Saturday, March 7, 2009

Politics as Ethics, Unemployment, and the Republicans' Hair-brained Scheme

First, let me say what a relief it is to be through midterms. It has been tough so far this semester getting back into the swing of school, classes, and papers, but I think that I am going to make it. Either that, or I am going to flame out in such an amazing way, that they will see it from space.

So, in talking to folks recently, I have had two requests. First, try to post with a little more regularity. I hinted at how I intend to do that a week or so ago. When classes come back be expecting heavily edited versions of papers and writing assignments to be going up here. The number of posts that go up is totally dependent on the time that I feel like I have to dedicate to the site. Second, I have been asked/told to check my spelling a little more thoroughly. I will be up front here: I will do what I can with spelling. I will try and catch as many misspelled words as possible. It is embarrassing to me and undermines what little credibility that I may have with you, the reader. However, I will tell you up front that from time to time I will misspell words. It is going to happen, particularly on posts that go up in a hurry. If you see something that is particularly pernicious, let me know and I will edit and fix it. But spelling is simply not my strong suit.

Recently, I have been asked why it is that I focus so much on politics here. I can assure you that it was not my intention to focus as much as I have when I got started with the site. I knew that it was going to play a part, but I had no idea how much of a part. I had intended, and still do, to include much more culture as well as theology and commentary on the state of the church and religion. And those things will come.

But the truth is that I see many of the things that are going on in the political world right now to be issues of great moral and ethical import. I guess I bought the line from Sojourners, and others, that the budget of the nation is, at its core, a moral document that reveals the priorities of a nation.

Right now, this is the snapshot of our priorities that our budget offers us:

What you are seeing is a pie chart of the federal budget. That large red chunk at the top is the proportion of the federal budget that goes to the Pentagon. That little 15% part is the part that a panel of career military experts agreed was waste in the Pentagon's budget. To see where I got this chart, and to learn more about its contents, visit the good people over at True Majority.

So, for a person like me, who sees the budget as a moral document that reveals what the true priorities of out country are, this is an exciting time. Not only are we having a transfer of power from one ideology to a very different ideology, but this transition is happening in the context of great financial and economic unrest and instability, causing the differences between these two ideologies to be seen that much clearer.


The big news Friday were the February job loss numbers. 651,000 more jobs slipped into the ether in February, driving unemployment up to around 8.1% or, to but it another way, the highest it has been in 25 years. Unemployment is now the worst that it has been in my life! This would be bad enough, but as the guys over at NPR's Planet Money point out, the real number is significantly higher, closer to 15 or 16% when you include the underemployed and the folks that have just quite looking for work. And when you stop to think that in just a few short months we will be releasing an entire year of recent high-school and college graduates into the job market, I have the feeling that this number will spike again. We are now in a vicious cycle that will not be broken unless there is dramatic change.


Speaking of, the Republicans seem to have settled on a strategy of opposing President Obama and the Democratic agenda. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they are proposing a SPENDING FREEZE. Yes, you read that right, the leadership of the party recently in power is calling for the federal government to freeze all spending. There are about 8 million things to say in response to this, but I am going to keep my mouth shut and let Rachel Maddow do the talking, with the lovely Ana Marie Cox offering a great, although slightly poorly pulled off, metaphor.

Now, for the record, I am going to agree with the one that has her Doctorate from Oxford University (the one in England), and not the guys that are trying to reinstate the policies of the President and Party that lead this country by the nose into the Great Depression. And to my mind, at least Culberson should know better. He has a history degree from SMU.

Wow, just and simply wow.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

In Which I Ask For All To Do What Is Right For The Country And Not My Side

I should be working on mid-terms, or at least be in bed sleeping to prepare to work on midterms, but this has been bounding around in my head and I can not let it go.

So I am sure that many of you were following the goings on at CPAC last week. There was the 13 year old wunderkind, and Ann Coulter, and Mitt Romeny, and Newt Gingrich. I hope that others saw the video that included the shot of a book table there that included a book entitled "America's Half-blood Prince" about President Obama (get it....he's a half breed har-har). These things alone would be enough to make my stomach turn, and yet I still delight in seeing the Conservative movement really show who they are once a year.

But for me, the real cherry, the glimce through the glass clearly if you will, comes from not only Rush Limbaugh's speech, but also its after-math. For a taste of what he had to say, just click below (I won't blame you if you don't):

And at the time I thought, "Wow, there he goes again" and roll my eyes. And on Saturday night, Micheal Steele, the new head of the RNC, spoke out against Rush calling him an "entertainer" and his comments "incendiary and ugly." (video below)

Now, less than three hours after Rush attacked Chairman Steele on his show, Steele has caved and issued an apology, saying:
"I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking," Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people ... want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not."

You know,this is good for my side. The more that the Republican Party implodes and lets itself be held hostage, as the Church has, to the loudest voice, and not the wisest or even the most populous, the farther down the trail to irrelevance they will travel. And that is good for my side. It means we will win. It might even mean that eventually the Democratic Party would be so dominate that it splits and there is a legitimate voice on the Left in this country, and not just a coalition party of the Center-Left. So, I should be enjoying this. Heavens knows, there are many out there that are. And I can not blame them for their giddiness.

But I can't partake in it. I am too sad. See, our country works best (as much as I don't want to admit it) when there is a healthy opposition party. There wasn't for most of GWB's eight years, and we see where we are in a war that we shouldn't be, in debt that we didn't have to be, and with one of our great American cities, in fact maybe THE great American city, drowned in a sludge of indifference and incompetence.

So I am sad. I am sad for my country that one of it's great political parties, the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike, is held hostage by an ignorant blow-hard best known for his drug addiction. If you read this and you are a Republican, please, please, please, call your local, state, and national party officials and let them know that a principled party has no room for demagogues like Rush, and all the others at CPAC.

I am not asking you to give up your principles, only asking that you fully live into them, for the good of us all.

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