What's goin' on, party people?
This will probably be the last time I post for about a week or so. I'm leaving for New Orleans in a couple of days. I'll be taking my laptop with me; though I'm not counting on the facility being wireless-ready (It's far more like a shelter than it is a Starbucks). Depending on how I feel, what goes down, and whether or not I'll be able to access the 'net, I may do a little day-to-day commentary. But if not, I'll be sure to let you all know how things went when I get back.
Please keep our group in your prayers. More importantly, keep the people of the Gulf Coast (along with the countless others worldwide who continue to suffer daily) in your prayers. Peace!
Friday, February 23, 2007
What's goin' on, party people?
Thursday, February 22, 2007
What do you get when you mix one of the best gospel songs ever written with one of the sickest choirs on the planet?
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Hi all. You can call off the hounds. I'm alive and well.
Been a little busy lately. The job has been pretty demanding; mid terms are coming up; I'm presenting my research next month; and I'm headed to New Orleans next week. Lots going on; not much time to process it all.
All that being said, I'll keep this post short. I just want to drop a line or two about what's going on in the news. Actually, these are more like rants that I had to get off my chest...
NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway has been put in the hotseat by the league for his recent homophobic remarks. When interviewed about the presence of homosexuals in the NBA, Hardaway went on the record by stating that "[He] hates gay people." He later apologized.
I always get a chuckle watching people spew hate messages and spread bigotry only to later apologize once they get slapped on the wrists for their actions.
Gambling or charity?
Speaking of stupid statements made by basketball players, NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley made an interesting comment that I'm not sure most people would even consider offensive. But, I did. After participating in an event for charity, Barkley commented that he was happy that they were able to raise enough for charity to play "two hands of Blackjack" (the check was made out for $50,000).
I suppose that what bothered me most is that Barkely, notorious for wasting millions of dollars on gambling, openly suggested that he recreationally squanders about as much money as he would spend to help the needy. I suppose you could make the same argument about any one of us who spends recreationally. But when you compare their million dollar paychecks to what we bring home, there's some major contrasting to consider. I like Barkley, but I'm disappointed with his lack of social consciousness and the egotistical way he lets us know about it.
Casualties of war
According to this article, a 22-year-old Marine was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi civilian. This is a prime example of what happens when you send kids who are barely old enough to drink alcohol off to a foreign and hostile land and put guns in their hands. When war casualties are reported, we hear about the death toll (well, sometimes). We hear about the injuries. But we don't hear about the decline in human decency.
This war needs to stop. Right now.
Oops. She did it
I don't even know why I'm wasting my time mentioning this. But I just read that the ultra-surreal, infamous party girl Britney Spears completely shaved her head before entering rehab. These silly celebs don't know when to stop. I hope that all of the media whores keep this nonsense in mind while they follow these mindless celebs around (as if they died for our sins or something.)
While we're (regrettably) on the topic of idiotic celebs, if I hear one more thing about Anna Nicole Smith, her baby-daddy, or how her death 'touched' the world (Yeah. I heard someone say that.), I'm going do something bad. Who knows? Maybe I'll start watching Fox News for a change.
Seriously, is there nothing else going on in the world today besides Anna Nicole Smith? I've got an idea: how about we turn our attention to the soliders fighting and dying in this nonsensical war? If anybody's deaths are important and touching to the world, it's theirs. But, since hearing touching stories of those who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan will only make the country oppose the war even more, I wouldn't be suprised if the media's attention has deliberately been turned to a stripper; turned Playboy model; turned golddigger; apparently turned tragic hero.
Grammy heroes (*snicker*)
Can we please stop talking about how the Dixie Chicks were 'vindicated' by winning a bunch of silly awards? To be vindicated implies that they had some horrible; almost catastrophic thing happen to them, only for them to rise about it all. Let's not confuse getting bashed by right-wingers for using their concerts to spread their opinions on the war with getting persecuted. After all, maybe the right-wingers were on to something. Most people don't pay $50-60 a pop to listen to political tirades. If they wanted to hear commentary and rants, they would sign up for a Political Science class (or read my blog perhaps?)
Also, can we please stop patting Ludacris on the back for publicly blasting Bill O'Reilly and Oprah Winfrey? Just in case you're in the dark about the feud, O'Reilly and Oprah both -- at one point or another -- criticized Luda for his work in the rap industry. When Ludacris won a Grammy award, he used the platform to exact revenge on them. Granted, O'Reilly is a loser on every front and Oprah is a first-class snob who has lost touch with the black community. But it hardly lends itself to being credible in the industry to start feuds with these guys. Maybe somebody should remind each of the idiotic players in this story to use their voice for something a little more purposeful; more purposeful than just serving the interests of their respective demographic groups. Sheesh.
The GOP is at it again. Ever since Barack Obama declared himself a candidate in the 2008 Presidential race, GOP pundits have been quick to chime in with their assaults on Obama's race. Between Rush Limbaugh's racist Halfrican American comments, Glen Beck's ignorant statements about Obama being colorless and how he may as well be white, and Brian Sussman's echoed Halfrican American comments, it's clear to me that conservatives who claim to be ostensibly committed to equality and 'colorblindness' are the ones most obsessed with Obama's race. Silly Republicans.
Obama's black leadership
If the GOP are the ones obsessing about Obama's race, the rest of the world is obsessing about Obama's role as a black leader. Can we please give it a rest already? Does the black community really need more political leadership at this point in our existence? I like Obama, but I don't want him being my black political leader. We tried it with Jesse Jackson, but he had too much mess under his rug. We tried it with Al Sharpton, but it turns out he has some dirt too (I hear that he was an FBI informant). Not since the likes of Shirley Chisholm have we had a true black leader in the political system. But in today's time, do we really even need one?
Black folks make up one of the largest consumer markets in the world. Black intelligentsia is continuously rising. Home ownership is up. Salaries are on the increase (not by as much as our white brothers and sisters. But it's still something that has shown improvement). College admissions are up (no thanks to the so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative). Simply put, we've got our stuff together. Yes racism (both of the individual and instutional variety) still exists. But, black folks are more empowered (or, at least have the tools to be empowered) to combat racism now than ever before. To continuously rely on a 'leader' to stir the masses -- to me -- is a diss to those who fought for the progressive movements that allow us the self-determination and the opportunities to prosper today. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we won't have to rely on Obama to be our "Great Black Hope."
OK. This post wound up being a little longer than expected. They always seem to get that way when I'm ranting about random things (I mean, are you really surprised though?). Hopefully, this should keep you full until the next time.
Now I've really gotta get back to work.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Not too long ago, the Hippie Conservative wrote an interesting post challenging his readers to question whether the world was becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. In talking to him, I commented that I believed that the world’s hostility toward Israel was the product of (1) its connection to the United States (since most of the Middle Eastern world can’t stand us, it makes sense that they hate Israel as much) and (2) Israel’s proclamation that they are God’s chosen people; which – to others – implies that everybody else is out of God’s grace and favor. My theories aside, I can’t help but to carry a great deal of sympathy for Israel. Being only a half century removed from one of history’s great atrocities, they've found themselves engaged in a bloody battle over land, struggles over sovereignty, and have been targeted to be "wiped off the map" by Iran. Together, these things can help in rationalizing the need that Israel may have for seeking retribution.
Interestingly, America was equally as justified after the tragedy of 9/11. However (yep. Here it comes…), I have to ask: what’s the point in seeking reprisal against an enemy military that can't even be detected?
People have been patting Bush on the back for his immediate response to Afghanistan after 9/11. I suppose that the praise would be warranted. (*Note* This is one of the only times you’ll ever hear me give it up to this president. So don't get used to it). From Afghanistan, we were able to create new language to justify all of the nonsense that proceeded that initial conflict. We coined the phrase “The War on Terror”.
The War on Terror.
Even if we're able to dismiss the sheer lunacy behind fighting a war against a tactical concept (Which is exactly what “terrorism” is. Let’s keep it real.), and sell this as a war against insurgents; the fact remains: this is a war that we cannot win. “Winning” a war implies that a general, a major, or some high ranking military officer waves a white flag of surrender and his army lays down their weapons in defeat. Do you honestly think that will ever happen here?!
The process that we’re taking in Iraq is similar to what Israel has been trying to do for half a century now: fighting in lop-sided wars with losing results. While “insurgent” groups (interesting word choice since the term ‘insurgency’ tends to empower people) are hiding in houses, strategizing, and executing plans amongst their own people, we’re responding to them like we would if we fighting uniformed Germans during WWII. Strategies like this spell – in bold letters – FAILURE. Army experts are quick to point this out. Why hasn’t the government? Perhaps the better question is: does the government even care that this war is unwinnable? One of the problems is: the tactics that we’re using in this assymetrical conflict are causing more barriers than they're removing. With every bomb dropped and every assault taken, the liklihood of killing civilians increases. Think about it: if al Quada, Hezebollah, and Hamas don’t have clearly identifiable military outfits/bases, and most of the combat is done in populated areas, civilian deaths will be high (all the more reason why the U.S. won’t release civilian death tolls). Killing citizens and ‘insurgents’, as the Germans and the Japanese learned sixty years ago, does nothing for the war effort but create more soliders. Terrorists feed off of the lop-sided assaults we make on their land and on their population.
If this war is unwinnable, what then do you propose Andre? First, I would suggest that we stop approaching this conflict like we would’ve in WWII. I think that our country was so spoiled from victory in the “great campaign” of WWII that we've tried to model all of our subsequent conflicts from that war. We need to stop responding terrorism militarily. This tactic failed for Russia during the Chechnya conflict (you remember that, right?!). It continues to fail in the conflict between Israel and Hezebollah. Why should we expect different results in doing the same thing? Didn’t Albert Einstein define that as insanity?
Since it’s clear that responding to terrorism militarily won’t work, why not try to approach it as an issue of law enforcement instead? Similar to how the UK responded to the Irish Republican Army; using law enforcement practices against terrorism can be effective. Doing so may allow for us to remove ourselves from “negotiating” with terrorists networks while also solving some of the problems we face in the region. For the UK; this method led to an eventual cease-fire with their neighbors from the North. But, even more notably, it shifts the balance of power and allows for independent states to accomplish self-determination; one of the things lacking in this war, and one of the things that creates more and more insurgents each day.
If the feds can bring down notoriously deadly groups like the Mafia without using military force and resources, why not employ those same tactics against the equally deadly and clandestine groups against whom we’re fighting now? Instead, we’re relying on an overly-expensive, massively depleted military that continues to lose (in both $$$ and lost lives) to fight against a bunch of guerrillas.
It’s clear that Vietnam has taught us nothing.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
USPS: United States Postal Spying
Just two days after airing during the Super Bowl, Snickers was quick to remove one of its ads after receiving heat from several gay advocacy groups. The commericial, which I thought was actually pretty funny, involved two mechanics in a shop working on car. One mechanic starts eating a Snickers bar, while the other starts at the other end, clearly a spoof of the famous scene in “Lady & the Tramp”. When their lips meet, they panic and – in response – do something “manly” by ripping hair off their chests. As gay activists cried ‘foul’, Snickers got rid of the ad. But not before I was able to find it here (though I’m not sure how long it will be up).
Congress skeptical of Bush's Iraq Budget
After reading this article, who can blame them? After the president recently outlined his $2.9 trillion budget (which includes $625 billion for defense), both Dems and the GOP have grown decidely skeptical with Bush. When, according to Henry Waxman; Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, our government "drops" 363 tons of cash in Iraq with no stated purpose, people are a little more likely to be critical of its fiscal moves.
Stories like this remind me of why oversight is important. Most of us can already see that Bush and his buddies have been failing us miserably with this nonsensical war. Maybe Congress will finally open their eyes and take action.
Kerry won't run
This bit of news is a little old, but worth mentioning since it will impact the outcome of the 2008 president election. John Kerry, whose botched presidential run served as a prelude to other botched stuff, removed himself from consideration as a presidential candidate. Whew! That was close. Even though I don’t think he had a chance of gaining the same momentum that he had (and lost) in ’04, I’m relieved to see that he won’t be attempt to run again.
Don’t get me wrong: I personally like Kerry and I supported most of his agenda. But he clearly didn’t have what it took to win an election. He lost to the worst president in history. As a war hero, he lost to a draft dodger. He essentially lost an ‘open and shut’ case. To think that he’d be able to win against a candidate even HALF as insipid as Bush would be far reaching.
More loss in Iraq
The military has reported that another helicopter has been downed; bringing the count to five in a little more than three weeks. Not only does this spell the loss of valuable and expensive resources but, more importantly, the loss of more human life. When will the President get it? If an American death toll of 3100 + doesn't do it, what will?
Scientists bribed to counter global warming claims
Even I was shocked to hear this story. Apparently, the American Enterprise Institute has offered scientists $10,000 in cash if they can refute any claims of global warming. This bribe was done in response to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report; which indicates that human activity is the largest culprit of global warming. I wonder how far 10 grand will go when the global warming that you claimed didn't exist just caused the flood that's washing your home away.
Compliments: The new insult
Those silly Democrats; always putting their feet in their mouths. This time it's not John Kerry and his bad jokes about Iraq, or Howard Dean with...well...just about everything he says. Rather the culprit now is Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), regarding statements made about fellow Democratic senator Barack Obama.
In an article submitted to the New York Observer, he noted that Sen. Obama was "...the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy..." Bush's comments about an "articulate" Obama also grew criticism; but not to the extent of Biden's.
Writers all over the blogosphere have been weighing in on this story. Frankly, I could care less either way; but I can see the viewpoints of both sides. I get the idea that whites feel "damned if they do, damned if they don't" regarding complimenting blacks. But, I also understand how Biden's comments; especially calling Obama the "first mainstream black who is articulate..." can get intepreted as racist; implying that Obama's positive attributes are somehow a unique exception to the rule of his race. All I know is that the best way to avoid situations like this is to leave the politically correct bulls**t at the door.
There. I said it.
Anna Nicole Smith found dead
Truth be told, I'm not in the least bit interested in what happened. Now please don't interpret what I'm about to say as being heartless, but there wasn't much to her life that bore any real significance to me. I will admit, however, that stories like this do tend to get a little more interesting if they open themselves to a good conspiracy theory...
**Update (last time, I promise)**
Anyway, you can check out the video of your perverted president here. Laugh away...
I guess that's about it for today. There's tons more to discuss, but a brotha's gotta get some work done. Until next time, be easy...
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
From Bill Maher:
"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out. No one's speaking to you.
Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church and Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.
But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.
On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.
So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.' "
That about sums it up.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Warning: This is another one of my longer posts. I'm sorry, in advance. But I think you know me by now...
As you know, last week the Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the ruling by the Ingham County Circuit Court that allowed state universities, including the University of Michigan-Flint, to continue to offer health benefits to same-sex domestic partners. According to the ruling, we will be able to honor our commitment to provide agreed-upon benefits through the end of 2007, or through the end of the current contract for bargained-for employee groups.
On a personal note, I am deeply disappointed by this decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals. At the University of Michigan-Flint, we value all members of our campus community equally. The withholding of health benefits to certain families is not only unfair, but will inflict undue hardship to a number of our faculty and staff and their dependents.
While this news is disheartening, I am proud to be part of a University that will continue its fight to make healthcare benefits accessible. I greatly value the inclusive, respectful environment that all of us have created and fostered at the University of Michigan-Flint. This latest court ruling will not deter our efforts to make our campus a welcoming place for all members of the University of Michigan-Flint family.
Jack Kay, Provost and Professor
One of the biggest buzzes in Michigan right now, especially on college campuses, involves the decision of the Michigan Court of Appeals to overrule a decision that allowed state institutions like universities to provide health benefits for same-sex couples. Though as a single, heterosexual male this decision doesn’t impact me directly, I can’t help but to feel disturbed at the harassment that homosexuals continue to receive. Even if they made the choice to be gay (which I don’t believe), it bothers me to no end to see how people, especially those of us in the church; respond to them.
When we examine the religiosity of our day, it’s important for us to recognize that the only real playing chip that religion has is its license of morality. Once that’s lost, then credibility is compromised. Once credibility is lost, we may as well go out of business. It should be noted that this isn’t the first time that the foundations of Christianity have been rocked. Recall when some dude named Galileo conducted groundbreaking research to disprove the long-held biblical contention that the Earth was the center of the universe. Not only did he prove that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, he proved that the Earth wasn’t even the center of our solar system. The Roman Catholic Church had a field day in persecuting him for discoveries that were later proven to be irrevocable. From there, the credibility of religion plummeted with many people; almost to the point of being irreparable.
In today’s time, religion is facing the likelihood of losing its moral currency by subscribing to the discriminatory actions against the homosexual community; especially doing so despite many scientific claims that sexual orientation has little – if anything – to do with personal choice. As I mentioned earlier, studies have shown that homosexuals are born with predispositions and ‘abnormalities’, but not by choice. So this begs the question: If there is an absence of choice, can there be moral culpability? I’ll try to biblical examine this from all angles:
For the religious folks who hold on to their beliefs about homosexuals despite scientific evidence suggesting the opposite (not just Christians, by the way. This also applies to Jews, Muslims, etc.), their argument is simple: The Bible explicitly points out homosexuality as an abomination. As the Old Testament tells us we are not to lie with our own. Most people are quick to point that out. Back in my “God said it. That settles it” days, I would’ve left it at that. But after exploring the Bible with more than just literal interpretation, I realize that the Old Testament is laced with rules that call for death from offenses varying from eating shellfish to committing adultery to working on Sundays to being disrespectful to your parents. If you accept one law as an undeniable absolute (homosexuality being an abomination), you must accept them all, right? If that’s the case, we’re all screwed:
For starters, everyone who played in the Super Bowl yesterday without gloves needs to be executed since the Bible clearly points out that we’re not supposed to touch the skin of dead “unclean” animals. Likewise, in addition to both teams, all the fans at the game, and the millions watching around the world also need to be executed since we all violated the Sabbath day. This weekend, I received a haircut and a beard trim. But according to Old Testament law, this is expressly forbidden. A few Sundays ago at church, I noticed people who had poor eyesight, facial blemishes, disabilities, and hutched backs approaching the alter; something that is clearly forbidden in Leviticus. As I've pointed out before, the list of infractions that we commit can go on for days.
But the fact is: progressive religion has put aside the primitive and archaic practices followed in Biblical times. That being said, for religious folks to selectively subscribe to proscriptions regarding homosexuals is not only religiously off-base, but is ethically unreasonable. We’ve basically turned into a state where we practice selective imposition of certain rules, but not of others. But if you want to use the Old Testament as a barometer, why not turn your attention to the book of Genesis? If memory serves me correctly, God made the declaration that everything He created was “good”. If science is correct and people are born with predispositions to homosexuality, how can something that God created NOT be good? I’ll let that one marinate…
Now, I’d like to shift gears and examine the New Testament; the part of Bible upon which Christianity was created. If you cite some of the works of Paul when he points out the ‘sin’ behind homosexuality, you can reasonably conclude that he was actually referring to the Roman observance of pedophilia; where grown men had sex with their slave boys. In fact, Christmas itself was originally a pagan holiday where men exchanged gifts, had sex with each other (and, of course, boys) and beat their wives. But, the practice of owning slaves and having sex with boys has long sense been outlawed. I say all that to suggest that applying Paul’s contextual writings to homosexuality between two consenting adults is like comparing apples to lima beans.
Perhaps the most important question is: How would Jesus handle the situation? After all, Christianity is ostensibly committed to following His teachings, right? But, if my Bible trivia serves me correctly, never ONCE during His ministry did Jesus address homosexuality. Sure, He talked about revenge, divorce, greed, praying, poverty, and an assortment of other things. But I can’t find a single reference made to homosexuality. If this was such a morally complicated issue, why wasn’t it mentioned?
Oppositely, Jesus did devote much of his ministry to teaching us how to treat one another. He taught us about not passing judgment on others, how to love others and how to treat others as we’d expect to be treated. That being said, let me ask you: How would you feel if you were discriminated against like homosexuals are? How would you feel knowing that your job, benefits, and quality of life stand to be compromised based on something that you probably didn’t have control over? How would you feel if you were told that you couldn’t have benefits that we heterosexuals take advantage of everyday?
Even if I don’t personally endorse the homosexual agenda, I can’t deny that it exists. The discrimination they face from society; especially from religion, is inexcusable in this day in age. When will we get to the point where science and religion can provide a sustainable balance; as oppose to conflicting views? When can we get to the point of thinking that maybe God saying “Let there be light” is analogous to “The Big Bang”? When will we realize that the Bible wasn’t meant to be followed word-for-word?
To me, the growing conflict between science and religion is an accident waiting to happen. You know its coming, you see it materializing, but you feel helpless to do anything about. Let’s hope that – for the sake of the Christ I try to serve – that I’m wrong. But with each anti-gay piece of legislation passed, and each Biblically-justified act of discrimination committed, I’m not so sure I am.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
A special thanks goes out to the media who continuously drives home the fact that black folks finally have a legitimate presidential candidate and two Superbowl coaches.
Thank you. Now enough, already. Damn.