Saturday, September 27, 2008

doodle do or die

Last night was the first of the three debates by the presidential candidates. The verdict is in and Obama won but only by a narrow margin.

McCain performed better than expected. Surly, condescending and scrappy, McCain repeated several times "Senator Obama just doesn't understand..." He didn't look in the camera, wouldn't look at Obama, name-dropped world leaders and told a few boring stories that reverberated back into the twentieth century.

Obama remained calm, perhaps too calm. He laid out specific plans and clearly dominated the discussion on economics, health care and the average American. McCain, you may have noticed, never once mentioned the middle class.

There was no knock out punch and although Obama made reference to McCain's bomb bomb bomb Iran comment, his gaffe about Spanish president Zapatero not being welcome at the White House and a few embarrassing mentions of how Henry Kissinger, McCain's advisor, agrees with Obama, he remained ever the gentleman.

It's clear that Obama is super smart and that he can take the high road. He's good and kind and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law but that doesn't impress the majority of American voters. Where are the brass knuckles? This is our future at stake here. In the words of Sarah Silverman :this may be our last hope of ending this country's reputation of being the assholes of the universe.

So what are you waiting for?

Rock 'em sock 'em Barack! Knock his block off!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

no country for old men

If you thought you were having a rough week take a look at John McCain and breathe a deep sigh of relief that you're not him. Ten days ago when the bottom fell out of Wall Street John McCain's first response was to say that he believed the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" and thus began the freight train momentum of mishaps that could not have been imagined eleven days ago.

Without rehashing all the gaffes that McCain and his campaign have made since then, campaign manager Rick Davis' ties to Freddie Mac, accusations of the New York Times not being a journalistic organization, Sarah Palin not being able to think of one instance when McCain has supported financial regulation during his twenty six years in the senate "I'll try to find ya some and I'll bring 'em to ya", it is clear that this has been a very bad and embarrassing week for the McCain camp.

The suggestion yesterday to "postpone" the debates until after the economic crisis has come to a resolution is just making McCain look desperate and maybe even frightened.

Senator Obama has continued to remain calm and presidential looking through this media storm of panic and misbehavior and just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder or inappropriate another news story came out yesterday about Governor Palin having had a laying on of hands healing session with a witch hunter pastor from Kenya.

Imagine, if you will, what the news coverage might look like if Senator Obama was seen in a video with a witch hunter pastor from Kenya praying over him.

I don't blame John McCain for wanting to take a break. Trying to keep up with all of these latest shenanigans makes me tired too and I'm about half his age.

So while about four and a half million dollars have been spent in anticipation of the upcoming debates to be held at the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi we'll just have to wait and see if the senator from Arizona will show up or if he's gonna have a time out.

Friday, September 19, 2008

long road

The season has started to change. On my morning walks with Zeke by the river there is a chill in the air. The chilly air gives Zeke a little more energy, a spring in his step. Unlike him I prefer the warm weather. Heat motivates me. Cold makes me want to isolate.

The changing of seasons has traditionally been a sad time for me. I'm not sure exactly why. The dappling of shadows, longer on cool afternoons, create in me a seasonal melancholy. I associate the end of summer and shortening of days with the passing of time, lost opportunities, chances that have come and gone, aging.

Aside from the sudden change in weather this week has been notable for a few reasons. Wall Street melted
, the economy spiraled madly and the world took notice. The only silver lining in this economic free-fall is that John McCain has been forced to talk about issues rather than his opponent's character. Once, perhaps, a political force to be reckoned with, McCain, now a people pleasing puppet for his party, has repeatedly put his foot in his mouth saying things as off the wall as "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" then appeared the very next day to explain that when he said fundamentals he really meant the American workers. Also, in a very confusing interview, McCain declared a diplomatic war with Spain. Spain? It looks as if the political tides may be turning and old man Johnny Mac may soon be able to take a long overdue nap.

Also of note this week, a much more personal note. I have gone back to school. After a twenty seven year hiatus I am now an undergrad. Anxious, apprehensive, excited, and eager I walked into my first class this week. A class on African religions in the Americas. I am already about sixty or so pages into the study of Santeria.
There will be a lot more reading to come.

Though sad to see summer leave I am looking forward to what this next chapter holds. Perhaps not yet confident enough to mount up on wings like an eagle, I have waited, my strength has been renewed. I shall
walk and not faint.

After having already traveled so far and finding myself again at the first steps of a long road, I am reminded that most important lessons come from the journey, not the destination.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

seven years on

Tomorrow will mark the seven year anniversary of the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States. The day commercial U.S. airliners got flown into both World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and fell from the sky in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Just over a week ago Rudy Giuliani, the man who, at the time, was the mayor of the great city that was home to the towers, venomously hurled insults while at the same time instilled fear in the hearts of Americans as a keynote speaker of the Republican convention.

The Republicans, I would like to point out, were the ones who ignored the intelligence that warned us of the attacks, were in power and standing guard during the time of the attacks, misled the country about weapons of mass destruction, fabricated evidence linking Iraq to the attacks, have sent thousands of American troops to their death and have killed, misplaced and destroyed countless Iraqi civilian lives. Yet there was Giuliani in front of an Image of the New York City skyline repeating over and over his now familiar chant: nine eleven. Nine eleven. Shameless in his insinuation that if the American people choose to vote for the Democratic candidate further attacks will be imminent and American deaths will be on their conscience.

This should be reprehensible enough, in and of itself, but it's foul taste was quickly overpowered by a rancid helping of political theater served up the very next night. On a three story digital screen images of the nine eleven attack loomed super sharp, super clear, super sized and slow-mo over the thousands of self righteous, angry, white faces of the delegates. This tasteless spectacle did not honor the dead, did not honor the rescue workers or the families of those fallen but instead did exactly what it was created to do: frighten millions of television viewers.

After the tasteless spectacle and the o-so-familiar footage of the plane hitting the tower and the fireball bursting through glass and steel, the towers falling in on themselves, footage networks agreed several years ago should no longer be shown, appeared our hero. Aged, stiff, walking funny, smiling awkwardly, throwing insults and mentioning his war record of forty years ago over and over through gritted teeth. "My friends. My dear friends."

I wouldn't be recounting this reprehensible piece of propaganda and stage craft if it wasn't for the fact that tomorrow is the anniversary of that tragic event and the nefarious Republican spin machine can't think of anything better to talk about than lipstick!

Whether it's on Anita Bryant, Phylis Schlafly, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin or a pig; a rose by any other name is still a pig. Even if I don't agree with his positions shouldn't he be talking about energy, the economy, Iraq, or home foreclosures instead of celebrity and lipstick? Are these diversionary tactics really working? Where are the issues? Sleazy gutter politics and lies in the name of justice belittle the process and the very office in question.

I watched McCain in his little ball cap, looking like the powerless wizard exposed behind the curtain in Oz, he stiffly waddled before a backdrop that read ironically "country first" and I wondered; are people stupid or gullible enough to fall for this again or is prejudice and closed mindedness so deeply ingrained that they'd rather look the other way and allow corruption and criminality to continue to spread like a malignancy over our great land.

I'm sad about what happened seven years ago but today I'm sad about so much more.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

fruit salad of the spirit

It is my goal and intention to use this blog as a space for expression and reflection of spiritual growth, both personally and how I see it taking shape in the world around me. I find, however, that as the country gets deeper and deeper into the 2008 presidential election process I feel compelled to put my political opinion out into the endless blogosphere already overcrowded with political opinions.

WAIT! Don't stop reading!

I know you're saying to yourself "Politics Schmolitics" and rightly so. If you want politics you can go to The Huffington Post, , The New York Times, or any number of other sources that will have better informed, seasoned, journalists and writers reporting on and giving their opinions on the political shenanigans of the day. I'll try to refrain from giving my uneducated leftie-homo-antiwar-pro-environment-non-violent-bleeding heart-blue-state slant on things. Anyone who knows me knows where I stand on most issues and even if you read my blog and don't know me it's pretty easy to figure out where my political allegiances lie. The lunacy that is modern day American politics is all happening so fast and furiously, however, that I don't know where else to air my concern or frustration. I'm scared.

I could only bring myself to watch brief moments of the republican convention last night. The few speakers I did happen to see were so nasty that I had to keep flipping channels. What was the spiritual worth or lesson I was supposed to glean from that mean spirited gathering? I didn't see a lot of doing unto others (Luke 6:31). I did see a clergyman leading the convention in prayer, which I thought odd considering that whole separation of church and state thing.

It is interesting to me that the base of the republican party identifies as Christian and yet scripture tells us that we will know God's followers by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). I Listened to Rudolph Guiliani attack Barack Obama, Joe Biden and dismiss the entire democratic party with great fervor and glee. I watched Sarah Palin mock community organizing and badmouth the democratic nominee's wife along with his history of public service and I thought of the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit are the nine physical attributes made manifest in a Christian's transformed life. Those nine attributes are: love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control. A refreshing salad of sweet fruits to be sure. Nourishing, life sustaining and enjoyable fruits whose dividends grow the more they are shared. Last night, however, I searched through sarcasm, self righteousness and schadenfreude but the only fruit I could readily identify were sour grapes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

storm update and teen pregnancy

The storm hasn't been as bad as expected and though New Orleans is still being thrashed by wind and rain it seems to have escaped the hardest blows of hurricane Gustav. Plaquemines Parish, southeast of New Orleans, however, is being watched closely as water is expected to crest the levees there this evening.

And just in case you haven't heard: this morning it has been confirmed that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's 17 year old, unmarried daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant. Palin, it should be mentioned, backs abstinence-only education as well as supporting Creationism being taught in schools. This marks another exciting first for this election year!

ill wind

Hurricane Gustav is about to pummel the Gulf Coast. There has been a mandatory evacuation called for New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast region. Yesterday, nearly two million people fled from what is sure to be a bruiser of a storm. Residents of New Orleans have been told that if they choose to stay they are on their own until after the storm. The television is showing scenes from New Orleans, a veritable ghost town. Empty streets save for occasional media and National Guard amid flying debris, wind and rain.

Having just been to New Orleans two months ago on a disaster recovery mission, to say I'm saddened by the potential tragedy of Gustav would be an understatement. Having witnessed, first hand, the challenges that New Orleans faces even three years after the disaster of Katrina, the displaced families, the fallen communities, the fiasco with public schools and hospitals remaining closed and to think that almost three years to the day it may be hit with another hurricane of similar magnitude is overwhelming.

I think back to those news clips of President Bush saying "Brownie, I think you're doing a terrific job!" juxtaposed to my more recent memories of children I encountered while I was in New Orleans, how their lives had been ripped up from the roots and their desperate need to find order and structure out of the chaos surrounding their young lives. I think too about the church communities we, as a group, were hosted by while we were there and how they spoke of holding onto what little dignity they had left. I feel helpless.

Interspersed with reports of hurricane Gustav are the news reports of the republican convention. Opening night ceremonies having been cancelled in response to the storm, republicans are defending the choice of a gun toting, ex beauty queen, hockey mom of five to be a heart beat away from being commander in chief. "Her inexperience" noted one of the pundits, "makes Obama seem like John Adams."

What this says to me is that a man who has claimed to always put country first is now putting a campaign first. A very sad way to end what would have been a grand legacy of public service.

Sometimes it all gets so surreal and disastrous that I feel I can't watch. (I haven't even mentioned the war). Like with everything it comes down to a question of faith. I am certainly powerless over the weather and the result of a hurricane or whether people chose to evacuate or not. Equally am I as powerless over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the republican candidate's choice for running mate or whether she can put away her breast pump and actually lead the nation if need be.

Taking action, I can do disaster recovery work, I can vote, I may even express my opinions to those who care to listen but I realize that without trust in a Power greater than myself I'm lost. The outcome of a hurricane or an election are far beyond my jurisdiction.

Right now all I have to do is breathe, remain calm and trust that a Power greater than myself will restore the world to sanity.