Posts Categorized: ideas + opinions

This is why I am disenfranchised…

When I was a puppy, about 17, I left the LA punk scene due to its hypocrisy. The stated ideals of the scene were not matching up with the reality. The same thing happened with my breaking politically from my hardcore Republican family (can we say Goldwater?) upbringing about the same time.
If you are a nice person, then be a nice person. If you are deep down inside a greedy bastard, then let the world know, buy the big house and Hummer, then brag about it. If you like to play games, be up front about it, play games, manipulate in broad daylight. If you want the one of the world’s largest reserves of oil to control the American market, then say it, don’t LIE about weapons of mass destruction to gain the oil. If you love Jesus, then seek to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and spirit, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Be who you are. Consistent. One person.
My longtime buddy, Peter Schrock, has pointed to a Christianity today article, entitled “Salt-and-Pepper Politics“, that brings to a head why I can’t vote for the Republican party.

Which brings us to Democrats and Republicans, and to why I will be voting this November with, well, fear and trembling.
Justice, in biblical terms, is more than equal treatment under the law—it involves putting power at the service of the powerless and wealth at the service of the poor. My friends who care about justice argue that Democrats have spent 50 years advocating for the vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the youngest, the oldest. And though the party of the powerless also has a curiously strong appeal among the elites of Hollywood and Manhattan, on the whole my friends are probably right.
Righteousness, meanwhile, is more than honesty and fair dealings—it requires the alignment of our lives with God’s original good intentions for creation. Like justice, righteousness in a nation especially benefits the poor and powerless, who cannot insulate themselves from the effects of sin. My friends who care about righteousness argue that Republicans have held the line against values that come straight from the maw (or the mall) of individualistic consumerism, where pleasure and preference reign. And while the party of moral character raises lots of money from people whose only interest is making the world safe for consumerism, I can’t argue with these friends either.
To make matters worse, each presidential candidate has blind spots even in his area of putative strength. John Kerry declines to see that abortion is not a matter of private morality but of public justice for utterly vulnerable human beings. (Bizarrely, he justifies his position by saying that government must keep out of people’s bedrooms. Abortions do not generally happen in bedrooms.) Any public official who professes Catholic faith and is as enthusiastically pro-choice as Kerry does not have, in the words of the Catholic bishops, “a well-formed conscience.”
Yet our President’s conscience also seems too clear to be true. Asked a simple and predictable question at an April 2004 press conference—to name his greatest mistake since September 11, 2001—he couldn’t answer, saying, “I don’t want to sound like I’ve made no mistakes. I’m confident I have. I just haven’t—you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I’m not as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.” Is it too much to ask that the most devout President in recent history have a more concrete response to a question about his own limitations?
Such is the state of our presidential politics: an evangelical President flummoxed at any suggestion of his own fallibility, and a Catholic candidate who sidesteps his church’s teaching authority. And in both our political parties, concern for justice often serves as cover for self-justification; righteousness curdles all too quickly into self-righteousness.

The Republicans frequently bill themselves as the Party of Righteousness but continually make more mockery of the term than Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker ever could. I can’t swallow their Pro-Life stance when they lie, cheat, and steal out of every orifice.
I can’t in good conscience fall for the Democrats hook-line-and-sinker either. The other day I received an over the top pitch letter from the Planned Parenthood of American about the evils of the Republicans. Sorry folks, but I refuse to be a single issue voter. For too long, abortion has held American politics hostage. I am pro-life, but not to the point of ignoring every other platform.
How about a viable third party that is pro-life (anti-death penalty, anti-war, and anti-abortion), a good steward of the planet that God has given us (yeah evironmentalists!), pro-balanced budgets, pro-poor, education friendly for all, justice for all, pro-looking ahead more than just this quarter’s worth of profits and pragmatic on infrastructure? Anyone want to join? Be you Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, Aetheist, Hedonist, TV-ist, Fashionaista, Punk Rock-ista, etc… how about we take American politics away from the blusterers and big business? How about it?

Random Thoughts from a Thursday Afternoon

Before I jet (or putt) off to school, here are few things banging around my brain recently:
1) Thank God for SXSW Interactive! It seems to be the ONLY internet conference with reg fees that are reasonable for freelancers. Everytime I see a cool conference, I about die when I see the registration fees that start at over $700 or $2,000, not including airfare or hotel. Yikes! SXSWi is a breath of fresh air at a $195 for a great conference.
The SXSWi folks are now accepting websites for the Annual Web Awards.
2) My local Ralph’s grocery store is going downhill. It used to be one of the few “good” Ralph’s, but ever since last year’s strike it has been cutting corners in all the wrong places. Before the strike, I did 1/3 of my shopping at Ralph’s, 1/2 at Trader Joes, and the rest at Whole Foods. Since the strike, I have been shopping 50% at Trader Joe’s, 45% at Whole Foods and 5% or less at Ralphs. If Ralphs continues its devolution, I may get my dry goods at Target or Sav-on’s and get the rest at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
Now if TJ’s or Whole Foods would just start carrying good pancetta…
3) A discussion came up yesterday at Alex’s about home schooled kids and how they turn out. Contrary to many assumptions, some of my best students have been home schooled. Any and all objections to their naivete or potential conservative indoctrination are out weighed once they are in college by their superior writing skills and preparation for college. If only other kids from public or private high schools were so prepared.
3) Scruffy is 11 months old today! Yeah Scruffy!

Feeling the Need to Know?

Bless the Federal campaign reform acts and the like, as here is a great search to find out how much an individual has contributed to a political campaign in the last two years (link via Metafilter)
You can search on how much and to whom George Bush has contributed to. My big $10 donation to Gen. Clark’s campaign last year is not showing up, but my grandfather and uncle’s combined $13,000 of donations to various Republican campaigns and lobbyists are showing up.

Fighting Sleep or Life?

I don’t remember fighting sleep as a kid. I remember liking sleep.
In the last year or two, I have started to fight sleep. I get sleepy between midnight and 1am, I take my shower, do a wee bit of reading, get really heavy eyelids, and then a mild, difuse dread creeps in and I am wide awake. Wide awake for up to an hour.
I can’t put my finger on the dread, but I have come to dread it and the moment of getting onto my bed pre-reading. If I skip the reading and just turn off the light and climb into bed immediately after my shower, I feel the dread gnawing at the corners of my mind and gut in the dark.
This does not happen every night, but often enough that I unconsciously force myself to stay up reading blogs or working on client projects until I am almost comatose to avoid this feeling.
Most days I wake up chipper and ready to go, only on occasion do I wake up with the dread in the pit of my stomach.
It is diffuse, no real cause, just…. no explanation that I can find.
Is it due to being single with no boyfriend/husband and children, so I have no physical and mental distractions as I lay down? Is it a fear that somehow I missed something that day? Is it my freelance work and life that I can stay up as late as I want and don’t have to wake up at a specific time?
I don’t know and I just don’t like it.

No!!!! reported the following yesterday:

U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday.

No! The Constitution of the United States of America states that we vote on the first Tuesday in the month of November every fourth year. Our best way to combat terrorism or internal GOP corruption is to stand firm, stand straight, and stand tall by voting on Tues. November 2, 2004 regardless. Democracy is waged in all the little precincts all over the nation, democracy is not waged with fear.
To quote Mr. Paul Hewson (aka Bono) from his May 19, 2004 commencement address at the University of Pennsylvannia:

Me, I’m in love with this country called America. I’m a huge fan of America, I’m one of those annoying fans, you know the ones that read the CD notes and follow you into bathrooms and ask you all kinds of annoying questions about why you didn’t live up to that

Lack of Local News Frustrating

Local news is getting harder and harder to find. Not just the celebrations and defeats of the high school football teams in the area, but also news on local crime, local accomplishments, local issues, etc. The LA Times has significantly reduced their local news coverage, as the section that was “Orange County” is now “California.”
This is just not a problem of large newspapers, but also of the internet. Several times now I have sought news links to relevant breaking local news only to find out that it is not covered for days or at all online. If I eventually do find an online link or source for the news, it is usually a follow up to the original event, not a reporting of the event.
Last night a friend had a severe loss of judgement and ended up in a 4 hour police pursuit. It was reported to me less than a hour after the high speed chase started, as it was on TV. TV coverage ceased after the first hour and we got reports from the friend’s relatives. Many of us were greatly saddened and frustrated, as the friend in question had been working hard to get his life back on track.
Today, I have searched the LA Times, OC Register, Google, Ask Jeeves, all the local TV stations for a report on what happened, to no avail. How can a car chase be on TV for over an hour and not be in the paper or internet news?
Does this mean that my friend’s actions are entertainment but not news? The man I know is humble, nice, and diligent, but has a lack of ability to say no to his peers. He also grew up in the wrong neighborhood and ended up the “rock star” of a certain gang. Since he got out of Chino in April, he moved away from his neighborhood, got a job, made new friends, started listening to the Briefs, and tried to stay out of trouble.
Around the third and a half hour of the suspense last night, I found myself babbling to two other friends about Charles de Lint’s crow stories, specifically Jeck Crow. It was a complete non sequitor to my friends, but to me story explains, story redeems, story helps make sense of the broken pieces.
I think Crow must be Jeck Crow’s son. By the grace of God, I pray for mercy and justice for my broken friend. When he got out of the car, he said sorry to all the police chasing him.

The Prophets Spoken: Where is Honor? Responsibility?

From Better Angels of Our Nature on Honor (Via Making Light):

There is no honor.
I saw Don Rumsfeld’s testimony today, and there is no honor. Certainly, the other men present at the witness table did not acquit themselves well, but in the end, it comes down to Rumsfeld and the President. And there is no honor.
“Who was in charge? What was the chain of command?” Simple questions, these. Asked by John McCain, an honorable man. Simple questions, deserving of a simple answer. But the simple answer never made it past the lips of the Secretary. There were evasions and dodges, a dance of deceit, if you will.
No one was in charge, it seems–because that way, the only people who suffer punishment are the sergeants and privates in the photographs and videos. And as for the chain of command, well…uh…well, that was left behind somewhere in the recesses of the Pentagon. And there is no honor in that.

From Sunday’s LA Times Editorial, Our King George Faces a Reckoning, Jack Miles notes after evoking Shakespeare and Henry V:

Who is responsible for America’s abuse of Iraq’s prisoners of war? Is it our king, George W. Bush? Is it one of his ministers, perhaps Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld? Or are the individual knights and pawns responsible for their own actions? Shakespeare would answer, I think, that, though the responsibility is shared, the greater portion of it rests with the president, who sent these men and women into an unnecessary war.
Soldiers want to believe in the justice of their cause and of their commander. How can they want otherwise? But read the transcript of Rumsfeld’s Q&A with the troops in Iraq. Read the Army Times editorial of May 17: “This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top.”
There are more Williamses, at this point, than Bateses in American uniform.
“Is it possible it won’t work?” Rumsfeld asked rhetorically at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. “Yes,” he answered. And yes is the all-too-evident answer. The ignored warnings of friends such as Norman Schwarzkopf and allies such as Hosni Mubarak were right. America is losing the war. And for the king, the heavy reckoning is about to begin.