Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feelings toward members of LDS faith (Mormons)

I get a daily email from Google News with any story that they find with "Mormon" in it. Well this morning I read a story from the Orange County Register that dealt with the end of the Romney Presidential Campaign and the interesting thing was one of the comments. This comment came from a person that previously lived in Orange County CA and now lives in Idaho. This is what I feel is really happening (sometimes) people think they know things that they do not. Here are the comments. Let me know what YOU think.

derrico wrote:
I live in a part of the country that is very mormon. Having grown up in Orange County, with many mormon friends, I never saw them as different than any other group of christians. It is a lot different in Idaho. Many non-mormons are very suspicious of mormons and many supposed "Christians" say and do hateful things behind their backs. In my opinion, they are jealous of the social and economic success that many mormons have achieved here and they tend to blame their own failures on some sort of mormon conspiracy. Particularly the born-again/evangelical types. The truth is they are great neighbors, good friends, and give much more to our society than they take. Those of you that call mormonism a "Cult" are haters, in the first degree! You believe that a burning bush talked to a guy, but no way an angel came to Joseph Smith...GIVE ME A BREAK! Our founding fathers decreed that there be no religious test for our leaders, they were right to do that. A persons religion should not have a bearing on their fitness to be president. 2/11/2008 5:00:41 PM

Monday, February 11, 2008

Maná...20 million albums...Now you know

From time to time I like to share interesting things about myself on this blog...So tonight I thought I would share something; I love the Mexican rock band Maná. While I was a missionary for my church in southern California I worked with the Spanish-speaking people. One of the ways that I learned to speak and understand the language was through music and Maná was the group that I listened to the most. They are comparable to The Police. I bought my first Maná tape from a guy selling pirated tapes and CDs out of soft drink case cardboard boxes. You could totally tell that the tape case was a color photocopy and that the tape was a copy. But the price was right and it started me down the path where I am now. Maná actually came to Idaho once, they were touring with Santana in 2000 in support of his album Supernatural. Maná released their most recent album August 2006 Amar es Combatir. Here is a video from that album, Bendita Tu Luz.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Law & Order

I like to watch Law & Order and recently they had an episode that dealt with something that is pretty close to home in Idaho. You figure it out. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Now you may think that I have made up my mind and that I support Obama. Well I haven't yet. But more than for any other candidate and campaign I see people getting together for Obama. I mean over 14,000 in Idaho. So I thought I share a video based off of one of Obama's speeches. Here are the words.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality.
Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics...they will only grow louder and more dissonant ........... We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea --

Yes. We. Can.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Obama...The Truth

This past Saturday Barack Obama came to Taco Bell Arena in Boise, ID. That's right, Obama the blue came to Idaho the red red and had over 14,000 people at the rally. He found that "there are Democrats in Idaho" as his visit was publicized I started to hear more and more variations on the theme about Obama being a Muslim radical. Well I subscribe to an email from the Annenberg Political Fact Check and so I went to thier website and I wanted to set the record straight. Here is the link.

Sliming Obama
Dueling chain e-mails claim he's a radical Muslim or a 'racist' Christian. Both can't be right. We find both are false.
If these two nasty e-mail messages are any indication, the 2008 presidential campaign is becoming a very dirty one.

One claims that Obama is "certainly a racist" by virtue of belonging to Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, which it says "will accept only black parishoners" and espouses a commitment to Africa. Actually, a white theology professor says he's been "welcomed enthusiastically" at the church, as have other non-blacks.

Another e-mail
claims that Obama "is a Muslim," attended a "Wahabi" school in Indonesia, took his Senate oath on the Koran, refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and is part of an Islamic plot to take over the U.S. Each of these statements is false.

These false appeals to bigotry and fear remind us of the infamous whispering campaign of eight years ago, when anonymous messages just before the South Carolina primary falsely accused Republican candidate John McCain of fathering an illegitimate child by a black woman.
We turn first to the most recent of these Internet whispering campaigns: a widely forwarded e-mail that says Barack Obama’s church, the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, is anti-American, will only accept black parishioners and tilts toward Africa at the expense of the United States. The e-mail claims Obama is therefore "certainly a racist" and "desires to rule over America while his loyalty is totally vested in a Black Africa."

We've had scores of queries about the accuracy of this one.
It's bunk. For one thing, the church welcomes whites, according to a University of Chicago professor of divinity who says he has attended. And while its controversial pastor is a fiery advocate for blacks and liberal causes and a fierce critic of anti-black discrimination, we've seen no evidence that he preaches hatred of or discrimination against whites.

False E-Mail Sent to FactCheck.org Readers
Received Dec. 31, 2007

Subject: Obama's church

Obama mentioned his church during his appearance with Oprah. It's the Trinity Church of Christ. I found this interesting.

Obama's church:
Please read and go to this church's web site and read what is written there. It is very alarming.

Barack Obama is a member of this church and is running for President of the U.S. If you look at the first page of their web site, you will learn that this congregation has a non-negotiable commitment to Africa. No where is AMERICA even mentioned. Notice too, what color you will need to be if you should want to join Obama's church..._ B-L-A-C-K!!!_ Doesn't look like his choice of religion has improved much over his (former?) Muslim upbringing. Are you aware that Obama's middle name is Mohammed? Strip away his nice looks, the big smile and smooth talk and what do you get? Certainly a racist, as plainly defined by the stated position of his church! And possibly a covert worshiper of the Muslim faith, even today. This guy desires to rule over America while his loyalty is totally vested in a Black Africa!

I cannot believe this has not been all over the TV and newspapers. This is why it is so important to pass this message along to all of our family & friends. To think that Obama has even the slightest chance in the run for the presidency, is really scary.
Click on the link below:
This is the web page for the church Barack Obama belongs to: www.tucc.org/about.htm

The first clue that this e-mail is the product of careless ignorance is that it claims that "Obama's middle name is Mohammed," which is false. His middle name is Hussein.

As for the accusations against his church, this e-mail is not the first place they have come up. Nearly a year ago conservative blogger Erik Rush called the church "cultish" and "separatist" in a Feb. 2007 interview on Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes" and questioned whether its parishioners could consider themselves Americans or Christians.

Here are the facts:

It is true that Trinity describes itself as "a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian" and which "does not apologize for its African roots." The church’s Web site specifies a commitment to Africa and to "historical education of African people in diaspora." The congregation is overwhelmingly black; few if any whites can be seen in the photographs and videos of the congregation posted on the church's Web site. But none of that makes the church "racist" or anti-American.

Prof. Martin E. Marty
And in fact, a professor of theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School, Martin E. Marty, wrote this in April 2007, rebutting Rush’s claims on Fox News:
Prof. Marty: To those in range of Chicago TV I'd recommend a watching of Trinity's Sunday services, and challenge you to find anything "cultic" or "sectarian" about them. More important, for Trinity, being "unashamedly black" does not mean being "anti-white." My wife and I on occasion attend, and, like all other non-blacks, are enthusiastically welcomed.
Regarding this renewed attack on Trinity, Prof. Marty told FactCheck, "That kind of e-mail is vicious and lying, and makes my blood boil. ... Many civic officials, public school teachers, etc. are members at Trinity; [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright has been on TV with his services for years, and no one found them racist it's smear politics."

Trinity would not comment to us for this article. Rev.
Wright, however, appeared on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" on March 2, 2007, and responded at length to the claim made by Rush. He said in part:
Alan Colmes: I want the public to understand where your church is coming from, because you're being accused of being a black separatist church, and thus Obama is being accused by default of being a black separatist. Can you straighten that out for us, please?

Wright: OK. The African-centered point of view does not assume superiority, nor does it assume separatism. It assumes Africans speaking for themselves as subjects in history, not objects in history.
There's no question that Wright has been a controversial figure, a passionate advocate for black self-help and to some, a radical. Jason Byassee, in a lengthy article on the church published in Christian Century magazine, said, "There is no denying ... that a strand of radical black political theology influences Trinity." He added, "Conservatives may find the Africentric church too political, and liberals may squirm over its revivalist emotion." But he praised the church's success in growing to more than 8,000 members, making this black congregation the largest single church in a predominately white United Church of Christ denomination, saying "the black church continues to makes converts in unlikely places, reflecting a God who makes a way where there is no way."

Wherever we looked we found ample evidence that Obama's church is pro-black, but we found none to support a claim that it is anti-white. Calling it "racist" is, in our judgment, a falsehood.

The Manchurian Islamic Candidate?

Readers have also asked us about an oft-forwarded e-mail falsely claiming that Obama is a Muslim and suggesting that he is part of an Islamic plot to take over the U.S. "from the inside out" with "one of their own." This screed reads like the outline of a bad remake of the 1962 movie The Manchurian Candidate, in which Frank Sinatra unravels a Communist plot to make "one of their own" the president.

There is little excuse for those who continue to circulate this one. The most audacious falsehood it contains (of several) is a claim near the top: "We checked this out on 'snopes.com'. It is factual. Check for yourself." Anyone who actually does that would quickly find that
Snopes.com, the respected debunker of urban myths, judges the message to be "false." And yet we continue to receive examples sent to our readers by others who either don't take the time to check, or who don't care that they are repeating false and damaging statements.

False E-Mail Sent to FactCheck.org Readers
Received January 6, 2008

Who is Barack Obama?

Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice.

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts...this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States...better heed this and pray about it and share it.

We checked this out on "snopes.com". It is factual. Check for yourself.

Who is Barack Obama?

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita, Kansas.

Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. Hi s father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia.?
When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocate to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim.
He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school."

Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that
that he is not a radical.

Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.

Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches.

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.
The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!!!!

Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!!

This claim, and others similar to it, originated with a Jan. 2007 Insight Magazine article – a publication owned by News World Communications, which also owns the conservative Washington Times newspaper:
Insight: Are the American people ready for an elected president who was educated in a Madrassa as a young boy and has not been forthcoming about his Muslim heritage?
This article, citing anonymous sources, claimed that "Mr. Obama, 45, spent at least four years in a so-called madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia." But this allegation was quickly shown to be false. Days after the article appeared, CNN sent reporter John Vause to Jakarta, Indonesia, to visit the school. He reported:
CNN: I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. … I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that.
CNN interviewed the school's deputy headmaster, Hardi Priyono, who said: "This is a public school. We don't focus on religion."
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

That same day, Obama’s Senate office issued a press release saying the claims in the magazine story were false and citing CNN and other reports. Subsequent news stories in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune found no merit in the madrassa claim. Obama’s childhood in Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest Muslim population, is not something he has attempted to hide. He dedicates pages in his best-selling book "Dreams from My Father" to his life overseas.

This e-mail cobbles together some other false claims that have been circulating for months.

Swore on Koran? The e-mail says "when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran" – bunk yet again. Obama did not place his hand on the Koran when he was sworn into the U.S. Senate. This claim confuses Obama with the first and only Muslim member of Congress, Democratic House member Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Obama was sworn in using his own Bible, as widely reported in newspaper accounts and pictured above. That's his wife holding the Bible with Vice President Dick Cheney swearing him in. (Under the Constitution, the vice president serves as president of the Senate.)

Pledge of Allegiance? The slime doesn’t stop there. The e-mail also claims Obama "will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag" and that "while others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches." These e-mails usually come with this photo, seen here as it appears on Time.com's Web site:

Time.com Photograph

The photograph was taken during a "steak-fry" for Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa on Sept. 16, 2007. What is pictured is the singing of the national anthem, not a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. For proof, see this video taken by ABC News during the event.

And for proof that Obama has no problem reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, check this video of C-SPAN’s recording of the Senate’s morning business, with Obama presiding, on June 21, 2007. Or this one from Feb. 1, 2007.

A point not raised in this e-mail: Some have complained that Obama should have placed his hand over his heart during the singing of the anthem, as pictured in the Time photo. It is true that the U.S. Code states that "all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart." But the word "should" rather than "shall" makes that a recommendation and not a legal requirement. To confirm, we spoke with Anne Garside, director of communication for the Maryland Historical Society
home of the original manuscript of "The Star-Spangled Banner," and asked if anyone could be punished for not placing their hands over their hearts during the national anthem. She quickly replied, "Oh, of course not," adding that "there is no obligation to put your hand over your heart." Garside told us she has been asked numerous times about this rumor and finds the controversy to have "gotten a little bit ridiculous."

The "Black Baby" smear

Scurrilous smears like those contained in these two e-mails can have a damaging effect. Before the South Carolina primary in 2000, for example, phone calls were made to voters in which the callers claimed to be taking a poll, asking: "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" McCain had done no such thing. He and his wife had adopted their daughter Bridget, who has dark skin, as a baby from Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. A professor at Bob Jones University also had sent an e-mail message telling South Carolinians that McCain had “chosen to sire children without marriage,” which wasn't true. McCain lost the 2000 primary, and the Republican nomination, to George W. Bush.

Such attacks usually can be disproved with less effort than it takes to forward them to others. The statement that Snopes endorsed the false claim that Obama is a Muslim radical is an example. So we find it disappointing that they continue to circulate. But we expect to see more of them as the election year wears on, and we'll do our best to expose them when readers bring them to our attention.

–by Jess Henig and Emi Kolawole

Correction, Jan. 11: In our original article, we inadvertently dropped the word "United" from one reference to Obama's church. It is the United Church of Christ, which is different from the Church of Christ.

"Obama's Pastor: Rev. Jeremiah Wright." FoxNews.com interview archive, 2 Mar. 2007.

Byassee, Jason. "Africentric church: a visit to Chicago's Trinity UCC."
Christian Century, 29 May 2007.

Fiore, Faye. "He's the Hill's King for a Day, but Senate Has Other Plans." The Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2005.

Adair, Bill. "E-Mail Assailing Obama's Patriotism Misses Mark." St. Petersburg Times, 9 Nov. 2007.

Coleman, Francis. "Stop the mass e-mails before it's too late." Mobile Register, 11 Nov. 2007.

Kurtz, Howard. "Campaign Allegation A Source of Vexation." The Washington Post, 22 Jan. 2007.

Drobnic Holan, Angie. "Obama attended an Indonesian public school." PolitiFact.com, 10 Jan. 2008.

Beacon Jr., Perry. "Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him." The Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2007.

Davis, Richard H. "The anatomy of a smear campaign," The Boston Globe, 21 Mar. 2004.

Steinhauer, Jennifer. "Confronting Ghosts of 2000 in South Carolina." New York Times, 19 Oct. 2007.

Friday, February 01, 2008


The Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction is Tom Luna, from Nampa. I am also from Nampa. I have lived there most of my life. I have been there when Luna was part of the Nampa school board. I can tell you that the Nampa schools are not the jewel of education in Idaho. They are not the worst by any means, but there was not a legacy of success.

This Legislative session Luna is proposing iStars, a program that changes teacher compensation to more of a merit based system and if a teacher chooses this system then they forfeit their current contract and position them selves for more pay, but the State has not decided to fund it completely. So if the funding goes the teachers that are part of iStars are out of luck. What kind of planning is that? Decide for yourself!

The Royal (Northwest) Mounted Valise has some great commentary on the realities of iStars, also thanks to Representative Tom Trail of Moscow for asking questions. Here is a link
and here is the Text:

Catch a Falling ISTARS

Representative Tom Trail has done some digging and has come up with an opinion from the Attorney General's office that should render a body blow to Tom Luna's ISTARS- the ill advised plan to give teachers merit pay in exchange for them giving up their continuing contract rights. Teachers who participated in the program would be placed under a Category 4 contract and would in essence become at-will employees.

As Trail tells the story,

Mr.. Luna's plan was initially estimated to cost $65 million. He then scaled it back to $46 million. However, with increasing concern about the bleak economic outlook for the county and Idaho, we've heard that he has five different lower cost options. One of the issues that I raised with Mr.. Luna concerned what would happen if a teacher agreed to become a Category 4 contract teacher and then at a future date the Legislature cut off funding for the program. Would that teacher be able to regain his/her continuing contract rights?

Mr. Luna told me in private and also in a meeting of over 125 people in public testimony that a teacher in this case would be able to switch back to the continuing contract status if such an event as outlined above occurred. He said the protection was in his ISTARS proposal and also covered under current Idaho Code. I asked Mr.. Luna to provide me the specific references. I did not hear back from him so spent considerable time in reviewing the statutes and his ISTARS legislation. I then asked the Idaho Attorney General's Office to research my question and issue an opionion.

The Attorney General's opinion makes two important points. First, Luna was wrong. ISTARS makes no provisions for a teacher being able to switch back to a continuing contract. Secondly, if the legislature cuts off funding for the program, the school district is obligated to fulfill the provisions of the contract.

The implications of this opinion are staggering. There is not a district in the state that could meet the obligations of the merit pay contracts if the state were to drop the program. teachers who opt for the Category 4 contract could find themselves "riffed" because the district could not afford to pay them and their only recourse would be to sue the district. And, according to the AG, these suits would be decided on a case-by-case basis, eventually ending up in the Supreme Court.

The citizens of Idaho should thank Trail for pursuing this issue and asking for an opinion from the Attorney General. We should also ask Luna to explain his response to Representative Trail's inquiry. Was he lying or just ignorant of the details of his own program?

Below is the complete and unedited letter the Attorney General sent to Representative Trail.

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OPINION 08-21617--Representative Trail--You have asked for guidance regarding the proposed ISTARS legislation. As I understand your request, you want to know what will happen if a teacher agrees to become a Category 4 contract teacher and the Legislature cuts off funding for the ISTARS program. Your request specifically seeks guidance as to whether the Category 4 contract teacher will regain continuing contract status or somewhere else under Idaho Code.

As currently configured, the ISTARS legislation does not address the situation involving a lack of state funding for the Category 4 contract teacher. Nor is there any other provision in the Idaho Code that would provide for a Category 4 contract teacher returning to continuing contract status.

The ISTARS program makes very clear that a certificated employee who choose to sign a Category 4 contract "is irrevocably terminating any rights to a category 3 contract or to a renewable contract...."See Section 2 of Senate Bill 1310 (proposed Idaho Code 33-514B (1) The ISTARS program specifically proposes to amend Idaho Code 33-515 (issuance of Renewable Contracts) to exclude Category 4 contracts. The admonition regarding the permanent loss of continuing contract rights as a result of signing a Category 4 contract is reiterated in Section 6 of S1310 (proposed Idaho Code 33-1004 (4)(b) and 33-1004 (4)

Moreover, the ISTARS program appears to deny school districts the ability to amend or alter Category 4 contracts or the awards to be paid pursuant to them. See Section 6 of S1310. Thus, the ISTARS program not only makes very clear that a teacher who signs a Category 4 contract gives up any right to continuing contract status at the time of signing or in the future but also appears to severely limit a school district's ability to alter the contract status with a Category 4 contract teacher.

The ability of a school district to alter or amend its contractual relationship with a certificated employee is further limited by case law in Idaho that establishes that a teacher's contract includes relevant statutory provisions from the Idaho Code. See, Rhoades v. Idaho Falls School District No. 91, 131 Iaho 827, 965 P.2d 187 (1998), and Brown v. Caldwell High School District No. 132, 127 Idaho 112, 898 P.2d 43 (1995). Therefore, the ISTARS "awards" to Category 4 contract employees would become part of the employee's contract with the school district or charter school. Contract rights are protected by constitutional due process considerations, as would be any reduction of compensation under a Category 4 contract during the contract period.

Shouldl the Legislature not fund ISTARS, the remedy of a Category 4 certicated employee would be against the school district or charter school. The school may be liable for payment to the employee pursuant to the Category 4 contract award provisions. As part of the relief by a teacher, a court could order that a teacher be returned to continuing contract status or have access to such status. However, such a result would likely be on a case by case basis until the issue was ultimately resolved by the Idaho Supreme Court.