Did Farrakhan Come to Praise Obama or to Bury Him?

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On Sunday last (2/24/08) Barak Obama received a glowing endorsement that is likely to loose him a few votes in November. The endorser was Louis Farrakhan, the acknowledged leader (“Minister”) of The Nation of Islam. Why is an endorsement by Farrakhan a bad thing? Simply because Farrakhan is considered by many to be a racist and a homophobe and is clearly, proudly and loudly an anti-Semite.

On Sunday, Farrakhan went on for over one hour praising Obama as “the hope of the entire world” and stated that the U.S. will change for the better if Obama is its next president. Farrakhan is, of course, a Moslem and one may question just how, in Farrakhan’s view the U.S. will be better. Is he suggesting that Obama will not continue fighting radical elements in Islam or perhaps he means that under a President Obama, the U.S will abandon its support for Israel.

Farrakhan also compared Obama to the Nation of Islam’s original founder, Fard Muhammad saying:

“A black man with a white mother became a savior to us. A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.”

The pastor of Barack Obama’s church, the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago is Jeremiah Wright, Junior; and Pastor Wright is apparently a big fan of Farrakhan — that is also haunting Obama’s campaign. The church magazine recently honored Farrakhan, calling him:

‘one of the giants of the African-American religious experience in the 20th and 21st centuries’. His love for Africa and African-American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change, and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose.’

Barack Obama, however is NOT a big fan of Farrakhan in spite of how his mentor and sounding board, Paster Wright, feels about Farrakhan. During a conference call with Jewish leaders last month, Obama clearly and vehemently denounced Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic views as “reprehensible.” Not everyone is aware of his original denouncement however, so we had another one today through an Obama spokesman, Bill Burton, who said:

“Senator Obama has been clear in his objections to Minister Farrakhan’s past pronouncements and has not solicited the minister’s support.”

Obviously, Louis Farrikhan was not doing Barack Obama a favor, in the eyes of the American voting public, by praising him and I can’t believe that Farrakhan is so naive that he believes his endorsement would do anything other than stab Obama in the back.

Is that then what this was all about? Is this Farrakhan’s revenge for Obama’s denunciation and his rejection of Farrakhan’s views and positions?

Some of you might jump to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton or her campaign staff had something to do with this! Hilliary is mean and will stoop to almost any dirty trick to win the presidency; but this?

News Links:

Associated Press: A spry Farrakhan sings Obama’s praises

NewsMax: Obama’s Minister Honored Farrakhan

Boston Globe: Obama distances himself from Farrakhan

Blog Links:

Freedom Eden: Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan

Obama Who?: Who is Obama’s endorser Louis Farrakhan ?

Religious Research or Manipulation?

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Why, do you suppose, people are religious? That’s an interesting question with some very obvious answers. In general, people believe in their God or Gods for various reasons — very much depending on the individual and, in some cases, on the society to which the individual is bonded.

  • For some it’s the comforting belief that there is a Supreme Being watching over you, protecting you, listening to your prayers and forgiving you your trespasses.
  • For some its fear that keeps them in line with their God’s demands and gets them to the worship service — a fear of the consequences of not believing and not getting into the “paradise” that awaits believers — going instead, for example, to the burning pits of Hell that await Christian sinners. In the case of those who live under theocracies, it is also the fear of the penalties here on earth — the penalties for disobeying the rules of the church.
  • For others a belief in a God gives their life a meaning, a direction and a defined end.
  • For still others, perhaps the majority, its simply the way they were brought up and not something to be questioned unless they are willing to incur the wrath of their families, peer groups and communities. Besides, why take the chance? If there is a God and you don’t abide by the “rules”, you could wind up in some bad (possibly hot) place. If there isn’t — well nothing lost!

My guess is that the above covers most of the bases but apparently there is now a group of researchers who either suspect there are other, possibly hidden, reasons that people believe in religion; or they may just be out to make a “fast and easy buck” with a no-brainer research project; or perhaps they are actually asking a different question.

According to the Rueters article linked below, the brain trust at the U.S. based John Templeton Foundation is giving $4 million to a group of British researchers to spend the next three years answering the question: “Why do people believe in religion” as well as many other issues surrounding that central question. Think about that for a minute! Is it worth $4 million and three years to determine “why” people believe or even what they believe? I doubt it! Unless the real question is either: ‘what can be done to get more people to believe in religion?’ OR ‘what can be done to get fewer people to believe in religion?’

Why would someone be interested in increasing or decreasing the number of religious people? Justin Barrett, one of the project leaders, provided, perhaps inadvertently, one reason for increasing the religious masses when speculating on the benefits to a society when the majority believe in a loving, nurturing, or in his words “moral” God:

“Groups that have religious sentiment might be more likely to co-operate, giving them a comparative advantage,” Barret said.

You might, if you are so inclined, read some ominous subtext into that statement, i.e., religious people are more easily manipulated because they tend to ‘go along’ with what is expected of them.

As for decreasing the effect of religion on society; there are many people who fear organized religion, especially when witnessing some of the negative effects of religion as they have been recently illustrated in the Middle-East.

I’m not generally one to subscribe to conspiracy theories (and I’m not religious) but in this case I have to say that this entire project has a dishonest, conspiratorial scent about it. More knowledge is almost always good — but when it is gathered using a phoney pretense I tend to be leery.

News Links:

Reuters: Researchers to probe why people believe in religion

The Ledger: God Under the Microscope

Blog Links:

Street Phrophets: The 4 Million Dollar Question

The Triumph of Conservative Philantropy: The know-nothing conservative philanthropy religionists

Music Has Charms . . . and Power

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“Music has charms to soothe the savage breast;
to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”
— William Congreve, English dramatist (1670 – 1729)

When William Congreve wrote these words into his play, “The Mourning Bride”, he was not making an anatomical reference by his use of the word “breast”. In his time, at the turn of the 18th Century, his reference to the “savage breast” was taken as a reference to uncivilized or irrational behavior. Later when the word breast took on a more specific meaning the word “beast” was substituted but the meaning was not changed and became, perhaps, even clearer.

Science later confirmed Congreve’s inference that music has power over human behavior when it discovered that the human brain has a chemical reaction to music — it produces chemicals that help to improve brain function. One of those chemicals, Serotonin has been found to also improve nerve function.

Now researchers in Finland have taken the role of music in human behavior another step. According to today’s Washington Post:

“Their study of 54 patients who’d suffered a stroke of the right or left hemisphere middle cerebral artery found that those who listened to music for a few hours a day showed better improvements in verbal memory and focused attention, and had a more positive mood than those who listened to audio books or listened to nothing at all.”

The stroke victims were given a choice between listening to music or audio books or nothing at all. Everyone was also given the standard physical therapy.

Here’s a quote from a statement by the chief author of the study, Teppo Sarkamo, of the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki Brain Institute, where he quantifies the improvement:

“We found that three months after the stroke, verbal memory improved from the first week post-stroke by 60 percent in music listeners, by 18 percent in audio book listeners and by 29 percent in non-listeners. Similarly, focused attention — the ability to control and perform mental operations and resolve conflicts among responses — improved by 17 percent in music listeners, but no improvement was observed in audio book listeners and non-listeners. These differences were still essentially the same six months after the stroke.”

An additional fact is that those who chose to listen to music chose their own music. I can’t help but wonder just what music they chose. I can’t imagine Hard Rock, Hip-Hop or Rap having anything but a negative effect on emotional stability and an even worse effect on brain function. That, of course, is a non-scientific rant on my part.

News Links:

CBS News: Music To The Ears Of Some Stroke Victims

Washington Post: Music Therapy Improves Stroke Outcomes

Blog Links:

TuneDex Memories: Stressed? Victim of a stroke? We can help!

Locked and Secure: Strokes, Music And Gambling

Whymrhymer blogs at: My View From the Center

Michelle Obama: Ashamed of America?

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“Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.”

That was Michelle Obama mired in bombast, during a rally in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That was what she said but was that what she meant to say? It’s possible that that was exactly what she meant.

“Hope,” she said, “is making a comeback” and “people are hungry for change.” That is, of course, pure rhetorical nonsense! Every man and woman in America has hope for the future. Some bury that hope in the despair of the moment because they are afraid of hope just as a child is afraid of rejection, but that hope is always there as is their hunger for change.

So, nonsense rhetoric aside, is Michelle Obama ashamed of America? There are many people in the United States who are ashamed to be American; she may have just admitted that she is one of them.

This unthinking minority is ashamed because our standard of living is so high — even the poorest of our poor have more disposable income than do the vast majority of people in some countries. They ignore the billions of dollars in food and products the United States gives each year to clothe and feed the most desperate around the globe — including our own.

They see people in this country getting rich from their ideas and from their initiatives and hard work and they feel that the rich have an obligation to feed, clothe and support those who aren’t rich. They ignore the fact that these rich people contribute millions to charity and pay the majority of the taxes used to run the government. So lets tax them more they say — they can afford it.

They see inequities everywhere they look and feel that the Federal government’s role is to correct those inequities by taking from the rich and giving to the poor — who was that who thought that to be a great strategy: wasn’t it Karl Marx, the “father of communism?”

That is the direction Michelle, Barack and the rest of the confused minority want us to move in! Don’t believe me? Just pay close attention to their words and promises and plans between now and November and it will be crystal clear!

Choosing Sides: The 2008 Election

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On the Republican side “Conservative Principles” seem to be the holy grail while on the Democratic side the quest is for “Change”. Either way it means pretty much the same thing: ‘elect us and we’ll do whatever we think should be done and then swear to you that its for your own good’.

Sarcasm aside, the difference between the two sides is really more serious and well-defined than that.

Those who will choose John McCain over Clinton or Obama want, at least theoretically, us to keep up the fight against radical Islam, however long it takes and wherever it takes us, until we have made radical Islam so impotent that it is no longer a force in the Arab world.

Those who would vote for Hillary or Barack want us to . . . well that’s the question. They say they want to end the war and bring the troops home, assuming, I guess, that the only reason the terrorists are mad at us is because we are over there and once we are not there they will leave us alone. I would say that they are badly mistaken about the terrorist’s motives and about the result of a troop withdrawal — but that’s just me!

Another major difference between the two sides is their attitudes about the role of government. Now neither the Republicans or Democrats are really in favor of the kind of Government envisioned by our founding fathers. The framers of the Constitution gave the Federal government a very limited role in domestic affairs but gradually that role became larger and larger until today we have such things as Federal subsidies, Federal regulation of industry, Federal welfare and healthcare programs and etc. That’s a far cry from the role of the Federal government as protector and defender of our boarders and the referee in disputes between the states, as was first envisioned. My point is that even though the Federal Government has overstepped its original bounds the two sides in the current political contest have different visions of what happens next. The Conservative side wants to reduce the government’s role (at least they talk a good game) and the Liberal/Progressive side wants to increase the government’s role (“health care for everyone”).

Pick your own poison but for my part the Republican’s, have a more realistic approach to national defense and, with two exceptions, a vision of a less intrusive government. Those two exceptions, however, are major! It is Conservative Republicans who believe that an unborn child has more rights than the American citizen carrying it and who believe that when two woman or two men fall in love, they have no right to enjoy the benefits of or take on the responsibilities of a married couple.

Granted, I am not capable of bearing or aborting a child nor have I an attraction to those of my gender but even a fool can see that the Federal government is way out of bounds when it attempts to control the morality of its citizens. It is intrusive positions like these that have put me in and keep me in the “center”.

Support The Troops, Hate The War?

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Some people do not believe it is possible to support the troops without supporting the war — this is nonsense that is promulgated, mainly, by extremists who use their heads for hat racks and little else. What they are saying is that a “patriotic American” must love everything that his or her government tells them is good and hate everything that their government tells them is bad. That’s not patriotism, that’s not even American!

The “troops” are individual men and women who have made the choice to give some part of their lives in service to us and to their country. Supporting the troops means, in my mind: 1) respecting their choice to serve our country; 2)being proud of them for their willingness to ‘put it all on the line’ for us so that we can be safe; and 3) doing anything we can to keep THEM safe.

Our troops do not choose their battles, our government does! Some battles may be distasteful or even flat-out wrong in the opinion of some of our military men and women and in our civilian opinions — they (the troops), however, do not have the choice to dissent, WE DO and if we do dissent — if we speak out against a conflict that we honestly see as just a waste of American lives, the best way we can support the troops is to protest that conflict!

In reference to the war in Iraq: I believe our government made a mistake going into Iraq. It may have been an honest mistake based on intelligence or a stupid mistake based on our President’s personal beliefs, or we may be there for some other reason; that however, is no longer relevant.

TODAY, we obviously have a break-away sect of the Moslem religion that wants us either dead or converted to Islam and we need to defend ourselves in any way we can against their intentions and action plans. Call it the “Iraq War”, call it the “Middle-East Conflict”, call it the “War Against Terror” call it whatever you want, it IS a necessary fight that if lost can only result in the loss of many more patriotic American lives and, ultimately, the loss of our American way of life.

My Political Profile: Nonconformist!

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With all the screaming and fighting going on between the Conservative talking-heads, since John McCain has jumped way into the lead for the Republican nomination, I’m beginning to wonder if so-called Conservatives are really conservative or if they really understand what a Conservative is. Or, for that matter if I’m a conservative, a liberal or something else.

Searching for that answer, I took the “How Liberal or Conservative Are You” quiz at Blog Things and here’s what it told me:

***Your Political Profile:***

Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Well I guess no one’s perfect but ethically, as you can see, I’m more of a liberal than a conservative and I’ll tell you exactly why that is. On the abortion question I am pro-choice and on the gay marriage issue, I’m for it! Does that make me an immoral person? Perhaps! But it also makes me a person who understands that neither the government or any other institution has the right to step in and negate any person’s personal choices. Unfortunately, today’s Conservatives think that interference in a person’s choices is perfectly OK — and here’s the rational: Its because they feel that their morals are right and your morals are wrong — unless, that is, your morals match theirs.

So what does that actually makes me? Perhaps a Libertarian?

The core Libertarian belief is that individuals have the right to conduct their lives in any way they choose as long they do not interfere with another person’s rights or property. Government, under the Libertarian belief system, should be limited to National defense and settling disputes between jurisdictions; everything else should be privatized.

With this in mind, I took the Libertarian Purity Test by Bryan Caplan and scored a 75 — which means I am “a medium-core libertarian, probably self-consciously so.”

Well I guess I don’t fit any preformed molds and, actually, that makes me feel good! I’ve never been a joiner and I’m a terrible follower and I haven’t changed.