Archives for: June 2008
I was moved as a friend once described how it was to be pursued and sometimes beaten as a child by those calling him “Christ Killer.” The worst part, at least for him, was the constant role of outsider: always being the other. An irony is that Jesus was not crucified because he was rejected by the Jews of their day. In fact, his great and growing popularity contributed to the determination of some to have him eliminated.
Fortunately, conservative Christian fundamentalist leaders have largely purged from their midst anti-Jewish bigots and haters. Sadly, those same fundamentalists are still plagued by other hatreds and a persistent literalism that seems willfully to miss the teachings of our Lord.
I shook the hand of Jacob Javits one day. I met him on an elevator on Capital Hill. It was a rare thing. Most members of either house take special elevators reserved for them alone, and the public takes any of those that are more generally open. Perhaps there was a roll call or the reserved areas were crowded for some other reason, or perhaps Senator Javits was just less elite than most elected officials. It is not implausible. He was a political creature now almost extinct but fairly common in those days: a liberal Republican.
I thought of Javits and the downfall of the Republican Party...
The first candidate for public office for whom I ever volunteered was a fellow named George R. Metcalf. He was the Republican challenger for the seat in Congress held by Democrat Samuel S. Stratton in the Rochester, N.Y. area. Although Rochester was a large part of the 35th Congressional District, it was a mostly rural part of the state. The year was 1968 and the Vietnam War was the single huge issue that election. Like most of my friends, I had supported President Johnson until earlier that year. I had turned against the war when I came across a tract by Richard Goodwin explaining why false assumptions made the effort counter to the security interests of America.
A Presbyterian pastor, Dr. David Beale, was acknowledged by many to be a real hero during the great Johnstown flood of 1889. There was no warning. There had been no long and unrelenting rain. It was Memorial Day, a Friday afternoon. An old dam in the hills above the Pennsylvania town suddenly failed, and in a flash many of the residents were swept away.
Dr. Beale was everywhere...
It seems that James Dobson has tossed out half of the Holy Bible, declaring the Old Testament to be obsolete. What provokes him is Barack Obama’s plea for tolerance of those of other faiths.
Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."
Campaign financing is becoming an issue this season, with Obama being attacked as the big money guy. Well that’s a reversal, isn’t it?
John McCain is getting public financing, and will put limitations on his own campaign spending. He is accusing Barack Obama of backing out on his word to do the same. Obama answers that he didn’t really pledge to accept public financing and turn away most of the private donations he has been getting through the internet. He promised to talk with McCain about it and go ahead if both would put a leash on the outside campaigns that independent allies might launch.
...Black students in prior years had been a rarity. Some had been trying to get recognized as a support group, but couldn’t get approval from enough existing clubs. So when they tried again one year, and could not get the group to pass anything, the Student Senate stepped in and vetoed the … how to put it? … lack of action. Uh Huh. It was a veto of a non-action. There were howls, of course, but a court set up by the students didn’t see anything wrong with a negative veto, and the minority students got their support group. It was kind of a silly maneuver: a wrong tactic to get something done that was right...
This has been an unusual campaign year so far. An in-your-face woman’s rights battle has dominated the headlines, but virtually no mention has been made of pro-choice versus pro-life. This is understandable in so far as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could have easily swapped positions and nobody would have noticed.
John McCain’s position seems to be semi-pro-choice: every woman has the right to choose no. Nobody has the right to say yes...
It started in France, now it has spread to the United States. Right now it’s around St. Louis, but it could spread like a medieval plague, overwhelming the rest of America. They call it the variable speed limit and they’ve been doing it in parts of Missouri for about a month.
Last night as I made my way home, driving through the congestion, the normally...
With all the memorial commentary about the loss of Tim Russert, the moment I like best came when he lost his objectivity on the air.
I confess that I find journalistic objectivity to be misplaced when it comes to neutrality between truth and falsehood. I sometimes think of how Winston Churchill described ...
From the beginning of political debate in the United States of America, one strain has flowed through it all. In the last years of the 1700s, when President Washington put down the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania, there were charges and counter-charges about whether it was constitutional.
When John C. Calhoun defended the rights of slave states, he denounced anti-slavery abolitionists as being against the Constitution. He thought the Constitution allowed for secession. Daniel Webster refered to that effort as an attempt to make the Constitution into “a rope of sand.”
Gas prices, the collapse of the housing market, and the war in Iraq. That’s what most folks blame for the economic crisis. And conservatives want to cut taxes for the wealthy as part of the endless supply side experiment.
Some of us long for that economic experiment of generations ago that actually… you know… worked.
The argument at heart of the War on Drugs is consistent with a host of known facts. The intended targets are substances that enslave then kill. At the core of the effort is a basic assumption that is similar to the premise behind suicide prevention. It is that anyone who takes addictive and deadly drugs is not capable of informed consent. You have to be a bit out of your mind to kill yourself. It is half of the Catch-22 principle.
Market forces, my conservative friends tell me. That is what will control healthcare costs. The solution to pretty much every economic problem, for conservatives, is to leave ill enough alone.
Now market forces may sound kind of mysterious, but you can see them at work in our everyday lives. You want to buy oatmeal? You check the price at the supermarket. If it is a dollar a box higher...
I have friends who are furious at the Supreme Court ruling that prisoners at Guantanamo have rights. We’ve come a long way from Matt Dillon facing down a television lynch mob. “These men are gonna get a fair trial.”
The decision had a lot of sub-provisions, one referring back to a previous ruling that declared jurisdiction over land leased from Cuba, another that military tribunals set up by the President and over which he has control are not fair forums for determining final guilt. Boy, my friends are angry!!