We are in a marathon to stop gun violence.

gun_control030413I wrote this for the Connecticut Health I-Team (C-HIT).

It can get discouraging, watching the blood-gargling NRA® work its evil magic on both the state and the federal level.

  • Here‘s their latest success, in D.C., where a long-standing ban on carrying handguns outside the home was just ruled unconstitutional.
  • Here‘s one of their minions comparing a push for increased background checks to Nazi Germany. (Take a lap, minion. Anytime someone invokes “Nazis” unduly, there needs to be a public shaming.)
  • Aand here they are, suggesting replacing gun-free zones at schools with gun-required zones, making proficiency with firepower a requirement for advancement to the next grade.

I have lost the patience to pray for their crusty souls.

Our love affair with firearms — as brought to you by the blood-garglers — is particularly troubling, given that firearms play such a huge role in intimate partner violence. From the column:

Fortunately, there are forces afoot that would counter their nonsense, including efforts from both of Connecticut’s U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and a well-run, dedicated group of high school students who won’t take no for an answer.

Yes, I have hope we can stop or at least staunch the bleeding. Onward.

Blame game continues while children die in park

mideast-gaza-hospital (1)Ten people — including children – were killed in a Gaza park yesterday. The photo above is a father of one of those children.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said “There is no war more just than this.” Meanwhile, officials go back and forth as to who is responsible for such awful collateral damage.

I mean no disrespect to the dead, but does it really matter the origin of bombs that killed those people? They’re still dead. Would that the bosses of those bombers would spend this much time on ending this horrible war. On this, I’m going to go with the People’s Pope:

Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! Everything is lost with war, nothing is lost with peace. Never more war.

And thanks, DickG., for the link.


Eid Mubarak!

Eid-MoonAnd salaam. Peace. Here‘s a beautiful prayer with which to end Ramadan.

Talk is cheap

10464236_10152568460187889_7857780084335500121_nCenter for American Progress has A Way Forward on Child Refugees, but not Connecticut.

According to this, any concentrated effort from state officials is still just talk.

However, there are some faith leaders who seem to be a little closer to taking some concrete actions. My prayers are with them.

What if women ruled the world?

where-do-we-go-now2I gave another talk about Isabella Beecher Hooker yesterday in a historic colonial garden in a beautiful Connecticut town to a lovely crowd, yet I still drove home thinking of things I wish I’d said.

Isabella, as did many suffragists of her time, believed that women would do a better job running the world. The thinking was that women had a firmer moral compass not sullied (so much) by nasty things like ambition. She was very clear about that, and in some of her self-centered moments she saw herself as leader of the coming matriarchy. (Oddly, some of the women — and men — used a variation on the theme to oppose suffrage. Embracing the infantilization of women, they were concerned that a woman’s moral compass would suffer from exposure to politics.)

As it turns out, Isabella died before she so much as cast a vote — much less ruled the world — and it was her one great disappointment. It almost seems quaint now, talking about a woman’s moral compass, that it might be superior, that there might be a direct connection to higher qualities. As a feminist, I can’t embrace that. I don’t think you can complete a sentence that starts “All women…” or “All men…” because neither gender carries universal genes.

But then I came home to watch a Netflix film, “Where Do We Go Now?” a 2011 film from Nadine Labaki that explores a remote Lebanese village where Muslims and Christians are neighbors, and where the women of the village are committed to remaining neighbors. They manage to circumvent the attempts at warfare by their sons, brothers, and husbands in the most imaginable ways possible, from faking miracles to hiring strippers.

It’s a (no pun intended) broad look gender, played for laughs, but there were so many moments when I wanted to cheer the wise-cracking, scheming, and smart-as-hell women, and then it struck me: This film is a wonderful embodiment of Isabella’s argument: If women ruled the world, there’d be no war, no strife. Of course that isn’t true. The countries led by women today are hardly free of struggle, but…

I don’t remember putting this movie in my queue, but I’m glad I did (I heartily recommend it). It was entertaining and thought-provoking: It made me think about what would happen if women really did rule the world. Give us 25 years. Would there be a difference?


BtkShKRIIAAzCHq.jpg_largeTwo students living in the U.S. have started a hashtag on Twitter: #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.

Simple? Yes. Simplistic? Not at all. Surprisingly, people haven’t been using the hashtag — a way of drawing attention to a notion, a cause, or a thought on Twitter — for fear their communities — in the U.S., no less — will belittle them or worse.

There’s also a Facebook page.

And thanks, Cynical, for the link. Ameen.

If you’ve nothing better to do…

9780819573407…I’ll be talking about Isabella Beecher Hooker at 3 p.m. on Sunday in the gardens of the Thankful Arnold House Museum, 14 Hayden Hill Road in Haddam.

This is part of a series of talks that examine Connecticut history through the lens of human rights. It’s sponsored by the Haddam Historical Society.

It’s a beautiful day for a visit to a garden, don’t you think? Come! Get there early to heckle! (And thank you to the Middletown Press for a lovely write-up.)

We have an affordable housing crisis

ParkTerraceThe National Low Income Housing Coalition has released its annual report, which says that for every 100 low-income families, there are just 31 affordable and available rental homes. That means less than a third of families are in proper housing.

We know this in Connecticut. The state Department of Housing just released its annual affordable housing appeals list, which shows the amount of affordable homes in each of the state’s 169 towns. As you can see here, 20 percent and more of housing stock in larger cities like Hartford is affordable.

But drill down a little. I live in a seaside town that’s on the cusp of…something. But even there, where the towns are not just 6.84 percent of housing is affordable.

Not only can we do better, we have to. Towns are bleeding young people. Many older folks like myself can’t afford to age in place.

This — THIS! — is the proper response to children in need

Bless Gov. Deval Patrick. My faith teaches the same thing.

And the winner* for the group most victimized by hate crimes?

Stop-hate-crimesIn order:

Gay men



You can read more here, at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

*”Winner” is probably not the right word, but still.


This is Gaza from space

gaza-from-spaceMost of the electricity is out in that benighted region, so the lights you’re seeing in this photo snapped by German astronaut Alexander Gerst aboard the International Space Station are from weaponry. The astronaut called this “my saddest photo yet.”

An update on our refugee children

10464236_10152568460187889_7857780084335500121_nMembers of the Center for Youth Leadership — one of Fairfield County’s largest youth organization — have offered to lend a hand with any refugee children (currently being kept in inhumane conditions on our southern border) who come to Connecticut.

(Yes. Refugee. Let’s call them what they are.)

Said Arlene Sanchez, a June graduate of the center: “We think it’s important for us to reach out to these kids.” The students have offered everything from backpacks with toiletries for the kids, to greeting them at the plane and walking hand-in-hand with them into the airport.

“Wouldn’t that be a great way to counter the nasty reception the refugees received as their buses tried to enter a few cities in California?” asked Sanchez.

Wouldn’t it. What a marvelous and heartfelt response to cleaning up a mess we made ourselves.

So far, various immigrant and refugee organizations stand ready. There’s a mayors’ conference call on Friday to discuss individual cities’ responses.

(Taco Joe? You in? South Windsor Mayor Saud Anwar is. He and his wife are prepared to take in two children.)

(Not asking you to take the children, yourself. Heavens, no. But please be a part of the coordinated effort to Do Something. Please.)

Here and elsewhere, faith leaders are stepping up. The state’s nonprofit organizations are organizing. Both Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal — who went to Mexico to see for himself — are heavily involved. Gov. Malloy is looking at the former Gateway Community College as a potential site.

I don’t know. In the case of the center, sometimes, a little child really should lead us — a child, or a heavily committed teenager who’s paying attention.

And yes, I’m going to keep using that photo of the small little guy waiting to have a Border Patrol read his birth certificate. That was all he carried. His birth certificate.

Here’s what happened when some anti-abortion protesters invaded a church

20140214_779595.xml-BufferZoneSome Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue, the folks that forever and always crapped up Wichita) went to a Unitarian Universalist Church in New Orleans, stood up during the service, and began to loudly protest — and hand out graphic leaflets.

Here‘s what happened next. It’s really kind of inspiring, and thanks Mike the Heathen, for the link.

(And you can read more here.)


Up the theocracy

lakewood.previewThough Billy Graham’s grandson — Tullian Tchividjian, who heads a Florida megachurch — says mixing religion and politics is a bad idea, the notion has helped the Republican Party score big — and put a few pastors into Congress, according to Roll Call. From that link:

Already this year, three candidates with close ties to massive churches won decisive Republican primaries. A fourth — Pastor Jody Hice — could win a Tuesday GOP primary runoff in Georgia and come to Congress in November.

Their victories come as public opinion has shifted dramatically on some social issues, notably same-sex marriage, denounced by most religious conservatives. The rise of the tea party and libertarian factions in the Republican Party has also diluted the influence of social conservative activists in the GOP.

But in the case of these faith-figures-turned-pols, the candidates’ close relationships to their churches played a factor — perhaps the deciding one — in their victories.

And thanks, Leftover, for the links.

Go ahead, Sisters Maddie and Tae!

Let’s hear it for any one who’ll take on bro-country.

And go ahead, Sis. Melissa, for sharing this.

On that evangelical support for Israel


One of the odd political developments of the past 30+ years in the United States has been the alliance between conservative evangelicals and the pro-Israel lobby. There are complicated reasons for this; the standard progressive dismissal of evangelical support as ignorant, Rapture-fueled opportunism is, like many progressive ideas, simplistic to the point of inaccuracy. Given the history of Christian-Jewish relations, though, scenes like the one at the recent Christians United for Israel conference, as described by Slate reporter Dave Weigel, are striking:

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