Friday, October 24, 2008

This I Believe (Guest Blogger)

My brother Dan recently wrote a small piece explaining his decision to be a Democrat. The piece was intended to counterbalance something posted online by a "troll," someone who intentionally was trying to provoke response with an outrageous statement. Still, I though Dan's response was thought-provoking and well worth sharing. It reminds me of the This I Believe series on NPR. (Besides, I liked the way he tied Star Trek into the first sentence. Once a geek, always a geek.) And I more or less agree with it all, so here you go.

I am a Democrat because I believe that the many should be protected from the few. Republicans believe that there is a greater need for the few to be protected from the many, and I agree with that idea too, but not as strongly as with the democratic position.
I believe in government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Despite this being a quote from a Republican, I find the Democrats do a better job of implementing it. The purpose of government is to do things that cannot be done justly and effectively as individuals. This requires a pooling of resources: taxation. Any taxation is a redistribution of wealth, and many will argue strategy to make it as fair as possible. Even when not entirely fair on the surface (welfare, for instance), many government programs have the effect of reducing future costs or enhancing future productivity. It costs about the same to send a man to college or jail. One results in a better, more productive member of society. The other produces an ex-con.
I believe in the prudent regulation of industry and corporations, so that the people are not reduced to poverty and disease through exploitation and pollution.
I believe that life begins at birth. I believe that the needs of a teenager or young adult far outweigh the needs of the unborn. I believe, as Bill Clinton said, that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. I believe that children should be wanted. I believe what I read in "Freakonomics", that unwanted children are more likely to become criminal adults, that we have a sufficient birth rate for societal renewal, and that in the early stages of a pregnancy, there isn't enough brain function for the fetus to be considered truly human yet.
I believe that the people who wanted to deregulate our banks were mostly Republicans. John McCain was head of the Commerce Committee, and has a history of pushing for deregulation. As has been recently pointed out, our economy has historically done better under Democrats than under Republicans.
I believe that our costs will be lower if we care for health, rather than wait and treat disease. Throughout the world, the most common and cost effective method of doing this is government health care. It may not be perfect for all, but it does a better job than our patchwork system of having lawyers fight for and against paying sick peoples legitimate medical bills.
I believe that homosexuality has existed for a long time and in many species. I may not understand it, but clearly, evolution has favored having some level of it within a population. When I was seven years old, I thought kissing seemed gross. As a married heterosexual (Kinsey 1) adult, I enjoy kissing my wife quite a lot. I've learned that my opinions of what's gross is irrelevant when I'm not involved in the action. I believe in monogamy, partly from a belief in the evolutionary value of individual commitment, but also from a concern about VD. There are, of course, precautions which can minimize those risks.
I believe that my immigrant ancestors helped build this country. I believe the current new immigrants are generally hard working, and come here to work, not to steal. I generally do not begrudge them their jobs picking lettuce and strawberries. The Chinese built our railroads. The Italians, Poles, and Irish of 140 years ago built much of our eastern infrastructure. Southern agriculture was built on the backs of African labor, robbed of the wealth it produced. If there is a problem with our immigration policy, it is that corporate (usually Republican) interests wish to keep our borders open in order to exploit this cheap labor. (Look at Shilo Inns labor and the hotel chain's owner's heavy donations to republicans. This is only one of many examples.)
I believe that Republicans, especially John McCain, have been at the forefront of sending American jobs overseas. I don't care about the skin color or eye shape or hair texture of the person doing an American job, but I believe the job should be done here.
Lastly, I believe the original poster is a troll, who will never understand these answers, because he chooses to be ignorant.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Voted

Seriously, can we get on with life now?

When we started this ride, I was kind of stunned to realize that of the three viable candidates (Hillary, Barak Obama and John McCain) I really didn't have strong negative feelings about any of them. I mean, I'm very strongly pro-choice - not necessarily pro-abortion, but definitely pro-choice; ask me sometime, and I'll tell you why. So that pretty much ruled out McCain. And besides, I'm not a big fan of his policies on immigration, although I haven't studied the issue deeply. I met Barak Obama at the UCC General Synod in 2007 (where he attended as a church member, not a candidate) and while he seemed smart and capable and said all the right things, I wasn't bowled over by some incredible Kennedyesque wave of charm. So Hillary was my girl - not because she had ovaries, but because she was someone I felt comfortable about and who most closely matched my own political philosophy. But alas, it wasn't meant to be (this time). So Barak Obama. Okay.

Then came the debates, and John McCain just annoyed me to no end with his dismissive, condescending attitude and incessant reliance on a bad thing that happened to him 30 years ago or so. (By the way, losing 6 different planes in circumstances which might gently be described as reckless is not a recommendation for the most powerful job in the world. Never mind the way he has treated his wives.) And Palin!!!! I'm not going to even talk about Palin. Let Helen do it. But let's face it - McCain's behavior and Palin's teeth-grinding performance didn't lose them my vote, because based on the issues they never had it in the first place.

I'm sick of watching the polls. And I'm sick of faith being viewed as a strictly Republican value. And I'm sick of anyone caring whether Michelle Obama had lobster for dinner, or whether Sara Palin could have gotten her suit cheaper at JCPenneys. And I'm sick of John McCain calling me his "friend," and of worrying about his health (should worse come to worse).

I'm still feeling more than a little burned about the whole hanging chad fiasco 8 years ago, and was deeply disappointed in my fellow Americans when they took ownership of the whole mess for real 4 years ago. I want everything to turn out "right," and although I feel (as apparently Sarah Palin does) that "God will do the right thing" on election day, and I like to think that God has a plan for all this - I also like to think that God is a lot smarter than Sarah Palin and may have other ideas about what the "right thing" actually is.

Anyway, so I went down to the Town Hall this morning and voted. Apparently in the Town of Lyndon you can vote early during regular office hours, and skip the rush expected at the polls in 12 days. Mr. Brachmann, who's been working for the town for roughly 170 years, tottered over with the forms, I filled them out and marked my ballot with the special pen, sealed it in the special envelope, and was done. They didn't have any "I voted" stickers, but they did have Raisinettes in the candy dish.

So can we please be done with all this silliness now?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Just Don't Want to Play Today

Actually, all I seem to want to do is mope, watch tv, and play Chains in an apathetic sort of way. And eat cookie dough.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Difficult Thing To Do

Goodbye, Nora. We loved each other as much as we dared.
I hope life treats you better your next time around the wheel.

Everything dies, Baby, that's a fact.
But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back.

Monday, October 20, 2008


A rough list of things on my mind, in no particular order:
  • Nora's appointment with the vet is tonight.

  • The LG front-load washer started peeing on the laundry room floor last night. So, about 3 years from installation for both washer and dryer to become dramatically unusable in some way. (I posted sometime in the last year about the metal fatigue hole which appeared in the dryer's drum and ripped a bunch of clothes before we caught it.) The last set, Kenmores, lasted about 15 years. The repair guy is coming tomorrow, and will be charging us $65 for the first 15 minutes.

  • I'm preaching at church on All Saint's Sunday - my first time. I'm told I should shoot for about 1,000 words, and of the different lectionary texts I've selected the beatitudes with a theme of humility and reference to those who have gone before us. I'm hoping Grandma would approve.

  • I did repeat photos of Nikki and Terry on Saturday, because their first set (done on a gloomy day) were really disappointingly grainy and (in many cases) embarrassingly blurry. This time around we had a beautiful day and I tried - I really tried - to use the stupid tripod. I hope they like the results.

  • I really must get Dan's birthday gift in the mail. His birthday is Saturday, which doesn't allow much time. Which reminds me - Elizabeth's birthday is coming up quickly as well. I have a jar of those beautiful pickled onions from the bazaar, and am thinking of what to combine it with. An Envirosax in a complimentary color? (Envirosax are on sale at the market for $5 each, and suddenly I have this urge to buy 20 or so for all my gift-giving needs over the coming year.)

  • I absolutely promised Chris I'd have her cotton shawl done by two days ago. Oops. I'll work on it tonight, since it will be perfect knitting for the immediate aftermath of tonight's visit to the vet - mindless and absorbent.