Friday, August 27, 2010

Introducing Big Tent Revue

I forget to tell folks that I've started a new group blog called Big Tent Revue. It kinda rises from the ashes of Republicans United, and the goal is not as much to try to change the center-right as much as present an alternative vision and start a discussion on ways the center-right can be reformed.

Notice, I didn't say this was a Republican blog. This is a center-right blog because I want to open up the conversation to folks who might want to be conservative but are put off by the current movement. I also hope to interview some folks and basically have fun blogging.

I will still be blogging here, but please check out BTR to see some other viewpoints. Also if you are interested in co-blogging, please let me know.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Missing (and Proving) the Point

David Brooks column today is a good one, but it has already stirred a bit of ire from some libertarians who in some way prove his point. The column is about how we are not as hardy thinkers as we used to be, not allowing for any thought that just might upset our mental applecarts. Here's a taste

The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

There’s a seller’s market in ideologies that gives people a chance to feel victimized. There’s a rigidity to political debate. Issues like tax cuts and the size of government, which should be shaped by circumstances (often it’s good to cut taxes; sometimes it’s necessary to raise them), are now treated as inflexible tests of tribal purity.

It's a worthwhile read because what Brooks is getting at is that we are less willing these days to really use our brains and think about the beliefs we hold in a critical light. Instead, we want our beliefs to be confrimed, we want to have the feeling that we are always right and that we never have to change a thing.

As if on cue, Matt Welch replies with a snarky post calling Brooks a lover of big government. He takes Brooks quote on the issue of taxes and the size of government, and makes it sound like Brooks is saying that any talk about free markets is bad and any talk of government (as well as higher spending and higher taxes) is good:

So after a decade of hysterical growth of government at all levels, which has left us with a crappy and unimproving economy, unprecedented debt and deficits, and a long-term fiscal outlook too horrifying to contemplate, it is a demonstration of confirmation bias, herd thinking, and inflexible tribal purity to question the continued growth of the state. I sure do hope that David Brooks is good enough to let us know when it's okay to come outside and criticize big government again. Though judging by his track record–whether 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, or 2010–it may be a long time coming.
I think this is a rather unfair assessment.  Brooks isn't saying that we should never question government spending.  Anyone that has read Brooks over the years know that he tends to favor smaller government.  But he is saying to both those that favor smaller government and those that favor larger government that they need to step out of their ideological cocoons sometime.

And that is the problem with our political discourse these days.  On the conservative-libertarian side, there seems to be only one answer for everything: Government is always too big, it needs to be smaller.  Okay, I get that and tend to favor that.  But the problem is that it becomes the answer to things people aren't asking.  When it comes to things like the economy or housing or economic development, sometimes saying "let the market handle it" is not always sufficient.  So how can the government have a role that doesn't make it expand greatly or raise taxes?  Now that would mean using your grey matter.  But too many people don't actually want to think, lest they be branded as a traitor by their compatriots.

The same goes for liberals who think the government can solve everything and should regulate everything.  As E.D. Kain noted a while back, regulation can at times, lead to oligarchies that keep out smaller businesses.  Because of government regulation, niche breweries were shut out of the American market for years until President Carter deregulated the industry in the late 70s.  But again, we don't want to think outside of the box at times; we don't want to be accused being capitalists.

What Brooks has long advocated, and what I have agreed with, is that government has to be both small and active.  It has to be willing to provide some leadership to society issues, even if it is not the one that provides the answer.  Small government is great, but it is of no use if it is inefficient and not able to help when people do need it. 

It doesn't take much a brain to advocate for ever bigger government or to whack all government programs.  It does take thought in how to provide the government services needed and not expand government.

When America is able to get out its ideological cul-de-sacs, the we will become a more functional society again.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great American Melting Pot

I'm a child of the 70s.

One of my faves from that time was watching "Schoolhouse Rock" on Saturday mornings. Maybe the one I like the best was the following one about immigrants. It's strange how important this little video is nearly 40 years later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yes, Virginia There Are Muslim Republicans

..and they are taking their fellow Republicans to task for their opposition to the building of the Cordoba House project also known as the so-called Ground Zero mosque.

Hip-Hop Republican shares a note from a number of Islamic Republicans speaking out against the opposition to the building near Ground Zero. Here is a snippet:

While some in our party have recently conceded the constitutional argument, they are now arguing that it is insensitive, intolerant and unacceptable to locate the center at the present location: “Just because they have the right to do so - does not make it the right thing to do” they say. Many of these individuals are objecting to the location as being too close to the Ground Zero site and voicing the understandable pain and anguish of the 9-11 families who lost loved ones in this horrible tragedy. In expressing compassion and understanding for these families, we are asking ourselves the following: if two blocks is too close, is four blocks acceptable? or six blocks? or eight blocks? Does our party believe that one can only practice his/her religion in certain places within defined boundaries and away from the disapproving glances of some citizens? Should our party not be standing up and taking a leadership role- just like President Bush did after 9-11 - by making a clear distinction between Islam, one of the great three monotheistic faiths along with Judaism and Christianity, versus the terrorists who committed the atrocities on 9-11 and who are not only the true enemies of America but of Islam as well? President Bush struck the right balance in expressing sympathy for the families of the 9-11 victims while making it absolutely clear that the acts committed on 9-11 were not in the name of Islam. We are hoping that our party leaders can do the same now - especially at a time when it is greatly needed.

Republican Muhammed Ali Hasan, the founder of Muslims for Bush, is even more to the point, calling those against the project bigots:

I am deeply proud to be an American, with a proud, personal history of denouncing terrorism, including my founding of Muslims For Bush. However, what truly reeks within this debate is not the shadow of bigotry, but rather, the cloak of dishonesty. In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where I was born and raised, it is believed that your word -- your honesty -- is everything that makes you a man.

My fellow conservative leaders, please quit lying. If you are against the mosque, then call yourself a bigot and give us the gift of an honest dialogue, the kind we carry on so proudly here in America.

Yes, you will be a bigot -- but at least you will be a man.

Read both articles.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I have not said much about the Target controversy. For those not in the know, the discount-store chain Target, decided to give $150,000 to an indpendent political committee that supports Republican Tom Emmer for Governor. Emmer tends to be not-so-friendly when it comes to gay issues. Target, which is based in Minneapolis, made the donation because they view Emmer as pro-business, while Mark Dayton the Democratic candidate is not viewed in the same way.

(Irony alert: Dayton's family started the Target chain.)

This has set off a storm of protest from many in the GLBT community who were shocked that Target would do something like this. Target has a reputation of being one of the better employers for gays and has been viewed as incredibly gay-friendly. Many gay folks were shocked that Target would ever dream of doing something like this.

While I was dissapointed, I wasn't surprised. I know that Target executives had supported Republicans at the local and national level for a while and I also know that Target was making a business decision; not a moral one. Emmer's pitch is about trying to shrink government and lower taxes while Dayton is all about taxing the rich. If you are a large business, I can tell pretty much tell you that they are going to go for door number one. Do I think it was a good decision? No. But I also understand why Target did it.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it all; on the one hand, in this post- Citizens United world, where companies can give directly to campaigns, those businesses that give to campaigns are now free to give openly. That said, having the freedom of speech to give to a campaign now means that you are opened up to criticism, which is also a freedom our nation celebrates. If Acme Widgets decides to give money to a campaign that supports clubbing baby seals, Acme should prepare for anger from their customers.

But I also have take some issue with how the gay community is dealing with this issue. As I've said, Target has had a history of being a good friend to the gay community. I think that has to be taken into account in light of this donation. The problem is , many in the gay community have not looked at its past actions and weigh that against the current issue. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign have tended come out against the company with both guns blazing-demanding that Target either give back the donation or give an equal amount to a cause or campaign that supports gay equality. Now, this might have been a worthy request to make. The problem is that it should have been done behind the scenes. Why? Because for the most part, Target has been an ally. It makes sense to handle some of this away from the public and not try to purposely embarrass Target. But many wanted to make an example of Target. I guess in my view, I would have hoped that they would have quietly worked for an apology and maybe a donation to a gay rights group without trying to rake Target over the coals.

The other problem that I have here is that there seems to be a hint of partisanship here. As Stephen Miller notes, I doubt that there would be so much kerfluffle is Emmer was a Democrat:

Of course, if Emmer were a Democrat who opposed gay marriage it's doubtful that HRC would be targeting Target, given that HRC has itself supported the campaigns of candidates such as Virginia's Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat who favors keeping "don't ask, don't tell," as well as a great many Democrats who oppose gay marriage to varying degrees. Maybe HRC should target itself?

At the end of the day, I think that Target will learn a lesson: not to never give to anti-gay candidates, but to be far more discreet about the donation.

America, the (Kinda) Beautiful

Indian-born Shikha Dalmia notes that even in the wake of the protests against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" America is still a beacon of religious tolerance compared to other nations.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our Race, Our Selves

John McWhorter writes what might be the most honest and yet most depressing critique of the state of the black community , like ever.

In a review of a book by Amy Wax, he basically says that African Americans have spent too much time focusing on government programs and the legacy of racism than in trying to solve the problems that are plauging the community, such as poverty.

There is a belief among many African Americans as well as not a few liberals, that it is racism that hold us back. The belief continues that if only America spent more money on the black community through increased government spending, then the problems facing African Americans would be solved. McWhorter provides a living example of how simply more money won't work:
In 1987, a rich philanthropist in Philadelphia “adopted” 112 inner-city sixth-graders, most of them from broken homes. He guaranteed them a fully-funded education through college if the kids would refrain from drugs, unwed parenthood, and crime. He even provided tutors, workshops, after-school programs, summer programs, and counselors when trouble arose. Forty-five of the kids never made it through high school. Thirteen years later, of the sixty-seven boys, nineteen were felons; the forty-five girls had sixty-three total children, and more than half had their babies before the age of eighteen. Crucially, this was not surprising: The reason was culture. These children had been nurtured in communities with different norms than those that reign in Scarsdale.

Of course, no one wants to talk about culture. It's far easier to talk about race than it is about the cultural patterns that keep African Americans down. McWhorter gets right to the point that the best way for blacks to not be poor is not have babies before marriage:

One of the most sobering observations made by Wax comes in the form of a disarmingly simple calculus presented first by Isabel Sawhill and Christopher Jencks. If you finish high school and keep a job without having children before marriage, you will almost certainly not be poor. Period. I have repeatedly felt the air go out of the room upon putting this to black audiences. No one of any political stripe can deny it. It is human truth on view. In 2004, the poverty rate among blacks who followed that formula was less than 6 percent, as opposed to the overall rate of 24.7 percent. Even after hearing the earnest musings about employers who are less interested in people with names like Tomika, no one can gainsay the simple truth of that advice. Crucially, neither bigotry nor even structural racism can explain why an individual does not live up to it.

So, why are African Americans so afraid to talk about culture? Why are we more enamoured with the radical ala Jeremiah Wright?

I think the answers are many, but here are two points.

First, talk of culture seems like blaming the victim and ignoring racial prejudice, which does still occur. Second, culture tends to be associated with conservatives and most African Americans tend think that conservatives either are indifferent or hostile to the interests of blacks. White conservatives have not helped when they talk about culture and family in relation to African Americans, but then don't seem to do anything to help change the situation. The common refrain of conservatives is to talk about the evils of big government, but then do nothing to help with civil society.

So what can change the situation? Well, African Americans are going to have to talk culture more seriously and realize that government can do somethings, but it can't change people's hearts. As Wax notes:

The government cannot make people watch less television, talk to their children, or read more books. It cannot ordain domestic order, harmony, tranquility, stability, or other conditions conducive to academic success and the development of sound character. Nor can it determine how families structure their interactions and routines or how family resources—including time and money—are expended. Large-scale programs are especially ineffective in changing attitudes and values toward learning, work, and marriage.

I can remember my mother making poster boards of numbers and letters so that I would learn both before I entered kindergarten. That's the type of parenting that will help a kid succeed.

Government has to play some role in helping lift people out of poverty. I know some will chafe at that notion, but we do need to have some safety nets to protect people from the ravages of poverty. But to help someone thrive, we need more. Conservativism has always believed that society is made up of institutions: businesses, government, the church, the family. I think what is needed is a revival of black civic culture. Churches and other civic groups need step up and help shape and form individuals to learn how to respect each other and not be making babies when they are no more than babies themselves. Many black churches are already doing this, but there needs to be more. If White conservatives really believe in civil society, then they will put their money where their mouth is
and fund initiatives that will help the black family. If you want to see an example of conservatives trying to use a conservative approach to solve social issues, one might want to at the Big Society initiative from the Conservative Party in the UK.

At the end of the day, though, it is up to African Americans to do deal with our own issues. We have to be willing to want to reduce out-of-wedlock births, and the crushing poverty rate and not dilly-dally. It's time for us to heal ourselves.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Islam-bashing is Cool!

Andrew Sullivan links to an old article about some of the early signs of Isalmaphobia among conservatives that helps to frame why it's become so fashionable among conservative pols these days to not simply bash Muslim extremists, but the entire faith of a billion people as well.

It wasn't that long ago that then-President Bush tried to separate the extremists within Islam from the rest of its adherents.  Bush had his faults, but he did try to present a more tolerant version of conservatism at least when it came to religion.  How times have changed. A recent Politico post shows that many of the potential 2012 GOP presidential nominees are already showing their anti-Muslim credentials in speaking out against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque."

The thing about this, is that when you basically decide to play the game that Muslim extremists want- which is a war of between civilizations, there is basically only one way to settle things: through war.  I'm not a pacifist and I'm not anti-military, but I tend to think that you don't want to use the military all the time.  Americans are willing to fight for what they believe in, but they aren't willing to engage in endless war.

In someways, what Sullivan says in another post makes some sense:

I think it's time to acknowledge what we are increasingly learning: the base of the GOP - aided and abetted by what's left of their elites - want a religious war abroad and at home not on Jihadism, but on Islam itself. And a vote for the GOP is a vote for this agenda. It is a vote for global warfare and domestic division.

Now, I think that Sullivan is, as usual, being a bit too sweeping in his statement. I don't think all Republicans support this bigoted agenda. But I do think that what is called the base of the GOP is declaring war on Islam and that's bad news for all of us.

That said, it is up to those who are conservative and/or libertarian to speak up against such hatred and denounce politicians who play along. It's the only way to save conservatism and the Republican Party from itself.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Big Love

It was all Daniel's idea.

My now husband, Daniel was talking about having a wedding from an early point of us dating. For Daniel, a wedding was important. He even said shortly after moving in together that he didn't want to "live in sin." For me, not so much. I supported same sex marriage, but actually having a wedding? Well, I didn't see the need.

Daniel is not the type that one says no to, so I agreed to a wedding. Saying yes, changed a lot of things. For one, it forced me to come out to my dad. I had been out to my mother for years, but not to my Dad. Since I wanted to have them at the wedding, I had to tell him. Dad was somewhat put off by it, but in time learned to accept the fact that his son was getting a guy.

To make a long story short, the wedding was important because it signified something big was happening. For better or for worse, I was stuck with this big Norwegian. And for better or for worse, he was stuck with this odd African American. I know saying "stuck" sounds bad, but I think you know what I mean. On that September day, we made a committment to each other and we basically said that this relationship was not just a passing thing, this was the real deal.

Ross Douthat
makes an interesting argument both for and against same sex marriage. While he knocks down several of the arguments against gay marriage, he also tries to argue why gay marriage opponents want to uphold the "traditional" view of marriage. He shows monogamous hetrosexual marriage as the "ideal," something that has been of value to Western culture:

So what are gay marriage’s opponents really defending, if not some universal, biologically inevitable institution? It’s a particular vision of marriage, rooted in a particular tradition, that establishes a particular sexual ideal.

This ideal holds up the commitment to lifelong fidelity and support by two sexually different human beings — a commitment that involves the mutual surrender, arguably, of their reproductive self-interest — as a uniquely admirable kind of relationship. It holds up the domestic life that can be created only by such unions, in which children grow up in intimate contact with both of their biological parents, as a uniquely admirable approach to child-rearing. And recognizing the difficulty of achieving these goals, it surrounds wedlock with a distinctive set of rituals, sanctions and taboos.

The point of this ideal is not that other relationships have no value, or that only nuclear families can rear children successfully. Rather, it’s that lifelong heterosexual monogamy at its best can offer something distinctive and remarkable — a microcosm of civilization, and an organic connection between human generations — that makes it worthy of distinctive recognition and support.

Now, I would agree that in the heterosexual world, having a two parent family- with mother and father both present, is the ideal. One can look at the breakdown of the family in among African Americans and the results of that breakdown to see the need to find ways to shore up American families.

Douthat rightly sees that a new ethic has arisen in the last few decades- one that supplants the older view that Douthat treasures. He notes:

If this newer order completely vanquishes the older marital ideal, then gay marriage will become not only acceptable but morally necessary. The lifelong commitment of a gay couple is more impressive than the serial monogamy of straights. And a culture in which weddings are optional celebrations of romantic love, only tangentially connected to procreation, has no business discriminating against the love of homosexuals.

But if we just accept this shift, we’re giving up on one of the great ideas of Western civilization: the celebration of lifelong heterosexual monogamy as a unique and indispensable estate. That ideal is still worth honoring, and still worth striving to preserve. And preserving it ultimately requires some public acknowledgment that heterosexual unions and gay relationships are different: similar in emotional commitment, but distinct both in their challenges and their potential fruit.

This is kinda where I lose Douthat. I don't think my wedding was just an "optional celebration of romantic love." We patterened the wedding off of what we found in the Book of Common Prayer. We saw this not as an event, but- being two church geeks and committed Christians- as a worship service giving glory and honor to God and also publicly acknowledging our love and care for each other. The rings were not just shiny trikets, but symbols of our covenant to each other and to God.

The second thing that bothers me is this insistence on procreation. Now yes, children are usually the result of a heterosexual marriage. But it seems to me that Douthat is making the case that procreation is the over-riding concern of a marriage with love being a byproduct. The emphasis is to create society instead of a covenant between two persons.

The final problem is the supposed superiority of heterosexual marriage. While I don't think Douthat is intentionally saying this, it feels as if gay people are being told that our committments are only second-best to hetero-relationships.

Andrew Sullivan responds to Douthat with a very passionate defense of same sex marriage. Sullivam begins by saying what I have already said earlier: that marriage between same sex partners is a way of destroying the closet:

And - this is my main point - Ross' argument simply ignores the existence and dignity and lives and testimony of gay people. This is strange because the only reason this question has arisen at all is because the visibility of gay family members has become now so unmissable that it cannot be ignored. Yes, marriage equality was an idea some of us innovated. But it was not an idea plucked out of the sky. It was an attempt AA16 to adapt to an already big social change: the end of the homosexual stigma, the emergence of gay communities of great size and influence and diversity, and collapse of the closet. It came from a pressing need as a society to do something about this, rather than consign gay people to oblivion or marginalization or invisibility. More to the point, it emerged after we saw what can happen when human beings are provided no structure, no ideal, and no support for responsibility and fidelity and love.

And what happens when there are no structures for gays? Well, lets go back in time 30 years to a little thing called AIDS:

If you have total gay freedom and no gay institutions that can channel love and desire into commitment and support, you end up in San Francisco in the 1970s. That way of life - however benignly expressed, however defensible as the pent-up unleashed liberation of a finally free people - helped kill 300,000 young human beings in this country in our lifetime. Ross may think that toll is unimportant, or that it was their fault, but I would argue that a Catholic's indifference to this level of death and suffering and utter refusal to do anything constructive to prevent it happening again, indeed a resort to cruel stigmatization of gay people that helps lead to self-destructive tendencies, is morally evil.

What, in other words, would Ross have gay people do? What incentives would he, a social conservative, put in place to encourage gay couples and support them in their commitments and parenting and love? Notice the massive silence. He is not a homophobe as I can personally attest. But if he cannot offer something for this part of our society except a sad lament that they are forever uniquely excluded, by their nature, from being a "microcosm of civilization", then this is not a serious contribution to the question at hand. It is merely a restatement of abstract dogma - not a contribution to the actual political and social debate we are now having.

We gays are here, Ross, as you well know. We are human beings. We love one another. We are part of countless families in this country, pay taxes, work hard, serve the country in the armed services, and look after our own biological children (and also those abandoned by their biological parents). Our sex drives are not going away, nor our need to be included in our own families, to find healing and growth and integration that alone will get us beyond the gay-straight divide into a more humane world and society.

Douthat is correct that sexual mores are changing. But he is wrong in trying to make gay people pay for the "sins" of those changing mores. Those mores have been changing since the introduction of the pill, the feminist movement and changes in divorce laws and other things. We can mourn those changes (though some won't), but we can't blame gay people for those changes or lash out at them because we could not do anything else. Gay people don't want to enter into marriage on a whim- I sure didn't. We want to be full members of our society. We don't want to destroy marriage, we just want to do what straight people have done for so long because we think it's important. We want to be part of the same institution that you straights have been a part of because we agree that its important.

So, could you stop viewing us gays as scapegoats? Please?

*Daniel and I taking our engagement photos in 2007.

The Decline of the "McCain-Lieberman" Party

Blogger Tyler Craft revists a 4 year old article by David Brooks about the rise of a "third party" that existed between the two traditional parties. Craft notes that the party really no longer exists:
Earlier today I found myself rereading a column by David Brooks from August 10, 2006 entitled "Party No. 3." In the column, Brooks described the difference between the rising influence of the Democrats, the struggling influence of the Republicans, and how a group in the middle, which he called the McCain-Lieberman Party, was being marginalized. While I believe the roles of the two dominant groups have possibly reversed since that time, what pains me is that the third group seems to have fallen away. No longer is there a significant voice in Washington that does not seem to value party politics above all else. Arguably there are whispers here and there, mostly coming from the two Republican Senators from Maine, occasionally from Sen. Lindsey Graham, but rarely from others.

Read the whole post. It's interesting that since Brooks wrote that piece in 2006, John McCain has steered farther to the right to stay in office, while Liberman has become somewhat of a gadfly that exists soley to bother more liberal Democrats.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sacred Ground

“Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here."
-Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York

Christian tradition tells us that one day, Jesus went into the region of Samaria with his disciples and stopped at a well. His disciples went into a nearby town to get something to eat, but Jesus stayed at the well. Now, Samaria was a region that most Jews liked to avoid. They didn't much care for Samaritans because of their mixed heritage and because they worshipped God a bit differently. But Jesus didn't seem to mind, and so here he was at this well.

After a while around noontime, a woman comes up to the well to draw some water. It was a bit odd for this woman to come to get water in the heat of the day, but here she was. Then, Jesus did something strange: he asked the woman a question. He asked her if she had any water.

The woman was shocked because this man was talking to her. And Jesus kept talking to her and because of this her life was forever changed.

This story, sometimes called the Woman at the Well is one of my favorites stories in all of Scripture. It's a wonderful example of Jesus reaching across the many boundaries of that time to treat this woman with respect. It was nothing short of a miracle for a Jewish man to be talking to a Samaritan woman. Two people, from two different faiths were able to cross what had become a great divide.

The recent controversy surrounding the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" has me wondering if my fellow conservatives are able to reach across a modern religious divide. So far, the results are not encouraging. Leading conservatives such as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani have come out against building this place of worship because it is two blocks from Ground Zero, where thousands died on September 11, 2001.

Yes, we know that it was Muslim extremists who somehow thought God would be pleased if they rammed planes into buildings. That said 19 people who had a warped sense of their faith should not be considered the standard bearers for a faith of a billion adherents.

This issue has confirmed something that I have suspected for a long time: that there is a growing problem with religious bigotry within conservatism. I hear many conservatives talk about dealing with "radical Islam" and I tend to think that when those words are uttered it means that all of Islam is radical, not just a small portion.

As conservatives, we love to talk about how we tend to adhere to the Constitution and yet this issue has shown our love for that document to be a lie. If we can't respect the very first amendment which guarantees freedom of religion, then I doubt we will respect the rest.

There has been a lot of talk about sacred ground recently. Ground Zero is definitely such a place. The mosque inside of the Cordoba Initiative is also a sacred space for people to commune with their God. As Christians, we see our churches as sacred spaces as well. But sacred ground can occur whenever we learn to see our sisters and brothers of differing faiths as...well, sisters and brothers. It happens when we learn to live with each other and try to respect our differences.

September 11 happened because there were some that didn't want to live with others different from themselves. I think to not allow this mosque to be built would have basically supported their beliefs to divide people, to disrespect others and treat them as less than humans.

It's time for conservatives to not take the bait. We must be willing to say no to those who want to spread death and division. We must be willing to say yes to creating sacred ground in our communities, to welcome those who might not even worship the same god or worship no god at all.

It's time for us to go into our own Samarias, come to the well and meet whoever is there. We might realize we are standing on sacred ground.

"One Tough Nerd" Wins the GOP nod in Michigan

In a year when it seems like the Republican party has been taken over by nutjobs that have no interest in reaching out to independents, moderates and Democrats (prime example is the GOP candidate in my adopted state of Minnesota) it is wonderful to see a sensible moderate conservative win the Republican primary for governor in my home state of Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press is report that Rick Snyder, a former Gateway executive has won the primary with 37 percent of the vote. He was able to win against more conservative candidates and was able to appeal to those not firmly in the GOP column:

Snyder, who’s never run for elected office before and has spent nearly $6 million of his own money on his campaign, was banking on Democrats and independent voters to cross over to his side in an effort to upset the GOP establishment, which is largely behind Cox and Hoekstra. Free Press interviews with voters suggest some and perhaps many are doing so...

At Ferndale High School, voter Joan Taylor, 49, of Ferndale said she voted for Democrats most of her life, but this time she went for Republican Snyder. She said she is tired of partisan politics.

“If we are going to be moving forward, I think we need to move forward together,” Taylor said.

Of course, not everyone like Synder because he tends to stray off the path of what some consider "true Republicanism." You can read a post on RedState to see that, as usual, condemns the Republican that can win and lionizes the people that have no chance of winning in the general election.

Synder's win gives me hope that a moderate can still win in the GOP. Congrats, Rick!

What Political Party in the UK Would I Belong To?

Professor Steven Bainbridge decided to take a survey to find out what political party he would belong to in the United Kingdom. I decided to take the test myself and here's my result:

Which UK Political Party Am I?
Your Result: Conservative

Conservatives key priorities at this next election include: begin spending cuts in 2010 to eliminate most of the UK’s structural deficit within five years; real terms increases in health spending; allow charities, trusts, voluntary groups and co-operatives to set up new Academy schools, independent of local authority control, and to run other public services; scrap identity card scheme; "recognise" marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system.

Liberal Democrat
Green Party
United Kingdom Independence Party
British National Party
Which UK Political Party Am I?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, August 02, 2010

Anne Rice and Christianity

Below is a post I wrote for my other blog on Anne Rice's recent break with Christianity.Anne Rice and Christianity

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Where There Is No Vision...

Reading former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman's takedown of the last 40 years of GOP fiscal policy left me with two thoughts: the first one being that he is for the most part, correct in his analysis.  The second thought was if Stockman had a better idea. 

If you want to get lots of attention these days, all you have to do is be a disgruntled Republican and write a scathing op-ed or blog post about how your party has gone off the rails.  Stockman is the latest, but Andrew Sullivan and Bruce Bartlett also do it all the time, write pieces that talk about how stupid the GOP has become and how angry they are at what was once their political home.

There is a lot to be said about calling a spade a spade.  There truly is a lot wrong with the GOP and with conservatism in America in general.  I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any talk of what is wrong with conservatism; I would just like to hear more of what can be an alternative vision.

I agree with Stockman, Bartlett and Sullivan that current conservative fiscal policy is a joke.  But what is an acutal conservative alternative?  What are alternative conservative solutions to health care reform, or  climate change, or the war in Afghanistan or how to deal with entitlements?  It's easy to complain about what's wrong, but not so easy to say how to set it right.

What I long for are people who are willing to provide solutions and not simply sink into cynicism.  I'd like to hear the Stockmans of the world come up with an alternate vision that might even challenge the prevailing wisdom. 

What I'd love to hear at the end of the day is hope, not sunny optimism, but hope- a hope that conservatives can and should provide real solutions to our nation's problems and not simply wallow in despair.