A Horrible Dream

Last night I dreamt I was on a road trip with Obama. He was still about to be President, but he was ten years younger- my age. Obama, another friend, and I were driving in a small car over a great distance, when we came to a very mountainous coastal area, similar to what you find in Northern California, but on the East Coast. Our friend was driving, and Obama was instructing him on how to shift, for evidently this particular manual was rather complicated.

Too complicated for our friend. As we came to a particularly sharp curve, above a particularly tall cliff overlooking the ocean, he shifted wrong, and didn't pull the right lever. Instead of going around the curve, we went over the cliff, falling 1,000 feet to the sea below. All three of us fell out of the car. I knew enough to angle my body to surf the wind, so that I would not land on the rocks below. I continued to catch the updrafts, looking for deep ocean to catch me, but aware I might not succeed. At the last moment a rocky islet appeared, and I almost hit it, until I kicked my feet up at the last moment, and splashed in the ocean beyond. (In a dream, falling 1,000 feet into water doesn't kill you.) I was relieved to have landed safely, but had a foreboding feeling of dread, that Obama and out other friend had not managed to land in the water.

Shortly thereafter a massive rescue operation commenced, looking for Obama and our friend. They were never found. We knew that they had both died, and I wept. I knew Obama would be the first black President Elect, but never the first black President. All around me people cried, for the end of a dream.


He makes me laugh.

Did you see Senator McCain at the Al Smith Dinner? And then later on SNL? The dude is funny!

I'm sorry, but this is what he should have been doing for the last year. McCain could have gone with the whole "laughter is the best medicine" bit to bring hope. He tried to match Obama on hope and change, and, well, no one can. It's a losing proposition. But comedy? Obama has kind of fallen flat on that bit.

Until tonight. Did you catch 60 Minutes? I smiled at the McCain bits above. I laughed out loud at the natural, at-ease humor of Obama. Watch it, and know some joy.


No, We Didn't.

Moveon.org recently came out with a free bumper sticker, "Yes, we did." It's a riff off of Obama's famous slogan, "Yes, we can."

I totally relate to the feeling. Yes, Obama is going to be President- we got him elected! Yes, for the first time in my life, the guy I voted for won. I am so very excited, and millions of us did our part.

But when Obama said, "Yes, we can," he was quite explicitly not talking about getting him elected President. He was talking about something far larger. About changing the way politics is done in Washington. About learning to hope again. About restoring America's reputation throughout the world. About ending war, and bringing in peace. About restoring equitability between the classes in America, and removing the horrible stain where the wealthiest make 400x the salary of the poorest. About bringing in universal health care, so that the poor in America don't go without care, and end up dying. About ending the culture wars, and learning to find common agreement, and that of God in our enemies, whomever they may be. This was what "Yes, we can" was all about.

No, we didn't. But Obama was elected. "Yes, we have begun." That's not as sexy a slogan as "Yes, we did." But it has the benefit of being the truth, and also reminding us all: we still have a very long way to go.

Happy Armistice Day!

Today is a day when, all over the world, people celebrate Armistice Day, the end of World War I and all war, and the beginning of peace. Under President Wilson, we joined the global bandwagon, to celebrate today as "a day dedicated to the cause of world peace." In 1954 ex-General President Eisenhower changed it to Veterans Day, and ever since then in America we honor ex-soldiers on this day, and focus on those who have fought and killed, and the value of war in our lives.

The rest of the world continues to celebrate a day devoted to world peace. Happy Veterans Day.

Around the world, there is often two minutes of silence at 11 AM, remembering all of those, friend and foe, soldier and civilian, who have died in war. Please join me in two minutes of silence, remembering U.S. soldiers and civilians, enemy soldiers and civilians, and civilians caught in the cross-fire, remembering the horror of war, and how we can work with all we are to say, as they did at the end of World War I, "Never again."
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution
of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.

-Archbishop Oscar Romero


Obama's First Great Mistake

It is with such great sadness that I write this. Obama has inspired such hope, and we are so excited to actually see him elected. But I must speak for justice. And with the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff, Obama has made his first great mistake.

Congressman Emanuel's father was a member of the terrorist Irgun Gang in the 1940s. I realize that some right-wing groups don't consider Irgun as terrorists, but the British Mandate considered the wanton killings and bombings of civilians to be terrorist acts, and so designated the Irgun Gang a terrorist organization. I affirm that a son should not be judged by the acts of his father, but Rahm Emanuel has not only not condemned his father's actions, but Rahm's subsequent actions continue a disturbing trend.

Congressman Emanuel was a member of a foreign military, the IDF, and has come out strongly against the Palestinian leaders. While rightly speaking against the violence of Palestinians, he has been unwilling to equally condemn Israeli violence. While speaking against Palestinian terrorism, he has been unwilling to even mention Israeli state-sponsored terrorism. His support for Israel is unequivocal.

I ask you, how can Obama hope to engage in dialogue with the Arab people and the Palestinians, who can he appear to be balanced and in pursuit of justice, if his very Chief of Staff so strongly supports one side? The hope of Obama is that he would dialogue with enemies. Now he has taken as co-counsel someone who utterly rejects common ground with his enemies. No American President can achieve a successful resolution to Israel-Palestine, unless they are willing to see that both sides have made grievous errors, and both sides have engaged in terrorism and violence. The Palestinians won't come to the table and be willing to come to resolution on the Right of Return and Jerusalem, if those at the table don't see the current apartheid regime they suffer under.

I fear with this step, Obama has now sabotaged his hope of enduring Mid-East peace, the greatest foreign policy issue we face today.

Homeland Security and Other Reminders of Nazi Germany

I am excited that, for the first time in my life, my guy won. I liked Carter, and was a district campaign manager for Dukakis and dressed up as him for Halloween. But I couldn't vote until Clinton, and he was far too conservative for me, so I went Nader both times. (Not in 2000. I'm not that guy.) I loved Gore's environmental stance, and voted for Kerry because, well, he wasn't Bush. So this is the first time in my life that I voted for someone who actually won, and frankly, I'm a bit unsure of myself. I'm used to being the persecuted minority, able to blame the other guy. What do you do when you're now part of the group in power?

But in truth, no matter how much I love Obama, as a Christian, I have an obligation to be prophetic. For us, it is never Country First, but always Kingdom First. Patriotism is the antithesis of Christianity. We can never put one country above all others, for in that way lies madness, and war, and death. Rather, we are called to continuously be a voice for the voiceless, to speak for the outcast and disenfranchised. This is our calling, even if we like the guy in office, even if we voted for him. So I will speak for justice when Obama works for justice, and speak for justice when he strays from the path. My allegiance isn't to America or Obama, but to Jesus Christ, and ushering in the Kingdom.

So this is the first action I call Obama to. It is a small matter, and easily fixed. It's called Homeland Security. I am not saying you should abolish it, or change the structure. It's a small matter of the name. "Homeland Security" has the connotation of Fatherland or Motherland, from Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. It suggests that your home is separate from others, and you have allegiance It has the idea that you put one ethnic group above another. It has a connotation of Facism; that one must give allegiance to the central security agencies, not that one freely gives authority to them.

Thus it was with horror that I first learned of the name proposed by George II. Make no mistake, name's matter. Many have had troubles with Homeland Security since it began, because they have overreached their authority, limiting our freedom in the name of security. I suggest one small solution, that will partially help, is rennaming the agency, to something like "Domestic Security". How we perceive the agency, and more importantly how the agency perceives itself, begins with its name.

Now that the great Babylonian Captivity is coming to an end, we can begin to correct the many mistakes of the last eight years. Let us begin small. A little name change, switching some letterhead and website urls. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Palin's Concession Speech

It's a long tradition in American politics that you trash your opponent to the depths of hell, and then, as soon as you lose, you say, "Just kidding!", and encourage everyone to work together and support the winner. Thankfully, Obama didn't fall for the trashing this time. But McCain gave a very kind and well-crafted concession speech, speaking well of Obama and speaking well for himself. He is to be congratulated for being magnanimous in defeat.

Lost in this is Palin's speech- which in this last campaign is rather important. She was the pit bull of the McCain campaign, in the traditional role of a Vice-Presidential candidate. But she was a different kind of pit bull, repeatedly raising lies and false allegations, unrepentantly allowing a climate of hate and terrorism to develop at her rallies. She had a loyal following, devoted to her, and not McCain. To Palin's credit, she wanted to speak on concession night, but was denied the opportunity by the McCain campaign.

Yet, it is now two days since the election. She isn't on the McCain campaign leash any longer. She can say what she wants. She has shown a sudden willingness to have impromptu press conferences. What is she waiting for? When are we going to hear from Governor Palin about how the country should come together, that we should support Obama, and she didn't mean all that stuff she said about him, and he's not actually a terrorist or friend of terrorists?

Shame on you, Governor Palin, that we have to call you to do what you should have done without naturally.


A Positive Campaign

I and others have already pointed out what a milestone this election was, and how excited we are that our guy actually won. But there was another victory in this election. It was an extraordinarily positive campaign. Though Hillary Clinton went very strongly negative against Obama, he held out as long as possible, and then only went negative on policy, not with wild false allegations. His response to disagreeing with Clinton's policies could barely be called negative.

Then McCain attacked him in the general election. In case you've forgotten, Cindy McCain launched a barrage of false attacks on Michelle Obama's patriotism, John McCain attacked Obama while Obama was overseas, McCain made up attacks on Obama for being elitist and a celebrity, he pretended that Obama called Palin a pig, he accused Obama of socialism when Obama a decade ago suggested compensation for slavery, he pretended Obama was in bed with the PLO and terrorists, and falsly accused Obama of being a socialist.

To top it all off, after McCain said he was going to take the high road that Hillary never did, and said the Reverend Wright was off the table, McCain started to talk about bringing Wright up again. Three days before the campagin, a 527 felt they had the go-ahead and launched despicable racist ads, focused on Jeremiah Wright and Obama, in a multi-state ad buy worth millions, that eventually went national. Without exagerrating, if you were watching CNN in the few days before the election, you saw this ad three times an hour, every hour. McCain's response? A tepid rebuke and pulling of the ad in South Carolina, and then not a single response afterward. He let it go forward.

And Obama's response to all of this? Not a single negative ad, for months and months. Only immediate press releases showing why the McCain campaign's allegations were false. And then, after repeated barrages of negative ads by McCain, Obama began to go negative in some commercials, but always on policy, and not on false allegations or allusions. At one point, Obama had more negative commercials (on policy) than anyone else in history, because he was spending more money in ads than anyone else in history- but only a third of his ads were negative. At the same time, 100% of McCain's ads were negative. Obama consistently refused to get into the gutter with his opponents.

Much finger-pointing will now occur, as to why McCain lost the race. There are many reasons, including Palin, not truly being a maverick and following his heart, letting bad advisors run a campaign, the economy, and Iraq. But top up there is that McCain insisted on not only a negative campaign, but one filled with lies. And as amazing as it is, unlike Kerry, Obama defended himself, and yet didn't respond back with despicable allegations, lies, and innuendo. And he still won the Presidency. Now that's a man I want as President.


Say it with me. President Obama.

George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Harrison
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses Grant
Rutherford Hayes
James Garfield
Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
John Kennedy
Lyndon Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George Herbert Bush
Bill Clinton
George Walker Bush
Barack Obama

Praise God, that I now live in a country that has elected a black man as President. Who would have thought it possible, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 5 years ago? Truly now, all things are made new. We will now speak of President Obama, a President with an African and Arab name. We will now look to our leader as a person of colour, one with connections for the first time with the 2/3rds World. Children of colour across this country will now look up and see that they can do anything. Other nations will look on us and realize this is a nation they can relate to. They will realize that, now, we truly are the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.

I've never done this before.

Vote for someone who actually wins the Presidency. Will this be the first time ever? Oh, glorious day!

You should all totally move to the country. Waiting in line to vote is a lot more fun here.
This is an Obama Papa.

I asked for more than one, but they would only give me the one ballot.

For only the second time, I got to vote for a man to be President who will be the first person of colour in the Oval Office. (Well, if you count the VP, the second person of colour in the Oval Office.) Last time was a caucus- this was the first time I was able to put a mark next to his name. Let it be known, for all time, I got to vote for the first black man for President.

And a bit anti-climatic, but still a joy- there was actually a ballot initiative, in our supposedly initiativeless state, but at the county level. Thankfully it was a gimmie, similar to Obama's plans- universal health care, at the state level, mandated to be the same as what those in state office get.

My Prediction

Here it is. Electoral Vote is a website I've long followed, having the most accurate polls. It's the poll to the left of this article. The site uses only non-partisan polls (so not groups like PPP), and polls state-by-state, showing the latest predicted electoral votes. It uses the most recent poll, as well as the average of any within a week. Based on all of this, Electoral Vote, along with most internet sites, have been predicting an Obama blowout for the last couple months, long before the traditional news media like CNN, who want to extend their ratings and viewers for as long as possible.

Electoral Vote also shows each state by if it's Barely, Weak, or Strong Republican or Democrat, based on 1-4%, 5-9%, and greater than 10% respectively. (There's also a category for an absolute tie.) Four years ago, four days before the election, Kerry was predicted to win. But what was more important was the Strong States, which Bush was winning over Kerry 2:1 four days out. The day before, Bush was ahead of Kerry on all counts.

Obama is currently not only way ahead of McCain by a large margin, 353:185, far ahead of the needed 270, but in the Strong States he leads 238:118. True, a week ago he was above 270 in the Strong States. But keep in mind that many have already voted at this point, around a third of the electorate. And those 238 are electoral votes that Obama has by over 10%- nearly impossible for him to lose. He needs only 32 more from his Weak or Barely States.

So, based on my calculations of poll closing times at Swing State Project, I'm predicting that we'll be able to know who the next President is (Obama), by the closing of polls in New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Colorado, and New Mexico, at 8 PM, Central Standard Time. At that time, of the predicted blue states, only Iowa will be needed to get to 270, and Iowa's seven will be there in another hour- but if Missouri, Indiana, or Georgia end up going to Obama, he won't need Iowa. That means, if you're one of my Pacific Coast readers- vote before 6 PM, if you want your vote to matter!


The National Republican Trust and the Politics of Hate

Depending on where you live, you're spared this. For this election cycle, and most, I've been on the West Coast. Washington and California are solidly blue, so we don't get a lot of election ads. In Washington, we were excited and surprised to even get visits from the Democratic candidates in the primaries, as usually our caucus is too late. But now I've moved to Wisconsin, and evidently everything has changed.

Wisconsin isn't really a swing state anymore either, but it was recently. That allows us to get the occasional campaign ad, and a lot of the 527 ads. And recently, about three times an hour, we get treated to a particular ad from the National Republican Trust.

Don't get me wrong. I might disagree with a political ad, but of course, I support the right to post them. It is when they lie, and get vicious, and attack other people's culture and race. And make no mistake, this is what the National Republican Trust has done.

The ad is a direct attack on the Reverend Wright, and Senator Obama. It is vicious and underhanded. As I've pointed out in the past, Wright is enmeshed deeply in the black tradition. His remarks weren't at all racist, but were deep in the prophetic tradition of Judaism and Christianity, as expressed in the Old Testament. Sure, he went overboard in claiming that the US government gave AIDS to blacks, but considering our history with syphilis, it wasn't that far off the mark. But in general, what the Reverend Wright said, and the way he said it, is no different from what you find in black churches across this nation.

Perhaps one of the funniest parts of the ad is when the Republican Trust bleeps out the word "damn". They want to make us thing the Rev. Wright said "fuck" instead. Or maybe they are unaware that the word "damn", when used in this way, is not cussing, but a legitimate use of the word within Christian theology? Are they perhaps that clueless about the basics of the Christian faith?

Thus, at the very least, the continued recent attacks by the Republican Trust reveal that they know nothing of the Black Preaching Tradition. In truth, they reveal an attack on another culture, a "foreign" culture to the whites at Republican Trust. This attack is as despicable as overt racist attacks, and indeed, is difficult to distinguish from them. Blacks are okay, as long as they don't think differently from "us", or don't make us have to see their differences. They certainly have nothing to offer us in their manner of thinking, their preaching, or their style of Chrsitianity. Or so is the underlying thinking of these commercials from Republican Trust.

Well, I agree. I don't like being forced to listen to something I disagree with, that I find morally repugnant and racist. I don't expect the Republican Trust to be forced to sit in the church while Jeremiah Wright preaches. So why am I forced to watch these commercials every time they come on the air, three times an hour?

So this is what I've begun to do. Every time the commercial comes on, I contact National Republican Trust, at nationalrepublicantrust.com/contactus.html, and tell them just what I think of them. I tell them they are racist, and I want nothing to do with them. I suggest that they go somewhere else to peddle their racism, because it has no place in my home or my country, and is not something that real Americans believe.

And I invite you to do the same. Let's put a stop to this. I'm not speaking of positive commercials, or even negative ones. But the ones that are over the top, that are viscious slander or racist- start responding. Every time one of these comes on the air, contact the 527, and demand that they pull their commercial off the air. Maybe we'll begin to get through to them. At least we'll strike a blow for truth and justice, and maybe, one day, make that the American way.

Madelyn Dunham, allayrahemha

Madelyn Dunham, grandmother of Barack Obama, who raised him, and formed much of who he is, has just now passed on, promoted to glory. As they say in Morroco, allayrahemha- may God have mercy upon her. Obama met his father only once, and his mother was often gone when he was younger. His father, mother, and grandfather both passed away earlier, leaving only his grandmother remaining. For her efforts in raising Obama, she changed history, but did not live to see the fulfilment of it. Allayrahemik, Madelyn Dunham.

He doesn't even know what he's saying anymore.

In a rally this morning, broadcast on CNN, McCain proposed something new for Florida. They will take the oil proceeds, and give them to Florida, so that the oil wealth can be "shared" among all Floridians. McCain stated that this was because a state knows what to do with its money better than the national government.

Really? Does he actually not realize what he just said? He just advocated sharing the wealth! Or does he somehow think socialism is bad if Obama says it, but not McCain? Or that socialism is bad nationally, but just fine on the state level?

And to put the cherry on top, he then quoted Obama, saying that Obama had advocated "spreading the wealth". Does McCain think that "spreading the wealth" is different from "sharing the wealth"?

I suppose McCain is right. Sharing the wealth sounds slightly more socialist.


McCain: Off the Rails

In an amazing rally today, the McCain campaign showed that it was running off the rails completely. At one point he began to tell his audience something, and then decided, "Never mind." At a pivotal moment, he called for Michael - I mean "Joe the Plumber", to come on stage, and then learned that Joe wasn't actually at the rally. And then, in the middle of his speech, he said something that sounds a bit like, "abrgjik". I kid you not. Listen to the speech. I replayed it a few times, because it sounded so very odd. It sounded like suddenly, he was speaking the language of an outer space alien. Which frankly, raises far too many truly frightening scenarios for me to contemplate.

And yet, for all of these rhetorical errors, that was not the most glaring nor revolting mistake of the speech. In McCain's bid to try to make American tax law, McCain's past policies, and Obama all sound socialist, McCain is now bringing up an old radio interview of Obama's, where Obama also used the R-word- redistribution. But here's where McCain has entered truly dangerous waters.

In this interview, Obama very clearly is speaking of the legacy of slavery. He speaks of how the civil rights movement lead to freedom for blacks, and the right to vote, but didn't redistribute income- and this still remains to be done. He speaks of mistakes the founding fathers made- as everyone acknowledges who has any understanding of the ammendment process in the US constitution. This is of course particularly true with ammendments like the 14th.

I recognize that some conservatives feel that everything is now right with the world, between races, and in regards to civil rights. I suspect- I hope- that those conservatives are a minority even among conservatives. Most recognize that one of the horrible legacies of slavery has been lingering racism and a continued relegation of the majority of blacks to the lower economic classes. Beyond that, there is the slightly more controversial proposal of compensation for slavery. After all, not only was there the broken promise of "40 acers and a mule", but all the wealth in terms of human productivity that was stolen from African lands, and stolen from the Africans themselves, made into slaves. To date there has been no true payment to those defrauded by the American government and American people. But the proposal is not so controversial that is has not been considered by the American Congress at times.

Some combination of these issues is what Obama was obviously referring to in his radio interview. From the context, I suspect that it was more of the former- establishing economic parity between the races in America, to remove the blemish and stain of slavery that shackles us all- rather than the more touchy issue of compensation. He was trying to seek a more just society, and make up for the wrongs that America has perpetrated on her citizens of colour.

And this...this is what McCain was referring to today in his speech, when he said that Obama was being socialist.

Before McCain denigrates calls for racial equality, it might be helpful for him to remember the immortal words of Frederick Douglass.
No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.


Palin/McCain Anti-Semitism

Have you heard? Yes- they went even further. A blatant, public display of the anti-Semitism of the Palin/McCain campaign.

Today, they started speaking of Obama's close association with Professor Rashid Khalidi. Now, in this case, unlike with William Ayers, he actually has a relationship- Rashid and Barack are friends. Rashid's not an advisor for Barack, but rather a fellow parent at Obama's school. And Dr. Khalidi is not only a professor of Arab studies, but has the prestigious Edward Said chair at Columbia. (Dr. Said was perhaps the world's foremost historian of Middle Eastern studies.)

Now Palin is accusing Dr. Khalidi of being a spokesman for the PLO, which she calls a terrorist organization. Therefore, according to Palin and McCain, Obama is, they think, again fraternizing with terrorists. So let's go over the facts, shall we?

The PLO is not a terrorist organization. It is an organization fighting to liberate the Palestinian people. It has at times turned to violence, and in the distant past, was terrorist. It has renounced those activities. I know that hard-line Zionists will disagree with this, but this blog post isn't written for them. The PLO now runs the Palestinian government, and Israel deals with them. The PLO was also dealt with directly by Presidents Clinton and Bush I. Governor Palin, do you also accuse President Clinton, President Bush, and Israel of fraternizing with terrorists? (Yes, I know you salivate for the first, but do you honestly go all the way?) And surely the governor knows that the designation of the PLO as a terrorist organization by George II is very controversial, and many, many foreign policy experts consider the designation incorrect? Well, actually, perhaps she's not aware of that.

But, some will say, the PLO was once a terrorist organization, and once terrorist, always terrorist. Have you ever heard of the Irgun Gang? It was an extreme Zionist organization, which used exceptionally violent means to form the State of Israel back in the 40's, including bombings and murder of civilians. The terrorist designation was done by Britain, which at time controlled the Palestinian Mandate. Nearly every Prime Minister and President of Israel was at one time associated with this gang. But perhaps Palin still considers them all terrorists as well? Or perhaps she feels that sometimes governments make mistakes in designating freedom fighting groups as terrorists?

Oh, and lest I forget- Dr. Khalidi has never been a spokesman for the PLO, or the Palestinian government. He does speak of the right for Palestinians to be free, and that attacks by Israel on Palestinian civilians are a violation of international law. He has said that Israel has occupied the Palestinian territories. He has spoken against Zionist groups who seek to silence free speech and debate on these issues. All positions that most of the world accepts- accept for some in Israel and America. All legitimate viewpoints, that reasonable people can disagree on, including Barack Obama.

I understand that Sarah Palin and her running mate might not agree with Dr. Khalidi. But they seem to have taken a page from George II, where, if anyone doesn't agree with them, they are a terrorist. This is nothing short of academic oppression. Palin and McCain don't want anyone speaking out against the practices of Israel. But more than that, they seek to silence them, just like the Zionist groups that Dr. Khalidi speaks against. They not only don't agree, they not only don't want to hear the opposing viewpoints- they seek to label the opposing viewpoints as "terrorist", so that the worst appellation in modern America is applied, and the other no longer has a voice. And since President Carter has also pointed out flaws in the Israeli government, even to the point of calling their system apartheid, because, as Carter says, you tell a friend when they are going wrong, one would have to assume that Palin would also consider President Carter a terrorist.

Let us be clear. Palin and McCain again seek to go negative and attack Obama. This time they seek to attack Obama by saying he is a friend of someone who has supported Palestinian state and human rights. They seek to call this man a terrorist and falsely claim he spoke for the PLO, and then they seek to claim the PLO is terrorist. They do this because they believe that anyone who speaks against injustice in Israel and Palestine, anyone who speaks for the Palestinians, is wrong, is colluding with terrorists, and should be silenced. It is not just that you must support the rights of Jews and Israelis (certainly something should all support), but for Palin and McCain, the rights of the Palestinians should be limited.

My friends, there is a name for this. It is anti-Palestinian. It is anti-Arab. And since Palestinians are Arab, and Arabs are Semites, it is also Anti-Semitic. Probably not any worse than being racist, but it's good to call a spade a spade.

Vote Palin-McCain. The Anti-Semitic Ticket.


McCain's Pro-War Stance

I've noticed something at McCain and Palin's rallies. They almost always not only thank the veterans, but ask all veterans to stand up so they can be applauded. McCain and Palin repeatedly speak of the "real" Americans- those who've sacrificed and fought in wars for their country. Their motto is "Country First".

And something disturbing has emerged. Obama at one point was much more anti-war than he is now. Now he seems to be more against only the Iraq War. But he is on record of repeatedly rejecting war, and coming out against it, advocating it only when necessary. Most previous American generals and military leaders have a similar viewpoint. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex. Most military leaders might believe that war is necessary, but it should always, always be avoided, because "war is hell".

Yet, I have not heard a similar viewpoint from McCain. I could be wrong. But I can't recall him at any time speaking against the horrors of war, and how we should avoid it at all costs, because it is so evil. He and Palin speak so glowingly of the veterans at his their respective rallies, I begin to wonder what place pacifists like myself would have in a McCain America. Though Obama believes war is necessary, I definitely get the feeling that he respects the values of pacifists and is willing to listen to them. With McCain, I get the feeling that he would consider me un-American and a traitor, and his America would be better off without me in it. Is there a time that he has come out in support of nonviolent action? Is there a time when he has spoken out against war itself?

I think it might go back to McCain's experiences in the war. Most of that experience was as a POW, being tortured. And understandably, and laudably, he was against the US torture policy (until recently). But he was fighting in that war for only a few months. He was not leading people in wartime, nor fighting face to face. His experience in war was dropping bombs on faceless targets, crashing planes, and being imprisoned. It may be that, unlike other great military men, he has not had the first-hand experience to recognize how awful war is, and how often we must work to avoid it at all costs.

The McCain/Palin motto is "Country First". It never seemed so shocking until I saw it on a Christian friend's car. As Christians, we are called to place Kingdom First, far before the country. I know it's the McCain motto, and this friend is for McCain, but there is still something deeply disconcerting about seeing this espoused by someone following Christ. When we put Country First, we fight wars, because there are times when we have to kill to defend the country's land, honor, freedom, or wealth. When we put Kingdom First, we resist not evil, but turn the other cheek, saying that I will love my enemies, even to the point of giving up my right to be right and my right to property, so that I might pursue real shalom and peace. Certainly neither candidate fully understands this. But the impression is undeniable that McCain's reluctance to speak about his commitment to Christ is paralleled by his reluctance to speak against strife and war itself.


How Low Can McCain Go?

Let us review. McCain and Palin create a climate conducive to fear and hate-mongering, suggesting that Obama is tied to terrorists, and receive a groundswell of hate speech and shouts from their supporters in reference to Obama, including, "Terrorist!", "Kill him!", and "Off with his head!" A veteran and sufferer of the Civil Rights Movement, John Lewis, points out that this is very similar to his experiences with George Wallace's campaign, where a climate of racism and hatred were encouraged. McCain's campaign then complains, not about the racism of their supporters, but about Wallace's comments. Wallace states that he went too far, and does not think Palin and McCain are racist, but rather that their action or inaction have encouraged a very frightening climate of racism at their rallies. Obama agrees, saying he felt Wallace went too far. Later, McCain finally says something briefly at an Obama rally, saying he is not Arab, but rather a "good, family man", which evidently is mutually exclusive with being Arab. McCain then calls on Obama to denounce Congressman Lewis', though Obama already said he thought Lewis went too far, and McCain was saying racism was being brought in the campaign by those pointing out the racism in McCain's supporters.

It can't get any worse, right? You can't expect the McCain campaign to go further into the mud and vile filth of the gutter, right? Never fear, the McCain campaign will not fail to disappoint.

Today, we find out that, because a supporter of Obama has pointed out the racism of some McCain supporters and the climate of fear encouraged by the McCain campaign rhetoric, the McCain campaign now feels that they are now justified in bringing up Reverend Jeremiah Wright again. Yes, that Wright- the one McCain said he'd never bring up. Until he was way down in the polls, and realized the only way he could win was to continue his anti-maverick streak of embracing racism and all the dirty politics that Karl Rove and George Bush previously used against him. Yes, that Wright, who Hillary Clinton had previously brought up in her own racist attacks, pointing out his errors because he was deep in the black preaching tradition.

Do not doubt. Reverend Wright preached nothing new, nothing different from what you find in black churches throughout America, and have heard for 150 years. Awareness of the black preaching tradition would make that clear, but sadly, few whites have the benefits of this experience. So Hillary just had to bring up some quotes out of context, to use them to attack Obama. And now, McCain, smacking his lips in the uncomfortablness of deceit and the joy of denigration, has apparently decided that, because his racism encouragement was called out, he is now justifed in turning to further racist attacks.

So again I ask, Mr. McCain, how low can you go?


Preying Prayers

I don't use this word lightly. This pastor really was stupid. But he's not someone to make fun of, because the hate-mongering he used to prep the crowd for McCain is terrifying indeed.

Earlier today, before McCain arrived at the rally, a pastor gave an opening prayer, astounding in it's mixture of religion and politics, lack of basic understanding of other faiths, lack of basic understanding of Christian theology, and level of hate.

The pastor, Arnold Conrad, "prayed":

There are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons
Well, actually, Hindu is a person who follows Hinduism. It's not the name of a god. Buddha is not a god, except in folk Buddhism practices where he's elevated to that level. Allah is the Arabic word for "God". Arab Christians use this word when they pray. You know, something like our use of the word "god" which we took from the head of the Germanic pagan pantheon so we'd have a word in English.

Don't get me wrong. I believe there is a place for saying, "My god is different from your god." If I'm looking to nuances in theology, I can say at some point that my God as a Quaker is different from the God of a Baptist. He's still the same God, of course, but because we perceive him in different ways, in very nuanced different ways, he is different. While acknowledging this difference, I in no way question the salvation of the other, and I affirm that our two Gods are, in truth, the same entity. But a Christian who focuses more on the wrath of God will have a slightly different God than I do, for we all create God in our own image.

As to "they" praying that Obama wins- well, there are some good reasons they are praying that Obama wins. Part of that would be that they don't want to be bombed anymore. There's also good reasons that they are praying to different gods than the Muslim-Judeo-Christian God- namely, because they don't believe in that god, so it would be difficult for them to knowingly pray to him.

And what if the non-Christians do pray for "the other guy"? Since when did that mean God wouldn't listen to them? If they are more in line with the values of the Kingdom than the so-called followers of Jesus, why wouldn't Jesus listen to their prayers instead? Or do we have a God so foolish that he says, "I know you guys aren't praying for what I want to happen. But since you claim my name, I'm going to subvert my entire process and the future of the planet, just because you signed up on a dotted line."? God hears all prayers. He cares about the Kingdom, and not just the Church. And he offers the Grace to extend a listening ear and answering hand, even while we were yet sinners.

Then Pastor Congrad goes on to pray:

And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.
Talk about your shock and awe. Now this pastor is trying to create a dichotomy between peoples. He's a divider, not a uniter. That's not the Spirit of Jesus Christ. He's preying on the fears of The Other that have risen in America since 9/11. If the rest of the world likes Obama, well, he must be bad, just as John McCain said. This will certainly not enhance America's reputation in the world.

I'm not a big fan of pretending to pray when you're actually preaching. Contrary to his written comments to CNN, this was in no way a heart-felt prayer. This was preaching (to the converted). This was pretending that you're having a conversation with the Almighty, when really you're trying to sway other humans in the room. It is an insult to God to do this, to pretend, to act in one way. It is hypocrisy. Which makes me wonder, where were the people listening to this prayer and willing to stand up and yell out, "Blasphemy!"? The Age of Martyrs it appears is long past. We no longer have Christians in the U.S. willing to stand up for Christ and speak Truth.

For what kind of God is it that needs us to defend his honor? Rest assured, his reputation will in no way be besmiched if Obama wins, or even if McCain wins. God's reputation will be intact. Pastor Conrad's God seems to be the one of Star Trek V: Search for God. It is arguably the worst Star Trek movie ever made, but it has its moments. Principle among these is the end, wherein they find God, and he is happy, for he can use their starship to finally return to his children throughout the galaxy. In one of the most memorable lines ever uttered in Trek lore, Captain Kirk says, "Excuse me. Excuse me. I have a question. What does God need with a starship? Really. I want to know. What does God need with a starship?"

The answer, of course, is that God, if he truly is God, doesn't need a starship in the slightest. His plans will go forward, with or without us. The theologically correct answer is that he allows us to participate in his plans, for he knows we will experience greater delight by doing so, and that is what we were created for- to experience Joy in him.

Pastor Conrad, God's reputation won't be hurt by who wins the Presidency. Do you know what will hurt God's reputation? Prayers like this. And only because people will get confused, thinking that God and his followers happen to be on the same page. Pastor Conrad, I think you may be right. My God is not the same as your god.


President Palin? (No, the other one.)

Today, in the ongoing Troopergate investigation, it was revealed that Governor Palin's husband, Todd, repeatedly tried to get government officials to fire his former brother-in-law. The problem is, Governor Palin didn't know a thing about this.

I'm fine with a spouse being involved in governing with the governing spouse. I thought it was very cool that Hillary was so involved in President Clinton's government. But there was no doubt who was in charge- the one elected President. I'm glad if Todd is involved with Palin's work. But it raises other rather disturbing issues.

The Religious Right is far more comfortable with Todd being involved with Sarah than they were with Hillary being involved with Bill. This is just blatant sexism. There is this belief that it's just fine if the man who wasn't elected is involved with government, but not if the woman who wasn't elected. Remember all the screams of rage that the Religious Right had at the thought of a woman (Hillary) having actually work to do when Bill was President.

This also raises the question of how well Sarah Palin governs. Todd is involved- great. But Todd is involved, and Sarah doesn't know what Todd is doing?!? That is the clear testimony he gave today. (I'm assuming he's not lying.) That means that her husband is going around doing things in government, and the Governor has no knowledge of it! Let us leave aside the question of what kind of marriage this is. What kind of Governor is this? How can we trust her to be Vice-President if she has that weak of understanding and control as Governor?

But it gets far worse than this. For, if McCain were elected, we all know there is a great chance that he would die in office, of old age. If we elected McCain, we are also almost assuredly electing a President Palin. And many are disturbed with this notion, because we have no idea who the real Palin is- we've known her for five weeks, with few interviews or opportunities to get to know her. But now, it would appear that precedent would suggest that a Vice-President or President Sarah Palin would also involve substantial work by a First Gentleman Todd. And his behind-the-scenes work would evidently be rather unknown by a President Sarah Palin.

If she's going to be elected, and if she might be President, and he will be working in government without the knowledge of the sitting President, we, the public, have a right to know about this guy we wouldn't be electing but would be running the nation. Which brings us to a rather urgent question. Who is Todd Palin? And when do we start vetting him?


'Eid al Fitur?

Today is one of the high holy days of Islam, 'Eid al Fitur. After thirty days of fasting from food and drink, Muslims around the world celebrate with three days of feasting. But you wouldn't know it if you were in the U.S. government.

I have no problem with Congress taking the day off for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Well, that's not true. I have a great deal of difficulty with Congress stopping what it's doing in the middle of an economic crisis, just to celebrate a holiday. I don't care if it's Christmas or Easter- if it's an emergency, you keep on working.

But let's bypass all that. Let's say that Congress is doing its job when it doesn't do what we sent it to do, but takes extra vacations. Why, pray tell, was there no mention of the rather major holiday that a minority of Congress celebrates? Today was 'Eid al Fitur, the second most important holiday in the Islamic calendar, the equivalent of Easter if you're Western, or Christmas if you're of the Orthodox Church. Sure, only two congressmen are Muslim, as opposed to over thirty who are Jewish. But since we're obviously not looking at percentage of members in the holidays that Congress chooses to honor, why in the world did they ignore a major holiday celebrated by over a billion people around the world? Perhaps because they only pay attention to the percentages of their constituents. Understood. The most recent demographics for the U.S. put the number of Muslims as the second largest religion in the U.S., ahead of the Mormons and the Jews. Some disagree with these figures, and say that the number of Muslims is only the same as the number of Jews. Which leads me back to the question.

What prevented Congress from stating that they were taking a holiday to honor not only Rosh Hashana, but also 'Eid al Fitur, which happened this time to fall on the same two days? What message were they hoping to send by this glaring omission?



Today, the market had it's largest point drop ever. 777 points. As many Christians know, that's a significant number- the most holy number throughout the Bible, a triple of sevens. (This is the real reason why 666 is considered the number of evil- it's one less than seven, and Evil in the Bible is considered not the opposite of Good, but almost at the level of Good. This is why it's so insiduous and deceptive- it looks like the real thing. Also, of course, in ancient Hebrew numerology, 666 fits the alphabetical rendering of Nero's name.)

And, as every Christian Fundamentalist knows, the number 777 is still as significant in real life as the number 666. This can only mean that the point drop was an Act of God. He is judging this nation for its pursuit of wealth and mammon, for its lack of care for the poor and outcast, for its not pursuing justice. Can you say, "Chickens coming home to roost?"

I knew you could.


Let's put a stop to the Republican insults.

There's been a lot of talk the last couple days, especially on the residence of satan, Fox News. Obama talked about McCain, and then used a common phrase that McCain has used in the past, stating that, "If you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig."

Now, the context is very clear that Obama was not referring to Palin- unlike the eight times that McCain used that phrase in reference to Hillary Clinton. But evidently Fox News believes so adamantly that we all spend our time listening to McCain-Palin, that they can't believe someone could use a tangentially similar phrase that wasn't similar to something Palin said.

She did say in her speech that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick. And since Obama was referring to McCain's policies when he used the line, it is perhaps a rather clever riff of the line that Palin gave at the Republican Convention. (Let us leave off to what extent comparing your gender to dogs is truly embracing of feminism.)

But here's the part that I most strenuously object to, and am indeed insulted by. The Republican machine and Fox News have evidently no problem with Palin being compared to an animal, or a dog- she did it herself on the convention floor. What they have a problem with is her allegedly being compared to a pig. And though Obama did nothing of the sort- where do they get off attacking pigs that way?!? Pigs are incredibly clean animals, poddy-trained from birth, and seeking to continuously be in water to keep heat off and stay clean, regardless of how farmers treat them. They have some of the finest curves in the animal kingdom. They are probably the third most intelligent animals, after primates and whales, and certainly far smarter than dogs. Had Obama compared Palin to a pig, it would have been an upgrade from her own comparison of herself to a dog. He of course did not, and so we are left with the Republicans attacking pigs. To call them anything of the sort would be an insult not to them, but to the wondrous pig.


Alaska is Small

Of course it's a big state. But when we talk about leadership experience, about executive experience, we are talking about people, not land. How do you lead people? How do you manage competing interests of the population? Certainly, a small-town mayor has to deal with competing interests, but we generally believe that you need to know how to manage something bigger than a small town- like a state.

But Alaska, let us remember, is about 680,000 people. Riordan, mayor of Los Angeles, city of over 3,800,000, would have been a better pick- a city more than four times larger than Alaska. Certainly, George II won with Cheney, from a state with fewer people than Alaska. But let us remember that not only did Cheney have ample experience leading on the national level, but also that he was not being touted as bringing executive experience to the ticket, as George II had already been governor of Texas.

Truly, people vote the top of the ticket, not the bottom. But the argument that she brings executive experience is baseless. We now have a candidate who has more international experience than any other Presidential candidate in history. Obama has grown up overseas and in the multiethnic state of Hawaii. He is the son of Kenyans. He uniquely understands the needs of the rest of the world, and we have seen that he can uniquely restore America's positive perception in the world. It's about international Hawaii, and not Alaska. Obama: the voice of leadership and experience.


What a Hero is.

I must confess that I am somewhat in a moral quandary. I am adamantly against engaging in war in any form. Thus, a candidate who has been to war and bombed others does not appeal to me, on this basis if no other. Yet, McCain is considered a hero not for his bombing but for his steadfastness. And yet, this steadfastness is supposed to have made him able to effectively wage war, and engage in battle, and lead troops.

I totally get how impressive it is that McCain stood up under torture for those many years. I don't support his lying to his captors, but I think it totally laudable and inspiring that he persevered. Suffering, after all, is a central tenant of Christianity- it builds endurance, character, and finally hope- as long as we approach our tormentors with love.

Somehow, though, this has been transferred into McCain being more ready to lead, and more ready to lead the military. Don't get me wrong. I'd totally love a guy who wasn't capable of leading the military, except for leading them to withdraw, except for leading them to disband. (Wishful thinking, but I'm an Idealist.) But McCain's approach towards the military was to bomb civilians and soldiers from afar, and to be shot down, and be caught. As far as the whole being-a-good-soldier thing, he failed. And rather magnificently. He lead while in the camp, as Obama has lead as a community organizer and in running a campaign, as both have lead as Senators- none of that being the kind of leadership necessary to win battles or win a war, per se. This says nothing about McCain's abilities as a human being, for often times excelling as a human is diametrically opposed to excelling as a soldier.

So he was a bad soldier, and bad at warfare, and limited in his ability to lead. What of the results of his time in internment under torture?

Suffering builds endurance, endurance character, and character hope- but it's not guaranteed. That happens only depending on how we approach the suffering and torture. Is McCain a hopeful man? Is he more filled with love and hope because of his time under torture?

I fear the opposite. I do not know if he went into therapy after his time of torture. I know that he should have, as should anyone in those circumstances. I fear greatly if he did not, and seeks to be President. And, if I assume he did go into therapy, I am still given pause. Years of imprisonment and torture can have a great toll on a man. Nelson Mandela and Ghandi came out ahead on that score, because of the way they approached their captors. They were men seeking justice, reconciliation, and peace. Is McCain such a man?

I think we can all say, shouting from the mountain tops, a resounding, "No!" We saw this in the Rick Warren Ambush, where McCain galvanized the troops at Saddleback Church in his calls to war and to totally defeat the enemy. This is not a longsuffering man, who has learned the value of patience and love and turning the other cheek. (This is not to say he does not forgive at times, or has not forgived his captors in Vietnam.) I have this deep and growing fear that this is a man who has taken all of the wrong lessons from his captivity. McCain has learned that violence works. He has learned the value of torture.

Walter Wink speaks of the Principle of Violent Mimicry: that we become that which we hate. Thus the Israelis return the same actions upon the Palestinians that were perpetrated on the Jews by the Nazis. Thus America engages in the civilian bombings it once condemned under those same Nazis. Thus a man who once heroically stood up under torture in Vietnam learns to approve the same principles to torture others, but no longer calling it torture.

A hero is not one who kills in war. A hero is not one who bombs civilians in the air. A hero is not even one who stands up under torture. A hero is the one who stands up under torture, learns to forgive and love, and learns the value of never again resisting those who do evil, but rather learning to find the common ground in all, and that of God in all.

What we need is a hero.


What Happened to Carter?

I was sitting watching the Democratic Convention on MSNBC, the place for politics, and suddenly discovered that they were doing an extended interview with Nancy Pelosi, rather than showing President Carter's speech. How irritating! I had heard he was actually going to speak, and was so looking forward to hearing him. I immediately started doing a web video search for the speech.

And could find nothing. I started searching for text, and then finally discovered that there had been no speech. Because of Carter's call for justice in Palestine, he was deemed politically inconvenient, and there was no speech. There was a video tribute, a brief wave on stage, and the former President of the United States was whisked off the stage.

How could they?! He is the finest President I've had in my brief tenure on this Earth. He was an early supporter of Obama in the primaries, albeit with a wink and a nod. Carter came out for Obama long before it was definitive. Carter's commitment to human rights and social justice make his values far closer to those of Obama than the other former Democratic President who will be speaking tomorrow.

The Hidden Carter was an insult, and a mistake.


Where Your Money Comes From Matters

I'm not a teetotaler. I'm not into beer, but I love a good glass of red wine. I can't stand grape juice for communion; give me the warmth of Christ going down the gullet any day. But I stand strongly against alcoholism, drunk driving, or even drinking to excess. I think most people stand with me on that.

What your wife does for a living matters, and where the money that funds your life, and your campaign, comes from matters. Cindy McCain is worth 100s of millions, and by extension so is John McCain. That money comes from her inheriting the wealth of her father, invested in Hensley & Co., one of the largest distributors of Anheuser-Bush. She remains the owner of that company.

There is nothing wrong in selling alcohol, or being a large distributor of it. It is technically drug dealing, but only technically, because alcohol is a drug, but nothing like marijuana or cocaine. But would I want to have that as my job?

I can say, yes, I would be okay in selling alcohol, as long as I could control who drank it, and how much. I've heard of a guy who bought a tavern in a state that allowed only one bar per county, a long time ago. He cut everyone off before they could be drunk. He'd sell two or three beers per person, and then stop.

We have a moral obligation for every single act in our lifetimes. I have a responsibility for everything I do, and everything I produce. And I could not in good conscience sell something that I know a substantial proportion of my customers would become addicted to, and an even larger number would abuse. Those who are controlled by alcohol lead a life of hopelessness, going from one binge to the next, with damaged relationships and a bottle as king. Prohibition was a failure, but it was based on a sincere desire by progressives to defend women from the attacks of abusive husbands. There are too many ways that alcoholic abuse hurts not only the abuser, but their entire family, their friends, and the rest of society.

Thus there is something troubling about McCain building his campaign and livelihood on the back of wealth created through alcohol sales, and alcohol consumption. If there were some way for a distributor to end abuse, or even severely curtail it, this would be a different matter. But there is not. McCain seeks to be the leader of our country. Regardless of our last Democratic President, we desire a man who will have high personal ethics as much as high corporate ethics. McCain's campaign and livelihood have been built on the sale of alcohol, and therefore upon the misery of others. This I cannot countenance.


Obama Ambush

"That was an ambush," my father said, after watching Rick Warren's interviews of the two Presidential candidates. I am forced to agree.

Rick Warren said he was good friends with both candidates. Yet it is our actions that speak truth, more than our words. He asked the same questions of both candidates, yet those questions were quite definitely biased towards one candidate over another.

For many, many years, Christians and particularly Evangelicals have been defined by a few pivotal issues, most notably homosexuality and abortion. But of late we have seen a definite shift, especially among younger Evangelicals, towards accepting that, while abortion and both homosexuality are wrong, there are a number of other pivotal issues. Of late, we have begun to recognize that Christians as a whole have long cared about other issues, in addition to the traditional defining values.

As Christians, we also care about a number of other Life issues. We care about the environment, and the death of other organisms, and the probability of human lives lost as the environment degrades. We care about the death of those charged with crimes, justly or unjustly. We care about the plight of the poor, the oppressed, and minorities, because our Lord did. And we affirm that war and peace are Life issues as well. When people are killed in a war, this not only violates the most basic precepts of Jesus Christ, but it affirms the Pro-Choice values over the Pro-Life- that we have a right to choose to go to war, rather than the belief that no war is just, and no murder can be countenanced.

So imagine my chagrin to hear the questions that were asked of both candidates- asked equally. Both were asked about homosexuality and both were asked about abortion. Neither was asked about the poor or the oppressed (with the exception of Warren's desire to assist orphans). There was a question about who the wealthy are, but not about assisting the poor. Neither candidate was asked about the death penalty. Neither candidate was asked about the environment. Neither candidate was asked how they would stop war, because war is against the will of God.

And so, yes, McCain had a much better night than Obama. He seemed much more sure of himself, much more relaxed. Not because he is more comfortable with the Christian worldview- far from it. Rather, he is more comfortable with that narrow Christian worldview held by a minority, that of traditional evangelicalism. Obama tried very hard to remind us of the Christian values of caring for the poor and the oppressed, but Pastor Warren seemed to have forgotten to ask about these central issues. Thus a born-again candidate who finds Jesus central to his life (Obama) seems to be missing on the Christian issues, while the candidate who finds the whole notion of faith uncomfortable (McCain) had a shining night.

McCain's lack of understanding of the basics of Christianity took some rather sinister turns at times. He sat in a church, devoted to a man who died rather than lift a finger to attack his enemies, and spoke glowingly of how we would defeat evil. Lacking the nuance of Obama's speaking of the need to confront evil, and recognize the evil within our own society, McCain followed his master Bush II in seeing evil as wholly the other, in other countries. True, neither candidate spoke of Jesus' words "resist not evil"- that we should not fight against evil people, but rather look for that of God in the other person, seeking to love them at all times. But McCain's approach was decidedly sinister, in which he saw a Christian approach as defeating the enemy at all costs. He sat in a church and boldly called for us to go to war and smite all our enemies, utterly.

McCain's deeply sick understanding of Christianity goes further. He told the story, again, of his standing with one of the prison guards who drew a cross in the dirt. Whether or not this story actually occurred or if rather McCain stole the story from another, his approach remains disturbing. Not because there was no humanity in the prison guard, or that there was not that of God in the guard, but rather, because McCain spoke of him as a Christian. For McCain, a man who runs a concentration camp and actively participates in an institution that tortures, this man represents Christian values. For McCain, this is the kind of thing that a Christian does, and should do. A Christian might engage torture, and might boldly pursue war.

In truth, many have believed the latter. The significant new, frightening step, is that McCain evidently believes that Christianity as an ethic is in accord with war. It is not merely, as many have said, that Christians can go to to war, and fall short of Christ's ethics. The bold statement that McCain made, by preaching for war in a church, is that Christianity is completely compatible with warfare.

And, if the applause from the audience is any indication, many of the Evangelicals agreed with him. (Tickets were supposed to be available to the public, but long before the day that they were to be made available, the church website was stating that all tickets were sold-out, leading me to conclude that the audience was selected from those who attend Saddleback Church.)

Thus, I do believe McCain had a better night than Obama. But the big loser last night was not Obama, but Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Evangelicals, and Christianity as a whole. What we saw last night was not any religion I recognize, or follow. It was a religion devoted to the god of the Roman Eagle, the standard raised when the Roman Empire went to war, at a time when Christians universally rejected an ethic allowing them to participate in battle or killing. No man can serve two masters. Last night, McCain, and Saddleback Church, showed us which master they follow.


How Dare He?!?

Now I'm angry. I get that McCain doesn't do email, doesn't know what the internet is, probably thinks computers are still made out of vacuum tubes. But how dare he walk all over this institution, basically taking a dump on it and everyone who actually uses the world wide web and enjoys the opportunity to use it?

New policy from the McCain campaign: Spam the internet. He is paying his supporters with rewards points if they go on to websites, Democrat or Republican or neutral, and post McCain talking points. They don't identify themselves as with the campaign; they just post it under their own names. They don't put in their own views per se; they cut and paste from the campaign talking points. They don't post something germane to the article they are commenting on; they just post whatever they want. In all cases these are unethical practices, or rather, violations of netiquette. Yes, such a thing exists. It has existed from when the internet was first formed, back in the 1960s, long before there was a web. It has been built up over the years, but the basics have not changed. You do not spam. You do not troll. You do not pretend that you are an individual when you actually represent a corporation.

Why do we have these guidelines? After all, the beauty of the internet and it's subsidiary web is that there is no enforcement, so the guidelines aren't enforced. The internet is the purest form of anarchy ever invented, and inherently anti-corporation. It is individuals, not big government, or big business. We do this because we are a community, here on the world wide web, centered around one issue. We disagree on everything. Except that we like to use the web, and want to keep on using it. Anything that infringes with the free use of the web (like Google helping the Chinese censor the web) is frowned on, is considered the worst of violations. Spam hinders the web. Yes, people do it. Every society has its gutter scum, its riff-raff, its lowest of the low. And every time they do it, it makes it harder to use the internet. It slows down processing speed, but more than that, people don't like spam. They don't like hearing random expressions that have nothing to do with what they are looking at. They don't like to be taken advantage of. They don't like a company- or a campaign- coming along to pretend it is one thing when it is another. And since people don't have to be online, when they run into more and more of what they don't like, they come online less and less. And since the internet is anti-corporation but the epitome of cooperation, fewer people means far less enjoyment for us all.

The Straight Talk Express is now anything but. It is the equivalent of the Truth Division in 1984. It is encouraging people to pretend that their ideas came from themselves, instead of a campaign.

I welcome any Republican or Fascist to post here. Just two guidelines. Keep it civil. And make sure it's your own thoughts, and not a "ctrl c ctrl v" from a campaign. I get that McCain is more comfortable with telegraphs than with the internet. But don't you dare come and infringe on my right to enjoy the internet.


Do you remember when the environment was a going concern?

Ah, halcyon days. When we cared about the environment. When we were concerned about Global Warming. When we didn't want another Hurricane Katrina, and we cared about New Orleans.

Now it would seem that the majority of Americans are in favor of off-shore oil drilling. We are in favor of it, evidently, so that we can fix the energy crisis by becoming energy independent. These are the buzz words these days.

Evidently, it is a good thing to be energy independent- to not rely on other countries for energy. This way, we will become more isolated from the rest of the world. We can become more elitist, more parochial, more isolationist. This will likely help the rest of the world like us more. It will also keep more of our money in our hands, and continue the unfavorable trade imbalance begun in the early 1800s, where the wealthiest countries take from the poorest countries of the world. For Venezuela and Yemen should be put to shame for hoping that their oil reserves might help the general populace.

We need to drill because we need oil. We need the psychological support of pretending that oil reserves are going to last forever. We need to be able to pretend that the reserves that are present on America's coasts are more than a drop in the bucket. We need to be able to pretend that that oil is a renewable resource. (Of course, it is. Just over the course of 100s of millions of years, when a lot more animals and plants die and decompose and become oil. And our current environmental policy is actually well structured to increase oil supplies dramatically in 300 million years, at the rate that we are killing off other species.)

We need a way out of this mess. We need to pretend that new oil drilling will produce a drop in prices now, or at least ten years from now. We need to pretend that that future drop in prices will be more than a few cents, more than offset by the increase in inflation. We need to pretend that oil companies aren't using all of their allotted prospecting areas, and need another bailout from the federal government.

But the greatest make-believe that we require is that there is no environmental crisis. That there is no Global Warming. That Katrina never happened. All we have to do is say it three times and click our hands, and the world is black and liquid again, without giant killer storms, intense heat and permanent dust bowls, rising sea levels and countries disappearing, and 100s of millions of people made refugees.

In all the talk about how Americans want oil drilling, no one- not the press, not McCain, not Obama- is talking about how dangerous it is to continue oil drilling at all. Yes, we need oil to run cars and make plastics. But our goal should be the removal of any need for it at all. Practically, we will be forced into this in about twenty years, as oil reserves dwindle completely. Environmentally, we can't wait that long, because Global Warming's tipping point is now. This isn't some left-wing-environmental-freak thing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) It's the issue that people are dying, and will die, in dramatic, horrifying numbers, if we do not stop Global Warming now.

That's incorrect. They will die, in horrifying numbers, no matter what we do. We have a choice, however, of stopping a logarithmic escalation of those numbers. Good on you, Obama, for rejecting the failed policies of oil drilling, and offering a $7,000 rebate to new hybrid purchasers. But let us remind the voters, America, and the world that this is this is a matter of stopping the failed policies of the last 100 years, destroying our home. This is a matter of life and death, without hyperbole.

What Happened to Africa?

Obama is very cool. I support him because of his experience. For the first time, he has the experience of growing up overseas. For the first time since the days of Thomas Jefferson, he has a parent from another country. For the first time, that country is Africa. No one can match that.

So, what happened to Africa? In this election cycle, about that continent, I have heard . . . nothing. I've heard a lot about Europe, and the Middle East, and a bit about South America. And that's as it should be. But Africa is a country in great need, and usually ignored by this nation. I kind of thought that we would hear more about it with a President who is half-African. Not half African-American; rather, half-African.

I don't think Obama needs to worry about white voters or the electorate in general turning on him if he discusses Africa. Maybe if that was all he focused on, or if he focused on it too much. But the occasional mention would not injure, and would greatly help us in remembering the Forgotten Continent, where there is today so much misery. Barack Obama, where is your Africa Policy Statement?

Why We Don't Want an Old Guy

Paris Hilton's ad brought this to mind. There has been this stigma against bringing up McCain's age in this campaign, as if the issue was the same as racism, or sexism. It's not. Someone who's white can do just as good of a job at being President as someone who's black. A man can be just as good at leading the nation as a woman. The same does not apply for someone who's elderly.

Potentially, they can be just as good. But let us consider the last rather youth-challenged President that we had. Many people loved Reagan. (This is a liberal blog. Do not be surprised that I was not one of them.) But Reagan had a regular ploy with the press. He would pretend not to remember things. Not to remember nearly everything. That allowed him to get away with the Iran-Contra affair, where, in the early Clinton years, we learned that the Reagan-Bush administration was actually culpable.

Now, it is possible that he actually didn't remember. For tragically, as we all know, Reagan was afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease shortly after he left office. Looking back, most experts feel that it was actually setting in in the final years of Reagan's second administration. Perhaps it was some sort of judgment of God, where if you lie enough about forgetting, God allows you to be in the state of forgetting; perhaps in truth he wasn't forgetting, but was afflicted by a disease.

This is not to say, of course, that McCain will lie to us, or will get Alzheimer's Disease, or simply forget a lot. But it is to say what doctors and scientist's well know- with age, the chances of getting a debilitating illness dramatically increase, and the older you are, the more those odds increase. And with extreme age, the odds of getting Alzheimer's are much higher than with someone who is younger. Unfortunately, as with Reagan, we will not necessarily know that the disease has set in, and there is no constitutional provision for removing someone from office with the beginnings of dementia. And already, we see signs of McCain stumbling over his words. Maybe he's just a bad speaker. Maybe not. Do we want to risk it?

McCain. He's old. Is he worth the risk?

The Finest Political Ad Ever

We must begin with one of the worst ads of this year. I have to say one of the worst, because McCain has had a string of outright lies recently, most egregiously claiming that Obama did not support US troops, lying that Obama had not visited injured troops because he couldn't bring cameras, when in fact Obama didn't visit them because he didn't want them to use them for political gain. (We now know that, if Obama had visited the troops in Germany, McCain was prepared to launch an ad stating that Obama had used them for political gain.) That commercial claimed that Obama instead went to the gym, and it uses footage of Obama playing basketball with US troops, but conveniently blurs out the troops themselves- a rare hat trick of taking advantage of US troops and Obama at the same time.

One of the other worst ads of the year is one suggesting that Obama isn't ready to lead because he is too popular. I've previously dealt with the blatant racism in this ad, but now want to focus on the use of Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears. The McCain campaign wants to pretend that there is no racist element to combining two young beautiful white women with a black man- as if they are completely ignorant of the history of the South and African-Americans.

It is of course rather ridiculous to suggest that, if someone is popular, we shouldn't elect them. McCain must think you become President by being selected by an elite cabal, rather than a popular vote. He must think that people all over the world are so stupid that they like someone for no reason, and not because they think he would make a good leader. Obama has responded with his own remarks. But I believe Paris Hilton has come up with by far, the finest response, and the finest ad of this political season.
See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die


The Racism of John McCain

I believe racism is not always against people of colour. I believe it is possible to be racist against someone who is white. I further believe it is possible to be racist against someone who is the same skin colour as yourself, as long as you are attacking a different group, a different ethnicity.

Let us witness the racism of John McCain:

This is not playing the race card because Obama is black. This is racism, because John McCain hates Europeans.

It is clear from McCain's ad that we are supposed to disapprove of Obama because he is loved by 100s of 1000s of Europeans. Sure, McCain could be saying how wonderful it is that Obama is "the biggest celebrity in the world". Somehow, I don't think McCain is saying that. We are treated to an image of 100s of 1000s of Germans, chanting Obama's name, and that is supposed to send a chill down our spine. We are supposed to consider that it is dangerous to elect someone if the whole of Europe is really into him. After all, if the Europeans like him, there must be something wrong with him, right? We can't trust those Europeans to act justly, or make wise decisions. That's why we kicked their asses in that war. (No, not that one- the first one McCain probably remembers, the Revolutionary War.)

Evidently, McCain doesn't see a problem with the world's perception of America at present. He thinks that it's okay that the world generally detests what America is now doing overseas. McCain evidently doesn't feel a need to rehabilitate America's image. That's all that I can conclude, when the subliminal message of a campaign ad is that it is bad to elect someone that the rest of the world loves.

Perhaps you disagree with me that this ad is profoundly disturbing, profoundly racist. Consider if Obama had visited Africa, as he could easily have done, and been greeted by 100s of 1000s of cheering fans, as he would undoubtedly been greeted- albeit probably more than 200,000. Now consider the exact same McCain ad, but with 500,000 Africans. McCain's reasoning is the same in both cases. Only the colour of the faces change. Racism is racism, whether or not the people are a people of colour. Racism is when we insinuate something negative about an entire people group that is not our own, or claim that there is something wrong with them because they are not us.

John McCain, when you say you approve this message, just which message were you approving?


Why the Surge Can't Work

This is not to argue that "the surge" won't work in the future, or wouldn't have worked in the past. It is not to say that the surge doesn't work based on what the results have been so far. It is to say that it fundamentally can't work.

Of course, it hasn't work based on the results so far. It has reduced the number of deaths of US troops, but not the numbers of Iraqi civilians. Iraqis are still fleeing the country, and still dying in great numbers. In areas with high US troop presence like the Green Zone there is safety and reduced deaths. Where there are no troops, where troops have left, the death continues, as does the recruitment drive for al Qai'da. (And the presence of US troops provides the impetus for recruitment.)

But the results to date can never justify the increase in US troops. For we should never have been over there to begin with. And not just because this war was wrong. War always means one side loses. Obama seems to have forgotten this, in his support for a surge in Afghanistan. Obama would say that we should not have been there, but we must make the best of it. But the point is that the use of the ways of war is flawed at its core.

Obama seems to have bought into the idea that the use of soldiers, and their increase, is at times justified. He states that things are better, in part because of the increase in US troops, and in part because of agreements with other Iraqi factions. This is admittedly better than the consensus view in America, that the Surge has worked. But it still dramatically misses the main point. Many of us have supported Obama because he was right on the war. He rejected going to war, and he rejected abrogating Congressional rights and duties to declare war. But now he seems to buy into the idea that war itself can work.

For a Christian such as Obama, his Lord has made it clear that war is never an option; we should not resist an evil doer, but should rather love our enemies, and do good to those who hurt us. We do this because we recognize that of God in others, recognizing that all humans are created i the image of God, and therefore are the seat of his Spirit. We can not therefore attack our brother, he who can hold the ever-living God. I recognize that no US President will ever truly follow the guidelines of Jesus Christ. That requires a leader like Ghandi- and Ghandi would never get elected in this country. Yet it remains that it is not just that war is morally bankrupt, but that war does not practically work.

War results in one side losing. It results in vanquishing your enemy. This leads to bitterness, and promises of revenge, and future reprisals by that vanquished enemy. Thus America funds the Shah, the Shah represses his people, and the Ayotollah rises up in revolution. Thus America defends the Afghani people from the Soviet invasion, funding and training Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in the art of war, allowing Osama to rise up against America, requiring America to attack his host country, creating a breeding ground for al Qai'da recruitment, and embittered Taliban to rise up against America.

If some war is immoral, and if some war is impractical for reducing violence, then it remains that more war is also immoral, and impractical. Thus the so-called surge can not, in the long run, succeed. It is wrong to send people overseas to kill others people; it is more wrong to send more people. Violence begets violence, and sending more people to kill more people will lead to more anger and bitterness. Sure, it may not be revealed now. The terrorists may come out of the woodwork after we leave. It may even take a generation. But the more we send more troops over, the greater will be our future problems. This is not unique to Iraq. As goes Iraq, shall go Afghanistan, and any other place a great power sends in occupying forces.

Obama, you have some great ideas about being willing to talk with your enemies, in rejecting gunboat diplomacy and working with the rest of the world in peaceful ways. I call on you to remember these high-minded ideals, and return to a higher way. Do not believe the hopeless mantra of Bush and McCain, that violence works, and the surge has worked. Do not begin your own surge in that quagmire of Afghanistan. Stick to your guns in withdrawing troops in Iraq, as you are, and begin to let the Taliban know of your sincere desire to find common ground with them, to talk to them, to see how we can all get to yes. Your recent prayer at the Wailing Wall demonstrates your deep and abiding humility. Negotiations, as you know, don't require that either side lose, as war always does. Rather, it only requires that one side be willing to be humble enough to talk. Let our nation be great for a new reason. Let us release a new type of shock and awe. Let the world marvel at the humility of the United States of America.