Thursday, August 13, 2009

Invitation to the Party

I know that I have neglected my blog for quite some time. I apologize to my avid readers. After my travels in Europe I returned to Minneapolis to canvass for non-profits.  I have advocated for healthcare reform, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and getting the toxin BPA out of hard plastics.  From my position in the grassroots level of current legislative battles I can see that there is a lot of anger among the American people.  Current reporting on town hall threats and vitriol have convinced me that we have lost a degree of civility in our current political discourse on healthcare reform. 

Yet, this loss of civility is not new.  The politics of America have always consisted of fringes or fanaticism galvanized by lies and propaganda. I have commented on this loss of civility before on previous blog posts and conversations. What is troubling perhaps is the plethora of outlets for the fringes and fanatics that exist in contemporary media. 24 hour news networks and other media outlets have given many of these angry.....angry people air time to express their views on 'socialized healthcare'.... 'death panels'.... or that Obama does not deserve their trust. Even the obviously more liberal network-MSNBC has been reporting on such noise makers and half truths constantly.  Does such reporting clear the air on these falsehoods or continue to evoke anger and fervor?  Of course if the citizenry were more skeptical of information in the media or less apathetic in general the answer to that question may not matter.  A more responsible citizenry would not listen to such charlatans and publicly scold such fanaticism and anger as purely obstructive.  This concept of a whole political culture rejecting hateful speech or obstructive discourse is what Justice  Louis Brandeis called 'more speech'- that the American people endowed with a freedom of expression are just as able to express an idea as they are to argue against with the full force of that freedom.  I feel that we should be responsible and debunk any lie about healthcare that we hear or come across. It is our duty as part of the a civil society both in the sense that we should be civil and that we are meant to be involved in the business of democracy. 

To blame fringes or fanaticism on partisanship is frankly too easy. There are other forces at work... propaganda... the media ... and so on. When I mention propaganda I mean the definition that I believe suits best which is 'shameless advocacy' -Nicholas J. O'Shaughnessy 

We must be active citizens and yes that includes being partisan... that includes being a member 
of a political party.  I am a member of the Democratic Party not just to promote a liberal, progressive 
agenda, but to also hold that party accountable. I supported the Liberal Democrats while in the UK for I 
believed in small, effective government fostering truly liberal societies and civil liberties.    

It is simple partisanship does not have to be fanatical. Partisanship is an outlet for political activity and 
involvement. Stand up for what you believe in. Our democracy empowers you to do so much. 
It empowers you to have a voice, a vote, and roles of leadership. I am a proud Democrat 
yet I am even more proud to be a vigilant citizen. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Liberty" University

I thought that I would take a break from blogging for at least a week or so.  Yet I came across this news item on the CNN Political Ticker Blog

Liberty University has decided not to recognize its chapter of College Democrats.  Therefore, the College Democrats are not allowed to do any work on campus.  The university has not refused recognition to the chapter of the College Republicans.  Liberty University stated that the Democratic party "stood against moral principles".   Students involved in the Democratic Party were not Christian enough to be a representative of the school. In this decision Liberty University has proven itself to be 'an agent of intolerance'; a label was given to Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty University by Senator John McCain.

Frankly, the fact that Jerry Falwell is an agent of intolerance is not news, even before the 2000 Presidential campaign when Senator John McCain took a stand against the religious right.  This thwarting of dissent and diversity of opinion is unacceptable.  It doesn't matter if Liberty University is a private institution or not. It is giving in to the lowest form of partisanship... to say that another party.... another opinion... is the party of lesser people... more despicable people.  This is not true.  Abortion rights are about privacy.  Gay rights are civil rights.  The privacy of the citizenry and the civil rights of fellow brother and sisters certainly is not is morally right. Obama says that we can agree without being disagreeable... however the agents of intolerance are going to continue to poison the atmosphere of politics and hinder progress. I do agree with Senator McCain that there are agents of intolerance on both the left or the right.  Never mind the ideology, however, Liberty University is an intolerant institution. Some might read this and think that I might be just as intolerant as Liberty University.  This is not the case. No matter how much I might disagree with the Republican party, I have never advocated for the College Republicans not to be recognized by the administration of St. Olaf or any other institution.  Also I know that I might be wrong.  We need opposition in a democracy.  Why is Liberty University afraid of opposition? Do the people at Liberty not truly believe in the conservatism or fundamental Christianity they espouse? The answer is not fear or lack of conviction... it is merely intolerance. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Krakow Part Two The People, the Jewish Section-Kazimierz, more of the streets

Preparations for a concert on the Market Square

Piwo Gratis-Free Beer!!!
A Vintage Beer Delivery truck
Campaigning for the European Parliament- Volunteers for Polish Member Boguslaw Sonik

Israeli Soldiers at the Temple at Kazimierz
Inside the Temple at Kazimierz

The Jewish Temple at Kazimierz

Krakow Part One Wawel Castle, the Market Square, and the Streets

The Market Square of Krakow-The Largest Square in Europe

The Vistula River

Wawel Castle

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Amsterdam- A city of waterways and bicycles

Paris-Notre Dame and the Pantheon

The Pantheon-where I saw the tombs of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Altar of Notre Dame

Paris- Inside the Louvre

The Louvre


Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix
Mona Lisa
Winged Victory
The Louvre
Protesters for the Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka
The Arc D' Triomphe


The City of Paris from the second floor terrace of the Eiffel Tower