Monday, December 11, 2006

Annan Targets Bush, and Hits the Mark

Kofi Annan spoke pointedly against the policies of the Bush administration today. Already many of our countrymen are railing against the outgoing Secretary General and renewing calls to expel the UN from New York City. No-Child-Left-Behind is supposed to make us smarter, but I guess it hasn't kicked in yet.

Regardless of whether I like or dislike the messenger does not detract from the truth in Annan's remarks. President Bush has led the world further into dangerous waters and has precipitated the deaths of 40,000 or more human beings.

Sec. Annan, given a platform, made a speech that upsets some in our country. Some of us have invested too much of our identity in this president. When someone lays out the truth that our idol has feet of clay it hurts very personally, deeply. If faults can be found in the critic we jump all over that, in this case by launching personal attacks against Annan.

Is it ever dangerous to disregard the harsh words of one we don't like?

I am not equating Annan to the Christ by any means, but let us keep in mind that many people whose lives were rebuked by the words of the Christ had nothing but animosity for him. Just because they didn't like what they heard didn't make it any less true.

Perhaps Annan is guilty of mistakes of judgment, greed, or outright theft. I don't know.

I do know that the charges he leveled against our current administration are valid. To the extent that we continue to embrace the president and his policies his crimes are also ours.

If we heed not criticism because we don't like the source, we are doomed.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Poor Ted

Today USAToday ran a story about Ted Haggard going under the healing hand of his recovery team. I wish him well.

Many people commented on Haggard's situation, his history, his prospects. Most posts in the USAToday OnDeadline discussion fall into a couple of categories. One group would be those saying, "Oh, here we go again! A hypocrite still clinging to the trappings of ministry will redeem himself and get back into preaching and judging people again." Another big group basically say, "Oh, here we go again! Liberal hypocrates will tell us we can't judge people, but they sure will judge a Christian when he proves to be human." A third group wonder why we are reading last month's news. There were some posts that refer to the immutabililty of sexuality, and others that suggest it is somehow subject to "correction."

Without getting into anything about Haggard himself I will take this opportunity to put forward my own two cents about sexuality.

I think that heterosexuality and homosexuality together describe a continuum. At any point in our lives we occupy a place on that continuum, and where we are can change over time. Most people are generally more heterosexual than they are homosexual. Some people, I think, change rather dramatically during certain phases of their lives. To my way of thinking it doesn't make much sense to ask people to put themselves into a gay box or a straight box. We are people and therefore we can't be boxed quite that directly, definitively.

Why do we even care? Sure, some will say they care because their religious tradition dictates that one must be straight to have spiritual integrity. Okay, but still, why would we care? Sexuality is not the only stumbling block, if indeed it is one, on the road to spiritual integrity. I don't know of anyone who has not found his or her own stumbling blocks. And most of us never get over them, thus leaving the longer part of that road untraveled.

So, to all of you, whether you cling to straightness or gayness as an identity, or whether you wake up every day and have to decide whether you'll try for a date with Brenda or Bob, to all of you I say: Love yourself and find someone you can love today. If today is a day you need to try loving someone new, do that. The main thing is love and recognition that tomorrow is promised to no one.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some you win, some you lose

The election of 2006 is over. For the most part the outcome pleases me -- the Congress will no longer be a rubber stamp for our president. On the otherhand, what used to be called the Virginia Bill of Rights now excludes some people from certain rights. I am glad that out in Cousin Dale's new home they had the wisdom to reject a similar measure. Way To Go, Arizona!

Impeachment of George W. Bush? Hmmm. A tastey prospect, I must say. But I hope the newly Democratic Congress will get some nutritious work done first -- realigning the tax code with the real world in which most Americans live, raising the minimum wage, making sure that senior citizens rather than drug manufacturers receive the MediCare Prescription Benefit, and of course, get the US troops out of Iraq. Once we take care of our nutritional needs, maybe then we could have impeachment for dessert.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dilemma Over

My attempts to find a local group working to vote down the anti-gay marriage amendment in Virginia did not bear fruit, so there will be no story by me about the PHC students efforts to keep gay Virginians from being married. The amendment also says the state "shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effects of marriage."

I did write a decidedly opion-based piece for the Gazette in which I voice my disapproval of the amendment and the thinking behind it. I don't know yet whether the piece will be published.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Dilemma

I received a press release from the Patrick Henry College regarding the efforts of some PHC students to promote what I call the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment that Virginia voters will deal with on November 7. Mike Farris, the founder, former president and current chancellor of PHC, participated in drafting the amendment, according to the press release. Therefore, it's not really surprising that some students at the small college are actively engaged in propagandizing on its behalf.

As a writer for the Purcellville Gazette I should do something with this press release. My options are:

  1. Sit on it.
  2. Write an article about it.
  3. Find a group with the opposing view and write an article about the two groups.
  4. Forward it to my editor and let her decide what to do.

If I sit on it and do nothing I will disappoint myself as a journalist. It is not my responsibility to provide press coverage to everyone with a cause to promote or story to tell. Yet I believe that doing nothing in this case is inappropriate.

I could write an article about the contents of the press release. One approach would be to try straight reportage -- contact the students involved, clarify any questions in the press release, etc. Another angle might be to editorialize on one of several topics: Young people taking an interest in political action; Out of state students trying to affect Virginia's constitution; Shameful attempt to exclude homosexual citizens from the pleasures (and pains) of marriage.

At this point I don't have much opportunity to locate and access a person or group opposed to the amendment, so the third option is going to be difficult. As a journalist, this is my preferred choice. Although I have very strong feelings about this amendment -- I am strenuously opposed to it -- I wish that I had time to write a good profile of people on both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen.

If I send the press release on to my editor it is likely that it would appear in the paper without much modification. This would not be satisfying to me, as it lets the college call the tune.

I will post here when I reach a decision on my course of action.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Good Weekend Amidst a Good Life

This weekend Hiroko and I enjoyed the company of my cousin Jeff and his wife Meg. The picture is of Jeff, Meg, and me. As is usually the case when I get together with Jeff or one of his brothers there were a lot of laughs and heated political discussion – but since Jeff and I agree on most things political the heat was warming, not scorching.

The cousin relationship carries a very special attribute: we are close enough to be family and at the same time far enough apart that we aren’t in each other’s stuff. My interest in his life and his in mine are genuine. We each care enough to listen to whatever the other has to say about problems, achievements, beliefs, doubts. And wonderfully, there is no expectation that my responses to him will change his life or the way he does anything at all. Similarly, if I completely ignore some advice or opinion he gives me it seems not to hurt him in the slightest. And to make things even better, Meg and Hiroko fit right into this pairing of cousins.

We had a very good weekend.

If it turns out the economy will ever let us join Jeff and Meg in the retired life they enjoy, we look forward to making our times together more frequent.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Anti-War Success Is Not Failure

Thank goodness Charles Krauthammer is willing to share his wisdom with the Democrats, particularly to show those from Connecticut the error of their way. In Friday’s commentary he wrote that voters who tried to apply the lessons of the Vietnam War to the military orgy in Iraq and Afghanistan were dooming the Democratic party to another forty years in the political wilderness, not laying the groundwork for long term success.

Krauthammer suggests that it was the anti-war left wing of the Democratic party that ruined the Johnson presidency, spoiled the presidential chances of Humphrey, and put the party far outside the mainstream on foreign policy, ultimately preventing any national success (except the “idiosyncratic post-Watergate” accidental election of Jimmy Carter) until the Cold War had been won.

First, the Johnson presidency. The anti-war wing of the Democratic party did not make Johnson continue waging war. Perhaps if LBJ had succumbed more quickly to the anti-war members of his own party he would have been reelected, leaving behind a far different legacy. Johnson, like no president since, expressed a desire that the government actively better the lives of its citizens, especially those who had been least touched by the benefits of a Great Society. Johnson’s personal tragedy, his inability to get out of Vietnam, ruined his presidency, not the heart felt beliefs of many sincere Democrats that war in general must be avoided and the one in Vietnam must be ended.

Hubert Humphrey’s candidacy faced two major problems which when combined resulted in Nixon’s incredibly narrow victory. His first problem, of his own making, was his failure to say, “The war policy is Lyndon’s, not mine.” This cost him support from many people who liked his plans for America, but could see nothing but disaster in the war. Nixon’s “secret plan to end the war” was Humphrey’s other problem. If Nixon had a plan, it certainly was a secret – so secret that he couldn’t locate it after the election. If Nixon’s so-called plan to end the war wasn’t pandering to the anti-war sentiments of middle-America, I don’t know what it could be. Mr. Krauthammer seems to have forgotten that it was Nixon’s Republicans that benefited from its own anti-war electioneering – as unscrupulous as it was.

Unscrupulous? Perhaps I should have saved that word for the next Nixon campaign. The 1972 campaign proved to be, based on the indictments, resignations, and pardons that ensued, the most crooked of the modern era – up to that point. Nixonian tampering with the campaigns of the Democrats during the primary phase and then in the election itself leave wide open the question of who would have been inaugurated in 1973 had the election been honestly pursued. Krauthammer writes of a “newly reshaped McGovernite party” unable to deal with the post-Vietnam Cold War. Well, isn’t that something? The war Nixon had said he had a plan to end still had two and a half tragic years to go, strong Democratic candidates had been sabotaged, and Krauthammer puts the blame on anti-war Democrats.

The problem with Democrats lay not with an anti-war conscience, but with a Republican party led by a man without a conscience.

That seems familiar.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Momma Says, Colonialist Is as Colonialist Does

In the news this morning I read that yesterday our president was briefed by our ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. According to the president, Khalilzad delivered information about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's recent trip to several Persian Gulf nations. Khalilzad was in position to give this information because he had accompanied al-Maliki on the trip.

I had to read that part again. The leader of a country, making a three nation tour to neighboring heads of state took along the ambassador from a nation thousands of miles away. How likely is it that when Bush goes to Mexico he will take with him the ambassador from China?

Looked at in this light, one might get the impression that the people al-Maliki visited had greater interest in a little face time with the U.S ambassador to Baghdad than with the leader of Baghdad. Yet, we are not to believe that Iraq is a colony of the United States.

We should be realistic about it. Not long ago our president had a weekend of meetings with his brain trust, so to speak, at Camp David. We were told the principal topic was the Iraq situation – the war, the insurgency, the blossoming of freedom. [My guess is that the principal topic was actually how to cover up our total incompetence in fighting the war, overcoming the insurgency, and planting democratic freedom. But that’s just my opinion.] According to the stories released by the White House, Bush cleverly retired early (if only) on the last evening of the meeting, only to sneak out of the compound and hop a flight to Baghdad.

The story goes on that he flew without incident through Iraqi airspace, arrived unannounced at Bagdad’s airport, was whisked by chopper to the American embassy in the Green Zone, and from there telephoned al-Maliki to announce his arrival and tell al-Maliki to come over to the embassy for a meeting, and to bring his cabinet. I should not have been as surprised as I was that al-Maliki complied. My surprise arose from the notion that a head of state would fly unannounced in to the airspace of a sovereign nation and make a demand that the host head of state come to the visitor’s embassy, along with the cabinet.

Could we imagine Putin, for instance, getting into Russia’s embassy in Washington by helicopter from Dulles airport without NORAD and the air traffic controllers knowing about it, and then demanding that Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld an the gang, come over to the embassy for a sit down? No, probably not. But then, we are not a colony of a superpower.

Iraq is.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Community Theatre

Support for community theatre in Loudoun County should not slip.

What can you do? Make it a point to attend "The Odd Couple" at Old Stone School in Hillsboro for one of the performances July 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30.

And above all, read the reviews of local theatrical performances in The Purcellville Gazette.