Thursday, November 7, 2013

A temporary revival

Instead of using this blog, I have been posting most of what I write on Facebook ( lately (since 2010). For the last few months, I've been reorganizing my website ( as a WordPress blog, intending to make all future posts there, so that they will be indexed and easier to locate.  This month,I am switching my website to a new server so that I can switch to a much less expensive hosting plan; I need a little more than the 1GB I originally had, but a lot less than the 100GB I am now paying for.

All this is to explain why, for a few days at least, I am going to be posting a lot more to Word on the Street.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The source of "rights"

Are we given rights by God, or by government?


Our rights and freedoms are protected by the U.S. Constitution; they are not bestowed by the U.S. Constitution. We have them because we were born human, period. Rights pre-exist law, or else law could not be argued to "protect rights" or to "infringe upon rights."

Our rights are not bestowed by any god recognized by any religion, either. The deist who wrote the Declaration of Independence was not referring to any religious authority, Christian or other, when he invoked "Nature and Nature's God." Humans are very fond of invoking the authority of "God" to enforce their personal opinion. The only way that we can all be equal under the law is to have laws based on NO special authority, religious or nonreligious. The only way we can all have equal rights, and equal moral obligations to each other, is to regard those rights and obligations as independent of any special authority or religious belief. And they are.

Morality precedes religion. Toddlers say "No FAIR!" long before they have any concept about gods. Nobody ever said, "That god commands everything I think is wrong and forbids everything I think is right; yeah, I'll follow THAT god!" We have equal moral obligations to each other because we are all human. Very few of us want to be killed, raped, or robbed and we know that to protect ourselves from such violations we have to commit to protecting others equally. We thrive in groups because we can take care of each other, and we know that if we want to be taken care of in times of illness, weakness, disability or old age, we have to take some responsibility for others in or community, too. We want to be free, and most of us recognize that if we want freedom, we have to give others their own freedom.

An ethic, a social norm, of "treat others as you want to be treated," is based on common human reality and not dependent on any special religious authority. It is secular, and a solid foundation for secular government under which all people have equal freedom for our own belief and practice.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Bad news; a Real Change vendor tells me that Seattle police chased him out of his encampment last night; "They're chasing everybody off of Queen Anne." He was told if he came back he'd be arrested for criminal trespassing. He saw no trespassing signs, thought he was on public land. At least they waited for him to gather his belongings; they didn't confiscate anything.

He also said he'd been stopped by police, asked for ID,"jacked up" on the street, three times in one night.

Is this the effect of the new police chief, or is Mayor McGinn becoming the Mayor McGrinch of our fears, instead of the Mayor McGrin of our hopes?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I am demonstrating blogging to a workshop student.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seattle Raging Grannies support Nickelsville

Seattle Raging GranniesEight of the Seattle Raging Grannies (including me) visited Nickelsville today and sang for the Nickelodeons. Some of them sang along with us. I forgot to take my camera! So I can't post a photo of today. In substitute, here's a photo of Seattle Raging Grannies singing at the Nickelsville Die-In, our last community rally before raising Nickelsville.

From the Seattle Raging Grannies:

We support the homeless people of Nickelsville, who are providing shelter and safety for themselves in a hard time.

We admire the courage and compassion of University Christian Church and we thank them for their gift to the community of Seattle, in hosting Nickelsville.

We call on Mayor Nickels to acknowledge the realities of homelessness in Seattle and stop the senseless sweeps of homeless encampments.

The Mayor knows that developers are destroying low-income housing three times faster than it is being created. The Mayor knows that thousands of homeless men, women, and children are left outside after all shelter space in Seattle is full. The Mayor knows that Alan Painter, the head of the Department of Human Services, told the Seattle City Council that all of the shelters are full. The Mayor has no excuse for harassing Nickelsville or its supporters.

The Mayor needs to stop wasting money on harassing homeless encampments, and turn his full energy to real steps to end homelessness. Stop the destruction of low-income housing. Open more emergency shelters. Stop portraying homeless people and advocates as the enemy, and help Seattle come together as a community.

The mission of the Seattle Raging Grannies is to promote global peace, justice, and social and economic equality by raising public awareness through the medium of song and humor.

Two of the songs we sang were written/adapted especially for Nickelsville.

(tune: There is a Tavern in the Town)

There is a rental in this town, in this town,
And there my fam'ly settled down, settled do-o-own.
We ate and slept and played there every day,
And paid our rent so we could stay.

    Fare thee well for we must leave thee.
    Do not let this parting grieve thee.
    Our rent jumped sky high believe me,
    And so we-e mu-ust part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, yes, adieu.
We can no longer be with you, be with you.
We'll hang our clothes on a weeping willow tree,
And sleep in Nickelsville for free.


(tune: Back of the Bus)

If you miss me at the front of the bus
You can't find me nowhere
Come on up to the driver's seat
I'll be driving up there.
I'll be driving up there, I'll be driving up there;
Come on up to the driver's seat, I'll be driving up there.

If you're looking for shelter
You can't find it nowhere
Come on up to the greenbelt,
Folks are camping up there.
Folks are camping up there, Folks are camping up there;
Come on up to the greenbelt, Folks are camping up there.

If you miss me in the greenbelt
You can't find me nowhere
Come on over to Nickelsville,
Folks are building up there.
Folks are building up there, Folks are building up there;
Come on over to Nickelsville, Folks are building up there.

If you miss me at Nickelsville
You can't find me nowhere
Come on down to the jailhouse,
We'll be bunking down there.
We'll be bunking down there, We'll be bunking down there;
We'll be bunking down there.

If you miss me at the jailhouse
You can't find me nowhere
That's cause we all stood together,
And we're still building up there!
We're still building up there!
We're still building up there!
That's cause we all stood together,
And we're still building up there!

Sing On!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The "litmus test" question

In both the Presidential debate and the Washington State gubernatorial debate tonight, the candidates were asked about future court appointments.

Whoever is governor 2009-2012 will be appointing a replacement for Judge Gerry Alexander when he retires.  The first question of Gregoire and Rossi was: "Who's on your list to replace Gerry Alexander?  Will you have a litmus test?"

The Presidential candidates were asked a similar question during their debate: would they consider appointing a Supreme Court judge whom they do not agree with on some issues -- like abortion and same-sex marriage?

I was annoyed by how everybody answered this question.  Everybody falls over themselves to affirm, "I would never apply a litmus test, I will appoint the most qualified person."

Of course all appointees should be the most qualified persons available.  And one of the qualifications for the position of Supreme Court judge (on state or federal level) is commitment to the constitution.

The following are fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution:
  • All rights and powers originate in the people. 
  • Government, at any level,  can only exercised the rights and powers explicitly granted by the people.
Ergo, any person who says, "The right of privacy is not established in the constitution" is not qualified to be a judge.

To some extent both liberals and conservatives recognize the existence of a "public sphere" in which our interactions with each other can be legislated and adjudicated, and a "private sphere" in which government should not intrude. We may disagree on where the line is drawn, but for any conservative to deny the existence of a private sphere contradicts everything they say about why government should be limited.

As I see it, a judge who would consider it constitutional for government to regulate sex and reproduction, and who would authorize the state to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will, is not qualified for the position.  That would be an honest answer from Gregoire or Obama -- and Obama, at least, did bury a recognition of that in the midst of "oh no I wouldn't."

And an honest answer from Rossi or McCain would be that they believe that constitutional principles were violated in the Roe vs Wade decision, and therefore any judge who would not overturn Roe vs Wade is not qualified for the position -- and McCain did bury a recognition of that in the midst of "oh no I wouldn't."

I would have been a lot happier if they were direct about it.  I would be a whole lot happier if our Washington governor candidates were even close to that direct.

B.C. court rules that homeless people can camp in city parks

Survival is a human right. The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled Tuesday (October 14) that, with insufficient capacity in Victoria's shelters, a bylaw forbidding homeless people from setting up tents and sleeping in city parks deprives homeless people of life, liberty and security in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

read more | digg story

Sunday, October 5, 2008

w00t! Good news for Nickelsville!

I just learned a new word while reading the comments on Tim's blog today.

Tim always blogs much more actively than I do, and he's been posting a LOT on the Nickelsville saga. His most recent post reports some good news I had already heard: the United Indians of All tribes dropped off a letter stating full support of Nickelsville. w00t!

Also w00t! - Human Services manager Alan Painter admitted in an open City Council meeting on Friday that shelters are full. To a direct question on that from a Councilmember, he said yes, they are full, and when they aren't it's only due to special circumstances.