Friday, August 29, 2008

It's McCain/Palin vs Obama/Biden

John McCain has chosen a running mate that wants to drill for oil in ANWR, is a conservative Christian, and opposes abortion.

Details here

With this pick John McCain is embracing fully the ideology that brought us to this moment.

With this pick John McCain is demonstrating that he thinks America is headed in the right direction and needs to stay the course.

With this pick John McCain is saying that he thinks government ought to make your personal decisions.

With this pick John McCain is saying global warming is not a primary concern.

With your vote, what will you say to that?

Denver calling

When Barak Obama finished speaking at the Democratic convention in Denver last night I had two reactions.

1. It is clear to me that Barak Obama understands that the failures of the Bush administration are moral failures. Katrina was a moral failure, a failure of compassion. Iraq is a moral failure, a failure to tell the truth. Guantanamo is a moral failure, a failure to respect human dignity. Enron was a moral failure, a failure of duty and of trust.

2. Americans know what is missing. They feel it deep down in their bones. That is what 2004 was all about (except to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid). Americans are better than the last 8 years, yes, but it must be remembered that a culture of deceit made it possible.

The change Obama wants to bring, summed up as "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper", is change I truly believe in. I have seen what moral weakness and insincerity can do. I have also seen what sincere people working together can do. I prefer the latter.

I'll even hope for it.

Here is the speech, if you haven't seen it:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Estate Taxes

The underlying rationale for estate taxes goes something like this...

Privilege leads to arrogance.
Arrogance leads to injustice.
Injustice leads to decay.

An unlikely defender of the estate tax is Warren Buffett, who attributes great inherited wealth with membership in "the lucky sperm club".

It strikes me that the presidency of George W. Bush validates arguments made in favor of the estate tax.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the economy, stupid!

Economies slough off their value when they become unjust. This is due to a simple fact which I express mathematically as:

Economy = Trust

What is money but faith?

If I take a dollar bill to the butcher in exchange for meat,
he trusts that he can take that same dollar bill to the baker for bread,
who trusts that he can take it to the candlestick maker.

An economy is at it's core a trust relationship, and this explains why honesty is crucial to maintaining an economy. Even a crook can understand that an honest man is the best choice for counting his cash.

What does it mean to have a president whose sworn word is no good, and whose administration is embroiled in corruption, in a position of economic stewardship?

Aren't our current banking troubles caused by dishonesty in accounting practices?
Wasn't the collapse of Enron dishonesty induced?

Here are messages, however incongruous they may appear, that may help our economy:

Part One (Hopi):

Part Two (from tree communities to corporate governance):

Part Three (pulling your horse):

It is difficult to hear and believe wise teachings. It is much more difficult to incorporate them. You might say, metaphorically, that it is as difficult as passing through the eye of a needle.

Those adorned with power seem to believe that if you say something enough it will become true. So maybe the trick is to listen enough to that which is beneficial?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

By rote

Recently a Republican came to my door campaigning for votes. I won't tell you who it was, but I will say this person was coming out of retirement to run and seemed like a decent person. I asked him why he was leaving retirement to take up politics, and I was struck by the mechanical nature of his answer. He complained about taxes and a lack of common sense in government. I fed him Lilly Tomlin's line that common sense isn't all that common and asked him where his common sense would be applied first. "Businesses are being taxed to much", he said.

He was a good republican soldier saying what republicans say no matter what problem is at hand. One could easily picture him shedding genuine tears for besieged aristocrats.

I was tempted to trick him but I instead thanked him for sharing his common sense and sent him on his way. My trick was going to be to ask him this, "Is it patriotic to gripe about taxes in a time of war?"

Today's republicans like to equate disagreement with insufficient patriotism, so I was genuinely tempted to practice the politics of Karl Rove which McCain seems to have embraced like so much Bush-flesh.

But, I know that people are looking for answers in this confusing and complicated world and when they find them they cling like barnacles to a boat, or fanatics to dogma. People are always afraid of the questions that make life more interesting. I don't know why that is, but I could see fear in his eyes of the hunted. He was visibly relieved at not being challenged and left secure of his common sense.

Republicans are scared enough right now, I decided, no sense kicking a man when he's down and out.

As the front door closed while he went on his way I felt the power of metaphor stir my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Idea exchange

This is a bit of a rambling talk, but if you stick with it you will see an amazing design for a city and hear a great engineering joke about a tree:

The fact that this city of the future is being built in China, not America, tells me that America has abandoned greatness in the Bush years.

I hate to see a dream deficit.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Intense ad

This is the best political ad I've seen in 2008:

I think it speaks truthfully and without the usual tools of deception (cringe-music, smug voice, and palette tricks), which in this case are totally unnecessary.

When you can tell a simple truth you are in an enviable position. Reagan understood this much.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reflections on Obama

The campaign of Barak Obama is often portrayed, within and without, as a movement. I usually bristle at this description because it is missing rather important elements.

Think of Martin Luther King and the American racial equality movement and ask yourself whether I speak truly when I say that a movement has three parts:

1. A leader.
2. A population which recognizes its chains
3. A population which perceives a hope of escape from them

It is not enough for a leader to speak vaguely of Hope without identifying the chains and pointing to the exit. It is not enough for a leader to speak dully of audacity without championing an action.

So far the Obama movement is just a rudderless hope floating on buoyant nostalgia. Tides take such "movements" out to sea where they become indistinguishable from the turmoil of the brine.

There is one dark chain that binds us all, just as there is a new dawn to face. A movement must use moral persuasion to draw attention to the new dawning, rather than despair over the chains. This the the moral of the Statue of Liberty story.

There is more to Love than life.
There is more to Hope than audacity.
There is more to change than rhetoric.

If this is to be a true movement, rather than a "cult of personality", then it must embrace steps two and three. A movement goes nowhere with only "the One", at least nowhere worthwhile.

I am decidedly not the person I have been waiting for.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Who is Barry Soetoro?

Is Barak Obama illegally on the presidential ballot?

Eligibility challenge part 1

Eligibility challenge part 2

They seem to have gone off the deep end over at No Quarter, but the Associated Press seems to have confirmed a piece of evidence in their story.

I sez it is better to know the truth of the matter before the convention rather than after it. I also sez it smells like a Republican fraud, but one should not ignore evidence no matter how unappreciated.

A new group forms

In response to Cindy Sheehan's challenge of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's seat, a new group of concerned Republicans has crossed the aisle to endorse Ms. Pelosi in the race.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traitor Joe

When Lieberman betrayed Connecticut democrats to further his personal agenda, Harry Reid peed on Connecticut democratic voters wishes, and I have been regretting his weakness ever since.

Recently, for instance, Joe Lieberman has seeking the spotlight by bashing candidate Obama with McCain talking points (see here).

When is too much enough?

If Harry Reid publicly called Joe out, then going forward his ungrateful backstabbing would carry less weight because it could be cast as petty revenge. If, however, no vile deed goes unpunished, Harry will add credibility to his mounting party betrayals.

Why not hand Joe's Senate committee assignments to someone up for reelection, or promise them publicly to someone like Tom Allen of Maine?

Is Reid going to allow this ticking bomb to tick through the whole election?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ou est le anti-Christ

You know politics and/or religion are getting out of hand in the US when people are looking for the anti-Christ in the opposition.

Robert Dreyfuss says that McCain could be the anti-Christ:

Exhibit A

John McCain's campaign, in an ad called "The One", hints that Obama is the anti-Christ:

Exhibit B

Who is the real anti-Christ and who is the imposter?

Maybe to be safe everyone should vote for Ralph Nader?

But what if he's the anti-Christ and this is all part of his cunning plan to deceive everyone?

Drat that tricky devil!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Biting the Hilton that feeds you

This is Jon Stewart at his best, taking a look at campaign messages and the politics of leafy, bitter greens:


Paris Hilton decided to respond to the McCain add which portrayed she and Obama as celebrities:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

I guess that's what you get when you bash the daughter of a large campaign donor.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A snake called Mobil

The idea of a national park seems to be to create a place "unspoiled" by human activity. That humans, if given the chance, would take a Paradise and turn it into a sprawling industrial zone seems like the story of Eden with a new apple and a new snake. So, I thought that perhaps a fire-and-brimstone sermon might be in order.

Here goes...

Man is contaminated with sin-ah.
He walks in sin-ah.
And in this siiiiinful state he corrupts that which is holy-ah
That which is con-se-crated-ah,
that which is pure and good-ah,
that which was made by God's hands.

ANWR comes from God and the land teems with life-ah.
Snooow is not enough to drive out that life-ah.
Deep frost, perma-frost, cannot freeze out that life-ah.
There are elk in herds, and waters full of fish and seal-ah.

When the light of God reaches into that cold place don't it call out the black and grizzly bears-ah?
Don't it call out the moose and lynx-ah?
Don't it call out the Elk and wolves-ah?
Don't it call out the falcons and the eagles now?
Don't it call out the musk-oxen, now?

Well? So what?
[quitely] By his works you shall know him.
[quietly] Isn't that right?
[with fire] ANWR is a holy place!

And when man, whose mind is corrupted by greed starts drilling there a change will come-ah.
Oh yes!
A change like that which took place in the garden of Eden. Oh yes!
Man will bring sin into a holy place. Yes!
Man will bring pollution and raise monuments of ugly to profane that place. Oh yes!

That's why we have to protect this holy place-ah.
We need to prove to ourselves and to our children,
that as low as we have sunk-ah, we will sink no more.

As looow as we have sunk, when businessmen grind good people down-ah.
As looow as we have sunk, when the media thinks the Truth is a small thing, now.
As looow as we have sunk, when you can walk the streets on Sunday and don't hear nobody calling out His name!

We need to start to turn things around, now.
We need to keep a place where God can look without disgust-ah.
We need to keep a place where God feels appreee-ciaaaa-Ted for his works-ah.
His heavenly works-ah!
His divine works-ah!

How come we can keep a pyramid but not a shrine of God's creation?
How come we can keep a wall in China but not a treasure that God made?

Because we are weak-ah!
Because we corrupt that which is holy and make holy that which is man-made-ah.
Because we have eyes to see the light and keep them closed-ah.
Because we have ears to hear the word and pay no mind-ah.
Because we have mouths to praise God but use them for lies-ah.

What brings us to Anwar but greed-ah?
Greed for oil. Yes sir.
What brought us to Iraq bug greed-ah?
Greed for oil. Yes sir.

Are we going to give ourselves to temptation again?
Are we going to shrug and say, "It's alright"?
Or are we gonna call on Jesus' name and saaaaay, Saaaaay-ah
Prince of peace-ah!
Holy spirit and mother of God-ah!
Deliver us from evil-ah,
and lead us not into temptation-ah!

I can feeeeeel the Lord in this roooooom, Now.
Oh yes!
The heavenly spirit is stroong now.
Oh yes!
Raise up your arms, now.
Raise them!
Raise them up!

Can you feel the Holy Spirit-ah?
Can you feel the Holy Spirit trying to get through to yoooou-now?
Let him in!
Don't shut him out, now!
Let him in, now!

Praise Jesus!
Thank you Jesus!
Thank you Jesus for the Alaskan Wildlife National Refuge-ah!
Praaaaaise your name!
Thank you Jesus for this gift of which we are not worthy.
Oh no!
There are men working right now-ah,
spending Aaaaaawll their time-ah,
I say spending all their time trying to steal your gift right now from the rest of us.
Please Jesus!
Please, reach down and heal these sickly men-ah.
Place your hands upon them and let them see the heavenly light right nooooow-ah.
Let them open up their eyes to the glory you have creeee-ate-ed-ah.
Let them hear with their own ears the shriek of a falcon in the skies-ah.
Let them see with their own eyes the glory of the sea against the mountains, now.
Heal them Lord-ah.
Lead them awaaay from temp-tay-shun.
Heal them Oh! Lord! Yes-ah!
Heal them that they may live in peace and happiness-ah.
That they may give thanks for what they already have,
instead of always looking for more from the rest of us-ah.
Lord have mercy.
Lord Jesus save us from these men-ah.
Save and protect us from these men-ah.

Now, brothers and sisters, the Lord don't need money to work his miracles, but you know that this congregation is flesh and blood. The Lord is strong here and he gives us strength, but we need to take up a collection now to sweep these men aside. I want you to dig-down into your wallet and show your faith in Jesus now. I want you to take out the largest bill you have, oh yes, the largest bill you have and show your faith in Jesus. He's gonna tell me how and you're going to provide the way.


ps - Last night I watched a movie about the life of MarJoe Gortner (MarJoe).

pps - If you follow the "show your faith in Jesus now" link above you might discover that ANWR is not the fertile Eden I portrayed. It is actually more like a place of rugged beauty that inspires awe because the struggle of life over environment is understood with a glance. Can I help it if the Holy Spirit moved me in mysterious ways?

Foot Quotes

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"

Charles Darwin