November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving

And you know what that means. Yeah, the War on Christmas, and our friends at Focus on the Family are more worried about whether your local retailer says "Merry Christmas" than they are the impact their layoffs will have on ~149 families of former employees. When you are King Dobson, you expect your subjects to simply submit, and nothing works better than distracting them with the War on Christmas. That is our biggest concern right now? Really? Or even a legitimate concern?

I don't think so.

*****

Speaking of religious nonsense, I see that Bob Jones University has apologized for its past racism. I expect they want to be patted on the back and congratulated for joining the 20th century, even if that century is over. In the same vein, I would like to be commended for the fact that I have decided not to run people over with my car. I will take my Person of the Year Award now!

****

The progressive blogosphere is buzzing over the idea that Obama will keep Bob Gates on at Defense. Some worry that it sends the message that Democrats are weak on defense and have to turn that over to conservatives. Others say it is ridiculous after an election devoted to change to keep someone from the worst administration in history.

I care about those sentiments about as much as I do the War on Christmas. Gates has easily been Bush's best and, perhaps, only good decision. I don't care if he used to run Texas A&M University, and worked for Daddy Bush. The man is obviously very good at his job. In every other position, W favored loyalty and party ideology over competence. We should not replace one ideological administration with another. The President Elect said this yesterday about the budget, but it could easily apply to every other issue facing the nation:
people don't want to continue argument about big government or small government, they want smart government and effective government.
Exactly. I remember reading in horror that Bush's people filtered employees for Iraq's reconstruction team based on their stance on abortion. Really? Had it been me, I would have instructed those people to hire the very best. I would have said, "get this done, and I don't care if you have to hire Chelsea Clinton or Karl Marx to do it. Just make it right. We will get the credit."

But he didn't do that, of course, and preferred ass-kissing minions to competent staff and administrators. Bob Gates has been the one shining exception, and to not use his expertise simply because he is connected to Bush is ridiculous. The change we need here is not partisan, it is about competence and good governing.

****

I sincerely hope that you all have a good Thanksgiving.

November 23, 2008

Sunday

Moving a little slowly today after a busy one yesterday. Watched OU pound Texas Tech last night, which was great fun. Today, we spend the hours wondering if the polls will reward OU or keep them behind Texas in the BCS. Such is the luxury of sports, that we can argue and entertain ourselves with such trivialities. :)

*****

One of my conservative friends was really angered at how some Democrats denied the legitimacy of George Bush's election and reelection. That always caught me off guard because, as much as I loathe this president, I have always assumed he was our President--and still do. The fact that he is the worst in recent memory doesn't take away from his legitimacy. Whatever we think about the election problems in Florida in 2000, and in Ohio in 04, that is the past, and he has served us badly, but legitimately, for the last 8 years.

To be fair, I have never met a Democrat or liberal who says other, or acts otherwise. Not saying they aren't out there, but I don't know any. I remember that same kind of delegitimizing of Clinton that was standard fare on religious and other conservative radio. And I am afraid that will continue under Obama. SOF just received an email pass on from a conservative friend that repeats the nonsense questioning Obama's citizenship. This will not end, and I predict that a large segment of the far right will once again see themselves under siege, waiting for the Black Helicopters and gay flag burners to come make them have abortions. It is so funny to see conservatives suddenly scared of state power--as if the last 8 years have not seen the intrusive role of government into every day lives. These conservatives (and certainly not all) have no consistent governing philosophy, so they have never even thought to criticize the Patriot Act, just as they never thought to criticize torture and wiretapping. But in the hands of "other" and scary "unAmerican" Obama--state power becomes a fear.

Sigh.

*****

Finally, after seeing a link to this story from Lifehacker, I decided to try my hand at home-made cayenne/Tobasco sauce. After nearly macing all of us, there are two small jars of something resting on the counter.

Perhaps when Obama's Brown-Shirted-Gay-Aborting-Flag Burning-Socialist friends come after me, I will have the necessary weapon to fight back.

November 20, 2008

I am waiting for an apology from conservatives

And not just for the last 8 years of the Bush administration. Not that there isn't much there. Today, a judge released 5 Algerians who were held in Gitmo for the last 6 years without charge and without cause. The judge said there was no evidence to support that these men were (originally charged with conspiring to blow up an American embassy--then charged with going to Afghanistan to fight against Americans) terrorists. Not that Bush Justice cared. Lock them up, throw the key, and pretend that the world isn't watching. Oh, and torture them while you have them locked up. We will sort out guilt and innocence after their torture drives them insane.

So, yeah, I am still mad about that. Those who assured me Bush was a man of God need to rethink that, and perhaps not say that ever again.

But this is not about Bush. This is about the blanket criticism that current conservatives have for all things government and all things liberal. Thanks to Rushbo and the idiots on Fox, "liberal" has become a curse word, and anything they do is supposed to be a failure and possibly socialism.

Driving to have lunch with Anglican, I noticed another bank I had previously not noticed. Add that one to two new ones here in Norman, and you have a lot of banks around town.

This observation led me to contemplate our economic situation and how much worse it might be. As I said, conservatives love to bash liberals for their government programs. That, of course, before all the big "free-market" business people lined up outside the Congress for their shot at a bailout--but hell, even during all this, the free-market fundamentalists still, in knee-jerk fashion, bash liberal programs. Phil Gramm, as far as I know, is still touting deregulation. Oh, and I think he believes flu shots are witch craft, and that leeches are the best cure for a cold.

Sigh.

But back to those banks. They keep functioning. In the 1930s, banks failed in huge numbers. Between 1931 and 1932, nearly 4,000 banks went under, taking with them savings, access to capital for farms, houses, and businesses. Entire communities saw their economic ability disappear. Families lost their lives, farms, homes, everything. And sometimes they failed because everyone freaked out at the same time and removed their savings to store under their mattresses.

I am not saying our local banks are not worried about the economy, any more than any other local business or agency. But they aren't besieged by angry and worried depositors asking for their life savings. The ones I drove past were doing normal business. Everyone knows that their savings are insured and they don't have to worry about that. They may worry about their 401k, and their retirement, and their stocks and bonds (good old free market) but their savings and checking accounts are safe, thanks to good old liberal (not socialist) policy.

I don't think that is a little thing, and I wish conservatives would recognize just how great of a contribution that is to our well-being. Perhaps they can consider that the next time they castigate all things government and all things liberal. Perhaps they can consider that during their next trip to the ATM when they don't worry about withdrawing cash.

Perhaps.

I won't hold my breath.

disturbing stories about race

Greg has a story about a Southern Baptist woman making a racist remark about Obama. Two other friends have shared similar experiences. One just about lost it waiting in a doctor's office while a very stupid woman used the "n" word repeatedly. Our other friend is experiencing a family divide over the election--a divide that cancelled Thanksgiving. Her family members have openly disparaged Obama's race, and one even expressed concern that his "grandmother was white." The same friend had to listen to someone make jokes about planting watermelon in the White House gardens while she waited to vote early.

Some of these may have the excuse of poor education and never being challenged to rise out of their culture. That doesn't excuse them, but it does add a context. Some of the others have no such excuse. Greg's example was a SBC church planter's wife. That reminds me of some historical scholarship on Southern evangelicals that suggests that in the early National period, Baptists and Methodists were quite radical about social justice. They opposed slavery, and even advocated much more equality for women--all drawn from their religious beliefs. To survive in the South, however, they had to give up those challenges to social status and focus on the sins of drinking and gambling. Racism, I fear, is still so embedded in that culture (and obviously not just the South, of course) that a good many church-going moral people have never even challenged those prejudices.

The good news in all of these examples is there was someone there to challenge the racism. And in several cases, the racist person had a child there who was embarrassed by the racism. We can only hope that means that there are some challenges to racism, and we are slowly gaining on it. But I fear that some of those kids who hate racism now, will be worn down by their own cultural assumptions by the time they are older. It would be nice if the conservative evangelical churches would make this their cause instead of going after gays. My sense is that they avoid racism as they have torture--perhaps falsely assuming that everyone knows right from wrong in these situations. Or perhaps they are following the model of people like Dobson. Either way, they leave us with a lot of otherwise moral people standing for immoral policy, or repeating immoral racist drivel.

Sigh

November 18, 2008

Irony alert?

The American Family Association is selling this for Christmas?



I would not recommend this for your front porch. But then again, I am not a fan of burning crosses.

Reminds me of an image Mary pointed out a few weeks ago, where Christians were praying for the economic crisis (understandable), but doing so in an unfortunate way:



Praying to a golden calf?

Sigh.

Huckabee writes a book--Dobson lays off workers

And, as Time calls it, settles his campaign scores. And there is some in here that I agree with. But here is exactly why Huckabee bothers me:
Huckabee says he spoke to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement while preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes of the conversation. "I didn't get a straight answer."
I don't know how God makes those decisions, but I am not convinced that Hagee, or Huckabee, can tell the difference between their personal ego and opinion and hearing from God. And this speaks to Huckabee's real problem in the election. He wanted to be taken seriously as a politician and governor, and resented questions about religion, yet invoked his religion and even preached sermons on the campaign. Here, he suggests that God would not have communicated to Hagee to endorse anyone else other than him, but then chastises the media for always asking him about religion?

*****

Speaking of the religious right, turns out that even Focus on the Family has been forced to lay off people. That would be understandable if it were just the economy, but it turns out it is because the organization spent a half million dollars on the effort to defeat gay marriage. I am sure that James Dobson won't be harmed financially at all, so that makes it ok. As long as the king is taken care of.

***

And since I was browsing the Colorado Independent, I also saw that Focus on the Family is one of the few places left that still likes and supports still-president George Bush. The reason? Because of his SCOTUS nominees, and his support for "the preborn."

Dobson said nothing in opposition to Bush's torture, and even joked about it with Ann Coulter.

Sigh.

November 14, 2008

Gag

But I guess in a world where Sarah Palin is a legitimate candidate, there is no reason that Joe the Idiot can't profit off his celebrity. Turns out you too can spend $14.95 for a membership where you too can chat with the actual Joe the Wackjob. And he is "writing" a book. Yippee.

And if you are thinking I am being a little too harsh on old Joe, let's remember when he agreed with another idiot McCain supporter who said that a vote for Obama "is a vote for the death of Israel."

But, as I noted before, Sarah Palin still thinks she is a credible candidate. Why not Joe the Moron?

View from our window

video

November 13, 2008

Friday morning

Last week, after watching Obama win, one of my friends wondered why I still complained about Palin. I won, he noted. Why continue?

This post from Obsidian Wings speaks to that, I think. I am still stunned at the irresponsibility of McCain and the Republicans to trust this woman nearly with running our country. Her lack of curiosity about the basic policies and functions of government are simply unbelievable.

And, further, as I noted, we have learned over the last 8 years the very clear lesson that elections matter, and electing an incurious person to the highest office has consequences. Yesterday, I finally decided to watch the PBS documentary "Torturing Democracy. You can view it in its entirety here. While not graphic, it is not for the faint of heart to watch the horror that our country has embraced and allowed. I think every American should see it at some time, and certainly those who assured us that Bush was God's choice for our country. Whenever I see pictures of Bush praying, I will think of this documentary instead. The person who said he got his guidance from God authorized the torture of others--and many of them (if not most) innocent people who had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Elections matter.

Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

November 11, 2008

Jon Swift: Obama is "dogist"

Bow to the master, folks:
"But the worst gaffe Obama made at his disastrous press conference was when he referred to mixed-breed dogs (or “differently bred” dogs, as they prefer to be called) using the dogist term “mutts.”"

Uh oh.


Obama wins--now what?

Heh.

Conservative Evangelicals voted MORE for McCain

Suggests that the religious right will be stronger, not weaker in the future Republican party:
"Born again Christians or evangelicals made up 36% of Bush vote and, by my count, 38.% of the McCain vote.

Some of that results from non-evangelicals - Catholics in particular -- abandoning the Republicans while evangelicals mostly stayed put. But the Republican ticket actually drew two million more evangelicals in raw numbers than George Bush did, presumably because of excitement about Sarah Palin and extreme fear of Barack Obama."
And if the Religious Right is close to 40% of the party, and a vocal and consistent block, doesn't that make Palin their favorite?

She talks the talk, here discussing how she looks at future political opportunities:
I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is. Even if it's cracked up a little bit, maybe I'll plow right on through that and maybe prematurely plow through it, but don't let me miss an open door. And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door.

I have no idea how God works in these situations, but watching Sarah Palin operate over these last few months makes me rather cynical about this statement. Can she tell the difference between what she thinks is God's voice and that ego and ambition inside? I am fine with her ambition, but when she confuses that ambition for God's will, it is not encouraging to the rest of us. So reminiscent of Bush, isn't she? No sense of introspection, no sense that perhaps she wasn't ready.

Sigh.

November 10, 2008

ObaMonday

That title was completely accidental, but I decided to keep it.

I was thinking about a few things today--all related to Obama and what he offers to our nation. Saw that he is urging the Democratic caucus to keep Lieberman in the fold, which, considering just how vicious Lieberman was toward Obama in the campaign, suggests that we truly are in a different political time. Anyone doubt that Bush would have had the man taken out into the woods?

****

The Telegraph has a great list of 50 things you may not know about Obama. Favorite book is Moby Dick and he uses an Apple laptop. Bad news? Doesn't drink coffee. Perhaps he really is a communist! :)

****

Finally, and this has nothing to do with Obama as a person, btw, but as cynical as I get about patriotism and nationalistic nonsense, one thing often reminds me how our system truly is amazing. Starting with the election of 1800, we have proven able to peacefully transition power from one party to another. Today, Bush met with Obama and met about how to hand over the reins, but that will be done without tanks in the street, or junta in the air.

Truly worth celebrating.

Hah! Three years exactly on the nose

After I started yoga, I returned this morning for my first session since the sciatica and herniated disk.

Just as then, I expect to be a little sore today and tomorrow, but it felt great to stretch muscles, some for the first time since August. And it was great to see my yoga friends.

November 9, 2008

Sunday--post election version

And it still feels great. Ran into some neighbors on the walk and when we asked how they were doing, they said, "Great. Barack Obama will be President!" :)

It is great, but there are many, many challenges for him and his team. We also braved the morning shows for the first time in months. On MTP, I quickly grew tired of Republicans talking about the importance for Obama to move slowly and to work across the aisles. I have no problem working with Republicans and think Obama will do so, but I am reminded of just how Bush approached that. As I recall, it was more in the model of "I won. You do what I say from now on." Bi-partisan meant doing whatever he said or he would use your resistance against you and call you unAmerican. Not only that, but they talk about the huge problems facing the Obama admin as if they just passively occurred rather than being the result of horrible choices during the last 8 years of nearly complete Republican rule. The Republicans remind me very much of the American auto industry. Over the last 20 years, they have acted as if their wealth was their own, and that producing inefficient and polluting cars was their birthright. Instead of investing in future technologies, they made Escalade's and Explorers and Suburbans. Now, facing huge problems, they are turning to the government for a handout. I wonder if Republicans will give them the same lecture they give to the poor, or if my Republican friends will show the same contempt toward these handouts that they do toward welfare recipients?

Perhaps we will see genuine reassessment of the blind faith of the free market. Perhaps we will see a reassessment of the "government is the enemy" mantra that the right has used to fundraise and govern. Perhaps we will see a Republican party out of the ashes that no longer rejects science and expertise. Perhaps.

*****

A couple of remaining thoughts from this week. During his first press conference as President Elect, Obama demonstrated that serious approach to policy that we all saw during the campaign, but he also showed that sense of humor and humility. When talking about the children's new dog, he mentioned that they have to find one that won't be a problem with allergies, but that they really want to find a shelter dog, and those are "mutts like me." Not only do I love shelter mutts (all our animals are shelter or rescue animals) but I too am a mutt.

Second, thinking back to the historic nature of this election, I cannot quite shake how powerful it was to recognize that our new first lady is an African American woman. For some reason, that resonates with me even more than Barack at the top of the ticket. The history of race in this country has been so contested and so conflicted, and few have taken the brunt of that racism more than black women--those who were on the receiving end of the double pronged discrimination. Those who were relegated to the worst paying jobs and the least amount of respect. Seeing this amazing woman in that role makes me very proud of our country.

November 7, 2008

Newsweek series on the election

Just finished all seven chapters, and as a result, didn't get much else done today. Kind of curious how many total words the series included. Anyway, I will write more later, but it is well worth the read. You really get a good picture of all the major players, and while Obama comes across very good, McCain and several of his people do too. Palin, not so much. As I included in one the comments, here very interesting snippet about her absolutism:
"Another reporter asked if he was happy with 'the pick of Palin.' He ducked the question. Schmidt was trying, not very hard, to hide his true feelings. He had been compelled to personally take over Palin's debate prep when she seemed unwilling to engage in the drudge work of learning the issues. McCain's advisers had been frustrated when Palin refused to talk to donors because she found it corrupting, and they were furious when they heard rumors that Todd Palin was calling around to Alaska bigwigs telling them to hold their powder until 2012. The day of the third debate, Palin refused to go onstage with New Hampshire GOP Sen. John Sununu and Jeb Bradley, a New Hampshire congressman running for the Senate, because they were pro-choice and because Bradley opposed drilling in Alaska. The McCain campaign ordered her onstage at the next campaign stop, but she refused to acknowledge the two Republican candidates standing behind her."
Nice that she thinks that donors are corrupting, but refusing to even acknowledge people who disagree with you is not a good way to govern. At any level.

Have a good weekend. More later on this amazing series.

Lieberman seems to not get it

And is threatening to bolt to the Republicans, to which Democrats say "go for it."

Sigh. And they get mad when we mock them for being this stupid

Gun Sales Soar On Obama Victory:
"'He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force,' added Mr. Pruett, a former radio personality, of President-elect Barack Obama."

Election week: retrospective edition

I have been exhausted all week. This campaign has been pretty central to my mind for the last year, so perhaps it is no wonder.

This morning, I have been unable to stop reading Newsweek's 7 chapter series (5 available so far) on the campaign. Just finished chapter two on McCain's comeback in the primary, and am engrossed in chapter three's discussion of the Clinton campaign. Absolutely a great read, and a must for those political junkies out there.

Related topic, at least here in Oklahoma, has been the fact that our state voted more for McCain than any. Not one county went for Obama, and that has a lot of us shaking our heads. Not only that, but at the state level, Republicans made gains in the state legislature. Again, I don't have a problem with a lot of my Republican friends and family, but these Republicans are not mostly of that variety. They are the kinds who, as Rachel Maddow noted last night, are like hiring a vegan to be your butcher. They hate government and want to undermine it as much as possible.

What is more, they seem (and I stress the seem) to pursue ideology or belief with no regard for reason or outcome. Sally Kern, famous for comparing gay people to terrorists, appears to so badly want women to remain in the home, that she wants to undercut every program aimed at helping women or children. I had coffee yesterday with a former student who noted that he grew up in one of those suburbs, dominated by Christian conservative Republicans, all of which (or most) moved to the burb to create a little Christian cocoon. He said, however, that the teenage pregnancy and drug problems were sometimes worse there. I asked him why they continued to pursue such policies when the outcome and results were counter to their goals, and he noted that outcomes and facts were irrelevant when you dealt with belief.

Found this fascinating article on evangelicals and sexuality in the New Yorker that suggests that my former student isn't completely right, but not far off:
"But, according to Add Health data, evangelical teen-agers are more sexually active than Mormons, mainline Protestants, and Jews. On average, white evangelical Protestants make their “sexual début”—to use the festive term of social-science researchers—shortly after turning sixteen. Among major religious groups, only black Protestants begin having sex earlier.

Another key difference in behavior, Regnerus reports, is that evangelical Protestant teen-agers are significantly less likely than other groups to use contraception."
We have discussed this before, but it is interesting that the red states often have higher rates of teen pregnancy, divorce and abuse, while the supposedly godless blue states do better in most of those areas.

From my perspective, this is part of that anti-intellectual part of the right that places like Oklahoma have adopted with glee. I have no idea how to change that or approach it. I also wonder if our low electoral college numbers means that we get very little attention from national politicians, and so many in the state never hear an alternative explanation.

Anyway. Happy reading.

November 5, 2008

Humor for the day after

From Obsidian Wings:
"Agenda for the 1st Hundred Days:

1. Sharia.

2. Communism.

3. Compulsory gay marriage for all preschoolers.

4. Surrender to Aztlan.

5. Abortion legal until 12 years after conception.

6. NASCAR banned, replaced by all-male ballet.

7. Official language of the USA: Ebonics.

8. Christmas banned.

9. ‘Red Dawn’ banned.

10. Box turtles.

That should do it."

The morning after

And I feel spent. Exhausted. I dreamt all night of politics and Obama and our friends.

I was reminded during the returns last night of how I felt 4 years ago. You can read about it here, though I warn you it is angry and harsh. Looking back on that obscenity-laced post, I remember how dark that day was. I must say, however, that my fears were not extreme and they were not irrational. Bush didn't invade another country (yet) but the rest is dead on. Bush continued to govern without reason and play on our fears and hatreds. Conservative Christians didn't even mind when Bush tortured. I am loathe to gloat, but for those, like James Dobson, Richard Land, I hope last night was a bit painful.

But this morning, we look at a new hope. A hope mixed with fear and realism, of course. The same paranoid style of hatred that characterized the right's response to Clinton (remember the video that Falwell sent out?). I am sure the people who believe that Obama is secretly a Muslim will find their cohorts on hate radio, and unfortunately, in church pews.

More to the point, Obama faces unprecedented problems in the economy, environment, and foreign policy realm. This vote was not a magic cure for those problems. There is no guarantee that Democrats can solve these problems. Now, we will see if the country can be unified to any workable degree, and if Obama can lead us to some solutions, however imperfect they may be.

The Republican party and conservative Church finds themselves having to make their own decisions. Will they continue down that Palin road? The one that encourages hatred of others and dismisses intellect and science? The one that resends the emails about Obama's muslim past and mocks community organizers? Or will they reassert some semblance of a conservatism that is not obsessed with gays and abortion? The love affair with the mean-spirited Palin suggests to me that the Republican party will continue down that road where science is a punchline and God is an American.

The Democrats will need to move forward with, as our party and country leader noted last night, humility for the tasks ahead.

But for this morning, I will enjoy the results. I feel just a little better than I did four years ago.

November 4, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama

I like the way that sounds.

We watched the returns with some friends, and I must say I was a nervous wreck until SOF and I heard them call Ohio. After Pennsylvania, Ohio was that must-have for McCain and I thought that was a very good sign for Obama. Obviously, that continued.

Couple of real memorable moments from tonight. One was watching McCain's very classy concession speech where he praised the historic nature of this race, and importantly called on all Americans to rally around this new President. He was very classy, and our entire group commented that he sounded a hell of a lot more like the 2000 version than the one we have seen mocking community organizing and women's health. This was not the man who chose a divisive and incompetent VP candidate. He did a very nice job.

The second was a shot of Jesse Jackson openly weeping. I am not a Jackson fan, and recognize so much of what he has done badly in his career and life. But his tears were not about him, or his career, or his tendency to play on that racial divide. It was one of those connections to MLK and that dream--a dream that was at least partially realized tonight.

Part of my relief is that I have been pulling for Obama from very early on. But a big part of it was that I wanted to believe that we could rise above race, and that we could choose someone to end the nightmare of the last 8 years. As Leighton said in the comments, the real work starts tomorrow. But tonight was a nice start. I can stop holding my breath and see if I can get a little sleep tonight. As our friend Anglican said tonight:
"God bless America. But not America alone. God bless us, every one"

Just voted for Barack Obama for President

And it felt damn good. A historic vote, and I felt it when I drew that line.

November 3, 2008

Obama's Grandmother Passes Away

Thinking about that family tonight. She was Barack's last parent and someone very important in his life. TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Obama's Grandmother Passes Away

Interesting day--and democracy is still hard

This election has me on edge, and I don't think I am the only one. Last night, SOF and some friends attended an NBA game here in Oklahoma City and watched the Thunder win their first game as an Oklahoma team. That was enjoyable, and also distracting. For a few hours, we didn't worry about the election or the future and just concentrated on watching the game.

This morning, however, it is back. I have done a decent job of managing my frustration by limiting what I read and hear. I avoid the 24 hour cable, and have even limited NPR. I read a few blogs and do what I can to keep some awareness of what is happening, but trying all the while to keep my head up and focussed on what I can do. One of my friends called it a cross between "cautious optimism and sheer terror." Heh.

Today was interesting, though. An anti-abortion group was on campus again with their giant pictures of aborted babies. On the benches close by, a small, but vocal, group of young girls chanted pro-choice slogans. Interspersed in the display were what they called "free-speech boards" where they encouraged people to write their thoughts. I walked through with my headphones on--a clear signal that I was not looking to talk, and checked out the free-speech boards. Not terribly different from what people spoke around me, and my class of students told me later that they found the entire display rather useless. Both sides simply shouted at each other, and there was nothing approaching conversation or dialogue (though one of the writers on the "free speech board" did say that the gory pictures were part of the "dialouge").

Walking through it with the headphones on was a surreal experience of people shouting, watching, talking, and shouting. It didn't feel like anything good was happening. I didn't resent any of the people there, I just didn't see anything approaching dialogue or relationship.

Walking home, I thought about that polarized world and how frustrating that is and what I try to do here on the blog. It isn't always successful, but we try to talk about things with a bit of civility. Those who troll by don't understand that, because they are simply lobbing in bombs, but this little community has had some very interesting conversations over the years. We don't always agree. But we keep talking.

I will hold my breath for the next 36 hours or so. And I will continue to try and make connections with people around me. But right now, I am going to grab a beer and make some dinner.

Peace.

Hmm, Spreading the Wealth

McCain and Palin have made a lot of hay out of Obama's "spread the wealth" comment. You would think that McCarthy still roamed the halls of the Senate, or that the over-riding danger for the world was communism. McCarthy is gone and reviled (except by the far right) and even the communists aren't really communist.

But that fear works among so many, and so many are religious conservatives who seem to think that Jesus was a capitalist, and as Natalie put it: "the Christians who support McCain probably think that the phrase 'God helps those who help themselves' is found in the Bible."
Anyway, I can't bring myself to vote for someone so critical of Leviticus 25, of jubilee, of 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 and Acts 4:34. When God provided manna in the wilderness, those who accumulated too much found their hoarded manna spoiled."

November 1, 2008

Quote of the day

RELIGION Blog | The Dallas Morning News:
"'After one of the most tragic days in U.S. history, how did the President urge us to deal with our grief? `Go shopping.' Spending had replaced thrift as the chief American virtue. Those who had accumulated wealth for themselves and their families were lauded as representatives of the `American dream.' Our biggest trade deficits in history, along with unfunded spending on multiple wars are now bearing their bitter fruit. Reports from many of our pastors suggest that we are moving into a time of very painful recession.

'Perhaps now is a good time to recover some Christian virtues that we thought we had outgrown. I pray that we will be given new moral direction that will point us back (or is it forward?) to the time-honored Wesleyan Christian values, like thrift. Times of financial crisis are good times to be reminded of what's really valuable, from a Christian point of view.'
- Bishop Will Willimon of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church"