April 30, 2006

Oh man, Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert roasted the President at the correspondent's dinner. As wasp jerky noted, it didn't look like the President was amused. Colbert got in some real shots. My favorite, besides the "arranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg" and the funny film involving Helen Thomas, was the line that "reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Wasp Jerky also notes that the press seemed uncomfortable too. One review I read had an unnamed source saying "This was anti-Bush. Usually they go back and orth between us [making fun of the press corps]and him." I think that shows just how disconnected the press is from the rest of the world. Colbert did little but make fun of the very news and very President that the rest of us live with. Had the press done its job from the beginning, we might have a different situation.

Rule of law?

The poll numbers show that a vast majority of Americans dissapprove of Bush's leadership. Much of that, from what I have read, is frustration with the Iraq war and gas prices. But, as Shaun catches from The Boston Globe, the President has declared that he is above the law--and that should be of great concern for even Bush's conservative evangelical followers. After all, if Bush can claim this kind of executive power, so can a democratic President. I am really unsure why Republicans aren't more afraid of that.

President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.
Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower' protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research."


Speaking of presidents, and this is yet another repeat observation. I turned into CNN's special on global aids that featured former President Clinton. Once again, I am amazed by his grasp of detail and ability to connect broad issues together. I think that conservatives think that Bush is plenty smart (my favorite logic is that "he has to be to be president") or that liberals are just mean to him. And when I am less angry at what he has done to our country, I have some compassion for his lack of speaking ability. But then I think, "hey, this is the Presidency, this isn't a little league team where everyone gets to play." His inability to articulate anything but simplistic ideas is not good for our republic.

I really miss Bill.

April 28, 2006

This is how Fox addresses dissent

Neil Young--Let's Impeach the President: "For one thing, though Young has lived in California since the late 1960s, his naysayers will decry him as a Canadian. Others will call him unpatriotic or treasonous."

Wow. And color me shocked that Fox's Tony Snow has made the switch from defending Bush on Fox to defending Bush in the press room. Am I unpatriotic or treasonous? All this and more on the Bill O'Reilly show later!


A damn fine surprise

As I have noted, this has been a stressful week. Last night, out of the internet ether, I received a really great gift of this. I have long been a fan of Emmylou Harris. I still remember the first time I heard Pieces of the Sky and fell in love with that voice. Her first solo album (1975) and if you can listen to "Before Believing" and not feel the emotion, then...

Since then, she has been one of music's most prolific artists and the list of albums and songs that I treasure are long. Her duet with Don Williams on Townes' "If I needed you" is one of our favorites. Her bluegrass albums, Roses in the Snow and the live At the Ryman are truly amazing. Then there is the semi-autobiographical Ballad of Sally Rose which I think deserved a lot more attention than it received. How about Wrecking Ball? That one made my rock and roll friends who normally scoffed at country agree that she was one of the best voices of our generation. Cowgirl's Prayer, Red Dirt Girl: the list goes on.

Anyway. What a nice gift, and what a nice ending to a rough week.

April 27, 2006

A few issues

First, found this on Moral Contradictions. As it turns out, the American Dream isn't what we think.
"Several other experts invited to review his work endorsed the general findings, although they were reticent about accompanying policy recommendations.
'This debunks the myth of America as the land of opportunity, but it doesn't tell us what to do to fix it,' said Bhashkar Mazumder, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who has researched this field."

Read it. So much of the conservative response assumes this economic reality.


Listened to NPR today. No religious radio. Thought about the voracious nature of capitalism. The recent oil prices suggest that the economy might not grow at the same rate. Capitalism is never satisfied. How is that compatible with the Christian faith?


Speaking of capitalism and oil. All the hubbub regarding the oil prices annoys me. A) the oil companies are right (to an extent). They do what they do. It is irrational to punish them for profiting when capitalism tells them to profit. B) I have no problem with higher oil prices. Higher prices will force the issue of alternative fuels and conservation. Correct that: I have one major problem. This will hurt those at the bottom more than anyone else. Any political steps should be aimed at reducing the disruption for the poor. C) NPR noted that all politicians (both sides of the aisle) don't want to call on conservation. They don't want to ask the American people to sacrifice. If there was ever a political effort where the church should (I say should) be leading, it should be this sense of sacrificing comfort and liesure for some public good.

But they aren't. James Dobson spoke out against the evangelicals standing against global warming, saying something like "we reject any policy that prefers animals over human beings." Idiot. If he was not a complete moron, he might recognize that human beings are animals and that we all live in the same nest. But he is an idiot. Dr. or not. Christians, if they care about their world, should shun people like Dobson, Falwell, and Robertson like such bad trash.


Still on the idea of the oil prices. I filled up today and winced. But I am trying to reduce my usage. I look at the people driving Hummers and Suburbans by choice and feel the desire to flip them the bird. After all, they are sending a giant "fuck you" to the rest of us and the planet. We should all return the sentiment.


One more thing. Walking through our local Hastings, I glanced over the current issues publications. Anyone who continues the mantra of the liberal elite needs to do the same. Count how many books are in the conservative camp. For every Al Franken, there are two Ann Coulter's and Sean Hannity's; Hugh Hewitt's and Laura Ingram's. I am tired of this verse. Conservatives control the vast majority of the news and information. Time we acknowledge that.


Ok, that is enough for today. Go listen to some good music.

April 26, 2006

Slow blogging

ubub asked why I haven't "updated the damn blog." Short answer is that I have been so busy and so stressed that I haven't even kept up. Long answer is that my emotions are so depleted this week that I don't know what to say. It isn't a terrible week by any definition, and much of the stress is either fatigue or opportunity--but still stress. I know I am short tempered. I have snapped at more than one student this week--though most of them have deserved it. But still. I don't like to snap. Even when students complain about grades or don't show up for class or refuse to quiet down when we are discussing class matters.


But most of this is fatigue on all sides. I hope to return to some semblance of blogging/ranting/railing at the world. But for now, I am hoping to catch up on some sleep. Tomorrow I do yoga, get a hair cut (hippie) and possibly listen to some music. Make that "definitely listen to some music." Need to retune the guitar. Play some music. Refocus.


April 23, 2006

Always listen to Zalm and UBUB

Both insisted that I buy the Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood album. I did (though from Emusic.com--though these links are to Amazon) and really like it. My favorite song right now is "Hold on, Hold on" though "The needle has landed" is stunning. I don't recall a more unique or powerful voice.

That said, however, my recent blog post on Brandi Carlile (odd that I am pushing a singer named "Brandi") and a conversation with my friend Mary reminded me how much I like Lone Justice and Maria McKee. I pulled out those albums and remembered how blown away I was when I first heard "east of eden," and "after the flood." Good stuff.

Zalm recommended Calexico's Garden Ruin and I read how many people were discussing this album. I saw Calexico play a song with Wilco at the ACL fest (they opened for them the night before--or so I heard) and they sounded great (if you like horns), but I was not filled with a strong urge to go out and buy their stuff. Then came Calexico's collaboration with Iron & Wine on In the Reins and I was intrigued. Now this album, which everyone seems to be in agreement marks a departure from their earlier stuff--in a very good way. While I am in no place to comment on that, I can say that I find myself wanting to listen to this album over and over.

Leaks and firings

The CIA recently fired an officer who supposedly leaked the secret prison story to the press. On one hand, this is ridiculous in an administration that has looked the other way or aided and abetted the outing of a CIA agent for political purposes. On the other hand, this is a reasoned response. You can't have CIA agents leaking classified information on a whim. Her losing her job may be the price she has to pay to do the right thing. Kind of the way I feel about the torture problem. If you really, really believe that you have a ticking bomb and the only way to get the info is to torture, you do what you have to do, but you do it knowing that you are a) breaking the law, b) doing something terribly wrong only because you think a greater wrong can be prevented, and c) going to have to stand accountable for your actions. Not sure that makes sense, but it does to me.

So, I am ok with her being fired, though I see her as a hero and hope there are more people like her in the CIA. But buried in the Wash Post story is a line that I think is not only typical of this administration, but represents a horrible trend that should be fought:

"The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials."

Like I have said repeatedly, Clinton was accused of politicizing everything, yet his record seemed more moderate than that. He politicized political things, and understood that policy should be left to experts and making the best choice. Bush thinks everything is politics, and has politicized scientific inquiry, foreign policy decisions, and if this quote is true, is politicizing the CIA. You shouldn't care who these people vote for as long as they do their job right.

April 22, 2006

Morality in the time of Republicans

Walking home from school yesterday, I walked past an empty lot--recently emptied. I expect that soon a monstrous house will fill it. That seems to be the trend around here. I guess we live in a popular neighborhood, which makes for elevated property values. Now the people who are moving in, come with a lot of money and seemingly no problem with showing off that money.

I recall a conversation with someone about large homes. He is conservative, but couldn't understand why people continued to build these huge homes. "It is none of my business what they do with their money...." It was clear he disapproved, but didn't think he could do so with any standing. I wondered at the time, (but didn't say it) why isn't it our business? Why is conspicuous consumption something we can't criticize?

Take the recent retirement package of Lee Raymond, Exxon CEO:
"According to a recent proxy filing by the company, Raymond received $48.5 million in salary, bonuses and incentive payments last year; exercised more than $20 million in stock options in 2005; and in January received a lump-sum retirement payment of $98.5 million. The proxy said that after 43 years of service, Raymond had accumulated $183 million of stock holdings plus stock options worth a net of about $69 million at current share prices.

Evidently, even the Republican House Speaker is concerned about this, but how can he really do anything? Who in the conservative base really thinks there is something called "enough?" From talking to religious conservatives, I get the sense that they no longer even ask the question. One of my friends continues to tell me that while the Bible verses on homosexuality are clear, the numerous passages questioning wealth "don't really mean that." (Nor, of course, do the passages on loving enemies and turning cheeks, which leads us to idiots like Falwell talking about "blowing away terrorists in the name of the Lord.") Wealth is only a problem, he says, if it comes between the person and God. Never mind that the NT seems to imply that money does that all by itself, conservative Christians seem to have parsed it so that money is only a problem if you want to literally have sex with it.

If the church has no criticism of wealth, who will question conspicuous consumption in an age of poverty?

April 21, 2006

Street Prophets--selective Bible verse on leadership

My friend Mary is a fan of the Street Prophets, and I think I need to read it more often. Here is an interesting post on how many conservatives justify their support for Bush.

There is a strong cultural norm among fundamentalists and other conservatives that says they must respect authority for its own sake even when it is demonstrably wrong. The (twisted) theology goes like this: God is in control, and God is guiding our leaders, and what seems to be "wrong" may actually be some manifestation of God's will we don't presently understand, but in any event those leaders ultimately have to answer to God if they use their power unwisely. Conservative Baptists are taught a similar message, which we can compare with Bush's support in the Southeast where these Baptists are concentrated.

Here is the passage in question, Romans 13:1-7:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

As an aside, it is interesting that the folks who are so hot for this passage usually stop right there and do not continue with what immediately follows:

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes....

So let me get this Republican fundy thinking straight: we must obey George Bush unquestioningly because he wouldn't be in authority if God didn't want him to be, but we can still feel free to bitch and moan about paying taxes regardless of what the Bible says about that? The selectiveness of these people is what frustrates me the most--they claim to be so pure and literal about scripture but feel perfectly free to ignore or distort any passages that don't suit their political needs. Isn't that what they accuse us of doing? The naked hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.


I don't recall any of these wingnuts quoting Romans 13 to slam conservatives for failing to support Bill Clinton, a leader no more flawed than King David, and a man who exercised his faith in ways that seemed much more legitimate to me because of everything he did to improve the country under his care. I don't recall any of these wingnuts quoting Romans 13 to slam conservatives for failing to support Jimmy Carter, a man who on any given random day shows more evidence of serious and genuine commitment to following Christ than George Bush has shown in his entire political career.

April 20, 2006

Democracy whiplash

Driving home from guitar this afternoon, I listened to the NPR coverage of Bush's meeting with China's president, as well as the discussion regarding the Falun Gong heckler. First, we have the standard American finger wag of Chinese human rights policies:
CNN.com: "'As the relationship between our two nations grows and matures, we can be candid about our disagreements,' Bush said. 'I'll continue to discuss with President Hu the importance of respecting human rights and the freedoms of the Chinese people.'Bush called for expanded Chinese freedoms to 'assemble, speak freely and to worship.'"

Stupid Chinese. Don't even allow people free speech.

China heckler at White House prompts Bush apology: Reuters.com: "After being welcomed by Bush, the Chinese president was just beginning his response when a woman, who had been allowed into the press section, started shouting. She was escorted away by a uniformed U.S. guard.'President Hu, your days are numbered. President Bush, make him stop persecuting Falun Gong,' the woman yelled. U.S. officials later identified her as Wang Wenyi, 47, a reporter with The Epoch Times, an English-language publication strongly supportive of the meditation movement that is banned in China.

'This was unfortunate and I'm sorry this happened,' Bush told Hu, according to Dennis Wilder, a senior official with the National Security Council.The Secret Service charged Wang with disorderly conduct under local statutes. The U.S. Attorney's office was weighing federal charges of 'willing intimidation or disruption of a foreign official,' said Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren."

Shorter Bush: "I am sorry that you saw an example of free speech. We will prosecute her and put her in jail just as you would. We probably won't shoot her as you would, but we will take care of this. But you be sure to extend freedomosity to your people, even as we do. Oh wait..."

April 19, 2006

Wednesday stuff

Just saw a blurb on the Talking Points Memo that Scott McClellan is stepping down. Undoubtedly to spend more time lying to his family. Heh. Stole that from Jon Stewart, I am sure. I am sure that Bush will say this is cleaning house, even as he continues to fill positions with close friends. His poll numbers don't surprise me. I knew he was incompetent early on--though he continues to show more. I am watching people distance themselves--even evangelicals who now say they didn't vote for him because of his supposed faith. Right. Perhaps I am influenced this morning by listening to the Dixie Chicks pre-release single of "Not Ready to Make Nice," but I am also still mad as hell. (the song is good, btw, and available for a buck on Itunes.


Ok, back to cheerier stuff. Real life experience on Monday. The gas company upgraded our gas line--the main line to the meter. It was their project, not our request. Sure, they dug up our backyard, but that has already been an ongoing project of Alafair and her mouthy-lefty-blogging dog friend. So, anyway, I return from Yoga to find them finished. They send out a guy to hook up the new meter and light my one pilot. He does and leaves. 20 minutes later, the pilot is out. I call back. Woman says (after 20 minutes of calling, btw) "was the pilot lit when our man came out?" I say (stupidly) that it was. She says, ok, we can send him back out, but there will be a 35 dollar relighting fee.
I say, excuse me, are you kidding? She says nope. I say, hey, you dug up my back yard. She says (and I am not making that up) yes, but we didn't charge you for that.

I sputtered something about incompetence and gall and hung up. Later that day, returned to my usual calm and easy going manner (no jokes, please) I call back and a nice lady (not same one) helps me get our gas working. It ended well, but I was pretty annoyed for a while. :)


Today is music day for me. This is the day that my Emusic sub re-ups and I get to download some new stuff. I am looking hard at the new Neko Case (anyone listened to it yet?), the new Drive By Truckers, and even the new Calexico. Good old Aquarium Drunkard has a few downloads off the new album that I am liking very much.

I am also excited to note that Emusic has added the old New Pornographer albums which will save me a lot of money. I really love the title track off Mass Romantic. Music like that kind of gets the blood going and improves my Wednesday morning-tired-as-hell mood.


Walking with SOF the other night after a pretty terrible day, we talked about elitism and snobbery. It was interesting to note how historians, to pick on one group, have a kind of rotating snobbery that is really hard to pin down. One scholar (that I respect) told me how little he liked one book because of its "American Studies" approach. Another, who I respect less, is incredibly dismissive of some of his colleagues because they are "too theoretical." Others in the department complain that, especially the Americanists, don't "understand theory." Need a damn flow chart.

Of course, I am no better. Bucky and I are acknowledged music snobs. I chuckle when talking to friends who don't even recognize 90 percent of the music that I listen to. They have never heard of Wilco, much less Uncle Tupelo. They think I buy the New Pornographers in a plain wrapper, and still think that I am saying Bryan Adams.

Yet, there are those, and some who probably read here, who think that Wilco and Ryan Adams are too popular to really enjoy. :) Need a damn flow chart.


Back to music. I mentioned yesterday that I was listening to Josh Ritter for the first time. I downloaded a few tracks yesterday morning and "Girl in the War" already has a playcount of 11 and I have worked it up on guitar (e-flat). Really great song and I urge all of you to give it a listen.
Paul said to Petey
"You gotta rock yourself a little harder;
Pretend the dove from above is a dragon and your feet are on fire"
And I got a girl in the war, Paul the only thing I know to do
Is turn up the music and pray that she makes it through

Because the keys to the kingdom got locked inside the kingdom
And the angels fly around in there, but we can't see them
And I gotta girl in the war, Paul I know that they can hear me yell
If they can't find a way to help, they can go to Hell
If they can't find a way to help her, they can go to Hell

April 18, 2006

"I'm the decider" WTF?

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "America in good hands.

Pres. Bush: 'I'm the decider, and I decide what's best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.'
-- Josh Marshall"

What kind of list am I on? And language is funny

I open up the email this afternoon to receive an invitation to join a yahoo group with the catchy name of [further update I deleted the link--google it if you want to see them. I won't link to racist garbage like this.] getmycountryback. Sigh. My first instinct? Join up. After all, I too want my country back. I want to getmycountryback from religious theocrats and corporate polluters. I would like to getmypoliticalsystemback from people like Karl Rove, George Bush and Tom Delay. I would like to likewise getmyconstitutionback from the same people. Hell, while we are at it I would like to getmychurchback and getmyreligionback from people like Falwell, Dobson, Robertson and Mohler.

Unfortunately, this group is not that. They want to get "their" country back from illegal immigrants--all, I assume, without actually addressing the economic issues that lay under the issue of immigration.

Part of what bothers me is not that people protest immigration, but the historical and cultural myopia that so many of these people display. On this site (and I don't recommend visiting them, btw), you can read a mock letter to Bush about wanting to go to Mexico without obeying their laws and then demanding that the Mexican government educate their kids, pay for health care and the ability to fly the American flag over their house. As if that is really analagous to the situation. The letter reads: "I would also like to have a nice job without paying any taxes, and don't enforce any labor laws or tax laws."

See, I respect that we can certainly talk about immigration and actually should. We need to be honest about how important immigrants have been historically and are currently to our economy and culture. But this is simply disengenuous lies. Millions of illegals work hard at jobs Americans won't take, without the benefit of labor laws or health insurance, AND many of them also pay taxes.

Sigh. The site, for those who dare brave it, is replete with American flag images, suggesting that those who like to claim the posture of patriotism have little shame.

Update. I ignored my own advice and clicked on their link called "humor." The first item was so racist, distasteful and disgusting that I almost lost my coffee. Samuel Johnson had it right: "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels."

Music and politics

Never really that far apart, of course. Some of our best musicians have been intensely political. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and of course, my personal favorite, Steve Earle--have all written about politics.

We are intensely divided by this war, so it is understandable that our music will increasingly reflect that. Steve Earle's "Jerusalem" still stands as an early critique of Bush's pro-war anti-Islam stance, but others are joining in. I didn't expect it from this one, but evidently Neil Young has cranked out an anti-war album. In what sounds like "The Revolution Starts Now" type speed, Young has recorded a pretty angry anti-Bush screed.
"Not only has he recorded an entire album about the conflict, but in one of the songs he spells out who he thinks is to blame for the ongoing chaos and violence and what the consequences for that person should be. That track is called 'Impeach the President.""
Pretty remarkable coming from the same guy who recorded a rather bloodthirsty response to 9-11 called "Let it Roll," and who reportedly defended the Patriot Act and the President. Evidently, even for Neil, this has been handled poorly.

Young has long been one of my favorites. From Harvest with "Heart of Gold" and "Out on a Weekend" to Everyone Knows this is Nowhere's "Cinnamon Girl" (only song I know that has a guitar solo that consists of one note--listen to it), or Freedom's "Rocking in the Free World" (still one of my favorite SNL live music moments), Young's writing and haunting voice works for me. The fact that he sang with CSN and opened for Pearl Jam demonstrates a pretty wide range.

So, that means that I have one more album to buy in the "vote with my feet" (and wallet) sense. Young's new album Living with War, the Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way look interesting.


Non political music I am looking at?

  • Alejandro Escovedo's first studio album in years The Boxing Mirror due out in early May.
  • Emmy Lou Harris and Mark Knopfler's All the Road Running. I have been a long time fan of Emmy Lou and what I have heard sounds great.
  • Josh Ritter's The Animal Years. Downloaded a track this morning and am intrigued.
  • April 17, 2006

    More on repub disinformation

    Blame Builds More Barriers in Immigration Debate - Los Angeles Times: "The proposal to designate illegal immigrants as criminals, more than anything else, has ignited the nationwide wave of protests against the House bill. To attribute the idea to Democrats, Frist, Hastert and the RNC have to join the story on the last page — and then misrepresent the evidence to boot. In fact, from the start of the recent debate, Republicans have driven the notion of imposing criminal penalties on illegal immigrants. Although President Bush has never acknowledged paternity, the idea's fathers include his administration."

    Tax lyrics

    And from one of my favorite Wilco songs:
    "Spiders are singing in the salty breeze
    Spiders are filling out tax returns
    Spinning out webs of deductions and melodies
    On a private beach in Michigan "

    April 15, 2006

    Guess it is movie weekend

    Last night, we watched In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz. We weren't sure what to expect, but it turned into a thoughtful film about family, generational conflict, and loss. Those themes caught me at a very personal level and even the next morning, I am still mulling over the characters. Shirley Maclaine may be a nutjob, but her role as the grandmother is one that still sticks in my head. In a film like this, the greatest compliment is that it replicated real conversations, and real people. You know the difference. Most films and tv characters aren't real. They don't talk, or fight, or argue like real people. This one has moments where they are palpably real. Not always, mind you. This isn't a perfect film. The stepmother is a caricature, as is the sister's ex-boyfriend/boss, but many of the others are quite real and interesting.

    The film worked for me. The characters still resonate--the issues are deeply personal and even painful. In one of my favorite scenes, Cameron's character reads a poem by Elizabeth Bishop called "The Art of Losing."
    The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster. Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master. I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster. Even losing you... the joking voice, a gesture I love... I shan't have lied. It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster. Look like disaster.

    April 14, 2006

    Smartest guys in the Pentagon?

    Watching the film, both of us made the connection between the management style of Enron and our vanted Christian President. I just hope that Bush is better at it. His loyalty to this guy doesn't help.

    "U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld allowed an 'abusive and degrading' interrogation of an al Qaeda detainee in 2002, the online magazine Salon reported on Friday, citing an Army document."

    Movie night

    We were going to see Eliza, but were just worn out. Instead, we watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005), and WOW! If you haven't seen this, you should.

    But be warned. This film speaks to a lot of our American issues with greed and self-delusion. In the most gripping scene Enron traders joke about grandmothers in California without power. They joke about making millions off the pain of others.

    But watch this film and tell me that we can trust greed and the market economy to self-regulate. Please convince me that 100s of millions of dollars justify, well, anything. Tell me that as long as our culture worships wealth and power that we can expect this to occur. Oh, and the connection to Bush is clear. Of course, he says he wasn't that close to Lay. And, of course, Bush's credibility is so great.

    The worst part, for me, is the silence of the church. Shame.

    Taxes aren't all bad

    Found this over at the TPM Cafe and thought it a timely essay:
    Talking Taxes | TPMCafe: "I don’t need to remind anyone that it’s time to pay your taxes. But when will progressive politicians, intellectuals and activists learn to counter the Right's mantra that we get nothing for our hard-earned tax dollars?

    What we all need to do, however, is to figure out how to explain to ordinary Americans why, in fact, we do pay taxes.

    The Republican mantra -- 'shrink government and lower taxes' -- is fundamentally dishonest. They want us to believe that we are heavily taxed by an oppressive government and get nothing in return.

    The truth is, our quality of life is far safer and more convenient because of government ordinances, regulations and inspections. Follow me through a typical day and I'll show you what I mean. Government services and regulations may seem invisible, but they’re everywhere you look.

    I wake up and brush my teeth with water whose purity is inspected by government agencies. I pour some cereal and milk into a bowl. No creepy crawlers appear; both are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Federally mandated labels on the cereal box and milk container, moreover, list the ingredients contained inside."

    There's more. Unfortunately, I think there are some conservatives who want even the basic governmental controls removed and somehow think the market will regulate things like food safety and environmental protection.

    GOP tactics

    TalkingPointsMemo discusses how the GOP is trying to blame Harry Reid for wanting to make felons out of illegal aliens. No matter that it was Republicans who voted for that and are now running from it. No matter that Reid didn't support that. What matters for the GOP is control, pure and simple.

    Interesting. When Democrats do stuff like this, and they do, it is a sign of the lack of morals from the left. When the GOP does this (increasingly in the last few years) the response from the religious is often "oh, all politicians do that kind of stuff."

    April 13, 2006

    Ok, this isn't helping

    Chron.com | Big plans: DeLay's next mission is in God's hands: "DeLay recently told one of his pastors that God wanted him to leave Congress in part because He has bigger plans for DeLay.
    That pastor, the Rev. Rick Scarborough, introduced DeLay to a Christian conference just last week, saying, 'This is a man, I believe, God has appointed ... to represent righteousness in government.'"

    Yeah, I know. Everyone reading this knows the score. But it still annoys the hell out of me. DeLay is so deluded that he thinks that God took him out of Congress to bring righteousness to government. Like Clinton was ordained by god to return fidelity to marriage. Or Bush ordained to bring complete sentences to the White House.

    Any Christian who doesn't wretch at Delay is more interested in political power than anything resembling Christ.

    And since I am ranting, I heard more on the religious radio today. I had to run errands and need to be digging in the garden. But my options are limited, I tell you. I either listen to sports radio (where they were arguing about the NBA--snore), NPR (which is hit and miss in the afternoon), classic rock (puke) or religious radio (double puke). Anyway, there I was. Flipping and heard the ad from the National Day of Prayer Task Force about the 2006 National Day of Prayer.

    Don't get me wrong. Prayer is a good thing. I think that focussing on other people and humbly respecting a force higher than yours is good for all of us to do. I also think praying for our country is a good thing. Especially when we have a President who seems to be directed by a God I don't even recognize. But I digress.

    So, here is the National Day of Prayer Prayer for 2006. Remember, I have been just been teaching a course on the first half of American history, so the cynicism that will probably seep into my commentary is informed by that.

    by Dr. Henry Blackaby
    Oh Heavenly Father, You have made Yourself known to us as a nation by Your mighty works throughout our history.
    I would love this line if it weren't so oblivious of the horrible ways that God's people have acted through our history. Indian removal, slavery, missionary activity among Indians being removed and Africans being enslaved. To say nothing of the numerous so called Founders who not only trafficked in human beings, but who's main goal was to enrich themselves by removing Indians and reselling the land.

    From the beginning, You have been with us through many wars and conflicts;
    Your right arm has saved us.
    This reminds me of the great Dylan song "With God on our side." Amazingly, God seems to not have minded wars against Indian tribes for land, an invasion of Mexico for, wait for it, land, or our great late 19th century war against the Spanish to further the "White Man's burden." God's right arm seems oddly American in this reading.
    We have been amazingly and graciously blessed.

    Today, we confess our sin of not responding to Yourright to rule in our lives and our nation. Too often we have despised and rejected Your will while imposing our own, and we are now facing the consequences of our disobedience.
    Couldn't agree more. We have combined religion and politics into an inseparable mare's nest that has led to an ill-advised invasion, countless lives lost, American divisions, and the further destruction of God's creation. But I doubt Dr. Henry meant it that way.
    Draw us back to Yourself that we may return to Your ways once again.
    Without You we can do nothing.
    You have promised that if we honor You, You will once again honor this great nation."

    Alternative version. Please continue to favor us over other, less worthy nations. Smite our enemies (muslims, Mexicans, liberals and European secularists) and please, please, please, God. Please ignore the fact that our most prominent religious leaders are idiots and con artists. Oh, and please look the other way while we ignore poverty and environmental destruction so we might focus our moral superiority on the sexual sins of homosexuality, sex outside marriage, aberrent sex inside marriage, nudity (public and private) and, of course, liberals. We are reminded that the Lord didn't really mean to love our enemies and certainly that line about "turning the other cheek" was an editorial decision made by a liberal pacifist weenie. And please, please, please God, if we pray publicly enough (even though the Bible discourages that) make us rich, rich, rich. Amen.


    Spring funk

    Bad mood today. Let's just say that I am fighting the divided parts--seemingly on multiple fronts today. I will be ok. But I didn't sleep well last night, and this morning I feel dark.

    I should avoid the news, but couple of items caught my eye. This Wash Post story led on some of the blogs yesterday, and I didn't even read it. Partly because I am busy, but also as Wasp Jerky puts it: who has the energy to keep up with all the scandals from this administration, especially when Bush's base runs around with their fingers stuck in their ears.

    But this one annoys me. All the discussion about moral values seems to have ignored the fact that Bush prefers his version of things over something called, uh, the truth. As it turns out, even as Bush held up those mobile "weapons labs" (trailers) as proof of the Iraqi wmd program, he had ample, first hand evidence that they were anything but. Which story did they prefer? The one that made them right.

    "On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile 'biological laboratories.' He declared, 'We have found the weapons of mass destruction.'The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true."

    Read the story. It is a great example of how intelligence in this administration is all about the politics. They said that Clinton was all about politics, but Clinton evidently believed in policy too and some things were just policy. With Bush, it is all politics.


    Of course, another thing bothering me is Sy Hersh's story in the New Yorker alleging that Bush fully intends to bomb Iran to stop their nuclear program. Sorry, nukular program. Bush, of course, says that is widely speculative and that he is pursuing diplomacy. But, you see, we remember him saying the same thing about Iraq, and we know from ample sources (Downing street, Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke) that Bush fully intended to invade Iraq regardless of how Saddam responded. The man who cites Jesus as his favorite political philosopher can't be trusted at his word.

    I am not really a pacifist, though I have great respect for pacifism. But what really bothers me is that the Hersh story reveals that the Joint Chiefs think it is folly, I am reading that Israel thinks it is folly. The only people who think this is a good idea, at least now, are the people who think that Bush is the hand of God, and that reportedly includes him. Oh, and his amoral vp.

    Does Bush really think that God speaks directly to him and placed him in office for this specific time? Does he really think that his adversaries are all evil and must be eradicated? Or does he believe the Left Behind books (though he doesn't read) and think he needs to jump start armageddon?

    Either way, Bush and Cheney scare the living shit out of me.


    Speaking of the gruesome twosome. Wasp Jerky's post is worth reading. He links to a very interesting Greg Palast post that addresses the newest twist in the Valerie Plame case--namely that the instigator of all of this mess was Bush himself. Bushite friends say that since the President can declassify materials, this wasn't a leak and no crimes have been committed. (As many have noted, Bush is more and more resembling Nixon in his assertion that when does something it is fine, when someone else does it, it might be a crime). Palast notes that even if all of this is true, Bush and Cheney stood around and allowed a multi-million dollar grand jury investigation to proceed half-blind when they knew the truth the whole time:

    On February 10, 2004, our not-so-dumb-as-he-sounds President stated, "Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing. ...And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it."

    Notice Bush's cleverly crafted words. He says he can't name anyone who leaked this "classified" info -- knowing full well he'd de-classified it. Far from letting Bush off the hook, it worsens the crime. For years, I worked as a government investigator and, let me tell you, Bush and Cheney withholding material information from the grand jury is a felony. Several felonies, actually: abuse of legal process, fraud, racketeering and, that old standby, obstruction of justice.

    I am so tired of this crowd. I am so tired of people waving the Bible in one hand, quoting Ecclesiastes to appeal to the thumper crowd, and then acting in a way that would make Machiavelli blush on the other. I am tired of all of this--the Bush administration and the damn Bush enablers. You all deserve each other. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to live with an administration that lied to get us into war, then lied about that same war, then appears to have learned nothing and wants to get us into another war. And along the way, outed one of our spies to discredit a political adversary.

    Wow, I will defend my votes for Clinton with ease.

    I shouldn't be surprised. I really shouldn't.

    Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Texas Judge Orders Medication for Inmate: "FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A judge who halted an execution because the inmate was mentally ill has agreed to force the man to take anti-psychotic medication so he can be put to death."

    April 11, 2006

    Garry Wills on partisan religious politics

    Black Sheep Christian: Christ Among the Partisans: "It was blasphemous to say, as the deputy under secretary of defense, Lt. Gen. William Boykin, repeatedly did, that God made George Bush president in 2000, when a majority of Americans did not vote for him. It would not remove the blasphemy for Democrats to imply that God wants Bush not to be president. Jesus should not be recruited as a campaign aide. To trivialize the mystery of Jesus is not to serve the Gospels."

    April 10, 2006

    Monday music

    I am still enjoying the memory of Friday's concert with Ray Wylie. I picked up one of his cds on Saturday and really enjoy it, but like so many good artists, his voice and guitar live are just so much better than the studio stuff. On the way home from the show, the only music on the Ipod similar to the bluesy side of Ray Wylie was Buddy Miller's "Universal United House of Prayer." Man, has that one grown on me.

    Today, I scanned through some music blogs and found a really nice cover. Heather posted a Nicole Nordeman cover of U2's "Grace." It has been a while since I listened to that U2 album--in fact, I remember well playing it on the cd player while we repainted and prepared to have our floors redone. Some thought that album was over-produced (whatever the hell that means) and not as good as U2's early stuff. I can see that, but this song is one of those great, beautiful, haunting songs about a pretty interesting and difficult concept.

    Anyway, check it out.

    April 9, 2006

    Gospel according to DeLay

    I keep coming back to this, but I can't quite get over how much someone like Tom DeLay plays the Jesus card. There are others in public life who could fake it better. But this one seems so opposite. And the fact that so many Christians seem to buy his statement that his personal relationship with Christ runs his life bothers me even more. If this is what the Christ-centered life looks like, then I really don't get it.

    As I told my texas friend, once Christians started making professions of faith necessary for election, they started a dangerous game. The theory, while questionable from a founding fathers/constitution point of view, is reasonable if it leads to a more moral leadership. I think we would all like our elected officials to act better--to pursue what was right over what gave them more power and money. And if these professed Christians really led to better government, we might have a different conversation.

    But when you elect a Bush or DeLay based even in part on their professed faith, and then fail to hold them accountable, that faith becomes an irrelevancy. If there is no expectation beyond speaking a few Christian phrases and pandering to people who rant about a war on Christianity, then you might as well vote for someone because they have blue eyes, or because they played high school football, or because they are left-handed.

    Josh Marshall clipped part of an op-ed from one of DeLay's former staffers who notes that the Jesus quoting DeLay liked and rewarded people who cut corners and did what it took to win. Even his "minister." Just as Jesus would do, right?
    Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: April 09, 2006 - April 15, 2006 Archives: "But Tom prized the most aggressive staffers and most often heeded their counsel ... A former hockey player, Tony Rudy was DeLay's enforcer; he wasn't evil, but lacked maturity and would do whatever necessary to protect his patron. Ed Buckham, DeLay's chief of staff, gatekeeper and minister, constantly pushed DeLay to be more radical in his tactics and spun webs of intrigue we are only now beginning to unravel. And Michael Scanlon, who, in my experience, was a first-class rogue and a master of deception. People like Rudy and Scanlon pleased DeLay because they were always pushing the envelope ... I don't know if Tom always knew what his staff was doing -- I know that I didn't. But I had my suspicions, and now I have seen them borne out."

    April 8, 2006

    Friday night music

    As boring as we are, it takes something special to get us out of the house late on a friday night. This friday, we traveled up to The Blue Door to see Ray Wylie Hubbard with special guest Terry "Buffalo" Ware. Terry, as it turns out, is my guitar/mando teacher, so this was extra fun for us. (This picture is from a previous Blue Door concert, but you can see Buffalo Ware in the background.)

    Live music is one of those really interesting things. When it is ok, it is just that. During the opening act (Gurf Morlix) it was really better than ok. He was great and made this little Martin 000 come alive in this small venue. He had some interesting songs (a really funny one about Madilyn Murray O'Hare) and did a great cover of Dylan's "With God on our Side."

    But when Ray came out, the experience jumped from ok to magic. I don't even know the name of his first song, but it rocked. Long fingernails and shaggy gray hair under a bandanna, Hubbard played a lot of slide blues with funny and insightful songs. He played one (I think he called it Rock and Roll) and man did it ever. Must have lasted a good ten minutes and left us breathless. His encore went from a blues song right into Guthrie's "This land is your land." Amazing.

    Live music also means people, and you all know what I think about people. Directly in front of us sat a woman we dubbed (on the ride home) Barbie, but this Barbie had been out of the pom squad for a good 25 years. She still acted like the 19 year old tease, but it didn't quite work. At least for me. I grew quite annoyed with her. And in the reserved section were quite a few annoying people who talked loudly. Given the clinking sounds, we assumed there was some heavy drinking going on. But all in all, it was a good crowd.

    We have seen a few live acts in the last few years. I don't recall one funnier than Ray Wylie. Impecable timing and just damn funny stories. He said that growing up in Southeastern Oklahoma, one of his grandfathers was a bootlegger. He smuggled books into Arkansas. (Thought CIL would like that one)

    For a few songs, he pulled out this beautiful Martin guitar with a lot of electronics in it. He said he was often asked why he would ruin a Martin like this, but in fact, it had come from the factory like that in the early 60s. His grandfather had it and would never let Ray play it. Not even when Ray started writing songs and performing.

    Finally, he was performing away from Oklahoma and heard that his grandfather was failing. He drove all night to be there. His grandmother said, "Ray, he has been asking for you, talking about this old guitar."

    He paused, and you could feel that we were all in this story. He had us.

    "So he sold it to me."

    A good night. As Old Lodgeskins said at the end of Little Big Man, "Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't."

    Tonight the magic worked.

    April 7, 2006

    Friday morning rant

    Sigh. The denial twist isn't working. I still read the papers and can't avoid this administration.

    First up:
    Warrantless Wiretaps Possible in U.S.: "Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales left open the possibility yesterday that President Bush could order warrantless wiretaps on telephone calls occurring solely within the United States -- a move that would dramatically expand the reach of a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program."

    This really amazes me. If conservatives allow this to happen, our democracy really is doomed. And the tragedy of it? All we want is for him to get a warrant.


    Since this has been the week of Tom DeLay, why stop now?

    Daily Kos: State of the Nation: "Just a day after Tom DeLay has the chutzpah to threaten filing an ethics complaint against against Cynthia McKinney (yes, right on the heels of his resignation announcement) he sends out his attack dogs to disrupt a Nick Lampson press conference and assault little old ladies. Marsha Rovai, the 70 year-old victim, a retired CPS caseworker, describes the attack.
    'I can't believe my Congressman, Tom DeLay, would organize this type of assault,' Rovai said. 'I was assaulted by two different people. One of the men hit me and another shoved his sign into my face, and then when I pushed his sign away he violently pulled my hat down over my eyes and pushed me. I'm considering filing an assault charge. This is just very upsetting and I'm so disappointed in Tom Delay for organizing this attack.'
    And organize this attack he did. Here's the e-mail attributed to Chris Homan, DeLay's campaign manager:
    We would meet tomorrow morning at 9:45 am on the first floor of the parking garage attached to the Marriott. Please get folks to call our campaign office 281.343.1333 and let us know they can do it - or e-mail Leonard Cash (in the cc field above) so that we can get some head count. Let's give Lampson a parting shot that wrecks his press conference."

    I keep asking my conservative evangelical friends about this guy, and they now like to distance themselves from him. Who wouldn't? Well, actually:
    Is Christianity under attack? - Hardball with Chris Matthews - MSNBC.com: "SHARPTON: I think everyone said that at this meeting this weekend that was cited when we came on. He was introduced as a man that was being persecuted because he stood up for Jesus. Tell me how Jesus and being accused of embezzling funds is the same thing. What chapter did you get that out of the New Testament?
    PERKINS: What you find is that just in this case or whatever, there is a concern that those that identify with evangelical Christianity, and Tom DeLay was very closely affiliated with that as the House majority leader. And there are those that say that was part of the motivation for going after him because he was an effective leader, in particular on issues as related to pro-life."

    Oh right. He is being persecuted because he is a good Christian. I think evangelical Christians seriously underestimate the damage they do to their faith and their witness everytime they defend a scumbag like DeLay. Or Perkins for that matter.


    Ok, one more political number. Yesterday, our President appeared at yet another town meeting. Isn't it interesting? His approval rating is in the 30 percent area, but his forums usually include a majority who loves him and asks him stupid questions like, "how can I help," or even more ridiculous "just want to tell you that we are praying for you." Prayer is fine. But that is sucking up.

    Anyway, even the President's little bubble gets perforated occassionally, and someone who disagreed was allowed in. Here is where it gets interesting. On one hand, Bush treats the man well. He shushes the crowd and tells them to allow the man to speak.

    On the other hand, he pulls an almost Clintonian moment. He completely avoids the substance of the man's critique and focuses on one element that he can reject out of hand (with loud applause).

    Bush faces harsh critic of spy program - U.S. Security - MSNBC.com: "A man who identified himself as Harry Taylor rose at a forum here to tell Bush that he's never felt more ashamed of the leadership of his country. He said Bush has asserted his right to tap phone calls without a warrant, to arrest people and hold them without charges, and to revoke a woman's right to an abortion, among other things.
    He was booed by the audience, but Bush interrupted and urged the audience to let Taylor finish.
    "I feel like despite your rhetoric, that compassion and common sense have been left far behind during your administraiton," Taylor said, standing in a balcony seat and looking down at Bush on stage. "And I would hope from time to time that you have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself."

    Bush defended the National Security Administration's surveillance program, saying he authorized the program to protect the country.
    "You said would I apologize for that?" Bush told him. "The answer is absolutely not."

    Of course the president can't apologize for that. If he did, that would mean that he knew it was wrong. But again, someone has suggested that Bush lacks humility and compassion. He conveniently avoids that.

    Oddly enough, this exchange makes me think a little better of the President. He shows some humanity. The lackeys who cheer him, on the other hand....

    April 6, 2006

    And Jesus said, "Let there be Nations and nationalism"

    Not really.

    Did anyone catch this story about a schism between white evangelicals (some 2/3s of evangelicals consider new immigrants "a burden") and the less white versions of the evangelical church. Of course, Phyllis Schlafly, the GOP "christian" who has used her professional status as a wealthy attorney to push for keeping women out of professional careers, also opposes any leniency on immigrants.

    But my favorite came from the Christian Coalition: 'We think our national boundaries should be respected. That's a biblical principle also,' said Christian Coalition lobbyist Jim Backlin." Really? I am trying to remember where Jesus voiced his preference for nationalism? Anyone?


    A friend of mine suggested that the last bumper sticker (in the last post) was a bit on the vulgar side. I agree. It is almost as vulgar as someone with the character of Tom DeLay impeaching Clinton for lying about sex but looking the other way when the President a) throws the 4th amendment out the window, b) asserts that he doesn't have to follow laws he signed, c) asserts the ability to declassify any information he wants as long as it helps him politically, all the while pledging to prosecute reporters who publish stuff that hurts him politically.

    So here is the deal. I will apologize for the bumper sticker, when the GOP and their supporters apologize for impeachment and sticking me with 8 years of Bush/Darth.


    BTW, if anyone didn't listen to the news (and I don't have the link handy) Scooter evidently said that Bush personally authorized leaking the Niger uranium story to the Times. So when he says that he is against leaks, he only means the ones that show him tearing up the 4th amendment (warrantless search, anyone?).

    Say it with me: "if the president's last name was Clinton instead of Bush, then even Republicans would be mad about this."

    Dammit. Just can't come up with a pithy way of putting that.

    Scanning political bumper stickers

    I am not really a bumper sticker guy. I kind of want to be, but....

    This morning, for some reason, I decided to survey the anti-bush stuff at Cafe Press. Some pretty funny stuff.

    "If you voted for Bush, a yellow ribbon won't make up for it."

    [this one is a magnet, not a bumper sticker, but still good] "LOST: One democracy... Last seen in North America cavorting with corporate fat cats and religious fundamentalists. If found, return to the American people. Great sentimental value."

    "Bush is listening. Use big words"

    and my favorite:

    "Would someone please give him a blowjob so we can have him impeached?"

    April 5, 2006

    Holy cow, why don't we name a day after this guy?

    A man who was a conscientious objector won the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II.

    This story brought out the patriot in me.

    "While under enemy fire on the island of Okinawa, Doss carried 75 wounded soldiers to the edge of a 400-foot cliff and lowered them to safety, according to his citation. During a later attack, he was seriously wounded in the legs by a grenade. According to the citation, as he was being carried to safety, he saw a more critically injured man and crawled off his stretcher, directing the medics to help the other wounded man.

    "He wanted to serve. He just didn't want to kill anybody," said a veteran who attended the service, Fred Headrick, 85. "Most all of them (Medal of Honor recipients) received their medal for killing someone. He received his by saving lives.""

    April 4, 2006

    Tom Delay and Evangelical faith

    Had a discussion with my Tejas friend today about Delay. My experience last night was rather interesting. Initial glee that Delay was stepping down, and then frustration. Part of that frustration was that he was stepping down on his own. If I am honest, I want him to suffer.

    That isn't a good emotion on my part. It does nothing to Delay, but hurts me. I know that.

    So why the frustration?

    I think it is the people who defend him. But the more I thought about that, the more it bothered me. As Zalm, CIL and I mentioned, the incongruity between what Delay said and what was supposed to be Christlike was just glaring in my mind. How could anyone look at the Hammer and say, "yeah, he reminds me of Jesus?"

    But thinking about it, I think this ties right into all the problems I have with the modern church. If sin has been redefined to only focus on sexual sins, then the world looks different.

    Here is what I see. To be considered a good Christian in these churches, you need to do some things. You need to attend church, and speak Christian words. Sure, you are supposed to read the Bible too, but you can be considered good by just speaking it.

    Then there are things you are supposed to avoid. Any sexual behavior outside marriage. Worse yet if you are gay. Supposed to not use drugs (illicit drugs) and of course, not have an abortion.

    If you avoid those things, and do the other stuff, you are a good Christian. Christianity doesn't criticize wealth. Behavior toward other people is really personal and subjective. After all, Jesus didn't really mean to love your enemy, right? He didn't mean to literally turn the other cheek. He didn't mean a literal camel and a literal needle's eye, right?

    With that as the definition, then Tom DeLay is a good Christian. Since there is no real accountability associated with that "personal relationship with Christ," then who are we to question it when he says that relationship governs his life? How would we know otherwise? DeLay hasn't had gay sex (that we know of) or had his wife get an abortion. He attends church, and speaks the language. His sins are in areas that really aren't considered sins. Greed, power hunger, arrogance, etc.--not sins any longer.

    Ergo, Tom DeLay is a great Christian, right?

    And that is tonight's word. (sorry, watching the Colbert Report)

    April 3, 2006

    Tom Delay out?

    Scanning the channels and we stumbled across Fox News. They are reporting that Tom Delay will resign his congressional seat. SOF just found confirmation on Time's website.

    Any bets how much he will say that he was forced out by some fake war on Christianity?

    More. Kevin Drum has this:

    That's it? We're supposed to believe that DeLay is dropping out because a mudfest just isn't his style?

    Right. How long before the other shoe drops?

    And more. I win my bet:
    "DeLay, a Baptist born in the border city of Laredo, said he 'spent a lot of time' praying about his decision and that his personal relationship with Jesus drives his day-to-day actions. 'My faith is who I am,' he said. When DeLay was booked on the Texas charges, he wore his Congressional I.D. pin and flashed a broad smile designed to thwart Democrats who had hoped to make wide use of an image of a glowering DeLay. 'I said a little prayer before I actually did the fingerprint thing, and the picture,' he said. 'My prayer was basically: 'Let people see Christ through me. And let me smile.' Now, when they took the shot, from my side, I thought it was fakiest smile I'd ever given. But through the camera, it was glowing. I mean, it had the right impact. Poor old left couldn't use it at all.'"

    Wow. Delusion. Seriously, does anyone really look at Delay and think, "Hey, that guy reminds me of Christ!" After all, Jesus was nicknamed the Hammer too, and liked to punish anyone who disagreed with him. Oh, and I love that he thought his Jesus-smile was fake. But Tom, if Jesus was smiling through you, why were you faking? But, I know, I know, his "personal relationship with Jesus drives his day-to-day actions." Please.

    April 2, 2006

    7 months after Katrina, FEMA unable to fill top posts

    FEMA Calls, but Top Job Is Tough Sell - New York Times: "The calls went out across the nation, as Bush administration officials asked the country's most seasoned disaster response experts to consider the job of a lifetime: FEMA director. But again and again, the response over the past several months was the same: 'No thanks.'

    Unconvinced that the administration is serious about fixing the Federal Emergency Management Agency or that there is enough time actually to get it done before President Bush's second term ends, seven of these candidates for director or another top FEMA job said in interviews that they had pulled themselves out of the running."

    Wow, haven't the Bush people given us good government?

    April 1, 2006

    This week

    Let's see:

    Monday, I had a student openly crying in my office.

    Tuesday, I picked a fight with a pro-lifer over a public demonstration that called abortion genocide. I suggested that abortion was certainly contentious and that there was room to argue, but it wasn't genocide. And I stand by that. I also suspect that she didn't expect to run into someone like me. A nice lady, and our discussion remained civil. But showing bloody pictures of abortion doesn't, in my mind, actually change minds.

    Wednesday, I watched, in a rather fascinated way, as two students approached the make-out line as I lectured on Marbury v. Madison. After class, and before my other, I discovered that a colleague of mine scored an interview for a competing job. Not my best day.

    Thursday, I recuperated, graded and learned how to play "Firecracker" on guitar.

    Friday, I found out that the same colleague actually won the job. I found that I hated same colleague, not really fairly, but because their advisor actually helps them find employment. I wish I could say the same.

    Saturday, I went to the grocery store in preparation for making lasagna rolls (which are kick-ass, btw) and saw some funny things. First was the woman with the (I am guessing) teen-age son who rode ON the shopping cart facing Mum. During one turn, she looked at me and rolled her eyes. I grinned and moved on. Second, I stood behind a doofus in line. A doofus, who I found out later, drove the truck (huge) that executed a seriously illegal turn entering the supermarket. Anyway, doofus pulled his cart to the people side, emptied its contents, and then left the cart there. I wondered if he was so dumb that he didn't think how I might move past. I concluded that he was that dumb. (His entrance to the big-ass truck confirmed my diagnosis--even though I am not that kind of doctor). I moved his cart and informed him that he the cart went on the other side. I wondered if I could execute a citizen's arrest for stupidity. Decided against it and went home to cook said lasagna rolls.

    Hmm. Lasagna rolls. ....

    Interesting point: conservatives can bash America and not be called Unamerican

    Feministe takes on Scarborough and his America-hating friends like Tom Delay.
    "America is no longer good."

    "Unrighteousness, evil, corruption, perversion and death are now standard operating procedure in the United States of America."

    Imagine if liberal politicians were calling America "evil" and predicting its demise. They'd be labelled as anti-American and contemptable. Hell, all a left-leaning person has to do is say that she wasn't mistreated by Iraqis and that's enough to call her a suicide bomber.

    But it's a-ok when right-wing Christian leaders complain about their evil country.

    By the way, Christianity is apparently under attack in America. And they have a point. I mean, just look at all the Christ-hating Jews who have occupied the Whitehouse over the past century. And all the Buddhists in Congress. Not to mention all those Hindus sitting on the Supreme Court! Just as expected, atheists are routinely accorded more respect than all religious people. And it's not like the vast majority of Americans identify as Christians or anything. Clearly, we are an oppressed minority here."