A Not-so-great Depression

January 29th, 2009

If bound and published, the stories of the early part of my parents? marriage might be titled ?Tales of the Great Depression.? Like the dreams of most people, theirs were thrown to the wind when the economy fell apart.

The crash of 1929 cost my mother her scholarship to a Chicago conservatory, and she went home to Alabama a year short of graduation. ?If I hadn?t met your daddy, I?d have starved to death,? she liked to say. She had been living in a boarding house and wringing out a living teaching piano lessons when someone fixed her up with a young pharmacist from Georgia.

Not that pharmacy was his first choice. Daddy had dreamed of a career in professional baseball, and he would have much preferred the outfield to standing behind the counter in his father?s store. But the economy dictated a practical profession, one to which he turned out to be well-suited.

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The Dog Days of Bush

January 17th, 2009

As the Bush regime winds down, I am prone to serious mood swings. One minute I?m euphoric just thinking about Barack Obama putting his hand on Lincoln?s Bible, and the next I?m petrified of the minefields that have been laid in his path. One minute I?m listening with utter incredulity to George W. Bush list his ?disappointments? about his time in office (no weapons of mass destruction after all) and the next I?m wondering if the karma created in the last eight years is going to sock it to us and our new leader.

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Snake Handling and Other Religious Challenges

December 24th, 2008

I hadn?t meant to write anything about Rick Warren. Really, what?s to say other than it?s depressing to have a homophobe on the national stage at the inauguration of a candidate who has brought hope to so many? Hope to the homophobic was not what all those gay and lesbian Obama volunteers had in mind, I?m sure.

Barack Obama may be a master politician, but he?s shown himself a bit greener when it comes to religion, that dangerous third rail of modern political life. Oddly, his secular humanist mother who married two Muslims taught him a lot about what I think of as Christian values. He turns the other cheek. He refuses to lie about his enemies. He cares for the poor. He embraces strangers.

But here?s the point I think he doesn?t get: in religion, unlike politics, you can?t just slice it down the middle and find consensus.

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Why Rent When We Could Buy?

November 25th, 2008

Now that Congress has balked at bailing out the Big Three automakers, their CEOs have all gone back to Detroit, not in a Ford Expedition or a Chevy Suburban or in a Lincoln Navigator, one of which would hold them all, but on their individual jets. Even President-elect Obama expressed surprise that they came only with their hands out and without a plan. He said he hoped they?d work something up before they come back.

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Some Modest Proposals

November 18th, 2008

The California cognitive scientist George Lakoff http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/08/25_lakoff.shtml has urged Democrats to resist Republican attempts to influence policy by ?framing? it in language that obscures its true nature?death tax rather than inheritance tax, entitlement programs rather than veterans? benefits and social security, and, of course, ?pro-life? to cover a whole lot of issues that are less than life-enhancing to many sentient beings.

Democrats attempted this with some success, but most of the time, the Democratic problem has been a lack of imagination and courage. As Team Obama gears up for a new beginning, here are some of my ideas for them:

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