Paying Attention

Herein be random ruminations on politics, history, ideas, spirituality, religion, education, media, life, relationships, culture... and Boston sports when I really want to vent.

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." (ubiquitous)

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will." (Frederick Douglass)

"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." (Susan B. Anthony)

"Clearly the trick in life is to die young as late as possible." (William Sloane Coffin)

January 22, 2013 8:13 am


pooramericansrevolt-deactivated: I was hoping you would check out my post concerning the need for legislation to protect students from predatory marketing and recruiting tactics used by for-profit post secondary educational institutions and re-blog if you support it. Since many of these for-profit post secondary schools appeal to women with promises of steady employment in medical & secretarial fields I think this is a feminist issue as well as a class issue. THX :)

You’re exactly right.  Maybe if students see the exploitation being directed at them by “privatization” and “free enterprise” in their education — an area they have such a direct stake in — they’ll become better able to see the bankruptcy and dishonesty of this ideology in other areas of American life.  At some point, “We won’t get fooled again” has to mean something.

August 31, 2012 9:31 pm


Tennessee Titans’ Kenny Britt was visibly relieved today.  He’s had EIGHT incidents involving the police (the latest being a DUI) since he was drafted in 2009, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was set to announce Britt’s punishment.  He got lucky.  Just a one-game suspension, which meant just a 1/17th loss in pay.  

Good for him.  What bothered me wasn’t Goodell’s decision but Britt’s reaction to it.  He said he was glad that God spoke to the commissioner and put in his heart “the right thing to do.”  God wanted this. I guess Mr. Britt gets demerits for being a serial lawbreaker and putting other people’s lives at risk, but that’s all balanced out by the points he gets for being a believer in God.  Since this is about a man’s faith… by definition off-limits to criticism… no one in the media will call him out for this.

I can’t blame Kenny Britt for his infantile and self-serving conception of God.  He was born in a country whose whole ambitious and bloody history reflects its belief that we are God’s “city on a hill” with a divine mission in the world.  He’s probably gone to churches where preachers gave him a bastardized, materialistic “health and wealth” gospel as opposed to the actual spiritual gospel Jesus taught.  And it’s far easier to conceive of a small God than a transcendent One.  The former is about what we get and gain.  The latter is about what we give and lose.

9:06 pm


The Republican “pro freedom, pro Jesus” agenda requires them to treat Ayn Rand’s secular and solipsistic philosophy as gospel and ignore absolutely everything Jesus said about money, wealth, poverty and salvation.    

This is why Jesus said, “Not all who cry ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”

9:00 pm
"When men feel inconsequential, it’s easier to blame women than it is to confront patriarchy - the true source of the diminishment and lack of meaning in so many men’s lives. When men feel unloved and disconnected, it’s easier to accuse women of not loving them well enough than it is to consider men’s own alienation from life. It’s easier to think of women as keeping men from the essence of their own lives than it is to see how men’s participation in patriarchy can suffocate and kill the life within themselves. It’s easier to theorize about powerful, devouring mothers than to confront the reality of patriarchy.

Beneath the massive denial of men’s power and responsibility and its projection onto women is an enormous pool of rage, resentment, and fear. Rather than look at patriarchy and their place within it, many men will beat, rape, torture, murder, and oppress women, children, and one another. They will wage mindless war and offer themselves up for the slaughter, chain themselves to jobs and work themselves to numbed exhaustion as if their lives had no value or meaning beyond controlling or being controlled or defending against control, and content themselves with half-lives of confused, lost deprivation. What men lack, women didn’t take from them, and it isn’t up to women to give it back."

Allan G. Johnson (via lavenderlabia)

(Source: wretchedoftheearth, via stfuconservatives)

August 14, 2012 8:38 pm


This is a photo of the mosque being built in nearby Murfreesboro, TN… the mosque which has generated so much opposition and media attention.  Not to mention vandalism from self-proclaimed TN Christians.

PS.  I found a similar photo on the Jihad Watch website but chose to use this one because it was a much better picture.

In our recent primary voting, TN Republicans who control state government managed to distract their constituent voters from gaping problems like public education, health care and spreading poverty by having two legislative candidates argue over who was more anti-the Murfreesboro mosque… and NEITHER candidate actually represented the district where the mosque is being built.

God help us all.

8:31 pm
"I should probably just shut up about Paul Ryan, because I believe there’s a federal statute requiring pundits to marvel at his “seriousness” and “courage.” I think there’s also a constitutional mandate enshrining him as a “deficit hawk,” even though he voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush military and security spending binge, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the bank bailout and the auto bailout, and against the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan. So I think for now I’ll just repost my screed about the Ryan plan from April 2011, suggesting that fuzzy math in the service of Tea Party ideology is not all that brave."
August 13, 2012 8:31 pm


Like most of you, I loved the Olympics.  I tuned in every night.  So many amazing athletes and events.

I loved how England hosted the Games.  Would-be President Mitt Romney may have shown he’s Not Ready For Prime Time in diplomacy, having managed to piss off England, our closest ally, the moment he landed there (God help you in the Middle East, Mitt), but London showed they most definitely were ready to host a great Olympiad.

I loved the athletes, the incredible performances, the drama.  It showed so much of what is best in a world of nations that seems hell bent on wallowing in the worst.

I loved the closing ceremony!  An unapologetic offering of John Lennon’s “Imagine?”  Imagine a world without nationalism or greed or violence… “and no religion too”?  Do you think for one moment an American Olympic city would have tried to run that one by the Guardians of Religio-Political Correctness?

What I DIDN’T like was NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.  (A heat or event or two sandwiched in between interminable commercials, but let’s leave that aside.)  The Olympics are a WORLD event… maybe the premier world event.  NBC turned it into a celebration of America.  There were so many great human interest stories from other parts of the world we never saw because…  “USA!  USA!”  A Sou African was a surprise gold medalist in swimming, but NBC interviews the American who came in third.  I’m pretty sure the South African spoke English, too.

It all made me wonder.  America is the riches, most powerful, and certainly the most miliitarily-dominant empire in the history of the world.  Yet our National Broadcasting Company (NBC) felt compelled to turn a global even into a “USA” infomericial.  Why?

The easy answer is capitalism.  NBC’s job was to deliver viewers to advertisers, so everyone involved assumed the viewers only cared about American athletes.  But if that’s true, it says something even more damning about us as an audience — that despite all our wealth and power, we are still insecure enough to focus on ourselves at the expense of the other hundreds of athletes there from every corner of the world.

It’s pretty sad when I learned there was an Olympian runner who was a former child soldier… not from NBC but from a credit card company commercial.

August 12, 2012 1:10 am


To hear the rich and their mouthpieces in the media (FOX, CNN, etc.) tell lt, they’re being brutalized by Obama.   Or they will be if he gets his way on taxes and regulation.

Actually, these charts show the opposite.  Obama’s proposed tax hike for them is mild, and so is his record of prosecution when they fleece the rest of us and cause Great Recessions.  What isn’t decreasing is the whining of the rich, who have watched their share of the nation’s income and wealth rise sky high for a generation yet somehow believe they’re victims of class warfare today.

August 9, 2012 6:43 pm


In Tennessee as elsewhere, politicians have made it clear they think schools are failing because they’re full of unqualified teachers.  They’ve made teachers pass standardized tests to prove they are “qualified” or
highly qualified.”

Of course, teachers wait in vain for a law and test to tell us if our state legislators are “highly qualified” to do their job.  Or even “minimally competent.” 

Meet Mike Bell.  When he was a state representative, he said the following about the health mandate in Obamacare:  "People who choose not to buy insurance can pay their medical bills with vegetables like the Mennonites do in my district.  They’re some of the healthiest people you’ve ever seen."

Yo, Mike!  How many carrots and heads of lettuce will it take to pay for open heart surgery?  Or even a regular check up with all its tests and lab work?

Do we need a test score to know this man is simply not qualified to write laws for anyone?

In Tennessee and elsewhere, you can be a simpleton without electoral consequence.  Mike Bell more recently ran for the state senate… and won.

August 5, 2012 9:22 pm


Today’s Republican Party is no longer a responsible actor in our two-party system.  They can’t be when they try to prevent citizens from voting and deliberately lie to confuse the electorate. 

In Pennsylvania, they tried to pass a law which included a provision saying voting officials need not give accurate information to citizens asking where they should vote.  Come again?

The other day, the Obama campaign filed suit in a state court against a Republican-passed voter law which eliminates early voting over three crucial days typically used by minorities while granting military personnel an unlimited early voting period.  The Obama suit said (correctly) that this created two classes of voters in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.  The Romney campaign and its media allies spent the next several days saying the Obama campaign wants to prevent military personnel from voting.  Really?

This is all part of a larger plan which places cynicism above citizenship.  The deliberate lies and obfuscation along with voter suppression work hand in hand with what they’re doing in Washington — working to make a president fail so they can run against him and his “failed” policies. 

The Republican Party hasn’t always been this way.  But today it is clear: they are no longer a responsible or even a rational actor in our democracy.  In fact, this is why they are a danger to it.