Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bono Is Shining SLOC Example

There's a magazine piece on Bono on the New York Times site. SLOC is a big fan of the music and the man.

An interesting story in the article is when Bono meets Jesse Helms.

In mid-2000, Bono received an audience with Senator Jesse Helms, viewed by Bono's fellow lefties, including members of the band, as the archfiend himself. Bono quickly realized that his usual spiel about debt service and so on wasn't making a dent. So, he recalls: "I started talking about Scripture. I talked about AIDS as the leprosy of our age." Married women and children were dying of AIDS, he told the senator, and governments burdened by debt couldn't do a thing about it. Helms listened, and his eyes began to well up. Finally the flinty old Southerner rose to his feet, grabbed for his cane and said, "I want to give you a blessing." He embraced the singer, saying, "I want to do anything I can to help you." Kasich, who was watching from a couch, says, "I thought somebody had spiked my coffee."

Loads of my musical friends have bagged on the guy for being a knock-off or a bloated rock star, but SLOC maintains that if ANYONE from my generation should be in the rock-n-roll hall of fame, Bono has to top the list. No one has taken the role of rock start artist and activist further. No one has used the fame to greater effect.

Bono is also worth mentioning in this blog because of his mastery of bridging the gap, crossing the divides, and bringing people together. He may well be the ideal of SLOC.

Folks, slightly left of center isn't a wishy washy place to be, it's where the real action is. Radical idealism is certainly necessary, and I can certainly respect a staunch view. But, at the end of the day, when reconciling the yin and the yang, SLOC is a place where there is enough optimism and faith in human nature to envision a better day ahead.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

What is the name for the psychological condition induced by an overload of information? After watching the news about the hurricane and its victims for something like a week straight, I can't watch it anymore. At least not for a while.

Instead, I'm reading Twain's "Letters From The Earth." The levity is helping ease the stress.

My pal, Twisty, who Blames The Patriarchy is also experiencing these News Overload Blues.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Bar Bush Gaff vs. NPR Reality

Yesterday, during my drive home, I heard an interview with an evacuee on NPR (usually pretty far to the left).*

The evacuee was a woman who said she was trying to find ways to explain to her kids why their home was gone, but also why she was so much happier to be gone from that place. She described her neighborhood as dangerous and full of crime and she said she was better off to be gone from there.

Now, I'm no Bar Bush fan, but...

Her recent comments echoing the same sentiment were met with disdain from the left (me included). If we hear many more of these same stories from the evacuees, it's worth discussing whether Mrs. Bush's statement wasn't so much incorrect as badly timed.

* - acknowledged understatement

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Beer, bbq, and racism

There's nothing better than a good old fashioned heaping helping of family political discourse served up alongside beer and bbq over Labor Day to make a person want to move away to someplace else. The problem is, where do you move to? What color state am I looking for? I mean, I know what color state I'm in...

As you might imagine from a guy with a blog called Slighty Left of Center (heretofore to be referred to as SLOC), I sometimes have a hard time choosing sides and staying put for very long. Some issues have me colored red and some blue. But, in the case of the New Orleans tragedy, I can't see any place to stand except alongside the victims. I guess that's why I was so surprised to hear a handful of family members who were able to rationalize that the poor victims were somehow responsible for their fate. Nevermind the fact that the victims were sick, elderly, poor, or otherwise. Since they were black, it had been concluded they must've been too lazy or stupid to leave.

I was too disgusted to ask these same relatives whether they were in support of the troops that were (now finally) supporting the victims. I feared that particular dichotomy might well be the end of our otherwise delightful afternoon of sunshine and wiffleball. And, nothing gets in the way of wiffleball, not even important political problems.

What I can't help but conclude, if my family is any indication, is that people generally don't like other people very much unless they look exactly the same (and even then we have some cousins we can't stand). Which is the SLOC way of saying people hate other people. The hatred may be thinly veiled, but what else can you call it? I wonder what my relatives would call it. Probably realism. (Boy, isn't that fucked?)

I collapsed on the mound in Game 3 of the day's wiffleball series, surrendering a 10-run lead. I got the yips in the final inning and couldn't find the strike zone. Later that night I wondered, how long all the people who are SLOC will have the yips when it comes to calling bullshit on the hate. We've had the yips since 9-11. Even though we know we're right, we've stepped to the back just slightly, figuring that the conservatives just might need to do the fighting. But, that's proving to be a big mistake.

When will we shake the yips, find the strike zone again and reclaim this country? That's hard for anyone who's only SLOC to do. But, I know that this particular family gathering contained more sympathy than what was on display.

Are we afraid to lead or afraid we're wrong?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Bumper Sticker Blues

I am a commuter. I commute.

I'm lucky, these days, to have a short commute. I drive about a half an hour in each direction, morning and evening. But, even with a short commute, it can get boring. The predictable swerves while being cut off by an aggressive CFO in an Audi or Lexxus; the routine screech of my brakes as an Urban Hoosier in a maxi-cab dual-wheeled truck changes lanes without checking his oversized mirror; the same old crew of EMT's scraping commuter guts up off the roadway in a flash of red and yellow lights blurring into the stories of starvation in Darfur on NPR can become such a yawn that I find myself looking for something else to do to pass the time.

If you stare at the car in front of you long enough, you'll notice that about one in twenty or so has a bumper sticker on it. It should be no surprise that, in this day and age, the messages are somewhat polarized along political lines. Since I'm bored right outta my skull in traffic, I often find it interesting to read the messages on the stickers and correlate the message with the type of automobile and imagine what the driver must be like.

I have noticed that "Imagine World Peace" is almost always on a Volvo. It's like it's a standard feature. I often wonder, since Volvo's are known for being safe automobiles, if the person driving that car really wants world peace or is just scared of everything. Or, maybe it's a badge of honor for the patched-sport-coat professorial types.

Trucks tend to broadcast more conservative religious messages. "Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve" is a biggie with the supercab set. I've even seen the one with the boy bathroom symbol, a plus sign, and the girl bathroom symbol, an equals sign, and the word "marriage" on a few trucks. One time I saw a woman driving a truck with one of those "It's a Child, Not a Choice" stickers and wondered if maybe some people don't value choosing and prefer instead to be told what to do. Or, maybe it's just a pass key for better parking at the megachurch. Hard to say.

Out of the cars with bumper stickers, you'll notice that about one in ten has more than one. And, about one in twenty is covered with the things. I guess, for these folks, one sticker isn't enough. "No," he said to himself, "the seventeenth sticker still didn't quite deliver the message that God hates you for aborting your unborn child. But, THIS, the eighteenth sticker... yes, my mission is now complete!!"

They see no harm in the redundancy. These are probably the same people who shout you down at a party when you bring up a nuanced or slightly different point of view than theirs. Even if I happen to agree with one of their stickers, I usually vow to avoid these people should I ever meet them and become aware of their sticker-ishness.

Maybe my opinion of bumper stickers was adversely affected by my Dad's experience with them. He never put a bumper sticker on any car he owned. However, once he did receive a bumper stickering. We were on vacation in Branson, Missouri back in the late 70's before the big Branson boom, and Dad got us tickets to see The Baldknobbers show. While we were in the theater, some kids who worked for the show had been instructed to put a Baldknobbers sticker on every car in the parking lot. When we came out of the theater and Dad saw the sticker, he was furious. He stormed back into the box office and demanded they send someone out to scrape the sticker off the chrome bumper of our 1970's era Chevy wagon.

I have only ever put one bumper sticker on a car of my own and it was the one that said "Hungry? Eat Your Import!" I put it on the bumper of a 1978 Plymouth Arrow. It was supposed to be an ironic statement. Plymouth imported the Arrow through Mitsubishi, but plenty of my relatives were pleased that I bought a Chrysler product, since they all worked there. Hey, I'm down with unions, but my point was misunderstood at the time.
In The Beginning

I'll be happy to teach creationism in school on the same day we're allowed to teach evolution in your church.