Saturday, January 31, 2009
The Republican Party elected Michael S. Steele as party chairman for a 2-year term. He was the first Republican lieutenant governor elected in Maryland; subsequently he lost in his bid for the senate seat of the state. On Friday he won the chairmanship of the GOP on the 6th ballot.He beat South Carolina state chairman Katon Dawson, a strong anti-desegregationist, 91-77. Although a committed conservative, he was rated the 'most moderate' of the pack with which he ran.
It may seem odd that the GOP would elect an African-American as chairman; surely some Republicans this morning will be stunned to see a black man at the top of their nearly all-white, rural party. Racial bigots in America must be fretting over the fact that black men have risen to the top of both the GOP and the Presidency. What are white supremacists to do now? Suggestion: an island in the Pacific.
Two black men at the top of the American political scene: how uncommonly refreshing. However, one ought to look a bit deeper, beyond melanin levels in the skin. These two men share little more than skin color, career, and a poor, fatherless upbringing. Beyond these factors, the gap is wide.
Unlike Obama, Steele lived in a nice neighborhood in D.C. and a attended private, Catholic school. His widowed mother remarried when he was 4 and his stepfather was in the home as he grew up. He struggled academically at Johns Hopkins and was nearly expelled for low grades. After he graduated, Steele spent three years in a Catholic seminary, studying for the priesthood. He left the seminary and got a law degree, and worked as a corporate securities associate in a D.C. law firm, specializing in financial investments for Wall Street underwriters. After working in Tokyo and London for the law firm, he came back to America, left the law firm and started his own business and legal consulting firm.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Last fall, my wife and I visited the Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia, Canada's only single malt distillery. We took the tour and noted the science of distillation which, in this case, was to purify the product to its ultimate distillation point. It's all about purity, but the prize for me was the taste.
Bob is a frequent visitor to the Mikeb302000 blog, an anti-gun themed blog frequented mostly by pro-gun people. Mike attempts to bring the horror of gun violence in America to the attention of his readers only to find continual challenge from the pro-gun lobby. Yet I digress.
A recent thread on the blog was Army Suicide Rates Highest Ever. Bob and other pro-gun folks naturally objected to the suggestion that easy access to guns contributed to the suicide numbers. In fact, and to the point of this post, a sub-topic developed, away from the gun theme, to why the suicide increase itself? One pro-gun comment suggested that a contributing factor for these soldiers was the 'anti-war attitude' back in the states. He suggested that this was the chief factor for the up-tick in military suicides.
Here's what I proposed as a more signifgicant factor: The final straw for these men, I believe, was the realization that the war that they fought, that they bled for, that scrambled their psyche, that their buddies died in, was a sham- an unnecessary political scheme of a group of egghead ideologues back in Washington.
At that, I received this retort from Bob: Mud, Any evidence to back up this opinion?
The Kool Aid.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The country's Social Democratic Alliance Party has picked Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, to be prime minister in the wake of this week's collapse of Iceland's ruling conservative coalition, The Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Now won't that irk those oh-so righteous fundamentalist Christians who hide out in the dark alleys of the GOP? They've so much to do to 'fix' this nation now that the 'baby-killers' are in office, and now this! Those bibles will be a-thump'n day and night all across bigoted America!
Barack Obama ended four wars during his first week as president. With just a few words and strokes of his pen, the president ended the war on terror, the war on Islam, the war on science and the war on women.
The war on Islam is also over. Officially, of course, it never existed.
Obama also ended the undeclared Bush administration war on science. In his inaugural speech, he promised to "restore science to its rightful place."
The undeclared war on women? Also over. [she refers to the Bush order against supporting foreign health clinics which have abortion information]
This week the whole lot meets in Virginia to plot their future existence. I might suggest a serving of Jonesville Kool Aid. That would help America move forward nicely.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Obstructionists. Republicans. What else needs to be said? If you've been paying attention to politics at all lately, you will note that the Republican leadership is playing the same role early into the Obama administration as it did with the Bush presidency- obstructionist. They and only they know what's best for America. For the past two years as the minority party in Congress, they used the 60-vote rule and filibustering to stop most of the progressive legislation which might have nipped this economic downturn at its root.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
One week ago today, a bright, new, and glorious chapter of American history began to be written. With a quick stroke of President Obama's pen, the bitterness that most Americans and the world at large have felt towards our presidency began to melt away.
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert has promised to give legal shielding to soldiers who fought in the recent offensive on the Gaza Strip which claimed the lives of 437 children among others.
Olmert speaking on Sunday said "The commanders and soldiers sent to Gaza need to know that they are completely safe from different tribunals and Israel will help and protect them."
The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, recently demanded that those responsible for bombing UN buildings should be held accountable and Amnesty International says it is "undeniable" that war crimes were committed in the use of white phosphorus.
This raises the question about the American soldiers sent to Iraq. Did our soldiers or Marines also commit 'war crimes?' The larger question that needs to be raised is whether Olmert and Bush ought to be so charged. After all, they ordered the troops into battle and equipped them with the weapons.
After the Abu Ghraib photos were released, most Americans were angry with those prison guards, but few worried about the chain of command upward. It seems that it is always the grunt on the ground who is the subject of inquiry while those above him remain unscathed.
So it has been throughout history: mad men rise to the top of governance who send the young men into battle for some 'cause' that often is nothing more than vengeance, greed, or power on behalf of the king, ruler, dictator or president. Millions of young men [and now women] lie in cold graves having been sent to wage war for some lofty goal or patriotic fervor on the part of their nation. Their government is always right; naturally, God is on their side.
Does 'God' pick and choose the better side to protect and guide? Those who rammed the planes into the Twin Towers cried out that they did it in the name of God. The American troops in Iraq pray for God's blessing as did the Israeli soldiers in Gaza. Surely the people of Gaza City and Baghdad raised prayers to God as bombs were falling on their homes.
We humans ought to let God off of the hook on these war games and take responsibility, as adults, for the idiotic choices we allow and encourage from our national leaders.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Amen, brother! This Sunday morning I'll not be sitting in a pew, nor watching a televangelist on TV, but I will be filled with a 'religious' experience as I reflect back upon the week that just ended. I was there, atop the Washington Monument with my wife, daughter and eldest grandson.