Monday, October 20, 2014

Jan Brewer Is Wrong: Same-Sex Marriage Cannot Be Voted Upon

Gov. Jan Brewer (R) of Arizona is unhappy that U.S. District Judge John Sedwick ruled in favor of marriage equality in her state. She stated, "It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed. Historically and traditionally, that power belongs to the states, and to the people. If society wants to recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions, that decision should be made through our elected representatives or at the ballot – not the courts." Jan Brewer is wrong.

"States' rights" is the same argument that was used by segregationists in their resistance to full civil rights for African Americans. Rights, however, are inalienable; they are a legal matter that cannot be decided by popular vote. Further, minority rights must be protected from the tyranny of the majority under the principal of equal justice under the law. No one reasonable today would consider putting interracial marriage up for a vote. Voting on same-sex marriage is equally unjustifiable. Same-sex marriage can only be decided in the courts-not through a ballot. Arizona apparently has a governor who doesn't understand this.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"How Do We Know What Is True?" By Stephen Fry

Last week, we listened to Stephen Fry, English comedian, actor, writer and activist, provide the humanist response to finding happiness and meaning in life. In the following animated video, Fry states that the use of observation, experimentation and the testing of theories against evidence–the scientific method–is the best way to discover truths about how the world works. Watch:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Norah Jones Live

Over the past few weeks, we've watched Dhani Harrison, Paul Simon and Beck perform on Conan's week-long tribute to George Harrison. Let's conclude with Norah Jones' rendition of "Behind That Locked Door," which appeared on Harrison's classic solo album "All Things Must Pass" (1970). Jones is the daughter of the late sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, under whom Harrison studied.

Friday, October 17, 2014

GOP Senate Candidate Blames Single Women For His Failing Campaign

Today's Republicans are always ready to blame immigrants, gays, minorities and women for whatever ails the nation. Jeff Bell, New Jersey Republican Senate candidate, fits right in with this ethos. He's behind by over 20 points in his race against incumbent Democrat Cory Booker. Bell doesn't blame his socially conservative views, such as his opposition to abortion, for the state of his campaign. The fault, according to him, is with single mothers who depend on government support. In fact, even single women without children–and, ultimately, declining marriage rates–are to blame for his faltering run. Bell did his whining to the Asbury Park Press:

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Bell said he is behind in the polls by double digits because single mothers are "wed" to the social benefits like food stamps that Democrats hand out.

Bell said his 20-plus percentage point deficit among women in public opinion polls isn't due to his socially conservative views, such as opposition to abortion rights, but rather the result of demographic boost in the number of unmarried women.

"I've done a lot of thinking about this and looked at a lot of different polls, I think it has more to do with the rise in single women," Bell told the Asbury Park Press. "Single mothers particularly are automatically Democratic because of the benefits. They need benefits to survive, and so that kind of weds them to the Democratic Party.

"But single women who have never married and don't have children are also that way," he continued. "If you take married women, they aren't that different from married men. So it's really a problem with the decline in marriage rates. The Democrats do benefit from that."

Photo: Facebook

Thursday, October 16, 2014

College GOP Leader Doesn't Want Campus Voting Registration

Leigh Thomas, chairwoman of the High Point University College Republicans in North Carolina, expressed the GOP's negative attitude toward the right to vote. Bree Binder, a representative of Turning Point, a conservative non-profit student group, asked Thomas for permission to conduct a voter registration drive on campus. Thomas responded, “I understand the registration process. I’m just not sure if this is something I would want to have on this High Point University campus, the registration of voting.” Finally she gave her bottom line: “I don’t want to have any voting registration happening on this campus with students.” She was also upset that the exchange was recorded. Watch:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Robert Reich: What Would Happen Under A Republican Senate?

In the following video, Robert Reich warns that the Republicans' war on working Americans would get a big boost if they won the Senate. They would deny a minimum wage boost, an unemployment benefits extension and infrastructure development. Instead, the GOP would attempt to cut access to health care and funding for education–and they'd try to cut taxes on billionaires and widen tax loopholes for hedge fund managers. They'd also threaten another government shutdown. If you don't want all this, Vote Blue! Watch:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jon Stewart Slams Fox's "False Patriotism"

Jon Stewart cites the hypocrisy of Congress and the media, particularly Fox News, regarding war and President Obama. While speaking about the "existential threat" of ISIS, members of Congress are reluctant to go on record declaring war before the midterm elections. Instead, they'd rather criticize the President for saluting the military with a latte in his hands, while forgetting Bush's salute with his dog in his arm. Meanwhile, Fox's Eric Bolling speaks of the military putting "their lives on the line" and, in the next breath, refers to a female fighter pilot as "boobs on the ground"–to which Stewart retorted, “F*** you, and all your false patriotism.” Watch:

"From The Margins: Lee Krasner And Norman Lewis, 1945-1952" At Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum's last major exhibit on abstract expressionism was in 2008, with the outstanding "Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning and American Art, 1940-1976." Also quite worthwhile, albeit on a smaller scale, is the current show on two artists who came of age in the 1930s and took part in the postwar turn to abstraction: Lee Krasner, from a Russian Jewish immigrant family that settled in Brooklyn, and Norman Lewis, an African American whose parents immigrated from Bermuda and settled in Harlem. While Krasner and Lewis didn't know each other, their work had parallels. While other abstract artists of the time were noted for their large canvases, the two showcased here often preferred smaller, more intimate works. Cultural influences are evident in both artists' paintings; Krasner's "little images" were painted right to left, reflecting the order of the Hebrew script she learned as a child ("Untitled," 1948, above top). Lewis's sinuous lines and suggestive shapes suggest jazz improvisation ("Twilight Sound," 1947, above). Among the abstract expressionists, both were indeed "from the margins"; Krasner spent much of her energy promoting Jackson Pollock, her husband, while Lewis has clearly been neglected in modern art history. This exhibit provides an illuminating view of two abstract artists deserving of much wider recognition.

"From The Margins: Lee Krasner And Norman Lewis, 1945-1952" continues through February 1 at the Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave. at 92nd St., NYC; (212) 423-3200,

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"How Can I Be Happy?": A Humanist Response By Stephen Fry

How can one be happy and find meaning in life outside of a religious framework? Stephen Fry, English comedian, actor, writer and activist, provides the humanist response in the following animated video:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Beck Live

Having watched Dhani Harrison and Paul Simon take part in the recent week-long tribute to George Harrison on "Conan," let's now turn to Beck's rendition of "Wah Wah." The song originally appeared on Harrison's solo album "All Things Must Pass" (1970).