Category Archives: National Stuff

Newburyport and Governing

One of my huge questions about President Obama, was yes, this is an intelligent man, yes, he could run one remarkable campaign, but, when push comes to shove (pun intended), could he govern?

And after Sunday’s historic vote on Health Care Reform, love it or hate it, the answer is in my mind, most definitely, “Yes.”

I was concerned that as a nation we had done something so historic by electing our first black president, that just that accomplishment alone would paralyze us from going forward. That after (and yes, probably during) the election of President Obama, there seems to me to be a blistering undercurrent of often collective unconscious racism, and could President Obama and the country move forward with this added obstacle.

And after our own Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s election, would President Obama still be as unrelenting in his quest of Health Insurance Reform?

I am moved and inspired by this remarkable and persistent accomplishment.

And one of the things that also concerned me, was that expectations for our new president were so high and unrealistic, that there was no way anyone could live up to those hopes and anticipations. It was a very long fall from the exceedingly high pedestal that he had been placed on.

Conversely, in Newburyport, MA what I have heard since the November election for Mayor of Newburyport, is that the expectations for Mayor Donna Holaday were low if non-existent. This perplexed me, but it has also worked in her favor, big time.

So many people have said to me that they are “surprisingly” impressed with our new mayor Donna Holaday. My response is always one of surprise, and I am delighted to not only reassure people that Donna Holaday, in my mind, is already one terrific mayor, but also to fill in some of the details in why I would think that.

And the question with any new mayor is for me, “Can they govern?” And my hope is that, yes, Donna Holaday would be able to govern Newburyport, MA in a remarkable way.

Newburyport, Meeting Governor Deval Patrick

I get a call asking me if I would like to meet Governor Deval Patrick at a small “meet and greet.” This meet and greet is to take place in a half an hour. Short notice. The caller thinks that this might “cheer me up.”

Why the caller would think I would need cheering up? Possibly my deep, abiding funk at losing Senator Kennedy’s seat to a Republican Scott Brown. Or the fact that it is February in Newburyport, New England.

I think, “What the heck. It would cheer you up. You’ve never met the Governor. It’s not snowing and it’s actually light outside.”

I look at what I am wearing, my artist painting attire, and quickly change into something slightly tidier. I figure if I keep my coat on, who’s to know? This does not exactly appear to be “black tie.” Nor does it appear that the “fashion police” are going to be about.

I make my way down to our historic Newburyport downtown, and realize, what can I say, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the phone call, that this is a campaign meet and greet for the Governor. Fine by me.

The Governor Patrick gets out of the car without a coat. I immediately would like him to have a coat. It’s freezing outside. This has no relevance. The Governor also is a lot shorter than I imagined him to be. This has no relevance. The Governor also has one firm handshake, and I wonder if I was a politician whether or not I would have a firm handshake as well. If I would do handshake strengthening exercises. Or if I would go the limp handshake route, thereby saving my handshake muscles. This has no relevance whatsoever.

There is a lot of talk among the “meet and greeters” that the Governor is in re-election trouble. Obviously the election of Republican Scott Brown has people spooked. There is talk of a feckless (I love that word, it was one of my father’s favorites) state and federal Democratic Party, that might throw the Governor to the proverbial wolves. There is talk that the Governor has made too many enemies. (Well, of course he’s made enemies, that’s what happens when hard choices are made during the governing process. Good grief.)

Ed Cameron, the organizer of all of this, is unflappable (another one of my father’s favorite words). He shepherds both his two young daughters and the gaggle of meet and greet with an astounding calm.

Ed Cameron can deliver. In charge of Newburport’s campaign to elect Governor Deval Patrick , he did a masterful job. And getting out the base for Martha Coakley, he was more than competent. Newburyport voted Democrat in the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat. By a squeaker, Newburyport was a blue dot, surrounded by a red mass in Essex County. Ed Cameron is no one to be trifled with.

And even with the “mistakes” that Governor Deval Patrick may have made while governing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, good grief, I would not want to see another Republican Governor. My funk would be deep and possibly intractable.

Newburyport, et. al–One Step Back

Newburyport et. al (“et. al”=abrr Latin, et. alii=”and others”), “two steps forward and one step back.”

“Two steps forward and one step back,” according to Wikipedia, “Is a catchphrase reflecting on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.”

George loves this. George being one of the political consultants to the Newburyport Blog. Finally, after all this time a reference to “frogs.”

george_thumbs-up.jpg

George extremely happy that frogs are once again being “taken seriously” on the Newburyport Blog.

George, btw, has been lobbying for his own “Fan Page” on Facebook, as the consultant to the Newburyport Blog. (I might just do it, to show him that his “fans” are most likely froggy few and far between.)

And for this “Liberal Democrat,” the election for the Massachusetts Senate seat is most definitely “one step back.” (A lot more than “one” step.)

And in my funk, (I am most definitely in a funk about the result of the Massachusetts special election), I’m thinking that the “two steps forward and one step back,” applies to almost every political attempt at progress, whether it is from a Liberal, Democrat, Republican, Progressive, Conservative, Rightwing, Independent, whatever point of view.

It’s just how stuff works. The Democrats made huge history, giant leap forward, with the election of an Afro-American president. In the cyclical nature of things, at least “one” step backwards probably could have been expected.

And in Newburyport, MA, the election of 2007 ushered in one of the most “progressive” Newburyport City Councils that I have ever seen. The mantra was for “hang on to your hats,” “full speed ahead” with a progressive agenda.

Election 2009, for a myriad of reasons, a progressive Newburyport Council, not so much. And why this should surprise me? It should not. In Newburyport, it has been my observation, that from whatever point of view, the path is never linear, it always seems to me to be, “two steps forward, one step back.”

Newburyport, Massachusetts Election Postmortem

Oy Vey.

I still haven’t calmed down. But Jon Stewart pretty much nails it for me in the segment the day before the “historic” Massachusetts senate race (a few things I disagree with, maybe more thoughts on that later).

The Massachusetts Election
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mass Backwards
January 19, 2010

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Mass Backwards
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

And with all scathing criticism leveled at President Obama from the Right, Middle and Left, Jon Stewart also pretty much nails it for me on that subject as well.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Barack Obama is Not a Magic Negro

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The First 364 Days 23 Hours
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Newburyport–Finding Out Where to Vote

People are trying to find out where to vote in Newburyport.

If you live in Newburyport and do not know where you go to vote, the Newburyport City Clerk has this link. Press HERE.

You just put in your street number, city/town, state and zip code.

It works for everyone in Massachusetts. It is from Secretary Galvin’s Office.

And vote for Martha Coakley, the Democrat (D).

Local Newburyport Political Leadership

I was watching Charley Rose last night, and he and the person that he was interviewing were talking about the nature of politics. The conclusion that they appeared to arrive at, and I am paraphrasing here, is that politics is yes, an ability to form sound political policy, but politics also involves “passion,” and “irrationality.” They were talking about national politics. But I would argue that those same principles, “sound policy,” “passion” and “irrationality” are also part of the local political process.

The Newburyport Daily News has endorsed James Shanley for mayor of Newburyport, MA. They were talking about how James Shanley’s proposal for Newburyport’s Central Waterfront (see earlier entries) makes “economic sense” and that Mr. Shanley’s “management of the City Council has been businesslike, respectful and efficient.”

What the Newburyport Daily News endorsement does not take into account is the “passion” and “irrationality” of local politics. And I would argue that the reason “the city has been unable to achieve (a solution to the issue of the Central Waterfront) in 41 years,” would not be for a lack of good ideas over the last 4 decades, but because this piece of land, for whatever reason, brings out tremendous “passion” and yes, forgive me, sometimes “irrationality.”

I think both candidates, Donna Holaday and James Shanley, would be very respectful, efficient and business like in their approach to the office of Mayor of Newburyport. However, having watched both candidates for any number of years now, I think Donna Holaday has a better grasp and a lot more tolerance for the “passion and irrationality” of Newburyport politics, which I would argue, would be a much underestimated and under-appreciated, but much needed quality in local political leadership.

To President Obama, “Why do People Hate You?”

One of the things that has floored me this summer is, to me, the irrational amount of “hate” displayed towards President Obama. It’s gotten so out of hand that it alarms many of us. My friend Frank Schaeffer, never one to be subtle or understated, is involved in a group called “Stop Domestic Terror.” It may seem a little over the top, but it works for me.

But what is certainly not over the top, is a question posed to the President of the United States by a 4th grader at a Town Hall Meeting at the University of New Orleans on October 15, 2009. The question to President Obama by Terence Scott, “Why do people hate you? They supposed to love you, and God is love.” Amen–and out of the “mouths of babes.”

You can read the whole story on CBS here. And see the video of the young man’s question and President Obama’s answer below.

Crazy Health Insurance Rate Hike

My health insurance this year goes up a whopping 37%. It is so high I weirdly feel embarrassed, instead of angry and outraged.

I am one of those people who basically gets to buy their health insurance “retail,” no bargaining power for moi.

Ed Cameron graciously tells me who to email on the Massachusetts State level, and I send Representative Harriett Stanley, the co-chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Health Care Financing an email and Cc it to Representative Mike Costello and State Senator Steven Baddour, my own Massachusetts state representatives. From the article in the
Newburyport Daily News
, it is quite evident that Harriett Stanley is well aware of my predicament and others like me, and is doing her dardest to do everything that she can to address the issue. But 37% ??

And, thank goodness one can no longer say that nobody is paying attention to the issue when the top guy, the President of the United States, is all over the place, talking about my exact problem. If President Barack Obama can’t pull this off, I am beyond sunk.

My health insurance sales rep has been great. She and I have worked together for almost a decade to try and get the best possible deal possible. We are now, after all these years, on a first name basis.

Two years ago a “deductible” health insurance plan was the answer. The deductible was high enough, however, that I didn’t go to the doctor (which may be the point of a high deductible??). Could Celiac/gluten free (see earlier entries) have been diagnosed sooner? Who knows. Last (health insurance calendar) year I said “To Hell with it, I’ll pay the stupid deductible,” and it turns out it was a good thing that I did.

This year to bring down the monthly cost, the deductible would be so off the charts that I would basically be paying for everything aside from very large medical bills. And the monthly premiums would not have been that much lower. The health insurance rep could think of nothing else to come up with, so 37%… beyond “Ouch.” And she was embarrassed about not being able to come up with anything except “pretty unacceptable.”

But, as I said to my health insurance rep, when my son will no longer be able to be on my health insurance plan, which is soon, in New York City he would pay roughly two and two-thirds (almost 3 times) more for the same quality of insurance that he is now getting in Massachusetts. My vow to my son is that I would make sure that he would always have health insurance. So, after much research, he will get a lesser product in the state of New York for “only” twice what he would pay in Massachusetts for a much better product. Triple “Ouch.” (This weirdly makes Massachusetts look not so bad.) One could only imagine how badly I would like health insurance reform to pass on the Federal level? Please, please, please.

Gluten Free–What?? in Newburyport

I open my mailbox, weeks ago, possibly now months ago, checking on when my last posting would be on the Newburyport Blog. There is a fat letter from my doctor. I cannot imagine what it could possibly be. Results from a lab test long since forgotten by moi. Apparently my body is silently destroying itself, ironically because of “comfort foods,” bread, cookies, pasta, crackers–stuff that contains something called “gluten.” I am immediately to go on something called a “gluten free diet.” Accompanying the lab results is a xeroxed list of all the things that are now “verboten.”

I, who always thought I was lucky enough to be born with the “skinny gene,” (see previous post on “shapewear”) actually have something called Celiac, a very unfortunate version of the “skinny gene.” And I who have never had to go on a diet in my life, now get to go on the diet from hell, from this point forth and forevermore, as long as I get to live. Apparently it is the only “cure” for Celiac disease, something that is nowhere close to being on my radar screen.

I immediately sit down to my trusty computer and look up “gluten free” and “Celiac.” Viola, it turns out that one of the grocery stores in Newburyport, MA carries a whole “gluten free” section. I immediately drive North from my abode, and low and behold, there it is, gluten free bread, cookies–I say to myself, “I’ll start with those.” One taste of these gluten free “treats,” out they go, $$ down the garbage hole. (Apparently I am far from alone in this initial outing and response.) I cannot bring myself to go from soft, fluffy bread and crunchy crackers to stuff that has the consistency of sand.

The Newburyport Blog has taught me how to research, and research I do, for weeks, now going on months. My initial research shows that gluten appears to be everywhere, chicken broth, soy sauce, liquorish, cereals, sunscreen, make-up, toothpaste, pudding, gravy, hot cocoa, just to name a few. And I am overwhelmed.

However, it also appears that I not only have a “wicked smart” doctor who has picked up this once possibility, but there is also now a budding gluten free awareness in the USA, and the beginnings of a huge gluten free industry, even as hospitals madly do research in this under-researched item.

And weeks, yes, maybe months after receiving “the letter,” I am not only grateful that this weird thing is not something much, much worse, like a “three months to live” sort of thing, and I am coming out of shock enough to once again post something on the Newburyport Blog.


Fear and Politics

A friend of mine said that they were concerned that the Republicans did not fear President Obama. I get what they were saying, we were talking about the difficult job of governing, i.e. getting things done on a political level.

The Bush-Cheney years were certainly governed by fear, not that we as a nation weren’t terrified, after 9/11–we were. But it always felt as if we as a nation were being manipulated by fear into complying with the Bush–Cheney agenda–those terror alerts being raised from yellow to orange on a regular basis, certainly enough to scare yours truly.

And as a Newburyport blogger I stopped blogging about national politics after realizing that Homeland Security visited my small blog on a regular basis, and that certain key words brought more intense scrutiny. I would imagine since some of those key words are used in this blog post, I will get some extra visits (I hope they actually read it).

I figured it was better to blog about local Newburyport politics and local Newburyport events, risking the wrath of local folks and politicians, rather than being confronted by a faceless Bush–Cheney delegation, which sadly turns out not to be the least bit paranoid on my part.

Governing by fear does not even appear to be part of President Obama’s disposition (I hope I’m not being na├»ve here). It often seems to me that President Obama approaches governing the way one would approach raising a child. First reach out and attempt a reasoned approach. If that doesn’t work on the wayward child, no spanking, but time out, and whatever needs to be done for the good of the family, gets done without drama, hysteria or threats.

This is a new dichotomy, the language of which seems untranslatable to his detractors. Reaching out is seen as weak. Helping the less fortunate is seen as Socialist or worse, Communist (the PBS documentary on Russia and Poland–”Behind Closed Doors–Unlikely Friends,” might be a good reminder of what cruel and mindless Communism was actually like–hardly President Obama’s agenda).

President Obama treats his detractors as unruly children. He is “disappointed” in them. And as a parent and a daughter I always found that a parent’s “disappointment” was far more powerful in the long run than an attitude of “spare the rod and spoil the child,” a phrase that I know many on the conservative religious Right adhere to.

A Nation That Tortured

Torture, descriptions of torture, pictures of torture, pushback that torture isn’t that bad, complete and over the top overreaction by the media to the swine flu, leaving millions anxious and panicked has left me dispirited and somewhat speechless.

I like what Jon Stewart said on the Daily Show, just when he was beginning to feel comfortable about a possibility of an economic turnaround, hysteria by the media about a strain of flu that might not be any worse than any other strain of the flu.

And the animosity towards the efforts by President Obama floor me. After 9/11 the Democrats, however reluctantly, did rally around then President Bush, to show that America was united. Will the whack jobs on the Right (and yes, even on the Left) give our president any credit for tackling the worse economic nightmare since the Great Depression? Anyone who did not back then President Bush was seen as anti-American. In my book, there are a whole lot of anti-American citizens in the year 2009 in the United States of America. Shame on them.

Friends of mine returned from India, helping the poor there. We are darn lucky to live in the United States of America, and sometimes it just feels as if we are a childish, ungrateful people, who love gossip and criticism, and crisis that has no basis in reality. Not to mention we were a nation that tortured.

Wind Turbine and Living With It

I got this email from a reader of the Newburyport Blog and was given permission to share it:

Mary- I have been very interested in your blogging about the turbine. I am one of the people affected by it and I want you to know not everyone feels the same in the neighborhood. At the moment it can be difficult for people in the neighborhood to listen to each other or be able to hear a differing opinion about it. Right now, it appears it could be difficult to agree to disagree. There are couples where one can hear the turbine and the other cannot. People see and hear things differently.

I am probably one of the longest members of the neighborhood–I remember cows down in the industrial park and the airport out where the cheesecake company is. The neighborhood has always been a more quiet section mostly because of the cemetery and back then it was a majority of old spinsters. Now, it is people with families. Neighborhoods naturally go through changes as people die or move away.

Yes, the turbine is big but how can I want a greener world without supporting it in my own backyard? The flicker lasts an hour at the most right now. For me the noise is minimal–I lived next to the airport in East Boston for awhile so I know what a jet plane sounds like. I find that there are lots of other noises in the neighborhood that can be more distracting–the trains warming up, dogs barking or our kids out running around–these can be louder than the turbine. I am willing to learn how to live with it, but I know that many of my neighbors look at it each new day and get angry all over again.

I look at the turbine as a symbol just like all those white steeple churches on the greens around New England were a long time ago–it is the new model for a “city upon the hill”–for me it is Christian charity. I feel that it can be difficult for some in the neighborhood to stand back and see that it is a global thing where anything that gets us off oil helps in the long run and is good for all.

I guess I want you to understand some of us are learning to live with the turbine and move on. We have trees in our backyard and that is a simple solution to how it looks. Actually, it can sometimes look very cool. I want to see it get painted like the gas tanks in Boston–how cool would that look! Anytime you want to come over and take a gander you are more than welcome. Flicker is at its best as the sun is setting. We are supposed to be most affected during April and then again in July. It will be interesting to see how it goes. Thanks for listening.

Wind Turbines with Less Oomph

What I really have wanted to write about, and have hesitated, very politically incorrect, especially in the midst of “Greater Newburyport Earth Day Celebration,” is my research into wind turbines in Copenhagen, one of the world’s, if not the world’s greenest city, and Costa Rica, one of the world’s, if not the world’s greenest country.

I was told about Copenhagen by a reader of the Newburyport Blog, who also sent me the video of Jay Leno demonstrating his wind turbine (see previous post). And always liking a good learning curve, I was very much interested in reading about how such an old European city would incorporates large wind turbines in a populated area.

Well they don’t.

They have a beautiful arch of large wind turbines out in the bay. Photograph of the turbines here and here.

And I came across this quote:

“There are many advantages in placing these big electricity factories in the ocean where the wind blows at maximal speed. Also, the Danish public seems to approve of wind turbine energy as long as the turbines are not too visible and standing in their back yard!”

From www.copenhagenexclusive.dk here.

Would this makes us in Newburyport rethink our wind turbine ordinance, erecting large wind turbines so close to the population of Newburyport, MA?

And from what I can make out, Costa Rica has their country’s large wind turbines away from populated areas as well.

I get it, the argument is that smaller wind turbines like the one Jay Leno was demonstrating in the previous post, just do not have enough oomph. But my question would be, even Copenhagen, with a claim to the greenest city in the world, doesn’t want large turbines in their back yard. And any large wind turbine in Newburyport’s Industrial Park would be in Newburyport’s back yard, so maybe in Newburyport it would be Ok if we had a wind policy that was in scale to where we as a city live, work and play, and that we might think about having less oomph as a way to go.

Urban and Suburban Wind Turbines

This video was sent to me by a reader of the Newburyport Blog. It is one of the latest (and looks like one of the most effective) new vertical wind turbines (as opposed to the horizontal propeller wind turbines) for urban, suburban and populated areas. Very cool. Jay Leno makes the presentation (a little star power here).

The wind turbine is made by a company called Enviro Energies. I am especially fascinated by the first video “Ed Begley and Jim Rowan talking turbine” on their website here.

Ed Begley who at one point I saw all over TV talking about alternative energy has this to say:

“Enviro Energies has re-awakened my excitement of utilizing urban wind power.”

I don’t see why a product like this on could not be installed at industries in Newburyport’s Industrial Park instead of huge industrial size wind turbines. They would both be effective and neighborhood friendly.

Plus, something that I was not aware of–there is a now a federal tax credit for “small wind turbines”:

“Today (October 3, 2008) Congress passed legislation, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, H.R. 1424, that includes a new federal-level investment tax credit to help consumers purchase small wind turbines for home, farm, or business use. A few hours ago, President Bush signed the bill into law. Owners of small wind systems with 100 kilowatts (kW) of capacity and less can receive a credit for 30% of the total installed cost of the system, not to exceed $4,000. The credit will be available for equipment installed from today through December 31, 2016.”

You can read about the tax credit for small wind turbines here.

Significant or Insignificant Shadow Flicker

The power and nuance of words.

My objective would be to have a Newburyport wind ordinance that effectively uses wind energy and also protects local quality of life (to paraphrase or steal from Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron).

From talking to and emails from people, one of the central themes of this “work through” on various local Massachusetts wind turbine ordinances, appears to be the word “significant” in the phrase “that does not result in significant shadowing or flicker impacts” (Newbury’s draft wind turbine bylaw amendment), and on Newburyport’s current wind turbine ordinance on the Shadow/Flicker–XXVI-G 3.e..”the effect does not have significant adverse impact..”

It appears that the conflict or disagreement from different people’s point of view–the word “significant.” What appears “significant” to some would appear to be “insignificant” to others.

Folks who email me, rightly worried about Global Warming, and see wind energy as a win-win scenario, often feel that shadow flickers from large wind turbines would be insignificant.

My very cursory “whisk through” in understanding where these folks would be coming from, leads me to believe that there could be a disconnect between a larger wind energy agenda, and how things are accomplished on a local political level.

Which is why, I believe the Newburyport City Council is taking very seriously the concerns of neighbors of Newburyport’s wind turbine who do find the shadow, flicker significant in their lives. I think that they understand from a “getting things done” point of view, that “all politics is local.” That translating a larger wind energy policy into local lives, is difficult and takes an empathetic and nuanced approach, if we as a country are going to have an effective alternative energy policy.

Newburyport Wind Backlash

I know what it is like to work on a Newburyport civic project, to be completely committed to a Newburyport civic project for years, and then have an incredible Newburyport public backlash. It’s not fun.

So I understand how our elected and civic Newburyport officials might feel, working on the Wind Energy Conversion Ordinance that made the current 292 foot wind turbine in Newburyport’s Industrial Park possible, and how the backlash (which is significant) could also make them feel.

My first reaction to a very vocal Newburyport public backlash was that people just didn’t understand, that this was a solution to a very complex problem and that people would come around.

Not only did most people not come around, but the project was derailed, lost funding, may be put off for decades, that civic employment was lost, and a significant amount of distrust from the public still lingers on.

And the sense that I get from folks who have worked hard on the Newburyport Wind Energy Ordinance that made the 292 foot Newburyport wind turbine possible, is that they might feel, in someway, the way I felt–i.e. very much committed and wedded to the concept.

Please, if possible, learn from my experience. It’s really hard to let go of something that has so much passion and reason behind it. But if another huge wind turbine would be put up in Newburyport’s Industrial Park, my guess is that the pitchforks might come out with even more force. My sense is that the Newburyport Wind Energy Ordinance has the potential of causing an even greater fissure within the city of Newburyport, MA if another industrial size wind turbine would be erected.

And the very, very good news is that we have a mandate from the President of the Untied States to make wind energy work. That communities all over the globe are experiencing the same conflict that Newburyport, MA is–an ambivalence about having an industrial size wind turbine near a populated area. All kinds of incredibly innovative ideas are in the works and being funded to make wind energy that is more effective and more in scale with the cities and towns in which we live.

So I would urge the Newburyport City Council to be open to rethinking the Wind Energy Ordinance that will be discussed in a public meeting this Tuesday, March 31 at 7PM at City Hall Auditorium.

Making sure that we as a city have the trust of the citizens of Newburyport, MA could be essential in making sure Newburyport, MA has long term, vibrant and viable wind energy projects.

A Loud Moderate Voice

I flip though the TV channels and go, “Wait a minute, that looks like Frank,” but in backtracking, he’s vanished or I was wrong.

So a few days later I Google, and yes, on YouTube I find him. The most entertaining and Frankesk is his appearance on CNN.

I’m very proud, of long time friend and Newburyport community member Frank Schaeffer, whose political views I’ve watched morph over the years from someone who was “right” of Attila the Hun, to now a “moderate” voice– howbeit a loud, unrelenting “moderate” voice. And this is a “moderate” voice, one who has as much distain for the far “Left” in our country as he does for the far “Right,” although I’m sure that the Left would love to claim him.

Frank wrote a number of novels about what the Religious Right is like from the inside. I’ve always been amazed that the novels weren’t picked up as an insight into how this vocal and powerful segment of our society thinks. But they were never viewed that way. I guess it was too subtle an approach.

In “Crazy for God,” Frank takes the reader by the hand, and step by step guides them through the good, the bad and the ugly of this part of American culture. And I always thought that this was the book that would make the inevitable huge breakthrough for Frank. And yes, it appears that that may finally be true.

And finally the media may have found someone, right here in our own Newburyport community, that can explain in no uncertain terms what the Religious Right is like and what it has done to our society.

And the CNN interview with D. L. Hughley is quintessential Frank Schaeffer. No apologies to Rush Limbaugh by this fellow.

I’m not a betting woman, but I wouldn’t be surprised after his visit to CNN, that within a year Frank Schaeffer could have his own cable TV show. He’s a natural. You can see the segment on CNN here.

Economic Rebellion

I find that when something major bad happens in my life I go, not surprisingly, into shock–paralysis, then fear, then I start to get cranky, irritable and downright angry, and then eventually some sense of equilibrium settles in. All part of the process.

At least what the press is reporting is America enraged, and their rage coming to a boiling point. Protests at 100 locations are being organize by TakeBackTheEconomy.org at the offices of major banks, other corporations and locations against corporate excess tomorrow, Thursday March 19th. From what I can make out Bank of America is the corporation of choice in Massachusetts (this will, I think, make Gillian Swart happy). The rage at AIG rages on all across TV, Web and radio land.

It seems as if a country we went into shock when we first heard about the financial excesses and meltdown, then into paralyzing economic fear, and now we seem to be thawing out, and experiencing a sense of communal rage. A sense of justice is being demanded, problem solving and getting out of the situation we are in, at the moment, seems to be on the shelf.

And I wonder if this is part of a process of communally working through a major now global trauma, or if it is something more. More revolutionary. An “Off with their heads” rebellion. A visceral demand for a more equitable distribution of wealth.

From a perch in Newburyport, MA or anywhere, who could know if this is just part of the process of working towards an economic equilibrium, or if it is the beginning of an all out rebellion about something much bigger.