Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Bue Kismus

Hope that you and your's had a wonderful holiday season. Obviously I haven't posted in a long while, primarily due to the holidays.

We had a really wonderful week for Christmas - we even had a snow while in Dallas on Wednesday that gave us more of a seasonal feel. And Noah received so many wonderful toys and books and clothes. We've been packing up loads of older stuff to take down to goodwill to make room.

One small anecdote from our Christmas season. On Dec. 17th Shana had to go up to Dallas, so Noah and I had a boys weekend together. That Friday night, I decided to take him up to Hermann Park to see the Holiday Festival of Lights display. On our way in I had the Christmas music station on, and while we were parking, Elvis' Blue Christmas was playing. When I got Noah out of the car and he and I were walking up to the park Noah was singing/shouting over and over:

Bu-bu-bue Kismus

He really couldn't say blue or Christmas...but it is one of my best memories of Christmas 2004!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Barnes Foundation on the Move

Judge authorizes major art collection move to downtown Philadelphia
In a ruling much anticipated by members of the philanthropic community across the United States, a Pennsylvania court has ruled that the private art collection owned by the Barnes Foundation - said by some to the most valuable in the country worth somewhere between $6.5 and $30 billion - may be moved from its current home in suburban Merion, PA to a new location in downtown Philadelphia. Albert Barnes, who died in 1951, had specified that his collection was to remain in Merion, and was to be displayed in a particular fashion, but the court essentially overruled his intentions in the name of preserving the Foundation and the integrity of the collection over the long term. In a press release the Foundations' Board of Trustees expressed "great excitement" over the ruling, which was also applauded by Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell. A group of Barnes Foundation art students who had sought to block the move may yet appeal. The President of the Foundation Board offers his perspective on the move and the circumstances of the Foundation here [PDF]. A 2002 summary of the Foundation's original petition to move is online here. The New York Times has more.

This Times story (from the International Herald Tribune) is really interesting reading to get some of the back story behind this move:

"Barnes would never have imagined the constraints the foundation is currently facing." He had described the foundation as a place for "plain people, that is men and women who gain their livelihood by daily toil," she said. By moving the collection from an affluent suburb to downtown Philadelphia, she said, more of those "plain people" will be able to enjoy the art.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

What Happened to the Dollar? II

More today with the print edition of the Economist going on-line:

The Disappearing Dollar
Many American policymakers talk as though it is better to rely entirely on a falling dollar to solve, somehow, all their problems. Conceivably, it could happen—but such a one-sided remedy would most likely be far more painful than they imagine. America's challenge is not just to reduce its current-account deficit to a level which foreigners are happy to finance by buying more dollar assets, but also to persuade existing foreign creditors to hang on to their vast stock of dollar assets, estimated at almost $11 trillion. A fall in the dollar sufficient to close the current-account deficit might destroy its safe-haven status. If the dollar falls by another 30%, as some predict, it would amount to the biggest default in history: not a conventional default on debt service, but default by stealth, wiping trillions off the value of foreigners' dollar assets.
The dollar's loss of reserve-currency status would lead America's creditors to start cashing those cheques—and what an awful lot of cheques there are to cash. As that process gathered pace, the dollar could tumble further and further. American bond yields (long-term interest rates) would soar, quite likely causing a deep recession. Americans who favour a weak dollar should be careful what they wish for. Cutting the budget deficit looks cheap at the price.

The Passing of the Buck?
Mr Greenspan may not be the only central banker to have become bearish on the dollar. Markets have been rattled by concerns that foreign central banks might reduce their holdings of American Treasury bonds. Last week, officials at the central banks of both Russia and Indonesia said that their banks were considering reducing the share of dollars in their reserves. Even more alarming were reports that China's central bank, the second-biggest holder (after Japan) of foreign-exchange reserves, may have trimmed its purchases of American Treasury bonds.
The current-account deficit is now being financed by foreign central banks and short-term money. In the year to mid-2004, foreign central banks financed as much as three-fifths of America's deficit. The recent purchase of reserves by central banks is unprecedented. Global foreign-exchange reserves (65%, remember, are denominated in dollars) have risen by $1 trillion in just 18 months. The previous addition of $1 trillion to official reserves took a decade. These purchases of dollars have nothing to do with the prospective returns in America, but are aimed at holding down the currencies of the purchasing countries.
The dollar did indeed fall sharply in the late 1980s, but with few ill effects on the economy. So why worry more now? One good reason is that the current-account deficit, currently running at close to 6% of GDP, is almost twice as big as at its peak in the late 1980s, and on current policies it will keep widening. Second, in the 1980s America was still a net foreign creditor. Today it has net foreign liabilities and these are expected to reach $3.3 trillion, or 28% of GDP, by the end of 2004.
In any case, the current-account deficit cannot be corrected by a fall in the dollar alone: domestic saving also needs to rise. The best way would be for the government to cut its budget deficit. That would reduce America's need to borrow from abroad, and so mitigate the fall in the dollar and rise in bond yields that will otherwise be demanded by investors. If combined with stronger growth abroad, then the current-account deficit could slowly shrink. America's growth would be depressed by tax increases or spending cuts, but there would be no need for recession. If, on the other hand, the government fails to cut its budget deficit, the dollar will fall more sharply and bond yields will rise. America's housing bubble might then burst and consumer spending would certainly slow sharply.

Exchange rates against the Dollar

These are not positive signs. It's a good thing that our government is focused on tackling these difficult problems...oh, wait...

Monday, December 06, 2004

What Happened to the Dollar?

American monetary policy has been getting a lot of mainstream press of late due to the falling dollar. This is unusal, because monetary policy is geneally not something that the average 'current events follower' would care about. But that seems to have changed a bit of late. Now, I'm not an economist - nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night - but I have been doing some reading of late due to the increasing oil prices and decreasing dollar, and what I read is not exactly encouraging.

Let's start with the following articles:
The Dollar's Demise
It does not help when the chairman of your central bank, Alan Greenspan, ..., has said the day before that the dollar seems likely to fall: “Given the size of the current-account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point,” were his exact words. The foreign-exchange market immediately decided that it was sated, and the dollar fell to another record low against the euro.
At the heart of the central banks’ calculations is a trade-off: intervening to keep your currency down can be costly, but it is good for exports. Though the costs of intervention are hard to quantify, they are potentially big. Because the domestic money supply is expanded—those dollars must be paid for with something—it can cause inflation (though this can be neutralised through “sterilisation”, ie, bond sales). But the big potential cost is in amassing a huge stash of dollars with precious little exit strategy. Quite simply, Asian central banks now own too many of them to exit en masse, for their exit would cause the dollar to crash and American interest rates to soar, which would cause huge losses on their holdings of Treasuries.
And what will then happen to the dollar? It is hard to imagine its hegemony remaining unchallenged when so many will have lost so much. And doubly so given that America has abused the dollar’s reserve-currency role so egregiously that its finances now look more like those of a banana republic than an economic superpower.

Folks - that's The Economist, as reputable and high-end as objective media comes. And they used a term like 'banana republic'.

Economic `Armageddon' Predicted
Stephen Roach, the chief economist at investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, has a public reputation for being bearish. But you should hear what he's saying in private. Roach met select groups of fund managers downtown last week, including a group at Fidelity. His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic ``armageddon.''
In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded. Less a case of ``Armageddon,'' maybe, than of a ``Perfect Storm.'' To finance its current account deficit with the rest of the world, he said, America has to import $2.6 billion in cash. Every working day. That is an amazing 80 percent of the entire world's net savings. Sustainable? Hardly.

Yes, that's the chief economist at Morgan Stanley - long time bastion of American capitalism.

Being John Snow
The market scoffed at Snow. As he spoke, the dollar plunged to a new record low against the euro. Snow's performance worsened during question time. When an audience member had the temerity to ask why Snow persisted in discussing the strong dollar policy while the greenback was plummeting, he simply responded "because it's our policy." Challenged again, he reiterated: "The policy is the policy."

Snow is the Treasury Secretary.

Economic Crisis a Question of When, Not If
"So if you ask the question do we look like Argentina, the answer is a whole lot more than anyone is quite willing to admit at this point. We've become a banana republic."

Krugman is an Professor of Economics at Princeton.

Wow - the falling dollar looks to hold a lot of problems. My understanding is that there is two general schools of thought about the falling $:
1. It is good for the economy in the short term - because a weak $ and stronger foreign currencies mean that our trade deficit goes down. Suddenly, foreign products are more expensive, domestic products are cheaper which means that, on whole, we import less and export more. Because of the $'s weakness, Europe and Asia want to buy our products, not sell their products to us in $. What does that mean - well it could mean lower trade deficits, more exports, and more jobs here in the states.
2. It is bad for the economy, period - because a weak $ means higher inflation (because there are not as many cheap, foreign products in the market). Higher inflation means either prices are going up across the board, or the Fed has to raise intrest rates to control inflation - which means that debt becomes more and more expensive - which kills US households because, in general, we live in so much debt, and kills US lendors due to the potential of more defaults due to a sluggish economy paired with expensive debt.

An overriding concern in the Good/Bad debate is that the $ is propped up by so much foreign investment. As one of the articles pointed out - 2.6 billion per DAY. That's an unbelieveable rate. What happens if China decides to stop buying US dollars or US Treasuries? Or - worse - start selling. Of coure, the counter argument is that they can't. Europe and especially Asia has so much invested in the US that to see the dollar tank or Treasuries tank would mean huge losses for them. So they hold on, or buy more...but at what point does the United States become beholden to those foreign investors?
Maybe now? "One China" Policy Stabilizes Asia-Pacific Region, Powell Says

This is pretty scary stuff overall. There are so many variables - but a weak dollar presents a MYRIAD of long-term problems. These are real issues that are going to have to be addressed sooner or later. Unfortunately, our short-term driven "leaders" (I call them that only for lack of a better word) refuse to take the bold steps it takes to actually improve the fundamentals affecting our monetary policy. (I direct you back to my 8:42am post of October 18, 2004 - Fiscal Gap Estimated as high as $72 Trillion.) Until then - we creep every closer to the brink of an economic disaster, and the only way to avoid it is allow foreign investors to prop up the US dollar - which presents it's own frightening questions.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Medical Marijuana or State's Rights?

From Jurist Paper Chase - Monday, November 29, 3:15:

The US Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in Ashcroft v. Raich (case summary from Duke Law School), a California case involving the use of marijuana as a legitimate medical treatment. The court is considering whether sick people in the eleven states which recognize medical marijuana can get around general federal laws which ban the drug. The Bush administration is arguing Congress has not found any acceptable medical use for marijuana and that by allowing such treatment, the government will be unable to eradicate drug trafficking and its related social harms. Paul Clement, the Bush administration's top court lawyer, argued before the court today that medical use of marijuana is potentially subjecting many people to health dangers. Raich's attorney countered by saying his clients are law-abiding citizens who need marijuana to survive. Justice Stephen Breyer said supporters of medical marijuana should take their fight to federal drug regulators before coming to the Supreme Court while other justices repeatedly referred to America's drug addiction problems. The case is an appeal from a decision [PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit which ruled against the government and found federal prosecution of medical marijuana users to be unconstitutional if the marijuana is not sold, transported across state lines or used for non-medicinal purposes. The Supreme Court ruled three years ago that the government could prosecute distributors of medical marijuana. The case is Ashcroft v. Raich, 03-1454. The Raich plaintiffs legal team has created an extensive website about the case and the isues it raises. AP has more.

This case is very interesting due to the federalism problem it presents the court. In a very broad overview - generally you would expect more liberal justices to sway in favor of medical marijuana and more conservative justices to sway against. This case, however, provides a twist: in general more conservative justices stand up for state's rights - which would allow the states to make the determination of medical marijuana use at a local level. More liberal justices would support the federal government's right under the Commerce clause to ban drugs as a national problem. So there is a real juxtaposition. Chief Justice Rehnquist is a federalism specialist - and his court has been specifically known for its willingness to address federalism issues. Rehnquist is still not present on the bench - but is still participating in decisions using transcripts, etc. This case is such an interesting question - even three very conservative states which do not allow legalized medical marijuana - Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana - filed friend of the court brief in support of the defendents in these cases saying that while they do not agree with legalized drug use - they feel it is a question to be decided on a state level - not at a federal level.

Based on the reports of the oral arguments, it sounds as if the court is going to be unwilling to let this loophole in the criminalization of drugs. But is should be a great opinion to read this summer.

More from
Supreme Court weighs Marijuana as Medicine

Medical marijuana case tests Congress' power

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Clinton Presidential Center

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!!!

I haven't been able to post as much of late. I've been spending most of my waking free time writing a paper or prepping for my final coming up. In addition, the holiday time has been very hectic for the family, so I haven't had the time to sit down and crank anything out.

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Arkansas with family. Since we were reasonably close, Shana and I decided to take Wednesday morning, November 24, 2004 to drive over to Little Rock and visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. The Clinton Presidential library was dedicated on Thursday, Nov. 18 - and I had been reading quite a bit about it in the lead up so we were excited at the opportunity to visit. This was the first Presidential Library complex that either of us had visited.

To start with, it is much smaller than what I expected. Now, the location is beautiful, just on the bank of the Arkansas river, bordering on Little Rock's downtown. Several of the architectural reviews of the building I had read had described it as either a "metaphor for a Bridge to the 21st Century" or a "trailer park home". Personally, we felt it looked much like a railroad car - boxy and rectangular, and much smaller than expected. When you get into the building, however, you are struck by how much room there really is - either the outside is very deceptive, or the interior's design makes an excellent use of the space, there is more to see than would be expected.

After you arrive, clear security and pay your fee, the initial display on the ground floor deals with the Secret Service and the Presidential Limosuine. From there you proceed up a flight of steps to the second level. There you find a display related to the 1992 election - the Comeback Kid, Perot, etc. Looking back, it's almost hard to remember, but Clinton's election that year was an absolute stunner...kind of a shock the world type of moment. As popular as he was to become, and as much as he was to accomplish in office, it's strange to think this was a guy who came - almost - out of no where to win the nomination, then unseat a relatively popular sitting President. An election for the history books truly.

There is a video presentation of the 'Clinton Story' - telling an overview from birth to declaring his candidacy on Oct. 1, 1991 to the White House to the present. It's pretty neat, and has several goosebump-type moments (it got a little dusty in there, if you know what I mean), but much of the info was in My Life, if you've had a chance to read that.

From the video, you move over to the first display - a recreation of the Cabinet Room. This was actually one of the most interesting parts of the entire Center. In fact, on the drive home, Shana and I both agreed that the Cabinet room was the "best" or our favorite part of the Center. The room is recreated in detail, and inset into the Cabinet table were interactive touch-activated computers that enabled you to sit in the same chairs that Clinton or his officials sat in and read detailed histories of the Administration and very interesting timelines of three of the more interesting and challenging decisions that were made by the Admin - Welfare Reform, Kosovo and the Budget Crisis. A really informative and interesting set up. The Cabinet Room was added to the White House by Teddy Roosevelt and in Clinton's term included portraits of TR, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Outside the Cabinet Room, there is an enormous video wall dedicated to the 1992 Inaguration - one great quote from that speech:

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.

Bill Clinton - Jan. 21, 1993 - 1st Presidential Inaguration Speech

Next there is a small wall dedicated to the State of the Nation under Clinton - statistics related to Employment, Crime, Education, AIDS, Police, Technology and Health Care are listed and visually displayed.

The rest of the second level is a long room - the outside walls are dedicated to kiosks related to specific issues important within Clinton's two terms in office:
The Economy
Making Communities Safer (Crime)
Protecting the Earth (Environment)
First Lady
Global Community (World Leaders, etc.)
Making Peace (Mideast, Ireland, etc.)
Prosperity Abroad (America's ecomomic involvement overseas)
Preparing for New Threats (WTC1 and terrorism)
Fight for Power (Impeachment)
Science & Technology
One America (Race Relations)
Learning for a Lifetime (Education)
Putting People First (Health Care and Welfare Reform)

In the center of this narrow room is a series of eight small walls with displays on each side - one side was a rundown of world, domestic and economic event during each of Clinton's eight years in office. Included in this was the President's daily schedule for every day in office - pretty cool. The other side was dedicated to various things - the State of the Union address, with 'in-progress' drafts with notes to the final speeches; and Letters to and from the President and First lady from the likes of Fred Rogers, Mother Teresa, the Dali Lama, Paul Newman, etc. Some were funny, some really touching. It was a really nice display.

Next, up another flight of stairs to the third level. This level is open in the center - so you can look down upon the 2d level (similar to a mall), with displays only on the outside walls. Along one wall you see displays dedicated to State Events at the White House, State Gifts given to Clinton during his time in office, Making the White House home for the Clinton's, Holidays at the White House, public gifts to the Clinton's, etc. The other side contains personal memorabelia of Bill, Hillary and Chealsea from birth to present, including Chealsea's birth announcement, items from Clinton's failed bid for Congress, Democratic Nat'l Convention speeches in 1980, 1984 and 1988, among other things.

Finally, on the third level is the exact replication of the Oval Office. Unfortunately, you can't walk through, but they have windows in, and you can step into the doorway. It is interesting to see what the office looks like in 'real-life' and how connected and dedicated to history Clinton had it - almost everything in the office had some historical connection.

It was a really intersting couple of hours - definately worth the trip and the $7 entry fee. If you are interested in history, specifically Presidential history, it's an absolute bargain.

I was and am a big fan of Bill Clinton. In my mind, he is the embodiment of the American Story. A poor boy, single mom, raised in large part by family from a tiny town in one of the smallest, ruralest states in the nation - becomes the President - the Leader of the Free World, not through connections or family name or money. But through hard work, committment to a cause, and a dedication to public service. I am not ashamed to list Bill Clinton as a hero. Sure, the man has many flaws - and Shana and I discussed how revered and honored this great President really would have been if he only could have controlled himself. He embarrased himself, his family and in some ways, his supporters. And his Presidency will be forever somewhat tainted because of that - there is no question. But all that given, Bill Clinton had a dream of one day making America a better place for the next generation - and he made that dream into reality. Flaws or no flaws. That's pretty incredible, and it is something that I admire more than I can put into words.

There were certain words or phrases that stood out in our tour of the Clinton Center, either because they were used over and over, or because each display tended to whisper or shout them:
Optimism, Prayer, Change, Peace, Respect, and finally and most of all -
A More Perfect Union

That is a great legacy, if you ask me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ball. Game.

I rock my son almost every evening. He's almost two now, right at 21 months, so I know that this time is quickly coming to an end, but I love it - without a doubt my favorite time of the day. We've got a routine.

Either Shana or I will give him a bath, change his diaper and put his PJs on. But then, I get to rock him and put him in bed. He and I go through the same routine pretty much every night:

We read two regular books together in the rocking chair. They can be anything, tonight it was Grover Dresses Himself and Hungry Little Caterpillar.

Then we read our three night-night books - first New Baby's Prayers, then Sweet Dreams, and finally Pat the Bunny Sleepy Bunny. Then we put our hands together and say a prayer, and turn the lamp out.

Then while he snuggles against my chest, I rock him and sing four songs. (Yes, it's the same three books and four songs in the same order each night. I'm compulsive like that...) I sing Jesus Loves Me, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Jesus Loves the Little Children, and the Star Spangled Banner while we rock together. Yes, I know - those are odd choices for night-night songs. I'm not exactly sure how it happened - the church songs, okay that makes sense and I know I added Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the middle of the baseball season. I remember thinking about wanting to make sure that as Noah grows up I instill in him the right kind (my kind) of patriotism - and I guess that's how the national anthem got thrown in. But somehow this is what has evolved, and it's been this same routine for about six months now.

Suddenly, over the past three or four days, Take Me Out to the Ballgame has become Noah's favorite. It's become a request. I always sing it twice, once with - root, root, root for the home team; once with - root, root, root for the Astros. Between the verses he's taken to saying, "ball game, ball game, ball game" to let me know he wants me to sing it again. Of course, his daddy is stubborn, so after I finish the second time, I move on to Jesus Loves the Little Children. Noah just been continuing to say, "ball game, ball game, ball game" for a while, then gives up when he realizes I'm not going to start singing it again. But tonight, he was a little more adamant. After insisting for a bit while I continued on with the next song. Well, he finally couldn't take it any more. He sat up, looked me dead in the eyes and said firmly, "BALL. ... GAME." I couldn't help but laugh.

And I couldn't help but think - That's my boy!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

MLS Playoff Update III

2004 MLS Cup Champions - DC United

United defeated the Kansas City Wizards 3:2 to win their fourth MLS Cup in club history. DC was led by Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian who scored two goals in a 5 minute period of the first half.

KC opened the scoring with Jose Burciaga Jr. scoring from distance in the 6th minute of the match. But then Eskandarian put DC on his back, scoring in the 19th and 23rd - that was followed by a KC own goal in the 26th to give United 3 goals in 7 minutes and a 3:1 lead. The Wizards' Josh Wolff got one back, scoring on a penalty kick in the 58th minute, following a handball in the box, and red-card ejection to United midfielder Dema Kovalenko. KC was hoping to level with the man advantage, but DC was able to make the one goal lead stand up the final 30 minutes of the match.

Great season for DC - rookie coach, 14 year old #1 draft pick, and the MLS Cup.

Now MLS immediately begins preperation for the 2005 season - it's 10th Anniversary. 2005 will see "re-branding" of one team (FC Dallas) and the addition of two expansion clubs - CD Chivas USA (Los Angeles) and ReAL Salt Lake. Friday, November 19th at 3:00 is the MLS Expansion Draft (live on ESPNews) where the new clubs will be able to draft 'unprotected players' from the current ten teams' rosters.

MLS also announced this weekend that the 2005 MLS Cup would be played in Frisco, Tx at the brand new home of FC Dallas (the former Dallas Burn). As an FC Dallas season ticket holder - I will see what I can do to get tickets for anyone interested.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Symptoms and Disease

I’ve written this phrase twice in the last few weeks – symptoms and disease - discussing some political topics with friends and acquaintances.

As I have been thinking about this more throughout the past few days, I think that this is a pretty basic difference between a conservative political view and a progressive political view. (I’m going to be generalizing. I realize that not every conservative or progressive would fall within the box I’m going to draw, but I think it’s fair to say that “most” would.)

It seems to me, the general conservative philosophy is that issues such as abortion, gun crime, homosexual marriage, terrorism, education, etc. are the actual problems with society and can be fixed directly. To me, the progressive philosophy (at least, my philosophy) is that these issues are merely by-products of the real problems within our society/culture. I think that the conservative agenda is full of “quick-win” “short-term” thinking – that does absolutely nothing to actually address the real problems. For example, the conservative viewpoint – “let’s overturn Roe v. Wade and ban all abortions”. I have a real problem with that philosophy. Why? Is it because I support abortions and wish there were more? Of course not. It’s because if that is your answer, you’re still left with women who go get abortions in illegal ways. You have refused to address the real issues, which create the demand for abortion. Conservatives don’t want to address those issues, because they are difficult, they are long-term, and they are expensive. What are those “real” issues? Unemployment, lack of a living wage, lack of affordable health care, the devaluation of life (especially the life of the poor and minority) in our country, lack of community, lack of support networks for single mothers, the inability to provide for a family on one salary, so a father works two jobs and therefore isn’t home to provide direction for his kids, the lack of supportive educational systems, urban planning, etc., etc., etc. On and on goes the cycle. To me – those are the problems that need to be addressed to really reduce abortion in our nation. Will it be hard to do? Yep. Will it take longer than “overturn Roe v. Wade”? Yep. Will it cost more? Yep. But – and this is key – will it go to the heart of the problem? Yep. That is what needs to be done.

I feel that the other issues are approached in similar ways from a conservative perspective. If you oppose gay marriage, the easy out is to push for a Constitutional Amendment – then you don’t have to address more difficult questions of community and civil rights. If you advocate gun ownership, the easy out is to push for less regulation and more education and training instead of addressing the issue of prevalent violence in our culture – especially the poor inner-city areas, and the devaluation of poor and minority lives through an inequitable capital punishment system. To fight terrorists, the easy answer is to send a corps of marines into Fallujah – but then you create five new terrorist volunteers to replace each one that you killed in the battle. Instead the harder, longer road is to address the issues which are developing kids into terrorists – devaluation of life, enforcement of a western culture upon an eastern culture that resists those changes, the rape of the lands and resources of poor and non-white cultures. To improve education, it’s much easier to pin funding on districts teaching to tests than to actually address the difficult issues of malnutrition, single parent homes, latch-key kids, urban planning, white-flight, a culture where education means little to an inner-city kid because what hope does he have to use that education.

Personally, a short-term victory means little to nothing to me if I’m treating, or more likely hiding, a symptom and ignoring the disease. I'd prefer to reduce and/or completely end abortions in the United States. But overturning Roe v. Wade doesn’t end it. It is so much more important to end the vicious cycles that actually push women to decide on abortion. Until you’ve done that, you’ve done nothing.

The conservatives in this country can sit back and pop the top of a bottle of expensive champagne (which they can afford with all those “blessed” tax cuts) if Bush can push through a few justices conservative enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. And then they can rest back on their laurels and think about what a more “moral” America they live in, while all the poor girls - whose boyfriends refused to marry them because he doesn’t have a job and can’t support a family; who can’t afford pre-natal care because their $5.25 an hour job doesn’t provide health care; because they’ve lived with the reality of a teen-age mom, no-dad, having dropped out of school because they had to work to help pay for rent; who have no female role models or mentors; have no way to provide for child-care because they still have to work that minimum wage job to get by; who has seen their friends turn to prostitution; who see and live this stuff every day, every day of their lives – they are going to go find a way to have an abortion anyway.

But at least the “moral conservatives” get to celebrate their “victory”. But it’s a hollow, cold victory. It’s no victory at all, if you ask me.

The Wit and Wisdom of TR

I have come to really admire a lot about Teddy Roosevelt. I'm sure that there are a hundred things which I wouldn't agree with him, but I'd consider him much of what I'm looking for in a leader of our nation. A true Progressive. I was recently looking at some quotes by TR, and I thought I'd share some here (my favorites in bold):

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
– Theodore Roosevelt

To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.
– Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to U.S. Congress (December 3, 1907)

Unrestrained greed means the ruin of the great woods and the drying up of the sources of the rivers.
– Theodore Roosevelt, on clear-cutting of forests, while governor of New York, quoted in his biography Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris (2001)

We demand that big business give the people a square deal; in return we must insist that when anyone engaged in big business honestly endeavors to do right he shall himself be given a square deal.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, "Certainly, I can!" Then get busy and find out how to do it.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Those who oppose all reform will do well to remember that ruin in its worst form is inevitable if our national life brings us nothing better than swollen fortunes for the few and the triumph in both politics and business of a sordid and selfish materialism.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it. The citizens of the United States must effectively control the mighty commercial forces which they have themselves called into being.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

The one thing I want to leave my children is an honorable name.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at the Progressive Party Convention, Chicago, Illinois (August 6, 1912)

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.
– Theodore Roosevelt

The men of wealth who today are trying to prevent the regulation and control of their business in the interest of the public by the proper government authorities will not succeed, in my judgment, in checking the progress of the movement. But if they did succeed they would find that they had sown the wind and would surely reap the whirlwind, for they would ultimately provoke the violent excesses which accompany a reform coming by convulsion instead of by steady and natural growth.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech, "The Man With The Muck Rake" (April 15, 1906)

The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at New York City (November 11, 1902)

The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Asheville, North Carolina (September 9, 1902)

The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Providence, Rhode Island (August 23, 1902)

One of the fundamental necessities in a representative government such as ours is to make certain that the men to whom the people delegate their power shall serve the people by whom they are elected, and not the special interests. I believe that every national officer, elected or appointed, should be forbidden to perform any service or receive any compensation, directly or indirectly, from interstate corporations; and a similar provision could not fail to be useful within the States.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.
– Theodore Roosevelt (December 7, 1903)

No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living, and hours of labor short enough so that after his day's work is done he will have time and energy to bear his share in the management of the community, to help in carrying the general load. We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them. We need comprehensive workmen's compensation acts, both State and national laws to regulate child labor and work for women, and, especially, we need in our common schools not merely education in booklearning, but also practical training for daily life and work. We need to enforce better sanitary conditions for our workers and to extend the use of safety appliances for our workers in industry and commerce, both within and between the States.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Milwaukee, Wisconsin (October 14, 1912)

It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort.
– Theodore Roosevelt

It is better to be faithful than famous.
– Theodore Roosevelt

In name we had the Declaration of Independence in 1776; but we gave the lie by our acts to the words of the Declaration of Independence until 1865; and words count for nothing except in so far as they represent acts.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
– Theodore Roosevelt

I am only an average man but, by George, I work harder at it than the average man.
– Theodore Roosevelt

I believe that the officers, and, especially, the directors, of corporations should be held personally responsible when any corporation breaks the law.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, "The New Nationalism" (August 31, 1910)

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do. That is character!
– Theodore Roosevelt

I have always been fond of the West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."
– Theodore Roosevelt

Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.
– Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft.
– Theodore Roosevelt

A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Springfield, Illinois (July 4, 1903)

A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
– Theodore Roosevelt

Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, or character; it is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Washington, DC (1909)

Monday, November 08, 2004

MLS Playoff Update II

Well, MLS Cup 2004 is set, and will see the Kansas City Revolution v. DC United. KC is seeking its first MLS Cup since 2000 when they surprised the league with a dominating defensive performance leading them to the only MLS Cup in club history. DC is seeking their first Cup since 1999, after the United dynasty opened MLS with three titles in the first four years of the league.

The Wizards defeated the LA Galaxy 2-0 at home in Arrowhead Stadium, Friday night. Houston native Davy Arnaud scored the brace which was enough to put KC over the top on the evening. More of the typical suffocating defense from the Wizard back-line make the two goals stand up and send the team to the Home Depot Center in LA for the Cup Final on Sunday.

United held on to defeat the New England Revolution 4-3 on penalty kicks after seeing the score leveled at 3-3 after full time and a thirty minute 'golden-goal' overtime period. Regular time saw an exciting, attacking match for 90 minutes, with the Revs pulling back from a goal down three times. Alecko Eskandarian opending scoring in the 11th minute, with a cracker of a goal - and the DC home crowd was still celebrating when poacher Taylor Twellman found the back of the net to level the match at 1-1 on 17. DC United stuck back quickly themselves behind their two grizzled veterans - Earnie Stewart assisting on Jamie Moreno's goal in the 21st. Just before the halftime break the Revs caught a break, with a DC defender caught with a handball in the box. Steve Ralston coolly buried the penalty kick for an even 2-2 half-time score. In the second-half, Argentinian Christian Gomez sent United to thier third lead with a beautiful header across the goal mouth in the 67th minute. And with time winding down - and the DC crowd wild in anticipation of the chance at the Cup - Pat Noonan scored off a corner kick to draw up the match with only 5 mintues to full time. No goals were scored during the extra time, so the match would be decided by penalties. Rev 'keeper Matt Reis saved the first United effort from Ben Olsen, to give the Revs the immediate advantage, but Ralston, who had buried a penalty earlier in the match, hit the crossbar after beating the goalkeeper to earase the advantage. A series of goals followed - including a beautiful bending shot to the corner by 15-year-old sensation Freddy Adu - until on the sixth round of kicks. DC's Brian Carroll hit his penalty, and rookie-of-the-year candidate Clint Dempsey (whose dad I met about a year ago over breakfast in an English pub here in Houston watching the English Premier League, before he was drafted by MLS) saw his strike saved by Nick Rimando - which sent DC on to their first shot at the Cup in five years. It was a bit undeserved for Dempsey - whose energetic play had led NE for much of the match.

So - on Sunday, November 14th at 2:30 Central (LIVE on ABC) - the MLS Cup will see KC v. DC. Both teams are riding hot streaks, both teams closed the season strong, both teams will be playing at full strength. Both teams play an attractive 3-5-2 creating numerous chances, combined with solid defense. Neither team 'should' have made it this far (KC with injury concerns, and DC with such a young team and a first year head coach). I have felt for some time the the Wizards are the team of destiny this season, having overcome so many obstacles yet retaining such a high level of play. KC are also the 2004 US Open Cup champion. DC will battle, and Adu will get a goal - but the Wizards will come away with the Cup. Prediction: KC 2:1 DC

Friday, November 05, 2004

It's really all too easy...

Texas published the list of those who passed the July 2004 Bar Exam yesterday - and Shana passed! We are both just thrilled.

Personally, I never felt it was in doubt, but she had been nervous about actually seeing the results nonetheless. Probably a large part of that concern is the way that Texas publishes the results. They set a date, and the names of everyone who passed are published on a website. So anyone who knew you were taking the exam can search to see if you passed or not - so there is a fair amount of public pressure in the procedure.

This was a difficult summer for us, due to her concentration and study for the exam. I am so thankful that God blessed her to get through the grueling two month long study ordeal; with the discipline, ability and knowledge to pass the exam; and most of all to NEVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN!!! The bar exam is as much about attrition as it is about a testing of legal knowledge - and she persevered.

She will be sworn in at a formal ceremony in Austin, TX on November 15.

Top 5% of her class, Magna Cum Laude, Law Review and now member of the Texas bar. Congratulations to Shana, or should I say, counselor!!!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

"Lazarus ... remains unseen outside the gate"

I hate to just rip off another blog, but I'm going to do it anyway. There are a handful of blogs I read regularly, and Mike Cope's is one of them. He had a moving post on Tue, Nov. 2. It is a piece written by Larry James. James is the former minister at the East Richardson Church of Christ in Dallas and is now Executive Director of Central Dallas Ministries. I searched and searched, and couldn't find the text of this writing directly, so - not knowing the legal ramifications - I'm going to copy it here, with a link to Mike Cope's blog that you can go do directly if you wish. (I certainly hope that I'm not offending either Mr. Cope or Mr. James by copying this here, but I was so moved by the writing, I wanted to share it.)

While it is certainly true that the particular issues associated with injustice in this culture may leave much room for debate, compromise and new agreements and partnerships leading to various solutions, the bedrock theological values clearly and consistently espoused by the witness of Scripture and a significant and influential slice of Christian history refuses to let one comfortably "off the hook" so to speak! Whether one turns to the Law of Moses, the wisdom literature of Israel, the books of history or the prophets, throughout the Hebrew bible one is confronted again and again with the clear outlines of what a just, compassionate and true community culture would look and function like.

Approaching the life of Jesus, the message becomes even clearer. For the sake of this reflection there seems to be no need to rehearse the long list of texts that address this divine mandate. The Messiahship of Jesus is largely defined by a radical, demanding commitment to the values of the Jubilee Year (Luke 4:14ff). Whether one considers the basis of eternal judgment as defined by Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19ff) or the consistency of his rabbinic teaching (scan the entire book of Luke!), it is very clear that the issues of compassion, fairness, adequate provision and justice filled his agenda. The early church definitely got this point (Acts 2, 4; James; Paul's work on behalf of the poor in Jerusalem; et al).

Taking its cue from these sacred texts the history of the church is replete with advocates, reformers and community developers who press hard against the various forces of injustice within society and at times within the church itself. God's messengers throughout history have understood the connections between the revelation of God and the reality of life for the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized.

Two undeniable aspects of this struggle for me involve the opportunities presented by life in a post-modern democratic society and the drifting irrelevance of the church, as we know it.

Freedom and the democratic opportunity to craft a truly compassionate community/societal response beyond sound bit rhetoric to pressing contemporary challenges (such as poverty, access to and disparities around health and wellness, livable wages and the results of inadequate skills for marketplace realities, child care, affordable housing and homelessness) hold out great hope and almost endless possibilities. Yet, we are failing miserably in each of these areas. The powerful engines of freedom, choice and democracy currently serve the rich, the healthy and those with access to wellness methodologies, the fully employed, the secure families and the well-housed to the obvious neglect of those left far, far behind.

In a world of opportunity, now plagued by freedom's failures, the church is largely silent as it stands mute like a shallow wading pool reflecting the values of a democratic society that systematically crushes the poor and the marginalized while waving the flags of a rabid patriotism. Ironically, at a time when the church's influence appears to be growing in the public square (even if its membership is declining in real numbers), its prophetic, practical voice comes off muted and shrill. Where is the prophetic word today from the pulpits of Dallas? Who is there to speak a clear word of undeniable truth to power today in a state whose 78th legislature pillaged the poor of the few remaining benefits they could take advantage of? Is there a place for repentance, for fasting beyond the gimmicks of the latest spiritual growth regimen? Where is the biblical understanding that would drive a truly discipled people to their knees because of the suffering of the poor, the imprisoned, the naked, the sick and the stranger? Where are the prophets who would boldly challenge the court of American Royalty?

Today democracy and religion engage in a bizarre dance. The dance hall is brightly lighted. Smoke and mirrors complement the environment to cover a reality that is just out of view by design. The clerics dance with the one who invited them in hopes of securing new funds while creating a truly Christian nation to the glory of God! All the while the numbers of the dispossessed grow. The suffering continues. Important subjects such as programmatic scale in the face of the overwhelming numbers or the efficiency of comprehensive public policy strategies never arises in any of the significant conversations and, thus, is never achieved. The night of celebration ends in prayer and everyone returns home full, honored and satisfied . . . except for Lazarus who remains unseen outside the gate.

-Larry James

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The People have Spoken...

(should we listen?!?)

Bush 286:252 Kerry

If you look below, I was off a bit in my forecasting. The following states came in against my expectations:
Bush won NM and OH (which made all the difference)
Kerry won WI

Shana and I spent the evening glued to the TV and internet. This was my first "on-line" election, and I have to admit to being quite the geek - I was monitoring individual county results in Florida and Ohio all evening, to the point where Shana had to stop me from talking back to the commentators on TV who obviously hadn't seen that Dade county had started to report results when he stated that they didn't know if the more pro-Kerry South Florida had were in the numbers they were discussing.

Another peaceful election is behind us. I am struck by how far to the right the Amercian voting populace really is. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but frankly, I am. Not that W. was re-elected, I had guessed at that for quite a while. But I was surprised at how big a victory it was, and the coat-tails bringing expansion of Republican control of the Senate and House and the overwhelming approveal of anti-gay marriage/benefit propositions in 11 states.

I know people who feel thier faith in the American people was restored last night...and I know people who were terrified by and disappointed in with the American people last night.

Share your reaction to the results or how you watched the election in the comments if you wish.

I pray that God continue to bless America, One Nation Under God.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day in America

I got my vote in! How about you?

Shana and I got in line at our polling place at about 6:50 am. We were about 40-50th in line at that point, but it flowed pretty quickly. I voted at 7:30am - so it was only about a 40 minute wait (much shorter, I'm guessing, that the wait after work would have been).

We are fortunate enough to have possibly the finest polling location in all of the United States. We vote at a little bed and breakfast about 6 blocks away from where we live. It is a georgous old home that is beautifully decorated. This morning, for us early risers, the bed and breakfast had out complimentary doughnuts and coffee which was welcome with our wait in the wet, chilly weather. I feel like we are 'pampered' voters. I read a humorous list of advice to voters last week that noted if you don't know where your polling precinct is located, look for the oldest, darkest, grungiest building in your neighborhood - that's probably it. Fortunately for us, we get a little luxury in the voting process.

The ballot was quite long - with most of the offices being run unopposed. There were three city propositions on the ballot as well. We use an e-slate electronic voting system, and for as long as the ballot was, the job was finished quickly and easily.

I caught the weather before heading out this morning - and I'm a bit concerned. It looked like Florida was going to be clear, which is positive, but it looked like there would be rain all across Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That worries me. I just hope that the voters up there get up and get out and get their vote in.

I love election day. I saw Tom Brokaw on MSNBC last night, and he made the comment that as polarized as America is right now, it is a beautiful thing that we are making huge decisions on war, homeland security, economy, healthcare and other value issues - with no tanks in the streets, no guerrillas strongarming, etc. I thought that was such a good point that we all just take for granted. I thank God for the wisdom and foresight that he instilled into the founders of our nation, that they were able to create a system in which we can peacefully transfer power according to the will of massive corporations...sorry, I mean the will of the people. :) I truly thank God that I am an American. Today is a great day - today American can take a step, even if a baby step, forward to being a better country for our grandchildren than it is for us. What a wonderful system.

Monday, November 01, 2004

MLS Playoff Update

Well - I was right on my first round MLS playoff predictions - in one out of four series. Ouch.

In the East, the New England Revolution defeated the Supporter's Shield winning Columbus Crew by a 2-1 aggregate score. DC United defeated Metrostars 4-0 on aggregate.

Out West, #1 seed Kansas City Wizards came from behind to pull out a 3-2 aggregate victory over the defending champion San Jose Earthquakes. In the other matchup, the Los Angeles Galaxy prevailed over the Colorado Rapids 2-1 aggregate.

So, we have the Revs travelling to DC for the Eastern Conference final. It's a one off match, winner to the MLS Cup. The Revs have been really down in 2004, but a final push got them into the playoffs, and they sent off the #1 seed, who hadn't seen a loss since June. United rolled over Metros and is in fine form. But that victory was very costly with key contributor Dema Kovelenko and MLS First XI and New Zealand International defender Ryan Nelson being suspended for the Conference Final due to yellow card accumulation. Those losses will be difficult for DC to overcome and in the end, I think it will prove their undoing. Prediction: DC 0:1 NE (TV = FoxSportsWorld, HDNet, Direct Kick; Sat. Nov. 6, 6:00 Central)

The LA Galaxy go on the road to face the Wizards, where they were 0-1-1 in 2004. This should be an interesting matchup between the #1 and #2 seeds. These were the two best teams in teh conference all year, and both are playing well down the stretch. To me, this matchup is really a pick 'em, but I give the edge to KC because they feel like the team of destiny this year. Overcoming injury to last season's MLS MVP (Preki), last season's leading scorer (Simutekov) and a regular U.S. International (Klein), this squad has just kept getting results week after week. Playing at home should be the edge they need to get the result that will take them to MLS Cup. Prediction: KC 2:1 LA (TV = FoxSportsWorld, HDNet, Direct Kick; Fri. Nov. 5, 6:30 Central)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

O'Connor extols role of international law

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor extolled Wednesday the growing role of international law in U.S. courts, saying judges would be negligent if they disregarded its importance in a post-September 11 world of heightened tensions.

The article itself is not overly interesting, but the comments by O'Connor are fascinating. Historically, American courts have essentially ignored International law as a shaper of US law. But it has been a steadily increasing influence. It's interesting to see a sitting Supreme Court Justice make that point so clearly.

The article references the Court's taking of the juevenile capital punishment cases this term. One of the interesting thing about those cases is that multiple 'friend of the court' briefs from international governments and international legal organizations. The United States stood alone with Iran, Qutar and Afghanistan in legally allowing the execution of juevenile criminals - but all three of those countries have recently repealed those law. That's right - we're currently alone in the world in juevenile execution.

Capital punishment in the United States is currently Constitutional because the 8th Amendment's prohibition of 'cruel and unusual punishment' is defined by the "evolving standards of decency" in a "maturing society". The Court is now indicating that these standards may be influenced or defined by a 'world-view' of decency - not just what is decent within lines on a map.

This kind of news doesn't make headlines, but it shapes our society for generations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Extraordinary Times...

I was fortunate enough to go to school for a semester in Florence, Italy. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Everything about those four months was amazing - but just being in Florence was one of the most magnificent. Absolute, bonafide treasures of the world around every corner. It was truly amazing. After our first tour of the city my neck was sore because I was always looking up or around at the next cathedral, monument, statue, etc. Everywhere you looked was something else extraordinary.

At least for a while.

At some undefined point, the extraordinary becomes the everyday. I distinctly remember walking to meet up with some friends at one point toward the middle of our stay. I jumped off the bus, rushed past the Santa Maria Novella, sped past San Lorenzo, hurried through the crowds at piazza San Giovanni between the Baptistery and the Duomo and as I was walking the road between the Duomo and the Uffizi, I all of a sudden just stopped. These wonders that had kept me in awe just weeks ago, I was now just rushing past - because I saw them everyday. At some point it time, Brunelleschi's Duomo became just the duomo. I changed my plans that day and went back to appreciate some of my favorite spots in Florence by myself because I knew that I wasn't going to have the chance for very much longer. Over the next few weeks, the extraordinary in Florence would again become the everyday to me - but on occasion, I would stop to appreciate it, even if for only a moment.

It's amazing to me how the extraordinary can be come the everyday. I've been thinking about that a lot this week because of what happened Sunday during morning church service. There are a handful of extraordinary church worship experiences that I will never forget. I remember on that semester in Europe, sitting in a church in Athens, Greece where the service was being conducted in Greek, translated into English, and in the back of the room there were two small groupings of people where the service was being re-translated into two other languages. That day I was struck by how universal God's body truly is. I think about that moment often on Sunday's, and how all around the world on the same day, but in a variety languages and in various formats, God's body comes together, and how much bigger it is than I can imagine. Sunday, I was blessed with another of those unforgettable corporate worship moments. We had a man come forward after the lesson to be baptized. He is in Houston being treated at a local hospital, and he has been meeting with our minister and studying for a time, and had decided to put on Christ in baptism. Our preacher was telling us how they've been studying, but the man doesn't speak English and our minister doesn't speak Spanish - so they've been using translators. And we used a translator to take the confession and for the baptism itself - and I was blown away by how God doesn't care about our barriers, languages or borders or class or anything else we try to use to segment ourselves. His gospel is a whole lot bigger than that. It was an extraordinary moment and I was left in tears.

But...there's always a but, huh? But, in class after the service, I started thinking about what a great experience that was, and remembering some of the more special church services I've been blessed with and it hit me - shouldn't every Sunday be that special? Shouldn't every Lord's Day be extraordinary? I mean, come on, I am gathering with the body of Christ, opening my heart up before the throne of God, literally partaking of the body and blood of my Savior, reveling in his Word, singing praises to His name - and it's routine? Doesn't it seem like every time should be extraordinary - but somewhere along the way (at least for me) it becomes everyday.

God's gifts of salvation and the church body are remarkably wonderful, and I hope that I will live everyday life with more appreciation of how extraordinary He really makes it.

Swing States

I spent some time the past few days going over the Electoral Vote map and the latest polls for individual states. (There is a really good web feature at where they allow you to see the polls by state and adjust which way the state goes to see an electoral vote total.)

Okay, remember, 270 electoral votes required to win. Okay, I would include the following in a list of Swing States: AR, IA, MN, WI, OH, PA, FL, NH and NM. (Other states that the media is considering close are as follows: OR, MI and ME which I have in Kerry's camp; and NV, CO, MO and WV which I have in Bush's camp.)

With this as a starting point - the electoral votes look as follows:
Bush - 221
Kerry - 207
Contested - 110

Here is an update on some of the latest polls in important battleground states:
State __________ Bush ___ Kerry
Arkansas (6) _______ 48 _____ 48 (Oct 18-20)
Iowa (7) __________ 48 _____ 47 (Oct 18-20)
Minnesota (10) _____ 48 _____ 48 (Oct 18-20)
Wisconsin (10) ______ 49 ____ 46 (Oct 17-19)
Ohio (20) _________ 46 _____ 50 (Oct 17-21)
Pennsylvania (21) ___ 46 _____ 48 (Oct 17-22)
Florida (27) _______ 46 _____ 46 (Oct 19-21)
New Hampshire (4) __ 41 _____ 50 (Oct 18-21)
New Mexico (5) _____ 46 _____ 48 (Oct 16-18)

A few interesting tidbits:

1. No Republican has ever won the Presidency without carrying Ohio.
2. If MN goes Bush, that is really a coup. MN is generally considered one of the more liberal states around.
3. WI is similar, while not as liberal, it is a generally progressive state that went Gore.
4. Interesting sidenote - CO has a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would split the electoral votes based on percentage of votes. CO is close - with Bush looking to pull out a win, but very close. The amendment could be retroactive if passed - thus if passed, the 9 electoral votes would be split 5 to 4. Currently, the amendment is losing in some fairly close polls.
5. Although the big battleground states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are absolutely of incredibly high priority - in my opinion several smaller states are going to provide interesting battles - and could decide the election. (In 2000, Florida was the focus, but I've always felt it more important to note that Gore could have lost Florida and still won the election by winning his home state of Tennessee and Clinton's home of Arkansas. Two small states, but they would have put him over the top.) In 2004, AR is again a completely over-looked swing state. There are very real scenarios where Kerry could lose Florida, but it he was to win AR, he could get over the top. Other smaller states with similar potential are New Mexico and New Hampshire.

Today the Candidates will be campaigning:
Bush - Wisconsin and Iowa
Cheney - Florida

Kerry - Wisconsin, Nevada, New Mexico, and Iowa
Edwards - Minnesota and Pennsylvania

And my Oct. 26 guess at which way the states will fall:
Kerry - MN, OH, PA, NH, NM
Bush - AR, IA, WI, FL
Bush 271 - 267 Kerry

Rehnquist in Hostpital

A few links to the story:

The US SC Press Release Press Release Regarding Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist

CNN Article Rehnquist has thyroid cancer surgery

MSNBC Article Doctors spliton Rehnquist prognosis

CNN Analysis A Rehnquist vacancy would be huge

MSNBC Analysis Rehnquist illness sets off election alarms

It currently looks as if the Court expects Mr. Justice Rehnquist back at bench by next Monday. If he is unable to return by then, the court proceeds with the docket with 8 Justices. If he is able to be back on bench, this will have no affect on this term. If he is to be out for an extended period of time, however, this could definitely impact this term. A 4-4 vote will uphold the lower court decision.

I wish Mr. Justice Rehnquist a speedy recovery to full health.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


[Deep sigh...]

I think we can officially call this 'Kids Weekend'. Do you ever have weekends that tire you out more than the work week? That's this weekend - and it's only Saturday night.

We spent Friday's dinner with Noah's cousins (our niece and nephew). Saturday, after Shana's run, we picked up the cousin's again and went to the Fall Festival at the West University church of Christ. It was raining in the morning, but they made the best of it inside, and the weather eventually cleared enough to have some outside activity as well (a train and a big jumping thingy). It was a blast for all the kids. (And I even ran into a Law School classmate who is a member at West U - I had no idea - and a couple of people I recognized, or recognized me, from Harding - that was pretty wild.)

Tonight we had some friends over we hadn't gotten together with for too long - a couple who are expecting and a friend with a little three year old boy and a girl about Noah's age. We made dinner and caught up. But it's amazing how things have changed - we all became friends almost six years ago when we were working at the same place. Our careers have all led in different directions (I'm the only one at the same place), we're all married, some with kids, some expecting, and those kids have become so much of our lives - playing with them, feeding them, making sure they are killing each other!

But days like to day let me know I'm getting old. All those kids wear me out! When we left the Fall Festival, I could have called it a day. This evening, everyone was out of here by 9:30, and I would have sworn it was 2AM I'm so tired. Those kids must get their limitless energy by sucking it out of me! But it is is an incredible feeling seeing Noah so happy - chasing his cousins, trying to throw a ball at target just like the big kids, playing with his toys with his friends. Tomorrow is going to continue the trend - we teach the 4-year old class at church and then to our Sunday evening life group which has a number of kids. Yep, it's 'kid weekend' and it's been an exhausting treasure!

Friday, October 22, 2004

The US SC and the Establishment Clause

Another good commentary from Find Law: Two Important Establishment Clause Issues the Supreme Court Will Decide this Term

This term the Supreme Court has taken cases dealing with two diverse areas within the Establishment Clause, and this article is a nice breakdown of the fact patterns in those individual cases, and an overview of this Court's treatment of church and state issues. I think the author does a nice job of demonstrating the legal basis for the Court's general treatment of this area of the First Amendment on a case by case, fact-sensative manner - instead trying to determine a black-letter law that does not exist within the Constitution.

A couple of quotes from the article:

There is more liberty when the government stays neutral toward religion, rather than becoming the vehicle for spreading religious messages.
Where the government transparently endorses a religious viewpoint, as was the case with Roy Moore Ten Commandments, the Establishment Clause violation is readily apparent. ... On the other hand, however, education about religion, or through reference to religion, is not unconstitutional. Indeed, it is a valuable part of any education. Thus, the hard question in each case is whether the particular displays cross the line from permissible education to government endorsement.

Here is the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The author of the article, Marci A. Hamilton, is a Visiting Scholar at the Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Levels of Losing

I don't believe in superstitions...or jinxes. But I do believe in being safe. I hadn't posted about the Astros - not for fear of stalling the momentum by doing anything different - just to be safe... Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

An absolutely improbable, exciting, stomach churning run came to an end tonight. From compltely written off on Aug. 15 to the 7th game of the NLCS. Mind boggling. My fear is that with this run ending - so ends the hope of the Hall of Fame for Biggio and Bagwell, but I may just be getting ahead of myself.

I read the Sports Guy (Bill Simmons) alot. Back on May 28, 2002 he wrote an article on the "Levels of Losing".

I think tonight qualifies as a Level III: The Guillotine - Definition: This one combines the devastation of the Broken Axle game with sweeping bitterness and hostility ... your team's hanging tough (..., they might even be winning), but you can feel the inevitable breakdown coming, and you keep waiting for the guillotine to drop, and you just know it's coming -- you know it -- and when it finally comes, you're angry that it happened and you're angry at yourself for contributing to the debilitating karma ... these are the games when people end up whipping their remote controls against a wall or breaking their hands while pounding a coffee table ... too many of these and you'll end up in prison.
Best Example: Game 7 of the '97 World Series (Indians-Marlins), when Cleveland's Jose Mesa gave up the game-tying run in the ninth inning. Every Indians fan knew it was coming. Of course, the '97 World Series never happened, so it's probably a moot point. We need to get that one wiped out of the record books.

Just excruciating. (In case you're wondering - yes, I looked that article up before the game, because I knew this post was coming. Talking about contributing to the debilitating karma...) Excuse me while I go cry myself to sleep.

9th Cir Rules whales and dolphins cannot sue Bush

Saw this on the Jurist - Paper Chase yesterday:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the world's population of marine mammals do not have standing to sue President George W. Bush or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The lawsuit, filed by attorney and animal activist Lanny Sinkin, was brought on behalf of the world's population of whales, dolphins and porpoises, described by their attorney as the Cetacean Community. The lawsuit claimed that the US Navy violated the Endangered Species Act because it damaged marine mammal tissue through the Navy's use of long range, low-frequency sonar. In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit held that the reason animals could not sue was not merely the fact that they were animals, but that they had not been granted the right to sue. Read the Ninth Circuit's opinion. More here.

After you look past the sheer oddity of the case - it is actually really interesting from a Civil Procedure perspective. Standing to sue involves two questions. First, the issue or injury involved must satisfy the "case or controversy" requirement in Article III in the Constitution. The 9th Circuit held that there is nothing within the Constitution that limits suits to only human individuals. But if a Plaintiff has sastisfied the "case or controversy" clause, the second question is whether a statute has conferred "standing" on the plaintiff. The plaintiff in this case (The Cetacean Community) was suing under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. After an analysis of each of these pieces of federal legislation, the Court determined that each confirmed standing only to "persons". That becomes a really facinating question, however, because several of those Acts - and legislation in general - define "persons" as including inanimate entities (corporations, associations, agencies, etc.). In an absolute stellar piece of lawyering, the attorney was careful to argue that he was not bringing suit on behalf of individual whales, dolphins and porpoises - but the Cetacean Community - an association of the animals. He argued that the association would have standing. The Court rejected that argument based on the assumption that an agency has standing because its individual members would have standing if suing on their own. A really great bit of lawyering and a really nicely formed opinion from the Court...which leaves open the opportunity for the legislature to confer standing upon animal groups in environmental law in the future. Really good stuff!

TV for MLS Playoffs

Current TV scheudle for the first round of MLS playoffs:

Friday, Oct 22
LA at Colorado - 8:30 Central - FoxSportsWorld/HDNet

Saturday, Oct 23
Columbus at New England - 6:30 Central - FoxSportsWorld (tape delayed)
DC at MetroStars - 6:30 Central - FoxSportsWorld/MSG

Sunday, Oct 24
Kansas City at San Jose - 4:00 Central - ESPN2

Saturday, Oct 30
San Jose at Kansas City - 7:30 Central - TBD
Colorado at LA - 9:00 Central - FoxSportsWorld
MetroStars at DC - 6:00 Central - FoxSportsWorld/HDNet

Sunday, Oct 31
New England at Columbus - 4:00 Central - ESPN2

To this point, each game has national TV coverage (FoxSportsWorld is national, but generally available on digital cable) except SJ at KC. The entire playoffs are also available on the Direct Kick sports package from InDemand.

If your not traditionally a soccer fan, you should try to catch one of the ESPN2 matches. Especially the game Sunday between SJ and KC - both of those teams generally play good, fairly attractive soccer that a non-soccer fan should be able to enjoy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Playoff Breakdown

Well, I haven't posted about the playoffs yet - but I suppose it's about time for me to breakdown my thoughts on how it's all going to shake out.

The first round is home and home, semifinals are at the higher seed and the MLS Cup will be played in LA at Victoria Street. (What?!?, no, no, I'm talking about the Major League Soccer playoffs.)

In the Eastern Conference, the Columbus Crew take a 18 game unbeaten streak and the #1 seed in the East to Boston to face the #4 NE Revolution. The Crew are undefeated this year against the Revs and haven't lost on the road since late June. NE had a down year and squeaked into the playoffs with a win last weekend. The Crew missed the playoffs last year but rebounded finishing 2004 with the best record in MLS. The Revs will need a win at home to open to have any chance of advancing in the two game aggregate goal series.
Prediction: Crew

#2 DC United travels to NY to open their series with #3 Metrostars. This matchup is one of the biggest rivalries in MLS (the Atlantic Cup), and that intensity will only be heightened in the playoffs. DC finished the season with a flourish to steal the second seed away from Metros - seeing an in form Freddy Adu close out his first professional season leading United to a couple of victories. Metros are a talented team that seemed in control of the Eastern conference early in the season, but lost the plot at home and stumbled toward the end. Adu's form may be telling for United in his first trip to the playoffs, and first year coach Piotr Nowak will have to keep the intensity up facing the MLS' all time winningest coach in Metros' Bob Bradley.
Prediction: Metros

Out West, #1 seed Kansas City Wizards lock horns with the incredibly dangerous #4 San Jose Earthquakes. The 2003 MLS Cup Champion Quakes never really found their form under first year coach Dom Kinnear - but with Landon Donovan, Brian Ching, Chris Mullen, Richard Mulrooney, and Pat Onstad in the squad, this team will be very dangerous. 2004 was a dream season in many ways for the Wizards. After losing 2003 MLS MVP Preki for the entire season due to injury, losing leading striker Igor Simutenkov for the first half of 2004, then injury ending US National Chris Klein's season just before the all star break, no one expected KC to sit atop the west. But an in form Josh Wolff and a goal explosion from little known Davy Arnaud and the best defense in the West took them top.
Prediction: Quakes

#2 LA Galaxy fired head coach Sigi Schmidt mid-season when the Galaxy were sitting in first place in the West with a cushion. After Steve Sampson took over, the Galaxy took a slide that saw them fearing for their playoff lives - but they have adjusted to the Sampson style and rounded out the season playing well and pushing back up to 2nd place. #3 Colorado Rapids are the surprise of the West. Behind the MVP season of keeper Joe Cannon, the Rapids simply did not allow goals. Of course, they didn't score many either, which is why they couldn't get above 3rd place.
Prediction: Galaxy

Crew v. Metrostars = This should be a fun match - I'm going to give the edge to the Crew since they are at home, and they've won two in a row over the Metros - with Edson Buddle ringing up 4 goals in one of those wins.
Prediction: Crew

Galaxy v. Quakes = For those of you who don't follow soccer, this is as intense a rivalry as there is in American sports. Last year, these clubs squared off in the first round of the playoffs. The Galaxy won the first match 2-0 at home and went up to San Jose and scored 2 more goals in the first 30 minutes. Since the first round is aggregate goals, that meant LA was up 4-0 with only 60 minutes of soccer to go. Then "the comeback" began. SJ reeled off 4 goals - sent the match into extra time and score a golden goal to advance - and ended up winning the MLS Cup. It was an unforgettable moment in MLS history. This year, the Quakes haven't shown the ability to put together consistent wins - but they will be up for the Galaxy.
Prediction: Earthquakes

MLS Cup:
The Crew are the team on a roll. The Earthquakes are the defending champion who never found their form in the regular season amidst rumors of the team being sold and moved to Houston. Both teams have a lot of talent, and have been playing more attractive soccer as of late. But, I think that the Quakes will have found their stride and make it 3 championships in 4 years.
Prediction: San Jose Earthquakes - 2004 MLS Champs

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

So what, exactly, is a coincidence, anyway?

I spent my pre-school and early elementary years in a tiny town in northeastern Arkansas. If you ask my wife - or my mom - they'd tell you I have the world's worst memory. But there are some things I still remember vividly from those early years:

I remember learning the song 'He Paid a Debt' on our car porch. I remember tornado drills, where my little brother and I would learn what to do in case of dangerous weather. I remember my dad's garden in the back yard, and the horse named Lucky that lived in the pasture across the street from our house. I remember listening to a song named 'Kansas City Lights' on the radio as a vaporizor hummed late at night in our bedroom.

And I remember 8-track tapes. In our car and at home, we'd listen to 8-track tapes. The Gatlin Brothers (All the Gold in California); the Oak Ridge Boys (Elvira) and Paul Simon. I'm sure there were many more, but those really stuck with me. Especially the Paul Simon - 'Me & Julio' and '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover'. It's kind of weird the things that stick after all those years...

My son, Noah, was born on February 18, 2003. We went to the hospital the night before, expecting to induce the next morning, but Shana went into labor while we were in the lobby waiting for a room. We had brought a CD player with us, and when we got in the room we were playing some music. As the night progressed, I put on Paul Simon Anthology. And it was funny what happened after that - everyone who came into the room, a couple of different nurses, the anesthesiologist (sp.) and our doctor, each made some comment like, "great music". It was almost a running joke, because everyone that stepped in the room made some comment. At around 2:15 (if I remember correctly) Noah was born - I still remember amdist all the confusion of that moment - seeing my son for the first time, holding the hand of my wife, and hearing Paul Simon singing "me & Julio down by the schoolyard". I can remember that moment vividly. And I can remember such an odd feeling - because as I was becoming a father, I remembered sitting in that old station wagon as this little kid in the 70's singing along...

A Window Into Their Capacity to Listen

The Candidates Clash on Abortion Law:A Window Into Their Capacity to Listen

Excellent piece from FindLaw today - the author of this piece is Sherry F. Colb, is Professor and Judge Frederick B. Lacey Scholar at Rutgers Law School-Newark.

A couple of quotes from the article:
When Kerry made a point of demonstrating respect for the pro-life
position that he does not happen to share, he included pro-life people
within the community that he intends to lead and represent as President of
the United States. Rather than being President only of those who share his
views and concerns, in other words, he aims to be President of

There is reason to believe that Bush does not share this aim of
representing all of the people. Unable to hear the dreams and fears of those
with whose values he disagrees, Bush seems to consider himself President of
only those who fall into his ideological camp.

I thought this was a really good commentary on the abortion debate and the article addresses the nuances of the issue involved. The Right is unwilling to accept rational debate of the arguments because they simply want to 'use' abortion as a 'wedge issue' to instill fear and win votes. (For a good comment on wedge issues, see Greg Taylor's blog entry from Monday, Oct. 18, 2004.) For the Right, it's not about leading America forward - it's about scaring up votes.

Monday, October 18, 2004

20k is a long way...

Yesterday morning Shana ran in a 20k race here in downtown Houston. Wow! 13 miles - she finished up right at 2:00. I cannot even imagine running that far - but she does it and enjoys it. She loves to run - it keeps her calm and at peace. It is great for her. Yesterday, during the run, she developed a blister on the side of her toe. She told me that she wanted to stop running somewhere in the middle because it was hurting so bad - but she was running with her sister who encouraged her to keep pressing on. The competitiveness between the two of them pushed each to run one of the strongest races they had ever run.

Anyway - Congratulations to Shana. Next up is a 25k in November - that's right at 16 miles. She's going run that one and make a decision on running the Houston Marathon in January. She ran the half-marathon (13 mi.) last year, and is considering the big one. (By the way - due to school and family commitments, she had run only once in the month leading up to the half-marathon, and that was only a 3 mile run - but she got out there and ran the whole thing. She is an absolute superwoman, if I do say so myself.)

Servant?!? Who, Me?

My wife and I attend a small group Bible study on Sunday evenings with a few other couples from our church. We’re studying through the Rick Warren book The Purpose Driven Life. Last night, the topic of conversation was service/ministry. And an interesting point of conversation centered on why is being a servant so difficult - what makes it hard. Let's face it, for most of us service is hard. There are those special people that we all know who seem to revel in meeting the needs of those around them, standing in the gap before it's even called upon, and truly loving every moment of it. I am so appreciative of those people - but they are a rare breed. Most of us struggle with the servant heart. Why is that?

Our discussion brought up two, and I've been thinking of a third reason why service is not natural to most of us. First, it is inconvenient. What does service mean? Usually, it means going the extra mile, performing the unheralded task, taking the hand of the homeless guy on the street, etc. If you’re like me, you live in a hectic world where you always have something else you need to be doing, or want to be doing. It’s a whole lot more convenient for me to justify to myself that my plans are more important, more urgent, more of a need that must be met. But it’s rarely the truth. The truth is I don’t want to be bothered. I want to get out of the parking lot quickly, instead of taking the time to talk to a brother who has been going through a rough time and I know will want to talk for a half hour. I want to get my son home and in bed before he gets fussy, instead of hanging around to put up chairs and tables and take out the trash. I want to get my lunch and get back to my office, instead of stopping and getting lunch for the homeless man on the corner next to the sandwich shop.

A second factor that makes service difficult is fear. The unknown is everyone’s biggest fear, and there are aspects of service that hold that unknown quantity. You consider stepping in to help a sister in her family’s time of need – but exactly how much is this going to cost in terms of time and money? You consider stopping and offering help to someone looking for work – but can you trust that person? Am I putting myself at risk physically, financially or with time constraints? Anytime we take up a ministry we are opening ourselves up to the unknown, this holds us back from meeting the needs that need to be met.

Finally, we live in a society that programs us with the desire to be served – not be servants. Look around at the images of success and power – it is the people who are being served, not doing the serving. I think one of the basic hindrances to service is that we view it as a sign of weakness. Aren’t people who take time to open up to the people around them showing vulnerability? Can’t we pay someone to perform the ‘menial tasks’? Isn’t the person who helps the homeless gullible? I mean, come on – I’ve paid my dues, I work hard, and I take care of my family and myself. I deserve a little more of the being served and a little less of the service. That is the attitude of our communities. But that is not the attitude of a servant.

But these reasons didn’t seem to stop Jesus. Was it convenient for him to touch a leper? Or how about the unknown that was involved – should there not have been some apprehension in serving someone with such a disease? What about the classic example of Jesus washing his apostles feet – if Jesus had commanded those apostles to serve Him, would they not have jumped at the opportunity? Was there ever a time when the service of Jesus seemed to be convenient for Him? Was there ever a time when he refused to meet a need out of fear? Was there ever a time when he put His own needs above those of those He was here to serve? And yet we do.

I tend to choose what is easy for me. Hmmm, sounds like self-centeredness, huh? Oh, no – I can list off all the wonderful “service projects” that I get involved with (occasionally). But it’s funny how those projects tend to “fit-in” to my plans. I’m the leader, or it involves a group of friends, or any number of other situations when the “service” is right for me. Selfishness is the foundation of each of these reasons not to be a servant – I choose my convenience; I want my security; I desire to have others serve me. But there is no selfishness in Christ:

Phillipians 2:4-11
4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

To be a servant our attitude should be that of Christ Jesus – if we model ourselves upon him – the self-centeredness falls away – and what is left is the heart to meet needs…the heart of a servant.