Aug 22

Words of Welcome and Some Descriptions of “Worth Checking Out”

Words of welcome and some explanations

Welcome to my blog. This initial posting will provide you with some personal background and a description of the “Worth Checking Out” names and organizations you may not recognize.

Personal stuff

I was born in the middle of an America that today is different yet disturbingly similar in some ways to those times. It was the heart of the Depression. My dad was the son of a doting mother and a successful but distant father who disapproved of his son’s wild ways. My mother grew up in wealth but in an emotionally pinched family. Denied his parents’ comfortable life, Dad worked in a gas station while Mother was a housewife.

As an asthmatic little kid, I was sent west to the healing climate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I was a boarding student in a strict Catholic school attended primarily by Latino boys who derisively called me “Whitey.” Though the nickname stung, I learned what it was like to be the “other,” a lesson that has informed my present philosophy. As is evident today, I fell in love with the beauty (and food) of northern New Mexico.

During my teens I was fascinated by mythology. One day it struck me that what was now “mythology” was once the accepted religion of the time. Despite that realization, I continued to accept the Protestant religion of my family. I attended church regularly with my future wife’s family, but Sunday after Sunday reciting the words “…my manifold sins and wickedness…” stuck in my craw as false. I was neither a sinner nor was I wicked. I was, in fact, a particularly well-behaved, decent person. Another brick was laid in the foundation of my later abandonment of religion, but I continued to believe. Such is the power of conditioning.

During a speech class at the University of New Mexico, I wrote a paper eviscerating the preaching style of Billy Graham. The handwriting was on the wall. With my transfer to UCLA, I was introduced to the philosophy of Bertrand Russell. The last brick was put in place. The illogical belief that had burdened me was palpably lifted from my shoulders and I embraced agnosticism. It cost me some friends, but the Rubicon was crossed and I have never looked back.

My political awareness was incremental and came from observation and discussions with friends and work associates. Having been raised in a rock-ribbed Republican family, my first vote was the straight Republican ticket. However, I soon realized that their governing philosophy was alien to my own. The Democratic Party expressed views that were more representative of my views. Although their policies sometimes gave me pause, I supported their candidates because realistically there was only one other viable option available, one that I found unacceptable.

Over the years, I have come to agree with Gore Vidal’s pungent view that the United States has one political party with two right wings. At heart, I am a democratic socialist, believing that unless we work together toward a goal that benefits all the people, we will degenerate into a neo-feudal society that pits one against another thereby undermining a healthy society.

That then provides a quick look at the development of my philosophy and gives a picture of what underlies the views I will express in this blog.

Quick descriptions of “Worth Checking Out” sites

Some of the names on my list are ones you will recognize although you may have an uninformed opinion of them. Others will be new to you. This will give you a bare-bones description of the people and organizations on the list.

ACLU— Devoted to the preservation of civil liberties, if necessary through litigation. The organization’s efforts are often misunderstood and misrepresented.

CCR— Devoted to Constitutional issues, it often engages in litigation for the purpose of preserving the Constitution.

Barry Eisler’s blog— This writer blogs most often about political issues in a refreshingly candid manner. You never doubt where he stands.

Daily Kos— Covers the news ignored by the main-stream-media.

Doctors Without Borders— Provides medical services throughout the world, often in areas of conflict. Low administrative costs allow contributions to get more bang for the buck.

Flying Tiger Press— The website of Kathlena Contreras, a first-rate writer. Hey, honesty and paternal pride dictated including this site.

FCNL— A Quaker site devoted to legislative efforts to achieve peace.

Free Inquiry— A magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism.

Human Rights Watch— World-wide check on the status of human rights.

Just Foreign Policy— Reports on American foreign policy.

Linda Greenhouse— New York Times journalist and lawyer who provides astute analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Michael Shermer— Author and publisher who writes the Skeptic column for Scientific American magazine.

New York Times— Though part of the staid mainstream American press, it should be read with a critical eye for educational purposes. Your local paper should be read with at least the same critical eye. Skepticism is advised for both.

Paul Krugman— Nobel Prize-winning economist and author who writes and blogs for the New York Times.

Richard Dawkins— Renowned British biologist, outspoken atheist and author.

Snopes— A fact-checking site devoted to examining claims for factual accuracy. Originally focused on “urban myths.”

The Nation— Oldest national magazine devoted to left-of-center news, analysis and the arts.

Tom Dispatch— Blog featuring news and analysis ignored by the mainstream.

Truthout— Compilation from assorted sources of news stories dealing with subjects frequently (but not always) ignored by the mainstream press.


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    • susan Harris on August 24, 2013 at 06:25

    Hi Don…I’m liking the start of your new blog and interested to see what’s to come.

    • Marianna Libo on August 25, 2013 at 05:15

    Hi Don. Your comments regarding Bradley Manning and the length of his sentence are thoughtful and much appreciated. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

    • Marilyn Winfield on August 25, 2013 at 19:32

    Hi Don. Congratulations on your blog! I’ve not had a chance to read most of it yet, but will. What I have read so far is a good indication of what a talented and thoughtful writer you are…whether people agree with you or not. Anyway, I’m excited for you and looking forward to reading more.

    • David Lehman on August 30, 2013 at 18:44

    Hey Don, Lionel shared this with me and I like it. Very thought provoking. Well done.
    You may remember me from the trip we took to Ojai a few years back.

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