Saturday, June 03, 2006

Loving Day

Until I saw a comment about it by georgia10 in this Kos post, I had no idea that there was such a thing as Loving Day. But it is a *very* cool idea, and something I hope the progressive blogosphere can keep talking about over the next couple weeks. The message of Loving Day and what it represents stands in sharp contrast to what Bush is trying to do with his push for a "Marriage Protection Amendment".

What is Loving Day?

On June 12th, 1967, interracial couples became legal thanks to the Supreme Court decision entitled Loving v. Virginia. Before that date, states had the right to separate and punish interracial couples. These punishments included imprisonment of up to ten years. Violations included marriage, sex, and living together. This issue is a part of the civil rights movement that is too often forgotten. On June 12th of every year, celebrate your legal right to love a person of any race.

Some of you may have seen my diary at Daily Kos, Married 19 years this August. Activist judges to blame. I have to say, I'm really blown away by the response to it. At the moment, it is still on the recommended list (that almost *never* happens for me at Kos), but I wanted to make sure I linked to it so that people reading this post could still find the diary even once it has dropped. Not only was it amazing to see such an overwhelmingly positive response, but it was great to see so many Dean people show up to comment on that diary--including some names I haven't seen in a very long time.

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Message from Julie in Idaho

Snagged from the comments over at "the hot place"--thought a lot of you would be interested in this...

Greetings, all. Some of you will remember me as Julie in Idaho from 2003-2004 here at Blog for America. I am now the online campaign manager for Larry Grant, who is running for Congress in Idaho's 1st Congressional District.

Normally, the ID-01 is a lost cause for Democrats. But on May 23, Idaho Republicans nominated a candidate whom the Swing State Project has already called the "Wingnut of the Year." Bill Sali is so extreme he makes past Idaho Republicans like Steve Symms and Helen Chenoweth look positively moderate.

Please check out our campaign blog,, and our new website,, which is designed to capitalize on our race's new national visibility and viability as a Democratic pickup. And if you get a chance, also read, recommend, and/or comment on the diaries I've posted at DailyKos and MyDD.

Thanks to all of you for all you do!

Julie Fanselow
Boise, Idaho

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Saturday Comics

And my favorite for today is actually a rerun from several years ago, what with all the buzz about the Bush-Rice tryst the past couple days: Devil In A Blue Stained Dress

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Naughty, naughty Sooty!

Tsk, tsk. I go to Cute Overload to find a nice, wholesome puppy picture to post for an overnight thread, and I see *this*. The attack on family values is everywhere, dagnabbit! ;-)

A guinea pig called Sooty had a night to remember after escaping from his pen and tunnelling into a cage of 24 females.

He romanced each of them in turn and was yesterday the proud father of 43 offspring.
"We knew he had gone missing after wriggling through the bars of his cage. We looked everywhere but never thought of checking the pen where we keep 24 females. We did a head count and found 25 guinea pigs--Sooty was fast asleep in the corner.

He was absolutely shattered. We put him back in his cage and he slept for two days."

There's something delightfully absurd about using the word "romanced" to describe Sooty's little adventure.

Tell you what, here's a puppy picture too, for good measure.

Good night, blog friends.

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June is Bloggers Against Torture Month

You may have noticed a new graphic link in the left sidebar of this blog--one that reads "This Blog is Anti Torture". I first spotted the button at My Left Wing, and realized that I definitely wanted a button like that for this blog. When I clicked to learn more, I found out that June is Torture Awareness Month. I went to this link to sign up Howard-Empowered People to take part in Torture Awareness Month...

All you need to do to join is (1) promise to do a blog post about torture in the month of June, (2) link to Torture Awareness Month somewhere your blog. Do both of these things, and we will link to you from our blogrolls.
Well, as you can see, I've done the "add a link" part, and it seems plausible that before this month is over I will find the time and inspiration to write up a suitable blog post on the subject. But while my own muse is either napping or otherwise occupied, I welcome and encourage the submission of guest blogs on the topic. If you write something up and would like it posted here, you can e-mail it to howardempowered at

As shared in the comments by Cyberotter, there are posts for Day 1 and Day 2 up at Donkephant. Please feel free to pass along other good commentary you've seen in the comments below.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

A moment of science

Cool post from Jill at Writes Like She Talks about science songs available online--including a nice backstory about her evolving relationship with her brother.

This also seems like a good place to repost some links Cat posted in last night's thread:

What's The Link Between Astronauts and Osteoporosis?

Interiors of extrasolar planets: A first step

On the lighter side (some of you have seen this already), Molecules with Silly Names.

The Annals of Improbable Research

The Straight Dope with Cecil Adams (*some* of the questions he answers are science-related)

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division

I wanted to wrap up this post with a screen capture from a fun science video clip. My first thought was something from the Chemistry Comes Alive! site. Very cool--worth checking out--but I couldn't find anything that made for a good screen-capture. For that, I think I'll go with the old, reliable, Diet Coke and Mentos soda bottle eruption...

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Articles about blogs/blogging

Figured I should put a new post up since I don't know if anyone else has something in the works, and this is one of my long days as far as work is concerned. I'll use it to repost a few link that I shared in the comments yesterday.

The Blogfather (in

But then Armstrong, 42, bills himself as a different kind of consultant, an online insurgent who, with Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, aka Kos, is leading "a bloodless coup" in national politics. "We are at the beginning of a comprehensive reformation of the Democratic Party -- driven by committed progressive outsiders," Armstrong and Moulitsas write in their recent book, "Crashing the Gate," which sold 5,000 copies online before it was even published. Something is certainly happening. Guest blogging at DailyKos, which gets about 4.5 million page views a week, has become a rite of passage for Democratic bigwigs, people like John Kerry, Russ Feingold, Elizabeth Edwards (under a pseudonym) and Nancy Pelosi. Many of Armstrong's former blogging pupils, who are known by critics as the "Blog Mafia," have been recruited to work for 2006 House and Senate campaigns as varied as those of Connecticut's Ned Lamont, New Jersey's Bob Menendez and Ohio's Sherrod Brown. And next week, roughly 1,000 blog faithful are set to descend on Las Vegas for a four-day conference with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, party chairman Howard Dean, and at least three presidential hopefuls.
And the part about Ohio...

The online unity was shattered, however, in October when Sherrod Brown, an outspokenly liberal seven-term congressman from Ohio, announced that he would run for the seat. Armstrong, who had been working as a consultant for Brown, encouraged an online rebellion against Hackett. Before long, Moulitsas and other bloggers had abandoned their once-favorite son, arguing, along with Democratic Party leaders, that Brown was more electable. In one post,, on Oct. 6, Moulitsas wrote, "It might be a good idea for Hackett to stand down." This shocked many readers who had cheered another Kos post just two days earlier, in which Moulitsas seemed to endorse Hackett in a race against Brown. "Give me an Iraq vet over a career politician," he wrote.

"It looked like Jerome and Markos were using their big-box blogs to steamroll into Ohio," said Russell Hughlock, aka Pounder, an electrical engineer who runs the BuckeyeStateBlog. "A lot of people left Kos ... because they got pissed."

Moulitsas told me that both of his posts were, in fact, consistent, and that he had never changed his mind. "One of them spoke from the heart. The other spoke from the brain," he said, explaining that he, reluctantly, concluded Hackett couldn't win the Senate seat. "I would rather have Paul Hackett in the Senate."

The article is duscussed here and here.

On a related note, Plunderbund discusses the ODP's Blog Problem.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Alachua Republican party draws "line in the sand", sets up attack blog

From Renee...I have crossposted this at Daily Kos, My Left Wing, and Booman Tribune. Recommendations would be appreciated. Also, Charlie asks that we share this story, so please post the link anywhere it would be of interest to people.

There is a significant new development in the Alachua saga. For years there have been anonymous attack blogs spreading rumors about those addressing corruption in the City of Alachua.

When they discovered we had created a registration based information site - that cannot be used for anonymous attacks - this Sunday they put up their own new site (registration based).

The difference is - this time they have "outed" themselves rather than hiding behind anonymity.

And it is the Alachua County Republican Party! At first I thought this was a rogue Republican or actor - who was falsely representing their views as the official views of the Republican party.

But I spoke with the Chairman of the Party this morning and he confirmed it to me - the Alachua County Republican Party is responsible for that site and the Republican Executive Committee is sponsoring and financing it.

You can see it at

Also see the new posts at the Alachua Project site:

What the chairman of the Republican Party, Stafford Jones, stated to me was that the Republican Party has decided to "draw a line in the sand" on the issue of the City of Alachua. They claim that it is a model of "pro-job, pro-family" government that should be followed everywhere - in contrast to our claims that it is the epitome of corrupt practices and deference over democracy.

So the Republican Party has laid out the line in the sand - which side will people take - the Republican Party, officially, has staked out one side of that line and demanded people take sides. I wonder how many registered Republicans agree with the officials leading their party?


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The courage to say "yes"

In yesterday's open thread at My Left Wing, I learned that May 30 was the anniversary of the date that Jeanne D'Arc (aka Joan of Arc) was martyred. That caught my attention primarily because Son in Ohio, in spite of being what I could describe optimistically as an agnostic, was fascinated with Joan of Arc for several years. And every now and then the interest is rekindled.

Incidentally, the painting seen above is by Leon Benouville. I never learned much French, but as near as I can gather, it depicts Jeanne listening to her "voices". I am not interested, at this moment, in speculating as to the origins of those voices--whether they be medical, psychiatric, or supernatural. At the moment, I am just intrigued by her certainty that she indeed heard them.

In the open thead I mentioned earlier, Mirrim posted these words from George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan:

"O God who madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive thy saints? How long, O Lord, how long?"

Shortly before reading those words I had read at Crooks and Liars about Ava Lowery, a 15 year old girl who has received death threats for making a haunting anti-war animation entitled "Peace Takes Courage". I don't know much about her--other than the fact that she is quite talented and courageous. I am struck by the fact that she and Jeanne D'Arc, living centuries apart, are "uppity young women" who feel compelled to step outside of their comfort zones to do something risky.

I think most of us here feel like this to some extent--although most of us have not experienced death threats because of our activism. But we certainly have other things we could be doing with our free time, except that we can't bring ourselves to turn away having seen what needs to be done. We feel compelled to press forward. "Called", even, but without the certainty that we have heard a voice giving us instructions.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DemocracyFest Update

Did you know there is on-campus lodging available for the Third Annual DemocracyFest?

Single Room (sleeps 1) - Only $60/night!

Double Room (sleeps 2) - Only $110/night!

Suite (sleep 8) - Not available on the website, please inquire at

These rooms are an incredible deal for San Diego and you will be conveniently located on-campus, within a 5 minute walk of all DemocracyFest activities throughout the weekend. All rooms are available Thursday through Sunday nights (7/13-7/17), are non-smoking, and include a fridge and microwave.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend Roundup

I'm meeeeelting!

Seriously, we've got to get an air conditioner in here soon. I'm going to sign off for the night, but we've had so many great threads--and heard from people who haven't had time to post for a while--that I don't want to let them scroll off the page. So I'm going to use this post as a weekend wrap-up with links to those posts.

Saturday Comics by Oscar in Louisville
Zack Space on the Rachel Maddow Show (Transcript) by Renee in Ohio
Fred Rogers testifying in Senate hearings, 1969 by Renee in Ohio
Messianic Musings by Oscar in Louisville
Coffee Drinkers, Wake Up! by Catreona
"Rich man's" media and "death by ridicule" in the press....still going strong. by floridagal
Remembering the four-legged friends who have shared our lives by Renee in Ohio
Charlie, Alachua, and exhaustion by Patricia Camburn Behnke
In Memoriam by Oscar in Louisville
Epilogue to a Love Story by Subway Serenade

Before signing off, I decided to head over to Cute Overload to find an animal pic that is both cute and *cool*. How about this?

The folks at Cute Overload inform us that "this and many, many more melt-inducing pictures can be found in LiveJournal-Baby Animals.

You can also check out pandafix, for pics like this...

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Epilogue to a Love Story

Note from Renee...I am having an *awful* time trying to post any comments today. Halsocan issue, I guess--I keep getting this "Bad colon separator" message. Don't know if anyone else if having similar troubles, but be assured that I'm aware of the problem.

Crossposted at The End of Civilization as We Know It

Ascension Sunday, 2006.

The Earthly story of John and Mickey Oehlmann came to an end this week, when the maintanance crew came to clear their apartment. I was fortunate to have gotten the word that their family had abandoned the contents of the place, save for an air conditioner, two TVs and a couple of electric reclining chairs.

I arrived about half an hour after the crew, and asked if they'd mind if took a few rememberances, and they said whatever I took was something less for them to carry, and knowing how close we were they were glad to help.

From the moment I stepped inside the apartment, I realized that a rich history was left behind. Things that should have been held for future generations of their family lay in bags waiting to be discarded to the compactor. First I found their wedding album, and many books of family pictures. Then I found all of John's scrapbooks and trophies. Sadly his military medals seem to have been lost to the trashbin before I arrived.

But the real treasure that I've found in the garbage bags was every letter they exchanged during WWII. She had only mentioned them to me once but they were clearly one of her prized possessions. Yet my favorite item so far, even though I'm not a Catholic, was her Rosary beads from her First Communion.

Mickey passed away just before Easter, and I resolved to light a candle for them on the Catholic holiday of the Ascension. When I got on the bus to go to work on Sunday morning, I had a feeling that she was on the bus with me, holding my hand, as if we were going to meet someone. I put the thought out of my mind while I got my coffee and went downstairs to set up.

About 20 minutes later as I was singing, I suddenly found myself holding back some very deep tears, and realized that Mickey and John had been there listening to my performance. They had never heard me before and I felt them dancing just a few feet away from where I was standing.

I got all choked up and had to stop singing while resisting the urge to burst out crying, Then I felt John ask me to play "Their Song."

I took a deep breath and the words came out.

When somebody loves you
It's no good unless he loves you
All the way

I felt them looking into each other's hearts and they slowly began to dance again on the subway platform. I was trembling. The other people on the platform saw me falling apart.

Deeper than the deep blue sea is
That's how deep it goes
When it's real

Then that Love that knows no Comprehension that I always talk about
swept over me, and I could almost see them.

Who knows where the road will lead us
Only a fool would say

The song ended and I felt them watching as I played "Mail Order Annie." I could sense they realized that if they stayed longer I'd never get any work done, and would probably end up a shapeless mass in a pool of my own tears. As the train arrived, I felt their love draw near to me as if in farewell. When the train stopped I felt them move toward one of the doors. It opened and they both stepped on, turned to me and waved, and went off with a smile to continue their amazing love story.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day. I am.

David Teller, The Subway Serenade

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In Memoriam

Why did Willie Edward Carter have to die?

Willie Edward Carter was the oldest of the six Carter boys from the Eastside Projects in Patterson, New Jersey. After he graduated from Eastside High School - several years before Joe Clark got there - he was drafted into the Army and sent to the front lines of the Korean War. Willie survived the ravages of war for several months, but as the North Koreans pushed south during the Battle of Chipyong-ni in 1951, the eldest brother of my father was reported missing and presumed dead.

Why did Willie Edward Carter have to die?

My uncle Willie was barely out of high school when he was shipped off to fight a people that posed no threat to the United States of America. My uncle Willie was just a youth when he was sent to fight and kill people who couldn't find Patterson, NJ on a map if their life depended on it. My uncle Willie was just a boy when he died.


There is no Willie Edward Carter Jr. There is no Mrs. Willie Edward Carter. There is nothing left of Uncle Willie except the faint memories carried by his surviving brothers and the tales that they've told to us, his nephews and nieces. On this Memorial Day I honor Uncle Willie, Willie Edward Carter, and I ask, "Why did Willie Edward Carter have to die?" How many more generations will be forced to ask why their uncles and fathers and mothers and aunts had to die? Will they reminisce over you?


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Charlie, Alachua, and exhaustion

I covered Alachua politics for several years as a journalist. I wrote the novel Tortoise Stew as a way to deal with the drama and traumas of covering the official business of this city. Charlie writes in one of his messages that he is "exhausted" by all that has been happening. That struck a nerve with me because I too felt exhausted every time I had to fight a battle for public records or play the game to get an interview.

Charlie attended a book talk about Tortoise Stew recently with several community members and the mayor of the neighboring community of Newberry. This mayor does not necessarily agree with Charlie's methods, but at this talk both agreed that government becomes dysfunctional when the side in power refuses to listen to opposing opinions. This has been happening in Alachua probably since Reconstruction. When the ruling party refuses to listen, disenfranchisement occurs and democracy has gone underground.

The best thing about the discussion of Tortoise Stew occurred when Charlie and the mayor exchanged ideas and communicated ways to enfranchise citizens in order to make local government functional once again.

Alachua's dysfunction needs to be used as an example in this country for how to destroy democracy.

Please feel free to post this email.

Patricia Camburn Behnke

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Remembering the four-legged friends who have shared our lives

Today I received an e-mail from my friend, Jeff He was sharing the sad news that he recently had to have his cat, Christine, put to sleep. In the letter, he reminded me that he'd adopted her as a stray in California, and she moved with him up to Washington state. She was truly part of the family. As I was writing back, I was trying to think of what to say after, "Wow, that's rough!" As I thought some more, I remembered that Demetrius and I had actually met Christine once, when we visited Jeff in Washington.

This was the year before Son in Ohio was born. It was before Jeff got married and had two daughters. So, on the one hand, she had a long life, but on the other hand, that doesn't really make it easier, does it? In fact, it got me to thinking about how, at least for me, the more chapters of my life I've shared with a pet, the more ground we've covered together geographically or otherwise, the sharper those pangs of loss will be. Because, no matter how much I can tell myself intellectually that "it was for the best", it still feels like a gaping hole has been ripped in my life. Because I've lost one of my traveling companions.

So, today I'm thinking a lot about our cat Socrates. Now, I feel like I would be remiss not to mention my dog Peggy--in case anyone in my family is lurking, I wouldn't want them to think I was dissing the Best Dog in the World. Peggy was my companion all through my teen years, and there's a picture in our photo album of me posing with her on my wedding day. When she died it was quite a blow. But Socrates crossed state lines with us, which is why Jeff's letter reminded me of him.

He remains The Best Cat in the World to me. When Demetrius and I would sit together on the couch watching television, Socrates habitually positioned himself so that he was on both of our laps. We figured he was making a point of not playing favorites.

When our alarm clock would go off in the morning, he would run out into the hallway--knowing that we would be passing that way soon--and roll onto his back, presenting his tummy to be rubbed. And that boy enjoyed a *vigorous* tummy rubbing. Only cat we've had like that. The cats who have shared our home since then have been affectionate enough, but those other cat tummies have been strictly off limits.

We don't have any digital pictures of Socrates, or even any regular pictures of him in his signature "present tummy" pose. Nor could I find a picture of any black cat doing "the pose", so this will have to do...

Feel free to share memories of your special furry friends in the comments. And if you've got a picture you'd like me to add to this post, you can send it to me at howardempowered at

Update from puddle, who informs us that there is a "eulogy, short form, for Digger" here.

Also, there is an abbreviated version of this post diaried at My Left Wing, Booman Tribune, Daily Kos, and Democratic Underground. Some sweet stories and pictures can be found in the comments.

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"Rich man's" media and "death by ridicule" in the press....still going strong.

Watching the television news, cable or network, this week was a painful experience. It was like a switch was turned in some corporate boardroom, and all the media outlets began spouting the nonsense again.

This was a powerful article from 2004, and I thought of it this week. The attacks on the Clintons have begun again, they are gearing up for Gore. They are up to their old tricks just like in 04. Watching Hardball today was a sad experience. Chris Matthews has a sick fascination with the Clintons still.

Here is that article from 2004...
The Awesome Destructive Power of the Corporate Media

The article first refers to the media's attacks on Howard Dean during the campaign, but that is only a small part of their major points.

This commentary, however, is not about the merits of Howard Dean. If a mildly progressive, Internet-driven, young white middle class-centered, movement-like campaign such as Dean's - flush with money derived from unconventional sources, backed by significant sections of labor, reinforced by big name endorsements and surging with upward momentum - can be derailed in a matter of weeks at the whim of corporate media, then all of us are in deep trouble. The Dean beat-down should signal an intense reassessment of media's role in the American power structure.
In these two paragraphs, they say the Democrats are not much of a part of the corporate power, corporate media equation. My opinion is, though, that we have many Democrats equally beholden to the corporations. They come off pretty easy in the press because they seldom take stands and seldom have any opinions dissenting from the corporate views. They have it easy.

Clinton's Republican predecessors were not subjected to anything approaching such scrutiny and abuse. It is self-evident that George Bush, who should have been buried under a glacier of scandal and criminality within months of entering the White House, enjoys the full-time protection of the corporate press. Their institutional intention is to elect him again. Media apologists offer fictions about press vs. power, when in reality corporate media equals corporate power, just as Bush equals corporate power. The Democrats are not part of this equation.

Thus, the rich men's media descended on the Democratic Party primary process in order to mangle and denigrate it, while propping up the corporate champion in the White House. The New York Times, through its chief political reporter, Adam Nagourney, set the parameters of coverage by eliminating any mention of the three "bottom tier" candidates - starting with his "analysis" of the May televised debate in South Carolina, a state in which Al Sharpton is a key player! Nagourney systematically erased Sharpton, Kucinich and Carol Moseley-Braun from his weekly coverage of the contest - a professionally suicidal routine were it not consistent with the objectives of corporate management. The Times proudly sets the standard for national reporting, but its leadership was not necessary to ensure that the bottom tier would remain at the bottom. The organs of corporate speech all march to the same tune because there is not a dime's worth of difference between their owners.
The article mentions the way Ted Koppel in New Hampshire attacked the 3 candidates who had not raised much money in their races. He was ridiculing them in public. The article points out they had more class than he did.

Kucinich, Sharpton and Moseley-Braun acquitted themselves well in the exchange. The real story here is that Koppel felt empowered to all but demand that the three most progressive candidates and both Blacks vacate the Democratic presidential arena. Koppel had fumed to the New York Times about the uppity intruders, the month before. The day after the debate, ABC withdrew its reporters from all three campaigns.
The article concludes with the fact that Dean knew what had been been done to him, and I am most sure the others are still painfully aware. I see it all over again this week and the last few weeks.

Speaking of Dean after the race was over:
In an interview with CNN's repugnant Wolf Blitzer, the candidate said: "You report the news and you create the news... You chose to play it 673 times."
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Coffee Drinkers, Wake Up!

The exorbitant prices you pay for your designer cappuccino, or even your jar of Nescafe do not benefit our sisters and brothers in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the other forty-seven coffee producing countries of the world. Though coffee usually sells on the world markets for some $1.00 per pound, small coffee farmers usually receive between $0.30 and $0.50 per pound. This amounts to neither a fair price nor a living wage. Fair Trade Coffee symbol - not clickableAsk for Fair Trade Certified Coffee at your favorite cafe, restaurant, and grocery store. (Safeway brand and Chock Full O Nuts use Fair Trade beans, as do many smaller brands and distributors.)

By purchasing Fair Trade Certified coffee, you ensure that participating co-ops of small coffee farmers in twenty countries world wide receive $1.26 per pound. This higher income allows them access to health care, education, electricity and sometimes even consumer goods, luxuries previously far beyond their grasp.

My friends, here's an opportunity for you, in your everyday lives, to affect an enormous, a transforming change in the lives of many thousands of your fellow men. Join me and concerned citizens across the U.S., Canada, and Europe in supporting The Fair Trade Coffee Campaign.

For more information, contact:

Fair Trade Certified Coffee Campaign

2017 Mission St , Rm 303

San Francisco, CA 94110

(415) 255-7296

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Messianic Musings

John 4:21-26

Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am He."
One thing that I have discovered in my time offline is the universal need for a savior. So many people are in distress and looking for the hope of their salvation, yet they neglect the very hope that is freely offered them in the person of Jesus Christ. It has been this way since Jesus first offered Himself to the world - 1st century Jews were looking for a conquerer who would break the Roman occupation of Israel and who would then rule over Israel as David's son. Even His disciples held this mindset until the Day of Pentecost, but we can not superimpose our wants, our wishes, and our desires over the will of God, and God sent His Son into the world to save the world from its sins - not to give us the hook-up like Christine Agulera's genie in a bottle.

Nonetheless, people want what people want, and if they can't get the material hookup from God then they'll take their wants elsewhere - after all, it's all about them from their perspective, they are the measure of all things. It's their world and all things must cater to their needs, their wants, and their desires, so they will find their salvation elsewhere - in self improvement seminars, in transcendental meditation, in sexual relationship after relationship after relationship, always looking for the hope of their salvation, never finding it. Some will give up on finding their salvation, succumbing to depression or alcoholism or drugs (illicit or prescription) while others will unconvincingly deny their need for salvation. There are many ways that people deal with their need, but I have found the need for salvation to be fairly universal.

The Samaritan woman at the well told Jesus about her expectation of the advent of the Savior, the Christ, the Messiah, and Jesus told her plainly, "I who speak to you am He." Not only did the woman accept that Jesus was the Messiah, she went back to her hometown and told everyone she knew - the same people that ostracized her for being a two-bit whore - that she had met the savior of the world, the Messiah, the Christ, such that they all confessed, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

Who do you believe in?

As I've had time to reflect on the past several years I've recognized an interesting phenomenon that I hadn't really examined closely before - many of Howard Dean's supporters treat him the same way that Christians treat Jesus. Nobody (as far as I know) posits deity in Howard Dean, but the language of salvation is there and the messianic expectation is there as well, likely stemming from the credo of taking our party back, taking our country back, and taking back our rightful place of respect in the world. People don't merely like Howard Dean or believe Howard Dean, they believe in Howard Dean, they place their hope in Howard Dean. Howard himself tried to discourage this mentality when he posted on Kimmy's old site, telling her not to get frustrated since all politicians are human beings and all politicians will disappoint you, sooner or later, even Howard Dean.

My own journey may be illustrative. Coming out of college I realized just how screwed-up the real world really is, so the question that I asked myself is what I could do about it. I looked to politics and got involved with John Conyers' 1992 campaign and eventually worked for the Congressman, serving as a field director for his '94 campaign. One thing that I learned is that you cannot legislate morality. This is true with regards to issues like homosexuality and abortion, but it is also true with matters of economics and foreign policy - without a changed heart depraved men (and women) will always find ways around laws that limit their ability to fulfill their hearts' desires, be that having sex with someone of the same gender, aborting their baby, paying slave wages to workers, filtering criminal activity to only certain neighborhoods, raping the environment, cooking corporate books, or invading foreign countries that pose no threat to the United States. All of these are issues of morality, and none of these can be corrected by creating more laws. As the old cliche goes, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart, so the million-dollar question is this: how do you change someone's heart from a depraved state of mind to a mindset of righteousness?


"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

I wrestled with the implications of this for a number of years, maintaining some involvement with politics while I was in Florida, but in 1998 I submitted to my calling to vocational ministry, to full-time ministry, and I applied and was accepted to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. As I was trying to get away from politics and focus on Christ I found myself in the middle of the Clinton impeachment madness in large part because the Southern Baptists were more than a little bit involved in politics. I came to seminary to focus on the Bible and these people were babbling on about a blue-stained dress. Like Michael Corleone said, "Just when I though I was out they pull me back in." Then there was the fiasco of the 2000 election, and then there was September 11th, 2001.

The Bush presidency has necessitated my involvement in politics, especially with people accusing Bush of being an example of what Christianity is about, but politics absolutely can not solve the problems that face this world - politics can not change hearts, only policies. We indeed need to change policies - desperately - but that will not solve the problem because the root problem is people - we have to fix people themselves, and the only transforming agent that can redeem the depraved mind and heal the broken heart is Jesus Christ, who said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Under-shepherds must follow the example of the Good Shepherd - I could be making a lot of money if I simply focused on it, but I am trying to focus on making people all that God would have them to be. The pay is relatively meager in dollars, but the crown jewels are worth it.

I believe that I can make a difference in this world. I believe that from everyone who has been given much, much should be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more should be asked. I believe that the only way to address the human condition is to transform the human heart, and the only hope for our salvation comes from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus, when asked about the Messiah, told the woman at the well, "I who speak to you am He." Do you believe Him? Will you believe in Him?

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants you to believe in Him,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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Fred Rogers testifying in Senate hearings, 1969

Although Catreona already has a post in draft, hopefully she doesn't mind my saving it for tomorrow. I really feel like I need to post this tonight. I think of it as "bad wolf" antidote. (She's been pacing in her den and plotting mischief lately.) I saw this video yesterday, I think, and it was just linked again at Firedoglake.

Crooks and Liars has a great clip up from the Senate hearings in 1971 when Nixon wanted to cut the funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in half and Fred Rogers made an impassioned plea that won over his listeners.
The hearings were chaired by Senator John Pastore.

Pastore: All right, Rogers, you've got the floor.

Rogers: Senator Pastore, this is a philosophical statement and would take about ten minutes to read, so I'll not do that. One of the first things that a child learns in a healthy family is trust, and I trust what you have said that you will read this. It's very important to me. I care deeply about children.

Pastore: Will it make you happy if you read it?

Rogers: I'd just like to talk about it, if it's all right. My first children's program was on WQED fifteen years ago, and its budget was $30. Now, with the help of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation and National Educational Television, as well as all of the affiliated stations--each station pays to show our program. It's a unique kind of funding in educational television. Now our program has a budget of $6000.

It may sound like quite a difference, but $6000 pays for less than two minutes of cartoons. Two minutes of animated, what I sometimes say, bombardment. I'm very much concerned, as I know you are, about what's being delivered to our children in this country. And I've worked in the field of child development for six years now, trying to understand the inner needs of children. We deal with such things as the inner drama of childhood. We don't have to bop somebody over the head to make drama on the screen. We deal with such things as getting a haircut, or the feelings about brothers and sisters, and the kind of anger that arises in simple family situations. And we speak to it constructively.

Pastore: How long of a program is it?

Rogers: It's a half hour every day. Most channels schedule it in the noontime as well as in the evening. WETA here has scheduled it in the late afternoon.

Pastore: Could we get a copy of this so that we can see it? Maybe not today, but I'd like to see the program.

Rogers: I'd like very much for you to see it.

Pastore: I'd like to see the program itself, or any one of them.

Rogers: We made a hundred programs for EEN, the Eastern Eduational Network, and then when the money ran out, people in Boston and Pittsburgh and Chicago all came to the fore and said that we've *got* to have more of this neighborhood expression of care.

And this is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help him realize that he *is* unique. I end the program by saying, "You've made this day a special day, by just your being you. There's no person in the whole world like you, and *I* like you, just the way you are." And I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable *and* managable, we will have done a great service for mental health.

I think that it's much more dramatic that two men could be working out their feelings of anger--*much* more dramatic than showing something of gunfire. I'm *constantly* concerned about what our children are seeing, and for 15 years I have tried in this country and Canada, to present what I think is a *meaningful* expression of care.

Pastore: Do you narrate it?

Rogers: I'm the host, yes. And I do all the puppets and I write all the music, and I write all the scripts--

Pastore: Well, I'm supposed to be a pretty tough guy, and this is the first time I've had goosebumps for the last two days.

Rogers: Well, I'm grateful, not only for your goosebumps, but for your interest in our kind of communication. Could I tell you the words of one of the songs, which I feel is very important?

Pastore: Yes.

Rogers: This has to do with that good feeling of control which I feel that children need to know it's there. And it stars out,

What do you do with the mad that you feel--and that first line came straight from a child. I work with children with puppets in very personal communication in small groups

What do you do with the mad that you feel
When you feel so mad you could bite?
When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
And nothing you do seems very right?

What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
Do you pound some clay or some dough?
Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
Or see how fast you go?

It's great to be able to stop
When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
And be able to do something else instead
And think this song:

I can stop when I want to
Can stop when I wish
I can stop, stop, stop any time.
And what a good feeling to feel like this
And know that the feeling is really mine.
Know that there's something deep inside
That helps us become what we can.
For a girl can be someday a lady
And a boy can be someday a man.

Pastore: I think it's wonderful. I think it's wonderful! (looking to his side) I think he's just earned the 20 million dollars! (Applause)

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