Sunday, March 23, 2008

Seeking Redemption and Salvation

Regardless of your faith, nationality, political philosophy, heritage or race, we all need salvation from the horrors so casually inflicted upon mankind by our fellow man. Why do we have the insatiable urge to control, dominate and often destroy other human beings? Why must we see them as so very different from ourselves?

And we ourselves need redemption. If only all the world could search for common understanding, tolerance and peace. We must learn to forgive one another.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
spoke with eloquence wisdom and truth today when he said......

"How often relations between individuals, between groups and between peoples are marked not by love but by selfishness, injustice, hatred and violence! These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, although they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our brothers and sisters."

"They are waiting to be tended and healed by the glorious wounds of our Risen Lord (cf. 1 Pet 2:24-25) and by the solidarity of people who, following in his footsteps, perform deeds of charity in his name, make an active commitment to justice, and spread luminous signs of hope in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person continues to be scorned and trampled. It is hoped that these are precisely the places where gestures of moderation and forgiveness will increase! "

"Dear brothers and sisters! Let us allow the light that streams forth from this solemn day to enlighten us; let us open ourselves in sincere trust to the risen Christ, so that his victory over evil and death may also triumph in each one of us, in our families, in our cities and in our nations."

"Let it shine forth in every part of the world. In particular, how can we fail to remember certain African regions, such as Dafur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good!"

May we all be blessed with the spirit and hope of Easter.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hillary Clinton, A Neville Chamberlain For Our Time

From Wikipedia:

Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940) was a British Conservative politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940.

Chamberlain's legacy is marked by his policy regarding the appeasement of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany with his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding Czechoslovakia to Hitler. In the same year he also gave up the Irish Free State Royal Navy ports.

Chamberlain was forced to resign the premiership on 10 May 1940, after Germany invaded the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Hillary Clinton's
major speech on Iraq scared the bejeezus out of me today. And, as frightening as that speech was, her staff's assertions later that she would follow her insanely aggressive withdrawal plan REGARDLESS of the advice of military leaders OR events on the ground , showed her to be totally unfit to be our Commander in Chief.
Clinton said, in part:
"The most important part of my plan is the first step, to bring our troops home and send the strongest possible message to the Iraqis that they must take responsibly for their own future. No more talk of permanent occupation, no more policing a civil war, no more doing for the Iraqis what they need to be doing for themselves. As president, one of my first official actions will be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, my Secretary of Defense and my National Security Council and direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to start bringing our troops home within the first 60 days of my taking office. A plan based on my consultation with the military to remove one to two brigades a month, a plan that reduces the risks of attack as they depart."

Clinton's plan would effectively turn one of the world's greatest, richest and most strategic countries over to al-Qaeda, the mortal enemies of the United States and the modern civilized world. And her plan would guarantee an unfettered civil war in Iraq that would likely kill tens of thousands, most especially anyone who ever cooperated with the United States.

Would Clinton actually follow such a stupid and dangerous plan? Clinton might just be playing one-upsmanship with Barrack Obama, whose credentials as an antiwar advocate are better established and more credible.

Still, as the current Iraqi government all but endorsed McCain for President, Clinton is fighting for her Presidential future.

I remain cautiously hopeful that both Clinton and Obama will heed wise counsel and plan for success in the middle east rather than just turn over a budding democracy to the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism. But, at some point we must actually take the candidates at their word.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Politics of Association

In the last 24 hours I heard Reverend Jeremiah Wright preach so much I feel like I need to tithe to his church, The Trinity United Church of Christ.

If, by some miracle (pun fully intended), you've missed the multiple replays of the last five years of Wright's sermons, Jeremiah Wright is the pastor of Barrack Obama's church and a man Obama credits for being his inspiration. Reverend Wright married Barrack and his lovely wife Michelle and baptised his children. I'm not going to bother to link to the many dozens of You Tube clips now available; you can easily find them if you actually have missed them.

So as I watched MSNBC, CNN and FOX turn into the Trinity Broadcasting Networks I meditated on the real responsibilities Obama might share for Wright's teaching and preaching.

Last week we watched the media and especially the blogosphere hound John McCain until he finally denounced ultra conservative Pastor John Hagee. And McCain never even attended Hagee's church. But earlier McCain had "welcomed" Hagee's endorsement.

As a Unitarian Universalist I've set through dozens (maybe hundreds) of sermons with which I disagree. Occasionally I've been deeply offended by the preacher. I wouldn't want to be judged by the words of the various ministers of my church. On the other hand, Unitarians have a unique concept, "freedom of the pulpit." Any speaker can speak from any religious (or atheistic or political) perspective.

So here is my view. We are not electing Jeremiah Wright President. I am deeply concerned about some of Wright's statements from the pulpit, but not from a Presidential politics perspective. I'll judge Barrack Obama from by his own words and his own actions, not by those of Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

The battle between Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton and John McCain is so tight and so intense it's bringing about a battle of details and nuances, relationships and associations instead of ideas and policies. That is tragic.

I was pleased to watch John McCain absolutely refuse to condemn Obama for the words of his pastor last night, in spite of intense pressure from reporters. Sadly, that won't stop MSNBC, CNN and FOX from endless replays and speculations. And it won't stop the Sean Hannity's and Rush Limbaugh's from exploiting Obama's relationship with his minister.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Turning Our Future Over to China

There is news today about actions being taken by the Chinese government in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics that I find so repulsive and sickening that I'm going to bury them deep into this blog entry. I am deeply saddened and totally disgusted.

But this is just another story out of hundreds that raise serious questions about how we, as a people and nation, interact with China. And, in fact, by any reasonable measure, we are turning our entire future over to China.

Ask yourself what is more disturbing: that food products, toys and now prescription medicine coming from China are tainted and poisoning our children and seniors?

Or that virtually 100% of our toys and significant portions of our food products and prescription drugs (not to mention clothes, jewelry, sporting goods, computers, electronics, furniture and housewares) are made in China and imported here?

Do we actually manufacture anything here anymore?

Even more disturbing is that China holds a gigantic portion of our ballooning national debt. If China called in our debt, the United States might be forced into effective bankruptcy and a depression that could last a lifetime.

Everyday we outsource our entire future to China. Now I'm a "free trade" kind of guy. But when you give this much control to a single country, it isn't free trade any more, it's indentured servitude.

I've written extensively that China has the ability to cripple or actually end the genocide in Darfur. China, through massive oil purchases that fund the genocide and a firm Security Council Veto that prevents the rest of the world from stopping the horror, controls the fate of two million people. And China continues to prove they just don't give a damn. Human suffering, rape, murder, torture, starvation? China just doesn't care.

Many people around the world can no longer tolerate China's greed and callous disregard for genocide. Steven Spielberg just resigned as an Artistic Advisor for the 2008 games.

"At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that continue to be committed in Darfur," Spielberg explained.

With all this in mind, some might not even find this story important. But to me it's a clear and horrific example of how the Chinese government views every decision: cold, calculating, cruel and with absolutely no compassion.

As these the type of people with whom we should outsource or toys, food, drugs and debt?

What follows is from an investigative report by Simon Perry in the UK's Daily Mail:

Beijing's shocking death camp for cats

Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.

Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.

The cull of Beijing's estimated 500,000 cat population is certain to provoke international outrage as it comes just over a year after the Chinese were criticised for rounding up and killing stray dogs across the country.

Animal welfare groups in China are already protesting, but their members fear punishment from the authorities.

Officials say people can adopt animals from the 12 cat pounds set up around the city, but welfare groups say they are almost impossible to get inside and believe few cats survive.

One cat lovers' group negotiated the release of 30 pets from one of the compounds in Shahe, north-west Beijing, but said they were in such a pitiful condition that half of them died within days of their release.

"These cats are being left to die. It is very inhumane," said the group's founder Yan Qi, who runs a sanctuary for cats.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Possible Replacement for Waterboarding

Actually, water boarding is still permitted (for now) since President Bush vetoed the bill that would have outlawed the practice.

But we can be confident that both McCain or Obama will sign such legislation in the future, so we might need a new, tested and proven method to gain information.

Could "Rick Rolling" end up being the ultimate weapon?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Barack Obama is NOT Ready to Be President Today

Another Primary Night and the Wizard opines again.........

Let me be perfectly clear. I believe Barack Obama will someday be President of the United States. And it might still be this year. But I don't think so.

Barack Obama has stumbled badly in the last few days. But, as sharp observers know, Obama's real problems began much earlier. The handwriting appeared on the wall in foreign press reports... from London and later, from Canada.

The American press at first refused to listen. They were so interested in covering the horse race, they neglected to actually look at the condition of the horses. And the American press fell absolutely involve with one candidate. This is always a huge mistake for reporters. Confronted with ugly truths, the American press simply looked the other way.

The blogosphere, however, did not. And eventually the press caught up. And only hours later the Clinton campaign also caught up. And the race for the Democrat nomination began anew.

Tonight as I watched CNN and I watched Paul Begala absolutely destroy Obama at the peak viewing hour, I realized that Begala was right. In order to become President.... in order to be worthy of being President.... Obama must begin to act like a President.

Begala maintained that Obama's staff had let him down. And that Obama's chief economic advisor had effectively betrayed him. But the ultimate failing was Obama himself who didn't quickly fire and replace people who simply were on the wrong page of his campaign.

Perhaps the best outcome for the Democrat Party would be for Obama and Clinton to work out a compromise and partnership. Let Obama accept the Vice President spot and give Democrats and America its Dream ticket.

Nominating Obama before he is ready could be a tragic mistake.