>Is Alaska Part of "Jesusland" or "The United States of Canada" ?

>Found this over at GetReligion.Org.  I’m wondering if Alaska would really be a Red or a Blue state here.  It’s clearly blue on the map, but we have a lot of red going on in our state as well.


>Looking to Egypt Now — What’s Next?

>Hosni MubarakImage by robertxcadena via FlickrBy now, the news that Mubarak has stepped down, essentially forced out of power by the protests in the streets for the last 18 days, has spread.  Yay!  Democracy won!  Life is good!  Life is grand!  The people are victorious!   Woo hoo!


Now what?

What’s next?

It’s been great seeing the images on the TV every night and reading “Tweets” from a few thousand miles away.  Our politicians have used the plight of the Egyptian people for their political gain.  We need to remember, it wasn’t OUR revolution.  We just got to watch.

And, I think it’s true, that now the news will fall on whatever the next hot news item is.  Perhaps there’s a military uprising in “Where-ever-istan.”  Perhaps the president of “Far-away-from-here-land” will have an affair or steal money or trash talk the US.  And that will take our attention.  We’re fickle people when it comes to our news cycles.

But, we need to remember that, while it may be a new day in Egypt, it’s not all rainbows and puppy-dogs.  While I’m no fan of strong-armed dictators with secret plain-clothes policemen running around, taking people away from their families…there’s little decision-making involved by the people themselves.

But, now the military is in control.  And the work of the people is beginning.  What’s next?  What matters now.

I found the following over at ReadWriteWeb and it has some good stuff in it:

What matters is that we, not just the Egyptians, are now living in a world where difficult things are possible, where beautiful things are doable. That changes everything. The writer Delmore Schwartz famously said, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.” But when those dreams finally come true, you realize the responsibilities are just beginning.

Right now, control of Egypt has devolved into the hands of the country’s military. Egypt’s military is well-regarded and trusted, unlike its police and security forces, who are reviled. But a military-run Egypt replaces one kind of a problem with another. The people on the ground in Egypt now have the unenviable task of securing a transition from protest to power. As the Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismark said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” There’s going to be a lot of people who are going to have to hold their nose and make an awful lot of sausage.

Government is never as romantic as rebellion but without it rebellions are meaningless. If you watched and encouraged from the sidelines – on Twitter or Facebook – I kind of hope you stick around. The Egyptians are going to need cheerleaders more than ever. 

So, as we look over to Egypt, we need to start cheering for them.  And we can’t forget that some of the hard work of governing is beginning.

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>Assuming Responsiblity for Our Words

>Memorial to Oklahoma City 1995 Bombingphoto © 2010 akasped | more info (via: Wylio)

Criticism is part of the lifeblood of democracy. No one is right all the time. But we should remember that there is a big difference between criticizing a policy or a politician and demonizing the government that guarantees our freedoms and the public servants who enforce our laws.

We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time. We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.

(Written by President Bill Clinton on April 18, 2010 on the 15th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings.  From an Op-Ed article in The New York Times.)

>A Comic Responds To the Arizona Shootings

>Interesting thing about Web Comics.  They can be very current.  Here’s one I read regularly, “The Joy Of Tech Comic.”  It’s a comic that talks about, well, tech stuff usually and a lot of social media.  Today the artist twists the now well-known map which can still be found on Sarah Palin’s Facebook site.  Its the map of the US with which have crosshairs over the districts of House of Representative officials that her team wanted defeated in 2010.  Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot yesterday, is represented by one of the crosshairs.

While her spokespersons have clearly stated that the crosshairs on the original map were not “gun sights” but “surveyors’ marks” the Palin team has been forced to defend their poster and some of their rhetoric.  To point people to her Facebook stage she had Tweeted, “Don’t retreat.  Instead — RELOAD.”

The Arizona shootings were the work of, it appears, one troubled person.  To make a direct link between the map or Palin or the Tea Party or Republicans or whatever, and the shooter is dishonest.  However, I think this cartoon, and current reaction to the event, has made it clear that we need to change the tone of our discourse.

>Jesus is a Liberal Democrat!

>Not my words, but Steven Colbert’s.

I’ll let this go without much comment…frankly because I’m nervous about how any words I say would be interpreted without an actual dialogue.

But I do love that last line:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> March to Keep Fear Alive

>What Americans Really, Really Want

>2010-10-21 Senator Murray and President Obama greet the crowdphoto © 2010 Dennis Hamilton | more info (via: Wylio)

This editorial is from the Baltimore Sun from November 3rd — the day after the election.  It gets at some of the problems of putting what we want into the context of what we actually want to pay for or invest in.

After devoting long minutes to careful analysis of Tuesday night’s election returns, I now know what Americans want:

  • We want roads and bridges that are always in good condition but do not require tax money for upkeep.
  • We want world class schools with teachers who are so dedicated that they will work for minimum wage. (Note: the best one should be in my neighborhood)
  • We want 60-inch plasma TVs that cost $200 and are produced by workers in Ohio making at least $30 per hour.
  • We want our military to win every war, every heart and every mind, everywhere, at no cost in lives or money.
  • We want cheap, clean, efficient mass transit that goes through someone else’s neighborhood.
  • We want no-fat triple-decker hamburgers that are good for you and taste great.
  • We want fast, efficient, friendly government services provided by clerks who work happily for free.
  • We want “clean” coal and domestic crude that does not produce pollution or require digging or drilling.
  • We want SUVs that get 100 miles per gallon and produce jobs in Detroit.
  • We want Social Security benefits to go up and Social Security taxes to go down.
  • We want cheap labor from legal citizens who don’t mind living in poverty.
  • We want clean drinking water and pristine parks and the right to dump anything, anywhere.
  • We want colleges that are inexpensive and not too hard but produce world class leaders.
  • We want football where every hit is brutal but no one gets hurt and baseball where everyone hits 40 home runs but no one uses steroids.
  • We want government to deliver all these things — then cut taxes and then cut taxes some more. Mostly, we want what we want, and we want it now.
  • Personally, I want leaders who will tell us frankly that all these things are not possible, that the blessings of infrastructure and education given us by our fathers are wearing out. I want thinkers who can paint a picture of a greater America that could exist in 50 or 100 years, and then unite us with a roadmap to get there. I want America to have a shared vision and an understanding that we all benefit when we all contribute, and that we all suffer when we demand only for ourselves. I want leaders who will tell the truth: that there is no free lunch.
  • But then, I also want the World Series to end in early October, yet I know that some things are just too grand to even wish for.

Mac Nachlas, Baltimore

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