Archive for December 2009

Move On? Wake up!

December 30, 2009

George Carlin said it best : The reason they call it the American Dream is that you have to be asleep to believe it.

A plea from Move On

“I’m sure we’re going to run out of food today, before we serve all the people that are in line.”

That’s Mary-Sharon Howland, director of a food bank near New Orleans. But the same problem is plaguing food banks and soup kitchens across America. This winter, a record 49 million Americans are going hungry because of the economy.

Our country needs change that gets to the root of the problem, but we also need to help people survive the immediate crisis.

Here’s a way to help: Feeding America is the nation’s leading network of food banks. For every $1 you donate, Feeding America can help provide 7 meals to men, women, and children facing hunger in our country.

How pathetic is this. Welcome to the most confused  nation on earth.

Always money for war and war preparation.

Can you imagine this happening in France? There would be a million people in the streets of Paris. In America they are watching Bowl Games and reruns of Survivor.

Murrow’s warning

December 29, 2009

One of the stark realizations at the end of the decade is the fact of stagnant and rancid organized religion.

A huge help in this regard and a place to start with Chris Hedges dark but terrific book the Empire of Illusion.  The title  basically says it all. In a country dominated by puerile  media choices, mature religion faces an uphill battle. One can simply not understand religion outside of its cultural embedding and in the USA and in Canada this is a horror show to avoid. The 49th parallel can not save smug Canadians. It’s the three letter words which we must worry about CBS, NBC,FOX, CNN—it is the networks which carry the deadly virus, sweet seduction to be sure, of ephemera and costly diversions.

Democracy  only has a chance when people use their critical faculties. These are not in evidence in the USA when it comes to religion.any country which a dominant faith group like the Southern Baptists could voye 80% for George Bush has missed the gospel—as it had before with the election of his father and the oleaginous Ronald Reagan.

In this case television and its radical failure and blunted promise shares a major blame,

The noted journalist Edward R Murrow warned us over 50 years ago:

But I am seized with an abiding fear regarding what these two instruments are doing to our society, our culture and our heritage.

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.


December 25, 2009

Advent/Christmas 2009

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30: 18, 20, 21 Reading December 5, 2009

Advent silence

Leafless trees

Shorter days as we move to solstice.

And ‘the bread of adversity and the water of affliction”

is daily fare for far too many including non-humans

wilting as  we turn “wonderworld into wasteworld”(Berry).

Dark envelops the land. Planet earth gasps for air

and modern Neros in Amerika, China and Canada

fiddle for petrotunes deaf to our Mother’s cry.

Banksters, fraudsters, Randites, Fraser Instituters

and 3rd world collaborators lead the Dance of the Necrophiles.

Still we are not overwhelmed. Millions are saying NO.

And for the Christian tribe four Advent weeks

summons us to “turn to the right and turn to the left”

and our ears shall hear a holy word in creation and community

whispering: “This is the Way, walk in it.”

Thank you, Seymour!

December 24, 2009

Where is Seymour Melman whe we need him?

The brilliant teacher and professor at Columbia died  around this time  at age 87, 5 years ago. His research on the permanent war economy of the US was invaluable. Melman consistently showed that an equivalent sum of money poured into civilian projects would literally recreate the United States. Instead the war mongers that Eisenhower warned of in 1961 had their way and the uconscionable waste on military projects and the ridiculous number of American bases dragged the US economy down and down.

Well with no global threat in evidenc—now that the wall has fallen and 250 Al Qaida members hold up in Pakistan, the US under OBama is still spending like a drunken sailor

A recent report stated that  even without counting the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Department of Defense budget has been moving relentlessly upward since 2001. The Pentagon budget  has jumped from $296 billion in 2001 to $513 billion in 2009, a 73% increase. And again, that’s not even counting the over $1 trillion in taxpayer money that has been thrown at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if those wars had never happened, the Pentagon would still be racking up huge increases year after year after year.

The permannent war  budget is a reality.

And so is the bizarre religiosity of America, the world leader in church attendance and military budgets.

O come O come Emmanuel!

And thank you Seymour for your great work.

Kenney and KAIROS

December 23, 2009

Hopefully the latest flap (KAIROS) that Jason Kenney and the Tories are embroiled in will wake Canadians up as to their real agenda. It appears to be the eradication of democracy and the focused pursuit of a majority where they can really define Canada in their own image—a free market clone of the United States.

Why this shocking tilt to Israel?—the number of Jews in Canada is not even close to those of Muslims.

There may be two reasons, Harper’s lieutenants are Rapture end time Christian zionists and actually believe this bizarre theology or b) many Jews are opinion makers and Harper wants them onside.

As far as the dumb antisemitic canard about KAIROS this letter in the STAR puts it well.

Legitimate criticism is not racism

Letters to the Editor, Tue Dec 22 2009
Toronto Star

Re: Fury grows over anti-Semitism charge, Dec. 19

As a Jewish academic who knows closely the horrifying reality of anti-Semitism, I am outraged by the systematic effort to confuse it with legitimate criticism of Israeli government policies.

The latest episode is the gutting of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funding to KAIROS, an ecumenical aid organization. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney suggested the funding was lifted as part of the Conservative government’s effort to cut-off anti-Semitic organizations.

I know first hand the work of KAIROS, and its predecessor, the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America, for almost 20 years.

This is an organization with an unequalled commitment to human rights, ethics, transparency and social justice. To say that this suggestion of anti-Semitism is baseless is an understatement.

Furthermore, this action severely harms CIDA’s integrity and its international reputation – one more instance whereby the Harper government undermines Canada’s standing in the world.

Dr. Ricardo Grinspun,
Department of Economics and Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean,
York University


Merry warlike Christmas

December 16, 2009

Barack Obama, the self-styled  but low key Christian, gave his “just war” speech last week. It was one  that made little sense justifying war in Afghanistan. Experts reckon less than 250 members of Al Qaida are still  there. Others, if there are any, are hiding in Pashtun enclaves in Pakistan or in a small cell in a big Western city. The sole reason for Bush’s bombing there was  the hunt for Osama. What this says is that America is deep in a militarist mindset that it cannot wean itself from. The $ 1 trillion nut spent on imperial projects is destroying any hopes of economic or moral recovery. Not to say anything that smacks of Christianity. More money is spent on US military than all of the countries in the world—together. And where is the threat?

And where is the threat to Canada, formerly a peace-keeping nation. A   new report just released  shows we are spending $21.195 billiion in 2009-2010. Is this not extraordinary, nay obscene for us? Imagine little Canada’s spending on this nonsense is 13th in the world. We are up $1.8 billion from last year. In contrast our spending on environmental concerns  is 1.0 billion. since 2001 we have blown $23 billion on the military.

Budgets are moral documents and we the US and Canada are moral failures.

Canada has made it

December 12, 2009

If you need proof that stupidity and celebrity have invaded Canada in a big way, two examples are provided.

Sarah Palin  is to attend a fundraiser for two Hamilton hospitals on April 15. Canadians have made it into the big time. Bush made it to Calgary and Toronto. And now Palin, the egomaniacal and supremely unqualified VP candidate in the last US election.

Gabe Macaluso, a member of the committee organizing the Hamilton dinner at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, said: “This is quite the coup. She’s one of the hottest speakers on the Speakers Bureau. The demand is huge.”

Even in Steeltown where they boo at funerals, people will line up to see Sarah Palin.

And on the CBC  Friday night news as the planet is melting and our Canadian PM is making a laughing stock of this country,Tiger Woods leads the news.

Celebrity. Why did we ever think the 49th parallel was a buffer?

How do Christians meaningfully celebrate Christmas in such a context?

Support our Troops—what a crock

December 10, 2009

What a crock—”Support our Troops.”

Bob Herbert (below) in the NY Times gets it right.

And Bob as a black columnist understands more than most the heavy burden blacks shouldered in the Vietnam war while war mongers like Cheney, Bush, Limbaugh and Stallone were running for cover.

That’s always a conservative mantra, speak loudly for a burden you’ll never carry; shout idiotic slogans, always pro-war—one in which you’ll never serve as Michael Moore discovered in Fahrenheit 911—only one of 450 in Congress had a a kid in Iraq. All talk and no walk.

And where did this Highway of Heroes come from? As if these dumb wars in countries most of these conscripts know nothing about were the equivalent of  WW ll. Many altruistic kids signed on as if we were still a peacekeeping nation as before. That is before Rick  Hillier and Don Cherry. You can’t build a school and occupy a country. You can’t give bread with a rifle in your hand.

Bob Herbert writes:

The air is filled with obsessive self-satisfied rhetoric about supporting the troops, giving them everything they need and not letting them down. But that rhetoric is as hollow as a jazzman’s drum because the overwhelming majority of Americans have no desire at all to share in the sacrifices that the service members and their families are making. Most Americans do not want to serve in the wars, do not want to give up their precious time to do volunteer work that would aid the nation’s warriors and their families, do not even want to fork over the taxes that are needed to pay for the wars.

To say that this is a national disgrace is to wallow in the shallowest understatement. The nation will always give lip-service to support for the troops, but for the most part Americans do not really care about the men and women we so blithely ship off to war, and the families they leave behind.

The STAR and the people speak

December 8, 2009

The people speak for the common good—but hardly ever does the editorial team of the Globe and Mail.

The Toronto Star on the other hand joined 58 newspapers from 45 countries and speaking 20 different languages in a common front page editorial. Almost unprecedented to be sure—but not for the Star. 25 yeras ago Tom Harpur penned an editorial warning the world of nuclear escalation. These are good examples of a newpaper’s true function of supporting the public interest. It followed ,in this case, from  Star founder Joe Atkinson’s deep Methodist faith.Forget the Globe, The Post and the Sun, allo commercial enterprises, status quo organs not worthy of a subscription.

Back to the people. A good reason to read the Globe’s letters. Here are two noteworthy ones of today

With Stephen Harper’s preferred method of communicating being the well co-ordinated “photo op,” how appropriate it would be for the Conservatives to stage his arrival at the climate talks aboard a mammoth tar sands three-storey tall, 400-tonne dump truck (The World Is Coming To Copenhagen But Canada Is Coming With A Tarred Image – Dec. 7).

Perhaps it could be chauffeured by John Baird? He could double park outside the climate-talk venue while Mr. Harper dashes in to make his standard speech demanding relaxed regulations for countries unwilling to diversify from a carbon-fuel-based economy.

Kelly Rivard, Vancouver

An independent study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests pollution from the tar sands is nearly five times greater than the industry admits – the mind-boggling toxic equivalent of a major oil spill every year (Oil Sands Pollution Much Higher Than Official Estimates: Study – online, Dec. 7).

I am so ashamed to be Canadian. So, so, so ashamed.

Janet Raymond, Calgary

for Phil Berrigan Oct.5,1923-Dec.6, 2002

December 5, 2009

Christmas 2002

For all the boots of the trampling warriors

and all the garments rolled in blood

shall be burned as fuel for fire

for a child has been born for us, a son given to us

authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named…Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9: 5, 6

Mass during the Night December 24, 2002

You first torched paper instead of human flesh as the B-52’s

poured napalm down in the land of the Burning Children.

Next, you wielded Isaiah’s hammers with single determination,

swords into ploughshares,

spears into pruning hooks.

Each blow you hoped to recast the molten metal of empire

back into God’s order and design,

a newer Jerusalem of sisterhood and brotherhood.

Tossed into Caesar’s stocks, you waged peace in prison-

organizing, teaching, fasting, counseling.

There was no tug of the forelock, no genuflection

to a state which resembled Mars, a Church resembling upper management.

Ripped from family, friends, you never blinked, did your hard time

and returned to the fray more gentle than ever.

Once again you picked up the hammers and sparks flew;

some flashed briefly, disappeared as quickly.

Others took flight and scorched our faces as we turned away

like Peter in the courtyard, frightened of the price we might

have to pay in Christ’s nonviolent army.

Some sparks lit dry faggots and other resisters picked up your hammers.

And so it went till the end and on the feast of St Nicholas

you gave your life back, Christmas wrapped in righteousness, to

the God of Peace