Friday, August 29, 2008

A Michelle Obama fan

Unlike another white Quad Cities political blogger I make no attempt to speak for African-Americans. They can speak for themselves perfectly well. For example, here is a blogger who appreciates Michelle Obama far more completely than I ever could.

First off, the dress? Loves it! Michelle always looks gorgeous in jewel tones. (Or any solid color. I don't think she has a bad color. The woman rocked ORANGE. That's just how we do.) I don't know who the designer is yet, but I bet it's Maria Pinto, her girl in Chicago. The dress is similar to the purple sheath and an orange dress she's worn previously that were also made by Pinto. I would have preferred a necklace over the beaded flower on her chest, but other than that I have few complaints. Over and over last night, myself, my dad, mother, pundits on TV, even on FOX News couldn't get over how gorgeous she looked. The best Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez on CNN could come up with was it was too "evening gown" like. Um ... seriously, Leslie.

Read the entire blog entry (including 34 pictures of Michelle).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama’s Acceptance Speach

What a speech! Despite the unfair attacks John McCain has leveled at Barak Obama, that he was an empty-headed celebrity like Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, that he didn't care whether America was defeated in war as long as he was elected, Barak Obama was not angry with John McCain. He admitted that John McCain loved his country and served it bravely in uniform. But more in sorrow than in anger he had to say that John McCain would not offer the change we need because he is out of touch with the problems and concerns of the vast majority of Americans.

Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under five million dollars a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100m Americans?... It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it.

Only someone who owns more houses than he can count could think our economy is fundamentally sound and that people who think otherwise are suffering a mental recession. Talk about being unprepared to lead!

The American Dream

You may have missed the Democratic Convention speech last night of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz if you were watching on a channel that had talking heads interpret/interrupt the action for you (almost any channel other than CSpan).

I am privileged to be Mayor of Miami, a city built on the dreams of so many who have come to America searching for freedom and opportunity. I left Cuba at age six, arriving on my mother's lap. We didn't have a penny to our name, but I grew up to become mayor of one of America's greatest cities and president of the United States Conference of Mayors.

I believe in the American dream because I am a product of it. This is the only country in the world that inspires a dream. We provide refuge to those seeking freedom, hope to those seeking opportunity. Our nation's history is built on the stories of men and women who, from many, have become one. It does not matter what your name is, where you came from or what language your ancestors spoke.

Read the complete speech.

It is absolutely breath-taking how the people who have been running our country the last 8 years have been killing the goose who lays the golden eggs. They have been over-turning the American dream and throwing away the things that the rest of the world admired about us. Since the time of George Washington we had been the ones who did not torture and who gave quarter – did not kill soldiers who surrendered to us. Since the time of Thomas Jefferson we have been the place where the majority did not force their religious views on the minority. Since the time of Madison we have had three branches of government with checks and balances so as not to have too much power in one person's hands, in order to avoid being ruled by a despot like England's King George. Since the time of the Mayflower we have been the ones, in Mayor Diaz's words, providing refuge to those seeking freedom, hope to those seeking opportunity.

I just can't get over that these radicals who are over-turning all these long-standing American principles call themselves "conservatives." What exactly do they think they are conserving?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wake up, America!

Although Hillary Clinton got the headlines in this morning's paper Rep. Dennis Kucinich gave the most rousing speech at the Democratic Convention last night.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs; trillions of dollars for an unwarranted war paid for with borrowed money; tens of millions of dollars in cash and weapons disappeared into thin air at the cost of the lives of our troops and innocent Iraqis.
The insurance companies took over health care. Wake up, America!
The pharmaceutical companies took over drug prices. Wake up, America!
The speculators took over Wall Street. Wake up, America!
See the video

The media characterize these remarks as attacks on Republicans. But Republicans pay the same inflated prices for drugs and health care as other Americans. Rank-and-file Republicans are hurt as much by these crimes as everyone else. Don't fall for the corporate media framing on these issues. Wake up, America!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Media ignore vindication of Obama’s Iraq policy

In negotiations with the United States for a new Security Pact between Iraq and the United States, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is insisting on a firm time-table for withdrawal of all United States forces – no residual forces, no option for slowing or delaying the withdrawal based on conditions on the ground – complete withdrawal by a set date. In other words Maliki is insisting that the United States sign on to Barack Obama's Iraq policy – a policy that John McCain and the Bush Administration had for months labeled a policy of defeat and surrender. Strangely, the "liberal" media have not been trumpeting this vindication of Barack Obama's judgment, foresight and leadership.

Monday, August 25, 2008


According to the Daily Kos this is a picture of John McCain's key ring with all his house keys. Apparently they are going to have some fun with house keys at the Democratic Convention in Denver this week.

Watching ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning my jaw dropped when Mark Halperin said that the "How many houses do John and Cindy McCain own" business was going to be bad for Obama.

Halperin: ” My hunch is that this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates, but it’s Barack Obama. I believe this has opened the door to not just Tony Rezko in that ad, but to bring up Reverend Wright, to bring up his relationship with Bill Ayers. I think that the Obama campaign agressively jumped on something ”

Stephanopolous: “Don’t you think that was going to come up anyway?”

As though the Republicans have not been talking about those things for months! How can Halperin continue to pretend he is an impartial observer while saying nonsense like that?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fear of terrorism

I was once talking to a fellow who told me with supreme confidence that slaveholders always treated their slaves well, much better than employers treat their employees. A slave was a two thousand dollar investment. It would be foolish for the slave owner to damage their own property so, of course, they never did.

When logic is sound but leads to a false conclusion it must be based on false assumptions. Surely one of the false assumptions here, a common one that leads to many false conclusions, is that people always act logically and in their own best interests. But there is another false assumption here that I have recently come to understand from talking to my brother, who is researching American slavery and the Civil War for a book he is writing. That false assumption is that the goal of preserving and protecting their financial investment was never overruled by a higher priority. Slaveholders lived in constant fear of being murdered in their beds in a slave revolt. This fear led to them savagely beat, cripple and execute their slaves, hoping to instill enough fear into the slave population to prevent resistance. A fear of being killed caused people to willingly destroy their own valuable property.

After 9/11 many Americans, reacting to a fear of being killed by terrorists, advocated and supported policies and actions as inhumane and ultimately as harmful to their own best interests as a slaveholder beating his own slave to death.

I imagine that 30 or 40 years in the future there will be people who deny that the United States ever invaded and occupied a sovereign country that posed no danger to us. "They could not have done that," they will say. "That would have put them in greater danger of being attacked by terrorist. I refuse to believe that the people of the United States did such illogical, immoral things -- acts so at odds with all the nobel principles of democracy and self-determination that they have always stood for."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does John McCain care what the Iraqis want?

What does John McCain mean when he talks about victory in Iraq? As far as I know he has never defined what 'winning' there would look like. According to an article in the Moline Dispatch John McCain thinks

victory in Iraq 'is finally in sight.'


the victory he envisioned still could be 'squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines.

Speaking yesterday in New Mexico, John McCain said of Obama's approach to our involvement in Iraq:

He's making these decisions not because he doesn't love America, but because he doesn't think it matters whether America wins or loses.

Polls show the vast majority of Iraqis want the United States out of Iraq as soon as possible. The elected government of Iraq now has called for a phased withdrawal of United States forces on a timeline very similar to the one Barack Obama has been advocating. Given these facts we have to conclude that in John McCain's mind victory and winning in Iraq have nothing to do with democracy and Iraqis running their own country. How could following the wishes of the majority of the Iraqi people and the democratically elected government of Iraq and setting up a timeline for withdrawing our forces 'squander' our victory unless that victory had nothing to do with what the Iraqi people want?

George W. Bush has often talked about our invasion and occupation of Iraq in terms of bringing freedom and democracy to that part of the world. Why haven't the media asked John McCain whether he believes in Iraqi democracy?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Those who know him best

If you are thinking about voting for John McCain for president you might want to read this. It is an op-ed written for by Phillip Butler, who was at the U.S. Naval Academy with John McCain and was a prisoner of war in Hanoi for 8 years, including the 5 ½ years that McCain was there.

I … believe that having been a POW is no special qualification for being President of the United States. The two jobs are not the same, and POW experience is not, in my opinion, something I would look for in a presidential candidate.

Read the entire article.

Thanks to faithful reader Saul for sending me the link.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not helpful to classify Russia as adversary – Robert Gates.

This morning on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" George asked the Secretary of State, Robert Gates, whether Russia had been acting lately more like an adversary than an ally. Robert Gates said that he did not think it was "helpful" to classify nations as one or the other. He doesn't?!? What then did he think of his boss, President George W. Bush, classifying Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil?" Wasn't that equally "not helpful?"

Who is the Manchurian Candidate?

I just came across another reference to some people's fear that Barak Obama is a Manchurian Candidate who, after being elected, was going to be revealed to be under the control of enemies of America. It suddenly occurred to me how strange it is that those fears attach themselves to Barack Obama and not John McCain. After all John McCain was a captured prisoner of war being tortured by evil Communists for five years, presumably the situation in which Manchurian Candidates are created. Ever since his return from Vietnam McCain has seemed to be under an overwhelming compulsion to be president. He immediately divorced his wife who had waited faithfully for him during his imprisonment and married a woman with wealth and connections that enabled him to enter politics. The last few years he has shown himself willing to compromise everything he has ever stood for in order to get the presidential nomination. If someone had been programmed to become president as part of some nefarious plot isn't that exactly how he would act?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Energy too cheap to meter

At a recent family gathering the subject of energy prices came up. I stated my opinion that energy was going to remain at least as expensive as it is now for the rest of all of our lives. My college-aged nephew disagreed. There are very promising technologies now in the works involving solar, wind, geo-thermal, he stated. When the economies of scale and mass production kick in we will return to the equivalent of $2/gal. gasoline or even cheaper, he happily predicted.

Of course, he was not yet born when the same things were predicted about nuclear power. Young people today would probably be very surprised to hear that when nuclear power plants were first being designed there were predictions that nuclear power would become so cheap, once all the engineering was done and economies of scale and mass production kicked in, that they would not bother to even meter it.

Of course, that did not happen. There turned out to be so many unanticipated costs and downstream liability that power companies stopped building nuclear power plants more than 30 years ago. Perhaps someday the costs of other forms of energy will become so high that the price of nuclear power produced electricity, with all the liability and other downstream costs factored into the price, will be competitive again. Of course, at that point energy would be selling at prices much higher than they are now.

There are always additional costs and unanticipated problems with new technology. My prediction is that those who make decisions now assuming every increasing energy costs in the future will turn out to have made the right choices.

Dinner and Dancing on the Mississippi

Last evening my wife and I took a dinner and dancing cruise on the Celebration Belle riverboat in Moline. This is the way the river looked at sunset. (Yes, the sun is setting directly downstream. That is because the Mississippi flows from east to west through the Quad Cities.)

These picture were taken with my cell phone camera, since I had neglected to bring my regular camera aboard.

Here is a friendly wave from my good friend and party animal, John Bradley. (If you would like to meet John go to Quad Cities Suzuki in Davenport and ask for him by name.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What would it take for these people to lose their credibility?

Does the concept of credibility still exist? People are sometimes threatened that their credibility will be destroyed and no one will ever pay attention to them again. If the person in question is a conservative then that is now an empty threat because Fox News and right-wing talk radio will put people on the air no matter how defective their epistemology turns out to be. Media Matters reports on a recent example of this phenomenon:

On the August 11 edition of the syndicated radio program The War Room With Quinn & Rose, guest host Mike Pintek echoed right-wing blogs and websites in questioning the authenticity of Sen. Barack Obama's birth certificate, which was posted on the Obama campaign's Fight the Smears website in response to the false claim that Obama is not a natural-born citizen. Pintek asserted: "I still keep wondering about his birthplace and his birth certificate. I'm still not convinced that he actually was born a natural-born citizen." Pintek went on to add: "According to some people who know what they're talking about, who are experts on this, they say that the birth certificate that he's got on his website and has been posted to the Daily Kos and some other places, is -- it looks very much like a Photoshop deal and doesn't look legit."

Who were these experts that Pintek is listening to? They don't include the definitive source on the authenticity of the birth certificate – the Hawaii Department of Health:

In an August 13 article, The Honolulu Advertiser reported that Hawaii Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said that her office contacted the Obama campaign to find a solution to the repeated requests for Obama's birth certificate. She reportedly said that the Obama campaign "responded and apparently it isn't good enough that he posted his birth certificate." She reportedly added: "They say they want it because they claim he is not a citizen of the United States. It's pretty ridiculous."

So these people Pintek accepts as experts "who know what they're talking about" say the birth certificate vouched for by the Hawaii Department of Health "doesn't look legit." Obviously Pintek and his "experts" are looking for authenticity in all the wrong places. I am starting to suspect that conservatives have a different concept of truth than the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who will the disabled veterans vote for if they get a chance?

Political campaigns try to maximize the percentage of people in groups that generally support their candidate who go to the polls on election day and minimize the turnout among groups likely to support their opponent. There are numerous legitimate, legal and ethical ways to suppress turnout among people likely to vote for your opponent, such as planting seeds of doubt in voter’s minds about the opponent’s qualifications, character and experience or trying to convince voters that their vote does not make a difference.

There are also illegal, unethical and undemocratic ways to suppress votes for your opponent, such as making it difficult for certain groups of citizens to register to vote, throwing out existing valid voter registrations and making it difficult for voters to cast their ballots on election day. Democrats in recent years have often accused Republicans of trying to suppress the turnout among minority and poor voters – groups likely to vote Democratic.

But this year the Republicans seem to be trying to suppress the votes of disabled veterans. Susan Bysiewicz, the secretary of state for Connecticut, wrote about this in a recent op ed in the New York Times.

On May 5, the department led by James B. Peake issued a directive that bans nonpartisan voter registration drives at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans. As a result, too many of our most patriotic American citizens — our injured and ill military veterans — may not be able to vote this November.

I have witnessed the enforcement of this policy. On June 30, I visited the Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Haven, Conn., to distribute information on the state’s new voting machines and to register veterans to vote. I was not allowed inside the hospital.

Don’t veterans vote Republican? As Bob Dylan said, “The times there are a-changing.” According to the Las Vegas Sun when John McCain spoke to disabled veterans Saturday in Las Vegas he received a tepid reception:
Just one of 14 veterans interviewed by the Sun after his speech said he is a certain McCain voter, and the nonpartisan group’s legislative director expressed concerns about McCain’s proposed “Veterans’ Care Access Card.”
Being sent on multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and coming home to find that the politicians who were so eager to send you into combat are reluctant to appropriate money to treat the physical and mental injuries that resulted apparently is enough of a shock to change someone’s political orientation. What will it take for farmers in Kansas to see which politicians and which political philosophies are truly in their best interests?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why do we have to fight Russia? Didn’t we win the cold war?

When the neocons advocated invading Iraq, a basket-case of a country unable to mount much of a military defense, they were just being mean and evil amoral bullies. When they starting talking about bombing Iran, a country with vastly greater capability to fight back, they were being reckless and stupid. But now that they are advocating we militarily confront Russia, as Cheney is here, they are totally insane.

For an informed point of view about the currently conflict between Georgia and Russia that is very different from what you have been hearing in the media check out Glenn Greenwald's interview with Charles King, a professor in the School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Voters reject racist campaign

We can hope this is a preview of November. In a Democratic primary Thursday in Tennessee in a majority African-American district in and around Memphis a white, Jewish, progressive incumbent Congressman, Steve Cohen was running against a black female corporate lawyer, Nikki Tinker. By all accounts during his one term in Congress Steve Cohen has served his district well. He has been an opponent of the Iraq war, and according to many observers he has had a consistently solid record on civil rights.

Tinker, apparently able to think of no reason other than her race and religion why anyone should support her over Cohen, ran television ads trying to link her opponent to the Klu Klux Klan and suggesting he was a hypocrite when he visited black churches.

The vast majority of the voters in the district were obviously not impressed with these tactics. Cohen won with almost 80% of the vote. Read Bob Herbert's article in today's New York Times for a more complete discussion.

Young Professionals for McCain Chicago Bar Crawl

A great prank has been pulled on the Illinois Republicans. Check it out.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is Ignorance Republican Party Policy?

Check out Paul Krugman's column in this morning's New York Times:

...know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”

I guess I am a little more optimistic than Paul Krugman. He thinks this appeal to ignorance and stupidity may well win for John McCain. I have hopes that the images of people dying in the aftermath of Katrina because the government was not there when they needed it had enough of an effect that when people go into that voting booth they will vote as if their lives depended on having competent, thinking people in the federal government.

Sunrise on the river

Here is a picture I took on an early morning walk on the bike trail along the Mississippi near Sylvan Slough and the I Wireless Center in Moline.

Click on the picture to see it full sized.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Early morning excitement in Moline

Updated below
A rather unusual thing just happened to me and my wife. It was about 6:10 am and we were near the end of our early morning walk, walking down the usually very quiet 1400 block of 18th Avenue in Moline. Two windowless vans, a white pickup and a SUV pulled up to the curb just ahead of us. About 8 men in full military gear including helmets and automatic weapons and another two men wearing bulletproof vests but no helmets or rifles, jumped out of the vehicles and started trotting toward a house just ahead of us. We had already decided to quickly turn around and head in the other direction when one of the men without a helmet and rifle suggested, with a smile, that we do exactly that. We walked quickly away but after getting a couple of hundred feet away stopped to watch and see what would happen. The group of men went up to the door of a very normal looking house in the middle of the block, shouting “Police” and “Search Warrant.” We heard a woman’s voice shouting “No” from inside. About 3 of the men entered the house while the others stood around in a group by the street. I didn’t get my camera out quick enough to catch that action but this is what it looked like just after the some of the officers entered the house while the others waited in front.

[Click on picture to see it full sized.]

After a few minutes there must have been some communication from inside the house because the group outside visibly relaxed and started smiling and joking around. One of the men who had been inside the house came out and talked with the man in the in the picture in the blue tshirt. Nothing much seemed to be happening at that point and we had to get going so we continued our walk.

Does anyone know whose these guys were? Does the Moline Police Dept has a SWAT team?

Update Aug 8, 2008
On this morning's walk I met a fellow who recognized me and my wife from having seen us watching the assault weapon raid yesterday. He lives next door to the targeted house and told us he had come out on his porch to watch the proceedings. He told us that the fellow the police wanted to talk to came home while the police were there, they talked to him but did not arrest him. Huh? So what was that all about anyway? I asked him who the guys with the automatic weapons were and he said he recognized some of them from his national guard unit. So the guys in full military gear, helmets and assault weapons were not Moline Police? "Not all of them. It must have been a combined operation," he told me.
So how would you like it if a bunch of guys in full military gear came to your neighborhood just to ask one of your neighbors some questions?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

"It's like they take pride in being ignorant"

Barack Obama talks about the Republican reaction to his suggestion that if everyone inflated their tires to the proper level it would save more oil than would be found in all the drilling in currently restricted areas that McCain has proposed.

I want to make a prediction about this. I don't know any more about this issue than what I read, see and hear in the news and on the internet, so I might be proved wrong here but I bet that the conservatives have reacted to this issue totally from their guts, before receiving any focus group or polling data on it. I predict that in a few days or weeks, their experts are going to be telling them to drop the whole thing like a hot potato.

One thing we have learned about conservatives during the last 8 years is that they think the idea of taking steps to use less energy, especially as an alternative to going out and finding more of it, is just totally wrong - weak, unmanly, stupid and (in the words of Newt Gingrich) loony tunes. But the vast majority of Americans who are not conservatives are environmentalists (to varying degrees) and are quite open to the idea of conserving and using less energy. Also most Americans hate waste and love efficiency -- conservatives, not so much.

So watch and see over the next few weeks and see if I am right. I predict that a month from now Republicans will be claiming they are the ones who advocated filling your tires and they gave out tire gauges to prove what good environmentalists they are.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Get your free tire gauge

I don't know about you but if a supporter of John McCain offers me a free tire gauge I'm going to take it. I gather their purpose in handing them out is to try to convince people that properly inflated tires is the only idea Barack Obama has about energy, or something. Seems sort of stretch to me since the facts about Obama's energy plan are so readily available, for example here, on the official Obama campaign web site. But anyway, thanks in advance for the tire gauges, guys.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Is Obama “The One?”

You may have already known this but I have just recently become aware that at least some of the Fundamentalist Christians who think the Book of Revelation was a prophecy about things that will happen in our lifetime, the "Left Behind" readers who think that the Rapture is near, think Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. For a sample of that kind of thinking see here and here and here and here. Now that I have thought about this for a little while I realize that this is actually more good news for Obama's chances of being elected.

After all, these people are strong political supporters of Israel's military hardliners because the extension of Israel's borders through military means is necessary, in their view, to bring about the Rapture. The election of the Anti-Christ is just as necessary to set this all in motion as is the reestablishment of the State of Israel. To set the stage for Christ's return surely these people must be planning to vote for Barack Obama!

(Just for the record: I do not believe that the Book of Revelation was intended by its author to be interpreted as prophecy of things to happen thousands of years in the future. The book was about things the author thought had already happened and were going to happen in his lifetime. The fact that the things described did not happen then, at least if you interpret the text literally, does not mean that it was therefore a prophecy of the distant future.)

(I also do not believe that Obama is presenting himself as any sort of savior. If you actually listen to what he says he never takes personal credit for the great changes he hopes will happen. If some people seem to be reacting to Obama as a celebrity rather than as a politician with policy proposals and political positions then that just shows how silly they are.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Anthrax case solved?

I have little interest in conspiracy theories but I hate the idea of finding out later that I was being lied to and there were obvious clues at the time that I could have picked up on but did not. The current push by the MSM (main-stream media) to present the anthrax attacks of 2001, a couple of weeks after 9/11, as being the work of one geeky scientist while completely ignoring what was being said about those attacks at the time is setting off alarm bells in my head as it should in yours also.

As reported by Glenn Greenwald:

During the last week of October, 2001, ABC News, led by Brian Ross, continuously trumpeted the claim as their top news story that government tests conducted on the anthrax -- tests conducted at Ft. Detrick -- revealed that the anthrax sent to Daschele contained the chemical additive known as bentonite. ABC News, including Peter Jennings, repeatedly claimed that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks, since -- as ABC variously claimed -- bentonite "is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program" and "only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons."

ABC News' claim -- which they said came at first from "three well-placed but separate sources," followed by "four well-placed and separate sources" -- was completely false from the beginning. There never was any bentonite detected in the anthrax (a fact ABC News acknowledged for the first time in 2007 only as a result of my badgering them about this issue). It's critical to note that it isn't the case that preliminary tests really did detect bentonite and then subsequent tests found there was none. No tests ever found or even suggested the presence of bentonite. The claim was just concocted from the start. It just never happened.

If the attacks were the work of one weird guy who were all those "well-placed" sources who were telling lies to ABC? If investigators are really trying to figure out who was responsible for the attacks why are they not investigating that part of the story? Why isn't ABC embarrassed about having reporting lies? Why are the news stories focusing almost totally on the personality of the alleged attacker and completely ignoring how the attacks were used as justification for the invasion of Iraq?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Courage required

Last Sunday, 27 July 2008, two people were killed and six injured because of the church they attended, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. The accused gunman, Jim D. Adkisson, left a note suggesting that he targeted the church because of its liberal policies including its acceptance of gays. The note indicated that Adkisson intended to keep shooting, killing many people, until the police showed up and killed him. Instead he only fired three times before members of the congregation tackled him, holding him until police arrived.

How much courage does it require to attend your church? Are books being written advocating that people with your views be attacked with baseball bats? Are millions of radio show listeners being told daily that policies that your church has, such as its attitudes towards gays, lesbians and transsexuals, are ruining the country?

Tomorrow, August 3, here in the Quad Cities the Davenport Unitarian Church will be holding a special service of healing and remembrance for the shootings at Knoxville at 10 am. All are welcome. If you are not near the Quad Cities I imagine you might be able to find a special service at a Unitarian-Universalist church near you. Those with sufficient courage should attend.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The “popular” candidate

The McCain Campaign is now running ads attacking Barack Obama for being popular. The suggestion that someone should be resented simply for being popular reminds me of junior high and high school, as I suppose it does most of you. But it also stirs up childhood memories for me of an elderly relative that I imagine are not so universal.

I was a child and he was an old man. He had been a Protestant minister his whole life and not a particularly successful one. Even his wife and children admitted that he needlessly offended and insulted people, apparently through an inability to understand what others would take offense at (or perhaps an obstinate refusal to care.) As a result he never stayed for very long at one church and was never promoted to larger churches or greater responsibility. By the end of his ministerial career, when I knew him, he had developed a scorn for successful ministers and churches with large congregations. He would call someone a "popular minister" as if he were calling them a bad name, full of disdain and disapproval. He would imply that all "popular" ministers were lacking in conviction and principle, and that ministers who were focusing on what God wanted were never "popular."

That is how I see John McCain now, as a result of these ads. A bitter old man, like my elderly retired minister relative, railing at those younger, better-looking people who know what to say and how to carry themselves so that most people like them. I wonder if they are going to start referring to Obama, with disdain and scorn, as the "popular candidate," in the same way my relative did "popular ministers?"