20 February 2011

The Borders bookstore on Madison's West Side is about to close. The last book I bought there is Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives.

18 February 2011

More profiles in political courage:

In response to hysterical ranting about abortions from Republican Chris Smith, Democrat Jackie Speier tells her own abortion story in a measured, dare I say manly, way:

A big thank you to Fred Risser, my state senator, for joining today's mass protest for labor rights.

Sometimes liberals bemoan the lack of committed activists 'these days.' 'If only MLK were still alive,' they say. Risser was born two years before MLK and is still fighting for good causes.

16 February 2011

Abe Sauer has written a superb piece on Wisconsin's War on Unions.

It is encouraging to see ordinary people becoming politically active now. Alas, in November last year, there was a decidedly lackluster turnout in Wisconsin.

220,273 votes were cast in Dane County for governor; compare this to

491,357 the county's estimated 2009 population.
-111,047 under age of 18
380,310 adults.

So in our progressive, enlightened county, the Athens of the Midwest, 160,037 adults did not bother to vote. Scott Walker won the governorship by a margin of 124,000. Draw your own conclusions.

08 February 2011

Five things more interesting than the birth of Ronald Reagan that happened in February, 1911

1. The French Chamber of Deputies passed a law reserving the use of the term "champagne" solely for white wine produced by vignerons or sold by n├ęgociants in the province of the Marne. The act outraged winemakers in other provinces of France and led to violent strikes.

2. Seattle Mayor Hiram C. Gill (who encouraged prostitution and other 'vice' businesses) was put out of office by a recall election and replaced by George Dilling. It was the first city election in which women were allowed to participate, and the female vote was believed to have contributed to the recall.

3. In a major turning point in the Mexican Revolution, Francisco I. Madero crossed the Rio Grande from Texas and into Mexico's Chihuahua State to take command of rebel forces. Madero had departed the United States after a warrant was issued for his arrest for violating U.S. neutrality laws.

4. The first air mail flight in history took place in India, when French pilot Henri Pequot carried 6,500 letters from Allahabad a distance of 8 miles, to the Naini junction. The mail was then loaded on a train and taken to Calcutta.

5. In what has been described as "the last massacre of Indians in the United States", a group of Nevada state police fought with "Shoshone Mike", who had killed four ranchers in Washoe County. "It was probably the first time in many years that bows and arrows have figured in any Indian fight", the New York Times noted. One of the white men died, while eight of twelve Shoshones, some of whom were children, were killed in the fight at Rabbit Creek, near Winnemucca.

Thanks to Wikipedia for these facts.

03 February 2011

A National Prayer Breakfast Post-mortem

Where to begin? This event is sponsored, of course, by the Family, an organization which whipped up anti-gay hatred in Uganda to such an extreme pitch that David Kato, civil rights activist and one of the relatively few openly gay men in Uganda, was bludgeoned to death in his own home.

C-Span's coverage of the breakfast begins with Randall Terry, anti-abortion crusader and twice-married Roman Catholic (he claims, like Henry VIII, that "tragic problems" made his first marriage null and void) making a thinly veiled threat of hellfire and brimstone to anyone who will not accept Jesus as Lord on his deathbed.

Then a Republican congressman introduces the President, remarking "it is the genius of our founders, that we have one president at a time." Golden.

President Obama spoke well, but did not even verbally glance at the complicity of this organization in promoting mass murder in Uganda. I think I have reached the turning point today and I will not be able to vote for Barack Obama again; I know I said this at an earlier point, frustrated with him over DADT repeal. He handled that pretty well, it turns out. However, it is the duty of a Christian to confront evil and speak out against it, whether it wears the scowl of John McCain or the evangelical smile of Mike Huckabee.

This is all tied up with Obama's reluctance to make his position on gay marriage clear. I, for one, would be perfectly happy with an ambiguous "evolving" position on the matter--Obama does seem to support civil unions consistently, and that would be enough for me. Evolve for as long as you like, but when you are invited to speak by an organization that goes into a foreign land and demonizes a particular class of people relentlessly, happy Jesus talk is not acceptable.