Sunday, June 28, 2009

Even More From Grand Rapids

Yesterday was the day that I actually spent doing synod related stuff.  First off was hearing Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.  Filing what I call the Bill Moyers Slot in the synod line-up, Robinson talked about race; specifically he focused on the diversity found the African-American community.  His talk got a little wonky at times but still good.  Robinson's best moments came when he talked about new development in the the African-American community; for example the increasing immigration from African countries to the U.S.  According to Robinson this group of African immigrants are most educated and well-off group of people to ever move to the U.S.

Then it was on to Barbara Brown Taylor.  Rev. Taylor talked about the importance of narrative in the age of Twitter.  The focus of her talk was the need for people to engage in a narrative that gives meaning to their lives.  She talked at length about how being a southerner means that she is immersed in a culture that is narrative based and one of those narratives is the Bible.   Taylor was great to listen to and as always its nice to have a southern voice at these proceedings.  

After a lunch at Quiznos I went with Pope Laura to her Rep. John Conyers (D-MI-14) talk about H.R. 676.  H.R. 676 is the house version of a bill to bring single-payer healthcare to the U.S.  Rep Conyers looked a little tired and scattered during his presentation.  However the bulk of his point is that healthcare is a continuation of the Civl Rights Movement.  A single payer would be cheaper because any raise in a person's taxes would be offset by savings in health care costs.   There would also be a health tax on the top 5% and 1% of earners.  Conyers said he would vote for a bill with a public plan if the public plan is strong.  He also said there are plans to offer an amendment to the House's "tri-committee" bill to make the single payer be the public plan.  One of the interesting things was Rep. Conyers snark and seemingly contemptuous attitude toward President Obama's healthcare plan.  Conyers said he remembers when Obama supported single payer as a state senator and "I have the tapes" where Obama supported a single payer.  He also said that the strength of the public option depended on the President and "my former colleague" White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel.  Conyer's tone indicated that he doubted Rahm could write a bill with a strong public option.  Conyers did give Laura and I a nod when he mentioned Obama's victory in the Iowa Caucuses.   Sitting with Pope Laura was great because at one time she worked as a staffer for a Senator and she gave a these little insights about what the staffers were doing.

The rest of the day was taken up by a great Italian place.  A group of us went to supper at Bistro Bella Vita.  I recommend the Spaghetti Bolognese.  So far two good places to eat and one just kind of so-so; 2 out of 3 restaurants is not a bad ratio.

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