Friday, January 20, 2017

The Days Of Barack Obama

I have taken my title as an adaptation of a book title by Jim Bishop, "The Days Of Martin Luther King, Jr." The book is a bit hagiographic, but much of it is deserved. I wanted to evoke Dr.  King, because much of what we owe to Obama is in fulfillment of a dream, certainly articulated by King.

We cannot possibly overestimate the magnitude of what has happened. Every time a black kid dreams about being the president, they'll think of Obama. Every time the teachers exhort the children to study hard, that maybe this is the only ticket out of difficult circumstances, Obama will be in the background. Maybe one less person will tell the kid to live in reality, and to leave dreams and hopes behind. What's that worth? Are you sure you know how much?

I hope they put up a picture in every black school.

You could say much in criticism, and it remains true: he was a better symbol than a president. But what a symbol!

Fair to say that the ceaseless attacks on religious liberty and passionate advocacy of abortion serve as massive counter-signs to the witness of his own beautiful family.

War has spread, not receded. Unity is a word, but not a reality. Falsehoods about the nature of marriage and the family are the law of the land. There will be a reckoning for this.

But I find that I am not happy he is gone. I already miss him. He's nothing, if not predictable. There will be change, and there is always hope. He spoke of them, and he meant it, even if he doesn't know what they mean exactly.

May God bless and protect the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I've Said It Before, And I'll Say It Again

Do your friends and family know that you love them? Do you know that they love you? By all means, do things to show your love. But remember, the universe was spoken into existence; it might be a good idea now and again to just say it.

I was talking with someone the other day, and my friend said, "You know, I wish my Dad would just say 'I love you.'" I paused, knowing my friend, and said:

"Have you said it to him?" (No.)

Seriously, though, how would they know if you don't tell them? Dads get scared, too. Let Uncle Stevie handle this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Happy Birthday, Champ

"The Greatest" would be 75 today. The fights never get old to me. The person behind the fights doesn't, either. Maybe I should read some biographies of him. Do you remember the opening ceremony for the Olympic Summer Games in 1996? Who else could have been the one to light the flame, to represent all of us?

I have the luxury of youth, it is true. Those who were polarizing in their own days as they fought for black justice became straightforward American icons by the time I came along. When Denzel (Washington) played Malcolm X, that was the signal that it had become safe to revere radicals. Washington is the Poitier of his time, and the fact that I am understood shows perhaps that radicals are still needed.

Anyway, guys who punch other guys for money probably shouldn't be the social peacemakers in a sensible world, but you know. Anything you can do to disarm people so hard words and high ideals can be heard is a good thing.

Rest in peace, champ. And happy birthday.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Dear Pizza Hut

The only thing that had prevented me from returning to Domino's Pizza was your pretzel crust with balsamic vinegar drizzle. I have no idea why you have discontinued the drizzle, but I will not buy your food until it returns.

Best Regards,
Jason Kettinger

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Why Am I Not A Democrat? An Answer

It's simple, really: the modern progressive notions about the human person--abortion, euthanasia, marriage, alternative sexualities, and countless related issues. This radical and false individualism undermines not only the common good, but the State's authority for defending the common good.

Everything must be re-thought, examined along the lines of humanity's purpose, and final end.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Why Am I Not A Democrat? A Few Thoughts

I have received this question recently, as well as pondered it myself. As you know, I'm not terribly thrilled about the ascendancy of Donald Trump, nor of what he represents: the politics of grievance, of reaction, anger, and division. No need to recount all that here.

On the other hand, this is a temporary condition, or so we hope. Why would I change my opinions in that event? Well, I wouldn't.

But indeed I have re-thought a few things.

I still retain a basic philosophical orientation that limits government in accord with federalism, which in its most perfect form is equivalent to the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. However, in contemporary politics, the notion of limiting government for the sake of individuals and what they can accomplish has been lost. In its place is almost an anti-government dogma, that admits of no distinction between unnecessary or unwise, and unlawful. People have mistaken individualism for individual liberty; some have made a virtue of selfishness. On the contrary; the idea of limited government presupposes its goodness and necessity, even in that limitation. Allow me to pose this question: Why does a belief in limiting the federal government not also correspond to increases in public spending at lower levels of government? Is it reasonable to also assert that government exists to facilitate that which cannot be accomplished by other means?

I believe that "general welfare" from the Preamble to the Constitution is equivalent to the common good, if not in original intent, then in practical terms for the present situation.

Accordingly, no economic system, no matter how effective at managing the scarcity of finite goods, can by itself serve as a blueprint for an entire way of living. Some problems aren't governed by scarcity, for one. For another, one can make the argument that certain scarcities are arbitrary, and to accept them is to beg the question with respect to the question of what ought to be. In any case, enough abstractness has been spoken. "I want details!" shouts the reader.

The federal minimum wage. Before we jump to an immediate discussion to the effect that raising the minimum wage will be damaging, and to what extent, we ought to come to terms with the fact that $7.25 per hour isn't going to be sufficient for any adult. And for families? Forget it. The reason I support a massive increase in that mandated wage is that a wage is fundamentally different from remedial spending. Government spending on assistance programs is by nature a stopgap; wages are due in justice. And if, my friends, we have an economic system that cannot pay people at the lowest end enough to make it in America, we change the system. We don't cast aspersions on people we do not know. I can never again in conscience accuse the Democrats of class warfare until we get real about this issue.

Climate change. We know it's happening. If you are one of the people in denial about this, well, you're in denial. The United States is not in any real danger of socialism, by the way. But we are in danger of continuing to damage the Earth, our home. It doesn't take much of an increase in the relevant gases to alter climate on a global scale. We need to start listening to scientists who have been studying this for decades.

The death penalty and the surrounding justice system. The United States certainly has executed innocent people. In addition, it isn't clear that we face an existential danger from violent crime such that execution is the best way to ensure safety. We face a grave lack of resources for indigent public defense as well, which surely increases the chance of the worst injustice. We have not fully emerged from the shadow of racism, and so, as long as we endorse the system in its current form, we give tacit approval to those injustices. I support the abolition of the death penalty.

Foreign policy. The present leadership of the GOP is content to use American military force without reservation or limitation. The United States has no coherently articulated principles governing our use of military force. It seems that American wars are nothing more than an arena for the airing of our political and cultural grievances with one another! I support a wholesale re-evaluation of American military commitments around the world.

These things pretty well summarize my departures from GOP orthodoxy, though not exhaustively. You'll have to wait until tomorrow for my answer.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I Found My Keys

After not finding them for nearly an hour. Bob Denver ("Gilligan") died, as well as Debbie Reynolds, (Singing In The Rain) mourning her daughter Carrie Fisher who died, as I'm sure you heard. Every day is a mix of triumph and tragedy, with mostly tragedy, or so it seems.

But I found my keys.

I told a friend yesterday that the transient pleasures of this life will never be enough, and that's surely true, no? We're crying more as a culture, because we can't hide the emptiness anymore. It might be mawkish and shallow, but it's a start.

And I found my keys.

My favorite coat now is a gift from a friend, and it belonged to his cousin, who died suddenly. I only know of him from a few stories. There is likely nothing I could say to understand what he was like. How do you summarize a life?

But I bet he'd be glad I found my keys.

And of course it's a metaphor; you really shouldn't leave home without your keys. You can't have thieves breaking in, stealing your treasure. Even if you did, you'd be worried all day. You'd come back and immediately inventory everything. Your keys unlock the doors to places that hold the most important things (and people).

It's good to find your keys, your purpose. But also to take an inventory. What matters? What have I held on to? Is it worth treasuring? When sorrow, disease, and death come, do I still know what it's all about?

On Celebrity Deaths

I do suppose there is something to be said for celebrity worship being the tendency of a decadent and dying society. You'll get no shortage of pieces making that point, and there's truth there. But before we choke on our moralistic alleged detachment, we may consider a few things.

These are real people, actually made and loved by God. No matter what they've done, it's still true. The flip side of worship is actually envy. People seem to think that because they have money and fame, we are entitled to say whatever we like, to mock and demean them for things we don't like. There must be a great love of money or self, in order to accept this.

In another way, we overlook the possibility technology affords to expand friendship. I never met Dale Earnhardt or Robin Williams. But their talent and nearness through the gift of technology creates a bond of friendship, however small, that requires acknowledgment.

I recall that Dr. Alan Noble wrote about the difficulty many felt when Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players on the planet, left his original team and community to play for another team. Instead of saying that people ought not feel betrayed and whatever else, perhaps we should say that the economic realities are not conducive to the bond of friendship. Pro sports leagues and teams are not averse to fostering those emotional bonds, when it serves them. Shared experience and goals create meaning.

I for one don't blame people for attempting to find meaning in people they have never met. We have worked so hard to destroy the things that make for friendship and community that we'll take anything, no matter how remote.