Muslim Roots Of The Blues

Here is an excerpt from a San Francisco Chronicle article suggesting that the American Blues style of popular music may actually have Muslim slave origins.

BAILEY LIVES ON Georgia's Sapelo Island, where a small community of blacks can trace their ancestry to Bilali Mohammed, a Muslim slave who was born and raised in what is now the country of Guinea. Visitors to Sapelo Island are always struck by the fact that churches there face east. In fact, as a child, Bailey learned to say her prayers facing east—the same direction that her great-great-great-great-grandfather faced when he prayed toward Mecca.

Bilali was an educated man. He spoke and wrote Arabic, carried a Qur'an and a prayer rug, and wore a fez that likely signified his religious devotion. (Bilali had been trained in Africa to be a Muslim leader; on Sapelo Island, he was appointed by his slave master to be an overseer of other slaves). Although Bilali's descendents adopted Christianity, they incorporated Muslim traditions that are still evident today.

The name Bailey, in fact, is a reworking of the name Bilali, which became a popular Muslim name in Africa because one of Islam's first converts—and the religion's first muezzin—was a former Abyssinian slave named Bilal. (Muezzins are those who recite the call to prayer from the minarets of mosques. ) One historian believes that abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who changed his name from Frederick Bailey, may have had Muslim roots.

"History changes things," says Bailey, 59, who chronicled the history of Sapelo Island in her memoir, "God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man."

"Things become something different from what they started out as."

The tiny community of Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island in Georgia is one of the earliest freed slave settlements, and it is still home to descendants of the original owners. That may change though, as the Gullah-Geechee people in the Hog Hammock community are being forced to sell because of soaring property taxes. The owners aren’t giving up without a fight, though, and are making their story known.

Hog Hammock has a population of less than 50, and according to resident Cornelia Bailey, the people there receive no county services. This makes it difficult for the home and business owners in the community to understand why their property appraisals (and tax bills) are soaring. The community has no school, no police station and only one paved road to maintain.

Read it all.

During The Course Of A Campaign

Wendy Button
Wendy Button

IERE IS AN ENERGETIC article posted by former Obama, Edwards, and Clinton speechwriter, Wendy Button, on why she has abandoned the Democratic Party during the campaign, will change her registration to Independent, and is now supporting John McCain for president.

Here's a taste:

Governor Palin and I don’t agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can’t learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot—that’s a sign of both humor and humanity.

Has she made mistakes? Of course, she’s human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama’s “57 states” remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, “There’s nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man’s thoughts.”

But thank God for election 2008. We can talk about the wardrobe and make-up even though most people don’t understand the details about Senator Obama’s plan with Iraq. When he says, “all combat troops,” he’s not talking about all troops—it leaves a residual force of as large as 55,000 indefinitely. That’s not ending the war; that’s half a war.

I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.

I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.

Read it all. But, if there are those who think that I haven't been clear about why I support the McCain-Palin ticket, let me point the finger at someone else. Let me allow you to read the exceedingly rational essay by Dr. Walid Phares. His words speak for me.

Who Is Penny Pritzker?

Penny Pritzer
Penny Pritzer

John W. Courtney's world collapsed at dinnertime on a Friday in July 2001. That's when he learned from a television newscast that much of the $200,000 that he had saved from his construction job over a 30-year period was lost when his Chicago-area bank was shut down after pursuing a failed strategy of subprime loans.

Seven years later, the Vietnam War veteran has yet to recoup $85,000 of his uninsured losses from Superior Bank's failure. And he watches in disbelief as one of the bank's former top officials, billionaire hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, leads the record-breaking fundraising machine of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

Mr. Courtney, now 63, wonders aloud how Mr. Obama could rail on the campaign trail against the national financial crisis started by subprime lending while allowing a former advocate of the practice to hold the senior position of finance chairwoman in his campaign. The candidate has even lauded Ms. Pritzker's business practices as a model for an Obama administration.

"He knows the Pritzker family. He knows what happened in Illinois. He knows that Superior Bank was one of the first to securitize subprime mortgages," Mr. Courtney said. "He talks about change and helping people find a better way of life, but he has distanced himself from the fact that Superior helped ignite the nation's subprime crisis and that Penny Pritzker and her family walked away from it and us."

Read it all.

Keeping Strong On Defense

islamist101208171IN THOSE FOGGY BOTTOM DAYS OF 2006, among other things, the US Senate debated an amendment—Vote 177—that commended the government of Iraq for affirming its position of not granting amnesty to terrorists who attack U.S. armed forces.

This occurred at a time when the situation in Iraq was bleak and terrorist activity high, in the year prior to the onset of the “surge” and the new counterinsurgency strategy successfully executed by General Petraeus. For the Iraqi government, during this time, to affirm its position that terrorists who attack U.S. armed forces should not be granted amnesty, was a commendable act of courage by Iraqi leaders. This courage deserved our support. John McCain voted FOR this amendment. Barack Obama voted AGAINST this amendment, as did his running mate, Joe Biden.

I know this territory has been covered, but here is another fine conundrum of this election cycle. Obama’s entire campaign is based upon Americans trusting him to do things he has never in his life done.

Lower taxes—never done it, but he says he will;

Reform government—never done it, but he says he will;

Work in a bipartisan manner—never done it, but he says he will;

Keep money out of politics—never done it, but he says he will;

Display better judgement—never done it, but he says he will; and the phat-ass kicker of all campaign promises Obama has made—transcend race—absolutely never done it, but he says he will. Maybe someone should ask if this is what is meant by keeping strong on national defense.

Americans Refuse To Count The Costs

IHIS IS A SIZZLING first-time find for me. Taking on the hapless MSM, and the fact that Americans in great numbers simply refuse to count the costs in putting into the highest office of the land an untested and rather apathetic politician (with his extreme number of "present" votes in Illinois and the US Senate) this fellow Bob more than amply exudes the passion of his convictions.

Rejecting The Media Kool-Aid

THE FOX NEWS WATCH crew compare the relative lack of media reportage of those Joe Biden's recent and rather frightening remarks with the wall to wall coverage of Sarah Palin's new wardrobe during the same time frame as proof positive of media bias in this election. In rejecting the media kool-aid, we note that three of the five talking heads are liberal types, but most agree that notions of non-bias are greatly exaggerated...

Health Insurance Bait And Switch

Photo by Laurie Hicks

ONE UNDERREPORTED STORY of this election is how heavily John McCain has been damaged by Barack Obama's television ad assault on his health-care insurance plan. A lot of voters seem to believe the Democrat when he says that Mr. McCain wants to deny them coverage or bankrupt them with crushing hospital bills.

Mr. McCain has himself to blame for not defending his own reform ideas, during the debates and in TV ads, against attacks that have been misleading when not flat-out false. Even so, Mr. Obama's tactics are especially cynical because his own health-care advisers support plans much like Mr. McCain's. Or at least they did before joining up with Mr. Obama.

Put simply, the McCain plan seeks to remedy a distortion in the health-care market that economists have spent decades begging politicians to fix: The tax code subsidizes insurance only if it is provided through employers. Individuals can't take the same tax deduction for buying insurance that businesses can. So Mr. McCain wants to "spread the wealth" of these tax breaks to individuals of any income through a refundable tax credit, no matter where they get coverage.

"The fact that the tax subsidy, which supports the employer-sponsored system, is better than nothing is a feeble excuse for resisting any changes to the status quo." That's not John McCain's judgment. It's a quote from Jason Furman, who happens to be Mr. Obama's economic policy director. In a cri de coeur published in the journal Democracy in 2006, Mr. Furman implored fellow Democrats and other progressives to confront "a critical missing link" in their health ideology—the same link his boss now spends most of his time demagoguing.

Read the entire Wall Street Journal report.