Friday, June 29, 2007

Don't Give Up The Ship! - It's Metaphor Friday!

There is a renegade priest saying Mass in San Diego, who is married with two children, and this has the Catholic Church hierarchy alarmed. A picture in the current New York Times Magazine shows only the rogue priest's vestments and hands, wearing a wedding ring, as well as an engagement ring and a very nice manicure. Yes, Jane Via, a lawyer with a PhD in religious studies, wife and mother of two, is acting as an ordained Catholic priest, holding Mass and giving communion.

Taking it to the street, as we used to say.

Mrs. Via, as depicted in the piece by Jan Jarboe Russell, is well prepared for her new role as an internal (sort of) agent provocateur and voice for change. The controversy here is centered more on Mrs. Via's status as a woman than her qualifications or being married or having children. Apparently, the Church position is that only men can "symbolically represent Jesus." Feel free to make up your own joke here.

But Mrs. Via's story also speaks to a larger sense of moral duty and moral courage that is not discussed much these days. For lack of a better term, let's call it Pillar Duty. As in a "pillar of society." Pillar duty is a citizen's duty to stand for and uphold the moral and ethical principles of our social institutions. Sounds BOOOORING! Well, it's not as boring as it sounds.

Many years ago, as a young man, I was leaving active Naval service, and a senior officer talked to me about staying. Now, the Navy is a big institution, and you will find a variety of types like true patriots, men/women of action, no-risk careerists, low profile pension lovers, and guys just hanging out to work off their college scholarships. The particular point of that talk that stuck with me all this time was that part of our duty was to stay and maintain the mission, and not leave the job to those who were there for their own reasons. He was true believer. It was, if you will pardon the expression, kind of a revelation to me.

And now I see
that true believers
we should all be.

In something. Something that we actually do. Be it job, family, charity, church, civic work, avocation. You can't do everything. Just pick one thing.

So what of Mrs. Via. Why doesn't she get herself ordained by those women-loving Episcopalians? They have apostolic succession without the penis infatuation. Frankly, that is what I would do in her shoes. (Not that I am interested in wearing her shoes.)

But Mrs. Via appears to be a better man than I. She's hanging in there. No easy exit for greener pastures. No giving up the ship. The Church is her Church, too. She's staying and taking a stand. Nothing boring about that.

You may not agree with what Mrs. Via is doing. But having the courage of her convictions to stay and be a living and present witness to her convictions is the moral of this story. And it applies to us as a society and a nation.

Back in the 1970's, a lot of folks where I lived (the Northeast) were fed up with the Viet Nam War and the CIA hijinks that is back in news now as the "family jewels." One result of this was that many schools, notably including Harvard, banned military and CIA recruitment on campus. This is a big mistake.

The effect of this self purification stance is to surrender control of two of our major social institutions to others. Guess what? The Army and the CIA are still our Army and CIA. They don't become someone else's problem just because we throw up our hands and walk away when we don't like how they are run. The Ivies' abandonment of them is misguided and not morally courageous. It is time for them to get back into the ring.

And so it is with many things. Mrs. Via is an inspiration. This is our society, our government, our world. Let's keep working it.

Get up, stand up:
stand up for your rights!
Get up, stand up:
don't give up the fight!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ann, Sean, and Me

Ann Coulter on Hardball with Chris Matthews. She is one unlikeable woman. I was especially appalled to discover that she agrees with the worldview on the pending immigration reform bill. (She's against it.)
When Ann held up her book for the camera (a task usually handled by the show's host) we noticed she was wearing the same black dress that she posed in for the book cover.
Her appearance overall was kind of remarkable. As usual she looked like an anorexic crack addict. But with her unstyled hair flying out of control and sunglasses on, she had the look of a party girl who had just rolled out of bed, late and hung over, thrown on her dress from the night before, and rushed off to work without showering or putting on makeup.
Ann did not disappoint her small group of fans ("Annies"), whom Matthews said reminded him of the film Deliverance. Good one! Ann feels we are not killing enough civilians in Iraq, and need to get over this squeamishness to break the spirit of our enemies. Sounds like Osama bin Laden's strategy.
This was my first time seeing Ann on tv. You don't have to eat dung to know you won't like it. She has an odd accent, that sounds at once haughty and trashy, as well as affected. She gives no quarter, but is mostly full of baloney. Likes to call herself a Christian more than once, though you wouldn't have guessed it otherwise. Also apparently puts it out there that she has a high IQ. What kind of person considers that an accomplishment? It's kind of embarrassing to hear it mentioned. Overall, a weird duck. (In the words of Justice Scalia, "Quack, quack.")
In a great moment, Elizabeth Edwards called in to "politely ask" Ann to stop the character assassination comments, specifically referencing comments Ann made about the Edward's deceased son. Ann was having none of it, and not so politely said no.
In an odd moment, Ann slammed one of her young fans from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, who told her she should not be criticising President Bush. Ann basically told the naive young know-nothing that Bush is yesterday's lunch, had sold out the republican party to big business with the immigration bill, and is an anchor around the neck of republican office seekers. Wow. If Ann's not part of "the base," who is? It appears that Bush's base has left the building.
Another surprise bedfellow of the worldview is our favorite pompous puffball of pander, Sean Hannity. Yu-uck. Cheerleader patriot Sean is also dissing the immigration bill. Even more disturbing, he is doing so for the same reasons as the worldview. Troubling. If a man is to be judged by the company he keeps, perhaps I'm in need of some self-examination.
But . . . I am relieved to discover that I am not alone in this surprising circle of dissent. My favorite freshman Senator, Jim Webb of Virginia, as well as a dozen other democrats in the Senate, don't like the bill either. Webb is great. After Bush got haughty with him at the White House, Webb once said he felt like slugging the President. I like that. No stupidly clever zingers a la John Kerry and other cleverness loving democrats. Just felt like punching him. Now that is straight talk.
So the 2007 immigration reform bill is looking more and more like a sinking ship. Good riddance.
Na na na na,
na na na na,
hey hey-ey,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Immigration Reform - What's the Rush?

Students at Montebello High School, California
Notice the position of the American Flag

Congress and the President have ignored our county's immigration problems for 20 years, since the last time an amnesty period was granted and the problem "fixed." Now, there is a big rush to address the problem.

The problem with that, though, is that people strongly disagree on what exactly the problem is to be solved. One public truth is that the US has 12 million illegal aliens living here. Mostly from Mexico. I'm not sure how we know that, but I'll go with it. We agree that this is a problem, but what sort of problem?

Some folks see the problem as a bunch of lawbreakers living here with little chance of getting caught, making a mockery of our laws and fools out of the people waiting to immigrate legally. The bill offers conditional amnesty, which sticks in the craw of many people.

Other folks see the problem as a a bunch of undocumented immigrants who scrambled to come here for a better life, being made to suffer because of their illegal status. These people see the illegals as sympathetic characters, which many are. Giving them a path to citizenship would bring them into society and out of the shadows of the underclass. This argument generally ignores the fact that all of these people already have citizenship, just somewhere else.

There is also concern that many immigrants (read Hispanics and Muslims), will not assimilate into American culture, causing an erosion of America's English speaking, Protestant Christian based civilization.

So, after years of doing nothing, our fearless leaders tried to rush this immigration reform law through, with little public debate, calling it a bi-partisan Grand Bargain. But sadly, someone failed to notify the partisans, who are not bi-ing it at all. So the new reform bill is stalled, as many legislators change their minds for political cover, like my own Suntanned Saxby Chambliss, who was booed by his own party right here in his home state for supporting this bill.

Why the brooha? No leadership. No national leader has made a compelling case to the public about why this bill is a good idea, and why we need it now. The President, whose baby this is, has failed to lead, failed to articulate a reason why the Nation should forgive and welcome these illegal aliens.

Meantime, while the President and Congress spend their time on this, our Army continues to fight 2 wars. Remember those? How does this reform bill square with the Global War On Terror (GWOT)?

In the context of the wars, this immigration debate seems absurd. At the aiprort, our luggage is x-rayed, dog sniffed, chemically swiped, and possibly manually inspected while we struggle to get our shoes back on while repacking our laptops and apologizing for packing shampoo in our carry-ons. Meanwhile a million people a year enter the country illegally through our southern border.

We need to prioritize. We need to secure our borders. We shouldn't have to explain why or justify it. It is sensible on its face. Aside from successfully keeping Cat Stevens out, our border security is a joke. Even Tuberculosis Man made it through, and there was an alert out on him.

Once the borders are secure we need time for a national debate on our immigration policy. Immigration policy permanently affects the nation, unlike tax policy or foreign policy or other policies which can be changed if they are not working well. There is a lot at stake and it should not be rushed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

See Republicans Run

So much wackiness, so little time.

I'm beginning to wonder if it's an intentional republican strategy to bury the public in so much wrongdoing that we give up trying to keep track. Well, I'm giving up on trying to keep track of the hard facts (since they don't get reported anyway), and am going to rely on my nose for fishiness as well as frequent application of the duck test for things that are ducked up. (Duck test: If it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.)

One might assume that the republicans running for President would be suffering from defeatism, having all of the baggage of Bush on their backs. But one would be wrong. They are full of optimism. Except McCain, who is noticeably grouchy. Because he is going to lose and everyone knows it, including him. We know this for sure because the press is being so deferential to his war hero status.

I still like Mitt. I used to like McCain, even voted for him in 2000. But he's getting nasty in his old age. The sarcasm, what's up with that? The cheap political one liners don't wear well on an elder statesman.

Rudy is getting lots of play, and credit for "winning" the 2d debate, which I missed. Rudy smells like a phony to my knowing nose. A pro-choice Catholic with three wives. A tough guy draft dodger. I don't mind Catholics (used to be one), and I don't mind pro-choosers, and I don't mind divorced folks. What I do mind is hypocrites, and Rudy quacks like a hypocrite. Bringing his girlfriend to the house to meet his kids while he's still married to their Mom? There is something wrong with that. So what then? We have a first lady who thinks it's OK to sleep with married men? For a tough guy, I don't see much self discipline there. His commitment to his church and his family are both too flexible. The draft dodger thing just adds to it. None of these items on their own would bother me so much, but the cumulative effect is to draw a picture of a man who likes to be tough on others but not on himself. We have plenty of those already.

Fred Thompson I'm not buying either. Phony baloney. I'd like some clarity on whether he really owns a red truck. He's not a real leader, but he plays one on tv. Folks are hoping that he'll be a second Reagan. Well, a lot of things worked out OK under Reagan, but I never liked him as President until we had Bush 1, who was a disaster by comparison. But now I like Bush 1 in comparison to Bush 2, who even republicans are now admitting is a disaster by comparison to anyone. Reagan had principles. Not always mine, but generally good ones. Fred just seems to be doing what he likes. But I'll give Phony Fred a good chance of winning. Americans have proved in the last two elections that they'll take style over substance. We have become a bluepill nation.

Mitt is the real deal. Yeah, he's a draft dodger and doesn't really hunt as much as he'd like us to think, but so what? He's still married to his wife, whom he left Stanford to be with at BYU. That's a sacrifice for love in my book. He is loyal to his church and its teachings. We haven't seen any of his kids in rehab. And he's a self-made millionaire. (I know "millionaire" is out-dated, but "self-made rich guy" just doesn't have the same ring to it.) Frankly, I like a guy as President who can go out into the world and be successful.

I also like a guy who will change his mind. The flip-flop tag on Mitt does not stick. Leading takes flexibility. When circumstances change or when new information is received, it means making a new decision. We have a leader now who is incapable of re-evaluating situations. This leads to paralysis in dynamic situations, and the world is a dynamic place. Part of faith is believing that there is always a right path to be found. But we have to be willing to look for it. Put another way, any football fan will tell you that great coaches make half time adjustments to game strategy.

So Mitt has changed his position on abortion, gay rights, and gun control. Well, so have I. Several times. One writer said that Mitt was too slick in the 2d debate, and is a man of positions, not principles. Nonsense. It is just the opposite. Mitt walks the walk while others just talk the talk. He honors his marriage, he follows his faith, he's cleaned up corruption at the Olympics, he's successful in business and in politics. Judge by deeds, not words, and Mitt looks pretty steadfast.

So there is the Mitt lovefest. On the other hand, no military experience worries me. But if we go by that standard our choices are McCain or Ron Paul.

So why republican optimism? Well, it's because they are running against democrats, of course! Don't underestimate the democrats' ability to screw this up.

Some days I really wish Bill Clinton was running again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Gypsy Postscript

Well placed media sources have informed the worldview that Gypsy propagandists are now claiming that the Supreme Court Justice named in the June 2d post is spelling his name "Breyer" and not the preferred Gypsy spelling of "Bryer." This shrewd media manipulation move is intended to quiet public xenophobia of rising Gypsy influence by driving informed worldview readers away from their computers and to the freezer for ice cream, which will probably also lead to an evening of reality tv. No hard information is available on the apparent Gypsy - ice cream industry connection.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mitt Romney - King of the Gypsies or Satan?

What's not to like about Mitt Romney? He's tall and soooo handsome. He has a good voice and stands up really straight. He doesn't drink or smoke. The rumor is that he's wicked wicked smart and super-duper rich. I wish my Mom would marry him.

But the negative nellies out there are giving good guy Mitt a hard time.

Mitt is, in case you missed it, running for President. As a republican. Seriously. And he's from Massachusetts, the state that all republicans love to hate. So Mitt, being super-duper smart, is pretending that he's from Michigan. Ah, yes. Good old, midwestern, gun loving, heartland-of-America, car making Michigan. My patriotic cockles are warmed just imagining what it must be like there. Probably lots of American flags and Support the Troops car stickers. Mitt's campaign is claiming that his dad was governor there. Of course, there's no way to verify this because the elder Romney is apparently now dead, and all of our intrepid reporters, having survived Baghdad, don't want to risk going to Detroit to check it out. So, with a good plausible Michigan connection, there's just no republican sense for Mitt to link his bio to Taxachusetts, home of such Democratic sissies as John Kerry, Mike Dukakis, and Ted Kennedy.

Ben Affleck, husband of Jennifer Garner, recently called Mitt a "Ken doll," which I'm taking to be negative. Memo to the pot . . . Hey Ben, he looks like he could be your dad. I wondered briefly if Senor Ben was making a veiled gay reference, our doll Ken having publicly appeared in the past in a pink mesh vest with nothing underneath and a necklace with some sort of rooster ring on it. But that is in the past and Ken has moved on from that phase of his doll life. He's been to doll rehab and is now 100% heterosexual. For now. Ken's just taking it one day at a time as 10 inches of delightfully plastic girl toy. But enough about Ken, we we're talking about Mitt! Tall, handsome, rich, heterosexual Mitt!

Mitt is married with something like five kids. But hold on, gay people are allowed to get married in Massachusetts. Hmmmm. No, I'm still not buying it. Ben Aflac will have to peddle his tawdry rumors to someone else. Why so interested, Ben? Projecting, perhaps? So, enough about creepy, rumor mongering Ben. Back to straight arrow Mitt!

The thing the press wants to discuss about Mitt is that he's a Mormon, which is a religion. Republicans who are part of "the base" like their candidates to be religious, meaning conservative protestant. (Quick fun tip for conspiracy nuts - "al Quaeda" means "the base" in Arabic. Hmmm.) Nobody seems to know what to make of this Mormonism thing. The press, trying to make up some news about this deathly boring republican whiteness contest, runs stories like "Will Mormonism Be An Issue?" Stories about the lack of a story on a non-issue. The hope is that if they keep stirring it up long enough, it will become an issue. Then they'll have some "news" and the reporters who started it can deem themselves experts on this "issue" because of their long time coverage and foresight in recognizing early on that it would "resonate with voters."

People don't seem to know a lot about Mormons. The one thing everbody does know is that Mormons are supposed to live in Utah. So what is Mitt doing living in Massachusetts? Who knew there were Mormons in Mass? Maybe Mitt likes bad weather, or that Ralph Lauren, New Englandy waspy charm. Who knows? It's another riddle of Romney.

But now the Mormon angle is getting some legs. A Florida evangelist preacher, Bill Keller, is calling good ole Mitt, "Satan." Yes, that's right, Satan, aka the Prince of Darkness, El Diablo, Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Morning Star, Pan, Mephistopheles. Take your pick. I'm taking Bible Bill's comments to be negative, too. Even more negative than those of Ken doll Ben, who still claims that he is not gay, even though his wife can kick his ass.

But enough about not-gay Ben! Back to Bible Bill and Michigan Mitt! Why does Bible Bill have a bug in his butt about Michigan Mitt? It's the Mormonism, stupid! Here's the quote from the Florida Sun Times:

Keller, 49, who has a call-in show on a Tampa television station and a Web site called, on May 11 sent out a ``daily devotional'' that called Romney ``an unabashed and proud member of the Mormon cult founded by a murdering polygamist pedophile named Joseph Smith nearly 200 years ago.'' If the former Massachusetts governor wins the GOP nomination and the presidency, Keller's message added, it will ``ultimately lead millions of souls to the eternal flames of hell.''

Ouch. That has to hurt. But the press has to love it. Not even the New York Times could make that stuff up! For a "daily devotional" it's not very uplifting. But I bet Bible Bill got a ton of hits on his website from it. Actually naming the website in the article is probably a little quid pro quo from the reporter in exchange for the interview. I went to it to find out what specific religion Bible Bill is, but I couldn't find it. It says Christian, but the name of the church is Bill Keller Ministries. Gotta love a guy who names a church after himself. Not even Jesus did that. I bet the Kool-Aid is delicious.

At this point I'll interject that I've actually been to Utah and found the Mormons to be notably nice as a group. However, they don't drink, which loses them points in my book. Of course, it was a breakfast meeting. What may be surprising for people who hold religious stereotypes (that's right, I'm talking about you Bible Bill), is that while Mormons are considered very conservative, Utah is also considered one of the most welcoming states for immigrants as well as gay friendly. I'll bet that just makes Bible Bill even madder.

Everyone here is, as usual, missing the real story. Mormon schmormon. That's a red herring.

What's way more intriguing is the possibility that Mitt Romney is a Gypsy. Is the name Romney a derivitive of Romani, the ethnic group also called the Gypsies? It's fun to think so. Also, lots of Gypsies are called Travellers, which fits with Mitt's Michigan - Massachusetts political commuting. Mitt Romney could be our first Gypsy President! And all this time we were worried about the Jews. Speaking of whom, what about Justice Stephen Bryer? Bryer is also a well known Gypsy name. Could it be? Is something afoot? That's two branches of government in Gypsy hands!

Let's dig deeper. Gypsies are believed to have originally come from Egypt, though in their craftiness they claim to come from India. And guess what group is supposed to be safeguarding ancient secret knowledge from pre-Alexandrian Egypt? Ten points if you correctly guessed the Masons! That's right, our conspiracists' favorites, the Freemasons of the Scottish Rite. The same group that includes George Washington, most of the Founding Fathers, Wat Tyler, Jack the Ripper, FDR, and other fun folks. The Masons are descended from the Knights Templar, as is the Yale Skull & Bones Society, another fun mystery group. How cool is that?

The mainstream press aren't the only ones who can stir up a story. Reckon this story has legs? Let's see if Mitt walks like an Egyptian.