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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Not Racist

From time to time, it is good to go on record when something is not evil. YouTube Clip.

A man introducing John McCain said that John McCain will be the hero of his his kids, saying, "You can have your Tiger Woods, we have John McCain." He is obviously saying that John McCain is a real hero as compared to the most obvious choice of a sports hero today. He is not making some reference to Obama. Is he saying Obama is just a Tiger Woods? That makes no sense; the only issue wrt to Woods is whether he is the greatest person at his craft now, or of all time.

It was an unfortunate choice. And may reveal some subconscious comparison of the few famous Black people this guys knows. (Although, frankly, who else would you name as a sports hero this days? Ely Manning?)

BTW, strategywise, I hope Obama says nothing about this. McCain has been upset because Obama's people, not Obama himself, apologized about an Obama supporter calling McCain a warmonger. (What exactly is a warmonger, and why isn't John McCain one?) There is nothing here, but a shrugging Obama is the way to make the most mileage out of this non-issue.

What Would It Take?

General Petraeus "cited a marked decrease in the number of U.S. and Iraqi deaths since the surge, but warned that an upsurge of sectarian violence in recent weeks showed that the progress made was 'fragile and reversible.'" NPR. This seems to be a perfect to have zero influence on one's opinion of our continued occupation of Iraq.

As someone who opposed the war from the beginning, I feel that fragile and reversible progress after five years of killing and dying is simply not enough. Further, I think that lies and mistakes made early on make it impossible to garner the support necessary to take the stay until it is done path that Senator McCain advocates, and as such, every day we put off our eventual departure with fragile and reversible progress, we worsen the disaster that will come.

I would assume a supporter of the war would feel the opposite. That the war's foundation of lies and errors is no longer relevant, and that although we have a long way to go we must continue to avoid disaster because the progress, though real, is fragile and reversible.

Petraeus's words are a sort of political Rorschach test. My question is this: What would it take to change your mind about the war?

For me, I would surely be willing to support troops in Iraq if we were certain that in 6 months there would be no more insurgency, but little more than street crime. Similarly, if we discovered a lab in which Muqtada al-Sadr was packaging suitcase nuclear bombs to be delivered to Haifa, it would change my mind. Is there anything that you could learn from a credible source that would change your position on the occupation?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Cherry Picking Charlton Heston


I like to think people are more complicated than their public caricature. Perhaps for that reason, I was very attracted to reports about Charlton Heston being a civil rights activist in the 50s & 60s. The last quote is from Heston himself, and I didn't get any big speeches or anything when I googled it this morning after hearing of his death. This is what Wikipedia had to say on the topic:
Heston campaigned for Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. When an Oklahoma movie theater premiering his movie was segregated, he joined a picket line outside in 1961. During the civil rights march held in Washington, D.C. in 1963, he accompanied Martin Luther King Jr. In later speeches, Heston said he helped the civil rights cause, "long before Hollywood found it fashionable."
Also, because I don't see any contradiction between gun rights and other civil rights, I guess I like to point out this aspect of Heston's political activism. I'm conveniently ignoring his rhetoric about liberal Hollywood, opposition to affirmative action, and promotion of the myth that the Republican Party offers "the common man" salvation from those elite liberals who what to guarantee his civil liberties and provide him with a social safety net.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Prosperity or Prophetic

Rev. Bob Howard commented in the previous post:
The celebration of King's holiday in January, near his birthday, may obscure the whole point of his living and dying, unless savvy people continue his efforts and explicitly link their actions to his.
This comment really rings true to me. I think we see the same thing happen with the ministry of Jesus. It is much easier for a government to manage a population that sees these men as standing for being nice to each other rather than standing up for justice. (It reminds me of Rev. Miller's preaching on the difference between charity, wherein the powerful retain power, and justice, wherein the powerful surrender power.)

CNN is running a story that details another movement in opposition to King's vision. That is the prosperity gospel movement. The idea is that God rewards the righteous. I really find this idea offensive. It is hard for me to consider it seriously, but I also acknowledge the tremendous traction it has.

At first this movement seems less dangerous than the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-science versions of fundamentalism. I think from the perspective of the United States, it probably is. But, as for the health of the faith, I'm not so sure. Here's what the folks at CNN had to say:
Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual power. Prosperity pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes have become the most popular preachers in the black church. They've also become brands. They've built megachurches and business empires with the prosperity message.

Black prophetic pastors rarely fill the pews like other pastors, though, because their message is so inflammatory, says Henry Wheeler, a church historian. Prophetic pastors like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, often enrage people because they proclaim God's judgment on nations, he says.

"It's dangerous to be prophetic," said Wheeler, who is also president of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Full story.