Meeting Blago

I met Rod Blagojevich yesterday.

He was coming out of Medici, a Hyde Park restaurant, and me and my CTS buddies Shaun and Adam were heading into Edwardo’s, a pizzeria a couple doors down.  The first thing I noticed was his hair.

As we were telling one another that yes, it really was Rod Blagojevich in the flesh, he caught us staring and came over with a grin, hand outstretched:  “Hey guys, wanna meet an innocent ex-governor?”  We shook hands, as he gave a mini-version of the same spiel he gives everywhere these days: it’s been difficult, but I can’t wait until everything gets cleared up, and yes, it’s definitely going to be all cleared up.

BlagoHe asked if we attend the University (of Chicago).  No, says Adam, we go to Chicago Theological Seminary.  Now this seemed to strike a chord.  Eyes widening, he prattled on for a moment about how this experience has really brought him closer to God, you know?  He wants us to know that he’s not just saying that because we’re seminarians, but he really believes it’s true: this is all part of God’s plan.  Maybe so, I think to myself.

Then one of his companions whisked him away to snap a picture with some coeds.  We three seminarians walked into Edwardo’s, and I said, “I don’t think we did a very good job speaking truth to power just then.  Then again, he’s doesn’t exactly have much power these days…”

As a post-script, it has since occurred to me that I need to have some quick theology ready for the next time I run into a famous, influential person, fallen or otherwise.  No more getting caught speechless.  What would you say?  (Photo credit: Adam Yates)

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On Obama (maybe) overturning the 'conscience rule'

This just in my inbox, courtesy of the far-right, anti-choice, anti-marriage, anti-family “American Family Association”:

According to several news agencies, President Barack Obama will rescind the “conscience rule” that protects health workers who refuse to participate in abortions or other medical procedures that go against their moral and religious beliefs. If the rule is rescinded, doctors, nurses and other health care workers could lose their jobs or be punished professionally for adhering to their sincerely held religious convictions. Obama’s proposal would take away their religious freedom…

No. It would take away their option to deny medical care to which their patients have a legal right, on the basis of their personal convictions.

Let me be the first to acknowledge that every job is not for everyone.  I, for instance, would never want to work in a far-right, anti-choice, anti-marriage, anti-family organization like AFA. However, in the event hell freezes over and if I did apply for a job there, should I be allowed to opt out of whatever aspects of that job are objectionable to my religious beliefs? Or should I maybe find another job for which I’m better suited for the tasks? I think the latter.

Congressional Republicans vs. Republicans who deal with real world finances

Guess it’s easier to be a grandstanding Congressional Republican than a Republican governor who must balance actual budgets:

WASHINGTON — President Obama must wish governors could vote in Congress: While just three of the 219 Republican lawmakers backed the $787 billion economic recovery plan that he is signing into law on Tuesday, that trifling total would have been several times greater if support among the 22 Republican state executives counted.

The contrast reflects the two faces of the Republican Party these days.

Leaderless after losing the White House, the party is mostly defined by its Congressional wing, which flaunted its anti-spending ideology in opposing the stimulus package. That militancy drew the mockery of late-night television comics, but the praise of conservative talk-show stars and the party faithful.

< — snip — >

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington.

Funny how the question of stimulus isn’t actually as partisan in real life as the Congressional Republicans would have us believe.  Not sure why, but this reminds me of all those armchair warriors leading up to war in Iraq.

Dear Gov. Blagojevich…(2)

Um.

This, sir, is not what I had in mind when I asked you to resign:

“I intend to stay on the job and I will fight this thing every step of the way,” he said in an appearance at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. “I will fight, I will fight, I will fight, till I take my very last breath. I have done nothing wrong.”

Not even close.

The pastoral part of me feels sort of bad…like there’s something seriously wrong here, and he’s obviously not getting the help he needs.  Still holding the governor, his family, and the rest of us Illinoisans in prayer.

Michelle Malkin whips up violent, anti-gay frenzy

Conservative author/commentator/blogger Michelle Malkin has a new post out as part of an ongoing series about persecuted straight people in the aftermath of Prop. 8.  From what I can tell, her modus operandi is to blog about as many hyped-up, isolated instances of anti-Prop. 8 violence, vandalism or harassment as she can.  She does this in order to sell the broader narrative that the good, normal, straight people who supported Prop. 8 are under threat of attack by a vicious mob of crazed queers, who evidently roam the streets looking for church-going grandmothers to kick (and/or sodomize, probably).

Let me be clear:  I deplore individual and mob violence, and categorically condemn the few instances of vandalism to church and/or personal property that has occurred in the aftermath of Prop. 8’s passage.  I have written here and here about our need to maintain respectful dialogue and avoid scapegoating the Mormon Church in particular as we move forward.  But to those on the right who are shocked – shocked! by the huge groups of protesters who are inexplicably pissed that gay people have been relegated to second-class citizenship, get over yourselves.  You made that bed, now we all must sleep in it.

At any rate, Michelle Malkin’s persecuted-majority complex can be ignored easily enough, but she is apparently influential enough to inspire actual violent rage amongst some of her readers.  Check out these comments on just one recent thread of hers:

civil war against al-Gayda

S&W

lead-poisoning

gaynazis

These comments, coming from just this one post (I’m not sure I have the stomach to comb through looking for more), belie a shocking anti-gay sentiment that is murderous at its core.  It’s amazing what people will say under the guise of Internet anonymity.

Here’s a “note from Michelle” at the onset of the comments section (emphasis mine):

Note from Michelle: This section is for comments from michellemalkin.com’s community of registered readers. Please don’t assume that I agree with or endorse any particular comment just because I let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with my terms of use may lose his or her posting privilege.

Okay, that’s worth noting.  Nobody should be held directly responsible for comments that others make on your blog, unless you fail to deal with them in an appropriate and timely fashion.  Yet, her aforementioned terms of use clearly state the following (in part, emphasis mine):

I reserve the right to delete your comments or revoke your registration for any reason whatsoever. Rarely will I do so simply because I disagree with you. I will, however, usually do so if you post something that is, in my opinion, (a) off-topic; (b) libelous, defamatory, abusive, harassing, threatening, profane, pornographic, offensive, false, misleading, or which otherwise violates or encourages others to violate these terms of use or any law, including intellectual property laws; or (c) “spam,” i.e., an attempt to advertise, solicit, or otherwise promote goods and services…

Well, lookit that – Malkin “usually” purges her blog of such sentiments.  Okay, well, it’s been four six ten 549 days since the above comments have sat on her site.  Let’s see how long they remain. [Update on 6/15/10: after eighteen months, I think we can safely assume that Malkin has no intention of removing the hate speech.]

Finally, a note to Michelle, from a fellow Oberlin grad:  it seems to me that if your main thesis is about how out-of-control, violent and crazy those people are out there, then perhaps you should think take care that your words don’t engender out-of-control, violent, crazed people in your own backyard.  And if that happens anyway, then perhaps you should use the means you have already given yourself to purge those sentiments from the website in your name.

Dear Governor Blagojevich,

 As a voting constituent, I ask that you resign immediately in light of your having been arrested by the FBI on corruption charges.  Healing for both you personally and for the state of Illinois will take a while.  The least you can do for your constituents is allow us the much-needed opportunity to move on.  I hold you, your family, and our great state in prayer.

Very sincerely,

Tom Ryberg

Enough Mormon-bashing.

In the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, I join the many who lament the prospect that equal marriage rights for LGBT people will be delayed once again.  I am appalled by the narrow and shallow theological assumptions about marriage and family that the anti-marriage religious folks espouse.  Mostly, I am outraged that God has been co-opted as a means of denying equal, civil rights to my queer friends and family in California and elsewhere.

Nonetheless, the anti-Mormon backlash is unwarranted.  I understand that people are angry – I’m angry – and I am particularly angry at the Catholic, Mormon, and other church leaders who have mounted this vigorous and discriminatory campaign.  However, efforts like this, to single-out and scapegoat Mormons in particular, based on their support of Prop. 8, are unfair – and, I believe, rooted in the oppression that Mormons have historically faced.

More on this soon.  In the meantime, let’s not cede the high road, nor the opportunity to build bridges and coalitions, for the sake of our cause.