The Purpose Driven Invocation

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With the announcement of Rick Warren’s selection by the inaugural committee to give the invocation at the most historic inaugural ceremony in American History, it shows that the realpolitik that is Barack Obama never misses an opportunity to make a symbolic appeal. The selection of Rick Warren is significant because it extends an olive branch of tolerance to the religious conservative and evangelical christian communities that are historically so resistant to Democratic Presidential candidates. Showing deference and respect to a moderate conservative powerhouse like Rick Warren, an admitted McCain supporter, narrows the psychological chasm between people of faith and the Democratic Party.

Don’t believe me? How about the Pew Forum?

Overall, 45% of Protestants voted for the Democrat, an increase of five points since 2004…Interestingly, Obama’s gains were among white evangelical Protestants (5 points), a traditionally Republican constituency, rather than among white Protestants who do not describe themselves as evangelical or born-again (no gain).

..Just as Obama made gains among most religious traditions, he also held steady or improved over Kerry’s 2004 support among people of all levels of religious observance. More than four-in-ten people (43%) who attend religious services regularly, that is, once a week or more, supported Obama, compared with 39% who supported Kerry.

Obama’s gains were particularly pronounced among the subgroup who attends religious services most often – that is, more than once a week; 43% of this group supported Obama, up from 35% who supported Kerry in 2004. Obama also received support from nearly six-in-ten voters (57%) who attend church occasionally (a few times a month or a few times a year), while Kerry won 53% of this group.

Rick Warren, despite his faith based a conservatism, is not a sanctimonious phony like a Pat Robertson or James Dobson. He is not totally bound by the straight jacket of homophobic religiosity and judgmental hypocrisy. Pastor Warren does not believe he’s on a personal mission from God to galvanize religious conservatives into supporting the Republican Party and it’s entire slate of right-wing candidates. While he is clearly on the conservative side of the abortion divide and marriage rights for same-sex couples, he also believes that same sex couples are entitled to partnership benefits, insurance, and hospital visitation rights. That tells me he has a firm grasp on reality and has both feet firmly planted on Earth. Robertson and Dobson are literally a stonesthrow away from homicide. Their unbounded intolerance and malevolent influence polarizes people of faith and goads them into negating the gospel they profess to live by.

I know that some of you find my criticisms of Barack Obama interesting and thought provoking, but this ain’t one of my critiques. I am more interested in making policy based criticisms instead of criticisms based on political correctness. The politics of this invocation are crystal clear and I admire Obama’s peerless skills.

Barack Obama, unlike the ignorant patrician who preceeded him, is really trying to unify the nation. I can’t think of a better way to do that than inviting Rick Warren to give a purpose driven invocation.

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Jackson Jr informed on Blagojevich

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Hat Tip: By Don Babwin, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn’t appoint the congressman’s wife for lottery director because he had refused to make a $25,000 donation to the governor’s campaign, a person familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press.

“That’s why she’s not getting the job,” the person quoted Blagojevich as saying. The person, a Jackson associate who was interviewed Tuesday by the AP, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation.

Jackson’s name has played prominently ever since Blagojevich was arrested last week on corruption charges, including allegations that the governor tried to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat for personal gain.

Jackson has been identified as one of the candidates Blagojevich was considering for the seat, and a criminal complaint said his supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for the governor if he picked the congressman.

The complaint quotes Blagojevich as saying on federal wiretaps that an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he made the Jackson appointment happen.

Jackson spokesman Kenneth Edmonds declined to comment on the account of the exchange shortly after Blagojevich’s 2002 election but said the Democratic congressman, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, has approached federal investigators to discuss the governor and others for years.

“He has shared information with federal prosecutors about public corruption during the past several years, including information about Blagojevich and others,” Edmonds said.

Jackson has openly sought the Senate position but denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything to Blagojevich on his behalf. The congressman has said federal prosecutors told him he is not a target of their investigation.

The Jackson associate interviewed by the AP did not know whether Jackson’s wife, Sandi had asked for the state lottery job. At the time, Blagojevich was the first incoming Democratic governor after years of Republican rule and had scores of state jobs to fill.

“The governor had kind of penciled Sandi in as lottery director and then asked for contributions from the congressman,” the person said.

Sandi Jackson, who has since been elected to the Chicago City Council, did not return a call to her office seeking comment.

In April, the Chicago Tribune reported that an examination of campaign donations to Blagojevich showed that three in four donors who gave exactly $25,000 received administration favors such as state board appointments or contracts.

It’s also the same amount of money that figured prominently in the testimony of a government witness in the political corruption trial this summer of political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.

Rezko, who raised more than $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund, was convicted of shaking down companies seeking state business for campaign contributions.