Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is Obama Safe?

It wasn't just in Dallas that security was relaxed, I was a volunteer ticket taker at Obama's adulation and love-fest in Houston last Tuesday, and the security let up there as well too, abandoning the metal detector sweep about halfway through.

Everybody else who has ever produced this kind of buzz has been murdered. Including Jesus himself. I think we have some grounds for being apprehensive.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama in Kenya Photo

Isn't it transparently obvious to everyone that no matter where Drudge got the photo, he has the incentive to say it came from the Clinton campaign, because that way it does double damage. Why is it that this stuff gets taken at face value?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lay off the McCain "sex scandal"

This is the "political silly season" in action. By all means argue with the guy about being too close to lobbyists, but who cares who he's literally in bed with? This is just silly.

What is patriotism?

When I lived in Germany, my downstairs neighbor was a fellow American, en ex-marine with a lovely, if somewhat dysfunctional family. A good guy. A solid Democrat too (surprise, they exist in the Military). He thought, when I first described myself as an Expatriate, that I meant "ex-Patriot", like he was an "ex-Marine". I guess somehow he wasn't familiar with that word. He thought I meant I no longer loved my country. It took months to clear up that misunderstanding, since later he wasn't very interested in talking to me. It's funny how, with such an emotionally charged issue, a simple statement can easily be turned into its opposite.

The right wing (aided by a network purchased for this purpose) is spreading the idea that Barack Obama is "unpatriotic". This transparent idiocy has now been picked up by the "serious" media. So what?

Do outward signs of patriotism make you a patriot? I say no. Wearing a lapel pin, or putting a magnetic sticker on your car is no evidence of patriotism. Instead it shows a sort of false patriotism, that completely ignores the principles on which our country was founded. Reverence for or worship of the flag is not the same as reverence for America. America, first and foremost, is not a flag, nor a particular piece of geography. Both have changed over the course of our history. America is a constitution. The Constitution is not a symbol, nor is it a place, it is what creates America, it defines America. Civics lessons aside, the Constitution is the only thing that distinguishes us from other countries, all of which have flags and Homelands, similar in nature to ours. Elected officials and soldiers do not swear an oath to the Homeland, to the flag, to the President or to the people. Those types of loyalty oaths are not the province of democracies. It's for good reason that an oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution that has nothing to do with symbolism.

Therefore it is not necessary to wear a lapel pin to be a patriot. Nor is it necessary to have a magnetic ribbon sticker on your car. Nor is it necessary to say the Pledge of Allegiance (a recent invention that would have horrified the founding fathers). It's what lies behind the lapel pin that counts. And those who require the lapel pin, but are bigoted, who require the lapel pin as a sign of blind obediance, who require the lapel pin but accept the weakening of our constitution in the name of "security", these people are not patriots.

An American Expat in Texas

This is my first blog post: Please bear with me.

After getting my Ph.D. out East in 1993, I moved with my family to Europe, where I lived for 13 years, a little too long honestly. I love Europe, but life as an Expat is very tiring, and often bewildering. More about that sometime later. Moving to Texas was a Big Big surprise. For a while, I felt like an Expat all over again, a stranger in my own country. Back East, old friends would take me aside and ask privately so, how are you managing? Like I had cancer or something. Same with my friends in France and Germany. "Comment ca va chez toi en Texas?" "Kommst du drueben gut zurecht?" (I promise to get circumflexes and umlauts figured out soon). Well, point number one about that is: Texas is great. Especially Houston. They're both a continual happy surprise. The downsides I knew about (pollution, crime, reflexive republicans) but you get those in any big city. Houston is great. More about that later.

Like any Easterner, I had a lot of preconceptions about Texas that turned out not to be true.

Myth: Texans are all conservative Christians.
Myth: Texans all love country music.
Myth: The Rodeo is a boring display of testosterone poisoning.
Myth: Anybody who wears cowboy boots to work is a right winger.
Myth: Texans like watery beer.
Myth: There's no culture in Texas.

I'll write essays on these topics presently too. You're also going to read a lot about politics here.

So, let's see how this looks.