Random Liberals

We are random liberals (who knew?). Collectively, we make up the greatest blog in the history of ourselves. We will blog about anything that suits us; mostly politics, with a little bit of religion and randomness to make the blog exciting.


Monday, September 19, 2005

The Good Samaritans

I listened to This American Life yesterday with my dad (it was actually last week's episode). Ira Glass did long interviews in New Orleans with several survivors of Hurricane Katrina. One of the interviews was of Denise Moore, who rode out the hurricane in her home, walked to a nearby hospital where the rest of her family was after the storm ended, and then was taken with her family to the convention center. She told of the horrendous conditions that the refugees endured in the center. Then, when she was asked about the truthfulness of rumors circulating that women in the convention center were raped and that many people had been murdered, she told a very interesting tale. She said that many local young thugs and gangsters had brought weapons into the convention center, and were standing near the most vulnerable people, making sure that they weren't molested. These thugs were also out "looting" food, water, clothes, and anything else that was needed. They took care of people in the convention center while politicians flew over, looking hopeless and helpless and while the Gretna police were determined to keep black people from seeking refuge in their city.

Her story reminds me of another story which I'm sure most of you have seen somewhere or another. [slightly modified for a more contemporary audience]

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: "Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?"

26 Jesus replied, "What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?"

27 The man answered, " `You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, `Love your neighbor as yourself.' "

28 "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you will live!"

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

30 Jesus replied with an illustration: "A large group of people was living together in an arena after being attacked by a hurricane. It stripped them of their clothes and money, beat them up, and left them half dead beside the road.

31 "By chance an important leader came along; but when he saw them lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed them by. 32 The police also walked over and looked at them lying there, but they also passed by on the other side.

33 "Then some despised thugs came along, and when they saw the refugees, they felt deep pity. 34 Kneeling beside them, the gangsters soothed their wounds with medicine and bandaged them. [...]

36 "Now which of these three groups would you say was a neighbor to the people who were attacked by Katrina?" Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, "Those who showed the people mercy."

Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same."


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance, Take 2

I believe that now would be an appropriate time to resurrect one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes jokes of all time (originally posted here, very early in the life of this blog):

I pledge allegiance to Queen Fragg, and her mighty state of hysteria...

Today, a district court judge ruled that teacher-led recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools are unconstitutional because of the phrase "under God". The suit was brought by the parents of three California schoool-children. The lawyer for the plaintiffs is none other than Michael Newdow, who was the plaintiff in the case that was thrown out by the Supreme Court last year on a technicality. As I said in my post last year on the original lawsuit, I do not like allowing teacher-led recitations of the Pledge at all. Even if students cannot be required to recite the Pledge, a lot of pressure is placed on students to conform, especially if a person of authority is leading the way. Students who are barred by their religion to salute to the flag (or who choose not to do so for other reasons) face discrimination by teachers and other students if they do not stand with the rest of the class.

For a much better articulation of this subject, go read this post by Lauren of Feministe.


Friday, September 09, 2005


I don't really have anything to say myself about the tragedy. I just want to point everyone to this story, (via Workbench) which has been reprinted in many places. It is the personal experience of two EMTs who were vacationing in New Orleans when Katrina struck. They were stranded in the city for several days, and during that time they -- along with other people they banded together with -- were treated like dirt by the authorities who were supposed to be mounting the rescue operation. At the same time, however, they tell of many ordinary people -- some who were stranded with them, others who they met as they finally got out of the city -- who displayed incredible kindness and compassion.

Please read it all the way through. This story tells us a lot about the still pervasive official classism in this country, but also about the compassion of random people.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Equal Rights Are for Girly-Men

Yesterday was a day of celebration for GLBT-rights activists in California, as the Assembly narrowly voted in favor of a bill that would give same-sex couples full marriage rights and responsibilities. However, the celebration was short-lived, as the Governator indicated today that he intended to veto the bill:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday he will veto a bill that would have made California the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through its elected lawmakers.

Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved an initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 was placed on the ballot to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

What the Gropenführer seems to have forgotten that members of the California Assembly are the elected representatives of the voters, and so by definition they represent the intent of the voters. (Yes, I know in practice that is not always the case. I'm going with representative democratic theory.) It is entirely possible (I would say probable) that the public have changed their minds in the last five years, thanks in part to the marriages in San Francisco last year which -- startlingly -- did not lead to the apocalypse.

Later in the piece, Schwarzenegger says that same-sex marriage is an issue for the courts to decide.

It seems to me that Arnold might have missed those many memos which accuse any court that declares laws banning same-sex marriage "activist". Or he's guilty of rank hypocrisy. I report, you decide.