Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WSU panel on religion and homosexuality

Thursday, October 22, 2009

6:30pm - 8:00pm

Wichita State University, RSC 203

Violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities are often exacerbated by fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. The case becomes more nuanced for LGBT people of faith. The WSU Political Science Club invites you to an open dialogue around religion, faith, morality, and sexuality which will host three speakers that will explain their faiths understanding on these issues.

This event will feature 3 speakers:
Rabbi Moti Rieber, of Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation.
Father Eric Weldon, of St. Paul Newman Center.
Pastor Charles Claycomb, of East Heights United Methodist Church

I can't attend this program because of a conflict, but it looks interesting. Hopefully, someone will record it.

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A tale of two on-line quizes

If like me you avoid those annoying polls and quizzes on Face book but have never overcome that school-induced infatuation with polls, you might be interested in two on-line quizzes I took today.
I scored great on one and lousy on the other.

The Pew Research Center periodically does a survey that measures what the public knows about events and they give interested folks an opportunity to take the quiz as well as reporting on the results of their scientific poll. I liked this poll--I got 12 of 12 right, better than 98% of the population.

Bill Clinton's foundation has a challenging 10 question quiz to determine what you know about urgent world issues. I only got 3 or 4 right. It's a tough one. Except for the last one, which is all about how great Bill is. Someone should a more cynical version of that question.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tiahrt Goes Dirty in Campaign Against Moran

{{w|Todd Tiahrt}}, U.S. Congressman (R-Kansas,...Image via Wikipedia

Appearing recently on a Wichita Christian radio station, Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt attempted to paint Jerry Moran, his rival for the 2010 Republican Senate nomination, as soft on gays, and managed to distort the record of his party's 2008 standard bearer.

His evidence Moran has been endorsed by 2008 Republican Presidential nominee John McCain. McCain on October 7 signed the conference report for the 2010 Defense Appropriation, which includes the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crime Prevention Act.

According to Tiahrt, this means that Moran isn't fit to represent Kansas family values. According to Tiahr's logic, McCain and Moran are soft on homosexuals. Tiahrt claims the hare crimes prevention act will mean that Ministers will be prosecuted for reading 1st Corinthians from the pulpit.

There's a big problem with Tiahrt's guilt by association. At the time that McCain endorsed Moran, McCain was leading the fight against including the hate crimes bill.

Another problem: the bill protects military personnel against hate crimes because of their status.
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greatest Vocalists

NPR is having a contest to name the great vocalists, sans genre, unlike the (mainly) rock list compiled by Rolling Stones a couple fo years back. Though curiosly, the web copy asks people to name the most beautiful, which is not the same as the greatest.

Here are some I think should be named as greatest

Louis Armstrong
Joe Williams
Billy Eckstine
Frank Sinatra
Ella Fitzgerald
Sarah Vaughn
Jimmy Rushing
Billie Holiday
Johnny Hartman
Kevin Mahagony

Jimmie Rodgers
George Jones
Patsy Cline
Merle Haggard

Aretha Franklin
Muddy Waters
Bobby "Blue" Bland
Ray Charles
Dinah Washington

Van Morrison

Scare-mongering on KPERS refuted

A Koch-funded think tank came out with an alarmist report about the state employees' pension fund. Republican legislators after years of underfunding pensions and under-paying employees are talking about switching to a 401-K program. Harold Schlechtweg of SEIU 513 addressed some of the issues at a recent USD 259 board meeting.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Very impressive figures for 4th District Congressional candidate Raj Goyle.

Just Three Months Into Race, State Rep. Goyle Sets Fundraising Record

Wichita, KS - State Representative Raj Goyle today announced he raised a record-breaking total of $403,083.68 during his first three months as a candidate for Congress in Kansas's 4th Congressional District.

After entering the race for Congress in July of this year, Goyle posted the strongest first fundraising quarter of all candidates in the race to date. Goyle's July-through-September total of $403,083.68 represents the most money ever raised in the first quarter by a challenger in the history of the district.

"I'm proud to have the support of so many people who are looking to bring some Kansas common sense to Congress during these challenging times," Goyle said. "I'm humbled and honored to have the support of business owners, farmers, teachers, medical professionals, and other hard working Kansans as we begin this campaign," said Goyle.

Goyle received contributions from over 800 individual donors. Half of the contributions to Goyle's campaign were $100 or less.

Tangled Up In Yule

(title HT: Moti)

I listened to the much anticipated Bob Dylan Christmas album today on the first day of its release. Christmas in the Heart is terrible. Is it the worst Dylan CD ever or the worst Christmas album ever?

I used my Rhapsody subscription to take a listen, thank goodness. I would have hated to have forked out the $16 or whatever for this disc.

Naturally, I expected and was ready to deal with Dylan's scraggly voice, but the arrangements are sacchrine, muzaky schlock that sound like they were stolen from the 1950s. There are a few exceptions. "It Must Be Santa" done as a Tex-mex polka and Christmas Blues done as a jazzy blues work just fine. Too many of the secular songs are light-weight, starting with the set opener "Here Comes Santa Claus" And, Bob just doesn't have the voice to tackle Mel Torme's "Christmas Song." But the religious songs just don't cut it.

Reportedly, Dylan swung a deal with Citigroup to relase the album early to its customers.

I guess the only redeeming feature of the album is that it will benefit charities that feed the hungry. My advice, be nice to yourself: don't buy the CD and give the full price to your local food bank.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

New Blog Follows Roeder Case

A new blog offers facts and information about Scott Roeder, who is accused of the murder of Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller.

Roederwatch likes like a blog worth following.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Laura Kelly To Run for 2nd CD (Ks)

State Senator Laura Kelly has confirmed that she will challenge rookie Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins for Kansas' Second Congressional District. Jenkins attracted national attention when she said Republicans were looking for a "Great white hope" to run against Obama and seemed blithly unaware of the racist history and connotations of her remarks. And that was just one of Jenkin's many failures.

Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly confirmed Friday plans to campaign for the congressional seat now in the hands of Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican who unexpectedly defeated an incumbent in 2008.

Kelly, a Topekan who is in her second term in the Senate, said she would share with voters her "reputation and history of working across party lines" to advance public policy in the Legislature.

"I actually walk the walk," she said. "Kansas families in the 2nd District deserve a representative who will energetically stand up for their most important concerns -- their pocketbooks, their jobs and their health care -- not sit back and block progress in Washington."

State Senator Tom Holland had been rumored to be interested in the race, but he seems to be fully behind Kelly's candidacy.

Kelly has a Facebook page, ActBlue account and a campain twitter account, which are good signs. Not so good, the twitter page isn't customized and has too many @ posts.

More seriously, unlike Raj Goyle who is running for the open 4th District, Kelly doesn't yet have a 2010 campaign website setup to gather email addresses and contributions.

Still, Kelly is a serious candidate and the 2nd District should be a real donnybrook.
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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Code Pink Rethinks Its Call for Afghan Pullout

When Medea Benjamin stood up in a Kabul meeting hall this weekend to ask Masooda Jalal if she would prefer more international troops or more development funds, the cofounder of US antiwar group Code Pink was hoping her fellow activist would support her call for US troop withdrawal.

She was disappointed.

Ms. Jalhal, the former Afghan minister of women, bluntly told her both were needed. "It is good for Afghanistan to have more troops – more troops committed with the aim of building peace and against war, terrorism, and security – along with other resources," she answered. "Coming together they will help with better reconstruction."

Though Afghans have their grievances against the international troops' presence, chief among them civilian casualties, many fear an abrupt departure would create a dangerous security vacuum to be filled by predatory and rapacious militias. Many women, primary victims of such groups in the past, are adamant that international troops stay until a sufficient number of local forces are trained and the rule of law established. (Read more about Afghan women's concerns here.)

During their weeklong visit here, in which they met with government officials, politicians, ministers, women activists, and civil society groups, the small team of Code Pink members had hoped to gather evidence to bolster their call for US troop withdrawal within two years, and capitalize on growing anxiety back home about the war.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Kobach gives workshop at far right conference

From Right-wing Watch. Kobach refers to Al Franken's election as a "pseudo-election" and sets out a plan to restrict voting rights. (For more reports on the far-right conference, see here)

Right-wing groups have long made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud the supposed rationale for pushing legislation that would erect new barriers to the ballot box. A How to Take Back America workshop on “Voter Fraud, the Census, and ACORN” made it clear that right-wing politicians will try to use ACORN’s recent troubles to build momentum for restrictive voting laws.
Kris Kobach, a lawyer and failed congressional candidate who has made a name for himself on the Right as an anti-illegal immigration crusader, announced this summer that he is running to be Secretary of State in Kansas. His theme is combating voter fraud, a solution in search of a problem in Kansas. Kobach, like other speakers, implied that Al Franken’s Senate seat was somehow illegitimate, referring to Franken’s “pseudo-election.”

The workshop was largely a tirade against ACORN and the “hard left,” which is supposedly engaged in a massive effort to steal elections. No one, said Kobach, is disenfranchised based on the color of their skin these days. He slammed the Obama Justice Department for signaling to states that they’re “on their own” when it comes to fighting voter fraud.

Kobach’s five-step prescription for states, which he hopes he can implement in Kansas as a model, includes ramping up prosecutions for voter fraud, enacting photo-ID laws, taking more aggressive steps to “clean up” voter rolls (otherwise known as purging), requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration, and standardizing provisional ballot and recount procedures, which he said “the left” was abusing.
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Blogging Around

Massimo Pigliucci,The Problems with Libertarianism

nice round-up of the varieties of liberatarianism, from left to right, and some insightful critiques. Over one hundered comments, which I haven't slogged through.

Ben Cohen on Marek Edelman, the last hero of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Marek Edelman (zichrono livracha) - the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising - has passed away at the age of ninety. In 1942, Edelman was one of the founders of the Jewish Fighting Organization (ZOB) which united Bundists, Zionists, communists and others to confront the Nazi threat. The uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto the following year was the first act of mass civilian resistance in Nazi-occupied Poland - a salient fact that should be remembered by those who portray the victims of the Holocaust as having passively accepted their fate
Harold Meyerson, "Is Europe's Left in Crisis"

Europe's socialists suffer from three major maladies. First, each of their parties has been the champion of the welfare state in their respective nations, but the political support for universal welfare states has weakened as immigrants have transformed the populations of the hitherto homogenous European states. Second, the relative numerical decline of the blue-collar working class across Western Europe has compelled the parties of the left to embrace new constituencies and new agendas, some of which conflict with their old constituencies and agendas. And third, though globalization has not had the catastrophic effect on European workers that it has had on their American counterparts, it has weakened the nation state's ability to manage its own economy and secure it from harm, undermining the arena where socialists won their greatest victories.
Socialist International, "The Way Forward on climate change and the financial crisis"

Max Dunbar, "The Glorious Leap Backward"

when China’s economy piles success on success. Murdoch has been trading with China for decades, Brown welcomes its leaders to Downing Street. Does it really matter that the government evicted around 1.5 million people from Beijing and kept migrant workers in states of indentured slavery in the runup to the Olympics. As a power China is heading into growth and prosperity while the Western economies go smash in the setting sun.

Capitalists and leftists alike can support a country that combines the worst of capitalism with the worst of socialism. As well as corporations and governments trading with Beijing there has been a rash of books in praise of the glorious republic and progressive pundits – Martin Jacques is probably the best known – playing down its human rights atrocities. Ti

bet is just so last millennium. The point is to be on the winning side – at whatever cost.