A Liberal Point of View

A New Day is Afoot

This is my first post using my new “smartphone” and I like it. Think I’ll make a habit of it. For now,back to writing my ever so liberal thoughts. Back soon!

Being Authentic

A few years ago during one of my therapy sessions; yes, I had one of those heart to heart discussions, my therapist, me and what seemed to be insurmountable problems. As I began to relate some of my innermost fears, the therapist looked at me and without blinking an eye said, “Mike, be authentic.”  What?  I thought in the most defensible indignation, “I am authentic, what on earth do you mean by be authentic?”  She calmly smiled in a manner of acknowledging the pain I was obviously feeling and repeated, “Yes, be authentic, authentic to who you are and the life you want to live. Be authentic without excuses.”

As I stopped and considered what she meant, it occurred to me that most of my life was based wholly on what other people thought and how they would react if they knew the truth, the whole truth of who I am. In my family circle I was always the good son, the successful one, the smart one, the oldest of all my siblings, the example which others should follow along with a myriad of other isms that had come to define what others thought of me and yet, not for a minute was it ever authentically me.  She was right and not because I was wrong but because I had failed to acknowledge the beauty of who I really was.

I know there are a lot of teens, tweens, and adults alike facing difficult decisions based on telling someone you sincerely care about something they may not want to hear.  If there’s one thing you need to know more than anything else is that you’re not alone.  There are many of us out there that have faced the same dilemma time and time again.  It’s never easy as anything worthwhile is not without some element of risk. Stop for a moment, look in a mirror, and say to yourself – “I am a worthwhile person who deserves to be heard for who I am. The real me, the authentic me.”  As the final point of the video stresses REMEMBER – “You owe no apology for being yourself.” Don’t ever let anyone make you think otherwise, that’s their problem, not yours.

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Charity Navigator

The intelligent way to give your money to charity.

Charity Navigator offers people the ability to investigate their favorite charities and find out exactly how much money they’re giving really goes to the intended goal and how much winds up in the administrative and advertisers pockets.  In addition to carefully researched findings on most marketable charities, Charity Navigator also provides a Donor Advisory Alert that highlights potential scams and frauds to be aware of.  For instance, in the case of a one “26.4.26 Foundation” on January 11, 2014,

USA Today reported that 26.4.26 Foundation, “a Tennessee charity raising money to honor the victims of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is unable to account for $70,000 of the funds.

something I’m sure many would-be investors in that charity might like to know.  Further more,

” And as to the charity’s co-founder Robbie Bruce, the article noted that he “didn’t return repeated telephone messages. No one answered the door at his apartment last week.”

Although this isn’t a clear and cut indictment against the worthiness of  26.4.26 Foundation, it does offer some very unsettling clues.  So, the next time you have a desire to give or someone is tugging on your heart-strings for money, check them out at the Charity Navigator.

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World Mission Church Sign

Stoning is still the law?

Yes, this little sign with the not so little statement was placed on the ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church in Harlem placard by one Dr. James David Manning.  You might remember seeing this photo a few days ago without any accompanying statement.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances I was unable to complete that article until now.  At the time of posting the picture. I felt it was more important to make people aware of it and not just letting it go.  So, here it is…

After doing a bit of research on the web with readily available information resources on Wikipedia, the pastor’s own website, and other biblical websites.  It seems the pastor has quite a colorful, albeit criminal background, one which he is more than willing to boast of and share with others.  Tell me pastor, are you proud that you did those things or are you prouder that you’ve found people gullible enough to accept your notion that antisocial behavior as religiously sanctioned?

You see, not everyone who looks at that “doctorate” degree you awarded yourself may be aware that the very act of snubbing societal norms, that of receiving a real accredited degree, is still a form of anti-social behavior. Sure you can do it, just like so many websites out their boasts – give them some money and you can be practically anything you wish.  In thought, maybe, but as any actual legitimate form of sheepskin that so many legitimate PhD holders have worked so hard to get, no.

Yeah, I got to thinking about it and when I did, it occurred to me, you’ve just found a whole new way of legitimizing your all too antisocial background. Now, instead of breaking the law directly, Jesus is there to help you do it through some not so carefully chosen bible verses.  That you lay claim to condoning one of the most outlandish antisocial behaviors ever – killing another person, is utterly reprehensible.  You see, killing someone in America is severely frowned upon, no matter what religion you claim to belong to.

It kind of struck me odd that you included the one verse in the bible where Jesus actually stops a mob from stoning a woman for supposed adultery.  And yet, you persist in laying claim that he would do the very thing he prevented.  Never did Jesus ever take part in or condone such actions – EVER!  Even further, you underscore your antisocial claim by saying, “Stoning is still the law.’  Pastor, in America, the land where you live and breathe – it is NOT the law.

That you have chosen once again to snub societal norms in favor of the way you see it, is still antisocial no matter how you cut it. It’s still all-the-more antisocial and inexcusable to incite others to do that very thing by announcing it on your church’s placard.  Shame on you James David Manning for even thinking to perpetuate such an appalling act.  Then again, shame IS a social norm.  Homosexuality may not be a “Christian” value, but hate speech for causing harm to another is even more so not a “Christian” value1.

1: Matthew 5:38-40
You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your undershirt (tunic), let him have your coat also.

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Obama-care A.K.A. the Affordable Care Act

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obama-care, seems to be doing rather well despite all the misinformation and hatemongering drummed up by Republican conservatives seeking to usurp any notion that President Obama’s healthcare law might actually be working.  With little more than 10 days left, as of this writing, until open enrollment ends it’s evermore so important that all Americans get involved and choose their healthcare insurance now.  However you may feel about the President or the ACA, stop and consider for a moment what exactly being covered means; for you and for all Americans alike.

Consider for a moment, the key benefits that the ACA is offering About the ACA benefits</a”>1 :

  • Improving quality and lowering healthcare costs
  • New consumer protections
  • Access to healthcare
  • For women – providing preventative services, again at a lower cost
  • Young adults – coverage options up to the age of 25
  • Strengthening of Medicare – especially important to seniors, free preventative care and annual wellness checkup provisions
  • Holding insurance companies accountable – premium increases greater than 10% will have to be submitted before hand with justification

Stop listening to the naysayers for a moment and listen to reason, it’s high-time that we as Americans take our healthcare more seriously in spite of the ever-increasing healthcare costs.  Research what people are saying, don’t just accept the issues on face value.  Do Republicans, for instance, have your well-being at heart when it comes to their constant barrage of anti Obama-care rhetoric?  No, they care about one thing – that they are right and the president is wrong.  As of March 5, 2014, house republicans have attempted unsuccessfully to overturn Obama-care (ACA) for the 50th time. [2]  My dog has better common sense than that when she sees that trying something she shouldn’t won’t work.

I could go on and on about this and that, the pros and cons, and the effectiveness and/or ineffectiveness of the ACA but it would just make for more gibberish than effective persuasion.  The bottom line IS that all of us, as Americans, need to step forward and make a responsible decision that our health is more important than any rhetoric to the contrary may say.  With enrollment nearing or surpassing 6.2 million, something has to be right somewhere.  As my grandmother would have said, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  Which will you be, part of the solution or the problem?

Paul Ryan Gets an Earful

When talking to his constituency recently, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) got an earful when it came to introducing his Republican version of the ACA.  Most notable of the Republican plan is the exclusion of many safeguards afforded through the ACA.  Unfettered by what he heard, Mr. Ryan continued to defend his parties 51 unsuccessful attempts to strip the ACA from being implemented.  Apparently the only real work these people know is how most to serve their time ineffectively.  To read more, click here

Helpful Links:

Obama Care Facts – http://obamacarefacts.com/affordablecareact-summary.php

Healthcare.gov Marketplace – https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/b/welcome/

Washington Post: 11 Facts about the ACA – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/06/24/11-facts-about-the-affordable-care-act/

It’s Working Despite Misinformation – http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/20/obamacares-four-year-checkup/the-affordable-care-act-is-working-despite-misinformation

[2]:  Correction, as of March 20, 2014 they have made 51 unsuccessful attempts.

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Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Dead at 84

Yes, you heard it right, Fred Phelps has passed away.  Is it cause to celebrate?  The answer to that question is a little complicated and depending on your view of an afterlife, that in and of itself is another ball of wax [1].  In short, the quick answer would be no, it’s not cause to celebrate.  This man was obviously hugely conflicted by a war within that simply spilled out onto the landscape of human rights.  Unfortunately, a lot of that spillage came to represent a very heated idea that labeled both gay and straight people as the antichrist with little regard for the value of human life as unique and precious.

His role has come to characterize a lot of those who’ve come to see themselves as the saviors of humanity.  Instead of offering an olive branch of understanding, which Jesus often did for sinners according to the bible, they took their limited knowledge to instill a rage that is anything but the Christian value of loving thy neighbor.  Until this last weekend, I knew very little about the founder of the WBC movement.  All I really ever recognized was a group of sadly misdirected people who set themselves up as the judge, jury and executioners of humanity.  As the founder of Chick-Fil-A has come to see, Christians are in dire conflict to Christian ideals when they arrogantly set themselves up to know better than a God that created us all.

As Mahatma Gandhi said so well, anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.  I would further add that, “to allow yourself to become angered in return for anger is to become the very thing you detest.” Furthermore I would ask, “If I celebrate my enemies’ demise without enlightenment, have I become like my enemy full of bitterness and betrayal without regard?” I for one celebrate Fred Phelps passing, not as a victory for any cause, but more so that he’s finally found peace from a terrible war that raged within.  Yes, the war wages on through the many he inspired by his internal struggle, each one a new manifestation of the same battle.

Man has waged wars through the centuries for one reason or another, but none quite as tragic as the war we wage on ourselves.  I’m in no way excusing their actions as humane, rather I’m suggesting that the real cause and the real harm is the product of all man’s greatest fear, the fear of the unknown – the dark alleys of our mind common to all of us without regard.  As Pope Francis said recently in rather colorful terms,
Sometimes negative news does come out, but it is often exaggerated and manipulated to spread scandal. Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia [2] and thus fomenting coprophagia: which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects.
That said, maybe we should all take a lesson from this, the lesson that we’re all subject to – the lesson of being all too human.

Obama expands sanctions against Russia

In an effort to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Barrack Obama has issued further sanctions against Russian in an effort to achieve a more diplomatic outcome with regards to Crimea’s Russian takeover.

The U.S. list announced Thursday cut into a wider group of people, including those thought to have a hand on the Russian president’s own finances, and the “crony bank” where many of the inner circle, according to the administration, does business. read more…

Harlem preacher warns ‘white homos’ will steal black men

World Mission Church Sign

New detail puts year-old killings in new light

Rachel Maddow tells the story of a pair of bizarre killings, including that of the Colorado prisons chief, by a released prison gang member, and the discovery of a hit list that has raised questions about whether the killings were part of a bigger plan. more info

A very sad story indeed with a wonderful father and husband killed for no apparent reason and a Colorado Prison Chief found dead a short time afterwards.  The details connecting the two has finally emerged as a police officer was shot and wounded while trying to pull over a car and the subsequent shooting and death of the car’s occupant.

References:

[1]:  A term created by philosopher René Descartes  in order to analyze what properties are essential for bodies, show how uncertain our knowledge of the world is compared to our knowledge of our minds, and argue for rationalism.

[2]: coprophilia – An abnormal, often obsessive interest in excrement, especially the use of feces for sexual excitement. American Heritage Dictionary

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Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depending on where you look, there seems to be a lot of varying opinions on climate change.  One thing rings loud and clear, whether you’re pro or con, the facts speak louder than words – there IS a palpable shift in the climate as we’ve known it.  Is that shift huge?  No and unfortunately it doesn’t take a whole lot to see major effects.

Just announced,

The White House has unveiled a new website-based app, the Climate Data Initiative, to help explain the science behind climate change and draw attention to the immediacy of the threat.

This comes at a critical time, say officials. They point to the fact that in 2012, extreme weather events in the U.S. caused more than $110 billion in damages and claimed more than 300 lives. [^1]

Data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other Federal agencies will be featured on climate.data.gov, a new section within data.gov that opens for business today. The first batch of climate data being made available will focus on coastal flooding and sea level rise. NOAA and NASA will also be announcing an innovation challenge calling on researchers and developers to create data-driven simulations to help plan for the future and to educate the public about the vulnerability of their own communities to sea level rise and flood events. [^2]

Links of Interest on Climate Change

Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Website

Climate Change on Wikipedia.com

NASA Global Climate Change – Vital Signs of the Planet

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The World Bank on Climate Change – yes, you read that right, it is The World Bank.  I haven’t carefully reviewed this site so if you see a problem or know of anything different, contact me.

References:

[^1]:  National Geographic article:  White House Launches Website App to Visualize Climate Change

[^2]:  Information provided by the WhiteHouse.gov website through an article titled – Climate Data Initiative Launches with Strong Public and Private Sector Commitments

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