Saturday, June 21, 2008
That said, it is not surprising that the Muslim community in America is often invisible, ignored or worse, feared. It is unfortunate that the words "Muslim" and "terrorist" seem to have become synonymous in our lexicon. That, I suspect is because of media images and racism both subtle and not-so-subtle. Hate radio talkers like Rush Limbaugh have painted the entire religion as something to be feared. Their limited understanding, or worse, their purposeful characterizations have affected the nations psyche. We have a hard time separating the majority of the followers of Islam from radical fundamentalists.
It is no surprise that a new movement has begin in this country and worldwide as well. It is a movement to reform Islam and to demystify it for the non-Muslim community. The Muslims Against Shaira is a group dedicated to moving Islam into the 21st century. They are rational and seem very dedicated to their task. The goals of the group as stated on their web site are as follows:
- to educate Muslims about dangers presented by Islamic religious texts and why Islam must be reformed
- to educate non-Muslims about the differences between moderate Muslims and Islamists (a.k.a. Islamic Religious Fanatics, Radical Muslims, Muslim Fundamentalists, Islamic Extremists or Islamofascists)
- to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims alike that Moderate Muslims are also targets of Islamic Terror
I became aquainted with the group when a member posted a comment on this blog. He was responding to the story about Barack Obama's web site that was designed to fight the smears being aimed at him. Rightly so, the comment said thet the term "Muslim" is not a slur and treating it as such validates it's defamatory power.
I would invite all my readers to check Muslims Against Sharia and read for yourself what this group is doing to reform the religion and societies views of it. I found their message to be encouraging and hopeful. I have several Muslim friends who have told me many of the same things I read on the website. It's something every American should understand. Just as fundamentalist Christianity is not the only face of the religion , fundamentalist Islam is not the only face of Islam.
I am a Christian, but I was raised a Jew. I made my decision to convert after a lot of research and careful consideration. In my search for a church I read much about Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Hinduism and more. I really found it enlightening not only in making my choice, but in understanding the diversity of beliefs in the world. I would encourage everyone to do the same.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Clumps and what appear to be rocks vanish over three days. Unless there are little Martians hauling the rocks away it means these clumps sublimated. That means they were held together by water and it turned to gas, basically evaporating from the surface. Finally, proof that there is water on the surface of Mars!
That is huge news. From recent research here on earth we have found that almost everywhere there is water, there can be life and though it might be microscopic that life, if it exists on Mars, is first contact!
That is really exciting to me. All my life I have dreamed of finding life on another planet and though it isn't little green men, it might just be a clue as to the prevalence of life in the universe.
Now that is really cool!
More specifically, he said Bush and Cheney asked him to lie that the staff wasn't involved in the outing of a CIA covert agent. That's pretty damning, and I have to wonder how much longer House Speaker Pelosi can stonewall impeachment.
He further implicates White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card as tellig him to say Scooter Libby was not involved. If you have seen a news report in the past 5 years you know Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI during its investigation of the leak.
Not surprisingly, Bush commuted Libby's sentence and he never served a single day of his two and a half year prison sentence. Where is the outrage folks?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The charges were prompted by a complaint by the church's former Youth Minister. She claims they had a sexual relationship and that they engaged in sex both at the church and at his home.
Pastor James Virtue Robinson IV denies the charges and says he will be proven innocent. The accuser was 16 at the time of the alleged assaults. Pastor Robinson is free on bail, but the church website has disappeared from the Internet and according to press reports his phone number has been disconnected.
I think I managed to get through it without embarrassing myself too much and the host and I hit it off pretty well. One of the last things we discussed was the possibility of a 3rd part candidate being a "spoiler" in the campaign. My money is on Ron Paul. Even though he is not the libertarian candidate, he has a really loyal following and it might be strong enough to siphon of some GOP votes. It would be nice to see that after the years of Ralph Nader doing the same for the Democrats.
If any of you heard the interview, let me know what you thought. I don't have Sirius, so I couldn't record it. Oh well, I hear myself talk enough. Besides, the last thing my partner needs is to have to listen to me rant on the radio, he gets enough of my pontificating live and in-person.
Today it's a worldwide holiday of emancipation and freedom.
Why does a white guy from Dallas celebrate it? Well I sincerely believe "until all are free none are free", and emancipation freed the citizens of Texas from the oppressive spirit of slavery.
Freeing the slaves freed the slave owner as well, though few celebrated it at the time. From my childhood I remember African-Americans celebrating the day with picnics and feasts. Now I join my African-American friends in that celebration and we chow down on some great food with good friends.
Looking forward to some of that this weekend!
Who, but a certifiable moron, calls a press conference with outstanding warrants in the District of Columbia? He had intended to legitimize his wild stories by telling them to an audience of interested reporters. Instead he stepped before a small group of spectators, all primed for a show.
According to David Weigel of Reason Magazine, Sinclair, his kilt-wearing lawyer (disbarred in DC) and a few other assorted odd, and I really mean odd folks showed up to conduct the conference. Sinclair attempted to answer questions, but failed to keep even the dates and times of his alleged encounters with Senator Obama straight.
Finally he unceremoniously left the room where he was promptly arrested by Washington DC police as a "fugitive from justice".
All in all it sounds like a good side show with the only news worthy event being Sinclair's arrest. Not that I expected anything more.
Worse still was the notice posted about the event which purported to be the "truth about Barack Obama". This was at the National Press Club after all, you would expect at least a little truth about the real nature of the event. Perhaps the notice should have read, "Fugitive Criminal and Pathological Liar Holds Event for Those Easily Amused".
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."
Now all that is needed is a Congress and Attorney General willing to prosecute the criminals.
CNN reported that Mike Huckabee in a speech in Tokyo at the Foreign Corrispondents Club said, "Republicans will make a fundamental if not fatal mistake if they seek to win the election by demonizing Barack Obama.”
He went on to call Obama's victory as a “ landmark achievement”. He emphasized that he hopes John McCain beats Obama in November, but that Republicans should focus on policy differences, not race.
Perhaps he should tell this to the people circulating those hate-emails about Obama?
- Florida: Obama edges McCain 47 - 43 percent;
- Ohio: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent;
- Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 52 - 40 percent.
He has reserved the Holeman Lounge at downtown Washington's National Press Club to try to spread his story to the mainstream media. The problem is that Sinclair has a 27 year rap sheet with criminal records including convictions for forgery and a 16 year prison sentence. There is also an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Pueblo County, Colorado. I have to wonder if he won’t find a sheriff waiting for him at the alleged press conference?
Sinclair has already failed a polygraph test which he took after an offer from a website of $100,000 if he passed it. Now he is trying one last time for fame and fortune. I suspect the Fox News folks will be on hand and a variety of far right bloggers and once again he will be a blip on the radar screen.
Why a news outlet would let a man with 16 aliases in his arrest record have a single moment of air time is a mystery to me. Any news group who covers this fiasco deserves any derision they get. The sad thing is it will once again stir the hate jabbers on the internet and the rumor will make the rounds once again. Where are the wackos claiming they had sex with McCain? Oh yea, they are probably already in nursing homes! Sorry I had to do it, just too easy a joke.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The video was designed to do exactly what it did. It spread like a virus. It was emailed to me and several other people by someone who thought it was appalling. It was, but the problem with sending it to a whole raft of friends is that they will do the same and somewhere down the line it will land in someone’s mailbox who believes the innuendo and racist crap it was designed to promote. It is those people who will spread it to their friends who are perhaps fighting their own fears and before long it’s a big internet hit!
These viral videos work. I remind you that the clip of Rev. Wright started that way. Unfortunately for Senator Obama, his former reverend saw the publicity as his 15 minutes of fame and ran with it. Now that clip gets hacked even further and only the most fiery words remain. Sprinkle them in a series of cuts of GOP pundits calling Obama “Osama” and a few photos of smiling black faces of people that are purported to be Obama’s family in Kenya and you have a recipe for fear and hate.
The sad truth is that in our country racism is hidden under a very thin veneer of civility. It only takes a tiny scratch to see the ugly fears. I do believe most people sincerely try to avoid racist remarks and beliefs, but I am not a Pollyanna. I grew up hearing people use the “N” word with impunity and watched riots in the streets of LA and Detroit. My family made a conscious effort to raise me with an unbiased view of people no matter what their color, but societal influences still took their toll.
It is almost impossible for a person of the baby boom generation to not have at least a few dark places in their mind where racist fears can still fester. I am not a bigot by any means, but sometime I have to hold back the knee jerk reaction that is ingrained by those societal impressions. It is not fun and I don’t act on them, but I suspect if I was bombarded with enough racist crap I might be influenced. Just a little, and that little is all it takes for these kind of viral campaigns to be effective.
The same tactic has been used against the gay and lesbian community for years as well, and I have watched people say amazingly ignorant things about my lifestyle. I suspect they are really just average folks who have had their fears supercharged by repeated exposure to hate speech. Words are really powerful things. Videos are even more so.
So here is my plan. I will not circulate any video like this that is sent to me and I encourage you to do the same. Don’t forward it, don’t post it on a MySpace page, don’t participate in the hate campaign. We can stop this crap and help change our country.
Now go out and start working to elect Barack Obama as the next president of the United States, I know I will.
Monday, June 16, 2008
There will likely be a crunch for Toyota Hybrids for the remainder of the model year since battery production is the bottleneck. In that respect, even though Toyota increased production of models like the Prius, they failed to anticipate just how great the demand would be. Detroit on the other hand just failed.
Meanwhile, Honda introduces its new all electric Hydrogen fuel cell car. It’s scheduled for delivery in California to some high profile drivers as a promotional stunt, but later in the year more will become available on a lease basis only right now. The company also will introduce a gas/electric model of the same car next year as well.
For more information go to MSNBCs website. I will not include a link because of the Associated Press content restrictions and failure to respect "fair use" conventions.
Watch it and see how our state legislature casts votes for not only themselves but for absent representatives. It's a clear case of voter fraud and yet, the legislature gets away with it.
Thanks to bayareahouston for the link!
Good morning. It's good to be home on this Father's Day with my girls, and it's an honor to spend some time with all of you today in the house of our Lord.
At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus closes by saying, "Whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock." [Matthew 7: 24-25]
Here at Apostolic, you are blessed to worship in a house that has been founded on the rock of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. But it is also built on another rock, another foundation - and that rock is Bishop Arthur Brazier. In forty-eight years, he has built this congregation from just a few hundred to more than 20,000 strong - a congregation that, because of his leadership, has braved the fierce winds and heavy rains of violence and poverty; joblessness and hopelessness. Because of his work and his ministry, there are more graduates and fewer gang members in the neighborhoods surrounding this church. There are more homes and fewer homeless. There is more community and less chaos because Bishop Brazier continued the march for justice that he began by Dr. King's side all those years ago. He is the reason this house has stood tall for half a century. And on this Father's Day, it must make him proud to know that the man now charged with keeping its foundation strong is his son and your new pastor, Reverend Byron Brazier.
Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.
But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing - missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.
You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.
How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom? How many are sitting in prison when they should be working, or at least looking for a job? How many in this generation are we willing to lose to poverty or violence or addiction? How many?
Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.
But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one.
We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That's what keeps their foundation strong. It's what keeps the foundation of our country strong.
I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren't as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was two years old, and I only knew him from the letters he wrote and the stories that my family told, I was luckier than most. I grew up in Hawaii, and had two wonderful grandparents from Kansas who poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me - who worked with her to teach us about love and respect and the obligations we have to one another. I screwed up more often than I should've, but I got plenty of second chances. And even though we didn't have a lot of money, scholarships gave me the opportunity to go to some of the best schools in the country. A lot of kids don't get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives. So my own story is different in that way.
Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother - how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle - that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock - that foundation - on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.
I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father - knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more; wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now. I say this knowing all of these things because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers - whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb.
The first is setting an example of excellence for our children - because if we want to set high expectations for them, we've got to set high expectations for ourselves. It's great if you have a job; it's even better if you have a college degree. It's a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don't just sit in the house and watch "SportsCenter" all weekend long. That's why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we've got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That's how we build that foundation.
We know that education is everything to our children's future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires.
You know, sometimes I'll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there's all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it's just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn't cut it today. Let's give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!
It's up to us - as fathers and parents - to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It's up to us to say to our daughters, don't ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It's up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we live glory to achievement, self respect, and hard work. It's up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.
The second thing we need to do as fathers is pass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy - the ability to stand in somebody else's shoes; to look at the world through their eyes. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in "us," that we forget about our obligations to one another. There's a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft - that we can't show weakness, and so therefore we can't show kindness.
But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it's no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That's why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you're not strong by putting other people down - you're strong by lifting them up. That's our responsibility as fathers.
And by the way - it's a responsibility that also extends to Washington. Because if fathers are doing their part; if they're taking our responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway.
We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid them. We should get rid of the financial penalties we impose on married couples right now, and start making sure that every dime of child support goes directly to helping children instead of some bureaucrat. We should reward fathers who pay that child support with job training and job opportunities and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit that can help them pay the bills. We should expand programs where registered nurses visit expectant and new mothers and help them learn how to care for themselves before the baby is born and what to do after - programs that have helped increase father involvement, women's employment, and children's readiness for school. We should help these new families care for their children by expanding maternity and paternity leave, and we should guarantee every worker more paid sick leave so they can stay home to take care of their child without losing their income.
We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if we meet our obligations as fathers and parents; even if Washington does its part too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives. There will still be days of struggle and heartache. The rains will still come and the winds will still blow.
And that is why the final lesson we must learn as fathers is also the greatest gift we can pass on to our children - and that is the gift of hope.
I'm not talking about an idle hope that's little more than blind optimism or willful ignorance of the problems we face. I'm talking about hope as that spirit inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us if we're willing to work for it and fight for it. If we are willing to believe.
I was answering questions at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin the other day and a young man raised his hand, and I figured he'd ask about college tuition or energy or maybe the war in Iraq. But instead he looked at me very seriously and he asked, "What does life mean to you?"
Now, I have to admit that I wasn't quite prepared for that one. I think I stammered for a little bit, but then I stopped and gave it some thought, and I said this:
When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me - how do I make my way in the world, and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want.
But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I'm leaving them. Are they living in a county where there's a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day? Are they living in a county that is still divided by race? A country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don't cooperate effectively with other nations? Are they living a world that is in grave danger because of what we've done to its climate?
And what I've realized is that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children - all of our children - a better world. Even if it's difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don't get very far in our lifetime.
That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents. We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day. That is my prayer for all of us on this Father's Day, and that is my hope for this country in the years ahead. May God Bless you and your children. Thank you.
I would think if I were a pop celebrity, knowing that such fame is fleeting as best I would at least stay sober long enough to pick up a $2 million paycheck for a single nights performance.
According to one report, this celebrity diva staggered through her songs and occasionally flashed the front row with her lack of underwear. Maybe that is why she is famous? God knows the world can always use another sleazy pole-dancer.
The above post has no known Associated Press content.
That said, I find it pretty odd that the Associated Press has begin cracking down on bloggers using quotes from AP stories online. When they hit the Drudge Report for a 39 word excerpt it got my attention. I often quote news stories in my blogging and editorial writing for publications. It falls under the category of “fair use” as I understand it. Apparently, AP wants a “no use” policy in the future.
Such a draconian restriction will severely limit the spread of news and information. I always link to the original article and try to give proper attribution to excerpts. To deny bloggers the use of this will have a chilling effect on the entre free flow of information in blogs. I would not be surprised if the traffic to AP’s affiliates web sites will drop and with that drop a fall in ad revenues as well.
I will respect the wishes of the Associated Press and try to refrain from ever using a quote from an AP story. I will continue to use AP stories as source material, and that is as it should be, but I will no longer link to any articles that bear the AP brand. I hope my readers will have the intellectual curiosity to seek those stories out on their own. Meanwhile the blogosphere will continue with or without the Associated Press.
Interested readers may go to the New York Times and read the article entitled: "The Associated Press to Set Guidelines for Using Its Articles in Blogs " No link included to assure there will be no copyright infringement.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
“How can I be proud of my country?" he was asked at a town hall meeting.
"I'll admit to you that it's tough, it's tough in some respects," McCain answered. He then went on to say America needs to be "more humble, more inclusive."
McCain is saying the same thing Michelle Obama was saying in her appearance, but for some reason, Fox and the right wing talk radio folks haven’t condemned him. I wonder why?