Monday, February 28, 2005

Democrat's Choice - Politics or Principle

We Democrats have been acting too principled for the dirty game that is democratic politics. While adhering stubbornly, though rightly, to our progressive values, we have let the seats of power needed to actually support our cause(s) slip through our fingers.

I encountered some good advice from an adversary, Joe Scarborough, we may do well to consider. We really do have to win/win back some senate seats folks.

While cruising the MSM blogs (MSNBC in this case, obviously), I also came across Eric Alterman counting the ways Iraq has proven to be a fool's errand. We all have the benefit of hindsight now, but some of us predicted the chaos from the beginning.

It wasn't that hard either.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Granddaughters. 'Nuff said.

Jazmine and Kaiya Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Family Time

I spent an entire down day with family at my sister and brother-law's home in Marietta. It was busy in a kids and parents sort of way, but generally peaceful understanding that dynamic.

I hope everyone else was able to spend some time recreating with family, friends, and/or loved ones.

No politics, religion, sports, or ranting at all tonight. Peace.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Koufax Congrats! Gorbachev on Democracy

Congratulations to all the Koufax award winners. I especially appreciated Juan Cole's best post victory for If America were Iraq,What would it be Like?

I heard Paul Harvey commenting that Gorby had weighed in on the Bush v. Putin democracy debate. I couldn't find a print source for attribution, but the gist was that America shouldn't be pushing democracy on the rest of the world until we could demonstrate that it worked here at home.

I almost took offense. Time was I would have taken a lot of offense. Times change.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

John Paul II, Karma, and Blog Fixing

I'm scatter-shooting tonight in memory of Hunter S. Thompson. That's where the karma reference comes in. I read his son, Juan, saying his father considered himself "a road man for the lords of karma." He then said the reference was a little cryptic. Yeah, maybe, but rich and telling. More prose for thought which is the major part of HST's legacy to the world.

The Pope is gravely ill, again. I'm not Catholic, but in this Lenten Season the pontiff's condition gives me pause. See, I buy into the thinking that Lent is, on one level, a participation in Jesus' journey toward death. John Paul has proven nothing if not resilient, and he may bounce back yet again, but these ventures near the edge of mortality, at this particular time, certainly bring my focus back to the Passion.

I spent a lot of time restoring links today (see previous post), and have gotten my sidebar close to where I had it. I'm thinking I need a little more in the way of graphics, but for now I really want my focus on writing consistently. I speak of frequency not quality.

I have a family trip out of town this weekend, so we'll see what I get done in this space. Ciao, for now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Rookie Blog Mistake

I made a big one today. I wanted to changed my template to another of the same style just with a more contrasting type space. Since the style was the same and I hadn't done any fancy graphics or anything, when it said I would lose any customizations I figured well, that just doesn't apply to me.

Oh, but, it did! I blew away all the links I had spent nearly three weeks building.

Then, I get one of those visits from a site I had left a comment on earlier, so of course my new visitor (one I really respect) saw a pretty bare-bones sidebar.

Sorry Temple, but thanks. Rebuilding is underway. I do know to always, always, always save the original.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Greatest President? - Not My Kid!

A recent Gallup poll on the greatest U.S. president returned some surprising (at least to me) results. Not that Reagan was #1 so much, and only slightly more that Clinton was #2; though, in some ways both surprise me.

The number one surprise for me in the survey was that most parents no longer want their child(ren) to grow up to be president. I understand it; I guess I just hadn't given it any thought.

I am now very, very sad.

Monday, February 21, 2005

U.S. Becoming Irrelevant

I don't really think so, but at a time when our democracy and military security should make us the default leader for the entire world, other nations are looking elsewhere for support in building their future. An India Times editorial gives an eye opening summary of what countries are doing right now to build and grow economically and militarily without, or in spite of, the United States.

We all remember the Bush warnings to the United Nations about the risk of becoming irrelevant if America's call to disarm? Iraq went unheeded. Well, we could easily see ourselves in a similar context regarding global alliances outside the U.N. The Russian-China alliance and the looming BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) agreement could create truly competitive forces in the world-at-large.

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way?" That attitude has brought us to here. Now, Dr. Rice, if you truly have influence in the Oval Office, maybe you should push to add "join" to our list of active options.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Desert Paradise

Near the entrance to Ghost Ranch just north of Abiquiu, NM. This area near the four corners region of the Southwest U.S. was used in filming the Billy Crystal/Jack Palance comedy, City Slickers.

Space - lots of space. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

A Discipline Post

The title says it for today. I made that Lenten pledge to post everyday, so here it is. I'm on call for work this week and started with a sleepless night/day. I don't have the stamina I had in my 20's, and lack of sleep zones me out quickly.

I plan some more detail work on the format for this page this weekend. I may even go for a picture or graphic if I feel lucky. So far I notice my content really suffers when I work on site mechanics; probably that stamina thing again. So...

A happy weekend to all, and I hope a good (quiet) night.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Be at Peace to Work for Peace

A contemporary Buddhist monk from Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh, suggested that to work for peace it makes sense that one should be at peace.

I blurted out, in my last post, my hope of peace in the whole wide world. Honestly, I'm still trying to manage a little peace on a consistent basis inside my home's four walls. A thirteen-year-old that doesn't want to wake up in the mornings, and a wife with way too much to do to be trying to get him up for the third, fourth, fifth time is a recipe for a lot of dynamics, but not peace.

Trying to stay peaceful while she's waiting for consequences to be administered to the defiant teen can reasonably be construed as failing to support one's spouse. So, my serenity defense then led to a different state of emotion, but, again, not peace.

See, my plan was for everyone to keep their thoughts and develop a reasoned response for a calm evening discussion. Well with three in the talk it only took one to turn the plan into the confrontation.

Well, I kept my response below the level of actual violence, but my mood was absolutely not peaceful.

I don't want to disappoint the profound advice of Nhat Hanh, but I'll have to settle for working for peace while working toward peacefulness; at least, as long as there's still a teenager in the house. Otherwise, if I wait, the world may have to find peace without me.

Walking the walk while talking the talk; rather than, walking the walk before talking the talk.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Health Care Costs- A Real Crisis

Rob Reynolds of CNBC tripped my trigger today, so I'm going off in a direction I didn't even mention in may last post. He reminded me at a time when I'm struggling with the priority I ascribe to Social Security reform that there is something I consider more personal and more urgent (certainly relative to a program that is currently solvent).

Close family members of mine are on Medicare. Close family members of mine are without health insurance. The administration has proposed help as Reynolds points out. Let me say that none of the people I know without insurance would, or could, use a $3,000 tax credit to buy it. To suggest any significant percentage of people in that position could, or would, is to demonstrate a lack of first-hand knowledge of the way these folks live their lives.

The $3,000 is not going to cover the cost of a policy for a family. It's not even close according to Reynolds' numbers. So, these people are going to hope they, or their kids, don't get sick. Most will take the chance through hope, faith, or just plain financial limitation. Then when they do get sick it's off to the emergency room where costs are the grossest of the gross.

Somewhere between 40 and 50 million of our fellow Americans are in this

How are they ever going to work their way toward participation in an ownership society, or contribution to a personal retirement account, when basic medical care not only takes all their disposable income, but weighs them down with a heavy burden of debt. Many, probably most, of these people will be left behind in such a society as presently outlined.

I think there is a real danger to our American system if we don't address the health care crisis with priority. Yes, demographics in this country point to an undeniably problematic future for Social Security, but, the future is now for a lot of our sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters.

President Bush has shown the nerve to reach for the third rail; surely we can find the nerve to overcome the stigma of the Clintons' failed attempt at fixing the health care system.

It is a matter of life and health and maybe even death, now!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Checking In

I'm just posting a note tonight because I have so much competing in my head to be said:

1) I'm not sure where to start and;

2) If I start I may not stop.

I want to talk about free speech issues soon, and I want to weigh in on the Middle East and Southwest Asia, but I need to do it when my reason outweighs my passion. Today it doesn't, so I will continue to attend to some site layout details while my thoughts settle into place.

Rep. Curt Weldon just told Chris Matthews on Hardball the bombing in Lebanon yesterday could not have happened without the knowledge of Syrian security forces. Syria has 15,000 troops in Lebanon. So with 150,000 troops in Iraq, what should we know about insurgent bombings?

Ssshhh! See what I mean.

So I'll close now with a request and a hope for peace, please.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Baseball is Dead to Me

How many times do you have to be caught cheating in Major League Baseball before you're suspended for even a year? Three? Four?, and this is the new 'improved' policy.

Didn't Shoeless Joe Jackson get a lifetime ban just for admitting being involved with cheaters ---once??? Agreed old Kennesaw Mountain Landis (first commissioner of baseball) was one stern individual, but none of the more moderate commissioners since has seen fit to reinstate Shoeless Joe or any of his associates.

Folks, these are cheaters we're talking about. The Olympic honchos have it pretty much right. In the spirit of everyone deserving a second chance, a first-time bust is a two year suspension, and a subsequent offense gets life. I've stated here already I'm a practicing Christian, so I would personally forgive repeat offenders for being human. I would not, however, give them repeated opportunities to participate in anything purporting to be a fair competition.

Jose Canseco is catching a lot angry rhetoric for his hyped and probably exaggerated tale-telling, but the fact is his story wouldn't be getting any traction if there wasn't a whole lot of steroid abuse, aka cheating, going on in MLB.

Baseball has lost me. I was onced enthralled by its intangibles, but my interest barely survived the last strike. The homerun derby of '98 finished me off as a regular fan. Something about that many homeruns was definitely unreal to me.

Now it's just dead.

My faith calls me to believe in redemption, reconcilition, and yes even resurrection, but in the case of my interest in baseball it really will take a miracle.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Lenten Discipline

That's really what this post is. An act of discipline. I'm pretty toasted from trying to learn my Web host's editing application, and trying to learn some FrontPage at the same time so I can manage my 'regular' site on my own PC instead. But, I didn't want to neglect the blog, as this site hasn't given me any problem(s).

Seriously, I think a daily post here will be part of my Lenten practice. I gave up coffee, too, though not caffeine. I've come to really value the self-examination, study, and reflection that's now a part of my life this time of year. I'm not worthy, though, to talk much about discipline, as at last count my spouse was giving up wheat, meat, sweets, and wearing pants (really, pants).

I've been observing Lent officially in one way or another for the last six years, since I was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. I really appreciate the way the Anglican tradition allows me to explore my spiritual nature without judging my advocacy as a progressive Democrat. That's not to say I'm totally happy with the institutional church in any of its iterations. The Democratic Party either for that matter!

Yes, I'm a Democrat and a professed, practicing Christian, but I'll have much more to say about that later I'm sure. Again, I'm basically just checking in today, so ...

Bye for now.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Admin Stuff

I just had to say I survived my first encounter with honest-to-goodness HTML. I wanted to add a few links to the sidebar of the blog, and of course was kind enough to include the necessary code in the 'Help' section. It scared me to death, but with only short-term starts and stops I was able to get the links I wanted where I wanted. Hooray for me.

I have a minor bout of obsession/compulsion setting in, so I'm on the way to the bookstore for some hardcopy blogging and HTML info.

At least I hope it's a minor bout. It's too early to tell for sure.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Freedom in Shades of Gray

I feel a strong tug of irony when I hear socially and/or religiously conservative advocates speaking longly and loudly about spreading freedom. Irony in that these folks, whose moral judgements are rendered in absolute terms, propose freedom of a very relative variety.

It was late in my four dozen years that I realized one of the inherent costs of freedom in the society-at-large would be the need for me to suffer silently a great many things I don't like. Of course, this arises as a need only if I intend to walk what I talk when I say freedom.

Multiple facial piercings; more skin covered by tattoos than not; underwear up to here, pants down to there come to mind in terms of personal appearance.

Music with a lot more beat than melody and words more spoken than sung; teenage performers dancing like exotic adult entertainers; movie dialogue with more profanity than intelligent discourse all get under my skin when I try to enjoy today's popular "entertainment".

But you know what? People being free to do any or all of the above has zero impact on my personal freedom. What I don't like is my problem. I should only worry about that which imposes itself forcefully between me and my liberty (substitute beliefs if you like). I remember Thomas Merton saying something similar,though better, a long time ago, and I found it hard to accept. But it was even harder to deny.

Those who aren't willing to be tolerant when faced with social and cultural practices they don't like, seem to be defining freedom within the context of their own judgement. An acquaintance said to me the other day; "Yeah, but, there has to be a line." Yeah, but, we don't get to draw it individually unless we choose to withdraw from the outside world completely. Good luck with that!

I suggest we only draw that line very rarely and very carefully. Most of the time when faced with people, places, and things we don't like, we should acknowledge the liberty of others and just get over it.

I further suggest that those who would deny these types of liberties (and many others) to their fellow American citizens should find a word other than freedom for what they are trying to spread abroad. The freedom they walk is only a distant relative of absolute freedom.

Moral relativism is to be found in some surprising places these days.

Why DogmaDogged?

The title came from the way I'm feeling in general these days. The sources of all the dogging are many. Certain churches, most politicians, and a lot of cultural icons come to mind. The dogma that gets to me is of the self-righteous, my-way-or-the-highway variety most of the time. Sometimes I just go up in flames when I don't get my way, but less frequently since advancing age began taking much of the energy necessary to fan the more petty hot spots.

Anyway, I'll probably start off with some pet rants soon to relieve some of the pressure motivating me to write in the first place. Then, once the overload is released, we'll all see how determined I am to keep communicating.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Me in NM desert Posted by Hello

Hello Web Log World

This is my first first person report on my shiny new blog! I will write as often as I can, and try to make it routine. That's not a quaranteed, sure-fire good thing. My style can range from stuffy-stilted to just too cute. I plan to keep things more comfortably casual, but anticipate it will take a while to get there.

I will preach and rant, but hope to balance that with contemplation and more thoughtful discourse. Off now to find out how to do this profile thing... Tom.