“Philosophy? Philosophy? I am a Christian and a Democrat, that is all.” – FDR, from Freedom from Fear by David Kennedy, the current history text with which I am having a stimulating fling
This is a good, short article on evangelical activism for the coming election. Although I am passionate and informed in my political beliefs, I am starting to become convinced that backing politicians, movements, or political ideologies is a very bad move for churches. Read more
“If you are a white American today and [say]…’I go to church every week’…the probabilities are quite high that you are Republican. And if you…are white and you say, ‘No, I never go to religious services…I don’t have a religious identity,’ the chances are much higher than predicted that you would be a Democrat.” Read more
A few excerpts from a TIME article: A New Way to Fight Mexico’s Vicious Cartels: Legalizing Marijuana Read more
I finished a biography on Ronald Reagan last fall. It was interesting to read because there is much mythology surrounding the Gipper. He was certainly a staunchly conservative ideologue, as those on the Right assert. However, he also compromised a good deal, when it came to actual policy. Read more
Like many of you, my fellow Americans, my knowledge of the Islamic worldview and the history of the Middle East is shameful, at least in comparison with my knowledge of Western civilization. There is as much intrigue in the Middle East as there has ever been: protests, violence, and calls for democracy; continued conflict between Israel and her neighbors; a history of European and U.S. exploitation to grapple with; terrorist organizations and political protection for them; and a good deal of oil still to be sucked up and distributed around the globe. The West vs. East question continues to define our times, with consequences that will outlive us. Read more
I’m keeping up with the news while on Bear Island this summer by subscribing to the Christian Science Monitor. It’s a weekly news magazine with concise articles and commentary on current events. It’s also intelligent and fairly non-partisan. There’s very little of the us-versus-them dialog that marks most political dialog in these times.
(Poor Christian Science Monitor…I am paying an introductory rate of fifty cents an issue, but it costs them $1.88 to ship it to where I am in Alaska.)
There was an interesting article in the "Commentary" section of the recent edition, "The big lie that Obama can’t lead is crumbling," by Walter Rodgers. His primary point is that Obama has been a good leader. He’s been subtle and understated at times, but he has been a good leader. Rodgers notes that "American culture mistakenly prizes bravado and arrogance as sure sings of leadership…It’s a bias we learn as kids. Our history books lionize war heroes, yet are often silent about the diplomats who prevented conflict."
Rodgers also lists a few of the President’s accomplishments:
- He stabilized the worst economy since the Great Depression
- His administration kept thousands of over-extended Americans from losing their homes by laboring mightily to forestall foreclosures.
- In spite of ferocious opposition, he passed long-overdue reforms of our health-care system.
- He signed into law a bod package of regulations to boost consumer protection and restrain Wall Street’s greed.
- He negotiated a historic nuclear-arms reduction treaty with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.
It is tough to beat a sitting President in an election. It seems as though it will be especially difficult due to the President’s record of leadership. Considering the difficulty of these times, along with the extremely polarized political climate, the President has certainly done well merely to keep the ship afloat. Don’t get me wrong, I think sometimes the wise course is to let the ship sink, but many casualties would result. Also, I find much in the policy of the administration with which to disagree. I am, after all a libertarian; but as a libertarian, I recognize that freedom cannot be legislated by the powers-that-be but must be taken by the populace at large.
Rodgers also praises the President’s navigation of the "Arab Spring." He appreciates how Obama "wisely and rapidly put together a broad NATO coalition to deal with the Libyan revolt," yet he sat on the sidelines in other uprisings. "Take it from someone who has reported from across the Middle East: Sitting out potential Arab civil wars isn’t abdication of leadership; it is wisdom."
But really, I mean, who can say it better?
I couldn’t find a way to embed this video, so I just had to post the link.
The Problem: The United States has an unsustainable budget deficit. (A budget deficit means that we are spending more money than we have.)
The Solution (fairly obvious, as I see it): A slight raise of taxes on the rich and super rich and big cuts to military funding.
What Is Actually Happening: No tax increases. No significant cuts to defense. Only cuts to domestic spending. (This includes a proposal by the House of Representatives to cut $747 million in food aid for poor pregnant women and women with children up to the age of 5.)
Facts and Questions to Consider: Approximately 10% of the people in the U.S. posses 80% of the nation’s wealth. Why not tax the rich and super rich, even just a bit?
Currently military spending constitutes $700 billion. That sounds quite excessive, even if we had the money for it. Instead of raising taxes or cutting military spending, the President and Congress are focusing exclusively on budget cuts that will target the needy, the environment, and other domestic spending.
And what a beautiful island it is. I love being surrounded by ocean, mountains, and trees.
Tamie and I have tried the ‘ole hit-the-ground-running strategy. So, yesterday (our first full day) found me running errands of all kinds. It was a day of proud achievements and accomplishments. I went to the DMV with about the necessary 3,000 or so documents required to get an Alaska Driver’s License (social security card, prior license, passport, pieces of mail, and a DNA-verifiable specimen from Big Foot). Seriously, some of this must qualify as “excessive documentation.” But I am a proud new owner of an Alaska Driver’s License, and for some reason this brings me great joy, along with the next phase of realizing, “Oh, yeah. I really do live in Alaska and not in Indiana anymore.”
Following the DL experience (did I mention it also included a written test?), I went to the local credit union to open an account. Walking back to the apartment, I though, “let’s complete the trifecta and acquire the library card.”
I might take this time to mention that my family had a fairly heated but good-natured debate about health care. I am in favor of universal health care, as well as eliminating the profit-incentive of the private sector. Basically, I think that everyone should be taken care of and health care should not be a way for corporations, insurance companies, CEO’s, or anyone else to get filthy rich. My brother is adamantly against governmental involvement in health care. His point, which I think is a good one, is that the government will merely do medicine the same way that medicine has always been done: by pills and machines. My brother’s point is that we need more alternatives to conventional medicine. I agree. However, I think that at the current time, we need to make a commitment to eliminating the greed factor and do the right thing for our nation: take care of the health needs of all of our people.
While I am on the political soap box, I will mention that I registered to vote while at the DMV. Picking my political party affiliation was a tricky one. My beliefs align very closely with the ideology of The Green Party. The Greens are a far left party, but they differ significantly from Democrats. The primary difference is that Democrats tend to focus on bringing universal equality and stability to all in a top-down approach, using legislation to ensure that minority groups (including the environment) are taken care of. The Green Party is more extreme, believing in locally-based economies and wishing to eliminate the power of corporations. Most Democrats, like Republicans, are paid for with corporate money. So, in reality, both Democrats and Republicans believe that it is important to maintain a hierarchy of power, with power centralized within government and the corporate world.
Well, that’s enough political theory for now. My dilemma was this: if I choose the Green Party as my party affiliation, then I could not vote in the Democratic primary. I mean, realistically, there probably will never actually be a Green Party candidate in Kodiak. =) Registering as a Democrat is the more politically realistic move.
So, what do you think I did? Did I register as Democrat, the pragmatic move? Or did I go with my ideals? I had to make the decision in a matter of a few minutes.