Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Excellent Choice for Dartmouth's Class Day Speaker

On the heels of the news that Pulitzer Prize finalist Louise Erdrich, an Ojibwe author, will be Dartmouth's commencement speaker in June, comes yesterday's announcement: Prof. Bruce Duthu will be our Class Day faculty speaker. I am very excited by this announcement. As I told Dartmouth Life, Prof. Duthu's "Native American Law" course is one of the two best classes I've had at Dartmouth, and he is one of my favorite professors. There are few folks at Dartmouth I respect more. A lawyer and member of Louisiana's Houma nation, he appeared on this blog last summer after publishing an Op-Ed in the New York Times about rape in Indian country. I congratulate the Senior Executive Committee on an excellent choice, and am proud of what this selection says about our class. I look forward to Prof. Duthu's speech.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fellow Conroe Native and Dartmouth Alum Wins Pulitzer

When I scanned the list of Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists a few weeks ago, I noted that Louise Erdrich was a finalist in fiction. Erdrich is a Dartmouth alum, and I've read some of her works in my Native American Studies classes.

I did not realize, however, that she was not the only Dartmouth alum on the list. It turns out that the winner in history, Annette Gordon-Reed ‘81, is not only a Dartmouth alum, but hails from the same small east Texas town as me: Conroe.

This from our school newspaper:

Annette Gordon-Reed ‘81 was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history on April 20 for her 2008 book “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” The book traces the personal history of Hemings family members, many of whom were slaves for Thomas Jefferson, from 1725 to 1836... “I have been to Monticello before, but [Gordon-Reed] made me see Monticello through the eyes of the Hemings family,” [Dartmouth Professor of History Marlene] Heck said. “I was constantly having these ‘a-ha’ moments.”...

Gordon-Reed, a history major at Dartmouth, said she first became interested in history in elementary school, where she was the first black student in her previously all-white school district in Conroe, Texas. “I integrated our school district,” Gordon-Reed said. “That experience certainly sparked my interest in history because I began to think about why it was such a big deal, why it was necessary in the court system and considered all of the people involved.”

This is my day: Clear skies and 80 degrees. Learned my favorite professor will be our Class Day speaker (more on that tomorrow). Saw that Arlen Specter switched parties. Learned this news about the Pulitzer. Had one of my classes canceled. Dinner out tonight. Dude night watching "Band of Brothers" on the projector. Midterms? What midterms? Ain't nothin' gonna rain on this parade.

Thoughts on Arlen Specter

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is now Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). He is the 59th Democratic Senator. Once Minnesota seats Al Franken, there will be sixty Democratic Senators. Specter will still be finicky on certain issues there is no doubt, but this is nevertheless a huge procedural move that will have a remarkable impact on politics for the next 2-6 years.

Specter was one of just three remaining Republican moderates. A friend asked me if I expect the other two, Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snow, to follow suite. Honestly, I would have expected it from one of them before Specter, but I do predict that this is the last Senate party switch we'll see this cycle. While the national GOP has left its moderates behind and the Democratic party has grown to include them (see last year's voter switches and new registrations), the story is very different at the state level. In Pennsylvania, 200,000 moderate voters bolted the GOP for the Democrats and left the state party even more conservative than it already was - which, given the intra-party prominence of Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey, was pretty darn right-wing. Specter was going to face a second primary challenge from Toomey next year, so this is a move of survival. The Maine GOP, on the other hand, certainly has its conservative elements, but is on the whole a calmer body with high regard for both Collins and Snowe, neither of whom are up for re-election next year.

So am I happy about this move? Well, yes, which kind of surprises me. I may be a Democrat, but I'm no partisan and I'm certainly no left-wing ideologue. Though I may be quite liberal on social justice and environmentalism, I'm also a pro-life budget hawk. I voted Republican for three local offices last year and would support various Congressional Republicans if I lived in their district/state. I like balanced government, and don't think one party should ever control the whole apparatus.

But things are very different right now. Partisanship rules Washington. At the present time, balanced control wouldn't mean negotiation and accountability; it would mean gridlock. When I say I'm a fan of balanced government, I assume that both the parties in question are rational, respectable entities. That's just not the case right now, given the state of the current Republican Party. Go ahead, smash them. Hopefully the phoenix that arises from the ashes would be something with moderates like David Brooks and the moderate Maine duo on its left and respectful conservatives like Chuck Hagel, Lindsay Graham, and Mike Huckabee on its right, with the authoritarian fundamentalist right-wing stuck in a third-party lurch. This is unlikely, but there's no way I'm going to settle for giving Eric Cantor and Sarah Palin a dominant voice. Until the GOP gets its act together, bring on the Arlen Specters.

(Also, this is the 600th post at Wayward Episcopalian. Yay.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sermons on Faith and Politics

Those arriving at this website by way of the article on Dartmouth's home page may be interested in two past sermons I have delivered. The first is a talk on the proper balance between faith and politics that I delivered at the weekly Rollins Chapel ecumenical worship service last year. I've since expanded it into an hour-long workshop on faith and politics for church retreats, but the link is to the text of the original 7-minute sermon. The second sermon is a longer one from a meeting of the Navigators Christian Fellowship last October, using the story of "Amazing Grace" to explain why I believe all Christians have an obligation to vote.

Thanks for stopping by! Content on this blog is a little sparse right now from a busy two terms, but I hope to pick it up soon, once this week's midterms are done. Posts on Obama's "partisanship" and Springsteen live in Boston coming soon.

Youkilis on Infielding

Saw this in the Boston Globe today, thought it was pretty funny. In the event that Boston's Nick Green gets hurt, first basement and Friday night hero Kevin Youkilis is prepared to take over at short, and has been taking infield practice from first base coach (and former Astros shortstop - both my teams at once, yay) Tim Bogar. I love Youk's all-business, no-nonsense approach to the position:

"Not a big deal. You just catch the ball and throw the ball. If you don't do that, you stink."

Get out there, get the job done, and go home. The stuff of champions - 2004 and 2007 champions, to be exact. Good stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Louise Erdrich to Speak at Dartmouth's Commencement

I'll have more on this later, but I'm very pleased with this new announcement: Dartmouth has announced author Louise Erdrich as my commencement speaker. Erdrich, a finalist for this year's Pulitzer Prize in fiction (and I, btw, was the first person to put that fact into her Wikipedia page), is a noted Ojibwe novelist. Her sister, Heid, is a noted poet. Both are Dartmouth alums; Heid visited one of my classes last term, in which we read books from both. Good stuff.

As a Native American Studies major concerned with raising and changing the visibility of those issues, I am very pleased with this selection, and will likely have more to say about this later.

Six others will recieve honorary degrees at my commencement ceremony in June, including NBA star Bill Russell and General John Abizaid, US Army (ret).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Politico on Partisanship

Thought this was interesting, though in no way surprising. From Politico's morning e-mail:

SENATE PARTISANS: The Hill did an interesting experiment, asking all 99 sitting senators who they thought were the most and least partisan. From J.T. Rushing: 'Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) are the most partisan members of the upper chamber, according to a survey conducted by The Hill. ... Democrats singled out Bunning, David Vitter (La.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and DeMint as the most difficult. One Democratic senator called them 'a bunch of 4-year-olds.' Several Democrats said Bunning in particular is so irascible that they don't even try to speak to the Hall of Fame pitcher unless it's about baseball.'

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musical Monday: The Singing Nun

I wanted to go this week with Susan Boyle, but for whatever reason, Britain's Got Talent has disabled embedding on all its YouTube clips. Boooo. So here instead is the Singing Nun:



But just in case you haven't seen it yet (despite 34, 9, and 6 million views), do watch the Susan Boyle clip.

Friday, April 17, 2009

TEC Loses a Bright Light to Retirement

Saw this yesterday at Episcopal Life Online:

The Rev. Canon Brian J. Grieves, longtime peace and justice officer for the Episcopal Church and currently the senior director of its four mission centers, and Maureen Shea, director of the church's Office of Government Relations, will leave their posts after General Convention, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has announced...

Shea has been director of the Office of Government Relations since 2003. "Having come to this position after a long career in Washington, I feel truly blessed to have been able to work for my church on the justice issues about which I care most," Shea said. "Thanks to a superb staff, the support of Brian Grieves and presiding bishops Jefferts Schori and [Frank] Griswold, Episcopalians across the country, and the Bishops Working for a Just World, we have strengthened our voice on issues of both domestic and international peace and justice."

Much more here, including the news that Grieves' and Maureen's positions may be merged in the future. That move, I think, would make sense.

Maureen was one of my supervisors when I interned at OGR and the Episcopal Public Policy Network last summer. She knows her way around Washington, the church, and public policy. I congratulate her on her retirement, but regret this loss for our church and our government.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Touting My Own Horn: Dartmouth Life

For reasons I'll never understand, the official college publication aimed at parents and alumni, Dartmouth Life, saw fit to interview yours truly and subsequently publish an online profile about my passion for faith & politics. My ego is not so big that I will quote the article, but it is not so small that I will decline to mention or link to it. You can read it here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Children in Charge

Yesterday's "A Thought for Today" from A Word A Day:

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice - that is, until we have stopped saying 'It got lost,' and say, 'I lost it.' -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (1917-1986)

Applying this concept to the classic Washington phrase "Mistakes were made," one learns that Presidents Grant, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton, as well as Henry Kissinger, Richard Perle, and Alberto Gonzalez are all children.

Congratulations, Chuck Blanchard

A hearty round of applause to fellow Episcopalian blogger Chuck Blanchard! Chuck's "A Guy in the Pew" has been in the Wayward blogroll since last summer, when I finally started reading other Episcopalian blogs and linking to them here. Chuck has been kind enough to link back and comment here a time or two, as well, and is also a contributor to Episcopal Cafe.

Unfortunately, "A Guy in the Pew" is going dark, because fortunately, President Barack Obama has selected Chuck as the new General Counsel for the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense. Congratulations, Chuck!

Here is his official bio. I didn't know all of this, but it explains why I was such a fan of his blog and its content!

Charles Blanchard is a litigation partner in the Phoenix, AZ office of Perkins Coie. During the Clinton administration, he served as the General Counsel of the U.S. Army (1999 - 2001) and Chief Counsel of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (1997 - 1999). Before assuming in those positions, he practiced law at Brown & Bain, P.A. (1988 - 1997) and served as Arizona State Senator (1991 - 1995). He also previously served as Associate Independent Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel James McKay (1987 - 1988). Mr. Blanchard has clerked for Judge Harry T. Edwards on the DC Circuit and for Justice O'Connor. He is a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Law School.

I am confident that Chuck will carry his Christian values and concisence with him in everything he does at the Pentagon. This selection speaks well of the Obama-Biden-Gates administration's military values. :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Musical Monday: Dartmouth Glee Club

Members of the Dartmouth Glee Club (which I was in freshman year) sing "Dartmouth Undying" (not our alma mater but better than the song that is) at a recent wedding. I don't know anything about the wedding; I found it when I searched for Dartmouth Glee Club the other day.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Because it's actually for Easter, not Christmas

Presenting Robert Shaw, so you know it's good, if not historically informed:



And while I've never heard of this next guy, Marcelo Ramos, and the performance isn't the crispest you'll ever hear, the chorus is relatively small so at least he's not trying to turn a baroque piece into a romantic one:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Bishop of Spokane's Easter Message

Last night's Good Friday service at St. Thomas in Hanover, NH was the most haunting and powerful service I have ever attended, with one of the best sermons I've ever heard. I may have more to say about it later... or not. I don't know. It's going to take some time to process; it was sure something. Tonight is St. Thomas' Easter Vigil, my favorite service of the year.

For now, here is the Bishop of Spokane's Easter message.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

You know the economy is bad when

From the Manchester Union Leader:

Thursday, April 9, 10:46 a.m. -- A crush of job-seekers heading to WMUR's job fair at SNHU has filled every parking space at the Mall of New Hampshire and tied up roads at opposite ends of Manchester.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Wayward Spring

As the very few of you who are regular readers may have noticed, I pretty much disappeared for the month of March. After a weekend at the Society of Saint John the Evangelist monastery in Cambridge, MA, things got quite busy. Hectic end-of-term projects (job app deadlines, PowerPoint presentations, etc) were followed by a frantic reading period and one of the worst finals periods I've ever had (wrote 92 pages in 5 days). Then, half an hour after the last paper was turned in, I hopped in a car to drive to Miami for some Habitat construction work - and when I say drive, I do mean drive, none of that sissy shotgun stuff! Classes started about 12 hours after we got back on campus - so yeah, busy time, not much room for blogging. And even when I did post, it was never really political.

Spring promises to be another busy term: four courses (an NAS seminar on bears, a course on Native intellectuals, a course on modern war issues and soldiers' perspectives, and the history of modern Germany), PE, two work study jobs, and a job search for next year, with the new baseball season as my distraction. April and May won't be March in terms of blog output, but they won't be November or January, either.

So here's what to expect from this blog: My goal is to have two substantive posts and a Musical Monday each week, with occasional short posts and interesting links. If I have even more substance, great, but I won't beat myself up over it if the occasional week only has one real post. Religion and faith may pop up more than politics given that really, what original thoughts can I add to the political blogosphere in a non-campaign season, but as usual, anything is fair game. This is a more traditional pace for Wayward, stepping back from last year's frantic pace but mirroring what I did 2-3 years ago. Should be fun if I do it right, at least for me.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Don't blame us if we ever doubt you, you know we couldn't live without you!

Growing up in the northern most reaches of the Houston suburbs, I was always a Houston Astros fan. Still am - there is nothing more important in the wide world of sports to me than the Houston Astros. (That'll change once my kid is the starting quarterback for Texas A&M, I'm sure). Anyways, I often thought I was a fan of four teams, with the Astros presiding over a royal court of the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, and Boston Red Sox. After the Glavine-Maddux-Smoltz era ended in Atlanta and Seattle lost first A-Roid and then Sasaki and Martinez, I realized that in those two cases I was more a fan of the players than the teams. I still hope Seattle, as my quasi-home team in Idaho, does well, but I know now that at the end of the day, I've got my NL team and my AL team, nothing more. Houston is Houston, and Boston is baseball. Nom-ah and Pedro are long gone from Beantown, but the ghosts of Ted and Yaz hang around, and never will you find a city more dedicated to its team - not to mention the strong Irish influence.

The Astros are what matter most, but alas, they dropped yesterday's opener - a good effort from Roy Oswalt, but lousy batting and lousier baserunning. That's ok; my Red Sox will get their first attempt today, following yesterday's rainout. In their honor, here is a double-bonus Musical Monday on a Tuesday:



Monday, April 06, 2009

Baseball is Back!

This is the holiest week of the calendar year, and Sunday was the holiest day. Of course, I speak not about Holy Week and Palm Sunday, but rather of the first week of the new baseball season and of Opening Night.

BASEBALL IS BACK!!!!



What an epic weekend it was. Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed “The Sandlot” on TV, what was perhaps the best fantasy baseball draft I’ve ever had, and a late lunch of beer and pizza. Sunday kicked off, as you might expect, with “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” followed by an hour in a coffee shop pouring over the Boston Globe’s season preview, lunch back at the house of homemade pizza and bananas foster courtesy a roommate’s fiancĂ©, four innings at the brand new Dartmouth baseball park watching Dartmouth whup up on Cornell, two hours practicing with my intramural softball team on the local high school football field, dinner with those and other friends, and then the Opening Night game on ESPN between the Phillies and the Mets. Right now, I’ve got ESPN on with Joe Morgan and Jon Miller calling the game as Baltimore thrashes the Yankees, and Joe Biden just left the broadcast booth. In half an hour, my boys in brick, the Houston Astros, will be on against their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs. I *never* get to see my 'Stros on national TV, but they’ll be there tonight, on Opening Day!

Seriously, does life get any better than this?

I’ve been fairly out of it the last couple seasons, not paying nearly as much attention as I usually do. That changes this year. I’ve got a busy spring term and an uncertain future after that, and baseball is going to be my catharsis. This is going to be the year of baseball for me, and it’s going to be AWESOME.

The new Dartmouth park is great, too. I’m not sure what I think of the artificial turf and infield—it means more home-games in April and May, but it may also mean more injuries. I sure liked what I saw from the team, though: 8-9, but 6-0 in the Ivy League, including sweeping Saturday’s double-header against Princeton and Sunday’s against Cornell. Cornell’s starter in the second game was awful. Mickey must have had a long busride home after giving up 7 runs without a single out in the second inning. His replacement, Corey, wasn’t much better, throwing every pitch in the dirt. Let me tell you, that makes for some great heckling material for a fan and his cracker jacks.

Here then are my predictions for the new Major League season:

AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Anaheim Angels
AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Champions: Boston Red Sox

NL East: New York Mets
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Champions: New York Mets

World Series Champions: New York Mets

AL Rookie of the Year: David Price
AL Cy Young: Jon Lester
AL MVP: Josh Hamilton
NL Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer
NL Cy Young : Johan Santana
NL MVP: David Wright
Worst Team in the Majors: San Diego Padres
First Manager Fired: Dave Trembley, Baltimore

The teams most likely to upset these predictions are the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, and Houston Astros. The most likely Cinderella stories – not that most likely means likely – are probably the Texas Rangers in the AL and the Cincinnati Reds in the NL.

Musical Monday: Dancing Matt

I heard this guy on an NPR "This I Believe" podcast about tribalism a little while ago and they mentioned he had over 20 million YouTube views, so I was like, why the heck haven't I heard of him? If I'm going to stay on top of pop culture, I'd better check him out!

I'm glad I did. If the simplicity of this doesn't put a smile on your face and make you say, like my t-shirt, "Life is good," then I would suggest switching from black to herbal tea, and with more sugar. And if the video gets repetitive, there's always a little surprise... like zero gravity.