Monthly Archives: December, 2009

On Demand

I was visiting a nice elderly lady and she had a poster on her wall soliciting donations to stop ‘abortion on demand’. It’s the kind of phrase like ‘strident feminist’ that bursts into the conversation ready for a fight.

Let’s be realistic. You don’t get your teeth cleaned ‘on demand’. If you don’t believe me, try stomping into a dentist’s office demanding to get your teeth cleaned and see how far you get.

There’s other propaganda points. The use of the word ‘convenience’ as if the decision whether to have a baby is not a profound and permanent one, with consequences that affect generations. ‘Just give it up for adoption’ as if that decision is no more important than distributing a litter of kittens.

And ‘unplanned pregnancy’. That’s most pregnancies. It’s an unwanted pregnancy that is a crisis.

What got me on this track is a post where Frederick Clarkson makes some important points about loaded language in the abortion debate, especially as it has taken over the health reform debate.

The anti-abortion Congress members have succeeded in getting themselves labeled ‘pro-life’ by all the press, including NPR. There’s not even a moment’s thought. Their concern for life might not exist in any form except making abortion illegal, but they get to wrap themselves in the mantle of life-lovingness no matter how many Americans die needlessly for lack of access to medical care.

The supporters of the public option, Medicare expansion or single payer have gone from being part of the discussion to being the ‘liberals’ to ‘the left wing’. It’s amazing how far to the left you can move when the rest of the party shifts to the right.

Does anyone care that Americans line up around the block to get into a free clinic– and it’s not a disaster, just another day in a broken system? Is it politically correct to say we need to fix this, or is that being strident?

ProJo Finally Gets It

Months after Kmareka filled in our ahead-of-the-curve readers on the dismal state of Rhode Island– near the bottom on the Happiness Index, the Journal covers the same story.

What the Journal missed was the statistical oddity of Massachusetts having a way better attitude. How can that be? A hint– that’s why they call them ‘gay’.

Was Jesus Rich or Poor?

Here’s an interesting hypothesis I have never really considered before — perhaps Jesus was well-to-do. From CNN:

(CNN) — Each Christmas, Christians tell stories about the poor baby Jesus born in a lowly manger because there was no room in the inn.

But the Rev. C. Thomas Anderson, senior pastor of the Living Word Bible Church in Mesa, Arizona, preaches a version of the Christmas story that says baby Jesus wasn’t so poor after all.

Anderson says Jesus couldn’t have been poor because he received lucrative gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh — at birth. Jesus had to be wealthy because the Roman soldiers who crucified him gambled for his expensive undergarments. Even Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, lived and traveled in style, he says.

“Mary and Joseph took a Cadillac to get to Bethlehem because the finest transportation of their day was a donkey,” says Anderson. “Poor people ate their donkey. Only the wealthy used it as transportation.”

This argument seems to be trying to position Jesus more as a real person who worried about money and getting by, and perhaps when he wanted to buy something he used the “there will always be poor” rationalization. It’s a subtle point with potentially big implications. What were the gradations of poverty back in the time of Christ, and where did he and his family stand in comparison?

Feliz Navidad is Just the Beginning

First they came for Jose Feliciano, and I did not speak out, because I hate Christmas music. Then they came for Kanye West, and I did not speak out, because I don’t listen to anything that’s not on vinyl. And now they’re doing this..

Josh Riddle, of Denver, and David Rufful, a former Bishop Hendricken star from Warwick, are basketball players at Dartmouth College who have a rap act on the side, calling themselves The Young Cons and aim to spread the words of Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan and “Atlas Shrugged” through music.

On ProJo.com is a picture of young conservative David Rufful with his arms in the air like a worshipper at a Holiness revival. Maybe in a sense he is speaking in tongues. Or maybe he always talks like this…

“I hate when government dictatin’ / makin’ statements for how to be a merchant / how to run a restaurant / how to lay the pavement / bail out a business but can’t protect an infant,” goes one line in the “Anthem.”

He’s hep to the beat, like us old-timers like to say. We remember when this new thing called ‘rap’ came on the scene. It was about ten years before these guys were born and they used these things called ‘turntables’. It’s complicated.

But if Riddle and Rufful (good name for a band, by the way) are into protecting infants I’m with them. Let’s have a Peter, Paul and Mary chorus of Kumbaya. We have RiteCare in Rhode Island, which provides health insurance to low-income children and families and needs more support. Farmers Markets in the center of the city accept food stamps, helping both families and farmers. Affordable housing– safe, lead-free apartments are a necessity for infants and children. Safe streets, clean air, good schools. I’ll even listen to The Young Cons sing if they can do some community organizing for these causes. I have to say it’s refreshing to find some conservatives whose concern for life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth. You know, because it’s the born that are a lot of work and worry.

I’m curious about their philosophy. I wonder what Jesus, Ayn Rand, and Ronald Reagan talk about when they find themselves in a hotel lobby somewhere at a conference. Jesus had problems with authority, and a pattern of altruism. Ronald Reagan wasn’t particularly religious, and made up folksy anecdotes about the undeserving poor, whereas Jesus made up parables about the undeserving rich. Ayn Rand was good at laying up treasure where the rust and moth can get at it. I don’t know who collects her royalties now. Do they have cigarettes in Heaven? At least in the other place you can always find a light.

And what is the soul music of conservatism? It’s not rap. More likely country, though the sin and the whiskey and the pain of being down to your last dollar and a thousand miles from home, well, it just makes better music than smug satisfaction. Why are sad songs always the ones we want to hear? Maybe life doesn’t always make sense. Maybe we all need someone someday.

Local Entrepreneur

Ava Anderson uses these cosmetics and she looks great. Absolutely flawless. Of course she’s fifteen years old.

But I’m willing to be test subject for how well it works on a fifteen year old with forty years of experience. Natural, locally produced cosmetics could be a good buy. Good luck to all the Rhode Islanders, young and old, who are starting small businesses in the New Year.

More Christmas Cheer

Huffington Post about an unemployed man who shovels snow for elderly neighbors, works for his community, and now is part of an innovative art project. Virtue rewarded.

Christmas Cheer

Norbrook at Daily Kos posts about an ugly baby that grew up to be beautiful and smart. Is that the health insurance reform bill? Which is not safely delivered yet?

I can hope. I’ll still work for reform, because we have even more work to do if it passes.

Salon says the bill reconciliation will focus on affordability.

This is Just Wrong

I hate Christmas as much as anyone, but this is taking the war too far. What about the truce in that Snoopy song? Is there any justification for starting and getting personal on Christmas Eve?

Radio hosts Matt Fox and A.J. Rice created a racist parody of Jose Feliciano’s ‘Feliz Navidad’ called ‘Illegals in my Yard’ that was posted on conservative website ‘Human Events’. Conservatives love this stuff I guess. Jose Feliciano didn’t love it so much…

“When I wrote and composed ‘Feliz Navidad,’ I chose to sing in both English and Spanish in order to create a bridge between two wonderful cultures during the time of year in which we hope for goodwill toward all,” the Puerto Rico-born singer said.

You can’t have goodwill getting started at Christmas. You have to be pumped up to bark at teenage store clerks who are probably wondering by now what it is safe to wish you. Holiday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Epiphany, Festivus… Perhaps it is better to keep silent.

A soft answer turneth away wrath, says an old book. A graceful apology can do much to repair social damage says Miss Manners. But what on earth is this?

“We regret any offense that Mr. Feliciano may have taken from this parody,” [web site editor Jed] Babbin said in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press.

That’s not an apology. For younger readers who have never heard an actual apology, let me clarify. Babbin never apologized. He did not say to Mr. Feliciano, “I’m sorry we trashed your song”. He sent an email to a third party, Associated Press, regretting that they couldn’t have their joke uninterrupted by the guy whose song they stole and violated. I think that Miss Manners would have smiled serenely and slipped the latch on the mastiff pen.

I don’t know anything about Messrs Fox, Rice or Babbin. What little I know makes me wonder if they were raised by ignorant and incompetent parents or were just unteachable. No offense intended. Sensitive, aren’t they?

It must feel pretty safe from where they are. They can throw gratuitous and unprovoked insults at random groups of people who just might vote in 2010.

Don’t take anything for granted. Remember Florida in 2000, when Americans came to the polls and were turned away because a corrupt Secretary of State hired a consulting firm to purge the voting list. This is not Selma in 1965 but the battle is not won. The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance. Secure your vote, and then use it. Voting is not just a right, it’s a duty.

Historical Context: Via Talk to Action– The Calvinist Scots knew how to fight the irreligious decadents who would profane the sacred meaning of Christmas. They’d use your tree for kindling and toss you in jail while they fed your plum pudding to the pigs. You’d spend the holy day sitting on a hard wooden pew in an unheated church and learn to like it.

A Patient’s View

Via Common Dreams an organizer for the California Nurses Association shows us the ghost of Christmas Future. God help us one and all.

But this is a picture of what the health bill will give us without serious reform of the insurance industry. So is there hope of that? And when?

Today’s the Day

It’s 7am. Do you know where your Congress is? All I want for Christmas is to find out that this health bill will do more good than harm. Duct tape is ugly, but it can hold things together until there’s a chance for a real repair.

Maybe it’s the caffeine, but I’m ready to enter this decade running, and taking whatever opportunity presents. Is the health bill the breach in the wall? Is it a first step? My brain says no but my heart still hopes.

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