Sunday, April 29, 2007
I Am America
The great beauty of a once-proud nation remains in its people and in the roots of its character. It also remains in its sense of idealism. For no matter how far current policy and practice have strayed from the attributes that were part of her founding vision, no matter how much America has ceased being a universal hope for all people, and no matter how far she has departed from her moral center, she remains, in the end, a nation built on the ideals that gave her birth.
These ideals were infused into the hearts of the founders at the time of America's beginnings, fostered by the Realms of Light that watch over each nation, and implanted into the receptive hearts of those who sought freedom and embraced hope. These higher Realms who guard the world and who insure the steady progression of humanity toward greater liberty and self-expression, strengthened the impulse toward freedom and democracy that burned so brightly within the hearts and minds of those who sought to establish a new republic. Though overshadowed in many respects today, this impulse continues to burn brightly within America's deepest heart.
For America's heart is not to be found in her present policies and tendencies. It is not to be found in her present practices concerning other nations. Rather it is to be found in the people themselves who live in small towns and villages, in large cities with busy streets, in spread out farming communities that grow food for a nation, and in all the many places in which life continues in the richness and diversity that has always characterized American life.
All that is noble about America remains in her heart, and yet her heart has become more separated from her outer behavior than ever before. And so those who seek to remain faithful to America's heart must remain in a period of mourning until such time as she can restore to herself the natural goodness that has been part of her heritage and outlook on the world, replacing the greed and self-interest that has so much become part of her present relationship with others.
This return to the moral goodness that remains within the heart of America shall happen inevitably, for it is not possible for a nation to entirely abandon its spiritual destiny. And yet in the meantime, there is much pain that has resulted from this wandering away from her center - both to those who have been disenfranchised at the hands of America's policies, and to those who watch on the sidelines, observing a course of action being taken that is distressing, yet feeling unable to do much about it.
Nevertheless, America's heart remains safe within her people. It remains the promise of hope and opportunity for all. It remains the source of generosity toward all and the wish that all be able to pursue the life that they desire and have chosen. This generosity of spirit, this wish for freedom and for the pursuit of happiness for all, characterizes America's heart and spirit. However clouded over it may be at present, the time of its return to a central place in America's relations with others will be, for the heart of America is carried on wings of light, and shall be protected from all that would diminish it or undermine its existence.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Challenging CPR (Criminology - Politics & Religion)
National statistics indicate that 64.8% of what the American public has been trained to believe about Criminology, Politics, and Religion (CPR) is in fact false.
Before reading any further, will anyone take the time to challenge the previous statistic? Probably not. It's usually easier to commission others to "think for us".
If Americans were told the truth about, why most people commit crimes, and what happens to their psyche when imprisoned, there would be less people imprisoned and less people willing to arbitrarily create and enforce laws to place them there.
People don't commit crimes because they are inherently "bad people." To suggest that only "bad people" fill prisons is to suggest that only "good people" fill the free world. Neither of these suppositions could ever be true.
Rather than blindly accept the theory that harsher prison sentences and more prisons will solve all of our criminal woes, we should challenge the wisdom of those in charge of our throwaway citizens.
We need to find out what makes some people more prone to criminality than others. We need to cease viewing other humans as disposable. If punishment is necessary, then surely treatment is as well.
Either the science of criminology is flawed, or we are being lied to about how to make our neighborhoods safer and how to foster positive change in the occasional deviant of society.
Challenge is in order.
We complain and complain about the performance of our local, state and federally elected and appointed officials. We complain about entire branches of government. We complain, complain and complain... but do nothing about it.
George Orwell once said "Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful, and murder respectful" But who doesn't already know this?! Yet, the complaining continues.
Every branch of government in the United States of America has a failsafe or checks and balances to correct a system which does not run in the manner in which The People (voters) intended or understood as the manner in which it was/is to run. Again, everyone knows this.
We have firings, recall elections, impeachment proceedings, midterm elections, senate and congressional hearings...everything we need to make things work properly. But for some reason we believe that there is nothing we can do about any bad political situation in which we find ourselves.
Study your state and U.S. Constitutions. Study their respective amendments. Spread the word: When something is not working properly it can and should be fixed. We don't have to accept the status quo as the status quo.
Make useless complaining a thing of the past.
Challenge is in order.
Fear or admiration is often the reasons parishioners won't question their religious leaders.
A simple two or three paragraphs written by a throwaway citizen certainly won't undo centuries upon centuries of abusive religious leadership. But, I would like to provide you with something to ponder.
Generally speaking religion is not something to be despised. It is despicable people who should be despised.
Consider the following analogy.
A well-known chef of a highly acclaimed chain of restaurants has instructed his cooks to serve from a menu which he alone has created, promising an exquisite, culinary delight.
The patrons consume the food over a course of time and begin experiencing symptoms which lead them to conclude that they have developed some sort of sickness. Some of the patrons (very few) privately express their concerns to the cooks and servers that the food may be causing their uncomfortable symptoms. The overwhelming majority will say nothing, rather choosing to wholeheartedly accept the promise of the chef that what they have been served is truly an "exquisite, culinary delight."
In fact, the vast majority of patrons will look elsewhere for the cause of their discomfort, never for a moment believing in the possibility that the cause could be their beloved chef.
No one notices that the chef won't eat food from his own menu.
Where will they find help when the cause and cure spring from the same fountain?
This is perverted religion with despicable leadership.
We've all heard the saying that "If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is." I remind everyone of another perspective, "If something seems wrong or unreasonable, it might be. Challenge it."
Sometimes CPR doesn't work. Instead of continuing to waste precious time with tried and UNTRUE methods, we must disengage relinquishing our minds and our wills to finite and fallible humanity with such a short period of time on Earth, shouldn't we spend some of that time making things right for ourselves and others?
CPR is killing us.
Challenge is on order.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
So What Is The Problem?
It is amazing to me that we are still pitting the biblical account of creation against the Theory of Evolution. Especially when a careful read of chapters one and two of the King James Version of Genesis indicates the writer was talking about two different types of creation; a "spiritual" creation and a "physical" creation. The Old Testament writer describes a "spiritual" creation in six days, and then a "physical" creation without any reference to how long it took to complete that creation.
Let me explain; and please, get your bible out and follow along if you are a believer in scriptures. In Genesis 1:11 through 26, it is written that God created plants on the third day, stars on the fourth day, water animals and birds on the fifth day, and land animals, man and woman on the sixth day. But in Genesis 2: 4 through 5, after the account of the six day creation, the following is written: "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground." (emphasis mine)
In other words, the writer is clearly stating that plants, herbs, and man were created in some state of being before they were "in the earth" and before they "grew". This suggests to me that the six day creation is a "spiritual" or "conceptual" creation, and not a "physical" creation.
After the description of a six day creation, the King James Version of the bible goes on to state in Genesis 2: 6 through 7: "But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." In this second version of the creation there is no mention of how long the creation process took to bring forth life. It could have taken millions upon millions of years, and it probably did. So there is no need to for an argument between people who support Creationist thought and those who support the Theory of Evolution. There is plenty of room for both ideas.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
911 Conspiracy Theory Revisited By Crack Online Think Tank Team
There seems to still be lingering 911 Conspiracy Theorists out there and so our Online Think Tank has reviewed all the material from the 911 Conspiracy Theorists. And yes we are aware and have heard the recent Rosie O'Donnell comments. Indeed we have listened to George Noory and the interviews of the Colorado Professors (at length) and in all this it is quite clear that all the conspiracy theorists out there have an axe to grind, big time.
We do not believe that it is healthy for the United States of America to go any further on the questioning of these events unless absolute proof is available. I have watched specials on the Discovery Channel and all the towers looked like demolish to me, but that is merely an observer of third hand video, I was not there.
Since, I have no information and I refuse to speculate, so too should the conspiracy theorists. In fact, I went thru all the data from a gentleman I met in Flagstaff, AZ who wrote an eBook on this, I went thru every single chapter and came up with plausible deniability on every single point of contention, yes, every single topic, without exception.
The selective use of news, false reports, non-mainstream media, etc. is alarming, the folks purporting these conspiracy theories have financial gains, ambition and books to sell or websites to promote; they are not with us.
In fact, one cannot tell us that the "news media" was in on it and then use the news media reports during all the chaos and selective quotes to prove their points of contention. Indeed, on the Think Tank our bulletin board went thru each point by point and found errors in each item of the conspiracy crowd. These comments are against our nation are very detrimental and damaging, they serve no purpose whatsoever and only weaken us. Thus I will defend against the conspiracy theorists.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Pass the Ammunition - Arming the Lord's Army
Long after the attack at Pearl Harbor, reports continued regarding
an incident involving a Chaplain who uttered the now infamous
phrase, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."
The actual Chaplain was Lieutenant Howell Forgy, aboard
the U.S.S. New Orleans. He was on duty that Sunday morning,
December, 7, 1941.
Another Lieutenant who had been in charge of an ammunition
line on the USS New Orleans during the attack remembered,
"I heard a voice behind me saying, Praise the Lord and pass the
ammunition. I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward
me along the line of men." He reported that the Chaplain was
patting men on the back and encouraging them.
AS IT IS SPIRITUALLY, SO IT IS IN THE NATURAL
I don't often talk politics, but something strange is going on in
Americas' political scene for which we have a direct spiritual
correlation. Essentially, our Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi,
and others in our anti-war, Democrat-dominated House, want to
starve the "troop surge" escalation ordered by President Bush,
and thus force him to begin to withdraw them, a move increasingly
favored by a majority of Americans, if you credit the polls.
They want to do this in the name of "supporting the troops," they say.
I say we do NOT want that war "over here" and it's only our brave
men and women "over there" that are keeping us from another 9-11.
But I digress.
As you'd expect, Republicans, including the President, see the Dem's
proposal as an attack on the very troops they profess to support,
despite whatever "spin" they try to put on this, their favorite pitch.
Let's call it what it is: Denying funds to the military during
wartime (insanity!) may force the Military and Republicans to shift
tactics, but in the meantime, it would make the already difficult jobs
of our troops that much harder.
Imagine being in the heat of battle - in the heat of Iraq - running low
on ammo, body armor, fuel, medical supplies, not to mention the
falling morale of a warrior who perceives that his country has
Now, imagine a soldier in the Lord's Army whose superiors are
failing to sufficiently arm and train him to do his job. It's happening
everywhere as we have become, far and wide, a Church with a
"form of godliness, denying the power thereof," (2 Tim 3:5).
YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW
Most Christians have heard, or have sung the song, "I'm in the
Lord's army." Sung to the tune of "The Ol' Gray Mare," it goes
"I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the Cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o'er the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!
The Body of Christ is often referred to as "the Army of God."
God Himself is referred to as a Man O' War (Ex 15:3). Ephesians 6
is a chapter that is all about warfare. Second Corinthians 10:3-5
reminds us that we are engaged in a spiritual war and if we
"submit ourselves to God" we can resist the devil and he will
flee from us (James 4:7).
Now, I have to get something off my chest before I explode like an
al-Qaeda martyr. It's an aspect of Christianity with which I am
intimately acquainted. It's something that, I've found, too many
Christians know too little about. It's something that, if we will grab
hold of its biblical truth, it will not only change our lives but will
allow us to change the world as well.
This is, in my opinion, the "ammo" every soldier in the Lord's Army
needs in order to maximize his effectiveness as a warrior.
I'm talking about the manifestations of spiritual gifts. Once
you've renewed your mind to what you're about to ingest -
and acted upon it - your spiritual life will never be the same.
LET'S GET LOGICAL
We must think logically about a few things for a moment...
In Luke 4:18-19 (AMP), Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord [is]
upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One,
the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor;
He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery
of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are
oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken
down by calamity], to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year
of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of
God profusely abound."
Next, we read in Romans, 8:11 (AMP), "And if the Spirit
of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
[then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will
also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable)
bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you."
After reading these verses, do you see the picture that has been
developed? God doesn't live in any church building and Jesus is
not merely an historical figure in an ancient book. In truth,
the Anointed One dwells within US! Therefore, He wants to
use US to minister to others. Though we, ourselves, may know
nothing about healing or casting out a demon, for example, it
doesn't matter so long as we KNOW the One who DOES the
healing THROUGH those who will make themselves
You may step out on the water, so to speak, and give what you
believe is a prophetic utterance or Word of Knowledge. If it
blesses somebody, great. If you miss God by a mile, that's Ok,
too, for you are, at the VERY least (A) trying to obey God and
(B) exercising a gift; developing it through use as you fall down
and get back up like a teetering toddler.
We've got to walk before we can run, amen?
Far too many of us are never taught about these truths. Many
who ARE taught these things never embrace them for ourselves.
Multitudes never see or experience miracles so we can't bring
ourselves to believe in them. Merely hearing about them often
registers as being something strange to us.
In those groups where people DO witness prayer for healing,
and even see miracles taking place, generally, the only ones
doing the praying, laying on of hands and anointing with oil
are pastors and elders and Christian celebrities, all within
the friendly confines of a church building.
Question: What if the pastor or elder praying for you has no
faith for divine healing?
Another question: What if the one who needs healing is
in a restaurant or workplace conference room and there's not
a minister in sight?
CONSIDERING THE MIRACLES OF CHRIST
Jesus said in case after case, "Your faith has healed you."
He also said "Be it unto you according to YOUR faith."
He could do no miracles in His home town due to the people's
lack of faith.
He cleared the faithless from the room so that He could raise
Jairus's daughter from death.
When it came to healing the sick, His methods varied from one
occasion to another; Blind Bartimaeus was healed instantly.
For another bind man, He had to put saliva on his eyes and pray.
The ten lepers were healed, Scripture says, "as they went."
The woman with the issue of blood was healed on the spot.
Some demons that He commanded to leave did so immediately.
In another instance, he told a Greek woman - a gentile - that her
demonized daughter was healed when the girl was nowhere in sight.
She went home and found the child on the couch, healed.
So much for understanding the Lord's healing and deliverance
So much for putting Jesus in a box.
What I gather from these biblical examples is that there IS no
formula and that their ONLY common denominators were somebody's
FAITH and JESUS. It's all about what God Himself chooses to do
through His willing vessels for reasons of which only He may be aware.
Are YOU one of those willing vessels?
We know that Jesus was a willing vessel. He did NOTHING
until the Father gave the order. He declared in John 5:19-20 (NKJV),
"...the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father
do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner..."
In John 5:30 (NKJV), He said, "I can of Myself do nothing...I do
not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me."
Likewise, we can - and should - do nothing without the Sprit
of Christ. Everything we do should be in obedience to His
directives. Sadly, far too many Christians - ministers included -
refer to the Holy Spirit as a "force" and as "it." This isn't Star
Wars, folks. He's a person with characteristics and responsibilities
geared toward advancing the Kingdom.
And we're powerless - and can have no effect - without Him.
Jesus said, John 14:9 (NKJV), "...He who has seen Me
has seen the Father..."
The question we must ask ourselves is this: When they see us,
have they seen Jesus? They will see Jesus - the things that Jesus
did and empowered His army to do - ONLY if we DECREASE
and allow Him to INCREASE through our lives, (John 3:30). To
accomplish this, we must step out in faith.
THE KEYS: OBEDIENCE AND AVAILABILITY
Now, I'm just a guy, ordinary as they come. I've fallen in love
with our King and the cause of Christ and have learned firsthand,
by receiving a healing in my own supposedly incurably diseased
body, that Jesus sill heals. Matter of fact, while standing with
a cane, I prayed for people who received healing. The mind
boggles! In a previous message (Jesus: Still Healing after all
These Years), I listed a number of miracles that have
taken place while I was praying for an individual either
alone or with others. I am well aware that I know NOTHING
about healing and that I can't heal anybody. But if I'm willing
and obedient, if I dare to pray when I say I will, dare to lay
a hand on another person who needs prayer, Jesus just MIGHT
show up and heal somebody (request my message "Seven
Hindrances to Healing Prayer"). You see, afflicted people don't
want Jesus to appear in the clouds some day; they want Him
to appear on the scene RIGHT NOW, everywhere they are,
anywhere in the world, all at the same instant and on their
very worst day.
Of this I am certain: if we do nothing, NOTHING will happen.
Several weeks ago, I prayed for a 92-year old woman in a
wheel chair who hadn't walked in 10 years. After I taught on
healing, I felt led to pray for her. She took 10 steps, crying
and praising God as she went.
Recently, after teaching on healing, an 83-year old woman
who was the victim of a stroke, said she believed she could
walk. She hadn't walked in two years. After getting to her feet,
she walked around the end of the table and returned to her wheel
chair. I asked why she was crying and she answered, "It feels
so good...I haven't done this in so long!" She, too thanked Jesus
with each step. Afterward, as I was speaking, she interrupted,
smiled and asked, "Can I do it some more?" Again, she got up
and walked around the table's end and back. What joy we were
all feeling! I reminded those in attendance of their responsibility
to tell others about this, after all, we overcome Satan by the Blood
of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony (Rom 12:11). In retrospect,
maybe I should have prohibited tem from telling anyone what they
saw, in the fashion of Jesus, so that they WOULD run off and tell
others. Hmmm. Now, there's a thought.
Anyway, after I told the head nurse (a Christian) what had happened,
she was amazed and praised God, too, confirming that the woman had
not walked for as long as she had known her.
Funny, but nobody cared what church everybody else attended
in those moments.
As I said, I'm just Mike. As those who know me will attest,
I'm an EXTRA ordinary person (extremely ordinary, in other words).
But this one thing I know: Jesus drew a crowd through healing.
He created quite a stir. Faith grew and people ran off and told
others. I can only imagine how it terrifies the devil to think of
millions of mini-Christ's (literally, the meaning of "Christian")
running around imitating the original.
Aren't we are admonished to "Be imitators of God," (Eph 5:1)?
"Megashift" is a book written by Jim Rutz - a book loaded with
faith-building miracles that are taking place in developing nations
worldwide. My faith grew as I read about illiterate, impoverished
people who were willing to be used by God to heal to the sick and
raise the dead.
These people are my new heroes, along with the persecuted Church.
But if they can do it, we can do it. God is no respecter of persons,
My advice: Jettison any faith-diluting input and whatever mind-
numbing, powerless flavor of Christianity to which you may be
and begin to renew your mind to the truth.
Read the book "Megashift."
Study the New Testament stories where Jesus healed.
Marvel at the miracles of Acts.
Talk to people who've been there and done that.
Let's be DOERS and not hearers only. Let's lead Purpose-Driven
lives, purposing to stop participating in spectator religion. Jesus
didn't come to establish a religion or a denomination, after all.
He came to raise an army.
GROWING IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE
Second Peter 3:18 admonishes us to "...grow in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." The
Greek word for "knowledge" is gnosis, the same expression
of intimacy used in Genesis for Adam "knowing" his wife.
It's a term of intimacy. Into-me-see, one might say.
The prophetic ministry of Graham Cooke opened my eyes
to the fact that the prophetic gifting could be DEVELOPED
and that, subsequently, ALL spiritual gifts could be
developed. There was a "school of the prophets" mentioned
in 1 Sam. 10:5, I had read; if one can be "schooled" in prophecy,
I reasoned, we can be schooled in other aspects of the spiritual
gifts, if one is so led.
Like all education, it starts between our ears. I already believed
what Graham was teaching was true; Graham's teachings
confirmed what I already believed but had never heard taught.
All the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22), like any fruit hanging from
a tree branch, do not appear in an instantly mature state. No, they
The spiritual gifts must do likewise.
What do we have to lose by laying hands on a sick person? He
might be healed and he might not. It's not my problem; it's God's.
What do I have to lose by praying against a tornado (hear this,
you folks living in Tornado Alley)? Nothing, but homes and property
and lives may be saved if I do. After all, Elijah was a man just like
us (James 5:17) and he prayed for the rain to stop and it did so for
three and a half years. I have found that, because we in the West are
so lacking when it comes to our faith levels, due mainly to poor teaching
on the subject - and poor learning - we must have our minds renewed.
Proper instruction will lay the groundwork which most people require
before they can become receptive to the concept of Divine
Healing. Once the muddy waters have been cleared away - once
the detoxification process is completed - the stage is set for
miracles to take place in any Christian's life, NOT just the one
"anointed for healing."
Anointed? We hear that word thrown around quite a bit in
the Church world. We say things like, "He has a strong anointing!"
Though we know what we mean, the truth is that the ONLY one
who is anointed is Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One.
Only a King is anointed, friends. The anointing oil, according
to Psalm 133, was poured upon Aaron's head, flowed down his
beard and onto his garments.
Likewise, Jesus is the Head of The Church; we are referred to as the
Body of Christ. The Anointed King dwells within His subjects. That's us!
The Anointed High Priest lives within the Temple in the Holy Of Holies,
our bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19 (AMP) reminds us of this truth: "...your
body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives
within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God..."
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
Bearing these truths in mind, doesn't it stand to reason that when Jesus
said "I have given you authority and power...over all the power of the
enemy," (Luke 10:19) that He meant it?
Don't you think that when Jesus said "Jn 14:12) "...anyone who has faith
in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things
than these, because I am going to the Father"? He also said. "Everything
is possible for him who believes," (Mark 9:23).
Do you believe? I believe we can do nothing without the Spirit of Christ
in us. But because He lives in us, nothing that He directs us to do will be
impossible. We can exercise the authority He gives us; the results are
up to Him.
Log on at http://www.elca.org/evangelism/assessments/spiritgifts.html
by cutting and pasting this link to find a Spiritual Gift Assessment Test.
It may not be the best test of this type, but it was fun and results
When Paul runs down his list of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-11),
the inclination of many is to try and determine which gift they possess.
The test I referred to might help you with this. But if I had taken such
a test ten years ago, I assure you that my answers would have been
much different. The inclination of the Institutional Church has been to
read Paul's list (by the way, it's not exhaustive as there are other
gifts mentioned in Scripture besides these), and to select which gift,
or gift clusters one might have been given.
I disagree with this school of thought. It's too limiting. My contention is,
if you ask me what spiritual gift I have been given my response would be,
"The Holy Spirit Himself." You see, not only have certain gifts developed
over time, but whatever gift I need that is required in whatever situation I
may find that He has placed me, the proper gift WILL be made available.
It's not unlike a carpenter digging through his tool box for that perfect tool
to complete the task at hand. If someone needs healing on their death bed,
what sense would it make to say, "Hang on, brother! Let me fetch someone
with the gift of healing!"
Where God guides, He provides. Though someone may have been blessed
with the gift of administration or hospitality, for example, I encourage you
NOT to allow yourself, or anyone else, to pigeon-hole you. Ask for more
and He will GIVE you more. James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect
gift is from above..."
Be warned! If you entertain this line of thinking long enough -
and I ENCOURAGE you to do so - you may actually act upon it and truly
become an Armed & Dangerous Christian.
You will become Satan's worst nightmare.
You already ARE...only you may not know it yet.
A servant of God
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Stick & Stones and Words Now All Break Bones
The recent media news frenzy about Don Imus and his totally inappropriate remarks have truly revealed what has happened to this country. Boy, if we make it to year 2010, we will be lucky and this is before we accept global warming.
As a young child who was both taller and heavier than her classmates, I can remember coming home many afternoons from schools in absolute tears. Being an ugly duckling among young children who look to tease others because they have learned it makes them feel good is not a good thing.
My mother told me numerous times these wise words: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. I have to be honest as a third grader it took me a long while before I realized the importance of these words. By the time I entered fourth grade, the insults, the taunts and the teasings no longer reduced me to tears. I knew that unless I gave them permission to hurt me with their name calling I would be safe from their endless torments. For words do not break bones.
Now almost 50 years later, I listen to a college basketball coach and girl's college basketball team talk about their leadership skills and accomplishments. Yet, then they share how they have been traumatized by the terrible words of Mr. Imus. Give me a break! Yes, his words were hateful and mean spirited, but they were only words. To believe that some words can rob you of your successes demonstrates that we are not growing the leaders we need.
In all honesty, the negative publicity is probably more than the positive publicity that this team would have received for their athletic accomplishments. For our society in general, especially the news media looks for misery before joy and for scarcity over abundance. Bad news sells just like picking on the ugly duckling.
What is quite pitiful is that the news media is now promoting that words are more serious that physical actions in this case. However when it comes to those who wish to do America harm by their words, we are told by that same news media that they are only words. Come on drive by media – you can't have it both ways!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Don Imus, Rutgers Girls Basketball Team
Radio talk show host Don Imus calls the ladies basketball team "nappy headed hoes." Apparently Imus didn't go for their tattoos and felt they lacked femininity. Imus, known as the I-man, got the plug pulled on him by CBS and MSNBC who dropped his radio show.
Snoop Dogg and a host of other black rappers commonly refer to women using the exact same terminology. Certainly I do not condone any man speaking to or about women in such a fashion. Yet the hip-hop hypocrites are quite comical to behold when they attack a white man for modeling their very own originated messages full of sexist and racist innuendos.
The Black Caucus leaders, Congress persons, and ministers who are speaking forth have shown themselves to be quite articulate, equitable, and somewhat forgiving. Undoubtedly the African American community could use their leadership year round and not just when a white racial slur surfaces. Perhaps the New Black Panthers and Nation of Islam, along with the above mentioned leadership, can target their efforts toward the predominately black hip-hop heads spewing obscenities across our radio airwaves.
It's always good to start in your own backyard among your own folks before hammering others at a distance. I salute the initiative of Rutgers University and the African American leadership mentioned above to apply pressure to Imus, CBS, and MSNBC. They have proven they have the power to change society when they come together. The nation and media are listening.
Don Imus issued a personal apology as did Michael Richards, best known as Seinfeld's Kramer, for their racial rants. Richards went balistic on two black young men using the N-word and various epithets last November at the Laugh Factory, a famous Los Angeles comedy club.
Imus and Richards will have a lot of time alone to do some much needed soul-searching, as their racial slurs suddenly collapsed their careers.
Racial tensions and hatred run deep in America, the land of the free and home of the brave. They surface at the most unusual times and places. Thankfully, when swiftly identified and dealt with we can overcome them and send a message to society that such slurs will not be tolerated by the mainstream media.
We all need a lot more love, understanding, and consideration of one another. As Jesus said, "As you would have men to do unto you, do likewise to them" (Luke 6:31). If you would not like to hear someone address you or one of your family members in a particular way, than be sure that you yourself don't speak in a similar derogatory manner toward others.
It is time we learn how to forgive, leave peaceably, conduct ourselves honorably, and uphold each other kindly in the spirit of brotherhood. Most importantly, let us guard our hearts and watch our words more closely.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Bong Hits 4 Jesus
As the writer, Voltaire, wrote – "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." Not being a particularly brave person myself I can't say that I'd defend to the death your right to say anything but I will certainly defend your right to free speech as well as I can.
This brings me to my take on the Bong Hits 4 Jesus debacle which is now taking place in our country, in Alaska to be precise. Apparently a senior student at Juneau-Douglas High School, one Joseph Frederick, took it upon himself to make and display a large banner at a school function proclaiming the nonsensical headline "Bong Hits 4 Jesus."
It must be argued fairly in Mr. Frederick's favor, that his banner was not being displayed ON school grounds although it could definitely be seen while standing on the school campus. Mr. Frederick asserts that the banner is not pro drug (although I fail to see his logic when the banner clearly states "4" as in "Bong Hits For Jesus").
The school's position is that the banner was being shown during a school sponsored function, albeit off of school property.
This scenario unfolded during an Olympic Torch Relay in 2002. It is just now coming to the attention of the national media thanks to former Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr who has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Alaska's Bong Hits 4 Jesus case. Starr filed the petition recently on behalf of the Juneau School District in response to a March ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeals court sided with the student, stating that former Juneau-Douglas High School principal, Deborah Morse, violated former student Joseph Frederick's free speech rights.
Frederick was suspended for violating the school's policy of promoting illegal substances at a school-sanctioned event. "The principal's actions were so outrageous, basically leaving school grounds and punishing a student for a message that is not damaging to the school," said his attorney, Doug Mertz.
Superintendent Peggy Cowan said clarification is needed on the rights of administrators when it comes to disciplinary action of students who break the district's drug message policy.
This situation is definitely a sticky wicket. How do we proclaim the right of all our citizens having free speech, yet deny our students this same right?
Yes, as a parent who has lost a child to the disease of addiction, I am offended whenever I see signs or hear songs or read anything extolling the virtue of drug abuse. But we cannot give up our rights, so valiantly fought for so many years ago, just because someone is saying something that we don't like or with which we disagree.
Voltaire was spot on. I like to think that if he were alive today he would still defend another's right to free speech. As repulsive as the pro drug abuse issue is to me, the thought of losing our right to free speech is even more repulsive.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The Fifties and Sixties - Happy Times and Bad Juju
Men wearing hats to work and Stepford-type wives discovering Valium. It was all about noir without anyone realizing that it was all about noir. It was "back in the day." Returning servicemen. Happy times. The baby boom was underway... Levittown . . . people could afford single family dwellings and suburbia was born. College. A privilege instead of an entitlement. The smell of burning leaves on a crisp fall day. Schwinn bikes. Drive-in movies. "I like Ike" memories. Happy times.
Terms like dysfunctional families, attention deficit and bipolar disorders were unknown. Those who suffered under them did so in silence without awareness, recourse or remedy. Back then, no one used words like "dysfunctionality" or "depression." Many were consumed by emotions that were kept closeted and could not be articulated.
No graffitified tenements, sinking potholed streets or garbage strewn parks, but the smell of winos and urine in the subways also existed back then and there were plenty of slums to go around.
Chopped and channeled Merc Coupes and rumbling duel pipes. Drag races. Outlaw biker gangs. 1 percenters. Rebels without causes. Leather jackets, engineer boots and skin-tight Levi's or khaki's and loafers. Blue suede loafers. Greasers and mods. "Hollywood" and "Detroit" hair styles or flat tops or crew cuts . . . split the difference with a "Duck 's Ass."
No political correctness back then, You ate what you wanted to eat and smoked where you wanted to smoke. No seat belt laws because there were no seat belts. Lardy chili and greasy bacon and eggs in diners late at night. Apple pie with a piece of American cheese. The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports on the 9' Admiral TV. The Kinsey Report findings. Sexual awareness out of the closet.
City kids went to "Geek" shows in the early 50's that were featured in some of the traveling carnivals that came to the outskirts of urban centers. These geeks, however, were not like today's. Stag films. Precursors to porn.
"The Wild One," "Blackboard Jungle." Brando and Dean, and Sidney Portier calling Glen Ford "Mr. Daddio" in "Backboard Jungle." Joe Louis, Marciano, Joe DiMaggio, Sugar Ray and Ted Williams. Marilyn Monroe, Gable, Bogart s. "Bad Day at Black Rock," Spencer Tracey, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Anne Francis, and Walter Brennan. The pure noir of "The Killing" and "The Sweet Smell of Success." "12 Angry Men." Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Jack Klugman, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden and Robert Webber all in the same room. "On the Waterfront" . . . .mob violence and union corruption. "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Death of a Salesman." Heady stuff.
"The Organization Man ", Ayn Rand, "The Affluent Society," "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." The Martian Chronicles," The Catcher in the Rye, Jack Kerouac, "The Lonely Crowd." Stuff staring to happen. Beats and Beatniks coming out.
Ike, The H Bomb, and a fragile peace. Not everything was Pollyannaish. Some things seemed to have a noir-ish, gangster-ridden quality that had a palpable existence. Modern jazz . . . Bird, Miles, Stan Kenton , Chet; Chicago blues performed by blacks who traveled North from the Delta on the Illinois Central. Little Walter, Howlin Wolf, Jackie Wilson, Fats, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Big Bopper, Doo Wop. Honky Tonk. The sound of the harp. Hard bop, rebop, West Coast Jazz and Delta Blues were the 50's.
A time of extreme anti-communism suspicion. McCarthyism became synonymous with demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations. Black lists. The 50's version of the Patriot Act. Decency finally wins out. Senator Joe censured into obscurity.
The Korean War . . . the "Forgotten War," June 1950 - July 1953. Recalled by MASH on television. A footnote in our history. Veterans of that intensive and deadly conflict wore jackets from Rhein-Main, Quantico, Paris Island, Great Lakes, Fort Leonard Wood, and Cherry Point. Tough guys who did their duty without complaint and paid dearly for it.
Racism undergoing subtle changes for the better. Still, it rears its ugly head far too often in the North. Callous cruelty and unfairness commonplace until the 60's. Being called a "kike, mick, "wop" or "polack" an everyday experience. Many first generation Americans suffer quietly. Scary white sheets and burning crosses. Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Then 1964 and civil rights and hope. Martin Luther King. Malcolm. Rosa Parks. The Little Rock Nine
The 50's, a time mixed with equal portions of love, fear and loathing. Of course, looking in the rear view mirror through the prism of nostalgia makes everything look better. The innocence was soon replaced with a grim reality, turbulence and cynicism that manifested itself through the next decade. A Cuban missile crises, Viet Nam , the draft, multiple assassinations, hippies, drugs, protests, riots . . . and racial unrest that exploded.
" . . colleges being nothing but grooming schools for the middleclass non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets is each living room with everybody looking at the same thing and thinking the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness..." Jack Kerouac
"I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens." Dwight D. Eisenhower
The conduit from the 50's carried cheerful optimism. John Fitzgerald Kennedy. "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." Inspiration and hope. Jackie sets the example in class. Fear of nuclear war comes to a head with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Soviets back down. "Ich bin ein Berliner." JFK at the helm equals comfort and security. Proud to be an American.
Dallas makes it all a bad joke . . . destroys Camelot and justifies cynicism. No more peering through rose-colored glasses. Oswald or a conspiracy? Jack Ruby. Dealey Plaza, the Depository, Stemmons Freeway bring back memories that chill.
The 50's..a time of innocence, laid back. The 60's after 63 . . . full-tilt boogie, balls to the walls. Flashpoints going off like a photographers light bulbs. Too many to track. Riots began on August 11, 1965 in Watts after which blacks are no longer taken for granted. Then, amid coups and assassinations, Vietnam brreaks out in earnest. More justified cynicism. Body bags and Jane Fonda. Vo Nguyen Giap and Westmoreland. Bad juju.
James Meredith becomes first black student at Ole Miss. Violence but also hope abounds. Then Medgar Evers killed by an assassin's bullet amidst voter registration in the South. Bloody Sunday" in Selma. More unrest. More killings. Malcolm gunned down to punctuate the morass.
" I Have a Dream" renewes hope. 1964 Civil Rights Act. MLK awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. " . . . And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord!" But Memphis shatters the Dream. The MLK riots follow. But the unflinching dignity of the civil rights marchers wears down the oppressors. The Dream prevails.
Nation of Islam and Black Panthers, Weather Underground Organization, SDS, Yippies, "Black Power," Berkley . . . .Sexual revolution, Feminism and Gay rights. Flash bulbs going off constantly.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Norman Bates and Psycho, The Apartment, On the Beach, Lolita, James Bond, The Group, In Cold Blood, The Peter Principle, Profiles in Courage, Elmer Gantry Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, In the Heat of the Night, Green Berets, Midnight Cowboy, Butterfield 8, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Easy Rider. Mo Town. Boston Celtics, Green Bay Packers, Clay knockes out Sonny. Later becomes Ali . . . the right man for the right time. Andy Warhol, Surfing. The Beatles hit the big time. Elvis's star fades over the decade. The Pill and the miniskirt. The Space Race permeates.
1968 is the seminal year. Hippies, bell bottoms, Woodstock, acid, LSD, Chicago, Daley, Nixon are all part of the mix. Psychedelic Haight Ashbury. No fear of criticizing society's typical behaviors. Speak out, protest, march. Rebels with causes. Every injustice or perceived inequality is suddenly open game and ripe for examination and protest.
Tet Offensive turbo charges LBJ's decision to say "no more." Bobby then says, "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? More hope. Sirhan Sirhan snuffs out the dream. Amidst mass rioting and chaos, Nixon wins over Humphrey on a "law and order" platform while Chicago police incongruously and brutally beat anti-war protesters.
Woodstock Music Festival at Max Yasgur's farm in August 1969. Jimi does his thing. Manic Depression. Purple Haze. The Who. Joan Baez. Santana. Janis. Sly takes everybody higher. People gather together in the spirit of caring and sharing, Unique and legendary stuff. A new beginning. Men walked on the moon in 1969.
Altamont music festival is held later in 1969. Santana, the Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, and The Stones. Hell's Angels are the Stone's security force. Angels confront the people and violence ensues. The real music becomes Sympathy for the Devil." Unique and chilling stuff. Counterpoint to Woodstock. Fans are held "Under My Thumb." An Angel stabs a man holding a gun in front of the stage. Horror. At the end, cosmic flower children wander across the hills toward home and an uncertain future. Windmills in the background. More bad juju.
A bad way to end the 60's, but it's about a generation that realized it could make a difference just by standing up and being heard. It did just that.
The radical ideas of the 60's gain acceptance in the new decade, and are mainstreamed and assimilated into American life and culture. The 70's prove to be sharply different, but that's another, albeit more tranquil story.
"I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom - external freedom is a way to bring about internal freedom." Jim Morrison
"[In the 60's] there was madness in any direction, at any hour ... You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was `right', that we were winning ..." Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Our Iraq Veterans – Vietnam All Over Again
Vietnam veterans see our young, returning Iraq War veterans returning home to almost the same situation that they did. Unlike Vietnam veterans, Iraq War veterans were not drafted into the military since the draft no longer exists. Like Vietnam veterans, however, Iraq War veterans are fighting an unpopular battle.
It is understandable that the military discharges disabled soldiers since they are no longer of any use to the military. However, the military not only discharges them from service, but disowns them from the point of discharge forward. There is no one available when an injured and disabled Iraq War veteran is discharged to assist them with finding help when they need it. Yes, there are Veterans Service Officers available, but many, many young veterans go home without any help.
I spend a considerable amount of time at the VA Hospital and see the older Vietnam veterans forging bonds with the new and younger Iraq War veterans because they have much in common. Both groups returned home from foreign soils to the US and a "so-what" attitude from friends, family and the population in general. World War II veterans, on the other hand, returned home to a grateful nation where strangers put them up overnight, bought them beers and dinners and slapped them on the back as they walked down the street.
Unfortunately, our own government is treating these young veterans the same way. Very few get the help they need to return to civilian life. Fortunately, the news media is publicizing the terrible conditions of the Veterans Administration hospitals which may force the current administration to improve the hospitals. In many cases, the immediate medical care is extremely good, but the follow-up care is terrible. These young vets are patched up and either booted onto the street or in care homes without vocational training or therapy to teach them how to deal with their missing limbs or tortured minds.
Even if you don't agree with the administration's actions in the Middle East, extend your compassion to our young veterans. These veterans have no political point to make. They are simply trying to become a productive citizen again.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Music, Government and Others - Who's Right?
Shortly thereafter came a public outcry from small independent webcasters that the rates were too high and would put them out of business as they did back in 2002. At first site the rates don't appear to be unreasonable. A closer look reveals a different story.
Per performance rates at the following percentages retroactive for the year 2006.
2006 $.0008 per performance
2007 $.0011 per performance
2008 $.0014 per performance
2009 $.0018 per performance
2010 $.0019 per performance
Add a minimum $500.00 per channel per year retroactive for the year 2006.
Unfortunately when you do the math with these rates you begin to understand their significance and why these small streamers object so strongly. Given the average 16 songs played per hour the royalty rate per listener would be approximately $1.28. If you then multiply that by 100 listeners the per hour rate becomes very expensive indeed. Several 1000% higher than what was previously being paid. The first objection, and it is a valid one, the retroactive rates for 2006. This alone would put a large majority of internet radio stations out of business. The back payment above the royalty payments that have already been paid in 2006. To quote one webcaster with an average listnership of around 1500 during peak hours, "My back payment for 2006 would be $76,000.00. My station barely breaks even now! I'll just have to shut down". This is echoed by small webcasters throughout the United States. Indeed even the National Public Radio (NPR) has voiced outrage and legal action as they too are subject to these new rates. Hearings this week in congress will decide if the appeals on behalf of webcasters will be heard.
Soundexchange and the RIAA defend these new rates. They feel the Copyright Royalty Board made the correct decision by giving them virtually everything they asked for. The Copyright Royalty Board judges emphasized that they cannot guarantee a profit to everyone who enters the market. "To allow inefficient market participants to continue to use as much music as they want and for as long a time period as they want without compensating copyright owners on the same basis as more efficient market participants trivializes the property rights of copyright owners." This statement makes it clear that the small webcaster is not even a consideration in these proceedings, although they provide a large portion of the independent artist content as well as much of the special niche genres unavailable elsewhere. Small webcasters help to pioneer this system of broadcasting, but that would seem to be of no importance. I would also note these small webcasters have been paying royalties at the rate set back in 2002. To some it becomes a question of whether the recording industry top labels simply want to control the listener experience as they have on terrestrial radio, leaving smaller independent artists with no outlet for their music to be heard in light of the recent payola news. This would effectively remove direct competition for the major labels in this new and growing market. Many webcasters play these seemingly unknown artists to provide fresh content to their listeners and remove themselves from the mainstream top 40 play list. Broadcasters, artists, and listeners alike agree that this content is a welcome change. Since the small webcasters generally use a blanket licensing company such as Live365 or Loudcity, they have no direct voice in Washington. On the other hand they do have a voice through their listeners. This is the route they have chosen to use, directing their listeners to contact their representatives. In response to the webcasters grassroots campaign, Soundexchange launched it own campaign asking artists and their fans to contact their representatives in favor of the decision.
The Copyright Board at this time upholds their decision. They agreed to hear arguments for an appeal, although an appeal has currently not been granted. All webcasters are awaiting an outcome to these hearings. The National Public Radio spokesperson has vowed continued legal action if the rates are not overturned. Clear Channel, the largest terrestrial radio owners in the U.S. have also joined in the mix. The smallest webcasters want to see something along the lines of the Small Webcasters Settlement Act enacted by the Lbrary of Congress after the 2002 dispute which allowed the little guys to pay a percentage of revenue rather than a per play rate. That allowed an affordable rate for the smaller broadcasters to survive. All webcasters agree that royalties must be paid, but they do not believe excessive rates should be imposed on this new and growing broadcast industry. These rates figures do not include royalties paid through the other entities like BMI and SESAC. They additionally do not believe that the small webcaster should be squeezed out of existence to make room for big players only. They reject the notion stated by Soundexchange that maybe 10,000 internet stations may be too many. Diversity and choice is offered to the listeners. It seems that it would be unfair to remove these choices from the public.
Some artists have spoken in favor of the new rates, and some have spoken out against the new rates. In a recent interview KK Downing of Judas Priest stated the new rates were ridiculous and didn't stack up. He also stated to his knowledge he had never received a royalty paymet from Soundexchange. JJ French, a guitarist for Twisted Sister upheld the rates on the other hand saying that he applauded the new rates. Another well known artist, Sabrina Korva, recorded one of the public service announcements that webcasters have been playing. There appears to be a lot of disagreement in the music industry surrounding these rates and the role small webcasters play. For some it is a blessing, others feel it floods the market with music choices. There is no clear cut opinion that I have found as many artists seek exposure through any means available to them, while others prefer to stay in the limelight generated by playing the top labels.
My own opinion is that forcing the pioneers of internet broadcasting and small independent webcasters off the net with huge rate increases serves no ones interest. I believe a suitable compromise must be reached, even if the Library of Congress must once again intervene to uphold fairness for all involved. The constitution begins with We the people. I firmly believe the people have spoken out. Many letters have been posted on the congress website opposing the rates. The upcoming days in the internet radio community will be watched intently by the largest and smallest of providers in hopes of finding a common ground for all.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
No Sign of Robert Mugabe Retiring?
The western developed world has no idea what is happening with Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe. Their expectation that this African country is actually going to play according to European and American values, political principles and rules is so far off the mark, it's not on the same page, in fact not even in the same book. One could almost say that the arrogance with which the west actually wishes to dictate how Africa - by which I mean sub-Sahara Africa - thinks, is very damaging. But the western arrogance is not the point of this post.
It has been entertaining to see the way western politicians seemed to think that because Zimbabwe was in total economic ruin, ordinary Zimbabweans were often persecuted and the opposition party leadership beaten up, that Zimbabweans and Africans would actually push Mugabe off his perch. It goes to show that the western countries have absolutely no clue as to how Africa actually thinks, or what the general opinion on Mugabe is. Do they think that South African president Mbeki supports the view that Mugabe has to leave or that he can and wants to put pressure on Mugabe to step down?
Zimbabweans and Africans think that the reasons for the economic melt down of Zimbabwe is the fault of Europe and America, or more specifically white people. Economic problems in other African countries are also the fault of whites. Any major diseases such as HIV/AIDS may be attributed to the doings of whites. Africans think that whites imported HIV/AIDS into Africa. Now these points may be generalisations in that not every black African thinks this of course, but at grassroots levels they do. These beliefs have been seeded by the leadership in African countries and are nurtured to allow politicians to get away with mismanagement, corruption, brutal dictatorships and any number of other evils that proliferate in Africa. It's the same principle that propped up communism in Russia where the evil West was blamed for anything that wasn't working in Russia.
Why is the black president of South Africa not able to do anything about this situation? After all here is a fairly solid democracy with an adherence to western economic principles - remember they had a balanced budget this year - and an exemplary constitution. The reason is plain and simple, an African leader and country cannot be seen to support the western world. For western world read whites. This does not mean that Africa is not ever so willing to grab at aid that the western world will give them, or to look to western world for military assistance if it suits them. As an aside, I myself agree that many of the problems in Africa may be contributed to the greed with which Europe parceled up Africa and grabbed at the juiciest bits to enrich themselves. But that ended 50 years ago in many cases, and if one sees what Germany has managed in 50 years after getting fairly annihilated during the second world war, then Africa could be doing better. But that's another subject altogether.
It is fairly realistic to say that whatever Europe or America would like to happen in Africa is not going to be heeded in Africa. Africa will muddle through this on their own and will not listen to anything the whites will want to tell them and expect them to do. And Robert Mugabe will have another four or so years as president of Zimbabwe. Nothing the west will say, will make any difference to that. Besides this, Robert Mugabe is a freedom fighter which gives him a legitimacy that overrides anything he might actually do to harm his people and country.