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August 2004

Elizabeth Dole?

After last night's spectacle that reminded me a lot of the final scene of Attack of the Clones, I decided to stick with my plans with Valerie and not make my blood boil by watching the convention. However, I did listen to one speech as I drove to Val's, that of Senator Elizabeth Dole.

This felt like something out of The Manchurian Candidate. Who was that speaking?

For almost 20 years I've respected, admired, and supported Elizabeth Dole. I think she should have been HW's VP pick in 88 instead of Danny Boy.

But the venom coming from her mouth was more akin to Pat Buchanan's speech at the 92 Convention. Elizabeth Dole Culture Warrior?

I guess the GOP has become a group of lemmings following their leader off the cliffedge of reason if someone like Liddy Dole has transformed into what she said tonight.

And why couldn't the Republicans I really liked have at least stayed normal?

To Be Fair

If you haven't read "The Forces of Darkness" post, do. It is a rant against last night's Republican National Convention. And go read Greg's blog .

But I decided in order to be fair, that I'd state why I am not a Democrat (remember, I've been an independent since May 2003, when I left the Republican Party).

I have two serious objections to the Democrats.

1) They rarely seem to be rational.

2) They wouldn't know a good, big, original idea if it hit them in the face (and I don't think they'd have the courage to see it through if they did).

Evidence for #1 -- Maxine Waters. I could site other pieces of evidence, but this should be enough.

The Democrat Party had some great ideas in the 1960's. We tried them. They, mostly, didn't work. But the Democrats never realized this. Did you hear the speech Howard Dean made when Al Gore endorsed him? Sounded like he wanted to return to 1965 and try all the same Johnson administration stuff again. I think all those ideas were worth the try back then, but there's no need to revisit them.

The only Democrat of recent decades who was a good rational creative thinker was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, but he's now dead.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have been loaded with ideas big and original for most of the last 35 years. The Reagan Revolution is a good example. Even Newt Gingrich is. There is little I agreed with Newt on, but he was a rational thinker who had some new big ideas to try. The Clinton's never did. Health care? Looked more like those programs from the '60's. And Clinton never even got around to proposing anything for Social Security or Medicare (reform of which he ran on both in '92 and '96). All through the '90's GOP mayors and governors were trying all sorts of new things (Giuliani's success against crime in NYC, Tommy Thompson's governorship in Wisconsin, etc.). Even W had a few big good ideas (I know he didn't come up with them) in the 2000 campaign -- like his Social Security Reform plan.

The GOP just now seems to be caught up with a big idea that's basically evil (thanks to those blasted Neo-Cons and Religious Righters, both of whom were Democrats 30 years ago).

And the Democrats seem puny.

The Forces of Darkness

Well, I've come a long way in a few years. Last night I felt like I was watching a bunch of clueless people, trapped in an ideology that leads them to celebrate the grave sins they are guilty for. I've never been so angry after a night of political convention. And last night was supposed to be the non-ideologues (though the media never have understood how conservative McCain is). Some of the lowlights:

* McCain's impassioned ending that once again made it out like all of us who object to this war and this administration are unpatriotic and evil.
* Giuliani trumpeting this ridiculous idea that the al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting against freedom. His rhetoric at this point in the speech would have been more fitting in the Cold War.
* Also his weird anti-European section where he told a pretty limited story of European cowardice in the face of terrorism in the 1970's and 80's (why not mention Reagan withdrawing from Lebanon or negotiating with the Iranian Ayatollahs? or that W didn't respond to the Cole bombing).
* The worst thing the whole night, though, was watching the delegates gleefully hoot, holler, cheer, laugh, and applaud jokes and catchphrases having to do with the war. It was basically like the speakers got up and said, "We kick ass!" and all the crowd screamed "Four More Years of Kicking Ass!" Clearly these people do not understand that we are talking about WAR. War must always be fought as a last resort and done so with humility, remorse, regret and always with an eye to how reconciliation and peace can be achieved on the other side. This display of hubris, insensitivity, and downright warmongering just appeared to me, through my tv screen, to be an exercise in sinfulness.

Garden State

I just got home from watching Garden State. I liked it a lot. It was so poignantly written. Beautifully composed. Well acted.

But the ending is all wrong. If the scene just before -- on the airport steps -- is true, then the last scene wouldn't happen. That's how we want real life to work, but it doesn't very often.

So Kara and Marty and Hallie and some of you in that gang. I realized as I drove home that I've been left in the phone booth. And I only want to be with those who want me in return. So no more waiting to see. And I think you'll be happy that I'm finally, finally there.

I Love What I Do

Being a youth minister is pretty great.

Sure this week I've had those moments you don't want -- making a mistake, making a parent/guardian upset, only having six parents show up for the annual youth parent meeting to plan the year, etc.

But, then there are these little things that are the essence of the job --

Erin & MC tp my house the night before a heavy rain. And then leave a note on my car at church with a picture of them wrapped in toilet paper.

Natalie calls just to chat.

Nathan stops by for 30 seconds on his way somewhere, just because he could.

I get to tell dorky stories about myself in high school to the kids in Sunday school and they laugh at me.


Alien v. Predator

Well, I've been wanting to see this, but couldn't ever get anyone to go. Finally I found out that one of my eighth graders wanted to go and no one would take him. So we went last night.

Loved it! Loved the cheesiness. Loved the ridiculousness. But I especially loved the fighting between the aliens and the predators. It kicked some righteous ass. And there were lots of times when I jumped or was watching with intensity. That's what you want in a fun movie.

1 film reel, 4 popcorn balls

"When We No Longer Touch"

Last week Harry loaned me this cd recorded by the Turtle Creek Chorale, a local men's chorus. I've listened to it while at work and driving, but that doesn't give it a fair hearing. So I just laid in bed and listened with headphones (really the best way to hear many albums).

What a incredible piece of music. It is composed by Kristopher Jon Anthony to text by Peter McWilliams. It was written in remembrance for those who have died of AIDS. However the music is universal. It takes many of the traditional sections of the Latin Requiem Mass (Requiem aeternam, Dies irae, Lacrimosa, Agnus Dei) and matches them up with text written about the Stages of Grief. And this is incredible text. I want to reproduce it for you and have one comment at the end:

The fear that I would
come home one day and find you gone has turned
into the pain of the
What will I do if it happens?
What will I do now
that it

I know our time together
is no more.
Then why do words
come to mind that call you back?
Why do I plan lifetimes
that include you?
Why do I torture myself
with love
I never felt while you were here?

The layers I have put
around the pain of your going are thin.
I walk softly through life, adding thickness each day.
A thought or a feeling
of you cracks the surface;
a call to you shatters it all.
I spend that night in death
and spin the first layer of life
with the sunrise.

I'm past the point of going quietly insane.
I'm getting quite noisy about it.
The neighbors must think I'm mad.
The neighbors,
for once,
think right.

I know, I know it was time for us to part
but today?
I know I had much pain to go through,
but tonight?

I am missing you
far better than
I ever loved you.

I shall miss loving you.
I shall miss the Comfort of your embrace.
I shall miss the
Loneliness of waiting for the
calls that never came.
I shall miss the Joy of your comings,
and the Pain of your goings
after a time,
I shall miss

And through all the tears
and the sadness
and the pain
comes the one thought
that can make me
internally smile again:
I have

I find the acceptance text (and the accompanying music) to be the most powerful. The poet is right, there is a time when in grief and heartache that you, paradoxically, don't want to give up your pain, because it is the depth of your pain that reminds you of the height of your previous joy.

So, I recommend this album heartily.

Bohemian Rhapsody in Tehran

I'm glad my current GM car has warning systems that my previous ones didn't. I remember being stuck beside a hot roadside in Bristow in 1997 when my alternator went out. It took two days of driving back and forth to get it fixed.

Today I was driving for my CBFT Coordinating Council meeting down NW of Austin. Just as I was getting to the other side of Waco, a light came on that looked like a battery. While driving I read that this was the battery charging system warning light, and my previous incident popped into my head.

So I turned around and went back into Waco and found an Autozone. Sure enough. Alternator. They said that I probably had enough juice to get back to Dallas and have it fixed here.

So I headed back north, forsaking the meeting that I was going to have to leave a day early any way. I drove as fast as I could, so I would be closer to home in case of a potential breakdown. Well, just as I neared Hillsboro the gauges died. So, I exited. I was going to go to a convenience store, but then decided to go to the IHOP I could see. Then, as I came up on the IHOP, I saw a Pontiac dealership on the other side of the highway. Yeah! So, I went there.

About 1 1/2 hours and $50 later, I was fixed and heading home (the real cost was $379, but the extended warranty I purchased two years ago and haven't used came in handy)!

So, on the way home to Dallas I learned the following interesting things from the radio:

* Poverty has increased again this year. This is the third year of increases in a row. Child poverty increased dramatically.

* Hidalgo County, Texas, where we worked on our mission trip this summer, is the poorest county in the country, as judged by median household income. Some place in New Jersey is #1.

* Non-Hispanic White Texans are no longer a majority in the state.

* And, finally, that the Ayatollahs of Iran have finally permitted one rock album to be available in Iran. It is a collection of Queen. What a wonderful world we live in!

Old Favorites

I'm always changing the Influences and Favourites list on the left. I decided to add some of my favourite books from high school and junior high. I left some of the poets, since I so recently referred to them in a post.

Check out the new pictures from the hiking trip, too.

Bravo Mr. Cheney

Four years ago in the Vice Presidential debate, Dick Cheney took what was, at the time, a rather bold and progressive position on gay rights, especially marriage. He has been silent on this issue for months. But yesterday he restated his position of four years ago and his disagreement with the President. Bravo.

I do think that this is sincerely Vice President Cheney's view. He has always tended more to the libertarian style of conservatism instead of the Far Right (and he's never been a fundamentalist religious zealot).

I also think that the timing of the statement was politically motivated, which is realistic, I'm not making a pejorative statement. Bush has nailed down the Far Right. But the campaign is probably beginning to realize (and I don't want them to!) that they have lost significant numbers of libertarians, traditional conservatives, and many of the moderates who voted for Bush in 2000. The gay Republican contingent has virtually abandoned the President and feels abandoned by the party (and is also quick to remind folk that Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act and that Kerry does not support gay marriage either). So, I think Cheney's remarks were some attempt to stop the blood-letting from the Republican Party.

Evenso, Bravo Mr. Vice President.