Monday, June 30, 2014

Why CitySquare Addresses Payday Lending

The little town of Utica, Mississippi has experienced in a macro sense, what poor communities have experienced in a micro sense. They've lost their bank. The only bank in town. Fortunately, they have a credit union that has stepped in to fill the space left by the bank. In fact they're doing more...they are helping people get out of debt caused by payday lenders...

"Overall, more than 68 million Americans live in “bank deserts” — defined by the U.S. Postal Service as communities with one bank or fewer. In 2012 alone, these Americans spent $89 billion on interest and fees, an average of $2,412 per underserved household, for alternative financial services. It’s a market that the financially embattled USPS has considered entering."
"When people living check to check rely on pawnshops and payday lenders to make ends meet, the real cost is written in the fine print."
"“While many of our residents don't want to use … these places, they will because it's convenient,” said Kimberly Hilliard, who specializes in urban planning at Jackson State University. “But many of us cannot afford to inherit the fees … When you go outside of a traditional bank and you go to a payday lending [service], the fees that you incur will be quite significant, and many of our families cannot afford it.”"
"In the Mississippi Delta, the number of residents lacking access to basic financial services is now more than twice the national rate. For White, a working mother of three, that meant fewer options to help buy her first home."
At CitySquare, working with the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas and Texas Faith for Fair Lending, we are helping reign in the most egregious practices of these predators by convincing cities to adopt ordinances that restrict the presence and practices of payday lenders and trying to convince legislators to enact state law that will do the same. 
Justice means you don't run roughshod over the poor...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where to find "Ministry" at CitySquare

Mark Ramirez

CitySquare is all about people. People are the thought that rifles throughout our values. Community - for people; Stewardship - to adequately serve people; Faith - in God certainly, but faith in people, their capacity to transcend their circumstance through friendship and love and finally Justice - for people. These values make us somewhat different, but they determine the services we provide people. They are values person needs...

A story in the Dallas Morning News is a story about how those values are lived out on the street, among those people catagorized as poor. And its about Rev. Jonathan Grace, a CitySquare servant whose commitment to the value of faith and justice should never be in doubt...


Pastor Jonathan Grace felt a calling: Take the Good News to the streets.
Since January, with the help of volunteers, the resident pastor at CitySquare, a nonprofit that focuses on poverty, has led weekly Bible study sessions for the rootless who roam the raggedy terrain off Malcolm X Boulevard, just south of Interstate 30.
He wanted to meet people where they were, both physically and figuratively. But what did good news look like to people on the fringe? Was it Scripture — or a hand to keep them from falling off the edge?
Sometimes it’s been as simple as lending an ear.
The Thursday sessions unfold on desolate corners and lots between the Austin Street Center and CitySquare’s new social service center, where the tall, ponytailed Grace and his team offer coffee and Bibles to people with belongings in backpacks, tote bags, purses and loaded carts.
A man with a leg brace approached one recent morning. “See that big gray building?” Grace told him. “If you ever need anything, I’m there all the time. Just come knock on my door.”
People spilled their tales: I lost my job. I got addicted to drugs. I went to the penitentiary. I came to Dallas without any money. My brother didn’t pay taxes on the house and we lost it.
Then Grace directed those who would stay for the session to the Gospel of John.
“I am the bread of life,” he read, as pigeon wings fluttered near a tree whose branches reached skyward like an outstretched hand. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.”

Some people come just for the coffee. Some come once and never show up again. Then there’s people like Stacey Dudley, a former financial planner who hit hard times but now carries herself with a peaceful, self-satisfied air, even as she goes through rehab.
She sang a hymn softly to herself as she waited for discussion to resume: I’ve got joy in my heart.
“Jonathan is my mentor,” Dudley said. “He breathed life back into me.”
She held up her Bible, on whose inside covers she’s scrawled important phone numbers, a beaded bracelet reading “STACEY” dangling from her wrist.
“This is my sword,” she said. “And I read it.”
Nothing in her life had come easy, Dudley said. Circumstances led to wreck after wreck — until she realized she needed to let God do the driving.
Look at her now: She’s happy, far from the girl who lost several loved ones in her youth and let despair get the best of her.
Oh, Satan, Dudley says sometimes, you should have taken me when you had the chance.
“A lot of people don’t know that God is all you need,” she says, “until he’s all you got.”
The goal at the Thursday sessions is to listen, to be a resource when people are ready to move on in their lives. With shelters not open for check-in until afternoon, daytime is idle time for those without jobs or transportation.
But sometimes the needs are immediate and obvious.
For volunteer Elisabeth Jordan, one such moment came a few weeks ago, when a man in his 60s showed up barefoot, one long half of a foot somehow gone, the result of an accident decades earlier.
He grabbed a coffee and doughnut from CitySquare’s mobile cart and sat on the ground nearby, where Jordan joined him. He said he had been robbed the night before, soon after coming to the area to find shelter.
“I need shoes,” he said.
For Jordan, her mission suddenly became very real. She recalled Jesus’ words: Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.
She’d joined the Bible study sessions, open to anyone, soon after they’d started in January. At 8, growing up in Highland Park, she’d wanted to be a missionary in Africa, but those thoughts fell away in college as she pursued a business career.
Two years ago, losing her job prompted a period of redirection.
It wasn’t enough to see faith as a Get Out of Hell Free card. It wasn’t enough to talk about what she believed; it had to define how she lived.
She would start with the impoverished in her own community.
Jordan, a member of All Saints Dallas, eventually discovered CitySquare president Larry James’ weekly hangouts on Malcolm X, passing out water on hot days and coffee on cold ones for homeless en route to nearby shelters.
For someone who’d ventured little beyond Highland Park, it was at first uncomfortable and a little scary. Now she fills in for Grace on days when he can’t be there.
“A lot of people come in with preconceived notions about what people need, instead of just entering into the mess of life,” Jordan said. “There has to be a humility.”
It’s changed her life, to realize that such conditions existed just beyond a life where she had all she needed, to think that all that might have separated her from this world was the privilege of different parents, circumstances and life events.
Take my shoes, she told the man who’d been robbed. You need them more than I do.
Within minutes, he was wearing her gray Nikes, and she was barefoot. “It was a transformative experience for me,” she said.
For Grace and the volunteers who often come from tonier settings, the outdoor sessions are a reminder that out here, you are fated to receive whatever nature wields, whether sheets of rain, bone-chilling cold or unrelenting sun.
“It gives people a tiny glimpse into the world that our neighbors are experiencing every day,” Grace said. “Sometimes it rains. When we started, it was cold, and it’s going to get really hot real soon.
“The discomfort we experience for a short time should remind us that people all over the world are experiencing this every day.”
A skinny older woman dropped in and launched on a riff about how her life has improved — she has a new job, and “I’m doing positive things with my income now,” she said. She wants to help others.
“I think it’s great you’re inspired to give back,” Grace said.
“The madness has gotta stop,” she continued. “Look at me. I’m living.”
Prayer time follows to close the session. The remaining join hands — a hodgepodge of humans cobbled through disparate circumstances, bound only by their attachment to the streets.
“We’re all the same,” Jordan said. “We’re all the same. Just because we have a home or don’t have a home doesn’t make us different.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don't Miss PBS' 'Freedom Summer'

Freedom Summer is a thrilling account of the attempt of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committing (SNCC), and its attempt to shine light on the violence, oppression and hatred of the state of Mississippi. It is also a story of the triumphant courage concluding with the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and their challenge of the legitimacy of the 'official' Democratic delegation from Mississippi during the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City in 1964.

For anyone who feels that voting doesn't matter; that participation in the political process isn't important, needs to see how critical this act of citizenship was to these plain, rural people. It is an amazing, stirring story of blacks serious about their rights, allied with brave young white people undeterred by even by the tragic deaths of James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner and Andrew Goodman.

It is a story of ordinary people power in which Fannie Lou Hamer in her testimony before Democratic Credentials Committee and Presidential power, as Lyndon Johnson sought, in vain, to preempt her testimony by an impromptu press conference to keep her testimony from being shown live.

The people who made a difference, then and now, are the minimum wage workers, the people without status, the people who are consistently marginalized. Its a great story, it will be repeated several times this week, on your local PBS station. Please don't miss it...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Civil Rights Movement: Fannie Lou Hamer, Thomas Dorsey and Elvis Presley - yep, Elvis Presley!

It was during at one hot, sweltering summer's afternoon service at my at my Grandfather's church, that I first heard this song. I'll never forget it Rev. H.D. Webb, Sr. who sang it and it lingered in my memory for all these years. As a matter of fact after I started preaching I sang it as well but with none of the force and power that I heard Pastor Webb sing it. 

I think 'Precious Lord' is one of those songs that can be sung only after one has experienced enough heartache, pain, disappointment and loss, that the only way one can continue is if God takes your hand. 
So I can understand in some small measure, what this song meant to its author, Thomas Dorsey and Civil Rights maven and icon Fannie Lou Hamer. That Elvis Presley sang it as well doesn't give it legitimacy, it simply speaks to the breadth of human dependency upon the Divine and the universality of that dependence by all men.

This story is about how that song came to be written (right by all accounts I've heard), and how it inspired Fannie Lou Hamer to transcend the pain and sorrow of mistreatment, as well as how it even inspired Elvis Presley. 

I believe it can inspire those of us who work for social justice today!

By Jerry Mitchell
They whacked Fannie Lou Hamer with a blackjack, and when she tried to cover her face with her hands, they hit those, too.
The former Delta sharecropper buried her head in a mattress, hoping to kill the sound of her screams. "They beat me until my body was hard, 'til I couldn't bend my fingers or get up when they told me to," she later said.
Law enforcement officers had ordered inmates to hit Hamer after she and fellow members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee were jailed on June 9, 1963, for trying to integrate a whites-only waiting room at the bus station in the small town of Winona.
When Hamer returned to her jail cell, fellow activist Euvester Simpson put cool towels on her head to soothe the pain. By the next day, Hamer had revived. She began to sing, her fellow activists joining in.
Hamer would best become known for "This Little Light of Mine," but another song she loved to sing was "Take My Hand, Precious Lord," altering the lyrics at times.
The message seemed meant for them: "Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand, precious Lord, lead me on."
The music of the movement was "the glue that held us together, even in our darkest times," Simpson said. "It gave us the courage to keep going."
The song's author, Thomas Dorsey, grew up in the Deep South, but rather than pounding the pulpit like his father, he pounded the piano. He moved to Chicago and became blues musician Georgia Tom. But after a nervous breakdown, he decided to become a music minister. His wife, Nettie, became pregnant.
On a trip to St. Louis, he received a telegram: "Your wife just died. Come home." He found out his newborn son had died as well and buried them both in the same casket.
In the days that followed, he kept his distance from music, but one day while visiting a beauty training college, he happened upon a piano and placed his hands on the keys. Dorsey wrote the song, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."
He gave up the blues and started the first Christian music-publishing house run by African-Americans. By the time Dorsey died in 1993, he had written nearly 400 songs, but he regarded "Precious Lord" as his greatest work.
It found a place, too, in the heart of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Elvis Presley exploded into national consciousness in 1956 when more than 60 million Americans watched him perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
In the Mississippi native's third appearance on Sullivan and last TV performance of the '50s, he played such hits as "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel," finishing with his first televised gospel song, "Peace in the Valley," written by Dorsey.
A week later, Presley, backed by the Jordanaires, recorded several gospel standards, including "Precious Lord."
"If it's a popular religious song, people don't particularly care about race or authorship," said Kip Lornell, an ethnomusicologist at George Washington University. "It's really about the message."
Freedom Summer culminated in August 1964 in Atlantic City. Civil rights activists protested Mississippi's all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention. They sat with their signs around the clock and joined in gospel songs.
Inside, Martin Luther King Jr., Aaron Henry and Ed King laid out their cases before the Credentials Committee, but it was Hamer's words that riveted the nation, describing the jail beatings she and others received.
"All this is on account we want to register, to become first-class citizens," she said. "If the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, where the land of the free and home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives are being threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings in America."
President Lyndon Johnson's representatives suggested a compromise, where two Freedom Democratic Party delegates could be seated at the convention. "We didn't come all this way for no two seats 'cause all of us is tired," Hamer responded.
Hamer never gave up pushing. When the next Democratic convention took place in Chicago two years later, she finally got that seat she'd waited for.
Hamer and Presley died within months of each other in 1977, and the gospel songs they loved filled the funerals of these Mississippi rebels.
"Shewas so much more than a wife, a daughter, a mother and so on," SNCC leader Joyce Ladner said of Hamer. Friends called her "Fannie," but SNCC workers knew her as "Mrs. Hamer," "the mother" of their movement.
A song Hamer loved wafted through the air: "Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weary, I am worn."
Hodding Carter III, whose newspaper family in Greenville had stood up against injustices, spoke to the hundreds gathered:
"Because of Fannie Lou Hamer and others like her, I am free from myself, my history, my racism and my past. I just want to thank her for that."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fifty Years Ago: Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner

Fifty years ago this weekend, three young men whose name are among the most revered names in the Civil Rights Movement, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were arrested and murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. These young men were among the brave young people who came to Mississippi during Freedom Summer. Freedom Summer was a the summer when voter registration, education, economic development and citizenship workshops were conducted by hundreds of black and white college students with the goal of recruiting citizens and building community. 

I thought this NBC news broadcast - itself 50 years old - could relay the urgency, panic and fear felt by the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), friends of these young men, their families and blacks throughout the south felt because of the violence and hatred towards blacks and those who wanted to help them achieve true freedom. 

While this is a contemporary account of the slaying of these men, the conclusion of the story won't be told. The following is a brief account of what happened...

In August their bodies were found in a mud dam on the property of Olen Burrage. Goodman and Schwerner, white New Yorkers in their early 20s who had come South as part of a wave of young activists, had been shot. So had Chaney, a 20-year-old black Mississippian, whose body also showed signs of having been beaten, tortured and mutilated.
The case was a big story in the national news and also attracted the attention of the F.B.I.and the Justice Department, which won a handful of convictions, and light sentences, on federal civil rights charges a few years later. But no state charges, for murder or anything else, were brought until 2005, when the Mississippi attorney general obtained an indictment against Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old preacher and sawmill operator long believed to have been one of the main organizers of the killings.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Where There's a Will There's a Way!

Where there's a will, there's a way. Amidst all the whining and moaning among multinational corporations like, WalMart, McDonald's, Burger King, etc. about their inability to provide living wages to their minimum wage employees, one of the largest employers in Dallas County has found a way. Which one? Parkland Hospital. 
That's right, Parkland...
The story's below but, quickly, they were able to take bonus money meant for the hospital's 60 vice-presidents and raise the lowest level employees pay from $8.78 to $10.25 an hour.
And no one committed suicide, no one even had a home or car  repossessed! 
More importantly, County Judge Clay Jenkins' efforts to make sure that every worker in the county is paid a fair wage is coming to fruition. I've talked with him personally and he is seriously committed to this. 
Imagine, not one doctor accused one kitchen worker of being a 'taker'...hmmm!

Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas will raise its own minimum wage to $10.25 an hour next month, paying for the increase with money originally devoted to executive bonuses.
The lowest-level employees at the hospital currently make $8.78 an hour, and the increase will give about 230 workers a raise. Those workers were already making more than Texas’s minimum wage, which is the same as the federal $7.25 an hour rate. The move also means that every worker employed by Dallas county, inside and outside the hospital, will make more than $10.25 an hour.
The wage increase will cost the hospital about $350,000 a year. The expense will be covered with money from the upcoming quarter’s bonus pool for the hospital’s 60 vice presidents and top executives. That pool was between $750,000 and $1.2 million in the most recent quarter, and it’s between $3 million and $5 million for the full year.
Dr. Jim Dunn, the hospital’s executive vice president and chief talent officer, told Modern Healthcare that the decision was made in the hopes of improving workers’ morale and to provide a living wage. “We really want, in any way possible, to break down any gaps or anything between the top leaders and those who are closest to our patients,” he said. “We feel like it’s the right thing to do.”

Raising wages can help businesses’ bottom lines, as it can improve efficiency, make it easier to recruit workers, and lower turnover. Losing employees to turnover is particularly expensive, as it can cost as much as 20 percent of a workers’ salary to replace her. Other companies have voluntarily raised their minimum wages lately, including retailer Gap, which boosted its lowest pay to $10 an hour...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Glenn Beck - Welcome to the Side of Reason

Glenn Beck's gone round the bend! 

I once said I will make no reference to Glenn Beck, because I wanted to be one of the first ones to signify with my silence that I knew him to be a man with nothing to say...

And now this...he says, about the war in Iraq, "...liberals were right; I was wrong...

Watch the clip with me. And then, as one respondent said, she went outside and looked up in the air and saw pigs flying,

Thanks God!

It's not just that Beck has seen the light, time has proven that our nearly $2 trillion dollar, 4500 American life (and God only knows how many Iraqui lives) was a painful lesson in misadventure. Beck is right, we cannot force democracy on anyone at the point of a gun and we need to demand that any country crying out for freedom do more than simply cry out and ask 'Where is America?'. America needs a standing military for two reasons a) to defend herself against aggressors and to join a real coalition of countries against international bad actors whose threats are at least as plain to their neighbors as they are to us. We simply cannot police the world. As I said to friends in 2003 when we went to war in Iraq, '...unless we are trying to create a 51st state in Iraq, we need to stay out.' We went to war without an exit strategy, and having failed to find weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons, engaged in mission creep and nation building until it was crystal clear that in order to stay we would have to occupy the nation by force.

So while Glenn Beck may be wrong on a number of other things, he is right on what progressives were right about when came to the Iraq war: we should have stayed out. Saddham Hussein was a bad guy - who had been our ally for years while he was a bad guy, but we let our newly discovered sense of 'patriotic nationalism get the better of us and went to war in a country not to get those necessary for 9-11, but to get someone whose own ideals we don't like. For those bloodthirsty Americans who want to do that all over the world, we can set the reset button and find plenty of despots in Africa, North Korea and South America we can pick on. But we won't have the resources to fight them if we use all our resources in the Middle East.
He's also right in that this is one of those issues around which there seems to be bipartisan support.

I'd just like to say one thing to Beck...welcome to the club...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Walmart donates $250K to Dallas nonprofit CitySquare

Shawn Wills, our Chief Development Officer sent this message around the organization and I think its a pretty big deal. No, it doesn't erase the problems we have with WalMart, nor is it a substitute for economic justice. But it is a generous gift that should be acknowledged...


Staff Writer-Dallas Business Journal

Dallas-based nonprofit CitySquare received a donation of $250,000 from the Walmart Foundation to support its Food on the Move Program.
CitySquare has worked in the Dallas area for more than 25 years and also serves Houston, Austin and Waco. Its Food on the Move program delivers more summer lunches to children who would otherwise go hungry than any other program in the state of Texas, with more than 1 million meals served in summer 2013 alone.
“This is part of our commitment to help end hunger in the U.S.,” said Erica Jones, senior manager of communications for Walmart. “With Food on the Move, what they’re doing, getting out there and getting food to kids during the summer months, we just think, why wouldn’t you want to support that? It’s right to do for the community.”
This year, the organization plans to continue growing. Starting June 9, it began giving out nutritious meals and snacks as well as providing play time for children and youth in low-income neighborhoods.
“It’s wonderful because it helps with our transportation costs,” said Renee Caldwell, senior manager of communications and outreach for Food on the Move. “We’re able to feed more kids locally as well as outside the city.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Brain Center at Whipple's or What Do we do with the Workers We've Replaced?

I don't want to tax your patience but this episode of the Twilight Zone is...well prophetic, Of course the first picture is the the old fashion assembly line. The kind  that the foreman  and Handley were talking about. The kind of work that provided dignity and self-worth as men looked at what they made with their hands. 

Take the time to watch the episode of the Twilight Zone and it won't take long. And look at the third picture, those machines have taken the place of the men in the first picture. 

Now I'm not asking for a return to the 'good 'ol days', Progress does indeed move in on the wheels of inevitability. But who retrains the men and women in picture number one? Who teaches those in the first picture who need to feed their families and who need the dignity of work to help them feel alive. 

Too...compassionate? Maybe so. Or maybe you see profit and business through the eyes of Mr. Whipple...if so, beware...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Southern Baptists Adopt Resolution Condemning Payday Lending

On Predatory Payday Lending

WHEREAS, Scripture teaches that all persons are of inestimable worth regardless of their social, economic, or physical condition (Genesis 1:26); and

WHEREAS, God commanded humanity to be fruitful and multiply, taking just dominion of the earth in partnership with God (Genesis 1:26–31; 2:15); and

WHEREAS, The Fall has produced in human beings a selfishness that causes them to view others as objects to be exploited for personal gain rather than as individuals with whom to enjoy rich, mutually beneficial relationships (Genesis 3:7–19); and

WHEREAS, God is not opposed to profit (Matthew 25:14–30) but is opposed to those who take advantage of the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable (Exodus 22:21–24; Deuteronomy 24:10–22; Zechariah 7:8–14); and

WHEREAS, Payday lending is defined as the practice of lending small amounts of money, usually $350 or less, to individuals for two-week periods (i.e. until the next payday) potentially trapping borrowers in an endless cycle of two-week loans, often at an annual interest rate up to or exceeding 360 percent; and

WHEREAS, All such predatory behavior conflicts with God's plan for human relationships (Exodus 22:25–27; Leviticus 19:35–36; 25:35–37; Nehemiah 5:1–13; Proverbs 11:1); and

WHEREAS, Predatory payday lending is a direct violation of the Love Commandment (Mark 12:20–31; Luke 10:25–37); and

WHEREAS, Predatory lending fails to respect the dignity of the person created in the image of God and interferes with human flourishing; and

WHEREAS, Individuals and businesses must be just in their dealings, operating with wisdom and care, if they are to be respected as valued contributors to society (Genesis 4:9; Amos 4–6; Colossians 3:23–24); and

WHEREAS, The Apostle Paul states that government's task is to reward good and punish evil (Romans 13:1–7); and

WHEREAS, People may occasionally need emergency financial assistance; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, June 10–11, 2014, denounce the practice of predatory payday lending as contrary to God's design for human relationships; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge churches, employers, and other concerned individuals to provide viable solutions for meeting short-term financial needs within their local communities; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage churches to provide financial stewardship classes and/or skills training for church members and members of the wider community; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on governing officials to investigate current payday lending abuses in their communities and institute just regulations and policies that terminate the practice of predatory payday lending; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we strongly admonish those who are engaged in the practice of predatory payday lending to consider the great damage they are causing in the lives of vulnerable people and to adopt a just lending model.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Join CitySquare for the Screening of the Movie, 'Documented'

On June 26, CitySquare's Urban Engagement Cinema will present a free screening of Antonio Vargas' documentary 'Documented'. The movie which tells the story of the Pulitzer Prize winning author also relates the challenges of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant in the United States. Without papers, without status and without citizenship, hiding in the shadows, Vargas 'outed' himself and began a journey as an activist and provacateur challenging a system grown increasingly hostile toward those who are harshly (and incorrectly) referred to as 'illegal aliens'.


This is an issue that grows increasingly important since  U.S. Representative Eric Cantor lost his seat purportedly over the issue of immigration. Will Congress have the heart and will to take up the issue of a sensible, sane immigration policy or is it dead in the water for 2014 and quite possibly 2016 as well?

Join us at the Angelika Theater  5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, Dallas to watch this riveting story...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Michelle Obama Eulogizes Maya Angelou

It takes a truly vacant soul not to appreciate the wisdom and eloquence of Dr Maya Angelou. Her homegoing service mirrored that wisdom and eloquence. It was reflected in the tributes given to her this past Saturday. 

I laughed, wept and said 'amen' by turn. Few of the speakers captured the moment better than Michelle Obama. It was, in the words of Frederick Douglass, 'a sacred effort'. I hope you enjoy it as I did...

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Texas GOP Platform...You Guessed it - It's an Alternate Universe

If you are interested in a fascinating read, here it is. The Temporary Platform Committee Report for Texas' GOP. 
A Party Platform is a statement of Party beliefs or political convictions upon which their candidates are supposed to run. Each item in the 'platform' is called a 'plank'. So, for instance, where drivers' licenses are 'proof of citizenship' so that no 'non-citizen' can be issued a drivers license. Or their apology to Chinese Americans for their historic mistreatment. Something tells me I needn't hold my breath waiting for a similar apology....
A revealing look at the Texas GOP 'mind'...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I KNEW it was TOO Good to Be True!!

""The National Rifle Association unapologetically and unflinchingly supports the right of self-defense and what that means is that our members and our supporters have a right to carry a firearm in any place they have a legal right to be. If that means open carry, we support open carry. If it means concealed carry, it means concealed carry. So unequivocally we support open carry, we've been the leader of open carry efforts across this country, the leader in opposing efforts to curtail the ability to carry firearms, and that's something we're proud of and we do every day for our members.""

"Cox added that the NRA "apologize[s] again for any confusion that that post caused.""

You Can't Fix Dim-Witted...

I've just been somewhere I've never been before: the NRA (National Rifle Association) website. I was looking for something specific - their condemnation of the action of a few idiots who have taken 'the right to bear arms' to an extreme and who have begun carrying them openly to family restaurants across the nation.

Personally, I wish no one had a gun. And I am totally against these killing machines these guys carry. But my basic fear was that the NRA would not condemn these knot heads roundly.

I was wrong. Here is an excerpt of their post...

"Texas, independent-minded and liberty-loving place that it is, doesn't ban the carrying of loaded long guns in public, nor does it require a permit for this activity.  Yet some so-called firearm advocates seem determined to change this."

"Recently, demonstrators have been showing up in various public places, including coffee shops and fast food restaurants, openly toting a variety of tactical long guns. Unlicensed open carry of handguns is legal in about half the U.S. states, and it is relatively common and uncontroversial in some places."
"Yet while unlicensed open carry of long guns is also typically legal in most places, it is a rare sight to see someone sidle up next to you in line for lunch with a 7.62 rifle slung across his chest, much less a whole gaggle of folks descending on the same public venue with similar arms."

"Let's not mince words, not only is it rare, it's downright weird and certainly not a practical way to go normally about your business while being prepared to defend yourself. To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one's cause, it can be downright scary.  It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates."

"As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here).  In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that's counterproductive for the gun owning community."

"More to the point, it's just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.  That's not the Texas way.  And that's certainly not the NRA way."
There are times when the NRA seems unreasonable and unprincipled. I thought they would have shown themselves to be so this time.  I don't care how well trained you are, how much of a sharp shooter you promote yourself to be, nothing prevents accidents from happening. And the consequences of carrying a long rifle killing machine into a public place are too horrible to be imagined.
Look, I'm no prude when it comes to guns. My father and step father had guns around the house for protection. My brother and I both knew where they were. We never touched them. But those were fire arms that could be concealed. These idiots are carrying long rifles in public spaces. The NRA underestimates the folly of these rebels: "...carrying these guns in public spaces 'defies common sense..." and "shows a lack of consideration and manners."
I refer to these guns as killing machines, because, outside of a limited number of sportsmen and women, these guns are used in combat to kill. Self-control and wisdom is needed with these things. A characteristics these buffoons obviously don't possess...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Schoolhouse Rock for the Worst in Our Politics...

Remember 'School House Rock', the cartoon vignettes that taught us - among other things - how bills get passed? 

Apparently, now there's another way. Welcome to 'ALEC Rock'. ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), is responsible for writing the templates for such things as Voter ID laws and other legislation creeping into our politics and culture. 

Of course if you're my age, you may be more comfortable with School House Rock. I don't know what to tell you, other than you may need to look both ways before crossing the street if you are...