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I am so dreadfully sick and tired of so-called Christians making claims that Obama is NOT a Christian.

How can anyone, with the exception of Senator Obama, know whether or not he is truly Christian? How can anyone be so absolutely sure?

On the Willkie’s Pride site to which I belong – a Yahoo group from my hometown of Elwood, Indiana – this is the constant chatter from all these supposed Christians who write on the site. This was one from today:

Barack Obama insists that he is a “devout Christian” of “deep faith,” and Big Media echoes his claim without question. Even some critics hesitate to challenge the validity of that claim.

The ruse that he is a Christian must be exposed for what it really is: Obama’s cloak to conceal that he is a Marxist from a Muslim background, for which he holds widespread support in the Islamic world. This series of three articles will analyze his exploitation of Christian rhetoric to serve the subterfuge.

Now, who in the hell is this woman – one who claims devout Christianity herself – to say whether or not Obama is a Christian, or not?

Is this a judgement?

If you asked this woman, I am sure it would not be a judgement. How do we draw the line between what is judgement and what is fact or what is speculation?

I have always found myself disgusted by Christians who raise themselves to superior positions, but it has only become worse with this current election. They do not realize they are doing Christianity such a hideous diservice.

As my son said the other day, “Why would I want to be called Christian? I consider my self to be a good person who does not try to pass judgement and am kind and accepting of others no matter who they are.”

Out of the mouths of babes!

 

Thank you for smoking

davis.jpgThis stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from “All About Eve.” Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where’s her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn’t this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart. I was first alerted to this travesty by a reader, Wendell Openshaw of San Diego, who wrote me: “Do you share my revulsion for this attempt to revise history and distort a great screen persona for political purposes? It is political correctness and revisionist history run amok. Next it will be John Wayne holding a bouquet instead of a Winchester!”

portrait_2.jpgThe great Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski took one of the most famous portraits of Davis. I showed him the stamp. His response: “I have been with Bette for years and I have never seen her without a cigarette! No cigarette! Who is this impostor?” I imagine Davis might not object to a portrait of her without a cigarette, because she posed for many. But to have a cigarette removed from one of her most famous poses! What she did to Joan Crawford in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” wouldn’t even compare to what ever would have happened to the artist Michael Deas.

Look, I hate smoking. It took my parents from me, my father with lung cancer, my mother with emphysema. They both liked Luckies. When my dad’s cancer was diagnosed, they played it safe and switched to Winstons. When my mother was breathing oxygen through a tube, she’d take out the tube, turn off the oxygen, and light up. I avoid smokers. It isn’t allowed in our house. When I see someone smoking, it feels like I’m watching them bleed themselves, one drip at a time.

So we’ve got that established. On the other hand, I have never objected to smoking in the movies, especially when it is necessary to establish a period or a personality. I simply ask the movies to observe that, these days, you rarely see someone smoking except standing outside a building, on a battleground, in a cops’ hangout, in a crack house, in rehab, places like that. In an ordinary context, giving a character a cigarette is saying either (1) this is a moron, or (2) this person will die. Smoking no longer even works to add a touch of color to an action hero. Does Jason Bourne smoke? I haven’t seen James Bond with a cigarette since Pierce Brosnan took over the role in 1995. Daniel Craig smoked cigars in “Casino Royale” (2006), but the producers cut them out. (Craig: “I can blow someone’s head off but I can’t light a good cigar.”)

Two of the most wonderful props in film noir were cigarettes and hats. They added interest to a close up or a two-shot. “Casablanca” without cigarettes would seem to be standing around looking for something to do. These days men don’t smoke and don’t wear hats. When they lower their heads, their eyes aren’t shaded. Cinematographers have lost invaluable compositional tools. The coil of smoke rising around the face of a beautiful women added allure and mystery. Remember Marlene Dietrich. She was smoking when she said, “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”

ronny-chesterfield-2.jpgEverybody smoked cigarettes in the movies. Even Katharine Hepburn. Even Loretta Young. Ronald Reagan posed for Chesterfield ads. On the radio, it wasn’t “The Jack Benny Program,” it was “The Lucky Strike Program with Jack Benny,” although in that PBS documentary you only see him smoking cigars. Robert Mitchum smoked so much, he told me, that when the camera was rolling on “Out of the Past,” Kirk Douglas offered him a pack and asked, “Cigarette?” And Mitchum, realizing he’d carried a cigarette into the scene, held up his fingers and replied, “Smoking.” His improvisation saved the take. They kept it in the movie.
If virtually all actresses smoked, Bette Davis smoked more than virtually all actresses. When she appeared on the Tonight Show the night after she co-hosted the Oscars, she walked onstage, shook Johnny’s hand, sat down, pulled out her Vantages, and lit up. Tumultuous applause. I would guess it is impossible for an impressionist to do Bette Davis without using a cigarette. Remember Paul Henried lighting two cigarettes and giving her one? Read this quote from the first paragraph of Wiki’s entry on Davis: Her forthright manner, clipped vocal style and ubiquitous cigarette contributed to a public persona which has often been imitated and satirized. Ubiquitous.

I think some smoking is okay even in contemporary stories, if only to acknowledge it exists. Movies can’t rewrite reality. The MPAA cautiously mentions smoking in their descriptions of movie ratings (even if it’s Alice’s caterpillar and his hookah). If, by the time you’re old enough to sit through a movie, you haven’t heard that smoking is bad for you, you don’t need a movie rating, you need a foster home.

And yet, and yet…I could not do without that moment in “Sweet Smell of Success,” where Burt Lancaster plays the big-shot Broadway columnist T. J. Hunsaker, and Tony Curtis is the desperate press agent Sidney Falco, trying to get an item into T.J.’s column. Hunsaker holds a cigarette in his fingers and, without looking, says “Match me, Sidney.” A relationship defined in two words. That still leaves “Cigarette me.” I predict it will turn up as dialog within 12 months.

robertjohnson.jpg
Blues legend Robert Johnson’s cigarette vanished on a 1994 stamp.

 

Editor’s note: Campbell Brown anchors CNN’s “Campbell Brown: Election Center” at 8 p.m. ET Mondays through Fridays. She delivered this commentary during the “Cutting through the Bull” segment of Monday night’s broadcast.

NEW YORK (CNN) — You may find it hard to believe that this remains an issue in this campaign, but it does.

Campbell Brown says it's on the record that Sen. Barack Obama is a Christian, but why should that matter?

Campbell Brown says it’s on the record that Sen. Barack Obama is a Christian, but why should that matter?

The candidates, both candidates, are still getting questions about Barack Obama’s ethnicity and religion. If you are even semi-informed, then by now you already know that of course, Barack Obama is an American.

Of course, Barack Obama is a Christian. Yet just a few days ago, there was a woman at a rally for John McCain incorrectly calling Obama an Arab:

Woman at rally: I don’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s an Arab.

Sen. John McCain: No ma’am, no ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not, thank you.

‘Now, I commend Sen. McCain for correcting that woman, for setting the record straight. But I do have one question — so what if he was?

So what if Obama was Arab or Muslim? So what if John McCain was Arab or Muslim? Would it matter?

When did that become a disqualifier for higher office in our country? When did Arab and Muslim become dirty words? The equivalent of dishonorable or radical?

Whenever this gets raised, the implication is that there is something wrong with being an Arab-American or a Muslim. And the media is complicit here, too.

We’ve all been too quick to accept the idea that calling someone Muslim is a slur.

I feel like I am stating the obvious here, but apparently it needs to be said: There is a difference between radical Muslims who support jihad against America and Muslims who want to practice their religion freely and have normal lives like anyone else.

There are more than 1.2 million Arab-Americans and about 7 million Muslim-Americans, former Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, successful business people, normal average Americans from all walks of life.

These are the people being maligned here, and we can only imagine how this conversation plays in the Muslim world. We can’t tolerate this ignorance — not in the media, not on the campaign trail.

Of course, he’s not an Arab. Of course, he’s not a Muslim. But honestly, it shouldn’t matter.

The Sky Is Blue Even on a Cloudy Day

When we refer to a “beautiful day,” we are often describing a day that is sunny, clear, and without a cloud in sight to mar a sky that is a brilliantly perfect blue. We find ourselves bouncing along, light in spirit, free from worries, and enjoying the moment. That is, until the clouds begin to form. The sky may turn grey, and a fog may roll in. Puffs of white take on whimsical, darker shades, and our beautiful day disappears along with the sunshine… or so it seems.

A clear blue sky often inspires in us good cheer, bringing on a lighter, more carefree day. We may find ourselves spending time outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, and basking in the warmth of the sun. Yet should clouds appear to wash the sky with shadows, we may let this change of weather decrease our energy and enthusiasm, pulling us into our own cloudy funk. Darker days are just as much a part of life as are the days graced with sunshine. They show us a different perspective of our world, while helping us appreciate the moments of illumination that inevitably follow. A rainy day with clouds helps to clear the air, washing away stagnation. Still, it’s hard not to feel gloomy or think that the day has been ruined when there are clouds hanging over us. Yet if you can remember that these shades of grey won’t last forever, and that hidden behind the clouds is the blue sky, you will find that the beauty of your day is merely playing a game of peek-a-boo with you. Like the mis! haps and interruptions that occasionally block the brilliance that is our own lives from shining through, clouds eventually clear away so we can open up to a brighter horizon.

The next time you wake up to a cloudy day, remember that these shades of grey in life are there just for the moment. And that no matter how hard the rain falls or how chilly the fog is, the clouds will go away, the sun will break through, and you will be able to see the sky that has always and forever been a beautiful and brilliant blue.

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