Sunday, November 11, 2007

Indians, Christians and the Devil in Florida

Passamaquoddy Play Race Card After Racino Defeat

Mainers went to the polls on Tuesday and by a close margin, let it be known that gambling, or at least a racino in Washington County, wasn’t an economic development option they were comfortable with.

On Wednesday, members of the Passamaquoddy tribe that were part of a pro-racino group in Maine’s easternmost county were deeming the vote an example of discrimination. Here are just a few of the quotes attributed to Passamaquoddy tribe leaders;

“I know in the voting equation, there are people who hate Native Americans,” said Clayton Cleaves, executive director of the tribe’s reservation housing authority.

“Well, the cowboys beat the Indians, again, said Passamaquoddy governor, Rick Doyle.

Later, Doyle, comfortable with flashing the victim card added, “Every time we propose something, we get put down,” said Doyle. “It seems to me that we continue to be oppressed by the dominant culture.”

No doubt, history shows us that Washington County has been a tough place to scratch out a living. However, other regions of the U.S., which for years have struggled economically, with new leadership and vision, have been able to develop economic development models of success.

Jack Schultz has a blog, BoomtownUSA, which highlights some of those areas, which folks in Washington County might want to look to, as possible examples of how to grow their economy, utilizing the natural advantages that they do have.

While the perception was that only rich interlopers from southern Maine opposed the economic sovereignty of the Passamaquoddy, rural counties struggling to grow their own counties, like Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock and Oxford, all voted against the racino idea.

Play the race card if that makes you feel better, but how about looking to economic development beyond gambling, environmental degradation (LNG terminal) and jail building? It’s been done other places and could be done in Washington County.

Why Does the Christian Right Hate Huckabee

If one casually looks at Pat Robertson’s recent endorsement of Rudy Giuliani, over Mike Huckabee, the true evangelical for president, it would seem not to make any sense, even to those who aren’t given to keeping track of the comings and goings in God’s kingdom.

For the uninitiated, the spiritual realm can be tricky terrain to try to understand. That’s why the mainstream media always gets things wrong when it comes to religion, particularly of the American evangelical variety.

Still, given that Huckabee has a pro-life stance, is given to a traditional understanding of marriage (one woman and one man), favors immigration controls and is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention, why would Robertson choose someone like Giuliani, whose religious credentials are dubious, at best?

What journalists and others don’t understand about the likes of people like Pat Robertson, once you get past the reality that the man is just plain whacko, is that things like the teachings of Christ, have little to do with his ideology, or worldview.

Leaders like Robertson, are driven first and foremost by the teachings of free market capitalism and the military/industrial machinations that make sure that his stock portfolio remains intact. Granted, when he’s looking to bilk some retiree, barely able to pay the rent on her one-bedroom apartment, out of a substantial portion of her social security check, he’ll pull out his bible, big enough to choke a mule and begin reciting scripture about giving to the work of God, which Robertson has no qualms about associating himself with. The rest of the time, Robertson and his ilk array themselves in the garments of their civil religion, justifying ungodly expenditures in defense spending and wealth transfers from the poorest to the types of leaders that Christ condemned. If Robertson was alive during the time that Jesus walked the earth, he would have been considered a Pharisee.

On Friday night, while driving home from work, I heard Mike Huckabee’s wife, Janet, interviewed by Michelle Norris, on NPR. Norris, like most journalists who know little about the private faith of women like Huckabee, was snarky, taking this typical journalistic posture, regularly trotted out in an attempt to ridicule evangelicals. To her credit, Mrs. Huckabee held her own and came across as genuine and considerably more human than our current Stepford First Lady.

As I blogged last week, Huckabee has the banner of a darkhorse, but one with considerable credentials. What he does lack, however, is the funding that ultimately will determine who gets the nod for the GOP, as well as the top of the Democratic ticket.

The obscene amounts of capital that it takes to run for president, let alone contend, are what have poisoned the well of presidential politics in this country. It’s also what keeps principled candidates like Huckabee, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, on the margins.

The Devil Is Out In Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays, have deep-sixed “Devil” from their name, to become the Tampa Bay Rays. While I’m sure that the religious element that makes up the American League's sad sack franchise are rejoicing, without a major overhaul of the Tampa Bay operation, from top to bottom, merely changing the name to one that’s even more lame, will do nothing to stop the losing.

Since entering the league in 1999, the former Devil Rays have been a study in futility, never winning more than 70 games in a season, despite regularly producing top notch prospects from their farm system. In fact, the Red Sox and Yankees can thank their lucky stars that having a weak sister like Tampa Bay in their division, regularly pad their win totals by 10-12 games per season.

When the club inked Lou Pinella in 2003 to manage the club, it was thought that Pinella's Yankee pedigree might rub off on the woeful clug and possibly provide the catalyst to make the team respectable. Pinella quickly lost patience with perennial inexperienced big leaguers who couldn’t do the little things that are the difference in big league ball. Plus, having a AAA-caliber pitching staff did little to help matters. After three seasons, Pinella was out and the club appointed a horned-rimmed nobody named Joe Madden to guide the club to another two seasons of 60, or so wins.

With attendance continuing to plummet, the club will continue to lose and at some point, will probably end up being moved out of Florida.

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