Where is the Jewish voice?

How much more should we as Americans and the rest of the international community take from the Israeli government before we say "enough is enough?"  There is blatant disrespect as they thumb their nose at UN resolutions while keeping the Palestinians penned up like caged animals.  So to start their holy week of Passover, they've decided to seal off the West Bank.  And this is the way to be righteous and start your holy period how?

I am sick of that government figuratively bending us over as they literally bend over the Palestinians.  Kick them out of their home only to build illegal settlements on top of existing housing.  It boggles the mind.  And where is the outcry from the Jews?  Think about it — how is this criminal activity and blatant human rights atrocities any different than other terrorist acts?  We asked the Muslim community in this country to be more vocal in denouncing violence by fanatics.  Where are the good people of the book — people of conscience — when it comes to these commonplace acts of violence?  Why aren't the rabbis of the USA making their voices heard?  Let us know where you stand because your silence is deafening. 

Courage to reform. Finally!

Sweeping health care reform is on the way and I'm not sure what to feel.  I'm happy for the change, which is needed, but I'm pretty disappointed in our elected officials in how they went about bringing the change.  We have seen Washington DC at it's worst these past several months leading up to last night's vote.

Greatest disappointment are the assholes of the Republican party.  Poor leadership from the likes of McConnel, Cantor and Bohner and their "no compromise" strategy is what failed the American people.  Don't get me wrong — health care reform was necessary and in the end, the people of this country have benefited but the GOP failed us by not stepping up to the plate to play ball.  Sitting on the sidelines with arms crossed, refusing to play because a Democrat administration brought forth the effort was stupid — quite childlike when you think about it — and that is what failed the people.  We didn't get any real debate which would have formed much tighter legislation.  Instead we got more fear mongering — lest we forget Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, et al and the 'death panel' scares (assholes, all of them) — and no exchange of ideas.  Until the last 30 days of course.  The irony is that many of those ideas, 200 or so, made it into the bill, so this really IS bipartisan thinking.  But of course due to lack of foresight and poor leadership, the GOP will get no credit.

So this means now that over 30 million more of our brothers and sisters will have health care coverage.  It means that I won't have to stay in a sucky job that I hate only because it offers health care for me and my family — FREE TO MOVE AROUND IF I CHOOSE, OR MAYBE I WILL START MY OWN BUSINESS.  It means that my son, who just had a valve in his heart replaced last July, won't have to go through life wondering what will happen to him next time he needs attention in the event his folks won't be around to take care of matters.  It means that 40,000 of my brothers and sisters won't have to die each year in ours, the strongest nation on earth, just because they couldn't get needed health care. 

We have told the entire world that the USA will no longer toil low on the list of nations that have social infrastructure for its people, we won't fall behind countries like India and Pakistan when it comes to mortality rate due to health care access — and that we don't care if wealthy, angry white people are happy with their health care and don't want to be their brother's keeper.  And yes, we have indeed told the entire world that even though the special interests own Washington, and even though the scores of elected officials (and their families) in Washington that have the best insurance and no clue what we common folk go through when it comes to dealing with health care needs, the USA has the common sense to do what so many other great countries figured out some time ago: that the fate of a country is a function of the health and well being of its people.

This about a people that came together to make sure that all members of its community are taken care of.  Black, white, red or yellow; Jew, Christian, Muslim or Agnostic.  It's what we do.

Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?

Surfing news via my iPhone apps and found this pretty interesting. Take a look and make a comment. 
I found the following story on the NPR iPhone App:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124494788&sc=17&f=1001Is The Bible More Violent Than The Quran?
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty
– March 18, 2010As the hijackers boarded the airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, they had a lot on their minds. And if they were following instructions, one of those things was the Quran.In preparation for the suicide attack, their handlers had told them to meditate on two chapters of the Quran in which God tells Muslims to "cast terror into the hearts of unbelievers." "Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them," Allah instructs the Prophet Muhammad (Quran, 9:5). He continues: "Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites! … Hell shall be their home, an evil fate." When Osama bin Laden declared war on the West in 1996, he cited the Quran's command to "strike off" the heads of unbelievers. More recently, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan lectured his colleagues about jihad, or "holy war," and the Quran's exhortation to fight unbelievers and bring them low. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last year. Given this violent legacy, religion historian Philip Jenkins decided to compare the brutality quotient of the Quran and the Bible.Defense Vs. Total Annihilation"Much to my surprise, the Islamic scriptures in the Quran were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible," Jenkins says. Jenkins is a professor at Penn State University and author of two books dealing with the issue: the recently published Jesus Wars, and Dark Passages , which has not been published but is already drawing controversy. Violence in the Quran, he and others say, is largely a defense against attack. "By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane," he says. "Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide."It is called herem, and it means total annihilation. Consider the Book of 1 Samuel, when God instructs King Saul to attack the Amalekites: "And utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them," God says through the prophet Samuel. "But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."When Saul failed to do that, God took away his kingdom."In other words," Jenkins says, "Saul has committed a dreadful sin by failing to complete genocide. And that passage echoes through Christian history. It is often used, for example, in American stories of the confrontation with Indians — not just is it legitimate to kill Indians, but you are violating God's law if you do not." Jenkins notes that the history of Christianity is strewn with herem. During the Crusades in the Middle Ages, the Catholic popes declared the Muslims Amalekites. In the great religious wars in the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, Protestants and Catholics each believed the other side were the Amalekites and should be utterly destroyed. 'Holy Amnesia'But Jenkins says, even though the Bible is violent, Christianity and Judaism today are not for the most part. "What happens in all religions as they grow and mature and expand, they go through a process of forgetting of the original violence, and I call this a process of holy amnesia," Jenkins says. They make the violence symbolic: Wiping out the enemy becomes wiping out one's own sins. Jenkins says that until recently, Islam had the same sort of holy amnesia, and many Muslims interpreted jihad, for example, as an internal struggle, not physical warfare. Andrew Bostom calls this analysis "preposterous." Bostom, editor of The Legacy of Jihad, says there's a major difference between the Bible, which describes the destruction of an enemy at a point in time, and the Quran, which urges an ongoing struggle to defeat unbelievers. "It's an aggressive doctrine," he says. "The idea is to impose Islamic law on the globe." Take suicide attacks, he says — a tactic that Muslim radicals have used to great effect in the U.S., Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. It's true that suicide from depression is forbidden in Islam — but Bostom says the Quran and the Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammad, do allow self-destruction for religious reasons. "The notion of jihad martyrdom is extolled in the Quran, Quran verse 9:1-11. And then in the Hadith, it's even more explicit. This is the highest form of jihad — to kill and to be killed in acts of jihad."'Out Of Context'That may be the popular notion of jihad, says Waleed El-Ansary, but it's the wrong one. El-Ansary, who teaches Islamic studies at the University of South Carolina, says the Quran explicitly condemns religious aggression and the killing of civilians. And it makes the distinction between jihad — legal warfare with the proper rules of engagement — and irjaf, or terrorism. "All of those types of incidences — [Sept. 11], Maj. Nidal Hasan and so forth — those are all examples of irjaf, not jihad," he says. According to the Quran, he says, those who practice irjaf "are going to hell." So what's going on here? After all, we all have images of Muslim radicals flying planes into buildings, shooting up soldiers at Fort Hood, trying to detonate a bomb on an airplane on Christmas Day. How to reconcile a peaceful Quran with these violent acts? El-Ansary says that in the past 30 years, there's been a perfect storm that has created a violent strain of Islam. The first is political: frustration at Western intervention in the Muslim world. The second is intellectual: the rise of Wahhabi Islam, a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam subscribed to by Osama bin Laden. El-Ansary says fundamentalists have distorted Islam for political purposes. "Basically what they do is they take verses out of context and then use that to justify these egregious actions," he says. El-Ansary says we are seeing more religious violence from Muslims now because the Islamic world is far more religious than is the West. Still, Jenkins says Judeo-Christian cultures shouldn't be smug. The Bible has plenty of violence. "The scriptures are still there, dormant, but not dead," he says, "and they can be resurrected at any time. Witness the white supremacists who cite the murderous Phineas when calling for racial purity, or an anti-abortion activist when shooting a doctor who performs abortions. In the end, the scholars can agree on one thing: The DNA of early Judaism, Christianity and Islam code for a lot of violence. Whether they can evolve out of it is another thing altogether. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio

The 69 cent cup of coffee. It’s about time.

Mcd-coffee  Visited my local McDonald's for my morning coffee today and thought I'd do something different.  Instead of waiting in the drive-thru line as usual, I went inside.  See, the Telegraph Road Mickey D's in Dearborn Heights, Michigan has had some service issues lately — the drive-thru isn't the great convenience it used to be.  I'm thinking that with the addition of all the new menu items like fancy coffees and fruit smoothie drinks, it slows up the order completion time.  Hence, longer wait times at the drive-thru.

Went inside, ordered my small cafe, two cream no sugar, and wouldn't you know it — the young girl at the counter looked up at me and charged me the senior discount rate for the coffee.  This happened before several months ago and I posted about it — I remember being shocked and confused.  But this morning — it was like "yeah baby, I just saved 37 cents off the price of a cup of java."  

Yes, the hair is more salt than pepper, but I'm okay with that.  I don't eat at McDonald's, but if I did, I'd really make out! 

GOP – Unbelievable

Okay, let me get this straight — President Obama will unveil his version of health care legislation that will include several ideas brought forth by Republicans during the bipartisan summit last week and the GOP has already announced they're against his version.  But wait, did I mention it hasn't been revealed yet?  They haven't even seen what he's proposing and they've already announced that they are against it.

Yes, we have the greatest political structure in the world — checks and balances between the three branches of government.  But for now, it only seems to be the best on paper because the execution of that model is fucked up.  No wonder why so many of us are frustrated with the federal government.

Someone needs to sit down folks from both sides of the aisle — like Bunning, McConnel, Reid, Pelosi, and Shelby and remind them that all the skills they need to succeed as good leaders and stewards of the people's trust, were learned when they were 5 years old.  Share, be nice to others, use your manners, don't fight, keep your hands to yourself (that one may be the most difficult!) and treat others the way you'd like to be treated.