addition, at some GA (or at district/chapter events) soon.