Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tip for Protestors

As I was walking to the Metro from work today, I noticed several police cars, including a K9 unit and a paddy wagon, parked outside the Capitol South Metro station and Cannon House Office Building. I saw them from about a block away, and wondered what the heck was going on. When I got up close, I saw that it was a protest - a bunch of folks across the street on the steps of the Capitol Hill Club with a huge banner saying something about John McCain. I ignored them, and headed towards the Metro escalators, when an old lady pushed a flyer towards me. Normally I keep walking and don't look - my sunglasses help - but she said something that caught my attention.

"Would you like to know why we're protesting?"

Well, uh... yeah! Actually I would!

In my experience, protestors or petitioners with literature usually say things like "Would you care to join us today?" or "Please support our conservative cause!" I frequently hear "Excuse me, do you have two minutes for the earth?" That last one really ticks me off. Even if you ask about my pet issues, climate change and social justice, I'm liable to try even harder at ignoring you if you pull that one. I mean, yes, I do have two minutes for the earth, but that doesn't mean I have two minutes for YOU. Isn't it rather arrogant of you to claim that you speak for the earth and your political opponents do not?

But this lady didn't ask any of those. She asked, "Would you like to know why we're protesting?" Well yes, yes, of course! I've been been wondering what all the hubub was about for the past block! So I took a pamphlet, not to encourage them or help them or learn more, but just to find out what was going on around me. I haven't taken a pamphlet in years, and given that I've been splitting my time between our nation's protest capitol and an activist-happy secular northeast university smack dab in the heart of 18 different presidental campaigns and the myraid of special interests that follow them, that's saying something.

And I wasn't the only one. I noticed a BUNCH of people reading green flyers on the train, far more people than usually take such brochures.

So a tip to protestors: there's you're in, even more than grabbing a prime location. Just ask the passersby, "Would you like to know why we're protesting?" They'll take your literature. Even if they don't give a rat's butt about helping you out, they're at least interested to know what's going happening on their daily commute.

For the record, the group in question today, which I only learned because I took the brochure, was the ADAPT Community. They advertise themselves as a "disability rights group" who want more access and inclusivity for "people with disabilities," primarily the freedom to stay out of nursing homes.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tavis Smiley on Jeremiah Wright and M. L. King

I'm not sure what Smiley meant when he said he could debate if the "they" was the same "they"... that was mighty vague, and his thoughts on that are either going to be absurd or mind-blowing. But that one comment aside, I thought this was a very important interview. Here is the superb speech from Rev. King he referenced:

Friday, April 25, 2008

McCain displays lack of understanding in New Orleans, fails to meet with residents

(Original title: WTF: McCain blows it big time on Katrina recovery)

So the same day I make a nice post about John McCain, and one day before I was planning to make another one, he has to go and say a stupid thing like this.

McCain spent yesterday in New Orleans as part of his hard times tour. In a Lower Ninth Ward speech, he criticized the way Bush and the Bush administration handled the storm and its initial aftermath.

The Arizona senator walked a few blocks of the hard-hit Lower 9th Ward, passing tidy rebuilt stucco houses standing next to abandoned structures, their facades still spray-painted with the markings of rescue workers who went door to door nearly three years ago searching for bodies. FEMA trailers still dot the neighborhood. McCain said his teenage daughter Bridget had been there with a volunteer youth group a few weeks ago to help in the recovery.

"Never again, never again, will a disaster of this nature be handled in the disgraceful way it was handled," McCain declared… McCain was unsparing in his criticism of the Bush administration on Katrina, and said members of Congress must share some of the blame for putting money into pork-barrel projects when those dollars should have been used to fortify the region against disaster. He said his record was clean on that count, with a consistent opposition to wasteful spending.

Without mentioning Mr. Bush directly, McCain said that when Katrina struck, "If I had been president, I would have ordered the plane landed at the nearest base and I'd of been over here." He repeated that later, saying, "I would've landed my airplane at the nearest Air Force base and come over personally." McCain said the missteps of the Bush administration were well chronicled and undisputed, citing unqualified leaders, poor communication and a failure to recognize the dimensions of the problem.

Sounds, good right? Learning from past mistakes is huge; it helps us prevent future disasters. There’s not enough proactive forward-leaning thinking in this country, so what’s the problem? Isn’t McCain’s stance a good thing?

Well, his understanding of the past, yes. But his plans and vision for the future… not so much.

He also told reporters he was not sure if he would rebuild the lower 9th ward as president. "That is why we need to go back is to have a conversation about what to do -rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is,” he said.

There is so much wrong with this statement, I’m not seven sure WHERE to begin. I guess we’ll start with “have a conversation.” Senator – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? The storm was almost three years ago!!! Do you think the citizens of Louisiana and Mississippi have been sitting around strumming their Gibsons, swilling their Abita? HAVE a conversation? We’ve BEEN having one for three years! Heck, even the Road Home program is pretty much wrapped up! Don’t believe me, go sit in on a Housing Committee hearing! Go talk to your colleague Mary Landrieu, she’s on top of things!

But there’s more: “Tear it down?” That’s downright un-American, we have private property rights! If the levees had been built to specification and properly maintained, and had the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet never been built (and we can close it), the Lower Ninth Ward would not have flooded. If people want to keep the land or house framework their family has owned for 70 years, who are you to stop them? Change the rules going into the future – take the proper precautions this time, mandate flood insurance, and tell folks there will be no government assistance the next time so that they’ve been warned – but don’t step on private property rights.

Yet the worst thing McCain said, I think, are those last five words: “You know, whatever it is.” Whatever it is? It’s been three years, have you really paid that little attention? Ok, ok, stupid question, but how can you be so oblivious to think that your audience – IN NEW ORLEANS – is equally oblivious?

Think New Orleans responds thusly:

You mean we’ve not had enough conversations already? The McCain administration is going to hit the ground talking? At least we now know what to expect. More canned civic engagement while the city moulders.

Basically, he doesn’t know what to do. The Lower 9th Ward will be rebuilt, because it is some of the highest, driest land in the city. The levee walls failed in such a way as to flood the Lower 9th Ward, but had the levees failed on the other side, the Faubourg Marigny would have got it just as bad. People don’t understand that the Lower 9th Ward is not low ground. It is high ground and prime real estate.

The question is whether the pre-flood inhabitants of the Lower 9th Ward are going to come back to their home, or if that land is going to be packaged and sold for redevelopment. The reclamation of the Lower 9th Ward by it’s inhabitants is looking increasingly less likely with the glacial pace of recovery in this neighborhood that the media has made iconic.

NBC's First Read reports that the Lower Ninth tour and press conference where he made these remarks was disorganized and chaotic, and may have missed the mark: "Several local residents complained there were no seats for hurricane survivors outside the church and no time carved out in McCain’s schedule for meetings with Ninth Ward residents." McCain's not one for meaningless photo ops, but campaigns have a way of changing people... or at least, of giving empty, black-hearted campaign aides and strategists too much power. The New York Times adds,

At least one citizen was disturbed by all the media attention, particularly by the lack of seats for local citizens at Mr. McCain’s 20-minute news conference. “We need to have an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue,’’ said Mary Fontenot, who is with All Congregations Together, a church group working to rebuilding New Orleans. “Twenty minutes out on the lawn does not suffice, with a designated seating for traveling journalists."

Additionally, McCain has opposed the creation of an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the failure of the levees, voted against a 2006 bill that included $28 billion in hurricane relief, and opposed Medicaid and unemployment benefits for Katrina victims. McCain’s defense is that the various bills had too much pork. Clinton and Obama get it, but for McCain, I guess stopping the 1% of the budget that may or may not be pork is more important than advancing any form of economic or social justice.

As the Fox News headline says, right on Katrina, wrong on New Orleans. I’m with McCain on climate change. I’m with McCain on respect and discourse. I’m with him on torture, campaign finance reform, and abortion.

But my God did he biff it on this one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

John McCain’s Transformational Campaign

It’s old news that John McCain is changing the nature of the Republican Party. As their presidential nominee – and this will be even truer if he does indeed become President – he is shifting their message away from their recent hot-topic social priorities (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) and back towards their more traditional economic focus (cutting spending, balancing the budget, limiting regulation, etc.). This is a man who has always followed the sound of his own drum. He’s no moderate, but my party is downright laughable when it claims he’s also no maverick: just remember where he stands on campaign finance reform, climate change, torture, ethanol, immigration, amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage, and originally, Rumsfeld, televangelists, and the Bush tax cuts.

Now that he is the Republican nominee for president, it’s not just his drum; it’s the whole party’s. But while the transformational nature of McCain’s policy is well known, less discussed is the transformational nature of his campaign style. His town hall meetings and 50-state-style strategy are healthy for our nation’s political discourse, and his localized campaign tactics may help give local grassroots efforts an even more central role in future campaigns.

We’ve certainly heard about the campaign revolutions on the Democratic side. In the current edition of the National Journal, Ronald Brownstein calls the Obama-Clinton race “the first true 21st-century campaign,” citing “new heights in raising money, recruiting volunteers, hiring staff, buying television ads, contacting voters, and generating turnout.” Most of this comes from YouTube, MySpace, blogs, and other new online resources, as well as successful efforts at tapping into the electorate’s pent-up frustration and the previously dormant youth vote. Just as important is Obama’s message of hope and change the prospect of a black or female president. Brownstein goes on to say that McCain is struggling to keep up on these fronts, especially fundraising.

All this about the Democratic primary is well and good, but the fact is that McCain HAS been as dramatic, just in a more low key way. What impress me even more than Obama’s effective use of technology is McCain’s 50-state strategy. “50-state strategy” is a Howard Dean phrase. As Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean gave money to all 50 states in 2006, not just the competitive ones. His logic was that Democrats can’t win by playing in 20 states. While giving money to the Wyoming state party in 2006 might not help right away, it will help a cycle or two later – a long view to make sure Democrats aren’t permanently limited to states that went “blue” in 2000 or 2004. He pushed a similar idea during his 2004 presidential campaign, but alas, John Kerry stuck to the same swing states we always see – Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, and how far did that get us? But come 2006, partly because Dean was in charge, we won races no one ever expected us to win, like Carol Shea-Porter in NH-01.

The real genius of a 50-state strategy, however, isn’t in its effects on long-term electoral strategy, but its effects on post-election governing. If you ignore voters of this state or that state when you’re seeking campaign support, why shouldn’t they ignore you when you’re seeking legislative support? But if you visit their state during the campaign, if you listen to their concerns and positions, you may not win their vote but at least you’ll have a shot at their respect.

That’s exactly what John McCain is doing. Partly out of his character and partly out of financial necessity, his campaign is relying more on unstructured town hall meetings than on traditional advertising. The events, unlike the President’s Q&A sessions, are not pre-screened, so anything can happen and anyone, including critics, can speak up. What’s more, these events are being held in definitively non-Republican areas, like the decidedly black Selma, Alabama.

The town hall meetings are meant to showcase McCain’s “straight talk” rather than to win him votes, but a side-effect, I think, will be to make him a much more respected leader in the unlikely event that he wins the White House. The public will be more receptive to his requests, and building a public consensus is the best way to lead – case in point, the accomplished FDR and Reagan vs. the ineffective Carter and Dubya. I believe Obama, who puts states like Virginia, Colorado, and even Mississippi in play, can have a similar effect, and it’s about time we had another non-divisive consensus-builder in the White House. I didn’t vote for McCain in the New Hampshire primary and I probably won’t vote for him in November, but I am exceedingly grateful the Republicans nominated him.

Another new campaign tactic from the McCain folks, per Jonathan Martin at Politico, is a strategy of diffusing authority through ten autonomous regional campaign managers rather than centralizing power at campaign headquarters. The last time McCain tried a top-heavy campaign, early in this primary cycle, he collapsed in the polls and at the bank and was given up for dead. Now, again because of money woes, he’s taking thinks in a decidedly different direction, one that some worry lacks discipline or accountability. I don’t think this localized campaign method is quite as revolutionary as the Democrats’ technological advances or McCain’s campaigning everywhere, nor do I think it will have the same effect on the national discourse as will his town hall meetings, but I do think it helps to augment the nation’s newly found grassroots-mentality developed by the liberal blogs.

For all the squabbles of this primary season, democracy may well still come out ahead in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Watching PA returns with MSNBC

I’ve spent every major night of the presidential campaign – the debates, the election results – with MSNBC, usually in the TV room at Dartmouth’s AZD sorority, but tonight, in an Arlington, VA hotel room. I ***LOVE*** their election music. Every time I hear those trumpets, my heart starts pounding and I feel so democratic, so free, so energetic, so grand. I think back to the whirlwind week and day that was the 2008 New Hampshire primary, and love everything about this country:

But for all the majesty of this music, the real reason I watch MSNBC instead of its competitors is their focus on politics. I get most of my news from NPR podcasts and New York Times OpEds, but MSNBC is on pretty constantly, as well. According to a recent NYT Magazine profile of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the network devoted 28% of their airtime to politics, compared to 15% for Fox News and 12% for CNN. Just as important is the strength of their political team. Brian Williams and Tim Russert were by far the best debate moderators of the campaign, and Russert asks the toughest (yet still fair) questions of any major television interviewer. Williams also carries more gravitas than perhaps any other major anchor. Keith Olbermann is the most principled and thoughtful personality on TV, and I’ve thought so since first watching Countdown four years ago (though it has declined in quality somewhat since then). No is better at crunching delegate math than political director Chris Todd, who I first started following while he was still at Hotline. (Plus, he’s got a cool beard!) White House correspondent David Gregory is a solid reporter, one of the first to ask tough questions in White House press briefings, and Joe Scarborough has shown a whole new side since abandoning prime time format constraints for his new morning show. I have it on from 7-8 am every day. I used to consider him just another right-wing hack, if a bit less shrill than O’Lielly or Dobbs, but it turns out he’s a thoughtful, respectful guy. The competition, on the other hand, is lower than the limbo poll at the Oompa Loompa’s annual office Christmas party. Fox News obviously carries more bias than Barbara Bush, and CNN? What do they have to offer? Well, since Jeff Greenfield left… nothing. Just that pompous, obnoxious, self-absorbed twit Wolf Blitzer.

Yes, it’s true, to get to MSNBC’s good stuff, you do have to suffer through Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan, but you know what they say, no pain no gain. The network certainly has its drawbacks – like everyone else on cable, they cover horserace polls, bowling matches, and whiskey glasses more than mortgage plans, health care proposals, or true character issues. And that 28% number means that outside Olbermann and Scarborough’s shows, there’s still plenty of room for celebrities going commando and for pretty missing white girls. So I do stick first and foremost with NPR and the New York Times, as well as PBS, Slate, the Atlantic, and the Washington Post. Nevertheless, when it’s time for breaking political coverage or background noise analysis, you can’t go wrong with MSNBC.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Greatest Commercial Ever

I couldn't believe my eyes the first time I saw this commercial. It's an issue ad from Al Gore's climate change group, starring the Rev. Al Sharpton, and... the Rev. Pat Robertson. Seriously, the real guys, not impressions! How cool is that? It is very heartening to see.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bourbon, Pizza, and James Carville

It’s common knowledge that political scientists and campaign strategists use race, gender, religion, and similar categories to predict people’s votes. The New York Times Dining and Wine section reported today that there is a second tier of demographic data for predicting votes, and it includes food. The article spends much of its time describing the process of microtargeting – using consumer and cultural details to improve voter turnout – but I’m more interested in the food details.

If there’s butter and white wine in your refrigerator and Fig Newtons in the cookie jar, you’re likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. Prefer olive oil, Bear Naked granola and a latte to go? You probably like Barack Obama, too.

And if you’re leaning toward John McCain, it’s all about kicking back with a bourbon and a stuffed crust pizza while you watch the Democrats fight it out next week in Pennsylvania.

I find this highly amusing. Why? Well, my political preference goes Obama, Clinton, McCain, and yet my food preference goes McCain, Clinton, Obama. Bourbon and pizza? That’s my night to a T! And last night, as well! But I do admit I also like white wine and Fig Newtons. But Bear Naked granola? Never even heard of it. And lattes? Please. Black drip coffee all the way, my friend.

Fortunately, there is something to balance out the pro-Clinton habits, if not the McCain instincts.

In last summer’s polling, the latest available, Mrs. Clinton scored high among voters who also had favorable views of McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Starbucks.

Perfect. Because I dislike all three of those things, especially the second. Give me diners, Target or Amazon, and local coffeeshops all the way! The article goes on:

Dr Pepper is a Republican soda. Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic. So are most clear liquors, like gin and vodka, along with white wine and Evian water. Republicans skew toward brown liquors like bourbon or scotch, red wine and Fiji water...

"Anything organic or more Whole Foods-y skews more Democratic," Mr. Dowd said.

Yes, I know Democrats are supposed to be all about the arugula and champagne, but the fact is, I don’t even know what arugula is. What I do know is that Dr. Pepper is my primary physician, and bourbon and scotch are far, far superior to gin and vodka. I am left wondering, however – how do tap water drinkers vote? Because I have absolutely no use for either Evian or Fiji. Truth is, I’m not even entirely sure I’m familiar with either one. You sure that’s not just the difference between left wing and liberal?

Thankfully, not all pollsters or strategists take this stuff too seriously. There’s a reason it’s in the Times’ Dining and Wine section rather than its National political page.

Some, notably James Carville, a Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, see microtargeting as a waste of time and money…

"Suppose I found out people who drink cappuccinos are Democrats and black coffee drinkers are likely to vote Republican?" he asked. "So what? All kinds of other things are more predictive and less expensive to find out."

Besides, the lines between who eats what continues to blur. Republicans are not necessarily red-meat-eating bourbon swillers, and not all Democrats are carrying their lattes to the farmers’ market.

Spot on, and not just where food stains are concerned. I think this is true about microtargeting in general. The fact is, I vote mostly Democratic but go to church at LEAST once a week, love target shooting, and at this very moment look pretty much like a younger, rounder version of Hank Hill:

Microtargeting doesn’t accurately reflect the complexities of the human psyche or of American culture, it only captures the complexities of exit polls from the past couple news cycles. We are NOT a 50-50 nation; we could move back to the landslide margins of Reagan and LBJ as quickly as we moved out of them. The concepts of "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads" are insulting and, quite frankly, useless. Such talk leads to inaccurate stereotypes that pigeonhole people where they don’t belong and then pressures them to stay there. Microtargeting encourages the unnecessary and artificial divisions that have plagued us for the past couple decades. What we need is cultural and social reconciliation, not political distortion.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Church of the Epiphany in DC

As I’ve mentioned before, I am interning in DC until September. While here, I think I might attend a different Episcopal Church each Sunday morning, in order to gain a new appreciation for the church’s diversity. I will be looking for Rite II services with music. Today I attended the Church of the Epiphany in downtown DC at 1317 G Street NW. Although I chose this church for its convenience to the orange/blue Metro line (it’s all of a five second walk from Metro Center), I later learned that it is an incredibly historic location.

Epiphany was built in 1844. A number of Senators, including future Confederate President Jefferson Davis, were members. Its Union loyalty was questioned, but after a passionate meeting with the rector, Lincoln’s Secretary of War Edward Stanton began attending, putting those questions to rest. The church is the only pre-Civil War Washington church still standing.

Two things really stood out to me during the service. The first was the makeup of the congregation. It had a healthy racial mix – mostly white, but blacks were well represented – and a large number of homeless people. Some just sat and rested, but some actively participated in the service, right down to Communion. It was good to see them so welcome in this house of God. The second thing to stand out was the Prayers of the People. Instead of just a few mumbles from the congregation in the time for personal petitions, at least a dozen people loudly spoke up. They would end their prayer request with, “Lord, in your mercy,” and the congregation would reply, “Hear our prayer.” I have never seen an Episcopal Church so engaged and interactive in its Prayers of the People. I can see how that would intimidate some, but I liked it. It was also noticeable how many people received a Healing Rite following Communion.

The building is beautiful, but in many ways shows its age. It is very large, and the pews are divided down the middle into old-style pew boxes. Most of it is well maintained – the pipe organ looked and sounded beautiful, the stained glass windows were gorgeous, and everything was clean. The ceiling had that common Episcopal style of white paint and brown beams and rafters. The vaulted ceiling, however, was peeling and showing its age in many places, and I thought the place was too dark – it needs more light fixtures, and they could have been better placed.

I wondered to myself if the preacher was a seminarian, and sure enough, that’s what the website says. Her sermon, to say the least, did not speak to me. I look for bold preaching that shows me new Scriptural meaning I hadn’t previously heard or considered, or that encourages me to get involved in the world and carry Christ’s work beyond the church doors. Today’s sermon was very standard and a bit lackluster, talking about what kind of gate Jesus is and why we are all welcome. This is a good message, and I don’t mean to knock the preacher – know thy audience is an important part of preaching. I just wasn’t part of that audience, I guess.

The music was good. I enjoyed both the processional – “Alleluia! The strife is o’er, the battle done” – and recessional – “I come with joy to meet my Lord.” The hymns and service music were a little on the slow side, but perhaps that varies from week to week. The choir and organist were certainly top-notch. As I left through the narthex, the rector, Father Randolph Charles, was very enthusiastic in inviting everyone to coffee hour. I did not attend, but perhaps I should have just to see the parish hall. There certainly is a lot more to this large church than the nave, which is all I saw. There is no need to describe the beautiful steeple or exterior; you can just look at the pictures I've posted.

Obviously, without hearing Father Randolph preach or learning about the church’s study groups or outreach ministries, I have no way of knowing what Epiphany is truly about. But, I can tell you that between the parish’s involvement, Father Randolph’s greeting, and the diverse and homeless population, I certainly felt as welcome as a newcomer can feel. That message of welcomeness is certainly felt in the parish’s Mission Statement and Stewardship Statement. Perhaps I will return some future week to hear more of that organ and hopefully a sermon from the rector, but given how dark the nave was, I doubt I would ever be a regular or a member.

I don’t like the church’s homepage, but the rest of their website is very detailed and user-friendly, featuring easily-navigable information on the church’s history, architecture, ministries, and more. It is one of the best church webpages I have seen. Epiphany certainly seems, based on their webpage, to be involved and engaged in justice, community, and street ministry, which is exciting, and theologically well-founded. Unfortunately, I found no mention of the MDGs. But who knows, a good local outreach program and a bright parish hall might well be enough to overcome the dark lighting.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Landrieu in '08

Louisiana's senior senator, Mary Landrieu, is perhaps the only incumbent Democratic senator in a close reelection race this year. The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee (DSCC) produced this video highlighting her work on behalf of Katrina advocates. It's obviously biased, but facts is as facts does.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Props to Biden and Crapo

"Dear Colleague" letters are frequently circulated on Capitol Hill among members offices - one Senator's office will write a letter to another Senator and have a bunch of colleagues add their signatures. I’d like to doff my cap to Senators Joe Biden and Mike Crapo (say Cray Poe) for a recent letter they “co-wrote” to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Richard Shelby, the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science. Biden and Crapo, and all the Senators who co-signed their letter, were writing to request that the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 be fully funded for FY2009.

The relevant legislation “strengthened sex offender registry requirements and enforcement, and increased penalties for child predators.” It includes funding for the Rape Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, sex offender monitoring, crime prevention, and more. It’s no surprise that the Democrat Biden and Republican Crapo would be the ones pushing for this legislation. Biden is a long-time advocate of women’s and childen’s rights; it was one of the reasons I pushed so hard for him in the presidential race. Crapo is one of our senators up in Idaho – you know, the one who’s only questionable restroom connection is his name, not his rap sheet. He’s far too conservative for me to ever vote for, but like Biden, he is a long time advocate of fighting domestic abuse and the like. I may not support, but I do respect him. I’ve also met both of these men, and they are quite gracious.

Many Dear Colleague letters try to garner support by highlighting the benefits the recipient’s home state will receive. Not the Biden-Crapo letter. They pushed solely on the merits – protecting children is something for the whole country. No earmarks there.

The promised post on Dartmouth College, Bishop Gene Robinson, and civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels will most likely come tomorrow. I've already started writing it.

Imminent Return

At least three new posts, including one about a liturgy with Bishop Robinson, to come this week! Woohoo! Today is travel day, though.