July 28, 2005

Light blogging

Will be on the road for a few days. May do some blogging, but who knows.

Hold down the fort.

July 27, 2005

Bush's true character

As Frank Rich writes here, Bush's true character, far from being godly or Christian, is one of revenge and retribution. And his chief agent in that matter is Karl Rove.

Eight Days in July - New York Times: "On that evening's broadcast of ABC's 'World News Tonight,' American soldiers in Falluja spoke angrily of how their tour of duty had been extended yet again, only a week after Donald Rumsfeld told them they were going home. Soon the Drudge Report announced that ABC's correspondent, Jeffrey Kofman, was gay. Matt Drudge told Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post at the time that 'someone from the White House communications shop' had given him that information.

Mr. McClellan denied White House involvement with any Kofman revelation, a denial now worth as much as his denials of White House involvement with the trashing of the Wilsons. Identifying someone as gay isn't a crime in any event, but the 'outing' of Mr. Kofman (who turned out to be openly gay) almost simultaneously with the outing of Ms. Plame points to a pervasive culture of revenge in the White House and offers a clue as to who might be driving it. As Joshua Green reported in detail in The Atlantic Monthly last year, a recurring feature of Mr. Rove's political campaigns throughout his career has been the questioning of an 'opponent's sexual orientation.'"

No character here. No virtue. No Godliness. Just hard-nosed gang-style punishment for anyone who dares question the President.

July 26, 2005

Rick Santorum

Saw the Rickster on the Daily Show last night. Interesting. He was better than I expected. But what struck me the most was the shift in argument. Opponents of gay marriage, like Santorum, now argue that they are just defending traditional marrage. He said last night that the government should promote the ideal, and that is traditional marriage.

But before gay marriage was on the table, these same people were out campaigning and raising money to stop the "gay agenda." They have a real credibility gap here. They aren't just against gay marriage, they don't want people to be gay.

Speaking of that, did anyone see the 30 Days episode on homosexuality? It was pretty good. It is still incredibly hard for me to dismiss the experience of these men and women who, when they were younger, would have done anything to be straight and accepted. They would have loved to be in love with the opposite sex. But they weren't.

Santorum is running a con here. He says he is just against gay marriage, but conservative Christians don't want anyone to be gay. But as I wrote last year, all they are doing is succeeding in insuring that gays dislike them and the evangelical church. They aren't stopping anyone from being gay. Just stopping those who are from being accepted and loved.

July 25, 2005

Bruce at "This is Class Warfare"

A good statement of the problem at hand:

This is Class Warfare: "Personally I don't think that Bush himself has to make all that much effort to appear religious. Its the word from the pulpit, that Bush is a man of God, that is driving evangelicals to put their faith in Him (I mean Bush, not God). The ownership language is particularly interesting. Religious people in this country refer to Bush as 'our president', meaning they feel that Bush is enacting their agenda and working for them. Bush himself only has to pepper his speeches with vague allusions to reinforce this perception.

Whether Bush himself is following the teachings of Jesus is as irrelavent, as is asking whether the churches that call themselves Christian are doing so either. Right wing Christianity is a identity movement. Bush is practing crass identity politics. He is a annointed head of the Republican party, and thus, by default, a man of god.

Exactly. And that is where the church has let us down in a huge way. It is one thing to be conservative, it is another to completely fall prostrate on your face to kiss the ring of this president because he has simply told you he was religious. And then to ignore any evidence to the contrary is inexcusable. As I wrote last fall, Bush has done more to undermine evangelicalism than help it. Long term, we will see that people have lost tremendous amount of respect for conservative people of faith.

That Bush is a man of god is an article of faith among the right, just as it is a known fact that liberals are causing the decline of America.

Evidence to the contrary is neither regarded as credible or even considered.

Bruce has some thoughts on how this divide occurs among people who essentially share the same broad assumptions. Language screws us, to a certain degree. We all believe in due process, freedom, equality, etc. We all believe in tolerance and justice and the american way. We all value the individual civil rights of our fellow citizens.

But, as Ross Perot was fond of saying, the devil is in the details. What those individual things mean to different segments of the country probably explain why we differ on so many issues.

SBC declares war on feminism

Or, perhaps, re-declares war. From Carlos these two stories from Southern Baptists attacking feminism. Odd, isn't it, with all the other concerns we have, that the basic idea that women are equal would attract such attack?

First, Al MohlerWe Need More Faithful Husbands -- Not 'Passive Nice Guys' quotes from a book he wants us all to buy and read;

"The constant imbibing of feminism, mixing together with man's native sinfulness, has resulted in an epidemic of passive-purple-four-ballism in modern marriages. Men have permitted themselves to be emasculated into a company of wimp eunuchs, who believe it should be their goal to strive toward being passive nice guys in their homes. We've been told, and actually now believe, that 'authority' is a naughty word, that male headship is abusive, and that aggressive leadership is rude. Thus, husbands have abdicated the driver's seat and taken a back seat in their marriages.

Evidently those of us who see marriage as a partnership are wrong. Even though we share our battles and try to be there to back the other one up when they are down, well, we are just nancy-boys.

Adam has become the poster-boy for today's fashionably easy-going husband. Instead of assertively standing at the forefront of his marriage, talking nose to nose with the crafty serpent, he's content to sit back and let Eve to the talking. And when Eve gave her husband the fruit, instead of standing up like a man and boldly refusing to transgress God's Word, he passively caved into the unprincipled and misguided desires of his wife (cf. Genesis 3:1-6). As a result, Adam cursed his family."

Nothing like a literal reading of an ancient myth to justify misogyny.

But that isn't all. Over at BP News we have commentary from the same guy who wroteWhy I'm Raising Violent 4 Year-Olds.

Well, here, he is excoriating feminism. Is there a talking points memo out from the SBC leadership that instructs all talking heads to attack feminism this week? Note, they never attack poverty, or consumerism. Never question the Bush administration. Never question environmental policies. Never. But by God we have to keep women down.

Here, while really attacking John McCain (the republican that all religious right people fear), and calling Susan Estrich a feminist (not even sure that is true anymore), Moore has this to say about feminism: "Let me say that I consider feminism one of the most dangerous, utopian, and ultimately hopeless causes of the 21st century world." Really? Most dangrous utopian idea? That women are equal? You moron. You depraved, knuckle-dragging idiot!

Well, nothing new here. Conservatives have been attacking feminism since it was merely a vehicle for suffrage. In the early 20th century, faced with great uncertainty about the family, women who didn't immediately seek marriage and children were considered deeply flawed, and possibly gay. There never has been room in the conservative evangelical tent for women. Speaking of a utiopia, it is there where men rule the roost, and are treated as conquerers. Promise Keepers, militias, etc., have been mechanisms to assure the fragile male ego that in a small, and dwindling part of society, masculinity still rules.

This is tilting at windmills. I don't see women giving up what they have gained, nor do I see all the progressive men acquiescing to the religious right. This is holding up a mythical past as a way to assuage contemporary fear. But the impact on young men and women is real. And I am sorry for that. I am sorry that this guy has a platform to espouse this crap. But, in the end, equality is right.

July 23, 2005

girls softball

We went to a softball game tonight. And really enjoyed ourselves, for the most part. I think the age group was 10 and under, and the competition was fierce.

In many ways, it represented much of what is good about our culture--and much of what isn't.

First, the good. I love seeing young girls play softball with grit, discipline and determination. Nothing dainty about it. If she throws "like a girl," it is a compliment. That sort of thing. I saw a 10 year old drilled in the back running down the first base line. She got up and went back to the plate (foul ball). I also appreciated that many of the fathers in the crowd were just as attentive and obnoxious about their daughter's softball as they were about the boys. 20 years ago (maybe 30), fathers might have shown less interest in the sporting interests of girls. And finally, we had attentive and loyal parents. Parents who drive hundreds of miles to compete in tournaments and spend a lot of money to do so.

So, what was bad, you ask? Compared to the truly bad of our society and culture, nothing really comes close. But I (as a non-parent) was struck by the obsession with children. (I am reminded here of one of my favorite Simpsons episode where Reverend Lovejoy's wife keeps shouting, "Won't someone think of the children?") And children who perform. It seems legitimate to ask if those parents can tell the difference between their own ambitions and their children's.

Many of these people live in a bubble. Their world is made up of obsessing over children and making money. Not that they aren't good parents or even good people, but in the global (or historical) sense, they are anomalous.

Don't get me wrong. There is much to laud here. Parents who care about their kids, for example. I saw many great examples of very good sportsmanship (or sportswomanship) from parents. And I know some of them and know that they care deeply about their kids. All good things.

But in the back of my mind, there was a mild alarm. Alarm that kids this age couldn't just "play." They had to have gigantic tournaments and scripted and organized "competition."

I know these young girls will be better off. They will learn competition and the ability to work with others. They will be much less likely to allow a man to push them around or coerce them into a situation they don't really want. But at a cultural level, I wonder.

That is all, really. I just wonder.

July 20, 2005

So, how do I feel?

Some may wonder where I stand on Bush's nomination. Here is my quick take: this was a relatively smart pick on Bushy's part. The guy doesn't have a huge track record and is demonstrably good at what he does. I am really wondering if this one is worth fighting. Bush has not put forward a nut, and so Democrats will look obstructionist if they go "to war" on this.

Am I happy with him? No, but we just won't know what kind of Judge he is for sometime. I remember being horrified that GHWB put up Souter. And now Souter is one of my favorites on the court. I think there are bigger battles to fight here. This is one where the conservatives are right--they control both houses and the White House. They get this nomination.


A commenter argued here that Jesus never endorsed Government handouts, and I think suggested my post on McKibben was a bit unfair to conservative Christians by suggesting that they don't care about the poor. As I pointed out in the comments, McKibben addresses overall taking care of the poor here and abroad. We do a shitty job. All of us. Republicans seem to want to do less. That is my point. And, while I concede that Jesus never endorsed the Head Start program, nowhere do I read that he bashed taxes, advocated cutting those same taxes, or endorsed an overall get rich while you can mentality.


Speaking of that, I am asking a friend of mine to justify his Republican votes by his faith. How does the Christian message correlate to voting Republican? Serious question. And if I concede that Repubs might be right on abortion, can we set that one aside? And, not conceding this point, let's stay away from homosexuality. On economics and social justice, where do Republican policies even come close to reflecting Christian values?



One more point before I brave the heat to mow the lawn. It seems to me that one of the really important issues in this entire Rove debate is yet to be explored. Time Magazine essentially gave up their reporter. This is exactly what we have been fearing for sometime--that the corporatization of the news media would mean that profits would dominate over the news gathering process. don't get me wrong, I am glad this information came to light, because I really want to see Rove in prison orange. But this is a bad trend. We are not far away (or already are there) from corporate news refusing to cover corporate crime, or any news that would reflect badly on the corporate mission (by which I mean profit).

July 18, 2005

Christian America--huh?

Thanks to Greg over at the parish for pointing us to the recent Harper's article. I visited B&N yeserday and picked it up. As Greg notes, McKibben nails much of the current Christian identity in America. On the Christian right and politics:

"A rich man came to Jesus one day and asked what he should do to get into heaven. Jesus did not say he should invest, spend, and let the benefits trickle down; he said sell what you have, give the money to the poor, and follow me. Few plainer words have been spoken. And yet, for some reason, the Christian Coalition of America...proclaimed last year that its top legislative priority would be 'making permanent President Bush's 2001 federal tax cuts.'"

McKibben goes into more detail when discussing the horrible situation in Alabama when their conservative Governor Bob Riley (who will most likely be challenged by nutjob Roy Moore) decided that the state's tax code was not only medieval, but immoral. "The richest Alabamians paid 3 percent of their income in taxes, and the poorest paid up to 12 percent; income taxes kicked in if a family of four made $4,600. . ." As he notes, and we have discussed here, the Christian response was to vote the measure down 2-1, with the Christian Coalition of Alabama leading the charge.

My favorite, actually, came from the introduction where McKibben notes that despite all the claims for Christian domination, very few people even have a clue about the Bible. Only 40 percent can name more than four of their beloved commandments. But this was the best: "Three quarters of Americans believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." That is, three out of four Americans believe this uber-American idea, a notion at the core of our current individualist politics and culture, which was in fact uttered by Ben Franklin, actually appears in Holy Scripture."

Go read this article.

July 16, 2005

pretty good post

Religious Right Watch contrasts American evangelical values with what the NT seems to command about feeding the hungry and generally tending to the "least of these."

religious right watch: The least Jesus asks is not what the Religious Right asks: "Listening to the typical conservative evangelical or, especially, Fundamentalist sermon in 10,000's of churches in America, you would seldom get the sense that Jesus will care more about the above than he will that you:

1) Remained a virgin until your wedding night
2) Supported pro-Israel foreign policy on the belief that Israel basically can't do anything wrong
3) Refrained from ever touching a member of the same sex in any but an utterly chaste manner
4) Voted for 'Godly,' 'Bible-believing,' or 'values' candidates--i.e. Republicans per the Religious Right's definitions of 'Godly,' 'Bible-believing,' or 'values'
5) Believed that Jesus would be returning in the sky soon, quite possibly within your lifetime6) Kept yourself and your children from listening to 'secular' music or viewing 'secular' films or TV"

Good god

Thinking again about Goldberg's stupid book bemoaning the fact that a "drunk in a bar not too long ago, would not use the f-word, but Chevy Chase would call the President a dumb-blank at the Kennedy Center."

Fine, so people like me use the f-word just a little too much. I like the word. I try not to offend people (outside the blog). But the point is bigger than that. I am (in my mind) a person motivated by morality. I don't steal, cheat on my taxes. I treat my friends and family with respect.

Anyway. So, let's look at a few stories that are truly vulgar. How would Bernie react to these vulgarities?

SI.com - More Sports - Police: Coach paid kid to hurt disabled player - Friday July 15, 2005 5:04PM: "PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday."

I doubt conservatives like this either, but the win at all costs mentality of Rove and his minions reminds me of this. Can't you see Rove pushing the disabled kid so he didn't have to lose?


or how about this (thanks, Mainstream Baptist)one about a charity in Mississippi who won't accept applications for adoption from CATHOLICS because they don't agree with the "agency's statement of faith." Big problem considering that this stupid agency gets State money. How many Christian Conservatives think that Catholics aren't really Christians? So, if they had their way, would we have not just a Christian nation, but an Evangelical Christian nation where Menonites, Catholics and Episcopalians need not apply?


I am really close to just giving up on politics. I am certainly in news avoidance mode on the Rove situation. Republicans are just better at lying and subverting their country, I guess. The current memes going around are things like Rove being a patriotic whistle blower. That's right, the guy who has called people pedophiles or claimed that opponents had sex with black women, is actually a great American hero. Please.

Someone suggested to me that Clinton was this bad. To be this bad, Clinton and his supporters would have argued that Clinton's dalliance with Monica Lewinsky was actually a good thing for American policy. After all, a tense President could make bad decisions, right.


A friend asked me yesterday why this stuff bothers me so much. My email response was something like this: "You see that latest post on my blog? From that other woman's blog? I grew up (as you well know) in a church and family that stressed morality. I hung out with people who did too. Even though I am no longer a church member, I have spent the last 15 years of my life defending my transition away from the conservative position. Defending it to people who all assume that I went out on some lark of rebelion but that ultimately I would come right back to where they were and where I came from.

Now I see that entire place I came from and grew up in--I see them all marching like robots with their head down. The talk of morality--all the lessons I learned as a kid? All of that seems to be gone. In its place are people who overlook torture and war, and who seem to value bizarre theories about the end times over real atrocities in our own. People who support Bush for language but not for action.

Even though I am not a Baptist any longer, the world seems upside down. And even though I know that many of those people are good people, I see them doing nothing to change it. Nothing. In fact, they vote to keep it the way it is and buy the spin from Fox news."


So, in conclusion (and redundancy, but its my effing blog, isn't it [watching the British Open, so hear that with a british accent], I don't want to hear conservatives ever bitch and moan about cultural decline. If you can excuse Karl Rove that is all I need to know. If you can chuckle at Ann Coulter but think Michael Moore is a dangerous America-hater, then that is all I need to know.

July 15, 2005

Friday night music

and art.

Walked down to the midsummer fair tonight. It was just fun to see all the people milling around eating unhealthy food and listening to marginal music. Community, I think it is. I see people I know and have a few nice moments. I think about buying a ceramic bowl for my change and possibly some organic soap.

I do neither.

Meanwhile, had to rebuild the powerbook on Monday so all my playcounts were reset on Itunes. That's ok. Fun to rediscover what I love in my music collection.

For today, we are listening to:

Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head--a title, as Jape can tell you, I always screw up--"kick to the side of the head" or "rush to the head of something. Whatever you call it, it is a great album. Politik, or The Scientist are great, great songs.

But the album that SOF won't stop playing (and I don't mind at all) is Ryan Adams' Cold Roses. Let it Ride, When will you come back home, or Sweet Illusions are all really great songs. Something about that voice that just soothes the angry soul.

Music is good.

"When did my departure from evangelicalism begin? On the day the war in Iraq began"

Thanks to Carlos over at Jesus Politics (as usual) for this great link to a really, really first rate post. This is so close to my experience. Anyway, I hope she doesn't mind this long quote.

Christians and Terrorism

When did my departure from evangelicalism begin? On the day the war in Iraq began. Nearly each Sunday was a sorrow; each Thursday Bible study worse.

It wasn't that war was preached from the pulpit. It usually wasn't. It's that there seemed to be utter unanymity among my fellow church members that the war was right and just, beyond question or biblical challenge.

Every Sunday I opened the church bulletin to see a call to pray for our soldiers, who were 'defending our freedom.' Never once was there a call in print or aloud to pray for the people of Iraq.

When we would visit other churches when we were traveling it was far worse. Once I walked out in protest of the pro-war rally that the Sunday service had become.

I had stopped listening to Christian radio long before--just after September 11, when suddenly people for whom Christ died were 'monsters' who deserved our deepest revenge.

Never talk of peace, never a mention of answering a curse with blessing, never a word about forgiveness or reconciliation, never a prayer for our nation's enemies.

But always unquestioning support of war and the war president.

In church. On Christian radio. Week in. Week out.

No, we're not told that we achieve eternal paradise by killing our enemies. But in every town and every city, the people living in expectation of eternal paradise with Christ are receiving and passing on the message that killing our enemies is a blessed act.

And I grieve for the people of London. Untimely death is untimely death no matter the shade of skin, texture of hair, first language, or religion of the victims and perpetrators.

What would Jesus do?

Paul Krugman says it too

Karl Rove's America - New York Times

"What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.


Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy - but what he said about conservatives, that they 'saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war,' is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity - and none more so than Mr. Rove.

A less insightful political strategist might have hesitated right after 9/11 before using it to cast the Democrats as weak on national security. After all, there were no facts to support that accusation.

But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. . . .


Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.

But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her (Robert Novak later identified her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser - a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election - is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?"

July 14, 2005

Sometimes bad people win

As you can see from my earlier post, I am a bit on edge over this Rove thing. I think deep down I believe that bad people will be found out and that good people will eventually do good. Talk about naive, eh?

I sometimes over-simplify things. I think I understand the conservative Christian world view. Or at least part of it. I grew up learning that truth was absolute--right is right and wrong is wrong.

But I also understand that the political world is completely different. Right is what you can get. Politics is about compromise and making deals. Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch are on opposite sides of just about everything, but they work together.

Those two worlds don't work well together. Those are not compatible world-views. And Karl Rove, when he isn't undermining national security, is completely in the second world. But he has sold the first world the idea that he (and his annoying boss) are in the first world.

But they aren't. You don't race bait if you are a committed Christian who understands the "sin" of racism. You don't badmouth people behind their back. You are charged to actually treat your enemies with grace and love. Rove and Bush don't even come close.

So, as I am calmer tonight (after mowing) I still struggle with those who believe in an absolute world view making excuses for people like Bush and Rove. And I can't tell you how many people have done that. People who believe that right is right tell me with a straight face that you can't expect Bush to admit making errors. Are you kidding me? Things they would never allow or tolerate in their kids, they excuse and even encourage in their President.

I am struggling with that. I don't want to resent people for giving us Bush. I am preparing to have to forgive my fellow Americans for letting Bush and Rove get away with murder.

But as a wise man once told me, forgiveness is a tricky thing. If you lend someone money and they never pay you back, you can forgive that debt, but you don't have to loan them money anymore.

I will work to forgive the church. I just won't trust the church for moral advice.

Rove and Bush make me sick

As Joseph Wilson put it: "'The president has said repeatedly, 'I am a man of my word,' ' Wilson added. 'He should stand up and prove that his word is his bond and fire Karl Rove.'"

I keep thinking about how many Christians have repeated the myth that Bush is some kind of good Christian man. He plays the principle/faith cards very well. Of course, I have not seen a bit of it in action. In Sunday School, they called it the "fruit." You know, the outward demonstration of the inward heart.

That doesn'ty apply to Bush, evidently. His scumsucking advisor undermined our country and has lied about it repeatedly. And what does his boss do? look by while the RNC has already started to not only excuse Rove, but savage Cooper (the reporter) and of course Wilson.

These people are bullies and amoral, power-hungry thugs. But I already know that. After the election, I wrote this about KR and Karen Hughes
"Rove and Karen Hughes are . . . the types that in a different neighborhood peddle crack to kids. Rove took Bush to South Carolina in 2000 and thought, hey, what would these fine upstanding southerners think about race issues? If presenting John McCain as a racist would have sold, he would have done that. Instead, he spread the rumor that McCain had committed adultery with a black woman. And Bush stood by and profited. I guess that would make him the pimp. But I am not surprised that Rove did what he did. He used the deep-seated fear of gay people that American Christianity has become, and profited yet again off that fear. He did what he did."

In other words, Rove is like a mob-hit man. He does what he does. I understand that. What I don't understand are the people who I respect who seem to think him harmless at best, and a great American at worst.

I need to let this go, I understand. But I just don't understand the mentality. I don't understand the fervent believe in Jesus Christ mixed with the apologies and deflections for people like Rove. I don't get it.

So offensive I feel ill

Thanks to Carlos, I found this little gem of right wing nuttery.

"In fact, according to Columnist Jack Cashill, the current leftist, hate America first philosophy of people like George Soros, Michael Moore, and Ward Churchill began in the mid 1920's as a Communist attempt to undermine the American way of life by suggesting that America, and not the Soviet Union is the source of evil in the world."

You see, only conservatives can love their country and criticize a President or military effort. Only conservatives can badmouth the Clintons and undermine their efforts in Kosovo and still claim the mantle of Patriot. Only conservatives can wave 9-11 in everyone's face, while they undermine the people who actually did the cleanup and rescue operation.

I am really, really tired of being called unAmerican.

Is this an activist judge?

From Pandagon, this story about a religious theme park that has convinced a Florida judge to give it full tax exempt status. I am fine with that for a church, but this is a place that is selling all sorts of crap, including the ability to eat a "goliath burger" in one of their dining establishments. There are also shops. This is a commercial venture with religious overtones. That strikes me as quite different from a church.

Rove watch

As Daniel Schorr reminds us, this story is not about a "leak," but about a war and how we were misled into that war. The GOP is trying to reframe the discussion toward a simple and Washington-tradition leak.

Couple of points on Rove. If you watch him talk (last year) about the leak and what he did and didn't say--and you hated Bill Clinton for his parsing of the word "is"--you have to agree he is a slimy and evil man. He is not about anything but power. As other bloggers have noted, he has demonstrated that his primary loyalty is not to America. If it was, he would not have chosen to out a CIA operative working on WMD proliferation for Christ's sake!

This is a guy who spread a rumor in a local race that a good judge with a record of accomplishing great things for local youth was really a pedophile. This guy is scum.

Now the question is what kind of integrity the President has. Will he actually fire someone who undermined National Security? I was about to make a joke about Condi Rice, but whatever she did or did not do about terrorism does not appear to be motivated by simple political ambition. Rove outed a CIA operative in a way that would make a mob boss blush. He did it to shut up a political critic.

Where is the outrage from the right? Remember that feeling of frustration over the White House Travel Office? What about the Buddhist Temple? Can't you mister any outrage over a political operative who would do this? Or is power your only goal. Or is the fact that Bush says God chose him enough, and now whatever means his office takes are all justified?

Rove must go. and I am still waiting for the grownups.

Did Dobson misread the Bible? I don't think "I will destroy you" is in red letters

religious right watch: The Christian Right is after Mike DeWine: "Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) has the Religious Right on his tail.? The very conservative elements that control the Republican Party want to punish him for backing the compromise that averted the so-called 'nuclear option' and preserved the important Senate tradition of the filibuster."

July 13, 2005

Bernard Goldberg is a WAY out of his league

Watching Jon Stewart (thanks Anglican for the reminder) and winced when I heard that Goldberg was on pimping his book. The guy annoys me. His book on media Bias is simply laughable given the proliferation of conservative biases in the news.

Well, it was worth the watching. Jon Stewart is kicking his ass. Goldberg's big complaint is the f-word? Are you kidding me? Torture? Lies to get us into a war? He also equates racist remarks with the f-word? Really? What a fucking moron. (oops, sorry, Bernie. Did I just undermine the culture?) Please!

Again. Torture. Invading Iraq on false premises. Outing a CIA operative. Those are obscene and vulgar.

Jon really took him apart. Paraphrasing the last sentence: "The real power is in Washington where transparency is the issue, and I wish smart guys like you would focus on the Richard Perle's and Karl Roves rather than complain about Barbara Streisand's blog."

Preach it Jon. The smartest guy in the country.

Rick Santorum is an embarrassment

This is related to the previous point.

Kennedy Rips Santorum for 2002 Column - Yahoo! News: "Santorum, R-Pa., wrote in the July 2002 column for Catholic Online that promoting alternative lifestyles feeds such aberrant behavior as priests molesting children.
'Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture,' Santorum wrote. 'When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.'"

This offends me.

Living On The Edge--of insanity

Coming home from the market, I caught Chip Ingram's radio show. Today, the good Chipper was ranting on and on about divorce--citing from a 50 year old book on family and civilization. What was the conclusion, you ask? Well, Chipper quoted from some speaker at the SBC who cited these causes of the decline of civilization:

-- marriage loses its sacredness, often ends in divorce;
-- feminist movements abound;
-- public disrespect for parents and authority increases;
-- juvenile delinquency, promiscuity and rebellion increases;
-- increasing desire for and acceptance of adultery;
-- tolerance for and spread of sexual perversions of all kinds, especially
homosexuality and including rape, incest and bestiality.

Hmm. This is so wrong. Such a misuse of the past. First, and I am not an expert on ancient history, but civilizations "fall" for a lot of reasons. But they want to turn this into an attack on liberals. Nice. Are we really sure that marriage has always been sacred?

Are we really so sure that feminist movements are evil? Is it evil that women not be raped by their husbands? Or that they have opportunities beyond child rearing?

Ok, I will let this go, but one more thing. Chipper especially liked this one: "-- increasing desire for and acceptance of adultery" which Chipper pointed to some handy percentages on all the depictions of sex on tv, noting how many of them portray sex outside marriage. First of all, dumbshit, that is different than adultery. It may not dawn on some people, but unmarried people having sex is not adultery. And even if we look past that, does our culture really present adultery as fine? I don't think so. Maybe I watch the wrong tv, but on my shows, adultery has costs. Consequences. What more would you want?

July 12, 2005

A response to Jabba Falwell

Christian Alliance for Progress Blog: Falwell; "Christian Alliance is not Christian": "Sir, I find you to be misguided at best, and possibly a very dangerous man. I will continue to challenge your statements or teachings that victimize the children of God. But please know that when I stand before God, I will remember you in my prayers, as you remain my brother in Christ."

they don't even care about the truth

GOP on Offense in Defense of Rove: "Mehlman, who said he talked with Rove several times in recent days, instructed GOP legislators, lobbyists and state officials to accuse Democrats of dirty politics and argue Rove was guilty of nothing more than discouraging a reporter from writing an inaccurate story, according to RNC talking points circulated yesterday."

Just a reminder. Conservatives don't ever get to lecture me about morality again. These people are as ruthless as they get. You want to play politics that way, fine. But don't ever suggest that you care more about the truth or about morality. Ever.

Character is a real bitch

I just saw another "W" sticker this afternoon. As I stared at the back of that car, I mused about how the person inside the car imagined Bush. Would she say that Bush was a good "Christian" and "church-going moral man?" Would she say that his strength of character was her main reason for supporting him?

I wonder how many of these people would have voted for a president who lied to get us into war if they didn't attach the "Christian" tag to him? Would they still? Would they overlook the obvious lies and lack of demonstrated character if he didnt' wear his faith on his sleeve?

We might well find out. Bush said when Valerie Plame's name was leaked that he would fire anyone in his office who was associated with that. Hmm. Say what we will about what Karl knew and when he knew it, he did that. He may not have known that Plame was undercover (I don't believe that for an instant), but he certainly leaked that Wilson's wife was in the CIA. Even if he isn't guilty of breaking the law, he did exactly what Bush said would warrant a firing. Will he?

And, more importantly, how will his Christian base--the Patriot Pastors from Ohio, for example--respond if he does not? Will we continue to hear about his great integrity?


Thanks to Zalm for the Annie Lamott link. It is mean for me to enjoy someone else's discomfort this much, but I do. My favorite part is when white house press corps people seem to have woken up from their transcribing slumber and actually pressed McClellen on some things: "you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything." I laughed at that, just reading the transcript.

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan:

"MR. McCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time, as

Q Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --

Q Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --

Q No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?

MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

Go ahead, Terry.

Q Well, you're in a bad spot here, Scott, because after the investigation began, after the criminal investigation was underway, you said -- October 10th, 2003, 'I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby, as I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this.' From that podium. That's after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation?"

July 11, 2005

Music keeps me sane

SOF and I seem to be some of the last to start listening to Coldplay. But we are enjoying it. Listening to the most recent album, SOF made the connection to U2, and I agree. Not sure it is as good as U2's best--which is damn ass hell good. But this is good.

Speaking of U2, I was reminded that John Gibson (of Faux News) needs a major kick in the junk. While he was belittling Tony Blair for caring about the Africans instead of encouraging his fellow Britains to pull out the fingernails of every Arab they saw, he was also mocking Bono. Bono is mockable, don't get me wrong. He has worn those same sunglasses for 20 years. But what a voice! And Gibson was mocking him for his concern for Africa and developing nations--because he was a rock star and unelected. That's right, he was mocking a rock star for caring about something other than getting laid and adoring fans. Here is someone, who say what you will, has spent a lot of time addressing needs. He doesn't have to.

By all means, let us mock the faux celebrities. The Paris Hiltons and the Britney Spears are worthless. Their fame is their thing. But not only has Bono and U2 given us some of the best music of the 80s, he has actually tried to help people around him.

What has fat-ass John Gibson done?

Tulsa and creationism?

Interesting. I have argued in recent discussions with creationists that they were asserting just one of the hundreds of creation stories. All of them are important, but they aren't science. What's more, if you start equating them with science and pushing them in schools, eventually, these other stories are going to have to be told too.

It's All Happening at the Tulsa Zoo - New York Times: "Christian creationists won too much of a victory for their own good in Tulsa, where the local zoo was ordered to balance its evolution science exhibit with a display extolling the Genesis account of God's creating the universe from nothing in six days. A determined creationist somehow talked three of the four zoo directors, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, into the addition by arguing that a statue of the elephant-headed god Ganesh at the elephant house amounted to an anti-Christian bias toward Hinduism.

After the inevitable backlash from bewildered taxpayers warning that Tulsa would be dismissed as a science backwater, the directors 'clarified' their vote to say they intended no monopoly for the Adam and Eve tale but rather wanted 'six or seven' creation myths afforded equal time. There was the rub: there are hundreds of creation tales properly honored by the world's multifarious cultures, starting with the American Indian tribes around Tulsa."

July 10, 2005

Around the news

Just for the hell of it, I did a little surfing to find out what the news people had to say about the Rove story. The so-called liberal media (CNN, for example) has nothing on its political page. Nothing, I could find. Not even the NY Times is talking about it.

(Fox, btw, not only isn't talking about it, they have a personality who's editorial is critical of Tony Blair talking about Africa the day after the bombing. Can you imagine this in the states, John Gibson asks? The president talking about the developing world a day after an attack? The American people, according to twit-boy, would say "put a sock in it, Mr. President. Have you caught the terrorists yet? Have you pulled out their fingernails yet?"

I find that a little stunning that the conservatives are openly sanctioning torture. Where are the moral voices?)

But back to Rove. Let's not forget what this is about. This isn't a pissant land deal in Arkansas (nor a failed oil company in Texas). This isn't a blow-job in the Oval Office. This isn't some people in the travel office being fired. This is treasonous activity by the President's right hand man and chief advisor. He leaked the identity of a CIA operative for political fucking payback and intimidation. He undermined the national security of this nation because Joseph Wilson was a political pain in the ass.

Let's be honest here. Had this happened on Clinton's watch, we would be talking impeachment here. Immediately. Republicans, including Jabba Falwell would be calling for the President's head--literally. Siberia would be a compromise position.

Let's see where the flag-waving, bible-thumping crowd are on this? Patriotism? This is treason. This is as unAmerican as you can get.

I am waiting for the grownups here. Still.

Richard Land officially an ass

Not that I liked him before, but he had done some things that I grudgingly admired. Not now. Now, he is preaching at an even bigger asswipe's church. Lie down with idiot/morons like D. James Kennedy, and you get up with any semblence of your credibility shot. (Thanks to Bruce at Mainstream Baptist for the link, btw.)

Moral Contradictions: Soldiers before servants and critical mass: "'Election results are consequences of change', not the cause of change. During the 2004 election 'People from the Hudson to the border of California' rejected the 1960s (does Dr. Land reject civil rights?) and Kerry and voted for a '1950s kind of guy' who believes in 'one wife and one church'. Republicans didn't just win, but the pro-life and pro-family believers won. 'Washingon will come along like a caboose' and then he makes a final appeal for personal change."

I really hope Karl Rove goes to jail

I know I shouldn't. But I really, really hope he is in prison some day.

where you've been

thought this was fun

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Not inspiring

I was flipping tv yesterday and wandered upon Country Music. Sometimes I watch the videos there. Those not made by Toby Keith aren't terrible. Except for Rascal Flatts. If you have heard them, you know what I mean.

Anyway, yesterday, I saw this little puff news piece that the CMT does. The news bits included the aforementioned Toby Keith being inducted into the OK Hall of Music (not impressed) and the news that Rascal Flatts' guitar player was engaged to the Playboy Playmate of the Year. Ok, whatever. But they interviewed this Joe Don Rooney about his impending nuptials. He said of his playmate bride: "she makes me feel so good about myself. And that is so important."

Really? That is what marriage is about? I think we may have a window into some of the marriage problems of our country. Playboy Playmate or not, at some point, Tiffany whatever is not going to be able to "make" Joe Don (if that is his real name) good about himself.

SOF and I had the good fortune to have a SS teacher in Houston who was a practicing psychologist. He was great, and taught us a lot about fighting fair, expectations, etc. But during the class, he described something that has always stuck. When we are "in love" (puppy love, it is commonly called) he pointed out that we aren't in love with that other person. We really can't be. We don't even know them. We are smitten with how we look in their eyes. Their adoration of who we might be is intoxicating. But it isn't really about the other person. I think Joe Don just described it pretty well. Mature relationships move past that stage and we choose to love this other person in a mature and intimate way. But then we actually know the other person.

July 8, 2005

London and the media

Bruce and Brandon already wrote much of what I was going to say about the London bombing.

As sad as I was to see it, I was really struck how detrimental our 24 hour news cycle has become. After about a half hour of coverage, we had learned all there was to learn until new information could come out. But they just sit there, speculate, speculate, and speculate some more--all, of course, with the video running in the background of ambulances or people covered in debris.

If I were king, I think I would remind those stations that they have a public service obligation (that seems lost on Republicans, btw). After all, they are using public air waves and their existence is not just solely to make money for Rupert Murdoch. I would require that 24 hour news stations run content half the time--not counting midnight to 6 am. Run something public oriented. Then at least, there might be something else to cut back to when the story is clearly told.

Because it isn't like there wasn't constant news coverage before. When a big event happened, the networks preempted the soaps to cover whatever it was. But there was some kind of pressure to return to something else. With CNN, FOX and MSNBC, there is nothing to do but regurgitate and speculate.

A few weeks ago, during the NBA finals, we had a serious storm come through Oklahoma. Few twisters, but really damaging winds. The ABC affiliate broke into the game a few times early on--usually on commercial breaks to keep us up to speed and warn us that what looked like a little storm on the northern border of Oklahoma was going to threaten the entire state, but then they would return to the game. Finally, they had to devote their entire coverage to the storm. Why? Because there was new information happening all the time. It was actually news. It wasn't a couple of Channel 4 drones sitting around talking about some mesocyclone that had occurred hours earlier--it was happening. But there was always this tension that there was a game on. If the storm really wasn't news, they were going back to the game.

We need a national game that is broadcast everyday on the 24 hour news networks.

Good stuff

Kevin Powell is a Lutheran minister in Canada. He has commented here several times--always making great points. Here he really nails it:

Kevin G Powell: High Anxiety: "Jesus wept.

Its no wonder my gay brother-in-law doesn't go to church. They hate him there. But of course they cloak it in the "love the sinner hate the sin" nonsense, which is often Christian shorthand for, "hate the sinner because of the sin."

Church should be a resting place for the weary, a sanctuary for the oppressed, a place of healing and restoration for the broken. The church should be a place of welcome and freedom. The church should be the great leveller; a place where we remember that we are ALL sinners; that we're all in the same boat; that none of us is righteous on our own.

Church should be a place of celebration that God love us, because there is too much hatred, anger, competition, cruelty, ache, judgment, and nastiness in the world and in people. People come to church searching for good news. Sadly, many gays and lesbians leave church feeling more abused than when they walked in. There was no good news for them to hear.

Thankfully, my congregation is a place where good news is shared freely. This is not to say that same-sex blessings is not a controverial issue here. But these are grown-up Christians. They know that baptism trumps politics. They know that gays and lesbians are people, not sin personified. Many of them may have moral qualms about homosexuality, but you dare not make a homophobic remark around them. They won't tolerate bigotry. "

July 6, 2005

Religious right around the bend

Some bloggers and the NYTimes are suggesting that the Bush administration is trying to get the religious right to back off a little on the Supreme Court rhetoric. This is very interesting because I don't think they can.

While driving, I heard Phyllis Schaffley again. She is really crazy. I notice that she now refers to judges as "judicial supremacists." But this really caught me. She refered to the Nebraska State Supreme Court decision where a Clinton nominee (hint) struck down a ban on same sex marriage. And if you weren't sure, she was pissed about it. Kept calling it an "atrocity." Really? An atrocity? And if this wasn't stopped, she warned, our traditional sense of marriage could be gone and so could the Pledge of Allegiance!

Atrocity? I don't know about you, but when I hear that word I think Sudan or Abu Ghraib. I don't think my gay friends marrying or that stupid pledge.

If anyone is looking for a single reason that I lack respect for the religious right, look no further. I could excuse (though not agree) with their magical approach to the ten commandments if they could muster half that outrage for environmental destruction. I could overlook (though not condone) their homophobic reaction to gay marriage if they could react half as strongly to cuts in services for the poor. I could put up with their bizarre worship of this country and pledge of allegiance if they could show that concern for non-American, non-whites around the world (especially those we are bombing).

But this is ridiculous.

This is unbelievable

Republicans don't like that people on death row keep appealing their sentenc.e They like even less the fact that in federal appeals, some 40% of those cases were actually overturned. To fix the situation, reasonable people might consider making the capital punishment process more fair. Nope. Republicans want to reduce appeals. The bloodlust in this country is appalling. Evidence mounts that our process is unbelievably biased toward people of color and the poor. If you are both of those and charged in Texas, your odds drop even further.

I hear how great out country is. I even believe some of it. Then I see something like this that makes me think of barbaric countries where people are executed haphazardly, or of our own history where people were lynched publicly and then sold postcards to commemorate.

This disgusts me.

Where Jesus is Lord, but they can't operate the shredder

I ordered a new face plate for my cell the other day. Found a great deal on the web and they shipped it to me straight away. On the outside of the box (as well as the invoice) was the name of the company followed by "where Jesus is Lord." Inside, not only was my face plate, but a "The Lord is my Light" mint. For some reason I can't get the image out of my head of someone packing boxes and yelling to the back, "hey, we are out of 'Lord is my Light' mints. Where the hell are they?" :)

Inside, used as packing was shredded paper, which is great recyling--except for one problem. On one of the strips of shredded paper, you could still read the routing and account number from a check! Probably need to shred those checks the other way.

All in all, I am making a little fun, but they did a great job. I am not sure about the open proselytizing on their packaging, but have no problem with it. I don't know what it does. I am of two minds on this. On one hand, I really am fearful that some people so combine their capitalist efforts with their faith that they can't tell the two apart. That could be good, but it could also lead to "profits are up, God loves us" kind of thinking. I have seen people who combined the two have real difficulty when they had to make business decisions.

On the other hand, one of my criticisms of the "personal relationship" model is that it has allowed people to compartmentalize their lives. They have that relationship with God, but that has no impact on how they deal with other people (kind of what I think happens with GWB). So, people go to church on Sunday, but actively pursue business or other dealings that are counter to their faith.

So, with those criticisms in mind, I am glad my face plate arrived, and appreciate the mint. I would work on that shredding, however.....

July 5, 2005

america and God

Kevin from the comments over at The Parish.

the parish: I Pledge Allegiance...: "But seriously, when Americans wrap God in their flag, the rest of us Christians in other parts of the world can't help but be offended.



July 4, 2005

4th, ok.

Thinking more about the 4th and the kinds of things that frustrate me. Greg notes how often America is defined as weapons and soldiers. Not peacekeeper. Not war protesters. People who fight and the weapons they use. And why, of all things, are these so often the image of America we see inside our churches? I can imagine kids growing up in these churches really confused by the idea of a church as sanctuary.

Over at Carlos's blog, I find myself in another ridiculous argument with ridiculous people. People who are calling Jimmy Carter incompetent and dismissing his peace and anti-poverty efforts. This from people who call themselves Christians. Peace, evidently, is for heathens. Makes me want to call myself a heathen. Because nothing makes me more interested in being part of a church than listening to Jimmy Carter. I admire this man very much. I understand all of the problems with his presidency. I know about stagflation and the issues with the American West. But even knowing his political problems, I would take him as Presdent in a heart beat. Even when he was one of the first to insert his faith into the public dialogue. But I don't think anyone thinks it wasn't sincere. If I really thought Bush was sincere, I don't think I would mind.

But I digress. I tire of the constant belittling of the left. Over at that same blog, the word "liberal" is most often hyphenated into "liberal-socialist" by conservatives. Liberal has become a bad word. Guns and bombs, and lower taxes, those are the good Christian ideas. WWJD? Evidently bomb someone and then lower taxes on the rich.

So, for this 4th, I will do what I can to reclaim my country. I will hold up Jimmy Carter as an American I truly admire. One of my heroes. A person who has lived his faith with honor and dignity. I will hold up the people who fought against the Vietnam war in protests. I will hold up people like Jeannette Pickering Rankin, the first woman elected to the House of Representatives (Montana) who also voted against the American entry into World War I. I will hold up Rachel Carson who wrote against corporate chemical companies who wanted to spray everything for their own profit.

These are all great Americans as well. This is our country too.

July 3, 2005

Thinking about the 4th

The 4th has always been a strange holiday for me. I remember growing up, this day was always a mixed bag. Not bad, for sure, but not necessarily great. We often went to picnics where sometimes I knew kids and sometimes I didn't. I have never been a great fan of potluck, so those were, again, hit and miss.

In high school, we used to go to our city park for fireworks. I liked that to a point, but the crowds and traffic were just annoying.

Anglican and I were talking recently about our experiences with the first Gulf War. I think this is part of my growing unease with this particular holiday. I was in Houston attending grad school and remember watching the war with a sense of frustration. Compared to our recent invasion of Iraq, it was a clear cut war, but at the time it felt wrong. I remember the real feeling that the war was over oil. But I also remember that the invasion of Kuwait was a real issue.

But the real frustration with that war was how it was covered and presented to us. A video game war, with smart bombs and sanitized news coverage. I remember my growing cynicism when during the war the government not only shielded us from any casualties (there weren't many US casualties and most of those were friendly fire--of course we never really heard about the Iraqi casualties), but they also used the excuse of National Security to keep us from really learning how the war was fought. Patriot missiles were held up as examples of American superiority when they shot down Scud missiles. Anyone who paid attention found out after the war that those Patriot missiles were nowhere as effective as we were told. Maybe they hit one or two, but nothing approaching even 50% rate.

All of that was lost on the American public who cheered the "Scud Stud" reporter and watched as the war was sanitized and packaged for our consumption. Bottom for me was when the 4th of July fireworks display in Washington included Patriot Missiles shooting down Scuds. Yellow ribbons were everywhere as was the flag. What was missing was a sense of who we were.

It was at that point that I stopped flying the flag. I am not anti-flag by any stretch (though I feel frustrated having to qualify that). I actually like the flag. The colors are strong, the image is stirring. I like our country. I like the Constitution and consider it a brilliant document. George W. Bush may not really believe in our rights and system, but I do.

And I know there are many people who feel as I do who still put that flag up on the house for the 4th or Flag Day (does our Flag really need a whole day?). I can't do it. It feels like pandering to me. Deep down, I remember Samuel Johnson's phrase that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels." Voicing patriotism, or flying the flag, or voting for the stupid flag amendment--those are all the easiest things to do. Actually being patriotic is much harder. That means actions and doing the hard thing. I keep going back to the point that extending freedom to those we agree with is easy and really not freedom. It is only freedom when we extend that free speech to people who we vehemently disagree with--who scare us just a little.

So, for this 4th, we will probably do what we normally do. We will cook out, and eat, and then walk over and watch some fireworks with the dogs. We will think about what it means to be American.

Happy weekend everyone.