Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two unrelated questions

Our Earthlink service was down for half the day. A forced media fast.

Finally, about a half hour ago, it reconnected us to the rest of the earth. I rather enjoyed the respite, but here we are again — Earth-linked.

Here are two not-so-burning yet intriguing questions.

I've been seeing these stenciled figures on the pavement in our neighborhood. They may be part of some scavenger hunt, but I can't be sure. Any ideas?

Second: The following is part of a speech famous for a single phrase not to be found in this excerpt. Question: Whose speech is it and on what occasion. (Extra credit: what is the famous phrase, more timely today than when it was made.)

Sure, you can find the answer on a search engine, but take a guess.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war – as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years – I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

A Tribute to John Braidwood

Wednesday, the day of the memorial service for John Braidwood, a leader in the Hillsdale community, his family put up the American flags John had installed in the the days following 9/11. The display of John's flags is a fitting tribute to John, a man of strong conviction and a big heart.

For more about John and his contribution to Hillsdale visit The Hillsdale News.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Texas Hold 'em and Crazy Scott

I know you are as shocked — SHOCKED! — as I am about Scott McClellan’s deranged delusions about the Bush White House.

Clearly the former press secretary has been brainwashed by left-wing bloggers, as the ever-insightful Karl Rove has suggested.

Or, as the New York Times reported, “(White House officials, past and present) seemed to take their cues from Dana Perino, the current press secretary. Ms. Perino used the words ‘sad’ and ‘puzzled’ to describe the White House response, as if Mr. McClellan had undergone some kind of emotional breakdown, while making the case that if Mr. McClellan had problems with Mr. Bush, he should have raised them while in the president’s employ.”

Well exactly.

We know that the White House for the last seven years has had its windows thrown wide open to a wide diversity of opinion. All Scott needed to do was speak up. We know that the president, to say nothing of his gracious and accommodating vice president, is absolutely infatuated and intrigued by new ideas. Paragons of compassion and openness.

Call the Bush years the "New Enlightenment," if you will.

Clearly Scott has gone off his rocker. In the old Soviet Union, the Kremlin readily saw the likes of Scott for what they were — nut cases.

If is unfortunate (also “sad” and “puzzling”) that the rest of this nation largely agrees with Scott. The presidency of George W. Bush and the vice presidency of Richard Cheney are now out of favor with 72 percent of the leftist, whacko American people.

We are a nation of nut cases. The prison industry will love it. Build more cells. The rest of us can join the millions already locked away.

This from the Washington Post: “With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.”

When the rest of the nation (including crazy old Scott) is locked up, it seems only appropriate that the Bush administration should remain confined to its own separate, bubbly White House incarceration.

Let’s face it, the whole country has been in lock down for seven years. Talk about Texas Hold ‘em.

The November election will mark the greatest liberation in the nation’s history.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is America "ready" to fulfill its promise?

Looking at the Democratic presidential primary returns from parts of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio is a sad, sobering experience.

Hillary Clinton racked up mega-majorities in some rural counties —70 percent, 80 percent, even 90 percent. Stunning numbers.

It should be a sad, sobering experience for her as well. All the numbers mean is that many voters in those lop-sided counties are more racist than they are sexist.

You know — “hard, working-class whites.” Come November, those same voters, if faced with a woman on the ballot, would generate the same numbers for a white man, John McCain.

Even if, in some nightmare scenario, the white man running against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were George W. Bush, undeniably one of he worst presidents in American history, these patriotic American bigots would vote for him too — again.

There has been a lot of talk in the press about whether America is “ready” for an African-American president. Whether the country is “ready” for a woman president.


Were we “ready” for George W. Bush? Are we “ready” for John McCain? And through that same clear lens, are we “ready” for Hillary Clinton? Are we “ready” for Barack Obama?

Never mind gender or race. We are voting for a president here — the person with the power to make life-and-death decisions about the future of this country, indeed about the fate of this planet.

Which one are we “ready” for — based on character, ability and political belief? Nothing more, nothing less.

The problem is that many Americans are voting their prejudices. Does it make you feel good to hate candidates because of race or gender? Then get your racist/sexist jollies off by going to the polls to vote against them.

The country be damned.

Here a little voice asks: But aren’t you being unfair? Aren’t you stereotyping white voters in these states? The polls don’t suggest so. Large numbers admit that they would not vote for a black to be president under any circumstances. Combine them with those who are too embarrassed to express their racism, and you have a country whose November presidential election could well be determined by racists.

But how about all those black voters who voted for Obama because he is black? Isn’t that a racist vote? Ask yourself, are those black Obama supporters voting FOR someone or AGAINST someone. Are they voting out of hatred — or pride? Black voters don’t despise whites. They’ve been voting for white candidates for years. But they do fervently support the first major black presidential candidate. Oh, and, on his merits, they also believe he would make the best president.

It’s a choice they’ve never had before, and they are going to take it. Wouldn’t you?

But unlike black voters, say in North Carolina or Virginia, large numbers of white voters in the primary elections I’ve mentioned above weren’t voting FOR Clinton, they were voting AGAINST a black man for no other reason than that he is black.

That is racist voting.

Don’t lump me in with the “America” that “isn’t ready for an African-American president or a woman president.”

I am “ready” for an America that is “ready” for a president, black, brown, yellow or white, man or woman, whose words, leadership and actions will end the bigotry, divisiveness and hatred that still haunt this nation.

When America is “ready” for the best, it will, at long last, live up to its promise.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the slopes of Denali

This morning, my friend and neighbor Frances Cook wrote to say that her next door neighbor, Steve Evans, is RIGHT NOW climbing Alaska's Denali (Mt. McKinley) and is at 14,000 ft. with another 6,000 feet to go.

She referred me to a blog, in which Steve tracks his party's ascent. It's worth a visit. You can almost feel the mountain cold it. Frankly, it makes me glad I'm here.

Good luck, Steve.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

The Death of War

Reading a New York Times business page (business?) story in today's paper about how the media are turning their backs on our wars, I was reminded of “1984,” George Orwell’s classic cautionary novel.

In the book, Oceania had been at war for so long that its people (the proles) simply accepted the propagandistic slogan “War is Peace.”

War had subsumed its opposite and become a meaningless, soul-numbing given. It was not even a question of acceptance. It simply was.

You can imagine the proles’ acceptance as beginning with what is happening to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By degrees, Oceania’s wars became no longer newsworthy and the redrafting of history began. (How rarely do we see the Iraq war discussed in terms of Iraq’s vast oil reserves and the Bush administration’s oil lust.)

Here is Orwell on how wars are manipulated and forgotten:

Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs - all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.

Memorial Day is an antidote to an Orwellian world. We set it aside to remember war and its huge costs. To honor the dead. To make their sacrifice visible to those who would forget or ignore.

This day. A single day. Once a year.

And, in contrast to so many other days in recent months, this day often inspires remarkable journalism — much of it about the sacrifice, and yes, the waste, of war. The op-ed pages of today’s Oregonian have three such pieces of writing.

The lead editorial, “One of many, one of one,” and two columns, “Surviving in the not-so-new Iraq” (found elsewhere on the web) and “Sifting memories from a lifetime ago.”

If you have time for only one, read the last as well as that first New York Times' story.

Memorial Day also should honor not only those who fought, suffered and died in wars, but those who fought war itself. In Christ's words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the children of God.” They fought war by telling of its horrors. By protesting. By going to jail. And, yes, by dying.

I began by saying that Orwell's fiction described wars as simply far-away forgotten, endless parts of existence.

For many, wars are not far-away, but they are endless parts of existence. They can not be forgotten. They a seared on the soul. Those who fight wars know that even after the victory, truce, evacuation or retreat, wars never end. For hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families, wars rage on in their lives and in their hearts.

I pray that some Memorial Day we will mark the death of war. That amidst the sad remembrances, we will have cause for celebrating the end of the killing — that we all, here and around the world, shall reaffirm the pledge of Chief Joseph to “Fight no more forever.”

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Seeing the Divine

We owe so much of our being to the sun, trees and rain.

Is it any wonder that for eons we have seen the divine in the boughs and leaves, in the sun's warmth and light, and in the clouds of heaven?

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