Quiet on the set!!!

After meeting with admissions I feel good about Manhattanville and their accelerated masters program. As I walk out of the back door I stumble on a film set. A production assistant shoos  me out of the shot. After the scene cuts. I give my apologies and asked the production assistant   What movie are you filming  Admissions I assume it is a student film he says no its a new Tina Fey and Paul Rudd film. I take a couple quick pics. Nice surprise!

Now Bin Laden’s dead; let us continue to destroy ourselves

 

With the death of Bin Laden, victory it still not assured.  There are still radicals who hate our way of life and extremists out to destroy us. The extremists who pose the greatest threat have been said to be religious fundamentalists waging holy wars, and militant radicals seeking to destroy everything this Country stands for. However, like Bin Laden, they are not inAfghanistan.  They don’t present a unified front.  I call them the axis of benevolent evil.

                It has been said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What is the harm in living your life with Christian values the way God intends?  Absolutely no harm; actually, it is a beautiful thing to be spiritually centered, to cultivate mediation in ones actions and to find a direction in one’s life.  So what is the harm in moving towards church governance?  The short answer: absolutely everything.  The inquisition, the dark ages, and churches giving power to kings, sounds so old and outdated.  However, if you are looking for a reference in the modern World, while it may sound odd, look at Islam.  Google Sharia law: it shapes not only government but politics, prayer, and judicial polices as well. The Christian rights’ attempts  to push church and State into an unholy union, is a giant leap backwards. If successful such a union lays the groundwork for, limiting scientific research and education to a biblically correct scope, Supreme Courts that sway to God’s law over Constutional law.  In fact, why stop by ending gay marriage?  Why not simply kill them outright, like Uganda and its links to American faith based organizations.

http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/05/walkout_by_female_mps_delays_ugandas_kill_the_gays_bill_until_friday.html  

The question is whether it would get that bad.  I don’t know.  However, I do know that it is a slippery slope.  Religious fervor is a powerful tool; look at Al Qaeda, NLFT, KKK, The Army of God, to cite a few.   Now ask me why the Christian extremism scares me more than Muslim extremist?  It is closer to home, and threatens the very fabric of society.  Theocracy would even cause unexpected issues for the integrity of Christianity.  Many fake Christians, aside from those of the Republican base, would pop up just for the economic and political advantages that would come from a theocracy.  C.S. Lewis, a strong proponent of Christianity, explained why a theocratic government would be dangerous far better than I:

I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.  Thanks for the help but we have been practicing divide and conquer on our own for a long time.

With Al Qaeda dominating the headlines, reemerging militant groups do not seem to be an issue, but over the past 10 years we have had more planed attacks by Americans.  Hutaree, the Gifford’s attack, George Tiller, the  Austin IRS attack, the Holocaust Museum, Fort Hood, Andrew Poplawski, Colleen  Larose, Michael Fitton, Najibullah Zazi, Joshua Cartwright, James Cummings, Jim Adkisson: all home-born attacks recruiting is on the rise for terrorism whether the tool is religion, immigration, politics, or a black president.  The fact that Bin Laden was attempting to capitalize on the division with recruitment of terrorist is no surprise.

 http://ournewsnow.com/home/1101/Bin-Laden-Playbook-Recruiting-American-Radical-Muslims

                Al Sharpton can protest this as fantasy all he wants, but the Black liberation army was born out of the same bottled frustration upon which a terrorist organization could capitalize.  I love free speech.  Personally, I like when the KKK speaks.  It is almost funny; you can hear how backwards they are when they speak of “the blacks” being the reason for all of problems that plague America, “why jobs are bad, debt is so high, for inflation, why women don’t like me…”  The danger is when they get political power, savvy, and nuance.  David Duke made it sound nice, and Fox news made it sound true.  Nixon called it the southern strategy, and it still continues to this day.  It solves none of the real issues, starting with unemployment, poor education, and national debt.  Instead, it serves as lip service to their fears and fuels their anger and frustration.  Politician A gets elected, doesn’t do anything to help the situation, finger points, and passes the buck.  Yet, people like him.  He gets reelected.  Likewise, a Rapper A “reps“ his hood by showing the World that his block is the most dangerous block in America; he gets rich, the record executives get rich, but the home values don’t go up in his block, and new businesses don’t come to the most dangerous block in America.  People buy his records because he is “real.” There is a defrence between becoming a voice for those without one and profiting from it. The absence of leadership and government creates a vacuum.  

                “Beware the military industrial complex:”

 a famous line by the last general that became President, Dwight  Eisenhower.  Decades have passed since that ominous speech and we are still not listening.  While The Pentagon and Congress are attacking the economic stability and the strength of the infrastructure of this country.  Failing bridges and levees, crumbling roads, waterlines, and schools get ignored, while new planes and weapon systems are developed faster.  Our “enemies” are using old Russian assault rifles and have Navies and Air Forces that are laughable in comparison.  We spend more on defense than the next 12 countries combined, and most of those nations are our allies.  I completely support men and women in uniform but the question must be asked: why are we policing the World?  Even more importantly, why go bankrupt to do it?http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,2065108,00.html

Congressional kick backs and earmarks

It is a million here and a million there… all the way to bankruptcy.  Career politicians are good for one thing: getting elected.  Benevolent evils activist who dreamed up home ownership for all as equal opportunity, realized 10 years later that relaxing lending policies for people with low income and poor credit was a bad idea; that people with poor credit and no money tend not to pay you back.  Who knew?  The stimulus package was stuffed with ear marks and kickbacks just to get it passed.  Like any good piece legislation, it is not what is good for the people, it is what is good for the Senate.  The voice and needs of the People are both completely ignored not just by corporations but unions, the NAACP, ACLU, NRA, Foreign lobbyist all should be restricted campaign finance reform is a real issue.  It is legal bribery.  Why do corporations and foreign nations donate and pay lobbyists?  Because it works.  The Pakistani government pays a lobby millions and we give them billions in aid, oil lobbyist insure oil companies get subsidies despite making millions of dollars in profits.  How can government work properly when it is getting paid not to? Will political leaders ever live up to their promises? Are we stuck with the makeshift leaders who fill the vacuum? More importantly, when are we going to stop focusing on other nations and fix what is going on here, in our own Country?  Generations have been asking these questions an we are still waiting for answers.

Missission Accomplished

With the announcement that Osama bin laden was killed by us Navy seals this morning, US troops have eliminated the man behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.  Pundits and news outlets will begin the cycle of analysis; what does this mean for Obama’s re-election, Iraq, and Afghanistan, our relations with Pakistani intelligence. I will take this time to thank those involved from the intelligence community to the operators on the ground we will probably never know your names but we thank you all the same.

Part 3

This is the third and final installment of this series. Rifling through hours of interview recordings, the one thing that became clear is few voices really matter in the debate. I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But really the debate is other people deciding whether or not our morality supersedes a woman’s right to choose and where does life begin. I am just going to let one of the voices of those making those choices speak.

 Me: How do you feel about the abortion issue?

 K: I am very pro-choice.

Me: How do you feel Mississippi will vote?

K: They will make it illegal… because they sway that way

Me: Where do you think the discrepancy come from as far as Mississippi being a family values state and the high teen pregnancy rate?

K: Parents tend to see the best in their children it’s a blinded approach to life… if I close my eyes it didn’t happen. We go to church as a social networking more than for a connection to god.

Me: What was your response to the dead fetus signs?

K: I think it’s for shock value…if you’ve made up your mind to do something nothing can sway you…however those people who have to choose that option those images tend to remind them of the hardest decision they ever made. Not fair on either side.

Me: If someone came to you for advice in making that tough decision what would you tell them?

K: Had this happen recently…I was a YOUNG mom and it’s not easy. I am still in school in my 30’s. I would tell them to follow their Heart. Babies are hard…kids are hard…alone with them is horrible… But abortion is a decision you can’t change. It will impact you daily. Heath effects are common and judgment is an issue here. If they choose to abort… I’d tell them to seal it in their heart and keep quiet

Me: Is that because you feel someone who had an abortion here in Mississippi would face a backlash and ostracism?

K: Absolutely. We live in the Bible belt I’ll add in some insight as long as my name isn’t used. I had an abortion in 1994 at 15…my parents signed against my choice Small town…they were embarrassed…easier to hide than admit but southern parents tend to not address sex…still a dirty topic…most kids find out their information from peers

Me: Do you think there is a technological barrier between kids and parents?

K: Some was yes…they have way too many answers available without the reasons for them. Morally I don’t want her to have sex because it complicates things Just that abortion is a life changing thing…I have had other kids but there is always something missing. I have several health was my only option. Parents need to wise up and help prevent pregnancy. Condoms and birth control aren’t cuss words. Have them available for your kids.

Me: Thank you for sharing your story.

K: You’re welcome.

Now I have been asked many times during interviews where I stand on abortion. I have said repeatedly I am not a part of the story and side stepped the question again and again. I guess I can give you an answer. It doesn’t matter what I think It doesn’t matter unless it’s my baby. That’s my opinion those couples have the right to choose. If you think it’s right or wrong it’s not your choice. If you hold up signs with dead fetuses along the highway that’s your right. I have the right to call you an idiot with too much time on your hands.

The Neighbors you Know, and the Strangers you Live With.

The subject of the Pro-Life movement in Mississippi has proven to be a subject not to be tackled in one afternoon. This is part two of this three part series. There was a question I asked if nearly all the interviews” Why is there such a discrepancy between Mississippi being a family value state in the Bible belt and yet Mississippi having such high teen pregnancy rate”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/20/teen-pregnancy-rates-high_n_770881.html

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/teen_pregnancy_highest_in_the_south_mississippi_102210/

A gentleman responded surprisingly to the question with this, “Well a lot of the churches here don’t have love in ‘em. They are about getting bigger, and some of these kids they say are trouble, when really they just aren’t getting any real love. I run a barbershop, and you know how many kids 12, 13, 14 years old I see in my shop but I never seen their parents. ” A young lady I had interviewed later echoed that sentiment.” Church is like Facebook or Twitter here in Mississippi. Only a couple of people are doing it for the reason it was meant for. For other people they don’t have much to do. So people jump in, because they feel left out if they don’t” When interviewing some of the parents in the area they for the most part believed they had an open dialogue with their kids about 4 out of 5 said they did. So I went back and I interviewed the teenagers. I got a different story. Some young ladies claimed either themselves or friends having oral sex as young as 10 or 11 years old. On the flip side, some claim virginity as old as 19 and 20. Regardless of when or if they began to have sex, 3 out of 5 teenagers I interviewed said that they had no or limited communication with their parents about sex. As one young lady said,” some parents don’t care. Others don’t care that they are getting lied to as long as you keep up the image. Some of the parents do the same thing. Run around one way all week and then are completely different in church on Sunday.” When I asked a young lady who was waiting for marriage she said ” I feel sorry for the ones who don’t feel like they can’t talk to their parents about sex I was fortunate that my parents brought me up were we talked about sex and love and what God wants for me I feel it’s sacred and I know friends who feel the same way some made a mistake but god still loves them and I still love them we all stumble but we have to pick each other up” Another said ” it was weird talking to my mom about sex but we did it and I thought was weird when she got a MySpace but now that I am older I am glad she tried.” Many agreed that there was a language barrier between parents and kids as well as a technological one with social media becoming such a large part of teenagers lives “My parents idea of talking about sex was like do u know where your kids are, my dad turns his he to me and say “better not get pregnant, or bring drugs in here.” Mississippi is even considering paying students not to get pregnant

http://carnalnation.com/content/46950/898/mississippi-house-oks-abstinence-plus-school-curriculum#

I have heard it said “To be a father you just have to make a baby. To be a dad you have to raise one.” Maybe the same can be said about churches and communities. Maybe sometimes a sense of moral authority is unjustified and counterproductive.

Mississippi: A Question of Values a Three Part Series



I set out to write a travel blog, but I never anticipated the story coming to me as it did.  I envisioned writing this first entry more about the beginning of my journey. Sometimes you have to go with what you get. I didn’t think my commentaries on America would involve such devisive issues. Now it seems a little naive of me in retrospect.

Before coming here I had my notions of what Mississippi was: backwards, ignorant in the racist sort of way, overweight, bible thumping. So when I drove by the intersection of highway 20, and saw the scene of little kids and adults handing out flyers and holding posters of aborted fetuses, my first reaction is one of disgust and shock. Not that I didn’t expect it from Mississippi. I didn’t give it time to digest. A second later I am snapping a photo and posting on Twitter. My intentional posting was a condescending one. It took for me to turn the corner for me to I realize that this is what I’m doing. This is what my trip is about. Where is America right now? As much as the food, the people, the music, the landscape are America. So too are the issues that divide us.  I am not delusional or looking for a kumbaya moment. I snapped some photos,  locked in and began interviewing

I was surprised by some of the responses I received, one young man informed me he protested in front of the Jackson clinic a couple times, I asked him about the abortion photos on display and if he thought that was in good taste. “Sometimes people need to see it.”  I followed by asking what if a woman was driving by who had an abortion. How do you think she’d feel? His answer was surprisingly callous. “She should be reminded of what she did”. As far children go he had this to say. “You don’t want them growing up killing their babies.” Now this wasn’t a normal response but I did get some support for his sentiment from another young man I interviewed. He had also protested in Jackson.

Not all of the pro life supporters were so extreme. I did find well spoken thought felt opinions on the subject, two come to mind. An elderly couple I interviewed dealt with the issue with such compassion. I felt no contempt, no malice. An objection purely of love and the faith they grew up with. “If I could talk to a young woman before she made a decision. It’s a decision you can never take back. That baby just wants love he or she deserves a chance to live. Please do not take its life away before he gets a breath the air, see the sun, feel warmth of touch. Please consider adoption. Let someone hug him, kiss him, give him the love he deserves. Plenty of people would want your baby.” If only they were the forefront of this pro-life movement maybe it wouldn’t have the black eye abortion terrorist give it. Those who hypocritically blow up clinics and shoot doctors to “protect life” only give the movement a black eye. Extremism serves little purpose except to be an image to point out that they are all crazy. That is clearly not the case but such a case can be made when all you see are the crazies. All it takes is a chance encounter and a few conversations to change your mind. Agree or disagree there are rational people on both sides of the issue.

As I write this story from Mississippi the landscape is changing. The debate continues. Other states are beginning to crack down on abortions. Kansas for one http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42362636/42364334, other states like New York face a crisis point. To the point that abortion the rate is nearly double the National average rising to nearly a whopping 40% http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/nyregion/07abortion.html?_r=1.To many in Mississippi this is a national moral dilemma and goes against the fabric of who they are. The prospect of using abortion as means of birth control has many up in arms.

Be on the lookout for part two: Tuesday April 5