Warren in the Temple

I must confess, it's been a while since I attended my last Catholic school religion class (which reminds me, it's been eons since my last Confession too), but some of the New Testament stories and lessons have stuck with me and still resonate all these years later.


One that I’ve always found especially thrilling was the single documented incident in which Jesus lost his cool and, in a fit of rage, threw out a group of moneychangers doing business in the temple. The story was always presented to illustrate Jesus’ human side, and as young students, how could we NOT thrill to the story of a badass Jesus brandishing a handy whip and going all Indiana Jones on the greedy heathens, driving them from the temple, yelling, “Do not make my Father's house a house of trade!” (John 2:13-17).

While for the most part monetary transactions have been banished from the churches (though you’d never know it looking at Joel Osteen Inc.’s megachurch), the same can’t be said of the temples of government, where Wall Street bankers and corporate lobbyists have long been calling the shots in Washington.  Thanks in large part to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling, unlimited campaign financing has lead to the election of politicians who serve the interest of their corporate donors, not their constituants.

In this environment of decades-long erosion of middle class wages while the accumulated wealth of the top 1% has skyrocketed, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has made a name for herself by calling out the political corruption that has lead to such rampant inequality. Fighting the lonely fight for the middle and working classes, she, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have declared a war of sorts against the overwhelming influence of the megarich on the legislative process.

Belying her stereotypical librarian appearance, she delivers fiery speeches  preaching against Wall Street corruption and its insidious power over US politics and policies. This has lead to a growing grassroots movement for an Elizabeth Warren Presidency not seen since the improbable  and meteoric rise of Barak Obama in 2007.  And it seems the more Sen. Warren flat out declares that she’s NOT running for President in next years election, the more enthusiasm builds for her potential candidacy.

As much as I’d love to see a Warren candidacy, barring a political vacuum in which, for whatever reason, Hillary Clinton decides NOT to seek the Democratic nomination, a 2016 run for President seems to me increasingly unlikely. But we can hope.

Eyewitnesses' Strange Encounter with Michael Brown

It’s been nearly four months since the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson, and the protests there continue, spreading to other cities across the US. The decision last week to NOT indict officer Wilson on any charges didn’t come as a great surprise to most residents of Ferguson, who have long been distrustful of local law enforcement.

But with all the coverage the 90-second encounter between Brown and Wilson has received, I found one eyewitness account to be especially interesting and, if true, I believe it hasn’t received the media coverage it deserves. It appeared in one article of the St. Louis Dispatch and a brief mention in a CNN video clip weeks ago and, to my knowledge, was never mentioned again, nor was it picked up by other major media outlets.

According to the eyewitness, who along with a coworker was working on a nearby street, Michael Brown was shot at from behind, turned around, and was in the act of surrendering when he was fatally shot by Wilson. The account was notable, not just because the worker had no ties to Michel Brown or the community, but because of the strange encounter his coworker had with Brown shortly before the shooting.

As he tells it, the man (presumably wearing the green shirt in the video) and his coworker were digging up a section of the street when his coworker hit a tree root. His coworker let out a profanity just as Michael Brown happened to be passing by. Here’s where the story gets pretty surreal. As the worker tells it, Brown struck up a conversation with the coworker saying that he had some “bad vibes” but that “the Lord Jesus Christ would help me through that as long as I didn’t get all angry at what I was doing.” Brown said that he had a picture of Jesus hanging on his wall at home, and the coworker joked that the devil had a picture of him on his wall. This conversation is said to have taken place about a half hour before the shooting.

So here we have a young man supposedly carrying on a conversation about religion and morality just moments after (or before? It’s not clear) he allegedly robs a convenience store and is subsequently shot and killed by police. It sounds like something out of an old Russian novel. It should be noted that key parts of the account have been called into question by conservative websites. Rather than dealing with the pre-shooting conversation, they question the motives of the videographer, attack the anonymity of the witnesses, dispute their claims of being 50 ft. away and having clear sight lines, and believe that the clip is taken out of context.

In CNN's on-air discussion of the video following it's release, panelist Attorney Mark Geragos called the video a "game changer". It wasn't. There was no followup on the part of CNN or the St. Louis Dispatch, and with the grand jury’s decision not to charge Officer Wilson with any crime, the details and veracity of the account will probably never be known.

Comments from all sides are welcome, and will only be moderated for inflammatory content.