31 August 2005

from the Huffington Post

By Eric Boehlert

The Blame Game
Today's must-read article comes courtesy of E&P, which looks back at previous press warnings about the lack of federal dollars the Bush administration was sending to New Orleans as it scrambled to complete its hurricane protection levee system, which ultimately failed in the wake of Katrina. Why did funds stop flowing to the Big Easy? Simple, Bush's war in Iraq was costing too much money.

There it is, in black and white. But the question is, what will the MSM do with this obvious news angle, particularly when Bush makes his inevitable sympathy tour of the devastated region in coming days.

Here are some of the highlights from E&P:

*"New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars."

*" In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness."

*" On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: “It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”"

*"The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history."

*" One project that a contractor had been racing to finish this summer: a bridge and levee job right at the 17th Street Canal, site of the main breach on Monday."

*"The Newhouse News Service article published Tuesday night observed, "The Louisiana congressional delegation urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House....In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for southeast Louisiana's chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4 million, a sixth of what local officials say they need."

Local officials are now saying, the article reported, that had Washington heeded their warnings about the dire need for hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, "the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be."" [Emphasis added.]

A text message from Baton Rouge

From: Simms-Thomas, Lisa
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 12:02 PM

Subject: RE: Hurricane Update from Lisa Simms-Thomas - I'm OK!
Importance: High

Good Afternoon ISS Team, Colleagues & Friends,

Personal Update and Where I am: First and foremost, I am OK......Praise
GOD! I am still in the shelter with sporadic use of electricity. My
blackberry receives a signal from time-to-time and I can see that my cell
phone has well over 70 voice mails that I am unable to retrieve due to
overloaded circuits and lack of towers. With all of that said, I have been
advised by officials that my neighborhood did receive a great deal of water
damage, structural damage and there is still no electricity. Currently, the
city does not foresee electricity being restored until about a week or so
for about 70,000 to 80,000 people. Nevertheless, the shelter officials will
allow the Baton Rouge folks the opportunity to leave today as they must make
room for all of the folks that are in the Super Dome that will be coming to
the Baton Rouge area.
Where I Reside: Just so you know, I do live in Baton Rouge, which was
not hit as hard as New Orleans. However, my neighborhood is on the outside
of the city (East Baton Rouge Parish - closest to New Orleans) which is why
I think we may have a little more water and structural damage than those
folks in Central Baton Rouge Parish.
Family Contact: I have made contact with my husband a few times since
the hurricane. He is currently in route to Baton Rouge but is having to
show ID at many check points as proof that he lives in Baton Rouge, LA. I
hope that by the time he shows up, he will be well rested and that we are
allowed back into our neighborhood as his "honey-do" list will be quite long
(I'm sure)......SMILE! As stated before, my Momma is still OK, as she lives
in the northern part of the state near the two North LA Nelnet Campus
Directors.........Thank GOD!
My Personal Thoughts: This is truly surreal, but I count myself as
BLESSED! The devastation is more than you can image and everyone has a
story that will truly touch you soul. I know that you all see the
happenings on TV, but it is totally different when you are in the midst of
the situation as I am sure many Floridian's understand.
On a Lighter Note: I have made many friends here in the shelter as we
now share a common unfortunate event. Oh, I did pass out some apples that I
had collected! I have also been performing many beauty makeovers for
fun. Yes, my makeup and hair products came in handy and made me feel good
that I was able to distract peoples attention from what was going on at the
moment. Not to mention, I now have new ways to cheat at UNO, thanks to some
"little people" here in the shelter. Wow, it's amazing what you can learn
during your Nelnet ETO (vacation).
My Thanks: Thanks to everyone that has sent an email, made a phone call
or said a prayer. I was touched when I finally saw my email in-box with
well over 100 emails from people checking on me and my family's safety. I
am so touched by everyone's concern and out pouring of love during this time
of distress. Please continue to keep me and everyone that has been touched
by this devastating hurricane in your prayers. Well, I gotta go now, so I
can pack my car and attempt to make it home. I will provide another update
after I have assessed my home situation!

Blessed To Know Each of YOU,
Lisa

P.S. Please feel free to pass this email to anyone that has inquired about
my safety.

Lisa Simms-Thomas
Nelnet Integrated Solutions
1-877-928-8552
lisa.simms-thomas@nelnet.net

Sorry Mr. President, You're No FDR by Fred Kaplan

The President should have taken some history books to Crawford

A little history is a dangerous thing, and George W. Bush has been sipping from its well all too skimpily. Last week, in an effort to put a positive spin on the breakdown of Iraq's constitutional assembly, the president noted that Federalist America went through a decade of turbulence before completing its own constitution—a dreadful analogy, in part because the two situations are so radically different, but more because, if the comparison were apt, it would imply that Iraq will be a cauldron of blood and chaos for many decades to come.

Now, President Bush is going further—this time, gulping more than anyone should have to swallow—likening the nature, scope, and stakes of America's battle in Iraq to those of World War II.

He made the comparison in a speech at San Diego's Naval Air Station on Aug. 30 to mark the 60th anniversary of V-J Day. In a sense, this is what presidents are supposed to do on such occasions—draw links between the heroes of "the greatest generation" and the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who are fighting for freedom today. But Bush took the analogy beyond the demands of protocol. The clear claims of this speech: Bin Laden and Zarqawi = Hitler and Mussolini. Terrorists = Nazis. Suicide bombers = kamikaze pilots. 1930s isolationists = Clinton-era Democrats. Franklin D. Roosevelt's determination to spread democracy across the globe = ... (could it be?) Bush's own freedom-spreading policies.

Continue Article

As with his constitutional comparison, it's a tossup which aspect of this rhetorical game is more egregious: the fact that the two wars are so vastly different in nearly every way imaginable, or the fact that, if they were as similar as President Bush proclaims, he is doing so remarkably little to wage this one.

Accept for a moment the argument that Iraq is but one theater in a global war on terrorism. Overlook that, to the degree this is true, it's because Bush's invasion of Iraq—and his many miscalculations afterward—helped make it so. Even so, it would be an enormous leap to claim that the war in Iraq—or the broader war on terror—is the political, strategic, or moral equivalent of World War II.

Al-Qaida or its sundry offshoots could crash many more airplanes, wreck many more buildings, and bomb many more subways—and the magnitude of their power, and the urgency of their threat, would still fall far short of that posed by Nazi Germany. The panzers of the Wehrmacht rolled across the plains of Europe, toppling governments with ease, imposing totalitarian regimes, and killing millions in their wake. This was a war of civilization on a level that today's war—however you might define it—doesn't begin to approach.

But let's say that the two wars—World War II and Iraq (or the broader war on terrorism)—are comparable, that their stakes are even remotely as high. Then why is President Bush fighting this war so tentatively?

From December 1941 to August 1945—the attack on Pearl Harbor until the declaration of Allied victory—the United States manufactured 88,430 tanks and 274,941 combat aircraft. Yet in the two years after the invasion of Iraq, much less the four years since the attack on the World Trade Center, the Bush administration has not built enough armor platings to protect our soldiers' jeeps from roadside bombs.

To fund World War II, the United States drastically expanded and raised taxes. (At the start of the war, just 4 million Americans had to pay income tax; by its end, 43 million did.) Beyond that, 85 million Americans—half the population at the time—answered the call to buy War Bonds, $185 billion worth. Food was rationed, scrap metal was donated, the entire country was on a war footing. By contrast, President Bush has asked the citizenry for no sacrifice, no campaigns of national purpose, to fight or fund the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he has proudly cut taxes, heaving the hundreds of billions of dollars in war costs on top of the already swelling national debt.

If this war's stakes are comparable to World War II's, the entire nation should be enlisted in its cause—not necessarily to fight in it, but at least to pay for it. And if President Bush is not willing to call for some sort of national sacrifice, he cannot expect anyone to believe the stakes are really high.

Flying the unfriendly skies....?

For those that fly often, you are going to feel the pinch the worst. Airline jet fuel prices have already increased 22% in just two days (Gouging? You decide).

The worst hurt will be Delta followed by Continental and American. All three get a large portion of their fuel from the Gulf Coast refineries which are completely shut down with no sense of when they could possibly be online.

Also as fuel prices for cars rise across the nation......no one is left untouched by Hurricane Katrina. Is someone higher up trying to tell us something about our wasteful and selfish ways?

At least this will hopefully make all of America.....step back and take a good hard look at itself and make much needed changes in our energy policies and the reliance we have on foreign imports.

Ready to trade in that hummer you use to go to the supermarket for a gallon of milk?

AID information....


The Red Cross has already set up a disaster relief fund. 1-800-help-now or www.redcross.org That is my preferred fund. They did an excellent job during 9/11.

Lastly, the looting and lawlessness continues. Unfortunately, many of the deployed Louisiana National Guard are in IRAQ (over 3000) so it is reported that troops are in short supply for this disaster. The Governor is asking for help from other states to help seal and protect the city of New Orleans and the surrounding areas and MP's have been pulled temporarily for this purpose. Apparently, the President must issue a special order allowing US troops to help in this devastation (due to there being a lack of National Guard troops available). The President is still on vacation and has yet to authorize troops as of this posting.

Keep in mind that many employers offer matching gift programs which may double your contribution. For those of you that work for companies that do not offer these programs, I suggest you find a friend that does and benefit from these programs. Simply combine your contributions. Contact your public affairs department to inquire.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army have already deployed to the area and are distributing million of meals and water to homeless. They have already forecast that the costs involved will far exceed that of the back to back hurricanes that devastated Florida.

In Katrina's wake....please help.

I pray that everyone has been following all of the horrible accounts coming out of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast regarding the continued devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. I have many friends in the area and can only imagine what they are going through at this point. My prayers are with them and everyone affected by this horrible disaster. The estimates for damage are already topping 25 billion dollars for the area.

It appears that the levee separating New Orleans from the Lake was breached in at least 3 places and the city is still flooding. It has been determined that they may not be able to stop the flooding until the water reaches equilibrium. At least 12 weeks of evacuation are predicted (at minimum) and they cannot get some out of temporary shelters (over 10,000 are trapped in the superdome alone, possibly 25,000 are still in the city itself). It has already been decided to airlift those trapped to the Astrodome in Houston. There has already been widespread looting, gunfire, etc. Of course, many of our National Guard troops who would handle this are in Iraq and are already stretched thin......and the emergency management response was not prepared for a disaster of this magnitude.

In addition, the oil rigs in the Gulf sustained heavy damage and will not be producing for quite a while. Over 90% of oil production is shut down. Oil prices are already shooting through the roof on Wall Street and our Government has been forced to release US oil reserves. This may be a big wakeup call for Americans (and the White House).....regarding foreign oil dependence and these foolish wars. This is a real disaster.....and very different than any other the area has experienced (or for that matter our country has sustained). The area is still in peril and, of course, cannot be occupied (there is a forced evacuation in place).......hence the need for the troops. Be prepared, it is expected that gasoline will top 4.00 a gallon across the US.

I have been trying to get ahold of people I know in the area (impossible) to find out what I can do. I have let friends in Baton Rouge know that my door here is open or to contact me for anything they may need. I would encourage everyone to contribute to the disaster fund of your choice. Many of these people have lost everything.......they have no shelter, food, water, sanitation, electricity, jobs, finances, bank accounts, the list goes on and on.......and some have lost their lives.

The worst loss of life has been on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Biloxi (the largest metro area) has been completely devastated.

It is very important that we gather together and be there for these Americans that are in such dire need of our help. If you are worried about loved ones, CNN has set up a website that will post pictures of those that have been found or recovered. They are also running news stories that will spotlight rescues.

One last thing.....please tune in to the news to see the depth of this devastation. This is probably going to be the worst national disaster in our history. The entire gulf coast has been compared to a 'war zone' and the devastation is much worse than Camille (the worst on record). The Army's National Guard, Corps of Engineers, and private contractors are working over time down there to figure out how to stop the continued flooding. The flooding is getting worse mind you, NOT better. Up to 3 million people have been affected.



As an aside, where is our President and the White House presence......no where yet. He released a statement that said he will 'cut his vacation short' and make a trip down there BY THE END OF THE WEEK. Unbelievable.

30 August 2005

Repuplicanism 2005

One very well written sentence from the Portland Oregonian:

"Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children, and now die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."


26 August 2005

MLK on courage...

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


Martin Luther King Jr.

19 August 2005

amBUSHed


'nuf said.....

18 August 2005

Tennis anyone

We went to the ATP last night mainly to watch Roddick and Ferrero's match. And, we were not disappointed. Ferrero had Roddick on the defensive throughout the first round and beat him. Unbelievable. Then the next two rounds Roddick pulled it out. Very close in all three though. Roddick's serve is simply amazing, and as the game progressed he kept getting faster and more accurate. He was hitting around 130 to 15o mph on his serves, aceing more than once. Since I tend to cheer on the underdog, it was hard to watch the crowd so pulling for Roddick. Poor Ferrero, imagine being on that court and not feeling the crowd. But, he put on an excellent show regardless.

Our seats were great, thanks to Cynthia, she pulled in some excellent tickets through her company. Love ya, Cynthia, you take such good care of me, baby. And, in her inimitable style, she, of course, had VIP everything for the evening. That girl only lives one way and that is first class.

We saw many friends out for the tournament. It was a social mecca for Cincinnati for a Wednesday evening.

Lastly, did I mention how incredibly great Roddick looked. HOT. HOT. HOT.

What a great night in Cincinnati.

www.andyroddick.com

17 August 2005

Hafiz Dance.

This is an amazing poem I would like to share.....
I wish I could speak like music.

I wish I could put the swaying splendor of the fields into words

So that you could hold Truth against your body and dance.

I am trying the best I can with this crude brush, the tongue,

To cover you with light.

I wish I could speak like divine music.

I want to give you the sublime rhythms of this earth and the sky’s limbs

As they joyously spin and surrender, surrender against God’s luminous breath.

Hafiz wants you to hold me against your precious body

And dance, DANCE.
This poem, by the Fourteenth century Persian poet, Hafiz, names my wishes. I wish I could put the swaying splendor of the fields into words. I wish my words could persuade you of the abundance and beauty of life and invite you to dance.

I wish I could speak like music.

The story goes that Siva and Shakti, the divine couple in Hinduism, are in their heavenly abode watching over the earth. They are touched by the challenges of human life, the complexity of human reaction, and the ever-present suffering in the human experience.

As they watch, Shakti spies a miserably poor old man walking down the road. His clothes are shabby and his sandals are tied together with rope. Her heart is wrung with compassion. Touched by his goodness and his struggle, Shakti turns to her spouse and begs him to give this man some gold.

Siva looks at the man for a long moment. “My dear,” he says to Shakti, I cannot do that.”

Shakti is astounded. “What do you mean? You are Lord of the Universe. Why can’t you do this simple thing?”

“I cannot give this to him because he is not yet ready to receive it,” Siva replies.

Shakti becomes angry. “Do you mean to say that you cannot drop a bag of gold in his path?”

“Surely I can,” Siva replies, “but that is quite another thing.”

“Please, my sweetheart” says Shakti.

And so Siva drops a bag of gold in the man’s path. The man meanwhile walks along thinking to himself, “I wonder if I will find dinner tonight-or shall I go hungry again?” Turning a bend in the road, he sees something on the path in his way. “Aha,” he says. “Look there, a large rock. How fortunate that I have seen it. I might have torn these poor sandals of mine even further.” And carefully stepping over the bag of gold, he goes on his way.

There’s beauty, hiding in the ordinary, shining like gold, and we don’t even know it.

We all know the challenges of human life, the complexity of human reaction, and the ever-present pain inherent to the human experience.

We know there is misery, poverty, greed, despair, power to destroy millions of people, environmental abuse, and exploitation of people and of the earth.

The more we are in touch with the fullness of life, open to its beauty, as well as its pain and joy, its preciousness, the more we engage, with compassion, the world’s need.

In the stories of Jesus, a rabbi, a teacher among the Jews, he is said to have come among people that “they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Jesus was grounded in the Hebrew scriptures which praise the earth as a home, sustaining, lifegiving, and good.

He saw the beauty of the lilies of the field, the power of sharing to feed the hungry.

He showed that no matter the circumstances, the dignity and abundance of our lives lie in our own hands- “what you make of what you’ve got.” You have responsibility for how you act in response to your life.

The human virtues which give life its meaning and depth and value are neither exceptional nor impossible. They are within our grasp.

Our tools to make an abundant life are the commonplace virtues of faith and trust, integrity, honesy, perseverance, loyalty, commitment, and love. The dignity and abundance of our lives lie in our own hands, and the means of achievement are available to us.

Would you like to DANCE......

Bill Maher: you are the man.


If you have not seen HBO's.....
"Bill Maher: I'm Swiss"......watch it. Excellent. Enjoy. He nails it! Good for you, Bill.

Love ya, man.

http://www.billmaher.com/

Spreading democracy!



This say it all......"give peace a chance". And, survey says: War isn't working!!!

So, how IS that constitution coming Iraq?

16 August 2005

Harris.....god save the Floridians.

Katherine Harris just announced her run for the Senate in Florida......and even the Republicans don't want her. Is she damaged goods ever since she aided in screwing with the elections in 2000? Remember that nasty little recount, the trouble at the polls where people were wrongly turned away, and of course the coup d'gras where Ms. Harris allowed Republican workers access to voters records prior to the election. Btw, this was illegal besides being unethical. This lady represents everything that is wrong with American politics. And, head's up Floridians, you better get out the vote or she will be your person in the Senate.

Loved this article from SLATE......so I am reposting part of it here:

Conservative idol Rep. Katherine Harris announced her own Senate candidacy in Florida this week. Harris says she's deeply hurt by how press coverage of the 2000 recount misled the nation into thinking she was shallow, partisan, and obsessed with makeup. To dispel that impression, she staged an announcement that was shallow, partisan, and obsessed with makeup.

In her announcement speech, Harris called herself "conservative but progressive, pro-small business, pro-economy, and anti-tax." She attacked Sen. Bill Nelson as "one of the most liberal" Democrats in the Senate. Harris told reporters, "I'd like to say I trail by an eyelash" and recalled her childhood as a time "when blue eyeshadow was quite the fashion."

No one could fault Harris for wanting to change her image from 2000. But those crocodile tears are smearing her mascara. Harris knows that in this race, as in her election to the House, her 2000 image is all she has going for her. Her website says as much, boasting that Harris "already benefits from tremendous residual name I.D."

Residue Is Destiny: Harris has herself to blame for partisan scars from 2000. If she wants a second look, she'd do better to highlight an area where she has a right to be angry: the concerted efforts by an ungrateful White House to keep her out of the race. GOP strategists continue to hold out hope for a better candidate, just as they maneuvered to pave the way for Senator Mel Martinez in 2004.

The only comment from Gov. Jeb Bush, who put Harris in harm's way in 2000 and was still recruiting someone to run against her a week ago, was: "I hope Congresswoman Harris runs a strong campaign." With friends like that, who needs makeovers?

15 August 2005

Un-just Sunday.....

When you read about things like the "Justice Sunday II" being attended by high ranking Republigelicals......it makes you painfully aware that the Republican party of today has become an exclusive yet fractured enterprise and definitely NOT the party that I joined when I turned 18. The 'values' of the party have been hijacked in lieu of a theologically and ideologically driven platform. The party used to stand for fiscal responsibility......and now they are drunk with power.......they are in control of the House, Senate, and Presidency....yet we have record deficits and spending. The two appropriations bills passed in as many weeks are certainly proof of this. The transportation and energy bills were huge giveaways to the party. And, of course, our oh-so-crooked Mr. Delay is right at the center of it all...... trying desperately to hold onto his power by coddling the far religious right. Sadly, when you hear the hatespeak uttered by these people you realize how little they understand our Constitution, the founding of this great nation, and the essential reasons why we have a separation of powers with appointments to the court. These 'activists' are trying to repackage (spin) their debate to 'sell' their theological views. It's like it has become the end game and nothing else really matters. Ironic really that we accuse the muslims of being backward and tied to their theological beliefs when these Republicans are attempting the exact same thing here.....substituting ideology for reason.

And, our own Mr. Bush is the most theologically driven and irrational of them all.

Conservatives Rally for Justices
Leaders Ask for Nominees Who Will End Abortion and Gay Rights
By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 15, 2005; Page A02

NASHVILLE, Aug. 14 -- Prominent conservative political and religious leaders called Sunday night for Senate approval of Supreme Court nominees who will vote to end the constitutional right to abortion, against recognition of same-sex marriage and for fewer restrictions on religious expression in public places.

The Supreme Court has sanctioned "the right to kill unborn children" and opened the door to legalized "homosexual sodomy," declared Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which co-sponsored "Justice Sunday II."

At the "Justice Sunday II" rally, Rep. Tom DeLay decried "judicial supremacy, judicial autocracy" by "activist courts." (By John Russell -- Associated Press)

James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told the 2,200 mostly white people in Two Rivers Baptist Church: "It doesn't matter what we think. The court rules." The Supreme Court, he said in a video broadcast, has created "an oligarchy. It's the government by the few."

Rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert H. Bork warned that the high court has defined homosexuality as "a constitutional right . . . and once homosexuality is defined as a constitutional right, there is nothing the states can do about it, nothing the people can do about it."

The event was billed as an attempt to awaken Christians to the importance of appointments to the Supreme Court, but it also served as a televised rally supporting President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. Conservative leaders here said they hope Roberts will be the first of three or more Supreme Court justices to be chosen by Bush, whose confirmations would fundamentally alter the high court.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said "activist courts" are imposing "state-sanctioned same-sex marriage" and "abortion" and are "ridding the public square of any mention of our nation's religious heritage" in what amounts to "judicial supremacy, judicial autocracy."

In Supreme Court rulings, DeLay said, "rights are invented out of whole cloth. Long-standing traditions are found to be unconstitutional. Moral values that have defined the progress of human civilization for millennia are cast aside in favor of those espoused by a handful of unelected, lifetime-appointed judges."

The mega-church just across the highway from the Grand Ole Opry was packed, and the speeches were televised to other churches, on some local and cable stations and on four Christian television networks.

DeLay was the star in a procession of speakers that included former senator Zell Miller (D-Ga.), Prison Fellowship Ministries founder Chuck Colson and Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly.

Miller criticized the court because it "removed prayer from our public schools . . . legalized the barbaric killing of unborn babies, and it is ready to discard like an outdated hula hoop the universal institution of marriage between a man and a woman."

Speakers compared the civil rights movement of the 1960s to demands now by Christian groups for restoration of traditional morality. "It's time we move to the front of the bus and that we take command of the wheel," said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

But liberal religious leaders denounced Justice Sunday at a news conference. "The people who are putting together Justice Sunday seem to be far more interested in power than in justice," said Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "They now control the White House and the Congress. This is an effort to guarantee they will control the courts as well."

The purpose of Justice Sunday is to "help Christians who care about judicial activism to better understand what judges who legislate from the bench have done to the country," Perkins said. The case against judicial activism is "a very easy case to make," requiring only the citing of court rulings against school prayer and liberalizing the treatment of gays and the abortion rights case Roe v. Wade .

Harry R. Jackson Jr., senior pastor at Hope Christian Church in College Park, Md., said the "Christian community is experiencing a new unity around the moral values that we share because of common faith." Jackson, who is black, said that appointing judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution is advantageous to blacks. "If justice matters to anybody in America, it matters to minorities and to people who have historically been at the bottom of the barrel" who will not have "to deal with a maverick judge changing the law at the last minute."

12 August 2005

Feeling Aristotle.

Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way...you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.

Aristotle, Greek critic, philosopher, physicist, & zoologist (384 BC - 322 BC)

11 August 2005

To journey's end?

As I watched this week's episode of "Six Feet Under"......a very sad, wrenching one where Nate passes and they have his funeral, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Everyone on the show had to deal with Nate's untimely leaving and their own mortality. They had to extract themselves from all the pettiness that surrounded them and wake up to the bigger picture.

The show was a catalyst for me to ponder my own existence......or rather, the existence in which I live. Do we make life much more difficult than it need be? I truly think so. It really does not need to be so painful and dramatic. We create our own realties. We are, for the most part, responsible and likewise need to take responsibility.

The path we choose is exactly that.....one that we choose. Of course, there are factors beyond our control like the actions of others, environmental issues, money, talent, etc.....but we can control to a greater degree how we react to these issues and steer their affect on us.

In other words, we can choose to be happy vs. sad, positive in lieu of negative, active instead of reactive, responsible not irresponsible. You get the idea. Our lives are ours to shape, mold, and evolve. We can feel sorry for ourselves, or not. We can smile and affect our lives with kindness, compassion, charity, and love.

Why don't we? As I look out on the world around me, I am amazed at how much drama seems to exist in everyone's lives and how much of it is avoidable. I will take that one further......many times the drama is self-induced. Why does it make some feel alive to hate, to be bitter, to wallow in self-pity or anger?

I am totally confounded at times when people are bitchy, or cruel, or rude, or chronically unhappy.

From the person who feels so entitled that they cannot say thank you or respond to an invite or lack even the most basic social graces........ to the self-engrandized foreign policies of our country and the blind arrogance that allows us to so transgress into others affairs (if it somehow benefits us).

Is it so difficult for us all to find empathy and compassion. To try and allow for diversity, difference, non-judgement.

Why is it so empowering to demean or belittle? Instead of heeding and embracing life.....this path is one of avoidance and substitution. As long as it is about something else......we do not have to peer too deeply into ourselves. The path of self-righteousness is a lonely and dangerous one for the soul.

From my view, it is so much more fulfilling to be gracious in this world, know the right path, but, more importantly, to admit to myself when I have traveled the wrong one. Being able to see life more clearly has to begin with honesty and integrity.

That clarity will begin to set you free.

I pledge to separate myself from the dramas and selfishness of life.....to try and make wine instead of vinegar.

A smile, pat on the back, and the expression of warmth, support, and respect are some of the things that make life complete and satisfying.

Our destiny lies in our hands.......make the journey a positive and uplifting one.

Smile and look ahead of you......what do you see? It's your future for the taking.

05 August 2005

the o'reilly mis-factor

I am sitting here watching Jon Stewart.......love him. And, sometimes cannot believe the outright stupidity and lack of intellect and character of some of the right-wing pundits (read: FOX). He just showed some clips of Bill (self-righteous) O'Reilly......talking about torture and human rights. Is this guy truly as gross, immoral, and bereft of conscience as he appears or is it just a gross sideshow......or maybe both.

The clips showed O'Reilly lecturing John McCain on torture and accused those that defend humanitie's mandates and treaties (as a nation of laws and 'values') no better than the terrorists. Yes, O'Rielly actually called those defending these rights and institutions "terrorists." At this point, if I had not seen the idiot spew the actual words I would not have believed that anyone would stoop to such disgusting theatrics. And, to associate such an honorable gentleman as John McCain with terrorism and lecture him on not "understanding" the nature of terrorism is beyond belief. If anyone gets it......it is John McCain. When John McCain tried to explain why the techniques do not work.....O'Reilly cut him off and told him that he had it on good authority that the techniques of torture did work and were accepable.

Interestingly, of the thousands that we have detained around the globe less than 100 have actually been charged with any crimes. Not to mention the despicable tactic of shipping detainees off to torture centers in other countries (like Egypt).... far from the 'meddling' of human rights groups like the Red Cross.

Who are we becoming in this country? Have we truly begun to lose our soul? What are American Values in this day and time? We have lost 21 Marines just this week in Iraq in horrible bomb attacks in a war proposed under false pretense. My prayers go out to their families. They died honorable and gave their lives for an administration that is far less than honorable.

God save America.