Archive for August 14th, 2006

I just hate it when some loudmouth makes a sweeping claim that this group or that group “hates democracy”! That’s my tag line! So imagine my outrage when I saw Billings’ resident Steve Holle’s letter to the Gazette: “Democrats undermine democratic process”:

It is disgraceful that after the Child Protection Custody Act has passed in both the House and Senate by wide margins that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) would block passage of this bill by blocking appointments of Democrats to the committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions. This is just another clear demonstration of the Democratic leadership in the Senate undermining the democratic process.

Are Democrats in the Senate sheep or are they going to show some backbone and see that a bill they helped pass becomes law?

What is it you ninteenth-century-ists are always telling me? This is a republic, not a democracy, and our duly elected representatives will do what they d*mn want, as long as it’s within committee, Senate rules, etc! (And it’s amusing that the letter’s author attacks Dems for cowardice when they’re fighting for what they believe in…)

Seriously, what Mr. Holle neglects to mention is that the bill refers to the parental consent law about crossing state lines to have an abortion, and that the reason it’s being held up is that the Democrats want to make sure that there’s an “incest” clause. That is, they want to make sure those that help a girl isn’t aren’t going to be prosecuted if she crosses state lines to have her own father’s fetus aborted. [Thanks to DB for corrections.]

See, this bill on the surface looks pretty uncontroversial, as do consent laws in general. What’s wrong with ensuring that the parents are involved in the girl’s decision to abort her fetus? I’d want to participate in my own underage daughter’s serious life decisions, why shouldn’t all parents have that right?

As the incest clause shows, there are often serious reasons why a child doesn’t approach her parents about an abortion in the first place. It could be because she was raped or sexually abused by her father. It could be that her parents physically abuse her. It could be that her parents are especially strict. She might be crossing state lines for an abortion because she’s afraid for her life or well-being.

Is it wrong for Democratic Senators to hold up a bill for closer examination when lives are possibly at stake? It’s not like parental consent actually has a noticeable effect; why the hurry?

Oh, because Republicans are in a h*lluva lot of trouble and need to do some showboating for their social conservative base to preserve the illusion that they care about things other than the insanely rich.

Hm…why did Mr. Holle escape the “creep” tag, you wonder? Well…I don’t know, really. I do usually call folks creeps when they willfully misrepresent others’ positions out of malice or prejudice in a deliberate attempt to stir hate or divisiveness. This just felt like plain ol’ frustration from some social conservative who’s had his heart pinned on a federal parental consent law for years.

There I was, an innocent yard sale customer, perusing the children’s books on the lawn of a soon-to-be ex-neighbor, when I stumbled on a set of five small hardbacks featuring a small boy and his teddy bear. Knowing how much my children love smallish books – easier on the hands – and stuffed animals, I bought ’em. A quarter apiece.

It took my wife all of nine seconds to realize they were Christian books. As soon as she mentioned it, I could have kicked myself. It was so obvious. Here’s a sampling of the back covers:

In this story about Joe and his bear, Joe makes new friends at preschool. He thanks God for them in his bedtime prayers.

In this story about Joe and his bear, Joe learns all about God and just how much God loves him.

In this story about Joe and his bear, Joe finds out about angels and shiny stars and God’s Son, lying in a manger.

Of course I hadn’t read the back covers, just glanced through at the pictures and read a sampling of the text. That’s how I pick books; this usually works. I can tell if the pictures will draw the kids in and how complex or simplistic (or annoyingly rhymed) the text is.

That’s still a pretty lame excuse, considering the book titles are all variations of the bear’s name, “Christopher bear…”: “I Love You, Christopher Bear,” “Christopher Bear Makes Friends,” “Christopher Bear’s First Christmas.” If I had just read one book through, I would have come to the religious conclusion of each, heavy handed, awkward, shamelessly proselytizing:

(From “I Love You, Christopher Bear.”)
“I hope someone loves that lady…like I love Christopher Bear,” said Joe. “I know someone who does,” said Mom.
“Who?” asked Joe.
“God does!” said Mom. “He loves you and me and that lady in the supermarket and everyone everywhere. And he never, ever stops loving us.”
“Does he love us right up to the ceiling?” asked Joe. “Does he love us up to twenty-one eleven?”
“God loves us right up to a trillion zillion!” said Mom. It was the biggest number she could think of.
“Well,” said Joe. “That’s how much I love Christopher Bear.”
And Christopher Bear just smiled his crooked smile made of button thread.

If you hadn’t guessed the bear’s metaphoric meaning from his name, that passage ought to have made it obvious. And if you’re still a little confused, consider that each book cover features the bear in a cross-shaped position, two slabs of wood and a handful of nails short of a plush crucifix

(That d*mn bear’s smug crooked smile! How it annoys me, especially in the Christmas book as the kids reenact the birth of Christ. Every other sentence the bear just smiles his crooked smile made of button thread!)

Thing is, most of the books actually have interesting things to say. In one, the boy learns to share. “Sharing makes everybody happy!” How true. At least, it’s good spin for a preschooler. In another, the boy’s transition to preschool is made easier by the warmth of his new-found friends. Again, this is a nice lesson: appreciate the people who care for you, and be nice to the new guy. You’ll go places if you learn this lesson. (Just ask Conrad Burns.) It’s good, basic Sesame Street stuff.

What burns me up is all the God stuff thrown in. I’ve been trying to think exactly why. I mean…I give my kids books about the Red Sox in a naked ploy to get them to root for the same baseball team I do…what’s wrong with a little preschool religious indoctrination?

It’s probably because I believe religion is an intensely personal and utterly complex topic. I’m more than willing to answer questions, give my own views, and support any religious and spiritual exploration my children might have – heck, I’m going to plug their Jewish heritage when they’re interested – but I don’t feel comfortable introducing my two-year-olds to a simplistic and harmless – and unrealistic — version of Christianity.

Christopher Bear is just too easy.

Any book that depicts God as a harmless plush toy won’t do.

No, my God is closer to a foul-mouthed homicidal abuser who kicks his children in drunken rages then apologizes later with lavish gifts. Or. My God is a infinite, unknowable, mysterious…thing?…above, below, and beyond comprehension. Or. My God is light and earth and life and time. Or. You get my point.

Even if we consider the Judeo-Christian version of God, things get complicated and horrible and frightening as well as comfortable and lovey-dovey. My earliest memories of Judeo-Christianity come from reading a children’s Bible, and the passage (Genesis 20-something) where Abraham is ordered by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I mean, that’s a Biblical passage to dig into a kid’s head! That’s a complex God! And the crucifixion of Christ — that’s a gritty story of betrayal and pettiness and pain, pain, pain. You know. Life.

Somehow, to me, Christopher Bear reflects the easy kind of American Christianity that offers up a comfortable suburban neighborhood as the pinnacle of creation, a contemporary Eden for frolicking middle-class Christians, where religion is a hiding-place, a den, a snuggly warm place where you sip your hot chocolate while the world outside is battered by a ferocious rain storm. But any religion that pushes you closer to Life, the Universe, and Everything has to be terrifying and repulsive, as well as comforting. I mean, it has to be everything, doesn’t it?

So, yeah, I think it’s a little early to start teaching my kids about God.

Unfortunately, unlike Matt Singer over at Left in the West, I have no ideological overlord. (I’m in the market, though!)

By day I’m a software tester for an undisclosed large corporation with absolutely no ties to politics whatsoever. We make gadgets. My silence concerning my job and employer is for their protection, not mine. I disagree with my employer mainly as to the amount of money I’m paid and the quality of my health care package. Other than that, we’re good.

As a blogger, I am on my own. I don’t even get emails from the Daily Kos. In effect, I am my own boss.

That said, I, like some others, have some shameful revelations to disclose about my relationship to my employer (myself):

• I could lose some weight.
• I truly regret breaking Regan Rosenfeld’s arm in the first grade. (To be fair, he snuck up on me and karate-chopped the back of my head.)
• I cheated on a Latin test in middle school.
• I stay up too late, despite my better judgment. Blame blogging.
• Sometimes I find baseball dull.
• I once owned my own bowling ball.
• Eating bores me.
• Although I pretend otherwise, I really enjoy watching U of MT football games.
• I like to hike, but I don’t like walking.

I could go on.

Over at Matt’s site, “Jake” claims that many of us bloggers are just trolling for jobs in candidates’ campaigns. How right he is! Unfortunately I believe I’ve blogged myself out of any Montanan’s campaign. I mean, what self-respecting Montana pol wants to be associated with a half-crazed pro-gay, pro-choice partisan guttersnipe? Sure, I’ve worked on farms, but never on a cattle ranch. Plus I look terrible in a cowboy hat. (Tho’ I look d*mn fine in my John Deere baseball cap with the plastic mesh back.) I don’t know how to ride a horse or throw a lasso. I don’t even speak with a Southern drawl.

But the single most d*mning fact that ensures that I will never, ever work with a Montana politician…and I mean ever

And brace yourselves, Montanans…

I’ve never fired a gun.

So have no fear, Blackbird-ers, this blogger will never be corrupted no matter how much he wishes he were.

Sometimes I have a very difficult time understanding the pro-Burns mindset. If you know all the facts, how the h*ll could you support the incumbent against Jon Tester? It’s not like Tester’s a raving liberal (like me). He has consistently spoken against amnesty for illegal immigrants; he may or may not support gay marriage, but he says it’s up to the states to decide; he believes the government can provide security without breaking the law; he was an instrumental part in Montana’s $500-million budget surplus; he’s a Montana farmer; and he’s scrupulously honest.

In other words, he’s a clear improvement on the current Republican model.

Burns’ online supporters – okay, Eric Coobs – twists himself into knots trying to keep pace with GOP talking points and Conrad Burns scandals. It shows on his website, like the time Coobs ranted against “cutting in running” in Iraq, then changed his rhetoric less than an hour later after news that the US might begin withdrawal of troops in October under Republican watch.

It clearly showed that Coobs doesn’t have core values on Iraq, and I suspect many other issues as well.

This weekend’s mental gymnastics offers a set of dueling talking points. First, NeoMadison (find your own links, BTW) makes hay from the DSCC’s $1+ million advertising pledge for Montana media markets. (Forget for a moment that Burns is the ultimate out-of-state fundraiser.)

Oh good. So here we have someone who lives in Washington DC promising he’s going to buy us a Senator from Montana? Thanks for the offer, Mr. Singer, but we’ve already got one. And the next time you pretend to care about where a Senator is from, try doing it about the place you actually live. If you can make up your mind where that is.

A few hours later, Coobs claims that the latest Rasmussen poll shows that Tester’s campaign is failing. (Forget for a moment that Tester has yet to really begin campaigning.)

Publicly, the Democrats are putting a brave face forward, but as they watch the Lindeen campaign die, and Tester slowly stalling I can only think they’re about ready to pull their support.

Get that? First, the Dems are rat b*stards for spending so much on advertising in the state, which means they’re giving up on Tester? I mean, don’t let reality hit you on the *ss on the way out the door, people!

See? It doesn’t matter to these people. I’m a partisan hack to be sure, but I’d like to think I actually try to back up my claims with some proof or at least a little argumentation. I’d also like to think I’m somewhat consistent. At the very least I avoid contradicting myself on the same day. But these people…it’s like they’ll try on anything for size, like thirteen-year-olds girls at Ross Dress for Less or something.


ActBlue now has a page for state-level Democratic candidates. Check it out and throw your money at some deserving Dems. You can help save the country!

Jason on proposed biometric testing for suspected terrorists on flights. Go figure: another bad idea.

Mike advocates Olmert’s removal from head of state. Jeff weighs in. But then do you expect anything other than a FUBAR when the Bush administration is helping you plan your battle strategy?

Froomkin: “By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.”

Ted Kennedy: “Ned Lamont’s victory in Connecticut scares Cheney for one simple reason: It demonstrates that a free and independent people can and do hold public officials accountable for their words and deeds.” (I recommend the whole editorial; it’s a d*mn good smack down of Cheney. Give this Senator a blog!)

My hometown paper, The Berkshire Eagle: “The shameful smears of patriotic American voters by Mr. Cheney and White House apologists like Mr. Lieberman can’t disguise how utterly they and their ilk have failed America.”

Bad news for the GOP: apparently the American people are immune to administration propaganda.

William Greider on the “evil symbiosis” between the White House and the terrorists. Interesting when you consider there is more terrorism under GOP administrations…

Pollster Zogby finds that a majority of national Dems were glad to see Lieberman go.

Apparently Lieberman’s ugly and divisive rhetoric is already alienating some moderates: “…now Lieberman is not only running as the de facto Republican in the race, he’s running as the worst sort of Republican, going on the trail claiming that any serious questioning of our policy in Iraq is a victory for the terrrorists….” You go, Joe! (New nickname, “Junior Dick”? What do you think?)

Watch Lamont on “Face the Nation.”

So why did Dem leaders endorse Ned when they’re not planning on punishing Lieberman with removing his committee seats? They’re afraid of blogs.

Ed Kemmick’s back from vacation along with some “nouns of assemblage.” Any ideas on what a pack of bloggers should be called? A gust? An irritation?

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