What's All This Then?

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I’m having major back surgery tomorrow which will keep me away from the blogosphere for a while, while I try to recover. I’ll be looking for all the help I can get in this post-op period and taking a break from trying to make sense of the daily outpouring of news - or from being utterly frustrated by nonsense masquerading as news, should have a beneficial effect - if not on my soma - at least on my psyche.

I won’t have to think of the words to describe my bewilderment at the array of contradictory economic numbers thrown at us daily. The price of everything is going up. We’re losing jobs instead of creating needed jobs for people coming into the labor market - yet we are told that it’s good news when the job loss isn’t as large as expected. Not that government statistics can be trusted for a minute. How do they count every lost job? Do they call every mom and pop enterprise in the country and ask if anyone was laid off this month? Yet the stock market keeps climbing - which says that things are fine in this segment of the economy even if they’re bad everywhere else. The economy was supposed to get a magical shot in the arm by the lowering of interest rates. And so the Fed lowered and lowered and lowered - and we’re down to what - two percent? But the economy doesn’t seem to be responding to the Fed’s magic. Maybe it will when it gets lowered to zero. That might help people get cheaper loans which will be sorely needed by all of the people living off interest on their hard earned savings - which now produce so little income that they need to borrow money. The only trouble with that is that they won’t be earning enough interest income to repay the loan!! Welcome to the world on the other side of the looking glass. I’ll be staying on this side for a while.

I won’t have to find the words to express my disgust at the political pandering of politicians who want to become the leader of the free world. Could there anything more blatantly pandering than the proposal for a Federal gas tax "holiday." It’s not just that the savings for any driver would be minuscule. It’s that at a time when the government is mailing out billions of borrowed money to taxpayers to "stimulate" the economy (as not reflected by the stock market) - that same government will be deprived of billions in tax revenue that is supposed to be used to repair the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. Well, says Hillary - we’ll just get the gas companies to replace that loss of revenue. Sure you will Hillary. The Congress will go along with that idea because it’s such a good idea. You’ll get bipartisan support and President Bush will sign the windfall profits tax bill the moment it hits his desk. That is, if you’re not hit by sniper fire as you maneuver along Pennsylvania avenue in a crouched position to personally deliver the document to the White House. As we all know, Pennsylvania Avenue can be a dangerous place when it gets warm in Washington. But I can think of a better idea - and one less dangerous for Hillary. Why not just ask the oil companies to lower their price at the gas pump? They’d still make huge profits and they would be beloved of the American people. Hey, don’t laugh. It stands as good a chance of bringing gas price relief as the Clinton- McCain proposals.

I won’t have to find different ways of verbally shaking my head over the never ending Obama-Wright story. Obama handled himself well answering fifteen straight minutes of questions about the reverend on Sunday’s Meet The Press. But will it be enough? Of course not. It’ a story loved by the media. It has prurient interest. Meanwhile McCain says he has a plan to make us independent of foreign oil so that never again will out boys have to fight a war in the Middle East. What’s that John? You mean we didn’t go to war in the Middle East because some despot was getting ready to attack us with weapons of mass destruction? You mean it was about oil all the time? I’m going to look for that story in my local paper. Or if I can’t find it there, for sure it’ll be a lead item on television newscasts. Or if not, for sure the talking heads will be all over it on Sunday. Or at least the Sunday after. Well maybe by the time I’ve finished recuperating, someone other than Keith Obermann will have caught up with the story. That and the nutty pronouncements of McCain’s two minister supporters whose support he solicited and which he accepts with pride. You know , pronouncements about God damning America for a variety of imagined "sins." But then those are white guys with a big white following. Still, one can always have the audacity of hope.

While I’m taking my blogging vacation, I won’t have to find words to express my sorrow at the continuing farce known as the Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process. I won’t have to find the words to describe the idiocy of continued pronouncement from the likes of Condoleezza Rice about achieving a "peace agreement" by year’s end - with help from Jimmy Carter representing Hamas of course.
One thing that will bring me both solace and sorrow as I recuperate will be thoughts of our beloved Cody, who left us My 16, 2005. Since I doubt that I’ll be near a computer on May 16, this is an early 2008 commemoration of that day of sadness - and for those who are casual visitors and/or do not know about our Cody, here is her obituary - and here are my comments on the first anniversary of her departure, along with a picture of her wonderful face. It’s the second item in that day’s comments. And she was remembered again last year with the same picture.

Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Obama did what he absolutely had to do. Tell the world that he does not endorse nor is responsible for anything that comes out of Jeremiah’s Wright’s mouth. I suspect that he did it with a measure of reluctance having been a member of the man’s church for close to twenty years, but I don’t doubt the sincerity of his anger at Wright’s performances on Monday and Tuesday. He tried not to throw him under the bus when he made his speech in Philadelphia - but there was no way he could not react the way he did when Wright tried to throw him under the bus. Whether he did it out of ignorance or ego or even vindictiveness isn’t important. His crazed antics were reflecting on Obama and Obama had to put him down and cut him off.

Now we have the right wing pundits - with tacit support from Hillary Clinton - saying O.K. - but he should have done this years ago. Why did he wait ‘til now? Doesn’t this say something about the man’s "judgment" or lack thereof?

Of course if you are totally committed to a candidate because of your party affiliation or political beliefs, you will make any excuse and explain away the most egregious of errors. As an example, I was listening to Michael Medved the other day explaining how John McCain’s newly hatched love affair with right wing preachers who he once labeled "agents of intolerance" is a perfectly understandable growth in McCain’s understanding of their view - rather then the expedient flip-flop that it is. And I suppose that avid supporters of Obama will explain away any apparent flip-flop of his. But if his break from Wright is any kind of "flip-flop" - it’s one that’s completely understandable and justifiable and doesn’t need an avid supporter to explain why - just someone with reasonable intelligence.

Obama was a church member who, though he says he is a man of faith, was not a regular church goer. Even if he had wanted to worship at Holy Trinity every Sunday, it would have been hard to do while he was in Springfield as a member of the Illinois State Legislature and even harder as a United States Senator working out of Washington, DC. But O.K., there were years before he was elected to the State Senate in 1995 - and during those years, the church was more accessible to him. But he still wasn’t a big time church goer and there have been long time church attendees who have said that they never saw Obama at a service. But obviously there were Sundays when Barack and his wife were at services and heard Jeremiah Wright deliver a sermon. Very likely, having seen how the man conducts himself in the pulpit, they heard sermons that were provocative, perhaps even disturbing to the ears of average citizens used to a different kind of sermonizing. But it is reasonable to assume that there weren’t "God Damn America" kinds of sermons week after week or we would have heard about them. The man preached there for thirty years - and if there had been comments as scurrilous as the GD America stuff, you can be sure that Obama’s Democratic rivals and Republican operatives would have dug them out and they would have been all over the Internet like a cheap suit.

What likely happened in that church is what likely happens in some other churches - particularly some evangelical churches where emotions run high. Parishioners , including Obama when he was there, would cringe a little at one of Wright’s rants, though there were likely people in the pews who nodded in agreement when he railed against this country’s history of mistreating its black citizens. In Wright’s world, the past has yet to catch up to the present. But all of this happened within the confines of Holy Trinity Church. There has been no evidence presented that he was urging parishioners to commit crimes or to hate white people. There are white members of his church who have come forward to defend the man and his works.

As long as the audience for Wright’s sermons was the several thousand members of Holy Trinity, there would have been no great compulsion for Obama to up and leave. He might have winced and shook his head a little more often than some of his fellow parishioners at some of the words his pastor spoke from the pulpit - but Wright wasn’t leading a cult of black hatred - which is how his detractors have tried to describe him. That he is a strange man, an angry man, an egotistical man and something of a cook is pretty obvious. But the church was not Wright screaming God Damn America over and over all day and every day. The church was not and is not You Tube . The church is Obama’s fellow parishioners. The church is the good works that it performs in the community - and parishioners on church committees guiding those good works. Until Wright became an issue outside of Holy Trinity, there would have been no reason for Obama to leave. He wasn’t sitting there in service after service thinking to himself that one day he might run for president and voters might think his pastor - despite his educational accomplishments and his military service and having directly served two presidents - was something of a nut and that he’d better leave that church and join some nice quiet, white Christian type of church in case people thought that the pastor’s ideas were his ideas.

Had he done that, he would not have been exercising judgment. He would have been making a cold, calculating move - the kind of move that a ruthless, ambitious politician might make - one who wouldn’t hesitate to abandon anyone who he thinks might slow down his ascendancy to high office. Had his and Hillary Clinton’s positions viz a viz a Jeremiah Wright type of situation been reversed, I’m pretty sure that Obama would not have commented that "had it been him, he would never have stayed in that church." Obama’s not that kind of man and I’m glad that he isn’t.