Beer and baseball

A message for the holiday season from Ed Fallon. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I’ve gotta tell you this crazy dream I had last night about beer and baseball. I was playing major league baseball (yeah, only in my dreams). I came to the plate and struck out four times (ok, that part’s realistic). After my last strikeout, I sauntered out to center field where I was surprised to find my rocking chair. I sat down and prepared to watch the rest of the game.

The other team’s leading slugger stepped up to the plate. Suddenly, the fans rose to their feet while children poured onto the field. Led by a seven-year-old girl standing at the pitcher’s mound, everyone raised a beer to toast the slugger, singing, “We like beer, yes we like our beer.” The girl and other under-age kids raised cans and bottles of soda pop instead.

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How one Iowa candidate with small kids could make a big difference

Running for office is time-consuming and expensive. Even a local race involves so many tasks, only some of which can be delegated to staff or volunteers. Some political junkies aren’t cut out for knocking thousands of doors, asking supporters for money, and attending community events several nights a week. Others have strong skills, work ethic, and the desire to serve, but can’t see a way to juggle the demands of a campaign with family responsibilities.

Some Iowa candidate has an opportunity to make running for office a more realistic option for them.

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John Norris for a better future

Scott County activist Emilene Leone joined the statewide steering committee for John Norris last month. Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for candidates in competitive Democratic primaries. Please read these guidelines before writing. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I am strongly endorsing John Norris for Iowa governor, and I encourage all concerned parents here in Iowa to do the same. John Norris is the best choice to protect Iowa’s future for our children.

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School choice isn't really a choice

Tanya Keith does the math: tax credits to support “school choice” would mainly help families who can afford to send their kids to private school anyway. -promoted by desmoinesdem

When I hear people talking about “school choice,” I wonder if they really know what’s involved in choosing a school that’s not your neighborhood public school. We knew we wanted our oldest of three kids to attend the Downtown School, an open enrollment school within Des Moines Public Schools, and we put her on the list before she was born. I was thrilled to learn that she made the list in Kindergarten, but I was naïve to the effort it would take to complete her education there.

We are raising the only grandchildren in a family where both grandmothers are experts in early childhood education, so I was willing to go the extra mile for a top quality education for my children. What I didn’t realize is I would be going the extra 12.2 miles, every day, all school year long. Our first five years, we drove 6.1 miles each way to get our child to school. Let’s do a little math with that:

12.2 miles x $.54 (the IRS mileage allowance for 2016) x 174 school days = $1,146.31

That’s one child at one school, but that’s not the end of the expense.

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Weekend open thread: Christmas and Chanukah edition

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to Bleeding Heartland readers who are celebrating today, and Happy Kwanzaa to those who will be celebrating tomorrow.

Did you know that Christmas “was not among the earliest festivals of the Church”? If you enjoy reading about historical origins of religious traditions, I recommend this post on the New Advent website, along with “How December 25 Became Christmas” by Andrew McGowan, dean and president of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University. Contrary to popular belief that Christians chose a birthday for Jesus in order to appropriate pagan celebrations around the winter solstice, McGown argues that “the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover.”

I also enjoyed Kenneth Bailey’s analysis of the manger and the inn. More Christmas-related links are here.

The eight-day festival of Chanukah began last night, unusually late because an extra month was added to the lunar calendar during this Jewish version of a leap year. For those celebrating Chanukah with children, my best advice is to buy extra boxes of candles. Kids love to help load the menorahs, and they will break some candles.

I recommend Rabbi Brant Rosen’s reflections on a “tragic irony”: “the festival of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday that commemorates an ancient uprising against an oppressive Assyrian ruler, is being observed as we hear the unbearably tragic reports coming from an uprising in modern-day Syria.” Follow Rosen’s links if you are interested in the ongoing debate among modern Jews about the Maccabees. Were the heroes of the Chanukah story religious fanatics who acted like the Taliban have done in Afghanistan during our lifetimes, carrying out a “civil war” against fellow Jews? Or were the Maccabees the freedom fighters celebrated by early Zionists? David Frum makes the case that the “miracle of the oil” lasting for eight days “is not the reason for the holiday. It’s a revision compiled six centuries after the fact, at a time when the true reasons for the holiday had become too embarrassing to remember.”

Rabbi Robin Podolsky is for celebrating the miracle and not viewing the Maccabees as the modern-day Taliban. But even he acknowledges,

Sadly but not shockingly, the Hasmonean dynasty launched by the Maccabees turned out to be as corrupt and decadent as everything it sought to replace. They even turned aggressively on their neighbors, seeking to convert others to Judaism by force, much as the Seleucids had attempted to convert the Jews. Contemporary Zionists who paint the Maccabees as entirely positive role models might want to remember this, especially in the context of current events. How is the “stubbornness” of Palestinians who insist on a sovereign state so different from that of our ancestors? How to make sure we don’t switch roles in the drama?

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

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