Friday, February 28, 2003

Berlin-based architect Daniel Libeskind had his design picked for rebuilding the World Trade Center.

Pardon me if I find it ironic that in a time when some people are trying to link al-Qaeda and Iraq, an architect based in an Axis of Peace country is picked to rebuild the WTC.
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Prediction: While the U.S. launches a war on Iraq, and I think it is a matter of when and not if now, there will be a coup in Venezuela with U.S. backing and Hugo Chavez will likely end up dead. Just call it a hunch.
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Thursday, February 27, 2003

Archbishop of Canterbury Is Enthroned

Rowan Williams was picked by Tony Blair. Now, the leader of the Anglican Church is against war in Iraq, as well as in favor of female bishops an homosexuals.

The Church-State dynamic in England will be potentially interesting with a self-described "hairy lefty" in charge of Canterbury.
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Monday, February 24, 2003

Les people forget, there's still that Confederate flag controversy hanging around.

Personally, if I were a longshot, rabble-rousing, back bencher running for the Democratic presidential nomination, I'd go to South Carolina, whip out a Confederate flag from my back pocket, and set it on fire.

Well, my presidential bid would be screwed, but it'd be a fun spectacle.
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Saturday, February 22, 2003

At Case Western Reserve University, I had the option of taking a class with Dennis Kucinich. I didn't take advantage of that opportunity. At the time, he seemed like just another two-bit local politician. I was unprepared for his rise to prominence.

I've always found Kucinich interesting. Here was a rather left-of-center Democrat who still was anti-abortion, as a result of his Catholic faith. Now, he's running for president. And now, he's changed his stance on abortion.

On the one hand, it takes a certain degree courage to be willing to change a policy stance in the public eye. On the other hand, does anyone doubt that this wasn't done to make himself more appealing to primary and caucus voters?

For at least a year, the peace wing of the left (a wing of the left of which I am not a part) has been calling for a "Draft Kucinich" campaign. It's not like these people didn't know he was pro-life before he declared for the presidency. Yet, they accepted him, loved him, adored him.

Kucinich thinks he has the killer issue with peace. While Howard Dean also appeals to the anti-war wing of the Democratic Party (and Bob Graham also has credentials in that area), only Kucinich speaks in a way that appeals to the outright pacifists. And now, Kucinich is moving forward with this quixotic quest. His shift on abortion signals that he actually believes that he can win something. He's not just doing this to draw attention to his pet issues, to energize the pacifists into political action, or to position himself for a potential Cabinet position. Well, possibly the latter. But this is a man who led the city of Cleveland into default as a matter of principle, refusing the corporate establishment's insistence that he sell the municipal power. His principled obstinance led a bank to refuse the customary refinancing of loans. . . a custom as common as the Congress raising the national debt ceiling everytime we come up against it.

There are two thoughts in my mind about the Kucinich switch. One is that he's decided that abortion is the lesser of two evils and he is deadset against war. In this scenario, he finds that he can handle his personal objection to abortion in the name of stopping war.

The other thought is that Kucinich is planning an eventual shift to the Green Party. This scares me. He's already the recipient of kind words from Ralph Nader. I have a feeling that if the Democrats are competitive in 2004, it will still be a close race. And a Green Party candidate who energizes the same base that Ralph Nader does could cause problems.

Mostly though, I am dismayed that we'll never get to see how an anti-abortion candidate in a Democratic primary would fare. Then, again, we had the joys of seeing a pro-abortion Arlen Specter founder in the 1996 Republican primaries.

Still, I attribute part of the Democratic Party's downfall to be making abortion the litmus test. Anyone who doesn't toe the line on abortion feels less than welcome in the party, even when they agree on a great majority of all other issues. I suspect the Green Party has become a home to quite a few disaffected liberals who are pro-life, or at least not unabashedly pro-choice.

Stay tuned. . . .
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Some Nuts are Volunteering to be Human Shields

Well, I suppose they're courageous, but they're idiots unless they went in under the assumption that they would be killed. And perhaps still morons even if. Come on, folks! The War on Stupid is supposed be waged against George W. Bush, not against voluntary human shields.

The wheels are turning in my mind about spies pretending to be human shields so that they can do a little snooping and figure out which sites are important enough to deserve human shields. This idea has definitely been considered by Saddam Hussein. And perhaps the American press wouldn't be cooperative, but I'm betting that the human shield folks don't possess an informational infrastructure independent of Saddam Hussein.

This is just stupid. It's not going to sway any minds. It just gives the right-wing more fodder for their argument that anyone opposing war is either a traitor, a crazy, a naive fool, or some combination of those. There are ways to oppose war. This ain't one.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

I've got a suggestion for the French. Given the Bush administration's fondness for turning away from treaties and international agreements, France should repudiate any international nuclear test bans it may have signed on to and go test some nuclear weapons out in the Pacific somewhere.

Hell, teach the Germans how to build nuclear weapons and let them hold their own nuclear test. Then, let's see what the Bush admin says about them apples.
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Monday, February 17, 2003

MyDD: Dean Gets It

Check out the second comment. Screw that American street crap. I want my own meme to spread like wild fire. Regime Change in 2004. Time to print the bumper stickers.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I recently read
Why the Left Hates America: Exposing the Lies That Have Obscured Our Nation's Greatness by Daniel J. Flynn. If you've never heard of him, he heads this little organization.

Flynn has two basic premises. One is that the left is made up of a bunch of commie pinko hippies. The other is that the left is also made up of a bunch of cultural atavists who hate America and blow kisses at nations with backward forms of government.

Speaking as a postmodern leftist/liberal, I can say that I am no communist and I am no hippie. On the other hand, I have met leftists who definitely fall into at least one of those categories. I'm not a big fan of those perspectives. Both seem to be based on the ideal that it is possible for all mankind to act as one, a possibility that I find opposes the very basic perception of human nature that is the foundation of my political philosophy.

Flynn makes the valid point that America is quite possibly the best nation on Earth and he seems bewildered by the idea that anyone could say anything bad about the U.S. while simultaneously praising another nation. The left strikes me as the jilted lover. However much you praise America, you must admit it is imperfect when compared to the ideal society. The left feels that it is punished most by the flaws of this country. Moved to anger--which is not to say moved to hatred--by grievances, real or perceived, against the U.S., is it not a natural human reaction to start making eyes at the exotic stranger who is very, very different?

Then, too, there are those who hold America to a higher standard of behavior just as a parent holds her son to a higher standard than the other kids in the neighborhood, claiming that it's ok if the kids play rough and occasionally fight so long as the boy doesn't get involved. There is a basic optimism, a belief that we can do better, that fuels this disappointment.

I'm sure that there are leftists who genuinely hate America, and there are leftists who feel one of the ways I just outlined, and more who feel some way different. Flynn falls prey to a common fault, the belief in the existence of a modal personality that informs the vast majority of a cultural or subcultural group. The left, like the right, is a dynamic array of diffreing purposes, goals, actions, and ideas that find an alliance useful.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

From a comment to this post on MyDD:

"Have you noticed an infiltration of conservatives onto our boards? I think we should spam their boards with our beliefs...Call it Operation Fair and Balanced."

Posted by some guy named Seth.

I wonder how hard it would be to organize a massive blog commenting campaign.
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Sunday, February 09, 2003

It's Sunday and time for more Mass-related musings.

A long, long time ago, I was taught (or so I seem to remember) that after Communion, one knelt until the priest finished his clean-up and sat down. The idea was that the congregation as the body of Christ acted as one, so the goal was to time things so that you sat down exactly when the priest sat down, just like you try to stand up just when the priest does at the beginning of the "Alleluia" before the Gospel.

The priest in my home parish for most of my grade school life, including the high school years, had a different method. As he cleaned off the communion plate, washed out the chalice, folded the cloth, and whatever other tasks the presider must do, he would motion to the crowd to sit down. Which they did.

The Newman Center in college held Mass in a nice space that didn't have any kneelers. This caused a great deal of consternation in some of the more "traditional" Catholics who often went to the nearby "real" church instead, where they could kneel to their hearts content, early in the morning instead of Sunday evening (getting back just in time to grab dinner in the cafeteria then watch The Simpsons back in the dorm).

I've noticed that there doesn't seem to be any rule at the church I currently attend. Some people do as I do, sitting when the priest does. Others seem to be waiting until the tabernacle has been closed and the leftover hosts put away. Still more seem to have no particular timing, waiting until what seems like a reverent time has passed, or until they notice that everyone around them has decided to stop kneeling.

So, what do you do?
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Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Canadian Children banned from a poster contest by the U.S.-based National Gang Crimes Research Center because of their country's stance on Iraq isn't the same as Tony "the Bootlicker" Blair

um, ok. . . .

"We are a pro-law-enforcement group and support initiatives against gangs and terrorism. Recent national political statements from leaders in your country have, unfortunately, been non-supportive of American interests. Due to this unfortunate development we are no longer able to accept Canadian entries. I am sure this is not a reflection on your own patriotism and your own perspectives on the issue, but in the current climate -- that is the way Americans are going to react," claims center director George Knox.

Some local governments might or may have already passed anti-war resolutions. Will their schoolchildren be similarly banned?
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Monday, February 03, 2003

A few thoughts on going to Mass this Sunday:

There was no homily. Rather, we were subjected to what was basically an infomercial for a diocesan fund for various worthy causes on a big screen TV that required moving the priest's chair from its customary spot to in between the altar and the ambo. I'm not necessarily opposed to the fund, and I think it is a good idea since it provides money for the Newman centers in the diocese, but I thought it odd.

The choir had some funky little bell production for the music. I think it was the regular choir. That got me thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if a diocese sponsored a few musical group that provides a change of pace for a local congregation, going to various different churches in the diocese with something other than the choir/organ/piano set up that most of us are used to? I've occasionally seen a Christian group perform at a church as part of a tour in support of an album. This would be similar, and it would give church organists a potential weekend off.

Modern churches don't have choir lofts anymore. I wonder how much of that has to do with the American with Disabilities Act.

I've never been one to accept Communion under both species. There was a time when I didn't mainly because I didn't drink alcohol at all (Man, how times have changed) and it's just become habit. I notice that most people don't. I'm not sure if they just don't want to, if they feel it messes up seating if they step out of the line filing back to the pews, or if they find the idea of sharing a cup with other people gross.

In some churches, there's an aisle of nothingness that goes up the center of the pews as groups of one or two take up either side of the pew, leaving a gap in the middle. It seems sad. I wish some churches would reduce seating, forcing people to sit close together up the front. And why do some people arrive ten minutes early and sit way in the back?
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Sunday, February 02, 2003

I admit it, I'm a tasteless snark. So my contribution to the musings on the wreck of the Columbia is this:

Am I the only one who was wondering why Lance Bass couldn't have scraped up the $20 million and had this happen to him instead?
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Texas School District Is Sued Over a Gay-Straight Club (New York Times)

Klein High School principal Pat Huff says, "We're a little different than some of the other high schools maybe in the inner city that have allowed the club to go forward. It would be a different issue out here. I have to always be thinking about the people, our constituency."

Huff is speaking from the perspective of a suburb north of Houston. I'm tempted to say that "inner city" is a racial code word for "black ghetto," but I'm not sure that is the case. Still, the implication is that the inner city is a cesspool of immorality.

I'm not opposed to homosexuality, but if I were, my tack would be to allow the Gay-Straight Alliance to exist, then recruit students to form an organization that claims that homosexuality is wrong, immoral, and whatnot.

Of course, that's not going to happen. The truth is most people are more intolerant of controversy than anything else. The Gay-Straight Alliance would be given a begrudged existence if people thought it would maintain a low-profile and hold hushed, quiet meetings in private with little outward manifestation. The average person doesn't want militants, doesn't want demonstrations, doesn't want dirty hippies. The average person wants a nice little status quo that can be maintained in perpetuity.

Working for change often means upsetting that status quo, so people drag their feet and refuse to pick a side hoping things will blow over. It's not until some change is inevitable that many people pick sides.

What are the implications for the left, who want change? Quit holding demonstrations and protests for every little niggling thing. Pick your battles and make them count. Disrupt society over a major issue, then let things go back to normal. Don't agitate incessantly without good cause.

The anti-war effort is a good example. Theer's still hope for peace. But if ever it gets to the point where war is so clearly inevitable and the American people whole-heartedly support it, then move on. I'd even counsel moving on to agitating about the state of a post-war Iraq. Start calling for an independent Kurdistan and for the people of Iraq to be allowed to choose their own form of government, including a theocratic democracy.

Otherwise, the shrill whine of dissent becomes an annoying but ignorable part of the new status quo.

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