Friday, May 02, 2008

At Disneyworld...

Greetings From Disneyworld!

U.S. Eagle Scout Meets Saudi Scouts in Camillus NY

On Tuesday, April 22nd, the Town Shop in my village of Camillus NY hosted a group from Saudi Arabia made up of visiting Saudi Social Services/Ministry of Education workers, Saudi teachers and professors, other youth workers, and Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts. They were visiting the United States for the first time with an interest in visiting American youth organizations and meeting American youth. The Town Shop provided pizza and salad for dinner, plus time for casual conversation and interaction.

My son Ethan Camwell, an Eagle Boy Scout, was among those who came to greet them and help out with hospitality. He exchanged gifts with the Saudi citizens and enjoyed time playing foosball, pool, and speaking through translators that he said were provided by the U.S. State Department.

Photo credit: Town Shop blog

The Saudi Arabian Boy Scouts Association was founded in 1961 and is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Scouting has grown steadily in popularity among Saudi youth. Drawn to the philosophy of service, brotherhood and self-reliance, close to 100,000 young Saudis are active members of the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association. There are approximately 100,000 Saudi boys between the ages of 6 and 21 from urban and rural regions throughout the country. Scouts participate in a variety of charitable activities, including an annual volunteer outreach to assist pilgrims at the Hajj, and study Islam and Saudi history, customs, and tradition.

Islamic values of honor, generosity, community, charity, tolerance, knowledge and cooperation reinforce the World Organisation of the Scout Movement principles and are the foundation upon which the Saudi Arabian Scouts Association is based.

Under the leadership of King Abdullah, the Scouts have been instrumental in the establishment of Gifts for Peace, the largest program ever undertaken by the worldwide scouting movement, which aims to build understanding among young people of different communities and countries.

I was proud to see my son show interest and attend the special function as a citizen-ambassador. He had a wonderful experience. It's great to think about the world coming to our own street corners, giving us the opportunity to show our best face to citizens from far away. No matter where we live, the goal of preparing our boys for adulthood in this changing world remains the same, and part of that worthy goal is to unite the world through the brotherhood of Scouting.

Note: A big congratulations goes out to David and Cheryl Vermilya and the Town Shop for having recently received a large contribution to the youth center from ABC's "Oprah's Big Gift" through Syracuse Channel 9WSYR. [see video here]

Thursday, May 01, 2008

James Wolcott on the Progressive Blogger-Wars

James Wolcott has a smart and entertaining story at Vanity Fair [June online edition] about the battle among the prominent lefty bloggers and the history of how these progressive bloggers have come to the scattered state they find themselves in today. I have seriously limited my own posting at Daily Kos because I do not wish to be swept up in the frenzy of Obama fever. Having written this blog of my own for the past five years while remaining a contributor to Daily Kos, I decided, when John Edwards dropped out of the race, to stick around my own little blog-neighborhood for a while and visit other blogs now and then. With some folks taking themselves much too seriously, I started the new hobby of learning how to do political have some fun with the controversies swimming all around me. Better than getting angry over the inane Clinton/Obama squabbles. I was one of the Edwards-Democrats that Mr. Wolcott refers to when he wrote:

"A born-again populist, Edwards functioned as a lubricant, a slick lining separating—and dampening the friction between—two competing iconographic surge forces (the first black presidential nominee versus the first female nominee) and drawing enough support on Daily Kos and other liberal-Dem Web sites to diffuse the animosity, competitive zeal, and gender-generational differences between the two camps. Once Edwards dropped out of the race, however, the buffer zone was removed, direct contact replaced triangulation, and the Obama and Hillary supporters faced off like the Jets and the Sharks. The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. On the most egoistic plane, it seemed like a clash of entitlements, the messianics versus the menopausals."

In the midst of it all - under the present circumstances -- having no official horse in the race after Edwards because I think he was different from the other two with a boldness in communicating his populist/progressive ideas that I haven't seen with the remaining two, I can't say that guilty schadenfraude hasn't set in on occasion when I see the car-crash of once-rational thought that so many progressive sites have become.

I'm confused by the stand many bloggers and prominent figures have taken. I lean more toward Hillary Clinton for her understanding that universal healthcare is one of the most pressing issues of our day - - and I'm a bit surprised that Michael Moore, with his documentary "Sicko" on the state of healthcare in this nation, has come out to endorse the candidate whose plan is weaker on delivering Univeral healthcare in this country. As a Progressive, I was appalled to have heard 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry call Clinton's Universal Healthcare plan a "non-starter" and to see Obama's fear-mongering Harry & Louise mailer-attacks on the Mandate-bogey-man. It was particularly disappointing for me to have heard Senator Russ Feingold, who I admit I'd previously put on a progressive pedastal, deliberately doing harm last January by offering absolutely no public trust or benefit of doubt that John Edwards had consciously decided to tackle hard issues from a more progressive stand. I chalked this pointed skewering of Edwards up to the likelihood that Feingold would politically prefer Obama. Allegedly mature and politically seasoned Superdelegates claim to take the counsel of their children in endorsing their preference for Democratic nominee rather than explaing how the choice comes from their own experience, intuition and logic. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina comes out wielding a reverse-race-card to bang the Clintons with every time a key Southern primary is approaching. Newspaper editors seem just as confused and fragmented as the public to whom they have the ethical responsibility to report and opine. I could hardly believe my rational eyes when I saw their vehement editorial calling a solid electoral win "inconclusive" the day after Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's comparison of Hillary Clinton to David Duke is an unfair slur that I can never forget. Cable news has been reduced to a circus .. a freak show.

I've learned a lot about the character of many people .. bloggers and leaders alike .. good and bad ... during the course of the past year. A lot of people I still see as good-hearted and committed progressives have had tough chices to make. There was never a need to become irrational about one Democratic candidate or the other, but I think it's quite safe to say that we all have had our moments. As excited as I was about Edwards' candidacy, it was always because of the issues and not because of his race, creed, gender, or personality. It was about the issues.

The overwhelming sense that I'm around a remarkable sense of angst, perhaps some political immaturity, and the palpable sense of emotional imbalance has hit me during my recent visits to the Daily Kos website..especially since Edwards dropped out. I think the experience for not only myself, but many others will have caused a natural evolution in the blogsphere toward a less Kos-centered Democrat-universe in the future. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Markos has been a great catalyst for the netroots and will continue to do so. I'm sure he knows that the people who are posting some of the things they're posting are pretty wild and intentionally vehement right now. Unfortunately, I'm seeing some of the crazier comments popping up on the front-page and that, for me, serves as a warning signal of trouble; hopefully temporary.

I appreciate James Wolcott's mention of Tom Watson's blog because I think that Tom's been an important and sane voice for Hillary Clinton at times when he could clearly see that the majority of the netroots were being incredibly unfair to her (personally) and to her candidacy.

It's a valuable lesson for me to have personally learned as the storm has raged all around and I've been left to offer words from my own conscience. It has strengthened my mother's words to me as I was growing: Follow your heart. Avoid posionous vexations to your spirit.

When Elizabeth Edwards spoke to the Women, Power and Peace conference in Atlanta today, she talked about how women need to take pleasure in the ordinary moments of every day and stressed that the real pleasure in life is reaching out to others. She pre-emptively thwarted any question about what is at the forefront of every political minds by saying, "I’m not endorsing a candidate (for president) so you can stop that one.” [see Maria Saporta's report]

Mrs. Edwards also said, "I believe we are always stronger and better if we lend our strength to others, but more importantly, if we accept the strength from others."

Although Mrs. Edwards had no political intent behind that statement, I think about how Hillary Clinton has been reaching out to all voters .. offering strength .. and I've seen her treated like a she-devil by the netroots with only a political win on their minds. I can't help but to find that a most unfortunate consequence of the capacity for destructive power behind the keyboard. As an employer of the political keyboard myself, I am embarrassed by the behavior of a few of my fellow bloggers these days. I happen to think you should never say what you'll be personally sorry for a few months later when you look back. Having no emotional restraint or basic respect in a medium where you don't have to look your fellow citizen in the eye is reveals one of the darkest angels of our human bloging nature.

When all of this is over, I think we'll look back and see how this willingness by so many to participate in the Hillary-hating, Bill Clinton-bashing mentality has harmed party unity in a way that will be slow to be overcome and healed, regardless of who scores the Democratic nomination in a race where the rules have served, albeit unintentionally, to take the perception of the people's will and has thrown it out the proverbial window. This primary season has revealed political immaturity and lack of emotional control on the part of many people who simply should've known better.

But it made great fodder for James Wolcott's gossipy story. I think he's dead-on with his commentary.

On Yom HaShoah - Day of Remembrance of the Nazi Holocaust

Today is Yom HaShoah - The Day of Remembrance of the Nazi Holocaust. It's being observed one day earlier in the Jewish calendar than usual because of not wanting to observe it on Friday [Shabbat].

In a week where we saw a spiritual leader from another religion wounded by the politics of the day and diminished in a society that doesn't know how to hear the prophetic words that rock their safe inner-worlds (worlds in which they each struggle to find meaning), we look back to the Holocaust to see what mankind and government is capable of creating here on Earth. It causes me to tremble. It causes me to understand that governments that claim democracy and freedom as their foundation will always have to be fully transparent and that we are each personally responsible for bringing a willingness to participate with sobriety, intelligence, respect, justice, and truth to that which we call democracy and patriotism.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center has shared several versions of The Mourner's Kaddish today in remembrance of the dead, pointing out that some of the murderous wars and terrorist actions that hve happened since the Holocausr have been asserted by some members of different communities of God - violence and terror inflicted upon minorities in each of their communities -- to be carried on in the name of God. Rabbi Easkow says, "This version of Mourners Kaddish is intended to assert with absolute clarity that no such killing can be IN THE NAME OF GOD."


The Jewish prayer that is used to mourn the dead is the Kaddish, though it has in it only one word -- "nechamata, consolations" - which hints at mourning. In this version, changes in the last line of the Hebrew and English texts specifically include praying for shalom, peace, not only for the people Israel (as in the traditional version) but also for the children of Abraham and Hagar through Ishmael (Arabs and Muslims) and for all who dwell on this planet.

The interpretive English addresses the meaning of "shmei rabbah," the "Great Name," which is interpreted as that name which includes all the names of all beings in the universe and which is also present within all beings.

The interpretive English suggests why in the midst of saying we cannot praise or sing to God enough to fully celebrate the Awesome Reality, we also say we cannot CONSOLE (nechamata) God enough. In our view, while many forms of death are part of the great spiral of all life, one kind of death -- the killing of one human, bearing the Image of God, by another -- leaves God inconsolable.

In the next-to-last verse this version focuses on preserving life for those of our own "family," the Godwrestlers, and then in the last verse it prays for shalom for us [those immediately present], for all the Godwrestling folk (Israel), for all the children of Ishmael, and for all peoples.

This Kaddish was developed by The Shalom Center and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Yitgadal V'yit'kadash Shmei Rabah

May the Great Name, through our expanding awareness and our fuller action, lift Itself to become still higher and more holy;

May our names, along with all the names of all the beings in the universe, live within the Great Name;

May the names of all whom we can no longer touch but who have touched our hearts and lives, remain alight within our memories and in the Great Name;

May the names of all who have died in violence and war be kept alight in our sight and in the Great Name, with sorrow that we were not yet able to shape a world in which they would have lived.

May the Great Name, bearing ALL these names, live within each one of us;

B'alma di vra chi'rooteh v'yamlich malchuteh b'chayeichun, u'v'yomeichun, u'v'chayei d'chol beit yisrael, b'agalah u'vzman kariv, v'imru

May Your Great Name lift Itself
still higher and more holy
throughout the world that You have offered us,
a world of majestic peaceful order
that gives life to the Godwrestling folk
through time and through eternity ----
And let's say, Amein

Y'hei sh'mei rabbah me'vorach
l'olam almei almaya.

So therefore may the Great Name be blessed, through every Mystery and Mastery
of every universe.

Yitbarach, v'yishtabach, v'yitpa'ar, v'yitromam, v'yitnasei, v'yithadar, v'yit'aleh, v'yithalal -- Shmei di'kudshah, -- Brich hu

May the Great Name be blessed and celebrated, Its beauty honored and raised high; may It be lifted and carried,
may Its radiance be praised in all Its Holiness --- Blessed be!

L'eylah min kol bir'chatah v'shir'atah tush'be'chatah v'nechematah, de'amiran be'alma, v'imru: Amein

Even though we cannot give You enough blessing, enough song, enough praise, enough consolation
to match what we wish to lay before You -

And though we know that today there is
no way to console You
when among us some who bear Your Image in our being
are slaughtering others
who bear Your Image in our being.

Yehei Shlama Rabah min Shemaya v'chayyim aleinu v'al kol Yisrael, v'imru Amein.

Still we beseech that from the unity of Your Great Name flow great harmony and joyful life for the Godwrestling folk;

Oseh Shalom bi'm'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v'imru: Amein.

You who make harmony
in the ultimate reaches of the universe,
teach us to make harmony
within ourselves, among ourselves --
and peace for the Godwrestling folk,
the people Israel;
for our cousins the children of Ishmael;
and for all who dwell upon this planet.

Oseh Shalom bi'm'romav, hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu v'al kol yisrael v'al kol yishmael v'al kol yoshvei tevel -- v'imru: Amein.

Joe Trippi: What I Should Have Told Edwards

Joe Trippi, who was senior adviser to the John Edwards 2008 campaign, confesses in a recent article [Campaigns and Elections] that he has regrets that he didn't tell former Presidential candidate John Edwards, before Edwards left the primary race, that he had the feeling that Edwards staying in the race would mean perhaps winning 300 or so delegates by Super Tuesday. He may have then had perhaps "a one-in-five chance of forcing a brokered convention." Mr. Trippi says that the path ahead would likely have been extremely painful, but could very well have put Edwards and his causes at the top of the Democratic agenda.
"I should have told him emphatically that he should stay in. My regret that I did not do so-that I let John Edwards down-grows with every day that the fight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continues."
The honesty, the soul-searching, and his support for Edwards' agenda shows clearly through Mr. Trippi's words. He knew that "grinding out delegates only to be in a position to cut a deal at the convention for his own gain" wasn't why Edwards had gotten into the race for president. Still, he's wishing he'd pushed the idea of Edwards continuing to campaign despite all the hard realities. Mr. Trippi says:
"[John Edwards] had entered it to push causes like ending poverty, championing health care for every American and fighting for working people, and it just wasn't him to turn it into a selfish quest. I really respect that, and it helps explain why I so fervently wanted John Edwards to become president. The man cared deeply about those causes, and he did not want to see them tarnished because of a string of embarrassing losses.

My mistake was not seeing more clearly then what is so obvious to me now: He could have kept his agenda in the forefront by staying in the race and forcing Obama and Clinton to focus on those issues because he, John Edwards, would hold the key to the convention deadlock. And maybe, just maybe, a brokered convention would have stunned the political world and led to an Edwards nomination.

If I had expressed these thoughts to the senator, it's possible that he would still be in the fight and leading Obama and Clinton on the issues....."
I think this is a gutsy statement on Joe Trippi's part. I don't fault him for anything that occurred and I concur with him about his reasons for having supported John Edwards all along. I feel much the same as he feels about the state of the Democratic race today. I wish there could've been more pressure put on the two remaining candidates to make and take the case for ending poverty to the American people. I agree with Elizabeth Edwards that Senator Clinton's Universal healthcare agenda is the most needed and effective plan of the two between the remaining Democratic candidates.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tough Questions On Obama's Abandonment of Rev Wright

"I've known Reverend Wright for almost twenty years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person I met twenty years ago."

- Barack Obama, repudiating Pastor Jeremiah Wright

Why do I have such a hard time believing the statement above?

Could it be because of the public and written praise and respect that Obama has given Reverend Wright all along?

Yes, I think so.

Is this an indication that Obama's just another politician who'll do anything to get elected or is it an indication that he's been a poor judge of character?

Neither question has an attractive answer, I'm afraid.


What does such admitted poor judgment about Reverend Wright's character say about Obama's ability to judge character?

Might he choose a Vice President or Cabinet member who suddenly becomes the Tasmanian Devil and use the same excuse....that the ol' Devil wasn't the same guy (or gal) he knew a few years back? What if he talks directly to Ahmadinejad in the direct talks he says he'll have with the Iranian leader and at first thinks he's an alright guy.....until he turns out to be something else altogether?


Why I am so sad hearing Obama abandoning his efforts to defend someone who led him to the goodness of God and who taught him how to hold out the very hope for which Obama titled one of his own best-selling books and politically inspired so many voters? (Books, incidentally, that propped him up politically and raked in almost a million dollars for him).


I was hoping Obama would've have found a way to defend his black church as it exists - the church that he's been a part of for so long - but instead I heard Obama say that Reverend Wright did not represent his black church .. as if Wright has suddenly turned into an extremist freak within the church! We know better. I have a feeling that Obama knows Reverend Wright is far more intelligent and consistent than Obama's giving him credit for.

Something tells me that Obama will lose support..and respect.. from his church and from the intellectual black community over this. [Here's one example already...and comments from other black pastors] They'll likely wonder why he abandoned their truth on his way to Washington, D.C. (and by truth I surely don't mean the AIDS or Farrakhan comments, which were easy targets for repudiation).

It's hard to speak truth to power when the power means more than the truth.

I hate politics.

It's the media's fault for creating the usual distortions and distractions which they've fostered by focusing 180 degrees away from the discussions we all so badly need in this coutry today!!


A once-beloved pastor will be hung out to dry - painted as just some crazy angry old man.

Jesus, I hate politics. I hate the state of the U.S. mainstream media.


At what price has Obama abandoned his pastor?

The road ahead might seem a lot more lonely for him .. and what will he have gained?

I think these are fair questions.

Politically, this is a no-win situation. I guess Obama, if he didn't want Superdelegates to run away in fear, had to do this.

Morally, I see the situation as something else altogether. It's so sad.

I hate politics.


This is probably going to add up to a loss for African-American progress and the public's perception of the black church if you ask me. Fox News viewers may be relieved to see that Obama's let loose the big bad black bombastic America-hater, but people with intellectual and theological sense about all of this may see it quite differently. Former President Jimmy Carter said he would not have left Wright's church after hearing his remarks and believed that Reverend Wright wouldn't have permanently damaged Obama. Obviously, Obama felt differently. He ran scared.


One more thought. It seemed fairly easy for Obama to cast his twenty-year spiritual relationship with Reverend Wright away. It causes me to ask:

At what point would Obama throw real progresives under the bus?

He may have saved face in the political world today, but if his soul's intact, I wonder how easy it'll be for him to sleep tonight. When it's all said and done, Obama currently looks to me like a disillusioned young man whose spiritual underpinnings have taken a crucial hit.

Drudge Is Springboard to Mass Stupidity on Rev Wright Issue

The conventional swarm wiz-dumb of the day in the blogoshpere (right, left, et al...thanks to Matt Drudge) is that Jeremiah Wright has allowed himself to be a tool for Hillary Clinton.

That's almost as good as the mainstream media pundits in their dull huddle agreeing that Jeremiah Wright is just jealous of Barack Obama.

Dear God. Are we out of Middle School yet?

Get off the playground, people.

Reverend Wright believes (and I am beginning to agree) that the political attacks on Obama, as he and others perceive them, have been attacks on the black church.

Professor Cornel West was in the audience to hear Reverend Wright speak yesterday at the National Press Club. When Dr. West expressed his disappointment with Obama for Obama's palpable absence in Memphis on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he'd said, "I have a very deep disagreement with my dear brother, Barack Obama -- in this case, commitment to truth is in tension with the quest for power."

As part of an inter-faith spiritual movement that Dr. West has helped to lead [The Network of Spritual Progressives], I trust that what happened yesterday was far more than an egotistical preacher who's green with envy over the political upstart who upstaged him. That's soap opera fodder with racist overtones.

What Reverend Wright wants you to understand is his commitment to truth over power...his truth and the truth of the African-American experience in this nation from the time of the Declaration of Independence until the present moment.


I believe it's as simple as that.

Believe it or not.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Jericho Road by Steve Earle

I love this song..thought I'd share it with you. I recently saw Steve Earle perform it in concert at the McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, N.C. I've been a fan for a long time...over 20 years.

Since I blog politics, I won't fail to mention that Mr. Earle told the audience that he'd been a supporter of presidential candidate John Edwards and didn't have another candidate that he chose to endorse at this time. He admitted to being more progressive than most in today's Democratic party.

Rev Wright Message is Lost in Style of Delivery

On Fox News Sunday, this is what Barack Obama said about his spiritual mentor and pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright:
He is somebody who has obviously been the subject of some pretty sharp attacks. It's understandable that somebody, after an entire career of service, would want to defend themselves."

Reverend Wright made it very clear this morning in his talk to the National Press Club that his belief is that it's not himself that is being targeted by the media, but instead it's the black church that's being targeted. He came out fighting, with the gloves off in defense of the black church, despite media pundits insisting that he was doing it merely to defend his own legacy. [transcript of Reverend Wright's remarks provided by WaPo]

Reverend Wright, to me, appeared to be ready for a fight before one question was asked of him. Curiously, he mocked the term "spiritual mentor". His frustration and anger with the American mainstream media was obvious. In the Q&A session following his speech he sometimes appeared condescending by turning the question back toward the character of the person who'd asked the question rather than showing, as a leader should show in the toughest of grillings, that magnanimous kindness and solemnity of purpose are key to educating others in a way that helps them spiritually understand and connect with the message of respect for differences that I think he'd like to convey. He tended to proverbially bang others about the head with his theological intellect rather than to teach by what I think most people would consider to be a more humble example of the more ideal spiritual teacher. Humility, when all is said and done, must transcend all matters of race and politics if you're going to make 'the connect' with someone's heart and mind.

I felt sorry for Reverend Wright. I came out liking him more and understanding him better after seeing him speak strongly about his faith. He's got a great sense of humor and timing. It's no wonder he's so well-liked in his church. I also think it's brave of him to have stood up at this time and proclaim what's been his heart and soul's constant mission while he walks the Earth. That mission isn't to get Barack Obama elected to be President of the government that Reverend Wright already so obviously disapproves. No, sir, that's not his mission. He made that clear. He showed that his mission involves his allegiance to Jesus Christ over any government and his dedication to what Reverend Wright believes he was called to do for his own local community. As a Christian, I have to ask myself: How can I disagree with that, when all truth be known? If I stood before God today and He required me to choose between defending a vote in Washington D.C. and standing by what I've personally learned to be the Truth and the Word, there would be no question as to how I'd reply.

I have studied religion and I understand where Reverend Wright's heart lies. I've embraced a good part of what has encompassed traditional liberation theology taught to me by mentors within my own Catholic faith..on issues like Immigration...and War. I'm from the city where Rev. Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip (who'd entered the Josephite order, which was dedicated to pastoral work with African-Americans) took over the pulpit during the 1960s at the city's Cathedral, protesting the U.S. presence in Vietnam. Controversial men. These were men of God. Men who recognized the times when politicians couldn't say what needed to be said our of fear of losing office. These men (and women) took the heavy social responsibilty to be the leaders that no one else had the courage to be. They aren't particularly popular among secularists on the Left of American politics or those who insist upon a form of patriotism that makes no excuses for sheer ignorance on the Right.

I'm not in either of these groups. I'm a Progressive Christian with an eye on progressive issues. I am, however, personally sorry that, as Obama's pastor, that I haven't heard Reverend Wright, who tends to focus on the African-nature of his ministry, reaching out far enough to give white society enough credit when credit has been long due. His failure to be bigger than the division he labels as the culprit has had a perverse way of making him look like the divider.

The emphasis in liberation theology seems to have shifted, over time, from a focus on the poor (and "poor" transcends all color and ethnicity barriers) to a focus on those marginalized by race and ethnicity .. and I think that we have become a more divided society because of that evolution. I supported candidate John Edwards, in good part, because of my personal faith and the extent to which I believe in traditional liberation theology which is focused on ending Poverty - race, gender,and ethnicity notwithstanding. Edwards' color and gender didn't matter. It was his firm stand and leadership on the issue of Economic Justice that I (and people like Martin Luther King III) respected and support to this day.

I heard Reverend Wright tell Bill Moyers in his recent interview, based on a statement by theologian Martin Marty, that white churches were living in a bit of a fantasy, the evidence being a church bulletin announcing a social tea while there was so much suffering all around. I have to say that I was really turned off by that sentiment. If there's anything we need today in the religious world, it's tolerance for all cultures, even if you feel like "the oppressed." We also need a clear sense that our spiritual leaders are reaching out over the hard lines of organized faith and race-focused theology, embracing and projecting an aura of inter-religious harmony. If race and politics mean less to or leaders than God's word, then spiritual leaders should bend over backward to show it. Reverend Wright is only human, and his greatest shortcoming is that he really doesn't forward the inviting spirit of integration and tolerance, focusing instead on race/ethincity-based liberation theology. He tends to project more of a segregated and defensive tone than a courageously humble call to understanding. Because of this, I believe that the best of his message to the larger American society is unfortunately lost.

Government isn't always as evil and antithetical to faith concepts as Reverend Wright has painted in the soundbites we've heard. His emphasis on what's worst about the American people's government surely couldn't have helped young Barack Obama to aspire to appreciate or to work in national government. Reverend Wright shouldn't need reminding that it was former American President John Quincy Adams who argued, and the U.S. courts agreed, that all human beings were naturally free people and entitled to that freedom under American law. My own direct(and very white) ancestor was a deacon in the same (very white) church that supported the Mende people (of the ship known as Amistad) and showed them that freedom meant more than a show-trial, housing and educating them in Farmington, Connecticut and raising $1,300 in pledges at a church service to help defray the travel expense because the U.S. government had refused to provide for their return to Sierra Leone following the Amistad trial. Those Farmington citizens spoke a new language that men and women of all colors could hear and embrace

It has never been a sin or cause of guilt to be born white. It was only a sin to feel you were more important than a fellow human being who wasn't. Reverend Wright plays into white guilt. I'm white and I can feel him doing it. In this day and age, it isn't a spiritually healthy concept. I belong to a multi-racial family myself and I just don't appreciate the message. I can't imagine that more-segregated whites will take kindly to hearing it.

I think the problem, politically, will be that Reverend Wright, while saying that racial differences shouldn't reduce social respect for the integrity of each and every human being, is communicating something altogether different from racial reconciliation by his own demeanor. He will likely never be an appropriate or relevant national leader/representative for racial reconciliation because he comes off sounding divisive while insisting he's not. He tends to talk down to and insult the intelligence of almost anyone who may beg to differ with him. I couldn't imagine Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking quite that way while attempting to achieve social and political reconcilation within his own nation during its own time of turmoil. I suspect Barack Obama knew how the public would react to Reverend Wright's gruff and anti-political demeanor when he consciously decided to keep him out of the spotlight at the time that Obama announced his candidacy.


I can understand why Barack Obama genuinely likes and stands by Reverend Wright, if not Reverend Wright's blunt and politically dangerous statements. Obama's between a rock and a very hard place here. As a response to a statement regarding Obama's whole campaign having been designed to "prove Reverend Wright's jaded older generation wrong," I said on Jim Buie's blog the other day,
"It is the job of each generation to move away from the last in a hopeful and positive progression...with many hard lessons having been learned from those who came before us. It's my opinion, as far as the November election is concerned, that many non-black American voters will simply not understand and certainly won't embrace black liberation theology after hearing, through their own personal filters of life experience, the decidedly race-conscious fire that Rev. Wright has preached to his congregation. I believe that voters who aren't educated in theology and who hear the Wright soundbites will continue to be taken aback by what will sound to them like anti-American statements. (And we just know that voters are going to hear Rev. Wright's comments again and again in 527 ads and from mainstream media if Senator Obama becomes the Democratic nominee.) I don't think it's at all reasonable to think, especially after his speech on race, that Obama feels as Reverend Wright feels about the government. Yet, someone on the other side of politics will continue to try to connect him with that sentiment. This is something I will admit that I hate about politics....yet I don't anticipate that politics will change anytime soon."


Reverend Wright showed at the Press Club today that he's just doing his job .. while he knows that Senator Obama's interviewing with the Americsn public for another very important job. Reverend Wright unapologetically told us that doing God's work in this world, for African Americans and for the people of his community (he calls it the black church), is more important than Barack Obama or politics. How it will play out in the world of politics is anyone's guess.


'Kairos' refers to the "timeless realm" of God, a space in time where measurable time does not apply. We pause upon the brink of the unknown; we are each a part of the same phantom corps moving about the earth. The book of history remains empty and blank out ahead of us.

We're living in a moment of time which I believe will prove itself to be a great turning point in the history of not only America, but all of mankind. In order to have this moment in history be a reflection of purpose and principle in our lives, we simply must learn to speak a different language than those who are seeking to control the political agenda today in America. Reverend Wright knows it, though he may not be the best messenger.

We must learn not only to avoid speaking in the tongue of right wing or left wing talking points, but to create a new language for all men and women - regardless of their race and religious beliefs - to recognize and understand.

It must be a language which would be the basis of new and inspired conversations.

The book of history awaits. We each need to give substance to our reality, but we can only do it in concert with one another. I believe the good of mankind depends upon it.

So, here is our kairos time. We're pebbles in a great sea. Our language, uttered at the right time and with the right intonation, could make all the difference.

I wish Jeremiah Wright had the skills to better communicate what I believe to be his righteous message to a waiting society. Unfortunately, his public reliance on what many will politically detect as left-wing political statements will likely pigeonhole Obama as left-wing because of his spiritual association with Reverend Wright, despite his campaign's protests.


Starting Gate: The Wright Stuff by Vaughn Ververs [CBS]

Rev. Wright Strikes Back by Jack White and Melissa Harris-Lacewell [WaPo]

The Sin of the Reverend by Jack White []

The Wright Question by Jimi Izrael[]

Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright resurfaces to reignite race row by Alex Spillius [Telegraph/UK]

Wright Says Criticism Is Attack on Black Church by John Holusha [NYTimes]

Wright Defends Church, Blasts Media by Kate Phillips [The Caucus blog/NYTimes]

Rev Wright Fires Back, Hits Cheney by Cristi Prsons, Frank James [The Swamp, ChiTrib]

Rev. Wright lashes out at media, U.S. government by Aaron Blake [The Hill]

Rush on Wright vs Obama by Andrew Sullivan [Atlantic/Andrew Sullivan]

Elizabeth Edwards Op-Ed Gets Knee-Jerk Reaction

"Did you .. ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap...."


"The vigorous press that was deemed an essential part of democracy at our country’s inception is now consigned to smaller venues, to the Internet and, in the mainstream media, to occasional articles. I am not suggesting that every journalist for a mainstream media outlet is neglecting his or her duties to the public. And I know that serious newspapers and magazines run analytical articles, and public television broadcasts longer, more probing segments.

But I am saying that every analysis that is shortened, every corner that is cut, moves us further away from the truth until what is left is the Cliffs Notes of the news, or what I call strobe-light journalism, in which the outlines are accurate enough but we cannot really see the whole picture."


"News is different from other programming on television or other content in print. It is essential to an informed electorate. And an informed electorate is essential to freedom itself. But as long as corporations to which news gathering is not the primary source of income or expertise get to decide what information about the candidates “sells,” we are not functioning as well as we could if we had the engaged, skeptical press we deserve."

- Elizabeth Edwards

Mickey Kaus' reaction to Elizabeth Edwards' NY Times op-ed is reminscent of a rebellious fifteen-year-old whose been caught doing the very thing that his mommy has warned him to stay away from doing.