Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jack Lessenberry, a Michigan journalist, wrote recently of the grim Michigan economy (click HERE), and had this to say about the auto executives in Washington:

The automakers arrived to beg for a bailout. Pasty and blank-faced, looking alike and lacking a clue, they flew in on their corporate jets. That's something like renting a top hat and tails and showing up at Cass Corridor mission and asking for Thanksgiving dinner.

They looked like jackasses, in short. They tried hard to add to the perception: Alan Mulally, the hired gun Ford brought in from Boeing, said his $21 million a year was about right. (Lee Iacocca asked for a salary of $1 a year when Chrysler was seeking a bailout.) None of them was willing to give up the corporate jets. And Rick Wagoner said changing the leadership of these companies wasn't necessary.

I heard Jack speak some years ago when Jennifer Granholm was elected governor at the end of 2002 - he said something like this: Granholm will inherit an economic mess that is not likely to be solved with any easy solutions.

Jack has always been able to put his finger on the essential nature of an issue, and I remember so clearly the sense that our economic mess, not only for Michigan, but for the nation, was going to take in some mighty dark places.

Jack's words have become painfully true for Michigan, for the United States, and because of us, for much of the world.

The Reagan House of Cards has come tumbling down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UAW - Give 'em a Break

Folks in Detroit have been giving one another lots of concessions ... but the biggest hit in the last ten years has been on the UAW - the gals and guys who actually build the cars we drive.

White collars have felt it, too - plenty of downsizing and cutbacks all over the place ...

But what I hear these days reflects a wretched bias against unions - that if only the unions would go away, we could have labor nirvana ... and business, of course, "will take care of its workers."

Bullshit, if I may say so.

We easily forget the hideous history between labor and management, and we forget that labor money is trickle down money - the working folks buy the homes, the TVs, the golf clubs and everything else that drives America's middle class economy.

But the moneyed buy $27,000 bathtubs (yup, saw it advertised the other day) or $25,ooo wrist watches - that doesn't trickle down very well.

Without the unions, there'd be no middle class.

When the Great Liar (Mr. Reagan) busted the Flight Controllers Union, he added another brutal, selfish, chapter to the American story and it's prejudice against the working class. Even a lot of the working class bought the story for a long time - everyone wanted to be rich, so many of the working class felt that if they gave up their union, Mama would take care of them.

But what we see with Wall Street and the latest from the auto execs, when they actually get out in public - they don't give a damn about the folks working for them. They care deeply about themselves, sustaining their preposterous lifestyles, and keeping up appearances for the sake of their investors.

I think we ought to bail 'em out and then buy 'em up! The working millions need our support, and it's time for Uncle Sam to set the pace!

Michael Moore has it right - we need a World War 2 approach - the government has to tell them what to build - not only hybrids and hyper efficient cars, but mass transit - to rebuuld the nation's infrastructure. We've done it before, and we can do it again.

Obama the Articulate

I enjoyed this chuckle piece ...

Stunning Break with Last Eight Years

In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

Millions of Americans who watched Mr. Obama's appearance on CBS' "Sixty Minutes" on Sunday witnessed the president-elect's unorthodox verbal tick, which had Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opened his mouth.

But Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota , some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.

"Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."
The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, the public may find itself saying, "Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate - we get it, stop showing off."

The President-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska .

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Prop 8

Something I posted to Facebook in response to a query about being a Christian and being pro-gay:

Precisely as an avid follower of Christ - he made it clear that marriage and family, though important, were not the last word in God's scheme ... family could be the source of one's greatest opposition - Jesus reminds his followers to be prepared to "hate" the family, that is, "reject if necessary" ... and when asked about who would be married to whom by the Sadducees, he says there will be no marriage in heaven.

As a Christian, I have looked long and hard at the relevant Scripture, including the Leviticus material which you well know also condemns a farmer who sows two kinds of seed in the same field and anyone who wears two-fabric clothing. The Bible says everything, so, in effect, it says nothing, until we put our hand to it.

If there is a final law, our Lord said it: Love ... love trumps all other laws!

I stand with Paul when he wrote his letter to the Romans - they accused Paul of being a libertine - what with his grace, they suggested that he was allowing anything to have a go. Paul rightly protests, but Paul is clear: if an error of judgment is going to be made, he makes it on the side of grace, not of law.

He'd been there, done that ... and after being "enlightened" on the Damascus Road, he opts for grace first.

I'm not sure any of this addresses your questions, and I have long since ceased trying to dissuade or persuade anyone ... but I try to bear witness to the Lord I love.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Having lived in Detroit from 1990 - 2006, I know something about the unions and the companies which have labored long and hard to eradicate them.

Without the unions, there would never have been a middle class.

And in the last 15 years, the UAW has surrendered millions of dollars in wages and benefits to the selfish demands of management who've taken increasingly larger and larger chunks of the pie, while ignoring the public cry for better cars and pandering to the sickness of the Street (Wall, that is, not Main).

The upper levels of auto management, along with their fellow crooks at Wall Street, have plundered their companies while padding their own pockets, all under the blessing of Reaganomics, one of the greatest lies ever created, and one of the most tragic turns in the American story.

The Unions strove for wages and benefits appropriate to the profits being made, and when profits began their plunge, the Unions reduced where they could, but not management, as we see with their corporate jets and perks so carefully created and hidden from public view.

The blame for the present debacle must be laid at the feet of an arrogant leadership contemptuous of America, forcing more and more relinquishments from their workers, and forcing 3rd and 4th tier suppliers to outsource their work, putting millions out of work ten years ago.

Take a look at Flint, Michigan to see how GM pillaged a once-viable community, while deflecting the blame to the workers, pocketing the profits, enjoying their benefits on the backs of millions of middle class Americans.

Michael Moore has it right - we need a World War 2 approach - the government has to tell them what to build - not only hybrids and hyper efficient cars, but mass transit. We've done it before, and we can do it again.

But only when we all awaken to the reality: We are our brother's keeper!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stevens Defeated

Good News.

I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading of Alaska Senator Steven's defeat. This secures an additionally needed seat for the Dems and avoids the possibility of She-Who-Won't-be-Named appointing herself in his stead, had he had been elected and then removed by the Repubs.

Though the good folks of Alaska have been much maligned as of late - and some of it well-deserved - there are lots of good and decent folks in that fair state who can see a far better vision for America than that proposed by the GOP and the religious ideologues who have taken control of that party.

Now, if only Franken can clear the Minnesota recount, and if the Dems can take the runoff race in Georgia.

And, by the way, I find it amazing, if not exhilarating, to hear the names of FDR and Lincoln so frequently included in political discussion as Obama takes office.

These are critical times, and only great leadership, like FDR and Lincoln, will see us through. I believe Obama is up the task.

Monday, November 17, 2008


The Republican Party is in a state of total collapse.

It's principle literary energy - The National Review - is without moral compass with the loss of the two Buckleys, one by death (Bill) and the other by resignation (Christopher) after his endorsement of Obama.

Palin continues to flap her wings, a parody of herself.

Mike Huckabee has a new book coming out - click here - but it's full of old ideas. Though he tries to move beyond the ideology and orthodoxy of the GOPalin group, preliminary reviews indicate that the GOP is very tired, and very irrelevant to the times.

He proposes a sales tax rather than income tax. Sound simple? I suppose it is, but it's discriminatory toward the poor, because in a sales tax structure, the poor always pay more than the rich - ten dollars out of a hundred is a whole lot more than a hundred out of a thousand, and so on. The biblical observation holds true: of those who have much, much is required.

And Biden was right - it IS patriotic to pay taxes, just like it's right to pay for your groceries. The Reagan lies - that we can have everything we want, without strings, without cost, without taxes - is the greatest lie every told, and the greater story, however, is that so many of us believed it.

The Greedy Old Party - for now, put it to rest and let it alone. Who knows, in another ten days, Palin will have disappeared from the media - let her hunt moose (hope she misses like she did in the campaign - the moose deserve a better life than being a trophy for her raging ego and limited intellect).

It's time for thoughtful and mostly liberal folks to understand that we've won a major victory, crossed a bridge no one knew to exist five years ago, and it's time for a new vision for America - not an ideological vision, but a NEW New Deal fit for the times - a globalized economy, environmental degradation, wars and rumor of wars on a regional scale rather than some post-Depression world war; the need to narrow the gap between the haves and the have-nots, health care, education and a well-regulated Wall Street.

Toward this end, I believe that Obama will bring a depth of thought and creativity - not to mention, civility - with the persona of authentic conviction long needed in the White House.

It will take years - the New Deal required a lot of time, and incurred a number of missteps along the way, but the New Deal rebuilt the nation - though a World War likely contributed mightily to the renewing of the economy.

As for the bailout, we need to put a lot of cash into the public sector - mass transit, bridges, school, playgrounds - to put folks back to work. Even an auto bailout, with plenty of strings, would be far better than paying the bills of Wall Street's greedy stupidity.

We have a chance.
America has a chance.
The world has a chance.

Let's make it work.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Dick Cavett has written a New York Times piece, The Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla

A brilliant piece expressing his utter surprise at Palin's popularity.

It's an entertaining article as he reviews her interviews ... what with sentences going on and on long after thought ended.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mormon Church and Prop 8

The role of the Mormon Church in the passage of Prop 8 is now being uncovered, and it's quite a story.

Click HERE to see a fine NY Times article offering the details.

An interesting piece of the puzzle as well - the sister of chief strategist for Prop 8, Frank Schubert, is a lesbian.

From the article:

For his part, Mr. Schubert said he is neither anti-gay — his sister is a lesbian — nor happy that some same-sex couples’ marriages are now in question. But, he said, he has no regrets about his campaign.

“They had a lot going for them,” Mr. Schubert said of his opponents. “And they couldn’t get it done.”

Was this just a game he was playing, for the fun of it, to see who could win?

Is this not about life and liberty?

I wonder how he sleeps at night?

When the dust settles and folks have had a chance to think about it, many who voted for Prop 8 will come to regret it. The campaign was saturated with lies, and the biggest lie of all: We're not against gays; we're for marriage.

I battled this in the Presbyterian Church some years ago when we passed our "faithfulness in marriage and chastity in singleness" amendment to our constitution - I said then, and say it still, the proponents of this measure were not interested in marriage or sexual purity, but in crafting a device to effectively bar gays and lesbians in a relationship from seeking ordination.

The cause of good is never served by lies, and shame on Frank Schubert and his organization, and shame on the Mormon Church and a variety of evangelical groups, who engaged in falsehood to promote their version of the truth.

A sad day for California.

A sad day for our nation.

Do what you can to overturn the measure.

And, remember, if the popular voice had won the day, interracial marriage would still be illegal in many states, folks of color couldn't buy homes in white neighborhoods, and women would have had to wait many more years to vote.

And it was the people who voted for Hitler and all of his lies.

This is why we have court systems and legislatures - we elect and/or appoint such folks to help us think through the larger issues.

We are a nation of representative democracy - not mob rule.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prop 8 - May It Be History

A new organization is taking root to undo the passage of Prop 8 here in CA.

Here's their web site ... check it out, and if you're so inclined, join with us to end this sad moment in CA history.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mormons, Catholic Bishops and evangelicals - Argh!

Thanks to the Mormon and evangelical churches for sinking millions into the Prop 8 effort.

Now the Catholic bishops take on Obama and his views on abortion (click HERE).

I am a Christian, have been a Christian all of my life, but I have never been in one of these camps.

They don't speak for me, they don't speak for millions, nor do they have the last word on the Bible, or anything else for that matter.

The simple reality: the Bible says everything, so, in effect, it says nothing, until we put our hand to it. Jim Jones of Jonestown put his hand to it, and so did Mother Teresa. Take your pick, if you will, but the point is this: there's no automatic pathway to the truth. Neither the president of the Mormon church or the pope in Rome can claim some special revelation or right of interpretation.

I am a person of generous spirit and have tried throughout the years of my ministry to be a builder of bridges - to any and all groups of faith, but at what point does one recognize the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of trying to befriend a viper.

As I reach out, they pray for the salvation of my lost soul.

As I try to build a bridge, they dig a deeper ditch?

As I articulate a gospel that welcomes and includes an array of thought, they articulate a gospel that excludes me and likely sees me destined for hell.

At what point does one say: too much is at stake to let this one go?

Is it time for folks all around the world to stand up and put a stop to the power-plays of the very groups who would take away our freedoms in a heartbeat, who would undo American democracy for a theocratic dictatorship? They are not, and have never been, the friends of American democracy - only using it to protect their own interests. That Democracy should defend the rights of those who would destroy it is the particular genius and burden of Democracy - a marvel these groups cannot, and will not, understand.

I have no clear answers, but I'm distressed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What Happened to the Repubiican Party?

The Wall Street Journal has published an excellent piece noting the decline of the conservative intellectual once represented by William Buckley et al. The recent selection of Sarah Palin as a VP candidate and then tauted as a potential leader of the Republican Party reveals the decline of the right into populist anti-intellectual demagoguery.

A thoughtful article full of quotable quotes - check it out HERE.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama and the Economy

I'm 64, and can't recall a time when a President-elect had quite so much on the plate. I believe comparisons to Lincoln and FDR are appropriate.

The headlines this morning: Obama calling on economic experts for their advice.

It's going to take a lot of cool-headed thinking to find an approach, likely, multiple approaches, to resolving the world's financial crisis brought about by ideological thinking.

As Greenspan noted in his recent testimony to Congress, "everyone has an ideology."

That's true, but some ideologies are spelled with capital letters and others are a bit more fluid.

When Greenspan admitted that his Ideology, held for forty years, was flawed, he might well have said, "Any Ideology, spelled with capital letters, is flawed." Life doesn't yield to superimposed models (see Chaos Theory). Life requires a fluid, responsive, approach - a commitment to principles, but a willingness to revise the game plan and made lots of mid-course adjustments.

What we've seen since the halcyon days of Reagan has been an IDEOLOGY - ill-thought, never tested in a complex modern economy, looked upon as foolish by our Allies, and for my take on things, essentially fascist - the linking of business and government via the instruments of deregulation and low taxes. The fatal flaw of Greenspan's Ideology: what's good for business will be good for everyone.

Now is not the time for Ideology ... now is the time for intelligence.

Does Obama and his team have what it takes?

I believe so, but only time will tell.

The magnitude of our problems is immeasurable ... it took a long time for us to get here, and it will likely take some time for us to find our way through and out.

But I am heartened by Obama's style - to consult with the best and to think his way through, reminding us with the truth: it will take time - a year or two, maybe even the first time. This is the kind of honest talk we've needed to hear for a long time.

If confidence-building is one of Obama's primary tasks, it will be done with the truth!

And, as Jesus said, "the truth is what sets us free."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Free at Last

The river turned a bend last night ... for me, like waking up from a bad dream ... 8 years of insanity, not only for our nation, but the whole world who rejoices with us right now.

I think historians will mark this election as one of the most significant in our history, and with that, the Neo-Con Repubs have been put out to pasture. Libby Dole is gone; my only disappointment is Minnesota - a goofy third-party candidate diverted enough votes from the Dem to return Michele Bachman to Congress - she will be isolated and with few allies, but the real loss is Minnesota's 6th District - their voice in Congress has been seriously compromised.

Our friend from Germany called yesterday to say, "We're all praying for Obama."

What a joyous day ...

Hats off to McCain - his concession speech revealed the real McCain - I think he will be a major part of America's healing ... and Palin? She's history - she'll be a star on the fried chicken circuit - but unless she changes her tune, she's a has-been.

What a glorious day for our nation ... yesterday, the real America lifted its head to let the world know that the last 8 years have been an aberration, not the norm.

America the Beautiful ... another chance to be great in the best sense of that word.

Obama's the man who will lead us into the 21st century.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Tired

I'm tired.

I hope Obama wins ... I'll be saddened beyond despair if he doesn't ... and gladdened incredibly if he does.

The Reagan/Bush web of lies cannot go on much longer. It has already proven disastrous for the nation and the world ... yet so many Americans continue to believe it's lies of small government and low taxes. Surely a formula for ruin, yet lies have life - and it takes a resolute effort to undo them, their tentacles wrapped tightly around the brain.

The heart of this great nation has been shrinking and growing meaner - think Michele Bachman and Libby Dole, not to mention Palin. Which, by the way, proves that idiocy is no respecter of gender. 

Only a president of great-hearted proportions can clean house and tell these nut cases to take a hike: they represent neither Jesus (whom they all claim to have in their back pocket) nor the American people (whom they purport to support).

They're American fascists - melding big biz and government - the greatest of all dangers: see Italy and Germany, 1935. Fascinating to note how Hitler screamed constantly against the socialists/Communists, and how the Vatican tragically opted to quietly support Hitler and his stance against "godless" Communism. For all of his vile ideas, Hitler remained in the good graces of the Roman Church. I wonder why he was never excommunicated!

Anyway, back to the election at hand ... 

More tomorrow ... when it's over.

And I hope that Obama does it convincingly enough to cancel the need for recounts and law suits, for either side ... and may the Supreme Court never again hand us a Bush!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Focus on the Family

Has Dobson completely lost his marbles?

FOTF has published a fear-mongering, "left-behind," scenario looking back from 2012 on an Obama presidency.

Check out Dobson's insanity HERE.

Noted last week in Christianity Today, reader response has been overwhelmingly negative, giving me hope that the "evangelical" community is clearly transforming itself, escaping from the iron grip of Dobson's dogma.

I added my two cents worth:

FOTF is nuts! What else can one say? Their fear-mongering, "left-behind" imagery (which they gleefully relish), is part of a fascist effort to link far-right Christian groups and powerful corporate entities with government, further eroding the middle class, stripping this nation of its essential freedoms, imposing a Taliban-like control on the American bedroom and completely redefining Jesus according to Dobson’s dogma. Let’s face it: Dobson hates gays, hates freedom, hates folks who see things differently – he’s been drinking the Reagan/Bush elixir of power and control for a long time, riding the conservative crest of the last 20 years. With “total victory” once in view (Bush’s second term), Dobson has seen his evangelical world collapse and his control erode. He’s now an angry, marginalized, man desperate to regain his “empire.” His letter, this doomsday scenario, is the stuff of cheap novels and b-movies – that anything like this should be published in the name of Jesus is so far over the top as to defy understanding. For Dobson and FOTF, much prayer – to be freed from the demons of fear and to regain a “salt of the earth/light of the world” (modest metaphors) sense of identity. Enough of worldly power; now is the time to reclaim the power of Jesus who came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life that we might find ours.