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Things changed for me in 2008, and I switched to writing at www.TheGhousediary.com or TheGhousediary.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Gaza March

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
11:50 PM

Unless the majority of Jews and Muslims speak up, the evil men continue to do what works for their best interests. To be Evil is to kill, support or justify killing of another human. Neither Torah nor Qur’aan supports what Hamas or Israelis are doing, yet the inaction of Jews and Muslims is shameful. Both the books say, "to save a life is to save the whole humanity or to kill a life is like killing the whole humanity." - Mike Ghouse

Approximately 1,000 men and women from 42 different countries, including the drivers of the move, the CODE PINK organization are daring to cross the Rafah Border going into Gaza as we speak now at midnight US Central time. This includes four of our heroes, whom I know- Aishah Schwartz (on facebook), Col Ann Wright, Roger Kallenberg and Diane Baker from Dallas Peace center. I salute them. It reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi's Dandi March, where thousands of men and women dared bullets and marched on, got beaten, but didn't get beat.
these events have moved me;

Continued: http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2009/12/gaza-march.html
~~~

Monday, December 28, 2009

AVATAR - A movie about Harmony

Monday, December 28, 2009
Mike Ghouse

When it comes to visual effects, Avatar is the mother of all movies. However, it could have been made in two hours without losing an ounce of amazement. This movie is a good expression of living in harmony with nature exemplified by the indigenous people of Pandora. I would see this movie a few more times to absorb the special effects, nature, harmony, romance, beauty, thoughtfullness and the message of co-existence, aka Pluralism*.
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/12/avatar-movie-about-harmony.html

The native girl tells the hero, “you cannot fill a cup that is full”, and he responds, “it is empty”. It is one of the most powerful dialogues in the movie, in this context, she is telling him, "how can you understand us if your mind is made up of what life ought to be". His response was such a delight, when he says "it is empty", signifying that he is open to new information, that he is not biased, there is room to process the new culture without prejudice or how things ought to be done. My way is not the only way; I am open to your ways.

In another instance, she tells him to ride on the bird which was hostile to him, he asks "how do I know the brid would not kill me", she responds," if it tries to kill you, and if you earn his respect, he will give you the ride." Powerful dialogue. Mother Teresa had said, " if you want to make friends with your enemies, go talk with them". A chinese proverb says, "if you want your enemy gone, befriend him, you threaten him, he will be enemy for life". The hero captures another massive ferocious bird with the tail connection. I wish our politicians have the brains to get this and if they do, terrorism can evaporate into thin air.

One of the Rhino- look-alike animals charges at the hero, he wanted to run, she tells him to stand firmly "show no fear" and as expected the animal stops. The Monkey story has a similar conclusion, when he stares at you threateningly, and if you think of taking a back step, he reads your fear and will be all over you, whereas if you stand firmly, monkey will pause, gets frightened and backs off, that has been my experience with real monkies and monkey-like humans. This is the kind of approach we need to take with bullies in our lives, if you fear getting hurt anyway, frighten the crap out of them by taking a firm stand.

The movie talks about the universe of energy that is made up of everything within us and what surrounds us; the harmony was beautifully expressed in terms of connection the hero makes with a bird, horse like animal and the trees by aligning his tail (Ironic) with theirs. It is an example of how to co-exist with differences. It is a beautiful expression of looking the universe as uno energy, giving each component of it, its full value.

The uno energy is composed of multitudes of diverse elements living in harmony. It is comparable to the idea of “One God”; however it ought to be “oneness” rather than mathematical integer.

The idea can carry a few members of religion into fanatic frenzy of chanting “one God”, as if God is a number. The idea of one God is the multitudes of traditions living in harmony within the “larger one God”, rather than “your one” and “my one.” Event those who do not believe in God as presented by religions, can consider it as an energy that drives every thing, the system that keeps the universe in balance, the planets, and the moon orbiting the earth in precision. It is the consistent energy that pervades in one to have the feelings about others and others rights.

The movie highlights the wickedness of corporations that dehumanize life, where profit drives them to insanity; it is kind of a film on John Perkins, “Confessions of an economic Hitman”.

It shows the helplessness of many who fear the bully corporations and simply yield to the evil dictates of men despite their disdain. If Edmund Burke can be paraphrased, “the evil in the world exists and continues to exist because of good people, and not due evil men, because good men don’t do anything to stop it”.

We should have protested along with Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore, had we done that, we probably would not have let our war machinery destroy others as well as bring misery to us.

There is another critical dialogue in the movie, where the commander in charge of the corporation is bent on destroying the native people by seizing their land and literally bulldozing them and saying, we are going to teach “those terrorists” and order his men to destroy them with shock and awe. As audience, we sense the ridiculousness of it, “the man had gone to their lands, to rob them and when they resist, he calls them terrorists.”

Like all movies, we get the satisfaction that there is hope and at the end of the day justice triumphs.

* Pluralism is developing an attitude of respecting the otherness of other, and figuring out how to co-exist in harmony with the given differences.

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

~~~
1/15/2013 - watching Hardball on MSNBC - Nia-Malika Henderson appear on screen, she reminded the foreheads and noses of the characters in Avatar. Take a look



Additional notes:

1. The bird attack on the helicopters reminds me of a story from Quraan where a sea of brats attacking an invading army and chasing them out.

2. The Hindu mythology had a bird called Garuda, on which Lord Krishna (or Hanuman) flew. The inverted V sign on the faces of the natives reminds me of markings in Hindu traditions.

3. I have a severe phobia of heights, my knees freeze on me... I was pleased and surprised with my knees for not freezing on me when they show the hero and heroin stand on the edges of the floating mounations and jump on the birds.

3. Sulekha has copyrights protected on this article for me.
Avatar movie review by Mike Ghouse
Avatar english movie review posted by Mike Ghouse.Write your own movie review on Avatar. ... His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/ ...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A tribute to Jesus

A tribute to Jesus on this Christmas;
What does it mean to be religious?
Mike Ghouse

This column is dedicated to Rev. Petra Weldes of the Center for Spiritual Living in Dallas. Some of my conversation with her inspired me to write this tribute to Jesus and what it means to be religious.

Continued: http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-jesus.html


~~~

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio

Mike Ghouse on National Public Radio
Monday, December 21, 2009

The National Public Radio invited Rev. Angie Buchanan, a trustee of the Parliament of the World's religions and Mike Ghouse as an individual to be on the air between 3-4 PM to talk about the Parliament event. It was a good interview and it will be available at http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/ on Tuesday to download and listen to. Rev. Buchanan gave a wonderful analogy about religions being Islands and the need for the people in each Island to visit and build bridges.

Continued: http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2009/12/national-public-radio.html

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Journal of Pluralism - 12/20/09

THE JOURNAL OF PLURALISM
A PLURALISTIC PERSPECTIVE ON ISSUES OF THE DAY
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Seasons greeting, happy holidays and observances to all to including Hanukkah, Christmas, Winter Solstice and Muharram observations.

Am I a Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Pagan or a Maya?

The trends in spirituality and the emergence of a new conscience. To be with 8,000 people representing 250 faith expressions is an experience of life time. From Atheists to Zoroastrians and every one in between, including the native and earth based traditions from every corner of the world attended the event to hear each other and heal the earth. Indeed, that was the theme of the conference and a whole lot of uplifting conversation took place, and we hope it materializes into service. We have to do our individual share of work. - http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/am-i-jew-hindu-muslim-christian-pagan.html

Indigenous Environmental Summit 2010

The International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy will provide a forum for Indigenous thinkers from around the world to gather in a retreat setting to discuss two important questions: - What distinguishes Indigenous Environmental Philosophy from Western Environmental Philosophy? - How should Indigenous Environmental Philosophy be incorporated in the international dialogue on Climate Change?
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/indigenous-environmental-summit-2010.html

Integration of Religion in the 21st Century

The world is evolving and with that its constituents, people of various countries and cultures and for one or other reasons, the religions have evolved by way of their positive interpretations. Still all is not well with the interpretations of religions and any of those interpretations which threaten the basic foundation of humanity and its sustained living need to be identified and peaceful measures taken to ensure that world humanity move towards enhanced peace, trust and love : http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/integration-of-religion-in-21st-century.html


Copenhagen is about Climate Justice

Protecting the environment is the right thing to do; indeed it is a sacred duty of every human. As an individual or a nation we cannot shut ourselves in a bubble; either we suffer the damage together or save the environment for all. None of us can live in silos. Kudos for this effort . http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/copenhagen-is-about-climate-justice.html

This Journal reaches over 24,000 individuals, please register to receive: Email - You can also access this at http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Copenhagen is about Climate Justice

Climate Justice assures every one in the long haul that one can continue living and breathing regardless of being rich or poor. Protecting the environment is the right thing to do; indeed it is a sacred duty of every human. As an individual or a nation we cannot shut ourselves in a bubble; either we suffer the damage together or save the environment for all. None of us can live in silos.

Continued: http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/12/copenhagen-is-about-climate-justice.html
~~~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's Blunder on War

President Obama is wrong in this instance
Congressman Kucninich' note is a piece of wisdom
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/12/obamas-blunder-on-war.html

Only those who are incapable of a dialogue, only those who are short sighted secure their security through war because that is the only instrument they can understand. I am utterly disappointed in the president for lowering himself to appease the Neocons.

Neocons do not understand the nature of peace. To them peace comes when you oppress the dissenters, or annihilate them altogether. When you inflict suffering on others, the law of Karma goes to work, and brings insecurity and fear in you for the wrongs you have done.

Just war is a deranged ideology, it justifies the animal in humans to murder and annihilate, the president needs to understand religion, any and every religion and the idea of co-existence, to raise above animal instincts of survival.

We are the most powerful nation on the earth, and we should not be abusing it, our power gives us the power to bring peace through peaceful means.

There is a Chinese saying - if you want to eliminate the enemy spend half as much time and money and make them friends. War creates bitterness and insecurity, friendship removes enmity in the long run.

President Obama - you are a religious man, please reflect upon seeking peace through peace and not from bullying. Your and my mentor Martin Luther King has demonstrated that, please don't get big headed... have the humility to accept your goof up and make a turn around and earn the respect of the world and resist the temptations to be Bush.

Thank you.

Mike Ghouse
# # #

Congressman Kucinich’s Response to President Obama’s “Just War” Doctrine

WASHINGTON - December 11 - “Yesterday, our president mused about the inevitability of war, war’s instrumentality in the pursuit of peace and just wars. It is important for us to reflect on his words, because once we believe in the inevitability of war, war becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once we are committed to war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where War IS Peace, where the momentum of war overwhelms hopes for peace. And once we wrap doctrines perpetuating war in the arms of justice, we can easily legitimate the wholesale slaughter of innocents. The war against Iraq was based on lies. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are based on flawed doctrines of counter-insurgency. War is often not just; sometimes it is just war. And our ability to rethink the terms of our existence, to explore the possibility of peace without war, may well determine whether we end war, or war ends us.”

URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2009/12/11

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Ghouse to Speak at Parliament of Worlds Religions

DALLAS – (November 28, 2009) – Mike Ghouse, board member of The Memnosyne Foundation, has been invited to speak at the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions in Melbourne, Australia. Co-Founder and President of The Memnosyne Foundation, Mary Ann Thompson-Frenk, made the announcement recently.

Continued - http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/mike-ghouse-to-speak-at-parliament-of.html

~~~

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, an expression of gratitude.

The essence of Thanksgiving
Mike Ghouse

http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-expression-of-gratitude.html

It is one of my favorite holidays; it is a day to express gratitude to all those who have helped shaped our lives. It is also a day to express friendship and kindness to those who are struggling with the difficulties of life, thanksgiving is a day of sharing. Thank you for reading this note and forwarding it to your friends.

Why should we do that?

Well, let’s start with the concept of balance in life. Our happiness is directly dependent on fulfillment of our desires; the greater the desires, the lesser the fulfillment. The more we want, bigger the discontentment. Buddha said, No desire no sorrow!

That was my first philosophical debate with an American traveling in the train to Bombay in the early 70’s. He said, well the animals don’t desire much then what’s the difference between them and us?

Walk the Middle path, said the Prophet, just have enough desires that you can fulfill them, happiness will follow. My mother used to say “don't stretch your feet beyond your sheet”, meaning stay within your means. Every faith and every family is enriched with such an advice.

It's just not you, ask Bill Gates, whom God has blessed proportionately for his intelligence, he would answer, not enough! Ask the Homeless; the answer is still the same, not enough. Who has enough then?

Life is a self-balancing act;

For every good we receive, we have to offer our gratitude to the giver, absence of a simple thank you creates an imbalance in the relationship and the spiritual energy. A simple thank you will tie the loose ends and brings the balance back.

For every hurt we hurl on others, an equal amount of burden gets dumped on us, and until we say sorry and repent genuinely, the energy balance within us deteriorates. The transaction remains incomplete.

Just as the accountant recites his mantra, for every debit there is a credit; the physicist says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; heat lost equals heat gained; and as a spiritualist I feel that for every wrong we do, an equal amount of energy is drained from us and for every good we do, energy is recouped.

Life is a continual act of balancing between pain and pleasure, and to lead a normal life we have to maintain that equilibrium. We are constantly receiving and giving energy, intake and output must be equal to have a healthy mindset, else we are thrown off balance.

What is life, what is hope?

Let me share a story from my teen years. It was a Sunday ritual for me to sit and take care of the poor. A line of the needy people would pass in front of my house and being the oldest in the family, my Dad had assigned me the task of doling out the cash and food items to the individuals as they pass our door. I have seen lepers, people who cannot see, hear or talk, and certainly people with missing body parts.

I was fascinated by one such person, he did not have arms and limbs from the base of the body, he was just the torso and the head. He wrapped his body with a tube (those days car tires were inlaid with an air tight rubber tube to hold the air) of a car tire, and would slide inch by inch on his back from door to door... his shoulder and rear part would move in tandem similar to a snake. He would always made me think about life and hope. I was about 14 years old then and was hesitant to speak with him.

Appaiah turned around and asked me instead “Isn’t there so much to thank the lord?” I was rendered speechless. Here is a man with nothing to hope for, yet he is not complaining, that is gratitude. Just that morning, I heard my Dad’s favorite verse from Qur’aan- 55:16 “Then which of the favors of your Lord will ye deny? To this day, if I am down, I to go to the scriptures, I have found solace in opening Bhagvad Gita, Bible, Dale Carnegie’s book, the book of Mormon or Kitáb-i-Aqdas or simply read Sura Rahman, chapter 55 in Qur’aan, to uplift my spirits. We have to be grateful for whatever we have and express it to the unknown giver, a true thanksgiving.

One day, I asked him what made him want to live. He did not have relatives, could not do anything, could not have a family, could not have a place to live, and could not wear clothes.... what made him want to live?

Incredible gratitude.

He took a deep breath and looked at me and said, “Son, I look forward to every morning to see the blue sky or see the rain and smell the earth, I smell and taste the good food people give me, I am thankful to God for giving me these eyes to see the beauty of his creation.. he was quite poetic.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today or tomorrow, please carry a small piece of paper with you anywhere you go, and whenever you find a quiet moment, make a list of all the people you want to thank, you will find a sense of relief in it. Even if you don’t call every one on the list, you have already said your thanks by thinking about the individual and reciting his or her name in your mind. When you express your gratitude to the persons who have made a difference in your life, it brings a ton of relief to you. The tension of the action (good done to you) is released with your re-action of thinking about them or writing their name down and possibly calling them.

Ponder over all the good things people have done to you, the good words they have said to you. Even if you don’t like some of them now, separate the good they have done and say thanks for it. Reign in on your ego and see the victory you feel within you.

My Gratitude, what is yours?

This year, as always my gratitude goes to the causer of life, my family, friends and well wishers.

My Dad and Mom who opened the doors of knowledge for me. I am grateful to them for inculcating the values of pluralism and co-existence, right from the beginning.

My Sister and Brothers who were always there for me and a happy bunch of Pluralists.

Jeff and Fern, my son and daughter in law, are a source of joy to me. Both of them have an open mind and a heart towards God's creation. They have removed the cultural and religious barriers between them and God's creation. He is going to be a great Attorney and Fern will be a great Engineer.

Jasmina my daughter and I connect like my Mom and her Dad connected. If there were to be reincarantion, she and I have been dad and daughter for several lives. Some of the deffinitions of Pluralism have come from my daughter when she was five years old, "Gee Dad, it's cool that God can be worshipped in so many different ways" got that written down as " If we can learn to respect the devotion of each faith towards its creator, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge". Silently, Jazzie has contributed a whole lot in my thinking. She is going to be a Psychologist and would be a great one.

Saleh Shariff and I have been life time friends, we have been a mirror to each other and thank God, both of us have done our share of contribution towards the well being of humanity.

My friend Mr. Everett Blauvelt, whom I affectionately call Dadsky, is the reason for me to be here in America, he encouraged, enticed and sponsored me. Lily Blauvelt, Becky and Mary and Mike are part of my family and am grateful to them.

Mr. DD Maini who has been a friend and a Dad like figure to me. We go to Dinners and Lunches together often and share the life experiences.

Najma, my late wife, who and I shared a range of life experience. We have lived our life experiencing the full spectrum of emotions ranging from Khatta (sour), Meetha (sweet), Pheeka (tasteless), Teekha (off), Khara (spicy) and Kadva (bitter) brim with caring and lots of loving. Najma's father and mother and her family members as well.

Yasmeen, my fiancee is a true blessing in my life. As my former company Drees Homes' slogan said "Be yourselves" she is herself and I am myself, together we are looking forward to a life of nurturing, caring and being a catalyst to each other's joy and existence.

Adil Khan, my friend is an inspiration to me. He will take his shirt off and give it to a friend if that friend is in need. He is the one who goaded me into working for the PhD.

Ella, my ex-wife, has done a fabulous job in raising our kids Jeff and Mina, the joys of my life; I could not have asked for more from God. She has done what great mom's do to their kids. I am always greatful to her.

My bosses Harbans Lal (India), Gerry Morris, DW Lewis, Kathy Bounds and Mike Davis have taught me some of the most beautiful lessons of life.

My grade school teacher, Mr. Abdul Hakim is unforgettable, his name comes up at least once a week in my words. He went out of his way to see kids learn and go with higher education. He was and will continue to be part of my life.

My friends in Pluralism and interfaith work from Thanksgiving Square, the Universal Peace Federation, Dallas Peace Center and other organizations.

MaryAnn Thompson-Frenk and Joshua Frenk particularly, as my own dream of interfaith co-existence is fulfilled through their dream work at Memnyosyne Foundation.

Bernie Mayoff has been a good friend and helps me realign my thoughts every now and then. I appreciate that.

I want to thank all my friends for being there for me; Surendar Mittal, Kundan Sharma, Jamil Ahmed, Adil & Nosheen Khan, Kathy Bounds, AK Mago, Nadir & Maliha Durrani, Vina & Ghanshyam Dave, Tamim & Farida Shipchandler, Bala Reddy, Akram Syed, Dewey Lewis, Mike Davis, Coke Buchanan, DJ Sharma, Sibghat Ulla Khan, Lu Rahman, Mohamed Afsar, Syed Naseeruddin, Suhas Naik, Farooque Hemani, M. Krishna, Javed Iqbal, Francis Thomas, Su Kumar, Shiv Kumar, Maad Abu Ghazalah, Esther Vasquez, Bernie & Denise Mayoff, Surendra Mittal, Arun Vittala, Doug Edwards, Rizwan Shaikh, Farrukh Hamid, Sandhya Sarma, Basheer Ahmed, Amer Shakil, Ruben Carlos, Shiraz Mithani, Len Ellis, Lon Burnam, Rita Clarke, Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Ambassador Ahsani and several others.

I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Harbans Lal of Sheshadri Puram, Bangalore, my first boss, who encouraged me to write. That was in 1971 and since then I have written quite a lot. His voice still echoes “you will become a writer” and it's been music to me ever since. Please become that voice to some one. We are a product of what others want us to be, most of the times. If you want a better society, invoke the best in others. It is indeed rewarding.

I express my gratitude to many of my religious friends, but certainly the friendship of these; Rev Frederick Masih, Bishop Hernandes, Bishop McGriff, Swami Nityanand Prabhu, Dr. Karen Hollie, Dr. Pradeep Shah, Angie Buchanan, Gregory Gomez, Dr. Poras Balsara, Firdosh Mehta, Regina Rafraf, Kevin Rafraf, Ben Boothe, Rev. Bill Matthews, Rabbi Robert Haas, Len Ellis, Dr. Harbans Lal, Gregory Gomez, Rev. Marylou Ghyst, Deva Ramsaroop, Tatiana Androsov, Javed Jamil, Howard Cohen, Meera Jain, Muriel Pinkus, Damini Singh, Phyllis Curott, Rabbi Micha’el Akiba, Judi Arkow, Robert Hunt, Ed Sylvest, Hind Jarrah, Mohammad Irtaza, Rizwan Shaikh, Aurn Vittala, Shamim Siddiqi, Asif Effendi, Farrukh Hamid, Suleman Hemani, Farooq Hemani, Shawn Bhagat, David Copeland, Rev. Todd Collier, Bryan Langford, Tona Cervantes, Ricardo cervantes, Aniceto, Dr. Columba Marin, Imam Zia Shaikh, Constance Hargis, Phillip Collins, Phillip Shinoda, Julie Ann Turner, Imam Kavakci, Dr. Ramachandran, Elliott Dlin, Mr. G. Ramkrishna, Imam Zia Kavakci, Imam Abdul Rauf Feisal and Daisy Khan.

Dr. Mohammed Omar Farooq, Hassan Mahmud, Asra Nomani, Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Sher Suleman, Tariq Ramadan, Louay Safi, Dr. Shahnawaz Khan, Reem Alghonimi ...and I will write every name of my friend again in a few days...

Mayors Pat Evans, Mike Simpson, Joe Chow, Bob Townsend, Morris Parrish, Becky Miller, Laura Miller, Ron Kirk, Gary Slagle, Congress persons Pete Sessions and Eddie Bernie Johnson who have been gracious in participating in community building.

My eternal gratitude goes to my teachers Abdul Hakim (grade school), A. Ramachandra (Pre-University), Shabbir Ahmed (Math), NB Hanumanthaiah (College) and MV Chayapathy (College).

I thank all my friends, and friends’ friends who have been a source of inspiration to me. I continue to thank my Radio fans, my Blog and many who occasionally and silently share their goodwill.

When you step out of your home today, and when you run into some one who is down, be kind to them. A genuine smile is the most beautiful thing you can give, nothing compares to it and see the difference you make in their life, and your own.

There is so much goodness around us, if we just look for it instead of what we don't have.

I further express my gratitude to our men and women who are doing their duty to protect our freedom. Please watch the following video about honoring our soldiers. http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0&autoplay=1

This year again we missed out the Celebration of thanksgiving for the community at large, I have been doing this for the last fourteen years. I particularly want to thank our indigenous American (also known as Native Americans) brothers and sisters for sustaining this land and giving us all an opportunity to live. We, the inhabitants of Americas owe them our gratitude. We thank them every time and formally every year in the Annual Thanksgiving Celebrations.

Yes, your name is on my mind, I am greatful to every one of you who has been kind, good, critical to me. I found myself unable to write all the names, thousands of good people out there... I assure you, you are on my list and am unable to type any more at this moment, my wrist gives up on me. Yasmeen and Jeff think that I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and may be that is good, it keeps me out of writing all the time.

If you start thinking about all those people who have been good to you, you will start feeling the sense of joy in you, that which comes from gratitude. But I will be reflecting upon all those have been a source of joy to me in the next few days. I have always received goodness from every one I am in contact and want to simply say thank you.

You are welcome to write your comments by clicking - http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-expression-of-gratitude.html#comments

Every one of the nearly five thousand people has touched my life one way or the other and I am grateul to them eternally and will add their name, as my hand permits me to type:

Ann Mary Weiss, Jim Falk, Kim Rice, Sylvia Komatsu, Carol Donavan, Santosh Mittal, Bhupendra Ganatra, Amir Rupani, Dr. Amanullah Khan, Dr. Mohammaed Khalid, David Dixon, Syed Talib, Rich Park, Shabnam Modgil, AG Chini, Monicca Sharma, Sridhar, Rekha, Rehan Siddiqi, Jaipal Reddy, Dr. Sheshagiri Rao, Fakhru Bhai, Shehzad Roy, Rashid Samnakay...


God Bless America
Mike Ghouse
http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp

Fort Hood – Allahu Akbar

Major Nidal Hasan uttered the phrase “Allahu Akbar” before opening the fire.
http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/11/fort-hood-allahu-akbar.html

Those who have the desire to find the truth will understand that this phrase is simply a cue for readiness to start a good thing and acknowledging the greatness of God, inversely it is an expression of humility. Although, in religious conflicts, Christian, Hindus, Muslims and others have made God’s name a battle cry, it should not be used to shoot some one or slit someone's throat. It is uttered when some one sees something great happening like the man landing on the moon, or seeing pictures of the planet earth or when some one is doing well. Allahu Akbar is meant to be used to show one’s humility by admiring the creator, apparently Nidal Hasan, the psycho did not know the difference.

Didn't the murderers who wore Christian labels claim they were doing God’s work killing the Doctors at the Abortion Clinics? Didn't Pat Robertson say that Katrina was God's curse? Didn't Falwell say that Americans are cursed with Katrina for allowing Gay and Lesbians to live their lives? Are these statements to be dis-regarded as the words of these loonies? Had Robertson and Falwell lived in the old west, would they have slaughtered any one who differed? Didn't the Missionaries do the same thing with the indigenous people of America; didn't Ferdinand do to the same to Jews and Muslims in 1492? Thank God, America is the nation of laws that prevents Tancredos, Falwells, Robertsons, and Hagees et al from becoming Bin Laden’s.

It is not the religion; it's the individuals that are a source of conflict. Nuclear energy provides electricity and improves the quality of life, yet the same can be used to destroy millions through bombs. Aren't individuals responsible for this rather than the Nuclear energy?

One cannot kill an intangible thing like religion, punish or imprison it and bring justice to the world. Blaming a religion is no more than barking at the wrong tree.

If I murder someone, incarcerate me; my kids, parents, family, nation or my religion has nothing to do with my crimes. You can punish me and bring justice; you cannot do a thing with religion other than propagating hate and harming the structure of the society.

You can certainly punish the instigators or the individuals committing the crime. Blaming the religion is escapism – a gutlessness to face the problem squarely.

Who is responsible?

The responsibility to bring about harmony falls squarely on the shoulders of Muslims and the society at large equally.

Muslims should be the first ones to be asking why this happens. Should they make an effort to teach every where that Allahu Akbar means humility and not an incitement or a cue to kill as portrayed on the media over and over again? Indeed, the Muslims are doing everything to let the world know that they recognize the problem and are fighting to correct it. All they need is the media to give them a hand, especially the moderate majority and not the radicals.

The Muslims are appalled at this while a few Neocons are rejoicing it; let’s hope that the media reports these happenings proportionately to let the world know the truth.

Who is responsible?
Each one of us.

The society at large needs to ponder, if our words and actions are conflagrating the conflicts or mitigating? Hateful words hurled at any one's family, nation or religion does nothing but aggravate the situation. Each one of us should ask ourselves, what have I done to mitigate conflict? Have we ever thought of looking at other people as "us" rather than "them"? Think about it and make an effort and see the difference it makes in your life... you may actually become a peace maker, if that frightens you.

We need to think about Religion once again; the teachings of Jesus, Moses, Krishna, Mohammad, Bahaullah, Nanak, Buddha, Mahavir, Zarathustra, Confucius and great many spiritual leaders. They taught the golden rules - treat others as you would wanted to be treated. Loving brings peace, hating messes up every one. Forgiveness brings peace to us, anger destroys ourselves. Religion is not needed to do this; however, it is major source of shaping one's lives.

Start thinking of caring for others and it will make a difference, if it has, please share it.

Mike Ghouse
Profile: http://www.mikeghouse.net/ProfileMikeGhouse.asp

Interesting reads:

1. Psychology Today writes, major Nidal, why did he do it?
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/major-nidal-why-did-he-do-it.html

2. Allahu Akbar, a poem by Matthew Moes, the first person to comment on this page
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/11/allahu-akbar-by-matthew-moes.html

3. Senseless shooting violated Islamic faith
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/senseless-shootings-violate-islamic.html

4. Fort Hood shooter attacked Muslims too
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/11/fort-hood-shooter-attacked-muslims-too.html

5. My notes from a meeting with Dallas Peace Center
http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2009/11/fort-hood-tragedy.html

# # #

Fort hood - Is it individual or the religion

Is it Religion or the individual?
Mike Ghouse
Was the Fort Hood mayhem caused by religious motivation or was the individual solely responsible?

The right wing media finds it easy to collude with the Neocons, who are obsessed with hating some one or the other and Muslims have reappeared on their radar since first deliberate mistranslation of Quraan in Latin by Robert of Ketton in 1143 and paint Muslims negatively for their gains. The Neocons find it convenient to blame Islam and Muslims, and their gullible team goes to work and cooks up justifications.

Dave Gaubatz in an interview says, "Malik Nidal Hasan is a terrorist supporting the ideology of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and yes, CAIR. Ken Eisold writes in the Psychology Magazine, “Some politicians are quick to speculate that it might be a plot, but some conservative commentators, not waiting for evidence, have concluded that Hasan is a "trained terrorist."

No criminal should be spared; the rule of law must prevail. Major Nidal Hasan’s crime should be dealt with accordingly.

It is our duty as a nation to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. Bringing harmony should be our consistent goal. Each one of has an obligation to maintain a balance in the society.

A decade ago, in the very same town Killeen some loony walked into Luby’s cafeteria and randomly killed 23 people dining in peace, a crazy opened the fire in McDonalds in San Diego and I believe he killed 21 people. They were people with real or imagined grievances against society who went on indiscriminate rampages, but they did not make any claims of motivation by religion or any religious group. A white supremacist and a Holocaust denier opened the fire in the Holocaust Museum in DC and there are umpteen incidences like that.

So why do they pick Islam?

Sadly, it is because Major Nidal Hasan uttered the phrase “Allahu Akbar” before opening the fire. Didn't the murderers who wore Christian labels claim they were doing God’s work killing the Doctors at the Abortion Clinics? Didn't Pat Robertson say that Katrina was God's curse? Didn't Falwell say that we are cursed because we allowed Gay and Lesbians to live their lives? Should we dis-regard the words of these loonies? Had Robertson and Falwell lived in the old west, would they have slaughtered any one who differed? Didn't the Missionaries do the same thing with the indigenous people of America; didn't Ferdinand do to the same to Jews and Muslims in 1492?

Nidal Hasan said “Allahu Akbar”. Those who have the desire to find the truth will understand that this phrase is simply a cue for readiness to start a good thing and acknowledging the greatness of God, inversely it is an expression of humility. Although, in religious wars, Christian, Hindus, Muslims and others have made God’s name a battle cry, it should not been said to shoot some one or slit someone's throat. It should uttered when some one saw something great happening like the man landing on the moon, or seeing pictures of the planet earth or when some one is doing well. Allahu Akbar is meant to be used to show one’s humility by admiring the creator, apparently Nidal Hasan, the psycho did not know the difference.

Unfortunately, there is a pattern here by those murderers who recite the name of God, as murderers wearing different religious labels have done it.

Who is responsible?

The responsibility to bring about harmony falls squarely on the shoulders of Muslims and the society at large equally.

Muslims should be the first ones to be asking why does this happen? Should they make an effort to teach every where that Allahu Akbar means humility and not an incitement or a cue to kill as portrayed on the media over and over again? Indeed, the Muslims are doing everything to let the world know that they recognize the problem and are fighting to correct it. They need the media to give them a hand, especially the moderate majority.

The Muslims are appalled at this while a few ugly ones are rejoicing it, let’s hope that the media reports these happenings proportionately to let the world know the truth.

So why do they pick on Islam?

The Republicans are a loosing lot, they are not in tune with the Americans and resorting to a variety of tactics, they needed something to latch on to even if it is not truthful. They are letting the extremists among them speak for their party, hoping that a few nincompoops will lend support for their anti-Muslim rhetoric; sadly it sells and brings funding to these extremists.

It is déjà vue and similar to believing that Osama bin Laden was elected to speak for Islam, they are letting their evil men and women speak for the Republican Party and I am still a Republican Party member.

Those few handful and their cronies like Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Savage and others love these tragic situations. These vultures feed on bad news to up their ratings, shame on those who watch them and give them their bounties.

One cannot kill an intangible thing like religion, punish or imprison it and bring justice. Blaming the religion is no more than barking at the wrong tree. You can certainly punish the instigators or the individuals committing the crime. If I murder someone, incarcerates me; my kids, my parents, family, my nation or religion has nothing to do with my crimes. You can punish me and bring justice; you cannot do a thing with religion other than propagating hate and harming the structure of the society. Blaming the religion is escapism – a gutlessness to face the problem squarely.

Mike Ghouse is a founder of the World Muslim Congress, committed to be a voice of the moderate majority. He is writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, co-existence, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fort Hood Tragedy

Every Muslim is saddened by this incident.
No one has a right to take another persons life.
Every religion condemns and discourages killing.

Alas, we the humans understand this and work on
individuals going through a trauma of their own lives
and help them into become productive Citizens instead.

We have to remember that it is the individuals who
do good things and it is the individuals who do bad things,
we have to hold the individuals responsible for their acts
not their parents, kids, sibling or others.

May God bless the souls of the victims and, May God
give patience to their family members.

I am pleased to invite you to a conversation on the subject
on Saturday 9:00 AM at La Madeliene on Mokingbird
at Central Expressway in Dallas.

Mike Ghouse
www.MikeGhouse.net
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Senseless shootings violate Islamic faith
By Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
On Faith at washingtonpost.com
The Huffington Post

November 6, 2009

I was so deeply saddened by the events at Fort Hood, Texas, yesterday. My prayers and sympathy are with the families of those brave American soldiers who were killed and wounded in this senseless act.

What this unfortunate Army major did was against the laws of Islam, even though news accounts said he was an observant Muslim. It is too early to understand his motivations and mental stability. He obviously was violating his faith when he undertook this act. Killing is as much a sin in Islam as it is in Christianity, Judaism and all the major religions. Taking the law into one's own hands is against Islamic teachings.

We do not know how our soldiers will react under the stresses of war. It is something that we as religious leaders should take seriously as we minister to our troops.

I am concerned that this incident will cause some Americans to react against the Islamic faith and Muslim Americans. Our fellow Americans should understand that every major American Muslim organization has condemned it in no uncertain terms. Thousands of American Muslims serve in the U.S. armed forces, and they are essential to the U.S. goal of bringing peace, stability and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. They are supported by millions of American Muslims.

This is a time for all Americans to draw together in our grief and sympathy for the victims of this senseless act, and to support the care and well-being of our troops with the hope that they will soon be able to return home.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, an independent, non-partisan and multi-national project that seeks to use religion to improve Muslim-West relations. (www.cordobainitiative.org) He is the author of "What's Right with Islam is What's Right With America."
_______________________________________

By Muqtedar Khan
Director of Islamic Studies, University of Delaware

The American Muslim community is experiencing shock, disbelief and apprehension as it watches the unfolding details of the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist and practicing Muslim, born in Virginia of Jordanian parents, turned against his fellow citizens and military colleagues and murdered 13 and wounded 30.

What happened at Fort Hood follows a nightmare script that has been one of the biggest fears of the American Muslim community since the appalling events of September 11, 2001. One crazy Muslim, acting on his own, causing significant mayhem and murder and inviting anger and backlash against millions of peace loving and hardworking Americans who are Muslims. National and local Muslim organizations immediately issued strong condemnation of the event and called for calm.

It is important to understand that Major Hasan is an isolated, alienated and sad individual who was clearly not well adjusted to his life. In a community that values family life, he was single at 39 and still looking desperately for a wife, according to his former Imam. He was in an army that was at war with his co-religionists and he had difficulty dealing with that. He was frequently taunted and harassed for being a Muslim by his own colleagues. After years in the military and after years of caring for soldiers as a doctor, he did not feel as if he belonged and perhaps that was the key to why he could turn on his own.

This tragic episode presents serious dilemmas and challenges for both Muslim community organizations as well as for law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies. Muslim organizations do not know how to explain this and the law enforcement agencies will be puzzling over how to understand it.

This was an unpredictable and isolated episode, impossible to anticipate and guard against. Hasan is an American-born, highly educated, long-term military man who simply snapped with devastating consequences. How do we anticipate this and prevent it? The Fort Hood shooting reminds me of the Columbine shooting; shocking and unexpected. On scrutiny after the fact one discovers warning signs but not enough to trigger action before it happened.

Since the election of President Obama, Islamophobic rhetoric was on the decline as people in key administrative positions abstained from using "Islamic" as a prefix when talking about issues related with the war on terror. But this episode will once again provide fodder for talk shows and websites, which exploit such isolated events to ratchet up Islamophobia.

Muslims across the country have been working hard to build bridges with mainstream America, to establish interfaith relations and carve out a place for the community on main street America. Hasan not only fired at unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood, but he also attacked the very foundations of all these bridges across the country. His actions will definitely weaken if not completely undermine the efforts of thousands of Americans to build bridges of peace and understanding.
According to some estimates there are over 10,000 Muslims in the U.S. military who serve loyally, with sincere and complete commitment. Many Muslims in the U.S. military have died fighting for America. General Colin Powell once spoke so eloquently about Cpl. Kareem Khan, a Purple Heart, who had died fighting for America. Let us hope that Major Hasan's dastardly actions do not hurt the careers of the thousands of Kareem Khans proudly serving in U.S. military.

There is nothing that American Muslims can do to prevent such events. But we must now allow them to weaken our resolve to combat extremism, prejudice and ignorance in our society. We must redouble our efforts to continue to share the message of peace, tolerance and pluralism that is fundamental to Islamic believes to our congregations and our communities.

The tragedy at Fort Hood is a major test for Muslims and Americans. They must face the challenge with determination. Muslims must not allow it to force them to recede from the public sphere and from their struggle for understanding, for civil rights and against religious profiling and Islamophobia. Americans must not allow this isolated event to fall back on stereotypes about Islam and resuscitate the prejudices that all of us have worked so hard to curb.

Dr. Muqtedar Khan is Director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Institute for Social policy and Understanding.

________________________________________


WASHINGTON, DC (MASNET) Nov. 6, 2009 – MAS Freedom (MASF), on behalf of and as the civic and human rights advocacy entity of the Muslim American Society (MAS), joins the chorus of American Muslim voices nationwide in condemnation of the tragic attack perpetrated against U.S. military personnel at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, where soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving 13 persons dead and 30 wounded on November 5, 2009.

"As an organization and as Muslim Americans, we stand in condemnation of Thursday's assault in the strongest terms possible," echoed MAS Freedom Executive Director, Mahdi Bray Thursday evening at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

"Let us be cautious, however, in drawing conclusions based on the ethnicity of the perpetrator of this tragic incident. A full investigation, is, of course, underway; however, as in any case, the perpetuation of negativity in such instances often unwittingly serves as an equally unnecessary exacerbation of the atmosphere of hate, violence and Islamophia under which the Muslim community already exists," stated MAS Freedom Executive Director Mahdi Bray.

Bray added, "Indeed this is a national tragedy and our American family is in mourning. Like any family in a time of crisis and tragedy, we will not turn on each other, but rather, toward each other as a source of strength and comfort."

Nidal Malik Hasan, a 39-year-old Muslim, Virginia-born Army major and psychiatrist, set to be deployed to Iraq, is reported to be responsible for the worst mass killing on a U.S. military base; the second shooting incident in recent history at the base this year.

Another shooting incident occurred at Fort Hood on September 8, 2008. Specialist Jody Michael Wirawan, 22, of Eagle River, Alabama, who was scheduled to be discharged, fatally shot 1st Lieutenant Robert Bartlett Fletcher, 24, of Jensen Beach, Florida. When police arrived, Wirawan turned his gun on himself and died on the scene.

An emerging profile indicates that Major Hasan, who, prior to being transferred to Fort Hood six-years ago, served and did his psychiatric internship at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, may, himself, have suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Major Hasan, whose family members have stated endured name-calling and harassment about his Muslim faith for years, is further described as a 'mostly very quiet', devoutly religious person, often seen attending prayers at a local mosque in uniform, while stationed in Washington. Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, is reported to have stated that Major Hasan never spoke ill of the military or his country, however, he had expressed hopes that President Barack Obama would pull troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and that Major Hasan had been proactively vocal in his opposition to the wars, in addition to having sought legal counsel in working to detach himself from the military.

MAS Freedom continues to urge and support its ongoing call for an end to the wars and deployments that have led to numerous severe mental health problems among U.S. soldiers, including mental depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, violence against spouses and family members, in addition to suicide; illnesses that reportedly affect some 20 percent of the troops returning from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

According to Pentagon figures, Fort Hood has the highest suicide rate over any Army base in the country, with 75 soldiers taking their own lives since 2003; an additional 32 Fort Hood soldiers have reportedly attempted, but thankfully failed, to take their own lives.

The San Antonio News-Express reported last August that the number of suicides at Fort Hood 'has been 26 per 100,000 people from 2006 to 2008, far above the civilian rate of 14.06 per 100,000'. The report further states that in addition to Fort Hood, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Bragg, North Carolina collectively logged 125 suicides in the same period, for a total of 183 since 2003.

MAS Freedom North Carolina Director Khalilah Sabra stated, "Most soldiers are aware of combat stress reactions from their training and from Army education campaigns. Reportedly, over 70 percent of soldiers have complained of war-related stress and have sought help for serious problems. These emotional health issues are intensified by long and multiple deployments in places that witness death and the violence of constant combat."

MAS Freedom further calls on our nation's Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, to step-up efforts to insure more effective mental healthcare for soldiers experiencing chronic stress and mental instability as the ongoing campaign for health care reform continues.
Fort Hood commander Lieutenant General Bob Cone, has confirmed that contrary to earlier reports, Major Hasan was not fatally wounded in the incident and is currently in custody and in stable condition.

Also previously reported as being fatally wounded, was a civilian police woman and first responder on the scene, who has received surgical treatment for her injuries and is in stable condition.

A ceremony to honor the dead will take place at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware where the bodies have been taken for autopsies.

"As American Muslims we join our fellow citizens in offering both prayers for the victims and sincere condolences to the families of those killed or injured," stated Bray.

Inquiries or requests for information can be made by contacting MAS Freedom at (202) 552-7414, (703) 642-6165 or 1-888-627-8471 or sending an email to: info @ masfreedom.org.
_______________________________________________

ASSOCIATION OF PATRIOTIC ARAB AMERICANS IN MILITARY
"Patriotic Arab Americans Making A Difference"

STATEMENT ON FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS FROM ASSOCIATION OF PATRIOTIC ARAB AMERICANS IN THE MILITARY

At a time of deep sorrow in the midst of this horrific tragedy, our thoughts are first and foremost with the Fort Hood shooting victims and their families. One can only imagine the unspeakable pain and loss they are and will be dealing with in the weeks, months and years to come.

It is unfortunate that whatever demons possessed Nidal Hasan, that he chose to deal with his problems in this way.

In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, it is more important than ever that we not make the same scapegoating and broad stroke mistakes that were evident in the aftermath of previous tragedies.

The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military urges the media, government officials and all of our fellow Americans to recognize that the actions of Hasan are those of a deranged gunman, and are in no way representative of the wider Arab American or American Muslim community.

In fact, thousands of Arab Americans and American Muslims serve honorably everyday in all four branches of the U.S. military and in the National Guard. Additionally, many of us have willingly stepped forward to fulfill our duty with our fellow soldiers in both Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations around the globe for the defense of our national security, including most of the member of APAAM. Indeed, many of us are today currently deployed in both countries, honorably serving each and every day.


The Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military (APAAM) was created shortly after September 11th, 2001, in an effort to organize current and former Arab- Americans in the military to highlight the service and contributions dating back to the Revolutionary War. There are approximately 3,500 Arab- Americans serving in our Armed Forces.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Good for nothing Republicans

The Good for nothing Republicans

A handful of extremists men among Republicans are making waves because the majority of the good for nothing Republicans are letting it happen in their name. They have everything to loose in 2010 and I hope the good Republicans wake up and distance themselves or get rid of Palin, Limbaugh, Beck and the old Republican leadership who are bestowed with conspiratorial, and war mongering mindset. We are no longer a nation of bigots, we are a nation of good people, who beleive in living and letting others live.

Republicans have to get their shit together and win the Senate majority in 2010 to keep the checks and balances of governance in tact. If not we will have a Bush in Obama, who will become arrogant and make unilateral decisions. Power is corrupting and we the people have the ability to corrupt of our system of fix it.

I am laughing at the following email forwarded from a Republican ‘friend’. They are hanging on to the very ideas that was their down fall; extremism. This Professor may not have written it, however I am writing to him to clarify, if he wrote this. Do these guys think democrats and republicans live in enclaves? Separate Colonies?

With regrets
Mike Ghouse

OBITUARY
Born 1776, Died 2008
It does not hurt to read this several times.

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul , Minnesota , points out some interesting facts concerning last November's Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Democrats: 19 Republicans: 29
Square miles of land won by: Democrats: 580,000 Republicans: 2,427,000
Population of counties won by: Democrats: 127 million Republicans: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:

Democrats: 13.2 Republicans: 2.1
Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Republicans won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.

Democrat territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the "complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal’s and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

If you are in favor of this, then by all means, delete this message.

If you are not, then pass this along to help everyone realize just how much is at stake, knowing that apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.

http://law.hamline.edu/node/784
jolson@gw.hamline.edu

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tackling Terrorism

Tackling Terrorism

Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Edited extracts from his recent interview with Channel 4’s Jon Snow

The lesson is that terrorism has causes ? unless the causes are addressed; you’re not facing the problem. Now a lot of it is criminal activity, and criminal activity should be punished in the legal system fairly and honestly. But unless you address the grievances, you are more or less in the position of a doctor who’s injecting a patient with poison and then asking what’s the best way to deal with the symptoms.

Continued: http://terrorismcounter.blogspot.com/2009/10/tackling-terrorism.html

An old article – Laser Barking at terrorists. http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2008/03/laser-barking-at-terrorists.html

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Iran's Ahmadinejad may have Jewish past

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past. The focus of my comment is not his past, but what his and others past like his makes them do.

An interesting observation is made in this news paper, “Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.”

This statement needs to be explored further and see if there is any truth to it or not.

There have been many such instances to be reckoned. Recently there was an anti-gay Pastor Paul Barnes of Metro Church in Denver who admits Homosexual Relationships in his life. Newt Gingrich had the balls to go after Bill Clinton while he was cheating on his wife. The New Life Mega Church’s Ted Haggard was the gay pastor who had a male prostituted in Denver and had made extremely hateful pronouncements against gays and lesbians. Even in the business world the former employees have gone on head on collisions like Burger King against McDonalds etc.

There are many Muslims who have moved out of Islam and act and manufacture hate against their former faith; Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Walid Shoebat, Taslima Nasrin and a host of them. They are transfering their personal bad experience on to a whole group of people, their family or the little community is to be blamed if they wer mistreated, not their nation or their faith. No one should fall for this stereotyping.

However the Neocon* extremists pick these available men and women to parade them to promote their hate agenda.

What is the dividend for Ahmedinejad in being hateful towards Israel or Jews? Is he appeasing the Iranian Neocons? Is the media falsifying his statements, per Juan Cole they have falsified his statment he made about Holocaust, originally I condemned Ahmedinejad for denying Holocaust? But now I want to find the truth if our Media has done it again as they have done with so many other things.

What does Netanyahu’s hate for Palestinian translate into? We need to understand these men who hate others. We need to ask these men if they have the absolute power, would they be templted to annihilate the other? Is it their personal vendetta at works here?

Neoconic attitudes are shaped by the fear that their life is at risk if others exist, if they can, they will wipe every one off from the face of the earth who ever differs from them. They are powered by the arrogance of power and don't see the need to dialogue and find resolutions for sustainable peace for theri people. They trust their Gun power but invoke God in vain, they do not want to dialogue, as it may settle them down. * Neocons redefined - http://hatesermons.blogspot.com/2008/03/neocons.html

Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vitriolic attacks on the Jewish world hide astonishing secret, evidence uncovered by The Daily Telegraph shows.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/6256173/Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-revealed-to-have-Jewish-past.html

By Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
Published: 7:30AM BST 03 Oct 2009

Ahmadinejad showing papers during election. It shows that his family's previous name was Jewish

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.
Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.

Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: "This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him. "Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.

"By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."

A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that "jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.

"He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had," said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. "Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran."

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad's background. "It's not something we'd talk about," said Ron Gidor, a spokesman.
The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was change from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.

Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.

The Iranian president grew up to be a qualified engineer with a doctorate in traffic management. He served in the Revolutionary Guards militia before going on to make his name in hardline politics in the capital.

During this year's presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.

However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad's roots was arrested this summer.

Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. British diplomats walked out of a UN meeting last month after the Iranian president denounced Israel's 'genocide, barbarism and racism.'

Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned denunciation of the Iranian leader at the same UN summit. "Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium," he said. "A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the State of Israel, the State of the Jews. What a disgrace. What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations."

Mr Ahmadinejad has been consistently outspoken about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish race. "They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets," he declared at a conference on the holocaust staged in Tehran in 2006.

# # #

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Rosh Hashanah, Ramadan, Navaratri

We wish a happy Ramadan, a peaceful and prosperous Rosh Hashanah, and truth triumphing Navaratri and other festivals that begin with the New Moon on September 19, this year.

May these festivals open our hearts and minds towards fellow beings

http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/09/happy-rosh-hashanah-ramadan-navaratri.html

Religious holidays in Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and other faiths follow the moon cycles where as the Indigenous peoples of America, Bahai, Christianity, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and earth based traditions like Wicca and others follow the movement of equinox or the plain Solar Calendar that we see every day.

The Spiritual masters have captured the human gravity for rituals and have molded it with the art and science of self-discipline in their respective religion. The noble purpose of each one of them was to bring a balance in our lives and a balance with things that surround us; life and environment. Every faith is composed of a set of unique rituals to bring discipline and peace to human life.

The Spirit of Ramadan
Salaam

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is generally observed with a ritual precision; it is an annual training or a refresher. It requires one to abstain from food, drink, intimacy, ill will, ill talk, ill actions or any temptations from dawn to dusk, every day for a month. One has to rise above his or her baser desires. Islam gifts this month to its followers to inculcate discipline to bring moderation in their daily lives. Twenty-five hundred years ago, Buddha, the enlightened one taught that human suffering is caused by unrestrained desire to own and had recommended a middle path, and the same recommendation was made by Prophet Muhammad 1,400 years ago.

True fasting is self-purification; and from this, a rich inner life that bring about values such as justice, generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness, mercy and empathy - values that are indispensable for the success of the community.

For fasting to be truly universal, its benefits must extend beyond the fraternal ties of Muslims and must extend to forging a common humanity with others. Fasting is meant to impart a sense of what it means to be truly human, and its universality is reflected by its observance in Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Zoroastrian and other faiths.

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/08/ramadans_spiritual_discipline.html
Does the mainstream public in America, Canada, India, Australia or elsewhere relate with Muslim customs and traditions? The following articles are written with the intent of developing that understanding.

1. Traditions of Ramadan
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/09/ramadan-traditions.html

2. Politics of Ramadan
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/09/ramadan-poltics.html

3. Spirit of Ramadan
http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/09/ramadan-spirit.html

4. Our Mission http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/WorldMuslimCongress/Articles/Mission-Statement.asp

The language chosen is generic and incidences are relational, so the public can relate with what they are familiar with and extrapolate that to the politics, traditions and the spirit of Ramadan. Of course, we can write a book on each. I have learned over the years that news papers have a reason to limit the length of the articles and I have followed that to the best of my ability.

You are welcome to share, forward, comment and make suggestion to make it better in the comments section of each article. You can publish it as well.
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The Spirit of Rosh Hashanah
Shalom,

Wish you all the best on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.
Leshana tova tikateiv v'techateim." And "Leshana tova tikateivi veti"

The Jewish New Year takes place around September/October, and is considered one of the most important and serious holidays (or High Holy Days) in the Jewish calendar. As well as being a time for celebration it is also a time for reflection and repentance for sins committed in the previous year. In synagogue, people pray to God to forgive them for their wrongdoings and to give them a good year - during the service a Shofar, or ram's horn, is blown, to alert congregants to the seriousness of the festival and the fact that God is deciding their fates for the coming year - which will be sealed on the Day Of Atonement ten days later. This period is known as The Ten Days of Repentance and is traditionally a solemn time.

However, Rosh Hashanah is also a time for celebration - other traditions include eating apples dipped in honey in the hope that this will lead to a sweet year.

http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/09/spirit-of-rosh-hashanah.html
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The Spirit of Navaratri
Namaste

Navaratri, which literally means 'nine nights,' dedicates three days each to worshipping the Divine in the forms of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati.

Significance of Navaratri for Householders However, Navaratri is not only significant for spiritual aspirants; it has a message for those who lead a worldly life as well. They should invoke Durga's help to surmount obstacles, pray to Lakshmi to bestow peace and prosperity, and contemplate upon Saraswati in order to gain knowledge. These three ingredients are just as necessary for a full and complete worldly life. In reality, when we pray like this, we are but invoking the Shakti that is within ourselves.

The tenth day is Vijaya Dashami, the 'tenth day of victory.' or the festival of victory, symbolizing the moment when Truth dawns within.

http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/09/spirt-of-navaratri.html
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OTHER FESTIVALS IN SEPTEMBER 2009
http://wisdomofreligion.blogspot.com/2009/09/september-2009-holidays.html
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Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Mike Ghouse dedicates this day 9/11 to America


http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/09/mike-ghouse-dedicates-this-day-911-to.html

It was Tuesday, 9/11/2001 at about 10AM in Dallas, whence two radio stations 1150 AM and 950 AM called me to man the radio. I was on the air till 5:00 PM, talking with the Public, area Mayors, community, religious and other civic leaders of Dallas.

I was determined to make sense out of the non-sense, and bring some sanity to the situation. I made a declaration that we should get the ugliest guy on the earth and screamed names at Bin Laden.

We the Americans were shaken that morning, I wanted us to reaffirm that we are one people and one nation and the petty thieves cannot shake us;

• My first goal was to bring a sense of clarity and direction to the public. Then pave the way for a sense of purpose, a sense of what needs to be done. I repeated the same thing on its anniversary.
• By the end of the day a clear sense of direction was developed followed by: I) Multi-faith prayers ii) donate blood ii) donate money. The Blood centers had to close down due to the people’s overwhelming response.

• The fog was clearing up – I) Osama bin Laden was the bad guy ii) Muslims had nothing to do with Osama iii) Declaration of war against Osama.

My late wife Najma monitored the Blood centers and kept up with the on goings, the Wadley Blood Center called in and asked us to hold off the blood drive as the people had lined up without an end in the sight.

The interfaith prayers vigils took off; The Richardson Mosque, Synagogues, the Hindu Temple in Irving held prayer vigils. Joel Brooks of AJC and I went to every possible place. I was equipped with the Hindu, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Jewish, Jain and Muslim prayers as there were enough people to represent other faiths. I remember reading Jewish, Muslim and Zoroastrian Prayers at the BSS Swaminarayan Temple, then reading the Muslim and Jewish prayers at a prayer vigil held by the Zoroastrians at DFW Hindu Temple…. I was committed to represent the missing ones. At the Richardson Mosque we were able to put together prayers representing all faiths.

From the Desi community, Tayyab Kundawala was the President at India Association; Mohammad Suleman was the President at the Islamic Association of North Texas and Vinoda Kumar, I believe was the president at the DFW Hindu Temple… every one pushed the envelope to hold fund raising.

I made a commitment to dedicate this day very year to 9/11 and work on learning and sharing its impact on the world from moral, religious, economic and social points of view.

• September 11, 2005 - Creation of Unity Day USA - 14 faith representation, 650+ individuals, 6 Mayors, FBI and DOJ attended the event. The civic Officials proclaimed it as UnityDayUSA

• September 11, 2004 - 4 Hours of Radio Talk Show - I do plan to bring the experts to share the impact of this event on elections, world relations and much more.

• September 11, 2003 - 4 Hours of Radio Talk Show - Bring out the experts in to share the impact of the event on Politics, history, world relations, multi-faith relations and the economy.

• September 11, 2002 - 8 Hours of Radio Talk Show - Bring the experts from all over the United States to talk about the impact the event had in every sphere of life.

• September 11, 2001 - 8 Hours on the Radio AM 1150 and AM 950 simulcasted at times to bring sense to the senselessness.

I was thankful to community for allowing me to play a key role in Dallas on the day of September 1. 2001

Today, I stand with hopes that my congressmen Pete Sessions, Ralph Hall, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, and Eddie Bernice Johnson would sponsor the bill in the house to proclaim a National Unity day called the Unity Day USA. - http://www.unitydayusa.com/

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-911memorial_05met.ART.State.Edition1.4ba03fc.html

Organizer wants to mark 9/11 with Unity Day

11:49 AM CDT on Saturday, September 5, 2009
By DIANNE SOLÍS / The Dallas Morning News
dsolis@dallasnews.com

CARROLLTON – For Mike Ghouse, 9/11 remains a very personal event. The radio talk show host took to the North Texas airwaves within hours after the killer planes hit the towers in New York, unleashing destruction and years of phobias.

"I was determined that day was my day to bring some sanity to the insanity that happened," said Ghouse. He then switched tenses, retelling what he said that day: "We are hurt. We have been terrorized, and there is someone above us that will keep the balance."

For the last five years, Ghouse has organized a 9/11 memorial, an ecumenical event to promote understanding that brings together hundreds of people of many different faiths.

Rather than dwelling on anger, Ghouse wants it to be "a day to positively unite Americans." He plans to ask 30 attendees to switch faiths for a short period during the event and read a passage from each other's traditions.

"When I don't see a barrier between Jews and Muslims, I am an American," he said.
Ghouse, an India-born U.S. citizen who is Muslim, learned quickly that day that the attackers were also Muslim.

"I didn't look at it as a Muslim thing, but I looked at it as someone had hurt my nation, and anyone who hurt my nation hurts me," said Ghouse, a homebuilder and property manager who created the Foundation for Pluralism 15 years ago.

The pledge of allegiance at Sunday's event will be led by Imam Zia Sheikh, a newly naturalized U.S. citizen who took the oath of allegiance Thursday. Born in Pakistan and reared in England, he heads one of the largest North Texas mosques, the Islamic Center of Irving.

"I have always participated in interfaith events because it is really important to understand each other," the imam said. "Ignorance leads to misunderstandings about each other."

Local vocalist Iman Rashada will sing the national anthem. She hopes the event eases conflict. "God did not make us of different tribes so that we would despise each but so that we would get to know each other," she said, paraphrasing the Qur’aan.

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Mike Ghouse is a thinker, writer speaker and an activist of pluralism, interfaith, co-existence, peace, Islam and India. He is a frequent guest at the TV, radio and print media offering pluralistic solutions to issues of the day. His websites and Blogs are listed on http://www.mikeghouse.net/

Friday, September 4, 2009

Experience an awesome event this Sunday

Experience an awesome event this Sunday

I am pleased to invite you to witness and feel an amazing experience of being an American, you will walk out of the event feeling American committed to building one nation for every American.

A full spectrum of representation of America will be witnessed; our civil leaders like mayors, council persons, fire, police chiefs on the one end and the faith leadership representing every possible faith (or no faith) would be represented. It’s one evening for every American. There is audience participation in these 2 hours fully packed event of feeling and hopefully acting American.

To build a safe America, one of the many things we do at Unity Day USA is to have a face to face with people of different faiths, ethnicities, races and other uniqueness’s, let’s build a threshold for others and start dropping our phobias.

Please join us in the journey and experience;

Event: 5th Annual Unity Day USA – A 9/11 event
Place: Unity Church of Dallas
Address: 6525 Forest Ln, Dallas, TX. 75230
Time: 5:00 – 7:45 PM
Refreshments: 7: 45 PM

Please be in the hall before 5:25 PM for National Anthem
Details are at: www.UnitydayUSA.com

Thank you
God Bless America




Mike Ghouse

Friday, August 21, 2009

Washington post on Ramadan

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2009/08/ramadans_spiritual_discipline.html

I urge you to write a comment at the end of the article. Let the world see what the moderates think... if not the stick in the muds will dominate in writing the comments, which is not reflective of a majority of the people of any faith.

If you are in Dallas area, please attend the Unityday event - http://www.unitydayusa.com/

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism interfaith, political and civic issues. He presides the Foundation for Pluralism and is a founder of the World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at Ghousemike@gmail.com
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Friday, August 14, 2009

10 Awesome things if Health reform passes

10 Awesome Things That Would Happen If Health Reform Passes

By Joshua Holland

Unable to win the debate on the merits of their arguments, opponents of health care reform have resorted to a dizzying array of outright falsehoods to terrify Americans into opposing a process that might deliver real benefits to their families.

They've falsely claimed that the government would "take over" the health system, put private insurers out of business and let pasty bureaucrats decide what treatment Americans would receive.

They've spun wild tales of federal agents coming into Americans' homes for lifestyle checks and faceless government officials making end-of-life decisions for patients.

They've falsely claimed that the legislation being considered by Congress would cover undocumented immigrants, and they sent around elaborate-but-wholly-fake "analyses" of the supposed bill, with references to made-up page numbers and all.

All of these serve the same ends: using the politics of distortion and distraction to capitalize on people's natural fear of change and compelling them to fight noisily against their own interests. And it can be somewhat effective -- that's clear from the raw, populist anger unleashed into the health-care debate in recent weeks by well-heeled corporate-lobbyists bent on derailing the democratic process.

The industry-approved fog-and-monsters strategy has another benefit: It puts advocates of reform in the position of batting down a series of nonsensical arguments based on an endless string of health-policy straw men when they could be explaining why getting something decent done would in fact be good for the country.

So let's get past the fearmongering and look at some of the highlights of what's really in the more progressive legislation working it's way through Congress. The proposals aren't perfect. As I've written before, in their current form, the bills fail the test of having a truly "robust" public insurance option, and as such has limited potential for cost savings.

But they are also substantial reforms that would go quite a way toward beefing up the health and economic security of a lot of American families if enacted.

The following breakdown is based on the legislation developed by three committees in the House of Representatives (HR 3200) and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. A third piece of legislation is yet to emerge from the Senate Finance Committee. Reports suggest that the legislation coming out of Finance will be much more accommodating to the insurance industry and other corporate stakeholders.

Much of the real legislative fight will come when the two Senate bills are combined and then, later, when the final Senate and House bills are reconciled.

1: The First Thing That Will Happen Is Absolutely Nothing

At least that's the case for a lot of people who now have quality health insurance.

If you have a decent health plan through your job, nothing will change for you in terms of your insurance.

In fact, if you work for a large or medium-sized company and have decent coverage at a price you can afford, then nothing can change for you -- you'll be ineligible to enroll in the public insurance option (which is discussed below).

If you have already have government-run health care -- if you're a vet, or are on Medicare or Medicaid or have a child in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, nothing will change for you in terms of your coverage. (One exception: Under the House bill, eligible children would be shifted from S-CHIP to a new public insurance program in 2013).

The only thing that would change for you in these circumstances would be this: your current insurance company would have a harder time screwing you over if you get sick. That's because, although your policy wouldn't change, it would be governed by new public-interest regulations for the entire health insurance industry. (See next item.)

2. New Protections for Consumers

Regardless of your place of employment or the kind of coverage you have now, new regulations would take effect in 2010 that would go a long way toward curtailing the insurance companies' worst abuses.

Insurance companies could no longer deny coverage to people because they've had health problems in the past, nor could they charge hugely different rates for different groups of people (premiums could only vary by age, geography, tobacco use and family size).
The House bill bans recissions -- the insurance industry's habitual practice of collecting premiums until someone gets sick, and then digging through their histories for an excuse to cancel coverage.
Insurers wouldn't be allowed to cancel an individual's coverage for reasons other than failing to pay the premium.
Insurers would no longer be permitted to impose annual or lifetime caps on benefits.
Insurers that sell insufficient, cheapo plans that leave people vulnerable to medical crises would be required to disclose that fact to their customers.
All insurers would be required to disclose how much of their spending is on health care and how much goes to costs like overhead, advertising, etc.
The legislation (especially the Senate HELP bill) creates new tools for fighting insurance fraud and abuse.
3. Medical Bankruptcies Would Plummet

One of the most significant of these regulations is in the House bill: a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. If the measure passes, individuals would face a maximum of $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses a year, and families no more than $10,000. For poorer families, the limits would be much lower: $500 per year, for example, for a family making less than 1.33 times the poverty rate.

In 2007, Harvard researchers studied thousands of bankruptcy filings and found that medical causes played a role in more than 6 in 10.

4. People Who Could Never Get Decent Coverage Will Finally Be Able To

So far, one of the great victories for the anti-reform movement has been convincing many small-business owners that health reform will put them under.

The reality is that small-business people, their employees, independent contractors, freelancers, entrepreneurs, part-timers and the "marginally employed" would be the biggest winners from the legislation if it passed as currently drafted. Small business owners and their employees -- as well as those other groups -- would, for the first time, be able to get decent coverage at a fair price, and if eligible, both employer and worker would be able to get extra help paying for it.

Under the current system, most of the largest employers in the country self-insure -- they pay their employees' claims directly and cut out the middleman.

Big firms that don't self-insure buy insurance on the large-group market, where risk is spread out over a large pool. Large-group plans tend to be more or less comprehensive and, relatively speaking, affordable.

But those forced to purchase coverage on the individual or small-group markets have little buying power and are routinely forced to pay budget-busting premiums for the worst possible coverage -- plans with high deductibles, caps on benefits and strict limits on what is and isn't covered.

This gets to the heart of the "public insurance option" -- the most contentious point of debate in the reform battle. It would work like this: The government would establish regional exchanges, or "gateways," that would be open to those who would otherwise be forced into the individual and small-group markets. These gateways would have relatively large insurance pools just like large employers -- and public programs like Medicare -- have now.

Within these large purchasing pools, people would be able to choose from among different insurance plans -- one a government-run "public option" and the rest offered by private insurers.

In order for private insurers to sell plans through the exchanges, they would be required to offer a standard set of benefits (which the public option would have to offer as well). They'd also be permitted to offer plans with more bells and whistles at a premium price.

For those enrolled in the public exchanges, the process would be quite similar to what employees in many large companies experience -- they would simply choose from among a variety of plans, with slightly different levels of coverage and costs.

Compared to the plans now available in the individual and small-group markets, they would pay a lot less for significantly better insurance (which, in reality, is what those "teabaggers" are protesting).

Because of pressure from Republicans and conservative Blue Dog Democrats, the public exchanges will phase in slowly, over a period of four to six years.

5. (Almost) Everyone Gets Covered

That brings us to another "controversial" -- but ultimately commonsense -- piece of the puzzle, the "individual mandate." It means that (almost) everyone would either have to buy health insurance or pay a modest penalty that would contribute to the system. In the House bill, the penalty would max out at 2.5 percent of income. Waivers would be available in the cases of economic hardship or for those who have religious objections.

There will be those who get those waivers; others will be left behind -- it's not a truly universal system. But according to preliminary projections, the result would be an uninsured rate of 3-5 percent, rather than the 16 or so percent who lack insurance today, reducing the rolls of the uninsured by some 20 million30 million.

6. Those Who Can't Afford the Premiums Will Get Help Paying

Ultimately, even if the public exchanges were to succeed in bringing the price of health insurance back to earth, a lot of people would still be priced out of the market.

All of the Democratic plans come with subsidies to help those at the lower end of the economic ladder get access to decent health care. The most generous are in the House bill, and how extensive the subsidies will be in the final legislation will be a point of heated debate.

In the House bill, individuals making less than 400 percent of the poverty line -- $43k per year and families earning under $88k -- will be eligible for subsidized coverage on a sliding scale.

Those at the lowest income levels (but who earn too much to get Medicaid) will be required to pay no more than 1.5 percent of their total income for health coverage.

Subsidies would also be available for co-pays -- also for people earning up to 400 percent of the poverty line.

Finally, many small businesses would be eligible for tax credits for insuring their employees.

7. No Free Lunch for Businesses

Currently, large employers that rely on low-skilled workforces usually offer little or no health coverage, and much of these workers' health care is already subsidized by taxpayers in the form of Medicaid and Medicare payments, other public programs and unpaid bills for emergency-room visits. Under the proposals in Congress, medium and large firms would face a simple choice: Offer their employees decent coverage or pay something into the system to offset the burden their employees' health needs impose on the American taxpayer.

8. More Low-Income Workers Eligible for Medicaid

All of the plans being considered by Congress make more of the working poor eligible for Medicaid by lifting the income limits on eligibility.

9. Some Things Will Change, but You'll Never Notice

The right's fearmongering is only effective because the health care debate is often so complex. Opponents of reform paint dark conspiracies about some of the more-obscure provisions in the reform package (a good example being the gross mischaracterization of a rather innocuous provision that makes counseling on living wills and other end-of-life decisions available to ill seniors as a "government death panel").

It is true, however, that the proposed legislation contain a number of provisions that aren't getting a lot of attention in the debate.

For example, there are measures that would impact the way doctors are paid, allocate additional dollars for developing the health care workforce and bring new technologies online.

These provisions will have a significant impact on a variety of stakeholders -- mostly health professionals -- but ordinary people looking for health coverage are not going to notice anything different about their health care.

10. Over Time, the System Will Become Healthier

Everything depends on what the final legislation entails. But if it were done right, those systemic changes -- greater competition, tighter regulation, technological improvements, a greater emphasis on prevention, the buying power and efficiency of less-fragmented insurance pools and an end to treating the uninsured in emergency rooms -- would gradually "bend the cost curve" of health coverage and offer insurance to tens of millions of people who today struggle with the health problems and stressful economic insecurity of living without insurance.

As I've argued before, the Democrats' approach is far from perfect. But the things outlined here are essentially what would come about if the more-progressive version(s) passed.

Understanding what's actually contained in the legislation leads to an unavoidable conclusion about the anger we've seen in recent weeks: it's doubtful that at anytime in the history of our nation have a group of people been so furiously opposed to something that would so obviously be an improvement over what they now have.

It's nothing less than a testament to the power of industry propaganda.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/141916/
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