Cuba Restrictions Lifted….Why The Wait?

For many of us the decision by President Obama today was the correct and moral one to take in regard to Cuba.  But there still remains the obvious question, why has it taken so many administrations to get even to this point?  I am not trying to point the finger so much at Republicans, or even conservative Democrats, but instead question how logic has been so far removed from foreign policy in regards to Cuba for all these decades.  When can all these arcane restrictionsbe lifted with one of our neighbors?  Let the trading and working relationship get underway.  The people want it, even if some out-of-touch politicians are not yet in the loop.

President Obama lifted all restrictions Monday on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances.

The move represents a significant shift in a U.S. policy that had remained largely unchanged for nearly half a century. It comes days before Obama leaves for a key meeting of hemispheric powers, the Summit of the Americas, in Trinidad and Tobago.

“President Obama has directed that a series of steps be taken to reach out to the Cuban people to support their desire to enjoy basic human rights and to freely determine their country’s future,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.

Obama also ordered new steps to promote the “freer flow of information among the Cuban people and between those in Cuba and the rest of the world, as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian items directly to the Cuban people,” Gibbs added.

The president took “these steps [in part] to help bridge the gap among divided Cuban families.”

Dogwood In Bloom

It is hard to get back into the normal routine today after a nice holiday weekend.  On top of the desire to stay in the slow lane came the depressing sleet pellets that danced all over everything on the west side of Madison while we were out doing errands.  YIKES…after all it is April 13th!  So to combat all that we found some decorative flags on sale at The Bruce Company.  One was a large sunflower with a honey bee on the petals, and the other a colorful dogwood (my mom’s favorite) with a bluebird.  Both flags jumped into our basket, and will help usher in warm weather…even when the cold rain tries to put the brakes on spring.

dogwood

UW-Madison Domestic Partner Health Insurance Town Hall Meeting April 21

On Tuesday April 21st at the Red Gym, in the “On Wisconsin C’ room from 4:00 P.M. until 5:15 there will be town hall meeting dealing with domestic health insurance ideas contained in Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s budget.  As we all are aware this is a most timely and important topic that deserves attention.  The entire Madison community is effected by this issue as so many of us have friends and neighbors that are a part of the UW.  Our community is best served when fairness and equality are the guiding principles by which we live.

All UW faculty and student body are encouraged to attend.

UW-Madison To Be Featured On MTV

I have not watched MTV in  a very long time.  That all changes in just hours.  Tonight the first of eight episodes featuring several students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along with their antics will be presented.  More than the students themselves I am curious about how the University of Wisconsin-Madison is presented, and how this city that we all love is shown to the whole nation.  (The show airs at 9:30 P.M. Central Time Monday night.)

Amid a blur of images of parties, dorm rooms, kissing and close-ups, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Kevin Tracy makes a confession: “I drank too much. I made a mistake, I’m sorry.”

This is the trailer for the new MTV reality series, “College Life,” premiering Monday night. The show follows the lives of four freshman at UW-Madison, including Tracy, who documented their first year of college with handheld cameras.

But perhaps the fifth star of the show is the campus itself, which is the backdrop to much of the drama that will play out over the course of eight episodes.

James Dobson: “We Can Say We Have Lost All Those Battles”

What must it have felt like when no one wanted to attend crushing by use of heavy rocks for ‘witches’ after the late 1600’s?  What happens when a ‘man of God’ calls for a holy war and no one comes?  What happens when the nation discovers that the culture war is nothing more than a hate-filled waste of time?  James Dobson might know the answer to all those  questions.

Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to the failure of the key objectives of their 30-year struggle.

James Dobson, 72, who resigned recently as head of Focus on the Family – one of the largest Christian groups in the country – and once denounced the Harry Potter books as witchcraft, acknowledged the dramatic reverse for the religious Right in a farewell speech to staff.

“We tried to defend the unborn child, the dignity of the family, but it was a holding action,” he said.

“We are awash in evil and the battle is still to be waged. We are right now in the most discouraging period of that long conflict. Humanly speaking, we can say we have lost all those battles.”

Despite changing the political agenda for a generation, and helping push the Republicans to the Right, evangelicals have won only minor victories in limiting the availability of abortion. Meanwhile the number of states permitting civil partnerships between homosexuals is rising, and the campaign to restore prayer to schools after 40 years – a decision that helped create the Moral Majority – has got nowhere.

Though the struggle will go on, the confession of Mr Dobson, who started his ministry from scratch in 1977, came amid growing concern that church attendance in the United States is heading the way of Britain, where no more than ten per cent worship every week.

Unease is rising that a nation founded – in the view of evangelicals – purely as a Christian country will soon, like northern Europe, become “post-Christian”.

Recent surveys have suggested that the American religious landscape has shifted significantly. A study by Trinity College in Connecticut found that 11 per cent fewer Americans identify themselves as Christian than 20 years ago. Those stating no religious affiliation or declaring themselves agnostic has risen from 8.2 per cent in 1990 to 15 per cent in 2008.

Despite a common distaste among evangelicals for the new Democratic president, who is regarded as at best a die-hard, pro-abortion liberal and at worst a Marxist, a serious rift is emerging among social conservatives in the wake of his election victory.

A growing legion of disenchanted grassroots believers does not blame liberal opponents for the decline in faith or the failures of the religious Right. Rather, they hold responsible Republicans – particularly Mr Bush – and groups like Focus on the Family that have worked with the party, for courting Christian voters only to betray promises of pursuing the conservative agenda once in office.

“Conservatives became so obsessed with the political process we have forgotten the gospel,” said Steve Deace, an evangelical radio talk show host in Iowa who broadcast a recording of Mr Dobson’s address, which he said had appeared on Focus on the Family’s website before disappearing.

Mr Deace added: “All that time spent trying to sit at the top table is not time well spent. Republicans say one thing and do another.”

In the southern Bible belt, many like the Rev Joe Morecraft, head of a small Presbyterian church near Atlanta, judge that the Christian movement failed not because its views were unpalatable for moderates and liberals, but because “it was not Christian enough”.

A deserter from the Republican Party, he said Christians had been corrupted by politics and needed to return to the basics of local social work and preaching the gospel, rather than devoting their “energies to getting a few people elected”.

He is not alone in questioning how evangelical leaders such as Mr Dobson could spend a career campaigning against abortion and then eventually support a candidate like Senator John McCain, who has dubious “pro-life” credentials.

Ray Moore, president of Exodus Mandate, a South Carolina-based group which organises home-schooling for Christian children, said: “Political involvement by Christians is not wrong, but that’s all the big groups did for 25 years. They were more concerned with fund-raising and political power than they were with our children’s welfare.”

“It’s a failed movement,” he said. “We will end up like England, where the church has utterly lost its way.”