Tuesday, August 28, 2007

disowned selves

Reflections and responses on August 28, 2007

From today’s New York Times: Senator Larry E. Craig, Republican of Idaho, was arrested last June by an undercover police officer in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct three weeks ago. Note: the plainclothes police officer was investigating complaints of sexual activity in the bathroom. Something had already been happened. I wonder what? But, of course, the Senator is now back-pedaling and denying any “sexual intent.” What did we expect of a hypocrite?

This hiding behind a veil of “family values” and “morality” by so many Republicans makes me wonder? There seem to be a lot of Republicans in trouble these days, criminal charges, caught in flagrante, uncloseted, and often after having taken strong and very public moral stances opposed to the very behavior now being disclosed. Are we seeing a mass exposure of repressed behaviors, of "disowned selves" among Republicans?

In City Journal: In a ridiculously argued piece in City Journal Bruce Bawer imagines a fantasy “peace racket” as if it were a numbers racket from the old neighborhood run by Vinny, who is run by the mob, and which is obviously “opposed to every value that the West stands for—liberty, free markets, individualism—and it despises America, the supreme symbol and defender of those values.” This imagined peace racket is opposed to all that is good and human. Get real! Bawer’s construct is an ideological polemic against any attempt to understand the causes of war and the causes of peace empirically. All that is obvious in this article is Bawer’s antipathy to science and his mysticism.

On with the story...

As I wrote earlier, I spent a lot of time fishing, camping, hunting, and reading about fishing, camping, and hunting, and the natural world. Of course I hadn’t read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson when it was published in 1962; I was only 8 years old. But, when President Johnson announced the America the Beautiful initiative in January 1965, I was on the cusp of turning 11 and in 5th grade at a public school. Passage of the Beautification Act of 1965, was not be easy. The Senate passed a version of the legislation on September 16, and debate began in the House on October 7. It passed at 1 a.m. on the morning October 8, 1965.

Here are some excerpts from an account of the House debate in The Washington Post quoted in a brief history of the debate on the Federal Highway Administration website:

The House passed the highway beauty bill with only minor changes just before 1 a.m. today after another of its wild and wooly midnight sessions. The vote was 245 to 138. Members had been expected at the White House six hours earlier for a Salute-to-Congress celebration, but they stayed at work in hopes of taking the bill with them as a gift to Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, its chief sponsor. Republican opponents suggested that the Democrats had been told not to come without it . . . .

Republicans, opposed both to the bill and being kept at work all evening, fought a delaying action by offering amendment after amendment and forcing drawn-out votes on each . . . .

Fifty or more congressional wives decked out in their party clothes watched from the gallery and must have wondered what kind of business their husbands had got into. The House does not take kindly to late sessions, and members hooted and yelled and shouted across the aisles . . . .

At 10 p.m., after the House had been in session 11 hours, Democratic whip Hale Boggs (La.) got up and scolded Republicans for using "dilatory tactics." "We need a responsible minority, but we don't have one," he thundered. "We have a frustrated minority." He said the Republican performance helps explain why they have controlled Congress for only four of the last 35 years . . . .

Rep. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) offered an amendment to strike out the term "Secretary of Commerce" wherever it appeared and insert the words "Lady Bird"--apparently an implication that the First Lady is in charge of the operation. He lost by a voice vote.

Rep. H. R. Gross (R-Iowa) referred to a recent news picture of a Texas billboard advertising the Johnson family's television station and wondered if the President might sign the bill there.

Note the efforts of Rep. Robert Dole (R-Kan). I, for one, believed in Lady Bird; she was my heroine. I was a bleeding heart liberal of course.

By the time I was in Junior High School the ecology and conservation movements were in full bloom. The movements would culminate in the Earth Day teach-in held on April 22, 1970. I was 16 years old, a sophomore in High School. It was a big deal. And it brings me up to the eve of my next big transition.

The next big personal transition was when the Jesus Revolution swept through Wichita, Kansas in the person of a longhaired hippie playing the guitar and singing and preaching about Jesus. The summary is simple. My buddies and I meet some girls at Century Two Park sometime during the summer or fall of 1971. We thought they were cute and so we invited them to go skinny-dipping, but little did we realize, they were witnessing to us.

Witness: n. 1a. One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced... 3. Law a. One who is called on to testify before a court. ... 5a. One who publicly affirms religious faith.

The girls attended a Saturday evening worship service called BASIC, an acronym for Brothers and Sisters in Christ. My buddies and I visited BASIC one Saturday night. That began a slow process that resulted in a radical change in my thinking and life. I became a believer.

Believer: n. One who believes. Believe: v.

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