Political Strategery

The Obama Administration announced that it is releasing 30 million gallons of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. ” Experts” are calling this  an excellent change in policy that will certainly help to calm the volatile oil markets. But, other experts are saying why now? So, who can we believe? I am taking my cue from Treasury Secretary Geithner who when speaking at a Dartmouth College panel discussion said the release was not political. It was using the reserve for that which it was  designed, to mitigate disruptions such as those brought about by the conflict in Libya. So, naturally if Mr Geithner says it is not political I must feel otherwise. Why might one feel that way? Let us see. For starters the reserve has 727 million barrels of oil and the President’s instructions released around 4% of that total. Next, Libya typically exports about 1.5 million barrels per day, a figure which is down to about  1/3 of that total. So, the amount of oil released was really not designed to  replace lost production, etc but rather to what? Perhaps it was designed  to occur in the midst of the ongoing decline in oil prices ( which leads to lower gasoline prices) thus causing a bit of an acceleration the decline. Then we have an end result of the Obama Administration claiming credit for the price of gasoline declining. A bit convoluted, perhaps, but just wait and see. But we must not drill for any additional oil, just pay Brazil to do so.

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Politics, Reading, Religion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secretary Robert Gates Calling

I wrote  on Thursday about Pastor Terry Jones from Gainesville, Fl and his threat/plan to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11. For the moment that plan has been cancelled although there are others expressing a willingness to take over. This event has been so confusing on so many levels it reminds me a little of  Bizzaro superman in whose world everything was opposite or perhaps like Alice in Wonderland when she follows the White Rabbit into a strange universe all its own.

Let’s see, what else? Thus far I have only seen a comment from Michael Bloomberg that defended Jones’s actions under the aegis of religious freedom, no matter how distasteful they may be.

I wanted to lead with a  this is what we know approach but I am uncertain as to what we really know. For starters, the president weighed in during a press conference with his main point a defense of  Islam. He also confirmed that he ordered Sec Gates to call the Florida pastor  which seems to be  a bit of an unusual approach. He has since been questioned about what role the White House may have played in escalating the situation. Predictably, none at all was the response.

So now  a little time has passed and Jones was true to his word. He burned no Korans. There was an unidentified person who did and some others who shredded pages of the Koran. There were reports of demonstrations in Afghanistan but nothing of any consequence .Unsurprisingly, the misguided folks of  Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church proceeded with their Koran burning as well as an American flag. The quite apropos headline on The Topeka Capital Journal website said  that the church’s flames produced little heat. No phone calls, no comments from celebrities, no demonstrations,etc.

So, are there lessons here worth learning? Michele Malkin  produced a post entitled  the ” Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage” which detailed current and past examples of events that have stirred passions among Muslims. Some were silly, others were scary in their escalation. Ann Coulter wrote an article way back on Wednesday entitled ” Bonfire of the Insanities” which also seems well titled, even more so in retrospect. There were good points vis-a-vis Gen Petraeus comments on threats to American troops as well as the  wingnuts right to burn a  Koran, stupid though it may be.

Is there a bottom line yet other than an obscure pastor gaining unneeded notoriety? Probably not.

September 12, 2010 Posted by | Media, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Un-Christian behavior

Never been to Gainesville,Fl before although I have been nearby. I also have never met Pastor Terry Jones who leads a small church of about 50 folks named the Dove Outreach Center. Remarkably, Jones has managed to make himself notorious  on an international level, quite  a feat in itself. He has received a number of death threats and has started carrying a gun himself. So, what has this heretofore unknown person done  to draw attention from  Gen David Petraeus, Hilary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Eric Holder , Rush Limbaugh, ( who appropriately  calls him a lunatic) Robert Gates, Angelina Jolie and countless unnamed but now angry Muslims worldwide?

He has for some inexplicable reason announced a plan to burn many copies of the Koran on of all days, 9/11/2010. How many copies seems  to depend on how many gullible people send  them to him. That is by far the easier of the questions involved. Based on some earlier actions, Jones seems to think that Islam is evil. I will agree that there are followers of  Islam have done some evil things and alas if his plan goes through they will probably do more of those things. ( Gen Petraeus is quite concerned about that.)

I have given  a lot of thought about why Jones is doing this. Publicity, notoriety, name recognition ? He has gotten all of those to be sure. But , assuming he is a legitimate Christian minister, which I have no reason to doubt, what is doing for the furtherance of his ministry or for the “image” of Christianity or for that matter his native country. Oh, just a qualifier. He actually has the right to do this but for me it’s one of those “rights” that just because one has it, one does not need to exercise it.

Cannot  imagine the potential damage he can carry out, unless by some miracle he chooses to call a halt to the event. At this point, that looks unlikely.

Some words from a song came to mind today that at least from a Christian perspective define my feelings quite well. The artist is Wayne Watson and the song  came from his 1988 album The Fine Line. The title is “That’s Not Jesus.” I will just relate a line or two that seems to fit what is happening with pastor Terry Jones.

  •                                     That’s not Jesus, he doesn’t carry on that way,
  •                                    Just some flesh and blood like you and me
  •                                    Somehow gone astray
  •                                    That’s not Jesus, no matter what they say 
  •                                    He doesn’t  need us to defend  him
  •                                    He just wants us to obey


                       Shalom and amen         

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Separation of Church and State?

The summer season is the time of year when many folks take to the highways for a little vacation. Some who are more intrepid will choose an overseas destination. I suppose that is what our friend Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf must be doing. He has been on a trip sponsored by the U S State Department and it is  a trip with  a mission. His trip is aimed at improving relations between the United States and the Muslim world. ( Thought that was NASA’s mission.) Of course, he has been enjoined to do no fund-raising for the Park 51 Project. Probably doesn’t need to. I expect that the $100 million plus for that effort is already in place.

One thing I have read about this trip stood. This is not  Imam Rauf’s fist American sponsored  trip. As I recall, it is the fourth. Two were during the Bush Administration and this is the second since Obama took office. He’s getting plenty of  frequent flier miles on these trips alone. These trips were arranged by Bush adviser Karen Hughes as part of a Muslim outreach. So we seem to have opportunity infatuation no matter what he says. Oh wait, the State Department says that his somewhat inflammatory comments(  in 00105, 06 I presume) were taken out of context.

Just  a bit more Islamic outreach. If you liked the Imam’s taxpayer-funded trips you will be thrilled to learn that we are also paying  for the renovation of mosques. A Washington Times article in April reported on our ambassador to Tanzania participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for celebrating the refurbishing of a 12th century mosque there.  And, and  there was money provided to save the legendary 7th century  Amr Ebn El Aas mosque in Cairo. Who was the namesake for this structure? He was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt. The site was  where he camped before doing battle with the country’s Byzantine rulers. A mosque on the site of a Muslim conquest. Does that sound familiar?

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s not a Mosque, But……..

…… rather  a prayer space, they say. Why? According to the  leaders of the ” Park 51″  project, changed from an original name of  ” Cordoba House,” it cannot be  a mosque because  it space for musical performances and  a restaurant. But an AP article datelined Albany and written by Michael  Gormley said that the center will contain  a mosque. Confusion runneth rampant it seems. Glad we got that cleared up. But, call me  a skeptic if you will, but at this stage of the project one can say there is space for any number of things that may or may not come to fruition.

Doubtful that anyone opposed or in favor the 13 story facility will  change their opinion based on that information.  So what are some of the things being said about the facility scheduled to be built at 45 Park Place. Some say that it shows great tolerance, some bring up our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion ( insert the name of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg here) some say that a Muslim facility should not so near to the site of the former World Trade Centers.

So , on a site fist occupied in 1858 by a structure built for  a New York shipping tycoon, at its last fateful  incarnation it was occupied by  a simple  Burlington Coat Factory store. The site was purchased  for $4.5 million in cash just over  a year ago, at which time the current process  began. Certainly what is now being proposed was planned long before that date.

No doubt there are very well-intentioned people on both sides of this issue. Personally, I would prefer that the Muslim group  that says it wants to rebuild the community would begin that process somewhere a bit distant. Governor David Paterson tried that approach and was unsuccessful. Of course, there is no way that one can have the feelings that many New Yorkers have about the  structure because we have not experienced what they have. But, having said that, I wonder if all of those affected by 9/11 are opposed. I would guess that  they are not . So, once again we have  quite a convoluted situation.

Two final observations. Newt  Gingrich has been quoted as saying that ” there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York as long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.” That certainly appeals to  many although I  really don’t see its relevance. One thing with which I do agree is that freedom of religion is not the issue. Another quote, this from Mayor Bloomberg. ” I always believed that government  should not be involved in deciding who you pray to, what you say or where you say it.” But Mr Mayor, government is already quite involved in one of those areas, the  where. ASk the religious groups  who have  trouble getting permission to build in certain locales due to zoning laws, etc. Conclusion, freedom of religion provides no guarantee of  being able to build a house of worship anywhere one chooses, Confuses things even more, huh? The discussion about this center will doubtless proceed. A suggestion, follow the money.

August 12, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks but no thanks, Rev. Graham

Evangelist Franklin Graham was to be the keynote speaker at the Pentagon’s May 6 National Day of Prayer service. Now, he isn’t. Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins announced that the invitation had been rescinded due to the nature of comments Graham had previously made about the Muslim faith. Collins said that Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate” since we are an all-inclusive military and try to honor all faiths.

Graham’s invitation was extended by the Colorado based  National Day of Prayer Task Force which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office. The disinvite was applauded by the Council on American Islamic Relations( CAIR) which is no surprise. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was also pleased, adding that Graham should never have been invited in the first place.He hopes someone more “inclusive” will be  picked as  a replacement. Oh, I’m certain that any mullah will be a better choice from their perspective.

Weinstein founded the group in 2006 to rebuild the wall of separation between church and state in the military. Based on that position  why would his group want the Pentagon to participate in any kind of National Day of Prayer event anyway.

As for Graham, he was very gracious and said he wuld continue to prayer for  the troops. Hope that will not get him in trouble.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | military, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

San Antonio and Rabat

At first glance, how could there be any connection between a city in Texas and the capital of Morocco? The connection is  the Muslim faith. First, the Texas side. There is  a small liberal arts  institution located in San Antonio known as Trinity University ( keep that name in the back of your mind) which has become somewhat newsworthy over the past year. In March, 2009 a group of students, the Trinity Diversity Connection, led by a Muslim student began a push to have the words” in the year of our Lord,” removed from the school’s diplomas. Their president’s objections centered on the  fact that this was  a direct Christian reference and not everyone believes that way. The group  has supported by the student government and a campus commencement committee. Input is still being received and trustees  will consider the request at a May meeting.

Now for part two which admittedly is somewhat more significant. The North African country of Morocco ( Casablanca anyone?) is  known as a moderate Islamic country with generally good  relations with the United States. It is like a  number of its neighbors 99% Muslim. So, why the sudden push to  clamp down on Christians?

The country’ s  position as  stated by  Ambassador Aziz Mekouar , which  it refuses to call a crackdown on Christians is that  the sudden, inexplicable deportations of  British citizen and 20 year resident of Morocco, businessman and 15 year resident of Morocco Michael Ramsey  among others. There were interrogations , raids on  homes ,etc followed by swift ignominious passage out of the country.

The charge, proselytizing,the ambassador says it involves pushing someone to change their faith. The unanswered question is why now and why target individuals that have been in the country for years?  Perhaps  the answer is as Jack Wald suspects. Wald is pastor of Rabat International Church. He is hearing reports of Moroccan Christians  being followed, questions and intimidated. He describes it as the heat being on Moroccan Christians.

Two events, neither of which are really connected, but yet are in a sense. One in a pluralistic country, the other in a country 99% of whose people adhere to basically the same belief system. The ongoing event in Texas could not occur in Morocco. Some would say that the events in Morocco have occurred here. In the aftermath of 9/11, there probably was some of that here. But institutionally and  to those actively engaged in ongoing humanitarian activities, I doubt.

Wonder if CAIR operates in Rabat?

April 13, 2010 Posted by | education, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Muslim Envoy

Hurrah, hurrah. The President today named Rashad Hussain as his envoy to  the Organization of the Islāmic Conference. The appointment is part of the president’s continuing  effort to improve strained U S Islāmic relations. Hussain will continue to develop the types pf partnerships that Obama talked about  in his famous Cairo speech last year.

Obama also pointed out that his new envoy is  a hafiz of the Quran, which means he has memorized the text of the Muslim holy book. ( Hope he can find out about the justifications for jihad in there. ) Obama also announced his upcoming trip to Indonesia in  March where he  hopes to continue the U S – Muslim dialogue. While he is there perhaps he can visit some  of the places where he hung out as  a child.

I guess only one thing about this appointment has me puzzled and that is this. Why did the president feel the need to appoint such a person at all? With all his qualifications, I  thought Obama was his own very special envoy to the  Islamic world. And, who could be  better, right?

He even made the announcement during his video address to the   7th  US Islāmic Forum meeting in Doha, Qatar. But he is allowing Madame Secretary Clinton to address the meeting tomorrow.

February 13, 2010 Posted by | Foreign Policy, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Christmas at NCIS

Last night was I think, the first NCIS  Christmas episode. The show provided its typical quality hour of entertainment, with an interesting mix of storylines There was the return of Gibbs’ father, McGee performing Christmas magic ( Admiral Nicholas Whitebeard was a great line ) and Tony and Ziva winning a great bar fight. But my main interest lay in another area entirely.

The central plot line was solving the murder of  a marine who had converted to Islam.  As it turned out, he was killed by his brother who felt he had shamed the family by converting to the Islamic faith. A sorta sidebar to this  was that the deceased’s father had left the military to become  a minister and was not so thrilled with his son’s conversion. The  other member of our mixture was a Nay Muslim chaplain.

To me , the show presented the two Muslim characters and thus the religion in quite  a favorable light. The father, from a more traditional faith, not so much. It just got me to thinking how in this country we seem to work very hard to accomodate other faiths, particularly the Islamic faith. In  contrast, those countries with  a Muslim majority don’t seem to be so accommodating to those of the Christian faith. Think of Libya, Sudan, Iran etc.

It just made me think how sometimes television can be used to frame  a point of view or encourage one in subtle ways. I’m not saying we should not be accommodating but it seems at times that we overdo things. And,  as much as I hate to disagree with Gibbs, I don’t think that Christians and Muslims  are on the  same page when it comes to God.

December 16, 2009 Posted by | Media, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Whom Can You Pray?

This might appear to be a post with  a religious theme and in a minor sense it is that.But there is more of  a judicial/political element that will dominate our story.

The President has nominated Judge David Hamilton of Indiana to the U  S Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He is currently Chief Judge of  the U  S district Court for the Southern District of Indiana. He was nominated in March and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved him in June. Sen Harry Reid has set a vote for the full Senate on Tuesday the 17th.

A couple of interesting facts about Judge Hamilton. In 2005, he ruled that the Indiana state legislature could not open its sessions with so-called Christian prayers and that these prayers must not use Christian terms such as Jesus Christ or savior. His ruling stated that the use of proselytizing terms  in prayers at the Indiana  statehouse was in violation of the U S  Constitution. This quote from his ruling is oddly disturbing and I  am not sure why. ” Those who wish to participate in a practice of official prayer must be willing to stay within constitutional bounds.” I’m uncertain which  part disturbs me more; that there is such a thing as official prayer or that there is some type of constitutional bounds for prayer. Somehow, I don’t think prayer can be contained within any bounds known to man. Anyway, Judge Hamilton also ruled in a post-judgment motion that it was not sectarian for a Muslim imam to offer a prayer to Allah. Confused, yep, me too. Kinda, sorta sounds politically correct, does it not?

A couple of other items. The judge  was briefly a fund-raiser for ACORN, great thing for your resume, if you want to be an Obama guy. The other you will either like  a lot or dislike a lot, depending on your political point of view. He was an officer in the Indiana branch of the ACLU. Presumably, that would indicate his somewhat sympathetic to their viewpoint.

In all probability, given the composition of the Senate, he will be confirmed next week. If so, the 7th Circuit could bear watching along with that left coast bastion, the fabled 9th Circuit.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments