Rick Warren: Point & Counterpoint

Like many progressives, I’ve been sick about Obama’s decision to have Rick Warren invocation at the inauguration.

It feels like a slap in face, kick in the teeth, takes the wind out of our sails….well, you pick the metaphor.

My immediate reaction was in sync with Michelle Goldbergs article in the Guardian, A Wolf In Sheeps Clothing:

If nothing else, Rick Warren is a miracle worker in the realm of public relations. He is a man who compares legal abortion to the Holocaust and gay marriage to incest and paedophilia. He believes that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and other non-Christians are going to spend eternity burning in hell. He doesn’t believe in evolution. He recently dismissed the social gospel – the late 19th- and early 20th-century Protestant movement that led a religious crusade against poverty and inequality – as “Marxism in Christian clothing”. Yet thanks to his amiable attitude and jocular tone, he has managed to create a popular image for himself as a moderate, even progressive force in American life, a reasonable, compassionate alternative to the punitive, sex-obsessed inquisitors of the religious right. And Barack Obama, who should know better, has helped him do it.

But Melissa Etheridge’s view offers a different point of view. She met Rick Warrent and offered her thoughts in The Choice Is Now Ours:

“Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world’s attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families”

I’m still not happy at all with this choice. But this is a worthy counterpoint. And I’m going to stay positive here.

Coming to Beacon Hill: A bill to get rid of employee non-compete agreements

About a year ago I wrote about the negative impacts of employee non compete agreements. I wrote that we should get rid of them in Massachussets and in other states where non-competes are routinely enforced.

Since then the collective voice for innovation and open competition has increased quite a bit. There have been a number of a panels discussing this topic openly. We’ve talked to members of Governor Patrick’s staff. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are speaking up. And so are local tech leaders.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Caroline Huang. Caroline is someone I met shortly after writing my post on the subject and she has been a firm supporter in the effort to get rid of employee non-compete agreements. She told me that she has been working with her local elected officials to get a bill introduced to the state legislature.

And today State Representative Will Brownsberger announced today that he will introduce legislation that would abolish employee non-compete agreements in Massachusetts. 

This is a fantastic milestone. Many thanks to Rep Brownsberger for taking this on and a special thanks to Caroline for her hard work & determination to make this happen.

But we have a lot of work to do. Large companies in this state want to maintain the status quo (even though they have a double standard for their california employees). 

So we need your help. Please spread the word, get involved, contact your local state representative and tell them that you support Rep Brownsberger’s efforts.

Yes we can :)

Thinking about Obama’s Nominees

If you know me or have visited this blog, you would know that I am a big Obama supporter. And I’m thrilled that he’s going to be the next President of the United States.

I didn’t love him on day 1. I was on the fence. But the thing that won me over was his sound judgement, intelligence, authenticity, honesty and ability to inspire.

A significant example of all of this was in the midst of the hawkish culture that dominated our government immediately post 9/11, Barack Obama stood tall and denounced our march to war in Iraq. From Wikipedia:

On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq,[134] Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd that “it’s not too late” to stop the war.[135]

And during his campaign, this line struck a deep chord with me:

“I want to end the mindset that got us into war.”

That is exactly right.

But now I’m struggling with his nominees. His picks so far are leaders that were major supporters of the Iraq war. And I haven’t heard any apologies from any of them. Dr. Susan Rice, Obama’s choice for the UN, had this to say after then Secretary State Powell gave that awful presentation to the United Nations in 2002:

“I think he [Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them,” said Rice, a former Clinton administration State Department aide, “and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (via the Nation)

Ugh.

But the choice of Secretary Gates is worse in my opinion. Yes, Gates will answer to President-elect Obama. But consider that Gates has gone on public record saying he opposed Obama’s troop withdrawal plan from Iraq.  Gates is also a proponent of a new generation of nuclear weapons. How is this gonna work on a practical level?

Even Karl Rove supports Obama’s security team.

I know we have a new decider with Obama in charge. But I believe Obama needs support from people that have new ideas and fresh thinking. Rice & Gates are neither. And I don’t want to reward people that got us into this mess.

Senator Clinton.

This one is tougher for me. I have a very conflicted views about Senator Clinton as our next Secretary of State. Yes, she was a hawk and called for things like regime change. And yes, she voted for the Iraq war. And yes, she ran a very nasty campaign and said it was naive to meet with leaders of Iran without pre-conditions (I never understood this one. Aren’t we civilized adults?).

But I’m supporting Obama’s choice in Senator Clinton. I value her track record on things like healthcare, civil rights, children issues and fighting for the those that have less. I also want more women in charge of our government. I believe with Obama’s leadership, Senator Clinton will do a great job.

I’m on the edge of my seat and leaning forward watching who else Obama’s nominates for other key positions in our government and courts.

Get out the vote because this election isn’t over

It’s virtually impossible getting McCain loyalists to switch at this point. They have a point of view that is just too different than Obama supporters

Most of our energy is trying to get the infamous undecided voters to vote Obama. And that is the key.

Many of my friends believe that with the sinking economy and McCain’s poor behavior, Obama is going to win. But we really cannot rest, not now.

We need to make sure that we get all of our friends & families to the polls too.

Because as Nat Friedman pointed out this morning on Twitter, Gore had a 10 point lead over Bush in Oct 2000.

It ain’t over yet.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God’s plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin’s view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, “It was a task from God.”