Archive for April, 2006

Episode 32.1: The Politics of Luck — and a Long Sad Goodbye

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Speaking to the duty we all share to help those less fortunate, God has this to say, according to Matthew 25:31-46, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do (providing care and support) to one of the least of these (the poor and powerless), you did not do for me.” We spend a lot of time in this country asking God to bless America. Maybe we should spend a little of that time asking for forgiveness.

But first a few preliminary thoughts . . .

The Last Chance Democracy Café
Episode 32.1: The Politics of Luck — and a Long Sad Goodbye

by Steven C. Day

It was a traditional Roman Catholic funeral mass — meaning, among other things, it was mind numbingly long. There was the praying, the music, the scriptural readings and the Communion. There were also words about the dearly departed, of course, though, actually, not that many of them. I’ve noticed that Catholic funerals are often less personal than Protestant funerals. More pageantry, less eulogy. Although, as a liberal Protestant, I’ll admit that I’ve always sort of liked Catholic pageantry, the smoke, the priest circling the casket, the kids following along with the candles and water, their sneakers peaking out from under their robes.

But, my God, they do drone on, which leaves a lot of time for your mind to wander. And sometimes grief — or sadness, at least — takes you to unexpected places. As on this day, as I sat quietly in the darkened sanctuary, I found myself contemplating the lives of two extraordinary women, and the profound ways in which luck — dumb, arbitrary luck — had played a role in each of their lives.


Snowed In

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Hi. Greg here. Helping out while Steve’s away.


Is it surreal, ironic or tragic that a Fox News talking head is the new White House talking head? Bush said:

“My job is to make decisions and his job is to help explain those decisions to the press corps and the American people,”

That’s what Snow was already doing at Fox. There’s a cow-buying analogy around here somewhere.
Word is the morning talk shows are trumpeting the two negative things he said over five years of bloviating.

Anyone else find this to be TMI?

One factor in Snow’s decision to take the job was that he had his colon removed last year …

That’s a reason to work for the White House? Perhaps if he had his brain removed, he could also run the RNC.

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Out for a few days

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

I’ve had a family medical emergency arise and will be out for several days. I’ll try to post occasionally, but probably won’t have much chance. In the meanwhile, one of the weekend bartenders here at the café has kindly agreed to fill in while I’m away.

Steve, proprietor of The Last Chance Democracy Café and unofficial scribe for The Three Wise Men.

Could Bush be any more predictable?

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Bush’s solution to record high gas prices combined with record high profits for oil companies?  Ease environmental protections, of course.

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Bush and Ahmadinejad: A match made in heaven

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

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The accidental plagiarist

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

I obviously don’t know the merits of the Kaavya Viswanathan plagiarism charges (I haven’t read the books in question), but her explanation of “accidental copying” doesn’t seem implausible to me in principle.  Although I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, in retrospect, I think that virtually every word I wrote back when I was 19 (her age now) was to some degree stolen from Kurt Vonnegut (fortunately I wasn’t good enough to get published so I didn’t get “caught”).

Plagiarism is such a state of mind deal; sometime back, for example, I got into a bad habit of whenever I thought I’d come up with a phrase that was especially clever — clever by my standards, not Shakespeare’s (I stole that from Vonnegut by the way) — I would run it through Google to see if anyone else had ever written it before; people almost always had — often by the hundreds.  Then afterwards I’d feel guilty, like I had retroactively stolen it.

What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that there are very few truly original things left to say, and most everything “new” we try to say today is borrowed, to at least a small degree, from those who came before.  When this borrowing process reaches the point of plagiarism is truly the stuff of counting angels dancing on the end of a pin (I stole that one, too, in case you hadn’t noticed).

In any case, I hope they cut her some slack; my guess is that there’s at least some element of truth in what she’s saying.

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Monday, April 24th, 2006

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What a depressing article in The Times

Monday, April 24th, 2006

 Yelling ‘Fire’ on a Hot Planet

My synopsis: Global warming may not be as bad as some say it is, but then it may be, but then it’s going to be very bad in any case, but then there’s not much chance we can get anyone to do anything about it anyway.

The end (literally?)

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The Democrats get it on leaks

Monday, April 24th, 2006

It’s actually a little sad that having the Democratic leadership “get it” on a political issue is grounds for celebration, but I’ll take what I can get.  And on the subject of leaks and hypocrisy the Democrats do seem to get it.

Washington Post (via AMERICAblog) Democrats Suggest Double Standard on Leaks

Then drawing a parallel to the Plame case, Kerry said that with McCarthy, “you have somebody being fired from the CIA for allegedly telling the truth, and you have no one fired from the White House for revealing a CIA agent in order to support a lie. That underscores what’s really wrong in Washington, D.C.”

Episode 31.2: Some Religious Nuts Really Are Nuts!

Monday, April 24th, 2006

When last we met, Horace, Tom, Winston and my minister friend, Ned, were all deep into a discussion of religion and its proper place in politics — a conversation stirred to a significant degree by Jim Wallis’s book “God’s Politics.” As we rejoin the festivities, things are starting to get, well, just a little nutty.

But first a few preliminary thoughts . . .

The Last Chance Democracy Café
Episode 31.2: Some Religious Nuts Really Are Nuts!

by Steven C. Day

Have you noticed how often the name George W. Bush is associated with going backwards in time? Backwards in the field of civil rights, where NAACP president Kweisi Mfume said last year, “We’ve got a president that’s prepared to take us back to the days of Jim Crow segregation and dominance.” Backwards on the rights of workers, as union leader Douglas Dority said, “The Bush Administration would take us back to the 19th century . . .”

Then there’s the environment, where Al Gore has accused Bush of “threatening to take us back to the days when America’s rivers and lakes were dying, when the skylines were some days not visible because of smog, and when toxic waste threatened so many communities around America.”

There is more, of course: Bush has frequently been accused of trying to take us back to the 19th Century on taxation, to the 1950s on the Cold War and to the early 1930s on Social Security. Try Googling “Bush” and “take us back.” You’ll find references to all of above and many, many more — over 22,000 hits in total, when I checked.

But if you ask me, these examples all miss the point. Bush isn’t trying to take us back to the 20th Century, the 19th Century or even the 18th Century. He has his eye on a much bigger prize — a journey all the way back to the 14th or 15th Century — well before the age of The Enlightenment.