Archive for October, 2015

GOP DebateAll over the world today there is debate about the relationship between politics and religion. As tonight’s GOP debate draws near in Boulder, Colorado, I’ve given some thought to the current candidates. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Thinking critically about the implications of any overarching objectives, is it possible in today’s world, which candidates remain aware of not only their own interests but the interests of all those they lead?

“Value-based” politics is not new. It’s been around for decades. What this increasingly meant was a politics based on a particular interpretation of the Christian religion and what it implied not just for theological understanding but also for political, social and economic practice. Thus, religion is no longer personal and private, it’s political and public.

I’ve come to this realization based upon several trends. First, religious texts are treated as statements of fact rather than a guide to meaning and life. Secondly, the reliance one particular religion as the ultimate truth is frightful. Thus, that belief system becomes the basis of government, law and practice. All other religions may be tolerated but not all will be respected.

We need leadership around sound principles and a political framework that can take us forward rather than back to what would be a contemporary version of the dark ages. The Dali Lama is such a leader. The Dali Lama meets with heads of state and beggars. In essence, he gets information from people at every level of society. By casting a wide net, he understands situations, can analyze them in many different ways, and creates solutions.

There are many, many leaders like the Dali Lama. However, in keeping the Lama’s leadership style in the forefront for a moment, the questions I would ask GOP candidates are:

  1. Once we understand people and their life, how will you lead the country in extending compassion to the people?
  2. How will you ensure your administration serve humanity by showing traits of peace, happiness, wisdom and enlightenment?
  3. In a diverse world, how will your administration and leadership foster inter-religious harmony and the welfare others while maintaining identity, culture and religion? Can we serve humanity without harming it?

If freedom and love is to be restricted, engagement limited, rights undermined, compassion thwarted and peace replaced with force there needs to be good and powerful reasons and a proper dialogue beforehand.

Unfortunately, for the moment, dialogue doesn’t seem to exist.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to a question as she testifies before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in WashingtonLast week I actually listened to the Benghazi hearing. Then, I went watched the fiasco. After eleven hours, I sat for a moment and ponder a most interesting question: “What if the interviewee was either Donald Trump, Ben Carson or Chris Christie?”

Whether you believe Hillary Rodham Clinton or not, commentator Eugene Robinson echoed it correctly when he said Clinton must have been mindful of the old adage that you never interrupt an enemy when he is making a mistake. Clinton was very presidential. I just cannot see any other Republican candidate looking so presidential.

Chris Christie claimed Clinton was “unaccountable” because she left the Benghazi compound’s security arrangements to be handled by lower-ranking professional. Yet “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson noted Christie gave a similar explanation to exonerate himself in the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Overdosing on his Miss World pageant sound bites, Donald Trump claimed he could unify the world …. A pseudonym for “All I want is for world peace.” Ok, actually he said he could unify congress. A former CIA analyst stated, “What was learned was irrelevant. What was relevant wasn’t discussed.

And here’s why I agree.

Rep. Trey Gowdy told Clinton he understood that people in both parties suggest that this investigation was about her; further stating this investigation was about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil. That argument comes across condescending ten minutes into the hearing.

For example, while the Benghazi committee has spent $4.7 million for three hearings, the deaths of two-dozen from a bombed a hospital operated by the charity Doctors Without Borders, in Kunduz, Afghanistan appears particularly uninteresting. Congressional leaders have spent little time investigating why some 30 Americans are being held hostage overseas today. The 2009 suicide bombing at Camp Chapman in Afghanistan did not merit this kind of scrutiny. That was when seven Americans working for the CIA were killed when a man who was supposed to be an informant, invited by American agents to be the base, turned out to be a radical jihadi, a suicide bomber who blew himself up.

The hearing only served to embarrass Republican lawmakers in search of a political crusade. In recent days, some prominent Republicans have even admitted as much. The Republicans are expected to issue a report. May it be the final chapter of a wasteful and counterproductive exercise that accomplished nothing.

Thus, I am left with my opening question. Basically, how presidential would Trump, Carson or Christie be were it them?

EscobarI was in Michigan over the weekend. But I did not see the now infamous Michigan-Michigan State game, where Blake O’Neill bobbled a low snap on a punt attempt with 10 seconds left on the clock, then fumbled the ball as he attempted to salvage a kick. Michigan State sophomore Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up the loose ball and carried it 38 yards for a touchdown as the clock expired.

As always, some Michigan fans (should we call them that) brought down the hammer via Twitter and other social media outlets and sent shocking, hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of its students.

  • Tyler Gross tweeted, “I’m 80 yard punter Blake O’Neill and I have Direct TV and I’m no hands O’Neill and I have cable.”
  • A man named Chris Vomish tweeted that O’Neill “…should go to the equipment room and “start chugging that bleach my friend.
  • Another tweeter told O’Neill to “jump off of a cliff into a pool of spikes and cyanide” and that “you might as well cut your hands off.”

Sports builds character, but sports also reveals character — and not just the athletes. While few Michigan-Michigan State fans know Andres Escobar, his ghost must have been pacing the Michigan field.

Why is Escobar important? And how are Escobar and Michigan University related?

Well, Defender Andres Escobar, known as “The Gentleman of the Field,” accidentally put the ball in his own net in a game against the U.S., contributing to Colombia’s rapid exit from the Cup and a massive national disappointment. Colombia entered the 1994 World Cup among the favorites to win it all, led by star goalie Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama and forward Faustino Asprilla. But then the unthinkable happened. The squad lost 3-1 to Romania, midfielder Gabriel Gomez received a faxed death threat and the coach contemplated resigning. Ten days later, 27-year-old Escobar was shot dead in a Medellin parking lot in a killing that sparked national outrage.

Escobar’s murder remains unsolved.

And to the Michigan keyboard warriors, what do we say? Nothing, for they live behind their own hatred and shame. Today, we read of parents berating coaches, punching referees, and lately coaches telling players to take out referees. Brazilian referee Gabriel Murta, produced a handgun after he was slapped and kicked by a player when he (the ref) decided not to give a red card over a foul.

It’s insane. Stupid people do stupid things, keyboard warriors are no exception.

Sports in America was never intended to achieve this level of inhumanity. Nevertheless, we should be repugnant at the level of protests “we fans” create in the wake of player mishaps and referee decisions. Such inhumanity displays scant regard for the men and women, players and referees alike, and turns a “blind-eye” to our own hidden vile.

What followed the Michigan-Michigan State game was nothing short of thuggery. All of us need to need to reevaluate our support and our morals. We should support O’Neill. I’m not a Michigan fan and I support O’Neill.

Colombian Defender Andres Escobar asks us too.

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