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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Monday, March 31, 2008

Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rich Man's War - Steve Earle

From CNN:

"There have been 4,313 coalition deaths -- 4,005 Americans, two Australians, 176 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, one Czech, seven Danes, two Dutch, two Estonians, one Fijian, one Hungarian, 33 Italians, one Kazakh, one Korean, three Latvian, 22 Poles, three Romanians, five Salvadoran, four Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and 18 Ukrainians -- in the war in Iraq as of March 28, 2008, according to a CNN count. (Graphical breakdown of casualties). The list below is the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country's governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 29,451 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

If - Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son

Thank you Aunt Tommie

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett

I have never read any of Ken Follett's books but I decided to give this one a try. It is my understanding that this genre of book is not typical of the spy thriller writer. This is a historical novel with multiple characters and several plots.

The Pillars of the Earth is set in the early 1100's and spans around fifty years. It centers around a Cathedral constructed in the fictional town of Kingsbridge England. Some of the major characters include Phillip, Prior of the Kingsbridge Monastery, Tom Builder and his step-son Jack Sherburg who are the Master-Builders that oversee the Cathedral's construction over nearly five decades. The story is filled with intrigue, violence, ambition, religiosity, rape, pillaging and even token sex.

I liked the book however, some of the tempocentric references transferred to the twelvth century don't seem to carry over convincingly - at least for me anyway. The gratuitous sex descriptions seemed awkward, somewhat brutish and even pornographic. I suppose they weren't altogether repulsive taken as a whole - although I found the rape descriptions to be particularly disturbing.

Follett was trained as a journalist and it showed up by the way this entire book was painstakingly written. However, its end seemed anticlimactic as the author wrapped up the loose ends kind of the way he wrote about sex; big build-up, short fuse and BAM!

Considering how much detail and effort was put into developing the story and its characters
, the end seemed rushed, tidy and contrived. It lacked the same continuity with the tapestry woven through out the story. I understand the book was long nearly 1000 pages. nevertheless, this epic deserved a more detailed end to finish off the body of work so meticulously put together. I found myself frustrated with the disappointingly clunky end.

Nevertheless, I did find the book intriguing enough that I made time for the book - so much so that I read it in four days. I found myself thinking about the characters during the day and eagerly looked forward to reading what was happening to them as the story progressed. Having finished the book, I've found myself missing the characters.

I particularly enjoyed the story because of the extensive research associated with middle-ages cathedral construction. Additionally, the detailed descriptions of medieval culture and lifestyle were as entertaining as they were enlightening.

Ken Follett thoroughly researched his material - I read he took nearly ten years to develop the story. Perhaps that explains why he wrapped up the story in less than 100 pages. Ten years is a long time to invest into writing a book - maybe he just got tired of it when he reached the end.

Nearly 15 years have passed since Follett wrote "The Pillars of the Earth" and he has recently completed another book of the same genre, centering around 14th Century at Kingsbridge Cathedral. I 'm looking forward to reading "World Without End" soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stairway to Heaven - Rodrigo y Gabriela

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cuando Los Ángeles Lloran - Maná

"At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity."
Chico Mendez

Cuando Los Ángeles Lloran

A Chico Méndez lo mataron

Era un defensor y un ángel de toda la amazonia

él murío a sangre fría

Lo sabía Collor De Melo y también la policia

Cuando los ángeles lloran
Lluvia cae sobre la aldea

Lluvia sobre el campanario

Pues alguién murió

Un ángel cayó

Un ángel murio

Un ángel se fue

Y no volverá

Cuando el asesino huía

Chico Méndez se moría

La selva se ahogaba en llanto

él dejó dos lindos crios

Una esposa valerosa

y una selva en agonia

Cuando los ángeles lloran

Es por cada árbol que muere

Cada estrella que se apaga, oh no

Un ángel cayó

Un ángel murio

Un ángel se fue

Y no volverá

Un ángel cayó

Un ángel murio

Un ángel se fue

Se fue volando en madrugada

Cuando los ángeles lloran

Cuando los ángeles lloran, lloverá

Cuando los ángeles lloran

Cuando los ángeles lloran, lloverá

Cuando los ángeles lloran

Cuando los ángeles lloran, lloverá

Cuando los ángeles lloran

Cuando los ángeles lloran, lloverá

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mary Did You Know?

Mary, did you know

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
Youve kissed the face of god

Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rules the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is heavens perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the great I am

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday - I am Making All Things New Again

New Again
Sara Evans -
Duet with Brad Paisley

Mother - do not cry for me
All of this is exactly how it's supposed to be
I'm right here. Can you hear my voice?
My life, my love, my baby boy
As they nail me to this tree
Just know the Father waits for me
God how can this be your will?
To have your son and my son killed?

Whatever happens...whatever you see...
Whatever your eyes tell you has become of me
This is not...not the end...
I am making all things new again

I remember when you were born
In that manger where I first held
You in my arms
So many miracles and lives you've changed
And this world repays you how?
With all this pain
And, as they nail me to this tree
Just know the Father waits for me
God how can this be your will?
To have your son and my son killed?

Whatever happens (Whatever happens)…whatever you see (I don’t want to see)…
Whatever your eyes tell you has become of me
This is not (Tell me it is not)…
Not the end…
I am making all things new again

Whatever happens (Ohhhh)… Whatever you see (Ohhhh)…
Whatever your eyes tell you has become of me
This is not (Noooo)…
Not the end…
I am making all things new again

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mr. Jones - Counting Crows

Congratulations on the new digs Mr. Jones
I'm very proud of you mi hijo

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

We the People - Barack's speech on Race in America

I love this man for his Humanity - I only hope he gets the chance to lead our great nation because, this kind of dignity is a rare quality in a public servant - especially in this day and age.

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories tha t we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicia ns, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committ ed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

Años - Mercedes Sosa & Pablo Milanés

El tiempo pasa y nos vamos poniendo viejos
el amor no lo reflejo como ayer.

Y en cada conversación, cada beso cada abrazo
Se impone siempre un pedazo de razón.

Pasan los anos y como cambia lo que yo siento,
lo que ayer era amor, se va volviendo otro sentimiento.

Porque anos atras tomar tu mano, robarte un beso
sin forzar un momento formaba una parte de una verdad.

El tiempo pasa, nos vamos poniendo viejos,
y el amor no lo reflejo como ayer.

Y en cada conversación, cada beso cada abrazo
se impone siempre un pedazo de temor.

Vamos viviendo,
mediendo las horas que van muriendo
Las viejas discusiones se van perdiendo entre las razones.

A todo dices que si
A nada digo que no
Para poder construir la tremende armonia
que pone viejos los corazones.

Porque el tiempo pasa,
nos vamos poniendo viejos
Y el amor no lo reflejo como ayer.

Y en cada conversación, cada beso cada abrazo
se impone siempre un pedazo de razon.

Scheherazade - Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Born on this date

18 March 1844 - 21 June 1908

Scheherazade is a story based on the epic tale 1001 Nights. It tells the drama of a Sultan, Shariyar who immerses himself in a a cycle of deadly cynicism; disillusioned at what he believes to be the unfaithfulness of all women after discovering how he was betrayed by his first wife, he has her killed. He sinks into a fit of bitterness which he feels can only be assuaged in the following manner; he resolves to marry a new woman every night and have her executed the following morning.

This destructive ritual - aimed at satiating Shariyar's wounded ego - continues unabated for three years until
Scheherazade - daughter of the Sultan's Grand Vizier - convinces her father that she should be the next one to marry the Sultan Shariyar in order to bring his killing spree to an end. She details a scheme to her father who remains unconvinced of her plan. He finally assents to her wish and Scheherazade becomes the next Sultana.

Sultana Scheherazade's conception is simple; weave fantastic tales that pique the Sultan's attention each night. Her novel plan is to mesmerize him with - but to never complete the story in one night. Instead, she vows to continue with her story on the subsequent day. The result;
her life is spared - on a day-by-day basis - in order that the Sultan can hear the story's conclusion. So her tentative existence is prolonged with every ensuing construction intricately woven for the brooding Sultan. Her incredible cliffhangers include the sagas of Ali Baba, Sinbad and Aladdin. Scheherazade's fate - and the fate of all the women in the kingdom - relies solely on her story-telling ability.

Scheherazade continues this feat, telling 1001 stories in as many days - during which she also produces three sons. Her prowess as a story-teller affords her time to prove her abiding fidelity to the Sultan. Her perseverance is finally rewarded with Shariyar's revocation of the death sentence.

Now that's some kinda woman - some kinda storyteller!

The first movement begins with a threatening, heavily laden score which represents the Sultan's dark sinister mood. Scheherazade
's voice is unmistakable; a lone violin that plays a consistently sweet, soothing melodic theme throughout the entire symphony.

There are four movements in all;

I. The Sea and Sinbad's Ship
II. The Kalendar Prince
III. The Young Prince and The Young Princess
IV. Festival At Baghdad - The Sea - The Ship Crashes into a Rock

I especially like this performance by the Moscow Orchestra because I like the sound of Russian Symphonies - particularly when performing music written by Russian Composers.

This Symphony premiered on 28 October 1888 and was conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov.

If you would like to hear the symphony in its entirety, you will find - at the end of each video, there are small pictures in the YouTube screen where you can click on the picture which will take you the subsequent video - there are five videos in all.

Good night Scheherazade where ever you may be.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Free - The Lighthouse Family

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
Mark Twain

The Lighthouse Family

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that's in my heart
Remove all the bars that keep us apart
And I wish you could know how it feels to be me
Then you'd see and agree that every man should be free

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Well I'd soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I'd sing 'cause I know how it feels to be free

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
And I wish I could say all the things that I wanna say
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say 'em loud say 'em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

One love one blood
One life you've got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers

One love but we're not the same
We got to carry each other Carry each other
One One One One One...

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I knew how it would feel to be free

"When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free."
Catherine Ponder

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Water is Wide - Irish Traditional Song

The Water is Wide
Irish Traditional Song
Performed by Indigo Girls, Sarah MacLachlin and Jewel

The water is wide, I cannot get oer
and neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

Oh love is gentle and love is kind
The sweetest flower when first it is new
But love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like the morning dew

A ship there is and she sails the sea
She's loaded deep as deep can be
But not so deep as the love I'm in
I know not if I sink or swim

The water is wide, I cannot get oer
and neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I

When cockle shells turn silver bells
Then will my love come back to me
When roses bloom in winter's gloom
Then will my love return to me

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lance Gilbert Kowalski - Happy Birthday - There's no Place That Far

"...and remember, I am with you always, even to the end of time."
Jesus Christ [Matthew 28:20]

At 5:27, on a Thursday morning, Lance Gilbert Kowalski died. The date was 23 October 2003 - he was 13 years old.

Today is his eighteenth birthday.
He was born on 13 March 1990.

Lance succumbed to one of the most devastating types of juvenile cancer - Neuroblastoma.
You can read more about him by clicking (above) on his name.

I first posted a blog entry with
Lance's story back in July of 2006. I think about him quite often. This post is simply my small contribution to remember a kid I never met but who nonetheless helps me to appreciate how precious life is and how quickly it can end.

Lance's story reminds me to acknowledge those who I dearly love; lost opportunities never return once they've been squandered.

This song, performed by country singer Sara Evans - accompanied by Vince Gill - celebrates love that endures across time and space.

It is a testimony to people like Justine Saylors whose loss and abiding devotion serve as reminders to us all that, regardless of whatever circumstances befall us, our loved ones remain alive in our hearts
forever. They will never cease to exist because we will never forget them.

Here's Lance's Birthday Card - I hope you 'sign' it in your heart, with your actions today .

I invite you to celebrate Lance's birthday by entreating you to tell someone just how much you appreciate and love them today. Show them with your actions and affirm it with your words. People can never be told too much, just how much they really are loved and appreciated.

Better yet, make every day a birthday. Let simple acts of kindness be your candles. You'll light them, one at a time, by relinquishing just a little bit of the most precious commodity of you have; your time. Hug a baby, be of service, listen to someone with an open heart, offer a simple smile to people you walk by. Above all, look forward to tomorrow when you can celebrate your birthday all over again; because you are alive - and because you can.

For those of you who have children; never let a day go by without showing them - by word or deed - how much you love them. For those of you who don't have children; never forget that every person on the planet is some mother's child; afford them the same kindness you so richly deserve because the distance between two hearts really isn't that far. Rest assured, your kindness won't go unnoticed and you might just change the world for the better.

Justine's e-mail is - I'm certain she wouldn't mind at all if you dropped her a line.

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
James Matthew Barrie

Happy Birthday to Lance and thank you. May the one who cannot be named and who remains unseen watch over you until the moment you are once again united with your mother whose love is only a heartbeat away.

God bless the children...

No Place That far
Sara Evans - featuring Vince Gill

I can't imagine, any greater fear
Than waking up, without you here,

And though the sun, would still shine on,

My whole world, would all be gone,

But not for long,

If I had to run, if I had to crawl

If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,

Always know that I would find a way, to get to where you are,

There's no place that far

It wouldn't matter why we're apart,
Lonely miles or two stubborn hearts

Nothing short of God above

Could turn me away from your love

I need you that much

If I had to run, if I had to crawl
If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,
Always know that I would find a way, to get to where you are,

There's no place that far

If I had to run, if
I had to crawl

If I had to swim a hundred rivers, just to climb a thousand walls,

Always know that I would find a way, to get to where you are,

There's no place that far

Baby there's no place that far

...and God bless the ones left behind to deal with their loss.

If possible, you might consider making a donation to Cancer research - more particularly, one dealing with Neuroblastoma in Lance's name. No child should suffer as he did and many others have as well.

Together, we can make a difference. We owe these kids every chance available to overcome this disease.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Let the Church Help

Of Spitzer and Prostitutes and the Right-Wing Conspiracy

"Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and men crooked."

I have been reading various posts about NY Governor Eliot Switzer (D) and his recent exposure regarding soliciting prostitution. I have also noted how some people are maintaining that Spitzer's bust is somehow tied to Republicans and their infinite effort to smear Liberals. I have to say such arguments really miss the mark.

To be certain the Republicans do have something to gain from this recent revelation but to lay the blame on them is as spurious and smacks of partisan bullshit which I detest when it comes at us by of blowhard hypocrites like the sexual-harasser Bill O’Reilly and the drug-abusing Rush Limbaugh.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat - through and through - so Spitzer's behavior is as unacceptable as any of the varieties of philandering, sexual deviants and liars who happen to be Republican. Regardless of party affiliation, such activities constitute hypocritical violations of the public trust. No amount of parsing will change that.

Now, before anyone goes accusing me of being a prude, let me point out a simple philosophy that I subscribe to can be summed up a pretty simply; Be who you say you are and then you don't have to worry about getting caught committing some questionable transgression because it taints all the good you may have accomplished in the past.

Here are a few point for to ponder.

Fact: Spitzer is a government official.

Fact: Spitzer prosecuted prostitutes.

Fact: Regardless of anyone's stance on prostitution, it is illegal.

Fact: the Mann Act does deal with interstate commerce violations.

Fact: Spitzer violated the public trust when he broke the law.

Spitzer's being a Democrat should in no way exempt him from the legal consequences or public scrutiny he has drawn to himself with his ill-thought out decision. Partisan arguments that Spitzer's actions are somehow acceptable because he happens to be Democrat are specious because the law is the law.

This is why I so detest the situational ethics arguments such as the one implicit in such posts because they rely on complicated rationalizations aimed at somehow diminishing the simple reality that what is unacceptable is unacceptable.

If Spitzer had a problem with the laws on prostitution, he should never have gone after the prostitutes and better yet, he should have worked to change the laws - which we all know would have amounted to political suicide.

Well, his career in public service is officially on its downward run thanks to his unfortunate disregard or hubris - whatever you call it. Such recklessness has damaged not only the jackass who seemed to think he could get away with it, but his party as well.

If the 'right-wing conspiracy argument' is to be believed then, it is incumbent upon all people who choose the public life - especially those like Spitzer who score way above the norm in intelligence - to be cognizant of the high stakes game and the attendant reality that the Law is the Law. Spitzer chose his career path and he knew the consequences so he has to pay the price. His actions have definite consequences just like the criminals he gained successful prosecutions against when they committed the same crimes he now appears to have been surreptitiously engaging in as well. He deserved to be exposed just like any and everyone else who places themselves above the law.

If it is good on Sunday - it better be good on Friday and nothing that is undertaken in secrecy can be all that good.

Moreover, such illicit behaviors, which tend to raise eyebrows regarding politicians personal character - detract from more menacing issues because they titillate society's collective libido and detract from issues which rightfully deserve our undivided attention. Worse yet, they keep the power-hungry sycophants who are destroying our country in power.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Goodbye Tucker Carlson

Oedipus Wrecks...

"Political passions, aroused everywhere, demand their victims."
Albert Einstein

Tucker Carlson is leaving MSNBC. The announcement came today for the increasingly disillusioned Right-wing spin artist. The above clip seems to mark the beginning of the end for Carlson. It took place back in 2004 when Comedian Jon Stewart decided to call Carlson and his Left-wing Crossfire Co-host, Paul Begala.

While the interview was funny, it was also deadly serious as Stewart made a complete fool of the usually venomous Carlson. You can read an abbreviated transcript here.

Tucker was clearly thrown off his game and appeared rattled at his being punked by someone far better than him in the intellectual sword-fight - in his own house to boot. It was fun to watch a bully get a taste of his own medicine.

The dialogue which started rather innocuously, progressed to Jon's likening the soft-ball faux debate program to pro-wrestling - which drew loud cheering from the audience - ended with Jon's rejoinder to Tucker's pot-shot that Jon was not as funny in person was that Tucker is 'as much of a dick in person as you are on TV.' Ouch! Imagine what it must feel like to be called a 'Hack,' a faux-journalist and to be toyed with on your own show - the highly controlled space where you arduously built yourself up as a hard-hitting, no-nonsense mercenary of the Republican right only to be ridiculed and exposed by the court jester.


I find it hard to believe this neo-con dimwit is a distant relative of Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright.

Shortly thereafter, Tucker stopped wearing his trademark bow ties. He became increasingly more vocal about his disapproval of the Iraq War and moreover, president dubya's failed policies. Tuckers ratings began a steady fall and his loss of market share resulted in his removal from the MSNBC line-up.

The story has all the makings of a Greek tragedy - well kinda; No, Tucker was never a king but his political mother, the Republican party did screw him and when he realized it, he did poke out his eyes somewhat when he realized that what they claimed was merely an illusion foisted upon him by the party of hypocrites, liars, and sexual predators.

To his credit and his political demise, Tucker forgot the colloquial adage which conservatives hold so dear; "You gotta dance with the one what brung you."

He didn't dance and now he is gone.

I would like to say I'm going to miss him but I would be lying.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Art of Republican Smear

Anatomy or Art?

I just watched the March 9, 2008 program,
Eye on New Mexico and I cannot post video (copyright considerations) but here are the links:

Part 1
Part 2

I posted this comment in Dennis Domrzalski's f-brilliant blog.


Ex-Governor Cargo held his own against the GOP lawyer/henchman sent to do him in.


You were spot on to stop the specious allegations aimed at impugning former Governor Cargo's integrity. I feel bad for the ex-governor because he genuinely seemed to be speaking as a voice of conscience and the reward he received was to be scorched with the brand of a 'traitor' by the party he has devoted his life to. Such is the Rovian legacy: Republicans eat not only their young but their old as well.

Exclusionary, unethical practices questioned; the tie between voting and money in the NM GOP

You did ask a poignant question about the implications tied to the fees, what the entire Republican get-together was about and what potential implications are tied to the process. Your question clarified why there might even be a controversy at all.

Cargo’s point is valid in that fee requirements are cost-prohibitive for poor people. They amount to little more than variations of the postbellum Jim Crow Laws that served to rob African Americans of political power by keeping them in their place. Moreover, they are exclusionary and tend to favor the 'haves' who can afford to pay in order to register their voice. It sets up a system whereby the rich and powerful can place their agendas over and above the unfortunate members of the party who simply cannot afford to pay to have their voices heard.

Of course, it also opens the door for slick lawyers to figure out how to select their candidate because they can buy the votes simply by paying the entry fees en masse.

While I am glad Cargo had the opportunity to b*tch slap the sleazy attorney (who graciously decided to parrot the party line – never mind the reality that he has acted as legal counsel to Bush, Heather and the NM Republican party) with the last word. Dave finished strong and made it clear that in New Mexico, Republicans have always had to reach across party lines in order to get things done.

As for Lou Melvin;

Her refusal to talk with you and the intervening conversation by Friedman speaks volumes about the Republicans ridiculous attempt to contain this story as they circle the wagons and work out their inane strategy;

1) co-opt unethical faux-journalist/bloggers to bemoan lack of 'journalistic integrity' while relying on biased sources (Like Haussaman's former blogger who now happens to be Heather Wilson's spokesman, Heather Cheshire - I like to call her the Cheshire cat.

2) send out mercenaries like Paddie Rogers to engage in character assassination – apparently these dopes fail to realize that people other than faithful Republican drones are watching your show as well. In my opinion, they came off looking bad as they tried to smear the ex-Governor.

Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and Karl Rove's legacy;
how to poo poo Lonesome Dave...

Characterizations by Republican smear artists who describe him as the old, annoying 'Uncle Dave' persona have blown up in their faces. In light of his repartee, the label just gives him more traction because it reveals his uncompromising character, tempered by age and wisdom. Despite the fact that he is old, Governor Cargo clearly has it going on upstairs. He remains in possession of his faculties enough to square off with the bung-hole who showed up with the task of to slitting the ex-Governor’s political throat on Sunday morning Television.

The old man has character traits rarely associated with the Republicans these days; conscience and cojones.

I only wish the program was longer because he only got stronger as the dialogue unfolded.
Atta boy Dave.

Kudos to you all!

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