West Bank Realities

10 03 2009

A good visual description of the current geographical limitations of the two-state plan.

Inauguration Day

20 01 2009

I got up this morning and took Jack out of his crib because he was squirming around and I wanted to let his mother sleep some more.  Then for the next two hours we watched CNN and the inauguration day events.

The only other inauguration I remember was Reagan’s in 1985.  I was 2 and half years old.  The only reason I remember that one  is because during the pledge of allegiance I was standing and my mom said that if I was going to stand I had to put my hand over my heart, but I didn’t want to.

Suffice to say that I will remember this inauguration for other reasons.  The festivities surrounding the oath and address were appropriate.  Aretha, Yo Yo, Perlman, et. al. were wonderful as usual, Warren and Lowery gave wordy, non-prayer prayers as usual, and the interactions between former presidents, vice-presidents, and honored guests were all fascinating as usual.  However two things were unusual.  First, Chief Justice Roberts screwed up the oath saying “execute the office of the PUS faithfully” instead of saying “faithfully execute the office of the PUS.”  This moment was fairly humorous as Obama smiled slightly and started to correct the Chief Justice, before Roberts realized his mistake.  Has a Chief Justice ever screwed up the Presidential Oath before?

Secondly was Obama’s address, which was fairly brilliant.  Touching on the civil rights movement, the Revolutionary War, and our current economic struggles the speech jumped between historical moments and current events deftly.  As is typical of Obama’s best speeches, this one wasn’t just about ephemeral ideals but also about what we as American citizens must do in the weeks ahead and what Obama as President will do differently.  He concluded by quoting George Washington and drawing a comparison to the birth of our nation

At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:”Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America.  In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.  With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.  Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Watching this speech with my 2 and a half week old son was an emotional experience and one I will not forget.  So, 24 years after my first inauguration I have watched a second one, I was a child for the first and now I have a child of my own, there is a sense of new beginnings and dare I say it . . . change.

Curtain Around Gaza

5 12 2008

Living conditions in Gaza are getting worse and worse, hunger and disease are widespread.  Tim McGirk has a good post on this on Time’s Middle East Blog.  Israel is now even keeping international reporters out, in the name of “security”.   Having lived in Jerusalem for two years and being able to put human faces on the conflict going on between Israel and Hamas, really makes me feel for all those suffering in Gaza.  These problems are largely the fault of the Israeli government, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad must be held accountable.  Unfortunately the current tactics being used by Israel make this nearly impossible.

Two Years Later

9 11 2008

This will probably be my last post on the election and probably my last on politics for awhile, but I thought the difference between these two maps is fairly astonishing and speaks to the work that Obama and his team has done.

The first map is from a Survey USA poll taken in 2006 where they put together all different combinations of possible presidential candidates to see who would come out ahead.


And then this next map shows the current results of the election.


Election Day

4 11 2008

Even though I sent in my absentee ballot a couple weeks ago, I still went to the polling station with my wife.  Buchanan is a small town, with a population of around 4,000.  Angela and I arrived at the poll a little after 7:30 and we didn’t get out of there until close to 8:30.  When we arrived there was a line of 30-35 people and when we left the line was around 45 people long.  I heard one older woman comment on how this was the most people she’d ever seen vote in Buchanan, and that there were never lines.  I’m proud of the little town I live in.  So just one more reminder to please go out and vote.

Saturday Night Live: Countdown with Keith Olbermann

3 11 2008

This clip reminds me of the comedic genius that is Ben Affleck. That’s right, I said it, pure brilliance.

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The Changing Narrative of John McCain

23 10 2008

A fascinating article in the New York Times Magazine on the making and remaking of John McCain throughout the course of his presidential run.  An absolute must read, a real behind the scenes look at the process of creating an image for a campaign.  We will just have to wait and see what the end result will be.

Why I Voted for Obama

17 10 2008

Some have been asking me who I was voting for or why I favor Obama, so here it is.  This is adopted from email and Facebook exchanges, and could be much longer.  But if anyone wants to know more specifics on matters of policy, just let me know.

I understand the debate social issues has in the evangelical community and I view that community as split between two groups; one whose focus is on abortion and gay rights, and one who is focused on helping the poor, caring for the environment, etc. Mark Noll talks about this breakdown in his book “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind” and says that fundamentalists are taking over because evangelicals have stopped thinking intelligently as Christians about issues (not just political). This was always the joke at Wheaton: what is the scandal of the evangelical mind? The fact that their isn’t one (ie the mind).

So what does the above have to do with Obama vs. McCain? Well I don’t doubt that McCain is in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but both of their policies on gay rights are very similar (e.g. the Biden-Palin debate).  Basically these two social issues comes down to the role nominating judges plays in your decision making process. I understand that rationale and I do think McCain and Obama are both kind of wild cards when it comes down to it (McCain for example because of how much he favors states rights sometimes at the expense of federal ones). However I view their differences in policy enough to sway me towards Obama, even if the judge issue might sway me slightly towards McCain. I like Obama’s plans for health care (not universal like Hillary and even most conservative republicans would admit that McCain’s plan is terrible), environment (which is fairly similar to McCain, but completely different from Palin), economy (I do prefer his tax plan and think it will be beneficial to the economy and it is not a matter of increasing the burden of the rich, i.e. spreading the wealth, but rolling back the tax breaks that Bush gave specifically to the rich), and foreign affairs where Obama has been proven right several times recently (generals in Afghanistan saying we need more troops and must have the ability to enter Pakistan, an exit strategy in Iraq that the government there also favors, diplomatic approach to Iran and N. Korea which the Bush admin has been focusing on recently).

Obama views the role of religious institutions and non-profits as vitally important in helping people, maybe even more so than that of government. He is even the first Democrat in awhile to support setting up a government department to aid in getting these programs money. This is evident in his work in south Chicago and Trinity the church he attends (see fascinating blog posts on TUC by John Hobbins). The point is he really is comitted to helping people and has some good ideas to do so.

So essentially I look at both of their policies and view Obama as the candidate more likely to help the most people. I see his policies as overall more “compassionate” than those of McCain and think that the world in 4 or 8 years will be better off for my baby and family than if McCain was elected.

Meet the Real “Joe the Plumber”

17 10 2008

Ah yes, perception vs. reality.

At the debate Wednesday, John McCain kept bringing up the “fact” that Joe the Plumber would be taxed more under Obama’s tax plan. The trouble with making Joe a national hero for conservatives is that the national media descended on Joe. They learned a couple of things, like (1) his name is Sam, not Joe, (2) he does not have a plumbing or contractor’s license, items required by city ordinance, (3) the taxable income from his plumbing business would qualify him for a tax cut under the Obama plan, not an increase, and (4) he has an outstanding lien for over $1000 in backtaxes he owes. Maybe he wasn’t such a great choice as role model for McCain after all. [from Electoral-vote.com]

Where Have all the Intellectuals Gone?

14 10 2008

Interesting column by David Brooks on how the Republican party has alienated intellectuals and people from different backgrounds, culminating in the choice of Sarah Palin and her Joe Sixpacksian political/philosophical perspective.  This article partially explains why I, and seemingly every grad student at my church, support Barack Obama, because we have been shown the door by the Republican Party.