Category Archives: Politics

Poem: Agitate


A slightly overweight
middle-aged man
my weapon of choice
is my keyboard.

I write to agitate.

I hope my readers are entertained,
but I also hope their brains
get a little action in the process.
A slight jog,
maybe a few push-ups.
I’m not asking for a decathlon.

Sure, I’d like them
to share in my conclusions,
but I’m not delusional,
so I challenge those who disagree
to sheath their tongues.

(The mouth’s floppy mass
frequently ignores
messages from the skull.)

Convince me I’m wrong
with the written word.

Didn’t know Tagg Romney was a Liberal…

I’m sure some will suggest that the AP or USA Today (whoever wrote the caption) intended ‘left’ as directional. However, one glance at the picture and it’s clear that it’s Michelle Obama who is to the left of Obama, directionally. Therefore they had to mean ‘left’ politically. It’s the only other option.

Political Compass – 2012

My position on the Political Compass hasn’t changed much since 2007



This is where I am relative to several international political figures

This chart illustrates why many people don’t see much of  a difference  between the US Democratic and Republican parties.

I usually do see enough of a difference to know which way I’ll vote.

Obama has moved further Right and more Authoritarian since 2007 on their chart.  Here’s their chart for 2008’s US Election

Strength, Intelligence, and Prayer

Rick Perry’s recent ad

A parody/response by Rabbi Jason Miller (a Conservative Rabbi from Detroit)

And a post I wrote back in July of 2002

Prayer in Public School

I’ve never been able to understand the complaint I hear from some quarters that the right to pray in public schools is being attacked. I know I was able to pray in my public school, and did so often, before every exam I took.

I’m not entirely joking. I often did pray. Yes, silently, to myself. No teacher stopped me. And I can guarantee no teacher would stop someone praying in that manner today. And if a teacher did try to stop a student, that student should go running to the nearest branch of the ACLU. They would love the publicity they’d get in taking that school to court.

Every court case that the critics bemoan has been about **organized** school prayer. Prayer where a school, a teacher, or another student decides on a prayer that all other students are going to be forced to recite, or at least listen to, regardless of whether they want to or not.

Can’t the critics see the difference between voluntary, and forced? It’s the same difference between the concepts of love and rape. If someone doesn’t want to swallow something, it shouldn’t be forced down their throats.

Sorry about the graphic image, but I think it is an appropriate analogy. For those of us who believe, G-d is someone we have a very close relationship with. But our relationships differ. If someone suggests to us that we should have a different sort of relationship with G-d, and tries to force that relationship on us, a negative reaction shouldn’t be surprising.

Public Schools can definitely assign their students to read the Bible as a source for many literary allusions. I studied biblical stories (Old and New Testament) in my Junior year of High School English. (Freshman year we had studied Greek and Roman mythology). American History courses should definitely cover the effect religion has played on American History. From the Puritans, to William Jennings Bryan. From the Scopes trial to Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

But that’s not the same thing as teaching scripture, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or posting the Ten Commandments.

You might be surprised to discover your translation of scriptural passages, including the 10 commandments, aren’t identical with the translation used by other religions. If a school picks one translation, isn’t it in effect telling students of other religions that their religion is wrong? Heck, you’d even have to pick between Matthew’s and Luke’s Lord’s Prayer. I can’t say I know what lies behind that controversy, but I’ve read that some prefer one over the other.

Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

I rarely ever quote the Book of Matthew. But ironically, he makes a lot of sense to me in this passage

Remember, Remember…

If there are any British readers of this blog, Happy Guy Fawkes Night

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli’ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!

Note to Glenn Beck


“There was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.” – Glenn Beck


“If we’re living in a society where we can’t say X in the same paragraph as Y and not be told we are comparing it, we are going to be a society of gas chambers.”

Maybe it’s not the two things being in the same paragraph, and maybe it’s your use of the words “sounds a little like,” which led people to think you were making a comparison. I don’t know, maybe just something for you to, like, consider.

Thoughts on Delta, Saudia Arabia, and SkyTeam

Over the past couple days I’ve seen several blog posts and news articles about Delta banning Jews from flights to Saudi Arabia. Like so many news stories today, I knew I was reading the reaction to the news, not the news itself.

From the original announcement in January

Saudi Arabian Airlines complements the SkyTeam network by offering customers access to destinations across the Middle East not currently served by SkyTeam members. Through Saudi Arabia’s major hubs of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, travelers can connect to new destinations on the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Africa. Examples are Alexandria, Aden, Colombo and Islamabad.

SkyTeam members will have access to new potential customers from the region as Saudi Arabian Airlines offers direct flights to Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Customers can transfer to SkyTeam partner flights via hubs such as Paris, Rome, Nairobi and New York-JFK. SkyTeam partner China Southern also offers regular connections to Asia from Jeddah.

What I pick up from this, contrary to all the news and blog reports I’ve seen in the past couple days following this Relgion News Service article is that Delta will not be flying to Saudi Arabia.

We might not know until 2012, but it appears you might take a Delta flight to New York, and then board Saudi Arabian Airlines and fly to Jedda. I think you can already do this. At least, New York City is on the list of destinations for Saudi Arabian Airlines. The difference, I think, is that once SAA is a part of SkyTeam, is that there is some cooperation in airlines referring passengers between each other, and individuals might get frequent flier miles good for both airlines. (Oh my!)


Also, something I have read in no other reaction on this issue — according to the quote from the original article in January, SkyTeam Partner China Southern already flies to Jedda. I assume they follow Saudi Arabian government rules and regulations. China Southern joined SkyTeam in November of 2010. Currently, Delta Passengers transferring to China Southern to fly to Jedda must abide by these rules. Right?

I’m not going to make the decision for anyone else whether or not to fly Delta. However…

Anyone who wishes to boycott Delta over this needs to boycott these other SkyTeam partners

Air Europa
Air France
China Eastern
China Southern
Czech Airlines
Kenya Airways
Korean Air
Vietnam Airlines

To boycott one, and not boycott the others, would be somewhat hypocritical in my opinion.

Personally…if we learn in 2012 that actual Delta flights are headed to Saudi Arabia, I will want a direct accounting from Delta as to what their policies are on who can board. I will also want to know if those same policies hold on all legs if the flight, let’s say, begins in New York, stops in Paris, and then heads to Saudi Arabia.

But if it’s Saudi Arabian Airlines (and China Southern) flying to Saudi Arabia — like they have been, are doing, and will do in the future regardless — I don’t care much if Delta refers passengers to them, or gets passengers referred to them by these airlines.


According to CNN

In its statement, Delta said it does not operate in Saudi Arabia nor does it codeshare (sell Delta seats on flights operated by other carriers) with airlines that serve that country. Delta said it has no plans to offer codeshare flights or other cross-airline benefits with Saudi Arabian Airlines.

So while Delta is a partner in SkyTeam with both Saudi Arabian Airlines and China Southern — their passengers do not get codesharing or other cross-airline benefits with either airline.


Delta’s agreement with the Saudi carrier allows passengers to book tickets on multiple airlines “similar to the standard interline agreements American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines have with Saudi Arabian Airlines,” the statement said.

So anyone complaining about Delta, needs to complain about AA, US Airways and Alaska Airlines, too.

anti-evolution legislation

Some in the Missouri Legislature are once again trying to pass anti-evolution legislation. A similar bill died in 2010 without ever being even assigned to committee. So perhaps the chances are good that this time it will die similarly. Though I fear the election last November tilted the state legislature even more to the right.

I used to create comics under the title “Make Louvre (Not War)” using public domain artwork.

Here are some of these comics from 2003 when Holt Rinehart and Winston edited their textbooks.

Artwork Credits:

* Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) – Children Playing at the Beach
* Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) — from How the Rhinoceros Got his Skin

Artwork Credits:

* Winslow Homer (1836-1910) — The Blackboard
* Photograph of the artist as a young man
* Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) – Children Playing at the Beach

I lied last night

Phone Conversation

Caller: Good evening. Are you familiar with Amendment __, which will be on the ballot on Tuesday
Me: Yes. [This was a true statement]
Caller: Can I count on your support in the election?

I realized that if I answered, ‘No,” there was likely to be a follow-up question or two trying to change my mind.

Me: Yes.
Caller: Thanks. (end of call)

I hope G-d forgives me.

Where Were You?

Above we have the video of one of the stranger questions/answers from the hearings concerning Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan.

The Question

Senator Lindsay Graham (R), US Senator from South Carolina since 2002, and a member of the Corinth Baptist Church. according to the bio on his Senate website, asked Elena Kagan, Supreme Court Nominee, where she was on Christmas Day 2009. (When the Christmas Bomber struck.)

No, I don’t believe he was asking for an alibi. Though his motivations are suspect. It’s hard to come up with a logical rationale to ask that question of a nominee. Possibilities.

1) Reminding everyone that she is Jewish.

Sen. Graham isn’t going to outright say “Hey everyone, she’s Jewish, don’t vote for her because of that.” He’s not stupid. However, there has been some commentary that with her selection, there would no longer be a White Anglo Saxon Protestant male on the court. Of course, due to her being chosen by a Democratic president, it is the Republicans who are coming up with reasons not to select her, and that puts them in an interesting position if they argue this is a problem. The conservative position is generally speaking that quotas are bad. That selecting someone just because they are this or that in order to create a ‘diverse’ atmosphere is equivalent to discrimination.

They were horrified at the suggestion that Sonia Sotomayor’s different perspective, because she was Hispanic, would be beneficial to the court. So it’s hard for them to argue that a Protestant Perspective is necessary. Are they really going to argue that we need a justice who can show empathy for the Protestant world view?

From the other side — I don’t believe I’m being hypocritical. I do believe diversity is helpful, but I don’t think religious diversity is necessary. Or at least, not the religious diversity under discussion. The differences between Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths — when looking at world perspective – are likely minor when compared to differences based on gender and ethnicity. However, if there were an alternative, equally qualified, who was an adherent to Hinduism, Buddhism, or a Native American faith, I would encourage their selection. They would, of course, need to be qualified for the position. But all other things being equal, a different perspective of that nature may well be beneficial to the Court.

2) A suggestion that she is Less American because she doesn’t observe Christmas

If he had asked her where she was on July 4, 2009, the implication wouldn’t be considered veiled. It would be construed as a direct accusation of lack of patriotism unless she was able to say she was celebrating Independence Day in some fashion.

Since he was tying the question in with the “Christmas Bomber” – did he intend to suggest she was less patriotic – perhaps even treasonous – because she didn’t observe Christmas?

3) An attempt to get Kagan to respond in an emotional manner. (see below.)

The Answer

Elena Kagan responded with an old quip that like most Jews, she was at a Chinese restaurant. The Jewish attraction to Chinese food is an oft-told Jewish joke that I think has its origins in New York City and its heavy immigrant populations. I do enjoy Asian food, though I prefer the spicier Thai dishes than the generally milder Chinese ones. For similar reasons I like Mexican and Indian foods. Some like it hotter than hot.

This led to some commentary that in case she didn’t get selected, she had a career on the Borscht Belt. As the Wikipedia article states, the Borscht Belt doesn’t really exist anymore. It’s about as old and as outdated as her joke.

But the comparison that came to my mind is the old mentality that the best response to racism in the workplace, for an African American, is to laugh, tell a joke, and dance a jig. Getting angry, and calling the person a bigot, doesn’t get you anywhere. Whether or not they are a bigot is irrelevant. Like when you’re in the presence of a wild animal, it’s best not to show fear, it’s best not to show anger.

And from that perspective, Elena Kagan responded to the situation perfectly.