Sitting out on my steep backyard slope, with the sun coming in from the West, I see a blade of grass incandescent, ablaze, alive, alight with sunshine. There it is. That is my spiritual practice. That is all of it that there is, to sit on that hill and to see that blade of grass making food out of nothing but that sunlight and the water that has rained down on the Earth. Not elaborate, not sophisticated, not disciplined, not, well, not anything except what I am.
All winter I sit inside at my altar, light candles, burn incense, call the quarters meditate upon tarot cards, breathe the Ha Prayer, go on vision quests. But then, on an afternoon in April, I return to who I am. I observe a blade of grass alive in the late afternoon sunshine.
May it be so for you. May we all burn with that light and to such good effect.
Question: Is Chris Matthews the Michael Scott of political talk show hosts? And if so, does that make MSNBC the Dunder Mifflin of cable news?
Matthews has harvested a bumper crop of outrageous remarks during this extended primary season. Specifically, fueled by his obsession with the Clintons (he can't recall attending a single Beltway party where the couple has not been discussed), Matthews has unleashed a flood of sexist commentary.
On that front, of course, the Hardball host has not been alone. This election season, we've seen a cavalcade of white, middle-age men express their deep, personal contempt for the first serious female contender for the White House. Contempt, of course, that has nothing to do with Sen. Hillary Clinton's policies or her beliefs. Instead, it's been an oddly personal disdain dressed up as political analysis.
The way Mike Barnicle on MSNBC said Clinton "look[ed] like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court." The way Bill Kristol on Fox News said that among the only people supporting Hillary Clinton were white women, and "[w]hite women are a problem, that's, you know -- we all live with that." The way CNN's Jack Cafferty likened Clinton to "a scolding mother, talking down to a child." The way Fox News' Neil Cavuto suggested Clinton was "trying to run away from this tough, kind of bitchy image." The way MSNBC's Tucker Carlson announced that "when [Clinton] comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs." The way Christopher Hitchens on CNBC described Clinton as being "sort of alternately soppy and bitchy.'"
Like my good friend watertiger, I, too, had a dad who served in World War II (he joined up right out of high school and spent the war in the Pacific) and then came back to take advantage of the original GI Bill. He was the first in his family of English/Welsh immigrants to go to college and, even with the GI Bill, he worked his way through college, cooking breakfast, as his store of hysterical stories assured that I'd remember, for a women's dorm. My dad was a journalism major, back in the days before spellcheck, and I still remember him telling me how the dean called him in and told him that he was going to have to learn to spell if he wanted a journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He must have learned, somehow, because he fed a family of five kids on nothing but his writing, sent all of us to college, left money for my mom to live on after he died, and left me enough inheritance for a lovely diamond dragonfly brooch.
My Democratic Senator, Jim Webb, has proposed that America, again, begin awarding our soldiers a full GI Bill. After dad's first-ever-in-his-family college degree, I stumbled my way into a masters degree and a juris doctor degree, largely still running on the strength of the impetus from Dad's GI Bill's push forward. Son, whose granddad helped move him into Princeton, earned degrees from that school and a law degree. We've paid commensurate taxes ever since. Goddess knows what G/Son will do. It was a good investment that America made in the late 1940s. It would be a good investment here at the end of aughts. Course, as watertiger notes, Republicans like Five-Deferments-Dick and John Sideny McCain are opposed to that expense. Fuckers. Why do Republicans hate the troops.
I am very proud of my friend Sinfonian, who is smart, funny, brave, and an American patriot. Dude, I will even buy you a blueberry vodka (yuck!) shot!
Tell me what a patriot looks like? This is what a patriot looks like:
understand that this is an illegal act under current federal law, but based on my own values and morals, I believe that the war and occupation themselves are illegal and that my decision to conscientiously object to funding these military actions is a necessary act of civil disobedience in order to express my outrage at the federal government’s continued adherence to a dangerous and destructive military strategy. There was, as we now know with certainty, absolutely no defensible reason to invade and occupy Iraq, and while the military operation in Afghanistan arguably was justified by the search for Osama bin Laden, the apparent abandonment of that mission has made our efforts there futile and has created an increasingly unstable environment for their citizens and our soldiers alike.
And, for his work on this issue, I'm also proud of my friend NTodd.
Turns out, the early news reports were wrong. The Rutherford County, Tennessee Planning Commission voted 8-7 to deny a rezoning request to allow the development of Bible Park USA. They were likely responding to local pressure from residents concerned about traffic, light, and noise. For example:
County Commissioner Steve Sandlin moved to deny the park.
Sandlin based his motion on lack of TDOT approval of the access road, bridge and tunnel; a belief that the park does not conform with the Blackman Land Use Plan; and most importantly, because the park would affect the character of the neighborhood in a negative way.
His last point was the park is at odds with the regulations for a Conditional Use Permit, which requires developments to not have a substantial effect on the value of the neighboring buildings or have a negative effect on the basic character of the neighborhood.
Fine by me. They might want to consider, as well, though, the legal costs that they're going to face, without a doubt, if they go ahead with this obvious violation of the First Amendment. Is that a good use of tax dollars?
The next step: The zoning plan will go before the Rutherford County Commission, which has final say in the zoning, on May 15.
The real First Amendment problems arise from the tax dollars that will be used to build this humiliating abomination.
In a separate process, the park's developers are seeking $27.9 million in property tax revenues in tax-increment financing (TIF) from an area around the park.
Under the TIF, the local government would authorize the sale of bonds to help pay for the park. The increased property tax revenues generated because of the value of the land of the Bible Park USA and inside an impact zone around the park would go toward the park's debt.
That financing plan is set to go before the Rutherford County Budget Committee on May 8, and will likely be considered by the Rutherford County Commission on May 15.
The developers are also likely to seek a second TIF, which would capture some sales tax from the area as well as a luxury tax on sales in the park to help pay for the development. No proposal on that TIF has been submitted to the county yet.
And, of course, in 2006, the county was successfully sued by the ACLU for posting the Ten Commandments in the Rutherford County Courthouse as part of a historical display, and made to pay legal fees of $50,000.
Contact decision-makers here. No Pagans at all in Tennessee to stand up against this nonsense?
I planted some containers this weekend, even though it's a bit early for Zone 7. I was explaining to my wonderful landscape designer last week that, for me, it all starts and goes back to A Secret Garden. My first exposure to the root word "Wick." Did you ever read that book?
NEARLY TWO HUNDRED MIDDLE TENNESSEANS GET THEIR CHANCE TONIGHT TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT A PROPOSED BIBLE THEME PARK.
THE RUTHERFORD COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION RECOMMENDED TONIGHT THAT THE PROPERTY IT'S PLANNED FOR BE RE-ZONED.
DEVELOPERS WANT TO BUILD "BIBLE PARK U-S-A" IN BLACKMAN, A RURAL PART OF RUTHERFORD COUNTY BETWEEN SMYRNA AND MURFREESBORO.
BUT MANY IN THE AREA SAY NOT IN MY BACK YARD. FOX 17's ERIKA KURRE HAS MORE IN A STORY YOU ARE SEEING ONLY ON FOX.
ONE BY ONE... RUTHERFORD COUNTY RESIDENTS FILED INTO THE COUNTY COURTHOUSE-- MOST WITH RED SHIRTS ON, SHOWING THEIR OPPOSITION FOR "BIBLE PARK U-S-A." Rutherford County Resident Tony Pegel says, "I see this taking lots of tax dollars and infrastructure building for a theme park I don't see any reason for a way it can succeed."
DEVELOPERS WANT TO BUILD THE BIBLICAL THEME PARK ON 282 ACRES OF LAND-- JUST NORTHWEST OF MURFREESBORO.
TO SOME LIVING IN BLACKMAN , THE PARK IS SEEN AS DISRESPECTFUL TO THE CHRISTIAN FAITH AND ISN'T WANTED IN THE COMMUNITY. NOT TO MENTION CLAIMS SOME SAY ARE UNREALISTIC. /Rutherford County Resident Rafe Hyatt says, "Theme parks that do 1.5 million visitors a year have water slides, they have roller coasters, they have ferris wheels, thrill rides-- none of these things the Bible park currently brings to the table."
/Erika says, "While the majority of people at this meeting are opposed to the Bible park, there are a few who want to see it happen." RICHARD MEADOW HAS BEEN LIVING IN RUTHERFORD COUNTY FOR 46 YEARS.
HE CAN'T SEE A REASON WHY "BIBLE PARK U-S-A" SHOULDN'T BE BUILT HERE.
Richard says, "I'm just very much interested in seeing something that can and will-- in my opinion-- bring revenue into this county."
HIS ONLY CONCERN IS TRAFFIC CONGESTION ONCE THE PARK IS BUILT.
THOSE WHO OPPOSE THE PLANS-- BELIEVE MAKING UP FOR THE INCREASE IN TRAFFIC COULD FALL BACK ON TAXPAYERS.
THEY BELIEVE WHETHER THE PARK IS BUILT SHOULD BE UP TO THEM... NOT TO THE COUNTY.
/Rafe says, "If we the people, the residents of Rutherford County are given the chance to vote this up or down, #1: I"m confident it will go down in flames. #2: I'll live with that." IN MURFREESBORO, ERIKA KURRE, FOX 17 NEWS.
THE COUNTY COMMISSION WILL HEAR THE PARK'S PLANS MAY 15th.
IF APPROVED, DEVELOPERS SAY IT WOULD BE FINISHED IN 20-10 AND COULD PROVIDE MORE THAN A THOUSAND NEW JOBS OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.
The contentious debate surrounding the proposed Bible Park continues at 5 Monday evening, when Rutherford County Planning Commission hears public comments and casts its vote.
The planning commission is the second step in the zoning process and is only a recommending body to Rutherford County’s Board of Commissioners. The county commission has final say in the process and is expected to hold a vote on the project on May 15.
The Future Development Committee, a recommending body to the Planning Commission, met Thursday, April 3 to review the land-use plan and Conditional Use Permit request of SafeHarbor, LLC, to develop a non-denominational, Biblically based theme park in the Blackman Community, northwest of Murfreesboro.
The FDC debate ended in a 3-3 tie, meaning the plans go to the Planning Commission with no recommendation.
The committee based its vote on public concerns about the park’s impact on the surrounding community and its seeming conflict with the county’s Blackman Community Land-Use Plan.
SafeHarbor’s plans for the park and its economic impact study were approved by the Industrial Development Board, a quasi-governmental body, April 2.
I got to babysit my much, much loved G/Son last night. His 'rents dropped him off about dinner time, he spent the night, and his dad came around 11:00 this morning to take us out for breakfast. We did everything from blowing bubbles, to picking bluebells, to watching Elmo DVDs, to baking cookies (with blue sprinkles!), to dancing to music, to picking up rocks and putting them in our pockets, to coloring with blue crayons, to watering Nonna's gardenias, to petting the cat (GENTLY!), to reading stories and poems. He walked me through the book about Thomas the Tank Engine, explaining the difference between tenders and helicopters and tank engines. He sang Little Rabbit Foo Foo to me and I sang a family variation of The Muffin Man to him. Plus, just hanging out. I just adore this kid.
This morning, I was getting him out of his pajamas and into his clothes and he told me that he didn't want to take off his Spiderman pajama shirt to put on the lovely blue-striped Hanna Andersen shirt that his mom had packed. We'd talked the night before about how spiders make their webs out of their own bodies, spinning their own homes, and he'd been so impressed by that discussion that he repeated it, this time as the imparter of information, verbatim, to Miss Thing. When I tried to jolly him out of the spider shirt: "Look, this one has BLUE stripes!" he cried, and he cried the way that two-year-olds cry: completely, abjectly, thoroughly. And I stopped and thought, "I'd cry too if I couldn't even be in control of what I wore on a Sunday morning in my own Nonna's house. I'd cry, too, and every bit as abjectly." So when Son came, we went to brunch in the Spidey pajama top. And, Sweet Goddess, what did I think? Of course, no one even noticed. G/Son scarfed strawberry crepes and gulped orange juice (he'll never be president, this kid, plus, he's way too interested in mass transit) and no one batted an eye.
I think that I didn't do such a good job of allowing Son to make his own choices. I was a poverty-stricken, single, teen-age mom and always terrified that people would judge me a poor mother and, as a consequence, judge him as a badly-brought-up child. (When he was born, the first thing that I said to him, talking more to myself, was, "It's OK.") No such fears with this wonderful young man and I pray that I'll do a better job of always being the place where it's safe for him to be all of himself. When he was born, the first thing that I said to him was, "Namaste." That which is divine within me honors that which is divine within you. I mean to honor that. I wish that I'd been a braver mother. Sorry, Son. Sorry. I mean that.
The controversy stemmed from remarks Obama made at a private fundraiser in San Francisco on April 6 when he explained his struggles appealing to working-class voters by saying they were frustrated with the loss of jobs under both Republican and Democratic administrations over the last decade, adding: "It's not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment."
Obama wasn't asked why Democrats have trouble appealing to working-class voters. He was asked to explain his trouble appealing to working-class voters who, rather emphatically, when they vote Democratic, choose Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama, whose support comes, to a large extent, from African Americans (from all economic classes) and better-off white Americans with college degrees. (The question commits the usual fallacy of using a term such as "working class" when what is actually meant is "white working class.") Obama's answer may or may not explain why working-class voters sometimes vote, in a "What's the Matter with Kansas" way against their own economic interests when they vote Republican, rather than Democratic. But his answer is in no way responsive to the question of why working-class voters who do vote Democratic choose Hillary Clinton over him. To the extent that voters are voting on abortion or gays or guns or immigration, they're not voting for Clinton, either.
Maybe he was too eager to get in a swipe at the Clinton administration, in a Ralph-Nader-kind-of-way: there's no difference between the Democratic and Republican administrations. That's how his answer sounded to my ears and, if that's what tripped him up, shame on him.
Maybe he was reluctant to say that working-class Americans can sometimes be racist (although then he'd have to explain why he thinks that they're more racist than sexist and I'm not sure he'd get me to agree with him on that). Fair enough, if he'd said that, even though it has an element of truth, he'd be in hotter water than he is right now. And the explanation that they're sometimes racist because they're sold hating on brown people by corporatists who want them to have an enemy other than the corporatists would have gotten lost in the sound-bites on Hardball. Running as the first genuinely competitive African-American presidential candidate is a marathon race through a field of landmines and acknowledging racism is, in the minds of Fox News anchors and squawking heads, being racist.
But perhaps he could have used the question to explain what he does intend to do for working class Americans, why he thinks that he can be more successful than his Democratic predecessors, and to begin reaching out to a branch of the Democratic party that, so far, hasn't been overwhelmed by his promises of "change" and praise for Ronald Reagan and Joe Lieberman to the same degree as college students and well-to-do Democrats. Perhaps he could have used the question to show his support among working-class African Americans and explain how he intends to build upon that to begin attracting white working class voters. There were ways to answer that question that didn't involve insulting people.
Hey, remember when we had to select Obama because otherwise the media was going to pick Clinton to death? Remember how Obama was supposed to have this amazing ju jitsu? Yeah. I do.
Susie's blog does a good job of rejecting the premise of the question, but also leaves unanswered why Clinton does so much better with working class voters than does Obama.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."