Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On the Nature Trail Today...

We took to the nature trail today to notice pollination, seed dispersal, interdependence, decomposers, and... serendipity.

Sometimes, God Gives Us Great Favors

As they are happening, some days you know you will never forget. My brother-in-law, Jimmy Dunaway, passed away today (April 20). We all knew his time was short, but kept hoping that maybe his passing could be yet delayed.

His three sons, David, Dan, and Matt, were at his bedside and two of their wives. I, and my brother and his wife were there. And Carole, his wife of 50 years, my sister, was there. Patty, our long time friend, and Steven, both Methodist ministers, were there, and, together, we read scripture and sang gospel songs. One big theme in Jimmy's ministry has been the power and reality of unconditional love. I was on the verge of suggesting we read to Jim the great thoughts in Corinthians about love, and was awe-struck when Patty began to read Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" At one point the Psalm says, "I am poured out like water, and all of my bones are out of joint ... my strength is dried up ... But be not far from me, O Lord, hasten to help me."

The last to arrive was Danny, Jimmy’s middle son, and it seemed after Danny got there, Jimmy acknowledged him and became more relaxed. Carole later said Jim was waiting for Dan. Jimmy’s breathing grew ever weaker and he passed away while we were singing, “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” He left us quietly, reverently. He was at rest. We were all in tears. I think we all had a profound sense of gratitude that it should all end in such a way. It was a feeling that, on the day Jimmy went home, God had granted us all a great favor by allowing things to come together as they had.

Jimmy was a Methodist minister for over 50 years. He started preaching when he was still a student at Asbury College. For the last two and one half years he has been battling cancer that started in his prostate. In the last month he contracted pneumonia and he was at a rehab center trying to regain some strength. But, instead, he seemed to get steadily weaker. He very much wanted to go home and April 20th was the day scheduled for him to go home from the rehab center. Hospice was set to give him care at his and Carole's home.

It had been a rainy day, but eventually the sun began to peek through. We got back to Carole’s house in south Dayton in the early afternoon, and Becky, David’s wife, returned to Columbus. Becky telephoned several hours later and said that over their house in Columbus was a beautiful complete rainbow. She said it was like Papa was smiling at them. And we went outside and sure enough in Dayton there was also a beautiful rainbow. We were all amazed.

I stole the rainbow pictures off the internet -- but the one in Dayton today was very spectacular. My niece, who lives in Lexington, knew nothing about the rainbows in Dayton and Columbus. But she later sent a text message and said that in Lexington there had been a beautiful rainbow. It was like Jimmy was smiling at her, she said.

Jimmy is smiling. His is a life well lived. He fought a good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith.

In June, 2008, I wrote Thoughts Occasioned By the Death of Tim Russert. I know it was Jimmy I was thinking about. Jimmy has been a big part of my life for the last 50 years. He is a great friend, and I am going to miss him very very much.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Please make a donation.

Sheila and I will walk in the Music City Half-Marathon in Nashville one week from today. We will be walking with many family and friends all wearing purple t-shirts. Here's the back of one:

And here is the reason:
This beautiful little girl, my great niece Lily, is in a fight with childhood cancer. She was seven when she was diagnosed last December first with leukemia. Now eight, she is waging a fierce battle. I have enlisted in her army, but we need help. Research to find treatments and cures for childhood cancer is hampered by insufficient funding. That's hard to believe but true.

If you would like to help you can go to this safe site to make an electronic contribution. Any amount will help. It is easy, painless, and ALL the proceeds go to fight childhood cancer.

The learn more about Lily and her cause go to www.lilysgarden.org.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sunday Concert - Cry Me A River

(from the AP and Washinton Post)

I have been intending to post the beautiful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables sung by Susan Boyle. She is the woman who shocked the "judges" and world audience on Britain's Got Talent the British equivalent of American Idol. This morning, thanks to Facebook friend Tracy Lawler I found this recording of Susan's "Cry Me a River".

Click the pic at the top for a Jeane McManus take on Susan in this morning's Washington Post.
Here are both songs (Click a pic) for your listening pleasure:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Went To The Tea-Bagger Rally

I attended Dayton’s big Tea-Bag Rally yesterday. Big crowd. The rally was held at Courthouse Square, where, 150 years ago Abraham Lincoln once spoke. It was great that 8000 people cared enough to take the trouble to come down town on a chilly afternoon to express themselves politically. I kept looking around wondering, “Who are these people, what are they thinking, what is motivating them?"

I wrote a blog that asked, “After rousing speeches, what, really do the Tea-Baggers have in mind doing? Throwing tantrums? Marching in the streets? What if they find that 70% of Americans simply reject their point of view? Can they accept the verdict of democracy?”

Making democracy work has been the theme of a lot of my posts over the last couple of years. Just last month at our South of Dayton Democratic Club (I’m the VP), the guest speaker was Mark Owens, Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. During the question period, I asked Mark to explain to the group the Party's policy of primary endorsement. I made a post the next day with the headline: Mark Owens Says Most Montgomery Dems Approve The Party’s Suppression Of Primary Participation

My gripe is that the Montgomery County Democratic Party is controlled by a small clique of well meaning individuals who feel that the Party is best advanced via antidemocratic practices, such as suppressing primary participation. This clique puts Party over democracy. The ends (electing Democrats), in their view, justifies the means (antidemocratic processes). The result is that a lot of Democrats sent to congress are lackluster -- lacking in ideas, vision, and capacity or inclination for authentic leadership. Loyal Party workers, who have a source of campaign funding, are the candidates the Party endorses. We fiddle while our democracy burns. The point is, our system of democracy is failing us -- at every level. We are failing to find the best and the wisest among us to take the responsibility of governance, and we are paying the price.

I don’t suppose the Tea-Baggers really want democracy to work. Tea-Baggers take hard positions that have enthusiastic support, but these positions are far from representing a majority view. If our democracy works, the positions advocated by Tea-baggers don't stand a chance -- but Tea-Baggers want their positions to prevail, regardless.

I concluded my post, “At the Tea-Bagger rally I heard the cheer: USA. USA. USA. The USA the Tea-Baggers want is a USA with small government, few regulations, low taxes, free market. I’m wondering if these grassroots activists, who cared enough to show up at a downtown rally, could begin to buy into a different view of the USA? Could they begin to see something more important than low taxes? How about democracy? Isn't democracy more important than low taxes? The ascendant view of the USA, I believe, I hope, that more and more people will want to support is a view that sees the USA as a place where “the people” work together to build democracy, build community, build dialogue, build the Common Good, a USA in which everyone can lead a secure and prosperous life — not a USA where a 30% minority somehow manages to impose its will on the majority.”

My first post for DaytonOS, Sept, 2007, was, The Ascending Issue In Our Democracy Is Democracy Itself. My conclusion to that article said, “The idea of democracy, itself, I believe, will increasingly drive our politics, and increasingly the idea of democracy will be the benchmark used for evaluating the actions and the merit of political parties.”

That, at the time, was my argument to Mark Owens and subsequently to the Executive Committee when I urged they change their primary endorsement policy. I lost the argument, but it’s nice that next May, 2010, a whole new Montgomery County Central Committee will be elected. The new Central Committee will then have the authority to completely reorganize the County Party -- starting with the election of a new Chairperson. In 2006, at the last reorganization meeting only 105 Central Committee members showed up out of 200 or so elected. If every precinct were represented, 548 Central Committee members would be in attendance. We have a system of democracy already in place. We simply need to use it.

I think it might be fun to imagine a speech I might give at a Tea-Bagger rally -- using these ideas in this post.

My flowers are blooming.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Real Tea Party

The Fox News viewers around the country are all het up to tea-bag our waterways in protest of the fact that their taxes just went down! Well, I doubt you'll find many rich folks besides Sean Hannity tea-bagging today. He and his ilk are the guys who are not getting tax breaks under the Obama administration.

My friend Mike Bock has posted a good article from Vic Harris contrasting these modern "tea baggers" with the Boston tea partiers:

The modern day “Tea-baggers” are not protesting their lack of representation. They are protesting taxes in general. Tax protest is always “red-meat” for conservatives, but, the fact is, President Obama and the Democrats have just passed the largest middle-class tax-cut in history. Let me write that again: the largest middle-class tax-cut in history. Most Tea-Baggers, I imagine, have incomes of less than $250,000 a year, so most Tea-baggers, therefore, are protesting high taxes even though President Obama and the Democrats just cut their taxes. For the rich conservatives who will watch the protests at home on the “Fair and Balanced” Fox “News,” a network that has been shamelessly promoting the events, their taxes will go up in 2010, but will still be 10 percentage points lower than they were under their Patron Saint Ronald Reagan.
Read more here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Extremists in the Wings

The abortion bomber at the '96 olympics missed me by only 24 hours. Can anyone deny that there ARE dangerous right-wing extremists in the US? That doesn't reflect on responsible anti-abortion conservatives any more than the existence of the Simbianese Liberation Army should stain my reputation or that of any other thoughtful Democrat.

Violent groups and individuals like the Klan, neo-Nazis, doctor-shooting abortion extremists, the Oklahoma City bombers, etc. are out there. That's just fact. Our government should, within the strictures of the Bill of Rights, be on the watch out for them -- and left-wing extremists, of whom there are also examples.... That does not mean our government should be monitoring you or me -- unless there is enough evidence to convince a judge to issue a warrant.

A well-known conservative commentator (near and dear to me) has taken great umbrage that our Homeland Security department has published a ten-page report on the potential dangers posed by right-wing extremist groups.

I personally am glad that HS is not overlooking the Oklahoma-City-Right-Wing-Bomber-types and Olympic-Right-Wing-Bomber-types while they concentrate on protecting us from the Middle-Eastern-Right-Wing-bomber-types. If you don't mind, I'd even like to be protected from Left-Wing-Bomber-types and those Wild-Eyed-Moderate-Bomber-types.

But yes, dear conservatives, complain. Those sqeaky wheels help to keep the whole constitutional system oiled. Just don't fuss at the noise the ACLU and I make when a Republican President is at the throttle and decides to spy on Americans without warrants.

We should be eternally vigilant to protect everyone's civil rights.