A Cat among the Pigeons

Last month Microsoft unveiled new software that promises to make our elections “safe” from hacking (AP, May 6, “Microsoft unveils software tools to secure elections”). The tech giant’s partner in this project is none other than Galois, whose sole investor is our own Department of Defense. Three of the major voting machine vendors are now poised to use the software.

Wait a minute. Is anyone else uncomfortable with turning over our election security to what Ike called the Military Industrial Complex? Few media outlets have questioned the partnership. So that means Microsoft and the DOD have no stake in the outcome of our national elections? While I don’t trust the Russians to cease trying to hack into our electoral system, neither do I trust that the MIC’s interest in this project stems from pure patriotism. If you think this partnership is a bad idea, please call or write your Senators and representatives. 2020 political candidates should also weigh in.

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Another Lee Descendant Speaks Out

Another descendant of Robert E. Lee is speaking out about his struggle to come to terms with his family’s Confederate past. Journalist James Gannon has put together a moving video about his personal journey and his exploration of the legacy of slavery in America. Check it out.

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June Radio Broadcast

Just interviewed Jared A. Brock, Christian author of Road to Dawn, the story of Josiah Henson, the real-life inspiration for the character of Uncle Tom in Harriett Beecher Stowe’s 1851 novel. If you’ve read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, you know that the title character has nothing to do with the racist label “Uncle Tom.” Henson’s sufferings as a slave and his eventual escape read better than a novel, and Brock has done a superb job of painting the 19th-century slave system in all its cruel manipulation and inhuman brutality.

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American-style Fascism

As quoted in an earlier blog post, in 1944 Henry Wallace, Vice-President under FDR, defined American-style fascism in this way:

“…(T)hey can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups. … (They) are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity. … They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective … is to capture political power so that using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

Regarding the Trump administration, I am grateful for one thing: that its audacious greed and lack of subtlety have stripped the mask off the corporate fascism that is bent on looting and strangling our republic. But if the recent midterm elections seemed to be a setback for its program, recall that the corporate coup of our democracy has occurred under the watch of both parties. Neoliberal leaders like Macron, Trudeau, the Clintons, and President Obama have been merely the smiling face of the same corporate fascism. Their kowtowing to corporate power and their failure to address real economic inequalities helped set the stage for a Trump. Ralph Nader has written an important article about this in Common Dreams.

The only remedy is to get corporate money out of politics and to elect leaders who are not beholden to corporate interests– radical, systemic change that’s not going to be easy. Yet the difference between a corporate Democrat and a corporate Republican is the difference between ketchup and catsup. At the end of the day, they both spell the end of our republic. Throw in the urgency of climate change, and what we face as the voting public is a choice between radical change or the certain death of our democracy and civilization. Even if the majority of Americans prefer the latter, the rest of us must at least go down fighting.

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New Radio Broadcast

Just started a monthly broadcast, called, not surprisingly, “Majoring in the Majors,” on Artist First Radio. On this show we discuss, among other things, issues of social justice and how they relate to the church. My first guest was Zohra Sarwari, a Muslim American author and lecturer. We talked about the recent spate of terrorist attacks and what the vast majority of Muslims feel about them. Check out the podcast here.

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Non-violent protests do work, Harvard study says

In this era of political insanity and quiet outrage, it’s a shot of hope to hear that mass protests, the non-violent kind, are actually more effective in a majority of cases than violent ones– if, that is, enough people participate: 3.5% of the population, to be exact. Read the BBC article.  (In case you’re wondering what that would look like in the U.S., it would take about 11.6 million of us. Okay, folks, let’s get to work!)

 

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16-yr-old Chides Parliament over Climate Change

Have you read Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s speech to British Parliament? This could go down as one of the most important speeches in human history. Here are just a few quotes. Full text here.

Now we probably don’t even have a future any more. Because that future was sold so that a small number of people could make unimaginable amounts of money. It was stolen from us every time you said that the sky was the limit, and that you only live once. You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?…

Around the year 2030, 10 years 252 days and 10 hours away from now, we will be in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it. That is unless in that time, permanent and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society have taken place, including a reduction of CO2 emissions by at least 50%….

But perhaps the most dangerous misconception about the climate crisis is that we have to “lower” our emissions. Because that is far from enough. Our emissions have to stop if we are to stay below 1.5-2C of warming. The “lowering of emissions” is of course necessary but it is only the beginning of a fast process that must lead to a stop within a couple of decades, or less. And by “stop” I mean net zero – and then quickly on to negative figures. That rules out most of today’s politics…

Every time we make a decision we should ask ourselves; how will this decision affect that curve? We should no longer measure our wealth and success in the graph that shows economic growth, but in the curve that shows the emissions of greenhouse gases. We should no longer only ask: “Have we got enough money to go through with this?” but also: “Have we got enough of the carbon budget to spare to go through with this?” That should and must become the centre of our new currency…

Avoiding climate breakdown will require cathedral thinking. We must lay the foundation while we may not know exactly how to build the ceiling.

 

 

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