Category Archives: Current Affairs

The Supreme Court: Lighting the Fuse of Revolution?

Lighting the Fuse of Revolution?

There’s a grimly fascinating update from “Rightwing Watch” (RW) detailing how the harder core of the religious right is throwing down the gauntlet to the U.S. Supreme Court, to wit:
Legalize same sex marriage nationwide, and you’ll face an armed insurrection. A new Civil War. A Boom-Boom-Bonhoeffer Moment.
Your Honors, You Have Been Warned.”
(RW is an ongoing project of People for the American Way.)

Irony Alert: the artist may believe the text in this image. This blogger does not.

Continue reading The Supreme Court: Lighting the Fuse of Revolution?

O.M.G. –Wal-Freaking-Mart??

O.M.G. —Wal-Freaking-Mart?? In Arkansas??

The Arkansas legislature has passed a religious-based antigay law, HB 1228, that is a near-clone of the controversial Indiana law. It now goes to the governor.

But Attention Wal-Mart shoppers!


Let me repeat that, after picking my jaw up off the floor:

<< “Every day in our stores, we see firsthand the benefits diversity and inclusion have on our associates, customers an communities we serve,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “It all starts with our core basic belief of respect for the individual. Today’s passage of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold.” >>

[NOTE: as far as I can tell, this story is NOT an “April Fool.”]

 Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has previously said he would sign the bill. Will Wal-Mart’s opposition change his mind?

Stay tuned.

A View of Vegas: the Beast & 7 Deadlies

Vegas: the Beast & 7 Deadlies

I admit that the tourist spectacle of Las Vegas, the very shamelessness of its gilt-edged tawdriness, stirs a certain repulsive fascination for me.


But that aside, my sense of the city is that it combines a manifestation of the Beast of the Apocalypse with a showcase for the Seven Deadly Sins.

The photo below shows Lust, but even greater is greed (primarily on the part of the hordes clustered around the gambling, including me mthe other night for $2 worth)


Then there are legendary buffets that cater to gluttony (I went for a very Chocolate French pastry by the Eiffel Tower.)


Pride, in the form of hubris,  pervades everything. It shows above all in the confidence this endlessly lavish, spectacle of pointless, metastasizing consumption can be plopped down & maintained in the middle of a desert.

image This hotel has it right: it’s a mirage. And the Mexican section of “The  World’s Largest Gift Shop” jauntily shoves at customers the underlying reality of it all: memento mori! Eat drink & be merry, suckers, because tomorrow. . .

I photobombed this advance guard for El Dia de Los Muertos. Can you tell?


. . . Oh, but there is no tomorrow in Vegas.

Only one of the Seven Deadlies eluded my prying gaze here: sloth, acedia. Every where I turned, people were working hard, from the pimps on the corners, to scurrying hotel clerks,  the dealers at the craps tables,–even most of the revelers crowding the Saturday night street appeared diligent to the point of obsession in their-pleasure seeking; I certainly was.


But what about the culminating deadly sin of Anger/Wrath? Seemingly it doesn’t fit the city’s painstakingly maintained image of naughty fun.

But fear not: it’s right offstage, just up U.S. 95 at what is reputed to be the biggest U.S. Killer drone facility, Creech Air Force Base.  (There was a round of little-noted anti-drone protests there early this month, and a “Sacred Peace Walk” from Vegas to  Creech is underway this week.)

A drone at Creech AFB. The biggest gamble of all?

Think these two places aren’t connected?

That’s exactly what they want you to believe.

You can bet on it.


Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

Put A Friendly Woman on the $20

I like this.  An online  campaign has taken off to bounce old Andy Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with  a woman.

“Women on 20s”

I admit it: here’s my true #1 favorite. She’s not on the finalists’ list, alas. But there are plenty of Quakes & Quake-ish faces there anyway.

Continue reading Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

A Quaker Story of Remembrance — and Maybe Prophecy

A Quaker Story of Remembrance –and Maybe Prophecy

Pirates Six, Cubs Three

Sometime in the 1980s.

I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. He said they wanted me there, right away. I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing before the Defense Systems Commission tomorrow. I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.


Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”

Continue reading A Quaker Story of Remembrance — and Maybe Prophecy

Freaked Out About Footwear

Freaked Out About Footwear

Okay Folks, This is Your OFFICIAL NOTICE:
I Am Now Truly FREAKED OUT by the reach of BIG DATA

About an hour ago I was in a well-known Big Box store, picking up this and that. Along the way I saw a display of slippers. I’ve been thinking it might be good to get a pair of really warm slippers; tho I have not discussed this impulse online with anyone that I can recall.


 Anyway, I paused and browsed the display of slippers. Even tried one on. It was — well, not bad, but didn’t actually grab me (or my foot). So I put it back and went on. I did NOT purchase any slippers there.
Continue reading Freaked Out About Footwear

Update: FBI To Probe Muslim Killings In NC

FBI To Probe Case of 3 Muslim Students Slain in NC

From the Raleigh NC News & Observer, Feb. 13, 2015:

— As thousands of mourners prayed for the three Muslim-American students killed in Chapel Hill this week, the FBI opened its own investigation into the case Thursday.

In a brief news release late in the day, the FBI said it had launched “a parallel preliminary inquiry to determine whether or not any federal laws were violated related to the case.” The FBI had previously been called in to assist the Chapel Hill police in processing evidence from the crime scene; the new inquiry could broaden the case’s jurisdiction and potentially bolster the charges against the suspect.

Continue reading Update: FBI To Probe Muslim Killings In NC

3 NC Muslim Students Murdered


3 Muslim Students Murdered–Over Parking?

This nearby shocker pretty much took over my day Wednesday. It’s still unfolding.


Muslim-Victims-NC Muslim-Victims-NC

And without drawing any final conclusions, here’s how it stands, as far as I can see now:

The victims were all students: Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha.

The accused shooter, Craig Hicks, is a very odd duck: reviewing his Facebook page shows him to be a dogged liberal Democrat, pro-gay rights, abortion and all the rest, who is also a militant atheist — fervently anti-religion but not apparently any more anti-Islam than anti-all the rest; there are more blasts against Christianity on his page than against Islam, if that means anything.

Yet at the same time, he’s a gun rights zealot (there’s a semi-erotic closeup photo of his snubnose .38 on the page, likely the murder weapon). He’s not a southern redneck tho. Plus he had a longstanding (with witnesses) angry obsession about — parking squabbles in his apartment/condo complex.

So go figure: a politically liberal, equal-opportunity anti-religious gun-toting atheist, for whom road rage turns to parking rage turns deadly. There was a whisper in his wife’s brief statement about mental health issues, but the lawyers instantly shut it down (probably because it will figure in his upcoming trial; an insanity defense may be his only hope).



I watched a video of a brief statement by Suzanne Barakat, the sister of one of the victims: a woman in hospital greens (she’s a doc) and the Muslim headscarf. Infinitely poised and calm, considering the circumstances; quite impressive. She asked that the killlings be investigated as a hate crime, but said no more. We’re advised that the Justice Department is “monitoring” the case.

And there it is, friends.
Ain’t that America.
You and me.


Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS

Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS: A Dead End?

A Quaker married to a non-Friend pleaded for help the other day, because her husband was very skeptical that any non-warlike response to the brutal conquests of ISIS in the the Middle East would have any chances of success.

She couldn’t think of any adequate peaceful response, but didn’t want to give up. Did anyone have any advice, she asked?

There were lots of responses. Here’s mine, since the question is an old one, recurring pretty regularly with each new war the U.S. gets involved in, which is several in my adult lifetime, and many more before that . . . .

If you look in the early Quaker books of Discipline (a useful summary is here) and search for the “Peace Testimony,” you won’t find it, because it is NOT there. Nope. No such thing.

Instead, you’ll find a testimony insisting that Friends stay out of wars and preparation for wars,  on pain of disownment. It says nothing about how to resolve or prevent war; that idea was, to borrow a modern phrase, “way above the early Friends’ pay grade.” The idea behind this “old-time” Testimony is that Friends were supposed to be living under the spirit of peace, and so they “don’t learn (or do) war anymore” (to borrow from the Bible).

“The Peaceable Kingdom,” by Edward Hicks. This is one of dozens of similar paintings by this Quaker artist. It is based on a biblical image of a kind of heaven on earth, but includes a tableau of William Penn making peace with the Pennsylvania Indians — a wonderful deed, but not in the Bible.

  Continue reading Quakers, Nonviolence & ISIS