Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quick Hits

Another busy time, but not too busy for a bit of blogging...

- We've just celebrated Earth Day this past week. As much flak as it's gotten, I happen to think the message behind it is still pretty sound. If we trash the planet too much, it's not a good idea because we don't have an alternate place to live at the moment. That, and I'm not sure Mars is too keen on taking in homeless Earthlings.

- Having said that, I think we need to really reexamine how Earth Day is being promoted. This year's sign was a young polar bear on a small ice floe with a windmill on it. The sign is supposed to symbolize the melting of the polar ice caps (a concept that is still being debated as to its validity), but the first time I saw it, I said, "Hey! That bear's going for a ride on a souped-up ice floe!" Then again, that's just me.

- Speaking of Earth Day, former Vice President Al Gore was on Capitol Hill on Friday talking about global warming. On the same day, Mexico announced that a new form of swine flu capable of affecting humans had been discovered and had made people sick. Let's see...a new outbreak of swine flu on the same day Gore's on Capitol Hill... coincidence? I THINK NOT!

- One of the big stories this past week was the "controversy" over the Miss USA Pageant and Miss California's answer to a question about gay marriage asked by judge Perez Hilton. Whether you think her answer was good or bad or whether her answer cost her the title of Miss USA isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. Her answer rambled a bit, but we got the message. And the response from Perez Hilton was predictable. The only question I have at this point is why should people care what Perez Hilton has to say about, oh, anything? He's a Hollywood gossip columnist/blogger whose name is close to that of a no-talent rich girl famous more for her looks, her sexual exploits, her run-ins with the law, and being incredible vapid. Yeah, I really want to take my cues from that guy...

- Since we're on the subject of Hollywood, let's talk about someone else who has made a splash in the media recently, Janene Garafalo. As if her recent comments about the Tea Parties weren't enough (and for a lot of people, they were), she decides in the following statement from about a year ago that conservative Republicans are the way they are because of...mental health issues.

The reason a person is a conservative Republican is because something is wrong with them. Again, that's science - that's neuroscience. You cannot be well-adjusted open-minded, pluralistic, enlightened, and be a Republican.

Funny thing. I looked up her biography online in a couple of different places, and nowhere does it state that she has a degree in neuroscience. She was studying history in college before she made the jump into stand-up comedy, but no neuroscience. Granted, she could have picked up a little knowledge on the subject along the way, but I'd be curious to know what medical research she's read on the subject of conservative Republicans and whether their political beliefs truly are neurological in nature.

Until then, I'm just going to assume she's talking out of her hat again.

- Another big story this week has been the Obama Administration's decision to release the photos of alleged torture committed under the Bush Administration. People may wonder how the "Islamic street" may think about the photos, but I've seen this song and dance before. They weren't too keen about a newspaper publishing cartoons about Allah, so I'm going to guess they're going to react the same way to the release of these photos. Just a guess. But the burning question on a lot of people's minds is why release the photos. Truly it can serve no good purpose and will only fan the flames of anti-American hatred around the world. The only purpose I can see is purely political. Sure, if what we did amounts to torture, it's horrible, but showing the world the pictures of that torture compounds the problem. Is making the Bush Administration look bad really worth the cost to a President who has repeatedly said that he wants to improve our image with the rest of the world?

- Finally, let's talk about Nancy Pelosi and whether she knew about the torture methods allegedly used. She was at the meeting where they were discussed, and there are witnesses. For her to say she didn't know or that she didn't believe waterboarding in particular would be used is disingenuous at best, and complete bullplop at its core. Listen, Nance. You were there. You knew. You signed off on it with your votes and your silence. But at the time, you weren't thinking politically; you were thinking about protecting this country against terrorists. Just be straight with us, Speaker Pelosi. You may not get too many people from your voting base to understand, but it's a heck of a lot better to tell the truth than it is to lie about your motivations at the time to stay silent then. Plus, it would save us the agony of having to hear you try to spin your way out of your decision.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thomas Lindaman, Right Wing Extremist

Today, I was fortunate enough to attend a Tax Day Tea Party on the steps of the Iowa Capitol Building. Although I'm sure this would get me targeted by a number of groups, not the least of which being the Department of Homeland Security, I decided to take my chances on being put on a watch list and enjoy the spirit (and the warm weather) of the day.

This got me to thinking about the recent memo from DHS talking about "right wing extremists" and their motivations to whip up hate in this country. Some of the people lumped in with the "right wing extremists" include the following:

- veterans
- people who voted for third party candidates or Ron Paul
- people who dislike big government
- people suffering the effects of the current economic situation
- those opposed to illegal immigration
- people who oppose President Obama
- those who oppose gun control laws, such as the Brady Law
- anyone opposed to a global New World Order
- disgruntled people who disdain the loss of jobs overseas
- people who have a healthy disrespect, if not hatred, for Jews

Two things to consider here. First, some of those descriptors could apply to Democrats. Hillary Clinton certainly spoke out against President Obama. John Murtha's a veteran, as is John Kerry. Think Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton fit the Jew hater criterion? In fact, I'd say quite a few left-leaning folks would be under surveilance by DHS, provided DHS follows the letter of the memo as written.

Second, I don't fit in with all of the criteria listed above, but I fit a number of them. Does that make me a right wing extremist like the oft-cited Timothy McVeigh? Hardly. I have no desire to destroy a government building or kill innocent people. However, I do want my country to be better than it has been under both Democrat and Republican rule. I want this country to be guided by men and women who have a healthy respect for and a thorough knowledge of the Constitution so that we don't go off the track. I want my elected officials to be accountable to us, and I want us to be accountable to do our homework and elect officials who are going to remember who elected them. In short, I want America to be the truly great country we once were, regardless of who can bring that about, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

If that makes me a right wing extremist in the eyes of the Department of Homeland Security, I'm cool with it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter and a Passover Greeting

Today is a very special day for Christians because this is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the heart of the Holy Week observation is a recounting of Christ's betrayal, death, and rebirth, and every year I'm filled with a combination of emotions. I'm humbled that Jesus took my sins upon His shoulders and bore the punishment that should have been mine. I'm sad when I think about what He faced on my behalf without so much as a word of complaint. But most of all, I am happy in the knowledge that His death fulfilled God's covenant with the world.

With this covenant, however, there is a responsibility to try to live my life according to God's word. This is not always easy. The sins of the world are plentiful, and human resolve can only go so far. Yet, thanks to the death of Jesus, we are redeemed. For those who believe, that realization can only drive us harder to try to fulfill the responsibility that comes with Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.

Also, this time of year we see the Jewish observation of Passover. Although we celebrate differently, Jews and Christians are united in substantial ways that should not be overlooked. Both Jews and Christians have experienced times of great strife and tests of faith throughout their existence. At times, the two have been at odds with one another, and even today they are. Yet, in spite of it all, both believe strongly in God and His promise to deliver us from the strife we face. And let's not forget that Jesus was a Jew. If that isn't enough to set aside personal and religious differences between Jews and Christians, then nothing will.

So, whether you celebrate Easter or Passover, may God's love be evident to you today, and for the rest of your days.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Honor of the Day

After much personal reflection, I have come to a conclusion.
Perhaps I've been much too hard on President Barack Obama.
Republicans have been too critical of the President and the strife he's inherited.
I've had a change of heart.
Let me say without fear of contradiction, "Barack Obama is my President!"

For a while now, I've had these feelings, but I've never had the courage until now to express them.
Obviously, I have come to the point where I cannot hide my pride in the President anymore.
Obama is doing a fantastic job, given the circumstances.
Let us all get behind President Barack Obama and wish him the best of luck.