Our Common Good

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced who will chair all of the major House committees in the next Congress. And it turns out they all have something in common besides party affiliation: they’re all white men.

There isn’t a single woman or minority included in the mix of 19 House committee chairs announced Tuesday — a stark reality for a party desperate to appeal to women and minorities after both groups overwhelmingly rejected Republicans just weeks ago in the presidential election. The one female committee chair that House Republicans currently have, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is stepping down because her term is up. While there are still two lower-tier House committees awaiting a chair assignment — the Ethics Committee and House Administration — neither committee has any women or minority members.

The Republican National Convention’s first evening session paired two speakers who represent opposing poles of hope and fear within today’s GOP: the impressive daughter of Haitian immigrants who is seeking to become a representative from Utah, and an actress who has sought to tarnish President Obama by questioning if the Hawaii-born son of a Kenyan father and American mother is in fact constitutionally eligible to hold the office of the presidency.

In their remarks could be found the central tension in Mitt Romney’s Republican Party, a group that knows it must diversify if it is to keep pace with a changing American — but still contains the forces of reaction made nervous by that very change.

Mia Love in many way represents the highest promise of the GOP, a distant but not inconceivable future where the party attracts more than token black membership or votes and provides a warm welcome to the hard-working children of immigrants who gave up their culture, their language and their extended family for the far from easy task of making a new life in America. Still under 40, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, would be the first black woman elected to Congress as a Republican should she win. She was introduced in a lovely video (below) that keyed up what could have been significant remarks launching her on the national stage, had she had any kind of time to speak. Instead, her remarks were kept extremely brief.

Love was followed by Janine Turner, a blonde former actress with Fox News-style makeup and a radio show who, the Internet tells me, was a star in the 1980s and 1990s on television shows such as Northern Exposure. Turner ripped into Obama for his “gimme gimme” mentality, the first in a line of speakers that extended to former senator Rick Santorum and former Democrat Artur Davis to suggest that Obama wants to give the lazy people something for nothing.


Turner gained notoriety recently for her birther beliefs and questioning Obama’s right to serve in office. In a PJ Media article, “Reasoning ‘Kenyan Born’,” published with the subtitle, “Obama’s author bio leaves us three possibilities. None of them reflect well on the president,” Turner argues…

"if you want your religious headscarf then you shouldn’t protest" says Houston cop badge number 3362 as she rips off my hijab in public




So I have just gotten back from Houston protesting along side janitors who clean the offices of the world’s wealthiest companies for poverty wages. We were doing peaceful civil disobedience by sitting in an intersection to bring attention to the issue, we complied and were respectful when we were arrested.

Initially as I was processed in the gym two cops were talking to me. Upon learning I was Muslim and wore my headscarf for religious reasons [one cop actually wrote in my paperwork (headscarf religious reasons) and verbally confirmed that she wrote it down so people would know and I wouldn’t be bothered about it]. The other cop next to her asked me if I was fasting for Ramadan and I replied no and inquired how he knew it was Ramadan. He said it was because they received a diversity training.

After I was done I took five step to the side where they held the other female prisoners and where a female cop badge number 3362 started to fisk me and suddenly started taking off my scarf. This is the dialogue to the best of my memory there were plenty of protestors with me when this happened.

“Whoa, whoa, wait a second I wear my scarf for religious reasons, can’t you just feel my hair through it?” I said as I backed into the wall.

No. If you want your religious headscarf then you shouldn’t protest,” she said as I was turned around pushed into the wall by her grabbing my neck and ripping my headscarf off in front of everyone. Later another jailer would say the exact same thing when they took my headscarf away for the entirety of being incarcerated.  

The others were yelling at her to stop and cops started yelling at them telling them “She’s going to get charged!”

You wouldn’t do this to a nun,” I told her and another cop who was looking at me as she violently fisked me. And I have been fisked, groped and padded down many a time via TSA since I am Muslim while flying.

My clothes were ajar and were placed immodestly around my hips. Later others would help me fix it as our hands were restrained behind our backs.

“It’s just procedure,” the cop looking on said to me.

“God gave you free will and no one can take that from you,” I replied.

She threw the scarf back on my head covering my face until the cop looking on told her to fix it and then it was covering my eyes.

Afterward I approached her seeing that she was upset. “Look, I just want to talk civilly with you about what just happened and since I can tell you are upset.”

She got defensive and started talking about procedure. “I understand it’s procedure. See, many faiths and cultures believe in covering the head. You taking off my scarf in public like that is like taking off my shirt in public.”

She replied that I could have been hiding a gun. I looked at her in disbelief. My scarf is made up of a light material and my hair is short. She ordered me to sit down and leave her alone.

Initially I felt upset and mad. But then I felt bad for her. I know system is to dehumanize and humiliate the people who don’t compile with the law but after thinking a long time I realized that when you treat others like beasts you become a beast. But being treated like a beast doesn’t mean I am one, I still have a choice, I can still reflect on the example of my Prophet during this holy Ramadan, I still can cultivate compassion and rise above. 

signal boosting.

this is my friend, and this happened in downtown Houston; in my own state.

Outrageous. The police are telling us we can have freedom of speech OR freedom of religion, but not both. I eagerly await all the Chick-fil-a supporters to come out to support this young woman as well.

For a large city in Texas, Houston is better than most - they even have a lesbian mayor.  Individual people can be nasty anywhere.  Returning hateful treatment with peace and compassion can change minds and hearts.  Even if not immediately evident.  I applaud both participating in the action in support of the janitors seeking a fair wage and reacting to rudeness and ignorance with understanding and a reflection of the values and compassion we wish to see in the world. 


yeah … right


yeah … right


Canyon de Chelly, within the Navajo Nation in Arizona, is one of the small number of national parks or national landmarks that recognize the cultural or historical contributions of Native Americans in the U.S.
There are thousands of national landmarks in the United States, but less than 3 percent of them are dedicated to members of minority groups, such as Native Americans, African-Americans and women. An effort is underway by the Obama administration to broaden that historical reach, and include more locations important to Americans from diverse backgrounds.
(Photo: Canyon de Chelly in 1904 by Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia)


Canyon de Chelly, within the Navajo Nation in Arizona, is one of the small number of national parks or national landmarks that recognize the cultural or historical contributions of Native Americans in the U.S.

There are thousands of national landmarks in the United States, but less than 3 percent of them are dedicated to members of minority groups, such as Native Americans, African-Americans and women. An effort is underway by the Obama administration to broaden that historical reach, and include more locations important to Americans from diverse backgrounds.


(Photo: Canyon de Chelly in 1904 by Edward S. Curtis, Wikipedia)


… but y’all don’t hear me though…

Does not surprise me.

“We are a people of many different religions and many different faiths. The only way forward in a pluralistic society of diverse faiths such as ours is to have laws that protect and respect the freedom of all, equally.

That’s why we joined together — as clergy and faith-based leaders, as community activists and civil rights leaders, as volunteers, as legislators, and as citizens — and passed a bill that provides equal protection under the law for every individual, and the free exercise of religion without government interference.

The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity: the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual, the dignity of a free people who, at the end of the day, all want the same thing for our children.” - Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley


IT’S a puzzle: one dispossessed group after another — blacks, women, Hispanics and gays — has been gradually accepted in the United States, granted equal rights and brought into the mainstream.

At the same time, in economic terms, the United States has gone from being a comparatively egalitarian society to one of the most unequal democracies in the world.

"Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”

That optional question makes Elmhurst the first school in the country to ask applicants about their sexual orientation or gender identity, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Gary Rold, the dean of students at Elmhurst, stressed the question falls in line with the campus’ mission statement to increase diversity.

"We’re offering an incentive to a group of students who are looking for a home and may not find that in a lot of other places, we consider that a good thing. It’s very consistent with our mission," said Rold.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday directing federal officials to design a government-wide strategy for making the federal workforce more diverse.

The three-page order directs the head of the Office of Personnel Management, a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget, the President’s Management Council and the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to develop the strategy within 90 days. Agencies then have 120 days to work the plan into their hiring and recruiting.

If so many people want compromise in Washington, why is compromise so hard to achieve?

The temptation is to blame life inside the Beltway. Politics is, after all, increasingly a blood sport, driven by extremes and special-interest money. Redistricting has left fewer moderates in the Capitol. And the genteel Washington of yore — where lawmakers and spouses socialized across party lines, sharing cocktails and swapping ideas — has disappeared, replaced by a culture in which families stay in the district and members jet home each weekend.

Yet a number of political analysts and social scientists say the intransigence has as much to do with Americans outside the capital as lawmakers within it. If Americans want to know why their elected officials can’t compromise, these scholars and pundits say, perhaps they ought to look in the mirror.

“Americans are self-segregating,” said Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort,” a 2008 book that examined, in the words of its subtitle, “why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart.”

Mr. Bishop said Americans now choose “in their neighborhoods and their churches, to be around others who live like they do and think like they do — and, every four years, vote like they do.” He tested his thesis with an examination of the shifting geography of presidential politics, beginning in 1976, when Jimmy Carter won the presidency by the slimmest of margins, with 50.1 percent of the vote.

That year, 26.8 percent of Americans lived in “landslide counties,” which voted either Democratic or Republican by 20 percentage points or more. By 2000, when Al Gore and George W. Bush split the popular vote, 45.3 percent of Americans lived in landslide counties. In 2008, the figure was 47.6 percent.

Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University, reported the same phenomenon at the state level in his book “The Disappearing Center.” In the 1960s and 1970s, he said, big states like New York, California, Illinois and Texas were evenly split in presidential elections, making them battlegrounds. “Now,” Mr. Abramowitz said, “a lot of the big states are lopsided.”

Political clustering is reflected in religious participation and even shopping choices. David Wasserman, of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, recently calculated that 89 percent of the Whole Foods stores in the United States were in counties carried by Barack Obama in 2008, while 62 percent of Cracker Barrel restaurants were in counties carried by John McCain.

“If voters are seeking an explanation for hyper-partisanship and dysfunction, they ought to look down the street,” Mr. Wasserman said.

- NYTimes.com