Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
On the day when
And when your eyes
When the canvas frays
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
And so may a slow
- John O'Donohue
* A type of canvas cloth
Among the thinkers and leaders interviewed for BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES are the Dalai Lama, Ahmed Nazi, the Prime Minister of Egypt, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, religious scholar Karen Armstrong, Chief Rabbi David of the International Jewish Committee for Interrelgious Relations and dozens more. BEYOND OUR DIFFERENCES Web site. (You have to be patient to wait for the site to load.) You can also hear more from these thinkers, and many others by watching our series BILL MOYERS ON FAITH & REASON and exploring additional highlights from BILL MOYERS JOURNAL and The Moyers Digital Archive.
Entropy Films is proud to present Beyond Our Differences, a documentary film conceived and directed by Peter Bisanz that explores the positive role of faith in the world today and the fundamental unity of the worlds religions.
What are the fundamental issues facing our world today?
Where do world leaders and the biggest thinkers of our time in politics, religion, culture, arts and scienceweigh in on these issues?
How do these leaders apply their own experiences with faith and morality when forming constructive solutions for the world's most distressing and calamitous problems?
In what context do faith and religion play principal roles in inspiring our collective peoples toward a more peaceful and compassionate humanity?
These are the critical questions that Beyond Our Differences is striving to answer.
With all of the problems facing the world today -- war, poverty, weapons, environmental degradation, starvation, overpopulation and severe desperation among millions -- people are longing for meaning. Many find answers in religion or spirituality, but as a result faith and religion are often hijacked by those seeking to enhance their own power at the expense of others, often all in the name of God.
With this dichotomy in mind, we call upon key religious leaders, politicians, and luminaries in their fields to tackle the toughest and most complex issues in the modern age, and we ask what inspires them to affect positive change. We hope that by sharing their personal experiences, each person will provide a unique perspective on how to support and strengthen compassionate and non-violent activism when resolving difficult disputes.
Beyond Our Differences provides a tapestry of distinct voices and viewpoints regarding spirituality, woven with one universal expression of hope. By providing such a variety of experiences in such an accessible format, we hope that individual viewers will understand this unified message of hope and will become empowered through their own expressions of faith to impact positive change in their lives and the lives of others.
"The film portrays experiences that provide a new perspective on how non-violent activism and compassion can be effectively used in resolving even the most difficult disputes. The film also gives hope by exploring past and present religious-inspired movements that have resulted in positive change, in addition to documenting the work of great leaders such as Gandhi, Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama."
To All My Democrat Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great.
Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere .
Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
To My Republican Friends:
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Connie and Tom
Thanks so much to my friend Julie for sharing her thoughts, which mirror my own and which I am posting below, and for passing on this important and powerful link. This message also feels even more timely as we approach Christmas. I hope you will consider sharing with others. Thanks...
Recently, I had dinner with a friend, in whose kitchen is a sign that reads “The best things in life aren’t things”. This message resonated deeply, not merely for the obvious emphasis it puts on people and the intangibles that add wonder and spiritual value to our lives, but because it underscores a theme that’s the subject of continuing fascination for me: the drive to consumerism that’s a staple of mainstream American culture.
In the same week in which I visited my friend in her kitchen, I was also part of a circle of women talking about transition – how it was manifesting in our lives and how we were handling it (or it was handling us, in some cases). One of the women startled me by saying how excited she was to be witnessing the current global economic crisis. Upon further discussion, it became clear that for her, destabilization of the financial services industries and the issues surrounding tightened credit markets represents an opportunity to reassess our values: a real tipping point capable of engendering new perspectives and behaviors. This conversation stimulated some interesting self-examination on my part. It reminded me to see events that may seem inherently difficult, painful, or problematic as possessing opportunity. It also brought new insights to my thinking on corporations, acquisition, values and meaning, and on creating growth from loss.
In my explorations on this topic, which are partly intellectual, partly spiritual, I came across a good Website, called “The Story of Stuff”:
The site features an understandable, engaging 20 min video which talks about consumerism and economic sustainability, touching on ideas like planned and perceived obsolescence. It makes the case that the endless appetite for consumption is not an accident of production, but is instead a conscious creation which is impacting society and the environment in ways that require collective action.
Passing it along for those of you interested in looking further at consumption, the environment, and ways to live more sustainably on this fragile planet.
Julie S. Doll
HPC Sys Engr / Microprocessor Arch and Performance Ops
Many people who have seen The Story of Stuff have asked what they can do to address the problems identified in the film... Each of us can promote sustainability and justice at multiple levels: as an individual, as a teacher or parent, a community member, a national citizen, and as a global citizen. As Annie says in the film, “the good thing about such an all pervasive problem is that there are so many points of intervention.” That means that there are lots and lots of places to plug in, to get involved, and to make a difference. There is no single simple thing to do, because the set of problems we’re addressing just isn’t simple. But everyone can make a difference, but the bigger your action the bigger the difference you’ll make. -- From The Story of Stuff
As Media Matters for America has demonstrated time and again, Fox News' Sean Hannity has been a prolific and influential purveyor of conservative misinformation. But never has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading misinformation as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama. Day after day, Hannity devoted his two Fox News shows and his three-hour ABC Radio Networks program to "demonizing" the Democratic presidential candidates, starkly explaining in August: "That's my job. ... I led the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.' " Hannity's "Stop Obama Express" promoted and embellished a vast array of misleading attacks and false claims about Obama. Along the way, he uncritically adopted and promoted countless Republican talking points and played host to numerous credibility-challenged smear artists who painted Obama as a dangerous radical. When he was not going after Obama, Hannity attacked members of Obama's family, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton and other progressives, and denied all the while that he had unfairly attacked anyone.
Hannity's attacks may have also influenced mainstream media coverage. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos appeared on Hannity's radio program on April 15, during which Hannity suggested to Stephanopoulos that he ask Obama at the Democratic presidential debate the following evening about his "association with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist from the Weather Underground." Stephanopoulos assured Hannity that he was "taking notes right now." Stephanopoulos then did ask Obama at the debate to "explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem," though he later denied that Hannity had exerted any influence on his questioning.
Because of the unending stream of falsehoods and character attacks that fueled the "Stop Obama Express," and the countless other distortions he promoted throughout 2008, Sean Hannity is Media Matters for America's Misinformer of the Year.
“Our democracy is now put to a vital test, for the conflict is between human rights on the one side, and on the other, special privilege asserted as property rights. The parting of the ways has come.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
It is important for me to continue to return to this subject because my life experience is that lessons not learned are doomed to be repeated. For me, this is not a partisan issue. I would be demanding of any incoming president, Congress, and our nation as a whole that we hold any administration of any party accountable - and especially in the light of the enormity of the breach of law over the past eight years.
In a particularly powerful Journal from December 12, 2008, Bill Moyers sat down with author, political commentator, and popular Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald who asks: Are we a nation ruled by men or by laws? A former constitutional and civil rights lawyer, Greenwald looks at the legacy of the Bush Administration, the prospects for President-elect Obama's cabinet choices, as well as the possibilities for government accountability.
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, if you look at things that people have said who are responsible for what I call the war on the Constitution, before 9/11, what you find is that these ideas, including removing Saddam Hussein, but beyond that, wildly expanding executive power, erecting a wall of secrecy around our government such that transparency is virtually non-existent. Empowering the president to ignore literally laws that are passed by Congress in the name of national security.
These ideas were implemented after 9/11 and using the 9/11 attacks as justification. But the ideologues who implemented them, Dick Cheney and David Addington and John Yoo and the whole cast of right-wing ideologues who fill the Justice Department, have been advocating these ideas, which for decades were fringe and discredited ideas long before 9/11 and just like the idea of remove Saddam Hussein, they were empowered to institute them as a result of these crises.
BILL MOYERS: Well, you were saying they were discredited. But all wartime presidents expand the powers of the office. Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon. I mean, there's something inherent in war and the expansion of powers. Are you saying that Bush and Cheney took it further?
GLENN GREENWALD: I'm saying they took it to an entirely different level. What we have, in the last eight years, is not merely a case of individual and isolated law breaking. It's a declaration of war on the whole idea of a law itself, on the idea that our political leaders are constrained in any way by the limitations of the American people imposed through our Congress. The rule of law has essentially ceased to exist. And that I do think is quite new.
THE BUSH LEGAL LEGACY
The entire December 12th Journal was very powerful. For more, please go here:
BAILOUT ANALYSIS: Georgetown University's legal and finance scholar Emma Coleman Jordan takes Bill Moyers through recent news on the bailouts as big business begs for more.
BAILOUT HEARINGS TIMELINE: Follow the course of the bailout hearings — bargains, media moments and more.
FCC UPDATE: Bill Moyers on a new report about the FCC.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Explanation: What are these humans doing? Dancing. Many humans on Earth exhibit periods of happiness, and one method of displaying happiness is dancing. Happiness and dancing transcend political boundaries and occur in practically every human society. Above, Matt Harding traveled through many nations on Earth, started dancing, and filmed the result. The video is perhaps a dramatic example that humans from all over planet Earth feel a common bond as part of a single species. Happiness is frequently contagious -- few people are able to watch the above video without smiling.
"My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference
~ Eudora Welty
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Isn't it amazing the many forms that paths of the heart can take? And isn't it amazing how many beautiful faces a big heart can wear? Rooted in these eyes that twinkle, and songs that use laughter to illuminate and move us into greater awareness, are Roy Zimmerman's tireless efforts to work toward creating a more caring, kind, and compassionate world. I thank Roy Zimmerman for his form of Spiritual Satire which, I believe, seeks to grow the heart of humanity...
What's funny about war, poverty, ignorance, bigotry, neo-conservatism, homophobia, greed, lust and fear? Ask Roy Zimmerman. He's been writing satirical songs for twenty years.
"There's nothing funny about World Peace," Roy observes. "Social Justice never killed at The Comedy Store. If we ever attain a worldwide consciousness of peace and justice, I'll be happily out of a job. But as long as power corrupts, I'll absolutely have a career."
Zimmerman's fourth CD is a Holiday offering called PeaceNick. It's Lefty, Pacifist, Humanist satire celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace in a time of pre-emptive war. The disc takes a snipe at militaristic merchandising with "Buy War Toys for Christmas," and thumbs its nose at the War on Christmas - an absurd notion promoted by Bill O'Reilly and his ilk - with the Happy Holidays song "Christma-Hanu-Rama-Ka-Dona-Kwanzaa." The Dylan-esque "Christmas is Pain," another Zimmerman classic in the mold of another Zimmerman, receives wide airplay every Holiday Season.
From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYyt4nyaq64: "Sarah Pale In Comparison".
From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyE5wjc4XOw&feature=channel: "Jerry Falwell's God".
From http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIwiPsgRrOs: "Creation Science 101".
From http://www.youtube.com/royzimmerman: "Thanks For the Support" and others.
Roy Zimmerman's MySpace: MySpace.com - Roy Zimmerman - www.myspace.com/royzimmerman.
From Roy Zimmerman's Newsletter at http://www.royzimmerman.com/news/110308/basic.html: "... And I think about the tiny, simple world they've wedged between two leather covers, and I stop laughing altogether. Because these are the people Karl Rove jerks around. These are the people who vote against their own economic interests, against their own workplace safety, against the real security of the country they love, just so gay people can't get married. These are people who accept things on faith - things like, "Barack Obama is a Muslim," and "Sarah Palin is a reformer" and that there's a "Pro-Abortion Movement" in America... I suspect that my funny songs wouldn't change their way of thinking, but that doesn't make them my enemies. My enemies are the powerful people who exploit the simple desire to have simple answers."
Monday, December 15, 2008
Tonight I heard whisleblower Thomas Tamm interviewed on Rachel Maddow's show. This was his first television interview and it was exceptionally powerful. This is a man who is definitely following in the courageous footsteps of Daniel Ellsberg, who of course was the whistle-blower who first revealed the Pentagon Papers. When we look to heroes in our midst, Thomas Tamm is certainly among them. Please go here for the video interview with Thomas Tamm called "Truth and consequences": http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28120228#28244931
For other pieces, please go here:
-- Thomas Tamm to Vaughn Walker: They Knew It Was Illegal
And there's Mark Bradley, who told Tamm,"This may be [a time] the attorney general gets indicted."
-- NSA Domestic Surveillance Whistleblower Revealed
Tamm agonized over what to do. He tried to raise the issue with a former colleague working for the Senate Judiciary Committee. But the friend, wary of discussing what sounded like government secrets, shut down their conversation. For weeks, Tamm couldn't sleep. The idea of lawlessness at the Justice Department angered him. Finally, one day during his lunch hour, Tamm ducked into a subway station near the U.S. District Courthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. He headed for a pair of adjoining pay phones partially concealed by large, illuminated Metro maps. Tamm had been eyeing the phone booths on his way to work in the morning. Now, as he slipped through the parade of midday subway riders, his heart was pounding, his body trembling. Tamm felt like a spy. After looking around to make sure nobody was watching, he picked up a phone and called The New York Times.
-- The Whistleblower Who Exposed Warrantless Wiretaps Newsweek ...
The story of Tamm's phone call is an untold chapter in the history of the secret wars inside the Bush administration. The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its story. The two reporters who worked on it each published books. Congress, after extensive debate, last summer passed a major new law to govern the way such surveillance is conducted. But Tamm—who was not the Times's only source, but played the key role in tipping off the paper—has not fared so well. The FBI has pursued him relentlessly for the past two and a half years. Agents have raided his house, hauled away personal possessions and grilled his wife, a teenage daughter and a grown son. More recently, they've been questioning Tamm's friends and associates about nearly every aspect of his life. Tamm has resisted pressure to plead to a felony for divulging classified information. But he is living under a pall, never sure if or when federal agents might arrest him.
This is the address for Thomas Tamm's Legal Defense Fund:
Thomas Tamm Legal Defense Fund
Bank of Georgetown
5236 44th Street
Washington, DC 20015.
For more, please go here: The Thomas Tamm Legal Defense Fund
I have ancestors who were life-long Republicans who would have found the actions and legacy of Lee Atwater deeply unacceptable. Yet, amidst all the darkness, are many teachable moments. That is why this film, among a plethora out there, is so important... Peace ~ Molly
By Neely Tucker
Consider then-Secretary of State James A. Baker eulogizing Atwater at his 1991 funeral as "Machiavellian . . . in the very best sense of that term." (My dictionary defines the term as "characterized by unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency or dishonesty.") There's Ed Rollins, the veteran Republican campaign manager, describing how Atwater went from protege to backstabber in such outrageous fashion that Rollins profanely threatened to beat him up. And then there's one of Atwater's musician buddies, a white guy, insisting that Atwater had so much soul that he was actually a "black person in a white body."
The last is particularly jolting, since we also see Howard University students staging a massive (and successful) protest to have Atwater, a veteran race-baiter, kicked off the university's board of trustees.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Tonight on 60 Minutes "Byron Pitts speaks with USC college football coach Pete Carroll, who, in addition to his success with the Trojans, is making a difference toward decreasing gang violence in Los Angeles."
Tonight I happened to watch 60 Minutes and after the stories about politics and the economy, I nearly turned off the television when I heard the last story was going to be about "some" football coach. (Football is obviously not the passion for me that it is for my son Matt!) I am so grateful that I didn't turn off the TV because this final story is what pierced right through to my heart. It's impact was so important that I knew I would be moved to share it here. Perhaps some of you already know about this story, but it was certainly new to me...
In my posts, as in my life and as best as I can, I seek balance. I seek to share about life - it's challenges, joys, tragedies, triumphs, that which plunders, oppresses, destroys and needs healing and that which points to beauty, hope, courage, transformation, a positive path to take, and deep heartfelt caring. It is my belief, for instance, that it is equally as important to not turn away from violence as it is to not get stuck in either denial or despair about the violence that is part of our world. While it is invaluable to nurture connection with beauty, joy, laughter, and love, my experience is that it is also equally as important to be conscious of things such as loss, pain, and violence - whether that hurt and violence is in our own hearts, in our own families, in someone else's family, community, nation, or wherever it exists. Cultivating a culture of caring is critical to us all. Yet how can we be inspired to care, to truly care - much less take any action to bring about change - about something we deny?
What an inspiration Pete Carroll is. He does it! - This man builds his players up rather than tearing them down. Rather than losing himself in celebrity and wealth and ego, he goes to where a world of hurt is happening and takes on the horrific violence and tragedy that he finds there - without losing his hope and joy. Pete Carroll understands teachable moments in the depths of his being. Bless him. What a brave, beautiful, caring human being. And what a role model as someone who faces and takes on violence while at the same time not losing touch with gratitude and peace and the belief that something good is about to happen. This human being smiles from his heart...
There are so many heroes in our midst, so many stories that do not make the evening news. Just think of how different our world would be if we really knew what was going on - everything from the torture that's been done by our government to people joining together worldwide to sing a song of caring to people like Pete Carroll and what he does for the children. Just think how different the world would be if we knew, truly knew and with increasing depth, the power we each carry individually and collectively in our minds, hearts, and souls. We can all find our own ways to be that difference. This post is in honor and deep gratitude of all who walk paths with heart.
The Levin-McCain Report, when fully declassified and circulated, will tell Americans a good deal about our history. It will help define what will become known as the "torture presidency" of George W. Bush. But it is also a remarkably incomplete document, testimony to the Bush Administration's conscious policy of obfuscation, misdirection and deceit-its mockery of Congressional oversight, and its corruption of our Constitution and system of government. It gives us a clear lesson. As John McCain stated: "This must never be repeated. Never."
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Having grown up outside of Detroit, this letter and the circumstances it addresses holds even more significance for me...
Friday, December 12th, 2008
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers start building only cars and mass transit that reduce our dependency on oil.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers build cars that reduce global warming.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers withdraw their many lawsuits against state governments in their attempts to not comply with our environmental laws.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the management team which drove these once-great manufacturers into the ground resign and be replaced with a team who understands the transportation needs of the 21st century.
Yes, they could have given the loan for any of these reasons because, in the end, to lose our manufacturing infrastructure and throw 3 million people out of work would be a catastrophe.
But instead, the Senate said, we'll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That's right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever -- the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.
We have a little more than a month to go of this madness. As I sit here in Michigan today, tens of thousands of hard working, honest, decent Americans do not believe they can make it to January 20th. The malaise here is astounding. Why must they suffer because of the mistakes of every CEO from Roger Smith to Rick Wagoner? Make management and the boards of directors and the shareholders pay for this.
Of course that is heresy to the 31 Republicans who decided to blame the poor, miserable autoworkers for this mess. And our wonderful media complied with their spin on the morning news shows: "UAW Refuses to Give Concessions Killing Auto Bailout Bill." In fact the UAW has given concession after concession, reduced their benefits, agreed to get rid of the Jobs Bank and agreed to make it harder for their retirees to live from week to week. Yes! That's what we need to do! It's the Jobs Bank and the old people who have led the nation to economic ruin!
But even doing all that wasn't enough to satisfy the bastard Republicans. These Senate vampires wanted blood. Blue collar blood. You see, they weren't opposed to the bailout because they believed in the free market or capitalism. No, they were opposed to the bailout because they're opposed to workers making a decent wage. In their rage, they were driven to destroy the backbone of this country, not because the UAW hadn't given back enough, but because the UAW hadn't given up.
It appears that the sitting President has been looking for a way to end his reign by one magnanimous act, just like a warlord on his feast day. He will put his finger in the dyke, and the fragile mess of an auto industry will eke through the next few months.
That will give the Senate enough time to demand that the bankers and investment sharks who've already swiped nearly half of the $700 billion gift a chance to make the offer of cutting their pay.
"It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action."
By Ali Gharib
Published on Friday, December 12, 2008 by Inter Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (IPS) - Pundits these days warn of a Middle East arms race if Iran brings its alleged nuclear weapons programme to fruition, while others fear that missile defence in Eastern Europe could spark escalation involving Russia.
But despite all the fear in Washington, it turns out that the U.S. need look no farther than its own shores to find the greatest single source of weapons proliferation around the globe.
It's the U.S, according to a new report from the New America Foundation, which "is the world's largest arms supplier". And with 23 billion dollars in receipts in 2007 and 32 billion dollars in 2008, including only foreign sales, the U.S. is also cashing in.
From escalating hostilities to encouraging human rights abuses, these arms deals have a plethora of potential negative effects.
"Arms transfers can serve as a U.S. government 'seal of approval' for governments engaged in unacceptable behavior, not to mention being used as tools of internal repression and instruments of warfare with neighboring states," said the report.
But with a change of administration rapidly approaching, and President-elect Barack Obama ready to take the helm of government, the U.S.'s unique and dominant position in the global arms industry could be ripe for a change.
"We are at another moment when we can reevaluate what our role [ought to be]," said the director of New America's Arms and Security Initiative, William Hartung, during a press conference on the report Wednesday.
The last shift, said Hartung, came under outgoing Pres. George W. Bush, who "subsumed [the arms trade] under the global war on terror" so that if a country could make the case of being an ally in the effort, it could get arms and perhaps even subsidies towards their purchase.
"As the size, scope, and sophistication of U.S. transfers has increased during the Bush administration, so have the risks," says the report, especially in the developing world, where most violent conflicts occur and where the U.S. does billions in sales.
While arms sales are usually thought of as a defensive or preventative matter -- lopsided support by the world's preeminent military power should clearly be a deterrent -- the fact of the matter is that U.S. deals play a major role in fighting around the globe.
"U.S. arms and military training played a role in 20 of the world's 27 major wars in /2007," said the report, co-authored by New America's Hartung and Frida Berrigan.