Posts Tagged ‘Palestine’

Random Friday Thoughts — July 25, 2014

Happy Friday!   The weekend is here and I hope you have a great one.

While this is a condensed “Random Friday Thoughts”, it’s still something unexpected and fun to post since I’ve missed my blog.


As the fighting in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine escalates, the death toll continues to rise.  So far, roughly 760 people have died in Gaza and the Israeli death toll is around 35.

Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines both halted flights from the U.S. to Israel, while airlines in Germany, Italy, and France joined in prompting the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an advisory.


Meanwhile, country music and entertainment superstar Reba McEntire released her first new song since 2012 asking the world to “Pray For Peace”.


Reba stated on her Facebook page, “The idea to write the song “Pray For Peace” came to me last year as I was walking on our place in Gallatin, Tn. For days I’d sing, “Pray for Peace”, over and over. It wasn’t until several months later did the other parts start to fall in place. Some, not until we got into the studio to record it.”

She adds, “It’s an act of perseverance, prayer, hope, fellowship and mostly love.”

You can see the finished video (with music) here:


Also, international music icon Madonna is earning praise and a lot of flak for posting this picture on social media.

Madonna Flowers

The caption was “These flowers are like the innocent children of GAZA! Who has a right to destroy them? No One!!!! CEASE FIRE! #peaceinthemiddleeast” -Madonna.”

Responses on her Facebook page have been rather passionate.

Positive:   “She Can Support whoever she wants to… so whats the Problem? Im a Madonna’s Fan, Im Not Supporting Israel, Im not supporting Gaza, Im Just Supporting The Peace, The Children’s Life are Important, Doesn’t matter the side of they come from.

And, ” Thank you Madonna for shedding light on human rights abuses in the Middle East. Every life is precious and no child should die.

Negative: “you Madonna have no rights to say this kind of things about the children in Gaza !  These children are taught from childhood to hate us and want to kill us and destroy the people of Israel ! …  “SHAME ON YOU MADONNA !  I’m not a fan anymore!”

And, “Madonna talking about politics is a bit like George w Bush trying to point Iraq on a map before attacking it.”

Madonna Defend Human Rights

This prompted Madonna to post this follow-up an hour or so later.

Madonna Hamas


Kudos to the Emmy Awards for nominating transgender actress Laverne Cox is the proper category “Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series” for her work in “Orange Is The New Black”!


Sadly, no nominations were given to the NBC series, “Hannibal” or for any of the actors.  This is by far, the best and most intelligent show on television!  Maybe next year?

And, Emmy also snubbed “The Walking Dead” for acting awards AGAIN!  There was a lot of buzz and hope that Melissa McBride would get a nomination for her heartbreaking performance this season.


McBride did win the “Saturn Award” this year and is nominated for the “Gold Derby TV Award” for Best Supporting Actress.


My favorite English band, Erasure, is gearing up for the release of their latest album, “The Violet Flame” in September.

The first single, “Elevation”, just came out and it’s incredible.  Andy Bell sounds amazing and it’s a fresh new sound for the every changing electronic duo.

I can’t wait to see them in concert in Chicago on October 4th.

If you’re not all that familiar with Erasure or you want to know just how much I love their music, check out this blog from June.


The “crazy train” may have derailed in 2012, but it may be back on the tracks for the 2016 presidential race.


Michele Bachmann tells RealClearPolitics, “there’s a chance I could run.”


It was seven years ago last weekend that televangelist Tammy Faye (Bakker) Messner died after an 11-year battle with cancer.

tammy-faye book

I just finished her book and it made me look at her in a new light.

If you missed my blog about her, the book, her life, and her thoughts, here’s the link:


Cancer is scary and we all know or love someone that has been touched by it.

I have and I’ve already had three cancer scares.  I just read the most incredible and the best book ever about a Chicago chef that faced his biggest fear, tongue cancer — something that could have either killed him or ended his career.


Check out Grant Achatz’s amazing story in this blog.


The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo that have remixed songs for The Killers, Icona Pop, and Ellie Goulding.

Their first radio hit in America, #SELFIE, reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart.

It also reached #1 in Finland, #2 in Sweden, and #3 in Australia and Norway.


The video has been viewed more than 181 million times on YouTube.  Now, go take a selfie!


So there’s your surprise “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Have a great weekend!



Forget Marilyn, I Want “My Week With Jimmy Carter”

There are only two presidents that I would love to spend a day or weekend with and four others, in an alternate universe since they’re dead, that I’d want to have lunch or drinks with to just to ask them a few pressing questions.

I’d love to do lunch with Abraham Lincoln over “chicken fricassee” and find out what it was like to be an awkward Kentucky boy (no Indiana, you can’t claim him) that went on to be one of the most beloved presidents of all-time that freed the slaves.

While eating Boston clam chowder, I would want John F. Kennedy to tell me about his illicit affairs and about what he really thought of his enemies.  I’d love to have fresh avocados, macadamia nuts, and rum and cokes with “Tricky Dick”, oops sorry, Richard Nixon to see if he was as mean as he’s made out to be.

And, finally with Ronald Reagan, over honey-baked apples and an “orange blossom”, “The Gipper’s favorite drink when he had one (wait, make mine with vodka instead of gin), I would ask two questions that have made me dislike, almost hate, the man who seemed so gentle.

“Why did you wait so long, after so many gay men had died, to mention “AIDS” in public — six years after it was first mentioned in the New York Times?”  And, after that, I would want to know if he really thought anti-war protesters, like the four students at Kent State University in 1970, deserved to die.  As California’s governor, he took a hard stance against hippie protestors by saying, “If there’s going to be a blood bath, let’s get on with it.”

Those are the presidents that I would love to meet.  However, the two that I’d want to spend a weekend with are my two favorite commander-in-chiefs, Bill Clinton (and, of course, Hillary) and Jimmy Carter.

Yes, the 39th president of the United States from 1977-1981 will turn 88-years-old this October and he’s still active in painting, fly-fishing, woodworking, cycling, tennis, and skiing.  Amazing!

In the fall of 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first Presidential vote for the Democrat Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again.  So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still cannot vote.  Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing. 🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about gay rights, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s.

However, in retrospective, I made the right choice.  While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

More recently, Carter supported the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and he is for civil unions.

Just in case the religious right and the Republicans (Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney, are you listening?) didn’t catch what I just wrote, let me repeat something again, “Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day”.  He “opposes all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and believes there should be equal protection under the law for people who differ in sexual orientation.”

Jimmy Carter is such an amazing man and I hope to accomplish just a fraction of what he’s done in his lifetime.

Many people know him from his one term as President which hasn’t been remembered kindly.  President Carter, like current President Barack Obama, faced many huge obstacles, including continuing inflation and a recession.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the last half of Carter’s presidency was tainted by the Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.


Before being elected to the highest office in the country, he served on local school, hospital, and library boards, served two terms in the Georgia Senate, and became the Governor of Georgia in 1971.

It was at that time, before he reached out to the gay community, he bucked the Southern mentality by opposing racial segregation.  His family was also one of only two that voted to admit blacks to the Plains Baptist Church.

Once he was elected Georgia’s governor, he commented, “I say to you quite frankly, that the time for racial discrimination is over. No poor, rural, weak, or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity of an education, a job, or simple justice.”

While leading the “Peach State”, Carter appointed many African-Americans to statewide boards and offices.


Then, after his one term (which was all that allowed at the time) as Georgia governor ended in 1975, he began his bid to the presidency with almost no chance of winning since he wasn’t nationally known.  When he told his family that he was going to run for President, his mother asked, “President of what?”

Carter became the front-runner by winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.  He used two different strategies while campaigning:  in the South, he ran as a moderate favorite son and in the North, Carter appealed largely to conservative Christian and rural voters.

He was even featured in “Playboy” magazine in 1976 and revealed, “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

Carter chose Senator Walter Mondale as his running mate and in the November 1976 elections, he won the popular vote 50-48% over President Gerald Ford and received 297 electoral votes to Ford’s 240 to become the first president from the Deep South to be elected since 1848!

Earlier I talked about some things that President Carter was not so fondly remembered by, but the Department of Energy and the Department of Education were both created during his four years in office.

When Carter ran for re-election in November 1980, it wasn’t pretty.  While Carter got 41% of the popular vote, he only carried six states and the District of Columbia. The electoral vote wasn’t close with Ronald Reagan winning that 489-49.

In a bittersweet moment, on January 20, 1981, just minutes after Carter’s term as president ended, the 52 U.S. captives held hostage at the U.S. embassy in Iran were released after 444 days.


The four years as President took its toll on Carter and his legacy.  He began his term with a 66% approval rating, but it dropped to 34% by the time he left office, with 55% disapproving.

However, his reputation has much improved to a 64% approval rating in 2009.  “The Independent” wrote, “Carter is widely considered a better man than he was a president.”

I personally think he did a great job as President with the crap he had going on and he’s definitely a good man.

After leaving office, Carter returned to Georgia and in 1982, he established “The Carter Center” in Atlanta to advance human rights and alleviate unnecessary human suffering by promoting democracy, mediates and prevents conflicts, and monitors the electoral process in support of free and fair elections and to improve global health.  He’s also worked very closely with “Habitat for Humanity”.

Among the numerous honors Carter has received are the Presidential Medal of Freedom 1999 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office.

Another thing President Carter and I have in common is that we’re both very outspoken.

He is opposed to the death penalty in all forms and in his Nobel Prize lecture, he urged the “prohibition of the death penalty”.

Carter speaks regularly and has written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He supports Israel as a country, but criticizes its domestic and foreign policy:  “One of the greatest human rights crimes on earth is the starvation and imprisonment of 1.6 million Palestinians.”  He also adds, “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.”

In 2000, Carter severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, saying the group’s doctrines did not align with his Christian beliefs.  Six years later, on BBC’s current affairs program, “Newsnight”, he expressed concern at the increasing influence of the Religious Right on U.S. politics.

In recent years, Carter has been very vocal about his disapproval of the Iraqi war and the presidency of George W. Bush (“I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history”).

After Carter left office, he has written more than 20 books covering a variety of topics, including humanitarian work, aging, religion, human rights, poetry, and a children’s book.

Last September, Carter endorsed Mitt Romney for in the GOP bid for President in 2012, not because he likes Romney, but because he feels Obama’s re-election bid would be strengthened in a race against Romney.

Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in July 2011, making them the second-longest wed Presidential couple after George and Barbara Bush.

So, President Carter, I’d love to spend at least a day with you just listening to you talk about your 88 years.  We could start with pancakes for breakfast, have a salad with Roquefort dressing and soup for lunch, and “Southern-style” fried chicken with batter-fried eggplant for dinner and frozen yogurt for dessert.

My schedule is open.  Have your people get with my people.


P.S.  I didn’t just make up all these food and drinks with the presidents.  I did my research. 🙂