Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The End of an Era

The Prez's speech was fairly predictable. I heard that 1/3 less people tuned in when compared to past addresses. They didn't miss much. Salon called it Bush to Errant Flock; 9/11, 9/11, 9/11.

Then today, we have this Republican congressman, Rep. Robin Hayes from North Carolina, claiming that there is a direct link between Saddam and 9/11. He seems to have forgotten the findings of the 9/11 Commission, which the CNN article summarizes;

...The 9/11 commission, appointed by Bush, presented its final report a year ago, saying that Osama bin Laden had been "willing to explore possibilities for cooperation with Iraq" at one time in the 1990s but that the al Qaeda leader "had in fact been sponsoring anti-Saddam Islamists in Iraqi Kurdistan, and sought to attract them into his Islamic army."

The 520-page report said investigators found no evidence that any "contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship."

"Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States," it said.
So, let's see; first we were invading Iraq to remove Saddam and his stockpile of WMD, then, when no WMD were found, the cause was democracy, and now its to get the terrorists. Does this administration really think the American people are going to buy this constantly shifting justification for a war that has taken the lives of 1,700 Americans and 20,000 Iraqi civilians? News flash, Mr. President; THERE WEREN'T ANY TERRORISTS IN IRAQ UNTIL YOU INVADED!

Meanwhile, the real battlefield against terrorism; the one that is connected to 9/11, is ignored. On Tuesday, a helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. 17 Americans died. The Taliban are taking credit. Note that Bush did not mention Afghanistan once in his speech.

He picked the wrong war, for reasons we will never know. From what I've seen on the net, and from what the polls are starting to show, the American people are waking up to the fact that Iraq was a terrible blunder, and that this administration has no idea what they are doing. I think the Bush era is finally coming to an end. Thank God.

Unless, of course, the Democrats fail to get their act together before 2008. But, there's helpful signs on that front as well. It looks like John Bolton will not be the next US ambassador to the UN. It's doubtful if he'll come up for a vote again. It's also doubtful that Bush will use the recess appointment option. Without the Senate's approval, he would never have the respect from other members of the UN he'd need. The Democrats stuck to their guns, and it worked. The Wall Street Journal suggests that Bush should send National Security advisor Stephen Hadley to the UN, and give Hadley's job to Bolton, as it does not require the Senate's approval. Most likely, something like this will happen. Bush will get the foreign policy advisors he wants. Yet, the success of the Democrats in blocking a man who was so obliviously unfit for the job is still sweet.

There's also some good discussions going on about the Democrats needing to talk more about moral values and hear more from people of faith. That's us, folks. About time. I am a Christian Too points to Amy Sullivan's blog entry on Beliefnet, Democrats and Moral Values--They Still Don't Get It;

Now, don't get me wrong. Democratic policies reflect my moral principles much better than nearly anything Republicans do. If you take seriously admonitions to care for the most vulnerable in society, to care for the sick, the imprisoned, the young and the old, at the end of the day, you'll find more to support in a Democratic platform than a Republican one. But, and this is important, Democrats have a credibility problem. For far too long, they've talked about these issues in very abstract, utilitarian terms, taking care to stay as far as possible from terms like "morals" or "values" or "faith" and ceding those concepts to the Republican Party. As one writer recently put it: "Democrats tell voters, 'We know what you need.' Republicans tell voters, 'We know who you are.'"

That's critical. Just calling Democratic priorities "moral values" will not make them so in the minds of voters (even though, as we know, promoting peace and protecting the environment and ending poverty are every bit moral values). Nor will helpfully informing voters that they really need to start caring more about their economic interests do much for the Democrats. Why? Because it's paternalistic, it's saying, We know better than you what's good for you.
That's an excellent point, and one we all need to keep in mind.

Sullivan also points to a WaPO article on Howard Dean. I don't know what you think of Dean right now; he's getting a bit of a lashing lately for his outspoken comments. I like him more and more lately, because he's one of the few that is telling it like it is. No fancy double talk about the war. He said it was a mistake from the beginning, and he's still saying it. Call it shooting from the hip if you want; at least he's a straight shooter. Consider this comment;

..."We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. . . . It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."
Here's an expanded version of what Dean is talking about, drawn from an interview he gave to Gwen Iffil;

GWEN IFILL: How important is it that you speak to voters who used to be borderline Democrats, for instance, religious voters or black voters, many of whom are conservative and are drawn to arguments against things like gay marriage, how do Democrats speak to them anymore?

HOWARD DEAN: Well, first of all we have to show up. The idea we're going to win by campaigning in 18 states is just not going to happen anymore. We need to be in Mississippi, in Utah, in Texas, and Oklahoma. I've been to all four of those states in the relatively brief time I've been chair.

Secondly, we need to speak about moral values. We really do. The Democratic Party I think has the kind of moral values that most people, particularly the religious community and particularly evangelicals like. I've had numbers of calls from evangelicals and discussions with evangelicals as well as high ranking members of the Catholic Church since I've been DNC chair.

We want to reach out to folks. You know, the Republicans talk about two issues: Abortion and gay rights. I don't think that most Democratic officeholders have been supportive of gay marriage, but I think we are supportive of rights for every single American. We may have some differences of opinion with the religious community on those two issues but the Democrats are much more in sync with the both evangelical Christians and others, Catholics and so forth, on helping the poor, on making sure that we have -- everybody has an opportunity. I am including everybody in the American dream.

Those are the real Christian values. And those are values that appear to be absent from the Republican platform. I jokingly say in my speeches that I have yet to see the biblical injunction that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom heaven. I have not seen that in the Republican Party platform.

So I don't think that the Republicans have any right to lecture Democrats about morals because our morals really are pretty biblical when you look at them. They really are about being good stewards of the earth that God gave us, they really are about helping children, helping the disenfranchised, making sure that everybody gets included. Those are pretty good values.
I agree with Sullivan that I'm not so sure Dean get's it, but at least he's beginning to identify the problem.

Progressive Christians; we've got some work to do. Howard Dean's goal may be to take back the nation. Our goal may include that, but let's be clear here. Our goal is to reclaim Christianity, and free our faith from the bloody hands of the modern day Crusaders.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Points to Ponder Prior to Prez's Pontification

Before I get started, I want to ask you all to pray for Tommy;

Eternal God, giver of life and health; comfort and relieve your sick child Tommy, and give your power of healing to those who minister to his needs, that he may be strengthened in his weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Tonight, the President will give a speech that is reported to be his attempt to regain the support of the American people for the war in Iraq; support that the polls suggest is slipping fast.

Faithful Progressive points us to a recent New York Times editorial that highlights three facts about Iraq that we need to keep in mind as we listen to Bush tonight;

1. The war has nothing to do with September 11.
I listened to Rumsfeld over the weekend, and he mentioned 9/11 at least three times while discussing Iraq. This administration is careful to never be caught saying bluntly that Saddam or the Iraqis were directly responsible for 9/11. What they do is slip a reference to that horrible day in here and there, and so infer a connection. I will predict that Bush will mention 9/11 at least six times.

2. The war has not made the world, or this nation, safer from terrorism.
Did you know that there was never a reported incident of a suicide bomber in Iraq before 2003? Last month, 400 people were killed by these martyrs. 75% of those who die from these attacks are American soldiers or Iraqi security forces.

3. If the war is going according to plan, someone needs to rethink the plan.
Rumsfeld, who in 2003 said the war would be over in a matter of months, now suggests the insurgency could last 12 years! (edited, thanks to an observant commentor). Over 1,700 Americans and over 20,000 civilians are dead, and the timetable has moved from months to over a decade.

The plan should be simple; two words. Get out. Our presence is what is bringing terrorists into the country in droves. This idea of "fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here" is pretty heartless, it seems to me. Only Iraqi civilians are expendable? I doubt that this kind of ethnocentric strong-arm approach to establishing democracy is winning any hearts and minds in that part of the world.

Returning for a minute to the "12 year" comment by Rumsfeld; even though he claims that the insurgency will have to be fought against by the Iraqis, and foreign troops will be gone (edit), could this be a bait and switch tactic? Could we be being prepared for a much longer deployment? (edit) I wondered why the military was building all those bases all over Iraq. Some of them look rather permanent. Could this have been the plan from the beginning; to use Iraq as a base of operations to control the Persian Gulf?

Since the reasons presented for this invasion have been proven to be lies, we can only speculate. I still think it was primarily because Saddam threatened to assasinate Daddy. But, most likely, we'll never know.

Ok, I say 6 mentions of 9/11 tonight. Any other predictions? The person who comes the closest to the actual number, and posts their guess before 8:00 p.m. will get to guest blog here at Jake's place within the next week.

Of course, if I win, you'll just have to continue to listen to my rants.


Monday, June 27, 2005

"Say No to Stupid Poverty"

I caught Bono on Meet the Press tonight. He's an inspiring man, and quite the diplomat. The video clip is worth taking a couple of minutes to watch. The title of this post is drawn from one of Bono's more pithy statements. He was asking Americans to help in the fight against poverty at the G8 Summit that begins July 6.

Last night, George Clooney and Pat Robertson were on Nightline, supporting the same thing. That's not a typo. Clooney and Robertson.

What's uniting such diverse personalities? The potential to really make a difference in the world at the G8 Summit. Here's The One Campaign's brief explanation;


The G8, or the ‘Group of Eight’ Summit is an annual gathering of leaders from the world’s eight wealthiest and most powerful countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States). This summer, these leaders will gather in Scotland to decide the fate of an entire generation living on less than ONE dollar a day. On July 6th - 8th, President Bush and other G8 leaders will discuss the major social, political and economic conditions that leave nearly ONE billion people living in extreme poverty – nearly half of whom live in Sub-Saharan Africa. With your support and voice, President Bush and other world leaders will know just how important these issues are, and together as ONE, we can Make Poverty History this July.
Here you can send a message to President Bush asking him to;

  • Help the poorest people of the world fight poverty, AIDS and hunger at a cost equal to just ONE percent more of the US budget on a clear timetable;

  • Cancel 100% of the debts owed by the poorest countries;

  • Reform trade rules so poor countries can earn sustainable incomes.

    The free Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2 is being held to call attention to the hope that we can make poverty history at this historic G8 Summit.

    Philly is only 30 minutes away. I'll probably go. Here's the line-up so far;

    Will Smith
    Bon Jovi
    Dave Matthews Band
    Destiny's Child
    Jars of Clay
    Kaiser Chiefs
    Keith Urban
    Linkin Park
    Maroon 5
    Rob Thomas
    Sarah McLachlan
    Stevie Wonder

    Ok, confession time. My CD collection consists of Hendrix, Tull, CSN&Y, Traffic, Steve Miller, Bob Seger, Moody Blues, Blue Oyster Cult, Joe Walsh and U2. I recognize some of the artists on the above list; Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Jars of Clay, Sarah McLachlan and Stevie Wonder. But who are the rest of them? Are they any good? Help out this old man trapped in a time warp.

  • Friday, June 24, 2005

    Friday's Pointers

    First, go read the Xpatriated Texan's excellent essay; You are the One. Thurman, of XT, has also agreed to be the NJ organizer for CAP. Since I live in NJ, and plan to participate, I look forward to meeting him. Anyone else from NJ interested in meeting up?

    Second, I want to point to a new blog launched by a group from the University of Chicago; Faithand; The Religious Left Speaks Up. Some good discussions going on over there. They are seeking submissions. Here's their recent press release;

    PRESS RELEASE: THE RELIGIOUS LEFT SPEAKS UP is pleased to announce the launch of their new site: is a challenge to conservatism's hold on religious and moral values in American political discourse. We believe that progressive religious ideas need a stronger voice in politics. We hope to broaden the current political discussion and to make real the values and ideals of the religious left in American politics and policy.

    Our new website is a forum to explore and clarify the shared values of the left, improve communication of those values and provide opportunities for action and activism within the progressive religious community. In particular, our site will feature articles on a wide range of issues (including scholarly work and opinion pieces), sermons and statements by progressive religious leaders of all faiths, an ongoing web log ("blog") commenting on current events from the perspective of the religious left, a question of the week and a lively discussion forum to foster participation. was founded as The Religious Left following the election of November 2004. What started as a midnight idea on, became an overnight sensation when mentioned in The Economist magazine, and is now an organization based out of the University of Chicago.

    Press Inquiries may be directed to Allie Carter at

    Submission Policy:

    We invite all kinds of submissions – essays, sermons, papers, meditations, fiction, poetry - on any topic related to progressive religion and politics. Submissions must be between 300 and 1500 words. New works are due the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month for consideration. Publication is at the sole discretion of the editorial board. Please send your submissions to
    Here's another new blog that I've enjoyed reading; Higher Plane, written by a flight attendant using the pseudonym "Omis I. Dlaykadrinck". Good commentary on religion, spirituality, politics and the aviation industry.

    And finally, I want to point to the most moving thing I've read in a long time; Nunc Dimittis. No lead-up for this one. Just go take a look.

    I've finished the renovations of the church's office and narthex this week, and am now starting a sermon on Sunday's troublesome gospel text. I'm beat, and, to top it off, I've got this miserable tooth ache. Grumble, grumble, whine whine.

    On the bright side, I've got the Mustang running and tagged, so the drive in to the church is now quite enjoyable. And tomorrow we're holding our Strawberry Festival. Life is good; nothing wrong that some rest, a good dentist and an insightful commentary can't fix.


    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    Anglicans Bow to Primates

    By now you've probably heard that the Anglican Consultative Council affirmed the listening process requested in a Lambeth resolution from 1998 and the voluntary withdrawal of the US and Canada from the ACC until Lambeth 2008. They also invited the Primates to be included within their membership.

    Regarding the listening process, I don't have much hope that it will ever happen. It's been seven years, and it hasn't happened yet. How can it, when the champion of the extreme conservatives, Peter Akinola, has stated he can't even sit at the same table with a gay man, let alone TALK to one. There is no interest in dialogue among the extremists; never was. They have refused to abide by the Lambeth resolutions calling for this since the beginning, which has played a critical role in bringing us to the place we are today.

    The vote to affirm the Primates' request to ask the North Americans to voluntarily withdraw from the ACC was 30 for, 28 against, and 4 abstentions. That's a pretty close vote. So much for the claim that the entire Communion is upset with the North Americans. This was done by secret ballot, btw. Is this how we will decide ethical issues in the future? The original resolution, which called for the North Americans to withdraw from all leadership positions was amended to identify only those bodies connected with the ACC. Why? As I previously mentioned, it's because they don't have the authority to do any more than that.

    The Primates will now be members of the ACC. In other words, the only entity within the Instruments of Unity that contains representatives drawn from the laity has now been consumed by the purple shirts. The rule of the Primates has been solidified. For all intents and purposes, the ACC has ceased to exist. As of today, priests, deacons and laypersons are excluded from having any voice in the decisions regarding the future of the Anglican Communion.

    Next act in this ongoing saga will be General Convention, 2006. In the meantime, we have other things to do. Press on the Kingdom.

    On a different note, I came across a press release, dated in the future (2010) that some of you might have seen about a year ago when it was making the rounds. It seemed an appropriate piece to recall today;

    Treat Dogs as Dogs?

    A new controversy is bubbling up throughout the worldwide Anglican Communion and threatening its unity. Conservatives in many provinces are insisting that the church return to what they term "the biblical teaching on dogs." Others, especially in Britain and North America, insist that there is nothing unchristian about showing dogs love and respect as creatures of God...

    Matters have come to a head over proposals for the Episcopal Church to develop official services for the blessing of dogs. Some bishops have already endorsed such services for use in their dioceses, while others know they occur by reading about them in parish newsletters. Reports of such services also appear in newspapers, usually around the October 4 feast of St. Francis of Assisi, a figure viewed as suspect by conservatives, who regard him as a proto-pan-speciesist.

    The conservatives have coalesced as TDAD (Treat Dogs as Dogs). They are extremely well-funded, allegedly by a couple of Texas millionaires who made their fortunes in cat food. TDAD is appealing to Anglican leaders in other parts of the world, and finding support in some places. Several African and Asian prelates read the biblical texts about dogs quite literally, and find support for their views in places in their homeland where packs of scavenger dogs prowl around freely...

    Various Episcopal and Anglican bishops are talking quite loudly about schism. In response, the Archbishop of Canterbury has summoned the heads of all Anglican provinces to meet with him at Lambeth Palace. His personal view of the matter is apparent: the meeting takes place the day after he officially opens the Greater London Dog Show. Conservatives hope to be vindicated, while progressives question the validity of the meeting since it will include no dogs, only primates.


    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    Tuesday's Pointers

    The new position is requiring quite a bit of my time lately, so today I'm just going to point to a few things some of you might find interesting;

    Simon Sarmiento is offering good coverage of the Anglican Consultative Council's meeting over on Thinking Anglicans. Lots of good links.

    The Revealer points to a timely and rather interesting piece; Daddy, what did you do in the men's movement? So, what's your opinion of Robert Bly?

    It's starting to look like this administration has a problem with truth telling. It turns out they lied to the British about using napalm-like firebombs in Iraq. The Bush administration has also been caught red handed attempting to derail the British goal of adressing global warming at the G8 conference next month. If this is how we treat our allies...

    Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, stated in an interview that he saw no theological objections to a woman becoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, and that there is a lot of prejudice and bigotry regarding homosexuality in Christian circles; "...While some Christians use “biblical grounds” to oppose homosexuality, said the Archbishop, it tended to be more about social prejudice and inherited ideas."

    I've got a new post up at The Christian Alliance for Progress; Building Diverse Alliances.

    And with that, good night!


    Friday, June 17, 2005

    ACC Meeting in Nottingham

    The Anglican Consultative Council will be meeting in Nottingham beginning Sunday, June 19. As I've previously mentioned, the Episcopal Church was asked by the Primates to "voluntarily withdraw" from the Council. The Executive Council of TEC decided to honor this request, although our delegation will be present to listen and answer questions.

    There seems to be some confusion regarding the authority of the ACC. Consider this recent news report from the Episcopal News Service, specifically the following line;

    ...The ACC is made up of bishops, clergy and lay representatives -- numbering some 75 in all -- and is the only body with legislative authority to act on the report recommendations.
    Legislative authority? When did this happen?

    The Lambeth Conference Resolution of 1968, which established the ACC, spells out the duties of this body. They are to advise, share information, develop (but not legislate) policy, encourage, guide and review.

    To suggest that this body has the power to legislate assumes that there is some structure in place by which the members of the Anglican Communion would be bound by their decisions. This would deny the autonomy of each member, and would redefine the nature of the Communion. Rather than being a loose federation of voluntary members, we would become a legal entity, with the assumption of sharing a common code of canon law.

    That is not what currently exists, regardless of what some conservative Anglicans may claim. The Episcopal Church has never been bound by any resolution from any source other than General Convention. The ACC, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates, and the Archbishop of Canterbury may make statements or pass resolutions, but their authority within the Episcopal Church has always been that of recommendations.

    If the Anglican Communion decides to restructure itself, and redefine the hierarchy of authority, that may be a discussion whose time has come. But to suddenly declare such a restructuring as a fait accompli would be the best way that I know of to derail the attempts of many faithful Anglicans to move us in the direction of healing and reconciliation.

    I recommend that you consider Christopher's thoughts, Praying with Nottingham. Let us pray for the Church.


    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Book Lists

    Redwood Dragon has tagged me for the Book Meme.

    1. Number of books I own.

    About six years ago, I made a mad dash across the US, taking with me only what would fit in my car; my dog, my clothes, and 14 boxes of books. I gave away everything else, which included over half of my library. Since then, I've built it up a little, but it still includes only about 300 titles.

    2. Last book I bought.

    The Time of Our Singing, Richard Powers.

    3. Last book I read.

    Native Tongue, Carl Hiaasen.

    4. Books that mean a lot to me.

    All the works of Robertson Davies.
    The Passion of the Western Mind, Richard Tarnas.
    The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer.
    The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    Engaging the Powers, Walter Wink.
    Christian Believing, Urban T. Holmes and John Westerhoff.
    Ministry and Imagination, Urban T. Holmes.

    5. Tag (at least) five more.

    Pilgrim's Progress
    Myriad Musings
    I am a Christian Too
    The Cat's Cradle
    The Cassandra Pages
    Faithful Progressive
    Kevin G. Powell


    REMINDER - The hearing on the Downing Street Memos begin today at 2:30 p.m. on CSPAN3. Here's some good background info on the latest additional memos to be revealed.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    Hearing on the Downing Street Memo

    From the Downing Street Memo site;

    Democratic hearing on Downing Street Memo/Minutes and Pre-war intelligence

    On Thursday June 16, 2005, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room HC-9 of the U.S. Capitol, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and other Congress Members will hold a hearing on the Downing Street Minutes and related evidence of efforts to cook the books on pre-war intelligence.

    The DNC will serve as an overflow room, so people can still go there: The Wasserman Room at 430 S Capitol St. SE. After the hearing, Congressman Conyers will personally deliver his letter to the President demanding answers about the path to war, which has been signed by over 100 members of Congress and well over half a million American citizens. There will also be a rally at 5:00pm in Lafayette Square Park, in front of the White House. If you can make it, please attend!

    This will be carried live on C-SPAN 3.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    Defining the Terms; "Progressive" Christians

    Building on yesterday's thoughts about George Lakoff, I've got a new post up at the Christian Alliance for Progress;

    What is a Progressive Christian?

    We can begin that conversation here as well. For those of you who claim that label, what does it mean to you?


    Monday, June 13, 2005

    Responding to Conservatives

    I recently stumbled across an excerpt from George Lakoff's book Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate. All of his suggestions as to how to respond to conservatives are quite good. I found a couple of them to be especially insightful;

    ...Remember that everybody has both strict and nurturant models, either actively or passively, perhaps active in different parts of their lives. Your job is to activate for politics the nurturant, progressive values already there (perhaps only passively) in your interlocutors...

    You can make considerable progress with biconceptuals, those who use both models but in different parts of their life. They are your best audience. Your job is to capture territory of the mind. With biconceptuals your goal is to find out, if you can by probing, just which parts of their life they are nurturant about. For example, ask who they care about the most, what responsibilities they feel they have to those they care about, and how they carry out those responsibilities. This should activate their nurturant models as much as possible. Then, while the nurturant model is active for them, try linking it to politics. For example, if they are nurturant at home but strict in business, talk about the home and family and how they relate to political issues. Example: Real family values mean that your parents, as they age, donÂ’t have to sell their home or mortgage their future to pay for health care or the medications they need.
    His comments about "framing the question" are also worth repeating;

    ...If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense.* Why? Because thatÂ’s what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame.

    Never answer a question framed from your opponentÂ’s point of view. Always reframe the question to fit your values and your frames. This may make you uncomfortable, since normal discourse styles require you to directly answer questions posed. That is a trap. Practice changing frames.

    Be sincere. Use frames you really believe in, based on values you really hold.

    A useful thing to do is to use rhetorical questions: *WouldnÂ’t it be better if...? Such a question should be chosen to presuppose your frame. Example:* WouldnÂ’t it be better if we had a president who went to war with a plan to secure the peace?
    Since I'm prone to making every mistake Lakoff discusses in this excerpt, I'm bookmarking this page, and am going to try to read it before posting responses to conservatives in the future.

    On another note, for those interested in pushing forward the Downing Street Memo, David Corn offers some good points in his recent article, Reconsidering the DSM.

    One final note; in case you haven't heard, another memo has surfaced, dated July 21, 2002 (two days before the DSM; a preparatory memo for that meeting) in which we learn that Tony Blair had agreed with the President's plans to invade Iraq as early as April 2002. This memo also supports the accusation that military action was already a foregone conclusion. The NYT, in a piece that appeared this weekend, chose to ignore all the content in this memo that affirms the implications of the DSM, and instead chose to focus on one line that claimed "no political decisions had been made." From this they deduce that the way the DSM is being used as a "smoking gun" are off base. One wonders who in the media we can trust, when even the NYT leaps at an opportunity to cozy up to this administration.


    Friday, June 10, 2005

    The Signs of Fascism

    Here's the video.

    Here's Britt's article.

    Let's review the fourteen signs of fascism;

    1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

    2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

    3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.

    4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.

    5. Rampant sexism.

    6. A controlled mass media.

    7. Obsession with national security.

    8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

    9. Power of corporations protected.

    10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

    11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.

    12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

    13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

    14. Fraudulent elections.

    But of course, fascism can't be growing in the land of the free and the home of the brave; surely we would have noticed.

    How do you cook a frog?


    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    More Lies Concerning Iraq

    By now most of you have hopefully heard about the Downing Street Memo, in which, at a secret meeting held in July 2002, British authorities report to Tony Blair that George Bush has decided to use the military option against Iraq, and has "fixed the intelligence around the policy." The discussion includes the beginnings of a plan as to how to convince the world that such military action is justified.

    Then in September of 2002, a month before Congress voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq, and over six months before the invasion "officially" began, US and British planes began massive airstrikes against Iraqi air defense targets;

    ...At the time, the Bush Administration publicly played down the extent of the air strikes, claiming the United States was just defending the so-called no-fly zones. But new information that has come out in response to the Downing Street memo reveals that, by this time, the war was already a foregone conclusion and attacks were no less than the undeclared beginning of the invasion of Iraq.

    The Sunday Times of London recently reported on new evidence showing that "The RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war." The paper cites newly released statistics from the British Defense Ministry showing that "the Allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001" and that "a full air offensive" was under way months before the invasion had officially begun...
    Also in 2002, as secret plans are being made to crush Saddam Hussein, and bombs are dropping all over Iraq (unofficially, of course), it has been revealed that John Bolton orchestrated the firing of the head of a global arms control agency. Why? Because this diplomat made the mistake of trying to send in inspectors to search for chemical weapons, which would have upset the US plans to invade, since they knew damn well there were no WMDs;

    A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani ``had to go,'' particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war...

    ...The Iraq connection to the OPCW affair comes as fresh evidence surfaces that the Bush administration was intent from early on to pursue military and not diplomatic action against Saddam Hussein's regime.

    An official British document, disclosed last month, said Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in April 2002 to join in an eventual U.S. attack on Iraq. Two weeks later, Bustani was ousted, with British help...

    ...After U.N. arms inspectors had withdrawn from Iraq in 1998 in a dispute with the Baghdad government, Bustani stepped up his initiative, seeking to bring Iraq - and other Arab states - into the chemical weapons treaty.

    Bustani's inspectors would have found nothing, because Iraq's chemical weapons were destroyed in the early 1990s. That would have undercut the U.S. rationale for war because the Bush administration by early 2002 was claiming, without hard evidence, that Baghdad still had such an arms program...
    Bolton's reward for his bullying tactics? He'll soon be the new US ambassador to the UN. It would be funny if it wasn't so tragic.

    Yesterday, the British Prime Minister and the President were asked about the Downing Street Memo in a joint press conference. Here's part of the President's response;

    ...My conversation with the Prime Minister was, how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently, that took place in London happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. And so it's -- look, both us of didn't want to use our military. Nobody wants to commit military into combat. It's the last option. The consequences of committing the military are -- are very difficult. The hardest things I do as the President is to try to comfort families who've lost a loved one in combat. It's the last option that the President must have -- and it's the last option I know my friend had, as well...
    This man is so busted, but he just keeps telling lies. You'd think he would have learned a thing or two from Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton; the people will turn against you if they find out you lied.

    These lies are in a different category, however. People have died. Specifically, over 20,000 innocent civilians and over 1,600 American troops have lost their lives because of this President's megalomania. These are war crimes.

    Let's demand a Congressional inquiry, and awaken the media to this issue.

    Time to stop the lies, Mr. President. I hear the word "impeachment" blowing in the wind.


    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    The Kingdom of God

    I'm either getting lazy or old, or maybe a bit of both. In any case, I'm not feeling up to two posts today, so I'm going to send you over to the Christian Alliance for Progress to read my Tuesday rant;

    The Kingdom of God


    UPDATE: For those who still have energy for such discussions, there's a heated one going on in response to Public Theologian's essay, God Also Created Adam and Steve: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage.

    Monday, June 06, 2005

    Richard Hooker and the Authority of Scripture

    Thinking Anglicans offers us an essay by Mike Russel, Mr. Hooker and the Windsor Report. He makes some points worth noting;

    The classic Anglican position, found in Hooker’s “Laws” is that scripture is the primary source of revelation for “all things necessary for salvation” not all things simply. The WR and the Neo-Puritans are attempting to make it necessary for all things simply. Books II and III of the Laws are quite clear on the boundaries set on Scripture’s “prima” authority having already rejected it as having “sola” authority.

    So while Scripture is perfect for the purpose for which it was created, it is for Mr. Hooker and those that follow clearly a mixture of documents as well, many of which are bound by time and place. For example, in the Articles of Religion we see the Church setting to the side not only the Apocrypha, but the judicial and ceremonial laws of Hebrew Scripture. What is most interesting in that is that the specific parts of Leviticus we see bandied about quite often are part of the judicial law and not the moral law which is confined to the Ten Commandments.

    So classic Anglicanism has at its core a hermeneutic for prioritizing the contents of Scripture and their respective authority. To treat it in any flat literal sense as a repository of eternal commands is not and never has been Anglican. That the WR is hazy on this, wanting to affirm the authority of scripture, but also warning of the dangers and ambiguities related to interpretation, leaves it listing disastrously to the fundamentalist Neo-Puritan side...
    "...a hermeneutic for prioritizing the contents of scripture..." This is one of the main reasons that I am an Anglican; because of the "reasonable" approach taken towards scripture. I've been a Baptist, and a Pentecostal (Open Bible Standard), and had to part ways with those traditions because of their claim that one must accept a literal understanding of the bible as the only source of authority. That has never been something I could honestly agree to, since I first read the bible when I was ten years old. If we are honest, we must admit that the bible contains much inspiration and beauty, as well as "all things necessary for salvation," but also some really bad science, more than a bit of harmful theology, and includes parts that were written by some really twisted people.

    It seems to me that the "sola scriptura" brand of Christianity that is so dominant today is responsible for so many falling away from the Church. If I could recognize the flaws at age ten, it is safe to assume that most folks see such errors, but are too polite to mention them. If they are required to buy the whole bill of goods, and sacrifice their intellectual integrity in the process, the honest response, the moral response, is to look elsewhere for spiritual nurture.

    And now Anglicanism is seriously considering joining fundamentalism, which is no more than the last gasp of a dying world view. The Church of the future cannot possibly uphold such an absurd position. If it tries, the Church will become a museum piece at best.

    As Fr. Russel says in his essay;

    What we need to do is resolve whether or not we are going to be true to our Anglican heritage with respect to scripture or slip into the crass fundamentalism that has proven so divisive and destructive in every setting where it has come to power.
    In the end, this is the issue before us within the Anglican Communion.

    If the fundamentalists take over the Communion, Anglicanism will die. That will be sad, but not devastating. I have no doubt that God will raise up something new from the ashes of our current culture wars.


    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    A New Label to Consider

    In this complex world in which we live, many of us find "labeling" others as a way to categorize people quickly, in order to respond appropriately. The problem with such labels is that it is a form of stereotyping. Few folks fit so neatly into any box in which we attempt to place them.

    But, since labeling seems to be an unavoidable reaction to our attempts to navigate through an overwhelming onslaught of diverse encounters, maybe it's time to pick our own labels, rather than allow others to choose them for us. Here's one rather creative suggestion from The Christian Century;

    ...Is there an alternative to the vague liberal and anachronistic mainline? We have a suggestion: Christian humanism. Or, if you will, Protestant humanism.

    Humanism captures liberal Protestantism’s emphasis on intellectual exploration, on doing theology in conversation with other modes of knowledge. Since the Renaissance, humanism has designated a movement that takes learning seriously and celebrates the ability of scientists, poets and historians to expand knowledge and shape the world. Christian specifies that this appreciation of human freedom and potential is not ungrounded or unlimited, and that human identity is not simply whatever humans want it to be. As creatures of God, humans are most truly themselves when fulfilling divine purposes. And it is “in Christ,” the divine and human one, that we learn what it means to be fully human...

    ...In recent decades Christian and humanism have been placed in opposition, which makes this an especially good time to put them together. Christian humanism reaches toward the catholic tradition of the church, but it also has the virtue of unpredictability, of genuine openness. So the next time someone asks if you are liberal or conservative, mainline or evangelical, try saying, “I’m a Christian humanist.”
    Hmmm..."Christian Humanist"...I think I like it. Of course, when compared to the various other labels I tend to attract (apostate, revisionist, pinko commie, spawn of Satan, etc.), almost anything else sounds good.


    Wednesday, June 01, 2005

    Introducing My Pony

    I owned a '94 Mustang for a brief time about ten years ago. Since we still had three kids living at home, it wasn't very practical, so I traded it in on an Explorer. I've missed that car ever since. '94 was the year Ford introduced the new body style for the Mustang, which I really like. It also had the 5.0 liter engine, which in '96 was changed to the 4.6. For nostalgic reasons, I've always preferred the 5.0. Over the years, Ford tweaked the body style slightly. The '94 has the most distinctive bubble-shaped top, slightly thinner and lower body style, and horizontal tail lenses. The '05 Mustang is a dramatic change, with the clear intent of returning to the original design from the 60s, which made the car famous. Purist enthusiasts are quite excited about the newest version. Personally, I've always preferred the look and feel of the '94.

    Well, last week I ran across the beauty pictured here; a white '94 with a recently rebuilt 5.0 and an immaculate body. The price was dirt cheap, so it is now parked in my driveway. There's a few minor things that need some work, and a couple of modifications I want to make, so it's a "project car" for now. I am beyond thrilled.

    It may seem strange to some folks for a priest who is a borderline socialist to be so excited about a material possession. I have no excuse for lusting after this car, but I do have a couple of words of explanation. First of all, this is not just a car; it is the best American-made machine on the road today. Second, keep in mind I grew up in California. The choice of an automobile is more important to some Californians than their house, due to the fact that some commuters spend more time in the car than they do at home. And finally, I was a jet engine mechanic in the Navy, and a heavy equipment mechanic at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a few years after my enlistment ended. Yea, I was a gear head; one of those guys who always had a layer of grease under his fingernails, kept at least one heap in the backyard "for parts," and gave way too much money to the Snap-On salesman.

    Fellow gear heads will understand. To the rest of you; I'm smiling today, and I invite you to share in my joy.

    Now I need to go see if I can track down the Freon leak so I can get the air conditioning working. Could I pay someone to fix it? Sure, but then I'd miss all the fun!