Monday, December 1, 2014
Folks should think more before they post online. Someone will find out about your racist or sexist comments. People will be offended by your insults. Whatever you would be ashamed to say out loud in front of other people, you should still be ashamed to type 'out loud' in front of other people. The bottom line is that the internet does not constitute a licence to be stupid, ignorant, demeaning, boorish, insulting, clueless, or abusive.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
How would you feel if you got what you wanted? You hate abortion. You succeed in helping to make it illegal. How do you feel? You think we need to change the way we choose our leaders ... namely we need impartial control of the drawing of congressional districts. You fight hard for it and it happens. How do you feel? If everyone in this country is free to marry whomever they want without having to make any sacrifices to do so, I would be immensely happy and I would not feel the slightest twinge of regret. We would be stopping some folks from imposing their religious beliefs on others, allowing many people to simply live their lives and enjoy them, and not suffering much in the way of negative consequences. I would not feel guilt about imposing my views on someone else's life, I would feel as if I had addressed the root of the problem. I would feel really good, and so would a lot of other people. No anger. No vengeance. No guilt. The question is, can you say the same about the causes you are fighting for. Can you consider the facts, logic, reason, the feelings of others ... and still feel satisfied and content with victory? It's an important question, that will not always be answered with a yes.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
If you live alone in the wilderness you are free and you aren't free. When you live in society you are free and you aren't free. The parameters and constraints are different, but the fundamental reality is the same. You are never completely free. So, you choose your freedom. I choose the freedom of food on my table and people sitting with me to share it. I choose the freedom of nighttime strolls and toes in the sand at low tide. I choose the freedom of books and questions. I choose freedom from and with you and yours. I choose to give you a choice. What do you choose?
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Today, are you thankful for being able to be with the people you love? Are you thankful for the opportunity you had to pursue an education? Are you thankful for the quiet safe street you live on? Are you thankful for the roof over your head. Think others might want to be thankful for these things too? I'd be thankful if more people thought so, and acted like it.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
If American citizenship is to be at all meaningful, American citizens need to recognize the importance of equality of opportunity, accept some responsibility for achieving it, and start demanding that our elected leaders start trying harder to provide it. Right now, the idea of equality of opportunity is, in this country at least, little more than an idea. We don't even have free and fair elections (elections with id requirements meant to keep certain voters away from the polls and districts constructed to insure the control of the House of Representatives by one party (to name just two problems with our elections) can not possible be free and fair). Many folks do not have access to a quality education. Children grow up without a roof over their heads or food on their tables. Government benefits are not available to folks based on their sexual orientation. As long as these, and many other barriers to equal opportunity, exist ... American citizenship is not meaningful and American democracy is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Today I listened to the neatest and most internally consistent sermon I have ever heard. It stood out in stark relief to the sermons I usually listen to ... complicated and sometimes convoluted attempts by self proclaimed liberal Christians to reconcile the Bible with reason, logic, science, and modern understanding. It was simple, neat, and clean. I can certainly see the attraction of such a sermon. I love it when things neatly fit together, like the pieces of a 24 piece puzzle. If only the world could fit into twenty four pieces without sacrificing ... well, just about everything. If only the satisfaction I felt with such neat, clean, and simple illusions was more lasting. If only the I didn't actually enjoy the messiness and struggle that comes with reason, logic, and a clear view of the circumstances in which we live.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Until we have free and fair elections for the House of Representatives and President, I will have to vote for Democrats for the Senate, regardless of their qualifications for the office or whether their opponent would be more qualified. I strongly believe that everyone, regardless of party affiliation, should follow suit.
Many Republican state legislatures have redrawn district lines with the idea of maximizing Repiblican districts. By and large they have succeeded. The result is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the House of Representatives to be controlled by the Democratic Party.
Republican state legislatures have also begun to change the rules for choosing a President, with an eye to increasing the chances that a Republican will be elected President. In some states where Democrats have scored narrow victories over Republicans lately and law making is controlled by the Republicans, schemes allowing for the state's votes for President to be divided among the candidates rather than all going to one candidate have been proposed. If the changes that being proposed would have been in place during the last election, the result likely would have been different.
The only way to balance out these structural advantages in the short term and create a strong incentive for all involved to make wholesale changes in the long term, like having resditricting overseen by impartial bodies, is to have citizens take collective action. If we vote only Democrats into the Senate, there will be real changes and they will come real quick. It is time we took some action before our democracy slips completely away from us.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
If you don't think about it, it sounds like a message anyone should be able to get behind. The right to bear arms clearly allows us to force the government into recognizing our other rights. The main threat to our rights is the government after all, that foreign and uncontrollable power. It would seem to be an awesome statement to put on your bumper. The problem is, while there are indeed twenty seven amendments, the right to bear arms is not a guarantor of any of them. In fact, the guarantor of our rights is not the presence of guns in the hands of citizens but the government itself, the democratically elected representative government, and the presence of ballots in the hands of citizens.
First of all, while there is a right related to gun ownership that is recognized by the current Supreme Court, it is not an un-qualified right. No right, however sacrosanct, cannot be limited by the government in some circumstances. In some cases, the circumstances under which the government can abridge it will be quite rare ... but they will always exist. The Supreme Court did not proclaim the right to bear arms to be at this highest level. It is fairly clear that limits can be put on it.
Second, the idea that having folks wander around malls, playgrounds, schools, etc. with guns will make it safer and easier for me to exercise my rights is kind of silly. I've seen road rage in action, and watched people get belligerent with customer service or erupt at the sign of perceived injustice, and the thought of adding guns to these situations does not make me feel more likely to speak my mind or proclaim my religion.
Lastly, this notion that gun ownership guarantees freedom of religion or the right to practice one's religion rests on a particular vision of government as a threat to rights no people everywhere. The reality is that if there is. Right that guarantees all the others it is the right to vote. The right to choose the folks who make the laws and have a direct influence on policy making. In a democratic government that functions as it should the people are, in a very rel way, the government. The people, the citizens of America, don't protect their rights by holding a gun to their own heads ... they simply need to assert their rights to participate in the political system. When we focus on our right to carry a handgun what we are actually doing is ceding the right we have to really make. Difference ... Our right to participate in our own governance.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
When you learn that the person you are talking with is a banker, gay, Muslim, a mechanic, Jewish, Republican, Chinese, Lutheran, into Geo-Caching, a hunter, a teenage mother, etc. ... do you assume that they are thoughtful, nice, honest, interesting, sincere, smart, giving, accommodating, open minded, strong, etc. If not, how come?
Thursday, September 25, 2014
The problem in politics today is simple ... no one listens. Democrats believe they are right, and they may be, but they don't do enough listening to the common folks they claim to be fighting for. Republicans believe they are right, but probably aren't because they don't 'listen' to things like reason, common sense, or compassion. The bottom line is that we would be a lot better off if folks talked less and listened more.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Lincoln would most likely be horrified by the state of his political party in 2014. First of all, they are no longer interested in striving to achieve "Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth. They want to abolish government and are seemingly unaware of the self hatred that involves in a country where government "of" and "by" the people is a long tradition and desire. Second, they are hardly on the forefront of either racial equality. Third, Lincoln was hardly a strong proponent of state's rights or the evisceration of the federal government. Fourth, Lincoln aimed at solving problems even if that meany joining with Democrats .. which today's Republicans would be highly unlikely to do. Lincoln also put country before party' which is certainly not the motto of Republicans in 2014. Abraham Lincoln was a great President who worked hard to solve problems. That just does not sound like todays's Republicans!
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Here is the problem we face in the gun debate. A nine year old accidentally shoots her instructor with an Uzi, and the problem, according to gun experts, is that she was using the wrong kind of gun. And so we will debate what sort of legislation we should have regarding gun selection for fourth graders, and some folks will oppose any legislation as unconstitutional. And we will, again, have the wrong debate. When a nine year old is shooting automatic weapons, legally, at least seven years before we will allow her to drive a car and nine years before we will let her vote, the question we should be asking is why? The proper debate is over what age children should have acces to guns? The proper conversation is about the limits we should be putting on gun ownership.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
The problem we have now, in 2014, is that simultaneously everything is up for debate and nothing is open for discussion. We argue about whether the world was created in six days and whether humans are having an impact on climate ... but it is impossible to have a real discussion about how to fix clearly broken immigration and health care systems. We will only move forward if we can agree to recognize reason and reasonable positions. It really is pretty simple. Until we can agree that not everything is really up for debate but something needs to be open for discussion, then we might as well save our breath.
Friday, June 6, 2014
The Boston Tea Party was about the struggle against taxation without representation. Our Tea Party is about representation without taxation ... or the separation of church and state, or the freedom to practice your own religion, or kindness, or common sense, or the people. I guess it is true that they don't make them like they used to.
Thursday, June 5, 2014
America is the people. Government is by, for, and of the people. So, doesn't that mean America is it's government? Might be worth a thought when instead of taking on the hard work of reforming and refreshing government, we talk about downsizing it.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
The least of these
Hidden in the shadows
In the land of just and right now
Regaled by words
Love of self
Not the necessities of life
Not in our interest
Not in our homes
Not in our freedom
Not in our kingdom’s inheritance
Death will deliver thee
For He is better
We are selfish sinners
All of us created equally in that way
I will take what is mine
Leaving the east off it for
The least of these
The least of us
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I did not play a sport in college, but nevertheless I can make a strong argument that college football players can be paid. I can make a weak one too. That’s because arguments are strong or weak depending on the strength of the premises supporting the conclusion, and not based upon who is making the argument. Someone who has never been a soldier can convincingly assert that a bumper sticker that says “my marine can pick off your honor student at five hundred yards” is horribly inappropriate and offensive. A white person can author a wonderful piece on the inappropriateness of the use of the N word by Black Americans. A man can shed light on the debate over the appropriateness of C-Sections. They can all also sound stupid. Of course the same exact thing can be said about a woman asserting that breast milk is the only way to go when feeding your infant or a black woman asserting that black children should only be adopted by black families. What matters is the argument itself, not who is delivering it. The sooner we learn that, the sooner political debates will stop sounding like something you could hear on sports talk radio.