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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

The Catholic Church in Minnesota recently mailed out 400,000 DVDs to its parishioners in the state, asking them to accept the church’s belief that gay marriage is wrong for human beings. In fact, gay marriage is so bad for the rest of the world, the Catholic leadership wants lawmakers to pass a new law forbidding it. It’s about six weeks before an election, see, and the church would really like its people to vote for candidates who oppose gay marriage.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune published this piece last week (Sept. 20).

Then, an art curator at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis decided to produce a sculpture using DVDs provided to her by other Catholics who are opposed to its content. It’s her way of taking a stand against the church’s teaching on gay marriage. She was summarily terminated from her job, of course, and the Star Tribune published this article about the debacle.

As I read the story and readers’ comments, this one struck me as the most relevant…so I wanted to share it here. Naturally, not all good Catholics are anti-marriage. Some actually think with a reasonable and “modern” process about the issue. Here’s the reader’s comment from the newspaper:

Where did the $400,000 for the DVD come from?

First, I’m a parishioner at St. Mary’s, and like many fellow parishioners, my wife and I are planning to donate the archbishop’s DVD to Ms. Naylor’s art work. We feel this work of art is the perfect response to the archbishop’s actions, and it’s the Holy Spirit at work. Second, the archbishop has clearly crossed a line of political lobbying that is totally inappropriate. The church lobbies on behalf of the poor, children and others who need the protection of the church. The church builds schools, hospitals and shelters to serve, according to Christ’s command. That’s not what this DVD is about. This is the archbishop telling Catholics how to vote to change the constitution of the secular state of Minnesota. Minnesota and the United States are secular institutions which have laws and constitutions to protect the rights of all–regardless of religious belief. Instead of fighting for the poor, Archbishop Nienstedt is fighting to get Catholic theology into the constitution of the state of Minnesota where it would govern anyone, Catholic or not. We’re not a theocracy–like Iran or Saudi Arabia. We’re America, a secular society, and one of our core beliefs is freedom of religion. That includes freedom *from* religion. I don’t want my church dictating to people outside the church. It used to be illegal to buy contraceptives in many states, because archbishops demanded laws against it. They misused the authority of the church then, just as Archbishop Nienstedt has misused his authority now. Finally, I have to ask: where did this $400,000 come from? Was it a donor? Who was the donor? What else has the donor given money to? And if it wasn’t from a donor, how can the Archbishop order $400,000 be taken from the church’s budget and spent on this theocratic attempt to deprive some non-catholics of their civil rights? That money could run a daycare center in north Minneapolis for 250 kids for a year. Or a homeless shelter. Or it could have been spent lobbying the legislature to stop cutting funding for education. The number one subject Christ talks about in the New Testament is about the poor–not fighting to take away rights that are due to others. The appropriate place for the archbishop to plead his case for the church’s view of the institution of marriage is from the pulpit. Instead he wasted desperately needed $400,000 of funds on an arrogant attempt to decree Catholic law should be secular law. Each year there is a special collection at St. Mary’s, as in all diocese churches, for the Archbishops Fund. Each year as the scandals have grown in the church, the amount of donations has shrunk. So long as Archbishop Nienstedt leads the bishops of Minnesota in this kind of arrogant theocratic campaigns, ours is one parish household that will give our money elsewhere to help the poor and the forgotten. Rohn Jay Miller, parishioner at the Basilica of St. Mary.

Amen Brother!

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There was a time when all science fiction movies were just that – fiction. Written and told by future thinkers…storytellers. But the close ties to reality painted by the screenwriters and actors who contributed to “District 9” changed my views of science fiction during the course of the movie.

Having only watched “District 9” once, I’m sure I’ve missed all the subtleties of present-day politics, human rights and persistent (and evil) search for control and power. Oh wait. I caught these three parallels so obviously portrayed in this movie. But there’s more. Much more.

“District 9” brings home the nuances of just how ugly human kind can be when placed in odd circumstances. Not that the war crimes committed by Nazis in WWII could ever be forgotten, but it’s just one instance in which this movie shows through parallel how completely brutal people can be when self-motivation overrules common sense.

This story is unique and unfolds in ways no unsuspecting movie watcher could anticipate. And while there were one or two moments in which I thought, “okay, that wasn’t necessary,” by and large the vast majority of this movie seemed more real and possible than any alien-based movie I’ve seen since “Signs.”

And I’ll admit, I have a thing about aliens on Earth that tends to keep me up at night.

Go see “District 9” and you’ll forget its even about alien creatures and “what if” scenarios. Because, in the end, we are such an imperfect bunch of humans.

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Just 238 days following election day in Nov. 2008, Minnesota finally has a second U.S. senator representing its interests.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                         June 30, 2009

Statement from the President on the Minnesota Supreme Court Certifying Al Franken as the Winner of Last Year’s Senate Election

“I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century.”

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The Reps dove in the grave not with one toe, but head first.  Christopher Buckley says the party is dead in this blog post (click here).

Buckley also shares this fantastic joke:

Question: How many Republicans does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: Three. One to mix the martinis, one to change the light bulb, and one to reminisce about how good the old one was.

Let it be known I like martinis and I don’t care if a Republican mixes them for me – as long as they’re dirty and come complete with three olives.

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America’s storied auto behemoth, General Motors, stands on the edge of a financial cliff. Should it jump? Or should the government throw it yet another rope in an attempt to shore it up and save the giant from bankruptcy?

Truth is GM can’t pull itself out of the tailspin it’s in. GM should file for bankruptcy and remake itself as a much smaller and focused car company if it hopes for a legacy to be part of the future.

Here are five good reasons why GM should file for bankruptcy:

1) GM must realize filing for bankruptcy won’t hurt the company’s already beleaguered image and brand. The cloud of bankruptcy won’t keep people from buying GM cars. Hell, no one is buying them now.

2) In an effort to save itself, GM is reducing research and development spend, which means little or no new, green-friendly hybrids (i.e., the kinds of cars people want to buy). Bankruptcy gives them a chance to refocus on marketable cars of the future.

3) GM can’t compete. Mercedes has a plan to transition its entire lineup of cars to alternative fuels by 2015. GM is cutting R&D by $1.5 billion by 2012, which allows them to stay operative for…one month.

4) The brain cluster at GM continues to lobby California lawmakers to prevent a law requiring car makers to reach an average fuel efficiency standard of 36 mpg. Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Bankruptcy might help GM understand the landscape has changed since the 1960s.

5) Even with the government’s tens of billions in bail-out money, people at GM will lose their jobs. Bankruptcy will likely save more jobs than the bailout will provide.

Why should we care? Isn’t it more wise to see billions of dollars diverted to things that have a chance of survival vs. burning that cash on the GM fire.

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A Shot in The Arm to Vote

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, I’ll do all of the following:

  • Vote
  • Get a flu shot
  • Sit through an entire day of HR training (not necessarily in this order)

I wonder if my vote will make a difference – effect change if you will?

I wonder if the flu shot will keep me healthy through the cold and flu season?

I wonder if the HR training will result in a better me as a manager.  Heck, I wonder if the three Tuesday activities are somehow connected with an odd form of karma. Perhaps my vote, flu shot and training will each yield change that would never occur had I not personally participated in the three activities.  (Cue “Twilight Zone” music here.)

I’d much rather spend my day in front of the Interweb as pundits speculate on the outcome of the election. I’ve made my predictions to a few friends. We’ll know the answer to the vote thing on Wednesday morning…which is the first chance I’ll have to check in with a blog update.

Vote people. Vote.

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Thursday, Oct. 30, Bill Clinton jetted into Minneapolis. With Al Franken at his side, the former president spoke like the commander in chief he was – with august and resplendence. For a while, the clock rolled back to the ’90s when America was led by a president who cared about the middle class, who cared about creating jobs, who cared about doing the right thing for our country as a whole.

Guess what? Clinton still cares and he’s still a great speaker. We shook his hand last night – not just a touch of hands, but I firmly shook the former president’s hand. Standing there on the rope line with the flag looking over the 4,000 people who packed into the convention center, I paused and thought, even with the blanket of turmoil we’re under today, we’re still a great country and we can get our swagger back.

Vote on Nov. 4, people. Vote. Vote. Vote.

President Clinton and senate candidate Al Franken arrived together after an intermission. Everyone quickly forgot we’d been standing on concrete for three hours once they took the stage.

Al Franken (seated) and the rest of us listened to Clinton speak for a solid 40 minutes. I would have stood another hour had he continued.

Working the rope line, Clinton did his best to shake every hand as the crowd sent shout outs like, “We miss you Mr. President,” and “Thanks for coming to Minneapolis, Bill.”

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Vote or Die

I recently took time to watch the latest viral video on Funnyordie.com featuring Ron Howard, Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler. These three celebrities who worked with each other on popular sitcoms in the ’60s and ’70s got together for a “get out the vote” kind of message, conveyed brilliantly. I particularly liked how Ron kept up with the hairstyles he wore in both television shows.

You can see the video right here.

The lines of people waiting to vote on Nov. 4 are forecast to be long. I’ll be standing in the queue with hundreds of my neighbors who walk, drive and bike to our polling place at 5:30 p.m. Here are a few tips on making the wait seem less tedious…

  1. Arrive with a flask of whiskey. Offer “a nip” to those around you.
  2. Wear a Richard Nixon Halloween mask. Invite people nearby to come and see your tricky dick.
  3. Ask those in line with you who they intend to vote for and why. No matter the response, in a sarcastic tone of voice say, “Oh that’s a brilliant choice.”
  4. Comment about how the polling place officials likely voted for Abe Lincoln, “back in the day.”
  5. In a very loud voice say, “ACORN volunteers told you to both file an absentee ballot AND vote on election day.”
  6. Commiserate with those in line with you about the lack of food and beverages served at polling places.  Ask if someone in line will hold your place for you while you go to Subway.
  7. Shuffle your feet and mumble how you sure wish you could vote for GW for a third term.
  8. Tape the words, “I AM A HANGING CHAD” on the back of your coat with masking tape. When people ask you about it, act like you had no idea it was on there.
  9. After voting, walk slowly past those still standing in line with a big smile and thrust your thumbs in the air saying, “I feel your pain” over and over.
  10. Tell a polling place official that you left your colostomy bag in the voting booth and need to get back in there to get it. Double over and pretend to be in severe pain while you say this.

There.  Any or all of these tips should help you make the wait seem much more worthwhile. And if that’s not enough for you, keep in mind that voting in this presidential election is probably the most historic vote that you will ever cast in your lifetime.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I’ve been uneasy with the McCain campaign long before Sarah Palin was part of it. This photo, by Stephen Crowley, in today’s The New York Times screams “ugly” in many, many ways.

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From a Real Alaskan

A recent guest column in the Seattle Post Intelligencer is definitely worth a read.  Seth Kanter, an Alaskan native, does an informative (and humorous) job explaining how people in our 50th state advance in business and in politics.

Here’s an excerpt…

That Sarah Palin is one unreal Alaskan

By SETH KANTNER
GUEST COLUMNIST

I’m sitting on my bearskin chair beside the woodstove, in Kotzebue, Alaska, 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, while outside the ocean begins to freeze over. Inside I have about 49 things piling up to say to you, America.

I’m an Alaskan — born in an igloo, enjoy whale muktuk, all that — and in case you aren’t sick of our state by now, I’ll start off with an apology for one of our residents: Sarah Palin.

We Alaskans are not generally so magazine-pretty like her, nor are we so confrontational and vapid. Most of us don’t have those peachy cheeks — we have sunburn, windburn and frostbite. Our fingernails are dirty from actually gutting moose, not yakking about it. Our hands are chapped from picking thousands of salmon out of nets, not holding one up for the camera.

Having said that, here in Alaska we are accustomed to getting jobs we’re not qualified to fill. In our far-flung villages and towns we have big money surrounded by big wilderness; the combination causes warped career opportunities. Sort of an Edge of Nowhere phenomenon — cousin to the Bridge to Nowhere one.

For example, in the village closest to the wilderness homestead where I was raised, I remember standing in my friend’s cabin when his dad got a call on the CB radio: “People are writing you in for mayor.”

“Nope!” my friend’s dad transmitted. “Tell ’em no, I ain’t doing that.” He spit in a can, peered out the door at his Honda generator — idling rough — an extension cord running up the hill and under his door, to power the rerun of “Dukes of Hazzard” he was watching.

If he’d lived in Wasilla 25 years later, he could have responded, “Call Sarah, she’ll want it.”

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