lundi, novembre 29, 2004

A Poem I'm Working On...

Super Saturated

Against a million rays of sun
shooting danger toward us
so that they seem as one ray.
Even on cloudy days when the sun
is still there, but less so,
on days when the snow falls
quietly and indirectly.
When the fog won’t dissipate
and our world
is smaller and more obvious;
and yes, on rainy days,
men are crying.

Men are crying;
men are crying everywhere;
men are crying all the time;
men are crying at the movies and in the movies;
men are crying because their wives were gone and have come home;
men are crying because their team won;
Men are crying during weddings to other men – so then two
men are crying which makes men cry.
Men are crying because of the layoffs;
men are crying because they had to fire someone, a friend perhaps, and
men are crying because they are hungry;
men are crying because they want;
men are crying because they fell into a 12- foot hole at work and now they are injured;
men are crying on the news because they don’t have health insurance;
men are crying because they don’t know what they’re going to do.

Men are crying because
their child
went to school
but did not

their child
did not

Men are crying because their child did not

Men are crying because they love Allah;
men are crying because the soldier, standing next to them a moment ago, is gone;
men are crying because of the shrapnel and because of the lies;
men are crying because their team is losing;
men are crying because their team lost;
men are crying because men are lost. Men are homesick. Yes,
men are crying because men are homesick.
Men are crying because they love the flag too much and because their love is scary to them;
men are crying because they forgot that flags, in the hearts and hands of men, can be scary;
men are crying because they are scared;
men are crying because they persevere;
men are crying because they perpetuate;
men are crying because they procreate and
Men are crying for procreation. No,
men are crying for sex;
men are crying for sex and before sex and during sex and after sex. Men are the crying sex.
Men are crying for the same reason everyone cries – men are crying because
men are so full up, men are so super-saturated, that men spill forth like the tide (which is a measurement of time:
men are crying time).
Men are crying up parts of themselves;
men are crying to explain the ocean;
men are crying while the ice melts;
men are crying, and their tears evaporate at the pace of memory fading, which is to say:
men are crying and their tears will never go away. Their tears will never stop.

mercredi, novembre 24, 2004


"...and I thank God, 'cause he gave me the strength to rock hard."

L.L. Cool J

Wow, I have so much to be thankful for - it's silly to try to list it out, but here's a short note (by the way, I was tempted to politicize this list: "I'm thankful I have a job and health insurance and...") but I thought I'd take a day off from all that too. Be thankful for that dear readers!

I'm thankful for my friends. I'm so rich in that way, so blessed by people who I love, and who seem to like me even through all my faults ("oops! I'm double booked (again)!"). All of my journeys are so much more wonderful because I have cool people who walk along with me.

I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving with my brother and his wonderful family, this time with my mother and with family here in Kansas (I'm thankful TinyE and I survived the last 93 snowy miles).

What is more joy-making than seeing your child running and yelling and pushing boundaries with your brother's children - all set against the memories you made with your sibling when you acted much in the same way (not all that long ago)?

I am thankful for my challenging, satisfying and enjoyable job. I'm adequately compensated, and I rarely have a dull moment. I grow and once or twice a year influence an outcome. Some of my favorite people in the world ply their trade in the same cublicle farm where I ply mine. Every once in a while I have it all figured out, and then I realize that my calculations were off and I have to start all over.

I'm thankful for the blessings of this humble site and of my website discussion group. The conversations and the friendships and the fun.

But most of all I'm thankful for my little family: a wife who won't seem to abandon this vision of me as a man who is worthy of her love; and the little girl who is the best thing I could ever be a part of - an angel who places her tiny hand in mine when I need to cross the street and "counts me" when I need a time out.

If you are reading this, you have a lot to be thankful for: you have found one of our nation's great emerging web logs (KIDDING! but be thankful) can read, you have access to a computer, and now you're done with this saccharine post.

Happy Thanksgiving.

lundi, novembre 22, 2004

The Future Governor of Minnesota - DeLay Indictment

Congratulations to my friend Melissa! I met her in school, and she is now a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. This is her second run for the State Legislature, and she won a hotly contested race that was part of a democratic swing recapturing 13 seats in our state House.

Keep an eye on Melissa. She will be Governor one day.

So, Tom DeLay may be indicted for his possible role in irregularities (related to voting and to fundraising/financing) that took place during 2002 state legislative races in Texas. Three of his associates have already been indicted. If DeLay is indicted, he need not worry too much: his House colleagues (including two Minnesota Representatives who were aided by DeLay's PAC) have voted to remove a requirement that he resign his post if a felony indictment is returned against him. Indicted. Indictment.

If DeLay is indicted and retains his post, it will be disturbing on so many levels (here are a few):

First, DeLay should step down, and his failure to step down is disturbing.

Second, the honorable thing to do was to not put your colleagues in the compromising position to have to vote to overturn the rule in the first place. Where's Dennis Hastert when you need him?

Third, if he cannot step down, it's appropriate to question why DeLay was returned to his House Majority Leader post in the first place. There are many signs that he is all too willing to bend the rules (I'm being nice) and act in a manner that is counter-productive to democracy. Questions about his legitimacy for leadership are so many and so well-founded, that he may not be able lead. What does it say for the Republican party that he was re-elected/selected?

Fourth, elected officials who have felony indictments returned against them should step down while the matter is cleared (or not cleared).

Fifth, whatever logic motivated the Republican decision (in 1993) to require elected officials with felony indictments to step down was probably sound - what has changed in the last 11 years to render the rule unnecessary? Is it related to the morals voters? Ironically, the Republicans passed the rule to counter what they regarded as ethical lapses by the Democratic party.

Sixth, DeLay has been admonished three times (by unanimous votes in all three instances - all five Democrats and all five Republicans) by the House Ethics Committee. He seems to have a problem on the ethics front. In one instance, he was punished for implying that donations would allow donors access and influence. It's called quid pro quo. Nice.

Seventh, the appropriate response to these allegations does not change because DeLay is a prolific fundraiser or because he helped secure the Republican majority in the Texas House (which made the Gerrymandering so easy) or because he contributed so much to House colleagues and their electoral campaigns.

Eighth, and perhaps most importantly: DeLay is under investigation for tactics that are hostile to the right to vote. Gerrymandering and unethical fundraising undermine the value of a vote. The end result is that we all lose. If scoundrels aren't sanctioned, and if anti-democratic practices by the higher reaches of government are not punished, well then, shame on us all (but mostly shame on the Republicans who voted to return him as House Majority Leader in the first place, and shame on them for voting to overturn the rule that would have required him to step down in the event that he is indicted).

Ninth, I tend to compare all political scandals on the Lewinsky meter. A sexual indiscretion followed by dishonesty to cover it up led to impeachment. Or, stated differently, consensual act between two adults and some lies led to impeachment of a President. Here, we have a man who is accussed of Gerrymandering, who also offers quid pro quo arrangements in exchange for votes, who has thrice been admonished for ethics violations, a man who takes steps that undermine democracy - all with a negative impact to thousands of voters (not to mention countless others who are put off by the process). His punishment? A rule change to protect his job.

Well at least DeLay has not done anything

mercredi, novembre 17, 2004

Deep Throats

There are only two deep throats that I know of: Linda Lovelace and W. Mark Felt. You heard it hear first.

Chewable Bite

Greetings from sunny San Diego (well, actually, sunny Rancho Bernardo – same diff’).

Today, I’m starting a new feature that I call the Chewable Bite.

Faithful readers of this humble web log will know that brevity is a growth area for me. If it can be said in 100 words, I will find a way to say it in 10,000.

In an effort to practice brevity, I’m installing this new feature. It gives me 250 words or less to make a specific point (check my work - count how many words I used, but don’t count the title or this intro…).

Chewable Bite: A Net Loss at the Secretary of State Position

Powell is leaving. It appears that Rice will replace him (I secretly have a crush on Rice and hate myself for it, but that is the nature of crushes, dear reader; they’re not always explainable). It is ironic that the biggest dove on the President’s Cabinet was a retired General. In other words, the guy who’d actually seen combat was the voice of reason – primarily, I think, because he was not able to romanticize war.

Powell is admirable on a number of levels, but chief among them is his independent spirit. The man made an outstanding career in a profession that rewards toeing the line and lock-step marching to orders. And yet, he had the presence and strength to question key policy initiatives even though expediency and popularity would compel him to be the proverbial team player.

Rice, by contrast, has established herself as a yes-woman. Her testimony before the 9/11 Commission is a study in revisionist thinking. She’s a crafty wordsmith. As much as I admire her as a person, I see her as the sort of ambitious opportunist that proves up the popular axiom about where good guys finish. But hey, congratulations on your promotion, Con!

You can tell a lot about a person by the hiring decisions they make. The previous cabinet and the cabinet soon to replace them speak volumes about President Bush. What it says: he likes assent, disfavors independence; he has ideas and just wants faithful foot soldiers to march in formation behind him.

dimanche, novembre 14, 2004

Banned from a Blog?

Wow. Not even two months into my political blogging career, and my role as gadfly has been truncated. Emasculation stinks. But, like all clouds there is a silver lining: I have a comment policy now. First the truncation.

I have spent some time checking out the blogosphere, and within that, I have enjoyed reading what my friends across the aisle have to say about issues of the day.

One of my favorite sites along these lines is my friend Michael's site. I almost never agree with Michael, but I read his work everyday, and I admire his site. We even have some great dialogues outside of the blogosphere, and we've had some conversations about doing some joint blogging in '05.

Through Michael's site, I found a site for LaShawn Barber. I have read her site everyday for a month primarily because I am fascinated by it. I have been fascinated by black republicans (like this one) since college.

LaShawn's site is amazing in a number of respects. First, it is owned and operated by her. I think she gets amazing traffic, and in her career, she has built quite a following. She is a budding columnist, and I have every confidence that soon she will have her own radio show and a series of books.

A few of her posts inspired me to comment. I read her comment policy and submitted my reaction.

My first comments were posted (to no reply, that's cool). My third comment (which made fun of another commenter was posted - he was talking about the poor state of education and even used the classic "Johnny can't read" line, but his comment was chock full of spelling errors!), even though it was a violation of LaShawn's rules.

My fourth comment was not posted. LaShawn posted a piece about John Kerry having his first marriage annulled. She called it despicable, she called Kerry a man of low character, and then she called him still a second name (I'm not able to cite the post, because she yanked it - something we will never do here at ILIM). She challenged the sincerity of Kerry's Christianity. Wow. That's hard-hitting name calling.

The comment I posted that did not get added said something to effect of "I think Kerry annulled his marriage in order to remarry - I understood that to be a requirement of the Catholic faith." Then I admonished LaShawn for the ad hominem attacks on Kerry and told her that I thought she was more effective when she was not base.

I can never get back the two minutes I spent typing that comment!

LaShawn is fond of crisp adjectives and name calling (just like Rush, just like Anne, just like Michelle, just like Bill ). She's fond of calling Kerry an elitist. In a recent post, she calls Scott Peterson a "murdering idiot" - which of course it seems he is. Still, you would think that someone who is so found of hurling out the insults would weather a kind and (I hope) graceful suggestion from a youngster like me that she use logic and reason (and not name calling) to make her point. In my comment, I was careful to address my concern to LaShawn's comments and not to her person. A rule I have followed in this post. For example, I did not call Rush Limbaugh a drug-addicted hypocrite and I easily could have. Also notice that I did not call Bill O'Reilly a cad or a skirt-chaser or a hypocrite. Or a flip then flopper.

What LaShawn wants is dittoheads. Methinks this may be a weakness in her blog. She does not want a conversation, she wants a platform for LaShawn. Hey, that's cool. ILIM is really a platform for me. Blogging has an ego component to it. Dig? Nuttin' wrong with that.

Now the comment policy here:

What we want at iliveinminnesota is dialogue. We welcome those who do not agree with us on all the issues.

In fact, my dream is that I will raise a point that someone did not consider, or that this site will be a coffee shop in the marketplace of ideas. Comment as you wish (but keep it under 1000 characters while we see if our loan for a ramp up to haloscan deluxe or halosan premium or haloscan ultra or uber-haloscan comes through). You are free here. You can even call me names. I don't mind. I won't delete your comment - I don't even know how.

But mainly this is my thing: I spend a lot of time thinking about what I say here. If it cannot stand up to dissenting views, then my post merits more thought on my part. I guess we have confidence that our perspective can withstand a few comments. If only it were true of all bloggers.

If I called Bush a name (like, say moron or halfwit or liar), I would expect someone to call me on it. I also would hope that I would have the good sense to admit that I was wrong to call names, the courage to admit that I was wrong, and the strength to allow criticism of my decision in the comments. Or, if I was feeling honery, I hope I would defend my decision to call names (instead of making well-reasoned points in a tactful/diplomatic way - it's okay to question whether Bush has the intellectual capacity to do the job, but it's weak sauce to call him names).

Afterall, what would it say about my views and about my site if I deleted any comment even if it was well-intentioned and thoughtful, just because it disagreed with me or called me to task?

What would it say?

Can we giggle a little at the irony of a huge Bush fan lacking the strength of conviction to stand up to a little criticism?

Might we learn something from other views?

Who else hates dissent and alternative information?

vendredi, novembre 12, 2004

As My Main Man Said "I Still Believe in a Place Called Hope"

I've intentionally been avoiding this issue (well and this issue), but as it gains momentum, I feel I must add my voice to the beautiful chorus of concern.

Either Florida or Ohio gives us the election. The problem is, I can't see every vote counting unless someone forces them to be counted. I don't see Bush doing the right thing just to do it (hey, he didn't last time), and I don't see anyone in Washington forcing him to do the right thing (lack of desire, lack of ability).

Having said that, it behooves all of us, as citizens in a democracy, to stand up for the integrity of the democratic process. Every vote should count; the collective will should be known. I have made my peace with a Bush presidency, but I will struggle mightily if it comes after more tomfoolery (again).

None of us want to live in a society where it is easy to disenfranchise people.

You can make a difference.

Say it with me "if it is to be, it is up to me." Repeat until democracy is restored.

What Did We Learn (Part Three)? Fear Sells...Thank God

What did we learn?

We learned the only certainty is death. Taxes? Not so much.
We lurned that learnning is not a big deal.
We learned that Iraq and terrorism are not connected.
We learned it’s NOT the economy, stupid.
We learned that the moral majority is a majority.
We learned people couldn’t care less about health care.

We also learned that Bush voters found a way to override reason.

I know exit polls are much maligned these days (although there are some who are using them as a foundation for concern), but I think these exit poll results are interesting (see list below):

When asked “What one issue mattered most in deciding how you voted for President?” Voters were presented with the following list –

Moral Values
Health Care

Here’s the breakdown by percentage of voters who selected each issue –

Taxes (5%)
Education (4%)
Iraq (15%)
Terrorism (19%)
Economy/Jobs (20%)
Moral Values (22%)
Health Care (8%)

Here's the same list in order of importance/popularity:

Moral Values
Health Care

Here’s how each issue corresponds to Presidential preferences –

Kerry 43%
Bush 57%
Nader 0

Kerry 73%
Bush 26%
Nader 0

Kerry 73%
Bush 26%
Nader 0

Kerry 14%
Bush 86%
Nader 0

Kerry 80%
Bush 18%
Nader 0

Moral Values:
Kerry 18%
Bush 80%
Nader 1%

Health Care:
Kerry 77%
Bush 23%
Nader 0

Only 5% of the voters picked taxes as a key issue. Of those voters, they favored Bush, but not by much. To me, this means that Kerry’s tax equity argument (more to those who have less – instead of more to those who have more) had some traction. It means that voters understand that making the Bush tax cuts (which heavily favor the top quintile) permanent, will be disastrous for our (time of war) economy. If the Laffler Curve and supply-side economics is not dead, maybe it’s dying. Please, let it die.

The least important issue on the list was edducatoin. Edducation voters overwhelmingly favored Kerry over Bush. So, Bush’s effort to label himself as an educaition reformer (might have) failed (if anybody cared) (which they didn’t).

15% of voters picked Iraq as their number one issue. Kerry was the clear choice for those voters (3 to 1). Combine that stat with the next one…

19% of voters picked TERRORism as their number one issue, and those voters favored Bush by a country mile (it was the biggest blowout of all the issues).

Here’s what emerges: more people care about TERRORism than they do about Iraq. This is true even though our primary response to TERRORism has been an essentially unilateral war against Iraq. We are understaffed, over-extended and without an exit strategy over there. We don’t have an exit strategy. What's our exit strategy again? But if another attack should befall us (heaven forbid), folks somehow feel Bush is the best guy to architect our response. Hmmmm…okay…

Meanwhile…Al Qaeda is essentially unchecked. Afghanistan is unstable. North Korea and Iran (home to a fair number of zealots and terrorists) are getting nukes, and fundamentalists and terrorists hate us now more than ever. Those voters who picked TERRORism as their number one issue (and voted for Bush) went "all in" for the fear message (and all they had was a part Jack____s). Their votes represent the triumph of emotion over reason and the willingness of some to buy any amount of mischaracterization (see, e.g. Cheney, Dick).

Do you see the TORTUREd logic there? According to some voters (we’ll call them “the wise”) Bush is doing a lousy job in Iraq, but according to other voters (no name-calling will be done here) Bush is doing a great job in the war on terror. Help me out now…Help me…please…

Kerry’s strongest performance was on the economy. It should have been. Bush delivered a net job loss, a record deficit following a record surplus. A plan for permanent tax cuts will have a phenomenal impact on the deficit, further weakening the dollar, and putting us further in debt to some of the worst creditors you can imagine. All of this during a time of war. Remember the Suez Crisis (and the fall of the British Empire) history buffs!

More people picked moral values as their number one issue than anything else. Conservatives wonder why liberals and progressives are concerned about this election and the perceived and proposed direction of our country. Here it is in a nutshell.

Let me break for a moment to say that this is not a great poll. It is general (moral values) and specific (Iraq) at the same time. It misses some big issues for this election (same sex marriage, the deficit, the environment), and it fails to define what is meant by moral values. This may make “moral values” seem larger than it is. It might actually be ten issues in one. And if it were to divide all those issues out (abortion, praer in schools, etc.), the percentages might have been different. For the same reason, if either Iraq or TERRORism was left off the list, then the remaining issue would undoubtedly be the number one concern for voters. But Moral Values were not defined, and for that reason, we are left to guess. Never a good posture. Here are my guesses at what those voters meant:

Moral issues = God (a.k.a. Christianity, also, prayer in schools, “under God” in the pledge, school vouchers, the Ten Commandments in statehouses/courthouses), gays (the constitutional amendment to curtail states’ rights by limiting the definition of marriage), pro-life, and a response to a general concern for our national moral character (see, e.g. Hilton, Nikki, and Spears, Brittney). I make these guesses, because I assume (and hope) that most people see John Kerry as a moral man, but they don’t see him as aligned with them on these particular issues.

So, during a time of (a bungled) war against Iraq, when an increasing number of Americans are joining the ranks of the poor, when health care costs are spiraling out of control, when our skools are getting expensive mandates but not the means to implement them, and at a time when we have had a net loss of jobs. Bush essentially carried the day by playing to fear (of a TERRORist attack and of gays) and by playing to Christianity.

That’s what we learned.

jeudi, novembre 11, 2004

Veterans Day Tribute

All respect to the brave men and women who have served our country and are serving our country. Our debt to you, and our debt to your families and loved ones, is tremendous. It can never be repaid. My prayer is that we will honor the service of our military veterans by striving for a world without war and that we will endeavor toward a future where we create fewer and fewer veterans here and abroad.

mardi, novembre 09, 2004

What Did We Learn (Part Two)? The Great Divide

What did we learn from the election? We learned there is a great divide in this country. Here’s how I characterize it.

The 15 largest Metropolitan areas in America heavily favored Kerry over Bush (11 to one with three split)

The 15 smallest counties in America heavily favored Bush over Kerry (13 to one with one split)

The 15 largest counties favored Kerry over Bush (eight to four with three split)

The ten richest counties in America were split (three for Bush, three for Kerry and 4 split)

The 20 most literate cities in America favored Kerry over Bush big-time (13 to two with five split)

Among the 20 most educated states it was a rout: they favored Kerry over Bush (15 to 6 (there were two ties))

The 20 most educated cities were smart enough to favor Kerry over Bush (15 to two with three split)

The 15 healthiest states (New Hampshire, Vermont, Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, North Dakota, Washington, California, and Oregon) favored Kerry over Bush (11 to four). Call it a benefit of lots of oxygen to the brain.

It gets worse, a friend sent me a map of the United States labeled: “Pre-Civil War Free vs. Slave States.” At the time the map was done, a lot of states were territories. There was the Kansas Territory which included part of what is today called Colorado, the Nebraska Territory which included part of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Utah and New Mexico were territories and were much bigger than they are today.

The map divided the states and territories into three categories: (1) Free States and Territories; (2) Slave States and (3) Territories Open to Slavery.

The whole point of the map is that if you lay those breakdowns over a map of the United States labeled “2004 U.S. Presidential Election Results” you get a not very surprising result. Slave states (with the exception of Maryland) went for Bush.

Free States, with the exception of those parts of the Nebraska Territory that are North Dakota and South Dakota, and with the exception of anomalous Iowa, went for Kerry.

Territories Open to Slavery went to Bush. That is incendiary stuff. One must take great care in presenting material of that nature.

So again, what does all this mean? It means that the bigger the city you live in, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. It means that the more educated the city you live in, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. It means that the more literate the city you live in is, the more likely it is that it went for Kerry. The healthier the state you live in is, the more likely is that it went to Kerry. But none of this is scientific. It is amazing to me that the most educated cities, the healthiest states, the most literate cities, and etc. are disproportionately represented on the east coast, the west coast, and in the Upper Midwest.

All those statistics are fun, but what it comes down to is this: The South, the Bible belt, and the Mountain States went for Bush. It should be noted that it is tougher to get oxygen in the mountains.

The East coast (above the 38th parallel), the Upper Midwest, and the West coast all went for Kerry.

There is a historical significance to this divide.

It’s fundamental to the makeup of our nation. At least one man gets it. Karl Rove.

Karl Rove determined what appeals to rural folks (I’m told now it’s the big three God, guns and gays) and he also figured out how people are distributed – enough to determine that his message would play well in the part of the country where it needed to play well in order for his guy to win.

So here’s what I think the message is: the more urban the setting, the more diverse, and the more expansive your world view. If empathy is a guide to our decisions, if humanizing a subject can influence how we think about it, then living in major metropolitan areas changes people. Whenever I go to New York, I always think that if every American lived there for two years, it would change the world. Whatever ism you’ve got, whatever phobia, you would overcome it in a sea of diversity – religious, ethic, national, sexual, physical, mental, educational, gender, age and political diversity.

By contrast, if you’ve never actually met a Muslim, or never lived next door to a wonderful couple who happens to be gay or lesbian, if you don’t know anyone who is an Iraqi or an Iranian, it is much more difficult to empathize with those who you do not encounter.

In fact, I’ve been completely shocked by some of the things I’ve read in the conservative blogosphere. People speak openly about being disgusted by homosexuality, and people talk openly about us America as a Christian nation.

One of the most popular bloggers in the conservative realm, wrote the following homophobic vitriol just the other day:

…your assumption is that we conservative Christians want to establish a theocracy. Far from it. In the same manner libertines want to be left alone, I want to be left alone. I don’t want their perversion in my face. I don’t want them suppressing my right to express disgust. I don’t want them making a mockery of the foundation of marriage or bulldozing the values I hold dear…

Unrelated news flash: Nikki Hilton is annulling her August marriage. Let’s see, four months, nope, no mockery there. No bulldozer either. At her current pace, she can get married 3 times a year for another 50 years, and as long as she doesn’t try to marry a woman, she can count on the support of the state and the (silence is) complicity of conservatives everywhere – they’re too busy with “the gays."

Later, in reply, another conservative wrote:

… We are a Christian nation, and I will not apologize for it. I also will not take my Christianity (not religion) and hide in a closet, so no one ever has to know or hear the word Christian or God. If you don’t like it, too bad! Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power unto salvation…”

If anybody doesn’t like living in a Christian nation such as America, they are more than able to move elsewhere, instead of telling me that I can’t speak about God and Christianity…

Read these quotes and more here (quotes are from the comments).

I must be candid. I think these feelings are born of an impressive ignorance. We are all products of our environment, and if your environment is intolerant, limited, ignorant and homogenous, it impacts you. See the above.

Two concluding thoughts: First, do I think that urban folks are better than rural folks? No.

Do I think they have an advantage over their rural counterparts? Yes.

Why? Well, I think it’s because they have more information; I think they’re nurtured better by their environment.

Which leads me to my second point: I think that as the information age expands, there is a potential for the world to change. There is the potential to be more informed, and I think that the more informed you are, the less likely you are to be hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray. Which is my way of saying, the less likely you are to vote for Bush.

Although, the conservative blogosphere proves my information-age theory wrong every single day. In fact, it shows that there is a unlimited capacity to whip ignorance into a nice frothy frenzy that’s easy to sell and (so it seems) even easier to drink.

Does all that selling and drinking sound familiar? Think Karl and the 2004 Election.

What Did We Learn (Last Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

It's time for true sharing. On November 3rd, as I was listening to NPR and driving to work, I stopped at a traffic signal next to a woman in a late model Honda Accord with two bumper stickers.

The first one read something like "Deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein before the war: 500,000."

The second one read "Deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein after the war: 0."

And it struck me all at once. The election results were coming in. It seemed bad for my guy Kerry, and here I was next to someone who was proud of her ignorance. Then, I cried. Yep, true sharing. I cried. I was so upset. I couldn't think of why. I didn't cry when Mondale got creamed by Reagan. I didn't even cry when Jimmy Carter lost a bid for a second term. But this time I did.

I care very deeply about America, and I feel very deeply that we have taken a wrong turn. I assumed that was why I was so upset.

But I like Thomas Friedman's explanation too. It is excerpted below.

Well, as Grandma used to say, at least I have my health…

I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that yesterday, asking myself this: Why didn't I feel totally depressed after George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled yesterday?

Answer: whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out...

This is the last prelude to part two. The actual narrative for part two is coming soon. All of this is my way of trying to keep it somewhat brief by passing it along in chewable bites.

lundi, novembre 08, 2004

What Did We Learn (Third Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob'ly die in a small town
Oh, those small communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in the same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity

Educated in a small town
Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town
Used to daydream in that small town
Another boring romantic that's me…

“Small Town” John Mellencamp (excerpt)

I think about my life. If we’re all one mouse or the other, a country mouse or a city mouse, I’m a city mouse. But I grew up in what I consider a rural setting, Wichita, Kansas. Now I know there are many who think of Wichita as a city, but, for purposes of my conversation today, you don’t count as a “city” until you are a metro area of near a million or more.

What follows is my modest description of (homage to) life in the city…

In the city, I know a Muslim, a Black Muslim, a Sikh, a Hindu, Buddhists, Catholics, recovering Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Jews (I know several Jews – they are too cool), Lutherans (Missouri Synod and ECLA), Unitarians, Unitarian-Universalists, Universalists, Pagans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Greek Orthodox, Baha’i, Agnostics, Native-American Spiritualists, Anti-trinitarians, Ahimsa-based spiritualists, and Atheists. I know people who are COGIC, and I know people who are Charismatic and people who are Evangelical. I know a Seventh Day Adventist, and I know a Jehovah’s Witness. Hey, they’re all doing their own thing. They all think they’re right (and for them they are), and they are all Americans.

I know lesbians and gays. I know bisexuals. I don’t know any transgender people (at least I don’t know that I know any transgender people) but I’ve seen them out and about a lot. I know of a paranoid, transsexual, racist with pamphleteering tendencies in Minneapolis.

I know people who are blind and deaf and not able to ambulate. I know a person with a lazy eye. I know Robert Redford (okay, so he doesn’t know me, but…).

I know white people, black people, Latinos and Hispanics (Latina and Hispana). I know an Iranian and an Iraqi. I know Canadians. I know Indians (both Native Americans and those in Asia). I know Chinese and Japanese and Hmong. I know Brits and Scots and Scandinavians (I even know a gay Scandinavian). I know a Filipino and a Puerto Rican. I know a Saudi Arabian, and I know a German. I know Africans: Kenyans, Somalis and Ethiopians. I know a South African. I know two Eritreans (I even know an Eritrean poet). I had a Bolivian girlfriend. I dated (very briefly) a woman from just North and just West of the Suez Canal in Egypt (she was Mediterranean and African and found me impossibly boring).

I know ova-lacto vegetarians, ova vegetarians, and lacto vegetarians. I know vegans. I know people who eat meat at every meal without exception. I know people who don’t eat red meat but eat chicken and fish or chicken or fish. I know people who fast. I know a guy who did a hunger strike once. I used to work with an out there woman who was fond of liquid diets (no, not that kind of liquid diet!).

I know divorcees, widows and widowers. I know adulterers. I know people who have never married and never will.

I know Communists, Socialists, liberal Democrats, moderate Democrats, conservative Democrats, Centrists, Independents, Liberal Republicans, Moderate Republicans, Conservative Republicans, Christian conservative Republicans, fiscal conservative Republicans, Libertarians (and, though not personally, and only through others) neo-Nazis.

I know an alcoholic, a drug addict, several doobie monsters and I know at least 3 nuns.

I know a multi-millionaire and a family that’s barely getting by.

I know a painter, an aspiring rock star, an aspiring novelist, and several pop culture aficionados. I know a guy who would win a gold medal at the karaoke Olympics with his version of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” I know a bohemian and a poseur.

Once, I saw a basketball star walking around downtown and Rock Star in the suburbs.

I’ve seen beggars and crime; horrible violence and a dead guy. I’ve seen prostitution and dope deals. I’ve seen gangs.

I’ve seen people stop to help strangers stuck in the snow, and I’ve seen road rage.

A stranger gave me and my (then girlfriend now wife) a ride when our car broke down on New Years Eve.

I know a guy who speaks and writes Latin and appeared on Jeopardy.

For transportation, I’ve ridden a subway, a light rail train, a cab, a bicycle, a bus, a commuter van, and I’ve struggled to find parking in front of my own house. I’ve carpooled.

I’ve eaten at every kind of restaurant you can imagine: Chinese, Japanese, Soul Food, Korean, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Russian, Thai, German, American, Vegetarian, Seafood, Indian, Fast Food, and even a place with no prices on the menu (if you have to ask…).

I’ve benefited from all of it and from all of them.

A Spiritual, Magical and Celestial Weekend: "Sometimes You Win"

Here's the weekend in a nutshell - for those of you scoring at home, the tally was 21 bags of leaves. We had a blast raking and bagging (less fun the bagging) and watching TinyE frolic in the piles of crunchy leaves. We took them to the compost in a truck borrowed from a friend. There was a line of cars waiting to drop off leaves. Back in the day, there would have been a burning. Anyway, it's all on video. Good times. Good times.

On Friday, three dear friends: Nikki, Paul and Myles came over for beer and pizza. It was a great time. Nikki is a bit of a Feng Shui buff, and she told us that we had (at least one) good Feng Shui practice (a plant at the top of the stairs; visible when you enter) - maybe she was holding back the bad news. Our front door faces South. I don't know what that means.

On Saturday morning, two friends (Doreen "'Reen" and Tonya) came over to visit, one of them happens to be a nun. We talked about the election, and, like us, they were bummed, even though they are both pro-life. "We are pro-life," they said "but we don't want to force our views on other people."

On Saturday night, I had dinner with my friend Bob. Naturally, the conversation turned to the election. He said two things that really stuck with me...

Bob is a bit of a lobbyist, especially on environmental issues. He told a story about how he first got involved in lobbying. He was tracking a bill that was in committee. He went and met with each committee member, and after meeting with them, he called a friend who was helping him learn to lobby, and he told her "I think it will pass 6 votes to 4." She said "that's great, Bob."

When the time for the vote came, he went to the committee meeting. One of the legislators who said he would vote in favor of the bill was not there. Another was wearing sunglasses during the hearing. A third left as soon as the roll was called. In the end, the bill died in committee 0 votes to 9. Bob called his friend. He was despondent. He asked her "how do you do this?" And she said "well Bob, sometimes you win."

The second thing that stuck with me: during dinner, Bob was asked "do you still have hope?" He said "yes." He quoted Tennessee Williams who said "there is only the trying..."

Oh, to tell the story right, I should tell you three things: first, the dinner took place at the largest private residence I have ever been in during my entire life (dinner was served in a 3,000 square foot ballroom). Second, there were 150 people at the dinner. Third, you might know Bob as Robert Redford. It was a magical night, and it was really fun to meet "Bob." Here's a transcript of our conversation:

Bob: "Hi Duf"
Duf: "Hi. Mr. Redford. I'm on the board of MCEA, and thanks for coming out to support us."
Bob: "Thanks for the work you do on behalf of the environment."
Duf: "Did you just get here, or did you arrive early enough to enjoy the weather?"
Bob: "No, I got here early. It was a gorgeous day. Did you enjoy it?"
Duf: "I did, we spent the day raking leaves and getting ready for winter."
Bob: "Sounds like fun, nice to meet you Duf."
Duf: "Thanks again for coming."
Bob: "Thank you, Duf."

Then, to end the weekend, I made some of my "$15 - what a crock chili" (so named because if you went to the store and just bought the ingredients for this one dish, it would cost you $15 and because you make it in a crock pot). And our friend Randy came over for dinner. Mrs. Duf made cornbread.

Just after dinner, our neighbors called to tell us to come out and look at the Northern Lights. We did, and they were spectacular. Dancing spirals of green light. Energy from the sun, bouncing off the poles - relected back in the form of light. The sound of voices throughout our neighborhood enjoying the show. A sense of unity. This overwhelming belief that we are together, even though we are divided - that energy can be multiplied and combined to create something spectral and amazing. A sense of proportion too, a sense of insignificance - this belief that as time is measured on our ancient orb, there have been all manner of days. Some characterized by utter darkness and others by dancing green lights and God's majesty and grace so plainly visible for all the (northern) world to see.

Nights like that make you reflective and contemplative. You think about how wonderful it is to live in the world, even when your world doesn't agree with you. You realize that some weekends are so amazing you will remember them forever.

Yes, it is true: there is only the effort, and yes, there are times when the chips don't fall your way. A spiritual, magical and celestial weekend will give way to a dismal weekend will come. A dismal weekend will give way to a spiritual, magical, celestial and amazing weekend. It is the nature of a world that exists on a spinning planet: sometimes you lose, yes, yes, it's true; but sometimes...(savor it)...sometimes you win.

vendredi, novembre 05, 2004

What Did We Learn (Second Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

Here are few more statistics that I bounced against the election returns with the hope that it might help us characterize The Great Divide. This will offer an even more vivid indication of where my argument is going. My narrative discussion of these stats will follow yet this weekend or early next week.

Most Educated Cities (percentage of population over age of 25 with B.A. or higher)

1. Seattle, WA 48.8 (K)
2. Raleigh, NC 48.0 (K)
3. Washington, D.C. 42.5 (K)
4. Atlanta, GA 41.2 (K)
5. Austin, TX 40.6 (K)
6. Minneapolis, MN 40.5 (K)
7. Charlotte, NC 40.5 (SS)
8. Lexington, KY 39.7 (SS)
9. Boston, MA 38.1 (K)
10. Colorado Springs, CO 36.9 (B)
11. Portland, OR 36.8 (K)
12. Albuquerque, NM 36.5 (SS)
13. Oakland, CA 35.2 (K)
14. San Diego, CA 34.9 (K)
15. St. Paul, MN 34.6 (K)
16. San Jose, CA 34.4 (K)
17. Denver, CO 33.8 (K)
18. Anchorage, AK 31.5 (no county data available) (B)
19. Honolulu, HI 31.4 (no county data available) (K)
20. Nashville, TN 31.1 (K)

Bush = 2
Kerry = 15
Statistically Split = 3

For Anchorage, Alaska, and Honolulu, Hawaii, efforts were made to obtain city and county vote totals, but to no avail. Both states clearly favored one candidate over the other, therefore, for purposes of this analysis, both were given to the candidate who won the state.

Of the two Bush selections, both were in states that went to Bush; of the three Statistically Split cities, all were states that went to Bush. Of the 15 Kerry selections, 6 were in states that went to Bush (where the listed cities were exception to the state-wide vote), remaining 9 cities were in states that went to Kerry (largely because of the population concentration within the represented cities).

It should be noted the Colorado Springs is the home of the United States Air Force Academy.

The Florida city with the highest percentage of adults over the age of 25 with a B.A. or higher is Tampa with 25.4 percent of the population holding a college degree (which ranks 38th nationally).

Most Educated States (percentage of population over age of 25 with B.A. or higher)

1. D.C. 42.5 (K)
2. Massachusetts 35.5 (K)
3. Colorado 33.5 (B)
4. Maryland 33.1 (K)
5. Connecticut 32.9 (K)
6. Virginia 31.7 (B)
7. New Jersey 31.6 (K)
8. Vermont 30.8 (K)
9. New Hampshire 30.2 (K)
10. Minnesota 29.8 (K)
11. Washington 29.7 (K)
12. New York 29.3 (K)
13. California 28.5 (K)
14. Illinois 28.1 (K)
15. Alaska 28.0 (B)
16. Hawaii 27.9(K)
17. Utah 27.3 (B)
18. Kansas 26.7(B)
18. Rhode Island 26.7 (K)
20. New Mexico 25.9 (B)
20. Oregon 25.9 (K)

Bush = 6
Kerry = 15

The District of Columbia, the most educated "state" in the union, gave 1% of its vote to Nader, 9% of its vote Bush, and the remaining 90% of its vote to Kerry.

Keep in mind: Kerry only won the electoral vote in 20 states. 15 of them are in the top 20 most educated states. 19 of them are in the top 31, and all of them are in the top 36.

20 Most Literate Cities

1 Minneapolis, MN (K)
2 Seattle, WA (K)
3 Pittsburgh, PA (K)
4 Madison, WI (K)
5 Cincinnati, OH (SS)
6 Washington, DC (K)
7 Denver, CO (SS)
8 Boston, MA (K)
9 Portland, OR (K)
10 San Francisco, CA (K)
11 Columbus, OH (SS)
12 Kansas City, MO (K)
13 St Louis, MO (K)
14 Cleveland, OH (K)
15 Atlanta, GA (K)
16 St Paul, MN (K)
17 Louisville, KY (SS)
18 Birmingham, AL (SS)
19 Scottsdale, AZ (B)
20 Colorado Springs, CO (B)

Bush = 2
Kerry = 13
Statistically Split = 5

Source: University of Wisconsin. Criteria: Educational Level, Periodical Publishers, Newspaper Circulation, Library Support, Holdings and Utilization, and Bookstores.

In some respects, this may be the most important measurement for the point I will make in the coming days because it includes a number and variety of statistics that suggest not just literacy, but community vibrancy (for lack of a better word) and commitment to lifelong learning .

The most literate Texas city is Austin, number 22 (Kerry). The most literate Florida city is Tampa, number 36 (Kerry).

What does it all mean? Well, I think it means that Bush's "No Child Left Behind" policies will eventually lead to a more educated populace, and, ultimately, the end of Presidents like Bush.

What Did We Learn (Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

Here are some statistics to chew on while I prepare a narrative on "What Did We Learn (Part Two)? The Great Divide." I think you'll see where I'm going.

For pleasurable reading, go to CNNs web site and look at their election map. You can see results by state and by county. The Great Divide will leap out at you, and you will see a significant correlation between population density and voting preference.

I have a post planned for this next week, but I need to spend the weekend trying to think of ways to make my point without being inflammatory or offensive. I think I can do it.

Richest Counties (Adjusted Household Gross Income, 2002 Statistics)

1. Teton Co., WY (SS)
2. Fairfield Co., CT (SS)
3. Marin Co., CA (K)
4. Sommerset Co., NJ (SS)
5. Morris Co., NJ (B)
6. Clear Creek Co., CO (SS)
7. Douglas Co., CO (B)
8. Hunterdon Co., NJ (B)
9. Westchester Co., NY (K)
10. Manhattan Co., NY (K)

Bush = 3
Kerry = 3
Statistically Split = 4

Believe it or not, I'm not surprised by the result there. Essentially what this means is that income is not a strict predictor of voting preference (at least not in those 10 counties).

Largest Counties (in population)

1. Los Angeles County, CA (K)
2. Cook County, IL (K)
3. Harris County, TX (B)
4. Maricopa County, AZ (B)
5. Orange County, CA (B)
6. San Diego County, CA (SS)
7. Kings County, NY (K)
8. Miami-Dade County, FL (SS)
9. Queens County, NY (K)
10. Dallas County, TX (SS)
11. Wayne County, MI (K)
12. King County, WA (K)
13. San Bernardino County, CA (B)
14. Santa Clara County, CA (K)
15. Broward County, FL (K)

Bush = 4
Kerry = 8
Statistically Split = 3

If you go to the most populated counties, things start to skew blue. But just wait.

Smallest Counties (in population)

1. Loving Co., TX (B)
2. Kalawoo Co., HI (K)
3. King Co., TX (B)
4. Kenedy Co., TX (B)
5. Arthur Co., NE (B)
6. Petroleum Co., MT (B)
7. McPherson Co., NE (B)
8. San Juan, Co., CO (SS)
9. Blaine Co., NE (B)
10. Loup Co., NE (B)
11. Thomas Co., NE (B)
12. Borden Co., TX (B)
13. Grant Co., NE (B)
14. Slope Co., ND (B)
15. Logan Co., NE (B)

Bush = 13
Kerry = 1
Statistically Split = 1

Discounting anomalous Hawaii, here, the results are impressive, but not surprising. Rural is redder than communist there...oh, never mind.

Largest Metropolitan Areas (in population)

New York – Northern New Jersey – Long Island

Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County



San Francisco-Oakland- San Jose

Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City


Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint

Dallas-Fort Worth



Miami-Fort Lauderdale



Minneapolis-St. Paul

Bush = 1
Kerry = 11
Statistically Split = 3

My brother-in-law made an excellent point here. You would think that of all people swayed by terrorism, New Yorkers would be number one on the list. Why is it that they broke rank from fear voters? What is it that New Yorkers and other city dwellers know that our rural cousins don't know? Are city slickers (like yours truly) amoral and unpatriotic?

I will seek to answer these and other questions related to The Great Divide next week.

Enjoy your weekend, and now, if you'll excuse me, I have some leaves to rake.

jeudi, novembre 04, 2004

What Did We Learn (Part One)? Same Sex Marriage

This post is the first in a series called “What did we learn?” Future installments will cover, Karl Rove and election politics, the war against Iraq, the deficit, and our divided nation, among other subjects.

Today’s topic: same sex marriage. Why? Because it’s an issue that is near and dear to my heart and because I see this issue as an extension of two other issues: (1) the desire of some for moral leadership; and (2) the increasing divide between urban and rural America.

What Did We Learn? We learned that the majority of Americans don’t want same sex marriage. It was 11 for 11 in states that sought to ban it, and the President succeeded in part because he made it an issue. Here’s why Americans who oppose same sex marriage are wrong.

Before you begin, instead of asking whether we should support same sex marriage, I want to ask first whether the sanctity of a specific insitution is compromised by the inclusion of people that the majority would prefer to exclude. Ponder that as you read the note below about Christmas.

Here is an excerpt from a conversation that takes place at my house every year around this time…

Scrooge McDuf: I’d really like to take a year off from Christmas. I don’t need gifts, and the crass commercialism makes me sick.

Mrs. Duf: So what?

SM: So let’s skip Christmas.

MD: No. Don’t let external things ruin the holiday. It is what you make of it. What we make of it.

SM: That sounds very existential, I’d…

MD: Hush for a second.

SM: Yes, dear.

MD: The fact that others miss the point means nothing to the sanctity of the holiday itself.

SM: Still and the same I have all the socks…

MD: I thought I asked you to hush, honey.

SM: Yes, dear.

MD: We will celebrate with church and with singing. We will remember what the holiday means. We will gather with family. It only has to be as commercial as you make it…

…and so it goes.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I support same sex marriage.

Christmas is a holiday during which the majority of people celebrate the birth of Christ by engaging in Christian and pagan rituals. It is symbolized by nativity scenes and Christmas trees and mistletoe and everything in between. For some it is a high holiday rife with religious meaning, for others it is long lines at the mall and finally getting an iPod (or satellite radio or an HDTV or those noise cancelling Bose headphones or all of the above).

How the holiday is observed does not undermine the holiday itself. And so it is with the institution of marriage.

Marriage, by it history and by its execution, is amply flawed. In the past, only land owners could get married. Women were treated like property. There were many other restrictions on the right. In fact, it was only recently that my marriage (between and African-American (your humble narrator) and an American of European Ancestry (Mrs. Duf)) was allowed by law. By the way, when we got engaged, we put an ad in the paper to announce our good news, and my in-laws received hate mail from a racist (and this, in part, is why the issue of same sex marriage is so important to me). I’m thankful my right to marry the person I love is not up for vote. I wish that were true for everyone.

In its execution, marriage is also flawed. You can get married in a church, at city hall (provided you are one man and one woman – this is true even though our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters pay taxes that support the mechanism that makes those weddings possible), and you can get married in Las Vegas (at a drive through). You can get married while you are drunk or high. You can rent witnesses. You can get married to someone you don’t know. You can buy a bride online. You can get married as many times as you want, as long as it’s to one person (of the opposite sex) at a time. Within a marriage, you can be unspeakably cruel to your spouse, and somehow all of these trifles and abuses don’t compromise the sanctity of the institution itself. But if same sex couples joined the debacle, the whole thing would come crashing down. Hmm...somehow I'm not convinced.

Marriage is one of the more important institutions in my life. Let me clarify that, my marriage is one of the more important institutions in my life. When Brittney Spears got married and divorced the next day, even though the whole institution was compromised, somehow Mrs. Duf and I persevered. And I suspect that if the right was extended to same sex couples, we would soldier on somehow. That’s because, just like Christmas, marriage is not undermined by those who do not celebrate it as we would like them to celebrate it.

I'm in the home stretch, hang in there with me.

As I understand it, those who oppose same sex marriage do so for three basic reasons.

First, they oppose it because they see a biblical foundation for disallowing same sex unions. This is a fine argument if you are a church, and a lousy argument if you are a state. In order to disallow same sex marriage, states must act inequitably and violate the civil rights of some of their citizens. Until we are a theocracy (and within that, a Christian theocracy), the bible should not be the basis for our laws, the Constitution should.

Second, marriage is, by definition, between a man and woman. Except that it used to be that marriage was, by definition between a (landowning, white) man and a (landowning, white) woman only. Then the right was extended to those without property. Then minorities were allowed to marry, then anti-miscegenation laws were abolished and minorities were allowed to marry non-minorities. In other words, the definition of marriage has been changing since the word was first coined. And guess what, it’s time to change it again.

Third, I think too many Americans fear gays and lesbians. I believe this is a symptom of a larger urban v. rural divide (more on that later). If you live in an urban setting (as I do) and work with people who are gay or lesbian (as I do) and live next door to the ideal neighbors who just happen to be a lesbian couple who have been together for years and offer a fine example of love and devotion (as I do), it is more difficult to oppose same sex marriage (as I don’t). You start to believe that it’s unfair for you to have rights and privileges that your co-workers and neighbors don’t have. You value the institution enough to want it to be available to as many people as possible.

Near closing, I want to share an image that is foremost in my mind. The gifted photographer Richard Avedon was working on a series of photos for a project he called “Democracy.” He died before he could complete it, but the November 1, issue of New Yorker magazine published the photos he had completed. They were stunning and amazing. One of the photos featured two men from Massachusetts (way to go Massachusetts!) who are married and have a daughter (also in the photo). They were smiling. It’s difficult to look at the photo and not see the love and happiness in their family. I wish everyone in the country could see this photo.

A few closing thoughts (and thanks for reading this far): Is it possible that extending the marriage right to same sex couples might make the institution of marriage stronger? Could embracing these couples teach us something about love or something about our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? Has repealing anti-miscegenation laws taught us anything about marriage or love or race? I would say yes. I think it has taught us something about all three.

Finally, what would happen if we devoted as much of our energy to expanding love as we do to expanding hate or as much time to eliminating ignorance as we do to perpetuating fear?

Post script: if anyone would like a copy of the Avedon photo described above, please e-mail me your snail mail address at and I will send it to you (yes it is a real e-mail address set up for this purpose, and yes, I'm serious).

A Little Bit Older - Or Stymied by the Man

I just did a really long post on why I think same sex marriage should be allowed. Then, I sought to publish it, and received an error message. When I went back to try again, it was gone.

Do you think the man thwarted me because my message was too strong and logical?

Or, do you think I should start writing these in a word processing application and then copy and pasting them into the blog?

I'm a little bit older, a little (tiny bit) wiser, and back to the drawing board on my original post.

Stay tuned.

Oh, and yes, I'm still grieving.

mercredi, novembre 03, 2004

Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Radiohead: An Election Day Post Mortem

Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified the 5 stages of grief and bereavment as:


And somehow, I'm feeling the first four all at once. But not so much the anger. Maybe that means I'm still stuck in denial (except that I accept that once the people have spoken - let the will of the people be carried forward...may we get the leaders we deserve).

Regardless of the outcome in Ohio, there are no soft words for it. I'm devastated. My stomach hurts, and I can feel my heart pounding. I can find no adequate ways to express how I feel. In my heart, in my skin, in my stomach, in my hair, with every fiber of my being, I believe that we are really in trouble.

I don't want to live in a theocracy, Christian or otherwise. I don't understand Christianity, and it doesn't seem like I ever will.

I don't want to live in a plutocracy. I don't hate the poor.

I am not very smart. I don't get it, and I am a complete and total member of the lunatic fringe. There is no hope for me. When it comes to such things, I clearly do not have good sense. I must be wrong about everything.

I'll close with the words of Radiohead:

Whatever makes you happy.
Whatever you want.
You're so f&^%ing special.
I wish I was special.
But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.

I don't belong here.

mardi, novembre 02, 2004

Suffrage at Six Forty Five

This morning, at six o'clock, I stared at a dark ceiling waiting for the appointed time. My daughter, having come in at five, was next to me, my wife was next to her. I allowed my eyes to close again, and before I knew it, it was 6:40.

I rose. I put on the same clothes I wore yesterday. I had an abbreviated toilet - I did not brush my teeth, I ran a comb through my hair, but did not do it well - and made my way out, into a not light and not dark pre-sunrise morning dappled by drops of light rain. I wore the grey liner from my new green jacket, and stood under the protection of a blue and white golf umbrella - given to me by my brother in law. I realized right away that I forgot my glasses, but ventured forth. I realized later that I had no watch, rare for me.

I walked west along our gravel driveway, then north one half block and east one half block and joined the line of people waiting to enter St. Timothy's Lutheran Church. The landscape was alive with colorful wet leaves and umbrellas, most of them black, but a few with patterns or logos. There was the smell of autumn, of coffee and of smoke from a far away cigarette. There was the pleasant jingle of a dog's collar and the percussive tapping of rain on my umbrella. Folks were silent for the most part. I speculated that it was fatigue, or because there's not much to say at the polls really. It would be wrong to proselytize. I wondered if the silence was not owing to a reverence we hold for this right - or if it was because regime change is solemn work.

To pass the time, I tried to guess how people would vote. None were obvious, but some gave better clues than others: the stern man with a crew cut spiking out from his camouflage cap with the matching jacket, the sturdy woman with the "lesbian by choice" tee shirt. Ultimately, I decided that shoes were the best clue but that no clues were completely reliable.

At seven, the doors came open. A sign reading "Ramsey County, Vote Here" was placed on the sidewalk - absurd in light of the queue, a lot like a sign in front of McDonald's saying "burgers here." A small flag was placed just beside the entry door, and it immediately began to sag under the weight of the light, but persistent, rainfall. It fell once, and a man picked it up. The line moved slowly, and after what seemed to be an hour, I made my way to the front door. As I looked behind me, voters spanned the length of the block.

Inside, the sound of shaking umbrellas and the shuffling feet of a line that snaked left, then forward, then left, then u-turned right, then over, then down, then into a room where we lined up by last name. A-H, I-M, N-T, U-Z. I entered I-M. I worked my way to the front. I said my name and spelled it. I verified my address and presented my identification. I received a blue ticket then waited in a modest line to exchange it for a ballot. My neighbors, Matt and Deb were there. They're voting for Kerry. Their yard sign says as much. My neighbor Barb was there; I have no clue how she will vote. I received a ballot and a privacy shield, then waited behind two people for my turn at the modern voter's booth, a plastic table with plastic shields around it. No curtain.

I voted for President. I voted for Congress. I voted for the State House of Representatives. I voted for Soil and Water Conservation Managers (though I probably shouldn't have). I voted for the judges I knew. I checked my work, and then I placed my ballot in its sheath, fed it into a hungry and grabby machine, returned the sheath to the sheath bursar, collected my red sticker and alighted from that exalted place where rights are exercised and prayers are sent forth, to go back into the rain, against the quiet queue, west one block, then south one half block, then east along our gravel drive to home.

lundi, novembre 01, 2004

Two Pleas, If You Please

On this day before the election, if I could do two things to influence the outcome, they would be:

First, to have all eligible citizens vote.

Voting is so important. It supports our potential democracy, it exercises our collective will, and it honors our ancestors who suffered so that more of us (the under educated, the poor, those who don't own property, women and people of color, the young, among others) could come closer to enjoying all the rights that should be afforded citizens in an aspiring democracy. We are easier to ignore because our elected officials know they can concentrate their message on those who vote. If we all voted, then none of us could be left behind.

Second, to have all Americans read this article.

I will keep my post short today to encourage you to read that article. It is kinda long, but it is excellent. Take it in chewable bites if you must, but please read it.

So, my two pleas: please vote and please vote for John Kerry (or, if you want, against George Bush, yes, against George Bush. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's okay to vote against George Bush). Please.