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.
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.