Monthly Archives: March 2008

Who’s Wright?

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Today Christians celebrate Easter in a myriad of ways. As expected in America, marketing the Messiah means millions of minors tear into celophane sealed baskets, and the traditional engorgement of marshmallow chicks and chocolate bunnies ensues.

Churches on Easter Sunday are like health clubs on January 2nd; temporarily filled to capacity.

At home, Mom and Dad are left with the strewn debris of plastic egg halves, tiny pieces of aluminum foil, and various colors of “grass” strands that will vex the vacuum-cleaner until Halloween.

Ahhhh, it’s Christmas-lite.

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Now on to current issues of the day. My last post “WWJD” focused on my dissappointment with the comments by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. What I want to do today is look at this issue from a specific context; of him, his position and stature in his community.

As a leader of his church and influential to thousands of people in his community, I found his hateful speech to be more in line with the Hitlers of history. The idea that the words he spoke could somehow lead his flock to the promised land is no less frightening than those Imams fist-pumping for Jihad.

Those words only lead down one road. Hate. Destruction. Death.

Now having written THAT, I also have to submit this caveat:

I sympathize with his frustration. 

To judge this man without walking the proverbial mile in his shoes is wrong.  Judge what he said sure; let’s shout down the hate with love (that’s really what FOX, et al, are trying to do, right? um, sure).

But to throw out the pastor with the holy water is overkill.

Jeremiah Wright was born in 1941. Any ideas what it may have been like for a Black man growing up in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s? Wow, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.   

Mike Huckabee, the Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas, was quoted saying, “I grew up in a very segregated South. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m going to be probably the only conservative in America who’s going to say something like this, but I’m just telling you — we’ve got to cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told, ‘You have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant.’ ”

…and by the way, they were treated like that in their own country, where we treat ALL men equal, right?

What went on during those years was something so repugnant, we almost have to give free passes to anyone that managed to get through them.

They were ostracized because of their skin color. They were killed because of their skin color. Not because they commited a crime, but because of their skin color. Second. Class. Citizens.

And we want to RUSH (Limbaugh) to judge this how-dare-he-hate-America-man-of-the-cloth based on a two minute youtube clip.

Are you ready for YOUR entire life to be judged by what you spewed at one of your impassioned moments?

Think about ALL the ingredients that go into who YOU are. All the relationships, influences, obstacles, triumphs and failings. Add to that the context of your age.

Are you 24 and rip-roarin’ ready to take on the world? Are you 35 and trying to make VP and remodel the kitchen on weekends?

Are you 48 and have finally figured it out but realize the clock is no longer on your side? Are you 59 and think about the legacy you will leave behind?

Or are you 67? Knowing time is short and you no longer have to give a damn about what people think of you. So you speak your mind. And by the way, that mind of yours, at 68, may not be as tactful as it used to be.

Think about what you say as you remember the injustice, fear, frustration and desperation. 

We all have our proudest moments and our most embarrassing ones. The reality of who we are is most certainly not defined by either of those.

So to provide an ounce of counter-weight to this issue, I leave you with a photo of President Lyndon Johnson on a hospital gurney in 1966 (click on it to enlarge)…. 

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That U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman on the right was commended for his service.

It’s Jeremiah Wright.

Posted in Misc

WWJD

Regarding the now hourly replays of Jeremiah Wright’s “preaching”, it sounds to me like hateful, divisive, incidiary, vile, rhetoric and should be completely denounced by Sen. Obama, a member of his flock.

I am impressed with Sen. Obama’s composure and forthrightness in dealing with this issue (see below), but I am also disappointed with the tepid, detached tone of his response. I think it falls short. We either need more information and resources to get a better context of Wright’s inexcuseable statements, or we need more deonouncement of them. 

To mostly rely on the “I wasn’t there when he said it, and if I were…” approach is to open himself up to a HUGE vulnerability; the almost sure bet that he was there at some point when Wright spewed something vile. And there will be someone with cell-phone imagery or video that proves he was there. It will happen; ask Roger Clemens, ask Elliot Spitzer.

And when it does, he becomes another in a long line of public figures who says one thing but does another.

Sigh. 

I don’t believe he is staying true to the ideal that he wants to represent. In becoming an icon for a movement of equality and peace, he does not seem ready to even confront the controversial statements of his own pastor.

(…and note that Pastor Wright has been nowhere to be found. Apparently he’s in deeper seclusion than Hillary had assigned Bill a couple months ago.)

Therefore I personally believe this issue will be more than enough to prevent any Obama presidency.  

The now often played video showing Wright spewing his vitriol is the opposite message that had attracted me and many others to the Obama campaign (the “Obama ideal”). To realize that this is the Pastor of the church he has attended for twenty years is disturbing. To see this man shouting from the pulpit is not unlike how many of us imagine fanatical jihadists in mosques.

Any hope for independant voters swinging Obama’s way now are out the window- especially after FOX, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS (and Rush) wear out their “experts” analyzing this issue.

“Men of the Cloth” have a higher standard to meet. Whether they are imams, priests, pastors or rabbis, the bar should be somewhere up around “The Golden Rule”.

I am saddend by this whole ugly incident. It will only lead to more arguments and more hate. I am no longer filled with the hope I once had that things can change while I am still around to witness it.

Too many people relish this. Too many people will use this to justify their own hate of others, to justify their own prejudice and bigotry and to fan the flame of their own fears.

Maybe we’re just not ready. 

Posted in Misc

Obama’s Response

On Faith and My Church

by Barack Obama

The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He’s drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.

As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It’s a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.

Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he’s been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.

The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I’ve said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

With Rev. Wright’s retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright’s statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.

Posted in Misc

Buddy, spare a quarter?

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Twelve BILLION dollars a month.

That was TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH! 

Let’s get real. What in the world are we getting for our money? Dead soldiers, $4 a gallon gas? This is precisely why the insanity must stop. Can’t we see that this administration is just trying to save face? Where is the benefit?

Someone please tell me.

Consider for one minute what this money could do for our country, for our “recession”.

We could probably build a frickin’ force field and isolate ourselves from the thugs. Or we could probably develop a cool spaceship and transport all the frightened to a new and wonderful utopia somewhere in the galaxy.

Here’s the bad news…..

“In 2008, its sixth year, the war will cost approximately $12 billion a month, triple the “burn” rate of its earliest years, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and co-author Linda J. Bilmes report in a new book.

Beyond 2008, working with “best-case” and “realistic-moderate” scenarios, they project the Iraq and Afghan wars, including long-term U.S. military occupations of those countries, will cost the U.S. budget between $1.7 trillion and $2.7 trillion — or more — by 2017.

Interest on money borrowed to pay those costs could alone add $816 billion to that bottom line, they say.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has done its own projections and comes in lower, forecasting a cumulative cost by 2017 of $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion for the two wars, with Iraq generally accounting for three-quarters of the costs.

Variations in such estimates stem from the sliding scales of assumptions, scenarios and budget items that are counted. But whatever the estimate, the cost will be huge, the auditors of the Government Accountability Office say.”

How can this disaster continue to be justified?

Posted in Misc

The View

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I never thought I’d be citing “The View” in any way, shape or form, however to reflect my view (no pun intendend), I watched the ladies discuss the aforementioned comments by Rush Limbaugh.

Most importantly, they actually play the segment from Rush’s show. I encourage a close listen. If it doesn’t make you feel extremely yucky then I guess we would just agree to disagree.

However, tell me that THIS type of American snobbery and elitism isn’t precisely what most of us and the rest of the world find so hypocritical about our great melting pot of American civilization.

That we should proudly stand as this shining example of freedom and diversity in the world, yet our most popular radio show spouts this tripe. Freedom of speech? most definitely. Bring it on, Rush. I would just hope that someday the fallacy of what he speaks is readily apparent to all fair-minded people.

To fathers of daughters, to minorities, to anyone living the “American Dream”, to Christians, Jews, and Muslims, to any true American, I urge you to consider the video below….

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Posted in Misc

Welcome, Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

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The race for my “Fear-Monger of the Year Award” is tightening, no question about it. Besides the ludicrous Rush Limbaugh, exposing dense ignorance and elitism, we’ve heard from the out-of-touch radio talkshow host Bill Cunningham yelling from high on the mountaintop, “Barack HUSSEIN Obama”. 

We’ve also seen Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) come out of the closet sans lapel flag pin, hypocrytically crying about Sen.Obama’s taste in fashion accessories.

What do these guys have in common? Well for starters they’ve made alot of noise about why Barack Obama should NOT be the President of the United States. In their view, they caution American voters about casting a ballot for Sen. Obama…..

A) …because he has worn traditional nomadic African elder garb.

B) …because of his middle name…I repeat: because if his MIDDLE NAME!

C) …because he does not wear a flag pin. (note, that the politician criticizing him also was NOT wearing a flag pin.)

These are some shrewd intellectuals, no doubt. They have obviously focused on the tough issues that matter to Mr. & Mrs. American voter.

But wait, before we resign ourselves to a three-horse race, let’s welcome to the fold U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Here’s what this gem of a “leader” had to say about the Obama candidacy….

U.S. Rep. Steve King on Friday announced his bid for a fourth term in Congress — and he raised some eyebrows with comments about National Security under a potential Barack Obama administration.

It was during a stop at the KICD studios in north Spencer that he also talked about the presidential campaign….

“I don’t want to disparage anyone because of their race, their ethnicity, their name – whatever their religion their father might have been,” he said.

“I’ll just say this: When you think about the option of a Barack Obama potentially getting elected President of the United States — I mean, what does this look like to the rest of the world? What does it look like to the world of Islam?”

He continued: “I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al-Qaida, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on September 11 because they will declare victory in this War on Terror.”…

…”Additionally, his middle name (Hussein) does matter,” King said. “It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world. That has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They will be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says: Pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict.”

He continued: “There are implications that have to do with who he is and the position that he’s taken. If he were strong on national defense and said ‘I’m going to go over there and we’re going to fight and we’re going to win, we’ll come home with a victory,’ that’s different. But that’s not what he said. They will be dancing in the streets if he’s elected president. That has a chilling aspect on how difficult it will be to ever win this Global War on Terror.”

…..okay, I get it. Enough already. I don’t know what is more ridiculous, King’s fear of Obama’s election or the threat to this country of dancing Muslims. I saw this move, it was called “Footloose”.

But wait, there’s more…..

Steve King seems to want it both ways. He’s preaching about his fear of dancing terrorists, and about winning the war against this threat to his beloved Iowa. He wants us all to believe how dangerous it is out in that dark alley known as “the world”.

It’s filled with “THEM”and they are are not like us. They have middle names given to them by their FATHERS, who may or may not have been of a certain religion. From there I guess its one small step from a complete takeover of DesMoines.

Or maybe he’s more afraid of something even closer to home?

Take a look at what he said on the House Floor back on June 12th, 2007….

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) downplayed the violence on the ground in Iraq, claiming his wife is taking a greater risk by living in Washington, D.C. King said:

“27.51 Iraqis per 100,000 die a violent death on an annual basis. 27.51.”

“Now what does that mean? To me, it really doesn’t mean a lot until I compare it to people that I know or have a feel for the rhythm of this place.”

“Well I by now have a feel for the rhythm of this place called Washington, D.C., and my wife lives here with me, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, she’s at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq. 45 out of every 100,000 Washington, D.C. regular residents die a violent death on an annual basis.”

Okay. I think we can surmise from this that Rep.Steve King is scarier than horror-writer Stephen King.

He sounds like someone who is afraid to come outside at night, who is afraid of the “big city”, who is afraid of anyone and anything that doesn’t look like him, sound like him, dress like him, or smell like him. It sounds to me like he’d rather rid the country and the world of anything different.

He’s worried about his wife in D.C. He’s worried about his constituants in Iowa. He’s worried about happy Muslims.

Or maybe he’s just worried that the band will soon stop playing HIS dance, “The White Man Stomp”.

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Posted in Misc

So Tired of This

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Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said a presidential ticket that included a “woman and a black” doesn’t “have a prayer.”

“Let’s say it is Obama and Hillary…Let’s put Hillary at the top — That’s a position she’s familiar with,” Limbaugh said on his radio show Thursday.

“Therefore, you’ve got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democrat ticket. Ahem. They don’t have a prayer.”

Is there a context to this I might be missing? This wasn’t a “shame on you, America”, finger-wagging that Rush was expressing. This was pure elitism.

He just made a sarcastic remark regarding Hillary’s sexual proclivities and then showed that he is also a racist. Should I chalk this up to old Rush just being his jocular self? But this isn’t funny. 

These comments remind me of Bush putting the world on notice: “You’re either with us or against us”.

The millions of Rush-oholics that think this is funny or true are not with us. And by “us” I mean open-minded, fair-minded, color-blind, gender-blind, members of the modern civilization we are striving for. Not the “elites”.

Are American voters that easy to read that he can so clearly affirm that yet another old white guy, playing a conservative centrist, pro-war, fear mongering candidate is that much of a favorite to win hands down?

I thought this was so sad but then I realized it was a good thing. We write this page of history, then turn it fast.  

It’s sad irony that Rush played the “race & gender cards”. Nothing of substance. No issues, no facts, nothing but race & gender- that’s why these two don’t have a prayer. It is unacceptable.

I can’t wait until the next time Rush emphasizes that America is a CHRISTIAN nation. What exactly does that mean to the Christians that agree with, “…therefore you’ve got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democratic ticket. Ahem. They don’t have a prayer.”

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But then I guess I’ll miss that show anyway, because I don’t listen to Rush.

Posted in Misc

We Are The Ones (video)

Posted in Misc