Friday, December 12, 2003

Digressing into my personal life for a moment, I have been for several years dealing with an undiagnosed form of inflammatory bowel disease. My case is not severe, but is inconvenient -- I live in a constant state of dread about getting sick. I eat every meal with anxiety, never knowing when my condition will flare up.

I have been avoiding a colonoscopy since May, but now I can avoid it no more. The only way I can continue getting the medication I need to control my condition is to get the test. When I was first diagnosed with IBD, my doctor at the time -- a surgeon who falsely advertised himself as a gastroenterologist -- said I had "general IBD," which does not exist. You can only have one of two types -- ulcerative colitis, or Chronn's Disease. I need to know what I have to get a proper treatment.

Yet, I'm terrified of being knocked out -- I have this terrible phobia of dying while under sedation. So I sit here at my desk debating whether or not to make the appointment. I know I should -- I just don't want to.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Salon today has posted an excellent analysis of Gore's endorsement of Dean by Sidney Blumenthal, offering an informed look at Gore's decision. I've been saying for months that the problem with the Congressional Democrats is their cowardice -- it's nice to see a respected establishment figure in the party agree.

I'm still slogging through Blumenthal's excellent, exhaustive "The Clinton Wars," the finest book currently in print about the radical right's campaign against Bill and Hillary Clinton. I am personally not much of a fan of the Clintons -- I've always thought his Third Way was a sellout of the Democratic party, a tactic that worked when the Dem's were Congressional majority, but fails miserably when the Republicans control Washington. Yet I appreciate Blumenthal's insight into the Clinton administration, not to mention Ken Starr's illegal misuse of his prosecutorial power, as well as its depiction of the partisan divide in this country. A good companion to "The Clinton Wars" is David Brock's "Blinded By the Right," telling the story from the other side. Both are worth reading.

I often wonder if the left and right in this country can ever be reconciled -- people often talk about a "nonpartisan" independent center, but even growing up in rural Maryland far removed from Washington politics, I found people fell into either one camp or the other. Generally, the independents I encounter in day-to-day life tend to be left wing radicals disenchanted with the Democrats, or conservatives who like to give the appearance of political moderation. I recently got in touch with a childhood friend, a conservative evangelical Christian minister, and I wonder if we could come to terms with our differences. Even as kids we argued the fundamental differences between liberal and conservative ideology in regards to religion and social issues. I believe strongly in liberal democracy, in the Constitution and secularlism, whereas he is devoted to the Bible and the Christian faith. It's funny that even as a child you feel drawn to a certain world view -- I wonder what can cause such different views on social justice?

For me, free choice is key -- let people make their own mistakes, don't judge others for their differences. Yet he believes in enforcing God's law as interpreted from the Bible. That requires imposing strict rules and controls on people. In essence, we are diametric opposites, yet we both originate from the same place culturally -- working class families, educated in the same public school system, a Christian upbringing. We are flipsides of the same coin, resting at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I respect his beliefs -- as a liberal, it's my nature to let people believe what they want, in fact I would fight to my dying breath to preserve his right to freedom of speech and religion. But would he respect my beliefs if we talked politics? Would he put himself on the line to defend my rights? I'm not so sure.

That's the experiment, I suppose. Reconciliation. Can two people with such contrasting views be friends? Or is America really a country split in two, with two sides constantly at war with oneanother, unable to find fellowship in a common history?

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

When will the media wake up and understand?

Howard Dean is the real deal.

First he was a longshot candidate from a small state, an "anti-war radical liberal" (despite a nearly Republican record in Vermont), who couldn't hold a candle to a professional statesman like John Kerry, Dick Gephardt or Joe Lieberman. When he started surging last summer, when graced magazine covers, was the topic of countless editorials about his unelectability, they still didn't get it.

Dean's supporters love him. When no one else would go to bat for us, when it looked the United States of America was getting carved up and sold to the top one percent, when American soldiers were sent off to die in Iraq for a war based on a theory by college professor Paul Wolfowitz, Howard Dean was the only one who stood up against the administration.

When will they understand that the centrists have failed us? That the Democrats in power turned their backs on their constituents in favor of leaching off the President's policies. That they lost the midterm elections not because the country went Republican, but because the Democrats lost their souls.

Howard Dean has recaptured the Democratic party is about. And Al Gore's endorsement today only helps to reinforce this simple fact.

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