For the brave and patient, it is available here:
Riding in Vans with Paramedics
Observations at the Intersection of Church & State & Culture
It’s almost as if President Obama and Sarah Palin were talking to each other through their respective speeches yesterday:
"What we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. That we cannot do. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together."
"But, especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible."
"But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized, at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds."
"If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let's make sure it's worthy of those we have lost. Let's make sure it's not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle. "
"President Reagan said, 'We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.' Acts of monstrous criminality stand on their own. They begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively with all the citizens of a state, not with those who listen to talk radio, not with maps of swing districts used by both sides of the aisle, not with law-abiding citizens who respectfully exercise their First Amendment rights at campaign rallies, not with those who proudly voted in the last election"
Posted by Dan S at 1/13/2011
I didn't have a very productive writing day, but I did manage to solve the country's budget deficit problem:
My solution was 65% spending cuts and 35% tax increases. I cut unnecessary defense budget items, capped medicare growth and taxed people who could afford it. Heck, I even managed to get a half trillion dollar surplus by 2015 and a trillion and a half dollar surplus by 2030.
Your welcome, America.
Posted by Dan S at 11/15/2010
Simply put, the rally was awesome. I'll have a complete report at Smile Politely in a few days, but for now, I want to post my favorite signs. Or at least my favorite signs that I have pictures of. Here they are:
|Shirt says: The founding fathers were East Coast Liberals|
|It was hard to tell if someone was really counter-protesting, or whether they were just being ironic.|
|The rally was so successful that it even brought together Darth Vader and Napolean Dynamite.|
|Dave and Dan, happy to be part of the awesomeness of whatever it was that just happened.|
Posted by Dan S at 10/30/2010
It is nice that President Obama has joined the ranks of the "It Gets Better" campaign. What would be nicer is if he would actually do something within his power to advance gay rights. So far, all he has done is split hairs about how to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, and then send justice departments lawyers into the courtroom to defend it everytime it is challenged.
Again, nice speech. Now actually do something with your power to advance gay rights.
So, let's give credit where credit is due. It was a lawsuit by Republicans (in the form of Log Cabin Republicans) that led to the court decision to overturn Don't Ask Don't Tell. Republicans have now accomplished more for gay rights during the Obama era than Obama and all Democrats combined. All Democrats have done is sit on their thumbs and cower from doing the right thing, as usual. And they wonder why there is an enthusiasm gap in this election.
Posted by Dan S at 10/22/2010
Virginia Thomas' request for an apology from Anita Hill is simply too surreal not to poke fun at. I wrote up a quick Smile Politely column in honor of Virginia Thomas: Apology Accepted.
In the spirit of her quest for unity, I am willing to accept Virginia Thomas' apology if she is offended.
Thanks to my friend Dave Bullock, who has been gaming credit card companies for years for free airline miles, I now have a plane ticket to DC for the weekend of Oct 30th. Not coincidentally, this is the very same weekend of Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. Also, we are staying with his brother-in-law in DC for free. The upshot of all this is that he gets to win any argument about who is the better friend for the rest of our lives.
Of course, there is the rally as well, the true purpose of the weekend. The problem is, I'm not sure if I should be allowed to attend. After all, I'm not really a moderate. I am a radical, leftist, socialist, let's-tax-the-top-5%-an-additional-3%-on-the-part-of-their-income-that-pays-for-vacations kind of extremist. I even believe in universal healthcare. How can I possibly keep my seething anger and lunacy in check for an entire rally?
Obviously, I need a reasonable sign. And luckily, the march organizers have put up a website to share and test signs at http://www.saneornot.com/.
Some of my favorites so far are:
I'm mad as hell. But by tomorrow, I'll probably be fine.
My political views cannot be summarized in a pithy sign
Sarah Palin for Governor of Alaska
One of us or perhaps neither of us may be right
I wouldn't presume to tell God who he hates
I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler
I support the sign that I am holding
I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it
I don't know what we are yelling about!!! (picture of Steve Carrell yelling)
Only a Sith deals in absolutes
Posted by Dan S at 10/18/2010
Which Americans know the most about religion? It turns out to be those annoying atheists:
Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.
Unfortunately, they did not specifically track Mennonites. I suspect Mennonites would have done about average, unless the questions veered off into farming lore.
Another interesting finding:
Posted by Dan S at 9/28/2010
Paul Krugman on the GOP's promise to cut the deficit, either by declaring war arithmetic or eliminating government. We aren't sure which one yet.
On Thursday, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” supposedly outlining their policy agenda. In essence, what they say is, “Deficits are a terrible thing. Let’s make them much bigger.” The document repeatedly condemns federal debt — 16 times, by my count. But the main substantive policy proposal is to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, which independent estimates say would add about $3.7 trillion to the debt over the next decade — about $700 billion more than the Obama administration’s tax proposals.
True, the document talks about the need to cut spending. But as far as I can see, there’s only one specific cut proposed — canceling the rest of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which Republicans claim (implausibly) would save $16 billion. That’s less than half of 1 percent of the budget cost of those tax cuts. As for the rest, everything must be cut, in ways not specified — “except for common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops.” In other words, Social Security, Medicare and the defense budget are off-limits.
So what’s left? Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math. As he points out, the only way to balance the budget by 2020, while simultaneously (a) making the Bush tax cuts permanent and (b) protecting all the programs Republicans say they won’t cut, is to completely abolish the rest of the federal government: “No more national parks, no more Small Business Administration loans, no more export subsidies, no more N.I.H. No more Medicaid (one-third of its budget pays for long-term care for our parents and others with disabilities). No more child health or child nutrition programs. No more highway construction. No more homeland security. Oh, and no more Congress.”
Posted by Dan S at 9/27/2010
The Corboba Center Iman had an op-ed in the NY Times yesterday. As I said, he is exactly the kind of religious leader we need in the world right now:
Lost amid the commotion is the good that has come out of the recent discussion. I want to draw attention, specifically, to the open, law-based and tolerant actions that have taken place, and that are particularly striking for Muslims.
President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg both spoke out in support of our project. As I traveled overseas, I saw firsthand how their words and actions made a tremendous impact on the Muslim street and on Muslim leaders. It was striking: a Christian president and a Jewish mayor of New York supporting the rights of Muslims. Their statements sent a powerful message about what America stands for, and will be remembered as a milestone in improving American-Muslim relations.
The wonderful outpouring of support for our right to build this community center from across the social, religious and political spectrum seriously undermines the ability of anti-American radicals to recruit young, impressionable Muslims by falsely claiming that America persecutes Muslims for their faith. These efforts by radicals at distortion endanger our national security and the personal security of Americans worldwide. This is why Americans must not back away from completion of this project. If we do, we cede the discourse and, essentially, our future to radicals on both sides. The paradigm of a clash between the West and the Muslim world will continue, as it has in recent decades at terrible cost. It is a paradigm we must shift.
Posted by Dan S at 9/09/2010
I've been very frustrated with my fellow Americans about the not-Mosque at not-Ground Zero. I even got into a Facebook argument with an old high school acquaintance, which was probably a mistake. Facebook is better for announcing that you just had a great meal than for pointing out how un-American people are.
Anyway, my responses ended up being a half-written article, so I went ahead and did a full Smile Politely column about it. It's called The Burlington Coat Factory Mosque, and is available here.
It's hard to say much that hasn't already been said. As usual, Jon Stewart has been the most poignant and the most funny. Monday's show was no exception, as he pointed out how Fox News is trying to smear the not-Mosque by associating it with an Islamic group run by...Fox News' very own top shareholder. It's long, but well worth viewing.
And, in even more depressing news, Pew came out with a new poll about Americans views of Islam. Unsurprisingly (by now, anyway), 51% oppose the not-Mosque. What shocked me was this:
62% say that Muslims should have the same rights as other religious groups to build houses of worship in their local communities.Lots of opposition to the Mosque has been wrapped in language of "we believe in freedom of religion, we just think the location of this [not] Mosque is insensitive." But the numbers above are a lot more sobering. Read it and weep. About 38% of Americans apparently do not believe in freedom of religion.