October 31, 2008

The Bible as a voting guide

Many social conservatives point to the Bible for their guidance. Now, I'm no Bible scholar, but I've learned a few things through the years by listening to talk radio and reading letters to the editor. The Bible tells these people why gays are to be feared, hated, and beaten to death. The Bible tells them why war (crusades) should be waged against Muslims, especially Arab Muslims living in or near the Holy Land. The Bible tells them why it's important to use bombs to kill doctors who perform abortions (because life is sacred). The Bible tells them that evolution is not true, and their own family trees provide secular proof on that count. The Bible tells them many things.

But there are two things I understand the Bible says that I don't see these people clinging to. Or maybe I'm misinterpreting.

But I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary, whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.
Now, I'm not saying that we should offer up Los Angeles to Osama bin Laden so he can slap us there, too. Well, OK, maybe LA but definitely not San Francisco or Seattle. I think what this is trying to say is that moral superiority manifests as courage, not as fear. Inclusion is an act of courage. Tolerance is an act of courage. Discrimination and exclusion are acts of fear.

But perhaps these people get confused by the mention of the right cheek and the "other" cheek. McCain was getting slapped pretty bad in the polls, and maybe he was returning to the bible in the debate when he pointed out "that one" (the one on the Left). Maybe he was trying to present the left cheek to be slapped instead of him for a while. He certainly seems to be doing a lot of slapping of cheeks.

(Hey, you sniggering in the back. I'm not talking about butt cheeks, so you can stop fantasizing about Palin presenting you with her "other cheek." Sheesh.)

Then there's the whole socialism thing gone rogue this week. What's up with that? Don't the conservatives know that they should not hoard their wealth but spread it around?
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Just look at what's happened to Greenspan. Oh, wait, it says pierced with sorrows, not pierced with arrows. But I guess it's equally valid for him. Anyway, the way I read this, anyone who uses the Bible to guide their social conscience should actually be promoting the virtues of socialism. Don't fall into the traps laid by love of money; spread the wealth around and you will avoid being pierced with many sorrows.

As a final thought this morning as we head into the last weekend of the free world as we know it, here are the two ways we appear to view the world:

TGIF. Four more days! Four more days!

October 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008

I think this makes it official. I am insane.

Two weeks ago I had my first "one on one" meeting with my boss (silly me, I wore my converse hi-tops and Kurt Rambis goggles, but that wasn't what he meant). We have a huge task coming up next year, and I said I was excited about it, even though I didn't really know how to accomplish it. My boss noted at that time that I was, in his word, "insane." I couldn't really argue. I took it as a compliment.

Now I've signed up for my fifth tour of duty with NaNoWriMo. As if huge workload at Day Job, family and house, coaching soccer and playing soccer, cub scouts, boy scouts, and the occasional six hours of sleep didn't keep me busy enough. I haven't even submitted my current novel, Gold Miner's Daughter, anywhere for ages. (Note to self: send that sucker out!)

Any of you out there also playing NaNo this year? My user ID is "pjd" (wow, how ironic is that?), and my profile page is here. Let me know if you buddy me so I can buddy you back.

October 28, 2008

Three dollars... really?

Since I took note when gas here rose above $4 a gallon, I am officially taking note that it's dropped to about $3 a gallon here. I simply don't understand.

Oh, and because I haven't said it in a long while: 4,188 and counting. Though it appears the surge is working because US military deaths in Iraq currently stand at about 280 for this year; simple extrapolation would put the year's total at under 400, which is less than half the annual average for 2004 through 2007.

October 27, 2008

spreading the wealth around

One of my pre-election pasttimes is to click on a few of the links in my daily Washington Post political round-up email. Today was particularly good, with both liberal (The New Yorker) and wacko (The National Review) links. And every one of them (except this one about getting people to vote, which is interesting and should be read) centered on the idea of Obama as a [gasp] socialist.

Why? Because Obama told JoeSam the Tax EvaderPlumber that "when you spread the wealth around, everyone benefits." This sent the Republicans into an apoplectic, eye-bulging, spittle spewing fit of screeching, not unlike the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the rabble demand that a young woman is a witch. Which is sort of like Salem in the 1600s and Washington in the 1950s.

And why shouldn't they scream? After all, Joe just wants to keep his own wealth for himself. He's no rich guy. He's just like all of us. Mike the Dock Worker and Ralph the Garbage Dude and Tiny the Enforcer and Molly the Nurse and Bill the Software Tycoon and Warren the Investor and Andy the IC Engineer and Jack the Lobbyist and Bill the College ProfessorDomestic Terrorist. Every one of us has a job and wants to keep our hard-earned money out of the greedy hands of people like fire fighters, policemen, librarians, and teachers. You know, people paid out of the government welfare system of taxes, living on the state dole. Having our wealth redistributed to them.

I know, I know, that's not what worries Republicans. They're worried that if you start giving poor people money, they'll only want more. And of course, all poor people are poor because they're lazy and stupid and don't want to work. If only we would stop giving them handouts and instead let Joe keep his wealth, there wouldn't be any more poor people. They'd all see how good Joe has it and get off their lazy, fat, stupid asses and move to India or Mexico so they could get honest, outsourced jobs.

It's funny that Palin recently extolled the virtues of Alaska's system, in which all Alaskans collectively own the resources and benefit from their use by oil and pipeline companies. (To the tune of a government check of over $3,000 per household.) Sounds an awful lot like communism to me, Governor. You must have learned a lot by watching the Russians from your back porch.

Personally, I think this country could benefit from a little better redistribution of wealth. I don't see it as an evil thing at all, especially if the view is "a hand up, not a handout." I am well aware that there are many people who are up to date on their cable TV bills but behind in their rent and not providing decent breakfast for their kids. But there are far, far more that are working multiple jobs to try to stay off the dole, to try to lift themselves out of poverty.

But fundamentally, I'm not sure why Republicans are so scared of a few socialist-leaning programs. It's a blind, irrational fear. We can have free enterprise and nationalized health insurance. We can have job creation and anti-poverty programs like workforce development, individual development accounts, child care subsidies. We can still have obscenely wealthy people and use a little of their obscene wealth to end up with fewer poor people. It's really possible.

Oh, and a parting shot at McCain's campaign and the far right: You're running out of labels. Arab Muslim, anti-American, terrorist-lover, baby killer, promoter of kindergarten sex, tax-and-spend liberal, socialist. It's pathetic. You are not the America I want to be. I want America to have the attitude that "when you spread the wealth around, everyone benefits." Not that the best way to a better society is through fear-mongering and witch hunts. I really like having "everyone benefits" as the driver for the "spread the wealth around." This, my friends, is known as "enlightened self interest." When the community is strong, the opportunity grows. Many big time capitalists (see Bill the Software Tycoon and Warren the Investor) understand this and take it upon themselves to redistribute their own wealth. Socialist? Witch? Whatever. McCain, you have been marginalized to the point where all you can do is throw names in the hopes of making the ignorant fearful, and it's a sad thing to watch. If you should succeed in winning, I hope you run the country with more grace and nobility than you're running your campaign. (Oh, wait, did I say nobility? Does that make me a monarchist?)

October 22, 2008

haiku wednesday - October 22, 2008

This week's words are

thomg, who has a blog called "surface tension," has revived Three Word Wednesday. I am a big fan of ThomG's very short and well written 3WW posts, and I'm thrilled he's got it going again. 3WW may be the only "writing" I do in 2009 as work looks to be wildly busy (in a good way). By the way, since dictionary.reference.com says "difference" can have two or three syllables, I'm picking the two syllable version. (In the same sense that American can have two or four syllables, as in "Proud to be a real mur-kin, not some liberal pinko.")

PS: It's worth noting that all my haiku come from a place of fiction primarily. So that last one below? NOT my personal view. Quite the opposite.

you said, "no difference"
now you can suffer alone
my heart does not ache

suffer through math class
is "difference" add or subtract?
my eyes ache, head burns

you ache to fit in?
your difference makes me retch, fag
you'll suffer in hell

October 20, 2008

why are they so scared?

Over the weekend, my wife acquired a half dozen "No on 8" signs. We have never put a political sign in our yard before, but when we saw a "Yes on 8" sign in a yard up our street recently, we could not hold back any longer.

California's proposition 8, if you aren't aware, would amend California's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It is not about the sanctity of marriage; at its core, it is about codifying discrimination. It is about fear and bigotry. It is about denying a certain minority population from enjoying the rights and freedoms afforded to the mainstream. In short, it exists to outlaw homosexual marriage.

The family with the "Yes on 8" sign recently moved to California from Oregon and intend to leave California after two years. But while they're here, they are taking a stand. My assumption is that they are part of the Mormon Church's coordinated support of prop 8 since they have a BYU sticker on their car. (NO. I'm not suggesting they moved here just for this proposition. That would be absurd.)

My family had a spirited discussion of this proposition last night. My mother-in-law described a TV ad that is run on channels she watches (I mostly stick to football and soccer, which means I see a lot of beer ads). In this ad, a little girl comes home from school with a book about two boy frog princes that get married, and she proudly squeals to her very concerned mom, "I can marry a princess!"

The implication is, of course, that without this constitutional amendment, our schoolteachers will be legally obligated to turn our children gay.

First, the proposition does not impact school curriculum, free speech, censorship of ideas, or the widely accepted ethic of teachers not to impose personal ideology, religion, lifestyle, or politics on other people's children. The proposition simply outlaws gay marriage. Teachers will still be free to present the same book. Whether they do or not will still be based on all the same criteria they use currently. The ad implies that this amendment would give parents legal backing to ban such books. Not true.

Second, this ad clearly demonstrates that this proposition is not about the sanctity of marriage. It's about the terror that someone could turn your child into a homosexual.

I have known or know now about 20 openly gay men and women, many of whom have been in long-term, committed, exclusive relationships for longer than many of the heterosexual marriages I've seen fall apart. Not a one of them "chose a gay lifestyle." It's who they are, just like "bald white guy" is who I am. There's no choice about it. No one taught them to be gay. No one taught me to be bald.

Why are these people so scared? When my first son was born, a coworker of a friend had a baby daughter at the same time. Someone remarked, "Oh, they can grow up and get married!" Another friend leaned to me and whispered, "Hold on, we don't even know if he's straight yet." That really made me think. And she was right--we didn't know. And I'm not sure when a child knows. But right then I realized it would not matter to me. I want both my boys to grow up happy, successful, honest, generous, compassionate, and intelligent. They should have the right to pick their own partner and make a public commitment to that partner.

I keep imagining that little girl in the commercial. What if she's homosexual? And what if her mom has voted for a law that aggressively discriminates against her? How could a parent support a law that would reduce her own child's possibility for happiness? Are people so motivated by their own prejudice and fear that they would harm their children's happiness?

Equality for all. If you're in California and are eligible to vote, I urge you to make sure you vote NO on proposition 8. Don't let the bigots codify discrimination.

October 16, 2008

the debates are over...

Ha! That title was just to fool you into thinking there'd be something political here again. Nope. I am taking a break from life (the real world) and politics (the hateful slime pit of despair) to answer a challenge from the lovely and talented Janey. (See the answer to #7 below.)

Rules (cuz we all gotta have rules):
*Tagged bloggers post answers on their blogs & replace questions as they wish.
*Tagged bloggers state who they were tagged by & cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by.

1. What do you do before bedtime?
Lately, after the kids are safely tucked in for the night, I've been washing dishes, talking to Maria about her job, planning cub scout outings and soccer lineups, and logging in to deal with work emails. Sometimes, like last night, I get to watch TV (the Daily Show and one of the most boring soccer games I've seen in a while, the US vs Trinidad & Tobago).

2. What is your favorite sound?
My younger son's still-munchkin voice on the phone. They sound so different on the phone. Beyond that, I'd say a gust of wind through mountain pines, the purr of a kitten, or the rumble of thunder and clatter of rain in a desert storm. (No, Jane, I did not copy you... I am reading your answers after writing my own!)

3. What were your childhood fears?
As a kid, I was always deathly afraid of embarrassment. In first grade, the teacher asked what Saint Patrick was famous for. I shouted out, "He invented potatoes!" Everyone laughed at me, and I'm still planning my revenge. (Of course, none of them knew the correct answer, but as the first to get it wrong I received the brunt of the derisive mocking.) I also had this creepy sensation of being trailed by a ghostly presence whenever I was alone in the house. That terrified me sometimes so much that I would walk with my back against the wall so nothing could sneak up on me.

4. What place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back?
You mean besides Disneyland? And the Crazy Horse 2 strip club in Vegas? OK, seriously: I would say "my youth," but I've already forgotten much of it, so that violates the question. I think Paris might be the best answer to this question. I'm generally not a person who likes the French, France, or French things. Not because of the whole surrender monkey thing but because... I don't know why. But I was in Paris only three or four days for a business trip many years ago, and I'd love to see more of it now that I'm older, be able to hang out a while.

5. What has made you unhappy these days?
Having no time to write or visit blogs that I enjoy. I've failed to keep up with friends because work and kid activities take all my time. Those are fulfilling, don't get me wrong. But I miss writing, and I miss my writing groups, and I miss my online friends.

6. What websites do you visit daily?
See #5. No longer visiting sites daily besides email and my feed reader to see all the posts I can't find time to visit.

7. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Um. Female. Irish. A mom. Who writes. And blogs. Beyond that, I'd have to guess that she's mostly generous and a reliable friend to those she likes, and she likes a lot of people. A happy woman who is equally comfortable in a "kiss the cook" apron or behind the wheel of a formula one race car, she wanted to be an old west sheriff as a child. When she was suffering from oxygen deprivation on her third ascent of Everest, she kept her mind sharp by counting to infinity. Twice. She celebrated her 1986 third place Iditarod finish with eighteen months in a hippie nudist colony in California where, through online chat rooms, she helped the government of Kenya solve many problems. When she is not baking snickerdoodles or performing as a clown at birthday parties, she likes to recite the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy backwards.

8. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Now that I've got it unstuck, I refuse to let it stick again. Since it's football season, it was probably that damned USC fight song. (This is the only song you knoooooowww, it's boring and it's sloooooowwww, etc.)

9. What’s your favorite item of clothing?
I'd have to say it's either my Cal hat or my soccer cleats. Maybe the cleats since when I'm wearing them I know I'm enjoying a fun activity. Other than that, I prefer not to wear clothing. Frequently for the same reason as the cleats.

10. What is your dream for the future?
The one that involves winning the lottery, or the real one? I am a simple person who enjoys life. My dream for the future involves healthy and successful children all grown up and happy in their lives. It involves long stretches of quiet time at a mountain cabin on a lake, with brief and noisy and brightly lit excursions to exciting places. It involves quality time with fictional characters, both those already created by others and those waiting to be created in my imagination and written down. And probably a winning lottery ticket, since we're dreaming. With maybe a cameo by the Swedish Bikini Team.

Wait, that's it? Just those questions? OK, well, I see the rules allow me to add new ones or change the ones above, but now it's time to get back to work and get the kids up and off to school.

I have no idea who's been tagged by this yet. I am so disconnected from the blogger world right now that I don't feel comfortable cold-cocking anyone with a tag. If you want to be tagged... you are! Boom!

October 13, 2008

GOP speak with forked tongue

The Washington Post reports that the chairman of the GOP in Virginia, Jeffrey Frederick, says that Barak Obama is "simply not ready to lead." (See the last line of the article.) The implication in this statement is that some day Obama will be ready to lead.

But Frederick believes what makes Obama not ready to lead right now is that he has, in the past, associated with an unsavory character. So... if it's his past associations that make him unready, exactly what will make him ready?

If this test is applied to every person whose name is on a ballot, then we have a nation full of people unready to lead. (This may be true anyway, but you get my point.) Pretty soon, FOX News will be 24x7 of Six Degrees of bin Laden, proving that every Democrat is a terrorist by association.

Some people say they're sickened by hypocrisy and lies on both sides. Sure, OK. If you're not then you're either blindly biased or not paying attention. But one side is serving up half-cooked chicken while the other side is serving arsenic and nuclear waste cocktails spiced with e.coli. Both make you sick, but one makes you sicker.

October 10, 2008

What's wrong with troopergate

OK, so now we know that Sarah Palin is clearly in line with the Bush Doctrine, even if she doesn't have a clue what it is.

Welcome to the newest episode in presidential politics, troopergate!

The Republican party is so good at Bush Doctrine tactics that they even use them in the campaign itself.  Yesterday, the McCain campaign released their own report on the topic, clearly saying--and thereby proving--that the investigation had been tainted by partisan politics.  (The "proof" was pretty much self creating because they never said which party infused the situation with partisan politics.)  Score one for pre-emptive diplomacy.

This whole situation has me disappointed with the McCain/Palin ticket, though.  Not because Sarah Palin let her redneck, stalker husband use her power to settle his personal vendetta.  Not because she's an amoral, self-serving nitwit.  Not because McCain picked her on a whim, which is presumably how he'll handle every major decision (remember he canceled half the Republican convention when the hurricanes hit a different part of the country, and he canceled his entire campaign when the totally unforeseen financial crisis hit).  After all, he's a maverick, and mavericks shoot first and ask later.  Boom!  The Bush Doctrine at its finest.

No, I am disappointed for two reasons.

First, if McCain had any balls at all, he'd declare everyone involved in investigating Palin "enemy combatants" and disappear them to Guantanamo Bay.  Why not?  It's not that big a step from firing someone you don't like to entirely destroying them.

Second, the whole Alaska thing is bush league.  (Not Bush league.  Bush is a real pro at this stuff.)  McCain could take some lessons from guys like Somoza, Pinochet, and others.  Todd Palin is a small time thug in a small time town in a B movie.  By picking Palin, McCain shows that he has no imagination.  That's not kicking ass.  That's playground bully.

I find it distressing that our top candidates are nothing better than what you might find in Empire Falls.  The whole world is paying attention to four people, and one of them is nothing more than a caricature, a punchline.  I'm beginning to think McCain picked her not because she's a woman but because he knew that he needed something--anything--that he could look better than.

October 4, 2008

Where's Peter Been?

Working, mostly. Our giving campaign continues to go strong, well ahead of where we were this time last year. It remains to be seen how and whether the interesting Wachovia news has any effect. Even more interesting to me personally is that I was selected for the promotion to the manager job of my group. Vice President and Manager of Community Support Programs. Pretty cool. VP. And I didn't even have to debate anyone, by golly, also. Sarah Palin's got nothing on me... sure she can see Russia from her house. But I lived in Berkeley for four years, and that's way closer to communists than she's ever been.

Off to coach soccer now. We're short players today, so we may get our first loss of the year. We're currently 1-0-3 (three ties and one win). Nine year olds are so much fun to coach.