Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Unglamorous Work of Canvassing in Ohio

I wrote a diary entry at The Daily Kos that made the Recommended List (if you know what that is). I spent today canvassing in Butler County for Obama. You can read it with comments by going to the Daily Kos itself.

Here's the text:

In nearly 90 degree heat, fifteen of us met in front of the local Panera to build on Obama's landmark speech Thursday night, not even pausing to take snipes at what's-her-head governor of Alaska who announced her candidacy literally 20 minutes up the road in Dayton.

I live in Butler County, the suburbs north of Cincinnati. Bush beat Kerry handily last time by over 120,000 votes. It's our mission to reduce the gap. Kerry lost to Bush by a mere 7 votes per precinct in Ohio. We intend to find them, register them and get them to the polls.

During the primary season in February, the Obama Honk 'n Wave in West Chester, my town (called "White Chester" by the cynical) attracted drivers who flipped off Obama fans, shouted obscenities at the poster-bearing families, and one angry driver hurled an empty beer bottle from the passenger side window at a nine year old girl. Needless to say, it takes some courage to support Obama out here. But today intrepid ex-Republicans, formerly inactive Democrats and re-energized diehard party faithful gathered to knock on doors anyway.

Here's a glimpse of how it's going, what we'll keep doing until the election and how you can help us win Ohio!
You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long.

In nearly 90 degree heat, fifteen of us met in front of the local Panera to build on Obama's landmark speech Thursday night, not even pausing to take snipes at what's-her-head governor of Alaska who announced her candidacy literally 20 minutes up the road in Dayton. I live in Butler County, the suburbs north of Cincinnati. Bush beat Kerry handily last time by over 120,000 votes. It's our mission to reduce the gap. Kerry lost to Bush by a mere 7 votes per precinct in Ohio. We intend to find them, register them and get them to the polls. During the primary season in February, the Obama Honk 'n Wave in West Chester, my town (called "White Chester" by the cynical) attracted drivers who flipped off Obama fans, shouted obscenities at the poster-bearing families, and one angry driver hurled an empty beer bottle from the passenger side window at a nine year old girl. Needless to say, it takes some courage to support Obama out here. But today intrepid ex-Republicans, formerly inactive Democrats and re-energized diehard party faithful gathered to knock on doors anyway. Here's a glimpse of how it's going, what we'll keep doing until the election and how you can help us win Ohio!

Today we focused on apartments.

When you're used to living in a nice house on a nice street with neighbors who are all Americans, it's something of an adjustment to be reminded that not everyone in Ohio is as well off. Butler County is home to one of the wealthiest and most successful school districts in the state (including the Lakota West High School Firebirds who raised one million dollars to travel to Pasadena to participate in the 2008 Rose Parade). There's money here. There's prestige. There's a feeling of "inconvenience" due to higher gas prices, not outrage. Most people think life under Bush has been fine, good enough.

But not in the apartments.

My canvasing partner and I met all kinds of immigrants, some who wouldn't open the door for fear they would get in trouble. Sheriff Jones has gained national attention for his tough (read: cruel) treatment of illegals. In fact, I've been told that above the jail cell for illegals, a sign hangs that says, "Welcome to your new home in America."

So at the apartments, it was no surprise to notice some skittishness when what appeared to be government representatives came knocking on their doors. Evenso, one Bosnian man opened his door to us and four little kids squirreled their way under his legs and around his ankles while his wife hung over the edge of the door frame (not able to speak English) just to see us. He was so excited that we had come! Asked us to come in, but then admitted that he can't yet vote. He asked how he could help the campaign nonetheless. Told us in his not-yet-perfected English that he wants more than anything to see Obama elected. So happy we had come by. What a thrill to see his enthusiasm!

We met a white woman (forties) who had the opposite reaction to us. She seemed skittish at first, clearly didn't have much money, her apartment was dark, poorly furnished, she herself unkempt and in need of dental attention. She immediately asked us, while rubbing her face with one hand, if Obama thought it was okay to "kill babies." After all, she couldn't vote for anyone who would kill babies. My partner and I explained Obama's positions to her, helping her to understand that if elected, his social programs would help to 'save' babies and to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

She proceeded to tell us that Obama is a Muslim and when we countered that lie, she immediately went to the Rev. Wright connection! It was so odd to think that she could both believe he was Muslim but also have a dangerous Christian pastor!

The power of this meme was brought home to me again tonight when my son's girlfriend called (she's 20) and asked me if I knew for sure that Obama had never been Muslim because she was sure she had read it somewhere. To her credit, she already plans to vote for Obama anyway, but was certain that he had at one time been Muslim. Sigh.

In any event, we left the "worried about abortion" voter a flyer and wished her well. As I left I couldn't help but feel angry that the Republican party had scared her away from the Democrats when clearly they could care less about her real life situation and needs. She is nothing to them, yet feels loyal to them out of fear. Disgusted me.

Every person we met under thirty happily told us that Obama was the candidate for him or her. At one home, a young lady in her white t-shirt and grey sweats leaned forward quickly and whispered to us, "Psst. Yes, I'm all in. Go Obama." She gave two thumbs up and then quickly "whooshed" the door closed.

Whispering support for Obama is common in Butler County. It's as if they all know that to say they are voting Democratic in this election is to invite ridicule and scorn from neighbors and friends. I ran into it again and again when I canvased for the primary. My neighbors would pull me into the house to tell me they were voting Obama. They didn't want to be "overheard."

Even among the canvassers, a post-canvas discussion revealed that several of them could not put bumper stickers on their cars because of the dangers to them at their places of work! An elaborate discussion of how to turn a bumper sticker into a magnet that can be removed ensued.

I stood, stunned. We've had our Obama yard sign taped to our front door for months! We've got bumper stickers on all three vehicles. When I canvassed my own neighborhood, I uncovered other "hidden" Obama fans and since that time, we've seen a couple more yard signs go up. There is such relief when someone can openly admit support for Obama because there is at least one other supporter on the street.

My partner and I enjoyed our trip to the apartments a lot. We handed out all our voter registration cards. A couple of very happy new Americans asked for them and showed such eagerness to vote for the first time as Americans for Obama.

Still, it's tedious, hot work. Most people aren't home when you go knocking, frequently the names don't match the addresses or the addresses don't match what you see on the street! It seems like the people who are home, are either all set for Obama or don't even want to talk. The McCain fans treat us more like Jehovah's Witnesses than local political activists. You can't help but wonder if it's worth it. Does knocking on doors really change how people vote, does it really get them out to the polls on November 4?

But then all I have to do is remember 2004: Ohio needs those seven votes per precinct. How else are we going to get them?

Confession: I was one of those errant votes last time. I voted for Bush even though I was undecided right until I went into that voting booth. At the last minute, I just didn't have the guts to cast my first democratic vote in two decades for Senator Kerry. He still felt remote from me, all my friends were Republicans, and while I was less happy with Bush than I had ever been, Kerry was an unknown to me.

If someone had knocked on my door, maybe that weekend before, maybe had helped me over some of my hurdles to understand why I should trust Kerry and not fear him, I very likely would have voted differently.

So this is my penance. I will canvas every week on Saturdays in my community until election day. I hope I find at least seven people like me last election - needing that gentle, informational push to make the right choice. That's my goal!

If you don't live in Ohio, please call us! Get on Barack Obama's site and start dialing. We really need you.

Ohio for Obama/Biden 08!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Andrew Sullivan on Palin

I liked his take and thought it helped to address some of the other issues that are relevant to voters.
But let's be honest: Palin is now where she is - not as Alaska governor but as vice-presidential nominee - because an old white guy decided to play some identity politics, not because she has fought her way to the top of the national greasy pole. It's great that by a combination of a decrepit and degenerate political establishment in Alaska, and her own personality and tenacity, she has just become governor of Alaska. But McCain's choice of her - as is impossible to miss - is a cynical ploy to exploit Democratic divisions over gender. I mean: how many Republican vice-presidential picks have lauded Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro in their acceptance speech? It wasn't even subtle. I find this kind of attitude to be about condescension, not feminism, about tokenism, not post-gender meritocracy.

The Deeper Issue at Hand

This diary at Daily Kos best articulates the differences between small "l" liberal democracies and what the fundamentalists see as their sacred obligation in how to protect and preserve what they see as the right answers to metaphysical questions for everyone. I will write my own treatment of this topic in another blog, but for now, this discussion is wonderful! It directly addresses how I moved from conservative evangelical rightwing Pro-life Republican to someone who can vote for a Democrat. It explains my fundamental shift to embracing pluralism as the most important value in governing.

The Deeper Issue at Hand

Here are a couple of compelling excerpts:
To put it simply, the 2008 Presidential race will not be over politics but -- as it was in 2000 and 2004 -- over the purpose of politics. In that sense it will be a meta-debate, and one that many will miss because they thought it was settled long ago.

Here then are the disputants in this argument over what politics is for in the first place. On the one hand, there are those who think that political argument is best aimed at perfecting a pluralistic society of equal citizens who do not agree on metaphysical questions of purpose and meaning, but nevertheless wish to live together under conditions of amicable cooperation, and on the other hand those who think that political debate is about winning, precisely, the metaphysical argument -- about settling fundamental questions of purpose and meaning on the public stage.

Pluralists do not want to address metaphysical questions on the public-political stage. This is not because they think they cannot win but because they think they should not win. Religio-philosophical victory in a political -- as opposed to dinner-table -- setting has, pluralists think, no upside. We get along as a people in the first place because we first agreed that religio-philosophical issues are not something we need to agree upon. We don't debate those matters at the ballot box. Rather, we need only agree on the best ways to further our society to the benefit of all, so that we may in our own ways address questions of purpose and meaning at home. A home secured by a concern for the general welfare.

Fundamentalists assume that the stakes are higher. That what everyone is debating is a question that has, secretly or not, deep and abiding metaphysical import. That is why when fundamentalists are told that Obama is a Muslim, they take great notice. Not because they care what Obama's religion is, but rather because they assume that Obama, like everyone else, is in a metaphysical argument, and means to win it. If he wins, they lose. And the pot could not be fuller. As far as this goes, it does not even matter whether Obama really is a Muslim, only that his answers to the metaphysical questions are somehow different. The fact that Obama, being a pluralist, does not take himself to be having that debate, only causes cognitive dissonance and the appearance that he is trying to win underhandedly. To a fundamentalist, everyone is always trying to win the metaphysical debate.
In fact, what makes all this more troubling is that for the fundamentalists (the arch conservatives), they feel an obligation to God in addition to their ideology. They see themselves bringing "right" to the world. As Francis Schaeffer once expressed (paraphrase), If we bring God's laws to the nation, everyone benefits even if they don't want them because we know they are true and they are the best for everyone.

Palin, for fun

So I figure Focus on the Family will gush Monday morning. Any Dobson lovers will want to tune in. Hannity and Rush have already given her the two thumbs up, and like to comment on her moose and caribou hunting, her enthusiasm for guns, her unapologetic pro-life stance and her support of teaching creationism in the public schools. She's a new governor, two years younger than Obama and was a part-time mayor of a small town prior. I read an interesting diary over at dKos yesterday by a resident of that town. If you want pictures of Wasilla, check out this diary.

She has five kids (like me!) and is expected to draw in the soccermom vote and to reassure the Christian mom that there is someone with her values who can be at the top of the ticket too. Hillary fans will no more vote for Palin, though, than send Christmas cards to Bush. Please. These two women couldn't be more different, nor do they stand for the same things. So the line of reasoning that says Hill-fans will now flock to McCain is absurd.

Additionally, had Palin been a man, I don't think anyone would justify this choice of VP. Her credentials are so slim, her connections so few, her foreign policy understanding so shallow, and McCain's health so genuinely in question, it seems irresponsible to nominate Palin just because she is female and an arch-conservative. There's no way a man with her same background would have been chosen. Huckabee would have been a better choice in terms of all those credentials. He's evangelical, he got a lot of votes in the primary season and he's been a governor for longer, of a bigger state.

Palin is about the estrogen, make no mistake.

My take on Palins, though, is not strictly ideological, nor is it based on her lack of experience (which does still concern me). No, I don't support teaching creationism in public schools as though it is a science. I am pro-life, though not in the Republican sense of the word. I'm more in line with the "whole life" concept that Rick Warren talked about or that fits the pro-life Democrats. I love women in prominent positions. There is only one exception to that and that's what I want to state here.

Palin has a 5 month old baby... with Down's syndrome. She is the mother of five kids. She clearly is a high energy person with a passion to see the world reflect her values. That she took on being a part-time mayor while mothering is not surprising in a small town. I have another homeschooling friend who is a mayor in a small town in South Dakota. Works out fine.

To be governor in a state the size of AK (read small: the 47th largest in the country in population) is not the same thing as to be vice president of the entire country. I'm not even sure what I think about her being a mother of a special needs child and governor at the same time, but I know without hesitation that I can't bear the thought of her being the vice president and raising that baby, caring for it, nursing it while she is on the campaign trail, while that special needs child especially needs her.

Unless Palin has a husband who is taking up the slack for her political career (and if he is, no one has mentioned it yet), she's undermining one of the strongest values of the arch-conservative: that one parent will raise the children and be there to do it. A five month old special needs child deserves a mother (or father!) who puts him first.

I know how hard it is to run a business (from home!) and still be a good mother. How in the world can it be done when you are the candidate and then the vice president, and then, God forbid, the president?! Joe Biden's example is pretty impressive in this regard. When his wife and daughter died in 1972, he chose not to live in DC. He commuted two hours each way by train to be with his sons every night. He was a senator, and almost quit to make sure his sons had a normal life until he came up with this arrangement.

I find it hard to believe, after all the focus on the importance of child-rearing, that mothers who put their kids first will identify with Palins who is choosing not to for the sake of political advancement. She's only 44. Still has four kids at home. She's proposing that they radically alter everything about their lives... for her.

And I consider myself a feminist. I just think kids are that important.

Update: Lisa says that Palin's husband is a stay-at-home dad. That helps to know that. Still a big transition for the family, still a lot to take on with a special needs child. But at least there is one consistent parent available.

Update Two: Here's an AP article on Todd Palin, Sarah's husband. He's a commercial fisherman, a snowmobile racer and a hands on dad. They sound like they spend more time in their home town than Juneau.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack Obama: Lays out the agenda

If you missed his speech, you'll want to see the full video and pictures. Barack threw down the gauntlet: 29 policy statements, 19 critiques of McCain. He acknowledged McCain's service as a POW, McCain's love for America and then challenged his ideals, the direction he'd take America and his experience (as not relevant today). He did it without attacking his person. No smears. He took on the issues; he did not use innuendo, negative associations to spurious individuals or malign his relationship to the U.S.A.

That's class. That's how politics are supposed to be done.

Barack's speech laid out a vision of what life in America could be. He described what he calls the "American Promise." I listened with two sets of ears. I remember my Ronald Reagan era thinking. I remember economic conservatism with its theories of opportunity: the rising tide floats all boats, economic trickle down, fewer restrictions on businesses creates more jobs and more freedom in the markets, smaller government means lower taxes, fewer social programs means people are less dependent on government and more able to take advantage of opportunities to create wealth and dignity for themselves, that the market will ultimately determine where jobs should be and that to falsely set wages or protect jobs means to raise prices and slow down economic growth.

I believed all that. There are things about that agenda I still believe. I do agree that the middle class should not carry the biggest tax burden, that government should not be the massive, crippling, dysfunctional miasma that it has become (particularly under Republicans!).

But I do not believe that social programs are merely cover-ups for people who don't care about working. If you live in the burbs and hang out with white middle class people, that rhetoric is easy to accept. It's another story when you spend time (not with the mentally ill homeless, not with the drug addicts, not with criminals) with the poor: people who can't seem to get a break even when they are doing the right things; people who don't have the safety nets that we all take for granted.

I was talking to a friend recently who is Libertarian and her chief concern this time voting is that she "keep all her money." She went on to say that she doesn't see why anyone else should get any of it since she wants to spend it how she wants, not on some government program that is giving welfare to others who won't work.

This is the lie told again and again and again by the right. They pit us against each other. Who (in recent memory) on the right has helped Americans think about how to build a nation that benefits all of us as well as self? Oh Bush talked about compassionate conservatism - I just never saw it in action. One of his ideas was that churches could do what government used to do and then the government could just fund them instead. And so you get irregular help, with strings attached for those looking for help. Non-religious programs doing effective work suddenly lost half their funding (as I learned last week at an Obama event and an AVOC - AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati - worker shared their story).

My point is this. The primary goals of the right at this point in time are to continue the so-called fraudulent war on terror and to prevent raising taxes (after the Republicans have put us into the deepest debt in history through an illegal war).

Obama, on the other hand, offered us a vision of what America is, what her reputation has been and should continue to be. He then outlined a plan to get there. You might not like the plan. But listen to McCain and see what he offers. If it's more of the same, why would you think his is the better future when the evidence of our recent past shows otherwise?

Off to spend the day canoeing. Chat amongst yourselves. Just be civil.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama is our Democratic nominee... the first African American

and it hasn't even happened in any other country. It is stunning!

If he goes on to win (and I think he will), America will set itself apart from every other country in the world.

A minority will have triumphed over the majority population to lead everyone. That is unheard of. It's why the whole world is watching us. It's why more people abroad hope we vote Obama over McCain. We have the ability to take forward the unique story of America - that whoever you are, you can become what you want to be if you work hard, enroll people in your vision and fulfill your commitments.

I've got a gurl-crush on Rachel Maddow

Rachel says what she thinks, which is not all that unusual for political journalists on TV, on the radio. But what makes her special is that she is smart! She's got the vocab (post-rational - lol), and the insistent rapidity of a canny debater to steam roll a guy like Pat Buchanan without breaking a sweat or blushing. She's not blonde, not a beauty pageant queen turned info-babe (as Rush degradingly calls them). She's tough, talented, and a self-proclaimed liberal.

Her portfolio of activities prior to journalism shows a consistent idealism backed with self-sacrificing action. Even if you don't like her politics, it's hard to dismiss her on the grounds of "not caring, just wanting the lime light." This is a woman who commits and acts.

The WaPo took the time to feature her background as she prepares for her own MSNBC show that launches in two weeks. I heart her. Love her dark hair, her un-lipsticked mouth, her sassy rejoinders and her opinions. What's not to love?

This is a great article if you haven't read it.
"I know I don't look like everybody else on television," MSNBC's newest host says at a Mexican restaurant here. "I'm not that pretty. Women on television are over-the-top, beauty-pageant gorgeous. That's not the grounds on which I am competing. There's a basic threshold you have to cross: not looking like you're insulting. You ought to wear makeup, comb your hair." And if she tried for a makeover, she says, "I would fail, and I would look dumb doing it."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The tick tick tick of summer's end

One thing I'm not used to in Ohio is the fact that these midwesterners believe they can end summer by picking a date on the calendar. Labor Day, they randomly assign, is summer's end. So they close the pools, put the canoes up on blocks, end the rentals of pedal boats and hang their bikes from hooks in the garage.

I'm opposed to this falsification of summer's end. I missed July, August glued us to TVs for the Olympics and I'm just now ready for summer! Of course, on cue, we've got thunder storms. Sigh.

"This is not your year..." (The Weepies)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's 3 a.m. Do you know who Obama's VP pick is?

YES! Team Obama promised to send a text message to all supporters (and anyone who signed up) announcing his running mate before the press would be notified. Yesterday seemed the day he would finally click "send" to that message, but then John McCain's inability to tally up the homes he owns took over the news cycle.

So Obama fans everywhere stalked the news, kept phones turned on and nearby waiting to hear who it would be.

By about midnight eastern, it seemed that either Joe Biden would be the vice presidential candidate (secret service had been deployed, crack team journalists - aka busy bodies - staked out his house and noticed that his "family was gathered perhaps to say goodbye before the convention" - lol, I mean really, they are just ridiculous, but anyway) or he was a brilliant decoy. I went to bed with my phone figuring I'd hear the little chimes go off around 7 this morning.

But no! At 3:13, my phone sprang to life and in it, a message from the Team Obama: Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee.?

Is it not ironic in the most delicious way that Hillary's "Who do you want to answer the phone at 3 a.m.?" became Barack's: "We're counting on you to answer at 3 a.m."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beach Volleyball: Walsh-May Conquer All!

I can't believe we won't see them again. They've created the enduring memories of these Olympics and the last ones. Yes, Phelps. Of course, Nastia and Shawn. But for me, I have to say I enjoyed every single match Kerri and Misty played. They couldn't stop bouncing after they won!! Such exuberance. What joy!

File this in: Are you kidding me?

HT: Rick via Twitter

This story really turns my stomach. Even more, I'm stunned at the places that are immediately urging for forgiveness and healing... how about starting with getting all the truth out?

Preacher/Songwriter Faked Terminal Illness

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Obama and McCain and the evangelical vote

I missed the Open Forum hosted by Rick Warren which puts me in the unique position of commenting on it from utter ignorance. Instead, I've spent more time reading reactions (rather than transcripts), and interpreting them. The question of "Who won?" has prompted the following generalizations:

Obama won: Because he gave thoughtful, nuanced answers to a mostly Republican audience without apologizing for his party's platform. He took his time, was not the impassioned orator of his rallies, but instead offered detailed remarks and looked Rick Warren in the eye as he spoke. He validated the "already Obama fan" evangelical, though it's unclear he won over any of the fence-sitters looking for an unapologetic pro-life stance. Some say he supported Rick Warren's "Whole Life" idea (that we are not to be concerned merely with conception through birth, but the after birth as well).

McCain won: He spoke with deliberateness, spoke concisely, made remarks consistent with the conservative wing of the R party. While detractors said he pandered (didn't actually look at Rick as he spoke etc.), fans felt he nailed the questions with black and white answers suited to his audience. His stories engaged viewers and audience alike, his style showed more confidence and panache than anyone expected. His overall tone didn't just reassure evangelicals who were unenthusiastic about his candidacy; he gave them reasons to vote for him with some level of conviction.

Warren won: Lots of people have said that Warren won - he drew the long stick, getting the two candidates together for the first time in front of the nation. He made his church, his constituency, his worldview a player in the election in a way unprecedented, even when Bush was running away with the evangelical vote.

My take on all this, though, diverges. I'd say the Democratic party won.

Here's why. Evangelicals are no longer a monolithic block. Let's look at how fractured these evangelicals have become. For the last four years, a growing number of malcontents within the evangelical Republican community have voiced their shift in focus from heaven-hell theology to social justice. This shift has enabled formerly hardcore Republicans to consider the party platform of the Democrats. The lack of progress in the laws related to abortion under Republican presidents and a Republican congress has unmasked the "wedge issue" nature of that platform item. Pro-life is a Republican slogan, not a conviction among the powers that be. That means, for the first time since Reagan, committed pro-lifers have had to ask what actually reduces (in real numbers) the abortion rate (not just how can the laws be changed).

Turns out social programs help: inner city education and job training, birth control and health care options do give unwed mothers alternatives to abortion. The party who cares more about that is the Democratic party.

Additionally, the war has become a moral issue for Christians. Can we justify supporting a president and party that lied to the American people to start a war in a sovereign state? Can we keep sending our young people into a civil war that we can't contain or control?

McCain represents more of the same: a commitment to the platform that got George Bush elected. He has even back pedaled on his more moderate positions (he has a record of supporting stem cell research, for instance) in order to provide reassurance to doubting hardcore, xtn Republicans. What he is not calculating is that there is a growing number of evangelicals who don't want to hear the same old answers.

Those evangelicals are interested in Obama. Abortion is the number one stumbling block for those Republicans. They want to believe that a changed view (a Democratic view) of economics, the government's role in social welfare programs, diplomacy over war, and increased taxes would be a more moral vision than the one that's failed them for the last eight+ years. They want to believe that abortions (the real ones, not the theory or laws about them) will go down under a changed model of leadership.

McCain did nothing to reassure those evangelicals. He merely corralled the already hardcore right that he is the next Bush, but with more conviction and better war stories.

For the remaining disaffected, new theology evangelicals (the McClaren followers, the emergents, the college kids who can't relate to Dobson or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity), Obama represents a risk they are more and more willing to take.

What that means, then, is that the evangelical "base" is fractured. It only takes a small percentage to undermine the "block vote" they once represented. And that is why I say that Warren's open forum was actually a win for Democrats. The truth is, even just hosting it proves the evangelical world has gone through a shift. There is no way in hell (I mean it) that Clinton would ever have been invited to an evangelical church for a conversation with the Republican candidate.

Today, you can say you are voting Obama and not feel that your church membership or salvation are suddenly in question. That's what change means. Proof that evangelicals won't be the key demographic this time.

GObama 08!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Have to post the happy family photo

because yesterday was a great day! Brooke Christensen (like a daughter to me) is leaving for Amsterdam to plant a church with a team of people and we were all at her family's house in Columbus to say goodbye. This is one of those photos that Johannah thinks is too posed and that took much cajoling and guilt-tripping of the teenage and adult children to produce, but in the end, makes parents oh-so-very happy. :)

Click to enlarge.

(Left to right: Caitrin, Jacob, Julie, Jon, Liam, Noah, Johannah)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Liam and Linkin Park

I wasn't the only parent attending this concert with a teen (or younger kid!). But I might have been the only parent who knew the lyrics to all the songs, jumped up and down (which is not a risk-free proposition for a mother who's given birth five times) and devil horns'ed Chester and Mike.

I don't know what it is about Linkin Park, but I love that band. Their sound is original for rock, Chester and Mike trade off so easily and with what appears to be genuine respect for what each one brings to the table. Their lyrics accurately (painfully) depict the inner world of a teen misunderstood by a parent (a dad!) or a lover or a friend.

Pathos combined with trademark screams, DJ, drums, killer guitars... such an emotional concert. Cathartic.

Chester Bennington exerts relentless energy on the stage (akin to a young Bono - there I said it!). He doesn't waste vocal chords or time talking to the audience about getting drunk or smoking weed (like the "still not prime time" bands that went before LP). He puts everything (rippling muscles, voice, soul and tattoos) into each lyric. I have no idea how he sustains the melodic, tuneful part of his voice when he gives each scream the maximum "nails on the blackboard" screech that lasts as long as Michael Phelps under water after a turn. Some people are born to perform. Chester is one of them.

The combination of lights (awesome light show), intensity of performance, the tight band which never missed a note, chord change or drum beat, and the natural, friendly interplay between the two front men make Linkin Park a likely candidate to be one of those "great bands" we all feel glad to have seen in the early years. I told Liam that when he's in his thirties, I fully expect him to take one of his kids to see LP and he'll be saying he saw them when they only had three-ish albums to draw from.

I left exhausted... in the happiest way. Liam and I hugged, sang, shouted, jumped, and hugged again. Nothing but exhilaration. And further proof that I'm just not indie at core. Give me rock... but make it fresh.

Set list to come.

Russ Noland dies of massive heart attack last night

Stratopastor was an e-friend. He is the second e-friend I've known who's died of a heart attack. It's such a deeply sad feeling to lose someone you liked online - no way to connect to the family, an "erasure" of their virtual presence.

Russ was a terrific man - humorous, interested, a good thinker, a good guitar player... (at least so he said [g]) and the genuine article as far as Christianity is concerned. He will be missed.

Namaste Russ.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Matthew 25 Obama ad

Check it out! Brian McLaren and Matthew 25 have created an ad for Senator Obama.

Obama and McCain will be at Saddleback church on Sunday too. V. Interesting.

Wonder how xtns will vote, particularly those emergent ones. I like these developments.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wonder how the Chinese blog?

We did. In fact, we were interested to know how the Chinese type anything into a keyboard with literally thousands of characters (pictograms) to choose from. So thanks to the Almighty Google, we discovered the complex world of typing in a non-phonetic system.
Google has launched a self-promoting Chinese-language blog, not long after unveiling its controversial Chinese search engine last month. According to the Washington Post, China already has as many as 16 million bloggers. How do you type Chinese characters on a keyboard?
All I can think after reading about how they handle the idea of keyboard and writing is that their brains must be a heck of a lot more agile than ours as they juggle the hundreds of micro-thoughts and adjustments we never have to face.

Check out this story.
In the Peoples' Republic of China, most computer users type out their Chinese in transliteration, using the standard Roman alphabet keys on a QWERTY keyboard. To generate a character, you type out its sound according to the same spelling system—called Pinyin—that represents the name of China's capital with the word "Beijing." The computer automatically converts the Pinyin spelling to the correct Chinese characters on the screen.

Or at least it's supposed to. There are lots of Chinese words that sound similar but look different on paper. If you're using the Pinyin input method, you'll have to put in some extra effort to make sure the right characters show up onscreen. First, you can follow a syllable with a digit, to indicate which of several intonations you want. If the computer still doesn't have enough information to pick a character, you'll have to choose from a pop-up list of possibilities.

Aren't you loving all this exposure to China? Isn't it, too, a bit, um, intimidating?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

8 good reasons men are lying liars

I miss writing on my blog so I'm going to use it for writing practice. Today's topic: "Give 8 good reasons it is okay for men to lie."

Ready go:

Men lie. Margaritas make me drunk and Linkin Park screams. So what else is new? Well "good reasons" would be the new part. Let's do a little "top eight at 4:48" ala David, the liar, Letterman.

Number 8: A good reason to lie is to impress middle aged friends with what a stud you were as a gangly youth.

Number 7: An equally good reason to lie is to impress a female who doesn't actually care if you were a kick-ass Green Beret or simply like to wear those little hats as a fashion statement.

Number 6: Men justify lying by reminding us that everyone does it and they do it better than everyone else.

Number 5: It's a good idea to lie, they reason, if the jeans she is wearing really do make her look fat.

Number 4: Men rationalize lying by lying about lying saying that they don't lie and then they believe themselves and feel like they are good human beings who would never lie except about lying and sex with Monica Lewinsky or a gay hooker on meth in Denver.

Number 3: It is always okay to lie if it saves money or cheats the IRS.

Number 2: Lying is always okay if you are a senator who plays footsies in a men's bathroom.

Number 1 good reason that men lie: They know their women will forgive them.

Hey that was cathartic. We'll try that again tomorrow. Baby steps out of gloom.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A weekly blog perhaps?

Three steps to kill your blog:

1. Go to therapy. Seriously, if you just don't want to blog like ever again, have some female mid-thirties MFCC crawl into your brain every week where she fishes around for messy, painful stuff to process that you can't possibly share with all the Internets. Then do her homework assignments (with puffy eyes and snotty nose) about things like "What do I want, desire, need?" (oh so "I'm okay; You're okay" seventies, I know) and "How can I forgive myself for not being perfect during my first 25 years as an adult?" Yeah, that'll do it. Surefire writing block creator.

But if that isn't enough for you, you can take the next two blog killer steps.

2. Addict thyself to Twitter. It's like blogging but there's this wonderful character counter that yells at you to hurry up and finish before it CUTS YOU OFF. I get it all said in a few stream of consciousness words instead of blathering paragraphs. Right? I mean nice break for you, doncha think? (P.S. Follow me! Or let me follow you...)

3. Join a Fantasy Football league. It's that time, mes freres. So that means researching, radio, distraction...

I will be back to the blog (you know, once I include it on the therapist list of things I "want, need, desire, crave, have to have.") But for now, Twitter and FB are where you can find me more reliably. Or email me!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ferrets times two

There's a reason we say "ferret out a problem." Liam brought home two chicas today: Sugar and Bandit. They wiggled and wormed their way into every nook and cranny of our house within minutes of their arrival. Long skinny noses and slinky bodies slipped between dresser and wall, under covers, inside drawers, up the slippery plastic covering a prom dress and flattening themselves to squeeze into spaces not even an inch high.

These two are well tamed. We knew they were when we entered the apt. where they've been living and one of them hung "feather boa" style around a two year old boy's neck! He gripped the little she-devil by the middle and slung her down so quickly, I wondered if she'd nip his fingers. Rather, she put up with the acrobatics nonplussed and then slunk away on the carpet without twitching a whisker which is when I knew they'd be perfect for our family.

I'll post photos once I take a few. Liam is our animal lover. He used to have a pair of rats, but they only lived two years and had to be put to sleep when they developed tumors. (I knew they shouldn't drink Fresca?)

Ferrets live a bit longer (about 7 years) and are not known for any saccharine addictions.

And what about me? Well, life moves about like molasses these days. I've never felt the march of time to be more dirge-like. But I'll take it. Summer is here and I get to wear tank tops and flip flops. That counts for something! What's new where you are?