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In Other Words

"Justice in the life and conduct of the state is possible only if first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens."
Plato, 427 BC - 347 BC

"This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today."
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1882 - 1945

"The highest office in the land is that of citizen."
Harry Truman, 1884 - 1972

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does."
Margaret Mead, 1901 - 1978

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. You will be changed, events will change you, but you have to decide not to be reduced."
Maya Angelou, 1928 - present

"If you go to one demonstration and then go home, that's something, but the people in power can live with that. What they can't live with is sustained pressure that keeps building, organizations that keep doing things, people that keep learning lessons from the last time and doing it better the next time."
Noam Chomsky, 1928 - present

Welcome! From throughout our country, these engaging blogs are authored by ordinary citizens with things to say about social, economic, environmental, human, or political conditions in our nation or world. We hope you will sign in and add your comments, too.

December 15, 2014

"Country" in Dearborn consistently one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants

Posted by Isaac Robinson on December 15, 2014

The Country Chicken Restaurant is one of the best spots for Middle Eastern food in the Detroit area. The menu includes great salads, chicken dishes (Tawook, Shawarma, and boneless chicken) and raw juices.

I have been going there for over 20 years. The cozy spot in east Dearborn, Michigan with the freshly baked warm bread was a favorite of the late Marty Slobin, legendary University of Michigan-Dearborn political science professor. A number of Slobin’s students at U of M-Dearborn loved the place back in the day too including the Al-Awamleh brothers, Masoud, Caled and Ashraf. To this day, I meet up from time to time with Masoud at the Country to discuss political affairs. The boneless chicken still tastes as good as it did when we were students of the great Marty Slobin in the 90s.

Yesterday, my mother Detroit State Representative Rose Mary C. Robinson enjoying the Country's golden brown fries declared, “the Country has the best fries, consistently the best.” Mom’s typical order includes a bowl of lentil soup, meat grape leaves and the fries.

She commented, “they use the highest quality potatoes. Cut them the right way. This takes me back to my roots in Philadelphia. The way my father would cook them.”

From the Wing Ding appetizers, to the Tilapia, to their Falafel, all of the Country's food is delicious.

As Rep. Robinson and I finished our meal at the Country on Saturday night, Masoud and his youngest son Abraham appeared from the other room. Masoud gave us his analysis of the mid-term elections. We laughed about past political campaigns. We set up a date in January to discuss preparation for the 2016 elections, at the Country of course. Political strategy sessions are always more fun with the Country's top-notch garlic sauce (it can go on almost anything).

If your travels take you to southeastern Michigan, add Country Restaurant to your list.

Country Restaurant is located at
5131 Schaefer Road, Dearborn, MI 48126 between Ford Road and Michigan Avenue.

December 10, 2014

The Gospel of Luke and Social Justice

Posted by Angelo Lopez on December 10, 2014

A few weeks ago the Progressive Christian facebook group had an interesting discussion on the progressivism in the Bible. Someone asked the members of the group what they thought were the most progressive books in the Bible, also what were the least progressive books in the Bible. His question elicited a lot of enthusiastic responses from the group. Among the responses for the most progressive Biblical chapters in the New Testament were James, the gospel of Luke and John, Revelations and Paul's early writings. In the Old Testament, the various members recommended Amos, Isaiah, and the prophets and the Wisdom literature as being the most progressive. There was a general agreement that Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers were the least progressive Old Testament chapters. Timothy and Paul's later writings were considered the least progressive New Testament passages. When I have the time I enjoy reading the discussions of the group, as I learn a lot of stuff that I didn't know before. Since Christmas is coming up, I thought I'd explore the gospel of Luke and see what makes it so progressive in many progressive Christian minds.

Read More Here ...

November 30, 2014

Religion & government

Posted by Ken Poland on November 30, 2014

Thank you, Angelo, for a very good summary of Old Testament scriptures that don't seem very popular in society today. None of those references you give recind the ten commandments. Some folks need to take note of the account of Jesus' encounter with the 'rich young ruler'. That young man declared that he had kept all the commandments, but he still felt something was missing. What did Jesus suggest to him? He didn't accuse him of breaking any commandments. He only suggested that he could give away some of his wealth. Share a little of what he had in material blessings with those less fortunate than himself. Piety (perfection in the law) is no substitute for showing compassion and love.

It is amazing to me how so many of the fundamental religious right folks can ignore those parts of scripture that don't fit their modern concept of humanity and equality.

Man's nature hasn't changed. We still have selective hearing and understanding. Taking blame for inequities isn't easy for anyone, rich or poor. We all like to blame someone or something other than ourselves for our status or station in life, especially if we are not where we'd like to be.

November 28, 2014

The Old Testament Prophets and Social Justice

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 28, 2014

I'm reposting the last part of a blog I wrote in May 8, 2014.

One of the great influences on the social justice traditions of Christians and Jews are the Old Testament Prophets. The Old Testament prophets had a strong sense of social justice for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the marginalized. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Ezekiel, and the great prophets of Israel inspired later day human rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr., Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, William Sloane Coffin, Ralph Abernathy, Pauli Murray, Bayard Rustin, Cesar Chavez, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and countless others to fight for the poor and the marginalized in society. The beauty of the prophet's poetry inspired activist poets like Muriel Rukeyser, Allen Ginsberg, Alicia Ostriker and June Jordan.

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November 25, 2014

An Interview With Political Cartoonist Eric J. Garcia

Posted by Angelo Lopez on November 25, 2014

One of the best most incisive political cartoonists working today is Eric J. Garcia. His cartoon El Machete Illustrated offers a sharp and incisive critique of America's economic and political system, especially the way these systems oppress the poor and immigrant communities. Eric began creating cartoons while serving in the U.S. Air Force, making fun of the military. He completed his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he won numerous awards to include, 1st Place College Cartoonist Award for both the New Mexico and Illinois College Associated Press competition. Eric's work can be seen in many national and international publications and online news networks such as In These Times, Hoy News Paper, and The Black Commentator.

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November 17, 2014

Here We Go Again

Posted by Diane Wahto on November 17, 2014

The people have spoken in the 2014 mid-term election. Well, some of them have spoken. Most spoke by staying away from the polls. Once again, the Republicans have the upper hand, at least in the House and the Senate and in many states. Kansas is sliding into an economic hole that it won’t be able to dig out of without drastic action on the part of the state legislature, but already the battle lines are drawn between the no-taxers and the raise-taxers. Similar scenarios are playing out across red states everywhere

The people who were elected to the U. S. House and the Senate promise to make things better for Americans by doing the following: repeal the Affordable Care Act; cut Medicare benefits; cut Social Security benefits; and cut safety net benefits. They also promise not to do anything substantial on immigration reform and to cut Pres. Obama off at the pass if he tries to do anything. Oh, yes, they will likely approve the Keystone Pipeline, bringing the danger of an oil spill right over the most vulnerable water source in the country. Of course, that oil coming from Canada won’t help Americans, as it is being shipped from the Gulf of Mexico to other countries. Who cares? The Kochs and their ilk want that pipeline, so forget the rest of us.

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October 20, 2014

The 2014 Association of American Editorial Cartoonist Convention in San Francisco

Posted by Angelo Lopez on October 20, 2014

This year the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists had a convention in San Francisco. Editorial cartoonists from all over the nation met in San Francisco to talk about the state of the editorial cartooning field and to see the innovations of several cartoonists in interactive cartoon journalism. Museum curators reminded cartoonists of the rich heritage of past editorial cartoonist greats and how they reflected the political climate of the times.

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September 29, 2014

Psychology of Fundraising

Posted by Ken Poland on September 29, 2014

I receive 30 or 40 emails declaring all is lost if I don’t send in $3 to $5 immediately. Disaster is just around the corner and if I can send in a dollar it will be matched. If I sent in $3 for every email it would add up to several hundred dollars pretty quickly.

I might experience a real disaster if at the end of the season i can’t pay all my current bills and satisfy my operating loan repayment at the bank. My operation will cease to exist. Government seems to survive and recover, in spite of the fact that it doesn’t always respect or reflect by priorities or standards.

I can’t help but wonder if they are selling chances on a dead horse, when you read the alarming news that disaster will strike if they miss their deadline of midnight tonight.

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September 24, 2014

A Meeting to Raise the Minimum Wage in Mountain View, California

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 24, 2014

In September 8, 2014, the Mountain View City Council held a hearing where citizens could talk about their views on a proposed draft ordinance to adopt a city minimum wage of $10.15 per hour and to include an annual adjustment for inflation. The proposed draft is modeled after San Jose's minimum wage ordinance and the rate will adjust by an amount corresponding to the prior year's Consumer Price Index. I went to the meeting to talk to other activists and to listen to what the citizens had to say for the City Council panel.

Read More Here ...

September 18, 2014

Thanks Ken

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 18, 2014

Thanks Ken for your insights. You mentioned a lot of bad effects of NAFTA that I didn't think of. I didn't even think of the double whammy that you mentioned on the working class and the agricultural workers. I was just focused on NAFTA's effect on illegal immigrants, but you're right the NAFTA has had bad affects on small farmers, small businesses, and on union workers. I forgot who said this, but I remember a commentator saying that "free markets are never really free". Big businesses always have an advantage in these type of situations.

September 15, 2014


Posted by Ken Poland on September 15, 2014

Angelo, thank you for your observations on NAFTA.

The lobbying of Pres. Clinton for NAFTA was never one of his stellar accomplishments.

I'm an agricultural producer of corn and that agreement benefited me some. But the loss of domestic buying power of the factory and assembly workers in the U.S. cost us dearly.

Corporations started exporting unfinished products to Mexico, where non unionized workers assembled them at slave labor compensation and then imported those finished products back and sold them at the same prices they would have needed if produced totally in the U.S. This produced a double whammy on the working class and agricultural producers here at home.

This created disparity in the Mexican economy as well as the U.S. economy. Big business and their stockholders were the major beneficiaries of the NAFTA agreement. Small independent companies and consumers never benefited. Mom and Pop businesses and small farmers seldom benefit from, so called, open trade and unregulated economies.

September 14, 2014

NAFTA and Illegal Immigration

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 14, 2014

I'd been doing a lot of research on illegal immigration and immigration reform these past few years and one question that I kept asking myself is: what is motivating these illegal immigrants to leave Mexico to the U.S.? One of the big reasons for the increase in illegal immigration in the past two decades has been the bad effect of NAFTA on Mexico's agricultural workers. Ever since NAFTA was enacted in the early 1990s, it has had both positive and negative effects on the Mexican economy. One of the negative effects has been with Mexico's poor farmers and agricultural workers. When Mexico signed the NAFTA agreement, Mexico agreed to get rid of its subsidies to agricultural products like corn. The United States, though, didn't have to take away its subsidies to its farming products. So many Mexican farmers couldn't compete with the lower prices of the American corn, wheat, soybeans and other products that flooded the Mexican market after NAFTA was passed, and a result was that 2 million agricultural jobs were lost in the 1990s and early 2000s. Before NAFTA, illegal immigration was actually in decline. After NAFTA, many of the agricultural workers who lost their jobs migrated to the United States to look for work. This is one of the reasons that illegal immigration grew in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Read More Here ...

September 13, 2014

If the Republicans Win The Senate, What Happens To Immigration Reform?

Posted by Angelo Lopez on September 13, 2014

Most experts predict that the Republicans will take the majority in the Senate. It's not something I want, but according to many articles, the political winds seem to be blowing against the Democrats. The Democrats still have a chance of winning enough seats to keep their majority in the Senate. The experts have been wrong before. But I think most Democrats like me have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If the Republicans win the Senate, I wonder what this will mean for immigration reform. So I have a few questions.

Read More Here ...

September 1, 2014

The Kansas Democratic Party Platform: An Exercise in Democracy

Posted by Diane Wahto on September 1, 2014

Reading a political party platform is probably considered by most people to be at the ho-hum level of watching paint dry. However, it is in the platform that people can discover what a political party values and what it stands for. .

I don't know how Republicans develop their platform. I do know, since I'm a Democrat and active in the Kansas Democratic Party, that the Kansas Democrats develop their platform with the input from a platform committee. This committee is made up of people holding elected office, Democratic Party officers, caucus chairs, county chairs, and district chairs. Democrats throughout the state have a say by letting members of the platform committee know about issues that need to be addressed.

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August 31, 2014

The Freedom of Speech and Respecting Differences of Opinions

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 31, 2014

One of the things that I think is bad about the political climate of today is a lack of respect for differences of opinion among the various sides. Especially with the Tea Party and many of its supporters, I've seen how they've voted out of office any Republican who deviate in any way from their conservative philosophy or who talk about compromise with Democrats about any issue. Personally I've gotten into conflicts with people who think all liberals are socialists and are un-American. I realize that people on the Left can be guilty of intolerance of different views as well. But today, it's the Right that has been most guilty of contributing to the intolerance of different views. This democratic republic that is the United States works best when differing views are debated and when there is a genuine respect for differences of opinions.

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August 25, 2014

Liberal Democrats and a History of Bipartisanship

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 25, 2014

One of the things that I dislike about the Tea Party is their punishing of any Republican who works with Democrats or who deviates in any way from their conservative philosophy. I don't understand how they could do this and complain about a lack of bipartisanship. I think this sort of obstructionism is bad for the political climate and plays a large part in the bitter partisan climate in our country today. Recently Congressman Eric Cantor was voted out of office by Tea Party members who were angry at Cantor's willingness to compromise on immigration reform. Senator Bill Bennett of Utah and Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana are two other examples of conservative Republicans who were defeated in Republican primaries by Tea Party voters who favored more partisan candidates. In a May 8, 2012 Huffington Post article by Michael McCauliff, the article describes the difference between Lugar and Richard Mourdock, the candidate who defeated Lugar in the Republican primaries:

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August 18, 2014

Muriel Rukeyser and the Freedom To Speak Your Mind

Posted by Angelo Lopez on August 18, 2014

One of my heroes is Muriel Rukeyser. Muriel Rukeyser was a poet who was involved in many left wing causes from the 1930s to the 1970s. In spite of her championing of many left wing causes, Muriel was often criticized by leftists because Rukeyser was independent minded and wouldn't follow any party line. Muriel Rukeyser was leftist, but she wasn't doctrinaire, and her independence of thought is something I admire.

Muriel's son William Rukeyser would write about his mother in the book How Shall We Tell Each Other of the Poet:

My mother invented her own career and she invented her life. She broke a lot of rules and she paid the price. In the thirties she didn't fear to embrace the Communists- for what they believed, or at least what they said they believed. But she wasn't timid about rejecting Communist dogma or thought control. For her pains she was vilified by both sides in many battles because she wouldn't follow anybody's party line except her own

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July 31, 2014

A Cartoon On Central American Refugee Children

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 31, 2014

These past few weeks, a national debate has been taking place over the great numbers of refugee children from Central America who have been crossing the border for the past few years. Over 50,000 children have traveled through dangerous terrain to escape gangs and escalating violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Honduras and find a safer place to live and pursue greater opportunities. There are justifiable worries about the strain that accepting these refugee children will put on our already strained social service programs, and many Americans feel that we should focus instead on our own struggling poor. If we deport these children back to their countries, though, are we putting these children at risk to being forced into gangs or put into risk of being killed? Many conservatives have framed this issue as being an immigration problem, but I agree with those who feel that this is really a refugee problem. I made a cartoon for the July 23, 2014 Philippines Today on the plight of the refugee children.

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July 27, 2014

The Letter

Posted by Diane Wahto on July 27, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, the Wichita Eagle, my hometown newspaper, ran a front page story about David Koch and his philanthropy. Roy Wenzl, a fine Eagle reporter, wrote the story. From the content of the story, it appears that Wenzl went to New York City, where Koch lives with his wife, children and dogs in a Manhattan apartment building.

According to the long, front-page article, David Koch gives money to such institutions as a cancer center, an art museum, a ballet company, and other New York City based cultural and medical establishments. This giving is a good thing. Koch etches his name on each of the buildings housing these institutions. Among his motives, of which there are many, is his desire to help these cultural and medical establishments flourish so that others may benefit from them.

Read More Here ...

July 4, 2014

Loving This Country on the 4th of July

Posted by Angelo Lopez on July 4, 2014

Another 4th of July has come upon us and I reflect on this country that I have lived all my life. My parents came to this country from the Philippines 60 years ago and they both deeply love this country. They instilled in me and my siblings a deep love of this democratic republic, a love of the history and the great reformers, and a reverence of the American ideals of freedom and equality. I'm a big fan of the sports, the arts, and the culture of this land: the music of Gershwin and Frank Sinatra and Brian Wilson; the athletic feats of Ken Stabler, Larry Bird, and Bo Jackson; the art of Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Schulz, and Jack Kirby. Though this country has its faults, it is a wonderful country.

Read More Here ...

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