Praise God for Obama's Pastor

Obama's pastor has gotten in the news recently. If you haven't heard, some sermons the Reverend Jeremiah Wright gave in 2001 and 2003 are causing some problems for Obama. Relevant passages include:

We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the
thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have
supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and
now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now bought right
back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost.
That was the Sunday after 9/11, the day I was searching for a non-patriotic church to attend and came upon Friends Memorial Quaker Church. A couple years later The Reverend Wright said:

The government gave [the blacks] the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a
three-strikes law, and then wants us to sing "God Bless America". No, no, no.
God damn America. That's in the Bible, for killing innocent people. God damn
America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as
long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.
Finally, someone willing to speak truth about America's actions- and what the rest of the world has long known. As horrific and evil as the 9/11 attacks were, they didn't take place in a vacuum. There were things we did that encouraged them. But I don't want to talk about that.

I find it interesting that people who (rightly) decry the invasion of religion into politics by the Religious Right now want to force the Rev. Wright to not speak from the pulpit certain ideas, for they are politically appropriate. But I don't want to talk about that.

And I want to say that, as much as I admire the Reverend for what he said, in some places he went overboard. He should not have said "God damn America", but rather the past tense, that God has damned America, for we are called to bless, and not curse. And rather then say damn, he should have said "God judged America", for no man can know the soul of another, and certainly not that of a nation. I think Reverend Wright was looking for the rhetorical flourish, but some words should be very carefully used. Had he said, "God has judged America and found us wanting," he would have been on very solid Biblical ground.

That's what I want to talk about.
The Reverend Wright was simply fulfilling the role of the prophet- a role we find throughout the Bible. If there is one most repeated theme in the Old Testament, it is God and his prophets calling the people back to justice and kind treatment of the outcast- and retribution if they do not return to righteousness.

Lest we think though that this is only an Old Testament deal, Jesus stated his mission as

to preach good news to the poor...
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind
to proclaim an acceptable Year of the Lord.

This is very clearly a reference to the Jubilee Year, a year commanded by God every 70 years (but probably never actually practiced by Israel), a very socialist event where all property is redistributed, loans canceled, and slaves freed. Its so clear that this is an Old Testament reference, that Jesus is actually quoting III Isaiah 61.1,2- that's why its in verse form.

Of course, there's another theme to the prophets. They are all rejected, and many of them killed, which ended up happening to Jesus too. Prophets by their very nature are not acceptable to the establishment. Prophets and kings rarely got along in the Old Testament. Come to think of it, Herod and Jesus didn't get along too well either.

Now, Obama has come out and said that he supports a lot of what the reverend Wright says about justice and hope (and even wrote a book based on one of Wright's sermons), but he utterly rejects and denounces what the Reverend said in these two sermons, for which Obama wasn't present.

I wish Obama hadn't done that. I want a candidate who will stand up and reject the evil that America has done. Who will be so adamant in the pursuit of justice that they will even admit when America has not been just to others, as we have not been so many times in our history.
I want a prophet. But Obama is running to be our equivalent of king.

This is why it is impossible to fully follow Christ and be Caesar. The kind of power a political leader has was antithetical to the way of Jesus. Christianity is inherently a minority suffering community, and has no truck with the ways of power and oppression.

But I also know that, had Obama supported his pastor, he wouldn't get elected. You have to rally around the flag to be elected President. Even if the people are called to hard work, as Kennedy did and Obama is doing, they don't want to be told that what they have done is evil, no matter how true. Americans don't want prophets. They want to be told that all is well, or will be well, and profit will return.

I want someone to be President who will call us to justice, no matter what. I want someone elected who is inherently unelectable.


Obama wins Texas!

Yes, they've finally called Texas. Because of the complicated Texas Two-Step, there's both a primary and a caucus, and in Texas, you truly follow the maxim, "Vote early, vote often." So you get to vote twice. (Just like in Washington if you're a Republican, but in Texas its all on the same day.) That means that its possible to win the popular vote (Clinton) but lose the delegates, if your supporters aren't as committed to go to a two-hour caucus right after voting, in some cases waiting in line for hours until after midnight. Obama's supporters are a whole bunch more committed. So Clinton wins the primary, 77:71 delegates. Obama wins the caucus, 38:29. Making a sum total of 106 delegates for Clinton, and 109 delegates for Obama.

Best of all, Clinton can't cry foul. (Okay, she does, but she shouldn't.) Not only did she agree to the Texas Two-Step long ago, but in the beginning of this race when she was ahead in delegates but behind in the popular vote, she repeatedly stated that what mattered was the delegates. Now that she's behind in delegates (and the popular vote, btw) she really doesn't have a logical leg to stand on in claiming delegates don't matter. Course, that's never stopped her before...


Why Obama Shouldn't be Vice-President

It's made some headlines recently that Billary have been floating the idea of Obama as VP. Many others have pointed out the problems with this idea, most notably the candidate himself, asking why, if Hillary doesn't think he's got the experience to be President, she would think he would make a good Vice-President. Others have said this is indeed a momentous point in history, when the second place candidate offers the number two position to the first place candidate. I want to point out one more reason why this is a bad idea.

Both candidates have repeatedly and rightfully stressed that this is a momentous election in American history. We will have either the first female or the first minority President. Indeed, this is cool. This is one part, not the most significant, but one part of the reason why many of us are voting for these candidates- we want to make history. We want to show that we have moved beyond the sexism and racism of the past, and enjoy the fruits of a different perspective in the leadership of this nation.

The candidates are right- this would be the first time, and therefore something to strive for. Not the only reason, but part of the reason. But not if Obama's the VP.
Why? Because we already had a person of colour in the VP position.

What, you say? When? Well, I was surprised to discover this too. But it turns out, the Vice-President of our only truly Quaker President (I'm sorry, Nixon doesn't count) was half Native American! Vice-President Charles Curtis was technically 3/8ths Native American, of three separate tribes, and made a good deal of that in the 1930s. And though not an exceptional Vice-President, he was well known as an personable and outstanding politican and Senate Majority Leader, instrumental in getting women the right to vote and a strong advocate of the ERA.

So, it would be a special thing if Hillary was the first female President, or Obama was the first President of colour, or if Hillary was the first female Vice-President. But it wouldn't be anything new if Obama were the first Vice-President of Colour. Sure, it would be neat to see that we've moved beyond the sin of our past and can elect a Black Vice-President. But, as far as milestones go, considering Mr. Curtis, it just wouldn't carry the same panache. It wouldn't be a complete first.

If we want Obama for the milestone, elect him to President. Vice-Presidency means nothing, for so many reasons.

The Dark Night of the Political Soul

And so it begins: the long dark night. Six bloody weeks until the next primary. How fitting that the first half of the season should end with such an ironic twist: Mississippi.

Ironic, you say? Didn't Mississippi vote for Obama, just like most Southern states? Didn't he just win another Southern primary? Yes. But consider the far more interesting polls from Mississippi:
  1. More Obama supporters said they would be happy with Clinton than Clinton supporters happy with Obama.
  2. Independents and Republicans lean more towards Clinton than towards Obama.
  3. Obama's lead among women is greater than his lead among men.

I kept on thinking someone had accidently transposed the candidates. In nearly every case in Mississippi, polling and exit-polling bucked the national and state-by-state trends in preference polls on these two candidates. What's going on in Mississippi?

That's what I'll be contemplating during this dry spell, as I go to nurse my sorrow over the lack of significant sporting events for the next six weeks...


Post your Pics here

If you're like me, you try to get a recording of every time you vote. Now we have the opportunity to let everyone know about our recordings- at least the pictoral form. The New York Times has made some great strides in moving to the web format, with updated pages like the list of Democratic Primaries. Now they have a new feature where you can leave your photos from your experience caucusing or voting in a primary. See the ones from my caucus, or leave your own. Let everyone else participate in your electoral experience.